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!