Is it going well? Or going badly? Whatever you think….can you absolutely know it’s true?

The empty Goldilocks Cottage after all the beautiful people have gone to their next chapter, their next adventure after retreat. The circle is here, still full of the love, kindness, intimacy. Beautiful voices, and now equally beautifully silence. Thank you world.

What a remarkable time in retreat for the past 3 days. A beautiful group of inquirers, coming from far and wide, several of whom joined literally the night before.

Funny how things work out. We wound up being full….Or, we could have added one more, but close enough.

Five days before the retreat, I thought we needed to double the number, and one person canceled. The attendance was going in the WRONG direction.

Oh no! This is bad!

It’s fascinating the way things unfold. We’ll think we want it to go like X, but it goes like Y. We want that person to say A but they say B. We despair because we received Q and we thought we needed R. We wait for C but only D appears.

And this is only when it comes to uncomfortable outcomes.

We can also have preconceived ideas, plans, or expectations and get pleasantly surprised. We then feel excited, or good, or delighted, or thrilled.

I thought it would be E but it was F. WOW!! Good news! I am so lucky! Fantastic!

The thing is, with either one of these perspectives and how it happens to unfold (“good” or “bad”)….

….I use a certain outcome to make me happy, or make me sad.

In both situations, I’m hanging on the Way It’s Gone to mean I feel good, or I feel bad.

Holy Smokes.

That’s putting myself in a pretty dependent place. It matters very deeply the way it goes. I’m a victim to the way Reality moves. Good or Bad.

No wonder I’ve gotten so nervous, worried, hand-wringing anxious, upset, troubled or less-than-relaxed in the past when it comes to something like a retreat happening.

I’ll be happy if it’s full (or almost full). I’ll be disappointed if it isn’t.

We can do The Work on this very powerful awareness, that the outcome can be “good” or “bad” to any situation, anywhere, ever.

Find one you can relate to. You’ll be really happy if it goes like Y. You’ll be unhappy if it goes like X.

Job interviews, relationship commitments, divorce, marriage, illness, a diagnosis, moving to a new place, making money, traveling somewhere, a court sentence, a major decision, buying something, trading for something, a law passing, a voting outcome, selling something, enrolling in something, hosting an event.

There’s an outcome that’s good. There’s another outcome that’s bad.

Let’s do The Work.

Whatever happens, there’s a good way for this to go, and a bad way. In my case, the retreat should be full. It shouldn’t be sparsely attended.

Ten days before this retreat, I had the image of working with only two people for the entire 2.5 days. It wouldn’t be worth it. I’d lose money. It wouldn’t be fun. It wouldn’t be rewarding like so many retreats are. I should have…..Breitenbush should have….This is too hard and impossible.

Images of all this in my head.

Disappointment. Frustration.

Is it true it will go that disappointing way?

Am I sure it would be “bad” if there were only two people and the images came true?

Am I sure it’s terrible if I hear a difficult diagnosis, learn about a change of plans, receive surprising information, all those things on my “bad” list….can I be absolutely sure they would be bad, if they happened?

Woah. NO.

Many tough things have happened, and with self inquiry–even prior to knowing The Work–those events shaped me in some deeply powerful ways. They were useful. For all I know, they were required.

I really can’t know if it’s bad when something happens, even when I’m believing it is.

I can’t know at all if working with two people would be wrong, awkward, difficult, a loss. And beyond that, I don’t even know if I will in fact only have two people.

Turns out I didn’t.

How do you react when you believe it needs to go like X in order for you to be happy?

OMG.

If the stakes are high, the anxiety is through the roof. I’m doing everything I can to push, force, cajole, make the thing go the way I want.

I pray, I wish, I hope. I want “Reality” to go MY WAY. If it does, it means I’m favored. If it doesn’t, it means I’m unlucky or did something wrong, or thought something wrong.

I see images of all the bad ways it could go. I see images of all the good ways it could go. I vote for the good ways, only. 

Maybe I feel desperate.

But who would you be without this dreadful story that something must go the way you see it needs to go in order to be happy?

BOINGGGG.

It’s almost like a cartoon frying pan hitting the mind. Something stops. Like….what??!

You mean….? if I didn’t think Y was better than X or B was better than A?

Who would I be without the belief I should have a certain number of people in this upcoming retreat weekend? Who would I be without the belief it will be bad if there’s only two?

What if I just really didn’t know what was best for myself, for the world, for the other people, for reality, for the universe?

(I notice, I couldn’t possibly know).

Without the thought there’s a good way for this to go….I find my sense of humor. I am filled with wonder and what this will be like. I’m excited to see what happens. I’m aware I’m not in charge of reality (LOL). I do what excites me in the moment, with a feeling of joy.

Without the belief, I write about the upcoming weekend. I share my thrill of The Work. I write to a few people I know who might be interested, or know others who are. I feel like this is a fabulous game, a fun challenge, an adventurous wager. And I rest and attend to other things as well. I relax.

The feeling in the body, without knowing how anything will unfold and yet trusting I’ll roll with it, however it goes, is sooooo brilliant and restful, awake and buzzingly alive all at once. Oooh, hands clapping. The future is a discovery.

Turning the thought around: If it goes that “bad” way…it will be fantastic! (In my case, two people for 2.5 days).

AMAZING. This could be so true! I’d get close, intimate, deep connection with two very sincere inquirers. What a gift. We’d go far, wide, and thorough. I’d have fewer supplies and papers and notebooks to organize, and snacks, and tea. We’d get to do things impossible for a larger group.

I see examples of life going “badly” and how each one of these events or experiences has brought such awe-inspiring insights to my life: cancer, divorce, losing all my money, losing my house, getting betrayed or cut off. All of it. From ALL OF IT I received gifts.

Turning the thought around again: Only in my thinking does it mean something “bad”. Only in my mind is there bad and good.

“Whatever it takes for you to find your freedom, that’s what you’ve lived. Not one ingredient more or less….You go with inquiry into darkness, and find only light. And now you can see, even when you’ve been to the depths of hell, that’s all that was ever there, ever.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Turns out, in this situation, what was necessary for me, for others, for this past weekend in the little Goldilocks cottage in Lake Forest Park, Washington was a full last-minute group of incredible people coming from remarkably long distances to sit together, dance together, inquire together, laugh together, cry together, listen to poetry together and discover abundance and love together while questioning our thinking.

At least, this is my story.

But I know, it isn’t really True.

And it’s Absolutely True.

The greatest gift is loving the way it goes.

(Which doesn’t mean I have to like it).

Except for my mental pictures, my thoughts, my imaginings, my anticipations, my regrets, my ideas about right and wrong, the way I say “my” here for this list….

….I love exactly what happened.

I care for the way it went, and for every person, the furniture in the room, the weather (which was pure sunshine, strangely enough, for the past three days), the questions I received, the thoughts I experienced, the gorgeous eyes, smiles, the curiosity I saw, the feelings appearing and fading away, the intensity, the fear, the joy I witnessed, the dear faces of every single person I encountered in the past three days (and EVER).

Every person showing up for me. They are me. I can relate to everything they shared. And a deep profound care for them, and all things.

A little glimpse into truly “loving what is”.

Much love,

Grace

SURPRISE!! From Oh No to Oh Yes–with The Work!

Lake Washington only one block away from Goldilocks Cottage. For retreats, we’ll stop by for our Morning Walk in The Work.

We’re calling this upcoming weekend the SURPRISE RETREAT weekend. It’s a fairly last-minute location and venue change from Oregon to Seattle. It’s December. It’s in 3 days. It’s so close to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

SURPRISE!

As someone just said to me “it’s dirt cheap”. I had to hesitate a moment to wonder if that was a compliment or not. It’s true a two hour session with me is $175, and this is about twenty hours.

With a maximum of ten people, everyone will have time to do their own work on a relationship or issue they’ve been wanting to resolve and change (or two, or three). You’ll have training, attention, and the continuous care of being held in this supportive environment where you can share your most distressing thoughts without shame or fear. I’m with you every step of the way.

The thinking behind the low fee was because the location changed last minute from a deep winter woods resort with hot springs, massages and all meals provided….

….to you getting yourself to northeast Seattle, finding your own place to stay, and acquiring your own meals (there are many beautiful airbnb’s in the neighborhood, and restaurants a block away, by the way).

Plus. Let’s be honest.

People don’t exactly flock to the Pacific Northwest at this darkest and wettest time of the year. Even the airplane tickets are super cheap. (Check with Alaska, by the way, or your favorite airline–you might be surprised–keeping the theme of surprise).

The coffee houses are full of steaming gortex jackets, the time between dawn and dusk is very short, and it appears to be either misting, pattering or downpouring from morning until evening, and often all night as well.

All these reasons actually create a brilliant atmosphere for a SURPRISE retreat.

Because outside it may be rainy and dark, but what are the surprises we get most concerned about?

Surprises that don’t bring us such good news (we think).

Uncomfortable relationship surprises. Worrisome health surprises. Devastating money surprises. Anxiety-filled surprises.

Some people don’t even like positive surprises. (Remind me to tell you about two different surprise parties given for me that were a little, shall we say, too surprising).

SURPRISE!

  • When my parents said “we’re moving”
  • When my mom switched off Cinderella the first time I ever got to watch TV when I was seven
  • When my high school boyfriend said he preferred to date someone else and take HER to the prom instead
  • When my mom told me my dad had leukemia
  • When my sister said I was a bi&%h!
  • When my boss said “I need to speak with you about your timesheet”
  • When my former husband said he didn’t want to be married anymore
  • When my daughter said she wanted to change schools
  • When my other sister never replied to any of my messages, cards or emails
  • When one of my oldest close friends died
  • When one of my best friends betrayed me

These situations were so scary. Some of them were life-changing and terrifying.

I didn’t like these surprises. To put it mildly.

And yet, now that I have The Work I have a remarkable tool to really examine each and every disturbing moment.

I know how to handle or work with these kinds of alarming thoughts that scream when I hear surprising news that appears to be not so good.

Which is exactly what we’ll be doing at our retreat. We’ll be inside with mugs of hot tea, pen and paper, sharing in the cozy atmosphere of freedom available to anyone willing to question the thoughts that produce suffering.

Sometimes, people who attend retreat get to write their first full worksheet on a stressful situation in their lives. They’ve been doing The Work perhaps for a long time, but it’s all been in their cars while driving, or on little pieces of paper, or while in conversation with a trusted friend.

They haven’t written out a full worksheet, mindfully–really getting every single thought out about that relationship or situation on paper.

You get to really go for it on retreat, when you give yourself the time.

You get to dump, unedited, unabashedly, without shame or guilt (even if you DO feel guilty, you get to write what you think). You get to be childish, petty, freaked out, furious. You don’t have to do it well. You get to be imperfect and against the grain. You get to really express your pain, on paper.

This first step of writing down your thinking can be the most exquisite relief. No fixing, no hiding, no softening, no re-wording it to sound better, no adjusting the language to be better heard. No worrying about if anyone will be surprised.

No….you get to completely go wild on paper.

Which is not as easy as it sounds.

When I first started doing The Work, I wanted to burn my worksheets, hide them, shred them and I would say to my facilitator “I’m sorry this is so horribly judgmental” or something like that. I was worried what the person asking me the questions would think of such a loser.

I went for it anyway.

You can too.

All it takes is the willingness to answer four questions, with an open mind.

My favorite part of all?

The surprise that continues through questioning each thought with The Work, wondering about the story we’re telling, imagining what it would be like without believing in something hurtful, turning the thoughts around. You find your own clarity, without being told what to think, do, say, feel. No suggestions or advice, no right way to do it or wrong way to do it.

All you need to do is answer the questions. And yes, it is incredibly powerful to get support in how, to listen to other peoples’ answers, to ponder your stressful thought longer than you normally do–all benefits of attending a retreat and giving yourself this meditation.

What do we find out, 100% of the time?

A sense of peace, neutrality, lightness, curiosity, space, breathing room. An interest in continuing the exploration no matter how long it takes. An awareness we might have been missing, often for years.

SURPRISE!

You had the answers all along.

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Much love,
Grace
P.S. My husband Jon will be joining us for Saturday and Sunday. He and I have done The Work together and with and ON each other for 8 years. We made this facebook video on doing The Work on whose movie pick is better for a night out–his or mine. LOL!

don’t be careful, you could hurt yourself

These upcoming 3 days our focus will be on relationships.
Oh my, there are a few stressful thoughts about relationships with others, are there not?
  • she doesn’t care about me (sister)
  • he doesn’t like me (neighbor)
  • she refuses to talk to me (mother)
  • they hate me (people of another culture or political party or football team)
  • he never gives me any credit (boss)
  • she doesn’t promote me (manager)
  • he’s too sensitive (former boyfriend)
  • she’s a liar (former friend)
  • he talks too much (co-worker)
  • she never does anything around the house (child)
And this is barely a scratch on the surface of the thoughts we have about difficult, disappointing or infuriating relationships.
The other day, an inquirer worked with me during a skype session on his fear of speaking up to his cousin during a recent family gathering.
The cousin in question had started talking about who he voted for, with gusto. He made some wise cracks at the feast table about those “other people” who voted NOT his way.
The guy inquiring had said nothing.
“What were your thoughts that prevented you from speaking up in a thoughtful way?” I asked.
He replied that he didn’t think he would be ABLE to speak up in a thoughtful way. It was either going to be anger, or fume to himself in silence.
Why?
Because the cousin speaking would have been super hurt and upset, if this inquirer had said anything.
Concept: that person will be hurt if I tell the truth.
I love this inquiry. It’s shown up…oh…about fifteen thousand times in my life.
I can’t say anything, because that other person will be crushed! They’ll run out of the room! They’ll never speak to me again! They’ll cry! They’ll turn red! It will be my fault! They’ll break up with me!
Under these conditions in the mind, believing what we’re thinking….who wouldn’t be silent, rather than speak up?
Smart choice.
Unless…you have The Work.
Let’s question this very stressful circumstance and belief.
Can you find a situation where someone is telling, saying, doing, gesturing, being a certain way…and you’d like to make a request, even a kind request, that they stop, or say you don’t like it, or tell them you disagree, or say no?
Picture that situation.
What’s the worst that could happen, if you speak up?
I did a piece of work on this once, where I genuinely had the vision that if the other person really knew what I thought and I shared it….they’d start drinking again (or kill themselves). 
Yikes. I had such a strong sense of them feeling horrible about themselves already. I needed to walk on eggshells lest they do away with themselves for good and lose all their sobriety, because they made some kind of mistake. I needed to help boost their spirits. I needed to keep them positive. Or I needed to get away so I didn’t disturb them.
Oh such stressful and hard work being in someone else’s business like that.
So let’s do The Work.
Is it true that person will be hurt if you tell the truth?
Yes! They already have a heart attack if anyone looks at them funny.
Are you absolutely sure? Can you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true if you tell the truth, they’ll be terribly hurt?
No.
If you said “yes” you could imagine the worst case scenario, like them committing suicide (my vision of an old boyfriend long ago). They would do it because you spoke the truth….are you sure that’s true?
No. I really can’t know it’s because I spoke up that they freaked out.
There were many factors involved. There was a ton of history. There were parts of his life I had nothing to do with–he had his own path. I was not the end-all be-all for that boyfriend. It would have been weird if I was.
How do you react when you believe that if you tell the truth, they’ll be hurt?
I imagine them screeching away in their car in anger, or fear. I say “good riddance!” and then feel terrified with “Oh No!” I want to race after them. I want to run in the opposite direction. Everything conflicted.
I want them to show me they’re OK, or they like me, to smile at me, to give me assurance. If I say a little bit of the thing I’m upset about, I want them to look like they’re open to hearing more, and not disturbed and yet taking it seriously. It’s all so tense, with so much at stake. It’s as if we’re in a peak negotiation moment with some kind of crazed dictator who could blow up the world any moment.
It’s really a bit much.
A ginormous amount of energy focused on one human being as if they have the power to ruin my life by how they react. I’m ruining my own already by how I do.
So who would you be without this very stressful story “they’ll get hurt if I speak the truth”?
I’d share openly, without fear. I’d feel connected and aware that this person is indeed very sensitive–so it’s not like I’m in denial–and I love them and want all the best for them. Which doesn’t mean tip-toeing around them like they’re made out of gossamer web.
Without my story, I don’t have to have them be happy in order for me to be happy. They can be very, very unhappy and even furious, and I notice I feel compassion and understanding.
I might notice I’m shivering a little with nervousness as I say what I think. It’s not like all of the sudden this is the easiest thing in the world….
….but I try it out. I stumble imperfectly and say “no, I don’t want to get together” after we broke up. I notice I don’t have a fantasy anymore about what it could be like, or might be like, or wish it was like.
He had his personal path, and I learned so much from being on it with him for awhile. Then it became unnecessary to share the road. Even required.
Without the belief that speaking up means hurt will happen, I stop thinking I know how they will respond. I’m willing to not anticipate, or defend, or brace myself. I feel rooted, entering the unknown. Not running away or fighting something or wringing my hands.
“I turned out to be those people in the world that I didn’t want to be. I was the last to know. It cannot be another human being who hurts you. It HAS to be you who hurts you. There’s no exception to that. If I think I’m hurt because of someone else, I’m insane.” ~ Byron Katie
Turning it around: I will be hurt if THEY tell the truth. I will be hurt if I tell the truth. They won’t be hurt if I tell the truth.
 
Could these be true, or truer?
Woah.
I WILL be hurt if they tell the truth. Or at least, that’s what I’ve thought so far. I’m not sure if it’s really true, now. I’ve had many moments where someone’s said or written something, and they’ve been upset, but it’s been totally and completely fine with me. I know it isn’t personal.
I’ve been hurt because I’ve told the truth. I’ve said to myself I’m a mean, nasty, judgmental person just for thinking I didn’t agree with them. I’ve condemned myself for not being “nice”. I’ve silenced myself by imagining I can’t handle it if they have a big reaction to my queries or my sharing my own thoughts that aren’t the same as theirs.
I’ve also been amazed at how kind and accepting people are when I’ve spoken up. They stick it out rather than resent me forever, or cut me off. The people who need to, stay present. I don’t need everyone in the world to think I’m great when I say “no” to them or respond in a way that makes them upset…that would be…weird.
People need to come and go as they wish. Life shows me who is supposed to be present in my life, and who isn’t. I’m not in charge.
What a relief.
If you’re not so sure about some relationship in your life, or if you think that person should do it different, or if you feel disappointment, or worry….
….that’s what the upcoming inquiry starting this Friday is all about.
What a delicious thing inquiry is. Can you imagine discovering the freedom that no one can really hurt you? No matter how they behave, what they say, what they do, how they think?
Astonishing.
Much love,
Grace

Was I teaching peace? Or fear?

First Friday open call for everyone is this Friday December 1st at 7:45 – 9:15 am Pacific time. Join HERE.

Wow, people are flying in and making AirBnB reservations nearby, or staying with friends, or commuting to Seattle December 8-10. Because of time of year, last-minute prep and the lower expense of having it right in my own cottage, the fee is only $195 for Friday 9:30 am through Sunday noon.

If you’d really like to come Friday all-day only, you’re welcome for $95. If you’re experienced in The Work and want to come Saturday afternoon only 12/9 from 2:00-6:00 let me know, there may be room to make this work. To join us in what will surely be an inner adventure, sign up HERE for all 3 days. Hit reply if you have any question or see a different arrangement working for you.

I can’t wait. I love what’s possible when you allow new ideas to pop in and unfold–which is this retreat itself. I love someone’s coming from California, and another from the east coast. What a time to do The Work, in this wet, dark, rainy atmosphere when sometimes Other People and The World can be daunting.

For example.

I saw an old familiar sort of post the other day on facebook, with a deeply troubled objection to The Work. Or perhaps the objection was to the world, to life, to what is seen by the mind.

I totally get what Byron Katie is telling us … “it hurts when I argue with reality” … but sometimes it is so hard to even imagine not arguing with the horrors that are happening all around us and the immeasurable suffering involved. Much of the time it feels so cynical. (FACEBOOK post)

Someone else then chimed in that she thinks of sex trafficking, abduction, drug use, slavery…and how could anyone ever say to victimized children that they should love what is?

My heart sunk in the sadness of the approach, and the misunderstanding. I hope no one ever says to someone suffering deeply “you should love what is”.

Actually, someone doing their own inquiry work, I can’t imagine being able to say it. It would be so opposite of compassion, unconditional care, or doing The Work–which is an Inside Job.

And ONLY an inside job.

But I could feel the despair in what these people wrote.

It’s a profound wondering to look out into the world, that appears to be filled with destruction, environmental change (I just learned since 1970 the world’s wild animal population has been cut in half), mass shootings, war, violence, starvation, pollution, poverty, anger, suffering, unkindness….

….and hold what we see up against the powerful phrase “loving what is.”

Are you telling me to love THAT?!

Fortunately, what I’ve found is no one is ever telling me anything.

All The Work is….is four questions.

I have to be the one doing the actual work of inquiry. I get to find out if I love what is, or don’t love it, and the true deepest meaning of “love” and how to sit with reality even when it breaks my heart.

I get to see that there is no division of the world cut into evil and good, love and hate, life and death, terrible and wonderful.

Everything is all mixed up together….all the time.

When I do The Work one thought at a time, slowed down, considering and contemplating each individual situation I’ve noticed I’m arguing with, is the outcome isn’t my old definition of “love”.

 

I’m opened, in a new way, to what is. My heart is broken open sometimes. It’s not exactly soft, friendly.

 

Once I thought I heard Byron Katie say “I’m asking you to go into hell. This is not easy.” Although I’m not sure of the quote.

 

And yet it’s my experience. The Work isn’t for sissies. We’re going to hell. On purpose. (Or because if you’re like me, you’ve tried absolutely everything else and you have no other choice really).

 

Questioning the destruction or brutal nature of incidents, of things that frighten me like disease and death, fighting and violence….

 

….this process called The Work does not lead to passivity.

 

It doesn’t lead to me knowing what anyone else should do or not do. It does not lead to me needing something from other people in order to be happy, or living alone in a bubble.

 

It doesn’t lead me to pure detachment, or thinking no one or nothing else matters in an apathetic kind of way, or a resigned way. I find apathy and resignation to feel stressful, and therefore worthy of inquiry of course.

 

But let’s see. Hmmm.

 

The only way I know to work with a stressful thought?

 

The Work.

 

The people on facebook and all those who think doing The Work means standing and looking at other peoples’ suffering without action, without caring or attention….

 

….they should understand they’re mistaken.

 

They shouldn’t think The Work is spiritual self-centeredness. They should see it brings out greater action, passion, fearless movement, transformation. They should understand.

 

Is it true?

 

No. What’s the reality?

 

They see lots of pain in the world, and they don’t see how looking at the pain differently would change it. They want to see empowered action, movement, healing, kindness. I do too.

 

How do I react when I believe those people shouldn’t judge The Work as condoning violence, or abuse of children, or that it preaches to people to love what is?

 

Frustrated. Irritated. Sad. Wanting to set them straight and explain to them what’s really true.

 

Who would I be without the thought?

 

Starting to compose a rare facebook post to try to explain or respond….and deleting it. Understanding their suffering and pain.

 

Doing my own work, instead. Signing up to attend a meeting to get involved in climate change work, this very week. Just did it.

 

Working with myself and others on their experiences of abuse, rape, cancer, illness, death, suicide, addiction, fear and terror.

 

Being profoundly moved by sitting in this work and then being called to live my turnarounds as best I can. Getting involved with a compassionate heart, not an angry one.

 

Not fighting or thinking anyone’s wrong to have their opinion.

 

Turning the thought around: They should say and think and feel exactly what they do.
 
They’re right.

 

There are horrors, immeasurable suffering, and arguments with it all.

 

Turning it around again: I myself who thinks doing The Work means standing and looking at my own (or others’) suffering without action, without caring or attention…. 

….I should understand I am mistaken.
I shouldn’t think The Work is spiritual anything. I should see it brings out greater action, passion, fearless movement, transformation. I should understand others, and myself. 

Have I ever treated doing The Work as something that allows me to stand and look at suffering without action, or care?

Wow. Yes. I once kept doing The Work over and over again on the same person because I felt so angry. He was a person full of suffering–he said so himself. He told me to leave him alone, and I didn’t.

I wasn’t caring for my own suffering. I wasn’t caring for his requests. I did The Work with a motive not to be angry, so I could keep pestering him and avoid looking at my own life.

I also forget that my path is no better than anyone else’s path, that I have nothing they don’t also have. I think I know more or better than someone who wrote something on facebook, who I’ve never met before. I forget I’m not in charge.

“Just as we use stress and fear to motivate ourselves to make money, we often rely on anger and frustration to move us to social activism. If I want to act sanely and effectively while I clean up the earth’s environment, let me begin by cleaning up my own environment. All the trash and pollution in my thinking–let me clean up that by meeting it with love and understanding. Then my action can become truly effective. It takes just one person to help the planet. That one is you.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Thank you people who posted on facebook, and thank you news, and reports, and speeches and rallies and images, movies, pictures, radio information, and very troubling happenings of any kind (that mostly seem to occur on my computer I notice)….you show me my invitation to help the planet.

To see the planet as helping me.

To bring out the best, most truly effective action possible, without expectation or demand of any kind.

“You learn to resolve problems peacefully within yourself, and now we have a teacher. Fear teaches fear. Only peace can teach peace.” ~ Byron Katie 

Much love,

Grace

Winter Retreat change + new website. Can change be…..easy?

 

Isn’t this the most fun and interesting thing ever!?

I just learned that something I previously thought was a done deal and definitely happening….isn’t. 

There have been a few other things in my life which have gone that way, some of them that triggered me wildly.

I practically had a heart attack and thought my life was over when I experienced the following: death of my father, divorce, job loss, money gone, moving from this location to another one (against my will!), best friend cutting me off.

This current situation is perhaps not so dramatic, and yet….what an exciting awareness for what is possible when you don’t think the way it’s going is a disaster. 

The Breitenbush Retreat in Oregon has been changed.

The good people of Breitenbush needed to cancel due to low enrollment and feeling the sting of financial loss because of forest fires last summer (causing evacuation of their entire property). Unless things looked really full, they didn’t want to move forward.

I got crazy surprised!

I know how people decide last-minute to come to a powerful retreat to question their thinking. People worried about driving through the snow to the woods. They didn’t like it.

But here’s the deal: We’re still sitting in inquiry for 3 days, and bringing this experience to life: re-group, re-wire, re-set.

Because that’s what can happen December 8-10, 2017. A complete Control-Alt-Delete. A Reset.

A way to look at what you’re thinking…and start over.

The retreat is now in Seattle, at half the original fee. $195 for 3 days, and you can commute, find your own lodging, stay with a friend, share with others who are also already coming.

If you live in Seattle, it’s a pretty unusual occasion.

Have you wanted inquiry? In a focused, concentrated environment?

That’s what you’ll get with this retreat.

In fact, I’m amazed at what I can open up to, when I question my thoughts and don’t have a closed mind. It’s revealed itself in this retreat-changing process.

At first I thought: “Oh, sad day. This is terrible. OK then, I have three days unexpectedly free, so I’ll revert to my usual solo sessions with clients.”

(And not need to leave home, by the way, or pack…I could see advantages for the news).

The mind flashes images of what it thinks will happen, now that the plans are changing.

You might have noticed this kind of alternative image-flashing with what you think will happen when it comes to a relationship change, a family change, a job change, a home change, a climate change.

Oh yah, I will be better off, finally .

Oh shi*t, I will be worse off, oh dread. 

Do you see the images you anticipate, because of what you think will happen in the future?

I thought my life would be Un-Supported because my dad died. I thought my life would be Un-Loved because my marriage ended. I thought my life would be Un-Known because of the relationship weekend retreat change.

People with major life changes think often of frightening, even horrifying, terrible, dark, difficult, awful alternatives about the future.

It’s going to be BAD.

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know, without any question of a doubt, of the terrible-ness of this situation you’re imagining?

Yes.

In my case…Breitenbush cancels, and someone has actually made plane reservations. They are coming from very, very far away to this particular location.

How do you react when you believe “this change is horrible.”

I FREAK OUT.

I worry about what THEY feel. I’m anxious because I took 3 days out of my life and schedule to be with a group of inquirers.

I’m at a loss for creativity, or other alternatives, or different ways of looking at the situation. I feel aggravated with the people who “caused” this.

But who would I be without this story?

If I couldn’t have this story at all, this thought, AT ALL?

Really.

What would that be like?

Use your imagination, in your situation. Who would you be without your thought that what has changed….shouldn’t have changed?

Wow.

I’d be excited, open, not alarmed, wondering what will occur next.

I’d be putting together a new possibility of what December 8-10 will look like for me, and for some others who join me.

Exciting!

Everyone’s invited to our home. We have a cozy living room, we’re near a beautiful walking/biking trail, we live VERY near Lake Washington (we’ll go there for a meditation walk–it’s a block away) and our cabin is warm, welcoming, and most importantly we’re deep in self-inquiry and love exploring our thoughts, and what can happen when we do).

We’ll begin Friday morning 9:30 am on December 8th and end on Sunday at noon on December 10th.

Commuters are entirely welcome. In fact, there’s no place to sleep here at the cottage, but come and go every day and you’re welcome. It’s adorable. This Goldilocks Cottage has held many a retreat, and it’s shockingly only 710 square feet. But oh what a lovely little space.

We’ll have the kettle on the boil, snacks, clipboards, comfy chairs…and most importantly we’ll have the power of self-inquiry using The Work of Byron Katie.

I can’t imagine, honestly, a better time of year for this work.

About to visit relatives? About to connect with friends you haven’t seen in years? Reuniting with a family you thought was “broken”? Thinking some stressful thoughts?

This work is how to deal with these considerations.

Who would we be without our painful or limiting stories?

“As you begin to question your mind, mind loses the ability to believe that it’s a this or a that. It ceases to identify itself. It becomes free.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself

If you’re drawn to joining me in my living room in December, with a cup of hot tea and these powerful questions known as The Work….then come, come. You’ll have personal attention. YOU will be the one to answer the questions.

Oh, and by the way….speaking of change. My website has a completely new look. Total makeover. Check it out HERE.

And when it comes to beliefs, and how-it-is, it’s amazing what you can find without anyone else telling you what to find. You know it’s the only true way. No guru, no teacher, no set answer. Seeing for yourself.

Join me for inquiry in the least expensive retreat of the year (there seems to be a “sale” orientation in the atmosphere at least in the US). Perhaps this is the black Friday option that was not ever intended to be. Ha ha.

To sign up for the newest revised edition of the retreat, please click HERE. You’ll also see the new version of Work With Grace’s website.

Much love,

Grace

I need to be on my best spiritual behavior….or else

Breitenbush is still ON (in case you didn’t hear the news–they have been considering canceling workshops that aren’t full–we have a handful of spots). A lovely group is attending and we’d be so thrilled to have you join us Dec 7-10. Breitenbush will wait until Friday for your registration now because we do have a solid group already coming, but you must decide and register as soon as possible (by 11/24).

Nothing like this lush, cozy get-a-way in the deep woods between US Thanksgiving and before New Years to question your thoughts.

What an incredible time to do it, in fact. With gatherings, holidays, family…what a brilliant opportunity to understand your own mind and be at peace with what those other people are doing.

You can’t change them, right? But you can look at what aggravates you most about being around them.

And question it.

I love what tends to happen when you do The Work: awareness, surprise, relaxation, peace, clarity, joy, laughter.

Those other people and circumstances, amazingly, don’t have to change. I can work with the world the way it is–even family.

The other day, in fact, I worked with a client who new he’d be seeing his family very soon for the feast holiday in the USA this coming Thursday.

“One of my brothers will be there,” he said with a sad tone. “I’m not supposed to show I’m afraid, or give any advice, or act upset when I’m around him.”

Yikes.

Have you ever thought you need to be on your best spiritual behavior around someone?

Don’t freak out or make a scrunchy face–they might think you’re being “negative”. Don’t react! Don’t say that thing you always say.

Don’t upset them! Watch out!!!

I love beginning to inquire before ever, ever making contact with that person I feel upset about. The shift within can seem small, but perhaps make all the difference in the world. No expectations. Just looking at what I believe.

Here’s a great place to begin the inquiry: Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? Why is it so important for you to be on your best behavior in the upcoming gathering? Why should you make sure not to upset that person?

So many reasons!

They’ll cry. They yell. They’ll leave. They’ll exit and never come back. I’ll lose them forever. They’ll snap at me and rake me through the coals. They’ll be mean, unkind. I’ll feel hurt, lost, very unhappy. They’ll think I caused harm. I’ll feel guilty. They’ll freak out, and freak everyone else out.

Ooh. Dang. No wonder I need to be on my best spiritual behavior with that person.

Long ago, I had a family member cut off everyone in the family because she got too much advice, too many alarmed responses to her situation. She thought everyone was judging her, and they shouldn’t be.

Now, I may be tempted to analyze what SHE should have done The Work on….but just like my sweet client who thought he shouldn’t do it wrong around his brother…

…this work is always about ourselves.

The questions are here for our own inner peace, not anyone else’s.

So let’s go.

Is it true, you should be very careful not to disturb that other person (and follow their directions and requests to be calm, cordial and nice around them during the holiday)?

Yes.

I want them in my life. I love that person. They’re family. I’m concerned we’ll no longer be connected.

Yes, I’ll do anything. I don’t want to be abandoned by them. This needs to go well.

How do you react when you believe you should be careful how you act around them?

I’m well-intentioned. I want to make them comfortable. I don’t want to feel guilty. I’m anxious they’ll run away with one false move (if I say something off or wrong). I feel very worried, tense, tight.

Inside, I fume about how rigid they are…how skittish and controlling and fearful. I have a lot of advice about how she should calm down and stop judging me.

Who would you be without this very stressful story of needing to be careful around that person, lest they ditch you forever?

Oh. Huh.

Without the belief I need to be spiritual around them?

Woah.

I’d be more real. I’d be honest. I’d be noticing how much I love that person, with all my heart, and how I’m simply afraid…But maybe not really. I love them, whether they’re in front of me or not.

Without the belief I should act carefully, so they don’t freak out…

…I’d be real. I’d be playful. I’d remember my humor. I’d feel excited to see them.

Turning the thought around: I do NOT need to be on any kind of best spiritual behavior around my family member. How could this be true?

I most enjoy telling the truth, being honest, sharing from my deepest heart. I want to cry, hug, be normal, laugh. I want to have the full range of human experience in the presence of that person. I want to be a human being, which is what I am…not an angel, or someone fake.

They don’t want me to be spiritual or act nice around them–especially when I don’t feel spiritual or good or nice.

Wow, could this really be just as true?

Yes. That person likes direct honesty. They like lazer-sharp reality. They respond well to the total truth. They don’t like sugar-coated false connection. They want me to be real and honest. It’s the greatest care I could give. They might not like it right off the bat, but me being me…they love.

Turning it around again: I want me to be on my best spiritual behavior, around myself. I also want me to be on my best spiritual behavior, around THEM.

Oh man, it’s true.

I’ve often had these extreme expectations of myself around others: to be wise, honest, loving, kind, likable, non-threatening. To be thought of as an easy person, powerful person, or desirable person to be with.

Oh dear.

Ugh.

I used to think I should be like Maria in the Sound of Music, in fact. Powerful, sincere, loving, creative, passionate, rebellious, gentle. And oh, a very good singing voice.

Plus the star of the show. Just saying.

Maybe the expectations are a little high? Or simply not me? Or not based in reality?

Perhaps I could be myself, and still live a happy human life. You think?

What is “spiritual behavior” anyway? Could it include getting sad, scared, mad or worried, perplexed sometimes? The full range of the human experience?

What if being real and honest means saying “I don’t want to walk on eggshells around you, and, I love you so much. What can I do to be supportive? Will you hear what I think? Can I be honest with you?”

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don’t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

P.S. To read more about Breitenbush in December or come join us in this nourishing and mentally cleansing adventure, please visit HERE. Please call them by Friday November 24.

He should have paid me….and the excitement he didn’t

Money.

The very word can bring up stress, thoughts, panic, dread, anger.

When it seems like money isn’t with us in abundance, or we have to work very hard for it, it definitely brings on fear for many people.

But what about when we’ve got enough, but it’s not about that. It’s about someone not paying us back, or paying their bill, or giving us what we believe we’re owed.

The other day, I caught myself having a thought about someone I perceived as having a good job (he told me he works full time, although he didn’t sound thrilled about his position). He had asked for a discount on our session. I had said “yes”.

We did a whole mini-retreat which is three hours to go through an entire worksheet (I do these at a discounted fee of only $75 per hour and his fee was lower). His preference was to work on the phone, not skype, which is totally fine. He wasn’t super familiar with The Work and he felt upset about his junk-food eating. Which is one of my favorite topics as you know….eating battles and compulsions.

The work was interesting. Although I had the feeling he wasn’t too impacted by it.

And afterwards, he didn’t pay his bill. To me.

Rats.

Maybe he thinks the work we do together isn’t worth it. Maybe he thinks I shouldn’t charge so much. Maybe he doesn’t care about bills and money and paying them on time. Maybe what I charge is so low by comparison he thinks of it as nothing much and forgets about it.

Guessing, guessing, guessing.

And a deep inward stressful thought: he doesn’t care about me.

I’ve had this thought when a friend who borrowed money didn’t pay me back. I’ve had this thought when I find out someone makes a huge salary, but still asked me for a scholarship discount. I’ve had this thought when my grandma sent $10 and she could have sent $100. I’ve had this thought when a date wanted me to always pay half of the dinner and theater tickets. I’ve had this thought when my husband doesn’t offer to pay any of the bills for the back-yard building/remodel project we’re considering.

That person doesn’t care about me.

They think I’m OK whether I get paid, or not paid, or make the payment, or don’t. They think I have no concern about money. They assume I don’t mind. They think I’m ignore-able. They want to keep their money to themselves.

Such a fascinating stream of thoughts, once I sat down and began to inquire.

I think I know what they’re thinking about me. Holy smokes, talk about making assumptions.

I knew I needed to inquire. Because that’s what would bring the most awareness, one step and one thought at a time.

He doesn’t care about me.

Is it true, in this situation?

Yes.

He even texts that he’ll get to it right away. And I see nothing. And never saw anything again. He vanished. With an unpaid already-discounted bill.

Sigh.

How do you react when you believe the thought “he doesn’t care about me” and it has to do with money–either they aren’t paying, they aren’t generous, they’re demanding more, they’re refusing to give, they don’t want to share.

A old friend of mine had this thought about her husband during the divorcing process. It was a screaming stressful thought “he doesn’t care about me!” If he did, she felt, he wouldn’t withhold money. He’d divide things up equally.

The sense of being jilted or dismissed, or having no power whatsoever over what’s happening with money can be infuriating. Terrifying.

How do you treat money when you believe the person holding it in their hand doesn’t care about you?

I hate it. I hate that I need it. I want to eliminate it from this relationship. I think I should work with people without expecting payment for anything. I should ask for donations, not set amounts or fees. Then this client could pay me nothing, and that’d fit into the program. I wouldn’t feel so angry.

Sigh again.

Who would you be without the belief he doesn’t care about you?

Oh. Huh.

It’s weird. I see a bill. I communicate. I do the best I can. I realize I know nothing about what happened, or what is happening in his mind. I notice I appreciate silence–which is what he’s given me. I’m aware I don’t need his particular bill paid in order to survive, or be happy.

Almost all people I’ve ever worked with bring their payments with them to the sessions, or pay beforehand. Overall, people are attentive, caring, generous, and clear about their fees and paying them. It’s remarkable.

We apparently use money for a clear exchange of needs, services, trades, support–and it mostly works brilliantly well. People handle their money beautifully, and send it to me with apparent ease. They write and ask the fee for things, they get their questions answered, they send the number I mention, they ask for the link to pay. I am able to live without doing other labor….for the past 4 years.

Turning the thought around every way: 1) I don’t care about him. 2) I don’t care about myself, especially when it comes to him and his bill and this situation. 3) He DOES care about me.

How could these be true?

I consider them, one at a time.

I don’t care about him? True. The lack of the payment becomes the entire focus. I consider his work on junk-food eating but don’t know what he got from it. I didn’t ask. I think of him as an uncaring user. I picture an unhappy loser in my mind, even though I’ve never seen him before. I don’t care about why he isn’t paying. I just want the fee, then I’d forget about him.

I don’t care about myself. Wow, very true. I accepted an extremely low fee for a 3 hour session. I’m not valuing my time. I don’t do these kinds of almost-free sessions anymore. I couldn’t afford to do The Work with people if I accepted such low fees, I’d have to work another job. I didn’t respect my own boundary from the very beginning when I said “yes” to a huge discount.

I also didn’t care about myself because I kept thinking he must think the session was worthless, and that’s why he isn’t paying–even though I don’t know that is his thought. I’m assuming no payment means no worth, and feeling sad about that.

He does care about me. How could this turnaround be true?

He reached out in the first place and asked for a session. He stayed with me on the phone for 3 hours. He answered the questions, and asked a few as well. He explored, and then left.

People come and go. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. How would I know? He has his own life to live, which is far away and doesn’t intersect with mine except for those 3 hours….out of however many thousands of hours in my lifetime (and his) this isn’t much crossover.

Maybe I’ve been spared? Maybe so has he?

Who would I be without my story of caring, and money, and bills and payments?

Communicating clearly, and then being done with it. Saying “no” in the future if there’s another request. Not being wishy-washy with boundaries. Asking for what I want. Not having an internal fit if I don’t get it (questioning that it’s necessary).

Allowing the universe and reality to show me what to do next time. Everything very simple.

Questioning my beliefs about money, bills, invoices, payments, receiving, scholarships, gifts, service, needs, support, and caring…I become free. And very, very clear. It’s OK to not work for free. It’s OK to be direct and at east with exchanges of money.

It’s OK if someone over there isn’t reliable (in my opinion). It shows me how to do business cleanly, with integrity…not with magical hope-thinking that they’ll supply payment.

How could it be FANTASTIC someone doesn’t make a payment they apparently agreed to make? It shows me how to be so beautifully crystal clear, and to serve, and how my joy with this work is not diminished by payment or lack of payment. I get just as much thrill from the Help Line where I volunteer as with those who are making payments for sessions.

“This is very exciting. And if your mind isn’t in his business, you would be amazed at the space that opens up for you, the power that opens up to solve your own problems…It’s the truth that sets us free to act clearly and lovingly, and there’s such excitement in it.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Who am I without my story?

Woman enjoying questioning thoughts about money. Seeing the perfection in exactly the way it is. Reality rules.

Much love,

Grace

What complainers taught me about complaining

In Year of Inquiry we’re in Month 3 and guess what the topic is?

COMPLAINTS.

In some ways, this is really all The Work is ever about….you know what I mean? What I complain about, what I’m at odds with, what I dislike, what I find stressful.

Complaining is perhaps a lighter, more common way of saying “I am arguing with reality on this one! I object!”

It’s a bit hard to look at complaints honestly sometimes. We’re told we’re not supposed to complain, we’re not supposed to be negative or drone on about something we don’t like, we’re not supposed to bring other people down, we should be positive.

But, I’ve noticed…even if it’s in my own mind…complaining appears to happen. And what a relief, and even rather fascinating, to listen to these complaints and hear them, for once, instead of trying to get away from them or rejecting them in a flash.

The other day with the YOI group, as I was considering any voices I heard within that appeared to worry, object, complain….I remembered a place I’ve experienced a MAJOR COMPLAINT:

Those other people shouldn’t complain! He shouldn’t complain about traffic. She shouldn’t complain about the weather. They shouldn’t complain about the leadership. 

I discovered, when it came to my own complaints, I always had the same repetitive thought about some people in the world: They complain. They should stop!!

A great exercise to find your own objections to and complaints about the world, to life, to any situations you don’t find pleasant….is to take fifteen minutes, get a pen and paper or your writing device, and make a list of things you find complaint-worthy.

You don’t have to call them “complaints” if you don’t like that word, or it’s been drilled into you to never complain. You can call this a list of things that scare you, bother you, trouble you. Things you wish would change fairly frequently.

Then, once you have this list in front of you, you can ask another question (we all did this in Year of Inquiry): What if this behavior, style, manner, words, condition, situation, person….never, ever, ever stopped? What’s the worst that could happen? What would you hate about that?

So, for my complaint about other people who complain….I ask myself “what if they never stop complaining, ever?”

What would be bad about that?

  • I’d be stuck listening to them forever
  • I’d never ever want to be around them
  • I’d always have this one “problem” at work
  • I’d never relax when in their presence
  • I’d be angry every time that person came near me
  • there’d be nothing fun or good, ever, about hanging out with that person
You have your own list.

 

And how wonderful to have a list like this…because then you can begin to take your concepts through the self-inquiry process called The Work. You can make your concept what you’d say about the present moment, since you can’t really know what will happen in the future.

 

So for the person I thought of who complained constantly (in my opinion) I would see her in my mind’s eye, talking and talking about all the terrible things she’s encountered, and consider my thought:

 

I’m stuck listening to her forever.

Is this true?

Yes. I’ve been at this job 4 years and she’s never stopped complaining.

Can I absolutely know it’s true?

No. I’m not actually “stuck” listening to her. I can excuse myself and walk away. I’m treating myself like I’m a victim here, trapped. It’s a little weird. And not true.

How do I react when I believe I’m stuck listening to her?

I stay and nod politely. I smile. I think about when I can get out of here and go to my own cubicle to start working. I look at her and pretend I’m listening. I wish she’d be quiet. I’m not honest. I don’t know what to do. I recognize I have thoughts about what people are supposed to do to remain polite. I feel irritation towards this person.

Who would I be without this thought that I’m stuck listening to her?

Pause.

How interesting this word “stuck”….like I’m actually unable to depart, move, make a suggestion, connect. Everything with the thought is about escaping. But without the thought?

Hmmm. I’d see someone over there who really wants to connect. She’s singing a song, and it has a minor tune. She’s worried, lonely, anxious. She doesn’t seem very happy. Without my thought that I’m stuck listening, I notice I’m free to come and go as feels right. I care about her. I feel compassion for her. I actually even like her. She has a very sweet face, and absolutely beautiful eyes.

Without my belief, I feel a deep breath. I feel a gentle touch, reaching out to put my hand on her arm. I don’t have to wait for her to take a breath between sentences, I just move away. I feel kind, and open, and silent.

Without the thought, when I arrive at work, I simply begin my tasks and allow the quiet of the office to settle around us all. I don’t feel the weird push-pull angst about stuck-ness, or the worry about being polite, or the concern about making sure she feels heard. I’m back in my own business, doing my own work, listening, or speaking up and saying “I’m going to work now”. I feel a deep sense of joy within.

Where did that idea come from about being “stuck” listening?

From me. Not her.

I have options to move in the direction that feels right, without my belief that I’m stuck listening, if she’s complaining or voicing concerns. I notice this isn’t a repeat of my childhood with my grandma (which I could also question THAT situation).

This is a different human being, with her own life and experience, and I am free. We both are.

Turning the thought around: I am NOT stuck listening to her forever.

Ha ha. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This was a job I held for five years, and I saw her Monday through Friday, and only for short chunks of time on those days. She was right next to me in a cubicle, but there were many minutes and hours when her chair was unoccupied, and so was mine, or when we were both working and not speaking. Far more minutes of quiet than of talking, honestly.

I was never, ever stuck.

My thinking was stuck. That’s another key turnaround. My thinking was like a broken record, repeating itself every time she approached “oh no here comes the complainer”. My thinking was constantly and forever complaining about HER.

The last turnaround: She is stuck speaking to me forever. 

Could she have been stuck NEVER getting a satisfying response, or an honest reaction, from me?

Um, yes. I didn’t connect with her truly. I didn’t speak up and ask her more questions, or say what didn’t sit well for me, or wonder about her opinions, or treat her like a whole, viable, important human being in my life who obviously had an important message for me personally. I didn’t say what didn’t work. I play acted. She was stuck speaking to the non-me forever.

I love that complaining person was in my life. She showed me how to share, connect, listen and speak up….as well as how to stop listening when it was time and move to the tasks I was supposed to be doing. I appreciate her immensely.

(This is really, really true).

“The basic realization that other people can’t possibly be your problem, that it’s your thoughts about them that are the problem–this realization is huge. This one insight will shake your whole world, from top to bottom. And then, when you question your specific thoughts about mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, boss, colleague, child, you watch your identity unravel. Losing the ‘you’ that you thought you were isn’t a scary thing. It’s thrilling. It’s fascinating. Who are you really, behind all the facades?” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy

If you want to look at an important relationship, like a co-worker who just can’t stop complaining….or mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, boss, colleague, child….we’ll be doing it at Breitenbush Hotsprings Conference Center in Oregon Dec. 7-10. Fabulous people are flying in to Portland. Come join us for this winter mental cleanse. Read more about it HERE.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If you find yourself complaining about food, eating, your weight, your body shape or size, compulsive behavior….then Eating Peace Process is beginning on Tuesday and it will close for participation this year at noon on Nov. 14th. We go for five months and it’s a wonderful time to spend in The Work with a small group of people wanting to explore eating at the root level, and find clarity about ourselves and our behaviors with eating. To read more visit HERE.

Soak in inquiry in winter….and dissolve your wintery thinking

I just heard of another person getting tickets (cheap this time of year) to fly to Portland, Oregon in December for the 3 day Breitenbush retreat in The Work of Byron Katie on relationships.

We’re forming carpools for those of you landing on December 7th in Portland who want to share the trek to the incredible, unique, deep woods resort and conference center called Breitenbush.

Ready to question your thoughts on relationships? Of any kind? Those humans who have bugged you?

This is your retreat. It doesn’t matter WHO the relationship is: spouse, father, mother, sister, brother, co-worker, boss, friend, step-son.

It’s time to get the job done. Question your thinking, change your world when it comes to relating. All in a beautiful, safe, supportive container called Breitenbush.

Last year, I had a chuckle with one of the participants who traveled from Nevada to join our retreat.

She said “Breitenbush is nothing like I thought it was going to be–it’s so far beyond my expectations!”

“What did you think it was going to be like?” I asked.

“Two hot tubs in the dusty woods down a dirt road, with hippies wandering around.”

LOL.

Breitenbush is nothing like that, although there is a clothing-optional status only at the mineral springs pools where people can hang their bathrobes on hooks and slip into the hot tubs with four varying temperatures to soak. (And no, there is no nudity anywhere else on the conference center grounds).

I once had a woman write to me about this particular retreat: “We’re not tree-huggers, is this going to work?”

The thing is, we gather in this 3-day workshop to look at our stressful thinking. That’s what this workshop is about. Questioning what disturbs you, and YOU finding your own answers.

The Work works for anyone who is ready, willing and eager to question their stressful thoughts about other people they’ve encountered in their lives who left them feeling some pain (or a lot of pain). It’s for people who are tired of the agony of repetitive thinking about relationships with others, or conditions they dislike in their lives.

Breitenbush HotSprings Conference Center is a place to relax, feel the experience of deep old growth forest, sleep in profound silence of no city or freeway noise, notice the darkness of nights without tons of lights, electrical chatter, cell phones, internet, and take time to identify the thoughts that disturb your peace in your life….and question them.

You don’t have to go into the mineral pools naked to question your stressful thoughts.

In fact, secret confession….I never do.

Seriously. I never go in the pools in between our sessions together. I’m there to support inquiry. That’s my job.

Our group meets in a beautiful space called the River Yurt. Oh my, doesn’t that sound woodsy?

To be honest, the only place I’ve ever heard the word “yurt” is in Oregon. Like when I was 15 and my family went camping in Oregon. They had “yurts” you could rent.

What’s a YURT??

As far as I can tell, they are always round. As in, no square or straight walls. A structure built in a circle.

The River Yurt at Breitenbush is a large beautiful round building, with chairs, cushions, pillows, a lovely soft carpet, windows, heat, a big screen for our movie night, and it’s own bathroom. The River Yurt at Breitenbush is built down a wide path to an open flat area near the beautiful Breitenbush River. It’s gorgeous, and you’ll love it.

We’re warm, dry and cozy on retreat while we identify our thoughts, and question them using The Work.

The thing I love about Breitenbush is the quiet, the pristine pure air, the ancient forest of trees, the beautiful little Laura Ingalls Wilder cabins totally and completely warmed by the natural springs to piping hot. If you’re flying, you’ll ask for bedding to be put in your cabin (I always get this option) and you’ll have delivered before you even arrive a large bag with blankets, beautiful clean sheets, and soft towels.

The body is well-tended at Breitenbush. I haven’t even shared anything about the incredible meals.

All the food is home-cooked right there in the big kitchen. It’s simple, with several choices: vegetarian, organic, gluten and dairy free options, yummy hot breakfasts, incredibly delicious cooked lunches, and wholesome dinners with gorgeous recipes and ample food for all.

At Breitenbush they have no caffeine offered (but people often bring their coffee, cream and french presses) and no alcohol, smoking or drug use. A great variety of teas, healthy tonic drinks, hot dishes, soups, salads and cleansing foods are offered for all three meals a day. All included in your stay.

I am not a vegetarian, but I love the food. What an incredible time of year to be away from daily trays of cookies at work, stress eating, cooking large family holiday meals, and having everything taken care of for you. Wow.

Everything supports lightness, ease, simplicity and not being drawn to the usual ways of distraction.

It’s an amazing place for self-inquiry….to study the story of YOU and your own mind, your own answers, your own troubling situations, your own prescription for happiness through doing this process called The Work.

I’ve never had anything offer such freedom as doing The Work.

Many other modalities I have done, experienced, attended and listened to. Many of them brilliant.

But there’s nothing like The Work because it doesn’t require a “teacher”. All that’s required is you answering the questions for your own insights and clarity. You discover what you need by studying the situations you find most disturbing.

Strange, but your discomfort actually winds up providing the answers you were looking for.

How amazing is that?

Because this is not the usual summer June at Breitenbush when things tend to sell out because of the stunning northwest summers, we’ve still got space.

But oh my.

Everything’s less expensive in the physical world. Plane fare, lodging, meals. All of it offered at the reduced weather-affected wintry price where we’ll be close to the darkest day of the year in far northwestern United States. A winter retreat.

What a time to go “inside” and do The Work.

What an incredible time to address your painful thinking, before holidays and “together” time ramps up to a peak for the new year.

Maybe, after Thanksgiving (if you’re from the USA) there’ll be nothing better than attending retreat where you get the chance to do your work.

I often get a LOT of calls for The Work the day after Thanksgiving.

Expectations get challenged, people haven’t changed, emotions flare.

With The Work, we get to see what causes those upsets in the first place–the unquestioned resentments we can’t seem to get rid of from the past. Or the imagined fears about the future. When we investigate and give these relationships and situations time and attention, they have the chance to finally dissolve and resolve.

One fabulous bonus at Breitenbush? My own partner, friend and husband who is brilliant at doing The Work (a natural). He’ll be joining us to share in the support and thrill of self-inquiry, and finding freedom from suffering.

We’ll share with everyone present some of our own process of doing The Work together, on each other, and the outcomes and insights we’ve had.

You don’t need a partner to come to do 3 days of The Work at Breitenbush. All you need is awareness of some stressful thinking about other people (partner or not) and feeling disgruntled about what to do about it.

You might feel like you’ve had 60 years of sad thinking with your mother or father, you may hold hurt about your sibling who cut you off 15 years ago, you may feel angry at your former partner who left you for someone else, you may feel furious at the boss who fired you, you may feel disappointed at relationship not working out the way you hoped.

Our suggestion about what to do about your problems with other people?

The Work.

“I saw that for the belief ‘My family should love and understand me’ the turnaround is ‘I should love and understand myself.’ Why had I ever thought that it was their job? That was crazy! Let it begin with me. Until I can do it, let me give the world a break.” ~ Byron Katie

All I know is, The Work is life-changing.

With every thought I question, with every relationship I investigate, I find freedom. Everyone a teacher. Every relationship I’ve encountered a drop (or a tsunami) of freedom.

Dark outside, bright inside.

Much love,

Grace

Enlightened by taxes and complaints about who should finish them

“He should have finished it by now.”

Have you ever had this thought, that someone else should have completed something….but they haven’t?

ARRRGGGGHHH!!

When I was at the School for The Work recently, I did many of the exercises even though I wasn’t always in the room with all the participants, and had duties behind the scenes.

It was wonderful to sit down and fill out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on a situation with someone close where I felt troubled by their action, words, appearance, behavior, communication.

Maybe I reacted with a harsh comment, or surprise, or disappointment.

Anything at all….if it bugged me, it was worth looking at.

Hmmm, what to investigate? I suddenly had the awareness of the thought that someone I know should have finished a certain project by now.

OK fine….it was my husband and it was about our taxes for 2016.

He should have finished them! Six months ago!

You might find anyone in your life where you think they should have finished something by now: children finishing homework or chores by now, friends should have called you back by now, family members should have arrived by now, neighbors should have finished using your lawnmower by now.

And it’s stressful.

I had the incredible opportunity to take a very close look at this particular thought and worksheet with someone facilitating me right there at the school. Nothing better for deeper inquiry than having someone sit with you and ask the four questions–especially if they listen, don’t offer any advice, and avoid lots of discussion.

I loved being able to close my eyes, and answer the questions, in the quiet of someone listening closely without speaking: Is it true he should have finished the taxes by now?

Yes! I’ve never asked for an extension in my life. This is nuts. I’ve never paid a late penalty. So true.

But can I absolutely know it’s true HE should have finished the taxes?

Um. Gulp. No.

Because he hasn’t. And it’s not like he was assigned to them by the master of the universe and he’s the only one who could do the job. In fact, I’ve done my own taxes every year of my life since I started working. I did the taxes through my first marriage, then when I was single for five years, and for the first several years of my newer second marriage.

Who hasn’t finished the 2016 taxes?

Heh heh.

I can’t absolutely know it’s true HE should have finished them.

How do I react when I believe he should have?

Pissy. Complaining. Waaah. I wanted him to take it over. Tantrum. I don’t want to do it anymore. I hate taxes!

I suddenly realize I have still have an unfinished unquestioned oppositional attitude toward taxes. I believe they aren’t fair. The government is taking my money. They don’t support the small business owner! Fist in the air!

I liked taxes better when I was an employee and the taxes just seemed to secretly get whisked off in little payments through paycheck withdrawal, and voila it was done at the end of the year–I never had to write the government a check.

I realize there’s something about that method of not noticing tax payments I really liked and miss. It felt like the money was never mine in the first place, so it was fine to have it subtracted from my paycheck. I was very used to only the take-home pay portion of my salary, as they say.

So here I am arguing with numbers. I’m arguing with how I have to be my own employer and have an attitude of helping me take of bite-sized pieces of dollars, and send these to the government every month.

Gosh, never thought of that.

I was asking my husband to finish taxes and be the one completing them and paying them, but what I really wanted him to do he could never do: make it so I don’t see the taxes due at all. Make it so I don’t get all upset about writing checks to the government.

Sigh.

Who would I be without this very stressful story that he should finish those taxes NOW!?

I’d go home and finish them myself.

I’d write a worksheet on taxes and get my head straightened out about them, because I want them to be smooth, simple, and I want to be an on-time citizen and stay within the law.

I don’t want to demand someone else do what they aren’t doing.

That’s insane, and very aggravating.

Turning the thought around: he should NOT have finished the taxes by now.

How could this be just as true, or truer?

Well, first of all, he hasn’t. He couldn’t have without my input either–I have records, receipts, invoices, expenses–all kinds of things to double-check. He also shouldn’t have finished because it shows me I’m having a hissy fit internally about taxes, and being grabby about keeping “my” money. I think it’s too much to pay. I’m anxious about not having enough. I seem to dislike the thought of writing checks to the government.

A bit of internal work to do in the finance department in my mind.

Another turnaround: I should have finished the taxes by now.

Well here’s the crazy realization: Almost seven months has passed since the official due-date of taxes in the USA. I have been sitting here slightly fuming, worrying, then completely ignoring them almost the whole time.

What a nut case. I could have easily seen they weren’t going to get done by April 15th by my very busy husband who kindly said he’d do them because he wanted to be supportive. I saw it wasn’t happening, and could have organized my daily work so I could get them done. Instead, I blamed my husband.

At the end of this inquiry, my lovely facilitator said “Isn’t it funny you’ve let all these months go by without ever doing The Work on this–and I see from your badge that you’re on staff!”

Oh.

Exposed.

My facilitator and I had a good laugh.

I love how “staff” is the same as everyone. One mind, questioning the thinking that hurts.

Sometimes, apparently, the urge to ignore something overrides the clarity of inquiry. It appears I have been more interested in complaining about the taxes and arguing with reality than questioning my thoughts about them.

Must be the perfect time, though.

Any sooner would have been too soon.

Because if it should have been sooner that I realized I’m resisting taxes, that too would be an argument with reality. I had to argue with them as long as I did.

“The job of the Buddha is simply to pick up the garbage, to do the dishes, to sweep the floor. In this, he changes the world a little bit for the better…..The world penetrates you, and seeing the garbage becomes a moment of grace. There’s nothing that can’t enlighten you, because everything is perception.” ~ Byron Katie in a Mind At Home With Itself

My job is simply to do the taxes. Seeing the taxes as they are is a moment of grace.

Enlightened by taxes….who would have thought?

Much love,

Grace