Happy New Year! Gratitude for 2013! Have a delightful 2014!

May 2014 bring you an abundance of blessings.

Some people and events in 2013 that I’m grateful for:

  • meeting David Harel and then training in craniosacral therapy (classical and biodynamic) with Ryan Hallford — this new work direction is juicy and compelling
  • all of the people who have allowed me to practice on them — I appreciate your willingness to let a student learn on you Continue reading

Letting the light in

Christmas morning, 2012. I’m house- and pet-sitting Mango. It’s going to be a quiet day of solitude — I accidentally left my phone at my trailer last night. So be it. Today it can wait.

My family is gathering on the 27th, when more of us are able to gather. Hospitals are open every day of the year and someone has to care for those sick people, and children of divorced parents usually split their holidays, and sometimes people move over the holidays. I am grateful to have a family to connect with at all.

Last night I attended a warm, lovely Christmas Eve potluck and jam session in a friend’s magical backyard. Sitting outside watching the waxing, near-full moon behind a big, ever-changing, cloud-studded sky, a few stars playing peekaboo, was quite enjoyable.

So much of this season is about darkness and light. It must have been a mystery to our ancestors, especially in the far northern latitudes of Europe where mine lived for so long, to observe the days growing shorter and shorter, the life-giving light and heat of the sun retreating while the cold and dark established themselves firmly. Would the sun return? Was this the end? The warmth of family and community gathering in spite of the backdrop of long, cold nights must have been especially meaningful in the face of this big cold mystery. It was to me, last night.

This must have been mysterious enough that ancient investigators began to measure changes in day length and discovered a pattern that included the winter solstice, the turning point in which the days begin to grow long again, that happened year after year. The predictability must have lent considerable order to chaos and thus been worthy of great celebrations, once they figured it out.

No wonder this time of year is celebrated by so many cultures, that the birth of God’s son was moved to this powerful time of year.

I had an urge this Christmas morning to open all the blinds at the house where I’m staying, to let as much light in as possible.

Today the skies are partly cloudy, here in Austin, TX, where winter exists but only in spurts. Today the sunshine comes and goes. The bare branches of the deciduous trees appear silhouetted against that sky.

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I’ve always appreciated winter for the way it strips away the leaves, exposing the bone structure of trees. Perhaps that’s a reason I’m drawn to giving massage — to feel through the soft tissues to the solid bone within — or to investigating and appreciating the power of the season.

The wind is blowing. The branches are waving, the remaining leaves fluttering and quivering. Hello.

I’m having a breakfast of cooked quinoa with currants, a little ghee, and honey, along with a new favorite, a delicious three-ginger tea (ginger, galangal, and turmeric from Pukka, a British purveyor of organic and Ayurvedic herbal products), a clementine and grapefruit juice. I forgot to buy special food for Christmas morning, and I’m not missing it. Oh, I’ll indulge in tamales and eggnog and sweets for a few more days and then gladly clean up my diet again. January is good for that.

Mango has been offered a bit of sockeye salmon roasted in butter, which he turned down in favor of cat treats. Go figure. Maybe we’ll sit in the sun or snuggle in a Christmas nap together later. And later I will go out, to offer chair massage to the staff at the hospital where my daughter is working, then off to another potluck and jam session with friends.

I enjoy the connections and celebrations of the season, but the most special part of this holiday to me is waking up knowing it’s Christmas, knowing it’s a holy day, a special day unlike any other, and feeling the joy of that.

Even without a gift given or received, without the feasting, without the camaraderie of my beloved family and friends, without church, music, lights, and all the traditions of the season, it’s truly just a day to be awake and to marvel in this big mystery, to be filled with gratitude and wonder for this amazing life.

As is every day!

New blog milestones and best massage ever given

Sometime this weekend when I wasn’t looking, my blog passed 60,000 views! This is a labor of love, and I can’t measure my “success” in monetary terms. Blog views, likes, and comments are my currency.

Thank you for reading me.

And…yesterday I had my best single day ever with 426 views! That’s pretty astonishing, considering the average number of views per day in 2012 (so far) has been 182.

I took the whole weekend off, spending a good chunk of it out in the country at a friend’s remote ranch. Clean air, water, cattle, a river, lots of trees, big sky, silence (compared to the city), a sweet porch on which I did a couple of great yoga sequences, soaking in a metal tub filled with well water, and lots of laughter were just the ticket for rest and relaxation.

I didn’t do a stroke of bodywork all weekend (except a little self-massage on my shoulders and arms). This morning I gave what felt to me like the best massage I’ve ever given, a 90-minute full body massage combining Swedish, deep, pressure points, rocking, reflexology, and lots of attention to her neck, shoulders, and hips. My client really appreciated it. Her week started extremely well.

If you’re looking for a great massage, consider booking one in the morning when your massage therapist is feeling refreshed, especially after a couple of days off! If you’re in the Austin area, I’d love your business!

See you later, with the first turnaround of Byron Katie’s Work!

More wit and wisdom from Byron Katie, and a 21-day challenge to do The Work

Byron KatieThis weekend I got to experience the wonderful presence and work of Byron Katie again. I’ve lost track now of how many times I’ve seen her. I love The Work, her four questions and three turnarounds that you can apply to any thought you have that causes you to suffer.

This time my friend Glenda drove down from the Metroplex to attend with me, and I reconnected with several friends who also hold Katie’s work in high esteem. I remembered to bring my copy of her book Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life. She signed it for me, and we chatted a bit about using The Work in trauma recovery. (She says it works well.)

Glenda bought her book for children, Tiger-Tiger, Is It True? Four questions to make you smile again, to use with her young grandson as well as an audiobook of Loving What Is and some cards.

My dear late Neuro-Linguistic Programming teacher Tom Best included The Work in his master practitioner training. Even though The Work is not NLP, it is very NLP-like in that it uses questions to induce profound shifts at the belief and identity neurological levels of experience. Tom thought very highly of it, and I cannot think of any other non-NLP techniques that made it into his practitioner and master practitioner trainings.

I’m feeling inspired to start a new 21-day challenge: 21 days because that’s how long it takes to develop a new habit, because I would like for The Work so become so ingrained that as soon as I even start thinking a thought that is less than loving, I can ask “Is that true? Nope! What happens when I believe the thought? Who am I without the thought?” and immediately shift my state.

When I discard painful thoughts, I always feel “returned to myself” with a sense of peace, pleasure, wonder, and expansion. Imagine: We could live from that state nearly all the time!

Katie is onto something of huge importance, in my opinion, with her distinctions between what’s my business, someone else’s business, and God’s business. If what I cannot control is either someone else’s business or God’s business, then what is my business? It is being present in my own life, attending to my own experience, knowing and doing what is right for me, letting go of all stories about how things “should” be.

For my challenge, I need to make 21 copies of her Judge Your Neighbor worksheet (available online if you would like to participate too — I invite all readers willing to do the inquiry of The Work to join me). I plan to blog about it occasionally.

Here are some of her memorable words from the weekend (and here’s a link to the last time I noted her wit and wisdom if you want even more inspiration):

In my world…

Are you being thought?

You can’t feel my pain and vice versa. It’s a projection. I’m the only one who can hurt me.

We’re all innocent.

I asked with the intention of really listening.

They will or they won’t mind you.

I want to know what’s real and what’s not.

Nothing has ever happened, except I believe it happened.

I love everything I think. I’m the best company I know.

Who needs God when you have your opinion?

The ego loves to play.

Apologize to yourself.

You said thank you, so I’m thanking me.

Smoking quit me as I became sane.

Live in your own business.

Prior to thought was pure awareness, joy, the unnamed.

Inequality is not possible when the mind is right.

We’re a human race. We need your help.

Would you hold me now?

I’m always asking what I want.

The mental produces the physical.

Travels with friends: stories from Paradise Island and Maui

One of my favorite ways of getting to know people better is to travel with them. I’ve been lucky enough to have taken several trips with people who were friends before we traveled together. Spending travel time together deepened our friendships.

Some of these trips were to other places in the world — the Bahamas, London, Maui (twice) — and some were road trips in Texas, even just to San Antonio, 80 miles down the road from Austin.

An hour and a half with a friend in a car can cover a lot of sharing.

Fanny, Pauline, and I went to the Bahamas together and had a total blast. We stayed in the mega-resort Atlantis, and wandering around Paradise Island and Nassau was hugely fun with them.

I learned how to snorkel for that trip, and one day, Fanny and I took a boat trip to visit a sunken boat used in an old James Bond film and check out a coral garden. We saw the “tongue of the ocean” where the deep Atlantic and the shallow Caribbean meet, where looking down, you see the grassy sea bottom drop off into utter darkness.

At the end of that trip, we snorkeled with sharks. (They were well-fed before we got into the water.) Their skin feels like sandpaper, and I noticed that everyone kept their arms and legs pulled in!

In the marketplace in Nassau, we’d been shopping and my feet were hurting (back in those days — never happens now), and I was tired of kids pestering me, hawking crappy trinkets I didn’t want.

I asked the most aggressive little boy if he would sing a song for me for a quarter. He obliged. Other children gathered, and for a couple of bucks, I heard song after song, many of which were hymns. We drew a crowd.

It was an unexpected tourist adventure, and I’m glad I thought of it — just from thinking that these children must have something else of value to offer besides crappy trinkets.

I still remember one little girl who sang so sweetly and beautifully about Jesus.

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Linaka took me to Rice Park on Maui. It’s up the volcano near Kula, and from there, you can see nearly three-quarters of Maui’s coastline and get as close to a bird’s eye view of the amazingly small mountainous island as possible without actually being in the air.

It took my breath away and gave me some navigational bearings I could never have gotten from a map. That map was the territory.

Then she taught me kalani hula, and we laughed.

On another trip to Maui, Glenda drove us on the Hana Highway. I didn’t know her very well before, but we spent over six hours together in the car on that trip, and she’s become a dear friend. She’s blessed my house in a fabulous ritual, and I can request from her a reiki dance for myself and those I care about when needed as well as send love to her when she needs it.

Glenda happens to be one of the most enthusiastic and loving, compassionate people I’ve ever met. She changed me.

There’s something really magical about being on a tropical island with friends.

I camped with Katie and Keith up on the Haleakala volcano on Maui in Hosmer’s Grove. The highlight of that experience was getting up way before dawn to drive to the top of the volcano to watch the sunrise.

When we got there, a crowd had already assembled. It was cold, about 35-40 degrees F. We found vantage points, and at the very moment the sun peeked over the clouds, a native Hawaiian man began chanting in Hawaiian. I have no idea what it meant, but it was obviously a sacred greeting, and he had a beautiful voice.

And then the magic really started…

We could see the tops of two volcanoes on the Big Island above the clouds off to the southeast. As the clouds cleared to the west, we could see the shadow of the volcano falling over west Maui and the smaller islands. Vertiginous… And then there was Nick Goodness, the story teller…

Sometimes when you travel with friends, you have shared experiences that sink in so deeply, your bond deepens.

You feel even more at home in this world. You have arrived in a new, more connected place, an inner, heartfelt place and a worldly, outer place.