Baggage Left in Maui

Inner transformation doesn’t have to be a big dramatic production filled with tears. Sometimes it’s easy and gentle. It’s always an adventure!

The first question of the Awaken Your True Calling retreat was the customary, “What is your intention for this retreat?” I answered honestly, “I don’t know yet, but I’m open to its intention for me.”

Clouds below mountain trail

Day 3: Driving up to view the sunset from Haleakala, I heard my daddy’s voice from when I was in third grade, “Do what you know is right, no matter what people think.” At that age, I was a Great Protector of the Rules (I know, hard to believe, right?), so it probably had something to do with telling the teacher of some classmate’s minor transgression.

The mind of an eight year old has no idea there’s a whole rainbow between black and white.

I made a child-vow to always tell the truth. And I understood the undercurrent that people weren’t gonna like me for it. Holding daddy in such high regard, I watched for the evidence that proved him right. And found enough of it. And ignored anything else.

Because that’s simply what the mind does. It’s wired to gather memories, create patterns, monitor for threats, and create protection with all the steam it can muster, bless its little heart. I was primed for three of the most common mental distortions – filtering experience to emphasize the danger, generalizing, and catastrophizing to exaggerate how bad it could get in order to “adequately protect.” Over time in school, I programmed that Nobody Likes Me.

And that childhood program has made it damn hard to reach out and connect with people I want to serve. Nearly impossible to give my deepest contributions in the world. I’d “put myself out there” then cringe inwardly. And wonder why so few would answer. Duh.

But programs don’t stand up well to awakening.

Over the last couple years, experience just hasn’t upheld that point of view. Knowing myself as spaciousness, consciousness in which forms and experiences dance, programs loosen their grip. There’s nothing for the Velcro to stick to.

So, on that drive up and up and up, when the program offered “Do what you know is right, no matter what people think,” it came with the recognition that my idea of “what people think” was never reality. It was only a concept, a projection, an expectation from child-mind based on something unspoken.

Without the expectation, what is the unfiltered experience?

I held the question as we hiked into the crater.

We gathered in sacred circle at the top of the volcano to make our offerings.

Women hiking

As moved, women spoke what they wanted to forgive. Not feeling a need to put words around my discovery, I gave my breath to the flower and placed it silently. Then women spoke their gratitudes. With each contribution, my energy rose. Yes, that too! Yes, that one! I weighed how this wanted to express, smiling when I realized I was wondering whether to do the right thing, speak my truth. What might people think? I was so filled with celebration for all they’d spoken, I let the energy pour raw into the sacred offerings. I roared,


And a lifetime of baggage of expectation and evidence slithered onto the collection in the center of the circle.

Offerings of flowers

Then the unfiltered experience began. At various times, a woman in the group would take the time to remark on how my showing up affected her. Positively. I stood in the edginess of receiving.

Herding an enormous spider out of a room of women wasn’t nearly as difficult for me as actually receiving the recognition.

Large spider on wall

(photo by S. Clines)

Fear and courage look different for each of us.

Breathe. Stay with the rise and fall. Fascinated with the nuances of feeling passing through. What is the real experience?

In their openness, these women washed away the eggshell remnants of that child program. Not intentionally. Not in arguing or denying my thought or evidence. Just by being themselves. Each by speaking her truth.

No need to build a new program around “I am The One.” No need to enforce a mask of positivity. Enough to simply flow as the unlabeled mystery. Without that particular boulder in the river. Open to the current.

More than enough.

Sunset over clouds

Blessings, My Sisters!

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