Magic on Maui & Kauai

Between adventuring and resting, there was not much time to write while on retreat in Hawaii. On the plane ride home, I wrote until my hand could write no more as I tried to capture all the magical moments of this retreat. Traveling with a chronic illness is never easy. However by respecting the body’s limits, pacing, and with the silent power of meditation, not only is travel possible, it’s fun!

I thought about sharing excerpts from my journal, but instead I decided to share the posts and pictures that landed on my Facebook page during the trip. I’ve incorporated those posts into this blog, and added a few more photos and videos that didn’t make it on social media. On this most recent retreat, I’ve learned some important lessons that I plan to take with me into all aspects of life. I hope you can use them too. Enjoy Hawaii!

Like stars, we shine
for anyone who wants to look.

Progress – our own or that of others –
is none of our business

Our job is simply to shine.

July 18, 2016

Live above the clouds…


July 19, 2016

Cloudy on the mountain, but loving Hawaii!!










We left the summit clouds of Haleakala for the Lavender farm, where we found sunshine and Buddhas! If we are flexible, then life gives us wonderful surprises when things don’t work out as planned.



In Paia, we walked inside this little stupa, turning the prayer wheel. At first, my traveling companions started walking faster and faster until I felt I was about to break into a jog! (Apparently one of them was trying to get the bell to ring more often!) I had to ask them to slow way down, and remind them this was an opportunity for walking meditation. Once we slowed our pace, we began chanting OM AH HUNG, which was painted on the inside wall along with a majestic mural of various Buddhas. A little girl watched us with curiosity, so I invited her in when I reach the doorway. She walked with us as we turned the big prayer wheel. There’s always room for another friend on the Path. The acoustics in the tiny building were amazing. We all left there feeling the beauty and Light of all the Buddhas!


After dinner, a magical moon came out to play…
What do you see in this picture?MagicalMoon

(I see a pyramid!)

July 20, 2016


There was a dog howling at the moon in the middle of the night near our room at the Kula Lodge. The wild roosters have begun to crow. And I know it’s going to be a wonder-filled day!




Amazing gift today…


The weather cleared this morning on the volcano so we could see all the beauty of the alien looking landscape of Haleakala. The sun warmed the air to an unusual high of 62 degrees at 10,000 feet!


Yesterday we had to put on rain ponchos and heavy coats and we couldn’t see 5 feet in front of us! Now we can see the Observatory and the ocean 10,000 feet below!



When we went walking and it became too warm, a light misty rain cooled us. When we became chilled, the sun would come back out to warm us up again. So magical to have the weather respond to our every thought! More proof that Eternity always gives us exactly what we need, when we need it.


We sat in silence on a grassy patch at the side of a trail at 8,000 feet while the insects buzzed and danced. The mist and sun continued to keep us comfortable.  While in that little grassy field, we made a short video to share a wonderful story of the Aloha Spirit in action that we had witnessed in the parking lot.  You can watch it below:

As we headed back, important decisions of whether the need to pee outweighed the need to rest were made. For one of us –not me, but I’m not saying who – the need to pee won forcing this person to make a dash to the bathroom in the parking lot, while two of us remained resting on the trail. When we got back to the car, the rain clouds had rolled in, completely obscuring the view.


So blessed to have the opportunity to see this and be here!

I am thankful I didn’t have to wait for a healthy body to enjoy the transient nature of it all! If you are out there waiting, know you don’t have to either. Get out and enjoy this amazing world in whatever way you can.

Nene birds gazing out at Haleakala

July 21, 2016

We left the Maui mountains and are now enjoying the Garden Island of Kauai. We are thankful for the pre-retreat clearing on Maui, and are ready to meet the others for the full “Touching Aloha” retreat!

Goodbye Maui

I want to mention a note of gratitude for the kindness from the TSA workers at the Maui airport. My travel companions were TSA pre-check, but I wasn’t, so they left me at the security check point. I didn’t think the security line was very long, but when I got to what I thought was the end, I discovered it went farther than I could see, and snaked back and forth three times. The heat and humidity washed over me, and my muscles complained from the previous day’s walk on the volcano. I started heading for the back of the line and realized my body was not going to make it without severe consequences. The previous week I had read an article on the Mighty, which gave me the information that there is help at the airport for those of us with physical challenges (even if we don’t look the part) and the courage to show the TSA agent my disabled parking card. Without making a big deal of it, she pointed me towards the unmarked handicapped entrance, explained the procedure of showing the next agent my card, and saved me from what would have become a grueling increased pain flare that could have ruined the rest of the trip. We need to be willing to ask for and receive a reasonable accommodation when we need it. (The old me would have waited until the pain had become too intense to handle before talking to the TSA agent.)

Hello Kauai






The birds are chirping and the wind is dancing with the palms as the sun begins to rise.


May your day be as beautiful as the ocean kissing the sand!


July 22, 2016

We hiked up this trail, very slowly. A big Thank You to Lakshmi for helping me keep the correct pace! She used walking sticks, and her deliberate placing of each pole and each foot allowed me time to rest in between each step I took. My walk up the mountain was step step rest. This proves once again that going slow allows me to go far.


When we sat in meditation on the side of this sacred trail, I felt the energy of the land growing within me like an ivy vine, slow, strong and vibrant. Later when we talked, Lakshmi, our guide for this retreat, said the island of Kauai plants the seed of truth within us.

At this view point the wind was so strong it pushed me back on my butt right after this picture was taken!

The beach you see below is where we snorkeled with the fish and floated in the healing water.

“Can I push your feet?” asked my friend when we were in the water. The current was too strong for me to keep swimming against to keep my place next to the fish and coral reef and I was about to head out of the water. She pushed my feet while I steered, and we had a hard time not laughing with our masks on as we followed the fish around and attempted to avoid collisions with others enjoying the water. Accepting help from others allows us to explore much more than we can reach on our own.


July 23, 2016

We were able to visit the local Buddhist Temple, even though it was closed, thanks to our BuddhistTemple-Smallexcellent retreat leader Lakshmi. She was able to find the caretaker and asked permission for us to sit in the Temple. It was such a blessing to be allowed to sit inside to meditate. After exchanging business cards with the Buddhist priest, we went outside to put our shoes back on. The temple priest came outside and gave us all books describing their particular path of Soto Buddhism.

In the parking lot, one our retreat members flipped open the book to a page with the Japanese character for Sangha. No matter the particulars of our personal Path, we are all connected in the community of Light.


After shopping, ice cream, and a great meal, we found ourselves somewhere over the rainbow…


There’s nothing quite like floating in warm ocean water as the waves rock you beneath a full spectrum, half-circle rainbow. Not that we needed it, but it was yet another wonderful reminder: Magic is real. The rainbow lasted for over an hour, giving us a chance to take pictures!

There’s also nothing quite like aggressive chickens on the beach!chicken-small




July 24, 2016

Today I felt like I was in India. My first time at a Hindu temple for puja filled my being with endless bliss. The rain washed us clean before and after the ceremony. While listening to beautiful chanting by the monk, I easily slipped into meditation and Ganesh appeared before me as I sat in front of a huge statue of Lord Kartikeya!

At the temple entrance, Ganesh stood watch over a pavilion with a bowl designed to let you burn a piece a paper on which you write an obstacle you’re facing. Thank you Ganesh for removing the obstacles in my Path!


Photos inside the temple were not allowed, but I found this friend waiting at the end of the Banyan Tree meditation path. (see video below) The exact moment I rang the bell in offering a prayer, a small branch from the tree tapped my third eye. Very playful!

On our last night on this magical island, She cleared the clouds and showed us the stars! This retreat has connected me to the Fire element like never before. I feel the flames of love, and the joyful activity that is to come upon my return. So thankful for all the blessings on this journey!

July 25, 2016

Mahalo Kauai for all the magic!


And Mahalo to my dear friend Lakshmi of Integrated Meditation Studies for organizing the Touching Aloha Retreat to Kauai for Dharma Center Members and sharing this beautiful treasure with us.




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Always More in Arches and Enlightenment


Enlightenment goes on forever. There is always more to explore in the endless play of consciousness. During my second trip to Arches National Park, this became even more evident.

Three years ago on my first visit to this special place of power, Enlightenment awakened and I was reborn as Isis. The energy of the Mother flowed through me and I dissolved, and along with it all doubt and any need for validation. The infinite Happiness and Peace I had chased for most of my life became a permanent state of being. Even when annoyed with the trials and tribulations of daily living, unreasonable joy permeates through my mind as if teasing my ego, constantly revealing the truth of non-dual Reality.

On this year’s retreat, a group of fellow students on the Path met me in Utah. Opposition greeted each of us on our journey; however we all made it to the little town of Moab by sunset. Over the course of the weekend, we explored Arches, discovering places I had not found on my first visit. Even now there are many more areas to visit; like Enlightenment, there is always more in Arches!

On our first walk to Broken Arch, dozens of blooming prickly pear cacti greeted us withBrokenArch yellow and ppurple-flower-cactusurple flowers. At the Arch, we sat on a shaded flat area as the wind began the first of many sand-blasting
purifications. The stress of the opposition we faced in our travels disappeared, leaving only shining joy. The world, with all of its worries and plans and schemes fell away from each of us. The energy of the Mother supported us, hugging and cradling us in her arms, fully accepting all aspects of our being.

That night, we visited what I call the Temple of the Eye. Steps lead up to a massive Arch overlooking the valley and facing another Arch, which appears like a portal with a river of pure creation pouring forth from its opening. As we began our walk up, I asked if the others were ready to see God. We meditated well past midnight as the clouds played with the moon and stars. At one point, the clouds parted, leaving a hole the same shape as the Arch we sat under. Stars twinkled through this sky eye like tiny pupils reacting to light.EyeSteps

As I focused on each chakra, I observed the movement from unity to individuality and back to unity. When I had trouble observing the third eye, I realized the eye cannot see itself. The earth, moon, and stars were my body and the wind my breath. Without a mirror, I could not see Myself, so I moved on to the crown. Waves of emotion pulsated through me, bringing tears of joy to my eyes as I felt all of this as me; I was being reborn thousands of times in an instant.

At some point during all of this, God appeared in the form of four women who were laughing and giggling at first, but grew quiet as they approached. Startled yet relieved, one of them spoke with me about how they were feeling some fear about being there alone in the dark. I told them we were meditating and enjoying the wind. One of them apologized for disturbing the peace and I laughed, saying “not at all.” We were one, and I loved the play of creation standing before me. Some in our party were a bit cranky about being disturbed, especially when the women started taking selfies around the one student who most wanted them to leave. Soon they went on their way and we returned to the silence within the roaring of the wind.

This new level of connection to this powerful place continued to grow within me the next day. We returned to the temple area, but this time we went to the portal arch. I sat outside, waiting for an invitation to enter this most holy space. When the time was right, I climbed up the rocks and passed through into another world. At the top, the most beautiful puddle puddleI have ever seen greeted me like a precious gift from God. A tourist walked by, so rather than let the emotion overpower me, I stifled a sob. I laughed at this new awareness of the exquisite beauty of this world that pulled such uncharacteristic sappiness from me.

Although I had visited this place three years before, it was completely different than I or my companion at the time remembered. Before, there had been only a large boulder with steep drop-offs on all sides. Now there was a path leading down to the valley and a stone bridge crossing to the huge formation marking the other side of the valley.

Despite a latent fear of heights, I was drawn to cross the narrow bridge. As I sat in meditation on the other side, I merged into the womb of the Mother. Energy flowed into my heart – everything: the light, the dark, the fear, the anguish and sorrow, and the joy of IMG_3876everyone and everything streamed into my chest. The energy passed through the channels and gathered at my second chakra, building and building until it connected with the kundalini in the first chakra and burst. It flowed up the central channel and exploded out my third eye as the river of creation I had seen the night before. At the same time, energy poured out the crown like a fountain, returning the energy to my heart keeping the cycle going. Ecstasy beyond bliss fails to express what it felt like to be that cycle of creation and destruction. The feeling remains with me even now as I write these words.

Later that day, we moved over to the Cathedral; a complex of Double Arches which creates the sense of being in an ancient church. We climbed over the rocks, as some of our party scaled a wall to perch inside a smaller Arch. Children scampered around, delighting us with their ability to pick the lines of travel up and down the rock walls without hesitation. As the sun set, we sat like Buddhas inside a mandala, each on our own private throne in the Cathedral, while the remaining tourists took pictures. With the descent of darkness, we meditated and waited for the moon.

Sliver light appeared behind a large rock formation that reminded me of a giant Ganesh. The clouds parted just behind his right ear as the moon began to shine. The wisps of cloud remaining took on ethereal shapes: a phoenix, a baby dinosaur, then a huge wolf with piercing eyes surveying us. The moon and clouds danced, revealing a peek of the silver orb, then hiding her in the shadows. She revealed her full light as we readied to leave, as a parting gift, before dark storm clouds swallowed her whole.

Following the path back to the cars, we walked in complete darkness with just flashlights to guide us. Only a few feet of the path could be seen in front of me, reminding me of how life is like that: we don’t usually get to see very far from where we are; all we are given is a light to show us where to step next.

At the retreat house we took a moment to express one thing we were thankful for during the trip. To my surprise, the student who had objected to the selfie-taking women said he was grateful for their presence. The experienced allowed him to shave off a bit more of the bondage to the ego, letting him be more at ease with things that disturb his peace. This change provided an excellent example of the sense of friendliness and openness I hoped we would all bring back to the world.  Each of the students grew a little deeper into Light over our short four day trip. I feel enormous gratitude to have been honored to be with these remarkable students of Light and share this beloved space.

While I have left Arches, Arches has not left me. The wind is my breath; the earth, moon, and stars are my body. As the play of consciousness continues, there is always more to explore. And for my next adventure, there’s a body to rest after all the over-exertion, dishes to wash and laundry to fold.




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3 Reasons to Retreat

Many people in our society work themselves to the breaking point, and then they seek an escape from their stressful lives. This escape is usually in the form of a vacation. However,CathedralLight they often spend most of their getaway feeling just as stressed as when they were working. The only benefit seems to be the addition of pleasant memories that serve as a virtual means of escape until the next vacation.

On the path of spiritual practice, retreat does not mean running away. Rather, a retreat is a strategic withdrawal with the intent to return stronger. As we work in the world, we use our mindfulness practice to stay aware of how we are doing on all levels, and we plan our step back consciously so we avoid losing all perspective in what can quickly become a life and death struggle.

The practice of retreat has three reasons behind it, each one working in concert with the others.


The first part of any successful retreat is relaxation. We must be willing to detach from the world, from all of our struggles on the playing field, and from everything that defines us. There’s an assumption this happens automatically, hence the popularity of vacation. However, you’ve probably already noticed how when you step away from work and the struggles of daily life, they stay with you in your mind. When we plan a retreat, we factor in time to allow both the body and mind to relax. Part of this time is spent tying up loose ends before leaving – this is the strategic withdrawal. For example, making sure the bills are paid, putting up an out-of-town notice on your email, and making sure you have clean clothes ready for your return to work in your closet. Once you’ve arrived at your retreat destination, consciously let go of everything, trusting that your preparations will hold all the aspects of your life together while you are away. Relaxation purifies our being, creating within us a sense of inner detachment that allows us to see the path before us with clarity.


Once you’ve relaxed, rejuvenation is possible. For many people, this is the favorite part of a retreat, and they try to jump right into new experiences. Relaxing creates a space for those new experiences to be explored without the stress of the past getting in the way. Others get stuck in the relaxation phase. Instead of stopping with the clearing away, we can fill ourselves with Light by embracing all the present moment has to offer. On a retreat, we may visit new places, meet new people, push ourselves into higher brighter mind states through meditation – or do all of the above. Part of the fun of retreat is figuring out what will provide a sense of renewal, right now. Rejuvenation rebuilds our being from the inside, creating a sense of excitement about life and our place within it.


Rejuvenation gives us the energy required to reconnect with our highest, deepest Self. While living and working in the world, it’s easy to lose our way and become bogged down by material concerns. We start looking outward and attempt to fix the world, forgetting that all we experience is a reflection of our inner being. Our perception as a separate individual tricks us into thinking we are alone, and the world rests solely upon our shoulders. That weight can cause us to doubt ourselves and make us feel as if we can accomplish nothing. By communing with Spirit, God, Source, or whatever your Word of the day is, we remember what we are: pure Light. Reconnection with this wisdom provides the strength to return to our work in the world.

For those of us serious about our spiritual practice, making time to retreat is not an option, it’s a necessity. Even when we cannot disappear for several days, we can still create a retreat whenever the need arises. All we need to do is remember these three reasons – Relaxation, Rejuvenation, Reconnection – and carve out time to step away and experience all three. We may only be gone for a few minutes or an hour, but this conscious retreat can make all the difference in our inner life.EyeArch

If you would like to experience a longer retreat, join me in May 2016 at Arches National Park in Utah. Please visit to learn more.



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My work is entirely funded by my readers – by you. If you like what you have read, if you find insight or inspiration in these words, please visit my Support page to learn how you can help keep the work going with a one-time gift, or as an ongoing Patron.