Why Pretending to Be a Plesiosaur Might Be the Most Important Thing you Do Today

Close your eyes really tight and see if you can feel the world moving beneath your feet.

One says: Well, now that you mention it, yeah.

Now close your eyes and see if you can feel your body growing.

Ten say: Well, now that you mention it, yeah.

This is how I attempt to relate gravitational axial spin and geologic time to kids.  Funny thing is, they get it.  I think, more than anything, because they allow themselves the open space to feel it, or at least to believe that it is possible they can feel it.  And to knowingly embody the physical law of gravity is a seemingly difficult task.  It’s about as easy as feeling your own bones grow.  And these kids get that too.

Comprehending change in space and time takes unyielding imagination.  We are always experiencing shifts.  Strange how as we get older we seem to feel our bones grow less and less. Instead, we replace those vital understandings with not-enoughs and too-muches.  We rarely just stop and remember that the planet is revolving underneath our feet or that plesiosaurs once roamed our seas.   More devastating, we stop wondering if we can even truly imagine at all.

Do you remember being able to play inside spaces of your mind that allowed you the ability to really connect into these kinds of moments?  You know, like feeling yourself on a rock in space rotating around a ball of fire.  Let’s give it a try.

Imagine, 90 million years ago you were under water.  You weren’t you of course.  You were anything else you wanted to be.  I’ll suggest being a plesiousaur because this is my personal favorite, but an ichthyosaur or ammonite will work just as well.  You are simply imagining another reality.  A reality that may or may not have ever actually existed but that’s not the important thing. The ability to imagine it is what really counts.

Igniting our bodies and minds and hearts inside the stretching space of imagination truly is a vital part of ourselves, helping us dream up and then live out our most profound passions that only surface when we allow them without judgement.  And when you stop and think about it, a thin line separates imagining you are a plesiosaur swimming in ancient oceans or imagining you are becoming the person you want to become. It’s all about flexing those conjuring muscles of play and possibility.

We, and the world around us, are always becoming.

We, and the world around us, are always manifesting what we can dream, imagine, and pretend.

Kids get it.  Seriously.  Ask a five-year-old anything.  Or better yet, just listen to what he or she has to say.  Is it really more discombobulated than talking about tax season, mortgage, world politics, the economy, or credit card debt?  I personally prefer the imagination push-up of thinking of what it would be like to see an ancient sea creature swim past me in this very moment.

Kids play and imagine because no one has told them they shouldn’t stretch their minds and hearts to be as far as they can dream.  The beauty is, this awe-inspiring ability of the human mind never has to fade if we don’t let it leave.  Instead we can play with it every day in whatever way we want. And once you get on the journey of imagining the impossible, becoming a momentary plesiosaur is only the beginning.

So start today, right this minute.  Imagine that exactly where you are that 200 million years ago something with big, shiny teeth was swimming by or eating out of a 100-foot-tree or sinking into a swamp.  Imagine that this very space where you are right this moment will transform into something else in another 200 million years, something only the imagination can produce that may someday be real.

Imagine, imagine, imagine.

Stopping to imagine that the world is literally moving under your feet, is one of the best things you can do today. To gift yourself a glimpse into your own temporality.  To gift yourself your own wild imagination.  To gift yourself a moment to feel your own bones growing. To gift yourself the space to imagine the sky’s-the-limit you that can become exactly who you imagine yourself to be.

What kind of ancient creature would you have been 90 million years ago?  What kind of person will you be tomorrow?

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Walking the SheWolf

Her name is Zoe, and she doesn’t trust. 

She has a crooked smile.  You can’t tell until she bares her teeth, what is left of them.  I was told she lived with a street man who kicked her so hard one day it shattered her jaw and never healed.

Her name is Zoe, and she has lived a life I did not know existed.

Her bottom teeth are missing, filed off.  The best guess is, when she was young they sawed off her teeth and chained her to something and allowed fighting dogs to up their courage by repeatedly attacking another who could not fight back.  She had no teeth.  She is lucky to have lived.

Her name is Zoe, and she is afraid.

She is half wolf and half Malamute…a beauty of ancient times.  Her 90 pounds looks like it can take care of itself.  She’ll sit for a bone, but she’s not sure, even if you talk real sweet and give her treats and dinner and take her for walks.  She has 5 years of living what is horrid to most and unimaginable.  It is unimaginable.

Her name is Zoe, and when she is happy her tongue flops to the side.

She has had many years of pain and many years of happiness.  She loves you when she knows you and just wants to be scratched behind her ears.  She has walked through a life of liminality, thrusted to the threshold by no choice of her own.  Remaining when she was tied, running when she was free.  She is the creature who hunts and is hunted.  She is always walking inbetween.

Her name is Zoe, and she reminds me that even the toughest, most beautiful can have ugly terrifying pasts. 

She’ll pull you down the path, stopping to sniff and looking back to make sure you too know it’s a good smelling spot.  When strangers come close, her body tenses.  I hold the leash tighter because I don’t know what she’ll do if a strange man tries to touch her.  Many hands have hit her with intention to break her body, tied her with intention to break her spirit.  They forgot that she is a being completely on her own.  Or maybe they knew and needed something more helpless to make themelves feel strong.  If her paws allowed, her stories would be read by many, her journeys traveled by those who are also walking a path between forgetting and remembering.

Her name is Zoe, and she has healed (mostly).

You never know what is left over in the places of the heart.  Sometimes you can follow its lineage up into the eyes.  Sometimes she looks right at you.  Sometimes she looks away.

Her name is Zoe, and she takes full joy in little things.

Sniffing a tree, doing tricks for a treat, being so happy to be rubbed under her belly.  She has not forgotten.  Memories of scars don’t fade completely.  But she crookedly smiles and her eyes relax when she sniffs the scent in the wind.

Have you walked your SheWolf lately?

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Is There an Art to Letting Go?

I walked through a hospital today listening to Kid Cudi on repeat on my headphones.  I saw people looking down at the ground.  I saw people walking quickly.  I saw a teenage girl yelling and crying into a phone while running with five others following behind.  I saw an elderly woman with a walker smile at me.

It wasn’t until I looked in a bathroom mirror that I saw the black mascara streaks smudged deeply into my face.  No one seemed to notice.

I thought she was doing better.  I wasn’t even going to come straight to the hospital when I got the call, but they said she was ready to go.  She has been battling breast cancer for years now that spread into her bones.  She has two young girls in high school.  She is so young.  This is bullsh*&, and I am angry.

And she is letting go.

Unrelated, I recently have been scarfing up every single article on letting go, whatever that means. I mean, seriously, what does it mean? Can someone tell me?  It seems to be that no matter what I come across, I just don’t seem to get it.  And I am trying really hard.

Everyone has a quote, or 10 ways to do it, or some personal I-now-see-the-light-that-was-in-myself-the-whole-time story.  I am not so convinced that letting go is something attainable in 10 steps or through bubble baths reading Pema Chodron.  Instead I see inspiration in trapeze artistry-part courage, part good timing, and part it just works out.  Or it doesn’t, and you fall.  And my guess is those guys fall a lot more than they catch.

Maybe letting go is simply realizing that your brain shuts down for a nanosecond, and when you look down, you see that whatever was in your hands in just not there anymore.  Or maybe it’s that slit beginning of slowly starting to focus after an episode of holding on with all your might, eyes closed, teeth clenched, silently repeating just let go just let go just let go.

Or just maybe it’s like repelling, making so little rational sense to slowly back down off the side of a rock backwards with nothing but a rope that I think is tied tightly. Key words here are I think. This experience has been so excruciating at times I actually cry.  I keep telling myself just let go just let go just let go  but each time I never seem to get closer to embracing it.  I’m not even sure I have ever fully been in awareness at the moment of true release.  I just know when I’m on the other side.

Yes there are steps. Yes there are books. Yes there are experiences.

But actually letting go?

It is that complete in-between space in between tightening a life grip and completely releasing.
Maybe there is no art to it.  Maybe there just is an is.  Maybe you’ll never completely know how you did it.  Maybe you’ll just know when it’s gone.

So here I am, for months, attempting to let go of holding all of the pieces of my heart smashed into shards by betrayal and unkindness and deceit.  And yet today I am walking through a hospital with my friend in one room of many.  She is so strong.  She is so knowing.  And she is just letting go.

Because I guess one day you just do.

Do you know how to let go?

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LifeSpace Destuffing: Get Rid of What You Don’t Want to Find Out What You Do

I recently met someone who has been a complete throwback to my travel days.  Random adventuring followed by taller tales, sleeping wherever there’s an open space, and most of your worldly possessions fitting into a few cubic feet.  Anyone who has ever rocked the fancy-free lifestyle knows that the less you have, the less you have to lose…literally and figuratively.

My current home consists of three years of consolidated collecting, especially in an attempt to create “home.”  I sometimes miss the days of this is the best of my three holey shirts.  And as I soon will be transitioning LifeSpaces again, I feel compelled to investigate what I don’t want to find out what I do.

So where to begin when destuffing your life?  You can move through the material and the emotional simultaneously, and anyone who has ever had to move, starting with packing up all of the big, fun things with precious wrapping and care and then moving down to angrily showing all the little leftover frustrations in a box to go with or be left in the free pile can relate.

Declutter the stuff stuff

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo challenges destuffers to touch every single owned object in attempt to examine what things inspire joy.  According to Kondo, all those random vacation T-shirts, chipped plates, too-many hand creams, half-finished art projects, old posters, and shoes clothes that haven’t seen the light of day for years can potentially zap your energy.  By holding them and deciding if they bring joy to your LifeSpace, you can decide what truly resonates.

You also give yourself permission to release those things you should hang onto, like the random trinkets gifted that you never truly liked, notes saved from high school, or that way-too-expensive dress that you have never actually worn. You can realize they did all bring you joy at some point and thank them but then send them on their way to make someone else’s space a better place.

Declutter the other stuff

As we move through our lives, we collect material and emotional totems.  A remembered first kiss moment, the last time we held our friend’s hand, the first time our new cats came out from under the bed to look around their new home.  These moments create our inner LifeSpaces.  We also hold onto other things, like the anger for someone we trusted who lied, the friend who ended up not being such a good friend after all, and of course, worst of all, all of the terrible thoughts and ideas against our own selves.

Revisiting these moments inspire us to clean out our emotional mementos.  These are the times of intense housecleaning where we can have a safe space to try on each individual memory.

External and internal cleaning lets us take stock of what we have in our lives and if that truly syncs up with the person we are now and the person we are becoming.  Our homes are what reflects us both inside and out.  Getting rid of what no longer serves you, both materially and emotionally, allows us to decide what it is we truly want to manifest in our lives.  Make your space vibrate at your best level of self and see where you go from there.

Hold five items in your home and see how they resonate.  Please share.

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What happens when you go looking for nothing? You might see a red fox in downtown San Francisco.

Intentionally losing yourself feels exhilarating, terrifying, and gratifying all at once.  It feels like jumping onto a metro train not knowing where it will take you and hopping off at a random stop because the houses look pretty.  Or like the feeling of wandering through a park for hours every day in an attempt to know all of its lines and zig zags and trees, knowing you haven’t even seen a sliver.  Or like the feeling of slinging a backpack on and way-warding through foreign lands, mountains, deserts, or wherever your feet are being called toward.

Getting lost gifts you new insights.  Stories like Siddhartha and The Alchemist teach us that you must lose yourself to find your way home.  A time period of wandering movement becomes a necessary part to understanding our depths, in part because it is while we are lost that we are open to looking at things that we wouldn’t normally see.

I recently ventured to get lost for hours everyday in Golden Gate Park  for about a week. One evening, my randomized footsteps led me to a calm, giant pond, surrounded by a path and trees. It was dusk and completely isolated (and eerie knowing I was actually located in the middle of San Francisco). Out of the corner of my eye I saw a brownish-red colored object about 70 feet away from me.  Haha, I thought, it must be a red fox!

Here is the part where I should mention that I had just seen the movie Wild based on the book by Cheryl Strayed about a woman who hikes much of the Pacific Crest Trail alone and was intrigued with her companion hallucination of a red fox. So it only made sense that I too would see a red fox, meeting my spirit animal alone at dusk in the middle of over 800,000 inhabitants.

And then I thought, get real, its just a tree stump.

I started walking the other way when my mind shifted again, thinking if it is a tree stump, why don’t I just make sure.  As I started to move closer, the would-be tree stump got up and bounded away with its bushy tail bobbing behind it.

I couldn’t believe it.  It was a red fox.

Sometimes in the midst of normal life we only look for what we want to see or what we think we should be seeing.  Getting lost allows us to wander through our own liminal realms where we receive gifts of knowing that this world is full of fortuitous moments to snap us out of “normal life.” When we open our wandering path and change our vision to look for something ridiculous/silly/meeting-our-spirit-animal-in-downtown-SF, we may come into contact with these in-between spaces where time freezes and we know the world becomes the most unforeseen/beautiful/synchronistic way we can imagine it.

Later that night a Google search showed me that indeed red foxes were being spotted again in the park, although this observance was incredibly rare.  A chance opportunity had graced me, but only because my mind allowed me to walk that in-between space, that place where you might just catch a glimpse of the illusive red fox in Golden Gate Park.

When’s the last time you purposefully got lost?  Share below.

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7 ways to Stay In-tension

I sat with my heart last night.  I sat with it in-tension.

In that space in between the in-between spaces of your body.  That space you wish someone would just do an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom number on you because at least someone ripping your heart out through your chest would mean it would be gone.  Instead the tension feels more like how I once saw someone kill an octopus they had just fished out of the sea by sticking their hand in the middle and pulling it inside out.

I’m talking that kind of tension.

My friend said stay with it.  Be in tension.

Yeah, ok, super easier said than done.  But I can’t play hide-and-seek with that pulsating astriction any longer.  So in that space, between excruciating pain for feeling and complete gratitude for feeling, I sat with my heart in tension intending: I will learn from this.  I will not forever be turned into an inside out octopus.

Instead, I will treat my tension like a wise weary traveler, who I know has epic tales and the need for a hot shower and good meal.  And so, when you see him, looking at you strangely out of the corner of your eye, stay in-tension.

  1. When the tension makes eye contact, don’t look away. Sink your eyes into it and get a good grasp on the idea that yes, it is here.  Know that it’s not going anywhere even if you roll your eyes and give it the ol’ see-you-later wave.  It’s still there, two steps below, just teeming in the dermis, waiting for you to acknowledge its existence.
  1. Don’t shoot the messenger. Sit with it because it is you.  Feeling pain is, well, painful.  But sometimes pruning your fingers in tension is what is needed.  Your tension is not inherently bad…it simply is. This scout is here to tell you that something is in (dis)ease so listen to its call.  A punch to the gut fairs better than a 2 x 4 to the face.
  1. Just breathe. You know why everyone says this too shall pass when they don’t know what else to say?  Because sometimes that’s all there is.  Your breath and your pain.  You can drink it out, party it out, flirt it out, sex it out, work it out, drug it out, and all the other outs you want to submerge yourself in but when you wake up, glaze-eyed, messy-haired, smacking around that scuzzy tongue, you’ll role over to see tension waiting for you right where you tried to ditch it.
  1. Stay with it for a while. Instead of giving creepy old tension a disgusted look and pretending it’s not there, invite it for a sit down, buy it a drink, and ask it to tell you its wildest dreams.  Sometimes all it wants is to tell its story. Comment on its new crazy hairdo, ask it about the weather, whatever.  Just get the conversation going.  Like a little kid who finally breaks the silent game, your tension has a lot to say.  And can you blame it, holding back all those wonderful gossipy tales? Pain helps us grow.  Not in a way that is pretty or ugly, but more like pure, expansive matter.
  1. Ask to see its map and tell you a good traveler story. Tension is an epic way warder, moving through your emotional and physical landscapes.  If you ask, it will show you its atlas.  It’ll trace its journey through your body, telling you of worlds unseen yet known.
  1. Ask it how its compass can guide you. Where can it lead you?    In-tension is not frilly or promised.  It is instead holding that space, knowing that the darkest times are when our hearts stretch the most so we can hear our true north. In-tension is where there is nowhere else to go, where we accept where we are because we no longer look at  denial cross-eyed.  At some point you just have to slowly walk up to the foaming beast of tension on all fours and begin to gently massage its ears.
  1. Give it an epic high five (I prefer the jellyfish). Thank it for the chat.  Recognize it did a total Lord of the Rings journey just to bring you a small treasure, a way for you to move forward in your life.  Gratitude moves you through.

Setting the intention to be in-tension not only takes courage but creates it.  To sit with pain, heartache, and grief is part of healing.  So tie yourself to the mast and navigate through those blasted sirens.  They are singing you the secrets of your own insides.  And maybe it won’t be as crash-the-ship as you think.  Maybe it’ll help you find a different path home.

What’s it like to explore your in-tension?

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5 Epic Universal Failures to Inspire Your Day (Complete with Theme Song Playlist)

The universe as we know it engages in failures of gargantuan proportion, and when I say gargantuan, I’m talking 90 percent species failure here. Epic…Universal…Failures. They beget excessive struggle for the duration while yielding a meh, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t final story line.  Regardless, the defacto by-product is always never-seen-before change.

So as an ode to Epic Universal Failures, the following list means to inspire in a failure-is-the-only-way-to-recreate-the-world kind of way, where surrender to the saga is the universal process.  In no particular order, may the countdown commence (complete with your very own Epic Universal Failures theme song playlist).

1. The Permian-Triassic Extinction

Theme song: The Firebird Suite, Finale by Stravinsky

Misadventure: Think your world is falling apart?  Try telling that to the Permian-Triassic extinction, known to many scientists as one of the earth’s tough times, possibly the toughest.  Maybe a comet, maybe a volcano, maybe both, but whatever did the job 250 million years ago dissipated 90 percent of life then known on the planet.  We’re talking 95 percent of sea animals, 60 percent of land animals, and virtually all trees wiped away.

The Good News:  We made it!  Well earth did, and although this was not the last of devastating chaos on the planet, it still rotates full of life.  And here we are, post mega-annums, reading about this from the etherwebs on a mobile robotic mini-brain. You truly have to concentrate on the incomprehensible to even micro-understand that at some point in history the majority of life on the planet withered to extinction because earth just happened to be standing in the way of projectile space rock.

2. The Collapse of the Roman Empire

Theme Song: Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division

Misadventure:  Whether weak states, too many invasions, or simply a stronger Eastern block, Rome did not continue its glory of engulfing all it walked through.  So when all roads no longer led to Rome, I’m sure there were mixed feelings.  Good ol’ 472-476 AD, the end of the Western Roman Empire, shows that failure will get even the strongest of Roman-godlike intentions in the end.

The Good News: They had a good run, eating up much of what happened to be in their marching army’s path, and after that, came other things, including new world powers (eh-hem).  So the end of an empire is just that, the end of an empire.  New ones are born and new ideas and ways of living transmit through the copper pipelines.  And thanks to that little 200-year-rule shenanigan, today we have awe-inspiring architecture, some of the most beautiful languages in the world, and Russell Crowe in tiny leather outfits.

3. The Black Hole HLX-1

Theme song: Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

Misadventure:  Two galaxies collided, wiping out existing stars, and then leaving HLX-1 to inwardly collapse to the point of actually eating its own self and all else it could get its gravitational hands on. Think of 10-25 times the mass of our sun compacting again and again until it fit into the dimensions of New York City…and then it sucked, and sucked, and kept on sucking (I mean serious epic sucking failure).

The Good News:  Scientists believe that a young cluster of stars also formed as part of the whole adventure, and their age of a mere 200 million years has these astro folks convinced they came about because the others crashed.  And hey, a black hole made its debut, which is pretty friggin’ fantastic in itself. So even when galaxies crash, and black holes devour most everything else, new stars are born.

4. J.K Rowlings First 15 Times Trying to Sell Harry Potter

Theme Song: Truckin’ by Grateful Dead

Misadventure: 15 times…seriously.  After a long preamble of death, divorce, and poverty before words spilled on the page, I’m sure there was a bit of a come on guys sense of defeat.  But as J.K. Rowling says in her speech on failure at a Harvard commencement, “Rock bottom became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”  Good thing the Epic Universal Failure joke was on all those publishing dummies.

The Good News:  Ummm…everything that happened after she got published.  Telling Ms. Rowlings in a polite English accent that she could stick her magic curriculum you-know-where probably didn’t seem like a mistake at the time.  400 million copies later, I’m sure they now cannot hear He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named without a slight cringe knowing they should have voted for Team Dusseldorf.

5. ___(insert your own EUF here)___

Theme song: Dragoste Din Tei by Ozone

Misadventure:  Ok, kinda tricked you here, but I did provide some pretty epic Epic Universal Failure theme music.  It’s a total fill-in-the-blank situation.  I’m sure you have plenty to pull from, and at least it’s not our galaxy colliding with another while we sleep.  We all have some kind of extinction of our world as we know it, loss of all our power, passing through our own event horizon, and getting rejected more times in a row than we can count on two hands.

The Good News:  Experiencing Epic Universal Failures reveals that they are all part of the universal plan, whatever that may be.  So as all falls down, remember, it won’t be forever, and in the meantime, turn up the Moldovian disco music and dance like the galaxy is about the crash. Sometimes that’s how stars are born.

What’s your Epic Universal Failure fill-in-the-blank?

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