Going nowhere

Finishing up my yoga and meditation this morning I couldn’t help noticing how utterly present I was. No thinking. No direction. No needs. No “I better get going on that book or blog or email.” No need to run to the bathroom or the kitchen or the grocery store.

Absolutely no impulses in any direction.

So, I just sat, watching the dragonflies zip around as the light breeze riffled the leaves on the almond trees in the orchard. I don’t know for how long because there was no impulse to keep track of the time.

Eventually an impulse did show up and I followed it. Coffee! And my latest experiment with a new creamer, substituting almond milk mixed with a little organic coconut cream instead of using my usual whole milk … which I love. But having just finished editing a health book on gut repair and ketogenic diet—including a chapter on all the various reasons milk isn’t a good health choice for the vast majority of humans on the planet—I’d finally gotten serious about finding a different kind of coffee mate. And this particular combo was a taste treat success.

Bye-bye milk and half and half!

Then I followed the next silent internal impulse and wandered out to the back porch where I just sat, drinking my delicious decaf coffee blend.

Having just come off a six-year writing binge churning out four books (seven if you include two horribly long and depressing sequels to my memoir Unearthing Venus that I wrote following a disastrous love affair, plus my latest book—a very passionate spiritual romance novel called Apollo and Me) you have no idea how amazing and wonderful it is to have rediscovered the gear called:

Neutral.

In the midst of preparing The E Word for publication this year, I actually went through a phase where I believed that “I and my work are one” … that there was no separation between my writing and my work and the rest of me. My life was my work. My books were me.

I listened to friends with their own businesses talk about how they compartmentalized their work and social life, smugly congratulating myself on my spiritual advancement and profound life integration, not having the slightest clue that the only reason my life was integrated was because I had no life outside of my writing.

Nothing like writing a book on the ego and getting a little perspective. What’s the old saying?

We teach best that which we need to learn the most.

A radical new way of being

For the longest time, I thought “being” meant hanging out in a meditative-like state of quiet bliss—you know— totally calm and “present.” Compared to the frantic state of modern civilization and much of my life, “being” seemed like a haven of refuge.

“I’m just going to sit here and be for a while.” Ahhhhh … heaven!

But then “being” became a pursuit. A spiritual goal to accomplish. And I ended up laying the same sense of urgency and striving on “being” as I did everything else.

So much for “being!”

It wasn’t until recently that I had an “Aha!”

What if “being” simply meant being myself? Can you imagine what a relief that would be for a loud, easily-excited, exuberant Leo female? Can you imagine how much of a relief that would be for everyone?

Yes, yes, I know. I can hear the rebuttal now. “But that just means being your regular stupid old ego. And that’s not very advanced!”

True. Oh so true!

But that’s not the “being you” I’m talking about. I’m talking about the precious authentic “you” that gets excited about getting sweaty playing baseball on a hot summer day. The “you” that sidles up to a beautiful flower and takes a deep inhale as you walk past a neighbor’s yard. The “you” that likes to binge watch Agents of Shield. The “you” that gets off on collecting bottle caps, or old hats or antique telephones.

The unique “only you” you.

That’s being. At least that’s the kind of being I’m interested in.

And the best part is … it’s easy and it’s … fun.

Life always delivers

Waking up to blue skies the other morning, I sat on the deck nursing my coffee, totally aware that my computer wasn’t calling to me. My inner child, however, was making a huge racket.  The beach! The beach! Let’s go to the beach!

I didn’t even try to resist the Siren’s call.

The tide was out when I got there, and I settled up in the dunes amidst the sea grasses to have a better view and catch the light breeze. The sun danced on the water and I inhaled the tang of seaweed and salt, deeply content. I wrote for a couple hours, then got up to take a walk. Leaving my sandals with my notebook and car keys, I struck off towards the water across what I quickly realized was very hot sand. I increased my pace. Damn! It wasn’t just hot, it was scalding! Forget walking. I broke into a trot.

Another 50 yards and I broke into a run … but it was slow going. My toes are blistering! my mind yelped in disbelief as I slogged through the deep sand. The water and cool relief seemed a million miles away. It was so hot even the damp sand marking the old high-tide line where cars drive on the beach gave no relief from the heat. I kept running until I hit the waves, fully expecting a cartoon-like hiss of steam as my feet hit the water.

Yowza!

I walked for about an hour, wading in the cool water. But my feet felt like burnt toast. The whole way up the beach and back, I kept thinking How in the world am I going to make it back to my shoes??? Maybe I could soak my shirt in the water and stop every so often and stand on it for relief? That was about the best I could come up with.

I approached my start point, staring wistfully at the far distant pile of my stuff up in the dunes, calculating the closest distance between point A and point B. Then suddenly an old SUV appeared out of nowhere, chugging up the beach. It stopped a little ways in front of me at the precise spot between the water and my stuff.

A woman with long brown hair got out and started puttering around her vehicle wearing … yellow flip flops.

Can I do it? Can I ask a complete stranger to borrow their shoes?

I could and I did. Without a moment’s hesitation the woman smiled, saying, “Of course.” Bending down she slipped off her well-worn shoes. “Here.”

If she’d handed me a check for a million dollars, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I trudged to my stuff, changed shoes and headed back to the car, marveling at how life had delivered me such a small but precious miracle. There was a 20-mile stretch of empty sand beach to park on. And she’d picked the exact place where she could be of service.

When I got back to the car, the woman was standing at the water’s edge, holding her newborn baby girl. She looked tired as only a new mother can look, and the baby appeared a bit overwhelmed by the energy of the sea.  There was a story here—a long one. It wasn’t just the SUV filled with boxes and clothes. I could feel it radiating from her as I handed back the flip flops. But we didn’t go there.

We just chatted of small things for a bit and then I thanked her again and walked away

Cutting Loose

When was the last time you really let it rip?

Shattered the BS about “Children should be seen and not heard” – annihilated all memory of being told “Be Quiet!” you’re “too loud” or “Stop being obnoxious” or “You’re not being appropriate” etc etc and just let it all hang out?

?

As an outgoing LEO I heard that stuff all the time growing up. Apparently having Jupiter in Aries in the 6th house doesn’t help either. It took a LOT to shut me up and dampen my energy … but like water dripping on a rock, eventually my parents and teachers wore me down to (barely) acceptable levels of volume and energy output—until eventually I was deemed docile enough to let loose on society.

But if you’ve ever watched a bunch of little kids, you know they naturally make a lot of noise. They scream ear-splitting screams and throw themselves around with abandon, expressing themselves openly and excessively as often as possible.

It’s why we’ve got these amazing vehicles called bodies. Right?

Unfortunately, by the time we’re adults, self-expression is pretty low on the To Do list. By the end, most of us have literally shrunk in upon ourselves until there’s practically nothing left!

Self-Diminishment Disease (SDS) effects everyone—especially people who’ve wandered onto the Spiritual Path where dissolution of the self, soft-spoken, obsequious demeanors, and 800-count organic Egyptian cotton sheets are highly prized and sought after.

It never occurred to me that I might suffer from SDS. Despite writing a highly insightful book on the nature of the ego, mine is still relatively intact. After 35 years on “the Path,” few would call me soft-spoken. And, although I love high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, I can’t afford them. On top of all that, my energy body, which has been serving me well for 65 years, has been kindly referred to as “big.”

So, it came as some surprise to me and my fellow participants in the Speaking Truthfully workshop lead by Robert Rabbin (www.robertrabbin.com) last weekend in Prunedale, CA, to discover that I indeed have SDS, and thus some ways to go in the “cutting loose” department where it really matters: CUTTING LOOSE THE AUTHENTIC SELF.

Nobody enjoys an ego parade. And cutting loose the ego was not on the weekend’s agenda. Speaking Truthfully is about finding and expressing the real self, buried deep under decades of rules and regulations, belief systems and other kinds of general rot comprising the repertoire of the ego self.

What shocked me most that weekend was how desperately I desired to express passion and glory. How much unexpressed ecstasy and joy was in me begging to be shouted to the heavens—how much unsung appreciation for life and living I contained—and how very much I desired to let it all out!!!!

So, I did.

I don’t remember much of what I said when it came my turn to speak. And because it was a speaking/coaching class where a modest level of conscious awareness and ability to control oneself for maximum impact and effect on the audience (my fellow workshop participants) was desirable, I didn’t end up impressing my teacher very much. But I didn’t care.

I had at last let my cosmic ROAR loose upon the world.

Everyone survived. No window panes shattered. The dogs didn’t run, howling. No one told me to shut up.

My ego, however, will never quite be the same.

Missed Flight

Back in my TV days living as an adrenalin junkie, I loved seeing how close I could cut my arrival times at the airport. Heart-bursting races to the gate were a bizarre badge of honor signifying my cavalier attitude towards jet travel. Collapsing in my seat, wiping the sweat from my eyes, I’d casually order a scotch and water from the stewardess as soon as I could catch my breath. And if it were 8:00 am so much the better.

See? Exuding a superior attitude, I sipped my scotch, glancing at the pedestrian travelers around me drinking crappy coffee and coke. I’m an important TV person. I live on jets. I’m cool. I know Howard Cosell. I am somebody.

(No wonder I was called to write a book about the ego! I know that sucker so very well!)

Strangely, I never missed a flight. Never have missed a flight … until this morning.

What possessed me to book a 6 am plane to San Jose (CA) I have no idea. I got up “on time” at 3:15. I left the house “on time.” But then I spaced the airport exit. And then I missed the shuttle bus from the parking lot. And then the check-in kiosk refused to grant me a boarding pass. And then the lines were horrific.

And then the airline attendant said, “There’s a $25 rebooking fee.” And that was that.

The closest I ever came to missing a plane before was actually a flight out of Quito, Ecuador in 2009 when I had—I kid you not—a 15-hour layover. I was sitting in the empty departure lounge, wondering where everybody else was, when an airline attendant came bursting through the doors gibbering in Spanish, grabbed me and shoved me down some back passages to get me to the plane that was about to depart.

But I digress.

I have to say, now that I’ve had the experience, there’s something calming about missing a flight. The rush is over. There’s nothing you can do. You have all the time in the world to get through security. Your TSA pre-check is wasted but you have a great chat with one of the security guards. You stand in a long long coffee line that would normally set your teeth grinding and enjoy talking to fellow travelers. You sip coffee watching the sun hit the snow-capped Olympic mountains. You eat a relaxed breakfast, catch up on emails and write a blog with plenty of time to spare.

It’s a pause. A suspension of forward motion.

And it’s actually quite delicious.

Tug O’ War

You want to fly! But part of you holds back. You’re jazzed about creating a fantastic life! And part of you sits in the corner, sucking your thumb in self-doubt.

Sound familiar?

I used to think this was the inevitable war playing out between my Higher and lower selves — the conflict between my divinity and my humanity on the battlefield of everyday affairs in work, money, intimate relationships and spirituality.

I used to think that to fly all I had to do was be good and do everything right.

When that didn’t work out I was disappointed, but comforted by the belief that this war within was normal. It was the LIGHT and the DARK within me wrestling for supremacy — the devil and the angel sitting on either shoulder arguing over my soul like a dry wishbone ready to split.

Every time my “good self” won I felt great. Every time my “bad self” won, I felt terrible. Meditate for two hours every morning for a week? I was righteous! Too hung over to even think about it? I was a horrible person.

For decades, when I ate right and said and did all the right things I was flying high. And when I wasn’t good I flagellated myself with guilt until I was back in line.

Sigh.

I suppose this crap is inevitable. After all, religion’s been around for a loooong time. And believing in good and evil is like … um … the way it is. Right?

Um … NOT!

It’s a belief designed to fail.

It’s a belief designed to incur maximum emotional distress and keep us spinning.

It’s a belief designed to keep us in the fold. (And whether the “fold” is Catholicism or Zen or Advaita doesn’t matter one bit.) And as long as we’re dealing with “good” and “bad” and “right” and “wrong” we’re screwed.

What to do?

Look. Have you ever noticed that when you do “bad” stuff it always comes with its own repercussions? Hangovers, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, broken relationships, addictions and, in general, unremitting pain and suffering?

Have you ever noticed that when you do “good” stuff it always comes with its own repercussions? Happiness, high energy, warm connection with others, satisfaction and joy?

Who needs religious/spiritual guilt and a bunch of dogma and stupid rules?

LIFE teaches us what works and what doesn’t on its own. We just have to live it.

I guarantee, as soon as you get rid of all the “spiritual rules” and guilt crap that keep you recycling through the whole Sin and Redemption Game, the lessons life gives you (that you give yourself) will whip you into shape faster than you can say “Pass the pretzels, please!”

Standing naked

This whole time back from my seven-week, drop-everything-that-doesn’t-work-or-feel-good journey through CA/AZ/NM I’ve been housesitting at a friend’s place in Olympia. And I’ve been filled with ??? Where to next? What next? Wanting ANSWERS!!!!! Like NOW!!!!! And yet … I find myself in this delicious place of just BEING here.

I know that screaming to the heavens, racking my brains for answers means I’m only creating more not having the answers. I know ticking the days off the calendar makes me feel scared. So, following my recent mandate of only doing what feels good and doing what I want to do … I’m not doing any of that. Nope.

I am resting in self-created beatitude.

Happy, content, secure, cradled, enjoying beauty, feeling aligned, feeling blissful, feeling present, feeling all is well, feeling everything is perfect, feeling new and wonderful things and people and places and ideas and creations are coming … feeling excitement at the not-knowing, feeling excitement to see what will show up out of this overflowing wellspring of joy and alignment and just being me.

Out on the edge of forever … naked … yet utterly clothed in peace and glory.

This is my task – my only job. To stand in peace and glory … the place of unconditional love for self and life … and watch more and more of me show up.

This is everyone’s task … everyone’s only job.

Just as I knew back in the fall of 2014 that the next step/task for me was to write The E Word, I’m clear that the next step/task for me is to simply stand in the beauty of my own being and let life deliver the goods that have already been created that are waiting for me … that have been waiting for a very very long time

Words don’t teach. Experience does. How will I ever know if this works unless I stand in this place and simply be?

Living from the INSIDE OUT

Since I cut loose and ran off to the Arizona desert in March I’ve been on a roll. All the heaviness of 80-hour weeks prepping for a book launch that fell flat—all the horrible self-judgment and feelings of failure because I didn’t sell 5,000 copies in the first month (the gold standard is 25,000 pre-sold before launch) — fell away.

I remembered what it was like to breathe cold dry air and inhale the freedom of vast expanses filled with nothing but distant up-thrust mesas, sand and sky. To sit for days and do nothing … no meditation, no “contemplation,” no trying to figure shit out or “raise my vibration.” Nada. Nothing.

Empty. Alone. Alive.

Wow. I said that word a thousand times as I re-introduced myself to life—the world I came here to dance, create and love in. Clicking off the miles from one jaw-dropping vista to the next, my emotions gradually lifted from frustration tinged with despair flavored with dullness to … grateful … then peaceful … then awed. Finally a tender little sense of happiness flickered in.

Maybe I’d survive the publishing game in its current state of insanity with my soul intact after all.

Sixteen days have passed since my return to what I used to call “home” —a city not a residence (all my stuff is in storage and I’m house sitting for the friend that opened her Greek island home to me two summers ago to write The E Word.) It’s a gig that will end July 20th with a big fat ?

It’s clear my 25-year stint in the Pacific Northwest is over. But I have no idea where to go next because there is no pull … no clear call. So I consciously sit at the temporary craft table set in front of the French doors in my friend’s palatial living room as I work … and radiate contentment.

I feed the dog and evoke gratitude. I cook dinner and conjure excitement. Peacefulness and harmony. The sense of arrival in the right place. Comfort. Appreciation. Beauty. Boldness. Adventure. I conjure the feelings and hold them, over and over and over … driving to the store, sweeping the floor, brushing my teeth at night.

Where to next? The answer will match the vibration I hold.

It’s not easy. My finances are as uncertain as my heart, and July 20th is not that far away. The habit of fear flutters in my chest. Anxiety seeks to clutch my throat. Doubt lingers in the doorway, a dark shade, waiting.

It’s so easy to let the vibe falter. So very very easy … because we normally live from the OUTSIDE IN.

A glance at my bank statement holds far more “realness” than the newfound joy in my heart. The outrageous rent prices on Craigslist in places I think I’d like to be (California?) are lead weights on the fragile buoy of hope … housesitting has become a business triggering thoughts of fear and competition once again.

Breathe Cate. Dance. Know. Trust. Feel what you want to feel. Ignore EVERYTHING else. Seeing may be believing … but it’s not creation. It’s a dead end. Turn your back on the old monsters. They’re as tired of you as you are of them.

You know what to do.

Live from the INSIDE OUT. Feel your way to what you want. Feeling is the key … the only way out. The only way to pass GO!

Live from the INSIDE out … and see where it takes you.

Seeking safety

Devotion means you have seen the limitations of who you are

and you have seen the boundlessness of what life is.

~ Sadhguru

 

I want safety. Security. I’m 65 and damn well feel like I need these companions more than ever. And yet safety and security have rarely had seats at my inner decision table. Why would they show up now?

Life is a fast-flowing river—an exhilarating ride from start to finish. But we try to capture moments of the flow—the happy moments, the safe moments, the contented moments—and freeze frame them in a box. We still the ever-changing river by choosing the security of the known.

And die to life while still breathing.

When I succumbed to the inner command to write down and publish what I know about the ego and enlightenment in the fall of 2014, in the process I was gifted with stunning revelations and massive growth as a human being and as a writer. But when The E Word was released in January 2017 it was a shitty time for books sales. And even though I’d hurled myself into a year-long marketing and social media frenzy before the book launch, sales were slow. And I quickly found myself swallowed by despair.

Publishing is a numbers game. Slow book sales means no next book and The End to my dreams of being a popular published author. So I threw myself into what I perceived to be The Answer: Take off the author hat, become a Spiritual Teacher and do workshops.

I had to get out there NOW before it was too late! Had to shoulder myself into the marketplace filled with other well-meaning, heart-centered Spiritual Teachers hawking their heart-based products to the millions of needy people desirous of changing their unfulfilled freeze-framed lives into happy fulfilled ones.

I had to target my market. Turn myself into a brand. Craft the right message. Create the right lead magnets. Market test. Create a sales funnel. Do online webinars leading to seminars and workshops and retreats … go go go!!! Sell sell sell!

It was what my publisher expected of me. It was what I expected of myself. But it all felt so forced, hurried and wrong.

So, taking advice from the pages of my own book … I stopped. Just when it seemed the time to lean in the most … I let go of my creation and everything I logically thought it (and I) should be.

Furniture in storage, bursting with confusion and self-disappointment, I hit the road on a vacation/vision quest (publicly called a “book tour” because I had speaking gigs along the way.) For seven weeks I traveled through California, Arizona and New Mexico, staying with friends. I slept long, ate well, washed dishes, worked in a friend’s orchard and pulled weeds in flower beds. I meditated and danced, smoked some mind-expanding marijuana and sat for days alone in the cold, wind-swept desert. I did ceremony and re-engaged yoga.

And slowly I realized I’d made the right choice. Hurling myself, yet again, off the cliff into the river carrying me into the unknown was the only authentic way forward.

I don’t know the result of this choice yet. But it will match the freedom I feel inside as the flight feathers of my heart stretch towards infinity and my body melts in devotion to life.

YOU are the message

So, I’m sitting in PF Chang’s at the Sherman Oaks Galleria in LA with my friend Robert Rabbin having lunch last week.

Robert is like no one I’ve ever met before. I could use normal descriptors and say he’s “really real” or “genuinely genuine” or “incredibly intelligent” or explain how he doesn’t give a rat’s fart what other’s think about him and thus is peculiarly free from artifice. But that doesn’t explain him.

Maybe he’s so stunningly present and engaged because he’s been meditating since he was eleven. Or (more likely) because he was handed a “you’ve got six months to live” cancer sentence in 2012 and has been thumbing his nose at the medical establishment AND the fuckwit way most humans go about living in this world ever since, choosing to show up differently, consciously working to uplift the deplorable state of the world by his mere presence on a daily basiss.

He does a good job of it. God knows he’s made a huge difference in my life—and I’ve only met him twice. Read More