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.

Turalala Turalalee / For Waverly / Like Fruit

Fluent Self labyrinth

This essay is for Waverly.

I am so sad to convey that the world lost Waverly Fitzgerald, a marvelous human, among my favorite humans & writers, possibly also yours, last month on Friday, December 13. Some of you met her at Rally at my former retreat center, and if you hang out here, you know I often reference her book Slow Time. This image is a labyrinth I visited with her (in my mind) in Silver City, New Mexico.

This post touches on grief and loss, so if that’s something you need to pass on for Safety First, I absolutely understand, and either way, let’s take a breath for the hearts & the hurts of life, and strengthen our force fields.

Cold and grey in Santa Fe

I somehow ended up at the cemetery in Santa Fe this morning, in part because of a wrong turn, maybe, I don’t know, but probably because I continue to hold tightly to the belief (or maybe a wish-hope that I fiercely choose to believe in despite all odds) that all cemeteries are interchangeable.

The cemetery I want to be in is in Seattle, visiting Waverly who is gone, but I am not in Seattle, I am in Santa Fe, and so the cemeteries need to hold each other, and me, I need them to be a secret passage, or an ur-cemetery, a gathering place for goodbyes.

I know they must be linked, some secret underground network that takes care of this for moments of need.

My mother’s gravesite is in Michigan, for example, but I visit her in other places where gravestones live. She understands.

Questions of space, and everything else, work differently if you’re dead, or at least, that’s the best explanation I have been given or am able to give.

Right timing

As it happens, a funeral procession is beginning for someone else.

I cry along with some other people who are also sad.

After / Enjoy

After I cried off all my makeup, I skipped yoga and went to eat green chile stew, thinking about Waverly who is gone, and about other friends and beloved people who are gone, and how they would all be enthusiastic about this choice.

Yes, they say. Good call. Eat life! Nourish and take pleasure and be alive!

I think about Rena who has somehow been gone for twenty five years, how is that even possible, how she wrote down her last wishes for us in the hospital, in one word:

ENJOY

Passage

Light sparks off the snow on the mountains.

I drove over a narrow icy pass in the dark last night. We did, together.

I process grief (and everything) best through a road trip, or any change of scenery, change of pace, change of change, long stretches of time plus landscape, into the expanse of road and sky.

And so I drove north with Waverly to accompany me, if that makes sense, we drove together, eight hours, and I played songs for her, songs I thought she’d like, and we hummed along.

No way to see what is clear

There is no way to see what is clear, said the song.

And Waverly laughed a little, and said it’s a beautiful song and sometimes it feels like that, but of course that isn’t completely true, we get to eat the days like fruit, whether the path is clear or not.

Trulala trulalee.

We sing along as we head over the pass.

Truth

I am not sure how or why this happened, but I told her on the ride about something that happened to me, something I have never told anyone, and I said, “Ugh what an absolute dipshit”, and she said, “Let’s destroy him”, and then we laughed in the dark on the icy roads, because that’s not going to happen but sometimes vengeance is a good starting point for wishes.

Somehow we made it through the worst of the pass.

Truth Stars

I intuited a pullout, and got out of the car, crouching to pee under a TRILLION STARS. Utter blackness, freezing cold, this absolute riot of stars.

Now there’s a way to see what is clear.

Turalala. Turalalee.

Las Palomas.

We stayed in Santa Fe for a couple days and then headed back south in the snow, planning to avoid the pass this time.

But after a couple hours on the road, the snow and rain had long since stopped, and I was tired of the endless straight road, and the directions app tempted us with the prospect of “saving 46 miles” by taking the pass.

You don’t save anything of course because you have to go so slowly around the tight turns, gasping at the sheer cliff drops, but you do get the very scenic route.

What the hell, I said. I love Las Palomas and I love adventure and I know the road well. Let’s take the pass. Here’s to wild clarity.

We began the climb and all was breathtakingly beautiful and peacefully until, suddenly, total fog. Only fog. Nothing visible. You know the cliff is there, you just can’t see the edge.

Clarity (again)

Hahaha hope that wasn’t a terrible choice, I would really prefer we do NOT go sailing over the cliff, I said.

Waverly shrugged.

I thought about all the photographers I’ve dated who would have just loved this majestic fog overtaking everything. Absolute dipshits, all of them, but still, that’s talent.

She laughed again, her laugh rang out over the canyon and the fog cleared, immediately and completely.

Wild Clarity.

All clear

There you go, she said, it all got clear.

I’m just trying not to kill us, I said.

She laughs again.

The days are limited either way, you just eat them, like fruit.

Today is unique (each today is unique)

In her book, Slow Time, she shares the concept of meeting each day as wholly unique, new, not to be repeated:

Robert Levine writes about the customs of the K’iche’ people, who live in the highland villages of Guatemala. For them, each day is unique, and has its own proper name and divine name. They greet each day with a respectful title, the equivalent of saying “Greetings Sir, Lord Thursday”. Each day also has its own unique quality, a nature or character that will never come again.

In Santa Fe, I made ginger tea for Lady Wednesday in a dark brown mug. Tea for Waverly. Tea for me. The three of us sat in a bookstore and read together.

Doors

This day will never come again.

Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s a sad thing, sometimes it just is.

Today is a new door. Hello, day.

Hello, day. What are you like? What fruit do you bring?

What fruit do I place here in offering?

Fruit

Waverly ends that chapter by sharing a quote from Jean Giono, in Fullness of Days, and the final sentence just floors me with its simplicity every time I read it:

We have forgotten that our only goal is to live and that we live each day and that at every hour of the day we are reaching our true goal if we are living…

The days are fruits and our role is to eat them.

Pleasure

The days are fruits, taste and take pleasure.

I cannot help but feel the pull of provoked into juice, that perfect delicious phrase from the Helen Chasin poem.

A spell in its own right.

Versus

We drove and listened to Lucinda Williams change the locks on her front door and rename a whole town, because sometimes desire is danger, we listened to Lucinda Williams stand on a bridge and say no baby don’t jump, sometimes danger is danger.

June bug vs hurricane

Versus

Versus

Versus

Johnson City / San Lorenzo

My sweet Star Car reached 75,000 miles exactly as we made the turn into San Lorenzo.

The last time I was on this road I was here with Jenny, now with Waverly.

We sing harmonies to the song Wagon Wheel.

Johnson City, Tennessseeeeeeeeeee….

For some reason I feel the need to tell her in depth about why I think the Darius Rucker version is so compelling, she remarks that she never would have guessed that I hold such strong opinions on this particular topic.

I contain multitudes…, I sing, as if it is part of the song.

The beauty that is here now

I am thinking about what it means to eat the fruit of the day, like the strawberry in the story of the monk being chased by tigers and finding joy in surprise sweetness at a moment of despair, I still don’t like that story and I don’t have to.

This day is fruit, this passage is fruit, and I am eating it, here now, with the beauty that is here now.

We drive the curving roads.

Familiar / remembering

I tell her about the time I went around this particular upcoming sharp curve, at night, and very nearly hit a deer and her two baby deer.

They just leapt into the road right in front of my car, as I was coming around the turn.

I gasped and swerved, and luckily no one else was on the road, it was very late at night, and the deer watched me as her babies bounded across to safety, my breath stopped completely.

Guess the only move here is take it slow then, Waverly says.

Slow time. Slow time. Slow time.

I do take the curve slowly, exaggeratedly impossibly slowly, and what happens next as we come around the turn takes my breath again.

Impossible. And yet, here we are.

There is a kid riding on a skateboard, in the road, right in front of me.

Middle of the road, dressed in grey and black, at dusk, holding books, practically invisible.

And again, right in front of me.

Would

I felt equal parts terror and fury and pain at what might have / could have / surely would have.

I would have hit this kid for sure, or swerved and crashed, no other options, had Waverly not said we should take it extra slow.

But I didn’t.

I’m sure this kid was listening for the familiar sound of rural pickup truck on the road and did not hear my nearly silent hybrid. Still, a trafficked road. An unlit winding road that people drive on. In the darkening almost-dark.

I could have and would have, but through this absolute miracle of listening to someone who wasn’t there, I didn’t.

Plenty of Slow Time

Wishing you plenty of slow time is what she wished me in the inscription to her book, I’m sure that was her usual inscription but in this moment it felt like an invocation.

Plenty of slow time, slow motion time, slowed time.

Long exhale. Again. And again.

Holy shit, I said, If I hadn’t been taking the turn so very slowly, I would have killed that child. Or died trying to get out of the way. I can’t imagine.

You eat the fruit of each day, she says. You eat the fruit, and you live in slow time, when you can.

Attention (in the slowness)

I take her words to mean something like this…

You were doing your best, and you were paying attention to the clues. And that’s all you can do really, even on the best days.

Echoes of IIWIMI aka it is what it motherfucking is.

I typed this line, and Lucinda Williams came on in the cafe where I’m sitting, singing about tangerines and persimmons, the fruits of her labor.

Fruits again. Time as an orchard.

Slow as a verb

We arrived at the labyrinth the next morning, it had rained all all night and the labyrinth was mud. I love a labyrinth, but I will be honest, walking this one was miserable.

I was hurrying through, whispering WILD CLARITY WILD CLARITY WILD CLARITY, because that was my labyrinth wish, my intention.

But I didn’t want to be there. I was already thinking about the mud I’d have to clean off my motorcycle boots and my favorite jeans.

I wanted the labyrinth to hurry up and deliver the wisdom so I could leave and do other things.

So of course it said slow, the labyrinth said slow.

Of course

SLOW TIME is a verb, an imperative.

You slow time.

You eat the fruit of the day in slow time, you eat the fruit of the day and you slow time itself, like a sorceress, so that you can remember that the days are fruit for your nourishment and your pleasure, so you can be embodied as you interact with them.

But how? How do you slow time?

How do you slow time?

The labyrinth showed me two answers:

You put less in it.

And:

You reaffirm your devotion to freedom and pleasure, you recommit to what is important to you, you become someone who loves to live in an orchard.

There is no way to see what’s clear

Until you ask and wait and plant and cycle through, and then there is Wild Clarity, whenever it comes.

You greet the day, knowing that it is fruit.

You cry when you cry, you laugh, you sing, you hum, you walk, you nap, you open doors and then close them to re-open them.

turalala turalalee

The road

At San Simon, Waverly said, Well this is where I get off. Thanks for the ride.

I was sad, and it seemed like she kind of didn’t get why I would be sad, which is not a negative thing about her at all, it is just the way of the departed to not make as much of a distinction about life versus death, this idea we have about one being good and one being sad. Anyway, I felt sorrow, and many complicated feelings, and that’s okay. Aliveness is complicated.

The desert light was breathtaking. The road was the road.

Thank you, delicious day, I said, to nobody at all. But I know that words and intention travel, I can imagine filling up on love-breath while other people do the same, all of us humming our way back to the orchard.

{comments & announcements & love}

(0) Did you see my secret accidental blank blog post this week, sorry about that, it was not supposed to go live! My wish is that it somehow conveyed superpowers of Good Things Incoming and What Is Left Unsaid…

(1) However, yes, the title held a clue about what we are doing next, a group program about The Secret Life Of Patterns aka how to change patterns and habits with love and some gentle trickery…it’s not quite ready to announce yet but it *is* included in my Sorcery offering, so you should join if you are able because it’s amazing, and I re-opened it for you for this weekend, there are THREE more spots, details & sign-up here! Also, it includes access to the vault of all twenty five of my ebooks, more on that to come soon…

(2) You are invited to join in the comments here, you can leave love for Waverly and her wisdom, or anything that sparked for you while reading, anything you’re working on or playing with right now in your own practice, stones and pebbles, flowers, whatever feels right.

(3) I feel especially thankful right now for the warmth of community and always appreciate every reminder that people are reading my words here. I love that you’re here. Thanks, friends. Turalala.

Reasons Are Bullshit (things I learned in 2019)

Compass Suite sky view

This beautiful light! Pic taken on my phone from the front porch of the dome in the desert…

It’s been a year huh.

I have been here but not here (definitely not here), and there were reasons for that, though they are not particularly interesting.

Examples of non-interesting reasons: I went through some rough territory in my personal life and wrote about it but just couldn’t bring myself to share it.

There were other non-reasons too. I was busy with unexpected dome-fixing projects, and health projects and keeping a watchful eye on the state of the world which is just scary right now, isn’t it. A breath for that.

And breath of love for everyone reading since we’re all in it, and it’s intense.

But mainly I was in a different space. I was in the desert gazing at the sky.

I was watching, listening, waiting for intel. I was waiting for glimpses of the bobcat, trying to learn how to be a bobcat, to be fierce in my aliveness, fully embodied in that bobcat way.

Reasons.

All of those are the reasons and they are excellent reasons, and also they are all meaningless, because Reasons Are Bullshit, which is one of the biggest things I learned in 2019.

Actually this is something I encountered in 2009, a full decade ago, but it was elusive then, I only understood it conceptually and even then only in brief flashes, because the wisdom of this did not live inside me yet and now it does. I hope.

Though as Esther Gokhale says, forgetting is part of remembering, and remembering-and-forgetting only to remember again is how we learn, so if I forget, may I remember this as I remember to remember.

Reasons Are Bullshit means this:

I could very easily come up with a solid twenty item list to answer anything on the topic of “Hey Havi, why are you doing X?” or “How come you’re not doing Y?”

And, while all those reasons would be valid and also true, none of them can be the real reason, not individually and also not taken all together.

The real reason for doing an X or not doing a Y is that I felt it, I received the information, I heard my Yes or felt my No, I was given the gift of knowing.

Maybe that’s the Knowing of here is the next indicated step, maybe that’s the Knowing of this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

But once I have that beautiful gem of intel, I know. And then the list of reasons is just a mostly externally-directed and somewhat internally-directed justification for what I already know.

That clear Knowing is the glowing vessel that carries a truth, everything else is trying to explain a truth to make it palatable to other people, and honestly I think we can mostly skip that part?

Other truths and bits of wisdom.

I could write for days about Reasons Are Bullshit, except this year held other wisdom too, so I want to share bits and pieces from what I received.

As always, take what feels spark-filled, meaningful, or reverberates in some way, and leave the rest, some of what is here might be someone else’s clue, or a clue for future-you, or maybe it’s just a documentation of a year in the life of a sorceress in the desert who is clawing her way through a brutal stomach flu at the moment.

All I need is the next indicated step.

I spent the first half of this year involved in big plans, and life laughed at them and sent them into a spiraling tornado funnel.

Having already gone through [the years of the burning barns and the broken pots], I knew not to make assumptions about what is “bad” for me, that’s a boring story, and I also hope that I’m a little speedier at being able to take a clue.

But what I learned this year is that I don’t need to figure out [everything], I don’t need a new plan, I don’t even need to know the plan, I need to listen for the next step.

What if nothing is moving me backwards, nothing is an obstacle (especially the things that seem like massive obstacles), nothing is side-tracking me, all of that is story.

What if the thing that got me here was [NECESSARY STEP] and what’s happening now is [NEXT STEP], and the point wasn’t to follow the entire path of First Step to its expected end, the point was being agile and adaptable.

My days are pretty simple now.

That doesn’t mean they’re easy, just simple. I do my morning rituals, I talk to Incoming Me, we listen for a Next Step for the day. When it shows up, we follow it.

If something else interrupts that as it often does, then that was my Next Step. We work on projects, we solve for X. We fix broken things or clear them out. We forget and remember. Then more stretching, evening rituals and healing sleep.

Incoming me cares a lot more about how I do things than about how much gets done. I am still getting used to that, but it is all very clear for her.

Wild Clarity.

This was my superpower/wish for the year, and like all things we fervently wish for, it had many sides.

I got some Wild Clarity on things I didn’t necessarily want clarity on, haha.

But now I’m clear on that too. Clear on pretty much everything.

Not the whole path, but clear on the fact that I don’t need to be clear on that.

Wild also like the bobcat who prowls and stalks out by the stone wall, then naps contentedly on my porch.

Wild and clear.

Information is neutral.

Hellcat Maggie, one of my Incoming Selves, has a phrase that I didn’t really like at first.

Hellcat Maggie likes to say, about pretty much anything:

It is what it motherfucking is.

And at first I thought this was defeatist or depressing, like, c’mon Maggie why can’t we just focus here and work hard to make it other than what it is?????

But what I learned is this. For Hellcat Maggie, and for all future wise versions of me, information is neutral. It Is What It Motherfucking Is (IIWIMI) conveys a neutral statement, its intention is clarity and calm.

It doesn’t mean things can’t shift, move, be maneuvered. We’re flexible and playful. We can apply some creative sorcery to the situation. It just means that right now I am fighting with [what is] instead of just taking it as neutral information about my starting point.

This is what we’re dealing with right now. What are we gonna do with that?

Hugs are a form of nutrition.

Beginning in late spring and through the end of summer, a series of situations that meant I couldn’t host any retreats at the dome, and I was too exhausted to go dance, and my only friend here went on a road trip, and [circumstances].

It is what it motherfucking is, right?

But it turns out that hug-deficiency is real (this is also something I learned decades ago but had forgotten), and wow, it’s hard to have any clarity (wild or otherwise) when existing in a state of deficiency.

This year was really about relearning from the ground up what a Havi requires to thrive, but also what a Havi requires to function at a very basic level.

I am doing better at making sure I get all the necessary nutrients, in a good setting, well-watered, and so on. It turns out that I have to actually put ACQUIRE HUGS on my list in the same way that I need to remind myself to make sure there are snacks.

Maybe that’s a visit to the best chiropractor, maybe that’s dance, maybe it’s visiting a friend who lives with a giant pile of happy dogs. But it can’t be postponed.

Grief is also a thing that extremely is how it is.

Truly, so much cumulative experience of it, and yet I can somehow regularly forget the most essential thing about grief, which is that it can just send me to the floor sometimes.

It is a vast helplessness, and however painful it is to be with this void, it is even more painful to try to delay this.

It’s not fun, friends. It is also a pretty big part of the human experience. So that’s a thing.

Our culture doesn’t make room, allowances, time, anything, for being vessels of pain and sorrow, of rage and fury, but here we all are, traversing this world.

The feelings come when they come. The feelings come as they come. Messengers of that Wild Clarity.

Everything is a cauldron!

My desert sorceress self says this, and I thought she meant it as a metaphor but not really.

The magic you can make is related to the vessel and what goes in it.

My morning bobcat stretch practice is a cauldron, a living room is a cauldron, a bed is a cauldron, a schedule is a cauldron, a visit to the supermarket is a cauldron.

What do you infuse things with? What is the intention of this concoction? How do you clear the vessel and make it clear (to yourself? to others?) that a vessel is reserved for better ingredients…

Everything is a cauldron. She said this all year and I am just now beginning to understand how vital this is.

Tabula rasa is my solution to kryptonite.

I get easily overwhelmed, by my surroundings, by the news, by noise, by energy, by the to-do list, all of it.

Clearing space to look at nothing is how I get out of this.

Again, I knew this. I just didn’t know it the way I know it now.

Competence > Management

I took this from the book Rage Becomes Her, by Soraya Chemaly, which is about women’s anger and how very justifiable it is, especially right now when we are in it.

The title is wordplay, rage becomes you in the sense that it suits us to be enraged, our fury is worthy and powerful and right, your anger looks good on you, fellow avenging furies. But it also means that rage can subsume you, it becomes like a skin, you wear it, and it filters the world.

At the end of the book, she asks what we can do when we are living with so much rage. She suggests dropping the idea of “anger management” and instead thinking about competence.

As in, how do we get to know our anger, learn to navigate it and use it for good, not trying to keep it “manageable” but trying to be knowledgeable about this terrain of fury and what it means to be someone who has this anger.

I really liked this, and it has many possible applications but have been mainly thinking about how this plays out in my relationship with ptsd, autism, adhd, flicker vertigo, chronic pain, general witchiness.

Reasons are bullshit, of course.

For me, diagnoses are often not particularly interesting and also all these official names for things feel very incomplete to me.

(That’s a People Vary thing for sure, if diagnoses are helpful and reassuring for you, seek them and use them in good health.)

Let’s say though there are any number of unnameable, difficult-to-describe forms of special brain and hyper ability which make it hard for me to get things done at times, not to mention the more ongoing conundrum of what it means to be a sorceress who never asked for these powers but has to learn to work with them to survive.

The shift from “oh god how do I manage this” to “wow what would it feel like to have competency in this” is huge for me.

Ritual as a container.

My day begins with a song, a wish, bobcat hour, then a witchy caffeinated potion, then talking to the Sorceress, the Assassin and Hellcat Maggie. Then we work on the projects and secret ops, with dance breaks or anxiety meltdown breaks or some combination.

My day ends with slow stretching, candles, a hot beverage, reviewing the day, listening to a soundtrack of peaceful songs.

I think this might be the best thing to come from 2019, this predictability of my day.

Well, also Sundulations, which is the name I invented for my bobcat-inspired leaping, bounding, undulating, fiercely hissing sun salutations, done to the song Push It. I can write more about how I hiss like a cat if you want.

The year began with three of these Sundulations each morning and now I’m up to fifty. I mean, there are days and there are days. IIWIMI. And I follow what is indicated. But that’s the path.

19s & 19s!

I did things for nineteen minutes at a time this year, and that worked for me.

It helped me bridge the Monday Meeting and connect with my incomings every day, multiple times a day.

Nineteen minutes in the sun. Nineteen minutes dancing. Nineteen minutes doing something that I don’t want to do but will feel good when it’s done.

Do or don’t.

For a while I was in Tucson a lot for [reasons, which are bullshit], and I was taking yoga at a studio where the teachers have a kind of catch phrase. Do or don’t.

As in: Breathe into the stretch and see how it feels. If you like, you can extend your leg, do or don’t. Notice if that’s working for you. Do or don’t: lift up onto your hands and see if you want to make this a balance pose.

I absolutely LOVE do or don’t.

Actually I wrote a whole post about it and then didn’t post it, because [yup, reasons, which don’t matter].

Do Or Don’t is such a deliciously neutral superpower.

It isn’t that Doing is good and Not-doing is less good. It’s just a choice. A moment. A door. Do or don’t. Or maybe it’s not a choice because my body can’t do it, so I am just at Don’t, and IIWIMI, but it’s still neutral information.

How am I feeling? What’s my energy like? What do I want? Based on that, do or don’t.

The Last Retreats.

Reasons are bullshit, of course. They just are. So I am not going to compile a list of them to explain why there are only a few more retreats available at the magical dome in the desert.

You don’t need the list of reasons and I don’t need to make it, because none of them actually matter when there is really only the real reason:

I received the intel that it’s time for something new.

Do I know what that is? I have some good clues.

But also I know now that I don’t need to know.

That’s what I learned this year: I don’t need to know most things. It’s just about focus and intention. My work is to continue to cultivate a clear, loving, steady relationship with my incoming selves, and feel into our yeses.

I will say that I absolutely loved every retreat I did this year, each one was huge joy, everyone who came was a DELIGHT, and sharing retreat time-space-presence with you is one of the most great joys in my life. HEART-EYE EMOJI ALL DAY!

Anyway, if you feel called to nab one of the Last Retreats in the most gasp-worthy beautiful location ever, there are a couple left. Do or don’t.

If you’ve already signed up for a retreat but don’t have dates, don’t worry, I am emailing you a list of possible dates, we’ll get you sorted!

What am I VERY EXCITED to offer this year?

I had the biggest epiphany about what it means to be on the sorcery spectrum, and in what ways I can use my powers for good, and I am offering a VERY LIMITED but also VERY FUN way to work with me in 2020.

It’s called the Highly Classified Sorcery Care Package, and I am going to shout about this because THERE IS A SOLSTICE SALE happening on this right now. I don’t know if I will offer this again, and it definitely will not go on sale again.

Also the bonuses are very bonus-ey. If this is exciting for you, come do this with me, because I am extremely yes for doing this work.

What are we feeling for 2020? Tell me in the comments!

Other than all the Vision puns!

My words for the coming year are Formidable, Enticing, Sustainable and Agile. These are the cardinal directions on my compass rose, still listening for the intercardinals.

I am seeding wishes about living by the revealed wisdom from 2019, and not forgetting about boundaries, nourishment, clarity and rest.

And I am glowing powerful wishes for your wishes. May all the right intel be revealed. May your next steps be beautifully clear, and when they are not then I wish you good clues and good comfort.

Let’s call in some superpowers and throw them into the pot together for this beautiful new year, we’re gonna need them. Love to you, sweet friend, thank you for waiting for me to come back.

Charlie to angels: into the chrysalis of the unknown

compass house bobcat

I have a bobcat (or a bobcat has me), and he naps on my porch at the dome in the desert

A secret (or maybe not?)

I’ll just say it.

I have never really connected with the word ‘retreat’.

Is that an unlikely-approaching-preposterous thing for me to say, given that I am someone who has run three different retreat centers, and who has been holding retreat-like events for oh, the past thirteen years? Sure. I mean, that’s fair.

Running without running

Or as I prefer to say it, because haha I also don’t like running, it’s not so much that I run retreats, I [verb] them.

I glow them, I bell them, I am the sorceress of the dome in the desert who tends to the garden and the magic..

Ruminating on Names

Yes, I design and cultivate peaceful magical spaces for people to retreat, but what is retreating and why is it good and what would I call it if I got to be the namer who names?

It is funny that both RETREAT and RUN are giving me this visceral energy-level allergic reaction right now, both words that remind me of running away.

Somehow they are both (for me, in this moment) psychologically related to the kind of escape that is not fun.

And if the word retreat feels luscious and restful to you, that’s wonderful of course, People Vary, I’m just working through this for me!

Rewriting escape

If I am escaping it is because something is not right, something is in pursuit.

What I actually want is not-that. What does movement become when it is deliciously unhurried, intentional, not running away? I want Anticipation and Exhilaration.

Ah, yes.

What is the opposite of away?

TOWARDS. I want to be headed towards.

Towards

Escape, run, retreat, these are all words about exiting, while for me retreat time is really all about ENTERING.

Entering and Becoming.

Retreat time is where I can feel what it’s like to be focused on FLOW TOWARDS.

Feeling how it feels when we move in the direction of what we do want, instead of fighting against what we don’t want, which is how daily life often feels, right?

(I do not in any way mean that we should ignore intel about what is no for us, of course all our anger and frustration is real and legitimate, nor do we look away from the injustice in the world, I am talking about shifting our focus, to reorient towards clarity and intention.)

Retreat is for making that switch, it’s where (and how) we soften into ourselves, get quiet enough to even hear/feel/perceive/receive the new yeses.

Reoriented.

Face the way you want to go. This is also called looking towards the turn.

This is a motorcycle concept and a dance concept, but also this is how I want to enter retreat time: glowing anticipation for my yeses, meeting myself with love…

Putting the treat back in retreat

Let’s put names aside for a moment. In fact, let’s put this mystery of naming into a compass-cauldron and let it percolate for a bit, we will find a way to put the treat back in retreat!

Instead, I want to tell you about how I retreat when I retreat. Maybe it will spark something for you.

How I [insert name for retreat]

There are three different forms of [retreat-like experiences] I work with in my own life, and I have been practicing all of these for many years.

First and foremost is the kind that happens when I need urgent Replenishing & Recovery. This is about deep rest and returning to myself, reconnecting, getting back to creativity and beginner’s mind and joy when I have lost my ability to remember how any of that works. Emergency Recovery!

Then there’s what I call Chrysalis, which is when I want to meet an Incoming Self, or the aspect of me who embodies a quality I need. Let’s go meet Assertive Me!

And then there’s making a container of time & space to make meaningful-to-me progress on a project that is dear to my heart (or that just needs to get done), and this is what I call Rally.

Let’s talk more about how these all work.

Replenishing & Recovery

When I first started doing these for myself it was out of necessity and burnout. I’d push too hard, get overwhelmed, go into sensory overload, collapse, and have to run away to my uncle’s in the woods, check into a hotel or go hide at the Vicarage.

I needed to stare into space, look out at trees or water or even a deliciously blank wall, and do lots of nothing.

Nap, look at the horizon, repeat until I could function again. Maybe read a book, but usually at the beginning even this was too much.

Each time this happened, I observed that after about four days of giving myself this good-for-me form of being nature with the superpower of tabula rasa, my creative spark would return with a vengeance.

I’d return refreshed and absolutely spilling over with excitement, ideas and new writing projects!

Eventually I realized I could actually take a Replenishing & Recovery before arriving at total collapse. Whoa.

Guess what, you don’t have to wait for a breakdown to rest!

Whaaaaaat. I know. Revolutionary.

It took me even longer to reach an even more exciting realization…

Even better than a pre-emptive avoid-catastrophic-breakdown retreat? Just go rest FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

This is wildly subversive because our entire culture rewards doing and over-doing, it’s all about push and achieve and ass-in-chair, and You Don’t Deserve Rest Until You’ve Earned It Through All The Accomplishments.

Rest first is like the superpower of dessert first but turned up to eleven.

And, get this, I don’t even do it for the increased productivity that comes later. I do it for pleasure and to fill up on [me], to get my glow powers glowing with such steady certainty that it doesn’t even matter what I do next because it is sure to be amazing.

Chrysalis

Chrysalis is my absolute favorite kind of retreat, and I am always looking forward to my next one.

Chrysalis is what happens when I go somewhere quiet to meet, commune with and integrate an Incoming Self.

Sometimes I have lots of information about this incoming, other times all I have to go on is a quality or a clue, a wish or an icon.

A quality, a clue, a wish, an icon

Example of a quality: Fierce. Who is the me who knows how to be Fierce?

Example of a clue: Do you know that Mary Oliver line where she says “joy is not meant to be a crumb”, that line made me gasp the first time I read it, who is the me who does not ever treat joy like a crumb?!

Example of a wish: I want to learn new inverts in silk, and I don’t know how to approach yet, who is the me who loves hanging upside down?

Example of an icon: Linda Hamilton in Terminator, or that woman I saw in South Dakota who was this total motorcycle babe in her late 40s, so sexy and self-assured, and her boots, oh my lord those boots…

The practice

When I am on Chrysalis, I do two things and I do them at the same time and all the time. I talk to my Incoming, trying to learn everything about them. I ask them about everything.

Where do you want to sit? How do you sit? Is this location still yes? I know what I would order from this menu but what grabs your attention?

And then I try them on. Hmmm. How do I explain this?

I try on my incoming self

I wear this self, or I let them wear me.

I act the part. I wear what they would wear, eat what they want to eat if it sounds appealing to me, follow their instincts.

When I was Adrianna the Italian heiress, she only liked this one particular pen so we wrote with that. When I was Harmony, I listened to her favorite melodies on repeat and we hummed in the shower.

Glamorous Me is the reason my eyelashes always look amazing. Jet Bell bought motorcycle boots that I still wear every day.

(Playlists to play, for play!)

I make a playlist for each incoming, and the only rule of the playlist is “is this a song this self loves or no”, which leads to the most seemingly random collections of music, and I love them all.

Honestly I feel so much joy now when I listen to one and think, ah yes, Stella loved Jill Scott but also so much country music, or oh wow haha I forgot that the Vixen wanted to listen to EVERY SINGLE COVER EVER of I’m On Fire.

Coconut, for example

I recently learned that my current incoming, my Fierce self, the wild witchy wonder who goes by the name Bond and is both a sorceress and a spy, does not like chocolate.

(I love chocolate, though I forgot I did until I was Stella, but Bond loves all things coconut, and doesn’t care about chocolate at all.)

Bond is uninterested in most of the clothing I own, preferring a uniform of tight black jeans and a black silk camisole. We wear the same thing every day now.

You roll with it.

Sometimes at the beginning, you don’t have a ton of information to go on.

Sometimes they just show up, a fully formed persona.

Just like when you are writing a character (if that’s a thing you do), they begin to reveal lives of their own, preferences of their own, back stories, details you never would have guessed and certainly would not have made up.

They tell you who they are, if you let them.

Until it just becomes normal

I formally chrysalis a couple times a year but over time I’ve gotten so practiced and comfortable in working with Incomings that honestly at this point I am pretty much always in steady communication with whoever’s next.

That might even be the greatest and most beneficial (fun! joyful!) part of having taken the time to really learn how to chrysalis.

And Rally of course is for Mysterious Projects

I call a Rally when I have a project I want to play with.

Sometimes it’s something tangible (I want to finish this ebook), and sometimes I do not know what my mysterious project is at all, I just have a sense that it’s time to commune with my creative self and see what comes up.

Sometimes the project turns out to be much-needed napping and catching up on reading. I was in need of a Replenishing and wasn’t paying attention!

Sometimes the project turns out to involve a new incoming self. I was in need of a chrysalis and didn’t know it.

Sometimes the project is just to find out what the next project is.

Back to names

Retreating and holding retreats is what I do, yes, both as my job and my primary form of self-care, self-study, self-treasuring, and self-fluency, and yet I don’t connect with the word.

But regardless of what we call them…

Here is what I want

I want so badly to spend 2020 (I know, it still kind of sounds like the future, what is even happening with time) sharing everything I know with you about how these retreats work, I want a whole world of fellow secret agents declaring Replenishings and Chrysalis and Rally for ourselves.

And our selves!

And whatever we wish to call these periods of [retreat], I know that this process of making the time-and-space to be in a state of TOWARDS with our wishes, intentions, projects and ourselves will be a grand adventure, full of good surprises.

I like to think of this as the meeting of qualities: Transformation meets Sanctuary. It’s a grand adventure and we take exquisite care of ourselves and make sure we’re practicing Safety First.

A secret or maybe not-secret-at-all wish!

I want to be an ally who supports your ability to hold these retreats for yourselves whether that’s at my Dome In The Desert or in your home or some secret undisclosed location, that part is not important.

I want to applaud your wishes, I want to support the process of you feeling deliciously at home in all these skills, from taking replenishing time to delighting in the process of meeting an incoming and moving towards in your projects and with your wishes.

Let’s explore! What are the elements of what I want?

What is it that I do when I’m [insert word for retreating]?

There is an element of TIME. Time creates the boundaries for the experience. At least three nights and four days for a Rally or a Replenishing.

Anything less than that doesn’t let me immerse at all, and immersing is the whole point.

For a chrysalis I like five nights to a week. It’s always fun to play with an incoming, but if I want a real encounter with this incoming self and let them show me who they are and begin to integrate their qualities and superpowers, we need time and trust.

What else?

There is an element of SPACE and SECLUSION. For me that’s usually best in a hotel or at a retreat center or other form of safe house.

If I can’t do those things, I have other ways to magic-up any space and ensure solitude, both of which I can talk more about some other time.

When I used to go to the Vicarage, there was no wifi, and I loved living in that quiet peaceful bubble of airplane mode, listening to my playlist and getting no information from the outside world. Heaven. But there are other ways to establish boundaries that keep your [retreat] time sacred and haha, yes, a treat.

Together, TIME + SPACE + RITUAL/MAGIC create a dedicated container that provides the necessary safety and sanctuary to have a powerful transformative experience that is healing and also fun. But we can talk about that more this coming year as we practice.

Charlie’s Angels

I was on a chrysalis at the Dome In The Desert and had a realization about my own retreat center and how I’ve been hosting retreats here.

My incoming pointed out that I have been embodying Bosley when I was supposed to be Charlie. I have been coordinating the secret missions instead of calling them in.

My job is to be hidden, to glow presence but also to be there through not being there, to become even more invisible, to allow the magic of the form to come to the forefront.

I’m supposed to be Charlie.

Form + Intention + Play.

Obviously I still want to be involved in people’s retreats for joy, play and companionship, but I will do that not because I think you need me or some notion of “value-added” or whatever, but because it is fun.

It is fun and exciting and inspiring and rejuvenating and so many other important and delightful things to have a fellow Secret Agent to giggle with and share retreat epiphanies. I want to continue to offer that, just in a new form.

Here is the new form that is emerging.

A secret Agency (Agency 2020) of secret agents.

I want to summon-and-offer a mission (should you choose to accept it!) in which you plan your year around your own retreats and retreat-like experiences, whatever you decide to call them.

I want to invite you to figure out what form of Flowing Towards your wishes and projects you want, and for us to play and be allies in this, whether that’s at a Secret Undisclosed Location or at the dome in the desert.

The Agency itself will be officially announced in a month or so when I return from [secret op in the wilderness], but anyone who wants to get in on this with extra bonuses, this weekend is your time, because there’s a 22% discount for you, as well as some other good stuff, good through Sunday night!

Here’s the link: https://www.fluentself.com/charlie-townsend

—> 22% discount code depends on the day, but try FARRAH or WELCOMEDOME

In the meantime, I wish for us ease of ease, the greatest of ease, and all related superpowers, really whatever will support our process in delineating time and space to get to know our yeses, our movement TOWARDS and a loving commitment to all this.

Let’s play

You are welcome to share any excitement, anything sparked for you while reading, anything about your own experience retreating (or whatever you like to call this).

As always, we make this safe, loving and welcoming space by going on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving, and taking ownership for what’s ours.

I am excited for this coming year, but mainly I am excited to be here with you and share more thoughts and learning from my own experiments in drawing-inwards and moving-towards.

Love as always, for the Beloved Lurkers and for everyone who reads, you’re always invited to comment and play here whenever you like, or to process on your own. ❤

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!

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