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!

Channeling Your Inner Hobo

So I’m on my yearly migration to Africa, where I go to molt, feed, and mingle with others of my species. Every time I make the trip, I’m so grateful and happy. And miserable. And terrified.

It’s not Africa that bothers me; it’s getting there.

I admire but don’t understand people who love travel for its own sake. I have enough trouble puttering around my house; flying to places with utterly different time zones just seems gratuitous.

Eckhart Tolle says that there are only three feeling states for people who live in the Now: acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, which means “filled with God,” kicks in when you’re doing what you love, with people you love, in places you love. Enjoyment is how you experience things that are, y’know, okay. Acceptance is the emergency go-to state for times when you’re not in your element.

Once I get to Africa, I’ll be eyeballs-deep in enthusiasm. But to find acceptance for the actual trip, I must assume the ragged mantle of the Airport Hobo, my alter ego who—this is the important part—only knows the world of air travel. I can’t even let myself think how much I’d like to be doing something else. For Airport Hobos, there is only Now: security screenings, boarding passes, inappropriately timed sunlight.

Each trip, I take a new Airport Hobo name (last trip, Numbbum Eyebag; this trip, Imaculatta Tinkleplenty). I tell Airport Hobo stories. I sing Airport Hobo songs (“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…”). I hunt hot outlets. I flee from babies.

This works so well I’ve started Hobo-ing in other circumstances, such as waiting for a medical exam or talking to my accountant. Try it. When you absolutely can’t find enthusiasm or enjoyment, become the Acceptance Hobo of whatever it is you must do: the Laundry Hobo, the Office Temp Hobo, the Parent-Teacher Conference Hobo. Name yourself. Then accept your progress one present moment at a time. Later, you can tell the tale over many a crackling fire to generations yet unborn.

And forgive me if, when we pass each other, I don’t wave. Airport Hobo means no harm. Airport Hobo only recognizes passport photos. And Airport Hobo’s tiny, jet-lagged brain is entirely occupied accepting the Now.

The Good Work Foundation: Martha’s Playing the “$25,000 Match Game”!

Martha’s asking for your help and saying ‘thank you’ by matching what you give!

The Good Work Foundation is in need and is the primary organization supported by The LEAP Foundation, which is near and dear to Martha’s heart. Located in South Africa, the GWF’s main focus is on education.

The GWF’s goal is to bring world class education to the rural areas of South Africa.

The communities’ high school graduates are functionally illiterate. The GWF’s mission is to create an education model that is both sustainable and provides access to world class education at an affordable price. The education model is one that creates opportunities for people to invest in themselves.

GWF’s projects are focused in two areas:

  1. Pre-school teacher training and equipping preschools. Education is never as important as the child’s first few years in school. A happy, nurturing beginning means children who love to learn and are excited about their futures.
  2. The creation of Digital Learning Centers. The GWF is currently running a pilot project at the local Mpumalanga High School. The mission is to reinvent learning. They believe that this center will set a new trend as a completely alternate way to addressing the educational challenges of the country.

Martha is thrilled to be able to match every dollar donated up to $25,000.

US citizens, don’t forget to save your receipt. Donations made through The LEAP Foundation are tax deductible.

To donate, be matched,  and track where we are against our goal, click here: The LEAP Foundation

Video Sneak Peek of the New Book!


Here’s a sneak peek of the stuff I’ll be discussing in my new book:  what’s YOUR “call of the wild”?

Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want will be released December 27, 2011. Reserve your copy on now. 

Bright Spots

I’m all blissed out because I just returned from this year’s African STAR (Self-Transformation Adventure Retreat) at the Londolozi Game Reserve.  It’s impossible to describe the joy and enchantment of coaching incredible people at a place devoted to “Restoring Eden.”   

Occasionally, people tell me that they don’t want to go to Africa because it’s a place of such terrible human suffering and poverty.  This always makes me think of Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  In Switch, the Heaths describe how masters of change create miraculously positive results.  

One key is looking for what the authors call “bright spots” in every situation, no matter how difficult. In all the doom and gloom about how the natural world is being destroyed by human activity, Londolozi is a “bright spot” that shows how humans can restore nature even after we’ve destroyed it.  But Africa is full of bright spots.  For every terrible atrocity, there are hundreds of thousands of acts of kindness.  For every corrupt dictator, there are a million gentle, wise, kind Africans.  For every jerk who kills an elephant and puts it on YouTube, there are dozens of conservationists who love the animals and want them to survive.  

Now that I am back from Africa, I want to be even more mindful of bright spots than when I left.  Change experts like the Heaths assure me that this, not doom and gloom prognostications, will help me be part of the positive change I want to see in the world.

Right now, think of something about your life that is troubling you, something you want to change.  It might be a child who is not doing well, a business that is in the red, an underwater mortgage.  For the next five minutes, instead of worrying about this thing, find a bright spot in the situation.  If your child doesn’t have a job, or has landed in solitary once again, at least she’s off the street.  Seriously, think of all the bad things your loved ones might be doing that they have avoided and the positive things, however small, that they may have accomplished:  truly loving a pet, being loyal to their friends, getting your jokes.   

As you start to make the list, you’ll find the bright spots start to pop out more and your negative judgments fade.  I believe that in that very moment, you have begun “feeding” your attention to a situation you want instead of a situation you don’t want.  Attention is a powerful nutrient.  It amplifies and accelerates the situations on which it is focused.  Now think of a second problematic situation.  Find the bright spots there. Make this a practice whenever you feel yourself growing anxious or angry.  Try this for a month.  If you don’t like the results, go back to looking at the dark spots. 

Shortly after I decided to try this practice, I met a hockey player in an airport.  We got to talking and, for some reason, he told me, “When you’re trying to score a goal, never ever look at the goalie.  Look at the spaces around the goalie, no matter how small they might be.  Where your eyes go, the puck goes.”  I got on the plane and sat down beside a kayaker.  As we chatted, he told me, “When you’re in the rapids, never look at the rocks.  Look at the water around the rocks, no matter how small it may seem.  Where your eyes go, the boat goes.”  I remembered my first embarrassing riding lessons with Koelle Simpson, the master horse whisperer.  “Look in the direction you want to go,” she said. “Where your eyes go, the horse goes.” 


Your life follows your attention.  Wherever you look, you end up going.

That’s why I think that as you try the “bright spots” exercise, your life will start heading in happier more productive directions.  Your relationships will be more relaxed and less contentious as you stop criticizing your loved ones and begin enjoying their positive attributes.  Your customers will be drawn to the energy of a business based on optimism.   

The world really is full of dark spots.  Of course, we’re aware of them.  Of course, we want to change them.  But where our attention goes, the world eventually goes.  So our task is to keep the negatives in our peripheral vision while focusing our full attention on joy, kindness, love and peace.  This is the way to “Restore Eden” in our own hearts, minds and lives so that we become the agents of restoration for everything we hope to change.

A New Level of Healing

I’ve always enjoyed looking for life coaching challenges out on the fringes of human experience, and I’ve always been optimistic about what coaching can do for people. This last month I reached new levels on both these counts. After spending several glorious days watching the wildebeest on land that was once “healed” by the same Team members I met in South Africa, I found myself in Rwanda, wandering through the genocide memorial and looking into thousands of the saddest faces I have ever seen. I am not easily daunted, but from a life coaching perspective, Rwanda officially daunted me.

In the most densely populated country in Africa, I don’t remember seeing a single happy face. The genocide might as well have happened yesterday. As someone whose corporate mission statement is “to eliminate unnecessary suffering” I didn’t feel I could take this lying down. I’ve left Rwanda, but Rwanda has not left me. As I’ve reached deeper than ever before to think of methods that could heal such horrible wounds, I’ve been growing as a coach by leaps and bounds.

Like the magical helpers in the classic hero’s saga, some truly blessed things arrived to help me as I considered Rwanda’s plight. First and foremost was the presence of three awesome coaches: Ashley Jansen, Susan Baghdadi, and Cindy Leech. These incredible women maintained such a tangible level of calm and love that I came to believe we could, in time, begin to heal even the darkest wounds humans have inflicted on each other. Another was a wonderful family who invited me into their home and allowed me to participate in their calm, loving, completely untroubled daily lives. The family consisted of one silverback male, two ladies who could have ripped off my arms, and several small, extremely furry babies. Standing and watching wild mountain gorillas, looking out through a forest similar to the movie Avatar, I could feel that wherever love for nature and for other beings arises, all things begin to heal.

Before we left Africa, the other coaches and I were already dreaming up an intensive “life coaching pellet” which could be taught to health care providers anywhere in the third world and left to ripple outward into the population at large. We’re already hard at work on this new life coaching product. I am up at night scheming for a way to get back to the most difficult place I have ever been.

Passion can take you to some frightening places. It can leave you facing seemingly insoluble problems. But it also brings friends, magical experiences and a range of understanding that just continues to increase. The world needs you to follow your passion – NOW!





Those of you who follow me on Facebook of Twitter may have noticed posts written by my alter ego, the Airport Hobo. Today I thought I’d explain who that is, so that 1) you’ll know what I’m talking about, and 2) perhaps you too can develop an Airport Hobo alter ego, should the need ever arise.

When I set out to become a writer, my objective was to earn a living without ever physically moving. But after publishing some books and articles I realized, to my horror, that we lowlier writers not only have to move about the house, but travel. A lot.

Now, I love many places that are far away from each other, but I do not consider getting there to be half the fun, or even .00000003 percent of the fun. So averse to travel am I that one day, as I packed for my seventeenth airplane trip in a month, I found myself…not myself. I had morphed into a creature designed specifically for airport travel: the Airport Hobo.

Since that day, whenever I’m called upon to fly, I find myself disappearing like Clark Kent, and Airport Hobo appearing like Superman, except that instead of being handsome and devoted to doing good, my alter ego is incredibly wrinkled (in clothing and body) and obsessed with tiny packets of snack mix.

As the name suggests, Airport Hobos are life forms specifically adapted to survive in airports and passenger jets, although small planes and ground transportation (such as taxis) are also suitable territory. You can recognize them because an Airport Hobo…

• …always carries enough travel-survival items on person to thrive even if all luggage is lost, stolen, or eaten by bears. See “kit and kaboodle,” below.


• …appears extremely patient and stoical: when plane is delayed, will lower metabolism and go into a light coma similar to hibernation.
• …can become aggressive when fighting to claim overhead luggage space.
• …has a morbid fear of babies.
• …gets through airport security lines at maximum possible speed (1 kilometer per week), despite carrying a full array of liquids and electronic equipment.
• …has a special, intimate relationship with all caffeinated beverages; may be observed pleading for them or whispering to them.
• …obsessively forages for electricity; will crouch for hours near any wall with a “hot” outlet, hoarding power in various appliances.
• … actively discourages conversation with other travelers; may feign language deficit or death to avoid chatting on planes.
• …walks with a forward-leaning stance, as if climbing a steep hill (and adaptation that developed to roll luggage).
• …speaks Airplane fluently (for example, the standard Airport Hobo phrase for making sexual overtures is, “Please be careful when opening overhead bins, as items may have shifted during takeoff and landing”).

Like Batman’s magical belt and Wonder Woman’s awesome pushup bustier. Airport Hobo’s outfit confers superpowers uniquely adapted to airport life. The basic outfit (kit) is pictured above. It includes:

• Cash. The lifeblood of travel. Most Airport Hobos, as shown here, try to carry at least thirty billion dollars in local currency at all times.

• Boots. For kicking off and slipping on. While another traveler unlaces and reties one pair of sneakers, Airport Hobo can take off and put on boots 12 to 15 times, and often does, to the amazement of other passengers and security personnel.

• Cheap sunglasses. These disguise Airport Hobo’s true identity, can be replaced at low cost when lost, broken, stolen, or offered as peacekeeping token to Airport Hobo’s most feared natural enemy: Babies.

• Scarf. The scarf is crucial equipment, as it can be loosened in a stuffy airplane parked at a gate, or used as a blanket once the plane is in flight through cold air. Airport Hobo can also drape it over his/her own face to discourage conversation or hide from babies.

• Passport holder. This is the Airport Hobo power source, as crucial as life itself. If an Airport Hobo loses this item, the next step is to jump out of a plane during flight. Holds cash and credit cards, as well as spare dental floss and a few gumdrops for bribing babies.


• Dried instant coffee. Can be used according to label, or offered as a sacramental tribute to Earl, the God Of Turbulence, Runway Traffic, and Unhappy Babies, or Jolene, the Goddess Of Those Tiny Lights In The Cockpit That Always Blink On at the Last Minute Before Takeoff And Prevent On-Time Departure. Dried coffee can also be eaten in jet-lag emergencies.

• Vest. This is actually a piece of luggage in disguise. Multiple pockets can carry enough supplies (kaboodle, see below) to keep Airport Hobo comfortable should flight attendants confiscate roll-aboard luggage, run out of coffee, or mutiny.

• Raincoat. Again, wearable luggage. Except for brief “dry” episodes at security stations, pockets hold bottles of water. An Airport Hobo with fully water-laden raincoat is able to travel tens of thousands of miles without stopping to hydrate, many times further than your average, non-flying camel.

In addition to the basic kit, Airport Hobos carry optional items (kaboodle) which may include:

• Electrical adaptors from around the globe, including mechanisms that plug directly into lightning bolts.

• Extra spoons.

• Oven mitt. This is of no known use to Airport Hobo, but this specific Hobo received it as a gift in a swag bag at an Oprah Magazine event, and kept it because of the basic philosophical position of all Airport Hobos, which is: You Never Know.

So the next time you travel, keep an eye out for Airport Hobos! Have no fear, they are usually non-aggressive (except near overhead luggage space, see above). On the other hand, use common sense: remember that Airport Hobos are antisocial, and will run into restroom stalls if pursued by a conversationalists or babies. Now, if you’ll forgive me…

Airport Hobo pack now. Go fly in plane. Please Earl make all babies go sleep.


Live Like a Lion, Love!


As I return home from almost 30 straight days on the road, having visited three continents, five countries, and three US states, I’m adding a new mascot to the bevy of beasts that have taught me how to live. The great things about being human is that, though we can’t quite equal the strengths of any other animal, we can do at least a half-assed imitation of any. (Yesterday on the History Channel I saw a blind man who echolocates like a bat, clicking his tongue and “reading” the sound echoes that bounce back to him from various objects.)

My current role model is Felix Leonis, the African lion, but not for the usual reasons. People have been identifying with lions forever because they’re big, strong, and have great hair. Me, I’m into their actual habits, which aren’t nearly as dignified and industrious as most people think.

First of all, lions sleep 20 hours a day. EXCELLENT! In Africa I met a wonderful Team member named Georgina Hamilton (now nicknamed Geo) who told me about a seminar she attended to learn lucid dreaming. For 10 days, the participants got up, ate breakfast, heard some instructions, and went back to sleep. Lunch, lecture, more sleep, dinner, much more sleep. What a concept! Listening to Geo I resolved to get serious about sleep—as aggressive as a challenged lioness, if need be.

Other than snoozing, lions have two major occupations. First, they hang out with their loved ones. I’ll never forget watching two leonine brothers—massive animals with manes like rock stars—wrap their front legs around one another and set to purring like tractor engines. Imagine two NFL nose guards with the social inclinations of Teletubbies. This I intend to imitate with anyone I love, and frequently.

The final lion occupation I intend to adopt is being silly. On the Masai Mara a few weeks ago, I flip-cammed these two youngsters playing with their food. Notice that they don’t actually eat the poor dead thing (at the height of the wildebeest migration, these lions were surpassingly well-fed) but use it for goofy hunting practice. You can practically hear them saying, “I will kill you some more! And more! Like this! You’re dead! Now you’re dead again! You are soooo dead this time!”

If you find this ghoulish, I understand. It takes some time to get used to the circle of life on the African savannah. But like a lion, I’m going to let you process that on your own. I’m feeling a little drowsy.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I’m BAAAA-aaaack! Like a fungus between your toes, just when you think you’ve gotten rid of me, here I am again. I’ll post a few videos over the next few days to tempt y’all into coming back to Africa with me. One of my favorite things was fostering orphaned baby elephants in Kenya.

These little guys lost their mothers to poachers, or fell into wells, or were attacked and injured by humans. Now they have the most loving human “dads,” guys who live with them 24/7, even sleeping next to them. They live in a national forest, but come “home” twice a day to get their bottles. This event is open to the public, but thanks to the fabulous J’Lein Liese, our group got to have a private session, where we gave them bottles (mine nearly pushed me over, just being affectionate) and the keepers told us to rub their heads, especially behind the ears, which is what their moms would do if they were alive.

If you want to foster one of these baby elephants, click over to and spend $50. You get on-line updates of the ellie you choose. Then you can come to Kenya with me next time and give yours a bottle!

The Team Is Everywhere!

This guy could be more like you than your own relatives.

As you may know, I’m convinced that there are a bunch of us on earth at this point in history who are here to save the world. Of course, every generation has saved the world in its own way, but here in the 21st century there are so darn many humans that we literally have to change unless we want cockroaches to outlive us all.

Fortunately, all over the world there are people–ordinary people, people without fame or wealth–who feel this same mission. They’re starting a transformation in the way humans live and think. They’re doing it person by person, Team member by Team member. And it’s time we all began working together.

Tonight in Nairobi I met two Team members who have the same passions and aspirations as a middle-aged female life coach from suburban America. One is a Ugandan genius who creates home-made solar panels to bring sustainable, eco-friendly energy to impoverished people; the other is a thirty-something Maasai “elder.” He wants to start a small eco-tourism business to help his people earn a living by protecting wildlife, such as the elephants who compete for drinking water with the women of his village.

The video quality of the clip below is awful–you can barely see these wonderful guys–but it’s enough to show that the Team is not just idealistic middle-class Americans. It’s brave people all over the world, doing small things with great love (to quote Ma Teresa). These guys are just like any other Team members. We just happen to’ve been born in different places.