Up, up, and away

If you want to practice surrender, go for a hot air balloon ride.

First, it takes an average of 3 years to get a booking for a flight that will proceed. You must be persistent and non-atttached to flying.

Then, there is no way to steer a balloon. Your talented pilot must sail the wind. So, you can’t plan a route or even where you will land.

I went up last night. Because of the aura currents, we were stuck in the air for 3 hours with no where to land. I say stuck, because we had no choice, but in context it was a great adventure.

In the end, we did a landing in a ditch and were pulled out by the crew. About 6 cars of onlookers chased us by land, curious about the balloon and our descent. Ironically, they added to our unwieldy landing as they blocked landing space on the road.

I had no control. I was hungry, thirsty, and so tired. I imagined stepping onto a balloon for an hour. This was a 6 hour process, starting from balloon set up to stow away. All I had was the ability to surrender. In that, I had an adventure I will not forget. I was in the flow of the wind, and of life.

All I had to do was let go. Then I could fly up, up, and away.


Strong personality or aware and awake?

Recently I was told my child has a strong personality. My daughter is quiet, reflective, highly empathetic. She is hilarious and independent. She is wise.

I have been called a strong personality my whole life. It annoys me. I view it as a passive aggressive way to say you are intimidated by me or at least uncomfortable with me.

Ironically, it is usually women who say I have a strong personality. Men just call me strong.

How is it that a quiet child and her powerful mother both get labelled as strong personalities? I am exploring the idea that being independent and self aware put you outside “the system”. When I hear strong personality, I hear that I cannot be easily controlled or manipulated. I hear that I am not what you expect.

For years, I believed it meant I had to tone down. I worried I was not kind. And yet, people who meet me often comment on my kindness and generosity. Ultimately, I love myself and the growing embodiment of spirit that deepens in me every day.

So let me challenge you: what belief arises about YOU when you think another is a strong personality? Or, if you have been so labelled, who are you when you don’t exist in that label or belief?

How Retail Stores Commit Suicide

People are shopping online now more than in stores. What does that mean for retail?

Shoppers are willing to wait a few days for their purchase in exchange for convenience. But is it really about convenience? I suggest we need to reframe convenience into what the desired customer experience is.

The over-whelming majority of my shopping is done online. I buy my groceries online. I order clothes, shoes, books, and gifts online. If I have to stand in line to pay for clothes, I look up the item online. If I can buy it online before I move in the lineup, I do, and drop the items on the shelf. Most recently, if the store staff become overwhelmingly pushy, I leave and shop online.

In each of those circumstances, I am choosing online shopping for different reasons. If the physical stores understood the desired customer experience, they would get my repeat business and loyalty.

Forbes predicts: “Physical retail will be less about facilitating the pickup of a product and more about providing unique experiences. Frank shared an example where you imagine yourself as a customer walking into a Nordstrom and using augmented reality to try on clothing in a virtual representation of the wedding you’re attending next week. Retailers will win by knowing their customers better than their competitors and providing differentiated experiences. The key, however, will be making the experience so immersive that the customer wants to come back, instead of just a ‘cool’, novel feature that is only tried once.”

How retailers are committing suicide is by believing they know and can impose the right experience on the customer. For example, shopping for scented candles or scented oils is an in store experience. You have me because I want to try the scents, experience how they could be part of my home. I am not going to go online unless it is to reorder something I already have. I am coming into your store with a vision in my head of how I want that experience to go. It will be relaxing. It will be creative. It definitely will be ruined if you follow me around the store and constantly ask me if you can help me, if I’ve heard what the specials are, and if I need a bag. Once I have picked up the product and I am heading to the til to pay, do not use this as an opportunity to continue telling me the features of the product. Once the deal is done, stop selling. While those are all wonderful offers of help and customer service, they have nothing to do with the reason I am there. In fact, they are deliberately interfering with why I’m there.

Retailers need to understand two eternal rules: know your customer and what they want. And the customer is always right.

3 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Bucket List

I turn 50 in a few days. It means nothing to me, I have discovered. I may stop counting, not as a fear of age but as a celebration of reality. I don’t feel 50 although I don’t know what it would mean to feel 50. I have the blessing of feeling alive, as alive as I did 20 years ago, while having the awareness and consciousness of Now.

I don’t have a Bucket list – a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying. I thought about it, because I love lists, but instead I learned something. Here are 3 Reasons to NOT have one.

1. Giving to Life

There are two approaches to Life. You can try to take as much as you can from life, or you can give as much as you can. Will anyone mention your trip to Hawaii when you die or will they talk about your impact on their lives? Which reflects your deepest values?

2. You Don’t Know When You Will Die

A bucket list assumes a period of time to get things done. People die in their 20s, 40s, 90s. Wouldn’t it make more sense to live today to whatever vision or awareness that guides You? Too many bucket lists are about fear of dying instead of living.

3. You Live to Your Beliefs Not a List

Make a list, and look at it. What is your relationship to that list? Do you see yourself there? Did you add “Go Skydiving” because you want to do that? Why haven’t you done it? Is your list a way of changing who you are or affirming something inside you? Use your list to surface your beliefs and explore how they point to who you are.

If there are things you want to do in life, by all means do them. Do it to be alive. Do it to celebrate the flow of life.

Boys Will Be Boys? No – Dead Stop

My daughter and I drive to school together on my way to work. It is our connecting time – no screens and lots of time to pass.

We were discussing a boy in her class who was always difficult. At the end of her story, she concluded “Well, boys will be boys.”

My reaction of a gut-felt NO was so fast that she turned to look at me instead of the road. “No,” I repeated, “that is one of the most dangerous beliefs you could have.”

I explained to her how that sentence excuses behaviour that shouldn’t be ok. I told her this story about a boy snapping a bra strap and how it was ignored by a teacher because boys will be boys. Worse, the teacher told her to accept the behaviour too.

Here is a summary of how the girl’s mother reframed “boys will be boys”:

She defended herself against a sexual attack from another pupil. Look at them; he’s nearly 6 feet and 160 pounds. She’s 5 feet and 84 pounds. He’s a foot taller than her and twice as heavy. How many times should she have let him touch her? If the person who was supposed to help and protect her in a classroom couldn’t be bothered, what should she have done? He pulled her bra so hard it came undone.”

My daughter understood quickly. We discussed how some of those behaviours continue in men if no one shows them other values. We discussed the great uncles and cousins she had as role models of people who took responsibility for themselves and how they treat others.

I was transported back to a time when I was in school and a boy wrestled me to the ground, put his hand on my jeans over my vagina and told me not to move. A crowd of boys circled us to see how this would go. I was on the ground feeling shame, and very angry. My anger won and I was able to kick him in his groin and get up.

Did I tell an adult? No. By then I had learned that boys will be boys and to blame myself for it happening.

So, I call on all of you as parents, role models, and people: let’s not perpetuate a culture of permission by allowing boys to be boys. If a boy teases a girl, don’t tell her it’s because he likes her. Language reflects belief. Let’s be impeccable in what we believe, say, and do.

Cabernet Merlot, Peanut Butter and The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Some shifts are so hard to describe that they only work with metaphors. On New Years Eve 2017, I stood silent amid the noise of the hundreds of people at the party we attended. I felt strong and at peace. I could feel the shift beginning from the rapids of 2017 to the calm stream of 2018.

I have an image of myself as some sort of traveller, although it’s less about travelling through locations and more about tides of energy and communities. Some times I settle in a village for a few years but I always know I will be moving down the road again soon. I have been told it’s an Aquarius thing.

I am readying for the next village. Some people will carry on down the road with me a ways, but eventually, like Robert Frost, I will choose the road less taken and we will part.

Tonight, I read my grocery list: cabernet merlot, peanut butter. Two essentials, when you get down to it. The cab merlot is part of my adulting, and the peanut butter is part of my momming. They were not in balance last year, as my child required extra care. So it is perfect that tonight they are balanced on my grocery list.

Tomorrow I begin a 108 day immersion program ending in a highly desired meditation retreat. It is the symbolic packing up as I head to my next village. I cannot wait.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

When Life Lives In Me

For 3 months, my daughter has been seriously ill. There have been hospital visits, tests, nights I held my daughter and could not relieve her pain. Yet life lived in her.

During the pain, only her computer gave her a distraction from the pain. When she received a long awaited game, she played like a child. When I gave her a new computer, she wept in joy. Life Lives In Her.

Now it lives in me. I had a simple weekend. I had dinner and gift exchange with a friend Friday night and another on Saturday. I did the simplest of things – cooking, packing, a movie. At every moment, my heart was so full I thought I might explode into light.

When I sit at my altar, the light quietly explodes through. Because at all times, life lives in me.