Welcome, Friend.

Welcome, Friend.

This blog is about being “of a certain age” when we are More Older Than “Young” and not yet elder, or M.O.T.Y.

For those in this M.O.T.Y.  lifestage, there’s nothing certain about it at all; in fact, uncertainty is its defining quality. Our motto could be: “I feel more like I do now than I did before,” with the qualifier, “and I’m not at all sure what this now is.” For those on the outside, pointing at us, they are correct to identify us as certainly of something. We are easily spotted in age-camoflouge, sometimes immobilized and other times rushing away to anywhere but here.

Having been here for awhile now, I’ve come to understand that there is a lot more color and vibrancy to this time than gray and graying. There are particular tasks to be undertaken that have to do with keeping and culling, and rounding out by trimming down, and most important of all,  deciding what we are going to leave here when we leave here. All of this is undergirded by a biophysical substrate of brain changes that allow us to see the Big Picture and connect more dots more easily.

My own experience of being MOTY has birthed this blog. My post, “Rant,” is just that. It’s my tirade and appeal to all of us who are here in this lifestage to engage all the intelligence and heart gained from our experiences, both individually and collectively, to create and craft something we know to be better for our planet, our country, our town, our family, our selves. We are uniquely positioned generationally, biophysically ready, and experienced enough to do so.


Sensing with more than our eyes

Yesterday, I headed out late afternoon for a shore walk here on the Maine coast; and I mean literally, “headed” out as my pace was pressed by the horsewhip of work-thoughts and worries. Remembering a friend’s practice suggestion, I stopped for a moment on the beach and listening to the cry of my Zoom-weary eyes, I gently tucked them in behind their lids. And that small muscular lidding action woke me up to a world of gull-song, feet balanced in uneven sand, seaweed aroma questioning my nose, residues of tea on my tongue, and my winter coat heavy on my shoulders, but welcomed for its warmth in the freezing wind. Standing there, purposely eyeless, freed from the singular orbit of  being ‘subject here looking at objects there’, the “I” of me widened, and on cue, tuned itself via all my other senses to the harmonies of that shore place. We all were singing together; a choir of aliving. 

That small act of closing my eyes and allowing myself to be in the world via all my other on-board human senses, connected me to an expansive and heart-full belonging; something my abstract mind  could not and cannot wrap its head around. Thank you, Friend, for re-minding me to close my eyes and be alive with all my senses. I shiver with the most exquisite sense of all: awe.

Coming Home to My Skin. Becoming Shar Pei.

I didn’t fully believe, until my right inner elbow told me, that I would become crêpey and drapey —what my friend J calls “Shar Pei”  in honor of the wrinkly-bodied dog breed. I was 53, writing my morning journal entry per usual, when I noticed the skin above my elbow smiling up at me in a fleshy fold. I didn’t smile back. “Oh my God, is that my arm?” I immediately checked the left elbow, then corners of eyes, then chin and knees. I remember feeling scared. Existentially. Here was something else of me that was unfolding in my skin. Or should I say folding? This was a literal call to arms. I wrote in my journal that day: “I have wrinkles.  I have wrinkles. This is the first sighting. And you know what? I’m scared. I feel like Odysseus changing direction, turning his vessel back home after 10 years of adventure to go home and die. I’m becoming an old fart.  Who knew?? Yikes.”  


Coming Home to My Skin. Becoming Shar Pei.

I didn’t fully believe, until my right inner elbow told me, that I would become crêpey and drapey —what my friend J calls “Shar Pei”  in honor of the wrinkly-bodied dog breed. I was 53, writing my morning journal entry per usual, when I noticed the skin above my elbow smiling up at me in a fleshy fold. I didn’t smile back. “Oh my God, is that my arm?” I immediately checked the left elbow, then corners of eyes, then chin and knees. I remember feeling scared. Existentially. Here was something else of me that was unfolding in my skin. Or should I say folding? This was a literal call to arms. I wrote in my journal that day: “I have wrinkles.  I have wrinkles. This is the first sighting. And you know what? I’m scared. I feel like Odysseus changing direction, turning his vessel back home after 10 years of adventure to go home and die. I’m becoming an old fart.  Who knew?? Yikes.” 

Truth be told, I knew; at least in a backhand kind of way.  Otherwise why would I have been thinking that my fitness  and lotion regimen would somehow temper or even prevent my skin and body from becoming like that of my 90 year old aunt’s or the TV newscasters I’d been watching for 20 years? Who, BTW, explicitly reveal what they are trying to conceal by nipping and tucking and making up their faces to look the same for two decades. Ironic, isn’t it, that those who serve up the news for us to face hide their own true faces?

Like most Americans, I had been adulting along making a living, mostly unaware of the meaning my body was making of those years. I was ‘busy’; amassing a family, a household, and a future that theoretically would unroll as a thoughtfully planned extension of the present. Except for a few sprained ankles or knee pains along the way, my body was my corporal conveyance. It’s palpable but undetectable here-ness had allowed me to move there and there and there. It was my yellow cab to the future. And now my skin was revealing that I was also taxi-ing toward somewhere that was entirely different than what I was thinking. 

Reflecting on this now, 12 years post skin epiphany, it’s so interesting, isn’t it, that when we’re younger we want to be considered older and then when we are older this desire folds back on itself? I remember in my teens standing straighter when others would comment on how mature I was for my age. And then at some point in my twenties and thirties, I wanted to be both older and younger simultaneously, smooth-skinned and wise, flirty and familied. Odd, isn’t it, that we don’t delineate  ‘adulthood’ into 12 or 15 stages in the way we do infancy, childhood, and adolescence? It’s like adulthood is some homogenized neighborhood you enter and live your own sameness over and over  with other’s doing the same same until it’s time for you to move out.  Wrinkles are a sign of readying for departure.

So, here’s the thing that I want to share with you that I didn’t (and couldn’t) know then but I do know now that I’m even more shar pei: This thing called living — which at midlife we re-label with the doom-and-gloom inflected term, ‘aging’ — is an atomic dance performed by the duplet of one’s physical body and one’s more-than-physical consciousness. And like all superb dancing pairs, one dancer’s show stopping steps bring out the best in the other’s. Each partner’s flair and forte emerges from being unfurled into a singular leap within the shared bounds of the pas de deux.  Neither dancer ever lets go of the other, ever, but the one who’s leading changes at different times in our lives. 

At 53, I thought “I” was leading the Adult Dance—and I was, and then it seemed I wasn’t anymore— and that was scary because there was a lot of dancing yet to do, and I didn’t know how to hand over the lead, nor to whom.  And like all the wildly improbable things that we first fear and resist but then take on, doing so turned out be incalculably rewarding. 

When my body took the lead at 53 by smiling a wrinkle at my elbow, it simultaneously deconstructed and reconstructed me in the same way that the rise of breasts on my chest had at 13.   I was being put on notice that there was a wrinkle in how I was living.  Whether —and how — I chose to respond to that notice constituted the choreography of my coming days, weeks, months, and years. That first wrinkle scared, depressed, and disabled my adulting-along “I”  and — and this AND is the essential part that was as yet invisible to my I’s eyes— it launched me into possibility.

At first, my Mona Lisa elbow smile was just dark and Delphic. It introduced an alien Grand Unfamiliar in my everyday life which made my existing uncertainties of appointments, flight departures, and meal times feel like long lost friends. I felt shadowed by my own specter. When I looked around me at my peers, everyone was experiencing the same thing but with different details, and no one would talk about it except to say vehemently, “isn’t it awful!?!!”, and then sputter into silence and/or quickly change the topic.  It was as though they were trying to be consciously unconscious of the obvious.  

For me, everything was so indefinite and desperately clear. Time and I were shrinking. Questions with no apparent answers posed naked in front of me —Just what was I doing? Where was I going?  Since I wasn’t willing to go the pretend-it-isn’t-happening route of many of my peers, there was only one way to go:  I had to trust fall into the arms of my invisible dance partner, my more-than-physical capacity to be aware, in a way I’d never before done. 

When I did, the first question I was forced to ask myself was: why am I thinking a wrinkle is a bad thing?  Why am I scared? I knew part of me was breathing the toxic atmosphere — atmosFEAR— pumped out by commercial interests who use the findings of neuroscience and psychology to craft infallible marketing campaigns that scare the bejeezus out of us about our older bodies/ brains so we will buy their products to save ourselves. But the larger part of me was having to admit that my physical body was changing, transmuting into air and energy, folding, graying, becoming dust.  No way around it.  My body taxi was palpably taxi-ing toward twilight. That was scary; especially to my grown-up, adulting-in-place ego. 

OK, so next question: What do I do when I’m scared?  I thought back to when my daughter was young and would call out to me because she was scared of monstrous ‘Dalmatians’ lying in wait under her bed. Did I tell her to jump out of bed and run somewhere far away she’d always wanted to go and never been? Did I have her immobilize under the covers and camouflage with make-up? No, I had her get out of bed, no matter how much she was trembling and resisting, and we would peek under the bed together. Having my eyes looking too gave her back her own courage and gumption to look, and what she saw when she did look under the bed was one of her treasured stuffed animals smiling at her — from wherever it had come to rest after I had quickly shoved it there a few moments before. Seeing her stuffed friend (instead of a monstrous Dalmatian) always dissolved her fear and tears into wet wimpers of relief. Grown-up now, she says she knows to face her fears because they may turn out to be friends. 

So how might I face my own monstrous wrinkled Dalmatian?  My 53 year old “I” just wanted it not to be there, but it was, and the fact that it was made me call out to my existential “I”. Together we looked at what was here. What my I’s  saw when we looked was a human Shar Pei in the making — and my very resistance to and fear of my own living process was my entrée into fulfilling more fully my breed standard. What if a shar pei refused to wrinkle? Who would s/he be?

It still blows my mind that being skinned-in could be a catapult to consciousness; that my cellular time keepers pulled the trigger that shot me into an ageless ‘bigger’. Whether it’s wrinkles or sore knees or hips that makes us slow down and notice, or cataracts that dull our vision so we have no choice but to look inward, or hearing impairments that leave us listening more to our internal voices, or a “bad diagnosis” that cruelly incinerates our current intents and makes us recalculate, we are literally made to slow down and consider — a word that means “to look at from all sides” —whatever our particular physical ‘happening’ is.  This change in our body makes us differently-abled. It disallows us continuing to do as we always have done, and in doing so, invites us to be more of who we humanly are, and can be. When I slowed down and actually considered my wrinkle(s) both physically and meta-physically, what I discovered was a whole set of untapped on-board, bred-in abilities to be more fully alive and spirited.

I am becoming human Shar Pei.  And within each fold is an unseen treasure to be mined, like knowing what is really important and standing for it, allocating my attention and effort  to meaningful things, feeling more emotionally comfortable in my skin, and knowing which humans and more-than-humans I really enjoy spending time with. My physical me and my more-than-physical me are dancing a dance as old as our species. It’s a slow, passionate pas de deux, called ‘Being Both at the Same Time’; and the steps to this dance are kept secret until you are old enough to learn them.  The fold in my elbow which at first felt like a call to capitulate was instead the condition for my becoming more consciously alive.  No wonder my elbow was smiling at me that day as it lead me out on to the dance floor for this new dance. I can even smile back now, albeit a little crookedly.





Panicked without Reason. Being Mammal in Everyday Life.

Do you recognize any of these moments? 

You’re sitting in a routine meeting with your familiar colleagues, or you’re standing in a grocery line, or you’ve just finished a phone call with a friend, or you’re just sitting on the couch watching a movie, or you wake up in the middle of the night, and totally unexpectedly you’re heart rate picks up, your breath follows suit, everything seems suddenly far away, and your hearing zooms in and out.  You feel frightened. Why is this happening?  What is happening?  Am I having a heart attack? Now maybe your head starts to ache or your throat constricts. Your mind races for an explanation. The absence of a logical answer makes the fear increase.  The physical feelings intensify. The lighting changes. Your thoughts lose clarity. You feel panic. You think to yourself, ”I feel out of control.  What’s going on?”  Help!

First, let’s get clear that what’s going on is normal— normal for a mammal under threat — and you are a mammal. Your soft mammalian body has tools to discern whether the rustling of the leaves over there is a caused by a breeze or a tiger. These tools are embodied in your senses which evolved 400,000 years ago and are much older than your more novice thinking brain which developed only 100,000 years ago.  When you sense you are in danger,  the messenger system for survival, the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis kicks in, and when this happens, you  feel hijacked by fear.

So there you are in an innocuous situation and you suddenly find yourself hijacked by fear; having all the physical expressions of fear and being under threat. Under threat?  You didn’t think you were in a dangerous situation. “I’m just sitting in a meeting,” you say to yourself, or “I’m in a grocery line for goodness sake;” or again you think to yourself, “What’s going on here?” “Think” is the operative word here.  Your thinking or cognitive faculties are not threat-perceivers. Your body senses are. Your cognizing and thinking come after your sensing. Your cognitive faculties and thinking receive your sensings and then plan and organize and project into the future.  They, literally, don’t and can’t ‘know’ how to be scared because being scared is a state of being, not a thought or an idea, and it has already happened. So, of course, you didn’t and couldn’t ‘think’ you were scared. But you sure felt it. 

Danger is felt. Danger is a state of being which we are in. Fear is a feeling, not a thought.  Becoming aware of danger or threat or safety is a sub-cognitive, body-based, in the moment awareness-ing or “neuroception.” (The term ‘neuroception’ was coined by neuroscientist, Stephen Porges, MD, to explain the neural circuitry of bodily ‘ceptioning’ of danger, threat, or safety and our resultant mammalian response). So when you feel fear, your body (not your cognition and reasoning) has picked up on something that feels dangerous and is getting you ready to move or immobilize.

So how did danger and fear enter the meeting room or the grocery line or the place you are in when you finish your phone call or your middle of the night?? 

In every moment,   we are ‘in’ our current situation as a biological body, interpreting it through multiple channels. We are ‘ing’-ing: seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, tasting, balancing, regulating our temperature, feeling hungry or not, and so on. All of this is going on at once. All of our channels are on. Think of yourself as a multiple channel mammal being.  Often, because in the Western world we privilege our eye channel, primarily directing our attention to what we are looking at, we are less aware, if at all, of our mammalian body channels which are simultaneously sensing, touching, tasting, hearing, sizing up, etc. This is especially true in situations in which we are mostly attending to what we are looking at —like charts or data as in a work meeting or our groceries items and whether to pay by cash or credit card as in a grocery line.

Sometimes our 400,000 year old mammalian body self is frightened by something that looks like-feels like-seems-like something that happened before in our life that was scary. For example, if when we were young, we experienced a bigger, older sibling or schoolmate or parent threatening us, then in the current situation right now right here, if there is a person or aspect of the situation that ‘re-minds’ some part of us of the earlier threatening experience, then we physically go into fear/flight/freeze well before our logical thinking has any idea about what’s happening.   In neurobiological terms this is the experience of our HPA axis mapping the current situation, the here and now (which can include a traumatic memories or fearful thought) on to a previous scary experience, and for our protection, turning off access to our cognitive pathways for reasoning and raising our cortisol and adrenaline levels in preparation for dealing with the threat by immobilizing or running away, in this case, from the bigger older scary person. Usually we are surprised that we are feeling the fear that we are feeling. We say emphatically and logically: “This makes no sense to me! I don’t understand why I am feeling this way! Yikes!”  

Actually, in the here and now of the immediate moment, what is true is that it is making all kinds of sense in terms of ‘sense’ meaning the our body-based faculties of sight, hearing, balance, and so on by which we sense the world. Our preceptions and neuroceptions have picked up on a threat well before our thinking has and we are feeling threatened. And to make things even more knotty, consider this: the thought that, “I don’t understand,” is true. The cognitive slice of you is telling you its truth. You cannot think this sensed feeling you are having.  You cannot ‘understand’ it. Thoughts are thoughts and sensing is sensing. Thoughts are there and then; felt-sensing is here and now. Feelings and thoughts are discreet from one another in us; logic and reasoning come after the feeling arises. Remember that our mammalian body senses are 400,00 years old and our reasoning and logic are a mere 100,000 years old?  

Furthermore, without going into the entire history of how our language reflects a Western 17th century view that feelings were dark and primitive and were to be subordinated to the light of thinking (enlightenment), just pop the letter ’n’ between “no” and “sense” and you get “nonsense,” which is historically what we moderns have been taught to believe about feelings since the time of Descartes. Thus, when we are feeling something in the moment and we say to ourselves,”this makes no sense to me,” what we are saying is, “this makes nonsense to me.”  Thinking this thought leaves us quite literally abstracted from our physical, bodied self which IS here in this moment sitting in the meeting, standing in the grocery line, holding the phone, or waking up in the middle of our night. We put ourselves in an impossible situation: trying to think a feeling. So we get even more scared and maybe, panicked.

Making things worse is our tendency to be more or less exclusively on our eye channel   —focusing on what’s in front of us and cognitively organizing data — largely unaware of all of our other channels that are on and are receiving and metabolizing incoming information. Until, that is, we are covered in confusion and feel fear, and that fear assessment closes the gate to cognitive thinking and solutioning. Bottom line: the thinking part of us can’t make sense of why are we feeling what we’re feeling, but it is making all kinds of sense to other parts of us that are recognizing a previous danger in the current situation. So there we are hijacked by our very selves. What can we do?

What we can do is change our channel. Step One is to engage the part of us that is noticing the hijack. We purposely redirect our attention to another sense or channel. For example, if we notice we are dropping into fear, we say to ourselves, “some part of me is really scared.  I am triggered.  I need to change channels.” 

Most likely the fear trigger is coming through our eye channel; and this can include what our mind’s eye  is seeing, such as a memory of a house burning down. In this case, we proactively direct our attention away from what we are looking at and turn our attention to one of the other channels through which we are currently sensing the situation. For example, we might move our attention away from looking at the others at the meeting table to hearing the richness of sounds in the room  (our hearing channel) or  to feeling our feet on the floor and the pen in our hand (our proprioception channel). Once redirected, Step Two, is to immerse yourself in this new channel: listen intently as though listening for a butterfly nearby, feel your feet grounding all the way down into the center of the Earth, and so on. Stay on the new channel until you notice a change in your breath pattern.  Often, you may find a sigh erupting from seemingly nowhere in you.  This is a physiological change marker indicating safety and relief. Make yourself sigh again.  Tell yourself, “I’m ok now. I’m safe.”

Commonly, we have no idea what the trigger is.  So how do we know what channel to change from and to? Was it something I heard? Or saw? Or tasted?  The answer is to experiment.  As soon as you notice the fear hijack happening, turn up the volume on any one of your sense channels. A different channel from the trigger channel will have a quality of novelty to it and will pique one of your other strong mammalian instincts, curiosity.  It may take some effort to stay on the “new” channel because our survival instinct will be vying for our attention on whichever channel it is broadcasting over, but stay with it. Your mind can change your mind. 

All this takes practice, but with practice, we can develop our own on-board anti-hijacking tool for keeping us in whatever the present moment is presenting. Our mammalian survival toolbox has lots of tools that were very effective when we needed to be able to distinguish between a rustle of leaves caused by a hungry tiger in the bush versus a gentle breeze.  We are well designed to remember quickly those things that are life-threatening to us, but sitting in a modern day meeting, we can assess incorrectly and get hijacked by what looks-like-feels-like-and-isn’t.  On the other hand, sometimes our 400,00 year old felt-senses know more than we do, and maybe, just maybe, that person across the table or  in the grocery line or something to do with your phone call is a threatening tiger. If so, use your 100,000 year old ability to reason, and then, act.


High Ground Can Only Be Found by Beginning in the Bottoms Below

To a friend experiencing depression

Dear  A,

I went for a walk to think about what you had just told me about your depression. As always, the generous Earth comforted with her wisdom. 

Looking out over the land here in Colorado, my gaze contours over yellow grassy rises,  drops down into dark gashes, then rises again to the next golden crest. Those dark depressions that cleave the land are places where water can rest, mingling with flung-far treasures of aspen leaf, river rock, and cottonwood.  Each is a natural bunker from the winds of higher ground; a safe catchment to curl into when the surroundment is too rough to traverse.  This is a place whose soil is much denser and richer than that of the higher land, a humus rich nursery for seedlings brought by the prairie breezes; and very often, this depression offers the land the shallow beginnings of a creek and a later generous river.

And so it is with us humans. Our depression is a murk of collected memories and emotions. We are lying low, pressed down, coiled in, and darkly fertile. Here in this place, details are defined by their darkness. We sense that what sustained us before on higher ground no longer suffices here in this low place. The familiar fades into inconsequence. Sleep seduces.

Time degrades into never.

I urge you: resist sleep. Stay Awake. Sense this place. Sense your self as an integral part of this place. What pokes? What’s slimy? What nauseates? Let the incessants of grief crawl over your skin until there is no more to be had.  Let the white hot pains of abandonment sear your heart into char and mineral-rich ash. Feel the self-you- once-were dying into new form.  Compost. All of it.  Invite decay; and in so doing, allow renewal to begin rooting itself in your being. Dark, wormy-rich compost is the nutritious matrix for resurrecting into Next. And it takes time; sometimes months, even years for those things that are oaken, enameled, or varnished to compost. Energy is asking to be transmuted. Listen and let whatever needs going to go. Make room.

Root around. Ask: what wants to be alive here? ALIVE. What is pushing itself up into being in this pressed down place? Something fresh is growing. Something whose presence is apparent in its absence. There is an embryonic yes amidst the no’s. What wants to be is NOT what was: not that, and not that, and certainly, not that. Here, what was is fare for what’s coming to be; and as the ‘not that’s’ give way,  room is made for the something new and never before, and it’s newness makes it hard to name, as yet. 

Feel the press down and gather it’s coiled force into yourself.  Sense What-Wants-To-Be-Alive-In-You rising. At first, it will feel tentative and fragile, but nonetheless upward. The enclosing sides of the depression will lose  their height as you accumulate your own.  Cresting the walls will happen. And though it may sound strange right now to you while you are lying low in the depression, I promise, you will soon stand with the depression behind you and gaze 360 degrees across the high ground, and most surprising of all, you will feel gratitude for the nearby depression.  Yes, profound gratitude.  And awe.  For how could you recognize All This without having grown through All That?  The high ground of your aliveness depends on a wintering over in your own depression.



Deadheading Prayer

Do you know about deadheading? Not the Grateful Dead version, but the floral kind. Deadheading is removing old blooms so the new more easily can and will come.  That’s what I’ve been doing this morning. Forcibly pinching off the once sparkling, now old snapdragon blooms so the next growth can come.

And so it is with us. We have to deadhead ourselves.

I take a snapdragon bloom between my fingers and thumb and wring its neck; the pink ones now reddish brown; the yellow yellowed.  All wrinkled, spent.  They paid out their brightness on a previous Friday now weeks ago. The green shines, begs for my hand to pinch just there, above and between two new leaves. “Take that old blossom. I have more color to bring.”

Can I be as wise as Snapdragon? Can I let go a once glorious but now spent blossom of my own life ? One that was so stunning, I said “Amen” as though it were the first and last of its kind. Does Snapdragon grieve the loss of a magnificent bloom? Try to hold on to a deadhead? Does Snapdragon fear nothing more will come?  Or does it know that that particular bloom was one example of the possibility of form that it contains within itself because it is Snapdragon?  Snapdragon will snapdragon, always. The promise is contained within itself.

And so it is with us.

The stalks I have pinched stand much taller.  They spire to the down-reaching sun rays. Their leaves broaden to capture as many photon-filled rays as possible, drawing them in, sending them along leafy lines, metabolizing them into future bloomings and oxygen for others to breathe. The sun and the leaves belong to each other, require each other.  They are forever lovers whose progeny is beauty and breathing.

I step into Snapdragon’s circle. No ends or beginnings here, but rather, perennial composings and decomposings of flower and leaf. Only my human eye time-stamps and stills the artistry, an optical intrusion into the alchemy of aliving, my observing creating a pretense of stasis in this transmuting.

And inside and outside and all around, and above and below and within, in the place that the deadheads rest wrinkled, grows the next blooming, the next amen. So I pinch and I pinch and I pinch.  Engaging from my place and in my place in the circling. I belong to This. I am a forever lover, too. I sigh into this embrace.  Thank you.  Maybe I am a Grateful Deadheader after all.

And so it is. Amen



A Biology of Too Muchness: Healing and Becoming

Everything can feel too much sometimes.  Perhaps we have been betrayed, or lost a loved one or our source of income, perhaps meaning has gone missing or we simply don’t know why we feel that everything is too much. Now is the time to re-mind yourself that this too muchness is part of the healing process of all living beings.  It is an essential part of metabolizing experience in order to move on to more. Animals shake for minutes when they’ve witnessed horror, resetting their nervous systems in order to return to life. Humans tremble and run or immobilize. Being an alive biological being is not static.  It is an aliving, a becoming; and here you Are. 

So, stand your wobbly legs in warrior pose or lay your whole body on the Earth. Tremble, tears and all, numbness and all, and draw up energy from the earth and draw down energy from the sky. You, in your soft animal body, are feeling all the new and previous pains. You are sobbing and coughing out all the hurt, returning it to the Universe via your breath and tears. Your breath joins the atmosphere and your tears return to the seas, freeing space within your body to be filled up with fresh inspirations and flows of intention and purpose. This is the healing process. Cry. Cry out. And if perhaps you are struck tearless, dumb and numb, this too, is the process; your body’s indelible confirmation that you are at zero. You are Nothing, and infinite potential. Change is required; and Now is the time.

Know that you are in the process of Being Alive. Aliving. Becoming. These revisiting, sorrowful, seemingly unbearable pains are your guides.  Some are new. Perhaps, some you recognize, and you find yourself saying, here they are again, dammit. The difference is that now you are ready to learn what needs to be known by you. You can just barely bear what they bring, but you know what? You can.  And in integrating the unbearable in all its roughness and harsh honesty, you graduate yourself to what’s next. And you know profoundly that in this next chapter, you will stand against whatever and whoever, including yourself, acted in a way that caused those pains. Going forward, you will never condone such behavior. Or, you know that you will love like never before because you know deeply what being in love and being loved is.

In these times, we are toddlers again, aliving in the way humans do. Like toddlers, we rise on wobbly legs, intent on standing, then we stumble and plop back down to that place we were before on our hands and knees. But we look again at the cabinets and the shins of grown-ups surrounding us, we look at them differently now because our body has changed and grown, now cabinets and shins are handholds for standing up on our newly ready legs. We know that standing is the new height to which we must and can go. 

So we approach the cabinets or the shins and we grab on and we stand. And we wobble. The view from here is completely different and new. It needs to be evaluated and taken in and figured out. For a moment we consider sitting down again, returning to the old world of hands and knees, but we stay standing. We stand and we wobble, knowing that we will discover our way in this new world at this new height. 

This is the process of aliving. This is healing in real time. Trust it





(This is a written transcription of a spoken rant delivered in honor of all my 50+ clients desperately trying to both lose and find themselves. Rants are usually long and spiraling. The following is true to the form.)

I’m in my 60’s,



and I have a secret.

If you’re in your 50’s or older, and you’re American, chances are:

it’s the same as yours:

I’m fakin’ it.

And I’m sick of it.

From what I can see

A lot of folks and friends are fakin’ it most days—

Trying to return to the ‘me’ that was.

And they’re sick of it, too,

Or getting sick from it.

Do you keep your gray hair under color?

Did you just buy the red sports car you couldn’t afford at 17? 

Do you know what “your ones” are and how many you have?

Are you choosing to muscle up at the gym so you can lift the same weight you did in your 20’s?”

And why? 

Do you love soaking your scalp’s skin in carcinogens?

Do you enjoy downing the dubious to supplement your ‘deficiencies’?

Is needling dead botulin into your skin preferable to facing your face?

Are you swallowing the market’s message that being no longer young is unbecoming?

Or do you, deep down, not know how to love the you that is your me in the mirror?

Do you wonder about just how far you can ‘get away’ from Here and  Now?  Antartica? Zanzibar?

Are you waiting for space travel to be a more viable option?

Do you catch yourself ruminating on

How to get out of Dodge

Cuz this ain’t Kansas anymore?

Or perhaps Opiatium or Benzodiazia have become your daily destinations of choice.

Be honest.

Because underneath the uncomplicated questions about

how to cake on camouflage and

how to go places Other than here

Are the gnarly ones, like:

“What am I doing with my life?

Who am I really?


What’s important to leave here when I leave here?

I’m stating now:

I don’t want to hide anymore.

I’m going to be Here, full fledged.

No chickening out.

Fact is,

I am, we are, M.O.T.Y.

More Older Than Younger

… and, crucially, not yet elder.

This time is its own time

Not a repeat of younger years.

There are tasks to be done,

things to be prepared,

connections to be made— and cut.

This is a rich time of offering out what I’ve been gathering in.

And it’s scary

because I’m new and unrecognizable

to me.

I feel more like I do now than I did before.

I don’t want to be told anymore,

especially by businesses that live off of my consuming their products,

that Everything Me needs improvement;

that I need to make up myself

with their “invisible” foundation for my face

or underwired bras to lift my breasts

or pharmaceutical hydraulics to raise my penis

that I need to buy a hip or a one story house or a high dosage supplement,

that I ought to look like I did before,

before what?


Do you know how hard This is? —

to be “older” in a culture that adores youth?

That applauds growth in every sector except ourselves?

That wants to hide the physical face of oldering?

That tells us that what our bodies are experiencing is only to be whispered about?

Have you noticed that the moniker ‘elder’ has disappeared from our common language

as a designation of achievement and stature?

Now, it’s a shame-filled word for “old and in the way.”

And it comes with a one way ticket to ‘assisted’ living

in a death waiting room “lovingly prepared for you”

by profit oriented entities that make their living off of your dying.

And all the while, 

your family, 

bleeds dollars

and aches with questions 

about moving you into a care warehouse.

They are quarry of the anti-aging culture.

So let’s start acting

our age, individually,


Our Age, generationally.

After all, we are the age that envisioned peace, civil rights, women rights , and planetary health.

No more white meat chickening out.

I am this wrinkled,

Cuz I’ve been through life’s wash.

And I want to hang here with you for a bit

and then iron out some of the things I’ve learned

so that you can try them on.

I have things to share with you that can’t be hidden anymore.

And anyway, don’t you think everyone sees my hair color and knows I’m choosing to hide what my hair is more courageous to display than me? 

And maybe I get called ‘unbecoming’ –

But I’m going to stand up now for what I believe in

for what I have learned to be true.

Because the matter of me has some experience with what’s the matter.

I’m going to stand up for other species

I’m going to stand up for the land

I’m going to stand up for the future of my children.

This is not theater.

This is the real thing.

I come here –

We come here –

not made up

Not costumed in immaturity

but rather


the real bones

the real blood

the real guts

To be the muscled and maimed, 

and learned beings we are.

And we can be, so says the research that

The marketers of all things anti-aging don’t want you to hear.

In our fifties and sixties,

we have the most fluid, crystallized, and emotional intel of our life.

What we’ve been taught to call a senior moment, isn’t. 

You know what it is?

It’s a mature brain

Processing more info because it can and does when we reach our fifties and sixties. 

And that takes a bit more time

Than the 40 year old toddler brain that rushes to judgment with less information.

Research shows, too, that we are more neurally integrated

And we get the gist like never before. 


This is a mountain top, not a slough of despond. 

So harness all that intelligence for all those things that you now know — clearer than ever — need your attention.


Why not invest millions in no toxins instead of botoxins?

Why not create programs that develop our fullest human potential?

How about pro human growth and development rather than anti-aging? 


Those of us on the ground now know

It’s hard and it’s messy

and it’s unerringly and hugely profound.

I’m a lot wiser and denser than you can even imagine—

unless you’re here now too.

Then you know.

You know how rich and poignant and beautiful this time is.

How everything ordinary becomes exquisitely extra-ordinary.

Because at the same time that I may be physically getting weaker,

And my eyes may be seeing less clearly,

My insight is more wide-angled and sharp.

And even though my hearing may be compromised,

what I’m listening to in my head is a very powerful symphony of experience

And I want you to hear.

This time is it’s own time

and I feel the responsibilities deeply.

There are tasks to be done that I had no idea about when I was 30 or 40.

There are things to be spoken about,

actions to be taken,

ways of being human to teach to the younger ones.

No I am not young,

And I am not yet elder either.

I am in between

and I am preparing for tomorrow

by honing what I learned yesterday and today.

And I have a life of a lot to say.

So make way while I make waves with what I got.

I am more pregnant with experience than I ever was with my child

And what I have learned could be precious to you.

This body has been somewhere

You haven’t yet.

These outside changes

That people call ‘unbecoming’ 

are the obvious evidence of years of becoming.

So listen up. Eyes here. 

I am wizening up, and

My guts are starting to spill.