After The Show With Brenda


Update from last week’s show:  we now have The New in our world!

Last week I talked about the huge tree that was taken down in my little town, so near where I live, and how they’d cleared the space to look like it wasn’t there and had never even *been* there; I wondered what would come next.  Would there be a new tree planted?  Would it be left bare?  Would it be left as a place for weeds to grow?

I got my answer yesterday, and took a picture of this sweet little newly-planted tree that might be a cottonwood tree; its leaves are heart-shaped.

So “The New” is here and planted already where the old was just removed, and it seemed like a pretty effortless transition.  There is no sign of what was once there, that 100-foot-tall tree with the trunk at least 5 feet in diameter at the base.  What a great metaphor.

And Kona has peed on it twice now, officially baptizing it.  So all is well.

Other stuff I noticed from this past week:  snakes; a snake theme — and snakes symbolize transformation and transition.  This morning it was misty, cloudy, overcast, very cool, had just rained a little, and seemed fresh, cleared, and kind of open, receptive and “expectant.”  It seems winter is coming early.  What came to me this morning was that we’re all in this together; look for pleasant surprises; expect the unexpected; don’t assume tomorrow will be like yesterday, or that this season or this year will be like last season or last year.  Predictability is not going to be a factor anymore.


Brenda was my guest today at Talking Stick Radio — just click on the link here and it will take you directly to the show.  Brenda just returned from a Vipassana meditation retreat where she spent 10 days in silence.

First she talked about the movie she watched, “Dharma Brothers,” and how that inspired her to look into this whole idea of going on a Vipassana retreat.

Next she described how everything was set up, how the days were organized, what their schedule was like.  Truly, if you’ve ever wondered what a Vipassana retreat would be like or think you might like to do this, it’s worth listening to her description.  She lays it all out pretty thoroughly — and would be happy to answer anyone’s questions about it.  People with questions can email her directly at and she’ll be happy to respond directly.

Vipassana, she said, means “to see things as they really are.”  What you see “as it really is” is yourself.  The ten days is about looking at yourself, for what you really are.

Every night during the ten days of silence they watched a video, taped in 1991, called a “discourse,” where the originator of Vipassana does some teaching.  Some of the information shared during the discourse was about pain and suffering — what causes human pain and suffering?

There are two causes:  craving and aversion.

Craving:  I want more of something — I want more money, more time, more sex, more love; I am desirous of something I don’t have.

Aversion: I hate what I have — I hate my addictive behavior, I hate the people I did my addiction with, I will never, ever, ever do that again.  I hate myself for having done that.

Vipassana teaches that we don’t have to experience craving or aversion; so how do we avoid them?  How do we avoid pain and suffering in our lives?

The crux of Vipassana teaching:  the nature of everything is that nothing stays the same; everything changes.

So for the first three days they focused on breathing.  No particular form of breathing is needed; just breathe.  Notice the breath.  Is it cool?  Warm?  When is it cool or warm?  Does the breath go in the left nostril only and go out the right nostril?  Notice everything about the breath.

On day four they focused on the body; scan the body, head to toe, with no judgment.  Is there pain?  Is there “gross” sensation like pain?  Is there “fine” sensation like tingling?  Feel each place in the body and notice whether it’s a gross sensation or a fine sensation, and just notice it without judging.  Just observe it.

She has been able to take this tool into her everyday life, now, and it’s become second nature to her.  For example, let’s say someone comes to her house and says “why are there water stains on your dishes?”  Rather than getting angry or focused and obsessed on why did she say that?!!!, Brenda is now able to make note of it, observe it, and know “this too will change.”  She can let it go, that way.  She knows that even pain doesn’t last forever.  When she noticed her pain in her body, the next time she noticed it, it had changed — it wasn’t there, it was different, it had changed.  Nothing stays the same.

Brenda prides herself on being a good observer of people, and she noticed that on day 8 there were a few more tear-stained eyes than on previous days, and she could feel it:  there was rising tension, a prison riot in the air, among these people who were not allowed to speak to each other and who had been completely silent for the 8 days previous.  A release needed to happen.

And it did.   Some guy (wouldn’t you know it would be a guy) farted, and another guy snickered, then another, then the younger girls started giggling — or perhaps they were tittering — and then the whole group, men on one side, women on the other, erupted in wave upon wave of laughter.  One wave of riotous laughter would crescendo, like tidewaters…then recede…and crescendo again…and recede again…until eventually it all died down and the release and clearing were complete, and the tension dissipated completely.  When they were able to speak freely to one another, they all agreed this was a necessary and very helpful event.

What’s one thing that she’s most proud of herself about, from this experience?  The fact that she did it, for one thing — she accomplished this being in silence for 10 days, and didn’t back out; also, that she let go of control, and went and participated in the experience.  She let someone else take care of the kitties and the puppies at home, let someone else take care of the house, let someone else take care of her needs while she was there, allowed herself to be away from the comforts and distractions of hearth and home and husband, and allowed herself let go of control and have the experience.

Brenda would like to come back on the show after some more time passes and reflect a little more on how this is working for her in her everyday life.  I think that’s a great idea, so I’ll have her back on in maybe November or December.  If anyone has any questions for her during that upcoming show, she’d be happy to take them — or now, if anyone has anything, comments, questions, feedback — she’d be happy to respond at her email address above.

I so appreciate Brenda’s sharing!  I’d invite anyone with a comment to reply below.


Edit: Brenda emailed me today with the news that S.N. Goenka, who created Vipassana meditation, passed away late Sunday night, September 29, 2013.


Talking Stick Radio for 9/21/13: Clearing…changing…gone!


Clearing.  Changing.  What was once Major in our lives…is now…suddenly…gone.

And the amazing thing?  We can hardly remember it was even *there*.  It’s not that we don’t miss it anymore…it’s that we can’t even remember it anymore!

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I talked about the symbolism of the tree, being this “big huge thing” at the park next to my house for so long, this five-foot-diameter, 100-foot-tall tree that “has always been there” in my life for the past ten years.  And now, it is not.  And, what’s more…what will take its place?  We’re down to bare ground now that’s been filled in and it looks like *nothing* was ever there.

What will take its place indeed.  Will weeds come in and be allowed to grow?  Will it be seeded over and grass will grow next spring?  Will the village groundskeepers plant a new tree in its place?  Will they put in a flower garden?  What will it be?

This is very symbolic to me.  What was once huge and *very there* is no longer.

I see this metaphorically in terms of systems, big systems that are gargantuan and that we expect them to be there, to be there and take care of us, things like “the health care system” or “the welfare system” or “social security” or “religion” or “the court system”, “prison system,” “justice system,” “education system,” “system of domination and control,” what have you.

The police will be there and will take care of me when I call.

The firemen will be there and will take care of me when I call.

The doctor will be there and will take care of me when I call.

What happens next…when it’s like those big systems are not there, and never were?

What takes their place, when these hierarchical systems disappear without a trace?

What I propose:  a model of collaboration and cooperation, intentionally designed, so that all possible needs are anticipated and addressed, preventing conflict before it even happens.

I propose a system of I’m doing what I love because I love to do it, and I work with people who are doing what they love because they love to do it.  I am empowered and living my truth and living my bliss because I love to do that, and I work with other people who are similarly living from their own sovereign power.

In a scenario like that, what would be the need for government?  Government would act as a facilitator.  Government would find out what people love to do, what people’s strengths are, and would put people loving to do what they love to do…where they are needed.

So the first need we have:  designing the collaborative system to address all of the needs.

Next:  empowering people to be the best person they can be in the moment.

Last:  matching the strengths with the needs.

This, then, requires a different concept of teamwork.

Up until now, we’ve thought of “teamwork” as “I join the group mindset.”  It’s like a tribe, or a commune, or a group of people who join together in a club or organization, a fraternity or sorority, or a workplace:  you have to be one of us.  You have to think like us.  You have to re-orient your Self in order to be one of us.  You have to tweak yourself a little here, add a little something-something to yourself over there…ah, now, there, that’s better.  Now you fit us.

I say this:  the new way of teamwork will be more along this line:  I am Who I Am, fully, to the greatest degree possible, and I bring all of my wisdom, knowledge, expertise, uniqueness, quirkiness, originality, fun, joy, experience, curiosity, expression, talents, skills, passion, excitement — all of that — to the table with me.  I am whole and complete in this now moment and I am able to fully express that wholeness and completeness.  I’m not trying to be anybody else, just me.  I bring my very own uniqueness here, and I express it fully.  And I wish for everybody else on my team, in my tribe, in my workplace, my club, my organization, my group of friends, to be nothing less than the whole of who they are, too!  I want everybody I interact with to bring their whole entire being to the table with them — and I want to work with them and enjoy myself doing what I love, and enjoy them doing what they love, and work…will be play!

I have actually seen this happen, rarely, during the family team meetings I facilitate.  And when I see it happen, it is always magical.  Answers that seemed so far away, so impossible to find — just float in like magic.  The right connections get made effortlessly.  This is synergy.

Things happen synchronistically, like what happened in my life yesterday — the vital piece of paperwork that we didn’t know we needed, arrived on the desk of the exact person who needed it, yesterday morning, just in time for the meeting!  If we had scheduled our meeting any sooner we wouldn’t have had it, and the person upon whose desk it arrived didn’t even know why she received it.  The right guy happened along at just the right time, found that vital piece of paperwork, and voila.  Perfect timing.

When people are working from their place of fun and enjoyment and excitement and passion, things like this — miracles — happen all the time. 

That’s the world I want to live in.  That’s the world I want to work in.

Further, I suggest that people take a serious look at the original pre-white-contact Winnebago 12-clan design.  It’s an elegant model of community collaborative, cooperative design.  I talked about the original 12 clans on the show and described some of their duties and functions and responsibilities.  As we think about what could happen as hierarchies end and it seems like *they were never even here!* — this will give us some ideas to work with to create what’s coming next.

Direct link to the 9/21/13 show:


Talking Stick Radio welcomes Brenda Oehlerking 9/28/13!

Brenda just returned from a Vipassana meditation retreat in Colorado where she spent 10 days in silence.  While she was there, completely shut off from the outside world, Colorado experienced disastrous flooding, which she learned about once the ten days of silence ended.

Her time there was both “wonderful” and “terrible” — all at once — and I’m so happy she’s agreed to share her stories!

Join Talking Stick Radio live online Saturday morning at 10 Central, 9 Mountain, and 11 pm in Kashgar, China; call in & take your turn holding the talking stick by calling 424-220-1870; or find us in the archives at


after the show with Jean

I so appreciate Jean for sharing her life with us today, taking time out from clearing soggy boxes out of her basement to call in and talk for a while on Talking Stick Radio this morning.

Jean shared about cleansing and clearing, about the washed-out Colorado roads, about integration and how it’s not really “releasing,” but it is…and it’s not really “integrating,” but it is…it’s a simple choosing it, and allowing it…like ice melting in a glass of water.

What a beautiful metaphor; a stuck aspect is like a separated fragment of ourselves that might hurt us, we imagine, but it really won’t; it’s only an illusion.  She noticed a stuck aspect beginning to form in herself, one of “I’m not so sure I want to go to bed tonight!  What if I wake up to more bad news tomorrow like I did this morning?”…and part of herself stayed in that fear.

Like inviting the ice cube to melt into a glass of water, she invited that little frozen part of herself in…and allowed it to release itself, release the form that it was taking, to merge back in with all of who She is.

Ice melting into allowingness…rivers running out of their banks, carving new pathways down mountainsides, tearing right through old structures that seemed so safe, so solid, so reliable, so dependable, like roads built of concrete…road foundations, in places, completely gone now…and what will take their place?

We talked about the idea of “listening to yourself” and how that will be an area for more exploration.  When I’d studied mediation and conflict resolution until I thought I’d read just about everything there was to read about it, and took it all inside and worked on synthesizing it all, and wanted to understand it so deeply, so thoroughly, that I could tell a 2-year-old what “conflict resolution” was…what I came up with was one word:  listen.


Listen to the world around you.  Listen to the person who’s so mad at you, across the table from you.  Pay attention to the messages that come in to you, because they’re streaming in constantly:  can you listen?  Can you listen openly to the messages, no matter what form they take?  Maybe the messages come in the form of a bug crawling across the floor, an eagle circling in the sky, clouds in the shape of your dog’s head, a snippet of conversation overheard at Wal-Mart.

For the past ten years I’ve been asking myself:  how can I better listen to myself?  Because I could see that the message I was getting from my outer world was that I needed to listen…to me.  This is an area I’d like to explore more in the future because I agree with Jean:  this will be very important to us.

Jean kept the boxes in her basement “just in case,” she said, and even a year ago she got rid of all the boxes she’d kept “just in case we have to move out of this house.”  But more boxes took their place…and those were the ones she was carrying upstairs and out of the house for good, today.  “When we need them, we’ll have them.”

Now, that’s living in the now moment:  knowing that what I need to know, I will know when I need to know it; what I need to have, I will have, when I need to have it.  That is total and complete trust, and not living in the fear of  the past, or the fear of the future, of “will I have enough of this?  Oh, maybe I’d better save up…”

Now she has no choice:  the boxes have to go.

And with them goes the fear…replacing the fear, the New Energy that’s come in is trust in the now moment.

I released some energies myself this week and stepped into the un-knowingness of what the radio show will be…released the structure of the show, and opened myself up to Whatever Is, Is.  I told the story on air of knowing I needed to take new pictures of my talking stick, needed to do some intentional recalibration, and when I’d taken all the pictures and felt good about that, and opened up my car door to put my camera away, there was the reminder:  use your tobacco.  This is a Native process:  honor the Native way, and use your tobacco.

So I did.  I returned to the circle of the clan men sculptures and offered a little bit of tobacco in front of each one of them, expressing my gratitude for all of life, for being in this Now Moment.  Begin with gratitude.  This is the Native way.

In the Native way I was taught, Tobacco is for what you want to let go of, and Cedar is for what you want to bring in, the good things, to replace what you’ve let go of;  Sage is for clearing negativity, and Sweetgrass is for bringing in positive support from the spirit world.  When the tobacco burns, it burns out anything we release; bringing in cedar, we make tangible what it is we choose to bring in.

So now as we’re noticing what’s going, what’s clearing, what’s releasing, now as we’re taking the literal and the figurative soggy boxes out of our basements because we don’t need them anymore and really they CAN’T be there now…it’s no longer appropriate for fear in any disguise to be a part of our lives…how do we go on from here?  What replaces the fear?  What replaces broken roads, truckloads of busted cement, downed trees, piles of mud that don’t belong there?


What do we want to see created in our own lives now?

I choose balance.  I choose joy.  I choose new life, play, vigor, curiosity, and child-like simplicity.


This morning, moments before the show started, I was out walking my very big black dog around the little reservation town where I live.  Kids were everywhere…grandmas pushing grandchildren in strollers, kids on bikes over here, kids playing ball over there, kids on skateboards back there.  The four little boys on bikes wanted to pet my dog.  But they were a little bit afraid.  Actually they encouraged the littlest one on his tiny little bike to be the first to touch Kona, but it ended up none of them were brave enough to touch this big black furry dog that looks like a way overgrown teddy bear.


Right there where we stopped to let the kids on bikes meet Kona, I had to stop and take a picture of two little bitty cottonwood trees poking up through the pavement at the edge of the sidewalk.

I hadn’t seen these two little guys before, just two little cottonwood trees with trunks like a thick red thread.

This is the beginning of the New, right here.  New Energy is poking up through the most impossible little crevice, saying IT’S ME!!!  LOOK AT ME!!!  I EXIST!!!!  I AM HERE!!!!  LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL GREEN LEAVES!!!!  I LOVE THE RAIN, I LOVE THE SUN, I LOVE THE BREEZE, I LOVE THE CHILDREN, I LOVE THE DOG THAT JUST PEED ON ME…I AM!

And that’s how we go forward.  Living fully in I AM.

Talking Stick Radio 9/14/13 with Jean Tinder from Coal Creek Canyon

Today we welcome Jean Tinder from Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado, where “water” is suddenly on everyone’s minds and in Jean’s basement.

Anyone else in the Coal Creek Canyon area, we’d love to hear from you too!  You’re welcome to call in during the show at (424) 220-1870 and update us on what’s true for YOU now!

Talking Stick Radio is your opportunity to speak in your own voice from your own inner wisdom and knowing.


Empowered humans creating an unhurried safe space to listen within, access our Inner Wisdom, and express our truth from the heart.


Direct link to the show:


There are some MASSIVE changes going on at Talking Stick Radio, and in the world at large.  I’ve chosen a new blog theme, taken new pictures, I’m going in a new direction with the show and with my life in general, EVERYTHING is changing with me from the cellular level out, and this is simply one of the ways I’m seeing it made manifest in my daily life.

Last night I stopped in Winnebago, Nebraska, on the way home, and took some pictures at the Statue Garden, some of which will show up on various pages around the blog from time to time.  It was getting dark; I did what I could and drove home.

This afternoon I stopped again at the Statue Garden and took a few more pictures while the sun was blazing.  The Statue Garden, by the way, is located in the new section of Winnebago and is the “heart” of the new area.  It’s a circle of twelve statues, each statue representing one of the twelve Ho-Chunk clans.  At the east gate, stationed behind the Thunder Clan statue, there rises a great statue of a man with an eagle descending upon him.  Currently that Eagle Man is the picture that’s set at the background and at the top of the blog.

I took the talking stick around to various places to get the right mix of sun and contrast, sun and grass, sun and grass and talking stick, sun, talking stick and cedar, sun and statue, sun, statue and talking stick…and when I was finished taking pictures, I walked back to the car.

Opening the door, there, on the threshold of my front driver’s side door lay a wrapper — what?  What’s this?  I hadn’t dropped anything…

I picked it up.  It was the wrapper of tobacco rolling papers.

I hadn’t touched my tobacco in months.

tobacco Just how did it get there?  Then?

I’d been out walking around the circle taking pictures…my dog was the only one in the car…I keep a pouch of loose tobacco for ceremonial purposes in my car…the pouch of loose tobacco was way at the bottom of the driver’s side “door pocket”…this must have popped off the outside of the wrapper and landed on the threshold just then.

Hmm.  Tobacco.  Recalibrating everything.

I had forgotten the tobacco.

I wrapped up my camera and put it away, pulled the pouch of tobacco from its resting spot way down at the bottom of the door pocket, got back out of the car, and headed back toward the big Eagle Man statue.  I put some tobacco in my hand and felt gratitude for this reminder from the spirit world…for the reminder that this little internet radio show I’ve got going is bigger than me…gratitude that the spirit world is interested in my comings and goings…gratitude that I have the support of the twelve clans, and that they’re watching me, and watching out for me…gratitude for walking, gratitude for breathing, gratitude for being on the earth, gratitude for the sunny day, gratitude that I can do what I do…gratitude for all of it.

I sprinkled a little tobacco at the bottom of that statue, then went back out to the Thunder Clan man and sprinkled a little there, and all the way around the circle, honoring each one of the twelve clan statues with a little bit of tobacco and my gratitude.

I returned to the Eagle Man statue and put the last little bit of tobacco there, in gratitude.

And amazement.

The spirit world is working with this Recalibration, and with me, and with all that is coming next.  I have no clue what that is.  All I know is that change needed to be, I am willing to bring the change into my be-ing-ness, and I needed to remember the tobacco.

So I did.

And thus starts the Recalibration.

With gratitude and thanks, with breathing and connecting with the earth, and with a little reminder that Spirit Is Watching and Listening.

Yes, indeed.

As the Ho-Chunks would say, Pinagigi.  Thank You.