Books for the Plane: Choose Yourself

Disclaimer: This isn’t an objective book review. It’s the personal story of how one book recently interacted with my life and travels. I share because I think there’s useful nuggets here, but if it seems like it’s all about me… it’s ‘cause these are the only eyes I get to see through! Continue reading “Books for the Plane: Choose Yourself”

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Three Non-Material Things…

12:30am, this Thursday morning (my last morning), in Ubud.  The stage lights here at the Onion Collective had just been switched off, and the moon shown beautifully through her cloak of fog, and the silhouettes of pregnant papaya trees.

The delightfully rowdy Irish folk, their bantering partners from the witty UK crowd, and the deeply reflective Germans had all gone to bed for the night, but my new Australian friend an I stayed floating blissfully around the pool – contemplating life, between laughter-filled turns down the water slide. Continue reading “Three Non-Material Things…”

A Brief Introduction to the Mayan Calendar

You may have noticed a few scattered references to the Mayan calendar throughout my blog lately, and I think it’s time to fill you guys in. Here in Bali, I’ve taken a dive into studying this ancient way of time-keeping, and it’s opening a lot of interesting positive psychological area for me. They say the best way to learn is to teach, so I’m going to share with you, what I know.

One of the most beautiful components about the calendar, as I’ve been taught it, is that it isn’t a dogmatic system where information is handed down from above, but rather a path of inquiry, where we each find our own resonance, from deep within our beings.

Thus, I can only speak from my experience with this study – so that’s the version of the story you’ll get. Continue reading “A Brief Introduction to the Mayan Calendar”

Life Lessons from Island Motorcycling

I recently had the great pleasure of joining a few friends for a weekend on the sparsely populated Balinese island of Nusa Penida. It had been nearly 15 years since I’d piloted a motorbike, but renting myself a scooter to take over on the ferry was the only way to join the adventure, so I went for it.

Along the way, I was reminded just how many metaphors for living well present themselves to you when riding a motorcycle. (I think that’s why motorcycle analogies are the primary language of my good ol’ pop.) Here’s a summary of what I learned over the twists and turns of a few days’ jungle ride. Continue reading “Life Lessons from Island Motorcycling”

But I Don’t Wanna Fly

Acroyoga is awesome. I really enjoyed being hoisted upside-down on someone’s feet for the first time in Puerto Rico, and using my strength to lift friends into the air in Venice Beach. There’s a whole acro community here in Ubud, and lots of opportunities to “fly” (as they call the aerial part of the practice). I keep feeling like I should go join them, but it’s remained just that… a “should”.

The truth is, acro just isn’t pulling me right now. I just simply don’t want to do it. Continue reading “But I Don’t Wanna Fly”

Risking Introversion

Ubud, Bali

A big part of my personality is introverted.

People are often surprised when I tell them that, and I hear… “What, you? Introverted? Ha!” All the time. I’m not antisocial, or misanthropic, or maladjusted. I only have social anxiety when my human-interaction energy stores are depleted (which has happened all to often, in the last 7 years of running a one-on-one service business… hence my retreating to Bali now).

Here’s the definitions that resonate with me: it’s about where your energy comes from – Continue reading “Risking Introversion”

Falling in Love – An Affirmation

Many nights, I have trouble sleeping in Bali.

One night I thought high tourists season came early and all the decent accommodation had been snatched up from under my nose… I’d be left without any place to call home for the next several months.

The night before, I was sure that I’d contracted Japanese encephalitis, or dengue fever, or whatever horrible fatal disease the mosquitoes are carrying this year.

Some nights, my mind spins with excitement about what possibilities may lie ahead in life, working itself into a frenzy as it tries to figure out how to best manage each and every one of them.

Most other nights, I just itch all over, with the worry that little bugs are biting me each moment. (but no, no place I’ve stayed at has bed bugs)

Nights have become challenging for me.

In my struggles with emotional eating and compulsive work, afternoons have generally been my trigger times, but on this journey, I’ve developed a lot of empathy for the midnight snackers and wee hours binge drinkers. The nights can indeed be “dark and full of terrors”.

What are those dark terrors?

For me, they all come back to the same core: The unknown.

It’s so weird. I gave up everything normal in my life, to thrust myself into the unknown. I knew I needed it’s aliveness, its immediacy, its push to grow. I embraced it as a close friend, to take this leap.

But just because I wanted it, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Just because it’s exciting doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.
As my body struggles to maintain immunity and energy with new climate, new food, and now, lack of sleep… the unknown behind it all feels more like an enemy.

I believe my next level of blossoming is available, through becoming comfortable with not knowing.

And so I work.

My potential relies on me falling in love with the unknown.

And love is not always easy.

I work to be with myself through the sleepless nights… through the compulsive search for the next place to call home, through the swatting away of bugs who may or may not exist.

I work to embrace it all.

I work to let go and stop working.

I let go, and sing to let my brain work for me.

About six months ago, I started playing with setting affirmations to song. My coach had encouraged me to work with affirmations, to support me through the beginnings of this major internal and external life shift. I tried, but I just couldn’t get down with spoken affirmations. They always feel corny as hell, and set my inner alarm bells going off. Once I started singing them to myself, though, they really opened up for me. I found that the “catchy” power of music, really helps the affirmation get deeper into my internal “automatic playlist”. I’ve noticed a lot of internal shift since I’ve started singing affirmations.

You know how sometimes you’ll stop being aware of your thoughts for a bit, and then check back in like,
“Oh, hey, mind! What have you been up to?”

During that time, mostly my mind would reply,

Oh, nothing, you know… just worrying about everything that’s about to go horribly wrong and jumping off this anxiety cliff

I knew there was something to this business of singing affirmations, when one day, I checked in –

“Oh, hey, mind! What have you been up to?”

And it replied,

“Just singing this little tune I picked up” – one of my affirmations. My subconscious had been playing it on repeat without my direction. Score. That’s brain re-wiring in action.

I can’t keep all the goodies for myself, so I’ve decided to start sharing them. This recording is about 5 minutes, and if you need some help embracing the unknown, I encourage you to sing along- the point is to get it stuck in your head.

Note: The recording is left imperfect on purpose – to help us all escape the mental traps of perfectionism!

Happy singing and happy living!


(Photo credit: Pedro Martin)

Should You Drink the Kool-Aid?

I had a lot of fear.

Fear of letting go of well-conditioned ways.
Fear of opening up to a new path..
What if I dived in so deep, I couldn’t find my way back to the things I cherish now?

What if, immersing in a new language, I lost my ability to speak my mother tongue?

What if I went so far off the deep end, no one could relate to me anymore?
Then I’d be all alone forever.

I mean, on a very practical level, I’ve crafted much of my identity around being a “smart hippie”. Sure, I love to explore all sorts of outlandish and wild practices and ideas, but I think
Others like me because I stay grounded.
Because I like science.
Because I can wear the skeptical hat like a champ, when it serves me.

How would they love me, if all I can talk about when I get back is galactic signatures, and rainbow bodies?

I had my aura photographed the other day.
(and yeah, I’m afraid to tell you that…
Afraid you’ll think I’ve gone off the deep end.)

But turns out according to that system, I have a yellow aura right now,
and work in the realms of information.
I’m told I’m well suited for gathering knowledge from an array of sources,
And compiling it in a way that others can use.

I like that.
It gives me permission to explore widely
And a thread to come back from extremes.

I want to walk the wild roads
I want to see how deep the rabbit holes go
And sure, I’m scared.
Scared that something will change me so much I won’t be able to go back to who I was before.
But then, I have to realize that no matter what I do,
I can never go back to being the person I was yesterday.

I want to trust that a road back to balance is always present.

But I’m no dummy.
I know sometimes a road back isn’t present.
We’ve all met people who have taken one too many trips
We see stories on the news of group suicides following charismatic leaders
We’ve battled to converse with people who simply can’t bring themselves down from the clouds
Enough to speak any of our human languages.

A brother of mine said something that crystalized a kind of safety for me,
In circle today.

He spoke of the “power of choice”.

And, while I won’t right now open the “free-will” can of worms,
I suddenly saw that choice is a precious power to hold on to.

I said yes, I dived in.
In this case, choosing to immerse myself, for several uninterrupted days In the rich world of the Mayan Calendar.
Mind humming with neurons being re-wired
Face buzzing with laughter,
And the surprised eyes of “A-ha!” after “A-ha!”

And when I re-emerged, I found…

People around me are stoked I did it.
The little bits I’ve learned to share are resonating
Fires are being lit, and they want to know more..
I’m endlessly being asked for readings,
And they want to know more
And they want to know more..
To connect more.

This time, I’m the farthest thing from isolated.
My fears were just fears.

The power to discern what’s safe
Made it okay to drink from that well new understanding.

And so I reflect on how we can all have that freedom of discernment.

Ultimately, I remember the wise teachings I received 15 years ago,
Delivered to a group of college students about to engage
In deep exploration of meditation and the mind.
They’ve shifted into my own words over the years,
But they’re alive for me more than ever:

If you’re surrounded by a group of people insisting you cut off contact with your other communities,
You might be better off not to drink their Kool-Aid

If you’re being told joy and fulfillment aren’t possible while you’re on the Earthly plane,
You may not want to drink the Kool-Aid

If drinking requires you to commit the rest of your life to any single path,
You may not want to drink the Kool-Aid

If something in the core of what matters to you would be compromised by drinking,
You probably shouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid.

If anything deep in your gut says “no”,
You might not drink the Kool-Aid

However, if it won’t harm you
Or harm others
In Body, Mind or Spirit

Except for maybe fiercely challenging old beliefs…

If you retain the freedom to choose in every moment,
Or will at least regain the conscious freedom within a short time.

If you keep the support of those you love with you,
Even if they’re half the world away.

If you’re offered new information,
And it’s totally up to you what you do with it.

If you’re offered love,
And you’re encouraged to define and enforce your comfort and boundaries in every moment

If you’re offered something new,
Even when it threatens to rattle lose the old wires, just a bit.

Maybe it’s worth drinking.

It’s probably not Kool-Aid, anyway.

It’s probably Cacao.
And that’s all the rage these days.

(photo credit: Brent Gilliard)

The Eagle and the Condor

“Tell me again what Ken Wilbur had to say about ascending vs descending?”
I asked The Lucid Sage over international iMessage,
Late on another sleepless night in Bali.

Duality had been wracking my brain…
Pressing me to make a choice:
Do I go up, or down?
Do I find divinity inside, or all around? Continue reading “The Eagle and the Condor”

The Space Left Open

Forty brothers and sisters gathered around the ceremonial fire, surrounded in flowers, and bubbling with anticipation.  Modern tribes from several continents had joined to share in the sacred cacao spirit here in Ubud, tonight.

Song after song, rich with wild harmonies and free entranced voices.
Prayer after prayer, from hearts pregnant with love.
Spoken word incantations, calling forth the forces of Earth and the elements.
Eventually the dancing, the hugs, the drinking of the blissful chocolate elixir.

As the circle chanted “Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambo“, therein calling forth the positive forces of destruction, I wrapped my arms around my knee, curling into a little ball as the healing tears emerged like they so often do in Bali.

All afternoon, I’d been talking with expats, getting to know more and more of the local town and how others lived here, and somehow an old mental habit decided to make comparisons out of the lives they shared with me – comparisons that resulted in the crippling internal conclusion: “You’re doing it wrong”.

All of it. Continue reading “The Space Left Open”