From the category archives:

The Journey

My good friend Kelly Morgan Merly of Bucket List Retreats recently paid me a huge compliment by featuring me as a guest on her Travel Talk YouTube show. At Kelly’s suggestion and true to my adventurous spirit, I made the short journey to one of my favorite places – the beach – to discuss my favorite topics: spirituality, travel, exploration and how they all connect.

(I’m a little squint-y from the sun, but hey, no journey is perfect!)

We take many journeys in life: some internal, some external. I’ve found  more often than not, where we go and what we do in the outer world is a reflection of what is evolving inside us. An outer journey in the form of travel, exploration, or a retreat can ignite an inner journey (whether we want it to or not). At the very least, it enhances and accelerates any interior journey which may already in progress.

Perhaps you have experienced the same? I certainly have, which is a big reason I keep traveling. But you be the judge. Watch the video and share your take on the subject in comments below.


My $100 for Charity Water

The Newmark Theater was packed for the closing session of the second annual World Domination Summit early July in Portland, Oregon. As I glanced around me it was clear every one of the exactly one thousand seats was filled. After final speaker J.D. Roth presented, Chris Guillebeau took the stage to deliver the official send-off.

I tuned-out for a bit as he recapped the brief history of the World Domination Summit (WDS), newly minted but a year prior, and much unlike its name having more to do with conscious evolution, world peace, individual courage and “love domination” than what most people tend to associate with the words “world domination”. Guillebeau, a writer, blogger, entrepreneur and traveler extraordinaire, had created the event to unite nonconformists like him passionate about living a remarkable life in a conventional world.

He wildly succeeded, doubling the event in size from 500 to 1,000 people between its inaugural run in 2011 and its second time out in 2012. While he continued recapping the opportunities that had arisen and the many additional decisions that needed to be made in planning the second WDS, at which I sat, he began to tell the story of an anonymous donor. Despite being approached by numerous corporations, organizations and individuals alike, Chris and his team had made a firm decision that WDS would be entirely sponsor-free: no big brands, no speaker pitches, no logo fests; you get the idea. Despite knowing that, an individual wishing to remain anonymous had approached Chris and insisted on giving him $100,000 to use toward WDS 2012 in the way Chris deemed best with no expectations in return.

By then I was fully tuned back in, paying sharp attention to Chris’ story and beginning to notice murmurs throughout the audience, like the woman next to me gasping, then choking up in tears, muttering “Oh my god” under her breath in [click to continue…]

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It was barely a month ago that I was on my way to the second annual World Domination Summit (WDS). Since then, my life has been a continuous whirlwind of a ride into one new realm after the next.

Actually this period of acceleration, exploration and rising intensity started more than a month ago. In the last six weeks I have journeyed through legions of virgin territory both literally and figuratively.


It began as my parents, siblings, in-laws and I successfully navigated our first adult whole-family vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina – virgin territory for all of us despite several who boast passports filled to overflowing. Family Vacation Photo Cape Hatteras Beach, Outer Banks, North CarolinaSince then I’ve windsurfed, bodysurfed, stand-up-paddle-boarded and built bonfires on the beach. I reconnected with seldom-seen cousins, nieces and nephews at all ages and life stages (even valiantly – and successfully – defeating breast cancer. Go Liz!).

One trip followed another as I jetted to Portland, Oregon for my inaugural WDS. The City of Roses in July was an unexpected gem and welcome change from my usual tropical paradise. The event itself (more on that in next week’s post – I’m still synthesizing this transformational experience) was filled to capacity with awe-inspiring unconventional people, heart-opening motivational speakers, and endless opportunities to make new friends and meet kindred spirits. Enjoying Voodoo Doughnuts mobile food cart at WDS 2012I ate Voodoo doughnuts, ordered street-cart tacos (yum), drank craft beer, and savored the weekend farmers’ market. I walked the waterfront, rode the trams, and basically reveled in the amazing outdoor scene of the Pacific Northwest. (and hell yeah I’ll be back for WDS 2013).

After a one week stop home to welcome my daughter’s two teenage cousins from Mexico it was off to [click to continue…]


Virgin Territory in Portland, Oregon's Mt. Hood
Creative Commons License photo credit: JessyeAnne

I’m headed to Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (WDS) tomorrow, and honestly, I’m not sure what to expect. I’m going alone, and although I tangentially know some of the people who will be there, it’s starting out at least as a solo journey. Yet the mix of trepidation, anticipation and mystery I sense feels all too familiar to me as a seasoned traveler. It’s the same presentiment that always arises before a move into virgin territory.

That’s the thing about virgin territory – there’s an open-endedness, a blank slate quality, even an obscurity to it that disables you from seeing beyond but is exhilarating and provocative all the same, irresistibly luring you forward.

(By way of background, I’m attending the event this year because I considered Chris’ inaugural WDS last year, couldn’t make up my mind, and in the end missed my chance when it sold out. Regretting my decision, I knew I’d not repeat that mistake in 2012.)

Two nagging questions always arise before exploring virgin territory, and this time is no exception: 1) Will I be back? and 2) How will I be back?

That’s an oversimplified way of expressing my mind’s natural fear and curiosity over several things: [click to continue…]


A new path...
Creative Commons License photo credit: manymeez

We’ve all heard the clichés – life is fleeting. Time flies. As I write this the year is already a third over and it feels like it just started. Some years are like that, and 2012 is one.

That doesn’t do you a lot of good if you don’t have a guidance system for navigating life when it’s moving at warp speed (and I realize to many of you, it’s only moving at warp speed!). You can plan and goal-set and task-list all day long but you know what they say about the best-laid plans, right? Yeah, they change. Or you change. Or the universe takes matters into its own hands and course-corrects you, like it or not.

Which is why I’ve been pondering this post from Vicky White for a while. Given a forced choice between the two, I think I’d rather have a compass on my journey than a detailed, specific set of directions.

I didn’t come to that decision lightly. I’ve often wished for a higher power to “come down” and literally tell me [click to continue…]


Amsterdam Canal on New Year's Eve
Creative Commons License photo credit: LenDog64

As you know if you’ve traveled yourself or read my other outer journey adventures every new journey reveals a special gift otherwise unavailable to you.

This trip is delivering early. That’s the thing about travel. You never know when the gifts will appear. They so often show up in the quiet spaces between big planned events, and of course when you least expect them.

I’m writing this on January 1 at 35,000 feet on a flight from Amsterdam to Istanbul on my latest outer journey accompanied by husband and daughter.

Amsterdam was meant to be [click to continue…]

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Creative Commons License photo credit: wrestlingentropy

This year for me, the holidays were quieter, simpler and less hectic than usual. Maybe it was the lack of travel (a rarity), absence of family visitors, or simply the days of the week on which actual holidays fell, but whatever the reasons I savored the calm spaciousness. As a result I’m relishing this time to thoughtfully reflect on the past year and sincerely contemplate my intentions, visions, and goals for 2012.

This is, to me, a big part of living consciously. Being in the moment and responding to what is, yes – that’s always called for – but conscious living also means having a clear intention and vision for the path ahead.

That’s even more necessary and powerful than it’s ever been before. Considering the shifting times we’re living through, the fact that we can consciously evolve – that we can choose how we want to progress both individually and collectively and remain conscious of it as it’s occurring – is a powerful opportunity not to be squandered or ignored.

For those living a life of utter (religious, service or familial) devotion, complete surrender is the path.  They are content to journey where they are needed most.  For the rest of us with more hybrid lives and their attendant wants, needs, dreams and passions, our journey boils down to two choices: a) consciously create a path or [click to continue…]


Feeling aliveCreative Commons License photo credit: Kazz.0

Much is being made of today’s date, 11-11-11. Elevens are not new to me, since for the past four to five years I’ve been seeing them all over the place – on digital clocks, parking spaces, hotel rooms I’m randomly assigned, phone numbers – you name it.  I normally wake up at least once each night and it’s almost always at 2:11 or 3:11 or 1:22 or – you get the idea. I see 11’s when I glance at the digital clock on my iPhone, in my car, or on my alarm clock far more often as a percentage of the total times I look at the clock per hour than is normal, considering there are sixty numerals that could appear.

You can read more about the 11 phenomenon here, but for now suffice it to say today is as good a day as any, and probably a better day than most, for this post.

My last post expressed an unexpected but potent ethereal longing for a return to source – the place both beyond and from which our known world emanates.  Today I’m inspired to express a longing quite the opposite, and hopefully, to inspire it in you.

There are times we all want to escape the day-to-day reality of our three dimensional experience, but most of these times are not a soul’s longing for source.  Most of our escape fantasies are the result of a disconnect from the here and now rather than a deep connect with spirit. Most desires to opt-out occur because at the moment we have them, we’re not really living. We’re just going through the motions, killing time before we die.  Many are, in fact, already dead and just don’t know it.

So before you really do die, I want you to really live.

Ask Yourself: When Do I Feel Most Alive?

“Really living” is a relative term, of course, meaning different things to different people. For the cyber-junkie spending 12 hours a day in front of a screen, “really living” might mean having a social face-to-face interaction with a live human being that does not involve technology. To the workaholic, it could mean an afternoon spent playing with the kids. To the busy mom, continually fulfilling her family’s needs often at the expense of her own, it might mean a spa day or a night out with friends.

But what if “really living” were as easy and uncomplicated as deciding, every day, to actually DO the simple things that bring you joy – like taking a walk on the beach or spending an hour reading at your favorite coffee shop – that we all excuse away because there are constant, seemingly greater demands staring us in the face? And to not do these things as a means of procrastination (that’s easy enough) but to consciously include them in our lives as a way to remain connected to our happiness? How often do you dream about those little nurturing moments and never get around to them?

(If you’re struggling with that, my new Seven Simple Steps Into Happiness guidebook can help. It’s free. Download it at right)

In my own case, I’ve learned to stop [click to continue…]


The Longing for HomeThere are times when even the most seasoned of travelers can become deeply homesick.

Today is one of those days for me.

It doesn’t happen often – I don’t trend toward nostalgia and homesickness – but they have caught me off guard every now and then when I’m on one of my numerous outer journeys.

Today was different.

Today, a distinct and wholly unexpected longing for home came up.  Since I am not enjoying an “outer journey” at the moment (I’m at home) it took me by surprise.

Really, it was all Captain Picard’s fault.  Yes I mean Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise, he of Star Trek: the Next Generation fame.  Since discovering this series in re-runs on BBC America’s cable channel this summer, I’ve [click to continue…]

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Camelback Mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale

My tales from the outer journey continue.  If you didn’t catch the first one, check it out here.

I thought after meeting Daniel in the foothills of the Chilean Andes it might be a while before I ran across another wise old man on a mountain.  Little did I know I’d meet Sam barely a month later.

Early in August I made a trip to Phoenix to see my new baby nephew who is, without question, way cuter than the average newborn.  Coming from south Florida, I knew it would be hot in Arizona, but I am at least somewhat used to (and gravitate toward) heat.  I figured there’s a good chance that ninety-five and humid in Florida is equivalent to 110 degrees in Arizona.  And if you read my first post on the outer journey, you’ll know I can’t go anywhere without trying to squeeze in some outdoor native terrain time.  Thus, my rationale for deciding to summit Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, the hottest month of the year in that desert city.

Camelback, Hiking, and the Arizona Desert

For those unfamiliar with Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is unique in that it literally sits smack in the middle of the entire city, not just Phoenix proper but the whole metro area.  So, it’s an ultra-convenient outdoor escape into the native Arizona environment for urban residents.  Easy to get to, challenging for a beginner, fast yet fulfilling for a pro, Camelback boasts an elevation gain of 1,200 feet from its base and two different one-and-one-half mile trails to its 2,704 ft. summit.  People hike to the summit every day.

I’ve done it before myself on several occasions, although always [click to continue…]