Dreamers of the Dream

Dreamers of the Dream

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream. Wandering by lone sea breakers, and sitting by desolate streams. World losers and world forsakers, for whom the pale moon gleams.  Yet we are movers and shakers of the world forever it seems.

Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy

How do you make music?  What do you dream of? What invites you to wander, and what invites you to be still?  How do you let go of what the world wants you be?  How to you reclaim what calls from your soul?

woman balancing

How do you move with the mountains?  What makes you return to the forest, or the lake, or the plains, or the sea, time and time again?  How do you look at the moon and what does it say to you?  How do you shake your reality in a way that invites peace?

woman on fence

Be a music maker, a…

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Practicing Gratitude in the Midst of Grief

Practicing Gratitude in the Midst of Grief

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them. ~Paulo Coelho

*Jane started coaching with me in 2010 or so.  She came into our coaching relationship as a former heart disease patient, just looking to keep up the healthy habits that she’d put into practice after a cardiac surgery ten years prior.  With a clean bill of health and the okay from her cardiologist to simply visit him annually for a regular check-up, her goals stemmed from the desire to support her husband in eating healthier as he struggled with some of his own health issues.  She embraced gardening, got really creative with whipping up interesting dishes from quinoa and millet, and loved to share her new finds with me in the realm of healthy eating.  She struggled with her goal to get to the gym even though she always felt better after going, and…

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Questioning Beauty

Questioning Beauty

Guest post by Melissa Kirby of Wildfire Wellness

Tonight at the health food store where I work, I had a random conversation with a stranger about chocolate (imagine me, imagine that). Her eyes were beautiful, her cheek bones piercing.  She couldn’t have been more than 80lbs.  She physically ran to the store, which meant she was limited with what she could purchase because she had to be able to carry it back home.  Through our conversation, it was evident that she was struggling with a number of things in life, yet she hung on my every inch of chocolate wisdom. She complemented me on my hair and then she said, sighing, “You are so pretty – you make me feel so ugly. Thank you for helping me.  Thank you for listening to me.” Speechless and somewhat shocked by her words, all I could do was give her a hug as we parted ways in gentle tears. I found myself thinking back to looking in the mirror that morning;  I had joked to myself that my…

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Healing Healthcare: The Hard Questions

Healing Healthcare: The Hard Questions

I stumbled upon a post on social media earlier this summer by Dr. Lissa Rankin that made a lot of sense.  She’s a medical doctor who left her traditional practice to explore what it would mean for her to practice healing in a way that truly resonates with what she values.  (That’s the short version of her story)

She posed a number of questions that align quite well with the world of wellbeing coaching.  I can only imagine what health care might be like if more physicians asked them, too.  I’m posting a few of them here as food for thought as we continue to work toward bettering the health and well-being of all those which whom we come into contact.  Dr. Rankin titled her post Questions Your Doctor Should Ask You (But Probably Doesn’t)  It’s worth noting that some of these questions are likely to stir things up emotionally for people, so developing a good rapport and a sense of trust is essential before delving into some of these areas. Continue reading “Healing Healthcare: The Hard Questions”

Wild Springs

Wild Springs

Late August.  Western Wisconsin.  Mid afternoon.  Picture a big white farm house with people flowing in and out carrying trays laden with home cooked food, two bearded men with guitars on a stage in front of an old granary surrounded by hay bales, flags akin to those you might see in a mountain city in Tibet fluttering in a swift breeze, and more life of all sorts milling around the grounds, laughing, painting, eating and exploring.  There’s a tent city in a lakeside clearing down a short grassy path from the refurbished – yet – simple barn and a guy on a green tractor pulling a wagon full of people through the middle of it all.  Welcome to the Wild Springs Festival at Lily Springs Farm.

The farm’s namesake, a lily — or lotus — grows out of the mud and, in that spirit, their mission is:

..to provide a sanctuary in the natural world, dedicated to bringing beauty out of murkiness by reconnecting to what is essential and generative.

Permaculture and whole systems design are being applied to restore our habitats to health and to build a sustainable perennial-based farm system that integrates land, people and the built environment. Programming flows naturally from that work and from our intention to foster health in ourselves and the land.

Continue reading “Wild Springs”

5 Ways to Foster Health, Happiness and Innovation

5 Ways to Foster Health, Happiness and Innovation

The following post originates at We Are Wildness, an online community dedicated to helping improve the health of the planet by inspiring people all over the world to reconnect with Nature.  There’s an online challenge going on right now and through the summer that is designed to foster a deeper connection with the natural world for the humans who take part in it.  Check out the Rewild your Life 30 Day Challenge if you aren’t already involved, and join the rewilding movement.   Embrace your inner wildness and let nature into your day to day life in a way that reminds you of what matters.

You may have read the recent article by John Haltiwanger that points out how recent research has indicated that spending time in a natural setting provides a plethora of benefits; from lower blood pressure to strengthened immunity to an enhanced sense of well-being and happiness. I’m inclined to agree with the conclusion that “people who appreciate nature are happier, healthier and more innovative.” It’s hard to hold onto the tension of a hectic day at the office when you are laying in the grass looking up at the sky. Spending time in natural light helps the body take in vitamin D, an essential building block of human health. And turning away from the computer screen to gaze at the horizon as the sun sinks into the westerly hills reminds us that we are part of something bigger and more profound that our everyday worries. We remember that there is beauty in the world outside our urban jungles, consumer economy and man-made innovations. Continue reading “5 Ways to Foster Health, Happiness and Innovation”



Yesterday afternoon I didn’t do anything.  And by “anything” I mean I didn’t do anything that I would typically count as “productive.”  I wasn’t at work, and my two year old was napping.  I didn’t cook dinner, I didn’t do the laundry, I didn’t work on any projects, I didn’t practice yoga, I didn’t plan the upcoming weekend.  I didn’t do any of the things that I usually do when I have an hour or two of time on my hands.  Instead I sat at the kitchen table with a glass of wine and looked out the window.   The lake was glassy and starting to reflect the late afternoon sunset as dusk claimed ownership of the day’s light.  The wind of earlier in the day was starting to settle, and the newly fallen leaves lay still, a carpet of yellow and orange and red on the ground.  At one point a seagull called out and circled the lake, a spot of bright white against the muted, hazy tones of the landscape.  Everything was quiet.

At first I felt that familiar sense of guilt for not using my time to address the next item on the never ending task list – in the fall, it’s even longer than usual with the seasonal tasks of gathering firewood, putting up the last of the garden produce, getting the garden ready for winter, raking leaves, winterizing motors, and all the other things that need to happen for a rural household to welcome the winter elements in Minnesota.   And there are of course the tasks of daily life always waiting in the wings: Food to prepare, dishes to wash, floors to clean, errands to run.  It is all too easy to fall prey to the energy of guilt, self condemnation and plain old worry.

“What if I’m not ready for what comes next?”

“What if I fail to do what my loved ones expect/need me to do?”

“What if we never finish the list?”

Well.  These questions, much like the dreaded “list” could go on for pages.  For all the questions that I could come up with, the answer – if I’m really being truthful with myself – is, “So what?” As I was sitting there, looking over the lake and taking in the stillness of the moments as they passed, I was somehow able to see over the what ifs into the present.  I could see that my taking an hour to just sit still and be wasn’t going to lead to the demise of ……….. well, anything.  Perhaps it will take one more day to get all the apples turned into sauce.   Perhaps the leaves will pile up and mat down the grass for more days in a row than would be ideal.  Perhaps while I sip my wine,  a detail will slide by into oblivion, never to be attended to.   Perhaps the world will go on.

I wouldn’t want to have day after day of sitting at the kitchen table drinking wine.  Things will still need to get accomplished,  and I will still be happier when the dishes are clean, I’ve practiced yoga and the laundry is folded instead of in a heap on the bed.   But taking time to just sit and be with the quiet of an afternoon is necessary, too.  Most of us need to feel like things are getting done to be content – but we also need to observe time for rest so we can work another day.  After all, isn’t that what we are working for?  To be in the world in a way that invites contentment and peace for all living things?  Maybe we need to remember to observe what we are working toward in the first place.

How can you build a Sabbath into your week?

Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.  Wendell Berry

The Other Side of Positivity

The Other Side of Positivity

Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking writes:

Research] points to an alternative approach: a ‘negative path’ to happiness that entails taking a radically different stance towards those things most of us spend our lives trying hard to avoid. This involves learning to enjoy uncertainty, embracing insecurity and becoming familiar with failure. In order to be truly happy, it turns out, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions – or, at the very least, to stop running quite so hard from them.

In a society that promotes “the pursuit of happiness,” “looking on the bright side,” and “noticing the silver lining,” this idea might seem a bit off the mark at first glance.  But what if Mr. Burkeman has a point?  Perhaps when we let our experiences – all of them – be what they are without always trying to find the positive, we are more apt to finally see the joy that sometimes lurks just outside of our sightlines.

What do you think?  Can we overdo positive thinking?  What’s the best balance for you?

To Anyone Who Has Been Searching

To Anyone Who Has Been Searching

There are many people that I have known, and many that I know still, who are searching for something – that thing that is going to make them happy, that idea that will tip the scales in the direction of abundance, that person who make them feel like they matter. I have been this person, too, though over the past several years I’ve been able to come to a place inside myself that allows me to see more clearly that I once did. Most of the time, anyway. What follows is a letter written to anyone and all of us – it’s for you, for me, for your friend, for your neighbor, for your child, for your spouse, for your dentist, for your cashier, for your bank teller – it’s for those of us who have found ourselves seeking and wondering if this is all there is.

This is a letter to you – you who are struggling to find the good in life, you who are lost in despair, you who forgot how to practice self- compassion. You know who you are. Maybe you are reading these words through tears, or maybe you are putting on a strong face to get through the days. Maybe you are floating, unsure. Maybe you are newly single. Maybe you are grappling with the unexpected loss of someone dear to you. Maybe you left something behind. Maybe you are surrounded by people who love you but you can’t seem to like yourself enough to let their love in fully. Maybe you are feeling small in the wilds of the world and can’t find a place to call your own. Maybe life has dealt you a hand that even the best poker face can’t deny in its hardship. Maybe you are unsure of your life’s purpose. Maybe you feel like you will never measure up. Maybe you feel stuck in the system. Maybe you are just lonely.

I can’t know what’s happening in that mind of yours, in that heart or in that soul. Only you, or maybe God, however you view God, can understand the depth of what is happening, or not happening, inside you. But what I do know is that you are seeking, even if you don’t know what you seek.

I hope that you find whatever it is – and though I wish the search could be done painlessly, in my bones I know that you will always be where you need to be to find what will serve you, even if struggle punctuates your experience. I hope the rhythms of this human life have a chance to heal what needs to be healed and help you see that you are whole already.

Remember that you can find that place – that one that you are seeking – within yourself anywhere. We can seek from any location, from any point on the globe, from any apartment, from any taxi cab, from any gully and from any mountaintop. That’s the exciting part of all of this – perhaps it’s not something that you can see right now. I know that. But everything that you are seeking is already inside you-even the capacity to love yourself. It just needs to be uncovered and embraced. So many see those things that make you you and love them fully – don’t forget that. In the times that you are feeling alone or struggling, or when your purpose or path is unclear, remember that your home is the love that lives inside you, and you can always return to it. You can go home again. That love that is you is a light that will not go out.

And use your strengths as you seek-your appreciation of good music, your ability to talk to anyone and make them feel welcome, the way you study things before taking action, your knack for remembering where the keys are, your soft-spoken nature, your commitment to a cause, your determination, your modesty, your humility, your enthusiasm, your outspoken-ness, your creativity, your analytical mind, your compassion. I could go on. Use your authentic way of being to live in the world in a way that matters to you. It matters to me, too. And to others.

I have a small stone from a time that I spent on the island of Malta years ago. A wise woman there told me of a type of stone that washes up on the rocky shores sometimes. They are covered in little holes, and they’ve been tossed around and beaten up, made smooth, and cracked open again. They’ve been changed due to their journey, and their journey has left marks. She referred to these stones as “goddess stones” and told me that they always wash up where they are supposed to, more beautiful, more filled with life and lighter than before. Their holes give them room to grow. Their holes give them the space they need to evolve and to remember the wholeness that they have always had.

May you find your own goddess stone, whether your search for it keeps you close to home or takes you into a far off land. Remember that it has been with you always.

So, until we met again.

This post also appeared at enough.

Happiness Is A Cloud

Happiness Is A Cloud

I read an article in Orion Magazine the other day about happiness, and the pursuit of measuring it in a place that is on the other side of the world. I read about the clash of opportunity and preservation, and the struggle between progress and selling out. I read about what happiness is, and what happiness isn’t. I read about the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, and how their new consitution includes what they have dubbed the “GNH” or “Gross National Happiness.”

GNH is part of Bhutan’s plan for negotiating the wilderness of modernization without losing its soul. Every schoolchild, public policymaker, teacher, citizen, and civil servant has been asked to help create a society based on the four pillars of GNH: sustainable and equitable economic development, conservation of the environment, preservation and promotion of culture, and good governance.
I read about how the Bhutanese people have differing ideas on what will be good for the country, different ideas on what will lead to prosperity and happiness. I read about how people are starting to abandon bamboo lunch baskets called bangchung as insulated plastic lunch containers made in China are trucked in from India. And I read about a road that is being built up to a temple perched high on a cliff.

In a nation where there were no roads until 1961, this is a big deal. It means that the elderly can once again return to their holy place and take part in the ritual offering ceremonies, or pujas. It means no one will have to hike for miles with heavy packs, or use horses to transport heavier goods. It also means the use of cars becomes a reality, which means more people, which means more insulated plastic containers, which means more garbage. And it means more danger to the animals that also call the mountain home, and a loss of the health benefits from all that walking.

The road means so many things. This is what is happening. It is the thirst of people for an easier life. But there is a trade-off between peace and convenience.

It’s easy for me – here in the United States, sitting in my home office, typing on my computer, looking at my plastic pen holder – to look at the roads and modernization of Bhutan and think, “Of course, they should not allow that road, and continue to preserve the old ways of doing things.” It is easy to focus on the negative aspects that come with adding modern conveniences when I only read about them in a magazine. It is easy to forget that I don’t know what it is like to live without roads, or plastic containers or long treks to get to my sacred places. I wonder what side I would be on if I lived in Bhutan. Would I be against the road and the way of life that it threatens? Or would I be celebrating its promises of an easier and more connected life? I can only guess at how I might think if I had another culture and way of life coloring my perceptions of what is important. Of what is enough for a happy life.

What I do know is that Bhutan’s happiness doesn’t depend on the road, or how long it takes to get to the cliff side temple, or how many plastic containers are on the hillside. Based on my limited knowledge of this country and its people, I think life there will go on and happiness will be a part of it – because happiness has been acknowledged as an integral part of the human experience – contrasts and all.

…life includes suffering, and nothing lasts forever. Happiness is not something you achieve, or purchase, and then get to keep. As one Bhutanese friend explained when I tried to pin him down on the matter, “Happiness is a cloud. It comes and goes.”

So, I read about happiness and how one little nation plans to keep it central to what they know to be true. I read about the challenges that come with trying to define what ‘happiness’ means, and what it might look like to operate from such an awareness. I read that happiness doesn’t just go to the highest bidder and that it can exist despite brokenness. I hope, like the author does, that maybe this reawakening of what happiness might mean is the real gift that Bhutan is offering to the rest of the world.

And I hope that I can, like the Bhutanese do, agree to allow happiness to be the cloud that shadows my life, whatever it brings.


This post also appeared at enough.