I Carry Him

I carry him on my back uphill. A broken pelvis, healed without intervention, disabled his body long before he was mine. Cool green manzanita leaves and prickly pine needles shake off their snow like birds in a bath. Beside them, I march; enjoying each boulder, each seed-bearing cone, each sage brush adorning snow. I slouch under dull pain in my shoulders. I had thought for years to train for backpacking, but never enough to start — until this disabled body showed up wanting the adventure as much as I. 

Behind gauzy clouds, the sun moves through a sky that morphs from bright to dark almost without warning. I check my watch. We’ve arrived at nowhere-in-particular and must return downhill. I relinquish my body from the backpack, careful not to tip him. 

His feet, wrapped in miniature booties, make miniature crunches on the snow-turned-ice. Perfectly timed to my pattering heart, evermore delighted with each mini-crunch. His steps a staccato. My strides: the baseline. Sloshing where snow and earth made mud. In one bright streak — a comet’s trail — still water reflects the sun that warms our backs, both covered in fleece. He looks back at me, checking on me, flashing his wide, toothless smile.

When I wonder too long, his mystery past roots sadness in my heart to guess. The only certainty: a guardian angel plucked him from death row. And here we are now, his steps and mine, crunching ice in booties and boots. Living our destiny.  

Varanasi Sage NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon!

IT’S HERE!

My debut collection, Varanasi Sage, is now available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon!

I am overjoyed to share this work with you! Years in the making, I put my heart onto the pages of this collection. I hope my heart touches yours as you read my words. I would love nothing more than for you to check it out. CLICK HERE!

Here are a few reviews I’ve gotten so far:

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If you’d like to read a few sample chapters from Varanasi Sage, click these links!

Awakening Depths

The Lucky Ones

Forest Song

During the process of writing, revising, and releasing this work, I encountered so much self-doubt and fear. Pushing through these emotions has been incredibly rewarding, and it still amazes me that I have a physical manifestation of my inner work.  I hope you will join me in celebrating this milestone!

 

Varanasi Sage at Burning Man!

Now that the dust has settled, I’m excited to share the experience of installing Varanasi Sage at Burning Man. From concept to installation, the entire project took one year, and what a year!

I went through my own metamorphoses during this experience. Doing everything for the first time, the processes of building, funding, and installing taught me like no other teacher. I found great rewards in the process: I felt supported in my art, I felt my art was received, I connected with people in new ways, and continually encountered the best of humanity.

A hidden gift in the process was creating the Varanasi Sage companion booklet, which I didn’t know was going to manifest until a few months before the installation was complete. This booklet is a culmination of my writing over the past several years, and something I desired for a long time, but needed the framework of the Varanasi Sage installation to create. I will offer the companion booklet as an e-book and audio book soon! Stay tuned!

Burning Intentions 2019

I’m on the road to Burning Man, and according to tradition I’m sharing my intentions to amplify them. This year I’m doing something I’ve never done before: I’m taking an art installation! The project, Varanasi Sage, has consumed much of my waking life over the past few months, and I’ve gladly given that time. It has been a true challenge and learning experience, but it has also given my life more meaning and purpose. Plus, it helped me finish my first booklet! It’s already been a rewarding experience to create this art, and I’m looking forward to showing it off! I’ll also be giving away a limited number of my booklets as part of the installation.

Without further ado, my Burning Intentions:

    Put my art into the hands of hearts who will love it
    Face challenges with grace and ease, trusting my experiences
    Connect with other artists in a meaningful way
    Deepen into a gratitude practice

If you’re on the playa this year, I’m teaching my workshop Meditation & Writing MWF 10-11am at my camp Namaste & Chill located at 6:15 & D. I would love to see you there!

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Burning Intentions 2018

It’s time for Burning Man! The past two years, I’ve shared my intentions for the experience because writing intentions and having a witness strengthens their power. This post makes the third. Thank you for being my witness.

This year, I’m taking a new project — a meditation and lounge space I’ve been dreaming of for several years and fundraising for with many collaborators. May the Lounge be a sacred space of healing and connection; may it bring all who enter deeper into wholeness and unity.

I’m teaching my workshop, “Meditation and Writing,” three times this year: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 3-4 pm at Stellar Dusty Moon 5:30 & H (in the Lounge!). May the workshop serve us in the unique way that we need for our paths; may it provide us with insight, peace, and grounding.

My favorite part of Burning Man is the art — may I meet the artists and have profound experiences with the art.

May the workshops I attend guide me in my journey and connect me with others. May I see the heart of the earth in everyone I meet!

Burning Intentions 2017

It’s late and I’m watching the newly-waxing moon set in the west. I’m driving through the mountains, en route to Black Rock City for Burning Man. This will be my third time participating in the art and music festival. 
Last year, I set intentions that mainly focused on my interactions with other people. And although they were extremely elevated, I saw and felt my intentions manifest in some of my experiences.
I’ve been humbled and challenged this past year — especially recently — and my intentions reflect my need for deep nourishment and reflection.
To share our intentions is to empower them. Please read mine below:
I intend to reestablish my relationship with my creativity; to fully engage with the art installations at the festival and allow myself to be inspired and motivated by them. I need to reset my relationship with my creativity in order to create for creation’s sake without the desire to be seen, popular or make money. This will afford me the freedom I need in my artistic pursuits. I must reconnect with my truth that God’s gift to me is my creativity and my gift back to God is using it.
I intend to be open to receiving the keys I need to enhance my productivity and fulfillment.
I intend to continue the process of letting go of the pain and hurt I hold onto by releasing the people and events from my heart that continue to cause me suffering.
This year, I would like to feel and witness the expansive love that is my true essence, so that I will know who I am.


Photo by Juan P. Zapeda last year at Burning Man.

108 Sun Salutations

I started practicing yoga in my teens, and over the years, I have done my fair share of sun salutations. In my personal practice, I sometimes use a few to warm my body, but I don’t really enjoy them.  

So when I heard we were doing 108 sun salutations at the end of my first full day of Yoga Teacher Training, I rolled my eyes. Not only did we have to do 108, but we had to count them ourselves. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘108 repetitions of repetitive movement.’ This was literally the opposite of the meditative, dynamic practice that I love.

Of course, I lost track within the first 15. And that irritated me to no end. What did it even matter to keep count at that point? I would never know how many I had done!

Then, somewhere around 30 (or maybe it was 35, who knows?), I couldn’t believe how many I still had to do. It seemed like this would take forever. And, oh man, it was so tedious!

By the time I got to 42, I wanted to go home. I wanted to stop the incessant ups and downs, roll up my mat, and leave. I felt far from my comfortable home where I could do whatever practice felt right.

Around 50, only half-way, I decided the whole training was a waste of time and I should just quit! Teacher training was a stupid mistake. 

Then — somewhere close to 70 — I realized I was nearly finished. It was hard and annoying, but it was almost over. A rush of gratitude and appreciation washed through me.

Hitting 80 brought a feeling of accomplishment, which grew with every round I completed thereafter.

At 90, I chose to savor the remaining salutations. I was so close, and I wanted to enjoy those last rounds.

Number 100 arrived and I knew the struggle was worth it. I had done so much.

I finally reached 108, and thought maybe I should do a couple more just in case I had undercounted. They weren’t so bad; it wasn’t so hard.

Resting in child’s pose after completion, I asked myself why I fought against the practice. My resistance made me suffer far more than the actual sun salutations. 

My life flashed before me and I saw all my daily annoyances, the times I was impatient, the times I wanted to quit or fast-forward. I thought of when I wished my life away — stuck in traffic, pining for summer, waiting at the DMV, sick in bed. I saw my struggles and I saw the end of my life. Would I still wish my time away at the end or would I wish I could have savored even the most frustrating moments? What would my life look like if I appreciated all the moments instead of resisting them?

We finished class and I got in my car, feeling a new space in my being, like my mind had opened and my heart softened. 

A text from my cousin Derek came through: “Can you drive me home tomorrow? I have to leave my car in town at the shop.”

“Of course,” I wrote back without hesitation. “If you can be in town at 6 when I finish training that would be perfect.”

“For sure,” he replied.

That night I could barely sleep even though I was exhausted. The 108 salutes energized me. I tossed and turned feeling the uncomfortable combination of wired and tired.

My alarm sounded early the next morning. I rolled out of bed and into the shower. My eyes were puffy, and I knew coffee wouldn’t be enough. At least we would start teacher training that morning with an asana class — that would wake me up.   

Nine hours of training later, it was dark out, and I was ready to go home and relax with a glass of wine. I drove to my cousin’s mechanic, and got a message from him on the way: “Running late there in 10.”

I parked out front. 10 minutes, not so bad, but 10 minutes passed quickly, and soon came 15. I was bored and annoyed. Where was he? I was helping him. He should be on time.

After 20 minutes, I was pissed! Obviously, he didn’t have any respect for my time or energy! How could he be so rude as to keep me waiting when I was doing him a favor?

I sat there fuming. I mentally prepared to let him have it as soon as he got there. I figured out all the things I would say to make him feel guilty and bad about himself for making me wait. He was selfish and I would make sure he knew it!

That is — until I remembered the 108 sun salutations from the night before. This was my lesson. Getting angry and resisting my present moment was ruining my present moment. Waiting wasn’t the problem, it was my mindset. 

I thought about the miracle that Derek and I both have these physical forms on earth, wouldn’t it be better to appreciate the time we get to spend together? A guilt-trip tirade would make us both miserable. He was late — no big deal. Nobody was hurting, except for me with my self-inflicted suffering. Being angry wouldn’t make him arrive sooner.

I decided to relax and clear my mind.

Not long thereafter, headlights shone around the corner and Derek pulled up. We rolled down our windows.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, sheepishly.

“I appreciate your apology and I’m glad you’re here now,” I said, without a note of hostility. “You want to park in this spot?”

“Yeah, that would be great.”

We moved like Tetris pieces.

“Thanks, cuz,” he said, getting into my car.

“You’re welcome.”

“Can I take you to dinner?”

“Sure. I’d love that.”

During our meal, we laughed at stupid jokes and spoke of our futures. I even told him about my newfound love for sun salutations.


   
 

The Forest’s Song

I step outside. The sun peeks around clouds to caress the world and welcome me. Unseen doves proclaim the beauty around us. 
Dew rests on the earth; oaks stretch in wild formations. Brown leaves blanket the ground and young grasses grow amongst those that had died in summer. Moisture adorns foliage with drops that sparkle and glitter in the sun. Deer tracks tell me I am not the only one who walks this trail. 
I take a deep breath; crisp, clean air fills my lungs. The distant scent of Linney’s wood-burning stove reminds me that only a few months ago a wildfire raged in these mountains.
I come to a clearing and see a flock of quail, each dressed with its own fancy spots, stripes and bobbling headpiece. They whistle as they run away on speedy legs.
I hear a crinkling sound and see California Towhee kicking up leaves to forage beneath them. As soon as I’m close, they fly away in perfect unison, their wings purring through the air.
Acorn Woodpeckers squawk and chuckle while they perch on tree trunks, wearing tuxedos and red caps, drilling holes and stuffing them with acorns. Their happy, gleeful chucking brings a smile to my face. They must be telling jokes to make work more fun. 
Off the trail, a thick oak branch grows horizontally from its trunk. Seeing that it’s dry and free of insects, I hoist myself onto it, stretch out my legs and recline back. The tree holds me like I am lying in its arm. 
Gazing into the canopy and up to the sky, I hear birds all around me. They rustle in leaves, they fly with fluttering wings. They sing, chirp, laugh, and coo. Each voice joins in one abundant song: the song of the forest.
I could lounge for hours on the tree branch listening, yet I know the forest does not sing for me. The forest needs no outside audience for its symphonies. It is a true and great artist: creating for creation’s sake, creating for itself. 
If the forest is the ultimate artist, how do I compare? What happens when I am the only one who reads my writing? 
I know the answer; I have felt it often. When I am my only audience, I get discouraged. I blame my voice — I call it awkward and uninteresting. My dream appears hopeless. My feelings keep me from putting words on the page.
The oak holds me like a mother. 
“Show me the way,” I whisper. “How can I create like you?”
“Close your eyes,” she says.
I obey. 
Minutes pass and I begin noticing subtle layers of the song. A hawk calls from high. A frog croaks in the distance. A crow caws. 
The forest tells me there’s room for every voice and contributors are never ashamed of their sound — it is the one they received at birth. They need not be melodic, gentle or harmonic to join the orchestra; they need only to be themselves. The song’s beauty is in its rich and vibrant variety. Each day it creates a new score without one thought of who will listen. The forest creates by design — without doubt or self-consciousness. 
Opening my eyes, I look into the tree with new understanding and say, “I will add my voice to the forest’s song.”

On the right, the tree who held me like a mother





Empty holes drilled by Acorn Woodpeckers

Gratitude: An Ode to the Rain

A severe drought — the worst in recorded history — has plagued California for years. Wildfires ravage the state, lakes receded to shocking levels, creeks and rivers ran dry. But this year, the rainstorms started early. One real storm blessed us in August, a few graced us in September, and this months we’ve had several large storms. I remember in 2013 we were ecstatic to have our first rain on Halloween — but that’s also when the rainy season ended.
At home, I am thankful even though the rain sends ants scurrying inside through every unsealed crack. The sweet, musty smell of wet earth makes up for it with each breath I take. I love turning to see my cat sit on our bench under our awning to watch the showers. Turning off the drip irrigation brought a smile to my face as do the seedlings propagated from flowers I planted in summer. Now I have an entire garden filled with baby plants. The world around me looks clean and vibrantly fresh.
Driving southwest, I am thankful for the rain even though I hate driving in the rain. At times, the downpour is heavy and my fastest wiper setting can’t clear the windshield; yet, I am grateful to slow down. As I pass vineyards and orchards, I praise grass between the rows, amazed to see green just south of Sacramento. I listen to drops beat a percussion on my windshield — I love them all, from the daintiest mist to the wildest splotches. The grey sky brightens my vision; clouds part and sunlight shines onto the earth in heavenly beams.
Just west of the San Luis Resevoir, I am grateful to see a soft dusting of green on brown hills — miraculous grass in a region that, lately, has been brown all year.
Stopping at a CVS in Carmel, I meet a transient man playing didgeridoo. We speak about his recent travels and experiences at Rainbow Gathering where he felt deep connections with strangers and realized the best of humanity is found when a society existed with a gifting economy and emphasized creation. Kneeling at his feet, I know I had so much more to be grateful for than I could ever count. I bring him food and shake his hand. I wish I could give him more, but I know he appreciated my gift by the way he smiles and waves goodbye.
As I drive into the hills of Carmel Valley to visit Linney at her mountain retreat, my heart grows at the site of last year’s Tassajara fire. Only a few months ago it looked post-apocalyptic, but now I see new life. This year, the Sobranas fire, which came within a mile of Linney’s retreat, burned for three months and decimated over 100,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest. I am grateful for the rain, knowing it will act as a salve on the parched earth to bring healing and restore life to the land.

My thoughts turn to prayers of safety, which I send to those at Standing Rock protecting our healer, our medicine, our mother. As they honor our sacred earth, I pray our communities will gather in unity to defeat corporate greed that aims to destroy our precious home; I pray that understanding rain into the hearts and minds of the violent oppressors; I pray the water within all life glows with truth and righteousness to respect and defend that which gives us life. 

 

Cows and the green-dusted hills
A sign in Carmel Valley Village

New life in the burned area

The dirt road to Linney’s retreat looking vibrantly fresh