Ever Present


I found her eighteen years ago in a small shop in Kathmandu, Nepal. I wrapped her hefty weight in thick cloth and carefully transported her in my backpack on my return flight back to the States.

She’s occupied various corners and shelves of every home I’ve occupied since. Her expression, no matter the environment, always the same: ever-present, content, gracious.

Inspiration for the morning.

Today at least 100 writers around the world will convene to put pen to paper and write our hearts. The theme is forgiveness, or Ho’oponopono, as the  Hawaiians call it.  The session will begin and end with a Hawaiian chant.

No matter where we’re from, we understand the concept of forgiveness, though the full experience of it can sometimes be elusive.

This will be my first time participating in this writing exercise, and though there’s no preparation needed in advance, I am mulling over exactly what I will write in the realms of sorries.

This morning I sift through generational layers.

I see flashes of a 1970’s rotary telephone, its extra-long phone cord stretched taut through my mother’s closed bedroom door.

An empty station wagon backing down the driveway with my father behind the wheel, alone.

The golden crucified Christ hanging as jewelry in the folds of a woman’s blouse standing by the donut table at the Baptist church.

My shuffling white Keds in the night grasses of summer camp, only starlight above, and silence.

My nine-month old in his car seat in the back of my Suburu as I pull away from that school bus up on blocks. I am leaving my baby’s father and some of my belongings to store, wishing we could stay but knowing everything would have to be entirely different, and nothing ever would be.

With Ho’oponopono there are four things to be brought to every situation of pain.

I love you
I’m sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you

We say this to others, but ultimately, this giving of forgiveness is to ourselves.

I look forward to seeing what emerges in this powerful alignment with writers. I hope you can join!


Our Pearl

I’ve never known what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Taking an aptitude test in high school, I was hopeful that it would finally give an answer as to what I’d be doing in the world. I was ready for my true mission to be revealed, eager and willing.

In the metal desk of that stuffy Geography classroom disappointment settled on the test results before me. A handful of vocational options were listed, one bewildering standout being “Zookeeper.” I had no leanings toward tending wild animals in cages. I was grateful to see “Writer” included in the suggestions, but that didn’t count. Everyone knew that writing wasn’t a real job.

When I was seven years old, I didn’t know the definition of aptitude. I wasn’t thinking in terms of money, or making a living. I was just living. So when I pulled my little chair up to the typewriter, engaged the CAPS lock, and started typing, I was doing it because I had a story and I was going to tap it out. There was no delete key then, all text moving forward and rolling down the page. The story’s title came first: “A Single Pearl.”

She was a miniature mermaid that had been captured in a jar by a greedy man who wanted to keep her for his own. She’d been trapped with others like herself, and together they made a plan on how to find their way back home to the ocean. Using their collective weight, they tipped the jar off the table and rolled themselves back to the sea. It was a dangerous and risky mission, but they knew they had to get out of that jar.

They made it to the ocean, but they’d been away from home for a while. Upon their return they found their place polluted, desolate and empty. All that remained was a single pearl in the sand. Our heroine and her friends forged on to find a new home. The colors of the sunset shone through the water, giving them hope as they made their way toward a new life.

It was over 35 years ago in that bedroom with the olive-green, shag carpet. The metallic sound of definitive letters clicked beneath my fingertips. There was a feeling of floating just a few inches above my chair. There was magic and inspiration. I was excited and on point. I had a story to tell.

I believe that mermaid story moment pointed toward my aptitude. But as I grew into the ‘real’ world, there was mostly talk of the job. It seemed cages and jars were all that were offered. Despite my aversion, I tried to fit myself inside. When that didn’t work, I bucked the norm by leaving college, traveling around the world, living in my van, and embracing counter-culture. I took all kinds of jobs while seeking to sustain myself. I shoveled poop, cleaned mansions, washed dishes and sold shoes. For over a decade I worked in radio. I was even paid to help manage other people’s lives. But what about my own life, my own truest purpose?

Through all of these working stints, I gained experience but my foundation was weak. I was still disempowered because my finances were meager. Even when my living situations were good, I didn’t feel fully successful. I knew there was something more inside of me that had yet to fully actualize.

I believe every one of us has a gift to offer that only they have to give. When we are in alignment with this genius, our power is immeasurable. Our contribution, critical. The rewards, extraordinary.

This past weekend I was in the company of 70 visionaries and entrepreneurs from all parts of the world, all ages, all backgrounds. We convened with a thread in common – we all know the power of superfoods – but there is more than organic nutrition that we value. We understand the gold in knowing there’s a livelihood beyond the fill-in-the-bubble test we may have been given in high school. Our ‘job’ in this world transcends the limiting list of a standard form.

This weekend I was in the presence of those that have tipped the jar. And we’re creating a new home, committed to making this place in which we live better.

I didn’t intellectually understand all of this at the age of seven at the typewriter. I was free to imagine things like mermaids made miniature. Maybe we all need to open up a little more to what is possible beyond the formulas we’re offered. Allow ourselves to let go to dream…or dream even a little bit bigger. This world is calling us. Read it in the space between the words of the latest headlines.

I’m ready to bring all of myself to this life. I’m still discovering exactly what that looks like, but for now, this morning, I’m at the keys, tapping out letters, sharing this story unfolding.

There’s a single pearl of wisdom within each of us, and it started with a grain of sand. It’s growing. This rare gem we each have to bestow upon the world.