This past Tuesday was my birthday, my first in my new homeland of the Northern California coast. I kept the day deliberately unscheduled. I woke up not knowing what I would do, but trusting that if I followed my emergent impulses, beauty would unfold. This is my practice these days—listening to the moment. Sometimes I’m better at it than others. Moving here, letting go of everything I had known, and shifting from leading my life from my mind to following intuition has been my greatest teacher.
As I’m writing this, it’s mid-November, 2017. I am sitting on a plane at 30,000 feet on my way to San Francisco. My entire life is about to change.
As most of you know, I am moving. The guidance that led me here was undeniably clear. My heart swells with joy every time I am on the Northern California coast.
I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a while.
Some of you know this already but for some of you it will be news:
I am moving.
Or, more accurately, I am migrating to the ocean. Muir Beach, California. To return to the Mother for a while. To listen, and write, and pray, and teach, and see clients, and walk on the coast. And to let the whales dream me into the next phase of my life.
There is no keeping yourself safe; there is only choice. You will lose something and you will gain something. Something you love will be taken away and something you never knew was possible will find you. You will grieve and you will dance. You will celebrate and you will weep. There’s no need to take it all so seriously.
I have a confession to make: I still have a paper calendar. I’m not a luddite per se, I just like the physicality of it, and being able to see the whole month at once, and the pretty orange inkblot design on the cover.
I have a ritual that I perform every January. I go through my calendar and map out what’s important to me. I put in my vacations, my yoga classes, my self-care time, the days I’ll be working on my dissertation, the hours I’ll be with clients, and the weekends I run my trainings. Of course I leave room for spontaneity and the element of surprise as well (who knows when I might be whisked off to Brazil by a new lover :)). But there’s something about attending to the structure of what’s important that relaxes me and creates space for the magic to unfold.
I captured this photo up on Katie Asmus’s land after teaching our Soul Medicine Mastery group last week. It seemed like everyone, including me, was falling apart that day.
Sometimes I think of it as sacred disorientation–when nothing seems to make sense anymore and everything feels upside down. Most of the time, I just think of it as humbling.
Years ago, when I first learned the Medicine Wheel, I found myself in a kiva in Utah, staying up all night and praying to the 7 directions. Sometime in the night I earnestly pledged myself to serve what I thought was the North–in this map a representation of adulthood, and coming into one’s true purpose. In the morning I realized that I had built the wheel upside down, and instead of committing myself to my purpose, and instead of committing myself to my purpose, I had committed myself to the South, and the healing of my heart.
I’ve been thinking a lot about surrender lately—the visceral act of letting go. Surrender is often confused with its cousins: Apathy, Resignation, Giving Up, and Hopelessness. And although they bear a slight resemblance, they are not really related. In a battle between Surrender and Giving Up, surrender always wins.
It’s Christmas, which I don’t, being a Jew, celebrate. But, just for the record, I’m a fan of Christ—the light, the faith required to love in the face of impossibility, the healing capacities, the realization that we are all divine at our core—these are things I know to be true. And even if I didn’t, I’d still be here—smack in the middle of the darkest time of the year, the inward season— gestating the light-filled seeds for the next year. And where am I exactly? Santa Barbara. Running away, I realized this morning, from my longing. The funny thing is, it isn’t working.
You’ve got to give the inner critic props for its tenacity. You know what I’m talking about, that voice inside that, even when we are flat on our backs with suffering, chimes in with: “Is that all you got?” Even in the midst of our sickness, it eggs us on, saying things like, “If only you were a better person, then you wouldn’t be sick.” or “Come on, stop complaining, get it together,” or my personal favorite: “If you were more spiritual, you would be well by now.”