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.

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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

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

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

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

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

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

A breath for magic, and comment zen!

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

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

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

The Desert Assassin & The Nth Monday Meeting

Fluent Self June - the month of Sanctuary

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

What is possible? What comes after possible?

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

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

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


Undoing the hierarchical approach to progression

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

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

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

One movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A breath for approaching with ease

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

Here is the crux of this concept for me:

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

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

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

Meeting frustration (omg so much frustration)

I am someone with a special brain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do we meet frustration?

The way we meet anything.

With a Meeting.

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

Here I am.

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the 24th consecutive Monday Meeting

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

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

The container of time-space that is the Monday Meeting

I like twenty to thirty minutes for a Meeting.

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

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

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

Roll call / Role call

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

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

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

Hi! Who is here at the Meeting?

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

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

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

Statement of Purpose & Intent

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

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

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

Opening statement from a Havi!

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

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

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

The Desert Assassin Advises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sorceress Advises

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

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

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

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

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

The Designer Advises

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

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

Stay with your now-yes.

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

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

The Project of [current secret mission] Advises

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

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

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

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

The Month of Sanctuary Advises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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