Musings and Deep Thoughts

The Vehicle of the Flesh

“I want my business to be successful…I want a partner…I want to be a shaman… I want a (fill in the blank). I’ll just put it out to the universe!”

Having worked and taught for many years in the fields of shamanism and spirituality, I continue to hear things like this over and over. And okay, I’ll admit that I’d also been guilty of putting things out to the universe too until I learned a little secret.

Often, when I’ve worked with people in these more esoterical areas, they’ll tell me that only things of a spiritual nature are worthy of their consideration. There’s a misconception that since the spiritual realms exist at higher frequencies than those of our heavier corporeal domain, they must certainly be superior. Anything to do with the body, dealing with physical world things, or even having to interact with “regular” people (gasp!) is greeted with great reluctance and a lot of sighing. Yet even after their furious efforts of praying, visualization, or working in certain kinds of ceremonies, the petitioner remains jobless, broke, or alone. So, what went wrong?

One view that is widely held across many different belief systems is that there is much more to us than just our flesh and bones: human beings are a duality. We are primarily spirits, made in the Creator’s own image. We are also physical beings, skin-covered vehicles which allow our spirit bodies to interact with the physical universe. As you might imagine, this is a very complicated subject which would take up far more space than this blog would allow, so let’s keep things simple. If we acknowledge this duality, then we need to engage both sides, not just the spiritual side. If we want something physical, we must work through our physical medium in order to get it.

Some years ago, I was training with a group of healers in the Pacific Northwest. The group leader–let’s call him Kevin-was a tall and somewhat portly man in his late forties who had a way of making his students feel really uncomfortable. It wasn’t that he was a jerk, but he had a way of speaking to the person’s spirit and subconscious rather than to their conscious mind. It’s hard to describe, but as you were speaking to him you’d be aware that something deep inside of you was being shaken and rattled.

I can’t recall the details of what we were talking about, but it had to do with something I wanted to manifest in my life. Giving me one of his intense, penetrating looks, he asked me what I’d done so far in order to bring about the changes I sought.

“Well, uh, I put it out to the universe and…”

He cut me off before I could go any deeper into my nonsense.

“Oh? Oh, really? You put it out to the universe? Well, that’s just wonderful. And what else did you do?”

His tone was scathing and I suddenly felt like an idiot.

“What else? What do you mean, what else?” Like many others, I truly believed that if I handed things “upstairs” then nothing more would need to be done.

Kevin’s reply changed my life. All these years later, I realize it wasn’t that his tone implied he was disgusted with me, but rather that he was sick of hearing that same phrase over and over.

“If you put something out to the universe, you must then follow it up with some kind of action in order to bring it from the spirit world into the physical world. If you just put it out there, you are only dealing with half the equation. Does that make sense? Think about this for a bit, and I’ll check in with you later.”

It’s been many years since our little chat in that cold meadow, but I’ve seen for myself that what he told me is true. I’ve incorporated this principle of taking dual action with my own students and groups. If you want to manifest something in your life, you must move energy in order to make it happen. Use the spiritual side to imagine what you want; see it, feel it, and put it out there, but then follow it up with physical action.

For example, let’s say you want a life partner. Imagine what that person might look like and how they may act, which traits you want them to have and which ones are not so important to you, and so on. It’s okay to put it out there, but then you must follow up with some kind of action. Open a dating app, hire a matchmaker, engage in an activity that you love, go outside your comfort zone and move around; be social. You get the picture.

Taking action shows the universe that you’re willing to work for your desired outcome, and in doing so everything works together with you to bring it forth. There are no shortcuts.

So, embrace your duality. Don’t just put things out to the universe and cross your fingers. Add the vehicle of the flesh in to balance the equation and you’ll be able to move mountains.

A Small Part of a Big Picture

Why me?

Why is this happening to me?

Have you ever asked yourself this before? Maybe you had car troubles on the way to an important appointment. Or perhaps the WIFI went down before you could send out your resume for that perfect job.

Perhaps the better question should be why not me?

In the shamanic view of creation, everything is connected. Eastern yogic practices acknowledge a universal field. And those who study particle physics, going farther and farther down into the atom, atomic particles, and then subatomic particles, will say that the space between these particles is immense. Eventually, it all filters down to what appears to be nothing. A universal field, the void, all that is, the Akashic Records; there are many names for this space.

So what does this vast emptiness have to do with personal disasters? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

I recently had to let go of an old and comfortable relationship with someone I trusted because I started seeing a hidden side of him. On the surface he presented one thing, but deep down his actions seemed to speak the opposite. I admit that I felt like I’d been hit by a train at full speed. The anger eventually gave way to depression. Here was my occasional business partner, someone with whom who I’d shared a lot of interesting work and social engagements, and now I was on my own. Why me?

I’d been here before. Job losses, relationship break ups, things going horribly wrong. Yes, I’d been here before, but this time, I knew what to do. I allowed myself time to grieve because this process is important. Then I let it all go and took a deep breath and waited.

Something else was coming. The universe had other plans for me, and those plans did not include my ex-partner. I couldn’t go where I wanted to go with someone who didn’t walk with integrity, so I took the risk of flying solo.

And suddenly, amazing things started happening.  Work offers I could not have seen coming and new business partnerships suddenly appeared. Why was this happening to me? Because I was able to see the bigger picture.

Most of us have been through various traumas and dramas in our lives. While they are happening, we feel like grains of sand being rolled in shore waves, tossed around and slammed down with a force. We protest, we ask God to help us, we complain, we do what we can to make the issue just stop. But then time passes. Months, maybe years, then we are able to look back and see the entire chain of dominoes. That one event or series of events happened for a reason. Perhaps that relationship was toxic. Perhaps we were meant to be doing something else with our lives. It’s not until we are able to let go of what was holding us down that we can fly.

So the next time you get a flat tire or your new date ghosts you, take a deep breath.  That flat tire may have delayed your arrival at a disaster scene. That absent date could have been a homicidal, ax-wielding maniac. At this point, you don’t really need explanations. Just relax, breathe, and know it is all a small part of a bigger picture, a picture you will be able to see in time.

Have patience, dear one. In that seeming emptiness of the universal field lies your destiny. When you release attachment to the smaller events, you will enter the flow of your big picture. And when you do, you will be able to finally say, “Ohhhhhh, now I understand!”







I Love You

I’m writing this from the beautiful city of Charlottesville, Virginia. I came here nearly a week ago to officiate at the wedding of some very dear friends of mine. It’s been quite the adventure learning how to deal with the established state procedures at various courthouses, but it’s all a learning experience.

One thing that has really struck me during the many events surrounding the ceremony was the dedication of the people who came from all over the country just to be with the happy couple. We spent hours and days together just sitting and talking. New connections were made, and I know my own connection with my friends certainly deepened. Over the week as people spent more time with each other I began to hear the L word more and more.

I love you.

I love you, too.

When was the last time you either said this to someone or someone said it to you and really meant it?

In my work as a spiritual counselor and therapist I too often see the results of the lack of intimacy in people’s lives. We hide behind computer screens and write to our hundreds of friends, yet which of them could you call in an emergency? Some of those I work with haven’t felt the human touch in years. Imagine that.

When I was growing up as a Catholic I used to hear that no man is an island, but I never knew what it really meant. Now I do.

We can all do something every day to reach out to those who may have become isolated for whatever reason. Sometimes a simple smile will make a huge difference in someone’s day. Sure, you’re probably not going to tell a stranger that you love them, but a simple gesture speaks volumes in itself.

This has been quite an intense few weeks. I lost a friend to cancer, I married two others, and another had a baby. I am happy to be here in the middle of it all, for happiness or sadness. I love all those who I work with.

I love you.

Pass it on.

Someone else’s shoes


We’ve all heard the saying the above saying in one form or another, but what does it really mean?

I’ll illustrate this with an example taken from a recent consult.

A young woman came to me wanting to find out why her life wasn’t working the way she thought it should be. Relationships kept ending, she’d received a probation notice at work, and she kept finding herself left out of gatherings with people she thought were her friends. What was going on?

As we talked, a similar theme kept arising throughout all of the different scenarios: it was always them, not me!

She complained bitterly about an older coworker who had gotten her in trouble with management, resulting in her being given a warning that her job performance was under scrutiny. On my asking, she did admit that she was often guilty of acting like a jerk, but she seemed to think this was funny for some reason.

I asked her to tell me about this coworker, and a sad story came out. The woman was in her seventies, still having to work and bring in income so she could support her grandchildren and other dependent family members. Think about that for a moment. We dream of being able to retire around age 65, yet this poor soul could not because she was the sole provider for a very dysfunctional family.

Yet not only was she coming to work every day, she was being treated rather rudely by this younger staff member who made sure her work days were filled with challenges and strife. No wonder she complained to the management!

So I worked with my client to have her first hold up a mirror to examine how she herself might be contributing to her own woes. This took quite awhile, but the light began to dawn.

I then had her put herself in the older woman’s place. How would she feel if she were some fifty years older, and not only still having to work full time, but then return home to take care of young family members? empathy-walking-in-someone-elses-shoes-heather-lane-vetere-2-638

At first she thought I was joking, but we continued with the exercise. She finally admitted that perhaps there was something there that was her fault, and that this had never occurred to her at all before.

As we were wrapping up, I gave her the task of walking a mile in another’s shoes before she pointed a finger at them. She admitted that it wasn’t going to be easy as she blamed her mother for her being the way she was. Maybe. Possibly. But we all have the power to change the pattern.

She was intrigued at the new point of view that had arisen and said she would do her best to try to understand someone else’s point of view before she criticized them or started playing mean tricks on them. I look forward to following her progress.

This has also been a lesson I had to learn when I was a much younger, and not always very nice, version of myself. Perhaps if we could all take a moment to walk in someone else’s shoes, to try to understand their lives a little better, we could create a more peaceful world.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?








Live for This Moment

I write this in sorrow, having lost a dear friend of mine to cancer last night. She was the second one this year, and that’s two too many. I am very grateful that I was able to be there with her and her family for her last two days and that she was able to pass out of her pain in peace. Death is not like a sport where it gets easier with time and practice. No, it never gets any easier.

It’s important to take time to grieve and honor the loved one. It’s also important to keep living. None of us knows when we will be called home, so every moment here is precious. My friend was with us chatting and living less than a week ago, and within three days she was gone. Three days! So fast.

Wherever you are, take a moment to just look around at what you have and take a deep breath. Let it out slowly with gratitude knowing just how precious that breath is. Our loved ones in spirit would want this for us.