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the nomadic life

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“Not all those who wander are lost.”  Tolkien

After sunrise on Volcano Batur in Bali

Though one would not readily guess it, I was born in the United States, in Pennsylvania.  The French accent comes from growing up in different parts of Belgium and France, small towns no one has heard about, a few mountain villages in the Alps, and bigger cities like Brussels and Lyon.  I was raised by a mother who was a bit of an adventurer and loved to explore and wander.  And so we moved a lot.  This was back in the days before email or facebook, when connections faded fairly quickly with loss of face-to-face intimacy.  I ended up growing up without deep roots nor sense of community, but on the plus side of things, I gained a lot of experience with quickly finding my bearings in new settings.  Looking back, it seems I was raised to become a bumble bee, most fulfilled when I get to fly around and cross-pollinate the nectar I discover in each place.

At 17, I left home to go to law school in Paris, and at 19, headed to Manhattan to work for the summer.  As it turned out, I ended up staying many years.  I studied and then taught political science and theory at Columbia University from 1991 to 2001, until the fall of the twin towers, and an experience I had while doing doctoral research in Egypt, prompted me to leave the ivory tower altogether.  I felt a strong pull to explore a more heart-connected, intuitive, embodied, and collaborative approach to life.  And I needed to leave the world of degrees and resumes, and the competitive quest for accomplishment behind.  I began learning how to navigate life with a different compass, following my intuition and paying attention to signs and synchronicities, rather than preconceived ideas of what to do and who to be.  This led me to spend the next few years working with social networks of leaders and innovators working cross-sectorally to develop creative and life-affirming solutions to the challenges of our times.

That phase of my life was extremely rich in learnings and discoveries about collaboration and leadership, but ended in 2009 with my joining the growing ranks of not-for-profit leaders and environmental activists who suffer from burn-out and chronic fatigue.   I realized that there was still a lot I needed to learn about how to align with life force rather than effort against it, how to be more willing and less willful.  And it became all too clear that I was not going to contribute much to the health of the world until I had figured how to manage my own energy.  And so I left for Asia in 2009 to learn more about that.   That exploration took me on a very deep journey… within.  I now study and teach body and energy literacy.  And it has been deeply transforming my understanding of the dynamic relationship between inner and outer work, and the internal requirements of making a difference in the outer world.

People often ask me how I resource my explorations and nomadic lifestyle.  The answer is that I live in the gift economy, giving away my time and energy to what inspires me.  My greatest asset is a worldwide web of friends who open their homes and share their resources with me, to enable me to follow my heart and passions.  Community means ‘to share in common,’ and that is what truly supports me.