The Mother Relationship

Your connection to your mother serves as a major factor in your life today, whether you were adopted or abandoned, whether your mother is still with you or not, no matter how close or distant your relationship was with her growing up. Mother relationships are pivotal in forming a part of who we are now. This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to take a close look at your relationship with your mother through fresh eyes. Ask yourself some deep questions and examine how she helped to form the individual you have become.

Take some time to review your relationship with your mother and thank her for, at a minimum, bringing you into this world.  And please come on over to read my blog which explores the tie that binds us to mom at the Huffington Post here. And if you’ll share the story of your relationship with your mom there, we can all learn from one another.


The Positive Effects of Saying No

How many times do we find it difficult to say “no” to something, even if it’s what we really, truly want to say? How often are we over-committed, over-exhausted, and just plain OVER it, because we agreed to too many tasks?

Are you a people-pleaser and say “yes” all the time? Well, there is hope for you yet! The first step is realizing you are not alone and that most people have difficulty uttering that simple, two-lettered word!

Know that the power rests with you and no one else. You can say “no” and I can help you do it! It is not about the fact that you are saying “no”, but how you are saying it! At the end of the day, you are the person who has to live with the commitments and choices you have made, so why not make each day count more for yourself?

Learn more about how you can empower yourself by saying “no” with my latest article in Om Times at:


Adieu Hubert

I first met my future father-in-law, Hubert, at 6:00 a.m. one beautiful July morning nearly 40 years ago when Eric, my new French boyfriend, and I arrived by train in Grenoble, France. The gallant Hubert, dapper in a three-piece suit, tie and tennis shoes (I later discovered this was somewhat of a uniform), met us at the station. We had foolishly hopped the train in the late afternoon the day before in Paris without securing seat assignments and ended up sitting in the aisle on our suitcases all night. This particular train, the “milk run,” had stopped in every nook and cranny as it meandered along toward the French Alps.

A man of education and culture, oddly enough, Hubert spoke not one word of English. I, on the other hand, spoke not one word of French and was discovering just how unhandy that was. Hubert, always courtly, bowed, kissed my hand in the old-fashioned French tradition, and immediately stole his way into my heart.

As he drove us from the station, he asked me what I wanted to do and being very young and full of energy, despite sitting up all night, I replied, “play tennis!” Despite the early hour, he took us straight to a tennis court, where I found him to be quite an accomplished player.

A designer with his own advertising firm, Hubert’s formal education had been in art and engineering. But during World War II, he had to resort to running his father’s leather business to try to make ends meet, with a wife and six hungry mouths to feed. By the time I met him, however, he was quite comfortable and he and his family divided their time between an apartment in Grenoble and a summer home in St. Ismier, a charming nearby village.

From the tennis court we headed for the summer home. You can imagine the surprise of this teenage California girl when we arrived at an enormous three-story French chateau that had once been a monastery. Formerly the chapel, a cross still hung over the claw foot tub in the bathroom, a tub so enormous it took nearly an hour to fill with water. There was only a single toilet in a dank closet for the 8-bedroom residence—indoor plumbing was unknown when the structure had been built—which was inconvenient but terribly French and picturesque. The gardens were filled with wild flowers and amazing butterflies with views of the Alps from every balcony.

Each weekday at noon, Hubert drove out from the city to the summerhouse for le déjeuner, the main meal of the day. The food was fantastique! Course after course, beginning with, for example, un pâté de foie gras, followed by a simple soupe de poisson, next the entrée, perhaps l’entrecôte picked up that morning at the local boucherie, garnished with mint and surrounded by des petites pommes de terre. We would chat and rest a bit, clear the big table where the entire family sat (all the siblings and their families would come visit in the summer), up to 25 of us at a time, and then continue with the meal, with la salade, les fromages (an entire course all of its own, with at least 6 or 8 cheeses to choose from), with une bagette from a nearby boulangerie, then les fruits, and finally, le desert, perhaps une tarte aux pommes straight out of the oven, followed by un cafe out on the terrace. I joined Hubert in the smoking of Gauloise, cigarettes so strong they made my head spin (which I was loathe to admit).

At the table, the family would speak of art and religion and politics and music and sports, especially the sports of skiing and mountain climbing, my personal favorites. After a few hours listening to la famille, I had picked up a few words and phrases and, always wanting to be part of the action, I leapt right into the lunch conversation by boldly exclaiming “comme excitée d’être en France!“ (how exciting to be in France!) Hubert and the rest of the family chuckled in amusement. I later learned that “exciter” is a verb that refers to sexual excitement, not at all the meaning I was trying to convey.

On the weekends, my father-in-law would paint. A gifted water colorist, Hubert could knock out one amazing watercolor after another in less than an hour. It was breathtaking to watch. He could have had a career as an artist, but he treated it more like a hobby, perhaps fearing it would not have been stable enough income for a man with so many children. I attended shows of his work in France and realized that he had quite a gift. And his artistic talents did not end there: he was also a sculptor and a musician, playing an ancient instrument that predated the violin.

We made annual treks to visit la famille every year, and each time my French would improve. A frantically busy lawyer and sports enthusiast at home in the US in those early, heady days of marriage, I never could seem to find the time to make a proper study of the language. Each time we returned to France, it was a shock stepping off the plane in Paris and suddenly switching into this very foreign language. My French husband, otherwise quite pliable, refused to speak more than one language at a time (either English or French, but never the twain shall meet) so I was totally on my own once the plane had landed. Accents are easy for me to imitate, so I sound great but often don’t have a clue what I’m saying or what is being said to me. Many was the time I thought we were heading for le club but would find myself instead at le cathedral!

Hubert and my mother-in-law visited us in the U.S. every year. This was quite a shock to a young American bride, not accustomed to regular month-long family visits, a European tradition. My in-laws were intrepid travelers, ready to follow us to the base of our frequent mountain climbs. Hubert was always game for hiking the highest mountain or heading out on the longest bike ride, even well into his early 90’s. On one memorable trip, we had stopped for gas early on in the 5-hour trip, and when we arrived home, our beloved dog, Dolly, was missing from the car. Hubert had let her out of the car at the gas station, then forgotten to put her back in—one of the many cultural differences I encountered over the years.  It was a long drive back to pick up a very small dog.

On one of his many visits to the U.S., when Hubert was in his 80’s, I was studying with a spiritual teacher who lived about an hour away from our home. One day, I invited him to go with me and I recall his utter surprise to find that she, in her 90’s, was even older than he. He was totally game for almost anything intellectual and loved having a long discussion about spirituality. And though I had learned passable French in the meantime, sufficient for day-to-day conversation, I wasn’t ever really able to converse at his more philosophical level. Even so, Hubert was always delighted to see me and easy to have around. He had been very stern with his own children in their youth, as was the tradition of his time, but age had softened him considerably.

In fact, during Hubert’s last ten years he changed a lot.  Very much like the four stages of life as described in Hinduism—the student, the householder, the retired person, and finally the ascetic—Hubert entered the fourth stage and became the ascetic. After 65 years of marriage, his wife died. They had long ago sold the magnificent summerhouse, the apartment in Cannes, the grand apartment in Grenoble, and, in the European tradition, lived frugally on the proceeds, never adopting our American more profligate, spendthrift ways. Hubert, not wanting to be encumbered by possessions in his final years, ultimately gave away the last few possessions he owned—his watercolors, his sculptors, his furniture—and moved into a monastic setting, a home for retired priests. He even gave up the Catholic guilt that had caused him so much unhappiness in life. His prolific letters, always poetic and philosophical, became even more focused on the meaning of life.

He got more real—the courtly manners, which had often disguised his real emotions, no longer hid anything. Rather than medicate himself in his final years, as we are inclined, he stayed as aware as possible, even after he fell off his bike at 90 and needed a hip replacement. He cheerfully spoke of being ready to die and did so yesterday, just a few hours shy of his 95th birthday. He was a shining example of the spiritual resurgence that can come towards the end of life.

Adieu Hubert.


See Me, Love Me, Vote for Me

There is a special pleasure that comes with being recognized, when the spotlight shines on your hard work and turns it into a moment of glory. Nowadays, those moments can be broadcast instantly across the globe since most of us are plugged into our digital devices constantly. Your rising star can be shot into the limelight through the many outlets of social networking and internet sites.

You have a book you want to publish? While the publishing industry reinvents itself, you can put your e-book online and be an instant author. You have a song, or a whole album full of songs, you want heard? Put them online. You have opinions and insights that you’re sure everyone is waiting to hear? Roll out your blog. Got nothing you want to share with the world? How about voting for somebody else’s big moment? The next American Idol, the next big star with the X Factor, the next big Voice is dependent on your vote.

Suddenly, everyone counts. Everyone has a say in what’s happening. What does it all mean?

We all want to be seen, to be known, to be recognized for who we are. In fact, we not only want it, we need it. Social acceptance is the cornerstone of our self-concept, the vital ingredient in cooking up a positive identity. We thrive when others look at us with high regard. Every kindergarten teacher knows this.

But nowadays we live in a virtual world. We often have “virtual dates” before we ever meet face to face. In a world that pushes us to accomplish more and more on a daily basis—tackling overwhelming to-do lists while taking in more and faster images and information than ever before—the human dimension of seeing and appreciating each others’ unique gifts can shrink. With our fingers poised over a keyboard and our eyes glued to a screen, the river of kindness and care that should flow between individuals, the simple act of listening to and expressing gratitude for one another, can dry up. You can be left with an unnamed thirst for real connection to another human being.

We are, after all, social creatures who thrive when we have a sense that we belong. To the degree we lack a vital sense of belonging, we can feel isolated, alienated from any social network. When we are listened to and heard, our biochemistry stabilizes. Empathy is a healing force, yet a society that is constantly on “push” mode runs roughshod over our vulnerability, the space we need in order to really hear someone else. For many a fame- and attention-seeker, the need to grab the limelight is a symptom of a much deeper desire.

Perhaps this explains the growing fascination with grabbing that coveted 15 minutes of fame. American Idol and its clones, reality TV, Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube all feed into the collective thirst for belonging. But does that 15 minutes of fame or a 140-character rave review really quench your deep thirst? Or is it a substitute for the real thing—a deep soul connection that satisfies your true longing to be embraced in your wholeness.

A powerful practice that can break your sense of isolation and heal the place where you feel alienated is expressed in a bumper sticker slogan: Practice Random Acts of Kindness. This is the most basic means by which you can be the change you want to see in the world.

Next time you feel impatient or angry toward a stranger—you know, one of those people you are not “friends” with—try this experiment. Challenge yourself to let go of any negative interpretations of another’s behavior and give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Even though your knee-jerk response may be annoyance or frustration, note that you are assuming ill-will on their part. Did you respond in kind without much thought? For example, if someone cuts you off on the freeway, watch your reaction closely. Do you automatically shout, “You %&#@!”? Do you pre-suppose the driver did this to annoy you, rather than considering that perhaps you were in his blind spot when he went to change lanes? Or that he’s so upset about his father’s recent passing, that’s he’s blind with grief?

What we often don’t realize is that when we react with anger or annoyance toward another, when we judge or are unkind toward another, we also hurt ourselves. That’s right, you hurt yourself with judgment because the ill-will is occurring in your mind. Think about it. You judge another harshly, you zoom in on their faults, tally up the score, and decide they have in one way or another failed or lost. What have you gained? A sense of superiority? A boost in your confidence at the expense of hers? And what is the state of your mind? Are you full of love and peace and understanding? The truth of this situation can give you a new and, in a sense, entirely selfish motivation for practicing kindness.

Here’s another experiment. The next time you catch yourself judging someone, shift your attention and focus on what is beautiful or skillful about that person. Zoom in on details that can be celebrated and encouraged. Offer that person your approval by seeing him or her in the highest light possible. Now take note of the condition of your mind. You have just tapped into what I like to think of as the river of Ultimate Approval.

You have within your heart and mind the ability to quench that deep thirst for being seen, for being recognized for who you are, and the best way to start is simply to give your approval to someone else.

Applause. Applause.


Inscribed in the Book of Life

Today is the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah, in Hebrew, means the “head of the year,” and unlike the big party time of December 31st, this new year celebration is actually a time for personal introspection and prayer. It is the start of a period called the “Ten Days of Repentance,” which ends with the holiest day of the year for Jews—Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Rosh Hashana is more than just the celebration of the new year and a time to make a new start, it is also the anniversary of the birth of mankind—the creation of Adam and Eve—and thus celebrates the special relationship between humanity and G-d. Kabbalists, the “mystic” Jews, teach that the very existence of the universe depends upon our accepting G-d’s intimate relationship with each of us individually as well as collectively.

One of the main parts of the holiday is the sounding of the shofar, a ram’s horn, which represents both the coronation of G-d the King as well as a call to repentance. In biblical times, the blowing of the ram’s horn was also used to announce the new moon, war, and holidays. And like all holidays, this one has special food associated with it—in particular, a piece of apple dipped in honey symbolizes the desire for a sweet year. Challah, braided bread, is made with extra sugar at this time, and tzimmes, a sweet mix of carrots, cinnamon, yams, prunes, and honey is eaten.

The second day of Rosh Hashana frequently includes a service that takes place outdoors, preferably near a lake, river, or the sea, where certain prayers are said and sins are symbolically cast into the water.

Part of the process of spiritual growth is taking time to reflect on who you are and what you’ve done over the past year (or many years if you don’t do some sort of yearly practice like this). It is a way to clear your emotional body of regrets, guilt, shame, anger, bitterness, or any other dark feelings that have accumulated in you, the same emotions that if stored for too long in your body can wind up making you sick or creating some other kind of chaos in your life.

If there is no prescribed period for deep introspection in your religious and/or spiritual tradition, consider creating your own time to wipe your inner slate clean and start anew, to forgive others and seek repentence for whatever you have done to or thought about others. Think about including some sort of sound healing (like the blowing of the shofar) and use of one of the four elements—earth, air, water, and fire—to symbolically release your “sins” and find at-one-ment.

Leshana tova tekatev v’techatem.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!


Jesus and the Essenes

A shepherd boy was throwing rocks in a cave—what else was there to do while tending his flocks in the mid-1940s?—and heard something crack. Going into the cave, he found a ceramic pot with pages inside that much later became known as the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many subsequent discoveries in eleven different caves yielded thousands of fragments of manuscripts and a large number of whole scrolls stored in jars. Some are copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, some are commentaries on biblical texts, and some are the rules of the community that wrote them—the Essenes.

The Essenes were a sect of Jews who had left the worldly ways of the big city of Jerusalem, several hundred years before the time of Jesus, for the quiet and seclusion of the desert in order to prepare the way of the Lord. They were a monastic community in almost total isolation, with no private property, strict discipline, and no women (and therefore few children). They saw themselves as holding the sacred and the true, while feeling that the Temple and its priests had fallen into wrong or even wicked ways. They were not involved in the politics of the Sadducess and Pharisees, and practiced a lifestyle that was later imitated in some ways by the first Christians.

There has long been speculation that Jesus and/or John the Baptist were Essenes or had studied with them in the desert. They certainly held some of the Essene beliefs on the kingdom of God, baptism, sacred meals, the position of a central teacher, and how the communities were organized. The ascetic John the Baptist seemed to fit the picture of an Essene, while Jesus was more in line with the teachings of the Pharisees. His disciples didn’t follow the strict observance of the Sabbath or the Essene views on other practices, especially with regard to women.

Jesus must have traveled far and wide and studied with various holy men during the years before he began his mission. No one, of course, really knows. Listen in to my Hay House Radio show on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm pacific to hear all about Jesus and his healing ministry; I’ll tell you what my study of his life has revealed.


Isis and Osiris: The Love Story of Ancient Egypt

Isis was the most powerful goddess of ancient Egypt, even greater than the gods; her worship spread through the Mediterranean world and became one of the main religions of the Roman Empire. Like so many goddesses, she had a long history. We’re not even sure that Isis is her original name, as Egyptian hieroglyphs didn’t include vowels. What we do know is that she came to embody so many of the qualities we seek that she is called “The One Who Is All” and the “Lady of Ten Thousand Names.”

Born of the Geb, the god of the Earth, and Nut, the goddess of the Overarching Sky, Isis held both heaven and earth in balance. She is a moon goddess who gave birth to Horus, the god of the sun; together, mother and child created all life and sustained it. She taught women to grind corn, bake bread, spin flax, weave cloth, and, perhaps most importantly, she taught them to tame the men so the women could live with them! Among her many attributes, she was also the goddess of medicine, healing, fertility, and wisdom.

So why was this Mother of Life also known as the Crone of Death? That title comes from what happened with her brother/husband Osiris.



Incest between brother and sister was allowable for the gods to keep the bloodlines pure. When Osiris became her husband, he became the first King of Earth. Set, their brother, was jealous and killed Osiris, sealed up his coffin and threw it in the river Nile. Isis grieved mightily, shredded her robes and chopped off her hair. Then she set out to find the body of her husband so she could bury him with proper honor and respect.

As she searched for her love, she met Queen Astarte in Phoenicia. Making a long story short, Astarte realized that Osiris’s body was hidden in her palace. Isis carried him back to Egypt and hid it in the swamps of the Nile delta while she prepared for his funeral. Her wicked brother, Set, found the coffin, furiously hacked Osiris’s body into 14 pieces, and scattered them in different directions. Searching and searching, Isis recovered thirteen of the pieces. Only his penis was missing, so she made one from gold and wax (some myths say mud or clay). Promptly inventing the rites of embalming, and with her magical powers in full force, Isis brought Osiris back to life and conceived their child Horus. Now that she was no longer grieving, Osiris was free to descend and became the King of the Underworld, ruling over the dead.

Isis is often shown wearing the symbol of an empty throne on her head, suggesting her husband’s absence and that she, herself, was the seat of the Pharaoh’s power. She carries the ankh, the Egyptian hieroglyph of eternal life. When in her funerary role, and as the protector of the dead, she is shown with wings. The ancient Egyptians believed that the Nile River flooded each year because of the tears Isis wept for her dead husband, and every year there was a ceremonial death-and-rebirth ritual.

When Christianity was trying to gain a foothold over paganism, the mother-and-child images of Isis and her son Horus in the many temples of Isis across the land were converted into images of Mary with her infant son Jesus, while images of Isis holding the body of her dead husband across her lap became Mary with the crucified Jesus.

For us today, Isis stands for qualities we all aspire to: feminine strength, deep caring about relationships, acceptance of our emotional depths, the act of creating life, and the wisdom surrounding renewal and reconnection.


Life is but a dream . . .

Life is but a dream
Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. ~Henry David Thoreau

As you row row row your boat down the stream of your life, how awake are you? I’m not just talking about how many hours of the day you spend with eyes open as opposed to getting some shut eye. How awake to life are you?

Are you aware of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations you experience? Are you conscious of your emotional reactions to whatever you’re experiencing? Do you appreciate the beauty of the flower pushing up through the sidewalk? Do you delight in the smile of a child, and not shy away from the tears of a friend?

We call this ability to be awake to life “presence.” You are present, here and now, for whatever life places on your doorstep, whether that is love and laughter or betrayals and heartbreak. When you are present, you can ride the roller coast journey of life, with its peaks and valleys, with an overall feeling that it’s all okay. Obstacles are called challenges. The grass is not greener in someone else’s yard.

There are some people who are even able to be present in their dreams, and can use this ability to further enrich their lives.

Take Ray Kurzweil, a futurist and inventor, who has been called the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” He uses a technique called lucid dreaming to spark his ideas. Before he falls asleep, Kurzweil goes over in his mind a problem he’s trying to solve. Then, at some point, he becomes conscious that he is dreaming. He says, “I am still in the dream, but I have conscious thinking as well so I can direct the dream. I have access to all these new creative links that I made while I was dreaming about the problem, but I also have my rational faculties. Within 15 or 20 minutes, I will typically have a new key insight.” And this from the man that Forbes referred to as “the ultimate thinking machine.”

There are four major states of consciousness—waking, sleeping, dreaming, and the meditative state. Just as you can become more conscious, more present, in your day-to-day awareness, so can you become more conscious in the dream state. Dreaming is a powerful way to gain access to your subconscious thoughts and feelings—a good source of information that’s a great help in your own healing process.

Lucid dreaming, in which you become aware that you’re dreaming and can participate in and often direct what you’re experiencing, gives you opportunities that aren’t available during waking consciousness. You can go to different planes of consciousness, communicate with the dead or with spiritual guides, even fly and shape-shift. You can plug into past lives, change the outcome of dream events, or get information that is of benefit in this life.

A good way to start becoming more conscious about and in your dreams is by keeping a dream journal. Keep it near your bed and write in it as soon as you wake up. Most people have the longest REM sleep of their five sleep cycles per night right before waking, so it’s most likely those are the dreams you’ll remember.

All the ancients knew the value of dreams, and many traditions consider that it is our waking life that is the real dream. As you turn your attention to the meditative and the dream states and try to bring more awareness to those states, your consciousness will expand and you will be more fully “present” to your own life.

Dream on.


Mirror, mirror

You’re sitting outside on a beautiful summer day, sipping your iced green tea and reading the latest celebrity gossip when some lunkhead trips and spills his double espresso all over your white skirt. You jump up and start screaming at him at the top of your lungs.

Wow! Sure the guy was a clumsy jerk, but where did the depth of your rage come from?

If you really want to know what you’re feeling, look at how you react to someone or some circumstance outside yourself. We project our emotions onto those around us—both in our intimate relationships and with total strangers.

Think about it. How nice are you when a telemarketer calls at dinnertime, or when someone with a thick accent answers your call for technical help with your computer? What’s your automatic reaction when someone cuts you off on the freeway? Do you make nasty comments to the girl behind the counter at the dry cleaner when your favorite silk shirt comes back with stains, as if it were her fault?

Of course, in our daily life, it’s the people we are closest to that act as a mirror to our emotions. We tend to surround ourselves with those people who mirror the problems that we haven’t yet resolved inside ourselves. By seeing ourselves reflected in that mirror, we will eventually see what it is we have to work on. How do you feel when the kids at school bully your child? What do you do when you have a sneaking suspicion your husband is having an affair? How do you feel about caring for your parent with Alzheimer’s?

Basically, we incarnate in order to have relationships, although we may not figure that out till we’re much older. We think we are here to conquer the world, or to save the planet, or to have kids, or to grow pretty flowers in our garden, but it is relationships that are the essential ingredient for our growth and the evolution of our consciousness.


When we choose an intimate partner, in particular, we unconsciously look for somebody who is going to mirror back to us our own unresolved issues—the ones we brought with us from childhood or from previous lifetimes. For example, maybe your father left the family when you were four, or maybe you felt abandoned by your father even though he stayed because he paid zero attention to you; chances are you will pick a partner who brings out that very issue by abandoning you either emotionally or walking out on you physically. You have recreated a situation that mirrors your earlier situation so you can have the chance to heal that wound.


We choose to take on the problems inherent in relationships because, on a soul level, we realize that our interaction with others is the fastest way to become the very highest version of ourselves that we can be. There is nothing like struggling with an aging parent, a rebellious child, a straying spouse, or a demanding boss to bring up all your own issues. And it is that interaction that will move you along on the road to enlightenment.


Fathers and Daughters

A woman’s relationship with her father is a key element in how she grows up. Did she know that Daddy loved her? Was he there for her skinned knees and broken heart? Did he instill a sense that she could do anything she set her mind to? Or was he absent from her immediate family? Did she feel replaced, shoved aside by younger, cuter, smarter half-siblings? Did she see him batter her mother? Was he verbally abusive? There are endless possibilities for how this vital relationship plays out and the consequences it produces.

I always knew that my father loved me. Unfortunately, his love for me was complicated by sexual abuse. It took many years of deep spiritual practice, reams of journaling, and learning specific shamanic techniques for cutting the negative cords between us before I was able to clarify internally our complex relationship.

Whatever your relationship has been with your father, it’s never too late to change it for the better. It’s a relationship that always lives inside you, so even if your father has passed on, you can still work on it.

Read my blog on HuffPo about managing to love your father in “Three Ways to Keep Loving Your Father, No Matter What” at

Hope you “like” it!


Crazy busy?

Crazy busy?

You know the feeling—you seem to be running all day long. You just managed to file for a tax extension in the nick of time, your kid’s after-school schedule requires endless hours of driving, your mom just went in for surgery, and your dog is starting to chew up the house since you barely have time to walk him. Needless to say, you’ve been distracted at work and your boss is starting to notice, and you can’t afford to lose this job.

You’re crazy busy. And in the midst of it all, how are you supposed to find time for yourself?

By squeezing out an extra ten minutes in the morning when you first wake up so you can meditate, you’ll find that everything in your life runs more smoothly. And you’ll enjoy a feeling of internal spaciousness, no matter how jam-packed your day is.

Check out my blog, “Busy? 5 Ways to Make Time for Meditation,” in the Huffington Post Even better, leave a comment there so we can connect!


Stabbed in the back by a “frenemy”

Stabbed in the back

Unfortunately, many of us have had this experience. Someone you thought was a friend turned around and betrayed you. Maybe she started a cyber-bullying campaign against you. Maybe he slandered you to the boss. Maybe she seduced your boyfriend.

Whatever happened, you can still feel the knife in your back. And it hurts. You lost more than just a friendship. You lost trust in that person, and you may have also lost trust in your ability to choose friends wisely.

Other than indulging in revenge fantasies, what can you do so you don’t have to carry around that painful connection to a “frenemy?”

There is a shamanic technique I learned long ago that can recover your energy lost in the encounter and disconnect you from that person. It’s a simple but powerful technique.

Go to my blog on the Huffington Post atGo to my blog on the Huffington Post at to read about how to remo to read about how to remove that virtual knife from your back; and while you’re on HuffPo, drop me a note – I ‘d love to see your comment there about your own knife-in-the-back experience!


Celebrating the Journey to Freedom

Journey to freedom

Throughout the ages and across every tradition, there are symbols and metaphors for the journey we all take from bondage to liberation.

We can look at that journey as the rising of kundalini from the first chakra at the base of the spine, where our concern is basic survival of the individual self, up through the crown of the head, the seventh chakra where we merge back into Oneness with All That Is. We can see it as the Hero’s Journey, the Arthurian quest of the Knights of the Round Table, the story of Demeter getting free of her imprisonment in the Earth, Osiris rising from the dead, the climb to the mountaintop.

In two of the main Western religions, Christianity and Judaism, their liberation journey stories take place in the spring, when life is renewing itself after the dead cold of winter.

At sundown on Monday, April 18th, the first night of Passover is celebrated with a “Seder”—that classic Jewish meal centered around the biblical story of Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery to the Pharaoh in Egypt. The book that is used during the meal, the Haggadah, exhorts everyone at the table to look at the story of liberation as more than just a tale of what happened way back then, but as a personal experience—the way that you, too, are being led to your own liberation.

The main ritual question of the night is asked by the children at the table: Why is this night different from all other nights? And the answer is “Because we were slaves” and this is what G-d did for us: from the Angel of Death passing over our homes to the waters parting in the Red Sea to let our people go.

We are, indeed, all slaves to our egos, to our antiquated beliefs, to the relentless tyranny of our minds, to the destructive emotions we harbor. Now imagine having the power of Moses to open a clear-cut path through the obstacles that block your escape from slavery so eventually you, too, can get to the Promised Land. The power wielded by Moses sprang from his deep connection to God, to Source. Although it may take 40 years of wandering in the desert, and the testing of faith when confronted with a seductive Golden Calf or two along the way, the path to liberation—for an individual or a people or a civilization—is through connection to Source.

The end of this week brings us to the Last Supper celebrated by Jesus and his disciples, undoubtedly also a Passover Seder, that set into motion the events of Good Friday, leading to the Passion of Christ and the resurrection—another perfect metaphor for the journey to freedom from bondage. We all carry our crosses, bear the burdens of human suffering. We all seek resurrection into the Light.

It pains me that differences in religions have been used to divide people, when at their heart, all religions are based on the same mystic journey from bondage to liberation. Let’s dedicate this week to celebrating that journey of evolution of consciousness. As we gather together in rituals around the table at home or in places of worship, let us remember and reflect upon how far we have come, and acknowledge that we’re all walking the same road to redemption.


My Irish eyes are smiling . . . and sober


May God, Mary, and Patrick bless you.

I greet you with this Irish salutation in honor of St. Patrick’s holy-day and my (half) Irish ancestry. Along with the other 36.9 million U.S. residents with Irish roots (eight times the population of Ireland itself!), I’ll wear something green in celebration of a man whose life was guided by his inner voice and visions. But I will also refrain from indulging the other part of my Irish heritage—addiction to alcohol.

First, St. Patrick, who wasn’t Irish himself. He was born in Britain near the end of the fourth century into a wealthy family, but when he was sixteen, Irish raiders attacked his family estate and took him prisoner. Captive in a pagan land, a frightened and lonely shepherd, he became a devout Christian.

According to his own writings, after six years Patrick believed he heard God’s voice in a dream, telling him to leave Ireland. He walked 200 miles to the Irish coast and managed to escape to back to Britain. Again, he experienced a revelatory dream in which an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He spent more than 15 years as a monk in Marmoutier Abbey in France and, after Pope Celestine ordained him a Bishop, he was sent back to Ireland—both to minister to Christians who were living there and to convert the Irish. And no, he didn’t chase actual snakes out of Ireland; snakes at that time were a symbol of Paganism.

Now for the second part of my Irish ancestry—drinking. St. Patrick’s Day comes during the Christian season of Lent (March 17th is the anniversary of his death), but prohibitions were waived and, after attending church in the morning, the Irish would eat meat, dance, and drink. And drink, and drink, and drink. Not only on St. Patty’s Day, but every other day as well.

I fell into alcohol as if I were born knowing how to swim in it. It was my rightful heritage.

If it hadn’t been for my diagnosis of cancer in my mid-twenties, who knows how long I would have continued my reckless romance with alcohol. How many more times would I wake after blackouts, not knowing what had happened. How many years of life would have been lost to liver damage. How many relationships would I have ruined.

Here are 10 signs that you, or someone you love, might be an alcoholic; be concerned if one of them fits:

  1. Your family is worried about your drinking.
  2. You sometimes drink alone.
  3. You drink even though you’ve told yourself you wouldn’t.
  4. You are sometimes late for work due to drinking.
  5. You feel guilty about your drinking.
  6. You sometimes get headaches or hangovers after drinking.
  7. You have had a drink when you wake up in the morning to “cure” a hangover.
  8. You get annoyed when people comment on your drinking.
  9. You feel like maybe you should cut down on your drinking.
  10. You have had a blackout.

If you have a problem with alcohol, get yourself to Alcoholics Anonymous ( and learn how this classic 12-step program will help you. You’ll never regret it. I quit cold turkey after my first meeting, and haven’t had a drink since.  You can do it, too.

Do I miss drinking? No, not even on St. Patrick’s Day.




Oscar Gold Gives Women a Positive Role Model

It was very exciting to see Barbara Streisand open the envelope for Best Director at the 82nd Academy Awards, and hear her say, “The time has come . . .” And Kathryn Bigelow walked off clutching her golden Oscar as the first woman to ever win the honor. She also snagged a second Oscar when her film, “The Hurt Locker,” won for Best Picture.

Every accomplishment—and this was a big one—for a woman increases the potential for all women to eventually hold equal rights and enjoy equal opportunities with men.