I Didn’t Know Enough to Be Afraid

When I was 23, fresh out of college, and didn’t know that there was anything I couldn’t do, I  moved to Japan. By myself.

I only knew one person, one of the administrators at the college where I would eventually work, through my sister-in-law who had coordinated the US side of an established summer student exchange program. When I was in college, Takashi invited me over to work and teach.

I was single, didn’t know the language, and I wanted to travel without having to raise money as a missionary. This was a perfect chance to live overseas, have a home base to travel from, and not have to raise money. Weeks before I went over there, I bought a pocket book that featured some basic vocabulary and a rudimentary explanation of the syllabic nature of Japanese.

Within a couple of weeks, I could phonetically read hiragana and katakana, the most accessible of the three alphabet groups that make up the Japanese language. I was addicted to vending machines once I could locate miruku te (milk tea). I’m a firm believer that there are a few things you should be able to say in any language. For example:

Oteire wa doko ni arimasuka = Where is the toilet?

Besides knowing that there would be some other English speaking teachers, I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know where I was going to live, for example, or how I was going to furnish my apartment. I had no idea what to expect or whom I would meet.

Big. Black. Hole. Of. Unknown.

The concept of preparation didn’t figure into my plans. With fewer than three months to get ready to move overseas, there was not time for anxiety to creep in. I just had to execute: get a passport and a travel visa, pack some clothes, visit friends before I left.


I signed up for two years and ended up staying 4.5 years. I took risks I would have my children institutionalized for taking. I learned a few things that I am still using in my Soul Journey.

Lesson 1 – People help you

The first Christmas there, I took a multi-country a trip to visit a university friend living in Bangkok. I landed in Singapore, took a train to Malacca, Malaysia, and then took a taxi to the interior to visit an Orang Asli tribe. I found a couple who was traveling to accompany me and we were welcomed by the medicine man of the tribe. I lost count of days. Returning from the interior, I was back at the guest house, getting ready for the last day of my time in Malaysia. As I was journaling about the trip, I realized I had missed my bus back to Singapore that day. At 8 PM, the hostess summoned up the same taxi driver who had taken me into the jungle to drive me another two hours into the interior of the country so that I could catch the last train back to Singapore in time for my flight the next morning.

I stood the entire ride back. I don’t know what those people wrote on the papers they told me to hand to the people at the train window, but I think they got me on when there weren’t actually any seats left. I didn’t know the language. I was scarcely familiar with the coinage. I didn’t even know there was a train in the interior and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to get to it or negotiate that last minute ticket – and I’m talking like seven minutes of time to spare before the train showed up at the station.

School kids practiced their English on me and old women carrying chickens in cages alternately clucked their heads or smiled. I’d missed the bus by a day. But there I was in the middle of a foreign jungle with ABSOLUTELY NO LANGUAGE skills or connections, and an entire car of train riders looked out for me. I made my flight to Bangkok.

Lesson 2 – Invest in the people who stick

After the first wave of expatriates I had made friends with left the country, undermining the delicate social web I’d constructed, I began to accept invitations from some of my students and co-workers. Maki and KaleyThey warmly embraced me, and let me into their worlds. I got to visit their family homes in the country, attend weddings and community celebrations in my yukata. I planted rice barefoot in a rice paddy, ate chicken voice box and rattlesnake, and rode my first sailboard directly into the side of a boat. I learned first hand, that too much seaweed salad and that much Ouzo do not friendly bedfolks make. I made friends with the older gentlemen who manned the subway stations and practiced my emergent Japanese on them. I chatted with school kids on the subway. I walked around shrines by myself and paid my respects.

I bought a used bicycle and extended my travel time. Met groups of friends on the beach where they would snorkel for octopus and we would make takoyaki (octopus dumplings) on the beach. The marine sports department students took me in and I got to go on sailing trips and diving trips with them and their families. The daughter of the department coordinator took me under her wing and taught me more Japanese. She told me I learned very well. She was five or six then. I think she has her own kids now.

On a trip with them to Okinawa, I dove with black and white striped snakes and found out later they were really freaking poisonous. I learned that during a night dive, you hold the underwater lamp to your side so that baracudas don’t head straight for your heart. I was mesmerized by the iridescent orange, blue, and green fish that in daylight looked kind of grayish, but at night glowed with stunning iridescent tracings.

Lesson 3 – Be your own witness and look at hard stuff

In Okinawa, I saw how the American military treated the locals from a Japanese perspective and it made me feel sad because I saw my own ethnocentrism from the outside, and it wasn’t pretty.

I felt gut wrenching loneliness and a core of self-belief well up congruently. I journaled my heart out. I swam and took baths. I painted my toe nails and learned how to cook with ingredients that were new. I read. I visited. I drank wine or tea on my deck overlooking the bay and wondered what it would be like to be able to share the freedom and experience of that chapter with someone. I realized I was okay with that.

I watched myself grow up and navigate hard things, and I am the only one who knows how hard they are and the challenges that I  overcame. This idea of self-witnessing is a growing theme for me…

Lesson 4 – It’s okay to be sad and alone

I miss that chapter and still dream about my ramen shop, the narrow and steep alleyways that I maneuvered on my obatarian bicycle on the way to the market, the yakiniku restaurant where the tables are shin high and I shared plates of food with my friends. The pool where they crazy gaijin woman swam 2 K every lunchtime. Being laughed at for eating curry rice with chop sticks because everyone knows that dish requires a spoon.

I miss sitting around the table at the pub after kayaking the river listening to about 30% of an intelligible conversation and just enjoying being safe with people I didn’t really know who took me in and made me feel included even if I couldn’t contribute a single thing to the conversation.

Twenty-five years later, I say I lived in Japan. I lived through the Kobe earthquake. I lived through my first two affairs. It was a world and a lifetime away, and again, I am my only witness. Friends live there still and I am loosely in touch, but in terms of having stories to share – “remember the time?” – it’s just me and my revisionist take.

There is a gentleness (yasashii) that was introduced into my soul as a result of my time in Japan and my interaction with the culture that took me in. It’s like a light version of being bi-racial, bi-cultural. Anyone who holds two contradictory identities knows what this means. I had Japanese friends tell me that I didn’t seem like an American. I realized this was a compliment. It made me both warmed and sad. I have had people who have only known me through social media and then they meet me in person. They say they weren’t expecting how I showed up. I know it is my yasashii heart they sense. It isn’t weakness and timidity. It is an honor bound recognition of others’ belongingness. It’s the humility that comes from being an outsider. It’s from seeing a completely different way of living in community that doesn’t work here but works there very well.

There has been a sadness to this – a formational chapter in life that sounds like a refrain from a Bruce Springsteen song when I talk about it now to people who weren’t there with me. I became an adult there. I learned to take care of myself there. I learned a language, made friends and negotiated a very foreign experience – largely alone – there. I lived in a very cool apartment overlooking a major metropolitan city with a view of the bay, and I felt awesome there. It’s where my a lot of my identity roots live – roots buried in foreign soil…

Lesson 5 – Embrace the Unknown

I didn’t know enough to be scared of what was coming next when I decided to take that bold trip. I had a little bit to go on and a lot of faith that things would work out. They did. Right now as I am realizing the full scope of the personal transformation I have signed up for, I return to this chapter in my life to be reminded that I have done this before: created a life from a kernal of mostly unknown. Even now, as I do a gratitude review of the last couple years, I see new friends. New knowingnesses. A new language spoken. This language is of the Soul, and I try to communicate its largely foreign concepts articulately in English: emotion, desire, and memory.

One of my learnings from my time overseas is that I wish I would have explored more on my own – not worried about being alone. I wish I would have learned more about history, traveled to more places to see more things, and engaged with more people. The taiko drummers at Himeji Castle, for example. More of Kyoto in the fall. And spring. The experience of walking across the threshhold of a 2000+ year old temple when one’s resident country was fewer than 300 years old is not an inconsequential thing.

Instead of Japan, I am now on my solo adventure to Soul Land, and today as I walk in the healing and noticing of that, this former and not-quite-so existential trip into the unknown wants to be remembered.


Thank Goodness for the Goddamn Mirror Principle

In the following blog, I talk about energy work which may tweak some people out and rape which is contextual but may be a trigger for some. I’m not asking you to believe in the modality – I am using it to illustrate a more aerial principle. I am also not advocating that we do not hold perpetrators responsible for crimes. I am addressing the energetic impressions that impact our collective conscious when breaches in humanity occur and how to make long term personal peace with them. 

Dove in flight

I was in an energy modality training recently, and we were working through some energetic clearing. The story we were working on involved a priestess who had been raped by a priest, resulting in a pregnancy. The energy that was blocking the person in question and needed to be cleared was that the was influencing the soul of the yet-unborn baby from the mother who was in this situation. As the story was unfolding, I had a visceral reaction to the priest in the story. I literally wanted to stand up and strangle him and call him names that started with and ‘F’ and ended with an ‘ucker.’ And granted I couldn’t do that because it was just the name ‘priest’ written on a white board. It was bizarre to me how visceral this reaction was because the story wasn’t mine – it belonged to someone else.

I told the instructor, “I am having a serious reaction to that character. I am in massive judgment, and I want to strangle him. This makes no sense as it is a word written on a white board.” She asked me to check in and see if energy in me had some connection to that particular priest. No. Then she asked me if I had been a similar character in my past. Yes.


“When we run into roles that we have played in past lives and we hold residual shame or self-hate for the roles that we had in hurting people, we often have strong reactions,” she explained.

It was time for lunch.

After lunch we returned and the patriarchy came up. While I like the idea of actual mature, whole men very much, I am not a fan of the patriarchy. It represents to me the power-over dynamic that controls people through financial and emotional means. It exploits our planet for the sake of profit. It shames the poor and blames them for their poverty. It trains the masses to be passive and compliant. It defines bold, direct, powerful, and sexually expressive women as hags, sluts, dikes, and bitches. It likes submission. It colonizes, appropriates, inflicts, and consumes.

Not a fan.

After lunch the patriarchy came up. Again I had a visceral response. “There it goes again. Not a big fan of the patriarchy,” I said.

“This work teaches us to not be in judgment because it is likely that in past experience, you have been a part of perpetrating the patriarchy,” she explained. “Remember the goal is to acknowledge, research what needs to be released, and release it. No judgment. Just find out what allows it to hold on and ask Spirit to clear the energy behind it.”


Holding on to the energy of feeling righteously indignant feels so much more satisfying than offering up broken pieces of our experience up to the light for clearing and release. But only at the ego level, it turns out.

The drama of righteous indignation fuels gossip and chat groups, clicks, and factions. Us vs Them. Tension. Accusation. Hatred. Hierarchies. Regulations. Scarcity. Fear.

When we operate, instead, from the belief that the discordant energetic underpinnings of any challenge can be cleared, educated, and released to their perfect origin of unconditional love, we are left with a quandry: what to do with all the possibility and open runway?

It turns out we often derive benefit from our judgment and our very own blocks:

  • With judgment, we can identify ourselves – but against ‘other’ instead of ‘as part of’
  • With victim thinking, we can escape responsibility and blame – at the expense of maintaining personal sovereignty and power
  • With hatred, we can cloak the vulnerable feelings of existential separation we feel – while causing more separation
  • With indignation, we can feel righteous – but be robbed of joy and peace

It’s expensive, holding negative power in our bodies and thoughts in order to fill these shadow needs that our tender egos insist we fill. Instead of using those visceral reactions we have to people and circumstances to trigger shadow reactions, we can use them to self-reflect.

This is how the process looks, before and after.

positive and negative reactions to triggering events

I am reminded of a modified version of the fake Buddha quote, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” It just doesn’t work like that. We die instead.

What if our hatred of other people is really just a reflection in the mirror about what we need to be able to forgive within ourselves? What if the biggest offense we need to forgive is the harshness that he hold against ourselves as it we see it manifest outside of us? What if we looked at points of tension as sacred gifts of insight that could guide our active participation in making the world a better place?

We might find ourselves happy. Aligned. Filled with joy and creative energy.

The Power of Liking People and Being Liked

friendship, self acceptance
Image source: http://holidaysimages.com/friendship-day-greeting-cardsmessagesquotespictures.html

There is a tremendous amount of power wrapped up in liking someone and being liked.

I don’t mean romantically, although that is also a good idea. I mean simply enjoying the person in front of you for the sake of their fundamental human fabulousness, which is both a thing and a word.


Pause for a moment and imagine a world in which you looked forward to seeing all of these people and when all of these people thought about you, they got warm rushes of happy just knowing you were in their lives. Friends, children, spouses, partners, co-workers, neighbors. People we pass heading into the bathroom at Ikea. That really cute barrista who is obviously WAY TOO YOUNG for romantic entanglement…

We feel fantastic when someone simply likes us. Smiles at us. Is clearly happy to see us. We shine, try harder to be our awesome selves, and dig a little deeper to show up. These are all great things that make all of us better when one of us does them, so as a math equation to make the whole better, we should all try to do this more.

Sometimes it’s hard to like people because they act like blisteringly nasty assholes. If someone in your life behaves like this on a regular basis, I recommend that you reassess your relationship with that person and trade up for people around whom you feel safer and more wonderful.

If you are the blisteringly nasty asshole, for the love of binge watching, knock it off! Deal with your shit and become humane.


There is a friction point to liking other people that needs to be addressed, and it is namely this: You can’t give what you don’t have. If you have not been liked, do not feel liked, don’t even know what I’m talking about, feel tears welling up all of a sudden, probably you have not been liked enough.

We need a lot of liking. And the people around us who depend upon us need us to like them a lot. We do some pretty crazy shit to try to get people to like us. We abandon the sovereignty of ourselves and practice mental and emotional gymnastics in the hopes of being liked.



Sprinkled with faerie dust.


We integrate others’ codes, pretend less is enough, we abdicate direction of decisions that affect every facet of this precious life. We find ourselves being proxy bodies in other peoples’ wonked-out dramatic productions, and we beat the bushes to find rescuers who will distract us from the work it takes to undo all of this self-abandonment.

The first person you need to start liking is… Y O U!

To like yourself, which is critical if you want to like your life (claim your creative rights, set a robust example for your kids, attract the opposite of a opportunistic people-using asshole), you have to move back inside your own body.

Moving back inside your own body looks like:
friendship, self-acceptance

  • Escaping the need for an power-over authority dynamics in relationships, friendships, parenting, and religious structure.
  • Figuring out that promises are empty mouth movements and actions are the only legitimate measurement of commitment.
  • Expressing our creativity without consulting the Internal Board of Limitation and Judgment.
  • Attracting friends who see us for our essence while shifting away from people whose agendas include us filling roles in their scripts.
  • Viscerally grasping that we really don’t need rescuers because the power dynamic and mottled clarity are no longer adequate exchange for the precious life energy we are working to intentionally to cultivate.
  • And finally, showing THE FUCK up.

It takes a set of brass to move back into your own body. The rest of the crabs may try to pull you back into the bucket. But for every person currently in your life who can’t make the transition with you, repeat this mantra:

love ya,

see ya,


Then find someone who likes you or go be with someone you like, and let that connection grow instead.

Apparently We Are Bundles of Magnetic Energy [VIDEO]

Been reading Pamela Grout’s book, E2, in which she creates nine experiments to test the hypothesis that humans are essentially bundles of energetic frequencies. We draw to us what matches the frequency that we give off. I chronicled my first experiment in another post.

According to Grout, our very thoughts affect our frequencies. When our frequencies are high, the energy field in our body is expansive and big. The hangers respond by opening wide. Conversely, when our thoughts are low, they in turn decrease the frequency of our energy field and pull inward, drawing the hangers together and crossing them. Further, when attention is focused in a specific direction, the hangers respond by moving toward the direction of the object / person toward which we are turning our attention.

If you would like to leave a comment (and please do!), you can access that from the link of icons directly under the title of this post.

Synchronicity in Green

synchronicityI’m overhauling  my internal structures right now after an amazing shamanic coaching session with Fabeku Fatunmise, birther of identities and (going on) five years of deepish soul exploring. Feel like I’m just beginning!

I have been reading a book – a lab journal – in which Pamela Grout proposes that our thoughts create the fabric of our reality. She calls this the field of possibilities or “FP.” Grout’s book, E2, contains nine experiments that the reader can conduct to test out the hypothesis that we humans are mostly big balls of magnetic energy and that the frequencies of our thoughts draw to us whatever matches that frequency. Simple math would suggest that if you want happy-making “thing,” direct your thoughts in a deliberate way toward those happy-making things.

The first experiment suggests that the reader invite the FP to make itself known clearly. It is an exercise in noticing and focusing  attention toward a specific thing. Eventually I am going for a set of tuning forks because, well, Internet, and the resultant burgeoning interest in frequency and its affect on our bodies / experiences. With an intention and some focused thinking, give the field of possibility 48 hours to show up unmistakably, Grout’s first experience asks.

After dropping the kids off at school the next morning, I began to think in earnest about this.  You know that thing where you never think about yellow Volkswagens, but then once you notice one, you notice eleven more between there and home?  “Instead of yellow, I want to see that bright avocado green I love,” I thought to myself.

By the time the thought had fully formed as I sat at the red light, a city bus passed me whose entire butt was emblazoned with the exact color I had in mind. I laughed in what might be called wonder. To me a bus speaks of moving big groups of people in a direction they want to go. That sounds like it’s on track for how I want to invest my time here on this planet on this go round.

I was ruminating on the significance of a green bus as I continued driving home. About a block away, I drove past a strip mall and as I glanced to it on my right, there was bright green logo emblazoned across the front of the building. It read: “P H O N E.” Communication. Getting messages across.

These things are delish. Their mango is also amazing. Also girl wallowing in the abundance of creation and showing gratitude for it backlit, of course, by the green I was looking for.

“That’s kind of cool. I wonder if it’s too much to ask for three?” I thought, keeping my eye out for green. A few miles went by.



Earlier that morning to make use of the ridiculously inconvenient hour between when my kids’ schools begin, I took the boychildren to buy some breakfast snacks. My favorite “chia vitality beverage” was on sale. I bought six and opened one.  I’d been nursing it all morning and was almost finished. Reaching into the console to take take the last drink, what do you think I found? That’s right, a girl in the middle of a flower petal mashup, making an offering and seeding or planting her soul. How about that?

There I am, wearing what I’m looking for.

A block from my home, I was kind of disappointed. I was getting greedy now. I wanted another one. I had only one right turn and then I would pull into my driveway. As I swiped the steering wheel to make the turn, guess what I saw? I was wearing the color. There I was looking for something and I was wearing it the whole time. I am clothed in what I am seeking. It is me I am waiting for to show up. It was about this time that I thought about taking pictures.

That morning, I had an appointment with myself. I had hours before I needed to pick the kids up, so I was planning on doing a tutorial, and other than that, just diving into some more reading on this energy thing. I pulled into  my driveway and checked a Facebook thread that I’ve been following before getting out of the car. In the thread, someone I respect very much recommended a book that I decided I wanted. That reminded me that I needed to go deposit some money in the bank, so I drove downtown to the bank. As I made the last turn before getting to the bank, I saw a new store on the corner. I used to sell industrial safety supplies. Not anymore. Now it is “Puj.”

“Puj” means worship or devotion in Hindi.

In Hindi, Puj  means worship or devotion or practice (copy and paste the Hindi of the link into Google Translate). I don’t know what this store does / sells, but I do know that part of my own spiritual awakening is regularly practicing a meditative and intentional ritual that gets me centered in my bigger-than-ego identity. Puj talks about the practice required to be the whole of you-ness with the whole of the rest of it. (Granted, I am not a scholar in Sanskrit, so this is largely personalized.)

Fluent. We Speak Home. Automation. Energy. Security. I’ll take it!

Then I got a little cocky. “How about another?” The sign at the store across from the stop sign read, “Fluent.” Fluent as in getting adept at working with something so that its expression is effortless, a thing of grace.

One more. I wanted one more. What I really wanted was one of those green-butted buses because by that time I knew I would be writing about this. The only buses to pass were black-butted, so no luck there. I did see something green on the road back to my house though. I parked and snapped an image.

Go with confidence? Well, that’s a great idea!

I got home, had some time to do a little centering meditation and then realized I had completely forgotten that I had an SEO tutorial scheduled. When I tuned into the webinar late, the group was critiquing one of the member’s websites. The moderator pulled up a member’s blog page, and we took a dive into a post he’d just written. I laughed again as I saw his logo. Endless entertainment is right!

Does it have to be all struggle and fight? maybe not. Maybe not forever.

I wrote the bulk of this watching my son’s lacrosse practice, sitting in my beach chair. It’s that color.  On the way home from practice, we passed a yellow Volkswagen. A girl can’t make this up.


‘Why I Dance’ Movement

why i dance project and international women's day
Why I Dance Project

Every year since 1911, March 8 has been International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to causes that promote economic, social, and political rights, safety and expression for womankind.

My friend Annie messaged me that she was trying to post the following video to Facebook and it was getting removed as quickly as it she posted it. So let’s fix that! (Thanks, Internet!)


Also, the song can be purchased by clicking here.

Why I Dance from Why I Dance Film on Vimeo.


collective consciousness
Flickr user charles.bukowsky, Creative Commons 2.0 license

I will commune with the sum
of conscious humanity.

Born, gone, yet to be

To share our truths and learnings.
To dance about our differences
and celebrate our failures.

It is these that spur us to take the journey.

I will throw all ego to flame
and as its curly edges turn to wispy ash,
collect it and rebirth it
as hope
and contentment
and service
and play.

I will watch sound re-create,
colors align,
scents evoke forgotten knowings,
the taste of belongingness.

…the Earth and her stones, our plants
the bodies in heaven,
the flame, the sea, the air, the crust,
hold their space.

Through these, tethering us to what is.

All that we are
and hope to become again
or finally:

Healed, celebratory –
generational threads of all knowing,
connected in love.

Conversation Between BIG and small

“spin, spin, spin,” says smallness.



“blah, blah, blah,” complains smallness.



“excuse, excuse, excuse,” moans smallness.



“blame, blame, blame,” points smallness.



“Goddammit, BIG, shut up!” yells small, stamping its foot.

“I am here when you are ready,” laughs BIG to BIG behind smallness.

make today count