Building a Better Block — for Bethel, Vermont

To view the video that illustrates the poem, click here.

To listen to the poem, click here.

a dog named Denise
and a deconstructed taco
this one Vermonted up
with pork and apple chutney
the vegetarian is not mailed in
uncrowded mushrooms dance with pepitas
until Crazy Gringo Taco Bar runs out
I spin into Gilead confections
before cash leaves hand
a salted caramel seduces the buds
they cry, More! More!
so an apple cobbler with cream cheese filling
take five bar
and my childhood favorite: elephant ears

Alas I am abuzz with cane and confidence
fly to The Hive
with fair Lindsey
who learns to eat sunshine and poetry
while painted faces born of my namesake, Stone
speak of favorites: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
construction paper verse spills under and above glitter glue, feathers and pom poms
Kelly’s earth music
Anika’s bunny pumpkin puppy family dog poem, inverted

Cut to Lindley’s scraps crafted with fine furniture fingers
her earrings dangle from my lobes
reminding me of Vermont trees laden with faeries and tucked in Lylee’s golden pouch alongside Lisa’s felt snail, Joy Full

Did you know the B.U.G.s on chairs painted between vines and pines stand for
Bethel Under Ground?
Community insurrection for places to sit, sip and savor
Kirk speaks of midnight runs for theater seats on sidewalks
bounce to blue lanes where e-bikes zoom me forward and back
into a beer garden framed by Ola
the wave, beloved eighty years plus
earth and truth via Tennessee
she speaks of equality in the face of all the hoopla
knowing elegance over the mess of sloppy slurs

The checkers, chess and tic tac toe of tree stumps
make me wish for more stories
Doug settled in town after Fort this and that
fixing roads, minding a granddaughter
I assure you, I tell her,
as we both spill, trip and drop,
your mind is too full to worry over table corners
that’s no clumsy
you’re just creating fire
it’s a gentle burning

There’s a better block in Bethel now
sprouted amidst Nell’s pizza and dominoes
all hail the hearts who uncover treasures
chalk love
paint streets
waddle with wattles
for this

From Outlet to Outlight


Alternative title: Unconditional love and how to stop being an Emotional ATM

Yup. Just finished crying on the couch with my husband. It was a happy sad cry. It was an I can’t figure it out cry. It was an I’m lonely and I feel so loved cry.

And then came the a-ha:

I have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life.

And I’m not living in fear that I have to anticipate every scenario that could upend this happiness.

I have faith.

I am a vessel for unconditional love.

What on earth does this mean for me?

And what about you?

This means:

If you are feeling, lonely and sitting in a church full of people

If you are sitting alone in your apartment facing an open day in front of you with a to-do list chomping like the childhood monsters under your bed

If you can’t sleep


By whom?

You don’t have to believe in God for this one. I believe in God and lots of other fantastic and fantastical things.

There is a universal force out there and it is this: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Now unconditional love is so dang different from TRANSACTIONAL LOVE.

I have had people very close to me offer transactional love.

If you answer my 911 calls, then I love you. If you listen to all of my problems and do not introduce your own into the conversation, then I love you. If you call me, then I love you. If you send me one of your signature care packages, then I love you.

I used to try to keep up with the people whom I love by “holding space” for all of them. A text to let you know I was thinking of you, a voicemail, a card. And then, I started to do that for myself.

I slowed down and sat in my own pain. That experience actually stinks. What I found however, even this morning, is that I was missing Father Jerry from my old church in Chicago. When he got reassigned, I tried the new priest a few times, but I basically left. Like a kid who didn’t get her way in the kickball game, I picked up my ball and went home. I didn’t leave God. I didn’t leave faith. But I left Regina and Greg. I left Mrs. Clayton. I left Liz. I left my friends and I left my community.

Then I left Chicago.

So I’m rebuilding again. I’ve sat in meditation. I’ve embraced yoga on an entirely different level than ever before in my life. I’ve prayed. I’ve tried two churches here. I’ve met God in the ocean, on the mountain and on the trail.

Yesterday, I went to the Catholic Church in my town and kneeled and prayed. And all I got was, “You don’t belong here.”

Last night I went swimming and I asked God, “What do you want me to know?”

And here’s what I heard: “Stop trying to figure it out.”

So this morning I sat with it. I just shared with my husband:

“I miss Father Jerry. I miss my church community. I’m lonely. And I feel more loved than I ever have in my life. I only have people in my life who love me unconditionally.”

I’m no longer an emotional ATM. Occasionally, people make deposits via the ATM. But usually, folks use the ATM to withdrawal funds.

What if I were to tell you that you are actually a vessel for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE?

Yes, the capitalized version of those words.

I have found my path to unconditional love to be painful and messy and beautiful and illuminating and magical and fantastic.

Here’s what worked for me:

  1. Receiving: the next time someone thanks you, pause and take it in. Or if it’s a compliment, receive it before you volley back a reciprocal compliment.
  2. Pause: I am the fastest emailer in the west. I cannot wait to finish typing this to send it to you right now right now right now. Yet, I’m going to re-read it. I’ll ask myself if it passes the vulnerability meter. Like have I written anything that I cannot live with? Does this story represent a wound or a scar? Then I’m going to ask my husband to read it. And he’ll ask me questions and point out areas that don’t make sense. And I’ll have to pause and fix. And wait to see. You can pause with any action or reaction. You may not have control over an event, but you do have control of your reaction to an event.
  3. Boundaries: Sometimes boundaries can be made in silence. It’s worth avoiding engaging in gossip or even the pretend kind in which you’re sharing someone else’s story without their permission because you’re concerned for them. My boundary-making was learned the hard way. Childhood trauma actually has helped me understand and make better boundaries as an adult. I have a major radar for what is not okay—even in the simplest interaction in the grocery store. I’m safe. And the way I keep my heart safe is to be particular about which people I allow into my life. If something or someone’s behavior makes you uncomfortable—watch how that shows up in your body. Maybe when you read an email from that person, you notice your jaw clench or your back stiffen. Your body will often signal you before your heart and mind catches up.
  4. Detachment: This is about allowing for what is, to be. You cannot save everyone. You cannot actually change people. It’s the ultimate act of taking action on your end and letting go of the result.

And finally, there’s big faith. I have big faith in “if not this, then something better.” And I know I’m a vessel for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. And it feels so good.

I want you to feel that way too.

I love you. I love me.

Love thyself. Start there. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Thank you for reading. This has been my Father Jerry moment. I feel in community with you. I needed that today. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.


P.S. I’m currently obsessed with the work of Glennon Doyle Melton. I’m listening to her book, Love Warrior. Tomorrow* I start The Wisdom of Story course with her and Brené Brown. The code LOVE20 gets you 20% off. I’m not an affiliate, just sending you big love to write your own story and your own ending. In case you’d like to get to know Glennon better, I enjoyed her interviews with Marie Forleo, Lewis Howes and of course, with Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday. For more on Brené, check out aisle 2 of this post. I have a selection of her resources there.

*A week later…

P.P.S.: Well, I let this baby marinate for an entire week. I actually wrote it the morning of Sunday, September 11th. It’s been a beautiful week of healing. The Wisdom of Story course has been phenomenal. I also created this downloadable Ocean Meditation in the middle of the week which addresses many of the themes above. It’s only 10 minutes and it invites you to keep a paper and pen handy in case you need to get some things out of your head and on to a list. I hope you enjoy it! Sending you big UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for a phenomenal week. Witness a miracle because you are the spark behind one (or more!) every single day.

10608218_10152380747193505_3315214118690132884_o (1).jpg

The Slowdown–a parenting poem

To listen to this poem, click here.

Blowing whistles
and the wonderings of a mother

who hasn’t signed up for




art class

Spanish immersion

instead she shifts her son’s head

to drop in a remedy for swimmer’s ear

from swimming



Saturday marked by ten, twelve hours sleep

a body in repair

and the luscious knowledge of the intangible

it’s called Rest

“You know the park is just down the street.”

“He can walk there on his own.”

“Everyone here does it.”

What choice does she have?

Sign on the dotted line

put a number on his back

swear fealty to the clock for fear of falling behind

Or what if stop-motion movies

puppets and pizza tag

riding bikes till twilight

made for enough of a childhood?

What if boredom became a challenge?

Live in the world

surf on worksheets

dig up Redstone

write the series about

Super Parnassus the Potato

and his Grape sidekick, The Greginator

this verse is homage to the slowdown

allowing for mothering and fathering

any which way

in the gray lies truth, freedom

and knowing the human who chose you

Put Your Wholehearted Pants On

Friends, this vlog post has been bursting out of me. You’ll see why. And yes, I’m scared to share it. But I’ve come to the point where it’s no longer optional. So here goes:

In the video, you’ll hear me talk about the following people and resources which have helped me to take small, measured steps into wholehearted living.


Me & Carrie Hensley–my favorite yoga teacher and one of my best friends in the world. 

Do you want to get stronger inside and out? Making me stronger than ever before: It started with the 30-day yoga un-challenge by one of my best friends, Carrie Hensley. It’s free. It starts September 1. And guess what, it’s okay if you miss some days! You can sign up here.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?  Beth Barany has been a wonderful coach to me, helping me unravel Selma’s story and get extra curious about my characters. Her “30-Day Writing Challenge for Novelists” runs October 1-30. And after that, you’ll have lifetime access to the materials. She’s even providing three bonuses for those who purchase the course by August 31. Beth also offers scholarship applications until August 31 at 9pm Pacific Time. If you want to get a sense of Beth’s style (and that of her awesome husband, Ezra), you can sign up for her webinar replay here. The webinar is called Planning Your Novel: Essential Plot & Character Tips. Check out the course details here.

Do you want to live a wholehearted life? Yesterday, I signed up for The Wisdom of Story course by Courage Works with Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton. Check out the course here. Use the promo code WARRIOR to get 20% off. I did!

Specific goals of the course include:

  • Identify the “bru-tiful” (brutal + beautiful) adventure that you’re on. Maybe it’s your job or your role as a parent or partner. It can even be a life stage.
  • Use the classic three-act story framework as a powerful tool to create awareness around the connection between your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
  • Learn the “rules of the world” – these are the expectations and messages that fuel shame and often provide the conflicts in many of our stories.
  • Discover why owning your story of struggle, whether heartbreak, disappointment or failure gives you the power to write your own daring ending.
  • Identify how the wisdom of story has the power to make a difference in the world.

For some of my favorite Brené Brown resources, check out “aisle 2” in this post.

Kick tribal shame to the curb.

I talk about tribal shame in this blog post specifically in #2 in the bottom of the post. This is also when I just scratched the surface of what it is to allow joy & sadness to coexist inside of your heart without fighting them.

IMG_7931 (1).jpg

Remember, I love you with my whole heart. Bring yours to the table. Plant it and see what grows. I promise, it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL.

The music sampled in the background of my video is from the brilliant soundtrack by Sondre Lerche to one of my favorite Wholehearted movies, Dan in Real Life.

Happy Birthday Selma! Let’s celebrate!

FullSizeRender copy 2

Happy 1 year birthday to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage Food and Friendship! I’m buzzing with excitement, gratitude and Assam tea. I love you. I love you for reading. For showing up again today! For supporting me here in this blog and with my novel. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And please keep spreading the love and magic–I’ve put the Kindle version on sale for 99 cents here through Tuesday!

1. Live Party on Facebook: Come party with me! I’m having a Facebook party on Thursday, August 11 at 5pm PT/6pm MT/7pm CT/8pm ET. If you’re outside of the U.S., you can use this handy time zone converter. The link to RSVP for the party is here. I hope you can join us! WHAT THE HECK IS A FACEBOOK PARTY? It’s where we hang out together right here. We’ll celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the publication of Selma. I’m going to ask questions like where you’d like to see Selma go next, where you personally like or wish to travel, what books you like and easy fun things like that. Of course, we’ll talk food too! And there will be prizes like gift certificates and Skype book club visits with me!

2. Photo Contest: This week, I’m also announcing a contest to win a $50 gift Visa e-gift card! If you want to jump on the train early, all you have to do is snap a pic with you or your pet or someone or something like food or nature and my book (hard copy or e-reader) and tag me on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #cucalacas. I can’t wait to see what you share!

3. Documentary Trailer for Book 2: I’m writing Book 2 like crazy! I spent nearly a week at Drop Out on Orcas. An amazing internet- and cell-free refuge for creatives in the woods. Just me and the trees. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve always wondered what it’s like for writers when they go off in solitude and write. I figured you may wonder about that too. I’m editing my documentary! I recorded videos every single day to share the process. Oh and please sign up for updates on my site where you’ll get the first view of the full documentary once it’s complete. Click here for the trailer.

5% of net proceeds go to Teaching for Change! If you want to relive some of the fun videos and interviews from the last year, check out this blog post!

Two of my favorites and big, big honors for my heart are:

Dharma Blazers interview with Carrie Hensley
Huffington Post article by the talented writer Brandi Megan Garett, PhD 

Thank you again and go bravely into your world…and er, um, one last gift, I recorded this downloadable meditation titled Made of Stars Meditation to Trust in the Divine Plan which has really helped me believe there’s a plan even when things get a little unsteady. I hope it serves you!

Remember, find magic in your everyday life. It’s there!

When everything changed: my best resource so far


Beloved Readers!

Be-Loved readers, get it? Be loved. Because you are, by me! I’ve got something so major to share: The Four Desires, by Rod Stryker has changed my life.

You know how I am. I find lots of things inspiring, but this book has literally changed everything for me. I’m undoing unhealthy patterns, I’m getting braver and more courageous by the day (even as scared or anxious as I get over some of my decisions) and I’m feeling a level of contentment which I’ve never felt in my life.

Full disclosure: it took me six months to read the first eight chapters. I had started a new job and was still (and still am) going through lots of transitions of creating a life here. I was fascinated by what was in the pages, but I could only read a chapter on Saturdays, every couple of weeks. (It won’t take you that long.) Then, something clicked in me. And there were more clicks and a-ha’s. Also, I went on a vacation to a dear friend’s house and had been diving into the book more during the previous weeks and brought it with me so that every morning I could read it. Then BOOM. Everything shifted.


I explain some of the amazing insights and steps in the book in the video below. It can be accessed by clicking here too:


If you don’t have time to watch the video now, here’s the gist: The Four Desires come from the ancient Indian spiritual texts called the Vedas:

Dharma: the desire to uncover your unique purpose, that longing to thrive. Sometimes your dharma is quite simply what’s in front of you.

Artha: the desire for the means such as money, security and health to help you fulfill your dharma.

Kama: the longing for pleasure in any and all forms–friendship, sensuality and more.

Moksha: the desire for spiritual realization and ultimate freedom.

The book is filled with stories about ordinary people just like us. Only you know, I believe that there is always something extraordinary and magical underneath the ordinary. Rod Stryker walks you through steps to uncover your dharma and create a Sankalpa–which is basically an intention for the next 6-18 months with a ton of clarity. He helps you break patterns which impede you from living your life purpose. There’s more, but I can’t do it justice in a blog post.  Even if you don’t read or get the book soon, I’m sharing some of the meditations which I use to move through the steps in the book. Stryker encourages his readers to record them to help progress through the book or you can purchase his CDs of the recordings. He also has a workbook, but I used blank notebooks, day planners and whatever I had handy. For more information about the author, visit his site:

Here are the meditations** developed by Rod Stryker from the book I recorded which you can use too!

  1. The Bliss Meditation gets you into a state of clarity so that you can turn to the list of the four desires above and pick one, then mind map it. I found a link here explaining the process. I talk about this in the video, but this is what you use to uncover your sankalpa or intention for the next 6-18 months.  I actually did this BEFORE I followed the steps to uncover my Dharma earlier in the book. It’s just the way it worked out for me and so you can try it that way or follow the book’s order–which is what’s recommended by the author.
  2. The Meditation to Increase Shakti is helpful when confronted with stress, fear, anxiety or worry. I just like doing it daily because it keeps me centered.
  3. The Healing the Heart Meditation releases sadness, emotional pain and suffering and helps you reestablish your connection to joy. I just recorded this today while sitting against one of my favorite trees in town! I can’t wait to start practicing this regularly.

I also mention at the front end of the video that August 8 is the 1 year anniversary of the publication of my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food and Friendship! Hop on over to my website and sign up to be the first to receive access to the documentary about my time on Orcas Island writing book 2!

Okay, it’s time to go swimming! I hope this post brings lots of light into your life!



**One cool thing about the meditations being on Soundcloud is that you can download them onto a playlist on your phone so you always have them.

Finding Contentment in Sadness and the Best Macaroni and Cheese on the Planet

I took you on my hike this morning and shared some of the helpful tools I’ve learned and applied in the last few weeks. I edited together all the nuggets plus a 15 second avocado meditation at the end! You can view the video here.


Some of the resources which I mentioned are included below:

  1. On allowing your feelings to move through you (rather than burying them with social media, food, TV, alcohol or busyness): Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach is a game-changer when it comes to allowing your feelings to move through you—especially conflicting feelings. The book has been pivotal for me in terms of changing my relationship to recurring themes in my life.
  2. On forgiveness and healing: I mention this SuperSoul Session by Caroline Myss, 7 Myths and 7 Truths about Healing which can be viewed here. While I’m a fan of Myss’ work, I don’t always like her tone or delivery, but this short talk is well worth it, especially the ending. It contains that apology and forgiveness exercise which I referenced on the mountain.
  3. On letting go of the effort to control outcomes: Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead and Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender – both books are by Tosha Silver and can be found here. These books have felt like they have saved me–from my own thoughts–in the last few weeks. People tell you to surrender all the time, but she does it with such humor and great anecdotes to model it again and again.
  4. On letting go of anticipating and being prepared for every scenario: If you want to know more about the concept of hypervigilance, I really like this post titled Parentified Daughters as Female Leaders: Keys to your Emergence by Bethany Webster. The concepts also apply to sons, so if you’re a man reading this, it’s worth taking the time to click on the link.
  5. On boundaries which are essential to employ the tools outlined on my hike: I don’t mention boundaries in the video, but I did ask myself on the way home, “what’s missing?” “What else can I share to help folks test these tools in their own lives?” The most powerful tool for me has been to make boundaries, even with the people I love. Here’s one of my favorite short (6 minutes) videos by Brene Brown on that topic. 

I love you.