What we do here:

Work on our stuff. Dissolve stuck. Play. Experiment. Rewrite patterns. We take sometimes-heavy things* and we make them more fun, playful, manageable.

I also write about my conversations with walls and monsters, and what it's like to work on a pirate ship. Good times.

* Sometimes-heavy things include: mindfulness and presence, pain and trauma, business-growing, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity


Wish 285: The surprisingly easy metamorphosis of iguanas into unicorns

very personal adsPersonal ads. They’re … personal! Very.

I write a Very Personal Ad each week to practice wanting, and get clarity about my desires. The point isn’t getting my wish (though cool things have emerged from wishing), the point is learning about my relationship with what I want, and accessing the qualities. Wanting can be hard, it is easy to feel conflicted about it, and the reasons for that make this a surprisingly subversive practice…

The surprisingly easy metamorphosis of iguanas into unicorns.

What do I know about this wish?

It has to do with change. Specifically change that I think will prove to be difficult but actually doesn’t have to be difficult at all.

What is an iguana?

An iguana is any task I don’t want to deal with, anything I’m dreading or avoiding or dread-avoiding.

Iguanas don’t feel like missions or ops or adventures. They’re more like chores. They hide in piles but I still know they’re there, so that’s why I don’t look at the pile or open the box.

Just thinking about them makes me want to crawl into bed and hide.

What is a unicorn?

Light, agile, responsive, playful, magic, alive, full of presence and trust, sparkly.

I want to spend time with a unicorn. Unicorns bring out the sweetness in everything. They expand my capacity for wonder.

When I’m waiting at the bus stop in the pouring rain, hating everything, and suddenly I remember to breathe a thank you for the green trees, a thank you for the yield sign that reminds me to let go, a thank you for the church across the street whose sign holds a clue for me…

That pause of exhaling, remembering that I get to be differently in this moment, if I want to…

That, for me, is the feeling of being in unicorn energy.

Since when do iguanas turn into unicorns?

It’s a recent discovery. Very recent. Maybe five minutes ago.

Sparkly Uniguanicorns! They’re in that awkward transition phase right now, but it’s happening. Metamorphosis. Transformation. Transition.

So when we say, “Goodnight, iguanas!”, we’re really saying, “See you when you’re a unicorn!”

I am choosing to believe that this is a thing.

Current iguanas in my life.

  1. x-mess blues aka what if christmas is as awful as it was last year?
  2. scary dental thing
  3. dental thing #2 and how do I get home
  4. ugh going in for a physical, and scared about [things], this is also related to what my father calls jewish ptsd: the P stands for pre.
  5. Stu and friends, and I have put off this project for so long that I can’t even remember why I liked it but I made a promise and it’s time to commit.

Okay and now I stop naming iguanas because I am getting overwhelmed and can’t think about any more for now or I will cry.

But wait, what unicorns are they are going to turn into?

Ah, of course. Their unicorn names won’t scare me at all!

Let’s see. We have…

  1. Gemütlichkeit Extreme To The Power of Ten, aka The Coziest Cozy Retreat Of Coziness, with Bell West, Adventuress at Large!
  2. Look At My Radiant Smile: I Glow So Hard
  3. My Radiant Smile: EVEN MORE RADIANT, good lord I have a great smile
  4. Operation Lacy Hips for the Lacy Ship: wearing the glowing crown
  5. My Love For Language Goes Down To The Letter

Great. So now let’s look at the metamorphosis.

What are the elements of metamorphosis?


Being conscious about preparing for the voyage. Bringing all of me to the experience. Letting it be playfuland creative. So much legitimacy for the fact that these things are challenging and scary. What will help me be grounded? How can I approach this standing in my strength, wearing my crown? How can I be there in full radiance, making sure I’m engaged and not checking out. And can I be a bold fearless adventurer?!

This is what I want to try.

What will help me with the iguana-to-unicorn transition process?

Remembering that these iguanas want to transition. They want to be free. They don’t want to scare me. They want us to have fun.

Renaming things helps. A lot.

Same with conscious entry, setting clear intentions, getting intel about what I desire.

Doing the alignment caper.

Oh, and maybe an OOD!

What else do I know about this?

It is okay that these things are scary, that they’re stressing me out.

And it is also true that they can transform.

There are so many things that used to be super charged with doom for me, and now they’re fine. There is no reason we can’t find a way to make these work. And the worst case scenario is, they won’t be enjoyable but at least I will be really conscious about what is and isn’t working, which is already changing the pattern of I’m Stuck In This Horrible Situation That I Hate And Resent.

What do I know about my wish?

It has to do with trust and play.

Trusting the play, playing with trust.

And it has to do with sovereignty: this is the kingdom of my life and I can glow more grace by approaching things with curiosity and presence.

And it has to do with clarity and illumination.

What’s next.

I’m going to come up with a list of things I can play with for each op.

For example, with Operation Lacy Hips (anagram for physical), I could bring a note saying I’m a Conscientious Objector, since that sounds better than saying that I’m part of the Resistance.

I can have a friend come with me.

I can write a list of ten things the doctor and I have in common, to help me remember that we are equals who ultimately have similar goals, even if we see the world through very different lenses.

I can make a list of things that are important for me to let her know. And a list of things I can feel free to ignore, should she say them, since she does not live in my body and does not know it as well as I do.

I can write a description of my ideal visit, as if it already happened, and feel how that might feel, instead of imagining and feeling all the ways this could be scary, stressful or infuriating.

I can ask Wisest Me to come to the front of the V, so that all the versions of me who have had negative experiences with doctors can go take a nap in a safe room.

What do I really want?

To release the pattern of agonizing, dreading, hating and resisting.

To allow for things to be different than how I think they have to be.

To bring all of myself and my playful heart to this, so that I can treat it as a grand adventure, a wild experiment in what-if.

To remember that much more complicated things have transformed themselves and become magical and sparkly, there is no reason these can’t too.

To give so much legitimacy to the dread and the avoidance. I don’t have to know why these things feel uncomfortable to give myself comfort.

And, as I seem to wish every week: To trust my instincts more. To trust my yes and trust my no, and act on that trust immediately.


I am sitting in the Playground, my center in Portland, which is also currently in a state of metamorphosis, transitioning into something new.

It feels disorienting being back in Portland.

Downstairs at the chocolate shop, there’s a giant holiday craft fair and they’re playing christmas music, which reminds me that for next year I would like to be as far away from this country as possible.

It is good to know what I want.

Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?

She: The key to letting things be surprisingly easy is believing that they can be.
Me: Can you say more about that.
She: Imagine you have the superpower of “this is surprisingly easy”, how does it feel?
Me: Hilarious.
She: Perfect. Keep laughing. Do things that make you laugh, that bring you back to the bubbly goofiness of all of it. Imagine that you are drinking tea called This Is Hilarious.


Driving through Idaho, I was feeling frustrated about my lack of clarity related to something and just then we passed a Beacon Light road.

The superpower of bringing light to the corners.

December-2014-Illumination Can I tell you something funny?

We’re in the month of Illumination, with the superpower of bringing light to the corners. And last month was Sovereignty, with the superpower of I do not wait in line for my own swing.

Since coming back from my 43 days of Operation Tranquility Recovery, I have been having the most wild epiphanies and crystal clear clarity about everything that is unsovereign in my life. For example, all the problems we have with the chocolate shop are not business problems but sovereignty challenges.

They aren’t things that need to be addressed with system changes, they need to be addressed by standing in sovereignty, asking for what we want and need, not trying to people-please. Anyway, I am right at the intersection of illumination and sovereignty, just like in the calendar, and everything not sovereign is being illuminated, which is incredibly frustrating and also very useful.

The 2015 calendars — the Year of More — have been ordered and will be for sale very very soon!

Ongoing wishes.

Seeds planted without explanation, a mix of secret agent code and silent retreat. Things to play with someday.
  • Everything is easier than I thought, and look, miracles everywhere.
  • I have the best time dancing in my ballroom.
  • This doesn’t require my input!
  • My body gets the deciding vote.
  • Ha, it’s so perfect that it turned out like this. Past me is a GENIUS
  • I have what I need, and I appreciate it. There are resources to do this.
  • Trust and steadiness. I can see why this moment is good.
  • I am fearless and confident. I do the brave things, I state my preferences clearly, calmly and easily, and it is not even a big deal, yay.
  • I am ready to come into my superpowers, including the superpowers of knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, receiving gifts that are winging their way to me, I Am Okay With Being Seen, Everything Enhances My Superpowers.

Taking care of these seeds.

The intentions have been planted, the sails are set. Whatever intel, fruits or flowers emerge will be just right, whatever they are. Thank you in advance.

Now to nap on it, dance it, write it, play with it, take notes, skip stones, walk the labyrinth. Deep breaths, purple pills, getting quieter and quieter until I hear what is true. And a good costume change never hurts. Also eight breaths in eight directions:

Trust. Release. Love. Receive. Anchor. Crown. Glow. Boldly.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka like a red sweater for example…

This was the best wish ever. While I didn’t get [red sweaters] to replace the things that weren’t working, just being aware that they exist was so helpful.

For example, my laptop stopped working this week and instead of thinking this was the end of the world, I thought, I wonder what wonderful thing is going to come from this breaking.

So that’s new. And kind of amazing.

Love more. Trust more. Release more. Receive more. Thank you, writing. Thank you, me who asked.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

I wish to whisper a whisper about the Monster Manual! It comes paired with the world’s best coloring book, which does so much monster-dissolving magic that even if you wait to try the techniques, you’ll still feel better about everything.

Self-fluency is hard enough, we need ways to to interact with the thoughts-fear-worry-criticism that shuts down creative exploring. And when people get the manual, I am able to me spend more time writing here. So if you don’t need help with monsters, get one for a friend. Or plant a wish that someone gets it for you! And bring people you like to hang out here. The more of us working on our stuff, the better for all of us. ♡

Keep me company?

Consider this an open invitation to deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads. In any size/form you like, there’s no right way. Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is anything sparked for you.

Commenting culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.

Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.


Chicken 334: Losing my pants

Friday chicken

A look at the good and the hard in my week, a ritual of reflecting.

It is Friday and we are here.

{a breath for Friday.}

What worked this week?

Losing my pants.

I did not intend to lose my pants, of course. Just the opposite.

We drove into Salt Lake area just in time for me to be able to make it to cheesy dance aerobics, which is my favorite thing ever, and hard to do when you’re on the road and sleeping out in the middle of the desert.

I set my one relatively clean pair of workout pants down, and went to brush my teeth. And then they somehow disappeared. The pants, not my teeth.

We’d been on the road for five or six weeks, a while since the last laundry adventure, and there was really nothing else I could wear.

I dug up a pair of shorts, if you can call them that. I mean, the shortest shorts imaginable. Shorts that double as cute underwear or a bikini bottom. Not really clothing.

There was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to bounce around to terrible pop music and do high kicks and jazz isolations, so there I was.

In those shorts. In the center of a room packed with sensible moms in sensible black yoga pants and sensible grey tops, with matching sensible ponytails.

And I am wearing these outrageously tiny shorts, also electric orange and electric sports bras, and a tank top that wasn’t exactly clean.

My hair looked like you might imagine considering 1) I’d cut it myself over the bathroom sink in the middle of the night before we left, 2) it hadn’t been washed or brushed in a couple of weeks.

So I got to find out what it’s like to be basically half naked while jumping around in front of total strangers and looking extremely noticeable while doing it. And, much to my surprise, it was okay. I got over myself.

Maybe I don’t actually need to wear pants. Maybe my insecurities are stupid. Maybe the things my monsters say are irrelevant. Maybe none of the things I think matter actually do.

Oh, and not one person said, What happened to your pants, sweetie.

Next time I might…

Have some sort of plan for re-entry….

So I’ve taught led run [verb-ed] a lot over the past several years.

Fifty one Rallies, and probably a dozen retreats. And I always put a ton of emphasis on the complicated process of coming back to real life.

Because once you have been inside of something transformative, you have all this intel about what you want and need in your life. And then you return to your day-to-day, and suddenly you see all the things that aren’t working, and it can feel kind of horrible.

So, hilariously, I returned from my forty three day adventure on the road with ZERO plan for taking care of myself.

I mean, I thought I had a plan. I had a plan for all the things I wanted to do.

I was not prepared for how it might feel.

Next time I’d like to have maybe a three day buffer period where nothing is on my agenda except for taking baths, curling up in blankets, staring into space. With no mention of work, no input from the noisy world, nothing but time to land.

If you feel drawn to leave comments on aspects of my week, I will take love, hearts, breaths, pebbles, I do not need advice or cheering up, though presence and sweetness are appreciated. Hearts or pebbles work great if you don’t know what to say, often I don’t know what to say either so we’re in the same boat.

Eight breaths for the hard, challenging and mysterious.

  1. Monday. First a massive ptsd meltdown that took me for a ride, then bureaucratic hell which made it worse, and then spending NINETEEN HOURS in the truck, while still in the aftermath of that morning’s episode. It was truly, deeply horrible in ways I can’t even explain, and I never want to experience anything like that again. I know I need to tend to body first, I know this is my real job and only job. And yet, I abdicate responsibility so hard and just try to grit my teeth and make it through. A breath for the long slow process of learning how to take better care of myself, given everything I know about what I need to be well.
  2. Shame about all of the above, and more. It comes in waves. I know there is nothing I can do to alter the past. All I can do is meet the pain of the past, love myself, breathe, trust, take care of myself to the best of the abilities. And still, there it is. A breath for healing, and for being.
  3. My body misses yoga and dance and long walks. My body hurts. Surprise! Of course it does. A breath for this.
  4. I didn’t really get along with Salt Lake. It’s the most plasticky place I’ve ever been, aside from Palm Springs, and at least Palm Springs does plastic in style. Those of you doing my Year of Emerging & Receiving have read my journals, and know that back in the spring I was getting so many clues from all directions about Utah. So I’d been feeling excited about spending a few days in Salt Lake City and finding out what was there for me. And mainly I didn’t like it. Nothing bad happened, just not a good place for a Havi. A breath for releasing expectations.
  5. Sometimes insecurity kicks in, and Ludicrous Fear Popcorn, and I go whooshing down the path of the most insanely nonsensical worry. A breath for clear seeing.
  6. So much letting go and reconfiguring. And, as I do this, I can see where the thing that is working right now is not going to be working in the future. A breath for grieving what is to come, and for trusting that it will be okay.
  7. Coming back has been so much harder than I’d imagined. And everything is breaking, both literally and figuratively. Computer not working. Dental work next week. No desire to deal with any of the things that need my attention. It is very disorienting not having the boy next to me holding my hand, I keep turning my head expecting him to be right next to me and he isn’t there. The world is loud. I have a lot of questions about what is next. A breath for landing, for remembering, and for trust-more love-more release-more receive-more.
  8. Inhale, exhale. May all misunderstandings and distortions, internal and external, dissolve in love if not in laughter. Goodbye (and thank you), mysteries and hard moments of this week.

Eight breaths of good, reassuring, delight-filled.

  1. I am changing “ask and you shall receive” to “take care of yourself and you shall receive” because this was my magic this week, over and over again. Perfect example, I was sitting at the climbing gym and I was so uncomfortable but I wanted to be near an outlet. Then I noticed that I’d been feeling thirsty for a while and trying to ignore it. I immediately said, listen Havi Bell, take care of your wonderful body right now. But then I didn’t want to lose my seat and unplug my computer and there were like, a hundred reasons (“reasons”) to not go get water. Then I heard myself again and I knew nothing was more right than water. As soon as I came back from getting hydrated, this sweet guy came by and said, hey by the way there’s another room downstairs with couches and outlets and it’s super comfortable, you’d like it there. And I did, and my entire life got better. More of this please. A breath for thank you.
  2. The mid-life crisis/easing is going way better. Most of the time I’m feeling deliciously unconcerned about everything being wildly up in the air. A breath for trust, and for freedom.
  3. Operation Tranquility Recovery Magic! It came to its beautiful completion this week, as we arrived back in Portland after forty three days and five thousand plus miles of wandering. Feeling wildly thankful for the clarity and spaciousness of that gorgeous jaunt into possibility. This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. Ready for the next op. A breath for receiving this.
  4. I did crazy brave things this week. For me. Like going dancing at a country western bar in Utah. A breath for adventuring.
  5. Finally, a plan is coming together! I think it is a really good plan. Excited! A breath for lightness and for new openings.
  6. This was the right time to come back. A breath for recognizing this.
  7. In theory, someone like me (a committed loner who thrives on quiet) should not enjoy spending so much time with another person, and yet, there you have it. I loved those forty three days of Operation Tranquility Recovery Magic, I loved smiling so much that my face hurt. I have a thousand new eye crinkles, and that is okay. A breath for logging a hundred and fourteen hours of holding hands while in a truck, and for joy.
  8. Thankfulness. So much is good. My beautiful home. My wonderful housemate. Postcards from Svevo. Dancing in Utah. Flowers everywhere. Hannuka and candles and warmth. Heart full of love. Tiny miracles everywhere. Everything is okay. Nothing is wrong. Now is not then. All Timing Is Right Timing. A full breath of deep appreciation in my thank-you heart.

WHAM BOOM! Operations completed.

The phrase Whoosh Ha Mastodon Boom is secret agent code that means: this thing is done! It is often shortened to wham-boom. You may also shout (or whisper) other joyous words if you like.

Ordered the 2015 calendars(the Year of More!), got more writing done, and the plan that wasn’t coming together is coming together, thanks to the fractal flowers. Wham Boom.

Revisiting some wise important words of truth from past-me.

This post called These are my tools. YES!


Powers I had this week…

I had fantastic superpowers this week. My favorite was the power of It Looks Like A Carwash But It’s A Hotel With A Gigantic Bathtub.

Superpowers I want.

The superpower of I Do Not Even Slightly Care What Anyone Else Thinks, and the power of I Treasure Myself Completely.

Other favorite superpowers: Permission slips everywhere. Calm Steady Trust Is Mine At All Times. I Take Care Of Myself Easily and Unapologetically. Loving No Is The Door To True Yes! Delighting in Plenty. Self-Ripening Wisdom. I see how beautiful everything is and I say thank you. Theatrical Spectaculars! Doing things in grand fashion, like a fairground stripper! I Boldly Glow. Ablaze With Fearless Intentional Choice-Making. I Have Everything I Need. Wildly Confident, Outrageously Beautiful, Wonderfully Tranquil. I Do Not Dim My Spark For Anyone.

The Salve of Take Care Of Yourself And Receive.

This salve contains, among other magical ingredients:

Permission. Permission. More Permission.

This salve is luscious in ways that are positively subversive.

The very act of applying it, letting it soften into my skin, feels so good.

I suddenly remember that there is nothing else to do other than make sure that I’m okay.

This salve quietly reminds me that this is the only thing that matters right now, or maybe ever: asking what I need, advocating for myself, resting into safety, layering on new experiences of good.

This salve smells woodsy and the tiniest bit sweet. When I wear it, I stand a little taller, walk with more graceful aliveness, smile at trees, blow kisses to stars.

There is a crispness of knowing: not only is it okay to provide for myself, it is vital to the balance of the world around me. When I wear this salve, I also become a catalyst of permission, safety, unicorn magic.

These salves can’t be seen, but the production factory delivers enough for distribution by way of the magic of the internet, so help yourself. There is enough.

If salve does not appeal, you can have this in tea form, as a bath, cocktail, whatever works for you. Not only is there enough salve, there are also enough ways to receive it.

Playing live at the meme beach house — the Fake Band of the Week!

My brother and I make up bands, which are all just one guy. The Meme Beach House is the venue.

This week’s band comes from Richard, and they’re called Hopefully Also Spooner, they are a Canadian zydeco band that uses cutlery as instruments, and actually it’s just one guy.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

I am still recommending the Emergency Get Calm, Quiet And Steady techniques, since they are keeping things good around here for me.

So I want to seed a reminder that this is a thing, and it helps, a lot. Not just with calming down in the moment but with building the kind of habits that allow you to change your relationship with whatever is scary or uncomfortable.

I hardly ever recommend these because the page is already many years old and needs rewriting. However, copywriting aside, this is still one of the best things I have ever made, by a lot. I have two boxes in my office full of the sweetest thank you notes from people, and so many of them are for this.

Come play if you like…

Join me in the comments. Some of us share hard and good, some of us say hi, or maybe we’re feeling quiet. My ritual doesn’t have to be your ritual. Whatever works for you. We’ve been doing this every week for years now and there still isn’t a right way. Feel free to leave pebbles (or petals!), hearts, warmth, sweetness. Those always work.

Everyone belongs. We let people have their own experience. We’re supportive and welcoming. We don’t give advice.

Wishing you a glorrrrrrrrrrrrious day, a restful weekend and a happy week to come.

Shabbat shalom.

p.s. It’s fine if it’s not Friday anymore. There’s complete chicken amnesty — join in whenever you like, it’s no big deal. And I am blowing kisses to the Beloved Lurkers. I love that you are here too.