life coaching

Ten hours to dream up the New Year (and change the world…?)

I haven’t made a new blog post in a while. I briefly lost momentum. I allowed this to happen, and did my best not to judge myself or go into a fear spiral about how my lack of inspiration and motivation to keep writing meant that I’m a failure in general, and can never see a project through, and that this means my entire dream is going to fall apart, and I’ll be humiliated and depressed forever.

Whew, glad I didn’t follow that spiral! (Do some of you recognize that spiral?)

The weather has been Decemberish, and so I haven’t been cycling, really, except for my 3-mile-each-way commute. That’s OK too. Part of what is so meaningful and powerful for me about the process of my dream and vision is that I am doing this for my own pleasure. My own pleasure, of course, includes being of service to the world in the most effective and powerful ways I know how… but I’m really living into a life shift, here, from doing things from a sense of duty or obligation, or thinking that there are certain things I “have to” do (like bicycling in places or weather I would rather not)… to really dreaming into my own change, my own new way of life, where I do things because they bring me joy and satisfaction.

So… as the solstice approaches, I’ve been spending a lot of cozy time on my couch. I have been enjoying music, talking with friends by phone or video, and visioning into this journey.

The other day, a specific vision/action came to me:

I want to get started on this journey now! My dream has two parts: 1) bike around the USA (and parts of Canada) and 2) help shift the world in a positive direction by offering emotional and strategic support to people who care.

I need to wait for circumstances to line up for the first part. My vision is that this will happen next September. But the second part can begin immediately!

I also need to get serious about manifesting the financial/material means to take the physical trip in September. My vision is to somehow create/receive $50,000 (or its equivalent in goods and services) to last me the year of the trip. I continue to hold a vision for one or more fairy godfunders… but I also want to build a broad base of financial and material support. Of course I already have my Patreon set up. (Thank you to my early patrons!!) I am also considering a more traditional crowdfunder, such as GoFundMe. We will see.

As I’ve described before, I wish to offer emotional and strategic support to people who are a good fit to work with me. Some of these people may approach me, and others I might approach, based on my intuition. And, in many ways, I would like to decouple this offering of support from a pay-for-service model. (Hence the other funding sources I’m dreaming up.) But, that traditional model can still provide some of my funding. This project will take a variety of creative sources.

So! Because I wish to offer my supportive skills, and because I wish to begin raising the funds, I have a short-term vision that excites me in this moment: Ten sessions before 2021! If you’re reading this, I hope you can help me with this vision in some way. Here is what I’m seeking:

I want to offer hour-long sessions, by phone or video chat, to ten people between now and New Year’s Day. The more geographically diverse, the better! During each session, I will listen supportively to each person as they describe challenges they have faced in this year, and/or describe a vision for the coming year that excites them, for their own lives and/or for the larger community. As with all my sessions, the content will be confidential unless the person wishes for me to help publicize their idea in order to help it manifest more quickly or powerfully. Those of you who have worked with me before can attest to the surprising power of a simple one-hour conversation.

A few testimonials, from over the years:

“Maren’s ability to hold space is a truly magical thing. I feel like that hour gave me a much needed release, and I can’t express how deep of an impact it has had on me, even months later.”

“I felt invigorated and empowered, more alive and full of hope than I had in a long while. I felt after our session, I can do this.”

“My dreams are alive again, thanks to Maren. … She’s a great listener. When she provides feedback, her language in describing what she just heard is inspiring in itself. Suddenly my dream sounds legitimate!”

“I always come away feeling lighter and softer and more optimistic that our most glorious dreams come true. We can do it!”

Wow; it feels great to read those again. I am humbled and inspired to have worked with all of the wonderful people above. 

In return for these ten sessions I’m offering, I request one or more of the following, based entirely on the means and comfort level/preferences of each person:

* Traditional pay-for-service model. My standard rate is $95/hour

* Pay-for-service model at a pay-what-you-choose rate. This could be less than the standard rate if funds are a barrier, or more than that rate if funds are not a barrier and you wish to contribute extra to my journey

* Sign up as a monthly patron of my Patreon, at whatever rate feels right. I believe the minimum contribution is $2/month, and the average is about $8. I don’t believe there is a maximum.

* A trade or in-kind contribution, which may or may not approximate $95 (see above). Some examples of things I am seeking:

          * WordPress website/blog support (big need! The site is very outdated)

          * Free or discounted items for the trip such as Clif bars and the like, lodging credits for hotels or AirBnbs (I won’t always be able to find in-person hosts for every location, sadly), bike/rain gear, etc. Do you have an “in” with a provider of any of the above?

           * Possibly other items or services you have access to that I haven’t thought of yet

* Help me to spread the word of this vision by sharing it with like-minded friends or audiences. Specifically, I would request that you share the Patreon link that outlines my vision and preface it with some words from your own heart about my vision and/or a testimonial of your experience doing a session with me, if you have. Of course that second part is optional if you prefer to keep it private


So… what say ye?? Can you help me to manifest ten sessions by the end of this year? My intention is that each person who receives a session will find it to be a powerful way to put this year to rest and open up wonderful possibilities for the coming year. And, I hope that with ten of them, I/we will collectively begin to experience the magic and synergy that comes from multiple people setting intentions. That is what my journey is all about!

If you’d like to do a session, or know someone else who might, please contact me at maren@dreamintochange.com

Happy almost-turn-of-the year, everyone. Good things are coming; I feel it.

Choosing to trust the magic

Lately I’ve been thinking about money, and my career path, and how these two intersect with my bike tour dream.

I estimate that I will need about $36,000 of (net) income to get me through this year on my bike. And I will no longer have the income from my current day job. (I very much hope my day job will even continue to exist, but given the shaky state of the US economy, particularly in the retail sector, that is far from guaranteed at this point, and this fact stresses me out a bit as well, after 17 years in that job.)

My deepest hope and dream, for the past dozen years, has been to make a living from my life coaching and empathetic listening practices.

That has not happened. My income from these sources has remained a trickle, a meager supplement to the income from my day job. If I’m being realistic, I have no reason to believe that I can suddenly “manifest” this dream career in the next year, to give me the cushion I’ll need to pay for the trip.I find this disappointing on a few levels. I worry about my future, my possible retirement. Technically, I have the savings to pay for this trip, but that would take a massive dip into my retirement savings, and that feels really scary and foolhardy.

I also find it disappointing because I judge myself as a failure in this respect. Being some sort of therapist or life coach has been my dream ever since 8th grade, and I have never found a way to make it work for me financially. The clients I do have love what I offer—I know my work has deep value—but I’ve never been able to find an effective way to “market” myself; like most people in healing professions, I recoil at the very idea.

I have spent thousands of dollars on business coaching with two different coaches. This only left me depressed and hopeless about my prospects. I have offered free sessions to try to entice new clients. I have participated in trades. (The ongoing trade with a massage therapist was definitely a win-win!) I have done countless sliding-scale benefits, trying to make my work as financially accessible as possible to potential clients, while also donating a portion of proceeds to many different nonprofit causes I care about.

I don’t want to make “sales funnels,” or sign up for expensive mailing-list software, and write just the right blog posts, and post just the right videos, where I look professional enough but also down-to-earth, and I speak vulnerably yet powerfully, and I lure people in to want to work with me.

Ugh! No! I don’t want to do any of this.

And so… I’m kind of a failure. And it feels depressing.

So, I was thinking about this these past few days. Like… what do I need to do to “meditate right” and “manifest right livelihood” in just the right way? Or, what do I need to force myself to do, against my will, to “make it happen” in more conventional ways, such as going to grad school or some sort of coaching school, slogging through my learning disabilities and racking up debt which I then may or may not be able to repay? Or spending a lot of money to hire some kind of perfect coach to either force me to do the icky marketing, or at the very least, update my aging, non-smartphone-optimized website?

Racking up debt, doing things we hate, going against our own values, experiencing various forms of humiliation… that’s how we succeed under capitalism, right?

Yeah. No. I’m not doing those things.

I had a bit of an epiphany today, after these ruminations, on a phone call with a dear friend. (Hi, Erin!)

Those of us who believe in magic (sometimes surreptitiously, because we’re not allowed to do so openly in this society without being mocked or dismissed)… those of us who do our best to “manifest” the magic we want… the thing is, it does exist. It does happen. And it’s incredible to behold.

But.

Sometimes (always?) it does not work in the ways we might want. Like… sometimes we have a core struggle in life. Mine appears to be that of manifesting right livelihood.

It’s deep. It’s thick, like a dense forest. It’s not something a bit of meditating, and visualizing, and journaling, and talking about it to many people, and going to networking events… etc… can produce.

It is a core struggle. Probably lifelong.

And… maybe the way to approach it is not head-on. Maybe it’s more of a dance. Maybe it’s about having a wish and a vision, but mostly focusing on the magic and the beauty that does continue to unfurl around us, sometimes serendipitously and sometimes with a slight push from us.

I don’t want to slog in service of my dreams. I want the means to be consistent with the ends.

Thinking about this trip lights me up. I don’t know if it will somehow lead to my “succeeding” financially as a coach or healer… actually, I suspect it won’t. I’m starting to grok that this may be part of the point. Maybe that’s not even my actual destination in life.

The point is to follow my passion. My passion lights up others. As I traverse this land (and even before I start) I will meet so many amazing people. We will light each other up. We will become parts of a powerful network. Untold magic will result from this trip. I am 100% certain of that.

And I will make it happen, financially, somehow. I’m taking this trip.

www.patreon.com/dreamintochange

Basking in a fleeting magic

As a hobby photographer, I have been enjoying playing with golden hour light since this past spring. Early in the pandemic restrictions, I would walk five blocks to what I thought was my “boring” neighborhood park, to enjoy some fresh air and outdoor time. But the sloth of the lockdown held a gift for me: the first few weeks of severely reduced working hours had me, mostly happily, staying in bed until 1 or 2:00 in the afternoon more often than not. By the time I had showered, eaten, and decided to go to the park, the light would be starting to turn. And it was absolutely enthralling.

There is a Japanese phrase, mono no aware (“the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last”) that describes the “extra” beauty of an aspect of nature that arises when we know that the beauty is fleeting.

This could aptly describe the end of summer, the end of a flower’s blossom, the end of a day … so I think that the golden hour, while visually stunning in its own right, also benefits from this concept.

Today was a spectacular Portland September day. The high temperature was around 80 degrees (27 C), and after work I spontaneously decided to bike to one of my favorite food carts, Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen. The ride took me along the beautiful Springwater Corridor. After a wonderful outdoor meal of vegan Chinese food, I headed home a different way, through the Westmoreland neighborhood. As I was rounding the bend at Bybee Blvd, I glanced to my left and was visually struck—not for the first time—that there was a beautiful overlook of the Willamette River just there, and there seemed to be some benches. Tonight, I finally paused long enough to check, and sure enough: I saw three picnic tables, two of which were occupied, and the last one just waiting for me.

As I parked my bike next to the table, I was overcome with the beauty of the light. It was about 6:30 pm, and the sun was dropping in the sky, saturating all the river trees with a golden glow. I marveled at it, and began photographing somewhat obsessively, as is my wont.

Finally, I relaxed and simply sat at the table, soaking in the moment. After thirty years in Portland, to sit in this spot was another first for me this summer. The temperature was perfect. The light was perfect. This wonderful dream of a bike tour hummed in the back of my head.

And… I realized that a big part of my motivation for taking this trip is to maximize the golden hours in my life. I hadn’t thought of it in quite those terms, but that is what I’m dreaming of: to follow the light and the warm, pleasant weather all around the continent. Of course I know I will encounter days—probably stretches of weeks—that will deviate drastically from these ideal conditions. But… I hope that on most days of this tour, I will greet the golden hour tired but satisfied, and I will be able to sit—alone or with friends, new or old—outdoors, in some new spot every few days, feeling the warmth of the lowering sun and basking in its magical glow.

This summer is drawing to a close in Portland. If all goes according to plan, by this time next year I will be in southern Oregon or northern California. Tonight, as the evening ebbed, the summer ebbed, the year ebbed, my time in Portland ebbed… I savored the mono no aware.

www.patreon.com/posts/42155095

The magic is building

Wow… the magic of this trip has begun!

I had sensed from the start that as I began to write about it, and to share the writing on various platforms, people would start to come together to offer advice, encouragement, and the like… and that I would begin making connections amongst inspiring people and resources.

That’s how this all works. If I’ve learned anything from living my life, and working as a life coach, it’s that when we put our scary and exciting visions “down on paper” and begin to talk about them with others, things start to come together in really inspiring ways.

When I shared yesterday’s blog post to my Facebook page, I wasn’t sure if it would garner much engagement, because I thought “the rain” was a pretty unexciting topic, even if it was top-of-mind for me, and felt very relevant to my vision and planning.

But when one of my friends read the post, she tagged three of her friends whom she knew to be bike travelers, and two of them weighed in with some great pointers and encouragement. One of them also re-referenced the third person, who hasn’t (yet?) chimed into the conversation himself, but who has apparently written several books about his own bike-touring adventures! I want to read these books. I think the more I learn firsthand about others’ experiences, the more I will get a feel for what I want, what I should perhaps avoid, and how I can best prepare for this adventure.

Most importantly, though, one of these friends of my friend—Matt Picio, whose name I recognized as a multifaceted leader in the local bike community over the past ten years or so, but whom I had never met—imparted some wonderful words of wisdom, and I want to share them with you too, because they apply to so many areas of life and dreams, not just bike tours:

“Someone told me once that everyone on a major tour hits ‘the wall’ at some point, where they are ready to give it up and go home. If you get past it, then nothing will faze you anymore and you can ride pretty much indefinitely at that point. It was true for me, and for me it was in Virginia City, Montana, slogging uphill after a few particularly brutal days riding from Twin Bridges through Sheridan and Alder. I was ready to be done, and go home, and I had a couple of soul-searching phone calls with friends. What got me past it was having to get to somewhere I could catch a train home, and riding over the crest and downhill into Ennis, MT, I truly experienced why Montana is called ‘Big Sky Country’ – it was a breathtaking, humbling moment coupled with a several mile 30mph+ descent into Ennis that reminded me exactly why I was out there, and why I wanted to ride.

Your moment will probably be different, but whatever it is, remember that everybody has theirs, and if you can (safely) push past it, you’ll be able to do whatever you put your mind to on the tour.”

I loved this nugget of wisdom. It was another example of something I had sensed, and imagined would be true on my journey, but to see it expressed so eloquently by someone who had actually done a similar trip really helped to reinforce the principle.

Matt continued:

“Oh – one last piece of (unsolicited) advice. Never let anyone tell you ‘you’re doing it wrong’. I was notorious among people touring the US that year for carrying a cast-iron skillet. (For the record, it weighed 3.5 lbs and I lost 33 lbs during the trip – so really, did it weigh that much? I ate really well.) A couple I met toured with a full Coleman stove strapped to her rear rack. And one guy I met in Gothensburg, NE had a 70s suitcase with buckle straps bungied to his rear rack. Whatever you choose to tour with is YOUR CHOICE. We weren’t doing it wrong, and you won’t be either. The best mental skill you can have on tour is a willingness to accept everyone where they are at and not take anything personally. Everyone will have an opinion – you’re doing it wrong, you shouldn’t be touring alone, you shouldn’t be touring with a partner, it’s so dangerous to be on the roads, etc. Let them roll off you and enjoy the moment. … This is your tour, your life. You’re not doing it wrong. It’s yours.”

This was another wonderful affirmation, exactly when I needed it. Just yesterday at the optometrist, I told the doctor about my plan, and he was excited for me, but then he began speculating about what kind of bike I “should really be using” for a trip like this, rather than my Brompton. He wasn’t the first I’ve encountered, to hear my dream and then try to “edit” it, to “optimize” things for me. (And clearly he will not be the last!) I’m pleased to say that I mostly did take Matt’s advice, before even reading it today; I smiled and let the optometrist enjoy his own “twist” on my dream—perhaps he will even end up making some part of it his own!—while remembering that I have my own vision, and I can take others’ advice, but only if it truly feels right to me.

www.patreon.com/dreamintochange

What is possible right now? Do that thing.

I’m not on my bike today. I’m sitting here on the couch instead, feeling slightly dazed, with orange sky around me from all the fires in the area. Here in Portland it’s not really too bad, but my Facebook feed is full of photos and accounts from friends in suburbs and more outlying areas—here in Oregon and also up and down the West Coast—including friends who have had to evacuate, and friends in prison in Salem who have had other prisons “evacuated into” their population.

What a surreal and frightening reality.

I am reminded again that I was bicycling blissfully several days ago, not thinking of fires. One place that has been evacuated is Estacada, where I biked about a 50-mile round trip a couple of weeks ago to sample vegan cinnamon rolls at a locally owned bakery. I wonder how the owners and workers of that bakery are doing. Have they had to leave their homes? Will their homes be there when they return?

Friends are posting that they don’t know where they will go if they need to evacuate. I don’t have a plan for myself at this point, and I really hope I will not need to.

I feel strangely numb.

One gratitude has struck me, though: When the weather was lovely, I got out and biked. It was what I wanted to do, even though I faced a familiar internal resistance.

Thinking about this reminds me of a life principle: 

“What is possible right now, in this moment? Whatever it is, do that thing!” 

This applies when conditions are “good”: optimize them! Do the very coolest thing you have access to in that moment. You don’t know how long that cool thing will be available to you as an option. It also applies in difficult or more limited situations, like right now: maybe I could pack an evacuation bag, just in case. Get some affairs in order. Organizing a few key things in my life is crucial in an emergency, but also helpful even if the emergency doesn’t come to pass.

I’m thinking ahead to my plan to bike around the country. In all likelihood, I will encounter many unexpected obstacles, including forest fires and/or other natural disasters. I will need to work with whatever is possible in any given moment, and accept whatever reality I encounter, with creativity and pragmatism.

What realities are you facing in this moment? What can you do with those conditions, in this moment, to best serve you or others?

www.patreon.com/dreamintochange

Overcoming fears, finding new challenges

I am finding that blogging about my fears seems to help dissipate them. I love this, and hope it continues. (I recommend some version of this to anyone reading: if you don’t have a blog, maybe post about some of your fears on Facebook, or tell them to friends. See if it helps!)

Case in point: Yesterday I wrote that I had a hard time getting myself out of the house in time to go to the nature park I had hoped to visit in West Linn. While that ended up turning out fine, because I chose to make a new plan and do some “hill work,” and enjoy beautiful views on Mt. Tabor instead… I am pleased to report that today, after my livestreaming concert ended at about 2:45, I got everything together in time to head out the door at 3:15, bound for the park. (Mary S. Young State Park, if you’re in the Portland area and want to visit yourself.)

I had a lovely ride, and found the park to be incredibly beautiful, with forested trails and river access. I decided to take a different route on the way back, so that I could do a bit more hill work and enjoy more beautiful views in the Tryon Creek Natural Area, as well as the River View Cemetery. The views and time spent in the perfect-temperature September evening were definitely worth it… but I did find myself facing another, now-familiar concern: How do people build up the stamina to handle all the distance and hills I will need to cover on my trip? How will I be able to do this? I estimate that I climbed less than 500’ on this trip today. I covered about 30 miles total in my loop. And I didn’t have any luggage or gear, except what I carried in my small backpack. On my nationwide journey, I expect to travel probably an average of 50 miles per day, and sometimes as much as 60. Elevation gains could reach 3000-4000’ on any given day. And I expect to have either a trailer with a suitcase, or possibly some version of packs rigged directly onto the front and rear of the bike. (I’ll figure out such logistics later, maybe next summer.)

How do people do this? It seems really challenging. I know people do it. How do they do it? I’m in decent shape, I think, and at 47, frankly I’m on the low end of the typical age for Brompton touring folks. 

So… I guess if they can do it, so can I? I sure hope so. Maybe after a week or so of putting in the miles every day, I’ll just get used to it? All I can do is hope so, and continue to give myself local excursions to practice between now and then. Maybe next summer I can begin “training” in earnest, with more and longer trips, and carrying a load.

One day at a time, eh?

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.)