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I was chatting with a lady yesterday about how horses make excellent therapy animals. We were talking about the retreat I’m doing with Melinda Bourke Blackwell and Fran Melino on September 22 at Melinda’s place in Washoe Valley. This lady is a city girl, she wasn’t quite getting the concept. So I said,

“Let’s say you are walking a horse through a course and all of a sudden the horse stops, and no matter what you do, it won’t go. That means you are blocked somewhere in your life.”

She still didn’t quite get it. So I explained further,

“Horses are very intuitive. If you have a situation in your life where you are stuck, where you just can’t seem to get any further along, they will sense that, and until you deal with the stuckness, they won’t go.”

And that is part of what the retreat on September 22 is all about. It is also about a full day retreat from life’s normal activities. And lunch. And hanging out in a beautiful place with awesome critters.

Registration is here.

A three hour workshop....not a three hour tour! Although this workshop might just give you as long lasting results as the folks' stay on Gilligan's Island!

If you have ever heard the phrase "expectations are premeditated resentments," you may want to attend this workshop. If you've received conflicting advice about this concept, perhaps from a mentor or coach, you will want to attend this workshop. If you consistently have problems because "they" aren't doing it right, then you will want to attend this workshop. If you have decided simply to not have any expectations at all, then you will want to attend this workshop. If you are continuously disappointed, then you will want to attend this workshop. Or if you are curious as to how on earth someone could even think it could be any other way, you might want to check this workshop out.

At this workshop, you will learn that you can have expectations, and have them come true!

Sound a bit like airy fairy tale stuff? Attend this workshop, and learn about a different way of thinking about it. In this workshop, you will learn which expectations are limiting you in your life, and which can be more like visions, to guide you to a life of joy.

Date of this workshop is Thursday, June 28, from 6-9 PM. You can attend from the comfort of your own home as it will be via Zoom. All you need is an Internet connection, a computer with a web cam, or a tablet or even your cell phone. Upon registration you will receive a link to join the workshop, along with instructions just in case you are unfamiliar with the platform.

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Something is brewing in me, and I know that if it is brewing in me, it might be brewing in you too.  Perhaps we can brainstorm a bit and see what we can produce.

What is brewing is inclusion.  All around me I see evidence of exclusion.  Sometimes, I admit, some affinity with people of like mind is necessary.  Affinity groups they call them.  In my area, we have a proliferation of them.  I have no problem with affinity groups, but my heart yearns to take things a step further.

What if we stepped outside of our comfort zones?

What if women began doing things with men, and vice versa?  What if vegans had gatherings with meat eaters, and vice versa?  What if Christians began doing things with people of other religions, and vice versa?  What if people of all colors began conversations that were different than the ones we are currently having?

What if there were no need for affinity groups?  What then?

Right now, the way I see it.....we’ve got utter chaos going on.  And the same old conversations.  People retreat to their own spaces, with their own people, in times of chaos.  I get that.  It is a self protective mechanism.  Unfortunately, this kind of retreat is only a short term fix for a long term problem, and ultimately this kind of retreat blocks us from our greater good.

And we have blame going on.  Everyone is blaming everyone else for society’s problems.  Another protective mechanism.  The shadow side of this one is particularly hideous:  it keeps us in the problem and only creates more of the same, and sometimes leads to violence.

Then we have control issues.  Giant control issues.  They are a protective mechanism as well.  We have people, in a sort of mega-self protection bubble, trying to control what we eat, whether or not and to what extent we own firearms, reproductive rights, who we choose to have sex with in the privacy of our own homes, whether or not to wear seat belts for crying out loud!  With our control and enabling, we’ve created a society of people who can no longer think for themselves.  In fact, we’ve created a society of people who don’t even know how to think for themselves, nor do they want to, because it is simply too scary.

Things are getting more chaotic, because we aren’t listening and we are doing the same things over and over again.  We aren’t listening to a call that says the conversations have to change and the actions need to change.  The blame and the control issues need to stop, and we need to begin having a different conversation.  The “us and them” bullshit needs to stop.  There is no us and there is no them.  There is only we.  And the sooner we acknowledge that and begin to explore how we can all get along, the better off we will be.

The answer to chaos isn’t retreat into affinity groups.  It doesn’t lie in blaming others, nor in trying to control others.  It lies in taking personal responsibility, forgiveness, and willingness to have different conversations.

I’ve taken my own steps towards this.  I bring up the topic of how to have a different conversation whenever I have a chance to speak with someone who votes differently than I do, or who believes in a different god than I do, or who is a different gender than me.  Right now I consider those conversations to be a bit clumsy, because I have no idea what to say or how to proceed, except that it needs to be said and done differently.   It is an exploration that takes willingness, openmindedness and genuine love.  I’ve stepped WAY outside my own comfort zone to join an interfaith group, and we are beginning, as a group, to have some different conversations.  I also avoid, whenever possible, affinity groups.  Yep.....I’ve stopped attending women only functions if at all possible.  And I host only inclusive functions.  My retreats are always open to men and women, gay and straight and otherwise, Christian and non-Christian.  We have common ground, yes we do!  I welcome people who eat all kinds of foods into my home, and without trying to control what they eat, I offer something that they can enjoy.

Doing this puts me on a different path than much of the world.  I’m forging a new path.  Is it uncomfortable?  Yep, sometimes.  I see people I know and love doing the same old same old, that I have chosen not to participate in, because I want to move to something greater.  I make conscious decisions not to participate in things because I want something greater.  Perhaps you are there as well.  Maybe you’ve been thinking that what you’ve been doing might not be working so well.  That is a start.  It’s a beginning.  Let’s forge a new path together shall we?

And here’s the call to action:  Join me.  If you are local, come hang out with me.  Let’s see if we can come up with something.  If you don’t live in the Carson Valley/Tahoe area, there are online options.  I can’t do this alone.  I need you.  Let’s talk.

Every week, I create a talk which I deliver at one and sometimes two places.  Sometimes I’m a guest speaker at various Centers for Spiritual Living in my area, and every Monday night I do the talk as a prelude to an open discussion.  We call these discussions Monday Night Musings, and if you live in the Lake Tahoe, Reno or Carson Valley areas, you are welcome to attend.  Every Monday night at 6 PM at A-to-Zen in Carson City.  Monday Night Musings are sponsored by the Center for Spiritual Living Carson City and while they are free, love offerings are gratefully accepted.  These offerings support the various endeavors of CSL Carson City, which are all in line with the mission of providing spiritual tools to live happier lives.  And they are tax deductible!

The process by which I create the talk takes all week.  At the beginning of the week, I  download the topic outline.  Each week’s outline was supplied by a different CSL minister, in a grass roots effort called The Global Vision.  What is cool about this is that many Centers all over the world are all following the same topic outlines, so no matter where you go, you will find the same general topic. And the beauty of it is that depending on the minister who is delivering the talk, you will get a different take on the topic!  After downloading the outline, I read it, and also read the week’s reading from the Ernest Holmes book Living the Science of Mind.  Then I let all that stuff “cook” in my consciousness for a few days.  By the time I sit down to write, things usually flow fairly smoothly and out comes a talk!

My take on this topic is life changing.  At least it was for me.  It reminds me that who I am today, and how I show up in the world today, need not be based on who I was yesterday.  It also need not be based on the events of yesterday.  This is a powerful way of thinking for those of us who have had unpleasantness occur in our lives.  And who hasn’t?

The truth is that we can be limited by basing our current lives on the past, or we can break those bonds and fly free.  My choice is to fly free.  What is yours?

Let’s face it, we all have goals in life. Even companies and organizations have goals.  What varies is how we get to those goals.  If you have ever consulted a life coach, they would likely give you a formula that looks something like this:

  1.  Set the goal
  2. Determine the steps needed to accomplish the goal
  3. Assign timelines, an overall one for for accomplishment of the goal, and then individual timelines, for accomplishment of each task.
  4. Then said life coach becomes your “accountability partner.”

Nothing wrong with this formula.  Except that I have found it doesn’t work well.  Life happens, and it doesn’t take into account those twists and turns, nor does it take into account the extraordinary level of sheer stubbornness needed to accomplish things this way.  Accomplishing goals this way seems like a gigantic battle.  Not to mention....I’m a big girl.....if I can’t hold myself accountable for doing things in my life, no one else is going to be able to do so.

I prefer this formula:

  1.  Who are you?  Who do you be?  What are your beliefs and values?
  2. What is your purpose for being here?  This describes your reason for being.
  3. What is your mission in life?  This describes your short and mid range goals.
  4.  What is your vision for your life?  This will draw on your mission.

And just for an example, here is mine:

  1.  I am a physical manifestation of spirit.
  2. My purpose for being here is to live in peace and joy, at my best and highest levels, and to help others do the same.
  3. My mission is to design and implement workshops, classes, retreats and other things to facilitate that peace and joy in others.
  4. My vision is that everyone live lives of peace and joy.

This is my compass.  It points me in a general direction, and as long as I am going in that general direction, I’m good.  The steps, the map, might change.  After all, maps need to be changed all the time.  Global warming means water levels on earth are changing.  Earthquakes mean topography changes.  When stuff happens in our lives, the map changes.  But the compass will always point us in the right direction.  And having a formula like this in your life will accommodate the changing topography that happens in all our lives.

As for that accountability partner, well, I prefer enthusiastic supporter.  This would be someone who knows your beliefs and values, and who holds those beliefs and values upper most in their minds, and reminds you of them when you have forgotten them.  In this way, you have the dignity that comes from empowerment that comes from taking personal responsibility for your life.  No one else can do that for you.


Live Wild and Free is the online educational arm of Center for Spiritual Living Carson City.  LW&F features podcasts, videos, online classes, self directed classes and live online discussions about practical applications of spiritual principles.

You can support LW&F in several ways:

  1.  Do you have a New Thought book?  If so, submit it for a future interview!
  2. Become a member by going to our LW&F site over at Patreon.
  3. Donate via Paypal at the Center for Spiritual Living Carson City

I hope  you enjoy the interview!

Today is International Woman’s Day. I checked out the IWD web site to see what it was really all about, because I must confess to having some mixed feelings about it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a woman. I’ve been a woman my entire life. I have suffered the sexual harassment, the sexual abuse, the rapes, the violence. I’ve suffered the attempts by men to stifle who and what I am. I’ve suffered wage inequality and been on the receiving end of misogynists who claimed to be for equal rights and yet simply did not pay attention to my desires, my wisdom or my words. Yes, I have simply been discounted. Someone mentioned to me the other day that her husband “allowed” her to get her nails done because he liked to have his back scratched with those nice nails. Sigh. No....we have not yet achieved equality. No, we do not have gender parity. I’m old enough now to stand on my own two feet, and most times when I encounter misogyny I just bless them and move on, although I’m able and willing to prevent someone from physically abusing me. I’m even for a day devoted to highlighting the achievements and attributes of women. And I am glad to see that we also have an International Men’s Day. I loved it that on the International Women’s Day web site they called for “Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.”

...continue reading "I Celebrate Gender Inclusivity"

I contemplate this a lot. What is mine to do? Eleanor Roosevelt said that “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Stuff bugs me, but I’m not going to discuss people or events here. It’s a waste of time, and just contributes to what is really bothering me: Polarity. Us and them. Separation. Duality. All different names for the same thing. I feel as strongly about this as Ernest Holmes must have been feeling when he said this: “The belief in duality has robbed theology of power and has polluted philosophy with untruths; it has divided science against itself, and has made countless thousands go through life with saddened hearts.” And this: “The belief in duality is the father of most negative thinking.”

The opposite of duality is oneness, and that is what I believe in. I also believe that what we believe in affects our lives and shows up in physical form. If you don’t believe me, check out quantum physics...specifically the “observer effect.” I’ll leave that up to you, I’ve got other things to write about. And if you think science has no place in a conversation about oneness and theology and ideas and god, I respectfully suggest that you consider why you are even reading this. There are no mistakes in life. There must be a question in your mind or you wouldn’t be reading my words. Contemplate that while I move on.

Oneness to me means that not only is there no separation between me and you, but there is no separation between me and god. Powerful stuff there. Because believing in oneness means that I believe that what you do affects me, and what I do affects you. This happens in the micro form, between you and me, and it happens in the macro form, world wide. So when we point fingers and blame and attack and separate ourselves from them because they are all fucked up, it is hurting us as much as them. All this polarity that is going on in the world hurts. It hurts me, and it hurts you. It is duality at its worst.

What does this duality look like on a gritty level? It looks like I’m right and you are wrong. It looks like there is only one way to refer to god, my way. It looks like “well, I’m not perfect, but you did this and that and for that I am standing firm and holding my ground and blaming you for all this trouble.” Duality looks like stubbornness and close mindedness. And it bugs me.

When I get really bugged about this stuff, and I do, a lot, I contemplate: “what is mine to do?” And the honest answer? I don’t know. I sometimes feel like the way I felt when I witnessed a devastating fire burn down much of my town. There was nothing I could do but bake cookies for the firemen and the displaced. So I baked cookies. I guess in a way, I really do know what is mine to do. It is the metaphorical equivalent of baking cookies. I’ve got a certain skill set, and certain credentials, and I can voice this, and spread the word. I can present a different way to be. And so that is why I speak. It is why I write. It is why I teach. It is why I do workshops and retreats. I want people to be happy. I want them to live more peacefully. I believe that when individuals live happier and more peacefully, that has a far reaching effect.

I look at it like this: if it is true that there are only two basic states of being: fear or love (and I believe this to be true), then we are either coming from a place of fear or a place of love in any given situation. When we attack, when we point fingers, when we judge, it is all fear based. What’s up with the fear? Why would someone else’s lifestyle threaten you? How could it? What if, instead of attacking, you realized that this fear you are feeling that is making you attack and condemn and judge others is really a call to investigate why you are so fearful in the first place? This removes the attention from them and places it on yourself. Perhaps an uncomfortable place to be, but people like me can help you with that.

What if instead you contemplated what love would do? Call it what you will, there are many names for love, just as there are many names for god. What if instead you asked why a suggestion that there are different names for god gets your feathers all ruffled? What if instead you contemplated what your life would look like if you replaced all that fear with love? What if instead you contemplated how a belief in separation and duality is harming you, and found a different way to believe? What then? Do you think that might contribute to a better life, for you and for the rest of the world? I do.

So I’m going to bake cookies. What if you baked cookies too? What is your metaphorical equivalent of baking cookies? Do that.

As Rumi said, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Today is Fat Tuesday. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and Valentines Day and the beginning of Lent. And Easter falls on April Fool’s Day this year.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say something is trying to tell us something.

As for me, I’m having a bit of fun with it all. Really?!?!?! Ash Wednesday, a day when Christians are supposed to fast and remember their basic nature (sinners) and sacrifice......coupled with Valentine’s Day? This could have far reaching ramifications for your relationship: Declaring undying and unconditional love on Valentine’s Day, or sacrificing everything to remember that we are really nothing but dust and to dust we will return, except that there will be a resurrection that is going to happen on....wait for it.....April Fools Day. ...continue reading "On Gluttony and Sacrifice and Penitence and April Fool’s Day"

The first time I ever went to Death Valley, it was under protest.  I had gone to a photographer’s convention in Vegas with a fellow photographer who insisted on stopping at Death Valley on the way home.  I was not impressed, but he was driving, so I went along for the ride.

We get there and I immediately became impressed.  Why they call this place Death Valley is beyond me.  Well, actually, I know whey they call it that.  Something about extreme heat in the summer killing everything that stops long enough to experience it.  But go in the spring, or the fall, or the winter months, and it’s different.  What I was impressed by was the energy there.  Call it woo woo if you want, but I feel energy.  It’s a powerful thing, that energy.  It’s like The Force, and if you allow yourself to feel it, you can learn awesome things.  There is a stillness about Death Valley that has much to teach us, if we allow it.

I’ve since gone back to Death Valley many times.  I’ve gone alone, and I’ve brought groups in.  This year, on March 6-8, I’m bringing another group in.  I call it the Creativity Retreat.

A couple of things:  I’m different.  Some might say I march to a different drum.  Actually,  what really happens is that I hear a different beat than most.  It’s the beat of that woo woo energy I was speaking of.  I believe that if you get quiet long enough, you begin to get in touch with that Force, and you open up to new and wonderful things.  This is what creativity is all about.  And this is what the camping is all about.

I could take a group to a hotel.  But then the whole camping/energetic/woo woo experience would change. I like the whole camping/energetic/woo woo experience. You say you don’t camp?  Then this is your first lesson.  Come.  Step outside those limitations  and see what happens.  This is also a part of creativity.

So come.  Join me and some other pioneers.  Camp with us.  Share meals prepared at campside by whoever wants to participate.  Sit and experience the energy that is Death Valley, do a bit of inner exploration, prompted by me, yours truly.  Explore the valley a bit too.  There will be time for that.

My husband seems to think that money is tight.  I did the math.  $90 for the retreat itself, maybe $50-$100 for groceries, maybe $100 for travel to get there and back.  $300 for a life changing experience.  To me, it is a no brainer.  But then again, I did say I march to a different beat.

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