Make the Madness a Game…Wisdom from Martha

goatThis holiday season, I won’t get into the knicker-twisting anxiety and exasperation that once plagued my holidays. No interpersonal conflict, no traffic jam, no decorating disaster will get my goat. I may get all the way through January with my goat entirely ungotten. Is this because I am an enlightened being? No. Is it because I am a patient and loving person? No.

It is because I’ll be playing Bingo.

If you’re in the Tribe, you’re probably familiar with Dysfunctional Family Bingo. The rules are simple: before the holidays, make or download a blank Bingo form (click here to download the special bingo card we use).

In each of the blank squares, write a brief description of something that virtually always happens to screw up your life during the holiday season. In one square you might write, “My kids have a screaming meltdown in the minivan.” In another, “My brother brings up the time I broke his Christmas present, 67 years ago.” In still another, “Mom asks me if I’ve considered Weight Watchers.” These may not be your issues, but you know what they are. Oh, yes—you know.

Once you’ve filled out all your squares, carry your Bingo card everywhere with you, along with your cell phone (if “I lose my cell phone” is in one of your squares, you may have to borrow someone else’s when it happens). Each time an event on your Bingo square actually happens, you get to mark off that square. Snap a picture of your event, or the immediate aftermath as evidence (you can later make a dysfunctional art piece by gluing these photos into the Bingo squares and framing the card. Print off several as holiday gifts for next year!).

When you’ve filled in a whole row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, you have Bingo! Snap a photo and post your winning cards on my Facebook page.

Seriously, this project will take you out of harried-holiday mind mode and put you into a peaceful observer’s brain state, making the madness a genuine game. And this year we’re all playing together, which is even more fun. So good luck, and happy happy holidays!

Post a picture of your bingo card, and hashtag it #bingomartha, or if you need to be on the down low, simply pop into the bathroom during your shindig, take a selfie of you reenacting your facial expression when uncle Ned passed gas at the table, and post it with #bingomartha.

The Magic Created Just for You…Wisdom from Martha

magicEvery year, before I go to Londolozi, South Africa, for our annual Self Transformation Adventure Retreats (STARs), I expect magical things to happen. When I get there I always panic—Holy crap, I’ve promised something I can’t possibly create. Will the magical things arrive?

And every year, they do.

This year—whew!—was no exception. I watched our STARlings create magic for themselves, and I watched Africa embrace them, and it was awesome. But right now I’ll just tell you something that happened to me, me, ME, because as Nisargadatta Maharaj once half-joked, “God is doing all of this for me.”

Before leaving for Africa, I went to my favorite bird-watching store in San Luis Obispo and bought a fabulous hat. It was made in Canada, with straps both in front and behind (I challenge any of you to wear anything half so dorky).

Three weeks into my Africa stay, I was sitting with the Vartys, who run Londolozi, when master coach Michael Trotta said, “Do you know there’s a secret compartment in your hat?”

Sure enough, the crown of the hat has a false bottom, sealed with Velcro. Inside was a little plastic bag for storing things like money, or methamphetamines, or whatever (those bird watchers are CRAZY!). And inside the plastic bag was a small card. And on the card was a tiny photo of a man with an elephant. I read the card aloud to the Vartys, “Elephant trainer Michael Hackenberger of the Ontario Zoo had his Tilley hat snatched and eaten by an elephant. Three times.”

“Oh,” said the Vartys. “Michael Hackenberger. Yes, we know him well. He sold us some tigers. His elephant came from this area.”

Are you getting this? I bought a hat in California that was made in Canada, and unknowingly carried a tiny photo of an elephant back to the precise location in Africa where that elephant was born. Then I discovered the photo at exactly the time and place I’d read it to the people who could tell me about this…coincidence?

Are you KIDDING?

This proves nothing, of course. It’s just one hell of a coincidence. To me, it’s the vast intelligence of the cosmos winking at the point of itself that is me, saying, “This world is far more magical than you realize—oh, and by the way, God is doing all of this for you.” If there’s one thing I re-learn every year at Londolozi, it’s that every one of us can say that, and we’ll always be right.

P.S. Are you feeling the call to magical adventure? Jump on the STAR interest list to stay in the loop about our 2016 trip!

Distort Your Reality: Insight From Martha

Welcome to what some are describing as the very last year ever. Not that we’re all going to die, I am told, just that according to the Mayans—or the Aztecs or the people at Burger King or wherever—time will cease to exist this year, and therefore the word “year” will become meaningless. Why the hell not?  So, as read more…

Turn on Your Right Brain

This morning I sat down to write about how we can all learn to better use the right hemispheres of our brains. For 30 minutes, I tapped restlessly at a laptop. Nothing much happened, idea-wise. Flat beer. Finally I resorted to a strategy I call the Kitchen Sink. I read bits of eight books: four read more…