World Meditation Day

Meditation is accessible to all – just start where you are.

Whether it’s on a mat, at your desk, in nature, or even in your bedroom closet (my favorite hideaway during the pandemic quarantine) all you have to do is breathe.

Our minds are the sky; thoughts are clouds.
Our minds are the water; thoughts are waves.

We observe our minds without attachment as thoughts come and go – and we let them. We notice them without judgment or grasping.

Meditation isn’t about controlling our minds and thoughts, it’s about letting go. It’s about bringing our awareness back again and again to our breath; to the present moment.

On this World Meditation Day let’s breathe and allow ourselves to simply be here now.


Ever notice how battle language forms a big part of the lexicon around mental health? There’s pervasive messaging like “conquering” the mind, “crucifying” the ego, and “overcoming” fear.

We’re postured in an offensive stance against our inner workings – with the insinuation that when we don’t win the fight (and we never will) it’s because we did something wrong or that we’re weak. This approach sets us up for failure – what we resist will always persist, and hit us back harder.

Our brains are wired and programmed to scan, analyze, compare, and send us warning signals when it senses a dangerous threat. That’s what our thoughts and fears are all about – our brains doing their job to keep us safe. Science has proven that we cannot control what we think or when we think it.

What we can control is our relationship with our thoughts. Do we believe them? Do we define ourselves and others by them? Do we become enmeshed or swept away? Do we use them as excuses to justify our behavior?

Let’s stop going into battle – all the fruitless attempts to fight, squash, or eliminate our thoughts are only causing us more anxiety, frustration, and unhappiness anyway. Let’s instead work with our minds by acknowledging that our brains are just doing what they’re supposed to do, and by accepting that our thoughts will keep coming – but we have the power not to believe or act out on them.

Speaking Out

How often we proclaim “I would have…” and then launch into a fantasy narrative in which we shine as the brave, bold hero in a situation that demands action. The reality is that it’s easy to say; not easy to do – we’re often blanched and quelled in the face of adversity or confrontation.

There was a situation years ago in which I was frozen with inaction; I didn’t speak out against sexist remarks that made me feel degraded and disgusted. Noticing my shift in mood, the person I was with at the time ordered me sharply not to say anything; that I was hypersensitive and overreacting. (Ah yes, the old “gaslight and silence the hysterical woman” routine – what a classic.)

I swallowed my words and buried my feelings. The disgust I felt about the behavior that I witnessed turned inward, as I berated myself for not speaking up against the sexism and not standing up to that ex. This would become the pattern of our now thankfully defunct relationship.

During that time I felt so disappointed in myself; repressing emotions and words was making me sick. I continued to smother my thoughts and feelings, burying my truth and dignity until I could no longer bear the weight of the mask and armor of feigned normalcy, and I severed ties.

Though all of this happened many years ago, my silence haunted me – my failure to act resulted in regret, guilt, and shame. I’ve done the work to forgive that past version of myself who didn’t speak up. She didn’t have the self-value that I possess now; she didn’t fully know, appreciate, respect, and embody her self-worth. (She also hadn’t read the life-changing work of Harriet Lerner yet.)

If you have a similar situation that is weighing on you, give yourself permission to set that burden down. None of us are perfect, and life is not a scripted film in which we are the champions in all our challenges. Let’s remove “I would have” from our lexicon so we’re not one-upping or -downing ourselves and others.

We can do the work of affirming our dignity and worth right now with boundaries and compassion; through the ongoing practice of healthy truth-telling, we strengthen our foundation of self-respect.


Another person’s choice not to love us (or their inability to love) does not mean that we’re unlovable.

Another person’s choice not to treat us with care, respect, and kindness (or their inability to do so) does not mean that we don’t deserve care, respect, and kindness.

Another person’s rejection or abandonment of us does not mean that we’re not enough or unworthy.

We are not defined by how others perceive or treat us. We are worthy and lovable, full stop – these qualities are inherent and inexorable.

It’s taken me decades to understand this, and I still have to reaffirm these facts when old wounds flare up. We heal and grow by giving ourselves the compassion, grace, and love that we deserve.


I get stuck in my own head sometimes; tangled up in thoughts and ruminations over hypocrisy, injustice, and unfairness. When this happens, my mind feels like the gnarled, twisting, seemingly endless entwined limbs of a vast tree.

It’s so hard to shake this when I feel that someone “got away” with doing something wrong; that there haven’t been appropriate consequences for harmful actions. Fueled by indignation, I fantasize about calling them out, letting others know what they’ve done, and exacting revenge for their wrongdoing.

I’m not a vigilante, so the vengeful take-down fantasies won’t come to fruition. When people go low I really, really try to go high. But damn they make it difficult (and so does my ego-fueled mind).

It’s so hard to accept that the only behavior I can control is my own and that ultimately everyone has to live with themselves. It’s also worthy of note that I am not perfect; I’ve made mistakes, and maybe there’s somebody out there who’s stewing about me “not deserving” the life I’m currently blessed with.

Most of us were raised to “play fair” and our culture is saturated with superheroes, fairy tales, and stories of good triumphing over evil where the hero wins, harmony and balance are restored, and the Ewoks throw a party – you know the drill.

But this is simply untrue; life doesn’t work like this. There’s no cosmic justice playing out in our current reality – bad things happen, including to “good” people; to people who “don’t deserve” it. We grow up being spoonfed a fantasy, so it’s no wonder we feel confused, frustrated, and even gaslighted as adults when we’re faced with the fact that “fairness” is a fallacy.

It’s pointless for me to keep rehashing my resentments around this – I’m working on keeping my side of the street clean; letting go and moving on…


Culture has long espoused the concept of the “rugged individual” and portrayed dependency as weak. This is fundamentally flawed because we are by nature dependent.

Humans are biologically wired for connection for survival of the species and for the individual to thrive. The organism of civilization is rooted in and reliant upon dependency. Every single thing in our lives (goods and services, healthcare and infrastructure, etc) is dependent upon people around the world.

This is a major factor in what makes anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, and xenophobia so utterly absurd and hypocritical – those who hold these ignorant and hateful views don’t or won’t see that every facet of their lives is dependent upon all people of all backgrounds. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, completely and totally self-sufficient with absolutely no outside contact, you are dependent upon everyone – including the very people that are dehumanized in prejudice.

Autonomy in our personal lives is of course important, but we can’t diminish or deny our dependency on others; belonging and bonding with other human beings. We all need each other.

International Women’s Day

On this International Women’s Day, I’m reflecting on the years it took me to step into my power and the women who paved the way to help make that possible.

Many of us were raised to compare and compete, through the purview of being perceived as “enough” in the eyes of a materialistic, patriarchal society that prioritizes appearance and demands compliance.

I reject this.

We are allies, not enemies. Our authentic selves are acceptable and worthy just as we are. Autonomy of our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies is our natural-born right, and we deserve freedom, inclusion, and equity.

I’m so grateful for the mentors who embody this truth and inspire me with their example. I’m so grateful for my family and friends who have shown me the power of trust and support among women. I’m so grateful for my compassionate and caring daughter who is already a fierce advocate for independence and justice.

We’ve come far, and there is still a long way ahead. We’re stronger together, and we belong.

A Path Of Her Own

I’m raising my daughter to have confidence in her autonomy, to develop inner strength and integrity, to trust in her abilities, and to love herself.

It’s not easy.

Kids can be cruel, adults can be apathetic or abuse their power, and our materialistic society is fixated on fitting in and showing off. There is so much to navigate and explain.

We’re working to accept that life is what it is – it’s not that “bad” things happen to “good” people, it’s simply that shit happens. Period. There are no guarantees, even when it comes to what we believe is the way things “should” be. All we can do is our best, and try to be kind to ourselves and to others.

We’re learning the tricky balance of exercising independence and knowing when to ask for help, and to receive aid graciously.

We’re learning that vulnerability requires courage and strength, and so does compassion.

My job is to help my daughter walk her own path without micromanaging her process – but I struggle with the paradox of needing to let her learn and grow, and wanting to shield her from assholes who may hurt her and other hard parts of life.

How can I keep her innocent? (I can’t.)

How can I keep her safe? (I can’t.)

How can I accept this lack of control? (I have to, or we’ll both suffer.)

Maybe the hardest part of being a mother is knowing that the human being that was once completely dependent on me, that I would do anything to protect, is destined to disconnect from our symbiosis – to evolve, manifest, and move beyond – and that I can control little to nothing when it comes to what’s in store for my precious creation.

I’ll probably never be ok with this… but I will continue to love her, listen to her, and support her as she forges an identity; a life; a path of her own.

(I may or may not be lurking in the shadows close, but not too close, in case she needs me…)

Heaven & Hell

Last weekend as my daughter and I walked in the woods, she said that she had been thinking about what happens after death and how nobody really knows but people create stories of what there could be as hope of reward or fear of punishment. She said “I don’t think heaven and hell are places; I think they are in your mind and in how you treat people.”

Like the rest of us who are still alive, I can’t possibly say for sure what’s next, but I can wholeheartedly agree with my daughter that these are not destinations but rather the results of our decisions.

When I have chosen to ruminate on unkind thoughts, to criticize or condemn, to hold onto grudges and resentments, or to do harm to another person through selfish or spiteful actions, I’m hurting myself and others. Gone unchecked, that pain will metastasize and create a mental and emotional environment that thrives off the continuation of suffering, creating justifications for the behavior, and seeing the world as Me vs You – this is hell, a state of mind and relational interaction that is devoid of connection, empathy, forgiveness, and kindness.

Its counterpart is exactly the opposite – love. But creating heaven requires far more effort than constructing hell. Kindness requires ongoing practice, being compassionate, holding boundaries, exercising patience, and operating from an open mind and a warm heart is counterintuitive to how many of us were conditioned. But I can tell you personally that having lived in hell for quite a while in my past, and returning every so often in my present, that it’s not a place I want to be. Yes, love takes work… and the work is worth it.

Heaven and hell: our subconscious. All that must be transcended is within us. All the power of transcendence is also within us.

365 Tao


There’s a meditation practice in which you start by extending compassion to those you love (easy), then to those who are “neutral” aka the average person, and finally to those you hate (oh hell no).

That last step feels so counterintuitive and every part of me rages against it. Why should I send good energy to bad people? Isn’t that a chump move?

For most of my life I’ve built up a vehement disgust for injustice. This has calcified the feelings of anger, bitterness, and “righteous” indignation about people (from politicians to exes) that have done wrong, especially if they “got away with it” without significant consequences. I’ve judged and defined these people by their actions, and by hardening my heart towards them I’ve sealed off any crack where compassion could slip through.

This has also been a survival tactic over the years, to keep me safe from people who do harm. I’ve conditioned myself to think this way about wrongdoers, and the programming is deeply entrenched – I’ve invested so much into this mindset that the compassion practice feels utterly alien and unrealistic.

I know this is my ego holding on with gripped talons and refusing to let go. We usually equate attachment to what we desire… but we’re also attached to what we despise.

In my case, attachment makes me defend my narratives to the death, which I know is a fear-based attempt to control the present and future. If you got hurt once, you wouldn’t want to get hurt again, right? So by condemning the person and cementing them into the narrative that they’re the villain and the enemy, I can fortify myself against the threat of them causing more harm.

What really messes me up is admitting that my attachment is actually built on shaky ground. I’ve created mental images and constructed stories that are biased and not entirely true – they conveniently leave out the other person’s side of things, and the nuances that make them human (including flaws that I also possess), as well as freezing them in the past as a one-dimensional character who did shitty things and couldn’t possibly also have good qualities or could have learned, grown, and changed over time. So I’m fixated on an illusion that casts people in the light I need them to be in to justify my judgment and condemnation. Maybe that is the real chump move.

How can I untangle myself? I can start by keeping my ego in check when it revs up the old storylines. I’ll work on loosening the white-knuckle grip on my narrative and the inaccurate characterizations I’ve created. I will practice letting go of my attachment to thoughts that don’t truly serve me; dropping the critical judgment and shifting to intentional empathy. It’s hard, constant work – but it’s better than carrying around the baggage of aversion and resentment.

Both/And > Either/Or

I think a lot about “straddling the paradox” and choosing both/and rather than either/or when it comes to people – especially those who trigger me and whom I’ve developed as villains in my ego-driven scripted storylines.

It’s so easy for me to do an extreme zoomed-in close-up of the negative, focusing only on the flaws that I love to exaggerate and exploit to justify my judgment. But the reality is that in most cases, there is complexity and nuance that I’m overlooking (usually on purpose, because how else could I keep the narrative going that they’re the enemy?) and within those details are our shared humanity and my ticket out of obsession and resentment.

I would certainly appreciate it if people, especially those I’ve wronged or have received an unfavorable impression of me, would apply both/and to see my good parts as well as my flaws and mistakes.

I’m just as complicated and contradictory as any other human, and nobody wants to be lumped into a static definition that doesn’t allow for growth and development and healthy change. I am a work in progress – just like the people whom I’ve frozen in my perceptions of their past.

Either/or isn’t always accurate or fair; I will practice extending the empathy of both/and.


A humbling exercise is to pause and ask ourselves “Is my perception accurate?”

Short answer is: nope.

We experience everything through our own unique lenses of bias, projection, ego, and personal experience.

All of us operate from subjective realities, and the key to productive communication and healthy relationships is to negotiate that subjectivity – and not to coerce others into thinking or behaving our way… the “right” way, so we believe.

You haven’t lived my life and you’re not in my head (lucky you, haha) so how can I expect you to see and process things the way I do?

It comes down to this: we don’t need to agree and sometimes we won’t even understand, but we do need to validate and respect.