Category Archives: Dispatches from Inner Space

Exploring the intersection between imagination and everyday life, the inner space that alerts us to find our own power…

Billy the Kid Versus “Billy the Kid”–the Power of Legend


Billy the Kid--Public Domain--Ben Wittig

One of the most iconic figures that came out of stories of the Wild West was Billy the Kid, also known as William H. Bonney, a gunfighter who entered American folklore and inspired more than one tall tale. His life as a “desperado” has been described in books, film, music, and on stage. A television series ran two years in the early 1960s, depicting Billy as a pretty nice guy–a fabrication that appealed widely to audiences. In every depiction, he is followed by Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who eventually shot and killed him in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Billy was 21 years old.

Billy the Kid murdered eight people, lived for a time as a cattle rustler, and when he was first captured by Garrett managed to release himself from handcuffs and shackles, kill two deputies, and escape–some said singing on his horse on his way out. His crimes were written up by the New York Sun. His reputation was enhanced further when a bounty of $500.00 was put on his head. In today’s money, that is equivalent to $11,000.00.

Copland’s “Billy the Kid”

When Aaron Copland wrote his “Billy the Kid: Ballet Suite” in 1938, he saw it as “perception of the pioneer West, in which a figure such as Billy played a vivid role.” It is a marvelous piece, filled with folk tunes and cowboy songs woven into it, and hailed as the beginning of the unique “American sound” in classical music. The music romanticizes Billy, and only much later did Copland observe that had he known the real criminal mindset of Billy the Kid, he might not have written the music at all. But it is a grand piece, and we would be bereft without it. It is an old argument–is something of less value because of the premise that inspired it? Or does creativity require  a different dimension of judgment?

Why the Myth of the Cowboy”?

What is a more salient observation, though, is the question of why Americans have absorbed the myth of the gunfighter so absolutely. The degree has varied, but it is a myth that has never been forsaken.

Many years ago I worked on a grant for the National Endowment for the Arts about the last of the cowboys. In the course of it I went with others to Missouri and saw Jesse James’ homestead, a farmhouse that lay in the distance across an open field. I’d grown up watching westerns–it was a thrill to see that legendary place. But that is the power of myth–of believing something that was always in the distance, that sparked the imagination, and brought with a feeling of adventure and action and glamour. For that is exactly what the legends of the cowboys did–brought us into a world that didn’t exist, but we half wished did–a world where we never experienced the same routine, never stayed in one place, always had a new horizon ahead of us. That is the power of myth–that we can be more than we think we are.

But the Truth of It…

The truth of it is we have extolled, valued, remembered, and absorbed legends that belong to killers and thieves, a violent set of characters who lived larger than life, yes, but with the intent to do harm, whenever they had the chance. These were not nice people. For whatever reasons, they were damaged in some way, perhaps even by the relentless westward expansion of America that took no prisoners. We have as our heroes people who would as soon do us in as say hello.

Yet the power of the legends does not fade, even now. Our society is a mirror to the Old West, though we are far ahead of it in time. We visualize violence as a virtue–a hero’s path. Look at 80% of the films and television shows now available. It is a world, in that respect, that has not changed.

The question is–is this the truth we want? Is that why it persists? Or does it signal something else we are unwilling to give up?

Distraction: Are You Addicted To It?


An absolutely wonderful and wise person, James Van Praagh, described in one of his books what he felt held him back the most whenever he let it:  DISTRACTION! He put a large piece of paper on his refrigerator with that one word on it, to remind himself not to yield to the seductive power of getting distracted from his purpose or in his life. He wasn’t suggesting we must be focused all the time. But he was observing that we must be wiling to allow quiet time, reflective time, and also to use time with some form of intention.

No Quiet Time

What is it we seem to do these days? It isn’t to allow quiet time. Very much the opposite. Pema Chodron described in an interview with Bill Moyers that when she was on a plane journey, the battery of sounds from devices all around her was overwhelming–cell phones, broadcasts, movies, laptops, video games–no one was just sitting and looking out the window, or engaged in thought–the closest they came to quiet time was when they were sleeping. What struck her most was that people seemed afraid to be in their own thoughts, as if there was some real disconnect going on between the inner and outer selves.

Becoming Oblivious

Late in his life Ray Bradbury watched people walking along the street with ear buds, listening to a device, oblivious to the world around them, and not speaking to the person they were with. He shouted out in frustration that he’d written a story about that very happening in 1953 and it was supposed to be science fiction! But the telling point in his story wasn’t that we should not enjoy listening to a recording–perhaps an audiobook, or music, but that we seemed to use our devices unceasingly, constantly, for everything–as if being without the device were impossible. What would he say to the sea of heads walking along the streets now! Heads everywhere bent to their cell phones anxiously seeing what message had come in. Was it important? Did it help them discover some idea? Was it vital to receive, so much so they had to check even while dining or at a movie and grow anxious, get an adrenaline flow, if no messages showed up for awhile? Unless they were emergency personnel or doctors, they had no reason to do this–did they?

So What Is Going On?

Maybe people cannot stand themselves, or are afraid of their own thoughts? Sure, sometimes, we all are. But this level of usage, this passion for checking for messages, is different in degree, in its omnipresent visibility. This kind of distraction, at a subconscious level, comes from a persistent,  almost insatiable desire to escape the reality that is, to control reality as much as possible, to make sure everything that is going on is known, sorted, addressed–with nothing left to chance.

Addiction Tipping Point

It’s possible that soon we will have reached a tipping point, in which our consuming need to be “doing” something has translated into an addiction to stare at our phones–not missing a single message, or a new tweet, or an ad for a movie, or a news flash, or a word from an unknown admirer–anything will do.

It is a global event. Each country has its own version of this, whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, or Whatsapp, and more. It is a global phenomenon that on its good side allow a level of communication unheard of, unimagined, in just a decade. But at what price?

Addictive Effect On Us

It is also a terrible burden, for it slices our life into fragments of experience. And these fragments are forgotten as soon as they arrive–our need is to have them happen, not to remember them. They keep us from ourselves, from our work, and from each other–we have become silos of texting.

Perhaps most of all it is the distraction of our technology that has taken us away from being involved in life in deeper ways.

It has taken us away from  being “present” in our own life.

But the technology is not at fault. It is neutral. It makes no decisions. It has no power. It does not control anything. Unless we say so.

We are the ones who choose to give our own personal power away to it.

We always, always, always have the right to say NO to using the devices, to turning on the phones. We can–sometimes–refuse the distraction of it all. Our decision. Our responsibility. Our choice.

What Does That Mean?

Are we are willing to know who we are and, for a while at least,
enter the quiet time within, uninterrupted?

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Erasing the Debris of Old Energy


CC BY-NC-SA 2.0--Thicket--Haataja

Erasing the debris of old energy frees us. But it is not easy to do. It is like trying to cut through a dense thicket with a pocket knife. We often cannot fathom what a better tool might be, or even how to use it. Yet that debris weighs us down, saps our energy, so that we are not giving 100% of ourselves to life and living.

How can we remove that debris? What often goes unacknowledged is that sometimes we don’t want to–not because we want to stay where we are so much as that we are afraid to move out of the familiar, even if that familiar state is not good for us.

Change–any kind of change–is a step out into the unknown. It isn’t surprising how many of us hesitate to do that. Anything could happen and what control would we have over it, when the shift into something new has no markers for us to follow?

But the heavy word in that sentence is “control.” It is fear that drives us when we think something could be out of our control. We are not accustomed to letting life evolve. We have to make things happen–our way. And there is the difficulty–the thicket we create for ourselves, and the debris we keep adding to it, inside ourselves, to make sure we are safe–all comes from the feeling that whatever happens must be our way or else it does not make sense to us.

Staying aware but allowing each moment to be whatever it is, whatever it is showing us–this is not easy to do. It takes practice.

That practice is to let go–let go of our demand that everything be safe and stay safe, be familiar and stay familiar. Of course, we want some predictability in our life–and we enjoy doing things in familiar ways for study, for community, for entertainment. But that is different than choosing to leave our comfort zone in an action of trust that new worlds of perception might open, or are opening.

Our creativity–at a core level–comes from allowing ourselves to explore other ways of being. We don’t have to follow them, necessarily. But we discover suddenly there is a new energy in us, running through us, that in its natural evolution expands our consciousness.

And in essence, consciousness–all levels of our consciousness–creates the precious uniqueness of who we are.

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Dare To Be Known


dare to be known

If there is one thing that seems to affect most of us, it is a hesitancy to dare to be known, to let who we are “show up” — so that our authentic selves are visible wherever we are. Instead, we try to hide, to disguise, to cover up, to misdirect any attention away from our true inner being. It could even be said we are content to be anonymous.

Now, by all accounts, this appears to be the opposite of our day-to-day experience wherein each person we encounter wants their opinion, thought, idea, or outlook to be front and center. People want to be heard, to be noticed, to have a feeling of being wanted, desirable, important, liked, admired, praised. Each of us at some level feels each of these things.

The difference is that being noticed or praised or important has nothing to do with our authentic self. To dare to be known has nothing to do with any action we take or behavior we lay claim to.

Living an authentic life means we look at who we are in terms of one thing only–that we love who we are. Everything begins there.

What Is Your Inner Chatter About Yourself?

Have you caught yourself thinking negative things about your appearance, thoughts, behavior, outlook, achievements, social skills, intellect, likeability, worthiness? Or do you find most of the time the voice inside your head has good things to say — that you are not only loving but loved, that your presence on earth is unique and for that reason alone invaluable, that you matter as much as anyone else, that your outlook is creative and life-giving?

A good guess is that if you dared to log your inner chatter about yourself for even one hour, the negative to positive comments would have a ratio of 80/20 — or even 90/10. Most of us habitually diminish ourselves by feeling disappointment at our choices in the past, distress over our personality, uncertainty in what we believe, and intense fear other people will find out we are not valuable.

The truth is every person is valuable, no exceptions. What happens is we forget, or ignore, or cannot accept this truth. Why not? The reasons are as varied as the number of people on the planet. No two stories are the same.

Do You Deserve the Good Life?

You don’t have to do anything to deserve the good life. You ARE the good life, and every time you choose to know this — to remember this — you give that feeling to everyone you encounter.

It isn’t rocket science. If in your spirit you feel loved, then you automatically send that love out into the world wherever you go.This doesn’t mean you will like everyone you meet, or find common ground  with them, or experience only positive things. It just means you allow all that because it is life. You deal with what you have to and move on. Without judgment.

You don’t feel loved, you say? If you exist, you are loved, by God, by All That Is, by the Universe–you choose whatever word works for you. Just know it is true. There is no doubt of this. And you are meant to love who you are. Without judgment. Your presence here is no accident.

When we dare to be known as we are, we are saying YES to who we are.

It changes everything.

Try it just once for ten minutes. If you dare. You will be amazed at what happens.

I send out an occasional newsletter with updates and special content. You are most welcome to join here.

Trust Yourself


Trust Yourself

Do you trust yourself? Do you believe you are made of “star stuff,” as the scientists tell us? Do you know how perfect you are?

You do know these things. We all do, but we live life often in a state of amnesia, or as if this information is meant to be hidden away. Our focus is given over to time-honored distractions instead — fitting in, being a certain way to please another, choosing a safe career or path or point of view, not rocking the boat, settling for less, distrusting our abilities and talents…

and distrusting our ability to thrive.

Yet here we are, created in the image of God, every single person and creature and tree and flower on the planet. Every sigh of the wind, every pebble on a dirt path, every leaf blown across a field or along the street, every sea tide — all are evidence of God in and on the Earth, just as your own presence is.

Choosing to Say Yes

When you trust yourself, you say YES to life. You have already lived many stories, gone through many stages, and walked many unexpected paths.

It is a certainty things have not turned out the way you have planned, not always or even often. Life requires us to FEEL it all. It is a journey through your  feelings, according to the details  of your experiences and reactions and actions taken. Saying YES to this is acknowledging not only the life-force, but your own place in it.

There is no “objectivity.” What we see is through  the prism of our emotions. That is our purpose on this earth — to sort through our emotions and discover how to experience them in a way that adds to the quality of our life. This is how we bring passion into our heart and spirit.

Integrating Trust into Who You Are

There is no way anyone else’s feelings affect you as much as your own feelings do. They are the manifestation of your heart, not your brain — they are the source of joy or pain, according to how much you have discovered about yourself, and how  much of that you are willing to face, absorb, and integrate.

We tend to spend an inordinate amount of time doing what we are supposed to do. It is easier, and it is often safer. Yet it means — it always means — we are letting go of our innate being, who we are in God’s image — to accommodate a way of life that is not genuine to our soul.

Our public institutions — and that includes the law, religion, groups, and family — have rules for us to follow. These are often fine–they create a choreography of action and response, a dance, if you like, of what is both predictable  and unexpected. We learn from these. It is when we give our power — or trust — over to them to the exclusion of the inner heart that we begin to falter in spirit.

Integrating trust in ourselves into everything we do brings peace, and a joy that cannot  be contained.

It also brings a feeling of inner power, a feeling that we are meant to give service to the planet, to ourselves and those we love, and to the voice of the stars that sing all the time in our very cells.

Life Even in the Midst of Chaos



We are all able to navigate in our world with care and kindness, but when we face difficult times our tendency is to withdraw and retreat, or to strike out, both the result of great inner stress.

The thing is, life even in the midst of chaos shows itself as a choreography, a dance of change that is never still.

Yet within that, we have a still center, a place in our inner self that is always calm. I was once told a story that is a metaphor for this. A pearl lies in the shell of an oyster on the sand at the bottom of the sea. Wild storms come up and roil the ocean’s surface, creating massive waves and turbulence. Anyone in a ship riding those waves must prepare for possible death, for the power of the wind and sea far exceed anything a human being can control. The chaos renders a person helpless—unless they understand the sea itself, unless they recognize their job is not to control it but to remain aware and alert, ready for whatever has to be done, but not afraid  of it. Not an easy path or choice.

Only—there is that pearl…far below on the sea floor. Not swept away by the turbulence above, even when touched by it, the pearl continues to form, created over and over in layers by the animal that inhabits the shell, sometimes for years. Like the lilies of the field, the inhabitant of the shell does not question its right to exist, or stop its own creative force. The result, we know, is precious.

Nor can you stop your own creative force and will it to be silent. But you can enter silence as the path into the center stillness. Stay there awhile, a few minutes each day. Not in some formal meditation, but as a suspension of whatever else you are doing or must do.

Give that to yourself.

[Credit: Photowitch |]

How Not To Give Away Your Personal Power


Personal Power

You do not need to give away your personal power, that inner awareness and trust in who you are and in your unique worth and worthiness. But many of us do. We believe for some reason that letting someone else define us, or insist on how we must be and act and think, will bring us favor and approval. No. It never does. What it brings is an abrogation of our true being, of our best self, and of our commitment to life–not just to our own, but to all life. Everything is connected. What we do and think sends out a vibration that affects not only those around us, but the whole planet.

In the previous post I wrote about the need to be authentic in dealing with others. Holding on to your personal power is the foundation that allows you the freedom to live in that authentic state. It is not easy to do in a world that expects us to be and act in conformity with the status quo.

For women in particular this loss of personal power is more common than not. Most women are brought up to please, and no matter how far they may advance in life, that training tears at them, making the need for approval essential. Women who go beyond this barrier are women who embrace their right and freedom to exist as they are–people like Dr. Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, Louise Hay, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Leymah Gbowee, Rachel Carson, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, Oprah Winfrey, Helen Clark, and more. The opinions of others do not stop them, and neither does self-doubt and fear, even when they have both. They choose to honor their path.

It is something we are all entitled to have–that inner sense of who we are, to act and feel and speak as we are–no matter what. It is more than having confidence or bravery–it is having a deep, unmistakable awareness our value is derived not from what others do or think or say, but from our own innate right to exist and thrive, to create a life that matters to us.

Personal power encompasses personal responsibility. It defines how we behave in each instance of our life by the choices we make. If we assume that responsibility, then we refuse to blame anyone else for outcomes. If we act in our most authentic way, truest to what we understand best, we cannot fault ourselves. It is when we cavil, deceive, pretend, manipulate, hide, and allow ourselves to be dishonest in any way that we relinquish that responsibility, and with it our essential purpose and life force.

Again, this whole idea is especially difficult for many women who resist and resent having to assume control over their own lives. Women are still conditioned to expect that a man on a white horse will show up–that provider, that other person who will take care of them. It is an old energy, though, one that stops progress in the inner and outer worlds. It is a barrier to freedom.

And personal power is all about freedom.

Listening to Bach’s Cantata 208


Cantata 208

Bach’s Cantata 208

On hearing the notes in the verse of “Sheep may safely graze,” I know these things:

There is so much I don’t understand, and so much I do.

There is so much grief I feel, and so much joy.

There is so much loss that has come to me, and so much receiving of what is blessed.

What Is the Way?

All sadness comes from ego.

All grief comes from compassion.

All pain comes from blindness.

What Then Must I Do?

Only the heart knows.

Only the spirit sees.

Only the mind allows.

What If It Is Too Late?

Time is indeed relative.

Time Is a construction of the ego.

Time does not exist.

And So, Whether I See It or Not…

It is never too late.

It is always joy.

It is always love.

What If There’s Nothing Wrong With You?


nothing wrong

How any people do you know who are really comfortable with who they are? How many of them think there’s something wrong with them—that they are broken in some way, or damaged at some level, or just plain unworthy? Are they right?

There’s an old song from the 1960s that was a hit sung by Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is, My Friend?” It talks about a sadness of the spirit. Not everyone asks this question, but it matters when you do, for that means you are ready for something to change. You’re ready to see things another way.

There is always a trigger, a catalyst that signals this change—a point of no return when we just know that our best self has to emerge, and we can’t stay stuck where we are.

But a lot of our sadness comes from confusion. Who are we, really? Why isn’t it working, this life we have—or why isn’t it working some of the time? What’s wrong with us that we can’t make it better?

What is interesting is that this train of thought is a false trail most of the time. We make assumptions about ourselves based on beliefs we hold and trust are true. Yet usually, they aren’t.

Origin of the False Trail

As children, we accepted everything people said about us and themselves and life, especially our parents. They were all powerful back then. All adults were. These people stay powerful in our psyche even when we have gone on with our own lives, and even when they have passed away. If their influence was an unhappy one, this gets reflected in how and what we believe as adults.

Yet they never claimed that power. They were just trying to live in a way that made sense to them. Sometimes they made terrible mistakes, and sometimes they gave us beautiful gifts—and sometimes they did both.

The thing is—we can find ourselves holding on to patterns that aren’t suitable for us. Everything they said and did belongs to them, not us. We were born with a path specifically intended for us. Ours. Not theirs.

Another Way

So here’s a different question. What if there is nothing wrong with us? What if all these beliefs are just us giving permission to those seemingly all-powerful people or situations from long, long ago to keep their power even now? What if we take our power back? What do you think might happen to you if you did that? What would you lose, do you think? Or is it possible you will feel as open to life as the day you were born, to all it throws at you, shows you, reveals to you—from the inexpressible beauty of the earth itself, to the power of a smile, to the gift of cooperation instead of fear? What then?

Finding Your Own Power

What if we are born exactly right?

What if we have all the power we need, because there is nothing wrong with us at all? Could you live with that?

If You Were Offered Enough Money For Life, Would You Take It?


enough money for life

It’s a proven fact that when people win the lottery–in other words–have enough money for life–some of them stay where they are at the same job, and in the same house, and almost all of them are broke within five years.

What’s going on with that?

Do We Want Enough Money Deep Down in Our Hearts?

Lots and lots of websites in the personal development field offer answers. The owners of those sites are experts, and the fact that they have the ability to help people find a better way to live their lives is proven, too. They all share one common thread–our choices are driven by what we believe.

So if we believe having a limited supply of money and living in the same house forever is good for us, we don’t adapt happily if those factors change. If we believe we should not have more money than other people (not a problem celebrities and politicians tend to have), then our lifestyle will be modest at best. If we believe having a million dollars and more is scary, then winning the lottery is a burden we are only too glad to drop, by letting the money vanish as fast as possible. If we are disdainful about money, feel it is not spiritual or valuable in any way, we can be sure it is unlikely to show up in our bank account.

What Beliefs Make Us Sabotage Getting Enough Money?

I’m no expert. These are just a few meandering thoughts based on reading and studying over two thousand websites over three years on the subject–partly because I was driven to find out how the rich get rich and partly to find out why our beliefs run us so very, very well. I have had a personal investment in both subjects, but I am still an amateur.

However, I think I can safely name three beliefs that keep us treading water instead of taking a deep dive into not just being financially free, but free in spirit–because the two go together. They do. You’d be surprised how much. With more than enough money, you can help the world and be in service to the planet. If you have only enough money to survive on, you can’t. Anyway, here are the three:

  • Certainty we are just holding on financially by our fingernails (even if it isn’t factually true)
  • Conviction if we have money we are bad people (even if we are good)
  • Fear of doing better than our parents, grandparents, and/or ancestors

What About All the Greedy People?

Yes, they’re out there (and include a lot of celebrities and politicians). The thing is, having money doesn’t make you one of them. The truth is we use that idea as an excuse. Maybe even as a way to feel proud of ourselves for not having enough money. Who knows where our resistance comes from. But my research suggests to me we’d do well to find out. Living on the edge, living with a moral tenet that isn’t true, or buying into an ancestral mandate–all three are beliefs that leave us in the dollar-less dust,  metaphorically speaking.

So What Happens If You Say OK to Changing Course and Letting Money Flow into Your Life?

I can’t pretend on this one. It IS scary. You could lose it, get it taken by con artists, have relatives clamoring at the door for a handout, discover old friends are upset with you, and some new ones are a little too eager.

At the same time, you have a power, freedom, and choice that you’ve never known before. You have the chance to see what you’ll do with it all.

The Risk of Having Enough

And this is why it’s scary–you get to know who you are when you really do have the means to help the world in your own unique way–and you get to find out firsthand if that is what you want to do–and even more to the point, what you choose to do. Most people would rather not face that revelation.

How about you?