The embarrassing thing someone wrote about Breitenbush and me

Someone the other day who lives in Seattle asked me….what’s Breiten-bosch? 

I forget that even if you live here in the Pacific northwest, you may have no idea what Breitenbush is, or where.

And, you may even have heard a few things you aren’t so sure about. Like Clothing-Optional mineral soaking pools.

OMG, I’ll talk about that in a minute. (Yikes)!

Breitenbush HotSprings Resort and Conference Center is a place located deep in the heart of the Oregon Cascades where underground thermal springs have surfaced and provided heated pools for decades.

Last year, someone said “I can’t believe how beautiful this place is, I thought it would be two hot tubs at the end of a dusty road, with some tree-huggers living in a tent.”


Far from it.

Breitenbush is a place with a grand lodge, perfectly kept grounds including gardens of flowers and edibles, pathways and trails, a hard-working staff, and an entire catalogue of retreats, workshops and health-related programs for anyone who is a guest.

You can get a massage, take a yoga class, visit the meditation quiet-zone sanctuary, hike into the old growth emerald forest, and enjoy a cozy cabin with comfortable beds, built in cabinets, beautiful hot radiators, a desk and lamp and electricity, and a short trip to the men’s or women’s bathhouse to enjoy naturally heated showers.

And yes, it’s true. There are all-gender clothing-optional soaking pools in their own private areas for those who wish to take in the hot healing waters.

But no one has to go naked, or even go in the hot pools at all. Swimsuits are worn by many. Old-timers and their families tend not to.

You get to choose what’s comfortable for you on your time off during our workshop when the natural sauna or hot pools beckon. Not everyone comes for the waters.

If you’re not really a hot-tub person (I’m not) then we might find you down by the rushing river sitting in Adirondack chairs in the sun, or journaling on dark green moss in the forest.

And oh the meals. So delicious.

Mostly organic, all vegetarian and such a wonderful variety: salads, soups, hot dishes, rice, fruits. Anyone with special diets are accommodated (you tell them when you sign up). You’ll need to bring your own caffeine (lots of french presses and bottles of cream are in the community kitchen station). But you need not be ashamed if you do.

Why we really come to Breitenbush in June, is for the mental health that happens along with the physical health.

We’re there to do the powerful process of self-inquiry known as The Work. It renews mind, feeling, body and spirit.

Now, remember when I said “YIKES!” when mentioning clothing-optional soaking pools?

Once upon a time, there was a scary story for me about those clothing-optional pools.

Six years ago, someone composed a letter that got sent to a few administrative powers-that-be claiming that counseling-in-the-nude was happening at Breitenbush.

Who was the “counselor” doing this? Me.

Oh my.

This caused fear-and-terror, then a little sadness, and eventually a giggle.

Just in case your imagination runs wild at the idea of mental health counseling happening in the nude, please know that the pools are for your private, personal time at Breitenbush. They always have been.

The Work of Byron Katie isn’t really “counseling”…although this isn’t the issue. No counseling or non-counseling, no “work” or program is done at the pools.

The Work is a profound way to identify and then question for yourself what you believe, particularly about stressful experiences in your life. It’s open-ended, contemplative, and allows wondering to occur, beyond fear and stress.

Just like it was for me when I did The Work on someone accusing me wrongly of counseling people in the nude! 

Our work at Breitenbush doesn’t happen in the hot springs, unless it’s percolating within you quietly after our group sessions are over.

Our workshop retreat has its own beautiful space down near the rushing river…a truly lovely structure in-the-round that holds a large circle of people extremely well. We have our own private bathroom inside our round building and we gather in chairs or back jacks (you get to choose) with a comfortable carpeted floor, a white board, and a big projector for our movie night.

Our sessions are mornings 10 am to lunch, a 2.5 hour lunch break (time for a hike, massage, or a soak), 2 hours before dinner, and we only meet until 9 pm latest so in the summer dusk you can relax, soak again, share time with others, or head to an early bed.

But oh that accusation about naked counseling. Ugh.

It really did mention my name specifically.

And even as I remember it, I can still find the thought arising “that person shouldn’t have written that letter.”

Falsely accused! Ridiculous paranoid and jealous person! She was wrong!

Is it true?

So easy for me to see it’s not true, now. But I remember what it felt like when I believed it.

How did I react when I believed the letter-writer shouldn’t have accused me of doing mental health counseling naked in the hot springs pools at Breitenbush?

Defensive. Frightened. Freaking out with the need to make sure everyone knew how WRONG this letter was. That it was some kind of bizarre misunderstanding. That the person who wrote it was a weirdo.

But who would I be, who am I now, without the belief that this person (I since found out who it was, but didn’t know at the time)….falsely accused me?

I notice how clear and safe it was to be “accused” because it was all revealed very smoothly, caused no harm to anyone at all, and showed me who wasn’t supposed to be my friend or colleague.

It also showed me how deeply uncomfortable some people are with nudity, and how OK that is. It showed me how when I joke around, I can be misinterpreted.

Without the belief she shouldn’t have written the letter, I notice how words were read on a piece of paper, a few required steps were taken to respond, and it was over. I learned sooooo much.

And I still find the turnarounds for how it’s truer that she should have written that letter:

I learned how my credentials and my master’s degree were of greater importance than I knew. I could offer CEUs to other mental health professionals (26 for every retreat). I was completely up-to-date on all requirements for my degree and service. I met a fabulous lawyer who was so good to give me really incredible advice.

I felt more confident than ever, after that whole ordeal (which maybe couldn’t be called an ordeal anymore) was over. I felt the power of standing up for myself confidently, without shame. Steady on.

That experience was better than any personal coaching I could have received for feeling confident about my business.

And now, the Breitenbush retreat will happen for the 8th time. This time I’ll be accompanied by the absolutely lovely Todd Smith, who is so kind and grounded in his own work. I love his experience he shares with the world, and his knowledge and love for self-inquiry.

If you sign up soon, the tuition is still at the “early bird” rate, and I’ve heard while cabins are going quick they’re holding a few for our group.

If you fly from afar, don’t worry about having to bring a lot of gear. They supply sheets, blankets, pillows, pillow cases, towels and wash cloth. Bring shampoo and soap and your toothpaste. The little store has any necessities you might forget. The weather is a bit unpredictable (isn’t this the case everywhere now) so a jacket plus summer shorts or sundress. We were really hot one year. We were really cold another.

And one thing: you’ll be off the grid, outside of cell phone service (!) and no wi-fi. This is a time to unplug from the outside world, and plug into your inner life. Many people like to bring their journals, but we’ll have all the materials you need for The Work.

Who would you be without your stressful stories?

For me, without my story of false-accusation, I’m filled with gratitude. I’m clear as a bell. I’m open. I’m understanding. I’m trusting reality. I know who shows up are the right people and I can’t wait to spend time with you, opening our minds and hearts to the friendliness of life.

Without my story of someone freaking out about naked counseling being done at Breitenbush….

….I have a special deep appreciation for all the lessons, all the support this place called Breitenbush has given me.

Even when letters or words get written than don’t seem so friendly on the first read-through.

Learn even more about Breitenbush (and get their phone number) right HERE. Join the inner peace movement.

Much love,


P.S. If you have a fearful thought about what someone did, said about you, or wrote about you….you can question it! It might not be as bad as you *think*! It may be giving you some awareness you didn’t realize you had.

Content to stay in the lowest, least creative position….with cancer

This past weekend, I got to attend retreat with a small group (18 total) in a remote cabin on the crazy, wild, wind-hail-swept Washington state coast. It was called “Sit in The Fire” with Roxann, Byron Katie’s daughter.

I loved sitting with Roxann and all the brilliant group. The sweetness of being NOT in the role of “facilitator” was profound.

I was asked many times what I was doing there or why I signed up as a participant. Seven other people present were already either in my current YOI (Year of Inquiry) program or in last year’s YOI program.

But here’s the deal: I am the most normal, regular, boring, average “thinking” person. I have thoughts that are irritated, nosey, judgmental, hilarious, painful. I have thoughts that have brought me to my knees with suffering. I’ve been scared with adrenaline pumping through my veins, and sad and pissed because someone betrayed me, or totally freaked out because I had no money and no job.

I know it’s kind of weird to say, but it means very little that I show up as facilitator in other contexts and environments and groups.

I’m about as shocked as you are that I’m debt-free, thriving in business, normal with eating and the same weight for many years, and so happy (whatever that is–LOL).

None of those things mean I’m not considering the deep inquiries of life that we all face: death, change, the unknown tomorrow, love, wondering, sharing, feeling, peace (or not peace).

In this past 3-day retreat, I got to sit with my ever-deepening inquiry on cancer: The death of my father from cancer, the death of my friends from cancer, the way cancer has touched me, my sisters, my mother, and other close friends.

I found the belief “cancer took my loved one too soon”.

Cancer was the demon, the dreaded invader. The one who ruined everything, threatens regularly, and will surely do it again.

In this particular retreat, the format allowed for people to do The Work one at a time….focusing deeply with all the group silently supporting, listening, watching, and being there to witness whomever was sharing in the middle.

How do you react when you believe cancer took your loved ones too soon, and kicked you personally, too?

I got to be that normal human being who has experienced and believed the thought of cancer bunches of times…and share the reaction to this thought.

It looked like sobbing.

It looked like collapsing into my own lap and hanging my arms down from my chair, and wailing with tears until the grief was emptied out of me like a river.

I’m not even sure what it looked like, to be honest.

I simply WAS grief, helplessness, childlike rage, missing my dad, the loneliness of missing, remembering, agonizing, shaking my fist at a God who would release cancer on my family and into the world. I was the tiny speck in the universe who didn’t matter. I was a victim, without apology.

I felt it until I was empty. (I love how Roxann asked “are you empty?”)

I remembered all the transactional analysis gestalt therapy I did before I knew of The Work. Beating pillows with a tennis racket, punching bags of anger, shrieking and crying, breaking plates, tearing up phone books to release rage, telling my story without shame.

I remembered how amazing Big Feelings are, and how Byron Katie shares that they must have their life.

Feelings are incredible, really. We even have salt water (tears) come flowing out of our eyes. It’s rinsing out the pain somehow, shaking out the body, energy moving.

And then, the magnificent question.

Roxann asked me, softly.

Who (or what) would you be without this cancer story?

As I sat, feeling it, I felt the curiosity, the quizzical weirdness, the surprise, the openness of that question.

Who, what, where would I be?

What if my father died not too soon, but right on time? And my friend? And my other friend? What if my own cancer, and my sisters and mother’s, was just right?

Not “terriblehorriblenogoodverybad”?


And to be witnessed in such a wondering. Who knows what can happen, to hold still in the presence of others and silence, exploring who I’d be without a huge story like “cancer”?

There we were, humans gathered in a circle as we have done for thousands of years. Noticing and being together.

It was so loving to be witnessed and facilitated, to facilitate myself internally within, to answer these questions about reality. To see reality clearly.

The Work is like saying “let’s take a look, shall we?” and exploring together, as people who each have incredibly unique perspectives and yet, here on the playing field as the Same.

No Final Answer. No “right” answer.

To even ask who we’d be…..results in peace.

Turning the thought around: Cancer has always come right on time. 

I’ll only be here so long, anyway. Everyone has a limited amount of life, and this situation is temporary. Cancer helps people slow down, say “I love you”, relax, enjoy the present. Cancer causes immediate retirement (like with my dad) and lots of time together with others (I saw my dad daily in my 20s when he was ill, and my friend Carl every other day almost for the entire summer–it’s possible we may have never been closer).

What does it take, to get us connected to true love, to life, to honesty, to being human?

For me, it looks like cancer. And it looks like joining things as a participant who does The Work right in front of everyone.

I’m still finding the examples.

It looks like finding everyone who does The Work in my presence the most amazing, brilliant person, full of such enormous wisdom.

And by the way, I’m so glad and grateful you are with me on this journey of exploring thoughts, painful ideas, having questions, being human. Thank you.

Much love,


P.S. Living Turnarounds Half-Day on April 22nd 2-6 pm in Seattle has 3 spaces left.

One spot open for commuters to Spring Cleaning Retreat in Seattle at a private gorgeous retreat house in Lake Forest Park neighborhood. AirBnb’s close by if you travel from out of town.

I can’t take it anymore with this body (my Stephen Hawking turnaround)

“I can’t take it anymore!”

I said this internally in my own head, not out loud, as I looked at the ceiling over my bed, unable to even turn over because of pain.

I had torn my right hamstring right off my sits bone by doing a gymnastics move I hadn’t done in 25 years. I wanted to reverse time, go back and fix it. I wanted it to not have happened at all.

Now after surgery I had a full leg brace to make sure I didn’t move, and my right leg was sort of withered looking.

I had a huge scar from left to right the full width of my upper right thigh in the back under my butt cheek where they drilled the hamstring back into the bone and held it fast with two titanium pins.

This was the ninth day of lying on my back in bed. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom, it hurt horribly as I dragged myself there. I couldn’t put any weight on the right leg. I couldn’t sit on the seat (I had a huge thick cushion put on the toilet seat and still couldn’t).

At that moment of looking at the ceiling….again….

….I tried to turn over onto my stomach.

It hurt so much, but I was determined. I could get out of the bed, so surely I could turn over and lie on my stomach for once?


I tried and kept trying, and then finally flopped over like a block of wood getting turned over by a tiny ant. Or a fish lurching over on a boat deck.

Then on my stomach, I stared at the place the floor and the wall met. I had a great view of the carpet.

OK, here I am on my stomach at last. Now what.

I stared at the floor for about 30 minutes, and lay there feeling the relief of being off my back, and on to my stomach, and then eventually realized I needed to turn over on my back again if I wanted to anything besides stare at the wall.

Slow pushing, careful turning. Flop.

And then the thoughts broke through.

I can’t take this anymore. I’m trapped. I’ll never be the same. This is horrible. My life is over.

I did The Work.

I got to trade facilitation with a beautiful certified facilitator, so I could stay close to this process without jumping out and into Doomsville.

Is it true, you can’t take it anymore?

Yes. Cry.

Are you absolutely sure? Can you know it’s not possible for you to “take this” anymore?

(Note the victim role, I am a very small potato and the world and reality are massively huge and all-powerful and I’ve lost).

No, it’s not true.

How do you react when you think you can’t take it anymore, and something very tough is happening?

Pictures of dying, declining, failing, never running again, never biking again, never getting up again. I see nothing good here. My sense of being this small ant in the universe is dreadful, sad, furious, self-piteous.

So who would I be without this story of oppression of the body, this injury being “bad”….and the thought that I can’t take it anymore?

Oh my.

I paused when doing this work for a long time to answer this question…imagining being unable to think this thought that I can’t take it.

I noticed how much reading I was doing (hands straight up overhead with long arms holding the book directly over my face), watching interesting videos, still teaching telecourses and working with clients. Still running the Year of Inquiry.

I noticed I didn’t think about my injury or even remember I was in bed when doing any of these things.

Without the thought….

….I’d be free, relaxed, navigating the next thing, the next thing. Watching life unfold around me, without the thought. Watching how things change, and how I’m not in charge.

I’d be aware of how truly having this thought was what was stressful, nothing else really.

Turning the thought around: I CAN take this anymore. I can’t take my THOUGHTS about this anymore.

This suddenly made me smile.

I began to wonder about this idea of “taking it”. Gross. It sounded so passive and violent. And yet, to consider the turnaround that I could take it, then it could mean something different–like I was capable of taking, and even transforming it.

Or, it wasn’t even “me” that would be transforming “it”, but instead something was taking this and working with it.

Plus I notice taking and giving are a paired type of energy, so there was something giving, and something taking, and energies flowing. I’m watching it all. I’m participating.

And then, as I did this work, I saw Stephen Hawking in my head.

He can’t turn over, and I don’t see him complaining.

In fact, he’s doing some kind of amazing life journey living an incredibly unexpected life with ALS and offering his unique genius in the world in the form of physics and philosophy and explaining it all to humanity.

I immediately found videos with his electronic mechanical voice (since he couldn’t even talk) and listened, mesmerized and overjoyed by his explanations of the universe and space.

He could take it. He could carry on. He could have a brilliant life full of passion without moving much at all.

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~ Stephen Hawking

My own illusion of failure, pain, decline, the need for a “working” body, death, injury was a grand illusion.


I can’t take it–not really. That could be a fun turnaround of joyful laughter, not depressing fear and self-pity. It’s not possible to “take” it. It was only my invention in that moment of suffering.

It wasn’t even true.

Thank you Dr. Hawking for your contribution to the world and to my turnaround. You were an inspiration to someone far away who you never met in real life.

By questioning my thoughts, I wound up with appreciation for my injured body.

Because of that incident, I quit my part time job completely to go full time with facilitating The Work, I learned how to do yoga instead of gymnastics, I learned more about astrophysics from someone who didn’t need to have a “working” body in order to be happy.

And that person was me.

Much love,


Come to Breitenbush to inquire this early summer (+ interview with me and Todd)

Several years ago, I had the delightful privilege to meet Todd Smith, a Certified Facilitator of The Work. His story is moving and profound for how The Work transformed his thoughts about partnership, the death of his mother in a plane crash, and his relationship with career and money.

To watch my interview with Todd, click here.

I was so excited about the interview, by the way, I spoke 100 miles an hour without any introduction at the beginning, plus I have no idea what the caption is doing at the bottom of my screen that’s half cut off. But I bet you’ll love hearing about The Work and Todd’s experience of it.

Super inspiring.

I’m so happy he’ll be joining me at Breitenbush this year, for the 8th annual immersion in The Work for four days June 13-17. Call Breitenbush at 503-854-3320 for all the information and to register. (You can also read about it on my website here).

And speaking of inspiration….I have a little secret to confess.

People like Todd who have transformative internal journeys about the hardest situations in life like conflict, anxiety, scarcity and death….

….are my heros.

Even though I do The Work and have felt change I never thought possible for this anxious mind, I am a huge secret admirer of everyone who is willing to question, even just one of their thoughts, with sincerity.

I had such low trust in myself and my ability to relax, I could barely even “do” The Work after I read Loving What Is. It took me diving in to attending the School for The Work to “get” the true value of it.

The learning I receive continues to this day.

I have the incredible joy of facilitating people and witnessing being with people who see their problems in a new way.

They’re been worried, upset, angry, or sad and don’t know what to do. Sometimes for years and years.

And *ping*!

They catch some amazing insight as they answer the four questions.

I honestly feel when people show up to do The Work and I happen to be facilitating, I’m the luckiest person ever.

Because there are many difficult experiences. There are dreadful experiences. Tough things happen in life to humanity.

It’s really quite miraculous that people can identify these painful experiences, write about them on paper, and take them through inquiry….

….and come out more aware, freer, more peaceful.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.” ~ Byron Katie

The truth is, this work would not be interesting, magnetic or compelling if we were following someone else’s ideas or instructions.

It’s not about having any guru, and that includes Byron Katie (and I’m sure she’d agree).

It’s about answering the questions in the most deep, contemplative, honest way you can. No wrong way. No right way. Only your own genuine answers.

Amazingly, these answers bring light-bulbs, ah-ha’s, and new ideas. It doesn’t have to be big and like a gigantic firework going off.

Only a little shift can make a huge difference. The course is changed. There’s a new path.

Who would you be without your thought about that tough thing that happened?

Just a wee bit accepting. Or just a lot mind-altered.

Both are better than the suffering that was happening without The Work.

Much love,

P.S. it looks like the half-day mini retreat this Sunday is full. The next one is April 22nd or email to get on the wait list.

The Great Surprise of Acceptance I Never Expected.

First of all, the latest Peace Talk Podcast 138: When the doctor said it’s cancer! (Yikes!)

People are pretty incredible at pretending they feel things they don’t really feel.

Remember the famous movie scene in When Harry Met Sally with Meg Ryan’s in Katz’ restaurant with Billy Crystal? (I’ll have what she’s having!)

And then I heard recently in the movie I, Tonya about a tragic moment when Tonya Harding skates out on the ice with a huge big fake smile, despite having terrible bruises under her make-up and emotional heart-break only moments before.

It’s astonishing how we can look like something on the outside that’s not matching at all on the inside.

It’s acting.

And oh my, I used to act a lot.

When I was a child, I covered up feeling betrayed or hurt with a smile. I’d hold in tears by holding my breath. I smiled when I was actually terrified or upset. I was shy and avoided people I really liked a lot and admired.

The thing I found amazing about The Work, and also a bit awkward (OK very very awkward at first) was the first step: tell the truth about how you really feel.

The whole truth.

No matter how petty, childish, ridiculous, mean, vicious or nasty you sound. And no matter if part of you thinks it is NOT true.

Tell it on paper, so it doesn’t sneak away and get reworded or hidden or subverted all over again.

Now, this is an incredible step, to admit and be willing to write down all your aggressive, judgmental, suspicious, frightened, childish thoughts about other people, situations, or things that bother you.

I’ve had people tell me to keep their worksheets in a brown file folder at my house, or if they’re long distance that they’re shredding their worksheet the minute they’re done with it.

But what about in a group?

Where other people are listening, hearing, contemplating YOUR mean awful desperate thoughts?

Why would I want other people, and maybe even strangers, to hear my most ugly thoughts? That’s taking it too far. I just can’t.

Long ago on my first adventures into healing my extremely anxious mind, I was led to a therapist who believed in group therapy. She believed it was so valuable, she encouraged every single person who came to work with her to eventually move into one of her groups.

In fact, if you wanted to keep to individual sessions only, she’d kick you out–er, I mean refer you on to some other therapist–who was willing to listen to you repeat yourself, possibly for years.

Even though I trusted her, I was pretty nervous about the group therapy.

I thought “I’ll never do that.”

But after six months of solo work, she said it was time.

I sat in near total silence from Day One of entering that group. I could barely whisper my name to the other members (there were 9). I looked down at the rug, or stared at whoever was talking politely.

I was deeply curious about what was going on, but absolutely shaking in my bones to reveal the true me. It felt paralyzing.

One day, about six months into me being in the group, the lead therapist (the one I had seen independently for awhile first) said she had something important to say before we began.

She turned to me.


“Grace, you have been completely silent for six months here. Do you realize, you are remaining in complete control by doing this? We want to get to know you, to feel you as a part of this group family.”

I began to cry. (Although not too hard, mind you).

I’m not sure if it was out of fear, or relief.

I knew that although I was terrified to share, I also knew I wanted to desperately, and to feel the freedom of being all of myself, the childish and the wise.

I started talking from that day forward, and participating honestly. Slowly, this became easier and easier over time. It was one of the most life-changing and important things I ever did for my own freedom.

While I was in that group, I had my last eating binge, I became close to my boyfriend in a more genuine way (and married him), I began writing short stories for other people to read–not just me, and I held a normal full time job I actually kind of liked.

I began to feel…..normal. Like a regular human being instead of a severely anxious, depressed, addicted wreck.

Sharing in a group with true honesty has remained powerful for me to this day.

I love the dynamics of a group and I have a deep, abiding compassion for those who wish to keep things to themselves.

I know they do it for good reasons.

I also know the power of self-inquiry that can help us begin to speak when we’re stuck in silence.

What I find every time in a group environment with other people, is we’re all quite unique, but we’re also incredibly alike.

We’re all thinking, believing, feeling humans. We all have childish aspects and very wise adult aspects and everything in between. We’re all doing it our own way, on our own path….and yet somehow, together.

“There are no new thoughts.” ~ Byron Katie

If I had not shown up at that group so long ago, and been poked to be honest, I might be living a life of simple survival, getting through each day, feeling somewhat alone and never really excited or passionate. Maybe I wouldn’t be binge-eating or freaking out anxiously anymore, but I might be resigned, or numb. Who knows.

I am forever grateful I myself responded to something within that said “call that therapist” and that I stuck with it despite having extremely frightened judgments about people getting together and being emotional (ew).

I am forever grateful the universe was friendly, and I got pushed along by the current of truth-telling, and willingness to be authentic and real.

Honesty and revealing the suffering allows the light to shine in.

If you’ve been considering sitting with others to sink into your own work, in a very safe non-invasive, nothing-is-truly-required container….then come gather with me and other inquirers to look at this goofy and difficult and sad and humorous mind that views the world the way it does.

You may discover an acceptance, through the eyes of others, you never found possible for yourself.

Because that’s what happened for me so long ago in that little group.

I shared with them out loud that I sometimes felt suicidal, that I isolated, that I ate the equivalent of five meals instead of one.

I looked up at them, thinking I’d see disgust on their faces.

I saw only acceptance. Compassion. Tenderness. Maybe some confusion. I was not banished or rejected.

No one kicked me out of the group for being too much of a mess.

It changed my life.

It showed me what I could do for myself: accept my thoughts, like little children, waiting for someone to listen….and that someone was me.

“I had such a hunger to burn up whatever thoughts arose in my mind that whenever a physical reaction came through me, I let it come….I would just stand or drop onto the sidewalk and let the emotion have its way. People were always kind. They would stop and say things like ‘Do you need help?’ ‘Would you like a tissue?’ ‘Is there someone I can call?’ ‘Can I take you somewhere?’ That’s how I met the world. It was tender. It was sensitive. These people were all pieces of me.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself.

If you’re like me and you notice you could use a little help in coming out of your shell or cave, or you’re not sure where your “yes” voice is that knows we’re in a great big co-creation experiment (oh joy)….

….then you may be ready for retreat.

Find one in your neighborhood or city, even a few hours drive away will work to gather and connect with others. Maybe there’s a meetup in The Work in your area, or someone who facilitates retreats.

If you’re in the northwest or want to head in this direction, I’d welcome you with open arms.

Three options I have coming soon:

a) Half-day retreat in Seattle March 18th (3 more spots). Only 4 hours 2-6 pm. You’ll walk through this powerful inquiry process with one important issue or troubling situation. You don’t have to share out loud–although you may find joy if you do. Ten people maximum in my Goldilocks Cottage living room.

b) Spring retreat is in Seattle May 16-20 and has room for 4 more. You can commute, and there’s a cute AirBnb or two nearby I can point you to. We have a grand, gorgeous retreat house with the most luscious grounds with little meditation huts, a hot tub, and green views everywhere. Movement, poetry, inspiring stories of inquiry, silent walk, silent movement field trip, a movie night can all result in inner awareness and you finding your own solutions to stuck-ness.

c) And then there’s Breitenbush Hotsprings in Oregon June 13-17 with the lovely Todd Smith. Although 3 months away, the early bird fee is NOW and it’s strongly encouraged to reserve your lodging soon, as cabins, dorms, rooms in the lodge, and even campsite spaces all get taken up so quickly in this gorgeous season where the sun is out so long in the northwest and people from all over the world come to Breitenbush. People got turned away last year beginning in May–it was a little surprising. If you’re serious about coming to Breitenbush, it’s better to reserve now (only a deposit is due upon registration)–call Breitenbush 503-854-3320.

Much love,

P.S. If you’ve emailed me about any of these events, and I haven’t gotten back to you–it may be email tech problems. Write to my alternate email.

P.P.S. Much love to you on your journey home to yourself.

Orchestrate your happiness. It’s not what you think.

Do you ever want the future to go a certain way?


It’s almost considered odd NOT to think the future should go a certain way.

We so think we KNOW what would work best, what success looks like, or surviving well. I might lose what I have, or I might not get something I want.

The other day, my mind had the belief when I woke up in the morning: It would be bad if no one came to my retreats this spring. I need to make announcements about them. I wish there was only one, not two (because there are too many seats to fill). They’re too close together.  

I started dreaming of the work I’d do that day before I was even out of bed; posting the events to the free city events page for the general public, submitting to local publications, contacting the workshop postings for mental health practitioners.

And then, I chuckled.

The brilliant question hung in the air like a sweet melody, before I even started in on the tasks I had in mind:

Can I know it’s true not enough people will come to retreat if there are two right in a row? Can I really know it’s better if they’re “full”?

Is this really a scary scenario for me, this picture of “not enough”? Really?

This thought could be a story I’ve told a zillion times in my mind.

Later, soon, in the future….there won’t be enough support, there won’t be enough company, there won’t be enough money, there won’t be enough excitement, there won’t be enough time, there won’t be enough love, there won’t be enough health, there won’t be enough life.

What a nervous wreck to think these thoughts so regularly. The potential for things to go “wrong” always parading around. The desire for things to go “right” (and I know what it looks like) always hanging in the air.

What do you envision as successful in your future? What do you want to make sure NEVER happens?

How do you react when you think there’s a possibility for success or failure, and you want it to go the way you prefer?

I get all narrow-minded on the success track. I believe I ‘have to’ do certain things to make it go in that direction. I believe I’m the one running the show here. I work with urgency, or with a push. I don’t have fun. I’m determined in an intense way. I’m nervous about it going the “bad” way.

Everything becomes Not Fun.

Sometimes, I procrastinate. I think about doing something and say I should be doing it, but it feels so pressured I also rebel against it all, and go to yoga. I listen to youtubes. I watch The Crown on Netflix.

I get pictures in my head of other people thinking I’m a dork when it comes to marketing anything. Inefficient. Lousy at it. The people expecting incoming calls at Breitenbush to be disappointed, because…..crickets.

Who would I be without this stressful story that it would be bad if the two retreats coming up weren’t full?

A weight lifted.

I’d be happy. Today.

I’d notice the calendar has something on it in mid-May, and again in mid-June. I wouldn’t feel resistant to it, or concerned. It would be what it is.

I’d stop acting like I’m God the Dictator and I Know Everything. I’d let out a sigh (and a chuckle) of joy at how sure a thought flames up in a second about what needs to be avoided….but how I’ve also got the amazing and beautiful question “is it true?” (And it’s not even “mine”).

I’d feel the energy running through this very moment of aliveness. Hearing the dryer turn the clothes. See red sleeves near laptop keys. Gazing at wooden bowl next to a box of tissues. Hearing husband’s feet tap tap walking and opening a drawer.

This moment a poetry.

Every possible way the future goes….perfect.

Trusting what is. Letting life do it. Letting God do it (it is already). Noticing all the people already on the list for May. Feeling the happiness and peace whether events are full, or not full, or the worst turnout ever, or the best.

Noticing what is done today and very much enjoying the ride. I could die tomorrow, and what I did today to post information about these retreats would have still been interesting, even fun. Not annoying tasks.

Turning the thought around: It would be fantastic if no one came to my retreats this spring. I do not need to make announcements about them. I wish there was just the number there are (none in this moment as I am alone on my couch). There are not too many seats to fill. These retreats are perfectly spaced.

Turning the thoughts around again: It would be bad if I didn’t come to my own retreats this spring. If I didn’t approach my thinking with The Work. I need to announce my thinking, to expose it and share it with myself. There’s too much thinking to fill (yes, in my head). My thoughts are too close together. 

Good heavens. Is it my thinking that’s scary or the actual outcome I’m sure would be a disaster?

Only my thinking.

Can you find good reasons, interesting or helpful or advantageous reasons for it going the “wrong” way in the future, whatever it is you’re worried about?

Hmmm. If I have small retreat sizes, I can eliminate one next year. I can give lovely close attention and more time to each person who attends. I’ll have fewer supplies to put together. I’ll get to experience the joy that’s possible even if only ONE person is joining me in inquiry. If no one came at all, I’d get four days in silent inquiry with myself. I could further develop the curriculum. I’d relax knowing we have plenty of time for each exercise. I’d get to meditate.

“I invite you to look forward to an uncomfortable feeling, find clarity through investigation, and meet your own discomfort with understanding. Orchestrate your own happiness. Why wait for anything or anyone outside you to bring contentment and harmony?” ~ Byron Katie

What a beautiful retreat has arrived, after answering four questions. Like, right now.

Oh. Haha.

Who are you without the belief that something might not go right in the future?

Not believing your thoughts. Orchestrating your own happiness.

Feeling the harmony of what is.

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,

nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.
~ Tao Te Ching #48 (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Much love,


P.S. Spring Retreat

P.P.S. Breitenbush Retreat

Do I really want it? Or does something bigger than “it” want me?

Right now, I find thoughts are ticker-taping through my life on money and eating, mostly because the money and eating courses are well underway.

I find it fascinating how these two forms of energy (money and food) have to do with consuming and taking in, but also letting go and releasing.

If money and our favorite food were lying on a table in front of us, we might see our hand reach out to take it.

I see it. I want it. I could take it. I’ll take it. I have it. It’s mine!

Did it provide what I was looking for? Did it give me what I really wanted?

Sometimes, this very pattern is extremely unsatisfying, but compelling: Working very hard and long hours for money. Eating way too much.

To explore this cycle, what if we went back to the seeing it, before we grabbed it or consumed it or used it, and paused right there?

Sometimes, the first time we “see” something we want is in our minds. The food or money isn’t around, but we picture it vividly. The color, the feel, the bank account statement, the spending, the texture, the possibilities, the excitement, the security or the focus on this pleasurable thing.

This thing called food. This thing called money.

People will say in the classes as we’re looking at our beliefs these common and stressful thoughts: “I can’t stop eating” or “I can’t relax around money”.

So what if we looked today at this “wanting” experience that happens when an image comes to mind of food, or riches? This is before we get it, but we’re dang sure we want it. See how good it looks?

I want, want, want it. 

Is it true?

Huh? I mean….of course that’s true! What an odd question! I have tons of evidence of this being true. I’ve grabbed it a thousand billion times. I’ve consumed and spent it. I’ve used it. I’ve eaten it.

I am the one who wants that thing. It’s been true for so long.

Are you sure?

Can you absolutely know it’s true you want that pile of money or that bowl of sugar? Is there no room for any doubt at all? Are you positive…forever and ever?

Boinnnnggggg! (That’s like a cartoon frying pan hitting me on the cartoon head)!

I can’t know it’s true I want it! If I pause a moment, it seems like I don’t. I have no idea. Weird.  I thought I was in a frenzy every time, but now I’m not so sure. Woah.


How do you react when you think you waaaannnnntttt it?

That’s easy. I grab like a Tasmanian Devil. I feel very unsatisfied.

So who would you be without this stressful thought that you For Sure want what you’re looking at? (Oh that cash, on that ice cream, oh that love, oh that attention, oh that success….)

Oh my. I’d start laughing.

Without the belief I want it?


And something opens up, because maybe I really wanted something else all along. Maybe I want safety, security, love, soothing from serious trauma in the past, connection, intimacy.

So often, I wanted intimacy–to really join closely with someone. Food was next best thing. Money was for those other people who deserved it.

Turning the thought around: I don’t want it. My thinking wants it. Not “I” or me.  

How could this be just as true, or truer?

It didn’t really fulfill me. It didn’t eliminate the pain. I didn’t feel comfortable even after I had it. Spending or eating or hoarding or starving all happened, and still something feels empty or too full.

I’ve also worked with so many people with tons of money who aren’t perfectly content. Or who are eating the perfect diet, and they aren’t satisfied.

Turning the thought around again: It wants me.

How could this be true?

I know this sounds cosmic. Like, what is “it”? Seriously? Are we talking the food wants me, or the money? That doesn’t even make sense.

But I like this turnaround anyway. Life wants me. Love wants me. The present moment wants me, fully here, not half here, not wanting-ly here full of my complaints about what is.

God, Allah, The Friend, Presence, Surrender, Rest, Being wants me, the real true me that is not alone and not abandoned and not freaking out and too scared to inquire.

I Am and I Am Not
I’m drenched
in the flood 
which has yet to come 
I’m tied up 
in the prison
which has yet to exist
Not having played
the game of chess
I’m already the checkmate
Not having tasted
a single cup of your wine
I’m already drunk
Not having entered
the battlefield
I’m already wounded and slain
I no longer
know the difference
between image and reality
Like the shadow
I am
I am not
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

Much love,


You have no need for the belief “I have to” to get something done (+ this weekend mini-retreat)!

Oh my gosh gosh, it happened. Another Peace Talk Podcast Episode 136 on the pesky and horrible thought (when you believe it) “I Have To…” Find it on itunes here.

This Sunday, February 25 in-person Living Turnarounds mini retreat! Welcome one and all. It doesn’t matter what kind of experience you have in The Work, all you need is an interest in questioning your stressful thinking.

We have a cozy cottage, comfy chairs, tea, and worksheets. We meet 2:00-6:00 pm in northeast Seattle. Please pre-register and find out more right here.

The dates for the rest of this year have been updated. Come to one, come to all, your choice. I tend to forget to announce these half day retreats until right before they happen. Ahem.

  • February 25, 2018
  • March 18, 2018
  • April 22, 2018
  • May 13, 2018
  • June 10, 2018

For me, there’s been nothing like sharing time in The Work with caring like-minded folks who also want to question their stressful beliefs together. I get so inspired.

What is it about gathering together that offers something different to our inquiry?

I’m not talking about only a half-day group like this one. But all the other pairings and support, too. Like having an ongoing facilitation buddy, attending a meet-up, going to an intro night on The Work, participating in a retreat or course, going to the 9 Day School with Byron Katie, joining the Institute for The Work.

I find, just like meditation, we ultimately do it on our own, yet if we’re together there’s a structure, a shared energy. I’ve never had the experience of silent sitting at home that I do while on meditation retreat when hours are dedicated to sitting in silence and contemplating the experience without needing to do the usual tasks involved in life.

Isn’t that strange, in a way, that it can be so different being with others do something you really do all by yourself?

Because everyone else is agreeing to do this together, I do it too. I stay. I’m in the chair. No question about getting up and leaving and doing something else to avoid what is, or argue with what is, or complain about what is. I’m staying until I’m truly open to what is.

There’s an interested paradox here, however.

The deepest and most desired transformation, it seems, is when we are on our own–no one else in sight–and we remain seated, stay present, question our thinking, discover awareness is possible without any input or outside guidance required.

Isn’t this what we all truly want? To be our own personal wise advisor? To not have to go anywhere to find peace?

To find out that the most interesting, exciting, loving, supportive, clear person I could ever be with….is me?

Then, whatever we do and wherever we are, whether in a strange unrecognizable place, or our own living room, or in a noisy crowded street, or with a group of friends….

….no matter where we are, we’re with the most beloved and beautiful friend.

One of the things I most love about The Work, is that my stressful, uncomfortable, troubling, nasty, mean, vicious or violent thoughts are the ones that help me hear my inner compassionate advisor.

They are the loud voices that lead me to the still small voice.

Who would have thought the stories and yelling and panic that caused my suffering are the ones that bring the deepest awareness and awakening?

Strange. But true.

And so much help along the way by gathering with other people (still true) and sharing this inquiry. Exploring together is such a gift. It says “you are not alone”. It inspires connection and insight. It’s a practice arena that shows if I can do it with others holding my hand, or accepting me, I can do it.

If I can do it with others, I can do it with myself.

So if you find yourself willing, interested and drawn to connecting to your most inner wise compassionate advisor and awakened one within (yes, that one is there, always) then join me for a half day retreat, or the longer spring retreat coming in May (four days of The Work heaven)!

I’d love to spend time with you sharing the inner world we usually don’t think of as share-worthy (LOL). What freedom to find we’re all on the same journey, discovering peace.

“If you don’t know that who you authentically are does not suffer and has no need for beliefs, you are practicing believing that the separate self is real and that suffering is inevitable.” ~ Cheri Huber

Spend some time with others practicing un-believing how separate you are.

I love how Byron Katie says you have only two choices: believe your thoughts, or question them. There’s no other option.

I’d rather question them.

Even if you live on the other side of the world from where I do–find a partner, connect with people, call the Help Line (it’s free), come to retreat somewhere, anywhere.

Practice questioning. It’s more fun than believing. At least it sure has been for me. (Understatement of the century).

Sign up for this month’s Living Turnarounds Half-Day Sunday 2/25 right HERE.

Much love,


Have you ever stopped to see if you believe your depressing thoughts?

Live on facebook was sweet on Feb 14th. I received many wonderful terrible thoughts about relationships to question (thank you all who sent them).

The chosen Valentine’s Day thought? What I have, should be different. Different relationship. Coupled, not single. Other person, not the one I have. Different relationship status.

Different is better. THIS isn’t good.

To see how the inquiry turned out, head over to the facebook page right here.

And for those of you patiently waiting for the website to work again, it now does (don’t use www):

Finally, I did it. Peace Talk Podcast has been revived after a quiet spell.

The first topic of inquiry after this time of silence?

Gaps in communication, death, dying, endings. Except, sometimes, revivals.

You just never know how something’s going to unfold. You never do really know, do you?

Who would we be without the story that it’s better to know what’s going to happen? Or even that we can? Or that we need to make a plan, and follow it?

Not that there’s anything wrong with plans and schedules. Let’s not get crazy….knowing what time it is and agreeing to some basics makes life simple.

The bus leaves at 7:05, so get there at 6:55. You still may not leave, there still may be no bus, but oh so sweet if everything comes together and there is one. It’s fun, rather wondrous, people sharing needs and services, efficient.

Who would be be without our stories that it has to go the way we want, in order to be happy?

In a big ongoing adventure! And most importantly, feeling super curious, and having fun. Maybe having more fun than if it went the way you planned.

You can listen to the new episode 135 of Peace Talk on itunes right here. Look for the latest new episode also on google play, soundcloud, I Heart Radio and several other audio services.

Thanks for listening, for being here with me in The Work in all these ways, for coming along for this ride of questioning thoughts and unraveling the unnecessary pain.

“Do you believe what you think? Often, within pain or depression, there are thoughts you’ve had for so long and held so close that you don’t even know they are there. And you’ve never stopped to see if you even believe them.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,


Tech Support Nightmares…To Sweet Dreams

Facebook Live at 6 pm today Pacific Time for anyone and everyone who wants to join me for inquiry on wanting to control what’s happening. Facebook page is here and you simply go to that page for these live shares, and you’ll see me visible in a post area. If you miss it live, it’ll be recorded and stay right there on the page to watch later, including any mistakes or goofiness that happens. Live, unedited inquiry.


And so for the seventh morning in a row, I checked to see if my websites were acting “normally”.

As in, you type in the name of the site, and voila, you arrive there on your computer. It’s what we tend to expect when exploring or finding something online.

But no.

My daily call to Tech Support is the next step so yet another tech support person might help address this problem of why my sites say they are “not secure” when they in fact are.

No one can visit them. Including me.

All the people in Eating Peace Process can’t access their presentations and recordings at the Anyone wanting to read or comment on Grace Notes or look up the spring retreat dates can’t see them at Seattle folks who want to dance on Saturdays can’t find driving directions at

This is a disaster! (LOL, you know where this is going, right?)

What I love about The Work is you get to start at the beginning with question one, instead of wildly romping through how you react without pause. You’re already reacting, when you feel upset, frustrated, depressed, disappointed.

The Work let’s you slow it all down, name your belief in the form of a statement, and look objectively at what you’re thinking.

My websites should be working. They should be accessible. They should NOT show weird error warnings that they aren’t ‘safe’.

Is it true?


What is going on?!

I pay for these sites to work! They have something-or-other called an SSL installed for security. They are “safe”! They don’t have viruses. They haven’t been hacked. The support people should fix this NOW.

Can you absolutely know this is true?



What I notice in reality is that something funky happened with a migration of hosting–in other words, moving my three sites to a different place in the great big network of the internet (don’t worry, you don’t have to be technical to get the point).

Can I absolutely know it’s true something shouldn’t have gone wrong? Everything “should” be the way it used to be? That I shouldn’t need to wait, or call, or have this so-called problem?

No. What’s the reality of it?

There are no working sites for these three information spots. Are these sites really necessary for world peace? No. Is it really a disaster? No. Am I sure it should go differently than the way it’s going? No. Is it really a hassle to make phone calls to Technical Support? No.

How do I react when I believe this “problem” is happening, and it shouldn’t be?


I sigh deeply. I think about ending this relationship with the company that hosts my sites. I go back and forth between aggression and helplessness.

Divorce! Cut off! Good riddance! I’m never gonna be your friend again! Anger! Disappointment! Complaining!

But who would you be without this belief, that it shouldn’t be going the way it’s going and these sites should be “working” and accessible?


Almost funny to think of this wondering.

Without this belief, I’d be goofy dancing to the On Hold music which is now becoming very familiar.

Feeling interested in each new individual I speak with, marveling at all the different voices, questions, and at how  everyone is to try to do the best they can to help and take lots of notes and send the problem on to another higher level expert (their idea).

Kind of excited by my own awareness that when I see things aren’t resolved yet, I wait and I get interested myself in the problem solving. I read and learn things on the internet about what could be wrong. I’m super curious. It’s actually fun.

Like figuring out what’s happening in any machine or system….how fascinating. This approach applies to all things technical and internet, but also a flat tire, the broken dishwasher, the drivers-license renewal queue, the clogged drain, a science experiment, something hurting in the body, money, and relationships.

Yes, even relationships.

Because this feels like a new attitude, when I question my thinking.

Without my beliefs of how it shouldn’t be the way it actually is, I continue on with the process, the dance, the intrigue. I keep going with the project. I wonder “wow, this will be interesting to see what happens next!”

Maybe I do shut down everything and move on to other adventures that don’t involve websites, but who knows?

What lightness, without these beliefs that what I’m focusing on should be any different. I still have the vision of participating with change, the curiosity, being connected and involved in this predicament.

And it’s fun instead of aggravating.

Turning the thoughts around:

My websites should NOT be working. They should NOT be accessible. They should show weird error warnings that they aren’t ‘safe’.

My thinking should be working. My thinking should be accessible. My thinking should should show weird error warnings that these thoughts aren’t ‘safe’.

Aren’t these turnarounds a delight to find?

How could these turnarounds be just as true, or truer?

I’m learning some interesting things about the backend of websites. I’m aware of my commitment to understanding.

I get to respond to emails that have been forgotten as I wait on hold, and write this very inquiry out. I get to see how it doesn’t really matter, in a good way, that a website can’t or can be seen on the web. Everyone who needs access to something on one of the websites has written me via email and I’ve been able to solve or find answers for everyone, 100% of the time.

And oh boy, the turnarounds to the thinking….so great:

My thinking IS showing weird error warnings that my thoughts aren’t safe. I was noticing stress, nervousness, frustration. But now, it’s all kind of collapsed as I felt the red lights flashing (in the form of emotions) and stopped to question.

My thinking is now working for me. Open to the next step, which is to await someone to email me back as they dive more deeply into this issue. I picture several experts all putting their heads together to see how to solve this.

My attention turns to working with a client, then the money teleclass in a few hours, then more clients.

There is no emergency, and in many ways (in every way), no issue whatsoever.


Much love,