“I Miss You.” (and nostalgia)

Three powerful words, indeed. Walking out of work today, I noticed I had received a text from a friend who is away on vacation with her family.

“I miss you!”

It read, as I opened up my high-tech Razr flip phone (haha), while simultaneously digging for keys and nearly dropping the purse I was carrying. It brought a smile to my face.


“I miss you.”

Such a nice thing to hear! The feeling of being missed, such a comfort.
This was a nice reminder to me… the caring gesture of communicating the feeling of missing to people — right when we feel it. Otherwise, they won’t know we were feeling it.
Suddenly I’m sitting here thinking of people and moments that I miss, old friends, loved ones, family.
A time like this is cause to pick up “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis and read a few pages. Such a great read.
A time like this is cause to let someone know they are missed.
A time like this  is cause to reflect on how much my son has grown. One of many memories shown above in the photo.


Tina - July 22, 2014 - 10:28 am

Look at little Ky! :) Beautiful photo and words as always… and as always I MISS YOU! :)

Michelle (Aurora) - July 22, 2014 - 12:49 pm

I’m ever-grateful for you milady <3 Our kids are HUGE compared to when we first met! Can’t wait to see you all. Much love! Miss you very much. Thanks for reading!

Dez - July 22, 2014 - 2:20 pm

I miss you!!

Michelle (Aurora) - July 22, 2014 - 10:54 pm

Miss you and hope all is well, madame!

Crissy - July 25, 2014 - 2:07 pm

I miss you! And I need to talk to you. :)

Michelle (Aurora) - July 27, 2014 - 7:56 pm

AW! I miss you :) The last week the good ‘ole flip-phone’s been losing signal / missing calls a lot, haha… if you’ve tried! xox

Pain as Nourishment

While I’m currently working on another essay post, as well as an inspirational piece for the blog… this issue is more present-tense. I wanted to write briefly about pain and working with negative emotions.


While positive thinking is a good quality to have, it becomes counterproductive when we fail to fully accept the pains we experience, restricting ourselves from working through associated emotions. Open expression of pain and emotions can foster healthy intimacy among relationships. Showing vulnerability can strengthen oneself and one’s relationships with others.

When we let emotions build and then cover them up with a positive attitude, it only clogs the soul. This past week, for the sake of protecting someone else’s emotions, I tried the “positive attitude” approach, but in doing so ignored the not-so-positive feelings altogehter; This only masked my truer, deeper feelings.  I finally allowed the heavier emotions to flow, and shared them with someone who remarked: “It is an honor to be trusted with someone else’s tears. It makes my own pain seem more significant.”


Both meditation and yoga practices teach the importance of fluid breathing to center one’s awareness. A few minutes of slow, cleansing breaths and focused inner awareness each day increases one’s capacity for mindful, intentional living. Through mindful living one can open up to embrace each emotion as it happens. Emotions are gateways to ascension if we allow them to be.

I listened to a beautiful guided meditation by Anara Kashna earlier today… she uses the word “allowing” again and again throughout her message. Allowing is key in developing fluidity in our lives — acceptance of the yin and yang… raising vibration through the developing harmony between our darkness and our light.


Wishing you all a beautiful week.



Purging = Love

Wow! After spending another weekend in the forest, I’ve been compelled to get rid of even more “belongings.” Attachment has been a theme this week, along with more discussions about intentional living.  The closet will be left with 5 pairs of pants, 5-10 long sleeved shirts/sweaters, 5 short sleeved shirts, a few “comfy” items for bed/yoga, and 10 – 15 dresses. A coworker just gifted me with a bag of shoes (we wear the same size) so it’s time to get rid of shoes, too. While I’m not totally where I want to be just yet,  I admitted to myself just this morning that there are still some little silly attachments I’ve needed to let go of.

Less Choices = More Time

Not only will a tiny wardrobe mean less time to think about what to wear to work, it will also mean more time to spend enjoying the morning hours — the most peaceful time of day! In truth, all anyone really needs is a clean outfit or two.


That special dress to wear on that special occasion, those perfect shoes to have tucked away just incase… these things are just unnecessary attachments, taking up space in the home and in the mind. It feels so good to let go!


While many of us already do take items to our local charity after we’ve grown bored with them, it’s worth mentioning again, just in case you’re on one of those cleaning sprees where the trash can is more convenient. Giving clothes to charity is an act of love toward the Earth (recycling), helps those in need, and is a nice reminder that we have enough to go around. Local homeless shelters,  shelters for battered women/children, and local community centers are a few of the best places to donate your clothing items.


Happy purging!:)


Some Other Inspiring Articles on Getting Rid of Clothes

becomingminimalist.com – How to Let Go Of Clothes

The Very Small Closet – Learning to Let Go

The Minimalists – Less Clothes, More Routines

Essay: Fidelity & Fragility

Inside the minds of most human beings lives the idea that a life-mate exists out there in the world. Some of us have found that person, some of us have not, and some of us do not believe in the concept at all. Love is the simplest, yet most complex of all emotions. So many factors go into what makes a relationship healthy, and as many factors go into why once-vibrant-romances become stagnant. I think about the movie March of the Penguins and am so moved by that level of commitment among wild birds in such extreme conditions. I’m equally moved by the idea of committing one’s life to spiritual growth and abstaining from a romantic partnership altogether. This is currently a period of self-exploration, reconsidering what fidelity means for me.  I know I’m fully committed to being a good mother, a good friend, learning and growing from my mistakes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and other existential and spiritual specifics. But when it comes to romantic matters of the heart, I’m a little slow. There have been a couple of painful endings, but very necessary endings. Right now, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to take time determining which direction to go (as far as what it could mean to move toward a deeper long-term commitment, or what it could mean to remain romantically uninvolved… while continuing to surround myself with other meaningful pursuits).

Fully Blossoming

Most of us want to love, but sometimes we aren’t sure what we want to do with the love once it finds us. Sometimes both people don’t think through the emotion, but continue to follow the emotion simply because both enjoy the feelings and associated experiences.

Pleasant discussions with some very wise human beings have led me to the conclusion that romantic feelings can (potentially) be a terrible distraction: unless both parties have growth in mind, help one another achieve individual growth, and enhance one another’s contributions to The Greater Good. Certainly not the first time romance is being likened to distraction, but this expression feels different once it resonates within. It simply cannot be love if there are feelings of possessiveness, irrational jealousy, or desperation.  This extends further to friendship as well; it cannot be a true friendship if there are feelings of possessiveness, irrational jealousy, or desperation.

Universal Care

Studying Metta has helped me understand that it is more important to have the capacity to extend loving kindness to all beings, rather than to allow one’s capacity for loving to be stifled by looming pains of a romantic-relationship-gone-wrong. (Not to say that commitments won’t have their disruptions, but when romantic love distracts one from his or her full potential… this illustrates an unhealthy dysfunction in one or even both partners).

I’ve witnessed healthy relationships and have also witnessed highly dysfunctional relationships. I’ve also been part of each. The key for me personally has been focusing on the growth that takes place following loss, and not allowing the loss of any relationship to drown my ideals or aspirations.


Faithfulness toward oneself is a pertinent characteristic for contribution to The Greater Good; commitment to The Greater Good is essential to bring one’s purpose to fruition. Combine the two, [faithfulness toward oneself + commitment to The Greater Good] and you’re on a path toward Enlightenment. The word Enlightenment is sometimes viewed as an absolute state of being. In the context of growth, my own definition of ‘enlightenment‘ would be:

the continuous evolution of pure awareness that facilitates growth, knowledge, and integrity to the degree that mind, body, spirit, and communication are each strengthened.

I don’t think it is possible to become perfectly Enlightened, but I do think it is possible to exist in a continuously Enlightened state where one is cognizant of  intention, choice, and growth (and even aware of the state of being aware). Deepak Chopra explains the higher self as separate from thought, emotion, and action; we can learn to be more intentional along our journeys simply by taking the time to observe ourselves. A romantic commitment or friendship that distracts from the development of faithfulness to one’s self-awareness will only cause both partners to stray from each’s truest purpose.

To Be Free

Whether alone, or committed to another soul, the quality of being free to pursue growth is essential to everyone’s happiness. Everyone on the Planet. If we aren’t working on becoming more virtuous, the rest of our experience turns fragile, and sometimes fragile enough to break. I feel very blessed to have such deep connections in my life that allow me to explore, discuss, and grow from these ideas. Thank you:)

Dez - July 15, 2014 - 5:57 pm

A friend and I were just discussing the dangers of believing in something just because you want it to be true and how it’s important to question everything including yourself and especially those in authority.this has been a life changer for me.

Michelle (Aurora) - July 16, 2014 - 10:45 am

Good for you, my friend <3

5,000 + Year Old Tree


This article over on Planet Permaculture made me smile this morning, as I paused to ponder the many seasons this tree has endured… the many people who may have taken shade beneath its branches. A pleasant, gentle reminder about endurance. Endings and new beginnings are inevitable, yet life endures. I hiked deep into a caved area yesterday and noticed that, even in pools as shallow as 12″, there was an abundance of water-life. Little fish just bursting with energy in the smallest, most hidden pools of water. Life just can’t contain itself here on the planet:)

Andrew Towell - July 14, 2014 - 4:18 pm

Thanks for sharing, you might also like the oldest apple in the world too:

Michelle (Aurora) - July 15, 2014 - 3:59 pm

Thanks, Andrew. Subscribed to your site!


Where I’ve been the last 2 days. New commitments in life are happening. This is a time of entirely new lessons that I didn’t even see coming… a time of strength and strengthening of bonds. The connection that happens in the mind and soul when the body comes together with Earth is so strong. This weekend, I experienced yoga looking down onto treetops as the sun came up. Forever changed, and feeling less and less distracted by the illusions currently surrounding us all. Incorporating yoga into my life has been a total game changer…

I’ve been working on a book of gratitude with someone very close to me the last month or so, and while we’ve talked about sharing it one day, I’m not sure sharing is always necessary. Sometimes sentiment is more important than that. I do want to share what I’ve learned from the experience of putting together this little handwritten book though… It’s the experiencing and the doing and all the things you learn along the way that speak the loudest.

dez - July 14, 2014 - 10:06 am

Love : )

Michelle (Aurora) - July 15, 2014 - 4:00 pm

Me too : )

Inner Awakening: Whole Brain Activation

Image by Mateu (Brazil based artist)

This week in the classroom at work, our team of hypnotists is educating clients about the benefits of whole brain activation, as opposed to left-brain vs. right-brain separation (or labeling oneself as one or the other). At our wellness center, we use Audio-Visual Entrainment to stimulate this process, in addition to hypnotic suggestions that merge both left and right brain approaches to change. Many people, even after just one session, report sensations of inspiration and increased awareness. Meditation, hypnosis, and focused awareness in general can help achieve whole brain activation, but routinely exercising the brain and increasing its capacity through intentional learning is what truly yields long-term benefits. (If any of my co-workers are reading this, you’ve been incredible in the classroom so far this week!)


Embrace Your Inner Genius

As soon as we begin to learn, we’re influenced by a left-brain-dominant society that teaches reliance on repetition, fact, and logic to achieve success. While using left-brain attributes  is important, merging the characteristics of both brain hemispheres is what helps us grow into a more enlightened state. The fusion of imagination and logic can be applied toward any intention. Tony Buzan identifies the following steps toward the achievement of whole brain activation:

  1. Recognize the potential of your brain
  2. Make your brain your hobby (read, go to the library, immerse yourself in what interests you!)
  3. Use both hemispheres of the brain
  4. Daydream BIG.
  5. Have the attitude that you can do anything

I would add three steps: 

  1. Commitment to daily focused awareness or spiritual practice (meditation, prayer, hypnosis/self-hypnosis, etc)
  2. Eat life-giving foods to get those fresh enzymes, vitamins, and minerals (raw fruits and vegetables)
  3. Spend time in nature regularly… experience oneness with the Universe : )


An Invitation to Self-Care

Making self-care a priority is sometimes mistaken as an act of selfishness. I speak with many clients who report that before joining one of our programs, they felt guilty about taking time out for themselves. The reality is, if we aspire to be effective in helping others or making contributions to the world (even in the smallest ways) it is important to care for yourself; It doesn’t mean that cultivating self-love is more important than loving others, but it is certainly of equal importance. Making the time to work through any barriers that you’ve built up in the past clears your heartspace, allowing the flower of self-love to blossom. (Tip: Regular chakra balancing can help as you move through the emotional process of letting go. There’s a really nice 7 minute tune-up I use regularly here). Maybe there are attachments to things that have been holding you back from experiencing your full spiritual, mental, and physical potential… but the moment you recognize what those attachments are, the process of growth has already begun!


Much love this Wednesday…

Michelle (Aurora)

Leon - July 18, 2014 - 7:23 am

Genuinely think people would be happier in general if they adopted even just a couple of the methods you listed. More and more people are being cut off and detached from nature. Watching a couple of generations (mine included), growing up on a cocktail of McDonalds and illuminous drinks makes me so so sad. It is hard to even mention nutrition and the importance of your surroundings to people these days as they either get immediately on the defensive or just listen and not do one single piece of research for themselves or their family.
Great post though and can only do good things with this blog so keep up the good work :)

Michelle (Aurora) - July 18, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to checking out more of your work, too.

Michelle (Aurora) - July 18, 2014 - 7:08 pm

Also, Leon, I wanted to reply a bit more since I only saw half of the post on the blog admin panel. It’s so true, and at one point I was definitely getting sucked into the mirage. You really do have to intentionally place yourself in the surroundings you want in order to have the life nature intended. I’m really thankful we’ve connected. This is the beauty of following your inner Truth, it really does lead to connections with others who are doing the same.

Leon - September 24, 2014 - 8:34 am

So sorry in the delayed reply! I only just saw that you had replied to my comment. Just wanted to say how much reading your message cheered me up so thank you for that. Hope things are good your end.

Michelle (Aurora) - November 12, 2014 - 7:18 pm

absolutely no worries. Thank you so much, Leon =)

Essay: Authenticity, Oppression, and Freedom

“If there is dispute, there is contention; if there is contention, there is trouble; if there is trouble, there is vexation.”
–The Buddha

A few years ago I remember feeling inspired and patriotic as I invested a great deal of time studying the issues at hand as the last presidential election approached. This year, watching the fireworks with family in my hometown, I felt distracted and uneasy.  I was thinking about the history of America and how different things could have been had greed been eliminated from the equation. We can no longer point fingers at just one person (a president). The problems in our country extend much further than just one man.

The subject of freedom seems to be recurring in some of my close relationships; some of my family members have moved away; one of my sister’s recent clients who just moved here referred to Columbus as a “cold, hard, city”; a friend from California who lived here [very temporarily] reported at a book club discussion that her 11 year old son was made fun of for wearing pink pants in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month; I’ve been getting to know the stories of others who have settled in other countries in pursuit of a more authentic lifestyle; another friend left the U.S. to pursue a simpler way of life (she married a Indonesian man). Perhaps we silently acknowledge the tension in America more than we choose to discuss it. And that’s okay. However, it really is important to discuss.

A History of Oppression

Greed led “settlers” to disregard the values and lifestyle of the American Natives (American Indians). The European’s forceful approach toward native peoples crushed the potential of forming successful, genuine relationships with them (generally speaking). Invasion of lands and forced assimilation was commonly executed during this time. This complete lack of respect prevented Europeans and Natives from sharing land and resources effectively.

First communications with the Natives went well; they were very generous and willing to share with Europeans upon their arrival. It is said they responded with “cautious hospitality and goodwill”. Natives were right to have followed those intuitions, and became less enthusiastic about trading after they had been mistreated.

Spanish soldiers arrived after surviving an “ill-fated expedition”. Natives took them in and contracted a fatal disease that killed half of them. Spaniards soon took advantage of the Natives’ hospitality and embarked upon a mission to find gold. They insisted that a forcible entry would take place unless the Natives accepted their church, King, and Queen.They proceeded with these demands and made Indians their gold mine slaves.

Champlain was an explorer from France who traveled with the Algonquins, Montagnais, and Hurons. They stumbled upon an Iroquois “war party” which ended in a bloody battle. The French tried to convert the Indians to their religion by trading precious metals with them. Many Natives did convert to Catholicism and even moved into French villages.

Half of the first English settlers in Jamestown died within the first year and did not seem to pose a threat to the Indians. John Smith befriended them to learn about their interactions with Spanish explorers and to use their strategies in dealings with the Natives himself. Soon Englishmen were seizing their corn and eventually a surprise attack was inflicted on the main village. Puritans tried converting Indians to Christianity in violent, oppressive ways much like the Spanish and the French.

A New Approach

Peaceful communities are often viewed as weak or easy to manipulate. Buddhists in peaceful Tibet and all they’ve endured — just another example. In our country, past defensiveness among Native Americans gave Europeans an outlet for the same kind of manipulation that is still happening today both directly and indirectly. Oppression is often carried out to convert or eliminate lifestyles and religions, often for financial gain. We see this in recent times with Monsanto, some believe it to be disguised in the new Healthcare Reform law, and there are plenty of other things we could dwell on. But hopelessness doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

We’ve had a good thing going in America for a little while, but we can’t forget all that’s happened before, nor can we deny what is happening now.

Instead of feeling hopeless, we can exercise our authenticity, illustrate the importance of our values, and address current issues through:

  • First, grounding our opinions, values, and ideas in full context, and engaging in discussion with other like-minded individuals
  • Willingness to say how we really feel
  • Volunteering / meeting others who are getting involved
  • Gaining insights from reliable sources (not just Googling for a few minutes and assuming everything that comes up is true).
  • Feeling driven to make a difference, and not just making a good point.
  • Not pushing issues onto others, but showing an example through actions + compassion
  • Being realistic. We can only make one effort at a time, but every effort counts. Even if it means moving to another country to be able to exercise your authenticity.
  • Being genuine. It will take you where you need to go:)

Other great references and links that inspired this article: 
First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History, 4th Ed. (book)

Stop Monsanto

 How Can We Solve our Social Problems? (book)

Here’s a good discussion on Fighting With NonViolence.

Which Country Does the Most Good for The World? (video)


Well, I stayed up a bit late tonight to organize and update my photography portfolio blogsite. I will keep an active stream going in the ‘recent work’ section of the photo site, and will continue sharing writing and other insights separately here [at escapetolight]. Sisters in the first ‘recent work’ feature are the daughters of a dear friend with whom I began a friendship back in 1996 — 18 years ago. (Yikes!) I don’t have a subscription feed up on the photography site yet, but I’ll be sure to post about it as soon as I do:)

Have a great weekend everyone.



Michelle (Aurora)

The Land of the Free: Living off the Grid…. Illegal?

We’re healthier. We’re learning how to simplify. And we cannot be denied the right to do so.

Or can we? 

Not too far down the road from now, I have plans to make living off the grid a reality. With a few different options in place, I’ve gained a good deal of insight and inspiration from others who have already begun their self-sustained lifestyle. Intentional living / self-sustainability has truly been picking up over the years! I was fortunate to have been exposed, partly, to this lifestyle growing up in the forward-thinking, community-driven, environmentally-conscious little town of Athens, Ohio, and spent time at friends’ homes whose families were already living this way back in the early 90′s; skylights in almost every room to allow more natural light, beds built as mini-lofts to save space, and ladders in place of staircases to make smaller living spaces function more efficiently. As I’ve grown more serious about these plans for the future, I continue to research and educate myself on issues related to living off the grid. Some of the things happening in recent years are downright shocking. Yes, it is actually illegal now in Florida to “live off the grid” (click link for full article), and states are getting stricter on their zoning policies as the interest in self-sustainability continues to increase.

Well, we have faith in us. We will continue to  increase our capacity to create fuller, simpler, healthier lives. I celebrate those who have made this change, or are transitioning into a simpler lifestyle. Thank you. You inspire the rest of us! Happy Independence Day [early].


Here is a list of valuable links on the subject of sustainability / intentional living.

Going off the Grid: Why It’s Good For You

Solar Cooking

Costa Rica’s Eco-Village

Living Income Guaranteed

Living off the Grid Can Be Illegal

Single Mom Builds Off-Grid Lakeside Cabin Near Columbus, Ohio

Do You Live in a Constitution Free Zone? 

Ultimate Off the Grid Guides

Free Campsites in the USA

“Workamping” Opportunities

 Government Steals Couple’s Private Backcountry Land & Cabin

Activist Post: New Study Promotes Agenda 21-Style “Land Grabs”

“Future Earth” 

 Canary Island the First In World to be Powered by Just Wind and Water