Belonging Boundaries Confidence Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Intimacy Love Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion The Drama Triangle

Where Do You Belong?

Right where you are. Don’t feel it yet? Drop deeper out of your head and into your feet. What do you smell? That’s in you now, just by smelling it. Every spore in your every pore. You belong to it. We belong to each other.

I’m often struck by how often people feel like they don’t belong and how this story that people tell themselves really cuts them a lot of nasty slack around how they treat themselves and others.

To feel like I don’t belong means turning away from life and then blaming life itself, the world, my parents, the tree that covered my car in pollen again and, how about Russia too–for how terrible I feel. This becomes most poisonous when that separateness becomes specialness. If you saw what I saw…If you went through what I went through…You have no idea…

We spend so much of our lives protecting, rather than metabolizing, our wounds. We build identity like walls around the holes inside us so we don’t fall in. The fortress of victimhood is not a safe place, it just has thick walls. It’s good to build some doors in there. It sucks to have to scale those walls every time we need food. Fortunately, no matter the builder, the fortress of victimhood is not a closed system.

As long as I’m alive, I belong.

I’m embodied in the dynamic stability of where I am right now, whether I like it or not.

I’m impacted and impacting.

The less responsibility I take for this relationship to all my relations, the more I suffer. The more I suffer, the more I want to put it out of me and throw it at someone “out there”. This means I’m only living from a portion of myself, the rest I am deliberately throwing away, hoping someone will love the parts of me that I can’t. Without those parts I lose structural integrity. This brings not connection, but collapse.

Eventually, people grew weary of being pelted with my orphaned shards. I lost so many people in my life behaving this way (and with such self-righteousness!). Did rough things happen? They sure did. Did I believe that was all that could happen? I sure did. I made sure that what happened aligned with my story of what could happen. Until I didn’t.

Individual relationships can be fragile, but the field of belonging is robust. When I refuse my own integrity, when I keep slinging orphaned shards, I have trouble with boundaries, with nervous system regulation, with intimacy. I am out of my own skin and from that dislocated place I have limited access to my life force. It leaks out all over the place, making a mess. I squander the resources given me to do what I’m here to do. I become paralyzed in my expression, holding back, playing small, living scarce. I am robbing the whole ecosystem of the part I am here to play in it. I am lost to myself and the world is absent me. The ripples of those losses add up quick.

Every noticed breath regains.

Just to breathe is to be in relationship. It’s easy to see that the ground is teeming with life, but so is the air. We have such trouble not believing what we won’t see. We create such trouble not believing what we won’t see. We have an impact with the generosity and consumption of our every breath. One less spore hits the ground, one more whiff of carbon dioxide for that maple leaf. We belong to the whole system and remain specific af.

Our specificity is discovered in relationship. We learn who we are and what is ours to do. Through all our relations we learn how we are the same and how we are different. By metabolizing this friction and allowing it to shape us, we fit perfectly. We begin to see our assignment clearly. Our place in the garden. I learn what kind of flower I am and bloom like that. I don’t need a purpose or goals any more than a peony does. I am just this human. A peony is just a peony. I do what is mine to do as only I can. I nap when needed. I am not lazy. I am at ease. Big difference.

I hope it’s clear how simple this is, and how essential it is to first come out from behind the fortress walls and build a healthy compost pile with every rotting thing so that vital nourishment may be restored. Blame goes into the compost. Resentment goes into the compost. Boundaries emerge easy as heat does out of all that deep and mundane alchemy. The difference between what is dead and what is alive becomes clear. What is dead serves new life. Happy Easter.

Exiting the fortress on your own two miraculous feet is always an option. If you would like support in doing this, DM me. There is a half-day Boundaries and Belonging session next Saturday and new F*ck Suffering Group starting next Tuesday. They’re not free but you can be.

Attachment Belonging Blame Boundaries Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness


Setting and holding boundaries is the most essential form of self-care.

“No, thank you,” and “I’m not available for that,” Are great boundary-setting phrases for low stakes, baby step scenarios. Practice saying them out loud until they fall out of your mouth effortlessly. Now sing them. Doesn’t that feel good? Do it again, so everyone can hear you.

Boundaries are not for controlling anyone else’s behavior. Boundaries are for letting someone else know the parameters of your skin and that they will not be allowed to get under it. Boundaries aren’t walls, they’re a statement of skin. You don’t confuse skin and walls irl, do you? Only one of them is rather nice to bang your head against.

We are all interdependent and reliant on connection. People pleasing and other forms of seeking external validation are not connection, though that mistake is common as greed.

Boundaries beget belonging.

Does that sound counterintuitive?  

They enable us to approach all manner of situations with fearless intimacy, because we trust ourselves. Your ability to set boundaries is your ability to have your own back. To not abandon yourself. You’re not waiting to be rescued. You understand that safety’s overrated anyway. You are willing to be fully alive.

Once you consent to that risky business you realize that you’ve been part of the whole wide world all along. You open to the breeze on your skin. You taste the mushroom. You make like a blade of grass, inseparable.

Boundaries are your emotional immune system. They protect you from foreign bodies that would invade your system, deplete vitality, and make you ill.

Boundaries are your interface with the world, not your interference with it. Fence your field well, keep the fucking litterbugs out, and lovelier people will appear at the gate. That sounds magical because it is.

Boundaries aren’t just given by us, they also need to be received by us. Part of boundary mastery is taking in and respecting someone else’s “no”. This can be especially tricky for people who like to rescue—they are sure they know better. Saying no can feel threatening, bringing up all manner of fears around confrontation.

What if they don’t like you anymore?

What if they think you’re a terrible selfish asshole?

If you need someone to tell you you’re a good person, they’ll manipulate you for as long as you let them.

Be prepared for loss. The upside is that it won’t be a loss of self. There is no greater pain over time than the pain of self-abandonment. However, when you start setting and holding boundaries, you will probably lose people. You will see who was only interested in your yes. It can still be hard to lose them. There will be grief that will have to be met with a soft front and a strong back. Let grief do it’s dissolutions until there is nothing left of you but human being.

Some people will just need to step back and squint so they can see you fresh, get a good look at where you’re standing now. Some people will walk away and find themselves a new supply of validation. Some people will keep violating until they feel consequences. Some people will be so happy for you, that they will relish your ‘no’ as they have been loving you and waiting for you to stand up straight for years now.

If you’re offering love where it can’t or won’t be received, keep taking steps backwards until you are where love can be received. You might find yourself in a stand of birches. Just be there.

Boundaries have no force in them at all and they hold a lot of power. If you go to set a boundary with someone and you feel resentment, pity, anger, contempt, or even glee or any other high energy state, you’re not in a place to set a boundary. Boundaries are best communicated from a grounded place of clarity and connection. De-escalate your charged state through the body using a much longer exhale than inhale for as long as needed so you can state your boundary cleanly while staying calm and connected.

You know what’s hard? Holding boundaries with your own preferential thoughts and habits. It takes a lot of skill to set and hold boundaries between your Big Essential Self and your little egoic self and be responsible for enforcing and accepting those consequences.

How do you notice a boundary violation (usually a preference—“BUT I WANNA!”) from your little egoic self against the truth of your Big Essential Sefl?

The body discerns the difference.

Always go back to the body.

A habitual trauma response will pass and shift as you welcome and stay present with it. After all, it’s not happening now. It’s an energetic relic.

A summoning by your life force will persist.

If you have a tendency to self-abandon, there might be flushes of anger as you start to set boundaries. You will begin to see how much of your life you have squandered trying to be “good” and appease people so they will tell you you are “good”.

If you have a tendency to self-abandon, find where you like it. Be brutally honest with yourself about the charge you get. Do you get a thrill in being relieved of responsibility for yourself?

Is it a bit of a self-annihilating kink for you?

Does being held down in your own shadow feel like release?

Are you more habituated to this thrill than holding a boundary?

This work is not all love and light. That’s a pretty good baseline, but first we have jungle to excavate. There’s untold treasure there. The treasure you were born with.

Belonging Blame Boundaries Confidence Embodiment Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Metabolizing Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

Eat the Blame

I was talking about eating the blame recently and somebody said it’s a disempowering suggestion, and as someone who’s been in abusive relationships amid assorted other traumas, I should know better. That it’s self-gaslighting and victim-blaming and harmful.


Eating the blame is an act of trust, courage, and self-compassion.

The disempowered position is pushing the blame around on your plate like a picky toddler. There’s nothing more powerful than having a metabolism strong enough to devour blame, to trust your system to absorb what nourishes and shit out the rest. No matter what it looks like on the plate.

“It’s my fault. Give it to me. I’ll eat it.”

(You get clear on what you’re confronting if they don’t want to give you the plate. Eat it anyway.)

Eating the blame tastes like potato chips and freedom. Certain bites are burnt and bitter, but once you get just one good taste it’s really hard to not eat the whole bag. Go ahead, it’s good for you!

Once it’s in my mouth, my body, It’s up to me to take it all the way in without resistance so it can become medicine, nourishment. Even if it’s not my preferred flavor. Even if it initially makes me nauseous.

Blame is poison, so eating the blame may cause you to shit your brains out. It may cause you to throw up. It could cause you to die. All the better for your rebirth.

When you freely eat the blame, you might find people who would like to blame you for eating the blame.

“Wait! What did you do? I was saving that for later! You weren’t supposed to eat that! I wasn’t finished with the presentation! I had five other ideas on how to garnish it! Now I have nothing to give you!”

Eat that amuse bouche too.

“Oh shit! I’m sorry I ate your blame. It sounds like you’re already cooking up more! I have to go now, but if you would like me to come over later, I would be happy to eat more of your scrumptious blame. You really took time with it! Is it fermented? It has a fermented tang to it. Good for the guts! Thank you for this delicious meal!”

What is the blame garnisher to do? I mean, you keep eating it before they’ve garnished it better! You’re a terrible guest! Burp vigorously and take your leave. That was some hearty blame!

Are you worried that you’re allergic to eating the blame? Like peanuts or shellfish? Great. Pull up an Epipen and let’s see if that’s true. Let your pulse drop and your skin tingle. Feel the unbearable itch. Have you almost gone into shock? Is your throat closing like a hungry ghost? Breathe. Move through this reaction and let it teach you that nothing is unbearable, even ego death.

“Unbearable” is the sensation of something new displacing the old. Unbearable is your clench on the old. Eating the crusty old blame is very bearable when you unclench your jaw and chew well and let it slide down your gullet. Feel it being broken down by your metabolism. Listen to your symphonic digestion. Devour and be devoured, fearlessly.

If you are sure that it is not your fault and the blame is not yours to eat–that you could take some responsibility, but not eat the blame, consider this:  Are you still coming from a frame where gaslighting and victim-blaming are possible? Does your ego think of them as comfort food? Would you rather eat them than the blame? Then you’re still spinning around on the drama carousel, offering people a ticket to your ride when you could be offering them nourishment. This ride might be thrilling. It might feel safe in its familiarity, but it’s a toxic squandering of your life force. You can’t be gaslit if you trust yourself. You can’t use victimhood as both sword and shield unless you hold the false view of a world separated out into victim hierarchies.

If you eat the blame while riding the drama carousel, it’s guaranteed to make you throw up. Good. Eat it anyway. All that mess is a good signal for someone stop the ride, probably you.

Go ahead and lose your lunch. Go ahead and lose your identity. Go ahead and lose your mind. You thought that was you? No problem. Give it time. You won’t miss it. You don’t know who you are anymore? Does reality seem askew? Are you shuddering when it’s warm? Are you not sure what’s real? Perfect.

Is the blame not sitting well in your tummy? Did it numb you out? Feel like you’re dead inside? Great. Honor your dead and dying, within and without. Give them the ceremony they so deeply deserve. Purge. Grief is your mother. Rage is your father. Mother Being, Father Doing. All life emerges from their interpenetration. They merge and you emerge, pushed out between the world’s wet thighs. You are their offspring.

Now you’re being reborn, emerging from the womb of all that is, all the time. You’re well-fed and ready for some joyful adulting. This is the medicine of eating the blame.

Mother, father, trauma, anxiety, depression, rage, resentment, history, job, genes, fears, stories, joys, lust, pleasure, sloth, envy, gluttony, greed. They’re the ingredients of your life, transformed in the cauldron of your belly. So who are you now? In this moment? What is yours to do today? What’s for dinner? You know this. Do you want to? What do you do to not know this?

How hard to you have to wrench your neck to turn away from what’s inside you?

How does your tuning away ripple out?

Do you understand how powerful it is to have an emotional metabolism that can eat the blame anytime, anywhere, from anyone? Do you realize how powerful it is to get on your knees and open your mouth for the sacrament of one body?  I grew up doing this in the Catholic church, but only now do I embody it. Only now do I understand the transformed body of Christ I fed on as a child is every bite of food I take, including blame.

The soil, the body, the spirit. Specific, but not separate. Many hands, many eyes; one body, no mind. Get on your knees and eat the blame like the sacrament it is.

When you freely eat the blame:

  1.  You acknowledge your role as co-creator of your experience.
  2. You acknowledge that you have everything you need.
  3. You acknowledge that you are shaping this moment, right now and that your metabolism requires no external safety. Your metabolism IS your safety.
  4. You meet suffering like a lover.
  5. You acknowledge your capacity to devour and be devoured.
  6. You acknowledge that you are already always fed.
  7. You are not a hungry ghost.
  8. You are a human being.
  9. You are free.
  10. You embody the full flavorful range of compassion. The bitter and the sweet. The unctuous and the astringent.
  11. You become capable of wholehearted service.

Bon appétit!

Belonging Confidence Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Love Metabolizing Self-Compassion The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness


Economics is the study of how people behave in scarcity.

The imposition of scarcity is the bedrock of our current paradigm.

You have to be zealous for it.

I have to let it all the way in.

We all have get together to embody the gutting fear of that vacancy.

Not enough, never enough, still not enough.

Ooh, just enough!

Now I want more!

That body?

Not enough.

No wait—too much.

Which is also not enough.

Are you anxious yet?

We have a lot of help with this, from cradle to grave.

It’s the only way to semi-rationally frame the idea of limitless growth—inoculate against completeness.

Sever people from the truth of their completeness early and often.

Disembody desire.

Disembodied desire is easy to manipulate.

Disembodied desire is a commodity, like attention.

A human resource.

THE human resource.

Point desire OUT THERE, at the carrot.

There is no carrot.

Want it anyway. 

If we don’t consent to scarcity, the reality of scarcity shifts.

It’s mind-made and can be mind un-made.

No matter the institutional pollution.

Shouting at it only affirms its existence.

I learned this intimately in abusive relationships. I only affirmed what I tried to “help.” What we wrestle with, we fortify. I came to define myself by an external force, fueled by my diminishment. As I became a husk, I felt there was nowhere to lean but on that which devoured me.

Things got pretty bad before I asked myself, “Is that so?”

I asked myself this question again and again until I found my skin. Only then was I able to hold boundaries and save my life.

Shifting socioeconomic and cultural realities are like that. As within, so without. The shift is intimate and terrifying and there’s no telling who we’ll be on the other side. Where will we live? What will we do? Who will love us? Are we just too broken?

Is that so?

Taking America personally might be our only option.

Not in the dumb-ass reactive way we’re mostly doing now, but intimately, tenderly, and with well-boundaried confidence. 

Not confidence in any particular idea or aspect of self, but in our capacity to be at ease in uncertainty. There is so much power in that.

And no force.

We are at a very large and very intimate surprise party and it behooves us to be grateful to its organizers, as they are also us.

Good idea to stay sober at this one.

Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

WTF, Snowflake?

I woke up thinking about snow.

And how a snowflake is only a snowflake from the time it forms in the womb of a cloud until it reaches the ground. Then it loses the flake bit, and joins the vaster field of just snow. 

That trip from sky to ground is short.

But then, of course, the sun comes out and the snow becomes water again. 

Evaporation happens and water goes back home to sky. Becomes rain, becomes food, becomes drink, becomes rivers and oceans and trees.

Water is always becoming: eternal, intimate, pure and quite possibly joyful if it doesn’t resist all that becoming.

Our bodies are over 70% water. So much of us floats. So much of us has been a snowflake, whether it’s one we’ve directly put our tongue out to, like a sacrament, or one that came to us later in a can of seltzer, or a shower, or the tear on our shoulder from that person we hugged. Remember hugs? I liked them a lot.

All the water on Earth has always been here. 

I find this reassuring. 

Is that the sweat of Mother Mary in my tea? 

Genghis Khan’s urine I’m washing my dishes with? 

Water is inherently intimate. 

I like feeling its history in my cup. 

The bodies it has made. 

The sprawl of time in a cup of tea.

I think it’s funny that snowflake has become such a handy dismissal these days. As if it’s useful to shame and blame a person for embodying a set of positions in this moment that are naturally emerging from the conditions of this moment. I mean, we’re all creating this. We’re all just doing our part, being our particular snowflake in the storm. 

We’re all a bunch of snowflakes, timeless and temporary; exactly who we are, exactly now. Glittering masters of the slow descent.

Imagine the snowflake who’s like, “I want to be a raindrop! I was told by the river that I would be a raindrop. You are a terrible cloud, turning me, a precious raindrop, into a snowflake.” 

There’s nothing further from freedom than a snowflake caught in victim consciousness.

As I see it, the sky has 2 possible replies here:

1. GTFO my cloud.

2. Be patient. You will be a raindrop eventually. Just not right now. The kind of raindrop you become has a whole lot to do with what kind of snowflake you are willing to be right now. Right. Now. Enjoy the fall, snowflake. You had it coming all along. Take it all in. Sparkle. Never forget you’re actually water. The snowflake gig is temporary, but water is forever. Now GTFO my cloud.

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago, before I went into retreat for a week (If you want to know what you’re like, sit still and silent for a week. It’s very straightforward, really). The post was about all the things that have been challenging in previous retreats and how this time they were all welcome. I went in with no intention this time, just welcoming everything. So nothing came.

Except Mary Poppins.

Which was weird, but persistent. She just kind of dropped into the big old fizzy field like she does in the movie and everything about my practice to this point made sense.** 

It turns out that PL Travers, who wrote the books, was the 2nd Western woman to study Zen in Kyoto. And the 1st Mary Poppins book tracks pretty closely the stages of the bodhisattva from the Avatamsaka Sutra. Who knew? Not me. 

Welcoming opens up that deep, connected desire, every time. It lets the unfolding make sense, even when it’s not the sense you’d like it to make. You really have to stay spacious to feel the difference between desire and and a pesky preference. Preferences will tear up your ducting like a bunch of rats.

If I were the kind of practitioner who shooed thoughts like flies, I wouldn’t have been able to receive that visit from Mary Poppins that clarified so much. 

I know from my own practice that a sip of ordinary joy in my belly allows me to welcome whatever winter brings. 

It lets me notice with love the birth and death of snowflakes as they fall from sky to ground, even the ones that would rather be raindrops.

Arrogance Belonging Blame Boundaries Embodiment Emotional Sobriety Freedom Intimacy Love Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

The Day I Got Sober

The day I got sober, the only thing I was capable of being honest about was that I wanted to live. Or at least I felt certain that I no longer wanted to die.

So much of me had died already. Repeatedly.
I didn’t know who would emerge from all that empty space.
I had no trust yet.
I needed a midwife.
Maybe a squad.

I didn’t know then that emergence is constant and surrender is joy.

I just knew I wanted another shot at being human. It wasn’t cheap. It cost grief. I had a seemingly endless supply of this resource.

A couple of weeks before I got sober, I’d been dumped on Valentine’s Day by the first man I opened myself to after being raped. He was a marine biologist who studied whale songs and everything about him felt vast. When he broke up with me he said, “You take me to a different place. I can’t live there.”

Honest. More honest than I was. That place was fueled by alcohol.

I, too, was in a place I’d never been before, literally and figuratively. I’d landed in Maine because it was the end of America. There was nowhere left to run.

Maine felt like a mother. I recognized her immediately. She felt like a place I’d dreamed of as a little girl. The birch forests, the sea, the soft, ancient mountains. I felt held and primordially welcomed.

My last drunk night, I was out dancing like someone who actually needed an exorcism. The bartender cut me off.

I’d never been pulled over after drinking before. I still had out of state plates on my car and I imagine the cops thought, “What poor deluded soul visits Maine in March?” and took pity on me. The cop testing me said, “I don’t think you’re impaired, but I think you’re on the edge. Go right home.” He was wrong and right. I didn’t know how to do the last bit, but went back to the lakeside cottage I’d rented.

I got help the next morning. I took my seat with last night’s stamp still on my shaking hand.

I was willing. I was willing. I was willing.

I was willing to fully surrender to whatever arrived.

I was willing to be witnessed. I was willing to be responsible for everything I’d ever done, everything I’d ever been, everything I was becoming.

A $12/hr gardening job? Yes. Changed my life. It literally brought me to my knees. I was stubborn enough to require this. I spent 40 hrs a week on all fours on the ground and had barely enough to pay rent. I worked at the estates of extraordinarily wealthy people. I spent my days crawling around in the chasm between rich and poor. It really robbed me of my capacity to dismiss anyone. Which was kind of a bummer. I wasn’t able to participate in all the invigorating toxic dehumanization available on social media these past few years. I’ve always loved a good fight. You can take the girl out of Philly, but…

When I was sober a year, someone said to me, “Every time I saw you you were either bawling your eyes out or pissed off at the world.” This was true. When I talk now about eradicating victim consciousness, I’m speaking from experience. I’m speaking from the other side.

I see victim consciousness as one of the most destructive frames in ourselves and in the world. It brings on a catastrophic abdication of responsibility and slops blame around in ways that obscure the path forward. Victim consciousness can only be eradicated by compassion. Having trauma tenderly witnessed by a compassionate person guided me to self-compassion. Once I could feel that within myself, I was able to grow it.

Did I have one last abusive relationship in me? You bet. That thing people say about not dating in your first year of sobriety? That shit is real. I did it anyway. Found somebody I could ‘help’ so I could feel better about myself. The more I healed, the more he resented me. The more he resented me, the more violent his rage became. I stayed. If only I softened more, maybe he would stop throwing things at me. I wouldn’t have to change anything and I could somehow still believe I was being “helpful” and “kind” and “good”. It’s the rescuer position at its most toxic. An easy swing to victim. And the drama never ends.

As I got deeper into sobriety and took responsibility for my role in the dynamic, firm boundaries were established and held, and nobody hated each other anymore. We obviously didn’t stay together, but there was forgiveness all around.

There is no victim-blaming in eradicating victim consciousness. There is the cultivation of self-compassion. Hand-digging a well of self-compassion so deep and clear and self-replenishing that anyone can come and drink from it. Even “enemies.”

Water is patient.

If you feel I’m victim-blaming, consider if there’s not something else rumbling under the calcified story you tell yourself about yourself. Your own thundering life force, maybe. Crack open a slot through which you can receive the invitation to grow up.

Freedom comes from an embodied, wholehearted, devoted, felt sense of responsibility to clarify and amplify the particular note I have been given to sing in this magnificent choir.

I am not special.
And my presence is required.

Emotional sobriety lands me in the juicy middle of these poles.
Not knowing.
Bearing witness.

What is unfolding right now?
Right now.
This breath.

The dancer is danced.
The singer is sung.
The bee just keeps tumbling in roses.
Somehow, there are hexagons and honey.