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

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


Tell me about Less, I said to the ocean.

And then I laughed, because usually when I am talking to the ocean, I say, tell me about plenty, tell me about more.

Because the ocean’s superpowers are about Vastness, Depths, Waves and the power of unknowable numbers of grains of sand.

And now I need the ocean to tell me about less, which is a different form of plenty.

But let me back up and explain how I got here.


Last week I set off on Operation True Yes, aka six month road trip, the first segment of my Shmita, my sabbatical time.

Shmita is about intentional not doing, it is Easing & Releasing, letting the fields lie fallow.

The battlecry of Shmita, as it were, is NO MORE PROJECTS!

I’ve been saying that to everyone who has invited me to do something fun with them. I can’t, I’m sorry, I have committed to No More Projects this year! And then they get a little wistful thinking about how great that sounds.


The first day of our adventure was beautiful and peaceful. On the second day the adventure part kicked in.

First the truck broke down, twenty miles from our destination. Then my traveling companion crashed his motorcycle. We got stranded at a racetrack overnight, and no mechanics could fit us in, for at least a week, they said. Suddenly everything was getting expensive and complicated…

I closed my eyes, and the word that instantly surfaced was SIMPLIFY.

Which is a frustrating message, when you have just let go of two thirds of your worldly possessions, along with the center you have run for five years and most of the things that bring you income, and downsized your life to a tiny camper on top of a truck.

I mean, simplify more?! Is that not what I have been doing for the past several months to get here, and that’s the answer? Simplify?

But then it started to make sense. Simplify means put your finger down on the treasure map, choose a home base, reduce input, listen.


Once the truck was fixed, we spent the night in a campground in Monterey. We were just a few miles from Asilomar, and I had a strong yes — a True Yes — that I needed to visit.

Asilomar is where I taught a week long retreat five years and two months ago. And that beautiful stretch of rocky beach is where the Playground — the center I just closed — came to me the first time, fully formed, in a vision-like moment, and introduced itself and asked me to find it a home and make it real, which is exactly what I did next.

I haven’t been back since, and was feeling both intensely excited and a little nervous.

Excited for the opportunity to say thank you to the ocean for the Playground, for the treasure of that mission. And nervous because ohmygod what if it gives me my *next* mission, please No More Projects.

My lover squeezed my hand, and pointed out that most people would nervous about not getting another vision, or get their hopes up and try too hard, and then be sad when the Moment doesn’t come.

I wasn’t worried about that. The ocean and I are old friends, well, maybe friends isn’t the right word, I don’t know if you can be friends with the ocean, but we have a connection, an alliance of sorts, clear communication.


We walked the beach for about two hours, and at the midpoint, as I was perched on a rock, admiring the crashing waves, the ocean said to me, very clearly:


I smiled, and asked if this was the next mission, because this is a marvelous mission to receive. A mission of Less.

The ocean said yes, it is everything, and all you need to be doing right now, and I said thank you.

I told it about the last intense five years, and how honored I am to have been the steward of the Playground mission, and how much the Playground and I loved (and love) each other, and how it is no longer in physical form.

The ocean said, of course, you did an excellent job with that mission, and it brought you back here, because it was a circular mission.


Me: Like a labyrinth?

Ocean: Okay. Sure. If that image works for you. It took you through the things you needed to experience so that you could return for this new mission now.

That was the plan, and you followed it perfectly, by not knowing you were following it.

And you brought the boy! Well done.

Me: Of course. It all makes sense.

The Playground led me to [big dream], which led to the Big Flailure (yes, with a flail) Of The Big Dream, which led to grief and loss, which led to the chocolate shop, which led to me meeting the boy, which led to Operation Tranquility Recovery aka 40 days and nights in the desert, which led to Shmita which led to coming back to you.

It was a trail. A circular trail.

And now the mission is [LESS].

The mission of [LESS].

Yes, said the ocean.

Your new mission is to not do.

And only to not do.

Not to not-do until you hear what to do. Not to not-do until it is time for doing.

Your mission is to Not Do. Period.

That’s it. That’s the doing. That’s the whole mission.

Tell me about less.

Tell me about less, I said to the ocean.

And this is what I learned:

Less is less effort, being less effortful.

Less is only having things that you need and give you joy sparks. Clue: You can’t lose things when you only have what you need.

Less is undoing and releasing, aka the life work of healing that you already do.

Less is tashlich every day. Letting go of all the energy that isn’t yours, letting it whoosh off of you into the ocean.

Less is bringing your beautiful emotions (all of them) to the fountain, so that they can be received and witnessed.

Less is reducing sources of input. You’re already doing so much of this, with avoiding social media and not reading blog posts or listening to podcasts, and your year of Not Buying. Try even more less.

Let less become sexy. Not reducing for the sake of reducing though. Reducing so that there is no interference with being a clear bell.

Reducing isn’t the answer, reducing is a trail you follow.

What do I know about what I want?

It is about trust and enough, and trusting in enough. And so much letting go.


The wind is crashing, and so are the waves. I am in the camper, looking out at the ocean. The beautiful boy is napping peacefully. The word Less is shining in the palm of my hand, like an invisible stone, a secret jewel.

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

She: You are better at Less than you think, and not just because of Operation Resilience all those years ago. Call on the expertise you already have.
Me: I don’t want it to be like then.
She: It won’t be because then was not about your yes, never mind your True Yes. Then was about survival, and you did great. You got through so we could be here now. This mission is about yes, which rhymes with less. Yes Is More, my love.


My lover is reading a book called The Overworked American, which seemed relevant to my mission, so I picked it up, and was instantly so tired, because it is way too much work even to read about being overworked, so I decided that the title is enough.

But I did notice in the intro, the author says she wants to start an association of like-minded people to organize and lobby against this situation of overwork, then asks people to write to her so that she can put this together.

Wait, what? She’s making more work for herself already? All her research points to the conclusion of LESS, and she’s still choosing more. Let this be a reminder to me about how insidiously strong the culture of overwork is, even for the experts in the field who are most passionate about changing this.

May I be steady in my resolve of No More Projects, amen.

The superpower of delighting in plenty

March - Receive More The quality for March is RECEIVE, with the superpower of delight in plenty.

Delight in plenty is a wonderful parallel for Yes to Less.

They seem contradictory at first, but they aren’t. Simplicity allows for more delight in what’s there, more connection to joy sparks. And it also opens pathways and trails that lead to the next yes.

This wasn’t at all what I was expecting from this month, and I love it. I am receiving the treasure of less and the treasure of yes.

Things I find helpful for intentions and wishes…

Nap, dance, write, play, labyrinths. Get quiet. Sweet pauses, yes to red lights and purple pills, thank you to the broken pots. Costume changes. Skip stones. Body first. Thank you in advance. Eight breaths in eight directions:

Adventure. Rest. Horizons. Security. Passion. Sweetness. Clarity. Presence.

Ongoing wishes.

Seeds planted without explanation, a mix of secret agent code and silent retreat. Things to play with someday.

Everything is easier than I thought, and look, miracles everywhere. Ha, this doesn’t require my input! My business is thriving happily without me. I think like a dancer. It’s so perfect it turned out like this. Past me is a GENIUS. I have what I need, and appreciate it. I am fearless and confident. I state my preferences clearly, calmly and easily, no big deal. I am ready to come into my superpowers and receive.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka gathering stars..

I have been gathering stars (datapoints). Learning useful and unexpected things!

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

Keep me company?

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

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

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

And if you want a Playground mug with a pack of stone skipping cards inside it: $30 + $12.65 shipping = $42.65. Send a note to set it up. Ask Richard about international shipping…


The Fluent Self