Soon, you’ll see photos from Brave Girl Camps, Life Restoration Retreats, The Walk Wilderness Experience, Soul Truth Writing Retreats, Brave Girl Symposium and other wonderful memories . . . check back often, you might find a photo of yourself! If you have photos you’d love to have posted here . . . email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, here are some new blog posts:
I don’t know if it’s harder to know that we are not perfect or if it’s harder to know that we are also more magnificent than we could ever quantify.
Which is scarier?
Which is more uncomfortable? What is vanity?
What is pride?
Could we be in a dysfunctional relationship with how proud we are of how broken we are?
I have had this crazy relationship with all of this. I bet you have too. I hop between my fear of disappointing others, my fear of impressing others and my fear of being labeled as any ONE thing. I want to be lots of things!
So I set out to prove myself. But not TO MYSELF, to others. Ugh.
When things happen in life that look like destruction and everything is stripped away, you feel naked. And lots of days life feels like those awful dreams where you’re somewhere public (usually at school or work) and you look down and you’re naked. And everyone is just right there with you, looking at you, and you’re naked. And they’re laughing and taking photos and whispering and talking about you. And you’re naked. Did I mention YOU’RE NAKED? I used to have that dream a lot.
And life feels that way sometimes. You think everyone can see how naked you are, and everywhere you go, you think people are either pretending that they can’t tell you’re naked, or talking about how naked you are. Add to that a feeling that you are committing some sort of a “sin” if you show your naked body and this dream can really start messing with your head.
When we think there’s some way that we can beat our shadow, and we think we have…then we hide it even more when it shows back up. The thing is, our shadow is inextricably part of us and we will never be able to make it go away. And why should we? The ramifications of thinking there’s some GOOD THING we can do to never struggle in life again are devastating because we need community more than ever when we struggle. When we retreat in the darkness to hide our struggles, there IS a sweet spot of isolation where you get the message and come back. But it can start to smother you like tar if you stay there for too long. There are so many things that are medicinal when the timing is right and then go toxic when they start to rot. Isolation is this way.
I wish we didn’t hide our struggles and our need to go into isolation for a while to figure things out. Why can’t we say, as if we were trekking into the literal wilderness; “ I am gathering some intel in my shadow, will you come get me if I haven’t returned by this time?” And not shame each other for having to do it,but support each other in going there “to get what needs to be got.” Sometimes you’ve got to do it alone and other times it’s nice to have a friend come along. But no shame is needed, ever.
The messy middles feel like an insult when we think we should be somewhere else, or that we should have gotten to where we are headed by now. Or things should have turned out in a way that let us stay where we were so we didn’t have to go on another hard journey again (or what we are telling ourselves is “hard.”)
Sometimes you do need to sit in the middle of the intersection and cry. And sometimes it feels better to laugh. It makes the memory of it sweeter. It’s been many months since that happened, and the best part of it was that I was with my son, and we had learned together how to laugh and stay calm in situations like this. We learned it BECAUSE we have been through so much of this kind of thing together.
I guess there has to come a big moment when you’re so sick of the stories that are constantly rolling through your head that you’ll do just about anything to get rid of them.
Because it’s the stories we tell ourselves that end up molding our life.
This moment of being sick of yourself is a crossroads that pokes at you like a kid in line with you at the grocery store who is eye-level with the m&ms and won’t give you a moment of peace until you put them in the cart.
This moment is the gateway to the turnaround. Life is about to change, big time — if you let it.
A pretty common thing that happens when life falls apart and you fall apart and breathing is your number one goal for the day is that your life just gets really small, really contracted and really self-centered. I hate that it’s true, but sometimes when you’re healing you get so centered on your own suffering that you can’t/don’t see the miracles happening right in front of your face. You just get really selfish.
I need to say that this is true for me. I thought I was so alone, but the truth is, I was surrounded almost all the time by earth angels and angels from other realms too. I wish I could have recognized it while it was happening.
The Road I Walked With Angels was a long and crowded road, actually.
I have known some monsters, let me tell you.
And I used to think they were real.
My biggest monsters have been big old bullies. And I have never quite known what to do with bullies, or about them. It’s been a struggle for most of the years of my life that I thought would go away as I got older. This road I’ve walked with monsters has taught me that even after I was a powerless child, I was still essentially feeding my monsters a very balanced diet that kept them alive and well.
Jealousy is a beast. So is pity.
It’s tough to walk next to someone who seems to have zero problems and plenty of fortune. It’s tough to walk next to someone who has an abundance of problems and lots of needs, too.
Seems like we want to just walk next to those who make us feel comfortable in our existence and circumstance.
I have felt jealousy and envy plenty in my life, and it’s never been a pleasant feeling. I have compared myself to my perception of someone else’s life experience and told myself all sorts of stories. Again, it never led to pleasant feelings.
Until I walked away from most of society for a while, I didn’t realize how much I’d been comparing my life to just about everyone in my view.
Staying or going. Holding on or letting go. Leaving it there or taking it with. Trying one more time or putting a stop to it.
Every day we have to choose between those things and more. And guess what, as long was we are making a “good” choice, a choice that we are making with the heart, mind and soul all showing up as best they can — those choices will turn out for OUR BEST. Because it’s about learning, growing and becoming. And having the grit to keep choosing new roads when old roads end is how we learn, grow and become.
Grit is a regret eliminator. The more you have the grit to try in life, the more you fall, but you also let feelings of regret go. The only regret you’re really left with is that you didn’t have more grit to try more things.
I had a severe case of fork phobia, but on this road, I learned to embrace and APPRECIATE the myriad choices that we all are able to enjoy. I learned to expect that the more decisions I made, the more risks I was taking. And the more risks you take, the more odds are that you’ll both love some of the decisions you make and you’ll learn from the ones that you wish you wouldn’t have made.
And if there were a book called “1000 Things Not To Do,” it would be every bit as valuable as the book called “1000 Things TO DO That Guarantee Success.” But there’s not a manual like that for the whole human family, because all of our lives are way too different. So we have to write that book ourselves. That means you’ve got to make at least 2000 decisions that either yield “TO DO” or “NOT TO DO.”
It’s all valuable. All of it. So get to it. Be brave. Keep deciding FOR YOURSELF. Don’t ever give that responsibility to someone else. Unless you love road rash.
As I mentioned on the last road, there are some things that you can only see if you climb up high enough for the view.
The same is true to for the things in the lowest places. There are some things you can only see if you are willing to go down instead of up. There are things you can only experience in the lowest places.
It’s become stupefying to me how much we, as a culture, seem to always think that more is better than less. Or that higher is better than lower. Or that bright light is better than darkness. Or even that health is better than sickness or death is better than life.
My feelings about these old beliefs have changed so much. There are so many gifts in less. There are so many gifts in the lowest places. There are so many gifts in the darkness. There are so many gifts in both sickness and death.
Sometime in early 2020 I decided I wanted to climb 100 mountains. On Mountain #6, I fell down a 12 foot cliff and landed on an even higher cliff and just about fell to my death.
It started out innocently enough, I mean I was so experienced after climbing the first 5 mountains that I chose a really ambitious one for my 6th.
The very word “God” has become such a loaded word, and I want you to know that I know that. I wish it wasn’t so. I feel like as a human family, we need a shared benevolent parent now more than ever. But we won’t talk about that today.
I feel like I know God, and I feel like God knows me. We’ve traveled way more than 50 roads together. That’s why I have struggled with feelings of deep confusion when it comes to what I thought I used to know about the nature of God, and the way life works, and how if you are just a good kid who does all the right things, everything will work out.
I lost my faith for a while. And then I got to experience the way others sometimes treat you when they think you’ve got a horrifically contagious disease called a “faith crisis.”
When I set out to write these roads, I committed to being as honest, raw and vulnerable as possible. It’s not an easy thing to do, and some of these roads I have written, I wanted to delete as soon as I published them. This is one of those.
But I have to tell the truth about the roads that have led to now, and leaving this one out would not portray an accurate story. So I guess I will just cut to the chase and tell you that I started trying to disappear long before I actually disappeared from the world a few years ago on my quest to figure things out in my RV.
You see, secrets are poisonous and this is one of my secrets – I wish our whole human family could understand that we’ve all got to drain our secrets of their poison so that we can heal together. We’ve got to stop causing others to feel shame about the things that have poisoned them.
We all have our default behaviors to bring some kind of instant relief in times of severe stress. These are often behaviors that are not great for our lives in the l long term, but we do them to make uncomfortable or painful feelings stop. People look for relief in overworking, or by drinking a few cocktails, or over-shopping. Mine used to be binge eating, and it still is if I’m not careful. I can find instant relief in chocolate, Cheetos and carbonated drinks. If things are really bad, I can find myself at the gas station, numbing my feelings with a hot dog that’s had been rolling on the warmer all day — the older the better. I’ve learned better, so I can do better now. These days, I find that the most effective relief comes from standing right in the middle of what is scaring me or stressing me, looking it straight in they eye and not backing down.
But it took a long time to get here. And a wild horse was my teacher.
The Road Made of Mirrors taught me that there is always so much more than we can see, and the only thing we can truly influence is what we see in our own mirror. But that we have to have the courage to look, and we have to preserve and protect our time by not spending it looking at the thing or person that we believe wronged us. There will be hurts in life that will never be made right through apology. There will be things that happen with others that we may never understand. There are tragic things people do to each other, but what makes it even more tragic is when we either let it steal our life from us or we don’t take the opportunity to look in the mirror and first see the role we played. We feel free when we own our part, we feel validated and seen and powerful. We feel whole because we aren’t hiding from or leaving out parts of the story. Don’t deny yourself the whole of the story. Don’t gaslight away the parts of the story that can . Don’t pretend not to see what you see. Being a human is hard and messy so sometimes we are going to see things in ourselves that are hard to see — and messy to clean up. But man it feels good when you take your own power back and stop feeling like everyone else has all of the power.
I’m going to start this road by telling you that “I don’t know” has become one of my favorite phrases, and it’s almost always true when I say it. Sometimes I think I don’t know but I actually do, and sometimes I know that I know but I’m too afraid of saying it out loud. But most of the time when I say “I don’t know,” it is positively true.
It wasn’t always this way though. Somewhere along the way, I adopted the belief that if you didn’t know something, you were inferior. I have been one who asks every question that crosses my mind from the time I could first form a sentence. Because I really wanted to know about everything! I quickly learned in elementary school, as well as middle school and high school that kids laugh at you when you ask a lot of questions, and scoff that you had to ask. So, I always thought everyone knew but me. But the laughing didn’t deter me from asking questions, it just made me think that I was the dumbest one in the class.
Then when I became an adult and I would attend meetings with other adults, I would always raise my hand and ask question after question, making sure I truly understood. It was then that other adults would pull me aside after the meeting and say, “thank you for asking those questions, we were all wondering the same thing.”
What? Then why didn’t you ask?
What if the kids in school didn’t know either . . . and they just didn’t want anyone to think they didn’t know? What if I wasn’t dumb after all . . . just curious?
Well, I figured I could be very prolific on my journey all the way around the block. I knew what I was capable of. So I made a plan to “fix myself” as quickly as possible. And I figured that a little bit of therapy and a new location would do the trick.
It would just be a little trip around the block and then everything could get back to normal.
I took quite a few roads around the block before I figured out that I was just going in circles, down old familiar roads that brought me right back to the place I had grown out of. And that in my need to get finished quickly and efficiently, I was just wasting time and wearing myself out. It looked like momentum, and it was, but it was really more traveling procrastination than anything.
After a few frustrating and exhausting and prolific trips around that same familiar track, I finally surrendered to what was happening, and how big of a mess it was going to make.
This wasn’t going to be me doing the creating in the way I was used to, this was me being created by the energy that had been building up for eons, like a volcano. There was no stopping it.
Sometimes I am starved of things that sustain my life. Sometimes I am so thirsty for who I am that I think I am going to die. And sometimes those things just take a remembrance of what is needed and an action to deliver what is needed, and then I’m renewed.
But this feels different. So much of me has already died. It is gone. So much of what I thought would sustain me forever is gone now. This might be a long process of being green slime and trusting that it is going somewhere good.
I don’t want to be angry or bitter about this time in my life that has felt at times like such a cruel death. I want to trust it, welcome it and be grateful for it. I want to allow it. I want to let it take as long as it takes. I want it to be as complete and whole as possible.
I want to be new without crying about what is gone that felt so much an essential part of me. I want to be new without constantly apologizing and explaining that I no longer have parts of me that others used to enjoy. I want to trust that who I become will attract the ones who like what grew from the ashes of the old me.
I want to love what I was without clinging so tight to it that it becomes shackles that keep me from moving forward. I want to appreciate and enjoy the memories of what once was without feeling like what should have lasted forever got stolen from me. It was just time, that’s all.
I know that in the past, I have carelessly handed over my personal authority and almost always, I have been dominated, pushed-around, browbeat and bullied. I have been demeaned, talked down to and disrespected. I have handed over my own remote-control and become a machine at the mercy of someone else’s whims. I have had my own life ripped from my fingers and held over my own head. I have had the things I birthed taken and hidden and used as ransom. And I didn’t use any of this as fuel to rise up and fight. I just got smaller and more victim-y. This insidious pattern (that I chose) has tried to teach me over and over and over to stand up and take control of my own life.
But the dancing damsel in distress always seemed to win out.
I know that I am the one who danced this dance. I know that I am the one who sought out dance partners to replay this scene over and over again in a million ways. I know that I am the one who kept it going on the dance floor.
50 Roads #15 - THE ROAD TO SELF-CORRECTING (Roads #11-17 are letters to myself for what I wanted to find in therapy - they are filled with questions that I invite you to ask yourself) .............................................................. Dear Me, I am tired...
I am ready to accept that although my work and my ways of being with others in the world is the best part of my life, it can quickly and easily become a coping mechanism, a way to avoid my own inner world and an unhealthy addiction.
I know that I do this. I know that this is the most ridiculous and inefficient and even destructive pattern. It’s humiliating and humbling to take a good hard look at how many times I have done this to myself, somehow believing that “this time” it will be different. Somehow believing that self-sacrifice is noble and right in all situations.
I want to stop doing it. I HAVE TO stop doing it. Only I can stop doing it.
I know that I have real and enormous fears that I will become a selfish and self-indulgent person — and therefore a completely unacceptable person. I know that there’s a part of me that finds this to be so unacceptable that I am willing to risk my present and future health to avoid ever becoming that. Yet, I push myself so far that the only way to recover is to stop everything and sequester myself. And then here I am, only able to focus on myself, just to stay alive. Here I am in an emergency self-focus — I have just created my worst fear.
This pattern is NOT OKAY WITH ME anymore. These old beliefs ARE NOT OKAY WITH ME anymore.
I want to live out my own responsibility knowing that there will always be difficulty and distraction. There will always be unexpected bends and curves in the road. The road will sometimes end before I get to my destination. There will always be something confronting me that gives me the opportunity to choose between creating or destroying. Stalling or moving. Life or death. Kindness or contempt. Love or fear. Almost every single moment has 2 hands outstretched with one or the other to choose from. I want to take responsibility for what I do in those moments AND what I do after I choose.
I am going to mess up, even with best intentions. There will be times when I will wish I would have chosen differently. Those moments also hold tremendous opportunities. I want to take responsibility for choosing course correction over shame or blame. I want to extract the powerful lessons that come from “failure” and “mistakes” and I want to utilize the resulting potent energy of knowing I’ve missed the mark to fuel another try…and another.
I want to stop giving my own responsibility away for the results and rewards and consequences of my own life’s choices. Every action has a consequence. Every choice, every thought. Every next moment, and what happens in that moment, it all has consequences. Whatever I choose, I want to take responsibility for.
I need to find some pieces. And I am so reluctant because I know how tricky fragments can be. I don’t want to cram pieces into the puzzle I’m putting together that just “sort of” fit. I’d rather have a hole where my puzzle is incomplete than a piece that doesn’t go there.
I need to remember myself back together, but once I’ve done all that I can do, I want to get back to living in THIS DAY. I want the parts of me that are trapped in the taped-up boxes of my past experiences to be set free.
I think I am going crazy. I don’t know what is true.
So much of what I thought was true has crumbled. So much of what I built the foundation of my life on has disappeared, as if it was only an illusion all along.
I feel like I was just a rainbow. I was never anything real or solid.
And now I am gone. I don’t know where I went. I was here and then I was gone.
What am I?Who am I?
What is true about everything?
I need to know. Please give me the courage and the skills to be radically honest. First with myself and then with life. With others. In all things.
50 Roads #10 - THE ROAD TO THE THERAPIST I used to give people with depression or anxiety really bad advice. Stuff like . . . “Just think positive!” or “Don’t let that get you down, just forget about it…” or “Count your blessings!” Ugh. I wish I could go back to every...
50 Roads #9 - THE ROAD TO THE UNWANTED TRUTH Our world is suffering from a TRUTH crisis. So, individually I think lots of us have been suffering from a Truth Crisis of some kind or another, that's a long road I went down. I’ve found that you’ll drive yourself mad if...
It’s a bizarre experience to set off into the world and not have anyone know who you are after you’ve spent your whole life in the same community where almost everyone knows who you are, generations back.
Lots of people knew me that way and I knew lots of people that way. But I also “knew” lots of people across the world online and from business. On one of my Soul Roads, my social media accounts were gone overnight. So over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to really experience what it’s like to go from having lots of community to having almost none.
Once my social media accounts were gone, after years and years of having an online following in the hundreds of thousands, I had to really come to terms with what social media has done not just to me, but to our human family.
I had to ask myself the preposterous question of whether I had any value if no-one knew who I am, where I am and what I am doing. And this would ultimately lead to me asking MYSELF – Do I even know who I am? Do I know where I am? Do I know what I am doing?
When I turned the corner to step onto the forbidden road of well-being, I knew I was taking an enormous risk. I knew it was going to require the sacrifice of anything in my life that was there because of what I could produce.
There’s a showdown that happens when you stop trying to over-pay for your very existence. It’s like a settlement you have to reach with the part of you that wants to die a martyr. You have to give the martyr something to walk away with, so that you can be free.
It’s a separation of a life partner, you and your martyr have to part ways as she wags her finger accusingly, watching you fade off in the distance down the forbidden road.
So what will you give her, that old martyr who has been passively-aggressively shaming you for most of your life?
I gave her my lists of accomplishments, my grudges, my ledger books of how I’d been wronged, my ledger books of how wrong I was. I wrapped it all nicely in a banker’s box, made her a sandwich for the road and said “you head back down your road, and I’m gonna take this one….the sparkling forbidden road of self-responsibility, self-respect and humane free will.
I slowly headed down the forbidden road of no thank you -nope -not anymore -absolutely not and even hell no.
We work hard to get letters behind our name. We work hard for titles and names to put behind our name. But those are all just EXPERIENCES that we get to have. They are not what make us who we are.When our old beliefs and habits are the sticky adhesive that won’t let those labels go, we have to take responsibility for how we’ve been believing ourselves right into old patterns…over and over and over. When we pull off the labels but the adhesive of old beliefs and patterns is still there, other stuff will just stick to the top of the old adhesive. There are a lot of broken people and organizations recruiting people with sticky habits and sticky beliefs, drooling at the thought of how easy it’s going to be to stick their label right where that old label was that you thought you’d gotten rid of.And that’s the tricky part . . . that’s why we run back to things after we think we’ve overcome destructive patterns. Because the adhesive is still there.When the adhesive is especially sticky, you have to use some pretty strong stuff to dissolve it off.And sometimes to get rid of the label entirely, everything under it has to disintegrate and dissolve too.
I have lived in my “dream house” a couple of times in my life. I have had my “dream furniture” and my “dream yard.” I loved it.
And now I live in a medium sized RV that is 16 years old with outdated cabinets and wallpaper — and I can say with all honesty that at this exact time in my life, I am living in my “dream house.” It is a magical, perfect life that we are living right now because we are learning and growing and transforming in ways that would never be possible had we stayed where we were ANY of those times that I was sure I wanted to stay forever.
It’s 2021 and we are in the middle of a global shake-up on so many levels. Chances are, if it hasn’t already happened, you or someone you are very close to is going to have to leave their perfect, magical life on their perfect, magical road. The one you or they were absolutely sure would last FOREVER.
And I promise you that you are going to be okay. There are SO MANY ROADS that you don’t even know about yet, waiting for you to discover. There are roads that you will carve and pave yourself. There are roads that you’ll drive down faster than you should because you’ll know instantly that they are not right for you.
Lots of people tell me I am brave and resilient. But I need to tell you the truth about the other side of that stick. For you to understand the upcoming roads, I need to start telling you now about my complete mental and emotional unraveling that happened shortly after we left Idaho. It stepped up to the counter of my reality as if it had been waiting in line for decades to talk to me. Now that it had its turn, it wasn’t going anywhere until I listened. It waited until I was on a road dark enough to see myself. And what happened next, some might call a mental or nervous breakdown, I did for a while. What I call it now is a severe allergic reaction to the blinding strobe light of self-abandonment. It showed up unapologetically as soon as things got dark enough for me to be able to see it.
I’d lost myself, or abandoned myself for a long time in the abyss of modern life’s metaphorical light pollution. Too much light? It didn’t make sense for a while. As a lover of truth and knowledge and love, this lesson for me was unforeseen and something I fought for a long time. How could too much light be a bad thing? Wasn’t I always trying to find more light, create more light and advocate for more light?
I was actually hiding myself in the blinding lights of “too much.”
What I have learned is that not all light is the same.
What I have also learned is that not all darkness is the same.
Sometimes people who love each other have to part ways, and hope with everything in them that they will get to meet up again somewhere down the road. But still we make up stories about the “separating part” until we can’t even remember the “together part.” We stop remembering that love transcends time and space and even parting.
It’s often like that when relationships go through the transitions that happen as a result of life’s turmoils. We seem to be wired to go on a hunting expedition whenever something hurts, to look for who is the one doing the hurting. When sometimes, it’s just LIFE that did the hurting, not a choice that someone made to hurt someone else. It’s the fallout of a bunch of people on their own path, trying to stay next to each other as much as they can — while life has all sorts of twists, turns and holes on up ahead that we can’t always see. Sometimes in order to stay on the path that’s meant for your life, you have to go a different direction than the person next to you, who also has to stay on their own path. When you’ve been lucky enough to have your paths next to each other for a really long time, that’s when it’s hardest, that’s when we start to make up painful stories about “what it must mean.”
And the problem was that I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t let go of unfinished possibilities, good-intentions-never-fulfilled or things that had graduated to the title of “good memories.” I didn’t want memories. I wanted ALIVENESS. I wanted everything to come back to life somehow. I wanted everything that was EVER good in my life to be within arms reach so that I would be okay no matter what happened next.
In truth, I was always afraid that nothing good would happen again and so I needed to hold on to what was good before.
And the biggest truth of all was that I wanted PROOF that I did something valuable once. I wanted PROOF that I had gathered the things that make a person valuable in our culture. I wanted PROOF that I was valuable and worthy of a beautiful life.
So we waited until our last child was a legal adult, and we drove away from the place where we were born and raised. We drove away from 4 generations of family who had homesteaded that land. We drove away from lifelong friends. We drove away from painful memories and memories that were so sparkling with love and goodness that it would blind your eyes. We drove away from the identities we had so carefully forged in an effort to belong.
Hello human family….I love you. What a time to be alive in this world. I’ve been absent from most places for a good long while. I left Idaho just about 2 years ago, driving an old red truck and following my husband as he towed the RV that his parents gave us to start...