What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

The art of the buffer phrase

I have been sharing my favorite buffer phrases with a number of clients lately, and you might need this too, so here it is.

A very brief primer and some ideas to play with.

I’m only going to talk about one particular buffer phrase today as an example, but some day I will post a very long list of my favorites! I collect them! That probably does not surprise you at all.

(Entry)

As always, as we talk about things both personal and complicated, it helps to keep in mind some of the basic principles of self-fluency:

People Vary! Safety First! You get to adapt ideas and concepts to fit your life and circumstances. I am not the expert of you. You get to be the expert of you! We are all just practicing and learning about how to take exquisite care of ourselves in this challenging world.

So let’s take a breath and adjust our crowns, remembering our position in the world as the person who knows the most about what we need. Let’s enter as we wish to be in it, with curiosity and presence. We got this. Crown On.

Crown On is the ongoing practice of maintaining my own sense of sovereignty and awareness of agency.

What’s a buffer phrase?

A buffer phrase uses the magic of words to:

  • interrupt an uncomfortable moment
  • re-establish boundaries aka remind us that we get to have boundaries!
  • buy more time so we can think of what we want to say or how we want to respond
  • practice Safety First
  • change the course of the interaction or situation that we currently find ourselves in *and* our habitual patterns.

Yay buffer phrases yay! They’re so good!

Buffer phrases are all about the superpower of Making Space To Make Space.

And they are so key in the work of Lovingly Interrupting Patterns In Order To Rewrite Them, which might be my favorite aspect of self-fluency.

Making space to make space

Let’s take a breath for that, because it is so very good.

Buffers make space. They remind us about boundaries. They remind us that we get to have this safe space between us and the world.

They are a Reclaiming, which has been one of the most meaningful and resonant words for me in this year of Dedication & Devotion.

Feeling-words make good buffers

Some of my all-time favorite buffer phrases involve just stating a feeling, and letting that feeling be expressed aloud. There is a lot of power in that, in part because it’s so unexpected.

Today we are going to work with the truly excellent and useful feeling of confusion:

I feel confused.

Examples

Here are some examples of I FEEL CONFUSED employed as a buffer, and I want to add that the trick to using buffer phrases effectively is to state them in as neutral a tone as possible, which requires practicing at home!

Here we go…

I feel confused! I am really unclear as to why you would be commenting on [my outfit / my size / my face / the contents of my grocery cart]…

I feel confused! I’m not sure what’s going on here, can you help me understand, what’s the nature of this interaction? Why are we having this conversation?

I feel confused! I definitely remember arriving ahead of you in line.

I feel confused! Why do you need that piece of information?

To be followed by: I am still feeling so confused! I’m not sure I feel comfortable sharing that. Is this not awkward? It’s really very awkward. Great, we are agreed.

Let’s talk about what is so useful with this particular buffer phrase

We’re bringing the conversation back to emotion

If someone makes an inappropriate comment and I start to argue with them, we argue. We stay on the mental level even though the discomfort in the interaction is happening in the body and on the emotional level which generally get ignored.

If I say, HEY I AM FEELING THIS FEELING, then we get to talk about the feeling.

Often people feel bad that you are feeling this feeling, and they want to help you not feel it. Which of course is extremely not their job, but at least they are no longer focused on needing to be right or trying to defend themselves, so hey, it’s a start.

People like to try to resolve confusion

Anger and disappointment are such difficult emotions for people because they will Make Shit About Them even when shit is not about them, because this is what people do when they don’t practice self-fluency.

And so, while our anger or disappointment is always legitimate (and our desire to express is is legitimate, and if we make that choice, a trillion sparklepoints to us!), people don’t know what to do with it and generally they freak out.

Again, people are going to make shit about them and interpret any perceived negative emotion as being directed at them, even if you specifically state that your feelings are a direct result of their words or behavior.

But confusion is just confusion. It’s almost a neutral emotion. Oh no, you’re feeling confused! They want to be helpful and sort that out! They want to help you solve and clarify!

Confusion can be a secret mirror

Sometimes naming your confusion can work as a mirror that helps them see how their behavior or comment was unwelcome, unnecessary or inappropriate.

Or maybe they still want to argue, or maybe they’re pretty committed to being someone who says unnecessary and inappropriate things, maybe they’re an asshole, who knows. You still win this moment because you bought yourself some reaction time, and you expressed a feeling which they had to contend with.

That’s what buffers do best. They create space.

Examples of times in my life I have not used this buffer but wish I had!

Let us summon the glorious and beautiful superpower of Do-Overs Forever!

Of course there are also times in my life in which I have used this buffer phrase to good effect in the moment, but I thought it might be more useful for our purposes here to work with Do-Overs, and I’m trying to keep this brief for once!

The time I shared intel with someone didn’t deserve it

Once I was sitting and writing at a cafe in Bishop, California, and a man came up and asked for my name and how to spell it.

I was so taken aback that I just gave him that information instead of saying WOW INAPPROPRIATE or THAT INFORMATION IS GIVEN ON A NEED TO KNOW BASIS, I’M AFRAID YOU DO NOT HAVE CLEARANCE.

(Those by the way are also excellent buffer phrases and worthy of practice!)

Here’s what I love about I FEEL CONFUSED

I love using I FEEL CONFUSED because it gives me time to check in with my emotions: how do I feel? What else do I feel? Do I want to answer this question?

When I imagine Do-Overs for this situation, which I do often, as self-therapy, I imagine Assertive Me saying, “I FEEL CONFUSED, why would you need that information from me and why would you expect it from me?”

She might also say, “I’m working and you are interrupting.”

She might also say, at full volume, “I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THAT?”

I love starting with I AM CONFUSED, because once I have that buffer space, I can think of what Assertive Me might say, and I can bring Assertive Me to the forefront.

The love story that fizzled

Once a friend and I started to have Big Feelings for each other. We got involved, making a really clear commitment that we would do whatever it takes to salvage the friendship no matter where the relationship went.

We texted all day every day for, I don’t know, seven months? We talked on the phone a lot. I was traveling for some of this but we stayed connected and always checking in with each other.

One evening he didn’t respond to my texts, and the next morning didn’t send his usual warm morning greetings. In the afternoon, I texted with a little vignette from the day, and he didn’t respond to that either.

After three days, I thought he might be dead? Like, actually googled to find out if he was dead. Until I realized that we had enough mutual friends who would have let me know.

By that time, I was too upset and couldn’t think of what to say (other than WTF DUDE), but I didn’t want to say that so I said nothing.

Do-Overs in my mind!

If I apply the principle of Do-Overs Forever, what I would like to have said is “Hey, I’m feeling confused. We usually talk about everything and I don’t know what’s going on, help me understand.”

I didn’t say anything because of past experiences, and not wanting to be perceived as needy or nagging or demanding, or other words I don’t like that people have put on me for wondering about disappearances.

If I am ever in a similar situation, I would like to bravely and clearly express the very useful emotion of confusion before getting to the point where the only emotion I could access is RAGING SET IT ON FIRE FURY.

Aka Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Left On Read For Ten Fucking Days Only To Get A What’s Up With No Explanation Or Apology

I have more examples but in a way they are all the same

Really an endless parade of life situations in which I froze, panicked, didn’t know how to respond, or just didn’t have words because I was feeling too sad or angry or hurt or bewildered.

Not going to get into a monster-train of regret here. As my former mentor used to say, there is good experience and useful experience.

And I would add to that: there really is also just shitty trauma experience, and if we aren’t at a point where we can find anything useful in that, no worries, life is full of hard things and we are doing the best we can to make it through, no pressure here to turn it into treasure.

Anyway, Useful Experience for me means recognizing the value in this vast experience of challenging moments. I am committed to getting better and better at interrupting each challenging moment as soon as possible to say, hey I feel confused, can we get some clarity here?

This is also, quite often, something I can do between me and me, in my relationship with myself. Express confusion and meet that confusion with love, show up in the interaction with curiosity, presence and love.

Does it always work?

Nope! There are no 100% always-yes solutions. Self-fluency is a grand experiment in trying things, learning about ourselves, and collecting useful information about what we need so that we can keep experimenting. It’s kind of like a video game.

Each time we find ourselves in a situation, whether brand new or eerily familiar, we can practice some of the things we want to practice.

And maybe at first that’s just taking lots of notes after the fact about Do-Overs! Because this stuff can be hard!

Here’s what I think though. If we were able to express how confused and bewildered we felt in a sitution while we were feeling this, that itself is brave and admirable and also super vulnerable, the kind of vulnerability that strengthens. So another trillion sparklepoints to us and a parade for how brave we were!

We tried something. That counts.

But quite often, I have found, pausing an interaction to express a feeling can significantly change the course and content of that interaction. It helps me stay steady and connected to myself, and it gives me some breathing room to feel into the next step. Worth trying.

Practice practice practice

That’s the work, right?

Practice, and meeting ourselves where we are, with as much love and compassion as we can muster in the moment. Which is also a form of practice.

I highly recommend practicing buffer phrases and practicing neutral tone. Suzette Haden Elgin wrote about this in her books, I would start with The Last Word On The Gentle Art Of Verbal Self-Defense.

Today I just gave one example of a buffer phrase and ways it might play out, but you are wise and capable, and I know you can apply this to other situations and invent new ones. Someday I will post about my very large and always-growing collection of buffer phrases.

(Some favorites: Wow. REALLY. No. No thank you. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t think so. BEGONE!)

A reminder about things to keep in mind

As always, People Vary. You get to change and adapt any technique or concept so that it works for you, your needs, your situation, with full respect for Safety First.

And also I want to just add that yes, micro-aggressions are real, also actual aggression, and traumatic shit happens all the time, and there are lots of assholes in the world, and sometimes the right response is the angry one, or the running away, or a loud HEY THAT’S INAPPROPRIATE (another useful and excellent buffer that I use fairly often), use what you’ve got, whatever works.

I am a huge fan of Whatever Works

So please know that I support whatever you experiment with and however you experiment.

I support whatever you come up with in the moment, and hey, sometimes we are just trying to survive, Safety First!

And I support you for trying things. I support your process. I am FOR YOU. I think you are marvelous!

Let’s appreciate ourselves for trying, if we can!

Seriously, this stuff is hard, or can be, this work is subversive and challenging, it goes against cultural programming, and it asks us to be conscious, attentive, present and brave. You are a star for existing.

Let’s take some breaths for that.

A breath for the superpower of You’re Doing Amazing, Sweetie, and a breath for We’ve Got This, and a breath for in process, and a breath for this new day, a breath for being Conscious and Free.

And come play with me in the comments!

You’re welcome to share anything sparked for you! You’re welcome to share any favorite buffer phrases you’re working with. You’re welcome to think out loud, invoke superpowers, or throw around cascading showers of sparklepoint confetti and bask in them with me.

As always, this is safe space for just being and hanging out. We don’t give advice, we don’t do caretaking. We take exquisite care of ourselves and make room for everyone to be here. You are welcome and loved. Let’s play!

At The Dome In The Desert

looking at the desert

Sensation

I am on the floor, listening to the glorious soundtrack that is monsoon rains pouring onto the skylight.

The dome is filling up with filtered light, muted monsoon glow, sunset approaching. I am in love with this periwinkle sky of messy watercolor stripes.

Breathing, observing, admiring, listening. Awe-struck.

The rain stops and I open the windows to let the scent of creosote fill the dome.

The Adventurer

The first person who came to retreat at the center sent me a note beforehand saying they weren’t sure why they were coming or what for, or what their mystery project might be. All they knew was this: They need to come here in order meet The Adventurer, or to become The Adventurer.

Sounds great, I said.
I literally have no idea what this means, they said.
Works for me, I said.

The Adventurer again

A couple months after our retreat time together at the dome in the desert, I got a surprise text:

Oh hey guess what I’m in Uruguay.

Oh of course you are, how marvelous, I said.

I mean, of course, yes. They’d become The Adventurer, and where else would they be if not in new and unexpected places, off on grand adventures. I was delighted to hear this, and not even slightly surprised.

Call in The Adventurer, and you will find yourself on an adventure.

Resonance

It turns out that if you ring a singing bowl inside of a geodesic dome with an impossibly high ceiling, the round sound echoes and reverberates in the round space for a period of time that I can only describe as a) impossibly, agonizingly long and b) hysterically funny.

It defies all reason, and eventually you just have to laugh. A shaggy dog joke of a bell.

Clarity is the funniest

You ring a bell for Clarity, and then it just won’t stop ringing.

Imagine skipping a stone and then the ripples just keep rippling out for several minutes, and you’re like, OH WOW THAT IS COOL WAIT WHAT OKAY BUT SERIOUSLY WHEN DOES THIS END THOUGH LIKE WHEN.

Now? Nope. Still going…

Echoing and Reverberating.

Round

Whenever someone comes to retreat, I ring a bell for them, for us, for our time together, in part for the gasp of awe and wonder, and of course also for the eventual and inevitable comic relief.

Round sound in this pure form is breathtaking, and then absolutely hilarious.

Roundness is such a good way to begin writing and righting. And so is laughter.

I feel so strongly about this combination of [Intention + Wonder] on the one hand, and [Playfulness + Hilarity] on the other. A truly powerful mix.

Reflecting

It was January when Goshman came to retreat to learn about The Adventurer, and now, somehow, it is August. We were catching up the other day, and they said:

“I am sometimes in awe, both shocked and also not shocked, at how much that week set the tone for the year and set all these wonderful, wild adventures in motion. I felt it then too, but it’s only six months out that it feels so completely obvious.”

Setting. Into. Motion.

That’s what retreat time does. We seed-plant-nurture-intend, and we do this in a quality-rich environment, a resonant environment. While laughing a lot.

And then there is nothing else to do but play and see how it all plays out.

So we play. And we practice [wait and observe], attending to magic. With love.

(Play)

There is a play on words there too. Setting into motion. Setting and setting.

It is the spectacular setting of place that sets things (wishes, adventures, you) into motion.

Patterns and cycles and more reverberations

In October, which sounds far away but is somehow right around the corner, it will be five years since my mom died, something I now realize was in a way for me the last toppling domino in an outrageous Rube-Goldberg-esque series of rough and painful losses.

I was in shock, surveying the devastation of what had been my life, completely unable to make even one tiny decision, and my new lover said, beautiful girl how about we just hit the road for a while.

This is how I ended up on Operation Tranquility Recovery Magic, where I heard the question that resulted in my decision to enter Shmita, a period of emptying and undoing.

And that is how I ended up a wanderer, mostly on the road for the next four years, looking for a place that might feel like yes, not sure if this even existed, clinging to the wish-hope that it might. Holding fast to the belief that either way the search itself was a worthwhile pursuit, which it was.

North

You will laugh, but all this happened right after I put Adventure in my compass, in the very first position, pointing north.

So yeah, I know a thing or two about calling in Adventure.

Center

Now I have a center, and it is round, which is very important to me, as you know, and a base from which to wander, which is so different from wandering without a base.

Round space is resonant space. Round space is possibility. Round spaces are healing.

We’re mammals, even when we forget that we are mammals

Cattle get confused and anxious in rectangular enclosures, but put them in a round corral and they immediately calm down and know exactly what to do, looping contentedly in circles. Do you see?

It’s a mammal thing to feel anxious inside of boxes and box-shaped spaces, because right angles don’t exist in nature, and there is a difference between an enclosure that is organic, spacious and comforting versus the kind that boxes you in.

We are mammals. We have anxiety. Hahahahaha so much anxiety.

And we live our lives in cars, offices, cubicles, various configurations of squares and rectangles.

Coincidence? I mean, sure, maybe…

There are a lot of contributing factors to our well-earned anxiety, for sure. It’s not just all the straight lines and hard angles. I mean, let’s not ignore the big structural factors, the systemic injustice and oppression. The game is rigged in so many ways, for sure. But it makes you think.

We have forgotten that we are soft creatures, easily startled, and we need open spaces, enclosures that make sense to us, shapes that bring us comfort, good air.

I stand by this:

We need roundness and sanctuary, we need curves and expansiveness, we do so much better when we have a compass, the perfect combination of spacious and contained, held in roundness.

it is good to surround ourselves with round sound (spells and bells, breath and echoing breath).

It is good to play with organic shapes (movement, yoga, dance, drawing, dreaming, rolling around on the floor), I am a big fan of Whatever Works, so substitute your own favorite way to play with shapes here.

We need to be able to get on the ground and be held by earth and sky, to return to ourselves, center at the center.

Horizon

We have forgotten some essential pieces of mammalian wisdom as well, like how to shake when we are afraid until we are done being afraid. Or how to stop when we don’t want to keep going.

We have forgotten that we need expansiveness and horizon. This was the first thing I learned when I set off on the road. Oh right, a night sky absolutely bursting with stars. Oh right, an uninterrupted view. Oh right, I can talk to the mountains and the moon and the sky.

When you know what you want

It took me most of four years on the road to really hear-and-receive what I wanted and to believe it might be possible, but when I narrowed down my search for the right place for a new retreat center for us, here were my final criteria:

+ blissfully quiet
+ a breathtaking sky full of stars
+ natural beauty that is its own form of healing (I want to look outside and immediately feel better)
+ uninterrupted horizon in at least two directions
+ a round structure in place or space to build a round structure (and no HOA or land covenants that would put restrictions on what shapes I could build)
+ weather that allows for playing outdoors most of the year (this is the one that took Wyoming, Idaho and Nebraska out of the running)

And so I arrived at the dome in the desert

There is (of course there is) a wild story behind how I found this place, but I will save that for another day if you are interested…

But I found a dome on five acres of lush desert wilderness (ocotillo and agave and prickly pear cactus) that backs up to endless acres of state land, forever views of mountains and glorious Arizona sky.

A giant open space for yoga and dance and writing and rolling on the floor under the skylight. A private suite for retreat guests. A small cozy loft.

Here we are.

A witch with a garden

You live in a witch’s garden, one person announced happily after spending the afternoon walking the grounds.

Someone else said, This entire place is like a living lesson in the idea that boundaries can be beautiful, you’re surrounded by like thirty different kinds of cactus all with their own powerful ways of claiming space.

I hate to over-use the word magical, because it is so elusive, but yes, one hundred percent, magic happens here. This place is extraordinary.

I could talk all day about the power of changing your setting to change your setting (how you are set, like a stone in a ring, or a machine recalibrated), but I will instead just say there is a witch’s garden, and things happen here that can’t really be explained.

Ah, I forgot to tell you about the wild life

It’s just beautiful here. And natural beauty, as I learned on my wanderings from my state of pain, is its own form of healing. The sunsets sometimes make me cry, I’m not sad, just overwhelmed with the intensity.

If you want, we can go walk on the trails on state land or even go visit the wildlife reserve.

Tell me about the Wild Life

Do you remember, a couple years ago, I made a wish called Tell Me About The Wild Life, and then immediately met a wildlife biologist who wanted to tell me all about the (local) wildlife.

I was looking for the life that is Wild, in the sense of Wild & Free, but here I have also found a lot to learn from the wildlife, as I pursue my Wild Life.

A bobcat who naps peacefully in the sun or sometimes strolls by with a swagger while I do morning sun salutations at the window. Road runners who want to make friends and come tap at the window when they want company, and bring their offspring to say hello.

Results

Here are my favorite things that have happened so far as a result of opening this round center in a dome in the desert:

Three different people dreamed up their dream job while they were here, two of them have since either been offered their dream job or found it, applied for it and received it. Another person has somehow invented something that is even better than a dream job.

I am extremely impressed. I also take zero credit for this. It’s the desert and the roundness and the container of space, time and magic that we call in together.

What else can I tell you

People have come here dearly wanting certain daily or regular or new habits in their lives, and now they have them.

Two people came to release something old and painful and give it to the desert, which they did. One of them knew this was why they were coming and one did not.

Everyone I talk to after they’ve been here seems more focused and also more curious and contemplative, attentive maybe, with regard to their goals and wishes. Everyone seems more steady in their power, if that makes sense. Like, extra-extra crown on.

Common ground for everyone

Everyone who comes here finds both the dome and the location magnificent and super peaceful. Everyone absolutely loves the food (which is good because I love to make food). Everyone is surprised by how big the guest suite is. It’s big, I probably need new pics!

Everyone likes being outside, going for walks, exploring the grounds or the nearby trails on state land. Two people brought mountain bikes for fun exploring.

Everyone sleeps well and most people nap a lot.

It seems like just about everyone does something creative (painting, knitting, drawing, writing, photography, dance).

Everyone discovers deeper reasons about why they really came, reasons they didn’t know about or couldn’t have known about in advance, and they leave inspired and excited about all these discoveries and the various ideas and clues revealed.

And of course everyone loves the glorious sky full of stars as well as watching stars on the dome ceiling with the amazing star projector, and everyone wants to come back soon.

Now I’m trying to think of differences…

Some people LOVE being in the tiny house and just want to be there all the time.
Some people love to just be inside and read.

Some people like lots of movement and meditation, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Some people love to sing in the dome!

That’s all I can think of so far. The main thing I can say for sure is that everyone who has come here has had a MEANINGFUL experience, something non-fleeting. Seeds were seeded, so many things changed or shifted or calmed, became more peaceful….

(People who’ve been here! Is there anything I’m forgetting that you’d add? Or anything you’d tell someone who wants to come here but is on the fence?)

What else is different?

For five years I [verb]-ed a magical retreat center in Portland, Oregon. It was called The Playground, and it was basically pre-school for grownups. We had a costume room and a nap room, and the whole thing was a delight.

Obviously a round house off of a long dirt road in the desert is a different form of center than my previous center which was urban, located in an old masonic ballroom with many rooms and odd hallways, adjacent to restaurants.

That was urban and this is pretty far from civilization. Or, as my dad put it, “Well, I wouldn’t say you’re in the middle of nowhere, but you’re certainly nowhere-adjacent.”

And the Playground was for groups and this, right now, is for one person to come and go deep into a solo retreat, with me there as a companion in retreating and magic, but not in teaching mode. So yeah, this is new and different.

A lot is still the same and very familiar

Everybody naps. Everybody finds unexpected clues and gets wise advice from their incoming selves. There is laughter, sometimes singing (which by the way sounds completely amazing, the dome acoustics are out of this world), sometimes some crying, then more laughter.

The youngest person to retreat here so far was 28, and the oldest 77. I feel good about this, a truly excellent range. Age certainly doesn’t matter when it comes to retreating.

(If you want more intel about accessibility, I made a section about that for you on the page called “potentially useful intel about your space”!)

What do you bring?

Everyone brings notebooks and journals, there have been lots of tarot decks (and I have five or so here at the center if you forget yours), plenty of art supplies. Sometimes people have a favorite tea or stuffed animals they like to bring.

People bring books. There are lots of books here too that you’re welcome to read.

One of my very favorite things is how many people truly give themselves permission to just process and rest and do plenty of nothing. It isn’t all project-time. I mean, it is all project time but in the sense that resting, drawing, reading and napping all deeply support the project.

What I am trying to convey is the beautiful and inspiring level of self-trust that I see when people are on retreat here. Everyone takes exquisite care of themselves, and the project emerges from that deep level of rest and relaxation. Let me explain it in someone else’s words.

[Here is G talking about their experience]

The week before I went to rally at Stargazer, a new incoming just showed up out of nowhere, fully formed (which, as Havi pointed out, is not surprising after I had committed to the magic of rallying, but it was still startling and wonderful!)

I didn’t know what my project for was (hah) but it turned out that mostly I just needed to spend a week hanging out with my new incoming and figuring out how they operate in the world. And what an incredible space to do it in!!!

I spent the first half of the week going on walks, staring at the ridiculously gorgeous Arizona sky, reading books in the jacuzzi tub, and taking a lot of incredible naps in a superbly soft bed with the greatest pillow in the entire world. Once I felt rested and revitalized, I went on a bunch of delightful adventures, a sampling of which involved mine-trains, horses, swimming, and picnics with the universe (not all at once.) We watched stars on the ceiling. I skipped stones and ate delicious food and did a lot of rolling around on the floor, which kind of happens whether or not you’re trying to when you’re basically living in a yoga studio.

It was 7 days but also more like 5 years, because of mega time-stretchy magic.

Honestly, all of it was magic, and all of it was part of the project, and all the superpowers I discovered while I was there have followed me home and made everything easier and better in dealing with all the inowannas and iguanas of daily life.

I got a huge shift in perspective on my current transition, got acquainted with all of my incoming’s new superpowers, remembered what it was like to live in my body and outside of time, and leveled up a whole bunch of things. It was like half vacation and half really-subtle almost-didn’t-notice-it-was-happening superhero training space. Highly recommend. <3

Center at the center

What do you call a place that is magic?

How do you describe a place that is magic?

I don’t know. It’s a conundrum. I don’t know how to tell you how great this is and I certainly don’t know why it is great, it defies explanation, I just know that you should come here if you feel a spark when I say MAYBE YOU SHOULD COME HERE, come center at the center.

The dome in the desert is ready. Let’s play.

Questions (mine and yours)

I set up two forms for coming to retreat here, a three night version for people who can swing a long weekend, and a seven night version for people who can make it here for a week.

But honestly my own ideal sanctuary retreat would be two weeks or even a month. I would want to come here and finish a writing project or really fully integrate an incoming self and new habits in such a way that I couldn’t even imagine life without them.

I didn’t put those options on the page because I wasn’t sure that anyone would be up for that, but talk to me if that’s something you want. Leave a comment or send me a note or both.

What is your ideal retreat time, what would you like to see offered here?

Would anyone be interested in being here without me and just taking over the whole dome while I’m on road travels? You’d need to arrange a car because nothing is close. Talk to me! Let’s scheme up some ideas!

FLASH SALE THIS WEEK!

I am booking ten retreats this year, and right now there are FLASH SALE prices good through August 18th if they last that long.

Flash sale is happening because I had to scramble to make the dome safe from flash-floods for monsoon-season, and this was very stressful and I will write about it some other time.

But the dome is now set for all weather, and I am set for you to come have a beautiful, transformative and extremely joyful retreat to do whatever it is you need to do here, whether or not you know what that is. As far as I can tell, there is no benefit to knowing ahead of time! But if you feel the pull, now is a good time to book.

Come experience the wild life (and the wildlife) with me, rest and replenish, get to know Incoming You, and receive your next indicated steps. I can’t wait to play with you.

You can (step 1!) read about the retreat center and the shape of your retreat…

And then (step 2!) get your FLASH SALE PRICING on your retreat!

A breath for magic, and comment zen!

You are welcome and invited to share any sparks sparked for you from reading this meditation on the dome in the desert. Or brainstorm what you’d want to bring on retreat!

I am receptive to excitement and imaginary confetti and shared rejoicing! I am receptive to ideas about other retreat forms you’d like, seriously if anyone wants a month here, with or without me, talk to me! Let’s get inventive with form!

As always, this is a space where we meet each other and ourselves with compassion and presence, we don’t give advice, we take breaths and take care of ourselves. I’m so glad you’re here. Love to everyone who reads!

The Desert Assassin & The Nth Monday Meeting

Fluent Self June - the month of Sanctuary

Photo of The Wild Wild Nest by me! If you come retreat at the center, this is the bonus writing nook / napping nook, and this is your beautiful view!

What is possible? What comes after possible?

There is an absolutely remarkable concept in Feldenkrais that never fails to make me stop everything and gasp as I immediately reassess how I approach anything I’m working on.

It is so simple and so beautiful, and it breaks my brain every time:

“…make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant”

(!!!)

Undoing the hierarchical approach to progression

The idea is not that we have to get to elegant as quickly as possible.

Maybe we won’t ever get to elegant, who knows, maybe elegant is a breath-taking point on the forever-horizon, does it have any less value if it inspires us to keep moving?

Something else worth keeping in mind: Our progress is not always linear and the timeline of how we progress might not make a ton of sense.

One movement

I just spent an entire year trying to figure out how to make a movement happen in my body, and the whole time I was like, oh wow I hope I can figure out how this works so that I can move on to MASTERING IT, ta da!

And, hahaha, that isn’t how it went at all. I did figure out the movement (after about ten months of daily practice), and now sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.

Some days I get to play with the mystery of “ah, now it is possible, can we add ease?”, and other days I’m thinking, OH CRAP I’VE LOST IT, back to square one.

Except it isn’t square one at all, it’s entirely new. A trick of perspective: what is familiar makes us think we have slipped back into Then, when actually this is Now, and Now just happens to be familiar because there is something important in the familiar.

We forget and remember, this is how it’s supposed to work

We forget and remember, and each remembering is layered, holding all of the information from the past rememberings. Each remembering brings us closer to wholeness, I believe this.

Anyway, sometimes we’re working on making something possible, sometimes we’re working on making it easier, sometimes we play with the alchemy of ease into elegance.

But the idea isn’t to get to elegance and be done. Being at the ease-to-elegance section of the continuum isn’t privileged over making the impossible possible.*

* I mean, sure, it is privileged in external culture, which is where we live, however is not privileged in this concept, which is one of the reasons I love this concept.

Wherever we are, right now, in this very moment, is a good and useful place to be, and the wisdom that will be revealed in the current passage is exactly what is needed.

A breath for approaching with ease

That is to say, let us take a breath for approaching with ease (lightness), even when nothing is easy (ow, this is hard). It might not be easy, and we can still breathe for easing.

Here is the crux of this concept for me:

In everything we are doing at all times, we are somewhere on this continuum, figuring out how to make something possible, then how to make it easy, then for that ease to become infused with grace.

At any given time, I will be bouncing back and froth on this continuum, because each impossible-to-possible yields a new impossible, and because my perception of What Is Ease and Easeful will change and shift depending on the circumstances.

And because everything changes, nothing is static, we are in a dynamic process with life and aliveness.

Meeting frustration (omg so much frustration)

I am someone with a special brain.

To be blunt here because this is a place I feel safe being blunt, I don’t feel desire to expand on that last sentence too much — in my experience, the world is made up of people who find diagnoses immensely comforting and liberating, and people who do not, and I absolutely fall into the latter category.

But let’s just say that I excel in the World Of Concepts, and have trouble making sense of the World Of Things.

And a lot of the time this is no fun, because our culture places an extremely high value on the goings-on in the world of things.

Everything I love takes place in a world I don’t understand

This is especially frustrating for me as I am deeply passionate about so many pursuits that exist in the world of things (dance! movement! agility! I want to hang upside down from silk! I want to ride a motorcycle!), and it always seems as though I have to work ten times as hard to achieve a fraction as much.

I have a very high understanding of the underlying concepts that imbue these pursuits, but this understanding does not help me embody them.

And also I have been running this business for the past nearly fifteen years, and, guess what, businesses also live in the world of things, and I have so much trouble in the world of things, and [ten thousand monster stories about how I am constantly screwing up everything all the time because I can’t figure out the tech or I lose the thread, or executive function dysfunction, etc].

So how do we meet frustration?

The way we meet anything.

With a Meeting.

That is to say: with Presence, Curiosity, Intention, Breath. And a container of time-space for practice.

Here I am.

Here is my stuff. Here is all that I’m feeling in this moment. Here’s what I’m noticing. Here’s what I know is true. (For me, right now, and in general, in a more universal sense.)

Here is what I want to remember and hold close to my heart as I meet this sensation or this experience.

If I do not know what’s true, or if I’m having trouble remembering what’s true, a useful question to bring up in this meeting is What’s True And What’s Also True…

I like to do this meeting with a Meeting. This makes me laugh because meetings sound boring, but what is more fascinating than meeting my self and my wise incoming selves?

Welcome to the 24th consecutive Monday Meeting

Well, maybe consecutive is not exactly right since these do not always happen on a Monday, but I do run this meeting every week, and quite often it’s on a Monday.

I also try to not schedule anything else for Mondays, so there is nothing to be done other than meet myself (where I am), or psych myself up for meeting myself and my selves.

The container of time-space that is the Monday Meeting

I like twenty to thirty minutes for a Meeting.

Often I combine this with Operation Glow Power aka luscious skin care practices, and put on a sheet mask for the duration of the Meeting. This helps me remember that I’m in Meeting Space.

I light a candle, put on my most badass desert assassin earrings, and prepare to enter: what does it mean to meet myself and how do I wish to meet Incoming me?

(What a delight that we get to meet and connect, what an amazing thing it is to have a Meeting of selves!)

Roll call / Role call

I always begin the Monday Meeting with a roll call which is also a role call! Haha, this cracks me up every time, love to start the meeting with my favorite joke. I’m on a roll! I’m playing a role!

But really: who wants to show up? Who am I and what is important to me right now? Who am I becoming? Who wishes to be heard? Only kind and warm-hearted allies are invited to my Meeting, this is not a monster negotiation, that’s something else.

We all announce ourselves. It’s a cast of characters! I am such a character, haha! And casting is a witchy joke…

Hi! Who is here at the Meeting?

The Desert Assassin: PRESENT!
The Sorceress: PRESENT!
The Designer: PRESENT!

There might also be a self who doesn’t have a name yet, in that case I just describe them: Oh hey, welcome, hi there, the version of me who is Gloriously Unbothered because they know that all the shit that’s happening in my life right now is not a distraction.

In addition to identities or selves, there might be current themes or projects in attendance, for example: The Month of Sanctuary is invited to this Monday’s meeting, as is the project of [current secret mission].

Statement of Purpose & Intent

I usually open the Monday Meeting with a quick invocation of purpose and gratitude.

Something like: Welcome! I’m so glad we’re all here. I can’t wait to get to know you better. Here’s to Reclaiming Our Glow Powers and the mission of a sustainable center!

Then we clink glasses with our magic potions (this happens in my mind), and I explain a little bit about what’s going on for me. Sometimes I just need to vent a little.

Opening statement from a Havi!

Me, to my other selves: I’m feeling immensely frustrated and helpless, friends. I’m in total sensory overload from this fucking loud dripping sink situation that makes me want to hurl myself off of the nearest cliff, the entire last two months have been been completely hijacked with unanticipated fixes to the center, the whole thing is so expensive, time-consuming, infuriating and exhausting, and I never know when I’m going to be able to work and when there will be contractors here. I can’t focus. And I’m completely overwhelmed by the stress of getting everything done before the monsoon comes.

Please guide me, please give me some reassurance, tell me this is not all a terrible mistake, remind me that Now Is Not Then, show me how demolishing can be a form of celebrating, remind me what is true.

I need perspective, and a big whoosh of resources and supportive positive energy. What can you show me?

The Desert Assassin Advises

The Desert Assassin: Babe, that’s so hard, you are such a star for putting up with this. What a test, what a training, and you are doing so well.

Can we pause for a moment and just applaud all you have achieved despite these extremely challenging extenuating circumstances?

So many wishes from previous Monday Meetings have come to fruition. We’re back on a good sleep schedule! We spend time in the garden each day, a huge wish! Morning practice is super consistent. Getting stronger every day. You’re a badass, and we applaud you.

Me: It’s so hard for me to see the good when all I can see is what isn’t working.

The Desert Assassin: What if that sight, that practiced attentive vision, is part of the training of this level in the video game? What if you are being asked to see what is working along with what is not yet working? Is this not the essence of being an assassin? SEE WHAT IS. You need Clarity in order to Take Out what doesn’t need to be there.

Me: Haha, to take out, huh? I thought we agreed these terms were Needlessly Ambiguous

The Desert Assassin: Haha, okay, let’s murder the fuck out of your to-do list, babe. I’m ready if you are. Reduce and release. End this. Let me do my job.

The Sorceress Advises

The Sorceress: It sounds like you’ve been trying logic over magic and it’s not really working out. What about we cast something new here?

Me: I honestly don’t even know what that means.

The Sorceress: Cast out what is not needed. Name what is invited. Are you not The Namer Who Names? Are you not the wild witchy wonder? You think you have a special brain, is that itself not a form of being a witch?

You know how to adventure, you know how to delight in life. Your magic is powerful. You only diminish yourself out of habit. You have made yourself small to be loved and adored, and it is time to be done with that unnecessary and unfortunate habit.

Be loved and adored as you are. Be loved and adored by us, your true selves. You are our greatest love.

The Designer Advises

The Designer: When you cannot focus, it is because your view is not conducive. Tabula rasa. Clear out. Change your perspective to change your luck. There are too many things in view. Empty and keep emptying.

You hold onto things because they are reminders and placeholders, but these are not the same as YESES. Release what is incongruent, disharmonious, old, unhappy.

Stay with your now-yes.

Me: What if I don’t know what my now-yes looks like?

The Designer: You’ll know from removing anything that might conceivably be a test from a witch. You are learning how to trust your instincts, and getting it wrong is just as useful and important as getting it right. All the points to you for investigating this!

The Project of [current secret mission] Advises

The Project: I know why you’ve been avoiding me, and I want you to know that it’s okay. I’m here for you when you’re ready. The bridges are being built. You don’t have to worry about timing, my love.

Me: That makes me want to cry. I don’t even know why I’m avoiding you.

The Project: You are learning about an entirely new relationship with time, and about putting yourself first. Stick with what’s been working. Keep talking to me. We’ll get there.

Me: What are my next steps?
The Project: Write a love letter…

The Month of Sanctuary Advises

The Month of Sanctuary: Thank you for all you did in the month of Gleaming and the month of Revealing. You have such a different relationship with the center and with yourself than you did before. You have set everything up to truly understand what sanctuary means.

Me: I’m not sure if I do.
The Month of Sanctuary: The retreats you are offering at the center are truly a form of sanctuary. The intentional practices you model for people are a form of sanctuary. Your refusal to be put into teacher-mode or guru-mode are also a form of sanctuary.

Sanctuary is the glowing quality of your heart, the counter-part to your love of Pleasure & Freedom. It is creating these layers of safety for yourself and your selves that allows you to pursue what really matters to you in life, and to live outside of [the accepted ways of doing things, the accepted ways of seeing].

Be a sanctuary for yourself, and everything will change from this.

Let’s meet ourselves, let’s seed wishes, let’s play.

You are welcome/invited to use the comment space to share any !!! or anything sparked for you about Sancutary or Monday Meetings or being someone who lives in the World Of Concepts when the expectation is that we get how the World Of Things works, or really anything I wrote about here (I know it was a lot).

If you want to talk to any version of Incoming You or hold your own Monday Meeting, go for it. You’re always welcome to play with any of the concepts here, name wishes, call in some magic and superpowers, whatever you need. This is, as always, safe space for play and process, we meet each other with love and we don’t give advice.

If you’re joining me in the practice of 19 minutes a day towards a something and you don’t know how to start, 19 minutes of Meeting the you who gives yourself 19 minutes a day might be an interesting place to start. Either way, CONFETTI PARADE for being in process, however long it takes to begin is however long it takes.

And of course share any of this with anyone who could use it. I love having company and I love that you’re here with me. Here’s to sanctuary, and Safety First, and meeting ourselves with attentiveness.

Operation Bells & Spells / What is Revealed?

Fluent Self July - the month of Revealing

Photo by Craig Fritz / @craigfritzeye, this is the skylight of our new retreat center, come visit!

19 minutes

I have been [taking] nineteen minutes a day to do [a something] that is quiet or pleasurable or reflective.

[Taking?]

Is that even the word? Is it taking or is it finding?

Finding or is it devoting?

[A something?]

Something that pulls me but for whatever reasons I do not let myself follow this pull.

Maybe something I long for, maybe something I always forget about and remember and forget again. Something that is not currently getting my full attention or something I am not usually able to prioritize. My nineteen minutes can be given to anything in this category.

Examples of a something…

Maybe reading a chapter of a book in my toppling TBR pile, maybe asking slightly-wiser-me for direction.

Maybe sitting in the garden and talking to the labyrinth-to-be, maybe getting on the floor and watching the clouds move across the sky.

Maybe I don’t know what my nineteen minutes are for and so I ask them. Maybe the nineteen minutes are for the question and for the listening.

Maybe I don’t know where to even find nineteen minutes and the practice is about exploring that and running experiements…

The experiment

Time for yourself without an agenda, time for BEING, is a big deal.

Triple-especially in this culture that only prioritizes DOING, and really only gives you any credit for doing when it’s in the stages of finishing. Everything is about accomplishing and word-count and ass-in-chair.

So this is an intimate, vulnerable practice just by virtue of not being about those things. This is the opposite of that. This is about prioritizing and treasuring process, letting ourselves be in process without an agenda other than can we observe what takes place inside of this container of nineteen minutes…

Harder than it sounds? Haha, yup, maybe, sometimes!

This practice falls in the category of deceptively simple, in the sense that things which are simple are not necessarily easy.

Pretty much everything about [19 minutes] can sometimes be more challenging than it sounds like it should be, at least for me.

For many reasons, including but not limited to things like WHAT EVEN IS TIME AND HOW DO YOU FIND ANY?!

Though also we have the very interesting question of WHAT IS JOYFUL AND DO I EVEN KNOW ANYMORE HOW TO JUST CHILL.

That’s the practice though, right?

That’s part of why I’m doing it. Because taking time for myself is subversive, and exploring what might be joyful is a worthy investigation.

Mainly though I’m doing it to see what is revealed. In me, in the practice.

And of course, observing this process is also revealing.

What comes up as I am IN THE BECOMING?

That is to say: becoming someone who prioritizes carving out space and calling in permission for presence and play? Maybe even becoming someone who can intentionally do some delicious nothing at any time without any accompanying guilt or panic? Hahaha. Who knows.

And if I can already do these things some of the time, what changes when I have this lovely container of Time, Space & Intention to call in what is next, to magic up the new and better?

The most important part of this (to me)

For me, the practice is not so much the nineteen minutes as it is engaging with the idea of it.

I can get as much or more useful intel on a day when I can’t seem to carve out nineteen minutes (or on a day when I notice myself beating myself up about forgetting the practice) as I do from taking the nineteen minutes.

The practice is not the doing or the perceived accomplishing.

The practice is the engaging-with and the noticing. The practice is learning about how I can meet myself with kindness when I get stuck, and figuring out what I might want to try when I can’t.

Revealing love with love

When I am feeling [perceptions of lost & stuck], I ask Incoming Me what to do. She always says the same thing:

“Let nothing be hidden, and have nothing that is not needed”.

Do you feel how this is the essence of revealed and revealing? I feel it like a heart-belly reverberation.

Revealed means you know what is there and you know what you need.

You know what is there (nothing is hidden), and you know what you need (because what you have is what you need, or you are ready to remove anything that doesn’t support your needs).

Revealing as the natural extension of gleaming

Revealed is what comes from Gleaming. Revealed is what allows for Shimmering.

Revealed is related to Fierce Purpose, the north of my compass, and to the superpower of clearing the path to clear the path. Revealing is a gift of last year’s practice of Further Reductions To Gain In Powers.

It also reminds me of this elegant Feldenkrais concept: “If you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want”.

What am I noticing about how I am doing what I am doing? Let’s take 19 minutes for that!

In Feldenkrais, you practice awareness through movement, noticing how you are doing what you are doing, so you can either do something differently to change your movement/experience, or stay with the same movement while adding grace, ease, pleasure, awareness.

This is what I’m aiming towards in this practice of 19 minutes. What can I notice in this container of time? Am I doing what I want to be doing? What would add grace, ease, pleasure and awareness?

Companionship (would you like to play with this?)

Something that has revealed itself for me in the past months of being a hermit in the desert is that I am craving companionship and community in the form of people who share my desire to play with these ideas.

I’m opening my practice to anyone who wants to play in community, so some intel below in case you want to join us, which is still possible through Monday!

THE WHAT

A container of time-space in the form of private intentional communal space for just about four months to mess around with this concept of nineteen minutes.

* Or your form of that, maybe it’s three minutes, or maybe what you want isn’t measured in minutes at all! Or maybe you’ll take a few months to work up to nineteen minutes, that works too.

THE WHEN

We just embarked last weekend and you are welcome to join in. We will go until September 23rd which is equinox (autumnal in the northern hemisphere, vernal if you’re on the other side) so just about four months.

THE WHERE

A private-access separate blog that no one will know about except this group. You run your own practice in as many series of comments as you like, and everyone else runs theirs.

This idea is to enjoy the benefits and superpowers of companionship and community, without the migraine-ey Endless Scrolling effects (for me at least) of being on FB or another platform. I’m doing this experiment of 19 in part to interrupt my patterns of Endless Scrolling.

Some benefits/superpowers of community include:

+ the weird wonderful thing that is collective energy and intention set into motion: even when we forget or get stuck, other people’s untangling supports our untangling, and our rest supports them!
+ the zoom effect of magically getting more done when someone is keeping us company
+ get inspired by other people’s insights and process
+ low-key accountability aka the kind that doesn’t make us feel terrible about ourselves

The Why

Because the work of seeding new habits or patterns is made easier when we have a form or a container to support this, and sometimes we need to invent one.

Because we will have so much more peacefulness in this complicated high-stress life if we have dedicated time-space to practice just listening and following instinct, and it’s easier to do this when our friends are doing it too.

(And the why of 19)

I don’t know, it just felt so right to me. Less than 20?

I imagine of course that other people will approach differently. Maybe someone will want a practice that is five minutes, and maybe someone else will want a practice that is not tied to time or numbers but something more like “each day I’ll read a chapter of a book for fun” or “I want to go for a short walk and breathe air!”

And other people might really feel pulled towards a frame of nineteen minutes but need to work up to it because life is doing life-things as it does, totally understandable. You can use this container for that too.

Re: working up to nineteen, if this is a thing that interests you…

If I wake up (or go to bed) one minute earlier each day, in less than three weeks I have an extra nineteen minutes.

If I wake up (or go to bed) ten seconds earlier each day, in four months I’m at nineteen minutes, absolutely NAILING IT, and who even notices ten seconds? Superpower of CUMULATIVE & FRACTAL!

The point is, there are many options, lots of ways to play. And if it takes us the full four months to carve out those minutes, that is both the right amount of time and also a useful experiment that will shed light on everything else we’re working on in life.

But in my experience, slow shifts can become fast shifts, there is a snowballing momentum factor that kicks in. In any case, the point isn’t to Do It Right, the point is to play, observe, learn, and change the experiment as needed because it exists to support us, not to be another thing we “should” be doing better or feeling bad about.

And what if the thing that pulls me isn’t pleasurable?

This keeps coming up for me because there are SO MANY THINGS I want to give nineteen minutes to, and some of them are more in the category of currently stuck-ish.

So I personally am not planning to use this time for iguanas (things that are stuck and need to be liberated) or for big scary exciting projects (write a screenplay?!) because I want to establish this practice of Devotional Minutes in my body-mind as something that is associated with feeling good. I am using it to cultivate joy.

Your practice is of course your own practice. I recommend starting easy and then making it easier, but that’s what works for me, and People Vary, and you know what works for you, and if you don’t, well, you can take nineteen minutes a day to find out…

And a word about fear of failure.

Again, to me at least, the practice is not so much the nineteen minutes as it is engaging with the idea of it.

There is no way to screw up the practice even if we don’t do it, because we are learning about ourselves.

Maybe some people will take the entire four months to slowly work up to nineteen minutes, or investigate the idea of it. Take as much time as needed to meet the version of you who takes time.

It’s all a grand experiment. And we will also benefit from everyone else running their experiments in the form of shared wisdom and sparks of insight.

The Un-FAQ

I was going to write some kind of FAQ but then got stuck on that because answering questions is itself part of guru culture, which is the very thing I’m trying to dismantle in my work.

As you know, I don’t want to be the answerer-of-questions, the one with the answers. I want a relationship of equals where we all explore until we arrive at our own wise knowing.

I could of course process some of the questions I’ve played with on my own. I can also trust that you have the ability to process your own questions as they come up. Feel free to use the comments section for that.

And GUESS WHAT! A SPECIAL PRICE for you, sweet faraway online friend

I am extremely excited about this four month adventure and also never wrote the page to announce it.

Can blame many things (house is a construction zone! I fell down some stairs and am covered in bruises! at war with a mouse!), but to be quite honest, maybe I didn’t want to write it. Maybe I will write a page for the next time we do it, if I ever want to run this experiment again, who knows.

You get some good news which is that I will give you the discounted pre-signup price ($77 USD as opposed to $167 USD) since I’m the one who hilariously never told you what it was or why you should do it. Good through Monday.

We will play together from now through fall equinox . Here’s the discounted sign-up link!

As always: breathe into your yes, the power of the collective will work wild magic no matter how much or often you participate or not! Usual boring policies apply.

Let’s play!

You are welcome/invited to use the comment space to share any !!! or anything sparked for you about any of these concepts, and the delicious word REVEALING which is giving me life right now as the kids say.

If you want to talk to any version of Incoming You / Slightly Wiser You about nineteen minutes or anything else, go for it. You’re always welcome to play with any of the concepts here, name wishes, call in some magic and superpowers, whatever you need. This is, as always, safe space for play and process, we meet each other with love and we don’t give advice.

And if you’re joining me for four months of 19 minutes, CONFETTI PARADE!

As always, please share with anyone who could use any of this. I love that you’re here with me.

xoxox
havi

Gleaming

Fluent Self April - the month of Gleaming

Photo by Craig Fritz / @craigfritzeye, taken on the grounds of the new retreat center!

Enchantments on the kitchen floor

“Babe,” says Circe the Enchantress.
“I know,” I say, “I’m gleaming the floor for you.”

Gleaming is Circe’s favorite word. Gleam and shimmer. Mend and tend. These are her words, her spells because Circe speaks in spells, but especially GLEAMING.

She wants everything to be gleaming, and she uses it as a verb. Let’s gleam this. The sink is not gleaming, it needs to be gleamed. Gleam all the surfaces.

“The pantry needs tending first,” says Circe the Enchantress, insistent.
“I want to finish the floors though,” I say, even as I recognize that arguing with a powerful enchantress who resides in a magical garden is probably the least wise decision I could make right now. And that’s in a month that has been characterized by pretty much nothing but increasingly poor decisions.

Noir

I swear I’ve reached film-noir-protagonist levels of regrettable decisions, aka when something — usually some combination of desire, desperation and just not paying attention leads you to do something you know is not right or at least iffy, and then the one bad move just cascades into seemingly unending consequences.

Haha, and here we are in some previously unknown and unimagined realm of some next-level Shit Hitting The Fan where everything is breaking, and why is everything breaking.

Hmmmmm

This might also be a monster-story.

In other words, this might be a false interpretation of the facts. Yes, an alarming number things appear to be breaking and exiting, crashing and disintegrating, but is that not just a continuation of the spell May All That Is Unworthy Exit Swiftly And Easily?

Maybe we just need a new spell of The New, Beautiful & Harmonious Lands With Ease.

Maybe we just need to look differently at the breaking, a shift in perception, how I choose to perceive. And is this not also a form of shape-shifting?

Either way, I remain somewhere between annoyed and panicked by all the breaking, while Circe the Enchantress remains Gloriously Unbothered by all of it, because that’s her entire thing, her defining characteristic.

As always

“It’s really not my defining characteristic,” says Circe the Enchantress.
“What’s your defining characteristic?” I want to know. “Turning men into pigs?”
“That would be turning them back into pigs, and if they don’t want that to happen then they shouldn’t try to cross me,” says Circe. “And no, that’s not it. You know what it is.”
“I don’t think I do,” I say.
“Then you’ll just have to pay more attention, babe,” says Circe, who is again, as fucking always, Extremely Unbothered by everything, which happens to be the superpower I desire with my entire being as well as the one I am completely unable to embody while everything is breaking.

Place.

I gleam the floor exactly the way Circe likes. First you sweep, then vacuum, then steam-mop, and finally rub peppermint oil at the baseboards as a spell so that all the desert creatures are reminded about their rightful place aka outdoors.

When I am finished with the floor, I want to make a goodnight potion. Except when I open the door to the pantry, you guessed it, a glass bottle immediately hurls itself off of the shelf and breaks into a thousand pieces, and I have to gleam the floor all over again.

“MOTHERFUCKER!” is what I shout, then I wait for an I Told You So from Circe the Enchantress, but she is unbothered. I’m the only one who is bothered, and I am extremely bothered.

Haha, that might be my defining characteristic at the moment. Saturated, maybe. Like to the point of worn down when absolutely anything can last-straw me.

Tired / Tires / Retired / Retires

I tried to make myself go dancing even though I knew I was too tired to go dancing, and then Star Car flashed the scary low tire pressure light, so I didn’t go. I chose rest, or you could say that rest chose me, and it was right.

The next day we discovered torn up bits in my front tires, and to be clear, I one hundred percent blame Border Patrol for this, but that is another story for another day, and also there are honestly way more terrible and horrifying things that Border Patrol does on a daily basis, much, much worse than driving fast and reckless on my tail on a winding, hilly, unlit country road in the middle of the night, until I bounced over some sharp rocks onto what I hoped was a pullout. But this is just to say fuck them — or is that hex them, they can all be turned into pigs too, after they are tried for war crimes, amen.

Anyway, $300 USD later, Star Car had two new tires, and I was like, augh to hell with everything why does nothing work. But Circe the Enchantress said, “NOW YOU ARE READY FOR ANYTHING. Don’t you just love the feeling of ready for anything?”

Let’s Mary Oliver this

So there I was, furious and frustrated, with Circe still Gloriously Unbothered, and I decided to play a game I call How Would Mary Oliver Experience This?

What would our beloved Mary Oliver notice, enjoy and find praise-worthy here? How much pleasure would she take in this now deliciously smooth ride? And would she not prioritize that pleasure over the temporal human irritability about expenses and the story of everything breaking?

Of course she’d appreciate the warm voice of the person who knew exactly how to solve the tire situation, she would feel the powerful deep exhale of hey this is solvable and we can solve this. She’d love these enormous Arizona cloudscapes, I imagine us laughing about how the sky here is like the sea, always changing, always wild.

My amazing co-conspirator Kat named more of these WWMOD (What Would Mary Oliver Do) superpowers, and can we take a breath for how perfect these are?

Transmuting Each Experience Into Poetry. Close Observation Grounded In Loving The World. Unflinching Truth Even When Sorrowful But Also Unimpressed By Seriousness.

This is the practice

Yes, this is what I am trying to do. This is part of my bridge to becoming Circe, to embodying her powers and her certainty, integrating her wisdom, learning how to glow-and-gleam that gloriously unbothered everything, to be in my steady quiet knowing that things are more okay than I think in my world, and I am okay, even when I am thrown.

And if I am bothered, this is okay too, it makes sense, really who wouldn’t be thrown by all this breaking. Understandable.

Not to mention all the breaking around us, the barrage of terrible and frightening news, the systems that aren’t working, the folks in danger, not knowing how best to serve and support.

Still here

The next day I got into it with a porch step, and a rusty nail sliced up the inside of my wrist, didn’t get a vein but a close call. Scary. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gotten a tetanus shot, but luckily I had powerful new tires ready to take me into civilization to get that taken care of.

And now I have an awesome and slightly terrifying scar to remind me that things will break and I am still okay.

Tend

I am trying to stay focused on the superpowers of EVERYTHING IS CUMULATIVE AND FRACTAL.

In other words, everything I do — a nap, breaking down, even breaking a glass and having to re-gleam the floors, each act of doing or not-doing, undoing or redoing, all of it is somehow mysteriously supporting my wishes and desires, moving me towards my goals even if it appears to be doing the opposite.

Small steps count exponentially. Perceived detours or obstacles are not taking me away from the path, they’re part of the path, they are next steps, they are asking me to make things more congruent.

Also, I am a star for persevering. Trying to remember this.

Math

I did the math and realized that depending on what you define as a relatively safe and dependable living situation, I have spent between 6.5 and 10 years of my life houseless.

I thought that arriving in a place, finally landing after these last few years of uprooted and wandering, would somehow solve a lot of things, and it absolutely did, but I am also re-learning that landing means finally having the space to properly fall apart, which is partly why landing is such a big deal.

And while falling apart was not part of the plan, it is allowed and understandable, and it will take as long as it takes.

So yes, if everything in my life needs to literally break to remind me that falling apart is a thing, then okay, I will pay attention eventually. I am paying attention now.

Reduce

“Babe,” says Circe, again. “The pantry.”
“We just gleamed the pantry three days ago,” I say.
“It has items you do not use and do not love,” says Circe the Enchantress. “You didn’t even use them when you were snowed in for days. Reduce reduce reduce. The hearth is for magic, not for cans of things you forget about.”

The next day the oven stopped working and then two days later the pantry needed to be removed, and soon the entire kitchen was volunteering its way out, and I had to fit the entire contents of the kitchen into one cabinet. Though luckily I had just done all that reducing…

Fuck!!!” I say.
“It’s a good thing, trust me”, says Circe the Enchantress.
“How is this a good thing?”
“You’re asking the wrong question, babe”, says Circe the Enchantress, and she is probably right, she usually is.

Denkmal

The German word for monument is Denkmal, which means THINK FOR A MOMENT.

Such a beautiful and perfect word, so compact and such a clear and direct invitation: pause please!

Can we stop what we are doing and just reflect for a moment on the how-and-why of what we are doing and is this how we wish to doing it? Can we breathe and remember?

The long scar on my wrist is a think-a-moment for staying present in the process of removing old boards from a structure that no longer supports me (cough, my porch is a metaphor), and the space where my cupboards once were is a denkmal for the question of what wants to be stored and what wants to be set free.

Tending

I asked Circe what a sorceress does in/with an enchanted garden, and she said TENDING, and then very abruptly exited the conversation as if to say, “okay babe you need to work with that concept for a while before we can talk about other things…”

She has a point.

Clearly TENDING is a base level principle that I need to get and don’t, many layers to tending that I need to explore, and that’s what I’m doing. Gleaming into shimmering. Tending in order to mend.

Tending with tenderness.

Nineteen minutes in the enchanted garden

Each day I spend nineteen minutes in the enchanted garden where I am clearing space for a labyrinth-to-be. You can see pictures of the slow and steady progress and breathtaking views on the a Fluent Self instagram if you want!

Pruning, digging up plants, moving rocks. Clearing the path to clear the path. Making space to envision. Working towards roundness. Learning to tend. Tend and intend.

I talk to the plants and trees, telling them about the labyrinth, what big transformative magic will live here for all the secret agents who come to retreat at the center. I ask for their help with the mission.

This is something I learned how to do twenty-five years ago while working in the orchards. Trees often don’t want their branches trimmed and they will resist, but if you explain that cutting away these bits will help them grow taller and in the right directions, you can feel them relax and ease up. They always like their new haircut, and I feel better because I didn’t have to work as hard. So maybe I’ve known about magic for longer than I think.

Space

An Extremely Obvious Epiphany while pruning and digging up plants:

Tending = how you make space for what you really want

You tend to things because it is what is needed, but the tending brings clarity and perspective. It shows you what is currently incongruent and disharmonious, but also what is possible.

When I don’t tend to things, they become iguanas (things I do not want to even look at), and then it is harder to come back to the tending rituals.

Shift

I was tending to a pile of papers because Circe doesn’t believe in piles, or junk drawers, she likes everything out in the open, clear and revealed.

I found a faded note that says SHIVA ANAGRAMS TO HAVI S, and I am Havi, but what is S?

S is shape-shifting. What does a Havi do? A Havi shifts shapes.

Shapes

What does it mean to shift shapes? To turn into, transform, transmogrify, reveal. To be flexible and playful, to let things change form and reconfigure as needed.

Interestingly, this is also what Shiva does, breaking things down to their elements to be rebuilt, and for sure if everything is breaking, that is Shiva energy.

And of course, this is Circe’s thing. It is her defining characteristic (ahhhhh, there it is) and why she is so gloriously unbothered all the time, because why fret when you know that anything can shift shapes, what seems to be a disaster is really just a shape that hasn’t shifted yet.

This is why she is asking me to Tend & Mend, Gleam & Shimmer. She wants me to be a shape-shifter like she is, and this is how you train for it.

What are the shapes that I shift between

A dancer shifts shapes in space, a writer shifts shapes through words, a sorceress in the desert is sometimes the ocotillo and sometimes the agave or the prickly pear, sometimes the mountains and at other times the light that turns the mountains purple.

Being & Becoming

When I become more of myself, when I embody the qualities of Incoming Me, I am shifting shape from me to even-more-me.

What is the shape of embodying? It is the play between being and becoming. Being into becoming. This is my suchness, my bell-essence, my glow-state.

Devotion

Circe the Enchantress can shift the shape of an experience, a mood, a reaction, shift the energy in the room, change things into other things and then back again, or not.

She has a garden of tiny wooden pig statues, each one a denkmal for We Are Done With That Shit: No One Can Mistreat You Or Lie To You Or Take You For Granted Now Babe.

Circe the Enchantress knows that gleaming the floor is much more than gleaming the floor, it is a devotional ritual to transform a space, as well as how you experience that space and what is possible to experience within that space.

Gleam & Shimmer / Mend & Tend

Small practices. Quiet rituals. The work is cut out and set up and waiting for me to say YES I AM HERE.

Gleaming o’clock.

I learn about how shifting works through listening and observing. What would Mary Oliver do? She would find something beautiful to praise. She would tend to the tending.

A breath too for Moshe Feldenkrais, another great observer of life: “You can’t do what you want unless you know what you’re doing.”

Into the Gleaming we go. That’s where the Wild Clarity lives.

Into the gleaming we go. Join me?

My enchanted garden aside, what else wants to be lovingly TENDED to for nineteen minutes?

Off the top of my head:

I could gleam something, talk to Incoming Me, skip a stone, interview a project, roll around on the floor, pick a book from my TBR pile and just read, tend to my body, tend to my space, go on a clue walk, put things where they go…

I am trying to give my minutes to what not particularly stuck, because I want to look forward to the daily ritual of nineteen. If something is [perception of stuck], I might devote my minutes to journaling with me-who-has-solved-it, or me-who-is-two-steps-ahead, ask them about the complete-willingness-units for getting started.

Join me. What do we want to gleam into?

Into the Gleaming we go.

I am opening up space for FOUR MONTHS of sharing this ritual of 19 minutes in community. Devote 19 minutes of Devotion to a ritual you’ve been craving or a wish-goal that is asking for attention, or switch it up (shape shift!) and see what calls you each day.

I’m calling this Operation Spells & Bells, you can call it whatever you want. ;)

Excitement to see what happens or changes, what magic will come over four months of ritual, devoting ourselves to loving attentiveness, curiosity and play.

And GUESS WHAT! A SPECIAL PRICE for you, sweet faraway online friend

I am extremely excited about this four month adventure and can’t wait to begin, and also have not written the page to announce it yet, and to be quite honest, am not even sure if I have it in me, so…

Offered with love: a significant discount ($77 USD as opposed to the full price which will be $167 USD) for anyone who signs up before I get around to actually promoting it. THANK YOU in advance for the gift of an early yes.

We will play together from May 30 through fall equinox, although if enough people sign up, I am happy to bump the start date to May 24 which also happens to be National Aviation Maintenance Day, and if that’s not a metaphor for something, I don’t know what is. Here’s the discounted sign-up link!

As always: breathe into your yes, the power of the collective will work wild magic no matter how much or often you participate or not!

Let’s play!

You are welcome/invited to use the comment space to share any !!! or anything sparked for you about GLEAMING or Circe the Enchantress or really anything I wrote about here (I know it was a lot). If you want to talk to any version of Incoming You, go for it. You’re always welcome to play with any of the concepts here, name wishes, call in some magic and superpowers, whatever you need. This is, as always, safe space for play and process, we meet each other with love and we don’t give advice. If you’re joining me for four months of 19 minutes, CONFETTI PARADE!

And of course share any of this with anyone who could use any of this. I love that you’re here with me.