Common Humanity

Common Humanity

Last Thursday, I walked down the hill to my local pastry shop in search of cake. It was my answer to what to bring to the New Year’s Eve party that would no doubt be filled with delectable delights from people who love food and who love to cook. Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with the “love to cook gene,” so I often find myself searching for the best family owned “pastelaria” with kitchen savvy grandmas I can adopt in times of need. Thankfully, Portugal is the perfect place for such endeavors...

There Is Hope

There Is Hope

Perhaps it’s because I’m now physically closer to where the refugee boats are arriving, but something in me is shifting. My corner of the world is growing. We are all swimming in the same waters that bring life and bring death. We are walking on the same ground that grows flowers and absorbs the blood of our sisters and brothers. No matter where we live, I believe the feeling of interconnection is growing so strong, that it is fueling us to a new level of action. Perhaps this was Aylan’s gift to us...

The Modern Mystic

The Modern Mystic

Silence is the soul’s oxygen. I wonder, then, why we are so afraid of silence, why we build a life of busyness and distraction. I’m all for technology, but I have noticed that it’s become increasingly difficult for me not to constantly look at my phone. If there’s a little red circle in the corner of the app – something in me needs to see what it says. Who sent me a message? What update am I missing? It's no surprise that social media is designed to be addictive. This quick video shows that because social media provides immediate rewards with very little effort, the brain begins to re-wire itself, making us desire this kind of stimulus. On top of that, we begin to crave more of this neurological stimulation after each interaction! I’m becoming convinced that a digital detox is not only good for the soul, but good for our brains as well...

Lock and Dam #1: The Illusion of Not Belonging

Lock and Dam #1: The Illusion of Not Belonging

Many of us have felt like we don’t belong. When my husband and I first began to discuss the need for a move (not overseas, just in general), my first response was, “Ok, but I don’t want the children to have to change schools. I want them to have what I didn’t have.” His reply was, “Well, I grew up in the same middle school/high school, and that wasn’t great either.” We both experienced a sense of “not belonging” on some level, regardless of whether we knew the group for years, or we were the new kid. All these years I’ve been trying to protect my kids from “moving trauma,” from being the outsider, and yet, that really had nothing to do with anything except for my perception of it...

Your Brain Doesn’t Like the Unknown (But Your Soul Does)

Your Brain Doesn’t Like the Unknown (But Your Soul Does)

Our first night in Portugal, we arrived in the middle of a two month stretch of rain storms - the kind where the rain falls sideways from the whipping wind. We stumbled into our rental apartment, with our oversized bags trailing relentlessly behind us. All we wanted was a hot shower, a warm bed, and a good night's sleep. But, we quickly discovered that the shower was broken. It was a cold, damp night (nothing like the land of perpetual warmth and sunshine that had made its way into our minds during the long journey) and we weren't used to apartments without heat (which is typical here).

Seemingly designed to add to our disorientation, there happened to be a full-on old school circus across the street from my daughter's bedroom window. Muffled circus announcers and zany music echoed through the rainy darkness until two in the morning. I tried to imagine what sort of antics were going on over there and the joke was not lost on me. At that moment, my life felt like a wild circus wrought with sleight of hand trickery...

You Don't Need to Meditate

You Don't Need to Meditate

I woke up this morning in a funk. Not wanting to do anything…just sleep. Maybe it’s the fog lumbering up from the Atlantic Ocean, encircling my house, beckoning me to drift in and out of murky half-sleep, half awake. I rolled over and reached for my phone. “No, this is not how I want to start my day.” I put it down. I could feel the gremlins wanting to greet me, something tugging at me, trying to pull me down.

Instead of pushing to get the day going, I sat up and took some deep breaths. And then I just sat for a bit. Instead of coaching myself into action, I listened. At first, there was nothing, just an old familiar distance, as if I’d drifted from something essential, something I couldn’t quite remember, but longed for...

Sanity Check

Sanity Check

When we decided to move to Europe, our teenage daughters were hoping that we were suffering from a temporary lapse of sanity. They held onto the hope that we would wake up one morning and say, “What were we thinking?” and scrap the whole idea. It’s totally understandable that they would have this reaction. After all, we were asking them to take a huge leap of faith. But I have to admit, the “crazy” thing crossed my mind too – more than once...

Living Outside the Program

Living Outside the Program

The subconscious mind records messages from our environment in ways that we are, for the most part, completely unaware of. I know, sounds Brave New World-ish. Just like a computer, these beliefs become downloaded and embedded in our perception of the world. They’re the program running in the background. And unless we become aware of these beliefs, and change the program to one that is better aligned with our present values and desires, they will continue to influence every aspect of our lives – everything from taking risks, to making decisions, to choosing the right partner, to stepping into an aligned, empowered life where we can really make a difference... 

The Power of Your Inner Soundtrack

The Power of Your Inner Soundtrack

Quantum physics tells us that we live in an invisible energy field that influences all physical matter. And, that we impact that field according to our thoughts and beliefs. I find this a bit unsettling. I can’t seem to track the six or so ingredients needed to make banana bread let alone have any inkling of the thoughts and beliefs being fired off as my brain processes 400 billion bits of information every second. Thankfully, unbeknownst to me, my brain then sifts and sorts that down to about 2,000 bits of information per second. But still, that translates to about 60,000 thoughts a day! On top of that, the brain filters what information to let in and what to push to the wayside according to what it already knows. And what is that knowledge based on? The stuff we decided way back when – in the first six years of life. (Great, a 5 year old is running my life.)...

Waking Up: Does Craving Cupcakes at 3 a.m. Count?

Waking Up: Does Craving Cupcakes at 3 a.m. Count?

So what’s this “waking up” thing all about? To me, it’s kind of like when you wake up at 3 a.m. feeling inexplicably hungry, and all you want is to eat a big bowl of pasta or better yet, a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese icing. Something satisfying. Something sweet. Or like when your alarm goes off, and you just don’t feel ready to start the day…but it beckons you nonetheless.

I think part of us is never quite ready to wake up – to shift out of our sleepy, habitual patterns and open our eyes to something more real, something more alive. But, it too beckons us. We crave a life that is truly satisfying, filled with sweetness...

The Salty Sea of Destiny

The Salty Sea of Destiny

As many of you know, we moved from Minnesota to Portugal a year ago. It’s been quite a journey. We’ve advanced from getting trapped (and soaked) in self-cleaning porta-potties to somewhat successfully ordering our food in Portuguese and buying groceries without feeling like a complete idiot (well, we did get stuck in the parking lot yesterday because we couldn’t figure how to work the gate). For the most part, I’d say we’ve gone from survival mode to feeling very much at home here. But aside from the exotic lure of living in Europe, what is really going on? Why would we uproot two reluctant teenagers and move our family of four to another country?