My favorite place to sit

Once there was a place called “camp.”

When I first drove to camp, I encountered all kinds of wildlife down the long driveway. I thought the barn-like outbuilding garage to the french-style main house was for rent, but the gentleman took me along around the house, down a fieldstone path, down 40 steps to a 700 square foot boathouse with a 7×25 porch overlooking a crystal clear lake. “Camp” rocked.

It was called “camp” so that I didn’t mind the spiders so much.

About a month after I moved in (a place where I answered the phone, ‘paradise, may I help you?’) my back went out. As in I heard a pop and the next time i sat down I had no movement from the waist down. (I am literally, just now, noticing this pattern of my body full-on shutting down to get me to slow down. I thought this current thing was the first time. It never is.) I got real slow real fast, and got to stay employed and working from home – the most beautiful home I could imagine – actually it sortof burst my idea of joy in place wide open. I’d had some fine places before, but this was the cream of the crop.

So, the summer of 1999, I was very slow. I sat. A lot. I also walked the driveway 3 times, 2x per day. The driveway up past the pine grove, the orchard, the gardens, the meadow, the bees…. Sorry. Reverie.

Camp taught me how to sit happily. I was in wonderment of the place every. single. day.

Then life got started up again, and I went back to work, always with my scrappy little attitude. I kinda honored my body and needs, and kinda drank too much, and kinda operated from a series of belief systems that didn’t really serve me. I met Tucker and started this adventure, and essentially moved on thinking my need to be slow had passed with the surgery and recovery. Life got busy.

Now I see many ways to introduce slowing down into the moments we’re already experiencing. This need to be slow lets me see opportunities to get to slow even in the transitions between activities, and even within the activities themselves.

Being slow at camp is a cherished part of my development. A really beautiful place to be. I wish I had fully internalized the lesson – i think my kids’ early lives would’ve been a lot more dynamic. Alas, I’m super happy to be slow now. I’m super happy to be talking about being slow. I’m super happy to think about it, to reflect on just. how. much. richness. it brings to my daily life and experience. how gentle it makes the hard spots.

Oh, so this post was going to be about sitting on the porch at camp. It’s an iconic image in my mind.

And when pain comes to visit me, whether emotional or physical, I never avoid it. I invite it in. and then we go through the house and sit on the porch. Me and the pain. Present to each other. In a safe and comfortable space. Sometimes there is smoking. Sometimes lemonade.  Sometimes there is talking, but remarkably rarely. it’s not quite camp, but i don’t know what the ‘vista’ is, but it’s every bit a vista, and me and my pain just sit there. together.


the elephant in the room

i like elephants. I LOVE ganesha. i am humbled by the strength and beauty. and if there is an elephant in the room, shower it with love. That’s my strategy. Honestly, I get that that’s not entirely an enjoyable thing because facing elephants is awkward and most people love to work around them and literally never address it. As a person who resonated with Disappointment Panda, the person who lays out the uncomfortable truth, I recognize that part of me holds the pattern of looking at what you want to avoid and reaching for it to put it right back squarely in the center of the room. as an elephant. I encourage us to use colorful chalks to embrace and decorate this elephant, but I simply, literally cannot ignore the elephant. Because I love elephants. And uncomfortable as it is, working through whatever is squarely in the center of the room opens up new, spacious fields of being. Freedom doesn’t avoid anything. and addressing the things we’re avoiding frees us from them. It isn’t even reverse psychology. It’s just a field of openness. And when you notice areas of constriction or elephants in the room, you at least acknowledge it, get curious about why it’s in awareness and how to be fully present with it. Comfortable or uncomfortable, taking a few breaths to open yourself to what you’re fully feeling and experiencing – that is raw, unbridled power. Scary as shit, I give you that… But it’s where all the juice is. God expressing herself to you through this thing dressed like a beggar that you want to avoid. Or an elephant. Or every single other thing in your life.

Lots of talk going on about growth oriented mindset or fixed mindset. and i don’t really get the benefits of fixed mindset. Fixed mindset says “I can’t because <insert any of one hundred million reasons, many of them perfectly valid>”.growth-oriented, which says “i can’t YET” and identifies resources needed to accomplish it. but you’ve got to care about it. you’ve got to tend it like a garden, not let it evolve feral. Gardens are not gardens if not tended. Isn’t that the very definition of garden? Nature imbued with some intention? When it isn’t tended it can be a forest or a prairie or a wilderness, but a garden is something with a human intent and hand.

i am all about growth oriented mindset. evolving. ever greater freedom, love, order. nature herself singing the song of it every minute of every day. When i see areas that are fixed, i want to unfurl them. and slowing down is deepening this capacity to both see the areas and apply evolutionary principles. And is blowing my mind. And opening up new ways of listening to my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states. But for me it’s all through going *toward* the uncomfortable, not away from it. And perhaps it is an uncomfortable road, but it’s not about comfort or discomfort. It’s about growth. Embracing growth recognizes the need for comfort and discomfort. Seeking only comfort is a constant struggle. and an unachievable goal. the good news is, discomfort is temporary, too.

one thing i should mention

Slowing down, as a practice brings nothing but benefits. For real. But, one of the benefits doesn’t feel like a benefit. It makes you deal with your shit. But, it makes you realize you have everything you need. right now. in this moment. And it gives you the clarity to feel your personal north star. It is a journey worth taking. Do not be afraid of it.

But some stuff just seems so big. Guess what? you don’t have to contend with the big here in this moment. By attending to this moment, you are giving the big problems a little air, and they will come down in little problems that register a 1 or a 2 or a 3 on the scale of imposition/need for change. Do-able. And if you tend to that little stuff in the moment, pretty soon the big stuff distills itself into bite-size pieces you know you have the internal resources to master, and you don’t have these looming “issues” that really cloud your identity.

This is a little deep, but it’s an important concept in my right-now experience I’d like to distill more clearly.

Everyone I talk to actively expresses a need to slow down. except one guy at toastmasters who Really. needs to slow down but it’s repellent to him (like it used to be to me). And we try. but we are busy. and there are some problems that seem to be chasing us. and we keep the balls in the air as best we can. And when we get a chance to rest, to take a breath, how deeply are we really relaxing? If we can get really deep, really fast, just a moment can offer all kinds of benefits. As we develop our capacity (which is natural, we just don’t practice it very often) to slow down just a bit deeper in all the little natural breaks in our day it brings a whole lot of gifts in the exact same amount of time. Go for meditation and stillness practices as well and that opens up a whole new set of vistas.

But we must, through it all, stand face-to-face with our stuff. Our stuff is exactly the teacher we need to become our best versions of ourself. Your life knows how to do this. Flowers know how to bloom. Flowers don’t have the anxiety and the keeping score (that I know of, and it would be wildly sad if they did because we all deserve freedom to blossom – and it is happening. right here in this breath.

I’ve recently had a breakthrough in dealing with a few key patterns. My #9 or #10 triggering stuff (in the “I turn it up to 11/let out my inner sicilian” pattern) broke itself down for me into a series of smaller, more manageable chunks. I mean, I was willing to face the 9 or 10 stuff, but it’s much more digestable in, well, I guess archetypal stuff that recognizes a number of patterns at the same time. This is stuff that has loomed over my self and my identity all my life. stuff i really wanted to change, that didn’t feel true for me, but I continued to fulfill the pattern every time. This was the “big stuff” i didn’t know how to face, and this slowing down process really has been distributing the dismantling of it, often so painlessly I am shocked. So yeah. Don’t be afraid of dealing with your stuff. You are enough. right now. moment by moment. choice by choice. breath by breath.

Feminine Power

Claire Zammit’s Feminine Power course is absolutely and without question the best class I have ever taken in my life. No great college seminar, no sales training, no education at all that compares to this. Claire’s ideas are accessible and relatable, she’s a gifted teacher and an even better coach. She walked me through myself and set a context for nothing less than the highest expression of myself. And it’s working. It’s coming alive in my life. as my life.

I feel that the work she does in 7 weeks would have taken me 3 or 4 years and that’s if i had a skilled therapist and a lot of dedication. You know I’m the therapy-genie. I recommend therapy all the time. And it is good. But this is gold. It is simple and straightforward, not easy but not difficult, absolutely captivating philosophically and setting – tapping into the fact that life itself is organizing itself around your success. Integrating all of the people living in your body, every identity you operate through intentionally or not. Within yourself and then within your life and the world in general. Her practices are truly transformative – not exercises. Her insights are profound and supportive and uplifting. Top notch transmission.

Absolutely, if I had the expendable dollars, I would gift this program to every woman in my life. My mother. Sisters, nieces, friends. I believe this program is a kiss and embrace to any woman alive today, to fully express herself. Trust me, we want to see you in your fullness, fully taking up space and using your voice and shining the special glimmer of god that is your light.

So, please, listen to her free course. I hate to admit it, but you’ll need to unsubscribe from her website after you get the link because you’ll get a lot of email (although much of it is great), but do this. go here.

Free Online Class


traps abound

I want to address this feeling I have because I’ve told a couple of people about this blog now and that’s a little uncomfortable. Especially because I’m feeling called to write throughout the day, which is quite wonderful, and I’m really enjoying it. And it’s got a whole bunch of weird stuff in addition to some gems. And I really have to do the practice without attachment. And right now, sharing is the practice. But I really don’t want to  get attached to people’s responses (which have been very kind, but for good or ill, i have to be in the center of it and it’s ok). I am happy doing this, documenting this process even if it is neigh unto unreadable by literally everyone else. And that’s the beautiful thing about choice. We don’t need to be into everything. curating our lives, activities, interests, practices – this is the play of life, the dance. selection. cultivation. towards what we want. unafraid to leave what we don’t want behind. Practice and non-attachment is pretty much the magic formula. The Bhagavad Gita spells it out. May I now please recommend Eric Klein’s 40 days of meditation with the Bhagavad Gita. It is outstanding. I carried around a bhagavad gita i literally got in an airport, but could never bring myself to string together a paragraph or two. Getting into Vedanta, I realized it was all about the translation, but still found it boring and the classes on it (sorry, Swami) tedious. Enter Eric. The beauty of a conversation between God and an altruistic soul… A combination of 3 excellent translations so insightfully expressed as to make the daily practice of life your spiritual practice. Fully.  eric at wisdomheart dot com. Email him. beg him to take it. (it’s a little thing i have with Eric – I’ve tried to convince him to sell his programs in the can whenever someone wants to start).

Happiness, Inside

Happiness is nice. My typical experience with happiness tended to be 1) surprise and delight, 2) sharing it; having an almost frenetic energy of needing and wanting to connect with people about it, and 3)wondering where it went.

Today I’m going to try a different approach. I’m happy about 1,000 little things and it has a surge of energy and my habitual behavior would be to find channels to share it. But, today, I am going to sit with it in stillness. Instead of wanting to bring it to my outside world, I’m wanting to invest it into my inner world. This process maybe is doing both. But I’m going to go sit, and bring the happiness to stillness the way I bring all the other emotions to stillness. I’m kindof excited about that. It doesn’t feel particularly natural and I’m not sure this is my new habit, but maybe I don’t want to develop a habit. Choose your habits wisely, right? That is what the whole slowing down thing is about. Slowing down as a habit has been a very nice practice, and now applying it to this is going to be interesting.

I spend a lot of time thinking, and a lot of time feeling my body (which is another profound new habit I had zero capacity in before), and a lot of time sitting, being. But I also spend a whole bunch of time in the world, in activity. And the stillness fuels the activity in harmonious and adventurous ways (whereas without the stillness, activity was mostly frenetic and trying to prove something/solve something/’do my best’). And here, with this happiness, I want to jump into activity but I can feel it wouldn’t be connected to the root. It would just fly away. Taking it inside, I think I may have a new experience. And because it’s new, I don’t know what will happen, but I have a feeling it is going to be *very good*

Once I told Danielle LaPorte, “I have happiness inside me, but I can’t seem to bring it to the surface.” My day-to-day of my life had foundations of happiness but the experience was full of self-doubt and striving and keeping score and contending with what came my way. And then this intrusive neighbor who deeply wanted to be my friend kept telling me, “You’re not happy!” and I was like, “look at my life, yes I am” Actually, that happened first. And the introspection it caused brought the rift between the happiness I felt on the inside and it’s not lurking at the surface of my life.

Today it feels that way. That happiness feels like it has the freest, most open channel to the day-to-day that it’s ever had, that I am having the experience of the whole experience, not levels of it.

So, cool! I’m going to go be still!

Spiritual Identity

OK, so I really am enjoying this particular moment in time. It has some hiccups, but overall it’s amazing and transformative and I feel like I’m transcending (while still including) old identity. It started with that name concept I had Monday morning, and wrote about – my siblings got to help pick my name, and i’m using that as a simile for creating an identity construct, and I recognize that identity is who has shown up every time I’ve been in the relational field of my family, but it doesn’t come up in any other area or aspect of my life. And so, I can confidently say, I’m predominantly not that anymore. And since I don’t want to be that, I don’t expect while that’s the lens I’m being perceived through I will show up very much.

That might have been a little deep, and poorly explained, but activating Tracey’s pet name for me as the name I resonate with feels very much like receiving my spiritual initate’s new name. I mean, when I meet people named Sarasvarti and stuff, I always wonder, “I wonder what happened to swap from Julie?” Now I know.

I’m not changing my name or anything. I’m pretty used to answering to whatever name comes up.. youngest of 5 and all. and a grandma who always started with the oldest grandchild when you called…”Marlene? Debbie?” I was 6 or 7 people down the list… But moving forward, when I meet someone I feel a connection with, you can bet I’ll say, “My friends call me Leela (as Tracey spells it)” and step into that version of myself that is the Divine Play.


A surprising invitation

I’ve been doing more than my 20 -30 minute sit and write these last couple of days. Coming to the keyboard has replaced reaching for my journal or index cards. It might be too much and I might change it, but today it’s fun.

Inviting the world to slow down, it seems to me, is something akin to that time when i was 14 years old and a parker at Meadow Brook Music Festival, and I used to work the back gate on concert nights. Maybe I was 15 by the time I had that gig regularly but it well could’ve been 14. And so I got to know, by sight at least, the members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. As I got to know some of them with a brief chat from time to time, Irv Monroe and Don – oh, shit, i’ve forgotten Don’s last name, and he was a prince, but anyway, they invited me to come out to the parking lot after a concert one night, that they always had a little get together. And I thought, “Oh, great. Quite an invitation. What are we going to do, drink warm milk and listen to Mozart?”

I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the kindly members of the DSO kinda introduced me to “Rock and Roll”. As Don said as he poured a drink from his van’s custom bar (and quite a bar it was, “A band’s a band, Lisa.” And for many summers I had a great time developing a sweet friendship with about 1/2 dozen members of the DSO and some of their local friends. Happy memories and associations. And it gave me my sea legs for working as a professional with musicians on the road.

But, I digress. My point was that inviting the world to slow down probably sounds like an invitation much like a symphony after-party to a 14 year old. “hmm. sounds pretty boring.”

It’s not.

a case for sharing your process

I’ve got to admit, sharing this process is enhancing the process. Capturing it in pixels is different than paper journaling. I’m much more dexterous here, although my writing practice has been part of the going slow/patience exercise. I could never write as fast as I was thinking, yet i found the slowness of my writing distilled my ideas a little further and so benefitted the expression.

I did past life regression therapy in my 20’s. Alicia Tisdale was hot shit. But when I first started, having never been hypnotised before, I expected a far more altered state of consciousness and wasn’t really impressed. But images would come. And I would think, “well, this is just the inference of this idea/image, it’s not some earthshaking, obvious experience” and she would ask me to speak and so I would just relay the meager impression and BOOM! it would shift, and a new thing would come in my mind that wouldn’t leave until I said it. I learned a lot from that experience and during that time, not the least of which was new things didn’t come up until I shared the current thing.

Took me a while to put it into this kind of practice. I like it.

Thomas Hübl talks about if you are up at the spring of a river (this is paraphrasing and it’s actually gonna be pretty poor in comparison to his rendition), there with that fresh water flowing over you, what are you doing with it? Are you diverting it? Are you trying to collect it? Let it flow through you. Share what you learn so that the new fresh water keeps coming. You take your part in the stream. Which includes both receiving and expressing. Yin and Yang. They fall into each other and are the very nature of flow.

That’s what inspired this endeavor. That and Neal Donald Walsh’s Conversations with God, Awaken the Species, which implores us to “share your process.” For our own benefit and for the benefit of wherever it touches that you can’t really imagine. When I first received that thought, it had “share your process because reading about your process will help people.” But now i think they implore us to share our process because sharing it deepens it, imbues it with more life, lets life flow more freely. Not the first time I misperceived something in the hopes of promoting my ego. The truth is so much more sweet.

see my truth

I was born. I came into a family that had all kinds of dynamics like every family does. I had this sense of who I was, but how it was interacting with the world was never quite in flow. I didn’t quite fit in with many people, but I was content enough in my own company and thoughts. As I look back, I think the “see my truth” bug caught me in high school and ramped up dramatically when my dad died. My way of relating began with a bit of a barrage of my non-conventional nature and then an assessment of your interest or disdain. That was the dynamic that led my relationships (to the mind at the time of this writing) and certainly my family interaction. See My Truth. Then, preferably, agree with me. It actually happens a lot, but when it doesn’t, boy doesn’t it.

Today I recognize the “See My Truth” pattern, and I can also see that time spent asking people to see your truth is time spent not paying attention to living in that truth.

The truth of our nature is this magificent expression of life which most of us barely understand at all, but we’re here and we’re doing our best, and it’s largely barraging us, but we’re trying to extract the lessons and ‘get it right.’

I’m not really into the meaning of life right now, and for the first time in my life I’m finally bored by trying to ‘get it right’. I’m much more interested simply in the expression of life. What is unfolding right now. and why. Contemplating the meaning can be fun or arduous, but really just life in this constant state of expression is pretty fascinating and can keep me busy endlessly.

So, I need to see my truth. That’s all. When I’m really paying attention to who I really am, my truth, my inner compass and physical state of being, I do not have the time or inclination to worry about whether you’re seeing it to. Of course you’re not. Hopefully you’re seeing your own, or feeling it out at least.