I trust you to kill me

Breitenbush Hotsprings retreat with Tom Compton and me here. June 12 evening-June 16 morning. 26 CEUs, 24 ITW credits. Call Breitenbush with any questions (if your Q’s are about curriculum, hit reply and I’ll answer). 503.854.3320.

I’m having a moment.

I think I must be the luckiest person in the world to have such a job as sitting with people sharing this process called The Work.

I just hugged goodbye on Sunday all the fascinating people who came to spring retreat in Seattle.

Honestly, I never know how exactly any retreat will turn out. I have an inner collection of exercises to bring out inquiry, and we move into them if and when it feels right.

It’s like taking the temperature of this unique group, in this place and time, and digging into the medicine of self-inquiry.

And all that’s ever truly needed is The Work. Identifying our thoughts, writing them down, answering four questions, finding turnarounds.

In this past spring retreat, we considered a profound question we can ask (it’s written about in Loving What Is) that helps identify our beliefs about the world:

What’s the worst that could happen?

Everyone began where they were: writing a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on that stressful moment rising to the surface–the one yelling “look at me! look at me!”

Then, once we had investigated some of our thinking about our situations, we looked at worse case scenarios that rose to the surface.

These are the conditions the inquirers found painful in the particular work they were doing….The Worst:

  • the election goes a certain way, and my candidate loses and the other candidate wins
  • all my co-workers think I’m weird
  • I live in my childhood home for the rest of my life and never marry or have children
  • I die alone in an apartment at an old age, and no one notices
  • I can’t pay my bills
  • The disease never goes away
  • My partner leaves me for someone else
  • I’m married but living a separate life across the country from my spouse
What is one “worse case scenario” you notice appears in your mind?


I’ve probably had them all.


But so as not to be overwhelming, this question asking “what’s the worst that could happen?” can be placed on whatever is in front of you right now….the situation of concern in the moment.


It doesn’t have to be about the entire world or what you think of as the worst grand huge thing that could ever happen, like the planet blowing up or all humans being attacked by zombies.


We don’t have to get that dramatic.


In fact, I love noticing the fearful situations and images we have running in the background are often about being alone, having no support, needing something that isn’t here, suffering.


I’m losing something, I won’t get something I want (something’s missing). 

As I sat taking in everyone’s images during retreat of those difficult outcomes they feared, in popped an idea of my own:

I’ll never be successful like that

(Fill in the blank for yourself. Partner, Body, Paycheck, Income, Job, Business, Stage Presence, Creativity, Leadership, Patience, Enlightenment, Speech-Giver).

I see that other option, the one where someone has “made it” in show biz, they’ve invented something brilliant, they’re a famous surgeon, they have a partner who’s amazing, they have a way with people that is unique and genius, they’ve found truth, peace, love, abundance….

….Not me.

I don’t have that (whatever it is).

Not successful. Didn’t make it. Picture of me having some gigantic bill due and no more capacity to work to earn any money.

This is terrible that it turned out this way.

Is it true?

Well, it’s true I didn’t do it THAT way (success image in my head).

But can you absolutely know it’s true that this terrible situation is All Horrible All The Time?


How do you react when you think THIS is not good….THAT is much better, more successful.

Very disappointed. So sad. Like the air is let out of my sail, or out of the balloon. I’ll never have THAT, oh sad day. Pity for myself. Self-criticism or self-abuse: I never, I should have, I didn’t….

And I treat this moment, and me inside it, as if it’s not good enough.

A complaint.

Who would you be without your thought that this is terrible (that worse case scenario)?


I’d notice, in my situation (end of life, no money, big bill) that things are extremely simple. Simple room, simple chair, not too many gizmos and gadgets around. Sweet quiet.

The bill will soon not be much of a problem (I’ll be dead). But right now, it’s not one either.

It doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that I’m ignoring it. I have a CAN-DO feeling about it. I’m asking for help from experts. I have a phone.

Turning the thought around:

This situation–yes, the same one we just pictured (the worst)–is actually the BEST way it could ever go.

THIS is success, for me.

How could this be just as true, or truer?

I love how during the retreat as I suggested “why would this situation be the BEST thing that happened?”….

….one woman gasped out loud and said “Oh Grace! No!”


And then, she began to find examples.

One, then two, then three.

People are amazing.

Who would you be if you were not afraid that life might not go the way you like?

Open. Strong. Joyful.

Now, that sounds like success to me, especially when things look a little dire and we’re not sure what’s going to happen.

Breitenbush Hotsprings, Oregon retreat June 12-16th still has a few spots, but it’s almost full. It’s 3 weeks away from last night.

What if you could leave the weight of worry about worse-case-scenarios in the river at Breitenbush?

Join us. 503.854.3320

And even if you never, ever go on a retreat, you can do this work.

You can question your thinking about “terrible” and “worse” and turn your thinking around….to “wonderful” and “best”.

I’d love to hear what you find, if you can find examples.

….If you can’t do this work yourself, don’t worry.
You don’t even have to make a decision,
one way or another. The Friend, who knows
a lot more than you do, will bring difficulties,
and grief, and sickness,
as medicine, as happiness,
as the essence of the moment when you’re beaten,
when you hear Checkmate, and can finally say,
with Hallaj’s voice,
I trust you to kill me.
~ From Checkmate
by Jalaluddin Rumi


Much love,


You can’t have anything (like the future perfect version of what you think you want). So let’s slow down.

Have you ever yelled at yourself the word HURRY?! 
On the inside of your head without actual sound coming out of your mouth?
I was gathering things together for retreat: copies, folders, little notebooks (new ones arrived in the mail), little books, tea.
Wow, can it be incredibly stressful.
I once heard a wise person comment about the current culture of both education and business: “we have hurry sickness”. 
I caught myself feeling it.
Hurry up and get the copies made, hurry and sort through the name tags.
Hurry and announce it one more time because 3 people have cancelled fairly last minute, and I’ve got a surprising amount of space I haven’t had in several years.
And then, I noticed no one from the Seattle area is attending.
People are flying from Mexico, California, Chicago, Oregon, driving from British Columbia Canada, across the state coming from Eastern Washington….who is attending from Seattle?
Wait. No one? Why aren’t they?
Where are the locals? What’s going on?
I must have completely forgotten to spread the word right in my own back yard.
Hurry, hurry, spread it now. Maybe there will be someone last minute who is a therapist who could use 26 CEUs….let’s GO GO GO!
(Can you hear the cheerleading bootcamp director voice yelling?)
Is it true it needs to be different? (Watch my facebook live I always do Mondays at 2 pm PT on thoughts people share with me and meditations in The Work. I talked this inquiry through right out loud–scroll down to the video to see the post).
Can you absolutely know it’s true it needs to be that other way?
That “better” way?
Are you sure?
People will have this thought about finding partners, making money, having a perfect wedding, landing a job…doing all the things we do that appear to be labeled “success”.
How do you react when you believe it needs to go differently than it’s going? Better than it’s going? More, or Less, than it’s going?
Arggggghhhh. Growl. Fume. HURRY.
Maybe you bang into the table on the speedy way around the corner and you cuss.
So who would you be without the thought “HURRRRRRYYYYYY!!” (Because, it needs to be different so you have quick work to do)?
Thrilled about this lovely spring afternoon moment. Joyful with the unemployed situation that looks a bit dire, but noticing I’ve got food shelter and clothing and all I need. Laughing at the thunderstorm of biblical proportions on the wedding day and the fun of everyone’s sharing it together.
Clapping excitedly at the adventure of Not Knowing where this is going, and how fascinating it truly is along the way.
Turning it around: This is good here, the way it is. The way it is going is actually better than the vision or picture in my head. My thinking is in a hurry–it’s the one that wants to jump into the future and then careen wildly into the past.
Except for my thoughts, nothing is really “hurrying” and there’s no future at all in this moment right now, and no need to do a thing.
And here’s another Peace Talk podcast. My guest today is Jerry Mac who is a certified facilitator of The Work and he shares his fascinating story of how he came to be interested, then committed, to doing his work. The Work.
Listen here on itunes. Download it directly here.
“You can’t have anything. You can’t have any truth. Inquiry takes all that away. The only thing that exists for me is the thought that just arose. Prior to that there was no existence at all. There’s nothing to create. There’s no one, creating nothing. So again and again, we return to the space between thoughts.” ~ Byron Katie
And all together now, let’s yell (or maybe we should sing? Or whisper?) “SLOOOOWWWWW!!” 
Much love,
Other upcoming events:
  • June 27th East West Books evening 7-9 pm.
  • June 12-16, 2019 Breitenbush Retreat with Tom Compton
  • Summer Camp for The Mind Online Inquiry
  • Divorce Is Hell 8 week course Aug 18-October 13, 2019 Sundays 11 am PT/ 7 pm UK with Nadine Ferris France
  • Year of Inquiry begins Sept 8, 2019–a whole year of monthly topics in The Work, and sharing inquiry together
  • always free: First Friday inquiry power hour (90 mins) 7:45am PT

I have a mother, I don’t have a mother, I am a mother…True?

I’m a little unconventional and sometimes just a wee rebellious (aren’t we all).

Today is Mother’s Day and has been in the US for about 100 years. I notice it never occurs to me to actually plan on writing about the current season or holiday or special day that everyone is celebrating  just because everyone is doing it.

As you know, I go with the thought I’ve noticed creating stress, the one inviting inquiry at the moment.

Today, there was a lot of morning commentary on this day called Mother’s Day, it turns out, that it became the topic of what this mind began thinking about!

I personally haven’t wanted brunch, gifts or “happy mother’s day” greeting cards as a mother. I love that life brings me into regular contact with my children (now young adults) but more importantly with mothering, whether my kids are here or not.

I found out something interesting today, when my husband started reading out loud to me about the history of mother’s day from his laptop.

Anna Jarvis, who was honoring her mother at the memorial of her mother’s death during this time of year in the early 1900s, was responsible for submitting the day as an official holiday in the United States.

A decade later, she was jailed for disturbing the peace at a candy factory churning out “mother’s day” products. She disliked the commercialization. She considered the way the holiday had gone to be missing the entire point.


Intrigued, I looked up the word “mother” and the origins of the old word.

It’s very old. It sounds similar in many languages.

It comes from “mater” in Latin. The physical world of matter. Giving birth to the physical.

A “mat” is a woven collection of reeds and plants from the earth. Made of the physical matter of ‘mother/matter’ earth.

Inquiry, investigation, clarity, consciousness about “mother” and what it means…

…this interests me.

What is “mother”? What are my thoughts, images and ideas about mother?

There’s the mother we experienced as children, the ideal mothering we’ve imagined, the mothering we ourselves have done (and you can be any gender or age reading this, and if you’ve ever tended to anything or brought anything to life in physical form, then you’ve mothered it in some way).

I love how Byron Katie mentions from time to time that she did The Work on her own mother for 3 years daily. Or, maybe it was one year. A long time.

Then, Roxann, Katie’s daughter mentioned that she, too, did The Work on her mother for 3 years.

The mother of our pasts, the mother in our minds, the mother we remember, the mother who hurt our feelings, the mother we’re angry with, but even the mother we appreciated and loved so very much and learned so much from (we can keep the good-feeling stories if we like them, or not) or the mother who is absent.

This morning as I listened and sat in meditation, I had the thought “I have a mother” and “I am a mother”.

And then the question “Is it true?”

Well, er….yeah. I mean, what are you talking about? Of course it’s true!

Except…right now in my quiet meditation space in a living room with the sounds of many birds singing outside and an occasional car noise like a motor, or a door closing…

….I “have” a mother….I am a mother….


I notice I can’t know this is true when it comes to the physical form of “my” mother, or of “my” children. None of those are present (except in my mind). My thoughts see these characters (my mother, my son, my daughter) all busy living their lives doing what they do in different physical locations in the “material” mother world.

And I’m loving this quiet morning here, so beautiful. Wind chimes now. Silence. A bowl of strawberries.

Oh look, it’s deciding to write.

I have a mother. I don’t have a mother. Are either of these true?

No. I am completely and fully and entirely supported in every way. Physically nourished. Clothing. Lovely sweater wrapped around me. A last-minute brand new client unexpectedly added on this morning who was so sweet. Sacred texts. Silence. Being left alone. Writing. Cool clear water from a hand made glass. Inquiry. Mind.

Surrounded by “matter” mother. SURROUNDED.

I have a mother–true?

I don’t have a mother–true?

I am a mother–true?

In my past, yes. In my heart and mind, yes. In this moment mothering is happening, yes.

It all only depends on what I’m perceiving, the story I’m telling, the proof I’m aware of, the images being conjured up.

I notice what happens when I have thoughts about mother’s absence or the ideal mother who should have been or my own mothering that should have been different….

….only then am I disturbed. 

And what happens when I believe the mothering I received could have been better, (or could have been worse)? When I believe something about mother should be different, whether now or before or later?

Suffering, anger, sadness, grief, longing.

When I believe I have a mother: images and thoughts. The good-feeling memories, the troubled ones that hurt. Heart-break sometimes.

When I believe I don’t have a mother: anger, furious, small, powerless, abandoned. Images of being a victim.

When I believe I AM a mother: images of my children and cradling them when they were babies all the way to images of them as adults and astonished at how it all changes and morphs.

Only if I believe I am a mother and that means (fill in the blank with something stressful) do I become upset.

What happens when I don’t have any thought that I have a mother, I don’t have a mother, or that I am a mother?

It almost seems funny.

I can’t prove these are true in this moment. I can tell all kinds of stories about giving birth, or being a child. They are from the past.

I guess to be here on planet earth in a body, I needed a mother human to give birth to me…but I remember nothing about that birth.

This physical body is evidence I had a mother. But I have one right now?

Hmmm. Don’t see the one in my imagination. Not here today in the living room.

If physical body is the proof, then I look around in this moment.

None of those imagined characters are here.

However. It’s true I see matter everywhere. I’m sitting on it, surrounded by it, infused with it, hearing it make noise, seeing shapes and sizes and colors, feeling this body pulsating, a brown cushion lying on its side on the couch.

How do I react when I believe thoughts about mother? What happens when I have a mother, or I don’t have one, or I am one? Mind jumps all over the places, looking. Showing images. Running like a little machine.

Who would I be without one single stressful story of mother? Who would I be without the belief that I had a mother, I have a mother, I don’t have a mother, I AM a mother?

No beliefs that shout with suffering cries: “mother should, I should, I want, mother wants, I need, mother needs, I am, mother is, I never want, mother never wants”…..?

Who would I be right now in the presence of “mother” thoughts without any belief that “mother” should be different than it is?


Mind stops for a sec. It feels spacious. Sort of….magical, just for a tiny moment. Nothing special, but this moment so full, sparkling. Everywhere I look, everything I hear is astonishing. I have no idea what anything means or what anything is for.

Without my conclusions about mother, I’d be massively curious. I’d wonder about mothering itself as a verb.

I’d be mothered. I’d be mothering. Mothering would be me. Mothering would be happening. I’d be mothering my thinking, and my thoughts would be mothering me.

Mothering, mattering. 

I’d be noticing what’s here and how fascinating the world is right in this moment.

I look up from my writing and out my big picture window into the front yard, and on the street, which often has walkers out in front, there’s a woman and a little girl. They pause as the girl does a handstand. Then they continue out of sight.

I chuckle. A little theater show of possible mother-daughter right in front of me. Mother waiting for child, a moment in time. Birds tweeting still. Leaves rustling.

I consider my history and all those images I’ve fought and inquiry I’ve brought forward about mother and what should or should not have happened, and what should or should not happen in the future, and what I myself should have done in mothering my children, or not done….

….and I notice a stunning sense of gratitude in this moment about all the mothering of the world. All that’s ever happened in my entire life is supported by mothering.

Every. Single. Second.

When I needed to be left alone for my next step in evolution, I was. When I needed to do something by myself for the first time, it was presented to me. When I needed to serve constantly and understand how to do that without suffering, that was in my life (having kids for example).

When I needed to have silence and ease, it was always available (I didn’t always take it).

When I needed a person to be mothering to me, there were countless. When I need me to be a mother to myself or others, it came forth.

Except my in my mind, mothering is here.

What “matters” is here.

Could this all be just as true?


And when I think it isn’t, I can investigate.

I realize suddenly in this writing, that I am a mother, even in this moment where no children appear to be present.

I am a mother in inquiry. We all are.

I am mothering my own thoughts and beliefs, and have been doing this as best I can for many years and many sittings.

I continue holding the mind with loving, mothering energy as long as it’s needed until perhaps it can walk by itself (and it’s OK too if it never can).

I ask Question Four “who would I be?”

I wonder. I find such exciting answers. I connect to the capacity to feel love, unconditional love–the ultimate shining experience of motherness. I am still here, finding the way to let mind rest.

Something called “me” is finding a way back, always, to loving kindness, gratitude, peace.

“When there is fear, pain, confusion or sadness moving in you, do not despair or come to conclusions about yourself. Be honoured that these misunderstood guests, at once both ancient and timeless, weary from a lifetime’s lonely travel, have finally found their home in you. They are children of consciousness one and all, beloved children of yourself, deserving of the deepest respect and friendship. Offer them the deep rest of yourself, and let them warm their toes by your raging fire…” ~ Jeff Foster

Thank you for The Work of Byron Katie for all the mothering it’s done for me. Giving birth to new ways of seeing everything.

Much love,


P.S. It’s not too late to come to spring retreat and give your heart the gift of nurturing the thoughts that have plagued you about life, or mothering. There’s even a room for you if you need to stay onsite. We begin Wednesday. A perfect mothering gift for yourself. Information here. Or hit reply and ask.

Are you worried about someone? Would NOT worrying make you cold? Let’s do The Work!

Seattle spring retreat info here. Next week! Wheeee!
Breitenbush Hotsprings retreat with Tom Compton and me here.

Our Year of Inquiry group had such a powerful session yesterday.

We’ve just begun Month Nine and our topic is Underlying Beliefs and Revisiting the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.

I always say this every month about every topic, but this really is one of my favorites….it allows us to sit with the JYN prompts, before we even apply the four questions….and fill it out as a meditation.

When I take time to go very slowly and identify my thinking, my objections, my worries, my fears, what I truly wanted, what I believe should have happened, what I needed….and really write it the way I’m perceiving it, listening to myself with great acceptance….wow.

My entire perspective of life is revealed in just one situation.

I was so moved by the inquirer in our Year of Inquiry call, so very touched, because I could follow right along with her and do my own work.

Her situation: taking a relative to dinner who has been living on the street for several months, deep in drug use. The relative asked to spend the night on her couch, and she said no. Dropping the relative back on the street, she felt guilty and frightened.

As she did her work (me asking the four questions), everyone on the call did our own inquiry along with her, silently.

We pictured a moment where we believed someone could get hurt, something terrible could happen, we could experience loss, guilt, pain….the world is a harsh place, the street is dangerous, sickness, homelessness, death is bad. 

I had images of some of my own family, when they’ve been in pain.

I saw all the people feeling so frustrated about eating issues and suffering over compulsion, all the alcohol users, the people in psych wards or hospice I’ve visited.

I thought of a client who came once with severe depression who sat on my couch and cried, he had so much grief, and then said he wasn’t up to doing The Work….then stood up and said “we’re done for today” and left.

I remembered how I felt bad about him leaving.

He’s not OK. I need to help him.

The world is full of suffering. He’s in a dangerous place. I should have been more useful. I failed.

Is it true these people are in danger? Is it true they need help?

Yes! Of course it’s true!

Isn’t it mean or cold to NOT believe they’re in danger, or suffering?

Long ago at my first School for The Work with Byron Katie, I raised my hand in the big conference room full of people, after a morning walk.

“I just passed a woman lying on newspapers on a stone bench by the busy rush hour road. It’s sad, Katie. There are people suffering out there. She didn’t have a place to sleep last night!”

Katie asked me “is that true?”

I realized I couldn’t know. I had no idea. All I did was walk by her.

But isn’t that uncaring? Isn’t that ignoring the reality? Who lies on newspapers at 7:00 am by a busy road?

I sure don’t.

Or, if I did, I’d be suffering. I like beds.

And by the way, what kind of God allows all this anyhow, plus all the other millions of incidents and situations causing pain?

But as I sat back in my chair after that brief conversation with Katie, I realize how my mind had taken off with the assumption of pain and agony that woman must be going through, and how terrible her life was to bring her to that place, and I could not know anything I was thinking was true.

I didn’t even really know that if I myself were on a stone bench sleeping on newspapers that I would be unhappy. I had never done that before.

Back to my client.

I should have stopped him and said “you still have 20 minutes for our session, so just sit here and say nothing, but don’t leave!”

(I thought of me saying that later on, not in the moment).

He’s not OK.

Is that true?

I don’t know.

I can’t absolutely know he’s not OK. At all.

So….no. Not true.

How do I react when I think someone else I care about isn’t OK?

I have all kinds of images in my head about terrible things getting worse. I picture them suffering, going crazy, in hospitals, dying.

Who would you be without the thought that he’s not OK? She’s not OK?


And while we’re at it, let’s say it also doesn’t mean you’re an uncaring cold-hearted jerk if you don’t believe they are NOT OK.

We’re just wondering what it’s like without assuming they aren’t.

I immediately feel as if I remember they are quite powerful. I have no idea what brought them to the moment where I happen to see them, and it’s just a moment in time.

I’m aware they are here on planet earth….being themselves. Alive. Breathing. Crying. Asking. Sleeping. Taking care of themselves as best they can.

I’m not in charge.

Without the belief “that person is NOT OK” I’m still seeing them, I’m not dumb, I’m aware….I’m here with them. I have a sense of trust, not suspicion.

I’m open to my mind might be seeing this a little wonky: assuming there’s a God allowing terrible things to happen hither and yon randomly screwing with the human race.

That might not be true. Heh heh. 

I had time to take a walk after our group inquiry call, before my next client.

The sun was shining brightly and blossoms literally bursting everywhere–it seemed the air was full of sugar perfume, and oh the colors. Red, purple, pink, white, blue, yellow in every floral shape and size danced along my entire walk.

I thought more deeply of turnarounds on my walk.

He IS OK, she IS OK. 

I am not OK, especially when I believe those people are not OK. My thinking isn’t OK. 

These are all just as true….truer.

The inquirers in Year of Inquiry as they shared their own situations and feedback with the woman who had done The Work were so touching to me.

They had such deep reflections about someone they love in their lives dying, changing, or suffering in some way….and the brilliant shining awareness of how much they love that person.

Hearts bursting with love for the people close to them, with appreciation, gratitude, wonder.

And I saw on my walk how much I loved an almost-stranger who sat on my couch in tears, a woman I saw for only fifteen seconds on a bench one time, my family members, my kids, my parents, these Year of Inquiry people who are helping me see how much love is showering the world, in any situation.

“When this Work found me, my daughter was, in her words, an alcoholic and doing drugs. And the questions were alive in me. ‘Her addiction is killing her’–can I absolutely know that’s true? No. And who would I be without this story? I would be totally there for her, loving her with all my heart, as long as she lasts. Maybe she’ll die tomorrow of an overdose, but she’s in my arms now.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,


P.S. There’s still room for you to come to spring retreat next week. Jump on a plane, drive your car, take the bus. Doing this kind of work can change your entire perspective, about the whole world and everyone in it. Amazing. Give yourself the time. I’ll be right here with you.

There’s something extra-special about gathering in person to do this work for several days. Inquiry, silent walks (I’ll show you my favorites), inquiry, sharing, meditation, sacred poetry, more inquiry, ah-ha moments, allowing everything to be as it is.


Other upcoming events:
  • Eating Peace Process Online Brand New Version. Same principles, delivered better. Lifetime access. May-August 2019
  • June 27th East West Books evening 7-9 pm.
  • June 12-16, 2019 Breitenbush Retreat with Tom Compton
  • Summer Camp for The Mind Online Inquiry
  • Divorce Is Hell 8 week course Aug 18-October 13, 2019 Sundays 11 am PT/ 7 pm UK with Nadine Ferris France
  • Year of Inquiry begins Sept 8, 2019–a whole year of monthly topics in The Work, and sharing inquiry together
  • always free: First Friday inquiry power hour (90 mins) 7:45am PT

As long as you think the cause of your problem is “out there”….you’ll suffer (last call spring OR Breitenbush retreats)

“As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”-as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering-the situation is hopeless.” ~ Byron Katie

Someone asked me what retreat was like again doing The Work.

Oh my. How can I describe such a wonderful experience? Each and every retreat is like a precious gem.

A unique group, personal and important inquiry, and the brilliance of humans finding their own answers.

In a nutshell, retreats are several days set aside to do nothing but meet your own thoughts with understanding. The word “retreat” actually means to fall back, to settle down, to pause, to stop fighting, right?

So fitting, because I find it’s what we’re opening up to about reality itself. Not Fighting It.

An adventure in being completely honest about What Is, and then exploring our Truths about it.

No one else’s truth or answers, only our own.

Sure, there are other people here, sitting in the room with you.

But honestly?

We’re not so focused on getting to know one another, or sharing whole stories from start to finish, or exposing all our pain or doing special exercises (except for some that help us identify our thinking).

Retreats set aside for doing The Work feel to me like making very deep contact with my own inner world, without running for dear life, or deflecting away, or avoiding what frightens or angers or saddens me.

I suppose in some ways the opposite of “retreat” is also true. I’m connecting very closely. Rather than retreating, I’m diving all the way in to understand something I’ve opposed.

I’m giving myself time to be with my mind, and question something I’ve perceived as a cause of suffering.

What I find happens is time dedicated to questioning my thinking allow the hours, then days, to go to work on it and transform it without me even trying. Something sinks in, and a power of love and support unfolds without any teacher or guru or special method necessary (as Van Morrison sings). I follow the directions and step-by-step fall into wondering who I am without my thinking?


Wouldn’t I be a zombie without my stressful belief? Maybe I’d have no idea what was going on?


Maybe I have no idea already.

Two retreats are coming up soon. One is only 8 days away: spring retreat in Seattle! May 15-19. The other is at Breitenbush in Oregon June 12-16. Seattle’s retreat is $485. Breitenbush Retreat is $495.

Oh, and there’s always music, beautiful poetry and quotes, and one special outing involving movement without talking. A great experience of being, and letting our work be.

For both retreats, we begin Weds evening and you’ll start right away by identifying a situation from any time in your entire life where you believe whatever was going on shouldn’t have happened.

You needed something. Something was missing. Something was threatened. You lost something. It hurt. Something was said, written, implied, damaged, gone. Someone was rude, vicious, violent, suffering, absent.

So many moments. It shouldn’t have happened that way (says the mind).

Oh such a profound treat, in the weirdest way possible, to state what I did not like and why, and tear that moment to shreds, or complain, or cry on paper (whatever the sentiment).

There’s something that gets released.

Yesterday on the weekly Monday facebook live, for example, we did The Work on the belief “I need x, in order to be happy”.

I need money, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a baby, a house, a job, support, friends….air.

I need it. Without it, I can’t be happy.

Is it true?

Watch the inquiry here.

And I’m LOVING interviewing the wonderful people I’ve met in The Work, who have been on many retreats, sat with themselves in self-inquiry, gone to The School for The Work, and experience their lives as completely changed because of questioning their thinking on what should not have happened.

My guest this time is Tamami Fujiwara, Certified Facilitator.

One of the things I loved most about her sharing was that when she first encountered The Work, she hated it.

Listen to our conversation here on itunes Peace Talk episode 147.

If this work intrigues you, if you’re looking for some spring mental cleaning, if you’re confused, upset, worried about anything….come to retreat. CEUs for mental health therapists for both. Seattle has two spots left. Breitenbush almost sold out.

Learn more about Seattle spring retreat here.

Learn more about Breitenbush retreat here.

Much love,


Free First Friday starts 7:45 am PT May 3rd: Let’s Do The Work of Byron Katie!

For those wanting to come along to group tele-inquiry….today’s the day. Connect here at 7:45 am Pacific Time.

We meet for 90 minutes. Come do The work. All you need is pen, paper and open mind.

You are welcome to sit, listen, meditate and not even share at all.

Only 2-3 people usually sit in the hot seat and “do” The Work, but everyone gets to comment or give feedback or share the impact of the work if you choose. 

Quiet, or sharing….it’s all welcome. Bring your questions about The Work if you have them.

The people who do The Work are so inspiring to me, every time.

Brave, willing, honest.

Someone who does The Work might bring the perfect thought out for you, and you get to find some understanding through listening.

To connect successfully, use chrome or firefox (updated), and choose WebCall option if you want to speak and be heard. Choose Broadcast for listen-only (you can share in the chat box feature).

If you want to dial in with your phone, you’re welcome to–don’t forget to enter the pin code: 425-440-5010 pin 305799#.

Again, using the internet, just click this link here.

Looking forward to doing The Work with you for our monthly Free First Friday. So grateful.

Much love,


Are you too proud to ask for what you need? (First Friday+scholarship help for spring retreat)

First Friday Free Open Inquiry Call. Connect here at 7:45 am Pacific Time. We meet for 90 minutes. Come do The work. All you need is pen, paper and open mind.

If you’ve ever thought of coming to a four day retreat in The Work, this is one of the best times this spring (in only 2 weeks).

It’s not the glorious flowers or the beauty of the sun and rain and lush grass in the northwest, or the joy I know that can occur with the amount of time we have connecting to our inner world and inquiring into our stress.

The reason this may be a particularly special time is because this is the last time most likely that I’m going to be in the retreat house I’ve been renting for several years….and because we have spots I also want to remind you that partial scholarship space is available. 

I’m always open to requests for scholarship, but sometimes there’s hardly any room and the retreat is full before I can turn my attention to scholarship help.

That’s not true this spring.

So if money and finances are the thing holding you back from jumping in to retreat starting May 15th….send me a note.

And believe me, I know the stressful thoughts kicking in when you consider yourself asking for scholarship.

I’ve been there.

My thinking went like this:

  • this so embarrassing that I don’t have the money to pay
  • I’m a loser
  • I can’t pull it together with money
  • I have to be extra special appreciative or a really good ‘student’ if I ask for a cut in the fee
  • I better get this work and SHOW somehow that I got it
  • I better be grateful, I must show it was worth it to allow me to come at a lower fee
  • I’m a mess with money
  • I’ll never have enough
  • my lack of finances shows how screwed up I am
  • I will owe for this later
  • I need to pay it back, whatever it takes
  • I’m so dependent on others for money, jeez–what’s wrong with me
  • I must need to fix my thinking about money and supply
  • I’m so needy


I had every single one of those thoughts.

And here’s the thing. I had these thoughts, and then my financial situation tanked even further and I had them even more, like the volume turned up on all of them–the orchestra was playing very loudly.

So much shame.

I really felt having no money meant I was lazy, unwilling or wrong.

My confidence was terrible and I had no trust in the process of life when it came to money.

It’s still a shaky process. I admit, I don’t always like to talk about money, I don’t always like to tell people what I charge (depending on what’s i my head that I’m projecting), and I’m frightened of appearing greedy or indulgent.

It’s like I have this deep belief that discussing money matters is very private and shameful, and kind of like I shouldn’t even mention it.

If you trust life, God, the universe, being here….then no you shouldn’t be concerned about money. Right?

Well, let’s question that thought. Because it’s very stressful.

You shouldn’t be concerned about your financial wellbeing, money coming in, money going out, having enough supply.

Is that true that you shouldn’t worry about it?


I notice my first impulse sometimes is to worry. It’s too late, I worried. I notice there are brilliant reasons to be concerned. I don’t like not paying bills. I don’t like being late on rent. I don’t like not having enough food. I don’t like being unable to do something, go somewhere (sign up for a retreat) because of money AND I don’t like yelling at myself that I shouldn’t worry, when I do.

Can I absolutely know it’s true I shouldn’t be worrying about money?

No. The worry is present. My mind is imagining, sure, and that’s what it does.

How do you react when you believe you shouldn’t worry about money, be concerned with money, believe you don’t have enough money?

I hide my fears. I don’t ask for assistance. I pretend I’m fine.

My sweet husband says when we first started getting to know each other and spending time together, he had no idea that my bank account had plummeted and how much fear and terror I was in.

I don’t know if I was consciously trying to hide it, but I was. I’d think it was none of his business, and also that I didn’t want him to believe I was seeking financial help, or needy.


I admit I was in his business, and everyone else’s business. They shouldn’t know I was worried about money. NO ONE should know. Shameful!

It meant I was a failure and a loser.

So who would you be without the belief you shouldn’t worry about money, or let money stop you from doing something important, or have money be the reason you don’t move forward in your life, or try something different, or ask for help (like a partial scholarship)?

Without the belief, I noticed I asked for help. I told people I needed it. I asked what they would do in my situation.

When I did, people donated furniture, dishes, silverware, blue drinking glasses. My mother helped me, gave me support, said I could live in her basement (I never needed to). My kids went on free lunch at school and got two meals a day. (I still didn’t apply for food stamps which I would have qualified for).

One of my sisters gave me an interest-free loan for an entire year. Things looked dire for me, she took a risk in not being repaid.

A good friend sent me a newspaper article for low income families, because she knew my plight. It was about a special private fund created for kids in middle school that if they kept their grades up through their entire high school career, then they’d get free in-state tuition at any college. My son qualified and his entire freshman year was paid for by that fund.

And then there was all the generosity from workshop leaders and people giving me tuition reduction or trades for important activities and learning events. My new friend who ran a dance in Seattle gave me a set-up job so I could attend every week without paying since even $10 was hard (and that’s where I met my husband).

I took workshops in mindset, inquiry, meditation, small business growth, private practice, life coaching, leadership training, behavior science, psychology, stress reduction….things that build confidence and helped me find a way back to solid ground with money.

Every workshop I actually took, I received partial funding for, and I worked behind the scenes to help with tasks and do what they needed.

I asked people for help with job hunting and looked and looked and would feel like giving up and then look again. I became willing to work anywhere. (I loved the book How Starbucks Saved My Life by a midlife man, Michael Gates Gill, who lost everything in his privileged life and starting working for Starbucks).

Without the story of shame or fear about money, or about worrying about money….I notice I can talk about it much more easily (and that doesn’t mean it’s always and entirely easy. I still notice stressful thoughts arise).

I’ve also noticed how OK I am without money. Even feeling freedom in fact.

Money comes, goes, and I do not have the gripping fear I once had about it.

Wow. Sometimes, there’s nothing like not having money (or anything) to teach you how OK it is to not have it.

What freedom to be beyond the belief “I need it in order to be happy”.

Without the belief that I shouldn’t worry, ask, get concerned, wonder, talk about money….I catch myself and I question my thinking and notice what is OK in this moment now and also that I’m thirsty, so I go get some water.

There’s no shame in drinking water, I notice. There’s no shame in finding supply in the world for what’s needed.

Water…..yummy. So delicious.

Money…..so fun to trade for things like retreats and workshops and raincoats. So delicious.

I do notice that almost nothing is needed, (which is a powerful  inquiry in itself about needs) and all the fun on this playground of life, with money coming and going and no need to go nuts about it.

I notice the benefits of having none, how exciting and impractical and adventurous and fascinating. I notice the benefits of having money too, and how I’ve believed it protects me from having to ask for assistance (which I used to believe was failing).

“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.” ~ Rumi

I destroyed my reputation as a person who had it all together with money in my life. I asked for help. I became a true student.

…”There is only one rule on this Wild Playground,
Every sign Hafiz has ever seen
Reads the same.
They all say,
“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,
In the Beloved’s divine
O, in the Beloved’s
~ Hafiz

Who would you be without your story about worry and money and needs?

I notice without my story, I send out this message that I have space in the spring retreat and if your concern about attending is money, why not ask for some assistance?

I’ll be honest about what works. The retreat house does cost a lot so you contributing something seems right, and maybe that’s not even true without my story (haha).

Without my money story, I notice I need to write a big fat check today for this building project happening in my back yard, and that I’m not sure where all the funds are coming from that will pay for this project since the bid has gone over what was originally planned….and I seem to still write the check.

I’m amazed I can even write a check like this, considering my poverty ten years ago.

“The only place we can be happy is right here, right now–not tomorrow, not in ten minutes.  Happiness can’t be achieved.  We can’t get it from money or sex or fame or approval or anything on the outside.  We can only find happiness within us:  unchanging, immovable, ever-present, ever-waiting.  If we pursue it, it runs away.  If we stop pursuing it and question our minds instead, the source of all stress disappears.” ~ Byron Katie

If you want to read more about retreat, visit Spring Retreat. If you’d like to talk with me about scholarship help, write grace@workwithgrace.com.
I like to pay it forward. I’m stunned at how much has been given to me, from the moment I was born even. Astonishing. I owe, not out of guilt, but in the very best way.

Much love,


Seattle Spring Retreat May 15-19….No Caravan of Despair

Bring your despair to inquiry.

Spring Retreat is almost upon us.

It’s coming soon, only 15 days away.

Two cancellations in the past month (both of them weddings)!

Two rooms still available if you want to stay in the beautiful retreat house.

This is a time for those of us who, well…hate retreats. Seriously.

I’m not joking around.

Part of me is that person who hates retreats.

It was the me full of despair.

The one who would leave and ditch anyone (including myself) because….who cares?

The one who loved departure. The one who loved saying “I’m outta here”. The one who loved to leave.

The one who didn’t want any pep talks or dealing with difficult people. 

This spring retreat may be small.

And when I consider this, I get sort of fascinated after inquiring that it should be any different than it is.

What could possibly happen? What will this be like? How marvelous!

These days, the sense of zest or excitement is practically immediate with whatever appears to be happening.

I have the thought “there’s room for 16” and then the thought “but 10 is going to be perfect”.

There’s something so connected, shared, perfectly wonderful about a small group for 4 days. I tend to tap into everyone’s energy with such a depth of curiosity and joy. I learn so much. We’re like a team of people bringing peace to one small part of the world.

Regular people, joining with one another, under the guidance of inquiry using The Work of Byron Katie.

No expectations. Bringing our pain, our despair, our shame, our worries.

It’s not exactly easy.

Deep inhale, deep exhale.

For someone who tended to isolate, and still I can go for days without contact quite happily….

….something about the gentleness of retreat and the dawning of awareness in us all is thrilling.

Who would we be without our beliefs about THAT TERRIBLE THING THAT HAPPENED?!

I’d be in retreat, questioning my perspective. Finding grace at the center of it all.

Finding that only my own answers really matter.

Finding myself without despair. The part of me with the Don’t Know mind.

Our retreat is honesty. It is a moment in time of sharing and questioning. It is gathering a sense of empowerment about seeing what we believe without a guru or a teacher.

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” ~ Jelaluddin Rumi

If you have a painful experience, a stressful belief, an anxious orientation, a desperate idea about life that doesn’t feel so good….

….then welcome.

You’ll fit right in.

And the surprise is: ours is a caravan of no despair. You are welcome, with all your worrying, agonizing, hand-wringing, fear and anger.

You are welcome with it all.

Let’s do question what our minds are saying is true.

Let’s do The Work.

Let’s do The Work.

Much love,


I’m not good enough, it’s not good enough, nothing good enough.

Read more about Spring Retreat. Just a few spots open now. Love to have you if you’re ready to spring clean on the inside May15-19 here in blossoming Seattle.
All those stories, beliefs, ideas, perspectives that feel harsh, sad, disappointing, frightening, ugly….what a tremendous way to work with them by questioning their “truth” clearly for yourself. 
I spoke about this power of self-inquiry recently with the wonderful Tom Compton, a facilitator of The Work and someone who has been practicing his inquiry for 20+ years.  The video of our conversation is below, but if you’d like to listen on podcast, you can click here (also on itunes episode 146).
(Tom and I will be offering a retreat at Breitenbush June 12-16, 2019–call them soon to reserve a spot, early bird rate is almost over).
One of my favorite observations Tom shared was a conversation he had with Byron Katie many years ago. She told him the only difference between her and him was she had questioned more of her stressful beliefs.
That’s it. So simple.
What is a belief you notice today?
Maybe you notice one, or maybe ten, or a thousand. It seems like they swirl in, like voices clamoring for attention. I see them ticker-tape across the mind still, sometimes in collections or bunches.
Just yesterday, for example, in the middle of giving a webinar on eating peace in preparation for the upcoming program starting next week, and had the thought I forgot to advance through my slides, and spoke too long about one part, and that the volume of information is still too large even though it’s cut in half.
Then yesterday, on same Eating Peace webinar live with people there attending, construction workers outside blew a fuse and all power was lost at my house. Webinar over.
Not Good Enough.
What a persistent thought this has been throughout my life. The thing isn’t good enough. My body isn’t good enough. The job isn’t good enough. The effort isn’t good enough. That person isn’t good enough. This place isn’t good enough.
Even my self-inquiry isn’t good enough. Yikes.
I should be….I want….I need to….
There would never be enough time in the day, or even in any lifetime, to accomplish this “good enough” quality that seems so elusive.
How do we react when we believe we aren’t good enough, or the thing, person, place isn’t good enough, or the outcome isn’t good enough?
I see comparison rearing up, like it’s on fire. What is over there is better. This here isn’t quite right.
The other day, I was working with a beautiful inquirer who found her long-awaited vacation with her spouse wasn’t as wonderful as she had hoped. It wasn’t good enough.
Another inquirer worked on her connection with her young adult children and missing being closer to them. Not good enough.
Someone else did The Work on not getting promoted and the surprise promotion of someone else instead. Not good enough.
I should have found The Work 20 years ago (LOL). I should be devoting at least an hour every day to meditation, inquiry, physical fitness, re-reading sacred texts, listening to teachers, learning. Not good enough.
Find an area, just one, where you’re not good enough.
Is it true?
How do you react when you believe what’s happening, including the way YOU are, isn’t good enough?
Sinking feeling. Disappointment. Closed. Angry.
Who would you be without that thought?
Feeling the life force run through me, hearing the whirr of the heater this morning and sun beams coming through the window slats. Remembering many conversations yesterday.
Noticing how the thought “not good enough” is a strange orientation, a way of looking, a funny and anxiety-producing pair of glasses. Perhaps survival-based. There it is, doing its thing, being that way. Feeling compassion for whatever that energy is.
Without the thought, I notice something does feel very mysterious, uncertain. It’s not completely easy.
The Don’t Know mind isn’t all lace and baubles, joy and peace necessarily….it’s like falling in space without a bottom below at times. Nervous.
Turning the thought around: This is good enough. I am good enough. What’s happening is good enough. Only in my thoughts is it not good enough. The image in the mind of that perfect alternative doesn’t even exist except in imagination.  
The mind is a superpower of speed and imagery, isn’t it?
Can I just feel “good enough” about this moment, right now?
Yes. I can do that.
Perhaps that’s all that’s ever required for peace. This right now. Good enough.

Much love,


Attention goes to what I spend my time on: believing my thoughts, or inquiring. I’ll take inquiry.

Spring Retreat is coming. Book a room if you like (two king size bedrooms left) and stay onsite with gorgeous spring blooming gardens, full kitchen with fridge for your groceries, laundry room, hot tub, outdoor meditation spaces and an old-fashioned claw foot bathtub with epsom salts for indoor soaking.
Everything supported in the physical world so you can do your work. 
I am so happy for another retreat.
Because. It’s as much for me as for anyone else.
Life appears to be full of tasks, doing, attention pulled to the various things: helping extensively with rental house inherited by my kids (fielding lots of questions), answering questions about eating peace process starting soon in 10 days (!), learning the technology behind membership sites, sorting out the various retreat locations for next year, daily clients, laundry, recycling, grocery shopping, post office, gym, emails, family easter thing.
So full. Busy. Packed. Jammed. Tight schedule.
Lots of doing.
And hasn’t this been a statement I would make a year ago, too?
Um, right.
How about five years ago?
So something changed for me within the past several months: an awareness of the need to deepen my own inquiry. The Work.
I know that might sound like a surprise, since my job apparently is facilitating the work.
That’s not really my job, though. My job is inquiring when I believe something stressful, and working with the busy mind.
I had stopped doing it full length, with all the steps, writing my thoughts out, sitting in silence with the questions either before or after writing.
I knew I needed a reboot.
Especially when I had a complete tormented internal meltdown one weekend in February about responsibilities, money, expenses, connection, mistakes, tax preparation, building permits.
All these things were rotating through reality, asking for attention, and then peaking around the same 3 day holiday weekend when I go away with my husband annually.
I couldn’t decide where to go, if we should go, what to do, what I wanted to do, how to stop thinking “I need to attend to the things (see list)!”
The fundamental underlying belief was 3 days away was not “worth it” or a good use of my time, and that somehow getting things done would be better and more important than breaking away for a 2 nights.
There’s not enough time. I have to get things done. It’s not possible to relax.
The scarcity was suddenly almost so thick I could cut it with a knife. Not enough time, blending to not enough money, to not enough knowledge to not enough planning (taxes) to not enough clarity to not enough capacity to rest.
Just Not Enough. Not Enough. Not Enough. 
How do you react when you think there’s Not Enough of something?
People think this about love, attention, family, money, space, pleasure, respect, creativity, confidence, time.
Something happens, and Not Enough-ness comes to the forefront.
For me, it began that weekend to spread into all the crevasses of my life wherever I looked. Not only was there not enough time or money that weekend, but not enough time had been common in the past too. Never truly enough. So probably not enough time in the future, either.
Good lord. So stressful. The sensation was of the Titanic sinking, endings and grief and panic. So strange to have it all rise up all at once literally in a peaking three-day period.
Not enough time for WHAT?
I need to get all those things addressed, immediately. Is that true?
There isn’t enough time to do The Work, is it true?
Who would you be without that thought that there’s not enough time? (Or whatever your chosen item or quality in life that you think there isn’t enough of)?
The other day, as I sat quietly in The Work and silence (a renewed practice) I remembered something said by one of my favorite teachers who I’ve shared time in contemplation, quiet, and “retreating” from all the daily and usual tasks.
He would say, (and repeat), that inquiry and peace are NOT found only on the meditation cushion. They are NOT found only at the monastery. They are NOT found in the book, or only from the teacher, or only in a “spiritual” setting.
They are found in our daily lives. In the basic daily tasks. They are found in our trip to the store for dental floss. In our capacity to be away for 2 nights with our sweethearts (as in my case) and to appreciate the air, the room, the space we’re in without complaining.
Can I meditate and inquire here, in this regular simple life?
Because that’s my reality, that’s where it’s needed.
So I began sitting silently again every single morning for a longer period of time, and no matter what was going on.
I began carrying the questions with me on and off all day again–when I remembered– “who would I be without my Not Enough story?”
Who would I be without my belief “there isn’t enough time?”
I begin feeling my feet very solidly again, noticing my breath, hearing an inner voice chatter but aware I don’t have to believe it.
Nothing required.
No need to speed fast. No need to freak out. No need to panic or resist or “do”.
What a beautiful rest it is to retreat from the Do-Do-Do-Go-Go-Go mind.
So happy the time is coming soon to gather with others in a circle with the primary commitment we’re “doing” is that of awareness of the mind’s activity; looking, silence, wondering, answering the four questions, finding our turnarounds. Living and feeling our turnarounds.
I’ve never found anything more helpful for facing stress. Never.
I’ve been assured by others. I’ve been to the monastery. I’ve been to loud conferences to raise your confidence.
But answering four questions and knowing there actually isn’t anything other I really can do to access my own innate wisdom that would ever be more satisfying.
Turning the thought around: there is enough. There’s enough time. There’s enough love, clarity, recognition…whatever. The amount I have is what is enough. I am breathing, I am inquiring. I am alive. I am being.
Any more would be too much. Any less would be too little. This much of the quality, item, thing….is just right.
Can I find examples from that weekend where I was so sure we couldn’t leave town, that I couldn’t enjoy myself, that there were too many demands?
Yes. The ONLY THING that was a problem on that weekend away (we did go away) was my judgment, thinking, worry. The only thing that created difficult within was my mind. Physically I was completely comfortable.
The most important turnaround after my anxious experience: there’s not enough inquiring, there’s not enough clear thought about time, about money, about What Is.
In other words, the stories got blown a bit out of proportion. LOL.
So today, in my calendar is space for “inquiry” and “meditation” and on my calendar is time for 4 day spring retreat space for “inquiry” and “meditation” with a group of other people intending the same, and then a June retreat at Breitenbush with Tom Compton also for the very same….and every day in between responding to reality in this place always with the questions….as best I can.
“There might have been anger, frustration, terror, prayers (the kind that attempt to manipulate what cannot be manipulated). These are a few of the ways we react when we believe what we think. It’s what the war with reality often looks like, and it’s not only insane, it’s hopeless, and very painful. But when you question your mind, thoughts flow in and out and don’t cause any stress, because you don’t believe them. And you instantly realize that the opposites could be just as true. Reality shows you, in that peace of mind, that there are no problems, only solutions. You know to your very depths that whatever happens is what should be happening.” ~ Byron Katie
I want to sit in who I am without my story. That’s what I want to put my attention to. That is what connects me to the greatest love, home, God, kindness, compassion, trust, Reality.
There is enough time for that.
Especially when I mark it in my calendar.
Much love,