Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time Out for Time In

Coming back from retreat has been awkward. Disproportionate attention to grievances has mingled with the acceptance that I am the one looking.
As fear coincides with hope this New Year, I am reminded of some simple truths:

1) Take time out for time in
2) Bring out the china and crystal
3) It's OK to lose your way -- it's only for today
4) NOW is all we have
5) '09 rhymes with Divine

May creativity, prosperity & health be abundant this year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Going Deeper

In my desire to go deeper, a random pick of three weeks for a desert retreat -- turned into a potpourri of celebrations.

During my stay, unbeknownst to me at the time of booking, the following holidays were honored with various rituals:

Fall Navratri, nine days to honor the Mother.
Rosh Hashanah - "The Day of Awe" Jewish New Year.
Yom Kippur - Day to "Atone" become "At One"... with Self, All Life and God.
The Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, known as the Little Flower.
The Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

This confluence of events has led me to believe that there is a great connection that links and binds us all together.

Although religions and traditions follow their own unique guidelines and teachings -- the core of our praying, seeking, searching, worshiping is one and the same... we seek to feel a deep connection to life, nature, purpose, God, the Divine Mother, Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Mohamed.... and the list goes on.

Going Deeper
Going deeper, going within,
not to a place,
nor to a height,
nothing to achieve,
nor to delight.

Going deeper to
balance the senses,
bombarded with processes
and silly old messes.

Going deeper offers new ground,
fertile areas not to be found.
Just a place to root and grow,
like the flower that bends just so,
holding firm to moist soil,
wet with dewdrops of lament and toil,

All this is written in history books,
void with naughty and hallow looks.

Go now and pierce the hearth of each day,
so you can go deeper,
and find your own way.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Held Captive

I have been held captive by the deserts call,
walking step by step through he scruffy underbrush,
careful not to disturb the prickly cactus.

High above the trees the clouds tumble in,
obscuring the snow capped peaks;
leaving me breathless...speechless.

Every cell of my body is enlivened here in the desert.
Words and thoughts do not root, each moment a sacred gift.

Plans and purposes meld with fleeting moments,
to quick to capture in poetry, prose or plots.

And yet, I walk along the path that has been forged by the hungry souls that prayed before me --- seeking serenity in solitude.

Here in the desert, on this monastery...
it is the ultimate experience of God laughing at the human plan.

And yet, it is truly Divine!

Two Worlds

A young woman who lives in two worlds,
awakens to poetry,
words dance across her mind;
enlivening the senses,
one by one.

Transported from sleep,
the images produce greater awareness
of awareness;
leaving the dreamtime,

Small acrobatic leaps
burst forth with delightful images
and invitations;
to merge into today,
holding the promise of liberation.

And then,
the to do’s come into focus,
and the promise fades away;
in a swallow or gulp, if you will,
of preparedness.

Jumping up,
she moves forward;
leaving behind the mingling of two worlds
that become one, once again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fear and Faith

There is only one way to categorize this life that I am witnessing…it is filled with fear and faith. Everyday, as if on cue, each rises up within me. Thoughts permeate the horizon with projections that create everything from exuberance to exasperation.

It all began on Saturday when I actually looked at the components of a book proposal. Yikes, geeez, wowweekoozoowie, what have I gotten myself into? This is a complicated convoluted, complex undertaking. Demographics, statistics, platforms, market strategy...couple that with the book; defining, proposing, hooking literary agents and publishing houses… yikes is right.

A stream of doubt… uncertainty…. more doubt…..resistance….all rise up simultaneously and then a gentle voice pushes through the throng of disjointed thoughts…. Go to the desert Liz, do your work, do not be concerned with the fine details today. No do’s and don’ts. What is before you now? Trust… have faith. Turn toward the fear – embrace it and through it you will feel faith, inner guidance, trust and confidence.

Yes, yes that’s what is being called for… confidence. And with the Jewish New Year just days away…

It is the perfect time to imbue the deep abiding faith that inherently drives this soul to reside in truth and see beyond the projections, the false sense of unworthiness and the distortion of separation.

Norman Vincent Peale once said, “One of the greatest moments in anybody's developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is.”

Tomorrow I will drive into the desert and once again be nurtured in an environment that both consoles and brings light to the darkness. I know my true purpose in embarking on this part of the journey is to steep in these rich life filled moments and carry the essence into prose.

Join me throughout the journey…. multimedia presentations will be enhanced with blog updates.

Alecia Berman-Dry, thank you for the blogging tutorial. Your loving support is deeply appreciated and I am forever grateful to you. You fill my faith wallet aplenty.

May clarity arise from each vibrant moment today and when fear and faith meet again, as is often does, may confidence dispel the fear and restore faith, moment by moment, breath by breath.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hot New Author -- Loves Blogging

This Hot New Author doesn’t profess to know all that much about the blogging world—what I do know is this --- I love Blogging!

Where else can one person on this planet of 6.72 billion – connect with just the right people--- from one simple blog?

My last blog – Seeking a Literary Agent – proved VERY fruitful. My first response was from Kim Weiss at Health Communications, publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

At her request, I promised to present my proposal to HCI upon returning from this 40 day trip. I also found camaraderie again with Kim as she too has made entry into the blogging world.

Kim is a multi- talented artist. You can see it on her blog. A lover of animals, music and reading, I know you will be inspired.

And my good friend, NPR contributor and woman with planetary passion, Judy Martin, was a guest blogger on Kim’s site. Be sure to check out Judy Martin’s enlightening newsletter as she navigates the waters in a world fraught with chaos.

And speaking of chaos – we all know these are tumultuous times. And out of this uncertainty – one thing is for sure --more and more, through the medium of film, documentaries are coming forth heralding a New Age. Not the frou-frou, air head, disconnected new age psycho babble of the last 1/3 of the past millennium – I am talking about movies that are forging a new consciousness.

From the upcoming documentary, With One Voice, to be released in December 2008, we learn that, “We have reached a pivotal point in human history and the possibilities for the evolution of a humanity that can live in peace, is upon us.”

“From the mystics,” we learn, "All of our problems are in reality one problem – a loss of connection with the infinite source that sustains us all. And their solution is simple: reconnect.”

Matthew Flickstein has produced this inspiring documentary, With One Voice: The Meeting Point of all Spiritual Traditions. He will be in Boca Raton on September 28th at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 7 PM.

So how do we bring forth that which is calling to be birthed on our planet today? I mentioned it in my last blog – we create a vision board. And so, after posting a picture of my vision board on this blog, I was contacted by author, Joyce Schwarz.

Her upcoming book, THE VISION BOARD: The Secret to An Extraordinary Life, will be published by Harper Collins on October 28th. It's already #21 on Amazon’s Spiritual Category and Oprah just featured the Olympians who made vision boards to help them achieve their phenomenal success.

So I am postulating – proposing – encouraging you all to make your vision board for a peaceful new world.

What will it take for YOU to be peaceful? Create your perfectly aligned vision statement --- what you see, feel desire and wish for our world and then… bring it to life on your board.

See your innermost awareness for our healthy, connected, peaceful planet come to life.

I will become certified with Joyce Schwarz to facilitate vision board programs. Let’s plan to do this together!

Now you know why this Hot New Author --- Loves Blogging.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Own Personal Olympics

My own personal Olympics is underway. It began the day I returned home from retreat.

Hubby was hospitalized with pancreatitis for 12 days-- my male offspring
(19 years) who refuses to move out, bought a 650 cc motorcycle and the good old reliable "Shock Collar" for our 8 month old Doberman Pinscher ( Monty the Monster) was MIA, along with 5 pair of my shoes that were scattered throughout the house in various stages of consumption.

No problem, I'll chant the Hanuman Chalisa and all will be well. But that didn't work.

Internally, I began melting down and shutting down. The Olympic flame within was extinguished and my fire, passion and motivation waned. Couple this with 40 days of bills, paperwork, a really messy home and empty fridge and .... meltdown.

Menopause Meltdown!

Hormones flying, I became a rageaholic and knew it reached its peak while shopping in the supermarket. I had a long list of items to purchase and began in the produce isle.
(I have noticed it is worth comparing prices between the conventional and organic items.)

Believe it or not, sometimes the organic is cheaper or a few cents more. So item by item, I was going back and forth from one section of the produce department to the other, comparison shopping, when I noticed, many items were not stocked.

I asked the produce attendant to check in the back, first for broccoli, then for parsley, cilantro, and finally... when there was no kale for my green smoothies, I began to feel uh...frustrated.

This quickly turned into helplessness when I realized I spent 1/2 hour in the produce section with almost nothing to show for it in my cart. MELTDOWN. and so I began to cry. Over kale no less.

And I realized, 40 days in the desert is a profound action that has produced new perspectives.

Upon returning home, I can now see, I am seeing with new eyes. Things that are fast paced do not suit me as they did before. My internal speed is still...considerably slower than the average speed. This does not make for an Olympian gold in the true sense of the word but it has allowed me to do a little comparison shopping in the outer world.

I am preferring parks and playgrounds to malls and movies. I bask in the sun and look for excuses to be outside. I have not "put my thoughts together" on paper, until today.

Rather, I have enjoyed allowing the moments to blend and meld as thoughts swirl and whirl into a beautiful spin art of a life -- that is both enchanting and unpredictable.

Writing form Ann Arbor, Michigan, I was scheduled to be on a plane right now, returning from a scheduled trip to visit my mom.

She is out of breath. All the time. A diagnosis of emphysema and COPD in May has taken to her psyche like crazy glue to the skin. She is showing all the signs of authoritative projection incorporation. What the doctors say is gospel and she is the ultimate manifestation of the living word.

She is living their word -- so these past few days, my offer to her -- is to honor her voice within. I have advised and cajoled her to listen, with an open heart, to her inner wisdom and to deeply take stock of her inner awareness.

The results have been good as she has been proclaiming for the past two days, "Elizabeth, I am breathing well." And she is. I have changed my flight from today until Thursday and will escort her to the pulmonary specialist on Wednesday.

For Mom, I am an Olympian. When it comes to truly healing the heart -- the soul and the psyche, Mom's have a great impact on how far we can go.

My own personal Olympics is not what I expected... yet I am with full conviction that right here, right now ... I am going for the gold!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here, I Am!

Here, I am, flying. And I love flying! Something happens at 37,000 feet that awakens my senses and stimulates my spirit. I’ve always felt flying lifted me higher.

I have just taken off and in a few hours, I will arrive home for the first time in 40 days.

I gave my window seat to a young girl who was separated from her sister. You could see, she was visibly upset sitting in the middle of two strangers in row 20 while her sister sat in row 25.

I am now sitting next to a church youth director who has a quote from Isaiah 6:8 tattooed in Hebrew on both her wrists. It reads, "Here I Am, Send Me." “Send me where?” I ask her. “Send me anywhere God wants me to go,” she answers.

In this section of the Bible, Isaiah has just learned that with all his human infractions and all his limitations, he had been totally cleansed, forgiven and purified. His iniquity was removed. And out of this pure moment of being fully enlivened by God’s divine grace, he responded spontaneously and unconditionally to the call.

If Freud were sitting next to me, he may discount the synchronicity of this moment but Carl Jung, on the other hand, would be applauding the magnificence of the grand design, for we are all being called.

I essentially lived in my friend Doug’s studio for the past 3 days, recording then listening, at least a half dozen times, to every word written during my 40 day retreat. I relived the joy and sadness, the healing and the insights, the longing and the purification the desert delivered.

The awareness of presence has been etched into my consciousnesses yet each moment requires a recommitment to living in this presence, to listening for direction and responding from the heart of compassion.

The final exam came a few days ago when my beloved husband fell ill and I was asked to see with new eyes. I can now love without wanting and can allow life to be as it is.

I still want to control outcomes. I still see how I love to do things my way. This aspect of my personality is very present. I can witness it and get caught up by it. Yet now, it bows to evolution.

And so this journey has been a blessing, a gift and an experience that I cherish deeply. The audio book, Summer Solstice… 40 Days and 40 Nights, will remind me to be… to listen and to respond unequivocally by saying… Here, I AM!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You Don't Have To Figure It Out

I don't have to figure it out! It is more fun to be moved by life, by the wind, by beauty.

Listening to flute music in the background, a fountain in the foreground, my friend, Numerologist, Michael Brill, has welcomed me back into the world.

It has been a gentle re-entry -- caressed by the beautiful and enchanting New Mexico landscape.

Upon leaving Crestone, I had the opportunity to visit with John Milton, the father of the environmental movement. "It's too late," he said. "We have already screwed up the earth. Maybe Ronald Regan should not have removed the solar panels from the White House and undone all Carter's efforts to prepare for the travesties we are experiencing today. The forests and oceans are so compromised that the damage has been done. It is only a question of how much. Everyone must become aware and conscious of their relationship with Gaia. NOW!"

We walked together on sacred land, practiced some chi gong and appreciated the simplicity of nature at her best. John was preparing a small group to go on Sacred Passage and invited Michael and me to partake in the conversation. We truly learned about the life of the rock people, the stones and the water. It was a beautiful gift -- a morning with John Milton .

Leaving the ashram was very emotional and I cried for two days. I learned to surrender, to love, to be loved, to be reverent, to bow to sing to chant (japa) and to work - also known as karma yoga. The ashram offered a huge teaching about the divine lila -- and all the characters were wonderful teachers. I am forever a grateful student.

I met great international teachers including Loving Relationships Founder, Sondra Ray, Swamiji from Sai Maa's Ashram, John Milton, as mentioned above and Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi from the Sufi Order, with a heartfelt thank you for the beautiful green glass earrings.

I also had the opportunity to meet Roshi Joan Halifax at her Zen Center, Upaya, in Santa Fe. Our conversation was relevant to our fast paced society and she offered this bit of wisdom... STOP! Get off the activity treadmill -- STOP! Go Deeper. Cultivate compassion and kindness.

I will post our conversation on my website when I return home in August. In the interim, you can listen to great interviews in the archives with well-know teachers and authors including, Ed Begley, Jr, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, John Tesh, Joan Borysenko and lots more.

The ashram chants are still in my head. This is very good. Instead of noise, I hear God's song. But don't get me wrong, I can have noise and God's song playing at the same time. And I can see how they play simultaneously. Fortunately, the noise is quiet right now.

It's been an initiation -- this 40 day sojourn was not to provide me with answers or to show the way. No. It was an opportunity to see with new eyes. Here's how I know.

While in the woods with John Milton, the sacred grounds were highly charged. I even heard and sensed a being, not in form, walking through the forest ringing lovely bells. I thought maybe it was a bird, but upon questioning John, he confirmed, it was indeed a non physical being. Magical.. that's all I can say.

Anyway, after a bit of time, I took out my camera to shoot a few pictures an the LED screen was shattered. This, on my brand new Nikon, was rather upsetting. I was upset and yet, I surrendered. I went out and bought a throw-away for the rest of my journey.

Then I wondered, could I still take pictures. Even though I could only see 1/8 of the picture in the shattered screen, I could extrapolate and see beyond the screen. I did this and... it was a lesson in seeing anew.

Our conditioning is deep. Really deep. And then Roshi asks us to go deeper than our conditioning. That means to see through a new lens. This pilgrimage has been eye-opening and uplifting. It is exactly what happened while traveling from Crestone to New Mexico.

Michael and I stopped on the side of the road. I have affixed an ankle bracelet that has small bells on to my purse. A crow heard me walking and heard the bells. He was enamored and each time I gently rang the bells, he cocked his head and leaned toward the sound.

I walked closer and closer and as I was approaching, he seemed transfixed. Then the wind started to pick up and the bird was visibly being moved by the wind. Yet the bells were more enchanting and so he steadied himself on the table that was offering him support.

Finally, the wind moved him and he was forced to fly off. He waited on the ground because the bells were so enticing --- he didn't want to leave. How I viewed this experience was different from how he experienced it.

For me, I saw what happens. We get caught up, transfixed, mesmerized, obstinate, stubborn and unmoving until finally --- a giant wind moves us.

The lesson: Allow the wind to move you, even if you don't have a clear direction.

"Let yourself be moved by life," I heard Hanuman in the wind say. "You don't have to figure it out."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

She Called Me Out

She called me out with her eyes. Deep into me she could see. "What are you saying, Liz," the penetrating look asked. "Don't you want to tell the truth?"
I was frozen in the moment when a visitor to the ashram observed me rationalizing an action which became an outright lie. The crazy thing is... I believed what I said. Here's what happened.

A few days ago, I made a new raw food -- almond veggie burgers. The batter is like a pate and is dehydrated after it is shaped. The reality is I made a ton of batter. There was more than what was needed. I must have tripled the recipe.

I took the leftovers and offered it for a side dish for lunch. Everyone enjoyed it... but there was such an abundance -- there were leftovers.

The next day, someone asked what the pate was for. Oh, I said, I prepared it for lunch, to go with the salad. We didn't have enough side dishes.
This is when the ashram visitor, Jenya, called me out. She was witness the day the pate was prepared. She saw yellow and red tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, dulse and avocados -- all available for the choosing to accompany the salad. She knew there was more than enough food. But I didn't.

Here's where rationalization comes into play.
I felt terrible for making so much batter. I know the ashram counts every penny. They make and sometimes feed hundreds of meals a week. I couldn't accept my wastefulness so I made up a story to soften the discomfort.

I told myself and believed that the extra food was needed. If it hadn't been for Jenya calling me out, I would never have known how rationalization truly works.

Now I ask myself, "Can I turn rationalization into realization, and will this help keep me honest, with myself first and then... with others?"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Field of Dreams - Field of Life

Kevin Costner brought us The Field of Dreams. Envision it in mind... create it and it will be greater than what you can imagine.

Yesterday I went back to the Carmelites for Sunday Mass. The message this week was about the mystery of life. "Do not explain away the meaning of everything you see. Do not reduce your observations to pre-conceived ideas or beliefs. Let life be a mystery - plant your seeds in fertile ground."

Witness in wonderment the unfolding of your consciousness.

Rather than a Field of Dreams, Father Eric suggests we view our world as a Field of Life -- bringing the mystery of art and nature into creation. Let everything be as it is and allow it to speak to you rather than imposing your knowing upon it.
This is an important teaching for me.

Here are some other observations:

Mind Your Own Business:
It is not necessary to offer help -- especially if not asked.

Wounds Heal - With Love

People Can Appear Broken: Love Them Into Wholeness

Do Something You Are Resisting - Observe Your Growth

Count Your Blessings -- Everyday

Love the Earth... Please!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Rebel... Without A Cause

My middle finger, left hand, is infected. I cut it a few days ago prepping for lunch and didn't pay attention. Now, it's got my attention.

"What's it all about," I ask myself. "It must mean something," I surmise. And even though Freud said, "Sometimes a rose is just a rose," this middle finger is up to something.

What has happened in the ashram is very interesting.

Having left home at the ripe age of 13 -- you could say I was a rebel. And I've noticed, as many of you have too -- I like to do things my way. If you tell me to do something I don't like, I will either mumble something indecent under my breath, or I'll just plain give you the finger... the middle finger that is.

So what I have noticed is very interesting. The is no room for doing it my way in an ashram. It's their way --- or the highway. Full conformity. Up at 5:30 am. Fire ceremony at 6:30. Aarti at 7:00. Breakfast 8:00 - 9:00. Service, Seva -- Karma Yoga from 9:00 - 1:00. Lunch 1:00 - 2:00. Free time 2:00 - 4:00. Karma Yoga 4:00 - 6:00. Prep for evening Aarti 6:00 - 7:00. Aarti 7:00 - 8:00 and a light dinner and bed by 9ish.

It is now 10:00 PM Thursday evening. I am not rebelling in this case, just carving out some time for myself. It's your tomorrow and will be my tomorrow too when you read this and it just goes to show that sometimes, time doesn't really matter, although eras do.

So why the heck is my middle finger infected?

I'd say it's to show how deeply our wounds can infect our psyche and to bring the puss of yesterday to today -- or tomorrow. And I believe, it is time for our wounds to heal.

I may have mentioned the Taiwanese family that's visiting the ashram. This evening, the auntie of one of the young girls, pinched her very hard on her leg for not complying with the rules. The young girl was aghast and demanded of her mother that she communicate with the aunt and explain that this kind of behavior is no longer acceptable and even though the culture approves --- this young 9 year old is carving the way for a new reality --- healing the wounds of the past and forging a new tomorrow. Especially in a culture that is dominated by controlling the youth. I was moved to see this come to the fore and to partake in facilitating a multi-generational healing.

So even though it has taken me 1/2 hour to type this with one finger less -- I certainly feel full -- of hope and enthusiasm for a better tomorrow; free of the deep wounds that fester and stifle our full expression.

You may just say ... there was rebel among us -- and now -- she's without cause.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just The Way It Is... Again

I’ve pretty much gotten over trying to figure out why I am living in an ashram for 2 weeks – and am actually beginning to experience it --- just the way it is.

Life here is very busy. There are always things to do. I work a lot in the kitchen preparing the mid-day meal which usually serves a dozen or more people. Yesterday I made granola – it’s really easy and it was cooked in the solar oven. Life is constant – demanding and easy at the same time. Living off the grid and eating 80% raw is another story.

Today is day 19. I will be traveling for a total of 40 days – so it’s another almost half way point. I do find my thoughts periodically wondering what the purpose of this is and what I will do when I get home and then I hear myself say, “You’ll know when you know. It is--- just the way it is."

On Sunday, I attended the Carmelite Mass. The sermon was entitled Beautifully Broken. The Carmelites are great. They recognize our human struggles, foibles and the suffering that comes from shame, hurts, compromised self- image and an over active ego. They have a unique way of embracing it all. A wonderful poem by Mary Oliver was read and another by D.H Lawrence.

Imagine feeling perfectly worthy of being fully loved and knowing your imperfections do not impede the capacity to receive love. You know what this means, don’t you? It means… we can love ourselves our beautifully broken selves--- just the way we are.

Today is Tuesday and it is my day off. Each week we get an entire day off. I am borrowing a summer resident’s car and traveling to the closest large town, Alamosa. It’s about 50 miles away. I will go to the food co-op, the pharmacy, the supermarket and I will pick up some Vietnamese food for lunch. Then I will go to the hot mineral springs to soak for a few hours in the Lithium water… and I will be meeting the dentist I met in Boulder for dinner at 5:30. (Read about my Trans IN Dental Experience – Blog dated June 22)

I feel like I am reporting and sense a rather different tone to this blog than the many others I’ve written before. And that’s Ok because –

It is --- Just the way it is! Hey, you know what… this little saying really works. It allows everything to be as it is. Try this on for size today and let me know how it works for you. Would love comments and will post them too!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Living on An Ashram -- Yes I Can!

I am now living on an Ashram. How to go from complete silence and solitude to communal living, with constant activity, is beyond my comprehension. It has been an utter shock to my system and simultaneously, a dramatic test to anchor the wonderful practice of being present in the moment.

I have been helping in many ways, performing Karma Yoga, caring for the many guests that have arrived for the holiday weekend, cooking up a storm in the solar oven and learning the fine art of raw food preparation. I collect the lettuce from the garden for the salads and have learned to make a really good chai.

This morning I had a lesson in making chapati (Indian flat bread) and have been enjoying homemade Indian feasts. Everyday is bandara day at the ashram.

Yesterday was wonderful. I was the guardian for two young Taiwanese girls. Their mom had to drive 9 hours round trip to Denver to pick up her sister, who just arrived from Taiwan via San Francisco. The young girls, Lucia and Romona are 9 and 5 respectively. As a matter of fact, yesterday was Romona's birthday.

We began the day at a wonderful home town parade and enjoyed meeting the local children. Then we sauntered over to the horse stables, fed the goats and walked across the very cold creek, while throwing pebbles and taking pictures. It was a carefree day and reminded me of outings I had with my own children 15 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed day. It was fun.

Someone asked me today if I was having fun here at the ashram and I could not wrap my mind around the word fun. Why was yesterday's fun so far from my conscious recollection of fun?

Maybe it has to do with my old perception of life as being fraught with responsibility, preparation, maintenance, having to's and not able to's; living with worry, concern anticipation.
OK, OK, it's true, I'm still falling victim to the worry wart mentality.

The spiritual leader of the ashram, Ramloti is leaving on Tuesday for a week and I'm feeling concerned about how the ashram will function without her. As these thoughts are stirring in my mind, I overhear her on the phone reporting to a friend that she is confident to leave the ashram because I am here.

It is just then, that I realize, I am being counted on and all the old performance anxieties rise up. "Stop it Liz," I command myself. "Step into your confidence. Be all that you are! Rise up from your little befuttled self and feel the glory of your being. "

Wow, this feels good. Yes, yes, I am competent, confident, fully able to serve and perform all my duties as they arise. I know I can, I know I can... just like the little engine that could. I remember reminding my own children of their wonderful capacity to meet all of life's challenges ... or opportunities... as the case may be and to this, I say... YES I Can - Yes, I AM!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Something Happened - It Was Nothing

Something happened yesterday. I barely moved… didn’t read or listen to much of the CD's I checked out of the library. I didn’t write either. I just sat. I watched yet another storm roll in. The thunder clapped for a continuous ½ hour. I meditated, and meditated some more. I listened to the rain turn to hail pinging on the roof and watched the lightening forage through the darkness for the perfect place to transfer its powerful energy. Everything seemed to drop away for a few hours. No desires, no wants or longings. No fears.

Then, as if in synchronicity with the bolt of lightening, a lightening bolt went off inside. This is it. This is what I came here for. Not to read Bernie Glassman or listen to David Whyte or draw or paint or do yoga or stretch with my various colored bands of different tensions. No. None of that.
I experienced what called my soul here. No explanation is adequate or warranted, so I will not attempt to define it any more than I already have. Suffice to say, being, fully exists in not being anything... it exists in everything and it is really nothing at all. (Oh, I can see my Zen teacher now, hand to chin, and an almost audible, hum…)

So a few tears -- a moment of ananda – Sanskrit for bliss… an open heart and a long walk in the light drizzle that persisted for 2 more hours, and then, the unexpected walked across my path. The most elegant and gracious Buck I have ever seen. He paused. Looked me in the eye. Stood his own ground and allowed me the gift of a few pictures.
I realized that the unexpected is worth a thousand words and in the silence... it is even more welcome.
Today, I truly see with new eyes through a lighter heart.
24 Hour Review

Shifts in perception are also known as miracles.

Desert animals prepare for the storm of the day.

The unexpected can be quite refreshing.

Don’t try to be spiritual. Be present.

With eyes of wonder, even a faucet can turn you on.

Even with a heavy load, in nature, you can bear the weight.

Use less toilet paper. Pledge to make conservation your commitment.

No matter where you are, you’ll be somewhere else… now!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Half Way

As I write these words, I am half way through my solitary retreat. I have not been in complete silence. I considered it. It is not what has been called for. Each day, I've had the opportunity to share a few brief words with someone passing or with the nuns here at Nada. Yesterday, I paused for a few minutes in the garden to pick arugula and shared a few inspiring moments with Father Eric. It doesn’t make sense to follow someone else’s rules in life. I have found, through this silence and inner direction, that each soul knows what is in its highest good.

Yesterday I went to Mass for the first time and to a communal breakfast after mass. I said I wouldn’t talk too much. Naaah.. Not my reality.

I met a friend who was at the recent ISSSEEM conference and we shared a few moments together. I ran into another beautiful soul who stopped by to bring me green smoothie from the ashram. And then, breakfast. The conversation turned to work, radio interviews and those who’ve inspired me. I was inclined, from within, to converse and to share. We were 6 at the table. It was a lovely breakfast and we each came away having been enriched. I am so grateful that I was able to share. There is great joy in giving and receiving.

I am now back in solitude and will be for 3 full days. Maybe another beautiful Buck will cross my path and I’ll rejoice out loud with an,” Oh my goodness,” or maybe I will offer to assist someone carrying food back to their hermitage. I am open to the possibilities as they unfold.

I will bear witness to each situation and be free to enter into exchange -- or not -- however the moment moves this being ... to be.

What I have learned in the past 24 hours:

Refrigerators can be very loud in the silence.

Letter writing is cathartic for the soul.

We can be asleep when awake – and awake when asleep.

Fresh picked chamomile smells like buttery honey.

Mothers’ bring magic to the family system.

Big powerful desert storms -- resolve with a rainbow.

Getting sand in your socks means you’ve walked a new path.

Listen to your heart before setting out on any new journey.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Going and Growing

This is it. I’m heading into the mountains and will not be out for a month. I will have no cell service and limited online access. I will be keeping an accounting of my observations. I will share those with you at the appropriate time.

I’d like to offer a summary of the four days I experienced at ISSSEEM, The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energy and Energy Medicine.

I learned about a field called Energy Psychology. Learn more at ACEP. The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology. They are about 10 years old, in their pre-pubescent stage, seeking to integrate into the adult world of standards and measurements. Like any new organization, they have been met with resistance, judgment and limitations; some imposed from within and others from without.

This seems to reflect the process of emergence for us, as individuals, and for our world today as we birth a new consciousness. What I learned from this experience is what many of us are experiencing.

It is more important that we unify within before we attempt to define and present ourselves to others. This requires many visits to the internal caverns – many encounters with the fire in the belly -- and a deep inner resolve as the shedding of tightly bound skin, exposes the most vulnerable and raw aspects of the inner self.

I met with Lindsay Wagner, the Bionic Woman from 70’s fame. She has found a beautiful inner balance and resides in a loving, open and inviting space. She warmly opened her heart to me as we sat on her hotel room bed and connected deeply for 3 hours. She offered me the oneness blessing which is also known as deeksha.

The entire session was videotaped and audio recorded and you will be privy to that in the future. Suffice to say, love brings up the opposite of itself and I met aspects of myself that were less than love. Having so much positive energy circling my auric field, the two mingled and I find myself today, embracing, in a deeper way than I have ever known, the whole of who I AM.

May this blog be an invitation for you to loose yourself into the beauty that abounds: Rest your attention upon nature for a moment in the next week and know our oneness --- our connection – first within ourselves and then --- with each other.

Love from my heart to yours! Liz

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What We Fear

About 10 days before leaving on retreat, I developed sensitivity in a lower right bicuspid. I watched it for a few days, but it got worse so I made an appointment to go to the dentist, just four days before leaving town.

I knew I was getting more stressed about leaving and I knew I had started grinding my teeth in my sleep, but the sensitivity was to heat and I was concerned about the health of the tooth.

I’ve always had dental issues. As a child, I once had a severe earache for days that progressively overtook my consciousness to the point where I was unable to function – the result of an infected tooth. So teeth – dentists and pain – don’t enliven me.

And one of my greatest fears is getting caught somewhere without a dentist. You can imagine – in my mind, I created the entire scenario – I am in Crestone – alone on retreat and I need a dentist – of which – in my imagination – there are none available. And this scenario ran through my mind a couple of hundred times during my last week of preparation.

My visit to the dentist proved fruitful. A quick analysis produced the diagnosis of Stressed to the max – grinding of teeth and a high bicuspid that had shifted my bite. A couple of grinds and viola´ – it was done!

Fast forward to yesterday – I am at the ISSSEEM conference and I run into a friend from Boca. He is sitting with a couple on the patio along Boulder Creek enjoying a light evening meal. “Oh” my friend says, “I just was talking about your trip t Crestone for retreat. I’d like to introduce you to John, he is from Crestone.” John and I exchange hellos – and just as he was preparing to leave he offered me his card. “Call on me when you are in Crestone for anything you need,” he says. “I live within minutes from where you will be.”

I glance at his card and note: John Short, DDS. I met, the only dentist who lives and works in Crestone. Law of Attraction…?

And speaking of fear…

Fear rises up. It is the flame of the fire.
A cool steady breath tames this fire.

Trust comes from the deepest source
that transcends time, thought and action.

Faith resides within one’s own being,
within you -- within me.

Digging is no longer a requirement to find the way.
Only the gentle loving moving away of the debris,
that covers truth.

Truth – is as solid as stone, unmoving, sharp-edged
and rounded at the same time.

Like the whispering pines,
it moves with the wind and yet,
is always rooted in the soil that is fertilized with
the suns warm rays, with the light of love.

It’s an ordered world.
Actions are expressions of truth,
that shows its maturation.

Dig deep into being observant,
into acute awareness and then,
Chuckle—because it is all a mysterious puzzle
that has ten thousand outcomes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Larry Dossey broke his back two years ago when he was thrown from a horse. He and I had a riveting conversation yesterday.

Within 24 hours of the accident, all his friends offered the reasons why. They used Louise Hay - Intentions - Law of Attraction,Deepak Chopra and every other model conceivable to offer a clear, neat explanation of what he needed to learn.

"You know Liz," he drawled in his still present Texas accent -- mingled with a mature confidence, "Everyone wants to tie things up in neat packages so they can move on to the next conquest. Figuring out the cause of an illness, accident, or other unexpected event, gives an unnatural sense of power and control. "

"Randomness is still active in our universe. The truth is -- waiting , patience, allowing the experience to unfold will offer much more insight than a quick wrap up. Don't try to get it so fast -- let it show itself to you."

I was not surprised when Larry told me that his very good friend and neighbor is Roshi Joan Halifax, they both live in Santa Fe. I could hear the Zen influence. Roshi fell in her bathroom and broke her hip. She is in the hospital right now. Given that Larry is the author of Prayer is Good Medicine, maybe you can take a moment and send healing words to Roshi.

And speaking of sending things.-- Emma Wheeler Wilcox said, "Thought are things endowed with wings." Larry and I spoke about this at length. " Every thought registers. And everyone is influencing everyone else. He no longer allows himself to indulge excessively negative thoughts about our government -- or the war, rather, he realizes, there is a great unfolding."

May the highest good prevail is his new mantra. Watch those negative thoughts. They have as much power as the positive. And we are living as testimony to a collective unconscious. Everyone and everything -- in the non-local sense -- is influencing everything else.

Become aware... become accountable ... become responsible....NOW!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Right Action - Right Speech

Just before I left town, I went for a pedicure. My manicurist, a Buddhist, offered his advise for how to best use the 40 days in the desert.

Right Action -- Right Speech is one of the path factors of The Noble Eightfold Path in Buddhism.

" We have all done things we know are wrong," he offered while meticulously removing my purple nail polish. "Use this time to purify yourself. Begin anew. Let the heat of the desert bake off any residual aspects of your personality that do not reflect who you are today. "

This is a good thing, I thought. Yes, I will cleanse myself and become more conscious of my thoughts and actions. Right Action -- Right Speech. A worthy and noble goal for the retreat.

Here's how I learned my first retreat lesson:

The airlines are now very strict with baggage weight limits. I was allotted 50 pounds. I weighed my bag at home and it was 53 pounds so I took a few pair of shoes out of my suitcase and put them in my backpack.

After checking in, my suitcase just under 50 pounds, the porter walked away to get my boarding pass. I quickly took my shoes out of my backpack and stuffed them into the suitcase. What he doesn't know won't hurt him, I sung to myself as I was Pullling the Wool Over His Eyes. Yeah, Yeah Yeah...

Guess what, I got caught. And thank goodness I did. In my mind I juxtaposed the conversation I had with with my nail technician with my actions at the airport. This long term behavior has been with me since childhood.

Seeking to right wrongs, exact fairness in situations where I felt misunderstood and in general, allowing entitlement to direct my course of action, will no longer work for me.

The events in the airport were so glaring, it burned through maya. Although these beliefs have been an integral part of my life for four centuries, yesterday served as my very own tipping point.

A brief conversation with my friend Doug, as he picked me up from the airport, was sobering indeed. " I will no longer take a pen that doesn't belong to me," he said. "I know it is not mine." Trying to get away with something leaves you knowing, even if the other person doesn't know. This is who you must become accountable to, Liz. Yourself."

Now... I know, even if no one knows, I do. I give thanks for Lesson #1 --
Right Action - Right Speech.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Solstice

On the spring Exquinox, while traveling with a friend in Colorado, inspiration found its way into words that emanated from my mouth in the form of a short sentence. "Take a 40 day retreat," I heard, first in my head, and then in a statement that was overheard by my friend. Go to back to the desert, I queried, my head cocking to one side like a puppy who's heard an unfamiliar noise. How could this be?

Somewhat alarmed by my own reaction to hearing these words project from my vocal chords, my traveling companion Doug Fisichella, son of my late teacher Tony Fisichella, laughed. " Oh Liz, you are so dramatic. 40 days and 40 nights.... why don't you sit with it for a while and see what happens" And so I did.

Doug and I were leaving Crestone Colorado where I had just completed a three day whirlwind interview marathon with ten spiritual leaders from various walks of life including Shintoism, Hinduism, Native American traditions and an exceptional visit to a Carmelite Monastery. I was truly taken with the Carmelites. Susie and Connie at Nada Hermitage got under my skin with their beautiful , peaceful, centered honest hearts. I was moved by the sense of depth the nuns exuded. My soul knew what I needed to do. And after a few short weeks, where mountains were moved in my life to make this possibility a reality, I e-mailed Nada and requested a week-long stay from June 26 - July 2, 2008. The dates were available and clearly, I was on my way to the 40 day.

Goethe once said, "...the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

Needless to say, many events transpired that opened the avenues of possibility. My business of 12 years folded, an invitation to interview leaders in the field of Energy Medicine in Boulder was presented and all this came at a time when the words Summer Solstice was reverberating in my head.

So I am off to an adventure and onto the plane in just a few hours. The journey begins at the ISSSEEM Conference from Friday, June 20th -- Summer Solstice until Monday, June, 23.

Doug will travel with me to Crestone on Tuesday, about 4 hours from Denver, and I will be at the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram until the 26th when I enter into silent retreat for a week. This kid hasn't been silent for one full day since I was a fetus. Heck, I was probably yakking it up in the womb. So this will surely be a feat --- or better yet --- a feast!

I will return for three weeks to the ashram, after the silent retreat, culminating on the holy day of Guru Purnima, the day you honor your Guru. Not having any one guru, I have been advised to honor the guru within.

My good friend and numerologist, Michael Brill will collect me in Crestone on the 20th of July and we will travel to his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am planning to interview Roshi Joan Halifax at Upaya Zen Center during the few days I am visiting.

A rental car will bring me back to Denver and Doug, who by the way is a great musician, will bring me into the recording studio. Somethings coming --- certainly an audio book --- the title --- Summer Solstice.

I fly home on July 29th. It all seemed to happen, through Providence .

Saturday, February 23, 2008

No Tivo Radio

While driving on the local Interstate, listening to a great NPR piece by Judy Martin on Flex Time at Work, I became distracted by a billboard. That's nothing new. My thoughts travel faster than a speeding bullet. The Buddhists would say I suffer from "monkey mind" -- my rabbi would say I have an evil inclination that lurks in the mind of the lower soul known as the Nefesh. A wandering mind doesn't make me a bad person... it makes me human.

So along with this being human,come desires. And along with desires, come materialism and all the wonderful advances that technology affords us.

Toying with the idea of getting a Blackberry, a part of me screams... "No, don't get so connected." But isn't that exactly what we are seeing -- to be connected to the source -- to reclaim our divine nature -- our essential identity -- and some peace of mind.

The Course in Miracles tells us that we have never really separated from God or our Divine Source. We are always and already connected. We suffer from the illusion of being separated due to our egos and our individualized identities. Well, knowing it doesn't make this being human any easier.

I love Bob Dylan's line "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." Seems the more I know, the more I know -- I don’t really know anything at all. Except-- when I was traveling along the local Interstate the other day and I was distracted by a billboard while listening to a great piece on NPR, I thought, no problem, I'll just rewind.

That's what I do when I TiVo American Idol, I rewind the great songs and fast forward the others. So here I was, readily conditioned in rewind mode, I reached for the radio dial and to my dismay... I realized... I don't have TiVo radio. Do you? Oh well, I always have my mind to keep me occupied...or I can listen to me on Be You Radio. And so can you.. on demand 24/7. You too can fill your mind --- only this time, it's with inspiring interviews with yours truly, Liz Sterling. Check it out!