Tag Archives: feelings

Surrender and Loving It ‘Til You Know What It Is

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I am in a large group of women artists who have driven up to the ridge of a mountain range and then down a very windy road to a secluded artists retreat program in northern California. All I want to do is stare at the dreamy landscape, watching how the golden green hills go back and back and back, disappearing finally into a fog bank which hovers just above the sea in the distance. I want to watch as the wind blows, the fog clears, and the misty outlines of the hilltops begin to glisten in the midday sunlight. I want to sit and sketch it, and fill in the colors I am seeing, and try to capture the dreaminess, the haziness of it all, the lack of precise outlines which gives it that quality of mystery that makes me want to keep staring.

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But we have a schedule. There are ranchers and herders moving us along in this schedule, ensuring that we are on time. I help myself to a large lunch – two servings each of lentil soup and kale salad with some fruit on the side. My idea of a perfect meal. But my stomach feels slightly full after all that, and I am ready to rest and digest.

Having forgotten the schedule momentarily, I’m jarred when it is announced that we now need to move into another room for a “movement activity”. Continue reading

Learning to Ride

It’s freezing. All I know is it’s 11 miles out and back. The description on the website had said, “Participants must be in good cardiovascular condition. No single track/technical work. Climbing for sure.

I should have known when I saw the fat tires on everyone else’s bikes.

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Oh, how we wish that learning would take place in the comfort of our familiar homes! A cozy blanket, a warm cup of tea, our favorite music playing, and the knowing that everything as we have chosen and arranged it now surrounds us.

Learning for me always looked like showing up in a classroom, or privately in front of a teacher, and demonstrating what I knew. I would then get feedback in the form of a critique, the next challenge chosen by the teacher, or a score on a test that told me how much what I thought I learned matched what I was expected to have learned.

What I learned on my first mountain bike ride this weekend is that learning – the fresh, raw experience of aha!wow! that’s new! – can be extremely uncomfortable. It can happen when we are placed (or we find ourselves) in a situation we did not know we chose (but we did) and that every fiber of our being is wanting to fix, alter, escape, or resist. But there we are. In my case, “there” was a guided 11-mile ride on a closed access trail. Turning back was not an option without taking the entire group with me.

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A map of the terrain, which can’t really tell us what it’s going to feel like.

Continue reading

Why everyone should poop in the woods…at least once

I firmly believe everyone should have the experience – at least once in their life – of pooping in the wilderness. Of digging a hole at least six inches deep, dropping trou, and watching their own poop land in the hole. Then filling it with soil, packing it down, and returning the surrounding earth to its original state.

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What we’d rather imagine than pooping in holes.

I believe this not just because pooping in holes has become second nature since I started backpacking, but because I experienced real compost in my friend Lydia’s yard yesterday. From start to mulch. When you see one too many potted plants or cut flower arrangements in your life, you forget where it all really comes from. Not just the postcard pictures of a farm with a guy in overalls posed casually leaning on a fence that you see from the side of the road. Not the beautiful bins of colorful, washed produce (definitely not GMO and definitely organic) at the farmers’ market.

No, I’m talking about what dirt really is. How our bodies – the stuff of our skin and bones – are ultimately the same stuff as dirt. How the plants growing prettily or wildly in the ground are also the same stuff as dirt. How if you have the chance to take a shovel and pull up some plants, move them to the compost heap, then come back a few months later, you might see something that looks nothing like the original plant but a lot like dirt. Continue reading

E-Squared Book Club: Week 2

Richard Bach quote

The stories from the E-Squared Book Club are just too good not to share!

We discussed the results from Experiments 1 and 2 this week, and when we met at Quarry Park by the labyrinth, we did Experiment 3 together.

And can I just say “WHOA!”.

Since I have the unique position of being with both in-person and phone groups, I just have to share what’s happening with everyone. Continue reading

How To Practice True Self-Confidence

Inviting Mystery

Inviting Mystery

Here’s my definition of true self-confidence. I’m so over the days of being in a classroom and each of us painting our own “version” of what the teacher wants us to paint. We are told that this kind of imitation – producing something that looks “as good as” what we are told is a “masterpiece” – is what we should be striving for. That we should practice for mastery as it is defined by the experts.

I disagree.

I’m interested in the kind of self-confidence that comes from facing the blank page, the open space, the silence, the void. Where there is no map. Only your body, your breath, your instincts, and your wild-eyed awareness. Only by choosing to “go there” – to show up in territory that is uncharted for you – can you experience what I’m talking about here.

For me, it requires venturing outside my zones of mastery and wondering what it’s like to be a novice. I never sang, so I explored what my voice could do with sound. I never painted, so I played with brushes and paper and colors. I bring back the lessons of these experiences to the areas of my life where I may be stagnating in my attachment to being “good at it”.

When was the last time you stood at the edge of your comfort zone, and faced the open space?

When was the last time you took a step into that open space, truly not knowing where it would lead?

Each time you give yourself this kind of opportunity, you discover your relationship with fear, and you have the chance to see and accept yourself as you are. Continue reading

Live Your Medicine

Lisa Pillar Point FB profile reverse warrior

The Native American tradition speaks of each person’s Original Medicine – that set of gifts that only you can offer the world with your particular life. I’ve always felt there was such a finality to the phrase “Original Medicine” – like I had to define the one thing I was here to do, or it would be lost forever.

No pressure!

This feeling would ignite the achiever in me, who would scramble to come up with a name, a brand, a package, a business, something very “put-together” that would create an image of how well I knew my Life’s Purpose.

I’ve been doing some version of that for most of my life. But recently I’ve begun to discover a process I find much more alive, much more healing, much more in alignment with my own sense of unconditional wholeness. I call it “Live Your Medicine.” It is the practice of asking, “What time is it now, for me?“. It involves listening for what holds the most fear for me in this moment. And then summoning the courage to take action toward that in one small way. Again and again, revisiting and refreshing with each present moment. Continue reading

On the other side of beautiful

P1310482 Lisa Matty 1 CROPPED

THIS was not a photo on my vision board. I was perfectly content to be performing, showing what I was able to do comfortably, easily, and predictably. I thought I was getting “good” at playing freely, improvising, and creating in the moment. The sound of Chinese Melodrama that matches the stacks of CDs we bring to every gig.

Then THIS had to happen.

By “THIS” I mean: We are at LunarBurn, a three-day outdoor festival and experiment in community living. In my mind, it’s a chance to show up and spread the love. We play our first set at the PermaPub, an intimate venue with couches, a bar, and all the impromptu live music one could ask for. We aren’t even finished with a song (Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”) near the end of our set, and a guy appears onstage. He has furry white chaps over his jeans, and a grey hoody. He appears to be maybe under the influence of some substances. But what do I even know about these things? I just thought he was a jerk for interrupting our set.

Lisa saying really

Here’s my, “Get off the stage, jerk!” look:

Lisa judging

Yep, what you’re seeing is a whole lotta judgment flowing freely from me in that moment. First he wanted to play my violin. I’d rehearsed this response before, so it was easy to say, “Sorry, I don’t let anyone touch my violin.” Continue reading

Leaning in…to what?

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There’s going to be some talk about leaning in. I’d like to speak about “leaning in” from the perspective of a woman who learned the men’s rules and did pretty well for awhile. I picked up all the cues about how I was supposed to behave, what I was supposed to do to play the game, how I could win. I earned a seat at the boardroom table, surrounded by men. I am grateful for the doors that were opened for me, when I behaved a lot like a successful man.

I rode the bus for a few rounds before I got off and started the process of sitting in front of the blank page, making up my own game, creating my own rules, and teaching myself a whole new way of “leaning in”.

When we talk about “leaning in”, we have to talk about what that really means for individuals. To me, “leaning in” is about going toward the places that scare you. The real question is, “What scares you?” Most of us are living in remote places that are carefully designed to be far out of reach from what really scares us. We have concocted our plans based on meticulous avoidance of everything that really scares us.

We believe that this construction project actually spares us the feeling of being scared, but it follows us. It never leaves us. It camps out in dark corners inside us. We dart, we duck, we hide, we layer on coats of paint and makeup and accessories and postures that we think – hope – will cover it up. But it plagues us.

We seek relief, but we also secretly believe we’ll never find it. We think this is as good as it gets, so we keep pointing in the same direction.

So what are we leaning into? Continue reading

Can of tomatoes

How is your soul like a can of tomatoes?

I’ve been hosting SoulBodyMind Salons in my home, and the most recent session was centered on the theme of “Soul-Care”.

I always start each of the sessions with a story or image that grounds the group in the journey we are about to take that evening. I had easily come up with stories and images for the body and the mind – ones that I had heard from my own teachers as I gathered knowledge in these areas.

But the soul – no one had ever talked to me directly about the soul before. This was the first time I would be attempting to ask the question, “What is the soul?” in front of a group.

I am simply fascinated by the phenomenon of soul, because everyone can relate to the word, although in a totally unique way. It’s a bit like the word “music. Ask anyone from any culture and any time period, “What is music?”, and they know what it is. However, listen to the music from any culture and any time period and you will get wildly different experiences and sounds.

I was walking around my house, dusting the wood floor, pushing chairs in different directions, thinking about this question of “What is the soul?” and how I would explain this in a brief introduction, without either getting lost in philosophy or oversimplifying.

Naturally, I picked up the nearest object and began thinking of ways to incorporate it as a visual aid.

That object was a can of tomatoes. Continue reading

Empowering Your Self With Vision

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“How you see determines what you see, and what you feel.” – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with vision boards since the very beginning. My very first one was an assignment for the very first personal development workshop I attended. End of Day One, before we were to break for dinner, we had a few hours to make a board of what makes our heart come alive.

First vision board - Real Speaking

The second one I made was later that year with an ex-boyfriend on a retreat in Santa Cruz. It was my first beach weekend retreat since moving to California five years before. What had taken me so long?

Second vision board - Santa Cruz

Then I made another one that made me feel like crap, but I didn’t quite know why.

I kept up with vision boards for some reason. Maybe it was my determination to see if they would really work for me in my life. I was a total skeptic in the beginning, going through the motions like a good student, but not truly expecting anything to happen.

After several years of practice, now I know that when I approach them from a certain place within me, vision boards can invite in some real magic into my life.

I haven’t yet written about the latest example of how a vision board changed my life, and since I’m leading a vision board workshop next week, this seems like a good time to really tell the story in completeness. Continue reading