Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fear and Its Gifts

Big Sur is a dramatic landscape filled with both joy and tragedy. It has been my honor and privilege to have lived here most of my adult life.
Now, as 2018 is maturing and the lessons of the season are being recognized, I want to share my thoughts about what I have learned from fear and how it has awakened me as I coped with making things work even when they were not working.
What happened between the Soberanes Fire of August 2016, the series of landslides and highway closures that led to the isolation of the area for many months,  and the eventual reopening of the highway in October 2017 was a profound and transforming series of events.
It is still a challenge to express what I saw and lived through, and yet I am doing my best to enter into the messages of that time and bring forward the gifts we all were given.
Deeply humbled by this series of events, I am also grateful for the grace I received from so many places and how the support of the Spirit sustained me through all of it.
What I found on the other side is that faith and fear do not coexist.
In my upcoming book, Green Fire, I describe the conversation that I had with fear as I asked it to give way to grace. Each of them is a gift that can only be acknowledged, perhaps never understood.
The paragraphs below come from Green Fire.  The book is still evolving, far from the form I originally thought it would take.  There are times when I am able to write it fluidly and with a feeling of lightness.  Other times, I look at the draft and say "I am not ready yet to do this part of the work."  Here's what it felt like in the winter of 2017 when the roads were blocked and the rains kept coming, the trees kept falling, and there seemed to be no bottom to it all:
“Deep in the darkness and the howling wind, in the middle of the night fear would come. That little voice would wake me up and whisper in my ear that my situation was precarious, and I was a little, tiny person in the midst of a vast wild place…
What if… there were so many things that could go wrong. The litany of potential disasters would appear, and I would have a look.
How was I going to pay my bills? Or was I going to pay them at all? What if there were more trees on the road and I couldn’t get out for two weeks? What if I ran out of everything? Would this go on forever? My adult mind knew that at some point things would change, and that this too would pass.
I made myself listen to my feelings, and then made a decision.  I would make fear a tool, a way forward, instead of being paralyzed by it.  I resolved that when fear appeared, I would thank it for the awareness it brought, and put gratitude in its place. And this is what made that real for me...

Fear became a daily visitor.  Each week when it was time to go out, I felt a sense of dread.  Cut off from my friends along the coast, I had to get back into the very core of everything I learned when I first came to this mountain, and had so very little.  I reconnected with something I had forgotten about myself.  I remembered, then, that fear is an expression of a lack of faith, and I felt ashamed that I felt ungrateful for all that I had.  A house, still standing.  A car that ran.  Customers for my business.  Friends, kind and true friends, who reached out to me and took me in to ease the strains of all the driving.  People who referred me to new customers, and clients who appeared unexpectedly when I needed them the most.

 I would daily express my gratitude for all the grace that I was experiencing.  Doing this changed everything for me.  My body began to relax and change its tenseness to a state of expectancy.  My mind became more resilient.  My spirit felt nourished by being acknowledged.

After all, my house had not burned, like those of so many people I knew.  I had a roof over my head, firewood to keep warm.  I had a little dog who rode along when I went places, and a cat who stayed home.  I had food. I had a chain saw in my car in case there were trees on the road, and a tire pump to reinflate my tires, which went flat pretty often.  I didn't have money to replace them yet, but at least I could keep driving.   And the list went on.  By doing this, I found that my perception of what was going on began to change.  I was able to make contact with a deeper part of my being. 
All the people in the area were bargaining with their situations in one way or another. The thing that kept us going was knowing that something else would be ahead.
Day by day, I learned more and more about how to be truly in the moment, to let go of all the "what if" discussions, and to simply live with what that day had to offer.  It was enough.   Beauty appeared, faith stepped in, and fear stepped aside for another day.
Because writing Green Fire has been so challenging,
 I wrote another book to take the edge off and keep me motivated. 

It's called  
The Essential Excuse Handbook:
77 Ways to Keep From Doing Anything At All
Curious?  Check it out:
Have fun with that!


Monday, March 26, 2018

Awakening to Possibility


Spring is never quite the way you think it's going to be.  It starts off looking all mellow and warm, with gentle breezes, and then, turns cold and damp, with blustery wind that says, "I am not yet done telling you something."  Buds begin to form, the first sprouts of the first flowers come up and look around at the world, still wet and chilly.  

Here in the mountains, there may be hard frost in the morning, and in the afternoon, the chorus of frogs rejoicing in the moisture and the chance to jump around.

It is gentle in the middle and rough around the edges, or else the other way round...seeming to promise great things, then taking them back again or telling us that we must wait to see if they are really going to happen.

For me, the spring also holds a bit of melancholy, a kind of wistfulness that doesn't really show itself except in bits and pieces.  The beginning...does this mean there will be an end, too?  Of course it does, but is there really a beginning or an end?  What are the buds saying now about the harvest that will come when they have flowered, fruited, ripened, fallen or been gathered?  

I walk around looking at the displays of nature.  The flowers have a language of their own.  They rise and throw color into the world, are blown over, or rained into rags, and they don't seem to care a bit about any of it.

The questions arrive like the birds....all the cyclic ways of nature, the emotions, the realizations,  come rushing in with the new vitality and all the clumsiness of a new puppy.

I am gathering my thoughts for the next writing retreat, thinking of my ideas and how to make them visible.  I take extra care to think about my clients and what their needs are.  And in this year, after going through so many difficulties during last year, I am above all grateful for the chance to begin again.  Life feels new, and full, and I am stronger for having bent in the wind, like the grass.

Light the Fire is on April 28th at Asilomar.  

We will talk about the creative process, how to make it a natural part of life, and how to light up communication by making direct contact with intuitive forces supported by solid knowledge of the laws of style.  I will share information about creating strong sentences and paragraphs, and provide solid information about nurturing your creative process.

Attendance is limited to six.  If you would like to join us, please click on the link below for more information about registering for this unique opportunity to meet with other creative people in the magical setting of Asilomar.


Light the Fire is a special time for me, too.  Being in the company of people who are creative and sharing our essence is the best part of life.  What a blessing to see and to know one another.

 What does spring mean for you?  Are you ready to rush out into the rain, and gather the daffodils quickly before the moisture makes them transparent and fragile, to rejoice in their yellowness?  Does something stir in your soul that wants to come out and be known?

Here, as the birds come in groups and the grasses begin to rise, the feeling of newness is so potent that it makes me feel raw and vulnerable in a way that lets me know I am truly alive.   

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Waiting: the Meaning of an Interval

The picture above is of a place that no longer exists.  I had a large lamp with stained glass panels that had been give to me.  It didn't really suit my decor as it was, and yet I enjoyed the colors.  So for a while I turned it upside down and used it to create a kind of doll house, carpeted by a piece of needlepoint which was like it; resembling the lamp in that I had no place for it in  my day to day life, but it spoke to my imagination.  The tiny room sat in my office window as a place for passing ideas and inspirations to alight and refresh.  I enjoyed having the colors change as the sun moved past.

And then, it was time to let go of it.  I felt that the little structure had served its purpose, and I wanted someone to have the pleasure of seeing the lamp lit up, doing what it was created to do.  So I passed it on.  

The little interval when ideas stopped by in the tiny room was refreshing, and I was able to act on some of them.  They have taken visible form, or else they have found other places to land, where 
 they had someone to receive them who could help them take form.  

Either way, hosting ideas was, and is, fun.  Ideas are all around us, waiting for someone to notice them, to listen and feel, and take action.  They are just outside the visible world, with messages to make our lives more intense, more relaxing, or perhaps, more meaningful.

I have other objects and visuals that I enjoy that serve the same purpose...bringing  happy thoughts and feelings into my mind and heart.  Inspiration can come from anywhere.  Providing a place in your life that serves to help you notice it can be a source of enjoyment, and a powerful stimulus for the imagination.

It doesn't have to be elaborate. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dormant Energy Rises

Sometimes life feels a bit like a journey through a maze.  You have a general idea that somewhere ahead is the thing that you are seeking, the "reason" behind it all.  What exactly is it that you are seeking, and where is the correct path to get you to that place where you find it?

You model of reality is the guidance system that you work with, day in and day out, to find your way.  What you believe to be true becomes your truth, either quickly, or perhaps slowly, bit by bit.  How accurate is your map?  That's one question.  
Another one is, are you living in the map, believing it completely,  or in the day that you have....today?

In the picture above, a  map has been overlaid with another complete one.  Neither of them is complete.  Neither one really takes you the whole way to the destination without a "leap of faith", going into the unknown to find the missing bits of information.

It's by making the choice that you define how things will go.  When you decide to go this way or that, what is it that you choose to feel is important?  

Here's something I wrote about the way we make decisions based on what we value.


When you really know what you are cherishing in your heart, there is no right or wrong decision.  The reason that you made the choice you did is what takes you to the next place.  How will you know that you are on the "right" path?  by knowing that you are living truly in the things that touch your heart, and those of others.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Pushing Up Newness

January!  What a great time of the year, when a sense of renewal begins to arrive.  The days are getting longer, and the very first buds of summer plants begin to form.  Some of them aren't even waiting for spring, they are already blooming!  As if too provide visual warmth in the crisp weather, warm colors appear.  It's the moment of red, yellow, and of white.

The whole situation cries out for letting go and for starting fresh.  

I'm so excited about this year!  New projects and opportunities are coming up like the peony shoots you see at upper left, jumping out of the ground with verve and vitality, expanding into the light.  

Narcissus reminds me to reflect carefully on what I have to offer, and how to receive with grace.  

Pineapple sage with its many hummingbird visitors is pure joy.  

And the "red rider flower" (whose name I don't know)  is coming forward to announce that it's not all about summer...winter holds great treasures, too.

So, this year I will be speaking, offering workshops, hosting visitors, going out into the world to do business.  With a full heart I offer my thanks to you for reading this.  My hope is that the enthusiasm is contagious!

What would it be like to step right into that kind of enthusiasm, and make planning into a fun thing to do?

How much more enjoyment could you get out of life by 
tapping into your creative powers, 
and making the things that you want to see happen 
actually come to pass?  

Want to find out? 

Click the link above, 
and schedule a time for us to talk about becoming all that your imagination says you can be..
how to get there with ease, and grace, and having fun doing it.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Collection and Reflection

This is one of my favorite pictures.  It's a portrait of the Magic City, one which I don't know the name of, or even what country it is in.  It lives in my dreams, and my dreams live in it.  It'a a reminder of how we are all reflections of reflections.  Each bit of light, when reflected, continues on into the Universe, with the same message as the original one, altered only by perception.  This picture came to me on the Internet one day, when I wasn't looking for it, and has stayed with me.  I'm so grateful that it showed up.

The creative process is deep and mysterious, like that of reflection.  An idea can appear seemingly out of nowhere, and take on such a strong energy that it takes over your whole life.  If it is strong enough, it can influence the course of many other lives, as well. 
The way you express the idea and the feeling you put into it make it come to life.

The picture below was taken of my reflection, showing me as who I imagine myself to be when I look in the mirror.  It's accurate in its way, but only to a point.  
In other words, I never see myself, the way the rest of the world sees me, except in a photo, a frozen image of another moment.  what do I look like in this moment, to others?  I can never really know.

 It's a bit of a jolt when you realize that you have been seeing your mirror self, and not the self that the rest of the Universe sees.  What is alike, and what is different? 
And on it goes...

Thinking again about the Magic City, the one where dreams live...What would it be like to get deeper into the reflection, and to step through it, into a new way of seeing yourself and the world, one that holds more freedom?  How would you change?  

Stop by at my web site for some fresh ideas...

All my best as we approach the Solstice! Hope to see you soon!


Monday, August 14, 2017

Turn To Fullness

Here it comes!  The first fruits of the year are shown in this photo.  Since it was taken, more boxes and baskets are being filled and in turn they are filling up the kitchen.  This is the fulfilled promise of the trees as they perservered through the rain and the wind.  The blossoms have completed themselves.  Within the fruits are the seeds that could create many more trees.

It reminds me of one of the great sayings of the poet Rumi, who said, "gratitude is the true fruit.  Abundance is only the husk.  I must pause and reflect as I gather fruit early in the morning every day.  Some of the trees are heavily laden, while others don't have any fruit at all.  Late frost changed the picture this year.  There's a lot of fruit as it is, and the fact that not everything bore this year is a blessing!  Too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing.

IN turn, I think about how the season is already shifting.  The fruit is proof of that.  After the trials of last winter, I wonder how it is going to go this time around the sun.  I am already preparing for possible outcomes.  It's a time of deep emotional searching.

Putting in extra supplies is part of the mountain way of life.  So I go over my checklist, and see what to add to the stores.  I figure out, too, what needs to be removed so that there is more room for what is best, and not just for what is good enough.  What is just hanging around for no particular reason, having outlived its usefulness in my life?  Out it goes.  Let someone else enjoy it.

I'm getting ready for the autumn writing retreat, 
the Light the Fire event, 
and feel excited about the possibilities.  
Who will join me for this great day of 
reflection and of sharing?  
What will we learn together? 
Will YOU join me there?
On September 16th, just before the equinox, 
it's time to renew and reflect, 
to think about what is next.  
What harvest will come to us?
Stories are our heritage, our harvest, that we share with the world in an unbroken stream from our earliest ancestors.  Stories are the way that all knowledge passed from one generation to anotherfor millenia.  Story is more important than ever now, as we struggle to find meaning and ways to live in a fast-changing world.  we are inindated with information, and how are we to create a story out of it?  Like beads on a necklace, the events of each day are the seeds of story.  One story leads to another.  A story that lands in the right place can multiply many times over, and create a beautiful harvest of meaning.

I'll be focusing on the power of story, and how you can create deeper interest through opening up the power of language. This will also cover the elements of story creation and how they fit together to create a complete whole. We'll have time for questions and answers, and I will also show you how to build creative time into your day in a completely natural process that makes every part of your life better.

Here's the link to register:  

I hope you can join with me to continue the great tradition of story-telling.

All my best, always,