How to get high(er)

TLDR: Going for that thing you want probably won’t kill you and the view is better from the top.

You know that sketchy part near the top of Camelback Mountain? Cholla Trail.

The sketchy part where, when you first moved here ten years ago, you were sure you’d simply slip off the sheer side of the mountain. Mid-scramble. Just: dead.

For y’all out of towners; 1. I say y’all now, and 2. Allow me to set the scene. You’re cruising along, and by “cruising” I mean you’re hoping your hiking buddy keeps talking so you can focus on your heart not exploding; meaning: you’re able to keep a quick clip because it’s smooth sailing, only a handful of ankle-turney dangers in the first, ziggy-zaggy 80% of the trail. And then you’re like, “oh! I’m at the end, because this is impassible.”

Hikers reroute around you, swiftly picking sure footing out of the city-skyscraper to which you cling. Fat guys and children deftly wing their way up. Someone in a weight vest passes you twice.

And then a friend, one of your first Phoenix friends, who happens to be half spider monkey, half mountain goat, half cannabis, half physics textbook, and all legs, suggests that you, too, can defy gravity. The trick is two-fold: Increase up, decrease down.


Regarding the up, the reach, the progress: he taught me that the ledges above me, the ones I can grab or place a foot on, to pull or push myself up, needn’t be that big. The length of a finger pad or width of a toe, sufficient.

(Experience beyond comfort zones yields discernment, improving heuristics and workable opportunities. I’m still so fond of a nice, big hand hold and it’s nice to know I don’t need it.)

Regarding the down, the backslide, the risk mitigation: when stressed, considering new risk, my mountain goat advised that I determine what below would catch my fall if I tried and failed. Maybe 8 feet down there’s a big, flat landing or at least a tangle of womping willows.

So, that’s nice. We learn we need less than we think. We learn to more accurately (less emotionally) weigh risk.


We hear, “leap and the net will appear.” Cool. Totally. And. It’s “easier,” dare I say, more enjoyable, to make comfort-busting choices when we have a low expectation of them destroying us; i.e., an acceptance of how far we’d fall in worst-case failure.

I love hindsighting on these weak (and bloodied) kneed days. Soon after I determined I probably wasn’t going to die on Camelback (except for maybe from bees. wtf.), I realized, 1. it wasn’t just me; that most beginners are frightened, shaking over the same illusions of unsafety, and 2. how fun and easy it is to coach a new initiate around the sketchiest part where they’re bear hugging the rock like a cartoon character and maybe they cry and then they’re on the other side of it, accomplished, upleveled and hungry for more mountain. 

Until we remember that mountains are grey, green jungle gyms, these “problems” are unappealing, like “dropping back” over a yoga teacher’s forearms for the first time, aiming to place your hands on the floor behind you. And once we remember to play, to delight in reaching further while deepening trust in and expanding our understanding of our foundation… well, I think that’s why we’re here. As the universe seeking to experience itself, it’s in our marching orders to peer around corners and see-what-happens-if.

Knowing where we’d hope to halt a free-fall is useful. And: we’ve got to be okay with moving on, upward, and away from that particular stabby bush, cactus, felled tree, or rock. In lieu of a safety net, it’s tempting to fascinate on these bastions, pray to these lord-gods of false safety. Huddling humbly in their shadow. Reverent and leashed. This is where I want to be because this is where I have to be because this is safe and fine enough and why don’t we just picnic lunch here and give up on our dreams and go home and get day-drunk.

“It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works.”

It’s also fun to try the hard things, the really scary things which are extra scary because you want them so. 

And if you want to get to the top?

Hands up, kid. Eyes up. Onward. 


Def (noun (plural)): a set of two or more humans who declare their goals, milestones, and timelines to each other. Status updates abound.

The people who know your five year plan and hold you to it. Not by dragging you but by reminding you.

In these Quarantimes, Accountabilibuddies, like everything else, look differently. Their “shame journal” functionality is way up; e.g.,  “Oh. Hey. Just ate an entire tub of ice cream,” and, “remember how I planned to do my taxes today? Tidied half my sock drawer and cried on the floor all day instead.”

Accountabilibuddy as Shame Journal is on the rise for sure. But so is the Accountabilibuddy’s YOLO and DGAF and Namaste and YOU DO YOU, YA GLORIOUS FREAK functionality, too. No one’s showering (right? Or. Are we?) No one’s particularly confident in their new five year plan. But we can share a belly laugh over our utter failure at our lofty dreams.

Accountabilibuddies are lately more lenient on the deadlines and pep talks. Hearing a lot less hard love. A lot less “imagine your default future if you don’t make this change TODAY,” and, “How do you expect your life to look in .5, 5, 20 years if you don’t get your shit (all of it) together right now?”

Accountabilbuddies, these remarkably adaptable creatures, are helping in the way we need now. Asking instead, “how big can you love yourself through this?”




This one goes out to an Accountabilibuddy whom I told eight days ago that I commit to writing two blog posts a week. See! They still work! Even when they give that soft love.

Today’s Musings on Fate & Agency & Joy & Hummingbird Feeders

I see life as a John Irving novel, in which everything happens for a reason. Even the random, seemingly pointless things and especially the extraordinarily shitty things. They weave together to form themes and long-arching story lines for us to bonk around inside of, unaware of our own flow’s elegance.

From the inside looking out, life is just life to us; messy, mundane, confusing, exhilarating, fucking terrifying, fucking beautiful.

When you least expect it, some piece of the collage of your-life-to-date shines forth to save the day; you find yourself equipped with some tool or awareness (à la Slumdog Millionaire) all because you “randomly” endured, adventured, connected, or floundered weeks, months, decades before; e.g., (John Irving SPOILER ALERT), the fact that you’re a midget makes you a war hero.)

I’m not espousing predestination or grand design or fate even, just marveling at the serendipitous nature of nature.

I love believing that “everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

That’s not to say our ego will be particularly pleased 7/8ths of the way through… that same ego will very much want to know when to anticipate the end and will go so far as to despair that we’ve reached the end and all is lost and life is cruel, when in reality we’re so far from it still.

In our last new moon women’s circle, someone reminded us of the calm to be found in string theory; every possibility is already real, which sort of takes the pressure off of each new decision; why not BOLDLY make the one that FEELS the best and truest for us now? Write our own story, hustle for our own ideal “ending.”

You thought this post was gonna be about hummingbird feeders? About that…

A new acquaintance explained over dinner recently that, growing up, his folks maintained a number of bird feeders. The skies of his young life were full of hummingbirds. Ever since, these marvelous, innocent, brilliant creatures lit up his life every time their paths chanced cross.

You’re thinking: who doesn’t LOVE hummingbirds, ammiright? But from Patrick I get the sense it goes deeper. A portal to that blissful, youthful part of himself. To simpler times. To the magic of childhood. To the magic of the universe we lose sight of somewhere along the road to seriousness.

Finally, he explained, a few days prior, he’d bought himself a hummingbird feeder.

His very own.

Inexpensive, easily available.

He knew he loved hummingbirds yet he didn’t decide or take action to bring them into his life, to drastically increase the likelihood of a hummingbird encounter by like a zillion-fold, until age 45. Forty-five! And now all he does is work and watch them. Or play guitar and watch them. Or simply sit and watch them.

And he’s so happy.

And he’s so peaceful.

Something so simple.

Something so obvious.

“It has me wondering what my other hummingbird feeders are,” he trailed off.

I’ve wondered what my hummingbird feeders are ever since.

Now, I’ve got to be honest, this gave me a huge life coach boner. This is what coaches do! Pull forward the simple action steps you know to be inside of you that can make life more wonderful for you. Gently poking and prodding and holding you accountable to manifesting your bliss, altering your trajectory, course-correcting towards joy. A complete up-level.

The hardest part of my job is keeping my damn fixing, advising, know-it-all mouth mostly-shut while you uncover your own shiny, perfect truth. When you’re ready.

Anyway, I’ve finally, recently accepted a few of my own hummingbird feeders into my life and it is already forever changed. Forever better. Each ensuing decision now made from a higher platform, a higher self, a clearer sense of direction. Most recently…

  1. My very first mala. Finally! I’ve wanted one for ~a decade but felt like I wasn’t “yoga” enough (…the fuck??). IMG_4062108 beads to facilitate #singlepointedfocus recitation of mantra in morning meditation. Made with love in my forever-home studio (Dave’s), w/ 2.5 of my favorite people (Lulu + bebe & Kathy), and #blessed by a badass gong named Dragon. Not 5 hours old, it already helped ground and center me through some serious shit.
  2. The Untethered Soul. I’ve devoured longer books in a single sitting yet this one’s taken me years to purchase and months to read half of. IMG_4061Drenched in olive juice and jacuzzi water; streaked with highlighter, dark chocolate, and a rainbow of pens; partially eaten by my boyfriend’s dog; believe it or not, this book has already made more of an mark on me than I have on it.

What are some of your hummingbird feeders? Warning: once you identify some you might just grab them. Side effects may include joy, peace, enlightenment and a life forever changed. When you’re ready 🙂

I’m a MuthaFckn Star Chart

Ok, so apparently the cursing wasn’t an isolated, “I’m sleepy” event (see this post title… and presumably the rest of this post).

Know thyself, and to thine own self be true.

I am highly and unabashedly motivated by gold stars. Literally. The value of literal and figurative gold stars is highly inflated in my mind. Like how Girls Go Wild for t-shirts.

I also spend a weird amount of time worrying about whether I’m too much of a navel gazer and alternately assuring myself that svadhyaya, “self study,” is prescribed as part of the eight limbs of yoga and I just have a lot of catching up to do. Happily, from time to time this self-absorption bears great fruits, like the idea to employ gold stars as Liz Hacks (triggity trick yo’self to treat yo’ self).

Friends of mine used to run a seminar for young & motivated children (of their existing adult clients – which was brilliant. Create the need. Hello, wallet share). They let my old ass take it when I worked for them, when my ass was so much younger than it is now. It was a great kick in the pants and I learned some cool ideas. Ideas that rattle around in your head and subtly, heroically help you change your life by giving you a new paradigm to frame your decisions against. I learned to put the big rocks first. Or rather, I learned that it’s wise to put the big rocks first but was too in the throes of my self-diagnosed “quarter life crisis” to figure out how to at the time.

Basically, the story goes there’s this professor, he fills a big vase with rocks, asks his students (maybe engineers?) if he can fit anything else in. They say “no,” he adds pebbles. Asks again, they say, “no!,” he adds sand. Asks again. They say, “no?,” he adds water. Moral of the story? Schedule the big rocks first! The sand and water is the easy, innocent seeming shit that you don’t say no to that just creeps in and eats up all your time and head space if you’re not careful. I’ve wasted so much time lately putzing around in the sand (aka the internet/social media) and being frustrated at the end of the day that I didn’t do enough of what I want to. The big rocks are the the investments that get you where you want to be eventually.

Enter: my MuthaFuckin’ Star Chart! It’s like a mom away from mom.

Image result for gold star chart for adults
oh snapple, just realized I have an “I Can Do It!” activity in common w/ this child. Win. (and no, it’s not brushing my teeth I’m not a baby.)

I wrote down everything I wanted to make sure I did every day, or most days, and made a grid for each day for 34 days (until we went on vacation and the wheels fell off) gold Sharpie-ing in a gold star when a gold star was earned fair and square. I approached it w/ curiosity instead of self-deprecation which is a win in and of itself. Just notice. What am I voting for with my time?

I see now that my priorities fall into two categories. They are either A. so easy to do and SO easy to not do, and take no time at all in the grand scheme of things; e.g.,

  • use my inhaler,
  • take myvitamins,
  • Superman pose*,
  • don’t text while driving (STOP IT.),
  • write down 3 things I’m grateful for,
  • eat (enough) fruits and vegetables (when I started this we were striving for bare minimum – 5/day – so easy yet so much easier to not! and it’s not like I don’t like vegetables! I love vegetables!),or

B. so addictive that once I start I never want to stop and if I did it yesterday I’m dying to do it again today; e.g.,

  • read,
  • write,
  • asana (physical yoga poses – and yes, legs up the wall counts. 100%),
  • pranayama (breath work, or literally “life force control”),
  • play guitar

Or they’re both A and B, like “meditate,” “neti pot**,” “shoulder therapy,” or “poop!” (OMG. TMI.) The coolest part is… I did the things! My record to beat was a 10 star day (I’m king of the world!!!) and it really helped me steer for a while. TODAY, WE RESURRECT THE STAR CHART. Time to do the things again.

The best new year’s resolution I’ve heard was a friend of a friend’s resolve to “just be a little bit better this year.” That is, not counting my own 2010 “quit my job and shoot a gun” which set in motion my move to AZ. Cuz that was pretty bad ass. You may not give a fuck about gold stars… but if you do, and you just want to be just a little (or a lottle) bit better this year, it can’t hurt*** to try, eh? Yours probably won’t look anything like mine (lime green and full of yoga dorkery (and a few skull & crossbones when I did text while driving. BAD.)), just like that friend of a friend’s “better” likely looks nothing like mine (he was Morman, for starters).

It’s not the distance, it’s the direction.

havasupai treking.jpg

And it helps to have a map of where you’ve been, of your recent trajectory. Our past by no means dictates our future but our future is determined by what we do today, what we choose to make our life about, to include and exclude. We get to decide; “decide” meaning literally “to cut off.”  We decide what goes by deciding what stays. Big rocks first.

Maybe give yourself a gold star or a little mental self-five when you earn one today if you’re into that sort of thing, I’m gonna go play the guitar for the first time this year. MUTHAFUCKIN’ STAR CHART FTW!



Annnnd please enjoy these footnotes:

*My preferred Superman variation involves rising for an inhale, squeezing at the top for an exhale, lower on an inhale, pausing at the bottom for an exhale, rinse repeat. 15 lifts make a set.

**Somewhere in my house is a love poem I wrote to my neti pot when I was super sick last May. It starts like an R&B song and ends with “let it invade your holes.” Lusty.

***There are no absolutes…. Paper cuts are always a possibility but you’ll really probably be fine; it’s super unlikely your mothafuckin’ star chart will make you bleed.