• The Coach is In

    Hey all -

    Please join me and some friends (some new, some old) on Facebook this week for open office hours. We'll be on my page Body Mind Magic at this URL:

    Date and Time: Tuesday November 24, 3pm Eastern.

    What: A chance for free coaching. Ask me anything. Bring any questions. 

    In particular, I'm interested in having a conversation about self-care, for two reasons:

    1. Because I'm writing a book about it, and I want to know what you think about the topic.

    2. Because so much of the discussion around self-care is really just self-improvement, perfectionism and hostility in disguise. OUCH. We can do better.

    For me, self-care is fundamentally staying on my own side. It's a stance I take toward myself, not a rulebook and a checklist. It's really what all coaching comes down to.

    Which brings me to another reason I want to do some coaching online: Because every time I've done it, it's been really fun.

    So we can talk about self-care specifically or anything else you want

    Hope to see you next week, because I always want to know how you're doing. ADORE! RESPECT!

  • I tire of people telling each other to surrender.

    "Surrender" is supposedly a very spiritual thing to do. Surrender your life to God! Surrender control to the Universe! 

    Pretty much all the spiritual people, at least the ones in my neighborhood, are very into the idea of surrender. 

    "Surrender" is a war word. It implies sides, winners, losers. Kind of like "submit" is a domination word, and implies a slave and a master. 

    And if life is a big battle, then surrender might be necessary in order to get a little peace. But how much nicer not to be fighting in the first place.

    It might be easier to get along with reality if we didn't somehow think that accepting everything means also liking it. That IS a battle.

    I prefer the idea of accommodation. Just making room for what is. No war needed.

    And no one has to be one up or one down.

  • The only cleanse I ever hope to do

    Have you tried the kind of cleanse where you eat anything you want from a list of about three things? The kind where you start out feeling horrible (“just the detox!”) then you feel light, amazing, THINNER (it’s working!) and - end stage - you wind up making “brownies” with whatever’s in the pantry at 3am? 

    (Me too, so I can tell you that crushed pineapple, while a poor substitute for actual chocolate, does lend a pleasantly chewy texture to the, um, brownies.)

    Never doing that again. But I am looking forward to Martha Beck’s September Integrity Cleanse. Why? Because, as I teach my clients, it’s always safe to tell the truth to oneself - but the fact is I can still chicken out when it’s time to tell the truth to others.

    (I believe this fear is responsible for almost every extra pound I’ve ever carried.) 

    Perhaps speaking your truth to Other People, whenever you need to for integrity and thinness, is an area of weakness for you too?

    If so, and you want to drop the weight of faking it, join me in the class that Martha promises will be like clearing out the junk drawer of your life by finding the things that are not in alignment with your true self and uncovering a treasure trove of goodness you forgot you already had.”

    All the details are here - but feel free to ask me anything. I hope to see you there.

  • Like Fight Club for girls

    Hi, friends! A quick note to tell you two things:

    1. I haven't been blogging much because I've been working on a book. It's going to be brief and meaty, like a self-help book minus the fluff, only with more usable advice and clearer thinking. My book's topic is self-care, it is dedicated to all my clients and the truth is that I hope it will be an absolute &*$#ing outrage

    Also, it will be free to all subscribers. So you'll want to sign up.

    I plan to put this book out in the fall, and will keep you updated.

    2. Last week I finished what may be the craziest novel I've read since Wuthering Heights. It is Dietland, by Sarai Walker, which is about dieting, self-hatred and being fat. 

    Dietland coverDietland also examines the fantasy wish-fulfillment narrative structure we try to impose on our lives - even if it means starvation. That makes reading Dietland another in the list of recent events that has me completely rethinking the way I work.

    It is hilarious and preposterous and yet, in its way, modest and plausible. And it is a cracking good read that kept me turning the pages compulsively without a single skimmable paragraph.

    My copy did not come with trigger warnings, so I will tell you here: on the subject of violence against women, Walker does not pull all her punches. Be advised.

    Basically, it's like Fight Club for girls. Six ☆☆☆☆☆☆ stars. If you read it, I'd love to know what you think.

  • Wayfinder's Quest Post #135: Success! or, The Worst Year of My Life

    Standing in a tree, contemplating the view, trying not to get towed.

    Friends, this is the final entry in my Wayfinder's blog series. Just like with all things Wayfinding, you can choose your own adventure. I have a short version, a medium version, and a long version for you. 

    1. It worked! (short version)

    I started this series in 2011 with a long list of things I wanted and didn't have. I wasn't troubled by a vague sense of dissatisfaction; I was missing some very specific things. 

    I just wanted to see if I could create a life I liked better. I wanted more friends, more free time, more money, more mystery, less toil, less tedium, less weight, less duty.

    More pleasure. Less pain. Nice things. Thrilling adventures. Hot sex and hot springs.

    I also felt the only problems I had were the kind that money couldn't solve, lucky me! But that wasn't really true. The truth was that money would have bought most of what I lacked.

    That's how I felt when I started the experiment. That, plus the enjoyable feeling of starting something I thought I was in control of. Lots of lovely boxes to tick on the way to perfect happiness.

    You will no doubt guess that that's when everything blew up. Me, I was surprised. You know that joke about God? God takes his family for a drive in the mountains, in his convertible, top down, sunny day, dry roads, everyone laughing and feeling free. Suddenly God comes at them from the other direction, dead drunk at the wheel, driving all over the road. God hits the convertible, killing God and his whole family.

    My life was like that last year. Incomprehensible. Screams. Twisted wreckage. 

    And then I kinda won the lottery. 

    2. The Worst Year of My Life.

    Change the inside, not the outside. I've heard that almost my whole life.

    As you will know, because I am insufferably, unreasonably proud (proud! for no reason!) of it and can't stop telling you, I am from Boulder. This is to say, I come from a mix of traditions built on the idea that the only locus for effecting real change is in our mind, not in our circumstances. These traditions include Buddhism, 12-Step programs, and hundreds of self-development philosophies.

    In all, I've devoted myself to awareness practices for over 30 years. Yet - and you may find this shocking!, or not - I remained unhappy with my circumstances. So not long ago I decided to turn my attention less to self-awareness and more to circumstance-tinkering. 

    I just wanted to see if I could create a life I liked better. I wanted more friends, more free time, more money, more mystery, less toil, less tedium, less weight, less duty. 

    More pleasure. Less pain. Nice things. Thrilling adventures. Hot sex and hot springs.

    So I set out with only my desire, 30 years of meditation, and an inadequate laptop. That was the Wayfinding experiment I started on this blog.

    What followed was the worst year of my life.

    (Well, I mean, you know: the worst so far. But we are talking about a field of some ass-kicking also-ran years.)

    Nevertheless, I am closing the experiment feeling it was a success, because I have sort of broken the circumstance barrier. I seem to have lost interest in improving my circumstances - though many of them were improved, some by a huge margin. Neither do I want to change my thinking. In fact, I'm a little bored with changing, fixing and improving things altogether.

    Circumstances change on their own. The mind changes itself. I really don't need to force anything. I have seen almost all of my tools and practices fall away like dead skin.

    I've completely dropped hobbies that were once obsessions. On the other hand, I've not lost an ounce of interest in clothes and makeup and outré cocktails.

    It's going all around the world for a bottle of milk. Everything's changed. Nothing's changed. Executive summary for the very busy: It worked; The End.

    Now if you're not very busy, and would like to know more, read on.

    3. Some Things I Have Found Out.

    I. Money: You can have enough

    I acquired some money. A couple years ago, I would have thought of this much money as "enough." A "we're there!" amount. (Of course, it's all relative. I know people who could barely get to Rome and back on this amount of money.) 

    But the amount's not the important part. What's important is that this money was "enough" when I got it and it has stayed enough. For over a year now I have been experiencing continued feelings of enough. 

    I can just about guarantee that if I'd received that money a couple years ago, I would have enjoyed it for 72 hours and then woken up disgruntled and said, OMG! Ya know, I thought X was going to be enough, but now I see that really I need 3x to have enough!" Or 5x or 12x or howevermuch. "I thought we were there, but actually we're NOT!" is what I would have said. 

    Instead, I got there and stayed there. 

    We're not flying first class. Not buying a holiday house. I've not even ordered personalized stationery. And yet: Enough. 

    Here's another thing I learnt about money: It might not buy happiness, but it sure the fuck won't make you miserable.

    II. Urgency

    Things used to seem really urgent to me. My china pattern is on sale? I better get over there now and snatch those shelves bald! Do we have "a very full flight today"?! I better jockey for position so I can stow my rollie!!!

    Everything that used to make me break into a sweat, all of it coming under the general heading of "Getting Mine" - none of that seems like a good use of life to me. For what? Why would I manage anything? Because something is better than something else, and I have some insight into that? Because sooner is better than later? Man, I just don't seem to have convictions about that anymore.

    I have seriously slowed down.

    III. All the things that used to matter so much hardly matter at all now

    The number and scope of things I have lost interest in are blowing my wig back. Here are some:

    I am kind of bored with self-help. Self-help used to be my life and my lifeline, to say nothing of most of my shelf space and discretionary spending. The neighbors have all that now. 

    I seem to have lost interest in using tools, techniques and practices. Has it got steps? Then I don't want it. Anything that previously I would have used to improve myself or my situation is off the menu. I even seem to be largely uninterested in improving my mood. 

    I now feel about tools, techniques and practices the way I felt when I first read - attempted to read - a translation o f a Tibetan Buddhist text, which was this: "uh-oh if enlightenment can only be found in the pages of a book like this, we're all totally fucked." If salvation is only to be reached by keeping track of what I weigh, eat, lift at the gym, getting things done, discerning the size shape location and color of my current emotion, visualizing myself as an anchor dropping into the ocean depths, all of that, well I accept that I AM FUCKED. Because I seem to have no willingness at all for that stuff. 

    I think I may have lost interest in salvation of any kind. I don't think I need it. It seems like I'm having a very persistent experience of "everything is actually ok." Even family things - by any measure a big important life circumstance - in a condition that would previously have caused me to scream "Holy shit! Danger; not ok! These are unacceptable life circumstances!!!" are causing me to say "Holy shit, look at me accommodating even that."

    I've lost interest in thinking about, discussing, or paying any attention whatsoever to what is "healthy" to eat. I cannot find any part of me that I want to spend time with that believes in "healthy eating." 

    I likewise have no detectable worries about "germs." (Except for foot fungus. Let's avoid that.)

    I seem to have lost all interest in what "good" people do altogether. The rules I received say that "good" people don't cuss, drink, use drugs, eat the heads off shrimp, buy coffee without ascertaining the "fairness" of its trade, buy meat without ascertaining the quality of its living conditions while alive, spend money on themselves, throw food away, cut in line, etc. Well I don't actually find myself needing to cut in line, because what for?! (Unless I'm trying to get overhead bin space on the plane, then yes, bit lately, see above, even suitcase panic has fallen away! UNBELIEVABLE.) The rest of that stuff: GOD WHO CARES.

    I don't need people to like me. I don't need to change myself to be liked. I don't need to pretend I'm well liked when I'm not. I don't need to make any of that about me. I quit a group recently that wasn't fun because the people in it really didn't like me, and I lost the will to mold myself into a likable form. Not a fit! It's why they have chocolate and vanilla (and for the sophisticated and discerning: rum raisin). I didn't need to go looking for evidence that they kinda sort did like me a little. People don't need to like me! Turns out: it is VERY OK not to like me.
    I no longer have a to-do list. I am doing things because I am somehow moved to do them, not because I wrote them on a list.

    I've lost interest in meditation, I've lost interest in pretending to be interested in meditation, and I've stopped meditating. Or "meditating," if you're one of those folks who have strenuous standards for the definition. I know I did. Hahahahaha.

    I've lost interest in my "longtime student of buddhism" personal mythology. You know, everybody and their hippie uncle who went to Burma that one time claims to be a buddhist, but I actually took vows with Chögyam Trungpa himself, more than 30 years ago. How many life coaches can say that? OMG I thought that was True Cred, and I was super invested in it and impressed with myself. Proud! Like anybody but me ever cared.

    My profiles used to read, under Religion, "You know how people always say 'Running is my meditation' or 'Yoga is my meditation'? Well, my meditation is meditation." Friendable, right?! If I met the Buddha in the road, I'm pretty sure even he wouldn't have wanted to friend me.

    And you know, I no longer really care much about credentials altogether.

    Oh! This: I have lost interest in any projects to do with changing, fixing, optimizing or otherwise improving Mr Jones. Like money, my husband is another area of satisfaction. I made a choice a dozen years ago, and My GOD! I am still happy with my choice.

    An example: I have stopped trying to get him to put the toilet seat down. 

    My husband does put the toilet seat down, a lot, but I used to lose my shit if he ever forgot. This seems so insane to me now. Like, if it's so important, why don't I just check? That way, I can adjust the seat myself before falling in. Me! The person to whom it's important. Which I do, utterly without resentment. My husband doesn't need to be involved at all. I mean, people! This is a very different me.

    I'm much less critical lately altogether. Mr Jones and I binge-watched Girls. I found that show perfect in every respect. There was not one single fucking thing I would have changed about it. I was in awe of its creatrix and creators, and I just watched in appreciation. Not even a "yeah, but..." there.

    Hear ye! I don't seem to want to flex my muscles or apply my will to 
         •     change 
         •     fix 
         •     improve 
         •     persuade
         •     convince
         •     control 
         •     influence 
         •     produce 
         •     achieve 
         •     excel 
         •     optimize 
         •     approve 
         •     disapprove 
         •     decide 
         •     choose 
         •     plan 
         •     manifest
         •     or target
    much of anything. 

    Caveat: I'm still really keen on shoes (Nicholas Kirkwood til I die!) and dresses and makeup and going out for cocktails though. Boy, have I ever not lost interest in that stuff.

    IV. Reality hahahahaha

    Not only do many things not seem urgent or important to me anymore, a lot of them don't even seem real. For example, we got audited by the IRS last year because of my business. This started out being quite the ass-chapper, part of My Frognado Year. Shit escalated continuously for many months until the day it fizzled out with no explanation and zero consequences. 

    I'm not sure if I can believe in the IRS after this experience. That whole organization might be JUST ONE GUY.

    Another thing that is not real: I have seen through the illusion that I have any measure of control over my children. I have no ability to persuade, manipulate, coerce, direct, cajole, blackmail, bribe or otherwise influence any of these children. Parental control of children is a fiction; I accept this.

    Also not real: Good. Bad. THERE IS NO GOOD AND BAD. There is only what I like and what I don't like. And I am possibly the only person who cares about that, which is fine.

    And the really not real: "life purpose." PLEASE. Seriously.

    V. The End

    So where does this leave me? Just living my life, sans "Purpose." Feeling good. Except when I'm not, which is also perfectly fine. It's PERFECT. And I must say, not trying to change how I feel feels really, really good.

    The internet's tiniest comment link... right down below. I hope you will use it to add your thoughts, report on your own Wayfinding results, or just say Hi. It is also very cool to lurk here.