Friday, August 27, 2010

My True Home

There's more to say about those "Five Question," but I've been interrupted.  In the midst of our travels across country, we got a phone call telling us that our bid on a foreclosure we had submitted before we left Florida (and that I had been delighted to forget) had just been accepted. 

Good news and bad news both!   Selling our home this spring and taking to the "open road" as nomads has been a living inquiry into the question of what HOME means to me, in the truest sense.  Then suddenly with that one phone call,  the question became very immediate and very concrete.  Did we or did we not want the HOME?  The interruption of this blog resulted from shifting my focus away from the quest for my "True Home" and towards the decision to sign a contract for a place we that we could now own.

My practical side can certainly recognize the value of ownership, a good investment, timing in the housing market, etc. etc. But as for the rest of me - Oh My!  I had so recently felt liberated by letting go of possessions - the house, furniture, fixtures, clothes and collectibles and yes, even the enormous quantity of books I had carted from one place to another for years!

Once on the road, as we traveled the scenic roads in Georgia and South Carolina and then along the Blue Ridge Parkway,  trees and wildlife were our new neighbors and I felt as expansive as Julie Andrews with arms wide open, singing "The Hills Are Alive..."  The thought of another roof and more walls,  practical as that might be for a future time, began to elicit some kind of anticipatory anxiety for me.  I was afraid I might let my perspective succumb to a mental contraction.

Thich Nhat Hanh 2009
Last year around this time (August 2009),  I had the privilege of attending a Mindfulness retreat with the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh.The retreat had been titled "Be Peace, Be Joy, Be Hope."  Sitting with hundreds of others in meditation, I followed  the sound of the bell and let it lead me back to my " "True Home."  Spacious and peaceful. 

Sunrise Walking Meditation, Stonehill Retreat 2009
During the walking meditation,  the words of our teacher "Thay" helped me concentrate as I placed one foot down after the other.  "Peace is every step," I repeated to myself as I brought my attention to the solid sensation of the earth supporting me in the present moment.  "I have arrived." With every step.  Here and now.  "I am home." 

In the rarified ambience of the retreat, I was grateful to have experienced a beautiful place within, beyond the mental limitations of my thoughts and emotions.  Now, faced with the prospect of another home in the material sense, I recall the peacefulness of the retreat and strive to center myself again. 
Just as a snail carries its home outside itself, I too carry my HOME, but within.  Being mindful of that, I begin to ease into my comfort zone again, as I let go of the fear that my external  home will entrap me.   Knowing that my mindfulness is the ONLY thing over which I have control, I can celebrate this newly purchased property as a shelter to which I can return, a space to host guests, a place to call home.  Wherever I come or go, to places strange or familiar, far or near, that I own or not -- I breathe in and out, knowing that my home within can be my only True home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Five Questions That Change Everything...

As I was saying in my first (Belatedly, Beginning...) blog, I attended the above titled workshop last weekend at the Kripalu Yoga Center. The title promised a lot and surprisingly, it delivered! Led by John Scherer and Lynnea Brinkerhoff, the workshop was structured around the Five Questions, also the title of John's book and website (see

If you're like me, you might want to know what those questions are straight away. I know I did. Not to keep you in suspense, I've cut and pasted them directly from John's website and here they are:

The Five Questions
1.What CONFRONTS me? What ‘tigers’ do I need to face?’

2.What am I BRINGING? What is my history with this situation? What am I saying to myself that makes it hard for me to face this ‘tiger’?

3.What RUNS me? Where am I ‘on autopilot’ and don’t realize it? How is that affecting what I do all day long-and in my life in general?

4.What CALLS me? What bone-deep gifts, talents or capabilities do I possess that call out to be expressed more fully in my life and work? What kind of difference would I like to think my life could make in the world?

5.What will UNLEASH me? What will it take for me to finally get out of my own way and BE fully who I am in the world?

Opening up even one of those questions could be daunting, but doing so within the nurturing ambience of support that John & Lynnea skillfully cultivated was energizing and provocative.  As a team, they masterfully balanced each other, providing structure while also mindful of process -  knowing when to teach content and when to let experience itself be the lesson and how to weave it all together into an integrated whole.  High praise, eh?  Yes, but it was well deserved.
For myself, the learning happened on different levels.  As a professional, I was curious about how they'd pull off the program's promise.  As a participant, I noticed my traditional critical stance, waiting for them to make errors, to stumble or even to fall.  As the program unfolded, I couldn't help but confront my own tendency to withhold my full engagement, to hold myself back in reserve.  As ready as I was to criticize and judge THEM, I noticed my tendency to preemptively protect myself from criticism and judgment.  
So, there you go.  I answered the first question.  In order to keep myself safe from critical judgment, I have been reluctant to face the tiger of expressing myself openly.   Taking the risk of expressing myself - in the blogosphere no less - is a huge stretch for me.  But, didn't I signed up for CHANGE?!!   Isn't that the promise I hold out to clients?  If it's going to work for them, it has to work for me.  So here I am - vulnerable & sharing, both scarey and refreshing.  There's more to come...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Belatedly, beginning a blog...

Back in April, 2010 when I first announced that our house in Miami Beach was to be sold with no other to take its place - that instead my husband Tom & I would take to the road and follow our hearts' content - the suggestion that I blog kept repeating itself.  Now, here we are in August and I'm actually going to begin.

Despite ambivalence, I'll stick my neck out here because I am now navigating with a new GPS - a Greater Purpose Statement that helps me set my direction and stay on track.  Here it is:

"Curious, caring and evolved, I am determined to harness my full power, taking risks in expressing my truths so that I can inspire positive action to alleviate suffering, orchestrate harmony and reveal joy in the world."

That (evolving) statement is the product of a workshop I took with 17 others in the Berkshire Mountains a weekend ago at Kripalu, a yoga retreat center (see 

Traveling in the area seemed a perfect time to check Kripalu out, especially as I still needed additional Continuing Education Units (CEU's) to renew my FL psychotherapy license by March 2011.  Perfect!   The workshop offering the most CEU's that weekend was "Five Questions That Change Everything" with John Scherer and Lynnea Brinkerhoff.

I'll share more about the five questions in the next blog.  But for now, I can say, the blog has begun!