Open Windows

Dorothy and the Wizard

yellow brick roadLast night I was watching a special program about Judy Garland on public television. Judy’s role as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, which has become the myth of our time, was the introduction to the program.

Whether Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz or Dorothy Seeger, or some other Dorothy, it doesn’t matter. The story of “Dorothy” has become embedded in America’s collective unconscious as a tale of loss, search, and empowerment.

So I will tell you my Dorothy story. Some of you will find that it is very similar to your own. That is why I am telling it. Read More…

There’s No Place Like Home

Last month we suggested that, instead of Occupying Wall Street or Hong Kong, we focus on occupying ourselves. What does “Occupy Yourself” mean? It means to live inside your own body, to live in your heart. To connect with others from the heart, and to listen to what your own Internal Guidance System is saying.

Ten years ago, I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I had moved from California to study Ayurveda. I thought it wouldn’t matter where I was living as long as I was learning something new.

It mattered.

rainbowCalifornia was my Home. From my Midwestern childhood I had dreamed of California. It was like the Emerald City in “The Wizard of Oz”. California was Over the Rainbow for me. When I was given a scholarship to go there to college, it was the fulfillment of a dream. Read More…

Occupy Yourself

We have had “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy Washington”, but we have never had “Occupy Yourself.” Instead, we are the ones who are occupied – by worries about money, relationships, children, work, and by the News. These worries are the terrorists who hold us hostage.

Occupy your heartWhat ransom can we pay to free ourselves? Read More…

Seize the Bubbles!

Where are your bubbles?

seize the bubblesAs we go about our daily life, there are bubbles all around us, but do we see them? Do we experience their bubbleness? Or are we too rushed, too busy thinking, too occupied with our worries, our responsibilities, our have-nots to notice them?

Fleeting moments cross our path – a black crow waddles across the road, a purple rose in a neighbor’s front yard says, “Smell me,” a cat meditates quietly on a front step, his feet curled under him, so calm, so contented. They are all bubbles floating around us. Read More…

Take Off the Blinders!

“It is so dark here.” -It was my 16 year old son speaking to me…
We were standing in front of our modest 4-bedroom home in Manhattan Beach in sunny Southern California. Across the street the oleanders lining the old railway embankment were in full bloom, a brilliant hedge of bright pink and white extending all the way to downtown. The air was cool and mild, and a gentle breeze from the ocean, only six blocks away, brought the scent of salt air and roses. We were surrounded by blue sky… We were standing in paradise!

blinders“Look around you,” I said, but he could not see the Beauty all around him. He was like a horse wearing blinders who could only see what was directly in front of his nose.

We “see” with more than our eyes. We see with our feelings. We see, hear, taste, touch and smell with so much more than our physical organs of perception. Read More…

How to Uncover Emotional Charges from the Past

When you open a window to your heart, you may be surprised at what you see inside.

KyudoA few days ago I was participating in a Kyudo (Japanese archery) seminar. In Kyudo the idea is not so much to hit the outer target, as it is to realize the inner target, the Soul. At dinner time I was sitting with my teacher, a wise and humble student of Zen Buddhism, and three other students, all of whom were former Catholics. After so much intense practice of Kyudo, we were all in a space where we could share our feelings with trust.

The conversation turned to why they had left the Church. For all three of the students, birth control had been an issue. I had also been a Catholic during my child-bearing years, but I had never told anyone why I left the Catholic Church.

Read More…

More on the Light Switch

Yesterday I was driving down Solano Avenue, a two-lane boulevard, the Main Street of Albany, California. Lined with prosperous specialty shops and restaurants of every description, it stretches in a straight line from the hills at the top to the ocean at the end. I was with two friends, fellow students of Kyudo, Japanese archery, on our way to have breakfast before class.

Cherry treesWe had squeezed the car into a parking spot, and were walking toward our charming, French-style restaurant to have crepes for breakfast. The street was lined on both sides with cherry trees in full bloom. The deep pink color as far down the road as we could see, carried me into another realm. The town of Albany had invested in more than exotic food and shops. It had invested in something more important, as if to say, “The shops are nice, but here is the important thing– beauty.”

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Turn on Your Light Switch!

When I was little, my mother once asked me to bring a jar of tomatoes from the storage cellar. I started down the steep stairway, but as I descended, the door at the top of the stairs closed behind me with a bang. The storage room was totally dark and I didn’t know how to find the light switch. I started breathing fast because, in those days, I was convinced that bears lurked in every closet. I even believed that bears hid behind the trees in the vacant lot next to our house and I ran very fast when I had to go past so they couldn’t grab me.

BearI was very frightened as I began groping around the walls, trying to find the light switch before a bear got me. At last I found it, high up on the wall. I stretched as high as I could and flipped the switch.

Instantly, the dark, windowless room was illuminated, every corner visible. The bears must have gone out for lunch, because there weren’t any. Read More…

Mastiff Magic: What I Learned from a Giant Puppy

One day, after my second divorce, when I was living in Manhattan Beach, CA and working as a social worker, I came home to find an enormous puppy sitting on my front step. It was a light brown baby mastiff. I will never forget that huge head on that roly-poly baby body. He greeted me with innocent puppy joy, wagging his entire body.

Mastiff MagicI knew that this puppy belonged to my neighbor next door, Bob, a single man, because I had seen him walking his dog past my house many times. But after divorcing a second time, I had closed the window on men forever. Would I knock on Bob’s door and tell him I had his beloved pet? No way. I waited for him to knock on my door looking for his dog. Read More…

Are You Running on Overwhelm?

“Overwhelm” is that state of confusion in which the mind tries to run in all directions at once, spurred on by the feeling that there are too many things to do and no time in which to complete anything. Like a flurry of hydrogen balloons, myriads of thoughts are floating in the air above and around you and those thoughts and ideas do not want to come down. Your energy is “blowin’ in the wind” along with all those balloons and you don’t feel you can focus on any one particular task.

BalloonsBut overwhelm itself is not the problem. It is a symptom of a problem. “If overwhelm is not the problem, then what is?” you may ask. “And how do I call in all the balloons and focus my energy to do any one thing?” Read More…