The Nature of Things

There are a lot of birds on the island of Maui, most imported over hundreds of years of . . . I’m not too sure what to call it? Occupation? Exploration? Tourism?

Wild pheasants and feral chickens abound. (I swear this place should be called Chicken Island.) Red cardinals imported from the American South. Myna birds from Australia. Feathered beings from other islands and from Asia and Java. The bird song hangs sweetly on the air on the slopes of Haleakala volcano, aptly named “the House of the Sun” in Hawaiian. My morning meditations are filled with it, and the delicate trills and flutings reliably fill my heart with joy.

Indeed, the bird song is so delicious that I wanted more.

So I borrowed an unused bird feeder from a friend, made a run to Del’s Farm Supply for some wild bird seed and Ace Hardware for a metal hanger, and within minutes I had a bird feeding station dangling outside the windows next to my desk.

Days passed. No birds. Two weeks passed. No birds.

I’d almost forgotten about the feeder when suddenly what I soon learned was a Javanese sparrow flitted in for a landing. A day later there were several sparrows and some house finches. By the end of the week there was a deluge. The doves didn’t stand a chance, nor any other kind of bird. The sparrows and finches took over. Soon the intense fighting and squabbling squawks and screeches over food filled the air, drowning out the sweet background sound of other, happier birds in the fields and forests nearby.

Messily the birds tore through the food, at least 5 cups a days, spilling huge amounts of extra seed unnoticed on the ground. A rat arrived to take care of the food on the ground and was soon burrowing his noisy way somewhere into the sub-flooring. A couple feral chickens arrived as well, and soon the once pristine grassy walkway to my ohana was dotted with chicken shit that had to be carefully dodged. The birds used the railings along the porch for a staging and digestion area, and soon the handrails and steps up to the house were dotted with crap.


Hawaii is not Vermont or Montana, buried under neck-deep drifts of winter snow. The birds here are fine and well-fed all-year long. All I’d managed to do with my longing for more was muck up the natural order of things and turn my little corner of paradise into an avian battleground.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. Leave well enough alone seems kind of trite. But it sure appears to be true. Nature easily balances everything. Humans, not so much.

The 35 pound bag of bird seed was gone in a little over two weeks. Once empty, I quietly took the feeder down and gave it back to my friend. No wonder she hadn’t been using it!

It took a few days for the unruly feathered mob I’d conjured to disperse back into the wilds. But they eventually gave up.

Now there is nothing left but bird song.


I am grateful – grateful for so many things. Physical health, a flexible mind, friends, nature (Maui!), fulfilling work. But of all the things I’m grateful for, one thing stands out in particular: sadhana.

Sadhana means you conduct your energies, your mind and emotions and body in such a way that wellbeing is produced. It does not have to be any specific kind of activity. It can be the way you sit or stand, breathe or eat.

That said, I am blessed to have learned particular sadhanas designed to facilitate the establishment of mental, emotional and physical conditions conducive to ultimate attainment. Which ultimately is not an attainment at all, but simply the natural and inevitable unfolding of a human being into the state of divine grace s/he is already blessed with but is usually distracted from realizing.

My daily sadhana is my anchor and my greatest joy to an ever-increasing degree.

Without it life would be much much less than it is, and I would be lost and adrift, left to find meaning in what is essentially meaningless. Yes, life is astounding and breathtakingly beautiful and a total miracle. And I love it more and appreciate it more each day. But it is meaningless nonetheless, with no purpose other than itself.

And is that not enough!?

I am grateful I have lived long enough to stop “pursuing” spirituality, meditating and doing breath work as disciplines that I had to do in order to get where I wanted to go, which was, basically, outta here!

After I “woke up” in 2007, I let all sadhana go for a couple years because even though my personality/persona eventually resurrected itself, I had realized the inherent problem involved in trying to “do” anything to awaken. Doing something to attain enlightenment simply solidifies the separate illusory ego attempting to attain liberation from its own delusional existence … thus defeating the whole process by reinforcing the prison walls!

But then I began to meditate again, using Inner Engineering practices learned from Sadhguru Vasudev, founder of Isha Yoga from Coimbatore, India. (Isha means that which rules existence – formless divinity.) It was an on and off affair for a while. But then a couple years ago I got serious about sadhana again.

But not in the same old way as before. Now I know better than to try to get anywhere, because there is absolutely no place to get to, nothing to attain and no way to attain it.

So why the hell bother with sadhana?

Because it facilitates coherence and integration of all the mental, emotional and physical aspects of human existence, aligning these elements with prana—the life force itself.

And oh! How much easier life becomes when everything is coherent and clarity reigns! Sadhana makes sense of the senseless … something I think we all could use a little bit of right about now.


Desire, relax, trust

I was a guest on the Jeff Faldalen Show today—and a rollickingly fun yet intense “give and take” on spirituality, consciousness, “the path,” enlightenment and evolution it was. (To watch the show check the link at the end.)

Nearing the end of the show, Jeff asked me, “What three things would you like to leave people with?” And before he had even finished asking the question I knew the answer: Quickly I jotted down the word relax.

Trust came almost instantly afterwards followed by desire.

I’m always amazed what comes out of my mouth during talk shows, just as I remain amazed at what comes through me when I write a book. It just sorta happens. Granted, there’s a lot less time to think when you doing a live show then there is when you’re sitting alone at your desk at 6 a.m. in the morning cranking out the pages. But frankly I don’t spend a lot of time thinking even when I write. I know the direction I want to go and the words (usually) just seem to come, building one upon the other, taking me along for the ride.

The moment I wrote down “relax” I knew I was not only answering Jeff’s question, but also I was sending myself a message. “Trust” was another directive to myself as much as it was the audience. Finally, the word “Desire” popped in after two heartbeats of no-thought as the logical point of origin for the preceding two words. There had to be something to relax about and something to trust would happen. And desire is the fountainhead of both.

I didn’t burst out laughing, although I wanted to. For in that moment, live on Jeff’s show, I’d been given the direct message needed to end the self-inflicted torture I’ve been putting myself through for months now … namely trying to find the “right” answer to the question: “How can I best serve now?”

Yes, I can think of a dozen things to do, write, talk and teach about. Maybe two dozen. Or more. But I’m at the point now where I don’t want to figure this kind of thing out. I don’t want to logic my way to how I will spend the next couple decades of a life that is, optimally, already half over. I don’t want to fill the last chapters with decisions that have come from my head. Or at least not solely from my head.

I’ve been here before—this place of wanting more. This place of desiring a more spacious expression than my human mind can conjure up or even fathom. And I know the manifestation formula well. I’d just never had it delivered so appropriately or succinctly before.

Have the desire—any desire … (no one’s judging what you want but you). Then relax and let it go. Then trust that what you deeply, sincerely, passionately desire, will be given.

That’s it.             

And if you can, try to forget about who or what will be doing the giving. It’s not really a who/what thing at all. (Although our human minds like to think in such concrete terms.) It’s really just life … the process of life … the dynamic of life intelligence doing its thing.

That’s “all.”



What’s the Point?

Several people have written me lately asking, basically, “What’s the point of living if all we’re doing is acting out the ego’s story?”

I figured I’d post part of my answer. Here goes:

Dear Janet:

As best I can figure out, the point of life is to live to the fullest, learning to understand how life operates, so we can make the best of it.

Let’s say you’re living in Miami and you’ve never seen a car in your life before and somebody hands you the keys, and says, “Here, drive to New York City.” Would you quickly be able to successfully and pleasurably drive to New York? Hell no! Same deal with these bodies of ours and this thing called life on Planet Earth.

The point of the ego is to help you successfully navigate the first part of the journey. You learn to communicate with “others,” you learn how to keep the body safe, you learn how rich and varied and difficult and confusing and painful and beautiful and boring and exciting life can be. You learn about your “self” and have all these confusing ideas about what that is and what you want it to be. You feel a yearning within you to be MORE and don’t know what that”more” looks like or how to attain it. So you spend 30 years or a thousand lifetimes (whichever comes first) trying to “be” somebody, be a Big Wig, cramming more life, more food, more sex, more drugs, more money into your life. Maybe that will fill you up. Maybe that will satisfy the itch.

Basically you’ve just driven from Miami to Atlanta.

You’ve realized that everything “out there” ultimately fails to satisfy and that your desire for MORE can’t be filled from outside. Now you start the inner search. You read books like mine. You reach out. You want ANSWERS and you want them NOW! Because we’ve been taught to always have the right answers and it’s comfortable when we think we do. Super comfortable!!! Then we don’t have to work anymore. No more searching! Maybe you stumble into the “right answer” of Christianity and relax knowing Jesus will save you. Or maybe you are attracted to Zen Buddhism and spend a lifetime trying to figure out the “right answer” to what the “sound of one hand clapping” is. You exhaust hundreds, thousands of different pathways searching for what will give you MORE. You have brief tantalizing flashes of it. You feel intoxicated and expanded and exalted and at peace and for the tiniest instants feel “AHA! I’ve got it!” and then whatever you had blows away and you’re more confused and lost than ever. But you keep searching as this cycle repeats itself over and over.

This is the journey from Atlanta to Washington DC.

The brief flashes of peace and wholeness begin to extend themselves. You realize that your interior climate is totally up to you to manage and that feeling pleasant and unstressed and undriven feels really really good. You realize you are not at all who you thought you were. You understand you are not your body, or your ego personality. Through meditation and various practices (some of which are written in The E Word) you come to know that you really are connected to everything and everyone. That life is more beautiful and more precious than you had ever imagined or seen before. You begin to feel complete in your self, just as you are. No need to be anything or anybody. It is enough that you are alive. The most mundane tasks begin to take on a luster and grace. It is enough that you are alive and breathing and here on this beautiful planet. You begin to orientate yourself more and more towards helping others and helping this planet. And  the more you do, the more pleasant your life becomes.

Now you have made it to Philadelphia.

The rest of the journey can’t really be written about. Along the way the remaining sense that you are separate from life itself just kind of fades away because YOU ARE SO INVOLVED WITH LIFE THAT YOU BECOME LIFE ITSELF.

This is the journey. And the ego and the body are vital parts of this journey—the launch pad, as it were, to becoming that MORE we sense and dream of.

Hope this helps!



The Limitations of Perfection

I heard it somewhere a long time ago: “Perfection is a limitation.” It struck me at the time as a bizarre thought. I mean, I’d been taught I had to be perfect. I had to get a perfect score on my tests. I had to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect athlete, the perfect pianist. My grandfather (who I adored) urged me, “Don’t compare yourself to the worst. Compare yourself to the best.”

And so I did.

It didn’t help that I picked a career as a writer. As a journalist, my life became about finding the perfect word to convey my meaning. I frequently found myself in copy-editing hell as I sought out errant spelling and grammar, beating myself up terribly when a story came out that I’d written or edited (or both) containing even the slightest mistake. It also didn’t help that I had a TON of Virgo in my chart!

But when I heard that sentence: “Perfection is a limitation” I finally took a long hard look at what I’d always taken for granted. And after much thought I realized, “Well, hell. Perfection is a limitation!”

It kept me in a box. It kept me from being spontaneous. It kept me from going to the store when my hair was dirty. It kept me from speaking my mind. It kept me anxious. It made me overly-critical and judgmental of both myself and others. It ate up my free time searching for errant hyphens and commas in manuscripts and repeating passages of music on the piano over and over and over until all the joy of the music had fled.

And what is truly bizarre is that the perfection I was seeking was just a story in my head that hadn’t even originated with me. I was trying to live up to external expectations. Standards of perfection set by others—my parents, my teachers, my grandfather, my bosses. Whether those were truly my standards or not, was never a consideration. I never questioned because perfection was a given. This is how you’re supposed to be.

Then I realized that ideals of perfection and standards vary. It depends where you are geographically and ethnically and what time period you’re talking about and who you’re talking with.

Holy Moses!

So, if you sometimes joke that you have a “perfection gene,” I suggest you take a look at it. I’m not endorsing sloppiness over precision. I’m not saying don’t take care in what you do and how you show up in the world. I’m just saying take a look at it. Maybe, just maybe, the perfect world means finding the balance somewhere in between.

Transformation Game

We are often frightened of change. It’s normal. One way to get past the fear of making a big shift in your life is to make a game out of it.

I recently changed up my whole career. Like yesterday.

Sure, I’d been steadily incorporating more speaking gigs into my life. I love talking to people—especially crowds of people—lighting them up and giving them info they can use to make their lives better lights me up. But it wasn’t until recently that I decided to making speaking a full-time career.

I’ve “been a writer” since 1988. It’s been my identity for 30 years. Somebody would ask me “What do you do?”  and I’d say “I’m a writer.” They’d say … “Wow, cool.” And that would be that.

30 years is a long time to be one thing.

Yesterday, on the advice of my coach, I changed my website. I publicly switched hats from “I’m a writer” to “I’m a motivational speaker.” And yeah, it was scary at first. I looked longingly at the website I’d so proudly built. All the pics of me with my books and awards and all the stories about writing those books.

Then I went into the backend and dismantled it all, hitting “erase” on 30 years of identity.


Something happened. I got excited! I found new pictures I could use. Pictures of me speaking. Pictures of events. Pictures declaring a whole new story.

WOW! I was amazed at the joy I felt. I was changing! My life was VISIBLY changing! I was taking action!

The energy built up so much I had to quit work, turn on some hard rock music and dance for 20 minutes just to be able to contain the excitement.

So here’s a little advice for you. Next time you face a BIG change, sure, go ahead, feel nervous about it. But then do something visible that makes a statement—a declaration of the change you’re making.

Change your Facebook or Instagram page. Redo your LinkedIn page. Get new business cards. Wear different clothes that declare “Hey, look at me. I’m changing!”

Yes yes – of course the important part of change is what happens INSIDE you. You are the one driving the transformation, and all of it is based on a deep thought process, emotions and decisions that are all internal.

But there’s nothing quite like making an overt statement to get the juices flowing. A visible statement that says “Transformation in progress.”

Don’t be surprised when you do this that you just might get the urge to get up and dance.

Anger, Politics & Spiritual Bypassing

I rarely get into any sort of political debate in social media. It almost always ends in a pissing contest between opposing points of view, and who needs that? But I did post a commentary called “Why So Angry Now?” RE: the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing. And from what I observed through the shit storm that ensued, one thing became abundantly clear: A LOT of spiritual people are caught in the trap of spiritual bypassing.

It seems many women and men believe that feeling anger and rage is less evolved than feeling love and light, and that feeling any kind of upset or negative emotions resulting from soul memory/DNA programming means they are living life from their past rather than living in the moment.

I get their point. I’ve been there. And I’ve realized this is one of those tricky, nuanced, slippery slope places on the spiritual path.

It’s easy to sit and meditate and consistently go to the “beyond all this” place. It’s lovely and peaceful there with your eyes closed. I spent many years doing that. And it completely disconnected me from my humanity—which I thought was just fine. In fact, I thought it was GREAT! I thought it was the whole point of being “spiritual.” I didn’t want to be connected to my goddamn humanity. I hated my humanity. I wanted to be DIVINE. And—just like most fundamentalists of every religion, including New Age religion—I thought it was my humanity, my emotions, my worldly involvement, my past, my sexuality, that were keeping me from being all that I could potentially be.

It took many years to wake up to the fact that I was simply cauterizing/bypassing everything I was taught to judge as “bad” and “unspiritual” and didn’t want to feel—and that my very insistence on not feeling everything was keeping me from evolving. Eventually I grasped that transcending meant completely embracing my humanity and ALL that includes—my peace, my glory, my pain, my anger, my sexuality, my divinity—the whole ball of wax.

Wholeness/Oneness means ALL INCLUSIVE. Nothing left out. Nothing left uncovered. Nothing left unseen. Nothing not felt and embraced and understood. The only way we can achieve ONE-ness is by not judging anything and looking into our depths and FEELING everything. Then we can be healed. Then the past has no hold on us.

Being willing to get present and accountable in the muck of life’s emotions and programming while not wallowing in it is the hardest work we’ll ever do. In fact, THIS is the Great Work. Not bypassing and holding onto some spiritual image of ourselves as holy and above it all and “in the now.”

Only when we’ve seen and felt and wept as Jeshua wept, and gnashed our teeth and bled for all of humanity and every tiny piece of life that has felt pain and sorrow—only when we have been driven to our knees and into the depths and felt and understood it all AS US—then we heal. Then we transcend. Then we know glory and can soar on wings no longer weighed down by the morass of our personal judgements, our subconscious, and the collective unconscious. THEN—ah then—the peace that passeth all understanding is ours. We can witness, with our eyes fully open, the terrible things being perpetrated upon the Earth with understanding in our hearts and a gentle smile upon our lips and a divine light in our eyes, reaching out our hands, doing all we can to help the changes come … because in our wholeness, in our understanding, in the embrace of our vast ownership of it all, we have risen, and compassion reigns.


Take Charge of the Swing

It’s so easy to swing, letting our thoughts and emotions take us wherever they want. Up down, back and forth. We seem to be helpless over them. Of course, this is only true because we so completely identify with the thoughts streaming through our heads, because we so completely identify with the emotions triggered by the thoughts that seem to happen totally on their own.

I wake up in the morning and my body feels achy and I think, “Oh, I haven’t been taking care of my body. I shouldn’t have had that second margarita last night or eaten those chips filled with chemicals and gluten.” Instantly I feel upset with myself. Dissatisfied, not only with how my body feels but also now I have confirmed in my own mind that something is “wrong” with me.  It’s my fault my body feels this way. I am lazy and careless, undisciplined and self-indulgent.

Following this chain of feeling/sensing, thought and emotion, within minutes of waking up I am now in a thoroughly unhappy mood. Disgruntled, I stomp to the kitchen and instead of drinking water, I make a cup of coffee to “give myself a little something” to try to shift my mood. I take my coffee to the computer to drink and end up reading a bunch of posts on FaceBook—soaking up the political discontent and social angst of the nation through the perspective of my friends.

Now I’m running late and decide against doing my morning yoga and instead start right to work—a decision that only strengthens the pain in my body. And I wonder, by the end of the day, why I reach for the Tequila bottle once more?

But I am not my thoughts. I am not my emotions. They move through “me,” flavoring the moment. And they have impact only when I let them define me. When I take them seriously. When I adopt the stance that “This is how it is because my mind tells me it is so.”

Here’s how to quickly turn the tide and take charge.

That voice in your head? When it speaks, treat it like an unpleasant, over-opinionated, bigoted neighbor—someone you’d never listen to in a million years. When it yaps at you, “You’re so irresponsible (or some similar clap-trap), ignore it. Take charge. Step in immediately. Notice where the thought is coming from (in this case, dissatisfaction with how the body feels.) Realize it is simply a default position thought—an automatic message from the brain like an auto-respond email into your inbox.

The thought has NOTHING really to do with youIT IS SPAM … unless you accept it.

If you open that mental email and get caught up in the message, you’ve lost control. And the way the mind and body work together,  the way thoughts and emotional reactions get entangled, who knows where that initial SPAM MESSAGE will end up taking you?


  • Notice the incoming message. (By noticing you’ve already moved into the Observer position in your brain and disentangled yourself from the SPAM message and any emotions it might trigger)
  • Realize where it’s coming from and recognize that it is SPAM
  • Then deliberately create a new thought. Something like “Oh, yeah. I bet I feel this way because of that second Margarita and all that gluten last night. I’d better drink a quart of water and do my yoga to clear out the effects.”
  • Act on the new thought.

The trick with thoughts and their concomitant emotions is to TAKE CHARGE and jump on them right at the outset before the juggernaut is set into motion.

But even if you don’t jump on them at first, it’s never too late to step into the Observer position and put your thoughts in their proper place. Don’t let coming late to the party be the excuse to keep drowning!



The Choice Is Clear

There’s nothing worse than dithering over a decision. Whether it’s which house to buy or what to wear in the morning, which paint color to go with or which lawyer to hire to save your um … bacon, choices can paralyze the best of us.

The MIND wants to take over. It prompts us to makes lists with PROS and CONS on each side of the page. But is this really the best way to make an important decision? NO!

Studies show that the world’s greatest leaders, entrepreneurs and artists go with their gut. Sure, they take the facts into consideration. They do their due diligence. But then they LISTEN to what their body is telling them.

Your body is your greatest ally. It is an energy device—an energy “reader.” It knows what’s what with your subconscious mind, your conscious intention and the information flow of existence all around you. It knows the fastest path to reaching your goals, your hopes and your dreams.

So when you’re up against a tough decision, here’s what to do:

  • Satisfy Your Mind – Do the research necessary, get all the facts, go ahead and weigh your options. If you don’t do this step, your mind will never leave you alone with your decision.
  • Set aside all the facts and ask your body – Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and ASK your body: which path shall I take? Which door should I open?  If it helps, imagine your choices one at a time. As you imagine doing or having one choice, stop and register how you feel. Is your body happy? Does it feel calm? Light? Expansive? If so then you’ve got your answer!

The option that makes you feel lightest and most expansive is always the right choice—even if it looks like it’s taking you in exactly the wrong direction. Trust your feeling sense. The body is part of the universal matrix of information. The energy may be pointing you south when you want to go north because if you go (illogically) south, you’re going to meet someone or discover something that will make your trip north SO much easier/better/quicker/happier.

Your body is an energy system that reads the energetic messages (information) from the universe. Not your mind. Your mind can later interpret the energies. But it’s the body that is the most trustworthy guide.

Holy Moly Maui!!!

Just booked my ticket back to Maui—a one-way ticket I might add.  And nobody in the world is more shocked about it than I am.

Sure, I’ve  always espoused “follow your heart” as the only way to go in life. And I’m not backing down from that well-earned truth now! But really? I’m moving to the most isolated land mass on the planet?

Visiting a dear friend on the island this spring was a “why not?” decision. I’d never been to Hawaii. I’d always figured, “If I’m going to get on a plane and fly across 2600 miles of ocean, why go see more of the US? I should go somewhere really cool—like Finland.”

Europe, South America, Asia, India, Africa, Russia—they all called me to come visit. But Hawaii?


And now, after four weeks living in what most people would call “paradise,” I’m selling all my worldly mainland possessions and headed back there to live. And it’s not because Maui is paradise.

Frankly, I’m not even sure it is.

It rains. A LOT. And after 25 years living in the soggy Puget Sound region of Washington State, rain is something I’m looking to avoid. I detest high humidity and Maui is hot and muggy in the lowlands and cool and muggy upcountry. There are mosquitos. The tourist traffic is horrible. The roads are … interesting. And Costco and Walmart are my best bets for affordable shopping.

Then there’s the small fact that the island is smaller than the COUNTY I currently live in. Will I get “Island fever?” Who knows??? I rarely leave my county of residence, after all—unless it’s to get on a plane to go someplace else. And I can readily do that on Maui.

So, if Maui has so many apparent drawbacks, why go live there?????

The island is an energetic match. I’ve been looking for this energy space for years.

All the driving and house-hopping I’ve done through California, Arizona and New Mexico this last 15 months looking for the next place to live has drawn an energetic  blank. And then POWEY—Maui has the delicious sweet gentle powerful magnetic spacious untethered Earthy Goddess energy I’ve been looking for.

I want to incorporate this energy. In-corpor‑ate it. Embody. I want to roll around in it. Eat it. Bathe in it. Luxuriate in it and see where it takes me. I haven’t a clue about anything else. But this is the clue for the NEXT STEP.

And that’s all that’s necessary