Archive for the ‘More Everyday Joy’ Category

Recently I’ve been writing more about my history, my life-long romance, we might say, with leaving myself and going somewhere else.

I realize that may sound like crazy California-speak. What do I mean, “I leave myself”? Where do I go?  Am I referring to one of those “floating up above my body” experiences?

Not exactly. I mean something more subtle, something that is hard to put in words.

I’ll tell you how I know it. I know it when I go out of my way to say something that will I think will please the person I’m with, instead of saying what’s true for me. I think what Joe just said is very boring, yet I nod empathetically and say, “hmmm, tell me more.”

I know it when I stop feeling able to share what I want, and instead become a kind of sliding, slippery goo that flows with whatever others want. I’ll be asking you whether you want to go for a walk or meet for tea, when I in fact would like to have tea with you, at 10am, in my neighborhood, this Sunday.

We all leave ourselves in different ways, in different situations. Take a moment and consider: when is it difficult for you to stay with yourself?

One clue most of us get that we’re leaving ourselves is the urge to reach outside ourselves for something. Reaching for another person’s attention or agreement. Reaching for new shoes. Reaching for a grande decaf sugar-free vanilla latte. Reaching for the blackberry.

Next time you feel that urge to reach outside of yourself, see what happens if you press the pause button, come back to yourself, and simply get present.

What does it mean to come back to yourself and get present? It is so simple that in our culture we often overlook it. We assume something so basic couldn’t have much power.

Simply notice where you are at, what’s happening in the universe called you. What’s the current weather? What’s happening on the landscape?

Here are three different ways to tune into that:

  1. Become aware of your body. Spend a few moments breathing, feeling your breath, and scanning your awareness across your body. Simply notice what’s happening there – notice any areas of tension or pain, notice which areas feel loose and spacious, notice whatever sensations are happening.  Do this for a few minutes until you refreshed, reconnected to the present moment and to yourself.
  2. Become aware of your feelings. Pause. Breathe, and check in with what’s happening emotionally. What are you feeling? You may be very surprised about what you find – upset about something that happened this morning, anxiety about something coming up. You don’t have to get caught up in any drama around those feelings, or solve the “problems” they may be about, but for your own wellbeing, you do need to give them a space to be. Bring compassion and non-judgmental awareness as your response.
  3. Write. Take out a pen and jot down an inventory of what’s present for you. This can be a stream-of-consciousness, disorganized, zig-zagging list. This is not beautiful writing, not even prose. This is just for you. For example, it might sound like this:

Resentful about having to go to three a clock meeting. Excited about trip. Miss Richard. Feeling self-conscious about body but optimistic about personal training. Really excited about positive response to my project pitch. Overwhelmed by feelings about visit back to hometown. Happy to be up and writing this. Grateful to here.

You might write a page or two or just a few lines. Write until you feel like you’ve connected with what’s important and what’s present for you in the moment. Notice how your state of being changes, even during the writing.

You don’t have to wait till you feel disconnected to do these practices. You can make a routine of doing them, of having short “check-ins” with yourself.

Why Does It Matter?

I think that’s a really good question. What happens when we don’t slow down and connect with ourselves? A lot of pain. We miss out on our own inner wisdom. We don’t notice the hurts and frustrations and disappointments that need our attention and healing. We don’t get to feel the hopes and dreams underneath those hurts – and those hopes and dreams are actually the roadmap from which we are meant to design our lives.

We get really, really lonely. We are actually lonely for ourselves. We can’t give to others, because, paradoxically, by going “over there” toward them, we’ve left an emptiness in our own chair – leaving the person with whom we are interacting without a solid, separate, whole person to connect with.

See the costs?

This week, I invite you take these three steps

  1. Start a practice of noticing. When do you leave yourself? What does it feel like for you? What are the symptoms.
  2. Experiment with the three tools here to reconnect to yourself in those moments: becoming aware of your body, becoming aware of your breath, and writing an inventory. See what impact that has.
  3. See where you get resistant to slowing down and reconnecting with yourself, and get curious about the source of that resistance.

Let me know what you learn.




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Over a year ago, I wrote a post called Loving Reality. That was in the days of 38 or so mighty readers. This morning I was reminded of this piece because it was republished in Soulful Living. I remembered how much I love this piece, and how important I think this idea is. So I’m sharing it with all of you again here.

Ideas show up when I’m writing and often they are as new to me as they are to you when you read them. This piece was that way for me. It provoked my thinking. It introduced the new idea of Loving Reality into my life.

It speaks to where I am right now. I wrote last week about how I’m more and more leaning into the present. I’m actually savoring quiet. I’m choosing to meditate, because I am actually enjoying it. Whoa. I’m taking time to enjoy things, to be in the moment without any ambition or urgency about getting to the next task.

Just like the weatherman will sometimes say, “we haven’t had a storm like this in 15 years” I’m reporting, “I haven’t had a calm like this in 15 years.” Truly.

Calm is only possible when we make peace with reality. And if we can love it, trust it – find a way in the midst of pain and tragedy and oil spills — if we can, paradoxically, love reality– then life opens up its secrets to us. We open ourselves to receive its everflowing gifts.

Loving Reality

In our culture, when we talk about love, we typically talk about loving another person: I love Sonia. I love my grandfather. I love Louie.

What do we mean by that?

When we love others, we treat them with compassion, kindness, and patience.

We perceive their gifts and beauties and power. We champion and affirm what is best in them.

We support and nurture and care for them.

We forgive them, and we do so regularly.

We give up the false idea that there is wrong with the people in our lives, and liberate them to be exactly as they are.

When we love ourselves, we do the same.

We treat ourselves with compassion, kindness, and patience.

We perceive the gifts and beauties and power in ourselves.

We support and nurture and care for ourselves.

We forgive ourselves, and we do so regularly.

We give up the false idea that there is something wrong with the truth of ourselves, and we liberate ourselves to be exactly as we are.

Less frequently in our culture, we speak of loving a particular thing, activity, or creative expression in the world.

When we speak of that, we usually mean that we deeply enjoy it, we draw great pleasure from it.

As a result, we want to experience it, to be near it.

We perceive its gifts, beauties, and power.

We have a mysterious and inexplicable special connection to that thing.

Let’s take everything we know about what it means to love a person, an activity, thing in the world, and ask ourselves, what would it mean then, to love reality itself? To love the way things are, they way they happen, the way they will happen?

To love reality itself. That would mean….

Treating reality with compassion, kindness and patience.

Perceiving the gifts, beauties and powers of reality and championing and affirming them.

Somehow supporting, nuturing and caring for reality.

Forgiving reality and forgiving it regularly.

Giving up the false idea that there is something wrong with reality, and liberating it to be exactly as it is.

Deeply enjoying reality, and as a result, wanting to experience reality, to be near it.

Possessing a mysterious and inexplicable special connection to reality itself.

For this lifetime, reality is our home. You can experience your home as a small tent on a violent battlefield, or you can experience your home as a soft sun-streamed ocean full of myriad delights. You can experience your home as rocky and dangerous shore where at every moment sharp cliffs, strong waves, or hungry predators threaten your life. You can experience your home as a playground, created for your delight. You can experience your home as a warm embrace, knowing that you are carried by the universe as you were carried by a loved on in the first few days of life.

Most of us live our lives trying to shield ourselves from the dangerous parts of reality, working to game the system, control the outcomes. We have all kinds of expectations about how reality should be. We believe that we have to struggle to get what we want and fight to prevent what we hope to avoid. We live in a rather adversarial, fearful relationship to reality. You could say that underneath it all, the real sources of stress in our lives are our underlying beliefs about reality itself.

What if we lived in a entirely different kind of relationship to reality? A relationship without that sense of needing to control, without fear? What if were able, somehow, to lean into reality, to trust it fully? What about taking a stance of curiosity to reality- an interest in following it, studying it, to see how it unfolds? What about loving reality?

An essential part of living a juicier, more fulfilling lives in relating to reality in this more open, pliant, trusting way, because reality is our guide on the journey. If we are open and willing, reality will provide the perfect curriculum for us to grow, and create a life of greater joy. It will supply all the sustenance and aid needed to get us through each step on the journey.

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A couple of years ago I found myself asking, again and again, “Is this all there is?” The question popped up in quiet moments, in the spaces in between to do lists and tasks.

This question is a cliche, but more importantly, I’ve learned, its a sacred door opening. It shows up when something inside of us knows the path we’re on isn’t quite the right one. It’s the beginning of change. It’s the invitation to growth.

I’m writing about the question at Huffington Post, where I’ve just become a regular blogger. Yipee! This is an exciting milestone for me. I always love it when readers like you come and read my work over at other sites, but I’d particularly like to ask for your support in this case. Commenting, tweeting, facebook sharing the Huffington Post article will help it and me get more exposure at the site.

I’m still on the beach in paradise, and when I close my eyes, I often see the image of a large sea turtle I watched a few days ago…floating in a clear sea, light, turquoise blue. There he (or she) was, bobbing, paddling, close to the surface, every few sections stretching an open mouth up to the air. A huge gorgeous brown and green shell. I was the privileged observer.

The world is so big and I am so small, but I am part of it. Sometimes, in a human crowd, in the midst of a city, at a party, at the office, its hard to feel like we belong. But standing on the sand, part of this thing that also includes tress and sea and sky, its impossible to not feel full my fundamental belonging. Our fundamental belonging here.



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Good morning lovelies,

Here’s the thing. Life is problem-full. In fact, it is problem-generating.

Here’s the recipe

  1. Your fears, expectations, desires, attachments, wounds, hopes, longings
  2. Other people’s fears, expectations, desires, attachments, wounds, hopes, longings
  3. The limitations of the physical world, limitations on things like space, time, lifespan, money, land, oil, and cookies in the cookie jar at home.

So the result? The kinds of circumstances we human beings experience as problems.

And then there is the high of fixing the problems. Heck, some of us even get a high from the mere pursuit of a solution.

But problems are only one-dimension of life. We can get stuck in that dimension. And that’s why I wrote about leaving problem-mode, in this post, at Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.

Please come visit and share your wisdom in the comments.

Sending lots of love, and wishing you a most revolutionary day.



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True surrender is easily misunderstood as passivity, as doing nothing. It’s actually a change in stance, a change in state of being.

It’s a softening, a coming home to. It’s what we receive when we’ve made peace with life, and become its partner, arm in arm.

Before surrender, we act alone. We act because life is an emergency, out of control, vulnerable, worrisome, fear-inducing. We act to fix or control in response to that.

After surrender, we know we are held in a wise and loving embrace. We feel softness, not striving, in our relationship with life.

Bad things still happen. People and relationships deteriorate. Tragedies occur.

We feel the pain in it’s fullness, but we see all the beauty. We see the gifts. We don’t clench our fists against any of it.

From there, when we’re no longer yelling at life telling it how it should be,

when we’re no longer rebelling against what is, when we’re no longer fighting reality



we can take meaningful action. We can find our true role.

We wake up to what it’s all about, what all the circumstances are for: to reveal love, to call us into love, to stretch us to find love in new ways. We begin to see what the real story in our lives, and it’s all about this.

We begin to see how life is releasing exquisite gems to us in every moment, like water dripping from the tap.

Let all the circumstances, all your mental stories about them, all the plans of how it should be or should have been, let it all burn up

until what’s at the center of your life is love given, connection realized.

until your chest throbs daily with tenderness for the faces that grace your life

and the blue out the window is so stunning it brings tears to your eyes.

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I had the best time walking with my friend M yesterday, and I’m still on a high from it. So much laughter and humility and sharing the truth. There’s nothing like being in the presence of someone who lifts up your energy from blah to yay, that you feel kindred spirit-ness with, and that you feel cool and hip with all at the same time.

Gratitude. Thank you.

I am reminded of my very first coaching session – the first one I ever had with another coach. We did a visualization of my 80th birthday party. I got to close my eyes and picture the party. What did I want it to be like? Who was there? What was I like at that age?

A lot of things in the picture were vague, but one thing (besides my cute haircut) was clear: a web of gorgeous, powerful connections. The sense of a life lived long and filled with intimate, meaningful relationships.

What does it mean to me, having “meaningful relationships?”

I know what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that so and so saved me or that I saved them. It doesn’t have anything to do with dependence and drama.

It means I think (and I have never quite taken the time to put this in words before), that there are people in my life whom I adore, and with whom I’ve shared rich experience.  Both parts are essential.

I think of my friend D. I adore this persons’ very essence. I’m a raving fan. And when I look into his eyes I see the whole river of our ten year friendship, the streams rushing together: wicked laughter, ridiculous adventures, tears of loss, happy celebrations.

I fall in love with souls. I just fall in love with them. It’s mysterious who and where and how, just as love always is. It’s as if, with some souls, I’m given special sight, and I see the stunning gorgeousness. They aren’t better or worse or different than anyone else, but cupid’s friendship arrow struck me with them.

Something right in the center of my chest is connected to something right in the center of theirs. I’m moved to tears by their very existence. I want to be in their orbit.

I’m crying now, because I’m so grateful.

To be in web of connection, to look into faces and see decades of shared conversation—that’s what I want.

To look into eyes and have shared experience stretch before us, invisible and palpable in the space.

To choose others and have been chosen by them to share the walk with.

At 80, if the room is filled with that, I’ll be humbled and overcome. I’ll feel like I’m resting in a bed of roses.

When I picture that room, I can feel what I and everyone in it would learn that day: Our lives don’t begin and end with birth and death. Our lives are the swirling currents between us. Our lives are what we send and receive and mix and create.

My life rests not in my life story but out there, in the space, in the currents.  That life never leaves this realm.



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I’ve been reading a lot lately about the scientific research on the causes and correlates of human happiness, and there’s some fascinating findings from recent years.

Overall, the research about happiness is in its infancy. There’s a lot we don’t know, but there are also some very interesting discoveries. Here’s one to think about today:

The presence of “rich and satisfying social relationships” in one’s life is the only external factor that has been shown to differentiate people who describe themselves as “very happy” from those that are less happy. When studied across large groups, other external factors – such as class, wealth, or life events—were not shown to have an overall impact on happiness levels.

A note about this finding: I’ve noticed that when women hear this, they tend to interpret it as putting weight behind the idea that they should focus on family above work, but in fact rich and meaningful social relationships can come from many domains of life – family, friendship, professional colleagues and teams, or relationships formed through your community.

It’s also important to note that rich and satisfying relationships were not shown to alone be sufficient to create high levels of happiness (there are many other factors I’ll cover in subsequent posts), but having rich and satisfying relationships is a necessary component – people don’t reach high levels of happiness without them.

Got it?

In light of this, here’s a little homework / exploration / self-reflection to do with paper and pen this week:

1. Would you describe yourself as having rich and satisfying social relationships?  On a scale of 1-10, 10 being “my life is full of the most rich and satisfying social relationships” and 1 being, “my life is totally devoid of rich and satisfying social relationships,” how would you evaluate your life right now?

2. If you scored under an 8, think about: what would an 8 score look like in your life?

What would need to be present? What would be different?

If you scored an 8 or 9, consider what a 10 would look like. What would need to be different?

And if you gave yourself a 10, imagine what an off the charts 12 would look like.

3. Look back: which relationships in your life have been deeply satisfying, and what precisely made them so? Was it the sense of shared interests or the fabulous fun times or the sense of embarking on a challenging project together? The answers about what makes relationships rich and satisfying vary among us. Remember to include professional, friendship, family, and community relationships in  your reflections.

4. Is your investment of time and energy in your relationships (whether professional, communal, family or friend relationships) commensurate with their major impact on your well being?  Are you over-investing time and energy in things less likely to have as significant an impact on your happiness?

5. What actions (pick 1-3) can you put in place to begin bumping up your relationships score? Here are a few ideas:

  • Eliminate something from your schedule and replace it with a weekly friend get together
  • Make a phone date with a long-distance friend you adore and have fallen out of touch with
  • Identify someone in your workplace you’d really like to know better and invite them to lunch

I’ll share my own personal answers to these five questions in a post next week, and I’d love it if you add your thoughts on these questions (below today , if you are so inspired, or in response to that post).

And one more thing, I would love for you to come visit over at Tess’ blog, The Bold Life. She interviewed me! Yes, it this is my very first interview as a blogger, and Tess has been the most remarkable champion of my work and my writing. (And she asked great questions). We talk about how people lose their creativity and how to get it back, the things I love about blogging, and….my favorite topic, compassion as the natural expression of wisdom. There’s even some controversy in the comments! Come check it out!



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