Scaling my first “mountain”

Today, I got in the saddle on the Brompton for the first time in a while. It was time to begin “training” for this dream! 

The bike had had its first-ever tuneup the other day, so the ride was extra smooth. I headed up Mt. Tabor, the extinct-volcano-turned-city-park in my neighborhood. I was pleased to discover that the gears—which go lower than those on my “everyday bike” 1979 Free Spirit—made the climb feel entirely reasonable. When I got to the summit, I found many other bicyclists and pedestrians—car parking is partway up the mountain, so one must use human power to get to the top—enjoying the beautiful late-summer, late-afternoon sun. I imagined how many beautiful public parks I will encounter all across the country when I make this journey.

It’s early in my visioning stage, and I’m still brimming with excitement. Yet, there are always internal obstacles to be aware of, and to do my best to navigate consciously. For me, today—as with many days in most of my life—I struggled to find the motivation to get going. I was “attending” a live-streamed musical event on my computer until 2:30, but I had told myself yesterday that I would get out and get on my bike no later than 3:00. In fact, I had originally had another destination in mind: a suburban park that would probably take me about two hours to reach. Given the waning daylight this time of the season, I thought I should leave by 3:00 to make sure I had enough time to enjoy it, and to enjoy the return trip during daylight.

But for two hours today, I found myself feeling antsy, and finding excuses not to leave the house. I checked Facebook. Then Instagram. Then Facebook again. I had a snack. Then another snack. Then checked FB and IG again. I felt my own familiar frustration with myself: “Are you going to do this again? Are you going to sabotage your perfectly reasonable plan? Why do you do this to yourself?”

Finally, at 5:00, I was disappointed with myself for having apparently indeed sabotaged my plan. But, I realized that not all was lost, and I could enjoy a closer destination. I put down the laptop and phone, and headed out the door… and thus began a lovely couple of hours.

And, maybe I could do my original plan tomorrow.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you find yourself sabotaging own your plans at times? When you do, are you able to be flexible, and take some smaller, more manageable steps if the original plan feels too scary at first? I am appreciating my willingness to be gentle and patient with myself at this time. It’s a stressful time in the world. And, I have time to prepare for this journey. I can do this.


www.patreon.com/dreamintochange

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Dreaming of Earthships

I think I’m at the point in this journey, and this blog, where I’m ready to start talking to some people about their dreams, and sharing those dreams with the larger world. I’m not sure yet what form(s) this may take: Written interviews? Video interviews? General summaries of my talks with people?

I’m going to start here with that last one. I had a talk with a friend the other day about some of his dreams. One of those dreams was to live in an Earthship. I was inspired to hear him say this, because I had vaguely heard about Earthships, years ago, but hadn’t thought about them in years. 

The concept was conceived and popularized by architect Michael Reynolds in the 1970s. An Earthship is a dwelling structure that is fully self-sustaining. It is built simply, with natural materials sourced from the local area, and/or recycled materials such as glass bottles; powered by sustainable energy and independent from the municipal electrical grid; and its water, sewage, and waste material handling systems are all natural and self-contained.

My friend has a vision of living in a structure like this with a community of like-minded folks who value living simply, kindly, and in harmony with the environment.

I love hearing these kinds of dreams and visions. While doing my reading on this topic after talking with my friend, I saw that Reynolds’ Earthship Biotecture is located in Taos, NM, and they offer tours of their Earthship building. I am tentatively adding Taos to my bike trip itinerary, so that I can tour it myself.

To anyone reading: I would love to see any other stories or resources about Earthships, or (especially) to hear your personal stories of visiting or touring one, or maybe even building or living in one. Please share! Also, I’d love to hear others’ dreams about your ideal living situation. Are you already living in your optimal living situation? What does it—or would it—look like for you?

(Link to the Patreon, if you’re moved to support my vision in this way.)

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Cycling the nation for change

How are you holding up?

I don’t need to tell anyone reading that this is a time of extreme bleakness for the United States and the world. Living here at the moment (Portland, Oregon, no less) I feel as if our entire human civilization stands at a precipice. We are bombarded at every turn with new horrific headlines about injustice, violence against marginalized communities, a plague that keeps harming and killing, and environmental destruction that seems to accelerate at regular intervals.

It’s hard to keep our emotional selves OK at a time like this.

Without a doubt, it is a time to fight for what we believe in and the world we want to live in. Political and direct actions are crucial, and most people I know are engaged in some combination of in-person protests; phone calls, emails, texts, postcards, and/or petitions to politicians and other decision-makers; donations to activist organizations; boycotts of certain companies and extra efforts to financially support others; and using our social media platforms and conversations with friends and family to talk about our values and how we live them. These actions are crucial. Please, let us all continue to take these actions, from now through November and beyond. As Alice Walker famously said, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.”

At the same time, I have always been personally inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s quote, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” While I would argue that the first part is a bit naïve—fighting existing reality is important, especially at times like this—the latter part does really resonate with me, and it feels like a good fit with who I am as a person, and the skills I personally have to bring to the world.

As such, a vision has recently coalesced for me, and I hope you will follow along with me as I work to manifest my own dream in the coming year: taking a year to bicycle around the United States, talking with people about their dreams for themselves and for the greater good.

We need vision. We need vision connected to action. I want to serve as a catalyst for people in this country right now to think about the world they want to live in, and how they would like to contribute to bringing about that world, in concrete ways. I want to offer people emotional and strategic support to help them to bring about their dreams, and I want to network people I meet in my travels, so that they can work together, and we can all be more powerful as a whole than as individuals.

To do this, I would need to step away from my day job—my primary source of income—for at least a year. So, I have launched a Patreon to begin working to replace that income.
I’m hoping you will do a few things for/with me:

1) Take a look at the Patreon, and read my fuller story about my vision there

2) Consider supporting me with a monthly pledge of any amount

3) Consider sharing the Patreon page with like-minded friends or via your social media, to spread the word

4) Think about your own dreams and visions! I may not be able to physically hit the road yet, but we need vision and action now. To anyone reading: I would love to offer you a free (no strings) one-hour phone or video call to talk about your dreams and get you either started or re-energized on bringing them about! (With your permission, I might also blog about some of these dreams, so that others can help to hold the vision and/or offer resources to help.) Message me at maren@dreamintochange.com to schedule a time!

This is our time, people. We need to dream into the world we want to live in, and we need to dedicate our time and energy to bringing it about.

I’m not sure yet what role this blog and the Patreon blog will play in sharing this story as it unfolds. At this point, I will probably share updates on both, so stay tuned. Thank you for your support. May we all bring our dreams into reality!

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Black Lives Matter: Statement of support, and June benefit for empathy and strategy sessions

Let me start by saying that I’m afraid of getting this wrong.  I’m afraid I’m going to say, or do, the wrong thing.  But my Black friends, and folks I follow, are urging us white people to speak anyway.  To do what we can anyway.  To know that yes, we will make mistakes.  We will need to allow ourselves to be corrected, with humility, and then go out and keep risking making more mistakes.  So I’m doing this, and I hope that all of you—especially my fellow white people—will join me by speaking up, in your own ways and in your own spaces.

Racism, and specifically anti-Blackness, is at epidemic proportions right now.  We’re seeing people mobilizing to change this, in many and varied ways, including in-person protests; calling and emailing elected officials; signing petitions; donating to Black-led and Black-justice-focused nonprofits; financially choosing to support Black-owned businesses; talking with friends and family about racism, and gently but firmly speaking up when we hear them making remarks that may in some way uphold white supremacy.

We need to recognize that the United States (and surely other countries as well, but I will speak to my own) was founded and built on white-supremacist beliefs.  And we need to now do everything we can to reverse that.  To dismantle it.  To replace it with a society that truly reflects liberty and justice for all.

I’ve been asking myself in what ways I can best lend my power and privilege to the cause.  So far, I have donated money, signed petitions, emailed decision makers, joined Facebook groups dedicated to unpacking and overturning white supremacy… and I have been making more efforts to speak up, both in person and on social media, when I see and hear statements that uphold white supremacist systems and ways of thinking.  I have also been posting action alerts on social media, encouraging other people to take these actions.

I plan to continue with all of these efforts.

But I also think that my greatest strength as a person, and as a professional, is in my abilities to empathize and to strategize.  I want to bring these skills to the revolution.

So, for the remainder of June, I am doing another sliding-scale, pay-what-you can offer for my empathy and/or strategic planning sessions by phone or video chat.  My normal rate is $95 per hour, but I ask that you pay whatever you are able and willing to pay, and I will donate 20% of June’s proceeds to Black Lives Matter. 

If you are Black, I will offer these services completely free of charge, and I will also donate $20 per session to the organization of your choice (up to $200 total). I recognize and respect that you may not want or trust a white person to hold a safe space for you to express yourself, and I completely accept that.  If you are open to it, I promise that I will listen and hear whatever you say, without any “yes, but” or “well, have you considered…” or similar nonsense.

White people (and non-Black people of color), if you need someone with whom to process your feelings of shock, sadness, anger, guilt, shame, or stuckness, please message me to schedule a time.  I will hold a no-judgment space to help you work through these.  We have all been steeped in a racist society, and we need safe spaces to help us talk about it, unpack it, and begin to move forward.

An hour with me could look like me simply listening to whatever you need to say, holding space and offering minimal feedback.  Or, it could be more of a dialogue if you prefer.  Or, it could be helping you to brainstorm ideas for actions you would like to take.  Regardless, I will listen with respect and care.  And 20% of your sliding-scale payment will go to Black Lives Matter on July 1st. Message me at maren@dreamintochange.com to schedule a session.

We are in this together, folks.  We can do this.  Let’s be gentle with ourselves, while taking consistent action.  The momentum has begun; let’s see how far we can shift our culture, together.

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“This is how life is unfolding right now”

Here is another verbal/cognitive reframe I find helpful to reduce irritability in times of stress (like right now!) I invite you to try it, and I’d love to hear if you find it helpful.

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“What can I savor in this moment?”

Here’s my second video, sharing a technique I discovered years ago to help ground myself in stressful times. I hope you find some value in it.


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Exploring video: Some thoughts on flood, pandemic, and a surreal time

For some time now, I’ve been thinking I should record some videos for this blog, sharing my perspectives on various topics and hopefully offering some resonance, camaraderie, and support to readers.

I’ve been nervous and shy to put myself out in this way, so I have been procrastinating.  But this surreal time is calling me to stretch myself and try something new.  I hope the following will be the first of many such short videos… yet, as I mention herein, I’m also choosing to be gentle with myself and not make unrealistic commitments.  So, for now I hope you will find something of value and/or resonance here.  Feel free to comment or message me with ideas of topics you might like to see me discuss in future installments.

And, as always, I hope you are taking good care of yourself.

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Sliding-scale Doctors Without Borders benefit

Wow, what a wild emotional time.

How are you holding up?

I hope you’re finding ways to care for yourself during this time. If you’re feeling motivated to get backlogged projects complete, or take up new areas of interest, that’s awesome. If, on the other hand, you can barely get out of bed in the morning and stare at the wall all day as you contemplate the human condition… that is 100% understandable, and I hope you’re giving yourself credit for doing the best you can.  Everyone handles stress differently; there is no “right” way.

I’ll be honest: I’ve been struggling, myself. Fears of illness and mortality, of potentially losing loved ones, of losing income (which I have—my “day job” hours have been severely cut back), of what is happening to the United States and the world, socially, economically, politically, culturally. I’ve been thinking about my own life, and also about the broader nature of existence. I’ve been grappling with what might be the highest and best uses of my time and energy at this particular point in human history. How can I help? How can I avoid harming?

If you are also grappling with any of the above, I want to offer an empathetic ear. As always, a phone call with me is a no-judgment zone. If you have ideas or projects you want to bring to life, I’m more than happy to support you in that. If, on the other hand, you’re struggling to simply get through each day, I will listen and hold space without any platitudes or pressure to do anything at all. I know from experience that it can really help to speak out loud your fears, anxieties, anger, hopes, etc, and be genuinely, fully heard.

I want to be of service in the world, offering what I most enjoy offering, which is my support and empathetic presence. I want to do so in a way that is accessible to anyone who needs it, and also in a way that contributes to the greater good.

So, for the month of April, I am offering sliding-scale sessions, with 20% of all proceeds to benefit Doctors Without Borders. The sliding scale starts at $0, if that is what you can afford, and stretches up to your comfort level. My usual rate is $95 per hour, but anything less (or more, if you happen to have it and wish to contribute) is welcome. If you’d like to schedule a session, please email me at maren@dreamintochange.com.

And regardless of whether we connect by phone, please take good care of yourself during this time. 

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Goals and intentions for the New Year

Happy solstice!  Here in the northern hemisphere, we can finally celebrate the return of the light.  (I, for one, am very ready to welcome it!  My bike commute will be brighter every day for the next six months.)  In the southern hemisphere, of course, it’s the beginning point of summer.  Around the world, in December, many of us take stock of our lives, and think about the changes we may wish to bring about in the year ahead.  I find the day of the solstice to be an excellent time to do this.

A big part of my work with my clients is helping them to set goals and intentions, and then to follow through to manifest them.  As I announced last week, I am excited to offer 30 free sessions in 30 days for this exact purpose, between December 14th and January 12th.  If you haven’t yet taken me up on this by scheduling a free, no-obligation hour-long phone call, I invite you once again to do so.  (This offer is good for existing clients, too; please consider it a solstice gift from me!)

Whether or not you schedule a call, I want to offer a few suggestions of how best to follow your intuition and passions to set intentions and goals for the coming year.

Intentions can come to us as yearnings, or nudges that we feel from life.  Examples of intentions might be, “I’d like to travel more,” or “I’d like to eat healthier.”  Specific goals might be, “I’d like to take one domestic and one international trip this year,” or “I’d like to make sure to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”

A good way to get in touch with your intentions is to sit in stillness for 15-30 minutes at a stretch. (Doing this daily is a great practice to stay in touch with yourself and what you most want in life.)  Afterward, journaling or making a list of them is a good way to make them more concrete, and begin to set goals.

Make the goals specific enough to be easy to follow.  For example, if your goal is to take the above two trips, you might think:  “I’ve always wanted to visit New York… and I’ve heard that flights to Iceland are very affordable right now.  I’m going to begin researching the best times of year (for weather and/or time off work and/or travel and accommodation prices) in those two places.”  Or, “I plan to eat a serving of fruit at the beginning of each meal,” or “At least once per month, I plan to try buying (or growing) a kind of produce I have never tried before.”

As you continue to sit in stillness and journal in the coming year, you can return to these intentions and goals to track your progress (you can always get back on track if you slip!) and to feel into new intentions and goals that may emerge as the year progresses.

Happy solstice, all!  I wish you all love and magic and exploration in the coming year.

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30 free sessions in 30 days

Happy December, all! The new year is nearly upon us. In December, many of us take stock of our lives, and think about the changes we may wish to bring about in the year ahead. At this time, I am feeling drawn to broaden the reach of my empathy and coaching offerings, by giving away 30 free sessions in 30 days. And I would love your help in manifesting this vision.

Yes, I want to talk to 30 different people in 30 days, for one hour each, at no charge. I want to help people to put into practice their intentions to be conscious in all the ways they wish to be conscious, and active in all the ways they wish to be active. I want to speak to people all over the world (through the magic of audio and/or video chat) and hear what is up for people, and help them to live the best possible version of their lives, and be the best possible versions of themselves, in the coming year.

I will be offering these sessions starting on Saturday, December 14th, through Sunday, January 12th. Please message me if you are interested! (maren@dreamintochange.com; email link in blue to the left of this post.)

I have one request of those who take me up on a session: I ask that you sign up for my email list, if you are not already on it. At present the list is very quiet, and I intend to keep it pretty low-volume… but as the year unfolds, I do intend to offer more content that may be useful to people who are interested in living more closely aligned with their values and passions. And from time to time I send out announcements of discount offers or non-profit-donation benefit offers, or notices for events I may host, such as Dream Into Change salons. I request that you sign up with your “real” email address (rather than a throwaway address you give to spammers) but of course you are completely free to unsubscribe at any time after your free session. I want win-wins, no pushing or manipulation of any kind.

So, if you’d like some confidential support as you reflect on the past year and/or look ahead to the new year, please comment or message me to schedule it! If this doesn’t speak to you personally at this time, I would love your help in sharing this offer, either on social media or personally with any friends who you think might be interested.  One of my biggest intentions for myself for the coming year is to expand the reach of my emotional and strategic support to as many people as possible around the globe.

Thanks for reading, and I wish all of you a powerful 2020, filled with love and growth.

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