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…Insight from Martha

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.

Bright Spots: Insight from Martha

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 read more…

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 read more…

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 read more…