The Beautiful Game

I just came back from a three-day Three Principles conference in Manhattan Beach, CA. It was a magical three days, spent soaking in the presence of some of the most grounded, loving and beautiful humans I have ever met.  On the first day of the event, I listened to a deeply moving description by Jack Pransky of a profound experience he had where he saw that life as we experience it every day is simply an illusion, just a game that we’re playing.  The experience had affected him very deeply and his account of it was truly moving.The next day, I got up early, borrowed a bike from my hotel and set out to find my way to the beach. It was 2.5 miles away through congested CA neighborhoods, I had no helmet, and the bike had no gears and only foot brakes. But somehow, I managed to make it to the beach. And I was so glad I did. I rode down the bike path along the edge of the beach, taking in the ocean, the sound of the waves, the cool salty air. This mountain girl was loving every minute of this ride. I was grinning from ear to ear.

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Why Horses Are Excellent Spiritual Teachers

Horses have always captured the human imagination.  As early as 30,000 years ago, early humans painted horses on cave walls. That love affair with the horse has never abated. For much of human history, however, horses have been beasts of burden, seen as dumb animals to be used for human needs, human work. More recently, the horse was replaced by cars, trains, tractors,  planes and chainsaws, which has freed up humans to start a whole new relationship with the horse. For most people, that relationship still falls into the category of “use.” While most horse owners love their horses, they are still beasts of burden, used for human recreation and pleasure. A  small but growing community of people around the world are finally seeing the horse in a whole new light, and partnering with horses in a whole new way. A way that does not involve “use,” but partnership. I am one of those people.

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Weathering Life’s Storms

It’s the middle of winter at 8885 feet in Colorado. A snow storm has blown in and is slamming our ranch with howling winds of 50–60 miles per hour and temps in the single digits. It’s snowing sideways and the conditions are miserable by any standard.I watch my horses standing out there in the storm. They’ve chosen to stand downwind of a stand of trees rather than under their shelter. They stand with their back to the wind, side by side, motionless.The conditions are unpleasant and the horses uncomfortable. But here’s the most important thing I’ve learned from them: they’re uncomfortable, but they’re not suffering.

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The Unbearable “Busy-ness” of Being

Have you ever noticed how often people use the word “busy” when you ask them how they are? You run into someone you know at the grocery store, the bank or the post office and inevitably the word “busy” emerges almost immediately when you ask the simple question “how are you?
“Super busy”
“I’ve been so busy”
“It’s just so busy right now”
“Crazy busy”

It’s seems to be a badge of honor. If you’re not “busy”, you’re not trying hard enough, or achieving enough, or working enough. It seems you have to be busy to show your life is worth something.
It doesn’t seem to be a red flag for most people, but it should be.

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When Life Suddenly Goes Gray

Sometimes the circumstances of our life just look dark. Sometimes even really, really dark.Like earlier this week, for instance. For the last few weeks, a nasty flu-like virus has run amok through our household. We first caught it on a wonderful family trip to Barcelona a few weeks back. One by one, we have succumbed to the sniffles, sneezes, chills and coughs. It has been so utterly nasty that we’ve fondly given it its own special nickname: the Spanish bird flu of 2019. For weeks of sore throats, stuffy noses, aches, chills and coughs (not to mention travel), Jason and I have mostly kept our sense of humor. We’ve stayed connected, graceful through the low, supporting each other to keep the household and business up and running.Until last Sunday. Sometime around mid-afternoon on that day, we both were hit by the low-mood gremlins. At the same time.

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The Unseen Trap of Goals and Affirmations

A quick Google search of “setting goals,” “affirmations” or “goal affirmations” will give you a peak into the dizzying, overwhelming world of self-help. You’ll get positively bombarded with Youtube videos, Ted talks, book suggestions, inspirational quotes, self-help programs, and a seemingly infinite variety of websites designed to help you achieve your goals.

Here is the simple truth: you don’t need any of that.

Not only do you not need any of that, but techniques like goals and affirmations will point you in the wrong direction.

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From fairy tale to nightmare and back again

Seventeen years ago, I was in the midst of the most challenging stretch of my life. I had just wrapped up a Ph.D. in education and my husband Jason and I were co-founding an innovative middle and high school in Boulder, Colorado. The school was definitely the first “child” we birthed, but we also had two real babies in the midst of it all, both boys, both humans that came into this world with absolutely no interest in sleeping. Ever.

Our first child, Owen, seemed incredibly challenging to us in the first year of his life. He was completely content so long as he was being held or nursed. But when we put him down, Mr Hyde turned into Dr. Jeckyl and just howled. And he wouldn’t stop until he was picked up again. The only other time he was content was when he was in some sort of conveyance that was moving, e.g. a stroller or car seat in a moving car. So we held him, and I nursed him, and we took him for walks in the jogging stroller and took him for car rides. And then we held him some more, and I nursed him some more, and took him for another walk in the stroller and then another ride in the car.

And he was mostly content.

And Jason and I were completely exhausted.

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A little more than 7 years ago, after a lifetime of privately poking fun at picky eaters, I became a very picky eater. In response to some unusual health issues that had surfaced, I jumped on the Paleo Diet bandwagon. Lots of protein and fat. Very low carbs. No sugar. No dairy.

I loved it. I had tons of energy; I could ride my bike for hours at high intensity; and I could eat truckloads of food and be as trim as I was in high school. And, despite a long history of being a kitchen nincompoop, I was so excited about my new diet that I became the go-to guy for most of the cooking for our family of four.

Recipes, it turns out, can make anyone look pretty good in the kitchen. My coup de grace was the full Paleo Thanksgiving that I made a few years ago for friends and family. My mom still talks about that as if I might have my own cooking show someday. (There were low points too. Like the barely edible spicy meatballs, that I resorted to covering in chocolate sauce to get my boys to try a few bites.)

But a funny thing happened along the way.

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The Language of Smell

“How about this one?”

“Ummm… licorice maybe? Kinda earthy. Not sure.”

Here I was, a few weeks out of sinus surgery, hoping to regain my sense of smell, which had gradually dwindled over the last few years until it was completely gone. With it, my sense of taste had left as well. At times, this was an advantage, as I no longer minded dealing with the garbage and the dog poo cleanup. Sometimes it just sucked, as the joy of eating good food has diminished, and some of my favorite smells – the moist autumn leaves under my bike tires, and the sweet aroma of the Russian Olive tree in the springtime – had become merely memories. And at times, it was awkward, since farting in my office while I’m alone didn’t really register with me, but seemed to have a different effect on my clients who might cock their heads a bit as they entered.

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