Category Archives: life

Moving and Shaking

I’ve spent the bulk of this week feeling abundantly irritable but quietly happy and oddly brave- a weird combo I’m learning to associate with change. Life is feeling alternately fragile and full, earthy and elusive. A week of mindbodyspirit-opening yoga in Mexico, new heart-flowerings, global movements, powerful dreaming, themes of birth and dying coming from everywhere.

Last night I dreamed of nursing babies – feeling life flowing through me so vividly, and still in the dream I felt like I didn’t have enough, that my limitations were disappointing and hurting my children. Today I watched footage of destruction I could not fully take in on the other side of the earth. Tomorrow I hold space for a service in celebration of my grandmother who passed away last week after a full and rich life. I am feeling the movings and shakings of my own tectonic plates.

I know I’m beginning to explore a new, vital, compelling, raw and shifting place in my life- one that does not yet feel ripe for naming. So instead of word-wrangling here, I am trying to drop in, tune in and feel through.

I decided to write tonight only because I picked up a neglected journal and started flipping through pages, and am always surprised when I find the wisdom I seek. From time to time I write love notes to myself. Some poems, some intentions, some reassurances quick and to the point. Here are a few from my flipping, if you’d like to try them on and wear them around too. I’d love to hear one of yours, if you’re in the mood to share.


less good ideas
more trust and surrender
guided by the power of intention
there is no wasted time
all is well


The price of aliveness is the will to live.

I choose again to live. To feel the breath of my humanness and bring my formed and formless gifts in this world. I create my reality and choose to see a world of beauty.


loss is grace.
the way you take the thread and tie it to your plot-
that is the weight you feel.
the tape replays and reviews-

fuck that.
I want to be inhabited by grace
touching fingertips with the revolution
rolling down the hill sideways
picking up speed on the way to unway
trusting gravity and grass.

there are 10 billion things on the other side of I don’t want to.
surf the wave.


There is nothing to know
There is no tomorrow
Your pen writes on the page
until the page turns
is not a verb
There is nothing to do
Drop into yourself
the way you long to be known.



Filed under Big G., gifts, invitations, life, lisa goettel, offerings, poetry

You and I

It has been a ride so far for me this new year, full of magic and change, frought with detours and hiccups.  Thank you Santa, Universe, Full Moon for the countless opportunities to practice acceptance and compassion.  Even when they look like a lump of coal.

me and mom

Me and Mom, on a warmer day

My year started tenderly- before the new year actually, as I arrived back in Iowa Christmas Day on the heels of my mom having major surgery. I found her home in bed, hurting and frustrated, with my dad taking up the nearly-as-crappy spot: he-who-watches-the-hurting-and-frustrated.  There were sweet and warm and normal moments, before the weather postponed my flight back to Cali for three days- on the same day I went down with fever and my mom went back to the hospital.   I spent my New Years in bed ringing in a pity party for one, kicking off my big annual existential crisis. But the weather eventually cleared just fine, in every sense, and got me home warm in my Big Sur nest soon enough.  Mom has had a rougher go, after four more trips in and out of the hospital with every imaginable complication.  The surgery was deemed a success, but it’s been hard to feel that way, since she hasn’t felt good since.

She was as low as I’ve heard her today when I talked to her.  I wanted to offer support and instead gave advice. I felt helpless so I gave advice to make myself feel better, and the advice I gave her was to quit thinking about what she should be giving for two seconds and focus on receiving the support she needs.  Irony’s always a close companion to advice.  Love you Mom.  Thank you mirror.

I have to say this giving and receiving business is tricky – the balance between both is so delicate and essential. The part of me that needs to be reminded is listening to the me that talks about this all the time when I teach.  One of my favorite things to bring awareness to in group singing is that it’s an intense practice of giving and receiving simultaneously.  You let your own voice fly while at the same time taking in a room full of sound.  I think we can only be as fulfilled in our experience and in our relationships as we have the capacity to do both of these in our lives. Giving is a full loop.  Everyone who has ever felt the bottom drop out after giving a meaningful gift to someone who didn’t appreciate it knows this. So does anyone who’s found relief writing a letter that’s never sent.  Receiving is a gift, and the biggest beneficiary of our giving is usually ourselves.

This Christmas I wanted to give presents to myself and family with a little more depth and consideration than I would with my wallet at the mall.  I was also feeling the poignancy that comes amidst challenge and suffering, that always seems to make the gifts feel more precious.   So I stayed up all Christmas night writing four poems. For my brother, sister-in-law, mom and dad, respectively.  I meditated on each of them before I wrote – felt what I perceived of their essence, and of our relationship.  Then came the business of distilling what I felt into words.  It took all night.  Writing has always been effortful for me by the way – there’s no tumbling out in some graceful array – it’s a searching and wrestling and wrangling till I feel the click.

After talking to Mom again today I’m remembering what I wrote for her, our family warrior. Of the four poems this one took the most wrangling.  How to distill the complexities of this bond between mother and daughter?  The greatest mirrors and teachers to each other, with all the love and crazy that comes with it.

You and I

With one stroke of the brush
She painted a wave of the ocean
And the page was no longer empty

The wave longed for company.
Paint me a whale!
Give me a boat or shore or sky!

And the artist said
You are enough.
We are complete.

We are the painter and the painted.

I cannot know how my maker sees this water-
I feel her brush and the space around me on the page.

I cannot know how my ocean longs-
I trust I have done enough.

We are wide angled portals
One and apart
Creator and created-

Like two stars in orbit, we are bound
and unimaginable.


Filed under life, lisa goettel, poetry, writing


Part I

it’s been some days
since I stepped into myself this way-
trusting steps
failing to trust steps
coming up here again

an addict
pure and simple

there’s no mind cure
only salves and spritzes
steps in the woods
sun-dappled baths of relief
desperate meditations
music and love
love and music
enough to come back for now.

I’m writing because I met you
in the music, in the crowd, in the woods
and it woke me up

I’m writing because when we saw each other again
when you were on your way back to your world
I meant it, when
I said I would

I’m writing because the weekend was a balm
and I want to hold a thread
through the hit of my inbox
and traffic
and guts-
I want to feel
the cold dark and hot sun
the tree mamas
the lightening
deep heart-shaking rumbles
sore muscles
knocking loose the old paint

I’m writing because I want to thank you
for remembering
for being
for contributing
to my weekend renovations

I’m writing because
sometimes I write in poems

I’m writing because I want to connect
because I remember how it tastes again
because I
I stepped out of my self
and lit up for a moment
a long moment after a long time.

My psychic girlfriend says to go slow and take bites-
to let the meal happen in its proper sequence-
that now we are looking at the menu
in the same restaurant.

Part II

there was a love note
clipped in my barrette
left on the hood of my car
by a stranger

it said
your choices will change the world.

Part III

there are birds singing outside
my borrowed east bay window
dawn songs-
at 1am.
I wonder
are they overachievers
or lost Europeans-
I hope the glow of this screen
isn’t confusing more creatures.
and I wonder if confusion is harm.

I wonder if we harmed those birds in the woods
where it was too loud to hear if they sung
at 1am
but I heard them later
through ringing ears and slower notes
and I wondered if they slept
or went on an unexpected journey too.

what I know
is they didn’t worry about us coming
and there is no cursing or celebrating now.

they fly
and sing
and live


Filed under life, lisa goettel, poetry, writing

Message in a bottle

It’s been 98 days since I remembered I had anything interesting to write here. I just checked. There was a meager sighting of sub-par poetry in there, done in the interest of humility and commitment-keeping, but my blog’s officially been getting short shrift since July. And what a shame, because phrases I’ve never in my earthly life written, like short shrift, have just been bopping around up there, waiting for their chance.

I’m not beating myself up about it, which I consider a great achievement. (Maybe next time I will remember in 92 days, or 88.) I am, however, afraid that if I don’t bottle the juice while I got it, it will flee as fast and as mysteriously as it landed, right here on my lap next to a purring cat at 4:54am. So it looks I’ll be plugging in my computer instead of crawling into bed, and I’ll suffer through the work day with an extra shot in my mocha.

The source of my sudden inspiration is hard to say, but suspects include:

  • the spontaneous Big Sur Tuesday night dance party (responsible for these wee hours), which was the most fun I’ve had in ages;
  • three shots and two glasses of wine at the aforementioned fête;
  • the idle perusing of ridiculous genius in my friends’ blogs;
  • the toying with a ridiculous idea to write another novel in November;
  • all this singing I’ve been doing;
  • or all the reading;
  • psychic healings from Laura Day and friends (see sidebar);
  • the extra 5-HTP I’ve been taking;
  • a day chock-full of gifts, in the form of super-kind words from all sorts of unexpected people.
  • Best, and most surprising of all, was the shot in the arm from my own self. I looked at my blog tonight for the first time in awhile, sighed (as I do), and suddenly had the ingenious notion that I could just start re-posting old posts, in an attempt to look prolific without having to actually form sentences. Brilliant! So I started kicking around the archives a bit, looking for a gem.

    Who knew? These fingers at my keyboard now are the same ones that typed the message in the bottle I’ve been holding out for.

    October 21st, 2008: The best laid plans

    Lately my life has been full of regrets and hurts and going-wrongs. Days and days stringing together without the solace of resolution or comfort of clarity. I’ve been tending myself pretty well, with the exception maybe of four days dedicated to eating bread, and am emerging enough from my wheat-filled fog to enjoy a little perspective. Here I can wonder, again, how each time life serves up a dollop of crap, I manage to convince myself I’ve never been here before. What to do? (Followed by close cousin: Oh why am I always this way?)

    And lo and behold, right here in my corner of the world wide web, I find a girl I can recognize, exactly one year younger than I am today. Struggling the same struggles and finding her way. Surely this is irrefutable proof of something more inspiring than I am a slow learner.

    The very dawn captured by neighbor Dave Egbert.

    Lucky day... the very dawn was captured by neighbor Dave Egbert.

    If 34-year-old Lisa could see 35-year-old Lisa today, I imagine she’d be equal parts relieved and dismayed, that exactly everything and nothing has changed. It seems to me right now that my life has been an exercise in nabbing new seats at the same film, waiting for a new ending.  I hope to remind myself, maybe when I read this post next year, to keep diligently pursuing an alternative to spending the rest of my days hapless and blinking in the theater, kicking the seats.

    It’s dawn now.  I can’t take my eyes off the ridge across the valley. My view from here is of the road I walked last October. Scrubby, black silhouettes of evergreens stand like cutouts against an unimaginable, painted sky. The pinking wisps of cloud smoke blush so deeply, then more still. As I watch it feels like my heart is nestling down in my chest. Somehow the sun’s relentless progress feels so hopeful at dawn, while at sunset it can be wistful and at noon mundane. All the while, here we are, just turning the same as ever.


    Filed under life, lisa goettel, writing

    Upside Down

    This is not me. Yet.

    This is not me. Yet.

    I’ve never done this before, but I want to dedicate this post to my dear friend Tuaca, who I love, and she knows it.

    I went to my first aerial dance class yesterday.  I swung around and climbed and went upside down on a big circus rope and hanging fabric like those super pretty people who fly around in Cirque de Soleil, doing super pretty and amazing things.  In my case the only pretty amazing thing is the fact that I can’t lift my arms today. Muscles I forgot I had are still vibrating, my neck aches and my feet and hands are pink with rope-burn.

    Still, I swung and played and giggled with pigtails and utter school-girl glee. My mind is racing to visions of thrilling and graceful theatrics, hanging 50 feet in the air from a tree on an ocean cliff.  My nightly push-up and sit-up sessions have new purpose and I’m pouting to have to wait two weeks till the next class.

    Honeymoon-phase enthusiasm is always finite, but right now I’m eleven-years-old again and remembering the lost art of infinite possibility.  I’m making room for passion to hang out in the same room with the budget and but-but-but’s and better ideas.

    I think I feel all airy and sweeping and la-la right now because this infinite possibility point is feeling like the punctuation on one big, long, magical weekend.  The whole series of events that even got me swinging upside down was a perfect snowball of synchronicities.  I was talking with girlfriends on Thursday night about my love and aspirations for aerial acrobatics, bemoaning the lack of a class within 75 miles. Next morning I pick up a hitchiker on the way in to town. We get to chatting, she mentions a new aerial dance class coming to Monterey that she’s taking starting Monday. There are one or two spots left.  It meets the next three Mondays (skipping the one Monday I’ll be out of town.) We swap emails, and the rest is history.  When I’m a very, very famous star of Cirque de Soleil, you can say you read this post back when…

    Over the weekend I was in a workshop at Esalen, offered to me free at the last-minute, about intuition and the power to create our worlds.  The instructor was a celebrity psychic who loathes being called a psychic and is fond of observing synchronicity as the inevitable validation of well-used intuition.  We gave each other readings, practiced mediumship and telepathy with little instruction beyond “go.”

    In her groups she talks a lot, regaling us with long, unapologetic diatribes of her neuroses and successes.  She declares her adoration or disdain for us at regular intervals and upholds her Esalen reputation as a famous wine and sugar pusher.  But when it comes time for us to dive in and try our hand at reading the future or healing a stranger, she channels a drill sargeant. Not speaking is not an option. Should your stream of prophetic visions and healing energy slow to a trickle or (heaven forbid) hit a roadblock, it invites a quick and public suggestion to go try out the yoga workshop.

    A few years ago, I inhabited a pretty-much permanent emotional fragility living at Esalen, busy gazing at all my deep, dark psychological woundings. This workshop and her seemingly incompassionate style would have shattered me into a thousand million little pieces then.  With a little thicker skin now, I found the gifts layered and deep (if bouyed by her pull-aside comment during a break about my incredible intuitive prowess.)

    One of the most valuable take-aways for me was to hear that after 30 years of being a well-known and extremely successful intuitive and healer, she still feels like she’s making it up.  She never feels comfortable and in control of what she’s saying or doing in a reading – just comfortable in her trust of the process.  She reminds and reminds and reminds us that we just have to GO.  The train has to leave the station. You have to jump in the river in order to be carried.  “Define your target, follow your attention and report” is her only guidance, and it’s all we needed.

    I love inhabiting the paradox that life is a river carrying us along to our destinies but we can tell the river where to go or crawl to shore when we choose.  I love feeling like I am tapping into the truth and connectedness of the universe when I’m just sharing whatever pops up in my consciousness.  I love believing that my being at the aerial dance class yesterday was a result of the perfect mix between happenstance and intention.

    I’m suddenly thinking of my grandmother, who is probably rolling over in her grave right now as her 35-year-old, unmarried grandaughter has run off to California to swing from a trapeze and study telepathy.  I hope she knows that for me this life is just another expression of love, like for her it was making us eat third or fourth helpings of dinner.  I’m following a river that my faith and spirit and intuition tells me existed before and way beyond me, but I’m choosing and creating and directing it too.  I hope she sees how alike we are in this.  (And I know she does.)


    Filed under life, lisa goettel, writing

    All Roads Lead to Rome (and Here)

    I’m enjoying, or not, depending on the moment, a stunning lack of focus lately.  I’m feeling oh so resistant to making any choice that could limit my options.  I want it all.  And I’m discovering the irony in this… that this mentality keeps me from fully picking, doing or enjoying anything, really.

    I’m reminded as I write this of a pep-talk note we got from author Janet Fitch during NaNoWriMo.  I’m going to go right now to look it up…  Here’s part of a story she shared with us about a huge writer’s block she ran into around Chapter 8 in her book White Oleander

    “I just couldn’t decide what to do next.  I’d try this, try that, but each time I’d get stuck. The character would put her toe in and pull it out again. No, not that. Should  I just bag it? Write a different book? Go to law school? Watch reruns of Hogan’s Heroes? I was absolutely blocked at the crossroads.

    Luckily I was seeing an amazing therapist at the time. I explained I was afraid that if I chose route 6, then I would be eliminating all the other possible routes. What if route 15 was better? Or 3 1/2 ? So I hedged. I couldn’t commit. I was stuck. And she gave me the piece of advice which has saved my writing life over and over again, and I will give it to you, absolutely free of charge. She said, ‘I know it feels like you have all these options and when you make a decision, you lose a world of possibilities. But the reality is, until you make a decision, you have nothing at all.'”


    That’s it exactly.  Forget writer’s block.  I’m having people’s block.  (For the record, the word I really wanted to use was LIVEr’s block, as in one who lives.)

    I see how this plays out in my day-to-day… because it does, alot. I’m a toe-dipper.  Which becomes a thin-spreader – or a spreader thinner… which leads to a bad case of overwhelm.  Or I become a masterful avoider.  Lying in bed for hours, dreamily playing out loads of reckless fantasies for my life in my head, but really I’m just lying in bed.  I’m a dreamer, avoider, procrastinator… which, by the way, also leads to a bad case of overwhelm.

    IT’S TIME, Lisa. Time to step up and step out. Take the non-habitual road.  Pick something, and DO. You know creativity thrives in limitation, so create a framework.  Follow one of those lists you love making so much.  GO. Be in the world.  (This is being said by my loudspeaker voice.  Do you have this voice? The one that comes in behind your left ear and gives you the firm and clear answer to any question?)

    Janet Finch advises fellow blocked writers to pick something that will make trouble for their character.  She writes, “Find the thing (your character) loves most and take it away from him. Find the thing he fears  and shove him shoulder deep into it. Find the person who is absolutely worst for him and have him delivered into that character’s hands. Have him make a choice which is absolutely wrong.”

    This excites me. Anyone else up for getting into a little trouble?

    Oh, and a framework.  I do love frameworks.  I found this on the blog of a friend of a friend.  Wanna play? Copy the bold and fill it in.  Ten minutes or less.

    *i am annoyed by slow drivers who won’t pull over on the highway.
    *i want it all.
    *i have six billion ideas.
    *i miss cuddling.
    *i fear I won’t be able to say no if I say yes.
    *i hear the furnace clicking, the solar batteries charging and the wind.
    *i search for some imagined “right way”.
    *i wonder what will happen if I just say, “screw it.”
    *i regret not having more skill and self-awareness in my past relationships.
    *i love big.
    *i forgive you, if you were that slow driver on the highway.
    *i ache for no-holds-barred connection.
    *i always make my bed.
    *i try to eat well and do yoga every day.
    *i seem unapproachable when I’m being shy.
    *i know this.
    *i feel like walking to the beach today.
    *i dance around my house naked.
    *i dream of being independently wealthy. But
    *i give all my money away when I have it.
    *i listen carefully to everything you’re not saying.
    *i sing all the time.
    *i laugh till I cry sometimes.  I love that.
    *i can’t believe it’s noon already.
    *i write because I have to.
    *i cry at every single therapy session. It’s annoying.
    *i sleep like a rock.
    *i am really happy about that.
    *i see the sun!
    *i need to clean the house.
    *i should forever banish the word should from my vocabulary.


    Filed under invitations, life, lisa goettel, writing

    Eye On the Big Ball

    Time is doing funny things.  I look at the calendar, at my last post, and notice it’s been exactly one month since I wrote here.  How could so many days have happened since we had that conversation? And at the same time, how could I have been that girl only 30 days ago? I am learning time is in us, and not absolute.

    I feel like I’m at my therapist’s office after a long time away and there are a huge backlog of topics for potential discussion.  Should I talk about the gleeful nesting I’ve been doing in my new house? Or how I have failed to finish my novel (yet)?  The marvelous New Years acid trip?  The old wounds of shame I’ve been licking? How I feel my capacity for joy expanding? The Lovers tarot card I pulled for 2009? Boys? Music? Money?

    I guess I go through phases of interest in processing things through writing and talking and creating.  Lately I’ve been not so interested in the processing part, and more into the experiencing.  The “but what does it all mean?” has quieted and I’ve gone into “what’s this?” mode.  In this place my attention span is about four seconds. My communication skills take an abrupt nose dive and I hop through my thoughts and days, not accomplishing much of anything, trying everything, being flaky and unreliable, riding emotional rollercoasters, catching up on my sleep, staring out the window and daydreaming.

    To all my friends and family,  I am sorry for largely boycotting the holidays as I go through this resurgence of toddler-dom. I have made promises and not kept them.  I’ve started writing notes to you and wrapping your presents and not finished.  I really did try to blog last weekend – I wrote the first paragraph of nine different posts before sighing and staring at the fire instead.  It’s like trying to fight the weather.

    My friend Tuaca once said I’m like a dolphin.  I leap from the water then go down, deep, away.  It’s what Lisa’s do.  Please know that I have been receiving your holiday gifts and letters, reading your blogs and facebook updates, thinking of you, appreciating and loving you all wordlessly.

    With an actual, normal work week here on the horizon I’m reluctantly coaxing the words and adultness back. I’m grateful for my Taurusness.  I harness this part of me who loves loves loves to set intentions, categorize things and make lists.  The big landmine to watch for here is the ambitiousness.  The part that wants to do EVERYTHING and do it PERFECTLY and thinks everything takes about 25% as long as it actually does. The ambitiousness itself is not a problem actually, it’s the judgement and standards and compulsion and fear of disappointing or of not being enough that ickifies everything. (Ickifies, by the way, is now my new favorite word I just made up.)

    I’m keeping my eye on the big ball tonight as I make my little lists.  Life is too short for jobs and budgets and phone calls to be a source of misery. I am clear in my vision.  I have the Big List. I have all the tools I need to ride the ride.  (Hero, I’m smiling, remembering you saying “We are easily seduced, but our intentions are powerful.”)

    I want to go slower this year.  I want the middle way – between these extremes of doing everything and doing nothing. I want to practice, to move toward mastery in relationship with everyone – real, sincere, in-time connecting – and to choose to spend my time with people who want that too.  I want to experience and express sincerely and simply and proudly without performing.  I want to go after what I want and banish old fears with absolution.  I want to open my body and mind and spirit as a channel to life and let it live and dance and sing me.  I want to treat myself and everyone with highest respect and recognition of our majesty.  I want to let go, let go, let go of everything in the way.  I want to know how much joy I can handle.

    Do you want these things too?

    I vote we do it together. There are big distractions and egos and wounds out there and we need each other. We are powerful, and even more deliciously, magnificently so when we’re together.  And if the Mayan calendar is right we only have three years.  We had better get cracking.

    If you’re in, and this is an experiement, I’ll post occasional assignments here for us. I will do them too. I hope you’ll play.

    Assignment #1: Share your magnificence.

    Right now, post something in the comments section (click on the “comments” link below) that displays your wonderfulness for the whole world to see.  Something you are proud of.  Something that is of you and and beyond you.  There is no room for modesty or apology here. Or for not-good-enough.  Or for waiting to finish the thing that isn’t finished.  Share something you have now.  A poem, a picture, a YouTube link, a recounting of the impossible accomplishment, a link to your very most favorite blog post… anything that when you did it made you go “wow – look at how big I am.”  This is a magnificence show and tell.  A chance for all of us to be equally fantastic – to ooh and ahh at all our gifts and recognize our own selves in them.

    Whatcha got?


    Filed under invitations, life, lisa goettel, writing