Friday, December 12, 2014

We Interrupt This Broadcast . . . with Now

So I'm humming along with my futuristic visions of creations and collaborations, possibilities and projects, and how I'm gonna change things in my life, and how I wish some things would change sooner rather than later, and what everything is going to look like when . . . WHAM!




What's that?


Well, yeah, but . . .



(Clearing throat). Well then. That means my wheel-spinning of plans and schemes and doings and hopes is all in vain. That means what I call my "envisioning" is filling my head with wishing nonsense. That means I'm forever thinking the future will be better while ignoring the beauty and beautiful people right next to me.


And maybe my imagination would be better served loving my life the way it is, experiencing who is with me in this moment and where I am, exactly the way I am, here.


Uh, okay. Got it, I think. For now, anyway . . . 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Camino Lessons: You Will Be Directed

When we are in a lost place, it can take a long time to find our bearings. We may start blaming ourselves for not knowing where we are.

And then we blame God. She must not want us to know anything. He must be hiding the signs. Maybe there aren't any signs at all.

Last year, I felt lost in my marriage. Our sense of direction as a couple was playing Hide and Seek with us. And when so many things were changing in my life, I began to think I would never know my direction again.

The Camino reminded me, in a gentle way, that Divine direction will return.  

Intermittently along the Camino, waymarkers show the path. Sometimes they are feet apart. Sometimes they're distanced by miles. And sometimes the markers are there, but the pilgrim can't see them - because she has looked away, or is hiking in the dark, or the rain has worn down the image. 

The sign of the Camino is the scallop shell. Shells are embedded in pavement, raised on highway signs, carved into stone pillars, or painted on rocks. 

Also, there's the yellow arrow. Arrows show up on fences, buildings, boulders. Or in other creative formations . . . .

"Did you see the arrow?" my hiking partner and I would ask each other a dozen times a day. This became shortened to a point and a gesture, or we'd simply say, "Arrow," and move on.

When you're road-weary from a day on the trail, and haven't seen a marker for the last hour, the absence of a sign fills you with despair.

The day's trek seems a waste. Everything hurts that can hurt. The stomach yowls with hunger.

And you feel forgotten. Overlooked. Incidental.

And then . . . there it is. The sign that says, "Yes. You're right where you belong."
Your heart does a happy handspring.

Indeed, the road winds through strange places. 

It twists behind a tumbledown shed, zigs around an alley, darts through a village overrun with chickens, plummets down a rocky traverse. But it is all okay, because you know you're on the right path.

Sometimes you have to wait for direction.

The waiting can be hard.

This doesn't mean you'll never know your place again.

When the assurance comes, it is sweet.

For me, sometimes I felt like crying, or singing. I wasn't just learning about yellow arrows and scallop shells, but what it is to trust.

In my life, in my marriage - it all began to unfold with possibility. With connection. With renewal. I saw the path forward.  

Since I've been home, that instinct to look for the signs has stayed with me. Once I saw a scallop shell in a wall mirror. I blinked, looked again, and recognized a pleated lampshade.

Another day I was feeling crunched at work and drove up the highway. Stopped and walked in a small town neighborhood. My heart recognized the shell before I knew what I was looking at.

Again, I was in the right place . . .  

The signs are everywhere.

Because we're meant to know.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Camino Lessons: You are Never Alone

May, 2014. When Heather brainstormed with me about walking the Camino de Santiago in late summer, I told her our plans had to be tentative. "I learned that even though you make a plan with a friend, you are ultimately alone. The Camino has its own plan."

Sure enough, as the weeks played out we looked at different things. Heather made hotel reservations and arranged to see sights. I wanted the traditional Camino - the long-distance walks and low-cost shelters filled with snoring pilgrims. (Yes, crazy, but that experience was calling me.) We decided to meet in Sarria in mid-September if it worked out. 

It was a year of empty-nest examination and cyclones of the heart. Looking at my life, I began to wonder how much aloneness I might have to endure. The confusing feelings about my marriage were a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed. I was ready to hike the road ahead without expectations.

I was afraid. Yet learning to trust. I trusted my Divine Companion, just as I trusted the Camino ("the Way"). I would get the lessons I needed - and accept the solitude.

And so, on September 2, I reached the convent albergue in Leon, my starting point. As I stood in line to get a stamp for my Pilgrim Passport, a tall, willowy form stepped up. She spoke English with an American accent, and just a trace of something else. "Are you on your own?" she asked.

"Yes! It's my first time doing the Camino alone," I said.

"I'm alone, too," she said, smiling a beautiful smile. Her eyes danced with a spirit of adventure.

Home meant Berlin for her, Portland for me. Elle was 30, while I'd just turned 48. She was an accomplished professional and world traveler. As we chatted, we wandered crooked cobblestone squares and winding streets, getting lost.* A kind local on a bike had to guide us back to the albergue before the nuns locked the doors. 

"Do you want to hike out together in the morning?" she asked as she climbed onto the top bunk and I wedged into the space below. "Sure," I said, thinking it would be lovely to have someone join me for this one, first day.

At the end of our second day, I asked her the same question.

At the end of our twelfth day, we stood in the streets of Santiago together, footsore and grateful.

Together, we had covered two hundred miles. We had hiked hour after hour, day after day. We'd complained about the blisters on our feet, the snorers in the dormitories, the annoying day-trippers who posed as pilgrims. We took Communion with a band of Catholics from Australia.

We commiserated about aching knees, whined about the brutal afternoon sun, and took turns gently urging the other person forward. We told the stories of our confusing love lives. We ate dark chocolate in Astorga and pulpo in Melide. In Molinaseca, she taught me the proper European way to eat a whole fish. We counted kilometers, searched for waymarkers, gasped at the beauty of the Galician morning mist.

We laughed and gossiped; at Cruz de Ferro we held each other at the foot of the cross while our eyes brimmed with tears.

I'd been prepared for solitude; I had never expected partnership.

The walk opened my heart. As I allowed my Divine Companion to walk with me, this human had come alongside. And besides Elle, I bonded with walkers from all over the world. I was taken aback at my own ability to welcome and befriend.   

There were nights of loneliness, even so. I had no phone or tablet, and couldn't find Heather on the date we had set. I skipped dinner with the pilgrims and sat with my journal. Messages of support came from home when I felt most homesick. We must feel our feelings - all of them, and when we do, we broaden our capacity for love. 

Whether in solitude or partnership, what we fear is the sense of being alone. Once we accept this ultimate aloneness, we can allow warmth, trust, togetherness. 

And even more powerfully, I was flooded with appreciation for the man who has anchored my life for sixteen years. I missed him so. I felt his love. A vision emerged, with new ways of relating that will deepen our relationship and help us grow into an exciting empty-nest future.

As for Heather, we did finally connect. We had two lovely meals together toward the end of the pilgrimage. She had a good friend from her hometown as her traveling partner and they enjoyed late mornings and long coffee breaks.

By then, my pattern was pretty much set. Every morning I'd tumble out of my bottom bunk, and my sidekick would tumble out of the top. We'd wrestle our stuff into our backpacks and hike out at 7, watching the dawn swallow up the morning shadows as we got ready to push ourselves as far as we could go.      

"You were sent to me," Elle said. Oh, but she was sent to me, too. What I learned is to always stay open for partnership, even while accepting solitude.


*We did get lost a couple of times on the Camino, but backtracking was easy. Leaving a cafe, we were corrected by an old gentleman in a cap who gruffed, "A donde vas?" Another time, two bicyclers jabbed their thumbs in the opposite direction as they sped along. As if they redirected pilgrims all day long. Which they probably did. (Which brings us to another lesson of the Camino: You will be directed.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Camino Lessons: You are Ultimately Alone

July, 2004. A friend and I boarded a train in Madrid. I was thrilled to join her for the Camino de Santiago. I admired her deeply, and hoped to become better friends.

Then we met a Spanish hiker on the train. My friend chatted with this young man, and before I knew it, we were a party of three. We fell into a pattern as the days unfolded. The two of them hiked together, initiating long coffee and ice cream breaks in the heat of the day. I went ahead, trying to keep a brisk pace, turning around now and then to see them walking behind me, heads nodding in deep conversation.

What about all my conditioning to hike hard and fast? What about my hopes for close friendship? I pushed on, fussing and sweating in the Spanish sun.

Then, when I hiked too far ahead and lost them, I panicked. I wiped away tears of exhaustion with the dirty sleeve of my hike shirt. A multilingual angel from the Netherlands and a Spanish priest with a cell phone came to my rescue. (This was in the days when cell phones weren't in every pocket.)

At a shelter at Puenta La Reina, I met Heike from Germany. This tanned, beautiful mom in her fifties had trekked all the way from LePuy, France. She sat on her bunk and advised me how to bandage my blisters. When my frustrations came pouring out, she said,
"What the Camino teaches is that you must go your own pace. You may have come with a friend, but on the Camino, you are ultimately alone."
The Camino (literally "the Way") teaches what is needed. It may be a lesson in solitude. It may be a lesson in letting go of friendship. It may be slowing down, or speeding up.

Roughly, I worked on accepting aloneness. It brought up difficult feelings for this girl who grew up in a foster home and feared abandonment.

I came home treasuring the lesson and yet still confused about it. It would find its way into my life, as all pilgrim lessons do, one moment of solitude at a time.

Yet the Way is full of paradox. Just because you've learned one truth doesn't mean you don't need the opposite. 

Next lesson of the Camino: You are never alone.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The First Lesson of the Camino: What Will You Carry?

Our pain was a result of all that we were carrying.

I remembered this as I packed for my second trek on the Camino de Santiago.

July, 2004. My hiking partner and I were outfitted with high-tech shirts, thick socks, and skin care lotions. By the time we reached Trinidad de Arre, about 40 miles in, her knee froze in place and she could barely walk. My ankle screamed with each step I took on the cobbled pavement.

The priest at the monastery shelter took one look at us, shook his head and said something like, "Kilos demasiados!" My Spanish was terrible (and still is), but I got the message when he pointed to our packs and said it again.

Too much weight.

We went through our backpacks, tossing toiletries, shirts, socks. Items of value we marched to the post office and mailed home. We kept only the bare minimum.

That unforgettable pain seared my mind, so that now, packing for this trip, I thought twice about everything. Or three times.

I weighed choices - literally, using a postage scale.

The Camino forces you to simplify. You must face limitations. You have only so much room in your backpack, and only so much strength.

You've got to decide what is important to you. Cute flats for wearing in town, after hiking? Or goofy rubber Crocs that weigh next-to-nothing? Goodbye cute, hello goofy.

Shampoo and hair conditioner and Woolite and shower gel? Or just one bar of soap? Goodbye pampered skin, hello getting by.

And so it went.

When it comes to deciding what to carry, each person has different issues.

Not surprisingly, I started this year's journey noticing backpacks.

The biggest backpack belonged to a cheerful, dark-haired pilgrim from Germany. She seemed to be moving quite slow.

"I just have to ask," I said. "Why are you carrying such an enormous pack?"

"It's really not that heavy," Marie said. She explained that her original intent was to camp out so she had packed tent and sleeping pad.

As the days went on, I kept seeing her plodding along the trail. At one point, she had given up her boots and wore sandals which revealed a mass of bandages swaddling her blistered feet. She always wore a smile. "I'll get there," she said. "One way or another."

And then there was the guy with two backpacks. "Um," I said. "You've got a backpack on your chest." As if he didn't know. "What's that about?"

In his salty New Zealand accent, Paul answered, "I have a hard time letting go."

I couldn't help but chuckle. He said it as if it were a genetic trait and he had no choice in the matter. "You have a hard time letting go," I repeated.


The smallest backpack also caught my attention. "What's with the tiny pack?" I asked the young Virginian when I finally caught up to his brisk pace.

"It was a hard lesson for me," he said. "I'm an athlete, so it was tough admitting when my legs and feet started giving out. I took a rest, and now I have my regular backpack sent by taxi each day. If not for that decision, I wouldn't be here." Brock had covered 300 miles so far, from St. Jean Pied de Port.

My own pack, by the way, wasn't as light as I'd hoped to get it.

I'd kept some things. The hairbrush, a gift from my daughter. The sleeping bag vs. sleeping sack. The flowered top, so I could have something that felt "girl."

The question of what to carry can never be answered once and for all. It's a lesson that unfolds as our priorities change, as we get to know ourselves better, and as we grow.

As for Paul from New Zealand, I caught up with him a hundred miles later. "I got rid of my extra pack!" he said. "I just . . . let it go!"  Because he found out that he really could.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Real Journey is This

Navarre, Spain -  along the Camino de Santiago                                                                   CJ Krug

The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems, 1987

El Camino de Santiago: A New Beginning, A Look Back

As I begin my Camino this week, I look back at my visit ten years ago. I started on what is known as the "French Way," hiking over the Pyrenees into Spain. 

Pilgrim Anne gets credit for starting me on the journey. She has hiked the Camino three times!

That first visit, I completed 150 miles of the French Way. This time, I'll pick up the trail in Leon and continue to Santiago. I'm not married to any plan, though - and I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing, as I'm not carrying any wired gadgets.

Silence, for me, is a key component of the walk.

And so is the willingness to accept what comes.

My first pilgrimage taught me that the most important thing is an open heart toward every experience, even if it takes you away from what you thought was supposed to happen.

My intention now, is to savor each step and discovery. In truth, you're only ever here once.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

El Camino de Santiago, Finding the Path, and Getting Lost

A decade ago, I joined a friend on El Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage in northern Spain. Marked by the yellow scallop shell, the road has been traveled by countless pilgrims over eight hundred years.

I came home with blistered feet, a mind full of landscapes and faces, and a soul that felt certain I was on the right path.  
And then, last summer, that path ran in circles. It trailed into the woods. It disappeared. 

I’d known exactly where I was in my life, in my relationships and roles. Now I looked up and nothing seemed familiar. I was lost.

At first, I panicked. And then, over the months, I began to change. Now I understand that lostness is an important part of the journey.

If we are certain of our destination, and how it will unfold, we can’t be nudged, guided, led to new things. We become glib and presumptuous. We stop listening to the Spirit.

Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book, An Altar in the World, writes about getting lost as a spiritual practice. “[S]omething is happening to you in this wilderness that does not happen when you are safe at home.”

Indeed, one afternoon last summer, traveling Germany's oldest city with my husband, an even stranger thing happened. He got lost. This never happens. He has a mind like a map.

Caught in a drizzle, we retraced our steps for miles. He sighed over the guidebook that had made sense until now. It felt like the perfect metaphor for our relationship, for my soul, for all the lostness I felt. 

Then we turned a corner.

There it was: the scallop shell. Turns out, we were on the Camino--Jakobsweg, as it’s known in Germany. 

I was on my path even when I felt most lost.

Again and again, I heard the consolation of Spirit: “You’re exactly where you belong.” The sweet thing is, I can’t give myself credit. I’m humbled to keep following, keep listening, and not take anything or anyone for granted.

Last Sunday I gathered with a small group of Camino veterans. They blessed me and gave me a scallop shell for my journey.

Because I’m heading out again. In about a week, I’m going back on the Camino, an outward walk to complement my inward practice. I have a deeper understanding of pilgrimage now, allowing for surprises and the unknown. Knowing that being lost, and being on the path, are often the very same thing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

His Third Wife: Lessons on Marriage and Becoming

The second husband, the second wife

The husband and I have been discussing his second wife.

"I miss her," he says.

"She was sweet," I agree.

"She did so many nice things," he says.

"Yes." I should know. That second wife was me.

Over the past twelve months - a difficult year, a beautiful year - I've learned new things about myself. I've resolved to honor that person. I've delved into my gifts with fresh vigor. I've grown and challenged myself to paint, play, write, and wander. 

I've become a new person.

Exploring new territory

I'm no longer the wife who makes dinner every night, or joins her husband on the couch for movies. I've stopped scheduling social events on his behalf. I don't ask for permission any more - to put my art on the walls, to make new friends, or to write and create on a Saturday instead of hang out with the hubs.

I know. Some of you wives are gasping in disbelief. Others are jealous.

It's been a process of honesty and investigation - finding out what I'm truly about and discovering how to be this human being. I trust that the more I'm following Spirit, the more I can bless the world.

It's my job alone to become this human being. Gone are the days of wanting someone else to define me, even my husband.

Which means I'm now his third wife.

Situations will arise, and I'll say, or he'll say, "The second wife would've said yes." Ah, but the third wife says no. Or waits. Or says what she really thinks about it.

And in all this, there's a dialogue, a noticing, a freedom, a new way.

I've been grateful for the guides and friends who have supported me on this journey. They've acknowledged how this needed to happen; they've been witnesses to the me who was hiding.

Hiding and calling it service. Calling it wifehood. Really it wasn't so servy after all.

True service only happens when you know who you are. 

Where two rivers meet (the Rhine and the Mosel)

So the other morning, the husband said, "You just keep getting prettier and prettier." Which is sweet. This second husband of mine has always been so wonderful with compliments.

I paused. "You like the way I'm changing on the outside. But you don't like the other ways I'm changing."

"That's right!" he chirped, grinning. 

"Ohmygosh!" I said. "You just told me the truth of your feelings!" We both laughed.

Obviously, this is no longer my second husband.

This one is my third.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Different Kind of Shopping

Added a thing or two to the husband's shopping list . . . .

When he got home he said there was one thing Winco didn't have. 

Funny, my friend Gypmar found it there quite some time ago.

Because, you know, Big Feelings can give way to spiritual insight.

Just a reminder to keep the truly important things on your list, even if you're not sure where to find them.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: The Light Gathers

It begins as a blank page when you have nothing to say. It creeps, line by line, into a journal entry on a sad morning.  

But here's what amazes me: how the light gathers. How a journal becomes a beacon.    

That's the beauty of journaling as a spiritual practice.

You don't think you have anything to say. You don't think there's anyone listening, anyway.

But when you go to the place of telling the truth, just telling the truth, to the highest force of Truth you know, there's always light. The light gathers. 

So many times we are caught up in telling ourselves things, pretending we feel what we don't, demanding we be who are not. This goes along with the trap of saying prayers we don't believe. 

Truth is better.

Being where you are is the only beginning.

When you touch the darkest, most honest, most frightening truth, you're pierced by a sliver of light. 

The Presence can't work with you if you're trying to impress yourself or your deity. The Presence has no use for ego-construction projects. The architecture of protection only hides what we need to see about ourselves.

So when you visit your journal today, don't worry about writing something spiritual or profound. Stop protecting yourself from what is.


 What is the most honest thing I can say to God right now?

And say it.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Honest to God

A fog of longing and disappointment is falling over me this morning.

I pretend not to feel it. Needy, lost.

This isn't how I want to be. This isn't how I want God to see me.

Then it comes to me: tell the truth.

I'd rather keep pretending for myself, others, and the Presence, that I am fabulously enlightened and so over-the-world.

It's only when I connect with what is real that I can begin to see. Tell the truth.

I ask myself: What's the most honest thing I can say to God right now?

It's the most powerful question I know. I let go pretending.

There's only me and the Truth - no one else's definition of who I am, or who I should be. And, no one else's definition of God.

What I notice this morning is how hard I'm trying to make myself acceptable.

Noising off in my head, and everywhere, about my efforts, my prayers, my dedication, my meditation.

Merely noise.

Because I don't feel it: accepted.

The most honest thing I can say to the Presence right now is - Hey. I am really messing up here. I'm clingy, chaotic, distracted, addicted.

I'm no good at making myself happy. I know better, and I'm afraid to show you who I am. 

Moody, selfish, erratic, and confused. 

A demanding and apathetic wife. An inconsistent, obsessive friend. A distant, unreliable mom.

Dear Presence: I want to be different. I remember Your beauty inside me. 

Right now I can't find it. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Living in My Host Human

"So how are you?"

Such a simple question. But I'm having a hard time with the answer. Does the person want a real answer or a simple one? Does she want to know the status of my survival? The facts of my life? Or does the person want a picture of my soul?

I've been stunt-jumping on a tricky course. I've been slogging through personal growth and healing. I may feel peaceful, jubilant, sad, confused, ambivalent, or all of these things at once.

It's really kind of amazing to step back and watch the weather of the heart.  

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch. "How are you?"

"I'm doing great," I said. "My host human is having some issues, but I'm doing great."

My friend smiled. "Your host - wait." He smiled. He got it.

So I'm seeing all that is going on with me - relationship questions, creative energy, perimenopausal mood swings, adventures, dreams, and heartbreak - all of this is temporary. It's the stuff that comes with living in a human body.

I have this deep-rooted sense of well-being below all of it, in the center of all of it. And as I identify with who I really am, this spirit connected to the Presence, this eternal being living in an earth moment, well - I can experience the ride without judgment. At the same time, I don't have to gloss over the feelings.

Oh, my host human. She's pretty great. But I'm glad she won't be like this forever.

Image Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Going Public: Being Online and Hating It

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! They'd advertise—you know!

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!

--Emily Dickinson

There are days I hate social networking. I catch myself trying too hard to be Somebody.

Marketers and publicists talk about how important it is for a business owner and author to be visible. But as a sensitive person, I become stretched and thin.

I'm waving tentacles, trying to get some random, invisible crowd to notice.

Then I realize, this whole online thing doesn't have to be a great fit.

I notice others - ordinary people, saints, and poets, who have chosen to put their energy elsewhere.

My true life isn't in what people are noticing or not noticing. My true life is in that secret chamber of the spirit, connecting to something far greater than "famousness."

The trick then, is participating, but not immersing myself in blogging and networking. Not letting myself feel worthy or unworthy according to the outcome or readership.

Understanding the value is a temporary thing. It's a fleeting but useable tool for my work.

It's living in a paradox.

Really, I could desert the whole outfit, become a recluse like Emily Dickinson, and be perfectly happy, but what good would that do the universe?

Fleeing the other frogs is just as self-centered as getting into croaking competitions with them.

Croak on, frogs. I know who I am.

And what about you? Who are you . . . really?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Swan

The Swan

This laboring through what is still undone
as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.

And dying - to let go, no longer feel
the solid ground we stand on every day -
is like his anxious letting himself fall

into the water, which receives him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draws back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.

--Rainier Maria Rilke; translation by Stephen Mitchell

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Who I Used to Be

Going through closets and cupboards, I’m finding things I haven’t touched for years.

•    Cookie cutters for baking with the kids, all of whom are in their twenties now
•    A professional black and white blazer
•    Pumpkin carvers for Halloween 
•    Red satin heels that went with dresses I no longer own 
•    A lace jacket that scratched my skin
•    Medicines for past ailments
•    A black cashmere sweater that gave my neck a rash
•    Strong’s Concordance for studying the Bible

These things reflect the person I used to be: the mom who doted on her kids, the eager-to-please wife, the on-and-off again administrative assistant, the conservative Christian.

She was willing to wear uncomfortable things for the sake of looking nice. She was conscious of cost, and didn’t throw out anything that had been pricey. She invested greatly in her children and family and their times together.

But life asks us to recognize the present. To acknowledge our changing.

Really, I’m not very good at spring cleaning. But I am getting the message about what to notice.

This person whose things I’m giving away - I’m not that person anymore. There’s a part of me who doesn’t want to let her go. Yet I’m willing.

I’m at a crossroads, with a new empty nest, a changing focus, an evolving creativity and relationship with God.

I remember another crossroads fifteen years ago. A friend shared a Zen Kōan, the story of a man who crosses a river, then picks up the boat and carries it with him wherever he goes.

Once you have taken the boat across the river, you don’t need it anymore.

There are many rivers I’ve crossed, and I honor them, and I’m grateful for all the vessels that have brought me along.

And now as I take the next step on land, I’m a little lighter, a little more free.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Moon, the Stars, and Nurturing Yourself

Once upon a time I looked upon astrology as misleading, evil, or satanic. If it wasn't all those things, then at least it was silly and unscientific.

I've changed my mind.

I've come to view astrology as a wonderful resource on my journey.

Formerly, I wrestled with not feeling my astrological sign, Virgo. She is fussy, perfectionistic, moralistic, demanding. Ugh! These have been qualities I've railed against and worked to minimize. I've taken things even further, as a coach who helps creatives banish critical thoughts.

Not connecting to my sign, it was pretty easy to discount astrology. What I've learned through astrologer Jenna Abernathy, however, is that my sun sign only represents a part of what influences my identity. Jenna pointed out that I am a Pisces moon, and that, like many people, I am much more identified with my moon sign, that internal, quieter identity that follows a gentler rhythm.

This discovery floored me. I love and totally relate to my Pisces moon. I'm imaginative, dreamy, sensitive, intuitive, creative, emotional - it fits perfectly. I've also come to realize that the Virgo side does hold sway, helping me be disciplined and think critically. Yet it doesn't feed my soul.

Astrology teaches that your moon sign gives you cues to what nurtures and restores you. It's about that innermost personality.

According to "Stars Like You," I need escape time in order to feel nourished and cared for. This is spot-on. I've found I need dream time, stretches of quiet, and unstructured play. When I don't get this, I start feeling stressed, and I reach for my Pisces-moon addictions, which tend to be internal rather than external like other Pisces traps. Some of my pitfalls are obsessing, the Internet, self-pity, and depression.

The Maker of the Stars has designed me with exquisite care. I am much more than my signs, and yet these tools can offer wisdom. Honoring my rhythms and needs honors my self and my Maker. 

If you're like me, you can fall into the trap of ignoring your needs and feeding your addictions - whether those addictions are food, alcohol, shopping, trying to control others, or you-name-it. Finding out about yourself and how you operate, and getting encouragement and support from others, can help you not only understand yourself, but find a sweet life balance.

So what is your moon sign? How are you honoring yourself? How are you taking care of yourself? I'd love to hear about it. 

By the way, here's Jenna Abernathy's upcoming course: Moonshadow, which teaches you how to honor this nurturing side expressed by your moon sign. It's going to be amazing.

Jenna Abernathy of Divine Hunger

Wednesday, February 26, 2014



The wind today reminds me of a day last month, when I drove to the Columbia Gorge. I had no exact destination, just an intention to go on a date with my Interstellar Secret Lover. I pulled over at a trail, pulled my hat tight over my ears, and started along the Columbia River.
I was surrounded by blue sky, tall, pale grass, and topaz ponds scattered with egrets. Every few minutes, the wind strove to push me backwards, making me stumble and smile. It wrestled off my hat; it laughed at me; it teased that it would blow me away. I felt the playfulness and delight of my Interstellar Secret Lover.
The driving wind invited me to let go of my weight. To be carried away:
You don’t have to be so important in the world.
There is a gentleness in being weightless. There is a freedom in being pushed by a brute force that has earned my infinite trust.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Change Your Man

1)   Stop thinking he’s your man.

2)   Whatever it is you want to change, find it in yourself. Change yourself. 

3)   Just as he is, appreciate him.

4)   Just as he is, appreciate him.

5)   Just as he is, appreciate him. 

6)   By this time you won’t care if he changes. Notice the changes anyway. Say thank you.

7)   He won’t say “You’re welcome.” Accept this. You are not the reason he changed.

8)   Repeat steps one through seven.

When you don't see the forest for the trees, you can change what you are looking at.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Interstellar Secret Lover

A couple weeks ago, my dear friend Tom and I were processing his recent break-up. He talked about his ex-boyfriend; I talked about sticky points in my marriage.

I said, “No matter how things are going with my husband, I always have my secret lover.”

We both smiled.

My secret lover has been there for me since my first kiss at age five. I leaned into the neighbor boy as we played house in a makeshift fort. He looked at me, shrugged, and let me kiss him again.

In my late teens, I took long drives with no destination in mind, knowing I could talk to my secret lover and say whatever I needed to say.

At 19, I turned down dates, somehow compelled to be alone. I felt lonely, even so. I told my secret lover about it. On Valentine’s Day, a dark-haired man in a business suit approached the counter of the café where I worked. “I don’t have anyone to give these to today,” he said. “They must be meant for you.” He handed me a bouquet of red roses and slipped away. Tears stung my eyes. I knew this was a gift from my secret lover.

My secret lover is infinite and interstellar. He has been there for me on countless adventures and walks that seemed lonely to outward appearances. He is a she whenever I need female tenderness. We’ve had ice cream together, walked along the beach, made discoveries in my journal or over a canvas.

I have learned that through all the loves in my life, it is really my interstellar secret lover who is loving me. This is an unconditional  love that takes many forms, and these days, often uses my sweet husband. Yet it also comes through family, friends, kids, and creative cohorts.

Last week, feeling down, I walked on snow-laden streets through a frozen neighborhood. I looked up to see a white-haired woman pulling aside her curtain, watching me. She smiled and waved at her window. That smile belonged to my lover.

And I've noticed something. When I target a human source, trying to claim it as my ultimate happiness, my interstellar secret lover gently steers me back to him. Otherwise I'm bound for disappointment.

My interstellar secret lover gives me patience with whomever I’m touching at the moment. When things are going well, I know who to thank, and when things are challenging, I know who to lean hard upon.

I keep talking to my lover; I keep listening. Our relationship grows when I acknowledge how much, how very much, he loves me. Sometimes, I can’t feel his presence, but if I stay with me, stay with us,  it returns, and I’m filled again with the joy.

I still feel like I'm playing house with the neighbor boy. I still cry when my man gives me flowers. I continue to find out ways that my interstellar secret lover showers me with love; it will take a lifetime to discover them all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Perfection, Problems, and You

There's that problem.

You know the one.

The problem you've tried to solve umpteen million ways since June.

Since before June.

Since 1987.

Since, every month of your life.

As you tell yourself, I shouldn't be this way. I shouldn't be dealing with this again. When will I ever stop having . . . ?

(Fill in the blank. With anything.)

And you haven't figured it out yet: This problem is your teacher.

This problem is tied up with what you need while you're on this planet. You are being asked to listen to the teacher.

And this problem is custom-made for you.

Perfect for you.

She is wanting to love you, but you keep pushing her away.

So. Yes. That problem.

What if: the way this is showing up in your life at this moment is absolutely perfect?

Ah, and what if:

             the way you are living with it,

             looking at it, working with it,

             moving it around

             how you are being with it

            is exactly perfect?

What if your teacher is giving you an "A"  you don't recognize?

What if you are absolutely perfect as you are?

Gaining insight and richness and wisdom.

Being here.

Welcoming your teacher.

Your teacher, in disguise, who loves you.