Life coaching for a better world

Coolest bike trailer ever! (Or, how I spent my stimulus)

I’m so excited!! (And honestly kinda scared!)

I just placed my order for this amazing bike trailer, designed specifically for the Brompton by a company in the Netherlands (where they know a thing or two about cycling.) I saw the promotional video a few months ago, and couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Mind you, I’ve never biked with a trailer before. Not once.

I’m also not particularly mechanically inclined.

I know I will end up loving this, but I’m a little nervous about how I’ll feel when it actually arrives and I need to put it together, and then use it!

But.

This is such a tangible way for me to continue committing to this journey I’ve started. Part of me had thought, Why don’t I wait until later to get the trailer? What’s the rush? I don’t want to jump the gun.

It was fear.

“What if I later decide I needed that money?”

“What if something comes up to thwart the trip? I will have wasted the money!”

“Can I be the kind of person who has a bike trailer??”

And… as I’ve written before, these days I am choosing to allow my decisions to be guided by inspiration and trust, not fear.

The stimulus was the perfect nudge.

Meanwhile, I have been jumping into doing the interpersonal work that is every bit as much an essential part of this trip as bicycling equipment.

I’ve done 27 2021-intention-setting sessions since December 21st, which is more than one per day on average. I have loved every minute of it, and based on the feedback I’ve been receiving, so have the people I’ve been talking with. People are setting many different intentions for this year, but I’m loving some of the themes and overlaps I’m noticing, and I’ve also been enjoying connecting people with resources to support their dreams where I can. In some cases, this has included introducing some of these folks to each other, where their interests overlap.

This is what the trip is about. And the more sessions I do, the more powerful the network will become, to the benefit of everyone. I intend to continue doing this work from now through the end of the tour, and probably beyond. It’s not even just in the US, either: I’ve done one session with someone in Canada, and have scheduled another with someone in Australia.

I would love to do sessions with people in all US states (especially the ones I’ll be traveling through!) as well as countries around the world. How much of an impact can we all make, individually and collectively? There is so much important and beautiful work to be done to make this world a better place.

I continue to offer these sessions free of charge, with optional donations or trades welcomed but not at all expected. I believe this work needs to happen, and I love to do it, and I trust the money will work itself out.

Do you have dreams for the coming year? Would you like one of these sessions? Comment or email me (maren@dreamintochange.com) to schedule a one-hour phone call or video chat.

Would you like to support my efforts financially? I’m accepting one-time donations via PayPal (you can send it straight to the above email address) or monthly support at www.patreon.com/dreamintochange. My aim is to manifest $50,000, via various sources, for the year I’ll be on the road. (If you happen to know any fairy godfunders, please feel free to put them in touch!)

I’ll keep you updated on the bike trailer when it arrives. Meanwhile, I hope your dreams are unfolding joyfully in this tumultuous world. We need the forward momentum of our dreams more than ever at a time like this.

Please vote!! and a MoveOn.org benefit for November

I’ll keep this brief. I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone reading this that our nation, and our world, are at a political crisis point. The US midterm election is less than a week away, and its results could have catastrophic consequences for numerous marginalized groups of people, as well as our natural environment, for years or decades to come.

So, three things from me:

  • Please, please, please vote. And please encourage your friends and others to do so, in person and/or via social media, lawn signs, door-to-door canvassing, street-level actions (alone or in a group)… etc.
  • I recently learned of a peer-to-peer texting-based Get Out the Vote campaign by MoveOn.org. I plan to sign up and spend a view hours texting targeted progressive voters. If this type of activism appeals to you, you can learn more at https://front.moveon.org/join-moveon-text-team/
  • I have always appreciated the work of MoveOn, in all their various campaigns. I am going to support them financially with a benefit this month: For any Happy to Listen or Dream Into Change session scheduled and paid for between now and Election Day on November 6th, I will donate 20% to MoveOn.org. (The session can take place later if need be; it just must be scheduled and paid for by the 6th.) I want anyone to be able to participate, so this will be a sliding-scale/pay-what-you-can session, but 20% of whatever you pay will go to MoveOn. This is a great time to brainstorm a campaign or project you may have been toying with, and/or to speak out loud any hopes, fears, anger, or other emotions that might be keeping you up at night in this fraught time. I am here to listen and offer emotional and/or strategic support.

May we all move forward together, toward a better world.

Three new salons: Portland, Boston, and Vancouver, BC!

I love my Dream Into Change salons, and I’m taking them international this summer!  I will be visiting the lovely Vancouver, BC, by train (of course!) at the end of June and beginning of July, and I will be and hosting a vegan-themed salon while I’m there.  I can’t wait to hear what all those cool Vancouverites are dreaming up!

A month before that, I will also be hosting a vegan-themed salon in Boston (Cambridge, to be more precise) over the Memorial Day weekend,when I visit that fair city to connect with a dear friend.  I’m finding that the vegan social and activist scenes in Boston are different from those in the Western cities I’m more familiar with, so I’m interested to see what sorts of things the movers and shakers (and aspiring movers & shakers!) in that region are dreaming up as well.  The number of all-vegan restaurants in the Boston area seems to have just about tripled since the last time I was there, in 2013, for my East Coast Empathy Tour… so I know there must be cool things percolating!

And finally, right here in my own Portland backyard, on May 9th I will be hosting my first ever sustainable-transportation themed salon. Portland is well known for being a great bike and transit city; I myself have lived here happily since 1990 without ever owning a car.  There is constant innovation in those arenas, and much of it comes from the grassroots.  I want to learn what people are working on and envisioning right here where I live.

More details about all the events can be found on my Events page, and as always, I would love your help in spreading the word about these events.  So, if you know people in these cities who might be interested, please share the event links with them!

Accountability: The political and the personal

As I’ve written before—and as I certainly don’t need to point out to anyone reading this—we are living in very difficult times. Violence, prejudice and oppression, and environmental destruction are all around us. Political atrocities and scandals bombard our news feeds daily, if not hourly. It can be very easy, under these conditions, to lose a sense of hope for humanity. Many people I know are feeling depressed and desolate about the possibility of positive change.

On a more personal scale, many of us are also struggling with interpersonal connections. Many of my friends are longing for close romantic connections, and/or mourning the loss of such connections that are ending. Many people are also feeling disconnected from family, friends, or coworkers because of political differences that seem to feel more stark with each passing day.

For the past several months, I have been personally struggling with both of these: the large-scale and personal-scale breakdown of human connection. I feel it keenly. It informs my listening and coaching practices as I work with clients who are facing similar struggles. I find myself struggling with a sense of deep loneliness and despair. As I reach out to others to talk about it, I find that these feelings are very commonplace.

So what can we do about all of this? What kinds of things can we do to sustain ourselves, each other, and humanity as a whole?
Lately I’ve been thinking about accountability. I perceive that we have a deficit of accountability in the world at present, and I believe it contributes to our current state of affairs.

On the large-scale level, I think most people can agree that many politicians lack accountability to the people they ostensibly serve. This has become increasingly obvious in the past few months, as the White House public phone-comment line was shut down, and several members of Congress have stopped holding public town hall meetings in their districts because they don’t want to face the opposition and tough questions they are likely to encounter in such meetings.

When our leaders fail to take accountability for their leadership, we are all left feeling vulnerable and uneasy. How can our needs be met? How can our voices be heard?

Meanwhile, on the small-scale social end of things, I have watched over the past few years as texting has replaced voice talking, Facebook messaging is replacing the longer-form email messages I used to enjoy taking the time to craft and savor, and “swipe-culture” dating apps are replacing meaningful opportunities to get to know people with whom we may seek to share intimacy.
It is in these smaller-scale communication realms that we can hurt others, and be hurt, most easily, via a lack of attention to each other’s humanity and needs. And it is in these same realms where we can be most easily and quickly empowered to shift the culture in a positive direction. Political actions of various kinds are absolutely necessary, and I strongly support any efforts to communicate with our elected officials, whether by phone, email, online petitions, in-the-street protests, contributing financially to activist groups that are working in strategic ways… etc. I absolutely encourage you to do—or continue to do—all of these things.

But in this environment of increasing despair, we need our interpersonal connections more than ever. I am going to make an uncharacteristically personal and vulnerable plea here:
Please, take the time to support your friends and acquaintances. We all need it more than ever. The easiest and most effective way to do this, speaking from my own experience, is to reply to texts in a timely fashion. It may sound simple or obvious, but I find that it rarely happens. It can be so easy, in our busy-ness and distraction, to see a text from a friend, think, “Oh, cool, So-and-so! I’ll reply later.” But then much more time may go by than we had initially intended, and So-and-so may be really wishing for connection in the meantime.

If someone you care about texts you, text them back. Promptly. If they have asked a question and you don’t have the answer yet, you can write, “Hey, great to hear from you! I don’t have the answer to your question yet, but I will get back to you as soon as I do.” (And then, when you get the answer, get back to them. Promptly.)

If someone contacts you on a dating site, and you are interested, let them know. Promptly. If they ask you on a date, let them know, as soon as you can, whether the date and time they have suggested will work for you. This is not a cultural time when we can afford to play “I don’t want to look too eager” games. If you’re interested, respect the person by responding to their messages in a timely fashion.

You may not have the time—or the inclination—to respond personally to people who contact you if you don’t feel drawn to them… but where possible, I also encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge these people’s humanity and courage in approaching you. It only takes a moment to write, “Hey, thanks for your note. I want to be honest, I’m not feeling drawn to you romantically, but I wanted to say that I’m flattered that you reached out, and I wish you all the best.”

I’ll be vulnerable and speak for myself, here (though I also know I am not alone): These simple courtesies from friends and acquaintances can make a powerful difference in whether I have a sense that I’m a part of the larger community of humanity. When they are absent—especially several times in a row, from several people in a row—it can be very easy to feel dejected, and from there to draw the conclusion that no one cares, and I am going it alone.

In these apocalyptic times, that can be an unbearably—and unnecessarily—lonely feeling. As we do our work to shift the culture forward in positive directions, let’s please take good care of each other’s hearts. We’re in this together.

Inviting the power of empathy into our lives

When I meet people socially, and they learn that I run a professional empathetic listening practice, I hear a wide range of responses.  Some people are confused, not sure what that entails.  Some are surprised.  (“Wow, people pay you to listen to them?”)  But many respond with a sort of “a-ha” expression.  They say things like, “We all need that so much!”  And probably the most common response I hear is, “Oh, I could use some help with my listening skills!  I want to do it, but I find myself talking more than listening.”

People’s responses confirm for me the intuition I had, upon starting my practice years ago, that we all benefit deeply from being listened to – truly heard – more than we generally are in our day-to-day lives.  Our culture is so rushed.  Most of us are racing back and forth amongst our workplaces, our various appointments, the grocery store, maybe going out dancing or to see a show… By the time we get home at the end of the day, it’s all we can do to veg out in front of the television or computer, and then flop exhaustedly into bed, waiting to do it all again tomorrow.  We tend to spend very little time speaking from the heart and truly being heard… nor in listening quietly and deeply to others, taking in their reality and enriching our own.

Years ago, a friend and I decided to attend a local introductory talk by Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent Communication (NVC).  What he spoke about was so simple, yet so transformative, that it changed both of our lives immediately.  We subsequently read his book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, and we co-founded a local NVC practice group.  Both of those activities were meaningful and enriching to me.  But what I appreciated most about the experience was that my friend suggested that she and I begin meeting every two weeks to talk deeply and give each other our full attention, support, and empathy, with no interruptions, distractions, judgments, or advice.  I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea.  And sure enough, as we made this a regular practice, it deepened my connection to myself and my values, and my connection to her as a friend.  More than ten years later, we are still meeting every two weeks for these conversations, and they continue to enrich my life deeply.

So, I want to encourage you, the reader, to find a space and time to listen deeply to another, and have them listen to you.  There are powerful gifts to be found on either end of the exchange.  You might think of a friend you admire and feel comfortable with, and approach them with the idea.  A helpful structure to follow is for one person to begin, and share whatever thoughts and feelings have been alive for them in the past week or two.  The listener may nod, smile, or offer brief interjections of understanding or support (“Wow, I know exactly what you mean!” or “I can really relate to that experience”) but without taking the focus away from the speaker.  When the speaker feels complete – often after about an hour – then you switch roles until the next speaker has shared enough to feel complete.  It can be a surprisingly powerful experience when each person has felt and expressed their own truth, and each has been enriched by hearing the other’s truth.  These exchanges can help us gain clarity about our values and the direction of our own lives, and can also support a powerful closeness and camaraderie between the two participants, especially over time. I invite you to try it and see for yourself.

I believe that this greater sense of self, and a greater sense of connection to others, also benefits the larger community.  I have been toying with the idea of setting up “listening salons,” where a group of us would gather and pair up in such a way, perhaps for shorter exchange periods such as 20-30 minutes. These events would be similar to the Dream Into Change salons I have recently begun hosting, but they would focus on general emotional support rather than specific ideas and projects. I can host them locally in Portland and/or in various other cities as I travel. I’d love to hear your feedback as to whether an event like that would appeal to you; please feel free to comment below, or email me directly.

Waking up to palm trees

Santa Barbara train station at dusk
Santa Barbara train station at dusk

This winter I’ve been battling a mild depression. (You, too? Seems like it’s been going around.) Somehow in the fall, my mojo started to falter. I think it all started in late September, when my partner experienced some serious setbacks in his efforts toward self-growth and serving his community. I did my best to support him through circumstances outside of his control, but I was disheartened to witness the way things unfolded and seemed to compound over time.

Meanwhile, I was struggling in my own practice. I hit a slump, where new clients were few and far between, and my energy dragged when I thought about taking the actions I would need to turn things around.

My social life slowed down, too. I had been so overwhelmed with social commitments in the summer and early fall that I told myself I needed to slow down, and take more alone time. But when I did that, it also contributed to a feeling of loneliness. I wanted more connection, more nurturing touch, more of the emotional and mental synergy that comes from connecting with others.

And, since I live in Portland, the weather got colder and rainier with each passing week. And darker. (And darker. And darker.)

A typical NW winter scene
A typical NW winter scene

I found myself struggling to enjoy the life I’ve worked so hard to craft. Each day I would hope things would get easier, or that my spark would return. Each day, those things did not happen. (Instead, I fell into a rut of junk food and zoning out on computer time.)

I know that I am not alone in this. I know that our culture (and climate, for many of us) tends to isolate and depress us. Even (perhaps especially) those of us who are idealists, who want to make each day of our lives meaningful, for ourselves, for our communities, and for the world at large. When we have lofty goals and high ideals, it can be all the more depressing when a day goes by without any “breakthroughs” or exciting progress toward the world we are all working to create. And when a week, or a month, goes by and those things remain scarce, it can become very disheartening.

I thought of writing a blog post, here, to share my struggle and to let anyone reading know that if you’re going through this, you are not alone. And that we all struggle, and we can all get through it. (And, that if you’re going through this and want to talk to a practitioner who can listen and “get it,” without trying to fix the problem or put a Pollyanna-ish life-coach spin on the situation, that I am, as always, Happy to Listen. 🙂 )

But even that seemed a bit too much of a downer for a blog post on a site called Dream Into Change. I wanted to offer some glimmer of hope. But I needed to find it for myself, first.

I had hoped, this winter, to spend a few days in San Diego, which I have done each winter for the past three years. I had intended for it to become an annual tradition, and even to increase to twice per winter or more at some point. I love that hit of sunshine and warmth—and the magic that is Balboa Park—in the middle of the darkness that blankets my otherwise beloved Portland during the cold months.

Fountain in Balboa Park
Fountain in Balboa Park

But this year I was feeling short on money, which only added to my depression. I didn’t think I could justify the trip. And, for that matter, my energy was so low it was even hard to get excited about the prospect of it.

One day, about a week ago, though, I read something online about San Diego, and I felt a pang of wistfulness. I missed that place! Maybe I could just do a web search for flights, and see what it might cost. Couldn’t hurt to look, right?

One thing I am discovering about myself is that once I get the idea of a trip into my head, it is very hard to walk away from it. When I search online and find options that are too expensive and/or inconvenient for me, rather than giving up, I am spurred to think more creatively, to see if there might be a way I could make it work.

In this situation, I discovered that the inexpensive direct flight I had become accustomed to taking had been discontinued. I thought about taking the train, since I vastly prefer it to flying anyway, but dismissed the idea because I didn’t have much time to take for the trip, and the round-trip cost would be prohibitive.

But San Diego had gotten under my skin. I was not willing to give up, once I had decided I wanted to go. I kept looking. I finally realized that I could use some of my carefully saved Amtrak mileage points to take a first-class ride—sleeper compartment and all—down south, and then catch a one-way flight back for only $100. Yes. This would work!! I searched Airbnb, and found an affordable house in the exact area I like to stay, just north of my cherished park. Everything was coming together! Within a couple of days, I had booked the whole trip.

And as I type, I’m sitting in the Amtrak Coast Starlight Sightseer Lounge car, just south of San Jose, looking out the spacious windows at sunshine and Spanish-style architecture. When I awoke this morning, I peered out the window of my berth and saw palm trees.

And I am thrilled to report that my mood has improved about 100%. I look forward to enjoying three days in San Diego, catching up with friends, hitting my favorite vegan restaurants, enjoying some contemplation in the beautiful cactus garden, and taking a break from the bleak. Getting my mojo back!

Me on the train
Me on the train

I would love to hear from any of you, if you have favorite spots to visit, or a spur-of-the-moment trip that lifted your mood, or another “trick” besides travel that snapped you out of a funk… or even just a shared lament if you’re finding yourself in a dark place at the moment.

Portland workshop: Effective communication skills for vegans & vegetarians

Vegetarian-Thanxgiving-dinnerThe fall and winter holiday season is upon us.

Vegan/vegetarian advocacy (or even simple social “defense”) can be challenging throughout the year. But when turkey and ham dinners with family, friends, or coworkers start happening, it can be especially stressful and frustrating.

Whether you expect to be dodging snide remarks or jokes from relatives around the turkey, or you’d like to talk persuasively about veg*anism to your co-celebrants to encourage others to give it a try, this workshop can help. We’ll be talking about using NonViolent Communication (NVC)* tools to build connection, rather than divisiveness, when talking about these charged topics.

We won’t be talking about fact-based, point-by-point rebuttals to anti-veg*n statements, since there are plenty of online resources for that. We’ll be talking instead about how to get in touch with our own feelings and needs around animal rights, environmental concerns, and/or health, and conveying them–if and when we choose to–in a way that is more likely to encourage openness in our listeners, rather than argument or defensiveness. The goal of the workshop is to increase the potential effectiveness of our persuasive conversations, while also decreasing our risk for the anger, bitterness, depression, and burnout that sometimes go along with living by a certain set of beliefs that many of our loved ones may not share.

The venue is small, so attendance will be capped at six participants.  There are two events: November 22 and December 13.

*Disclaimer: I am not a certified NVC instructor. However, I have been involved in studying, using, and facilitating the learning of NVC for the past twelve years, in a variety of online and in-person capacities.

Some radical honesty

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been doing some soul-searching about my life and my practice over the last few weeks, after returning from California.  I want to share some of my musings here, since I like to align my internal reality with my external reality as much as possible.

Shortly after my return from vacation, I met with a business coach to talk about my plans for this practice.  The meeting was a bit of a reality check for me.  The coach said my intended timeline for quitting my day job and launching the practice full-time (in early November) was not realistic.  Thinking about it, this made sense to me; I have a few clients, but I’m not far enough along yet to make that leap.  However, this realization felt like a splash of cold water on my California-sun-drenched face.  I was feeling so ready to make a change!

She also told me that in order to be successful on my intended business path, I needed to focus more clearly on my target clients (whom I had been envisioning as people who are thoroughly sick of their paid work and ready to move toward something better aligned with their values and passions) and their specific needs, and focus less on my four areas of interest/passion that I had identified when I started this venture.  I needed to take my own passions and preferences out of the picture, to make way for those of my clients.  I should establish myself as an “expert” for this particular niche:  Offer tips on my website and in email newsletters.  Offer free teleclasses.  Perhaps write a book (electronic or print).  Come up with a step-by-step system to coach people, package it attractively, and build my contact list to gather clients.

From a business perspective, I completely understand and appreciate this advice.  It makes sense.  I have heard similar advice from other knowledgeable sources, such as other career coaches, books, and websites.  This is how one becomes a successful coach these days, it seems.

From the perspective of my heart, soul, and gut, though, I felt uneasy as these ideas sank in.

I do want to help people who are struggling to align their paid work with their values and passions.  But thinking about this prescribed regimen for success did not excite me.  I felt sluggish and reluctant.  Those four passions are deeply, centrally important to me.  Finding/creating my own path is important to me, too.  That’s what I want to encourage others to do: to follow their passions and create their own paths. To find ways to make every day, and every step along the path, worthwhile and enjoyable, rather than steps in a slog toward a hoped-for blissful success at the end.

This is tricky, because I don’t want to fail.  I don’t want to “do it wrong.”  I don’t want to be stuck at my day job forever, trapped by my own stubbornness or an unwillingness to follow a tried-and-true path.  I feel scared and vulnerable talking so openly about these topics here with you now, in front of clients, potential clients, colleagues…  But authenticity and vulnerability are emerging as core values of mine.  And I believe that in showing our vulnerabilities and uncertainties, we also reveal an authentic strength, and a trust in our own truth and our own path.  And I want to work with people who resonate with this truth.

I don’t get excited thinking about myself as a “successful coach.”  I get excited thinking about finding a magical way in the world that is exactly right for me and for the people I know I can work with, support, and inspire.  I know that my clients appreciate what I offer.  I’m beginning to understand myself as someone who sees and appreciates many nuances and complexities of life… and what I want most to do is to hold space for clients to inhabit that glorious messiness in their own lives, on their own paths.  I see myself as a peer and a collaborator who “gets it,” and who is probably at least a few steps farther along the path than my clients are at any given moment, because I live this stuff 24/7.

I see myself as someone who has her own passions, and states them openly.  Who wants to help others who share those passions (or different ones) as they grapple with the challenges, both internal and external, of living those passions, day to day, within the context of paid work or any other life context.

It’s not so much “coaching” that I want to offer. What I want is to support people in asking themselves the questions, and challenging themselves – as I challenge myself – to always stretch, to always believe that creative solutions exist to all problems, to always hold a vision of a better world, and to work consistently toward bringing it about.  That process can be euphoric at times, and deeply satisfying.  It can also be painful, lonely, and fraught with obstacles.  In my Happy to Listen practice, I love to witness people on their conscious paths, and hold space for them to share their truth and emotions, without judgment or advice.  With Dream Into Change, I want to do much the same, but with the added underpinning of the person’s desire to manifest a particular dream, or dreams.  Here, there is more of a focus on movement along a path.

My stated passions represent four examples of areas of life where people might want to work toward their own vision of a better world.  For example, maybe someone is working to integrate Nonviolent Communication into their lives, and they are running into stumbling blocks when practicing with those close to them.  I can offer support and role-plays or other helpful exercises.  Perhaps someone has decided to go car-free, or go vegan, or open up their relationship to become polyamorous… and they are encountering pragmatic obstacles or resistance from family or community members, and need some support.  Or, perhaps they do have a specific dream – such as a new career direction or business idea – that they want to move toward.  I can offer moral and emotional support, collaborative brainstorming, a safe space to cry when things get tough, and community resources, so that no one has to pursue their dream alone.

My dream is to find a way to support myself financially by offering the above.  I don’t seek to be wealthy.  I do want to live comfortably: pay off my mortgage, travel around the country (and world!) by train, eat at wonderful vegan restaurants, give to nonprofits whose missions I support… etc.  I want a mutually satisfying, collaborative relationship with clients. I’m feeling good about the honesty and vulnerability of sharing my messy, work-in-progress dream with you right now. I want all of our dreams to come true… and I believe we can do it.  If you, or someone you know, might want to work with me as a client, or colleague, or collaborator of any sort, I invite you to contact me at maren@dreamintochange.com. I’m dreaming into my own change – whatever the path or pace turns out to be – and I’m excited to help others dream into theirs.

“So you grew up … what do you want to be NOW?”

We had a great time at the Portland workshop in December, so now it’s time to do it again! See details below, and please feel free to publicize the event to friends or email lists.

It happens, right? We find ourselves grownups. (How did that happen?) We may find ourselves in middle age. (Seriously, how did that happen?) Or even retirement age. (I’m not there yet, but I’m guessing I’ll have a similar question when that time of life arrives for me.)

And we think, “Am I doing what I want to be doing with my life?”

If you’re asking that question, and pondering your options and next steps, I invite you to join me for this fun and interactive workshop, exploring your passions and values, and how you can integrate them into the next phase of your life.

Maybe you’ve been working at a “safe” job that pays the bills but does nothing to feed your spirit. Or maybe you’ve been working in a field that once was meaningful or exciting to you, but you sense that you are ready to move on and do something different. Maybe your circumstances have recently changed – loss of a job, or moving to a new city, perhaps – and you want, or need, to start from scratch.

Whatever your situation, this four-hour workshop can help you to reconnect (or maybe connect for the first time) with those things that really bring you alive, and those ways you’d like to spend your time and energy contributing something meaningful to the world. We will be doing individual and group exercises – the synergy of the group adds magic to the process!

Specifics:

Saturday, February 16th, 2:00-6:00 pm. Light snacks will be provided.

The cost at the door is $40; if you register ahead and prepay, it is $33. I am quite sure you will find it to be worth that investment.

Address given upon RSVP. Do so by emailing me at maren@dreamintochange.com. Then if you wish to prepay, you can do so by sending your registration fee via PayPal to the same address.

California, here I come!

trainMy southbound train trip is fast approaching, and my excitement about it is building daily. I’m definitely looking forward to taking a break from Portland’s wintertime rain and cold … and I’m also really looking forward to expanding my Dream Into Change reach to more people and more cities! I am in the final stages of securing transportation and lodging, and now it’s time to turn my attention more fully to the connections I’m seeking to foster during my travels. Along those lines, I would love your help!

My itinerary is as follows:

  • Santa Cruz Sunday, Jan 6 – Monday, Jan 7
  • Los Angeles Wednesday, Jan 9 – Thursday, Jan 10
  • San Diego Friday, Jan 11 – Monday, Jan 14
  • Santa Barbara evening/night of Tuesday, Jan 15
  • Oakland/Berkeley/San Francisco Thursday, Jan 17 – Friday, Jan 18

Then back to Portland!

My intention is to offer my four-hour workshop (“So you grew up … What do you want to be NOW?”) in each location except for Santa Barbara. If you are interested in signing up for the workshop, and/or helping to promote it and/or willing to offer your home as a venue (in exchange for free admission to the $40 workshop) please let me know as soon as possible, by emailing me at maren@dreamintochange.com.

My other intention is to meet with as many people as possible in each city who are doing innovative work in one of my four main areas of focus: 1) veganism, especially in an educational, advocacy, or entrepreneurial role; 2) sustainable energy and transportation, such as bicycle advocacy or innovation or solar advocacy or innovation/entrepreneurship; 3) touch-positive and/or sex-positive culture, and/or ecstatic dance; and 4) Nonviolent communication (NVC) and/or restorative justice, including prison reform or innovative projects relating to incarceration and/or transition into society for inmates upon release.

I would love to talk with any of these folks to hear about their projects, and possibly also to interview them for this blog and help to spread the word about their work. So, if you know anyone who is involved in any of the above, again, please contact me at maren@dreamintochange.com to let me know about them (and/or please forward my contact info to them).

This trip represents a very exciting beginning for me. I want to expand my reach beyond Portland. I want to work with people from all over the country – and indeed around the globe – to move our culture forward in all of the above ways. In the future, I plan to take more train trips, to other regions. Possibly my next trip could take me to Seattle, Vancouver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Toronto, and/or Montreal! The next one might include Boston, New York, Washington, and Raleigh, NC. Other future destinations include Victoria, BC; Austin, TX; Melbourne, Australia; and London, England. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty adventurous!

But first things first. In about a week and a half, my first great rail adventure will begin! I can’t wait to experience California, and I can’t wait to see some of you there!