The Healing Power of a Good Long Walk

It’s not about the dog.

Really.

I walk because my body tells me it’s time to move … and because I have a thousand things to think through. So I let the dog take me for a walk.

Walking is this wonderful movement that requires almost no thought, no particular skill, and really nothing more than a little time and some comfortable shoes. The very reliability of it makes it soothing.

Walking was an essential piece of my self-care when I was recovering from the loss of my daughter. In those raw days of grief, just the simple act of putting one foot in front of another saved me in some basic way. The promise of a walk got me up and out. So I emerged, blinking, into the sunlight.

At that point, even twenty minutes was a triumph.

But as my grief healed, I began to relax into this walking thing more and more. I found the feeling of the breeze on my face, and the dirty under my feet was consoling. There was something simple and real about it.

Unlike my forays to the gym, I didn’t have to look good. In fact, I cried a lot as I walked the trails at a local park, and no one seemed to mind a bit.

That’s when I discovered I needed to walk, even in the rain. And that’s when I discovered walking in the mud.

Now, walking in the mud is a particular pleasure all its own. You put on some big rubber boots and you just have at it. And if the mud is thick and gooey, or full of mud puddles, you can splash. You can slop. You make a great, big glorious mess, and it’s actually a lot of fun.

Then when you get back home, you leave your boots outside the front door, and you look down at your mud-spattered jeans, and you think, ‘I’ve done something today.’ Your heart beats with a little more vigor, your soul feels refreshed, and you enjoy the glow of accomplishment.


This is why I walk, in the rain and in the sun. The very reliability of the Earth to welcome me, comfort me, and provide a little interesting scenery as I go puts me back together.

Nothing is expected of me as I walk, and so I get ideas and find sudden inspirations. It’s like shaking hands with life again, every time.

And yes, the dog doesn’t mind one damn bit.

Want to know how your brain actually ‘cleans house’ when you take a walk or do any kind of exercise? There’s real science to this. I found out when I interviewed personal trainer Will Belew on my Before the Afterlife podcast … check it out here.

You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.

Here are the links to iTunes and Google Play!

 

 

 

What If You Can’t Hear Your Heart’s Desire?

It is said that the greatest guide to living a prosperous, happy life of love is to listen to your heart.

Just follow its guidance and you’ll be all set. At least that is the conventional wisdom that drives us to eschew the ordinary life and set off on the road less traveled.

And yet … there seems to be a design flaw.

I don’t know about you, but I have one hell of a time hearing my heart. I know its wisdom is back there somewhere. But it’s lodged behind the ranting of my incessant, worried mind, a million to-do’s, and a cacophony of mid-life emotions.

It’s also buried behind the subtle over-layer of apps, texts, emails, phone calls, appointments, traffic jams, calories, doctor appointments, instant messages, chats, whether to eat chocolate or not, and the frenetic microcosm of social media.

Bottom line: I can’t frigging hear my heart!

And yet … I know if I just stop and listen, like really stop and listen, I can hear it.

The fact is I don’t want to listen.

My heart will tell me that my constant ‘doing’ must end. That I must be willing to let go and hang out with the mystery of life for a while.

If I really want to feel my feelings, I must stop being so busy-busy-busy.

My heart will say that far more urgent than anything on my ‘must do’ list is my own – our own – continued healing.

Many of us are all in a state of subtle emergency most of the time. But we proceed as if this is the human condition. And yet … it’s not.

Underneath all the furor of modern life, we are calmly rational. Furthermore, we know exactly what to do at any given moment. In fact, our nervous system is always ready to chime in with its intuitive hit to set us straight. But really … we just can’t bear to hear it.

Then change might be required. Change for which we feel ill prepared. Change that might lead us to failure.

At least that’s what the ego thinks in its protective, if misguided way.

So we hang out in vagueness … longing for something … but unable to say exactly what.

 I have been quietly learning that I have no choice. If I want to be happy, I have to follow the directions of my heart whether I like it or not. Really, my heart’s the only sane driver on board.

Because when I slow down long enough to listen, life calms down. Then my faith returns and I remember I’m not alone. Instantly, I feel stronger, wiser. And somehow, I know what to do.

Bear in mind this: your heart will not ever try to set you off course. Nor will your heart ever try to hurt another. Instead, it only wants to lovingly steer you onward to become your best, every day.

That’s all that happens when you make enough time, and create enough peace, to finally listen.

What is your heart trying to tell you today that you may be avoiding?

You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.

Here are the links to iTunes and Google Play!

 

 

An Unexpected Road Back to Happiness

I’d like to offer a radical opinion. What if the most direct route back to happiness is through crisis, chaos and loss?
I know, I know … this is not a popular opinion. But this is what I learned after I lost my daughter Teal in 2012. Before her death, I was possibly the unhappiest I had ever been … at least since my tortured twenties.

By that point, my children were pretty much grown, and my marriage had ended. I’d moved across the country to a city I couldn’t quite relax in … And I’d found my way into a toxic relationship that I felt completely trapped in.

I worked constantly in order not to feel my pain. My work as an internet marketing coach was successful and even a little glamorous – so it looked like I was having lots of fun. But I wasn’t. This wasn’t my true calling and I knew it.

Really, in my heart, I was a writer. That’s how I started out in my twenties. But now, nearly twenty years later, I had no idea how to get back there. I’d chosen this path simply because I knew it would be financially successful. But instead of being able to leave it, I felt bound to it by ball and chain.

But by the time my daughter died, my lousy relationship was over, my business ended due to simple burnout, and I had no place to live. The Universe had conspired to ‘do for me that which I could not do for myself,’ and taken the whole damn mess away.

What followed was two years of grief and rest, during which I had to learn how to become very quiet, and let go of all the props that had been holding me up. This was followed by two more years of slow, gradual rebuilding.

Today, more than four and half years later, I really am the happiest I have ever been. My income became stable again when, out of the blue, I was hired to write a series of novels for an investor. I’d published a novel many years earlier, and now as I sat down to write again, I found … miraculously … I had become a much better writer.

Two novels, Transformed: San Francisco and Transformed: Paris, have been published and a third one, Transformed: Las Vegas, is on the way. Recently I also married the love of my life.

What all of this abundance is teaching me is that when you stop, relax, and ‘just be’ … the Universe starts to deliver up exactly what you want. It’s a great discipline to do nothing, ironically. In this age of pushing and striving, we are ever more fearful of having space, peace and quiet.

But may I recommend at least the occasional dip into these waters.
You may, indeed, be surprised what will come your way.
Don’t just do something … stand there.

You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.

Here are the links to iTunes and Google Play!

 

 

 

How Living on Nothing Can Be More Than Enough

One night recently I found a program on Netflix called The Kindness Diaries. In it, a curious British philosopher travels the world on a cute yellow motorbike, asking for nothing but handouts. His goal is to prove that people are, essentially, kind. And occasionally, when warranted, he gives back generously.

It’s a great idea, if a slightly flawed premise, because coming along for the ride is his three-person camera and sound crew. So who wouldn’t want to ‘help out’ if it means you get to be on international TV?

Still the idea stayed with me. I kept thinking, ‘Wow, it would be cool to interview that guy on my podcast.’

Spirit, evidently, was listening. Because my guest for this week’s episode is NOT the Kindness Diaries guy, but someone even better.

Maria Terese is a spiritual intuitive who has also traveled the world on a donation basis. But unlike the Kindness Diaries guy, for her this means giving away her spiritual guidance on a strictly donation basis.

This means you can book a session with her and pay her whatever you want – even if it’s nothing at all.

I love this idea because of its spiritual purity. Maria Terese has no desire to get rich from her work, or be seen by millions. Instead, this simple soul just wants to help people, one person at a time, and she wants to make it possible for as many people as she can.

There is something pure and cleansing about living with little or nothing. I know this because after my daughter’s death, I lived on remarkably little for almost two years. I couldn’t work. I didn’t have disability insurance. And so … I was delivered.

That’s how I think of it. Because really, it was a sublimely simple life. I stayed with friends. I walked in parks. I swam in a public pool. I didn’t buy much of anything. And I practised something Teal herself revered highly: just being.

In time, money and opportunity returned. But I will never forget the incredible privilege it was to live on very little for a while. I had my needs met abundantly. Again and again, people showed up with support when I needed it. The entire experience taught me it was safe to relax, stop worrying and just receive.

I did, indeed, have enough. In fact, I had more than enough.

Furthermore, whenever I bucked this trend, I was soundly castigated. Twice I tried to restart my former business and twice it crashed and burned. It was no longer in alignment with who I was becoming … and so I was rebuked.

In the end, ‘just being’ turned out to be an excellent plan.

My guest on this week’s podcast is an expert at just this kind of letting go – and so it has led her to deeper and deeper levels of real transcendence. She believes this is how she can help more and more people … a worthy goal.

Listen to my interview with a woman who calls herself ‘a divine vessel of light and love’, Marie Terese.

 

 

 

You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.

Here are the links to iTunes and Google Play!