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“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend four days with your family of origin.” – Ram Dass

Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in many different directions. Before I blame this feeling on the imminent arrival of my parents to stay with me and observe my current life, I’m finally sitting down to write about (and perhaps discover with more clarity) why.

After a totally blissful July of following the music that was flowing from me – bringing with it new people, new places, new experiences, and new ways of being seen – I entered August with a renewed sense of awareness that I needed to be “working” on something. “My newfound sense of freedom and joy could not possibly be the truth of my life experience”, said an ancient part of my brain. “Life just can’t be that easy for you!”

I recognized those thoughts as ones I could choose to believe or not. I saw myself as an observer. I talked it out with my coaching buddy. She reminded me of how far I have indeed come on my path toward the Core of Peace I now know is my birthright and within me at all times.

And still, as I drive from one place to the next – from home to studio to the next place on my agenda – I can’t help but feel scattered. Like my energy is more diffuse than I would like it to be. I notice that my business card has four identities – musician, life coach, writer, and speaker. I now notice that this is symbolic of the fact that in my life I have never felt that it was enough for me to be just one thing – namely, me. I had compartments where I kept my identities and developed them diligently, but rarely did the boundaries of these containers spill into one another. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ever since the movie When Harry Met Sally came out, I’ve pretty much believed that men and women can never really be “friends”. Not when one or both of them is not in a committed relationship. It’s just an unnatural state of being for both species, so why do we force it?

Facebook is a wonderful example of this. I’d prefer not to have a list of hundreds of so-called “Friends”. I know that most of the people on my list are acquaintances at best, and many of them, now that I use my Facebook account for promotional purposes, are just the product of friendly social encounters. I like them, I support them, I wish them well, but I know very little about them personally and I do not need to find out more.

Last night I had one of these friendly social encounters at a new venue I was performing at with my band. We are in a phase of doing a lot of legwork to show up at open mics, form new relationships, and scrounge up opportunities for ourselves to play for more audiences. I am in awe of the courage and talent that is showing up at these coffee shops, bistros, bars, and other locations in the community where I have never had a reason to “hang out”. Read the rest of this entry »

1. What delights you and brings you alive?
2. What breaks your heart?
3. What does healing look like?
4. What one life-affirming action will you do beautifully and consistently, with love?

These four questions, conceived by my Real Speaking teacher Gail Larsen, powerfully and succinctly capture the process of life coaching and personal transformation. They go to the heart of our own truth, and call us to look with clear eyes at what is etched in our souls.

For most of us, there is at least one of these questions we’ve been avoiding for most of our lives. It could be any one of them. Perhaps we have not allowed ourselves to want what we want, to feel the joy of being fully alive. Or maybe we have masked ourselves with a facade of “perkiness” and images of “happiness” which belie the deep caverns of unexpressed pain in our hearts. Even if we have done the work of facing our deepest truths, we can get lost there if we never look beyond these current realities into a vision of what our lives could be. And finally, all the dreaming and scheming in the world is no substitute for taking actions which are aligned with the truths we have uncovered and pointed in the direction of our brightest visions. Read the rest of this entry »

Love arrives;

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet, if we are bold

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.


We are weaned from our timidity.

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet, it is only love

which sets us free.

– Maya Angelou

I used to spend a lot of time imagining what love would look like. I never really considered what it would feel like.

Have you really fallen in love with your Self, your soul, your essence? Have you felt the feeling of loving yourself freely?

Before you start making visions of what love looks like, or searching for things that look like love, feel in your body, your heart, and your spirit what love feels like to you. Stay awhile, listen for what it tells you. Then, maybe, you’ll be able to see the love around you, waiting for the moment to arrive.

I’m sitting here in a moment of deep acknowledgment. I just listened to the recording of my interview with Susanna Liller, creator of The Heroine’s Journey. It’s been such a hectic week of travel, ceremonies, meeting new people, taking some risks, and steeping myself in creative inspiration, that I haven’t had sufficient space and time to acknowledge myself along the way.

I finally opened the email and listened to the file containing the 50 minutes of conversation with Susanna and her community of heroines. I was both surprised and filled with pride to hear the clarity and power in my own voice.

Sometimes we forget to step back and listen to ourselves. We forget to enjoy who we are.

Listen to the interview here.

One of the great things about attending classes at CIIS in San Francisco is the rotating art exhibits that line the hallway on the third floor, from the elevators to the entrance to Namaste Hall (where we have all of our workshops and lectures). This past weekend, I was a little startled to see that the wall had “sprouted” faces. For a split second, I actually thought that the wall had been replaced with some pliable material and that there were people lined up on the other side of this wall doing something like “Blue Man Group”. Then I realized it was sculpture. After finally soaking that in, I arrived inside Namaste Hall to find a poignant and thought-provoking study in meditation and the state of “no mind”:

The artist responsible for these remarkable, beautiful, memorable installations – the first called “Breathe” and the second called “Sentient” – is Renee Prisble Una. She’s from Chicago, my hometown!

I’m going to find out more about her, because she’s right up my alley. Wow.

Does all the woo-woo, positive psychology, self-help talk make you feel a little queasy or, at best, skeptical? Does an email with the subject line, “You can do it!”, make you want to “Report spam” faster than you can hit “Delete”?

When I worked with parents and their children in a coaching/teaching environment, I learned that there are many ways we adults try to encourage our kids. We all have a default style of communication that is a product of the various influences in our lives – our own parents, our many teachers, our older siblings, our bosses, our mentors, or even a conglomeration of all the ways we DON’T want to be like any of those people. What I’ve learned about effective coaching I first saw by watching children who were actually allowed to learn. It’s simple: all a kid wants is to know what it feels like to try, and to know that they’ll be OK if they fail. If you give them those two things, they’ll try over and over again with great enthusiasm, and pretty soon (or maybe a lot later) they will succeed.

The second half of this – letting them know they are OK even if they fail while trying – is tricky. I saw so many adults sit beside their child and just watch, hands folded across their chest, while their child tried, making no attempt to help, and remaining motionless in response to anything the child did. Sure, they were “there”, but I would sometimes wonder if they were actually in the same room as we were. I’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum, where a parent would literally lunge forward and want to take over, rather than allow their child to try something that they might not “get” on the first attempt. They preferred not to witness a failure than to allow the child to try.

I never figured out a way to coach parents to see their own tendencies in these situations. First of all, I was too busy trying to do my job coaching, witnessing, and encouraging the child. Second of all, I was frozen in astonishment at some of the parents’ behavior, not knowing how to address these things in the time allotted, or in front of the child.

These are, of course, excuses. The truth is I did not know how to hold the space for adults to really open up to what was going on. In some ways, it takes more skill and more patience to get an adult to open up than it does for a child. Read the rest of this entry »

“One day the hero

sits down,

afraid to take

another step,

and the old interior angel

limps slowly in

with her no-nonsense

compassion

and her old secret

and goes ahead.

‘Namaste’

you say

and follow.”

– from “The Old Interior Angel”, by David Whyte

Today I had one of those days that felt like deja vu, or a relapse to a time I thought I’d outgrown. But I suppose it’s like that point in every hero’s story where the hero sits down, feeling a little doubtful, wondering if he is really cut out for this work. Then he is reminded that this is his destiny. There is no other journey like this one, and there is no turning back.

Maybe it was all the inversions I’ve been doing the last two days in yoga. Standing on your head – repeatedly – will do things to your thought processes. Bringing fresh blood supply to the brain and reversing the flow in the lower part of the body…I’d love to see a PET scan of someone in headstand.

One of the things I realized today is that when you change, and stop playing the roles that people have come to expect of you, you might run out of things to talk about. It happened to me today with my hair stylist, who is such a fabulous woman and always good for a great conversation while effortlessly crafting my hair into something sleek with “somethin’ goin’ on”. The switch flipped when I tilted my head back in the shampoo bowl and announced, “No more school!”. She gasped loudly, “No more SCHOOL?? What are you going to DO??” I didn’t expect that response, given the fact that I had spent the better part of the last two years sitting in her chair telling her horror stories – at her request – of some of the clients I was dealing with. It seemed like every six weeks there was a new story. There were some favorites that she still remembers – like the time when I had a parents forum and one of the “lessons” shared by a family was “motivating” their three-year-old to practice by threatening to throw her Barbie dolls out the window if she refused. After that, I had the wisdom not to hold open forums for “sharing wisdom” among the group. Some parenting strategies are best left as “best kept secrets”. It was easier for me to sleep at night not knowing what happened in some of these homes.

But I was done complaining today. Read the rest of this entry »

Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie gives an engaging TED talk and performance, encouraging us to open our entire bodies to the experience of sound and music: “My aim really is to teach the world to listen. That’s my only real aim in life.”

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Days I Reflected Here

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