La Pachamama

I am at Esalen, the unique community perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur, California.

Esalen  was established to create an atmosphere of acceptance and freedom to explore the depths of the human experience.  It encourages each individual to dive deep into the darkest corners of their inner life and uncover those parts of themselves that are hidden.  Esalen is the home of the Human Potential Movement.  It aspires to help individuals achieve their own highest potential. 

For the past decade, I have been spending several weeks every year at Esalen attempting to become transparent to myself and developing the courage to be transparent to others.  What if the parts of ourselves we bury and hide are actually the most endearing, the most lovable, the most creative aspects of ourselves?  How will we ever know if we don’t open ourselves to discovery?

Each time I arrive the first few days are spent in transition from my outside “ordinary” life to the non-ordinary life of Esalen.  Part of that transition is the awareness of my “theme.”  A “theme” emerges in those opening days and it sets the tone for my experience.  Yesterday, the word for my theme came to me.  It is La Pachamama, the Andean word for Earth Goddess and when you say La Pachamama it means Mother Earth signifying the Goddess’ connection to Nature.

When I visited Peru a couple of years ago I spent time with several Andean Shamans and participated in their ceremonies.  I learned the meaning of the word Pachamama and my experiences there have influenced my life and choices since.  I am feeling honored that the days that are to come will be spent in further exploration of what this word means to me.  I started this morning with a poem.

LaPachamama pachamama

Pachamama is the gift of my life.

I seek to honor her with every breath breathed, every word spoken, every step taken.

I see Pachamama in the waves of the ocean, I feel her in the touch of the breeze on my skin.

She is the in the solid feeling of the earth beneath my feet.

It is Pachamama who is warming my face when I walk in the sunlight and activating my senses when I lie under the stars and gaze up at the full moon.

Pachamama is the rhythms of nature.

She releases the leaves from the trees and the raindrops from the thunderheads.

She pushes the baby bud from the protective cover of its seed and the chick out of its eggshell.

She whispers to me, teaching me the magical secrets of my Universe.

It is when I am still and turn my attention inward that I feel her.

It is when I am in wonder and awe of life that I sense her strongly.

It is when the complexities of my life reduce down to one simple knowing…then I am hearing her clearly and I understand.


Clarity of Purpose


Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

A friend who is following my blog emailed me yesterday morning right after I posted “Chronic.” He told me that he was imagining what it would be like for him to commit to writing a daily blog. The thought was “freaking him out!”
Upon further reflection he said that he had a feeling of losing control in the willingness to free-write and publish without censorship.
He sensed that I am surrendering to the blog. The blog is dictating the words and taking my time, energy and creativity where it wants to go.

His words made me think. I asked myself, “Why I am doing this?” The Blog (sounds like a grade B movie title) is a tool I am using to explore myself. When the idea first arrived, I thought my intention to write daily for 365 days was a test of my ability to have discipline. I was also intending to practice as an exercise in writing itself…to “hone my craft.” On a more personal level, I wanted to push my edge of exposure. I wanted to “walk my talk” and show whomever was watching or listening the “real me.” I wanted to drop the pretenses and stop trying to be whoever I thought someone wanted me to be. I wanted to discover the truth of who I am when the mask is off and I am revealed.

Somehow I thought that if I woke up and wrote whatever was in my dreamy, right-brain mind without thinking about it, it would be the “real me.” I would catch a glimpse of who is in there under the cover of domestication.

My friend wrote that my public intention to write every day for a year is “365 opportunities for failure.” He spoke of his deep-seated fear of public commitment which holds the possibility for public shame. He named the horror of domestication in its worst form; to teach an innocent child that “life is a certain way and he better get on board with it or burn in hell.” He noted how stifling and repressive that is, especially for creatures who are creative beings.
His words speak to the human experience I call “domestication” following the teachings of don Miguel Ruiz. And yes, religion is one of the most dehumanizing, horrific forms of domestication man perpetrates on his fellow-man. All of my domestication has stifled and repressed me. This is the reason I do what I do…I am trying to release myself from all forms of domestication and finally be free.
I am not writing for acceptance…I am writing for transparency. I am writing to discover and expose all the parts of me I never wanted seen.

I am writing to finally know the truth of who I am…because I believe that who I am, beneath the domestication, is Sacred.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

A dear friend, who has been a great teacher for me, reminded me of these words that I read long ago…

“There are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. …

Such moments are most desirable, for it means the soul has cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places.

This is detachment— when the old is over and the new has not yet come.

If you are afraid, the state may be distressing, but there is really nothing to be afraid of.

Remember the instruction: Whatever you come across— go beyond.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj

A Thin Thread

It is a thin thread that connects us to life as we know it. In a blink of an eye we can be transported from one life experience to another that is completely foreign to us…or even to an experience beyond life.
I have a friend that is like a sister to me. When she asks me to do something for her, I will do everything I can to comply. It is never a burden, but rather a joy because I love her.
Last week she called. A friend of hers I don’t know had been in an accident in Phoenix. While riding an ATV helmetless she fell and hit her head. At the time she didn’t lose consciousness and it was decided a hospital visit wasn’t necessary. The next day, however, symptoms started showing up that indicated a concussion so she went to the ER.
An arterial tear in her right carotid artery caused a large ischemic right hemisphere stroke and a smaller cerebellum stroke on the right side. She is paralyzed on her left side. Soon after she was admitted she was put into a drug induced coma while a 4X8 inch section of skull was removed to take the pressure of her swollen brain. She has a fracture at C-4. This was in early December. She was recently moved from the ICU to a rehab center to begin the process of reclaiming the life she knew.
Lana lives in a beach town in Los Angeles not far from my friend. They met through their love of scuba diving. Lana is an adventurer. She loves to climb mountains, dive into the sea, and fall out of airplanes.
I met Lana yesterday. I am in Phoenix on other business which made it possible to see her. My friend and I are both CranioSacral Therapists. We work with trauma. At my friend’s request, I went to see Lana to offer my hands and my presence to her broken body.
As I sat in her room holding her paralyzed hand I looked at the walls covered in cards and photographs. They told me the story of a young woman who is well loved and loves well. They showed me snapshots of her adventurous life…a life of high risk and great reward.
Lana is beginning to recover her life. She can speak and expression is returning to her eyes and her face. The numbness of her left side is now replaced with a tingling sensation as her nerves wake up. At the end of this month she will be flown back to L.A. to another rehab facility to finish the work of learning to walk and use her left arm again.
She told me she likes to solve problems in reference to her work as a software analyst. I believe she will continue to solve the problems that arise as she works her way back to life as she knew it. I walked away with renewed respect for human life and our ability to mend the broken thread.


The Annual Giggle-Fest

Lynda was one of my dearest friends from the time we met.  Adam and Brekk, our two oldest sons, were in pre-school together.  As the years would pass, they would become joined at the hip and Lynda and I would happily facilitate their lives as only two full-time Moms can do.

The memories of the things we did together would fill a book.  We put in as many unpaid hours at their schools as some employees…and we LOVED to run things!  We took turns trading off as President and V Pres of this and that committee or group…always a team.

The holidays were a big deal for our families and we especially got a kick out of Halloween.  Dreaming up costumes for the boys that were coordinated culminated in the year they were Mt. Rushmore!  I kid you not!

Most of the time we spent together was related in some way to the boys or the schools, but one December we decided to spend a day in St Louis Christmas shopping.  We went to the Union Station Mall with plans for shopping, lunch, and more shopping before heading back across the river for home.

As we wandered in and out of stores discussing the merits of various items and just what would make the perfect gift for each of the names on our lists, we walked into a card shop.  Neither of us really needed a particular card but we each picked one up and started reading.  I heard Lynda giggle and said, “What?”  She read the card to me and I laughed.  So I read the one I had to her and she laughed back.  Time stood still as we stood in that store reading cards to each other and laughing for more than an hour…and not just a polite ha-ha.  The laughs started rolling and each card we read added another layer of humor to the pile and before long we were out of control!  Tears were streaming down our faces as we released all the stress of the holidays in uproarious,  deep-from-the belly, moaning, cheek-aching, breath-taking laughter.

People looked.  People stared.  People smiled.  We were in our own world and what anyone was thinking of our scene wasn’t even on our radar.  It was so memorable that we revisited the experience for many Decembers to follow.

Holiday Letter 2012

For the children—yours and ours.

May they live in a world of peace.

May they live in a world of beauty.

May they live remembering that there is only One of us here.                    Joan Borysenko

Holiday Greetings from Chery and George!

We are happy to say that Brekk and Genevieve & Sam and Robin are doing well and enjoying full lives with their partners and families.  Had a great visit with both kids in February for Gen’s 26th birthday!

This is the year George retired from the school district to become a professional pilot and we celebrated with a two week road trip through the southwest. We visited Chris and Jessica in Truth or Consequences and many of the Red Rock parks of NM, AZ and UT.  It was a special time for reconnection and setting intentions.

I had an exceptional birthday party in Mar de Jade, Mexico.  Friends joined me for a week of dancing and playing (with siestas as needed.)  Gratitude to Zuza and Scott for holding such a special space for us.

I made several trips to South Dakota to visit Mom and Dad and family.  At 88 Mom is taking her daily walk and Dad is playing golf.  They still kick ass at the bridge table too!  Got to love good genetics!

I took a teacher training in NYC to become a Pelvic Floor specialist in yoga.  Loved my time in the village staying with dear friend, Lauralee, and pretending I lived there.

Living close allows more frequent trips to Gregg and Jo and Sun Joo lets me sing with the Tremble Clefs when I’m there.  Oh joy, joy and more joy!  Jo took me to her glass class and I learned a bit about glass fusing.  Made a small piece and now I want a kiln!  Gregg had deep brain stimulation surgery and is enjoying improvement in his PD symptoms…he is my hero.

In the summer I returned to Illinois to teach workshops and treat my dear clients.  I also led a woman’s retreat day which blessed us all.   I stayed with three different friends over the course of three weeks and had an amazing time with each.  Thank you, Ed & Laura, Sally & George and Billy!

The Kindred Spirits Retreat was in Jackson Hole with gracious hosts Gary and Fran.  We hiked and ate and played and ate and did multi-hand CST sessions and ate and sat in circle together and ate.  It was great!

Esalen has been a big part of my life for eight years and this year was no exception.  In the summer I assisted Healing the Pelvic Floor.  I witnessed a most incredible group of women who supported one another with their deep healing.  I just returned from two weeks of assisting a group of CST students and treating the staff with Suzanne, Carlos and Chris.  I never leave Esalen without learning something about myself.  If you are curious, you are welcome to read my blog at

Thanks to our skilled and creative craftsmen, Lonnie and Randy, Mountain Valley Retreat is on schedule for opening April 1, 2013.  I hope you will come and stay with us.  We are hopeful and excited about our future!

Love, Chery and George, (and Lemur and Oscar)

Transparent Process

G and I hiked up to Angela yesterday. We called her Turtle Rock until I asked her what her name is. Now we know she is Angela.
I read these words as G witnessed me and my spoken intention:
“I no longer seek to understand.
I seek only to surrender to the moment in gratitude.
I am transparent…all that I am opens to anyone who cares to know me.
I move through time and space with grace and ease.
I am here now, in this.
I breathe, ground and center, integrate, surrender and smile.
Life Is what it Is and I am grateful.”

I buried my intention in the sand with a gift to Spirit under the great Angela. I thanked Angela for being the guardian of my prayers and we hiked back down to the car.

My dreams were strong and significant last night. They spoke to me about being authentic. They told me, “It is time to break the domestication that has kept you enslaved by fear.”
When I awoke I knew some things. I knew that today would be a day of silence and fasting. I knew that I was deeply in process with this intention I had set through sacred word, ceremony and ritual.

I got up and went outside. It was raining a light cold rain. I got naked and slipped into the healing hot waters of the spa. I lay back in the water and felt the rain on my face. I let myself drift.
I saw the first cord. It was very thick and coming from my gut. I pulled on it and it came out of me in long lengths but I realized it wasn’t mine and it needed to be cut. A long, curve-bladed sword of gold appeared in my right hand. I looked up to see who was attached to the end of the cord. It was my father. I blessed him and cut the cord close to my skin and released it to him. I watched the images disappear into the rain. The sword floated away as well.
I saw a slightly less thick cord that had been hidden by the first larger one. I followed it out into space and saw it was attached to my ex-husband. A silver scalpel came into my hand. I blessed him and cut the cord close to my skin with a sawing action. It felt tough. When it was cut through I released it with the scalpel and watched them disappear into the grey sky.
There were a few strands still coming from the hole in my gut and I wrapped them around my hand and pulled them loose easily and released them. This felt complete.
I rested in the hot swirling water. There was more to be done. I felt a cord from the front of my brain. It was attached to Dad. I cut it as I had the first one. I felt another from behind the crown. It was attached to Jim. I cut it as I had the second one. I asked the essence of these attachments and I heard that these influences were instrumental in my “ compulsion to understand and be right.”
I checked around my body for more and found three cords from my heart. The first went to my mother and the other two went to my children. They felt like healthy, loving support. I left them alone.
I rested. As my head floated in the water I felt a cord coming from the back of my brain that branched out into many and attached to G. As I felt into them I realized they were my attachments to his behaviors and my projections about who he “should” be.
A copper sickel appeared along with a small flaming torch. I reached behind my head and severed the cords as a group holding them tightly in my left hand. I held the ends to the flame and they lit and burned like fuses, disappearing into the places they were attached to his body.
I said a blessing of thanks for freeing my Spirit/Body/Mind from these unhealthy attachments.
I climbed out of the tub and stood in the rain. I moved through a sun-salutation as tears of gratitude mixed with the tears from the sky and I was blessed.