Discover your core Beastie and get TIPS to feel good from an Elephant here!!

Over the past few years, I’ve spent a preposterous amount of time studying wild animal behavior as it relates metaphorically and literally to human behavior. As an animal totemologist who goes about her job vigorously, I’ve spent many marvelous hours in the pursuit of Beastie info – bumping around on the South African Bushveld in a Land Rover; communing with an eccentric and controversial animal rescuer while he wrestled and mothered orphaned bear cubs in West Virginia; schmoozing with Bob, the peregrine falcon guy, at Morro Bay; birding in Minnesota’s Sax Zim Bog (a Dr. Seussian name for North America’s premier winter birding destination); banding, snuggling, and releasing saw-whet owls under cover of night; leading recovering wild mustangs around in a pen; tromping with binoculars along the beaches of Lake Superior with world-renowned ornithologists wearing vests packed with birding tackle; intensely bonding with a nature photographer who, like me, could spend hours alone in the woods.

The most interesting things I discover about wild Beasties often have a deep resonance for me as a human.

On a lucky day in Sax Zim Bog with Erik Bruhnke – one of the finest guides of the avian world – I learned the magical word ZUGUNRUHE (say “ZOOG-oon-ROOha,” with enthusiasm!). ZUGUNRUHE describes a peculiar behavior some Beasties exhibit when it’s time to migrate or move on.

The German word ZUGUNRUHE comes from ZUG (move, migration) and UNRUHE (anxiety, restlessness). Birds in ZUGUNRUHE appear to have their little birdy undies in tiny birdie bundles. They’re rawwwther anxious and fluttery and restless as hell. Basically, their birdie bodies are telling them in various ways that the time has come to go.

So, what, pray tell, does ZUGUNRUHE have to do with humans? We who were born to FREAK (humans with eccentric inner multitudes who are here to rebalance the world by expressing them) experience seasons in our lives, too. We FREAKS sometimes get an anxious or restless feeling, a ZUGUNRUHE telling us it’s time to move on, literally or metaphorically, to something new. Maybe it’s time for a new career or a new way of being in the world, a new project, a different kind of relationship.

Being in ZUGUNRUHE can be kind of disturbing, altering our sleep patterns, waking us up at night as we begin to realize that something’s not right. It can feel like it’s no longer peaceful to stand still in this place. Little yearnings start showing up as our undies begin gathering themselves into bundles. Those strange urges clue us in to where to fly to next, how we might get there, and when it’s time to go.

As humans, we can sometimes forget (I forgot) that our bodies – just like birds’ bodies – are hardwired to navigate for us. But if we tune in, we hear whispers. We may not be like the blackpoll warbler, which suddenly knows it’s time to fly nonstop from New England to New Zealand … but, then again, we might!

Human ZUGUNRUHE seems to express itself in many different ways. It can start with a discomfort that begins to rise, an urge telling you that, like the birds, you just gotta fly … or be doomed to a lifetime of nervousness and chronic sleep disruption.

There are other symptoms of ZUGUNRUHE, too. I’ve experienced various periods of ZUGUNRUHE in my life, during which I’ve been wide awake at three a.m. for nights in a row and gained weight (sudden mass gain, or polymorphism, is common in migratory birds during ZUGUNRUHE). Hell, once I even molted like a European robin, during a particularly intense ZUGUNRUHE-prompted episode of telogen effluvium – a human scalp condition that causes the simultaneous shedding of all hair in a certain growth stage (I had to vacuum a lot during that one).

For humans and Beasties, the keys to making a successful migration through a really big change are the same. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Know where you are. Assess your current literal and metaphorical location.
  • Know the direction of your destination or goal. What are you moving toward? Joy? Inner peace? Outer Mongolia? Get clear on what your destination looks, feels, tastes, and smells like.     
  • Maintain a course in that direction. Check in during your journey, from beginning to end. Are you getting closer to your destination? If not, which wing flap needs to be adjusted?
  • Know when to stop. Have you arrived yet? Look around. If yes, then settle in. Build a nest or do whatever you need to do to get comfy … until ZUGUNRUHE strikes again.  

If you’re experiencing ZUGUNRUHE, don’t let your or anyone else’s previous failed attempts to change keep you from honoring the whispers and shouts for something new.

Remember that you truly cannot make a wrong turn.

So keep REACHING, DREAMING, and ACTING on joyful impulses.

~ Alice

If you’re experiencing a severe ZUGUNRUHE but feel unable to flap off toward the new place (physical or metaphorical), a wonderful coach or healer of some ilk (shamanic or otherwise) may be able to help you alleviate your discomfort and rediscover your own internal compass so you can use it to get to your lovely new destination. Then you can focus on settling in and enjoying your new bounty.

  •       Are you experiencing ZUGUNRUHE right now? What does that anxious, restless feeling seem to be whispering about a new destination?
  •       Are you molting? What’s being shed? What new feathers are trying to come in?
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Discover your core Beastie and get TIPS to feel good from an Elephant here!!

Hello dear creators of wonder and MAGIC!

I just returned from The Big Apple with my daughter and friend Suzi.  We had a wonderful time seeing Book of Morman (GO!!  ITS SO GOOD!) and School of Rock and some neat weird things happened.
As many of you know- I recently sold my first book proposal to Red Wheel/Weiser and my new memoir “Swimming with Elephants” will come out in Fall 2017. It was all brokered by my agent, Jane Dystel.

Four years ago when I began dreaming of writing this book and getting an agent and a traditional book deal-  I had a daydream-  that the publishing house would fly me in and we would be toasting with champagne and it would be wildly awesome.  Well-let’s be real – it’s my first time being a published author and my advance was modest- nobody would be flying me in to say hello to my agent.  I shrugged and was OK with it-  after all my dream had come true- mostly.  I had a book deal.

Then, suddenly, my daughter Katherine had an idea to go to NYC to see my sister perform on a panel for the New Yorker- “we could have fun!” she said. And that old day dream popped up-  I could go and meet Jane- my agent??  My logical voice said-  there’s no need to meet her-  you have the deal.  You’ve talked with her on the phone.  What difference does it make?  But my heart said- do it anyway because it took a lot of long hours, butt in chair, scaredy cat moments, freak-outs and then some to get here.  Why NOT go?

I wanted to feel it with all my senses.

So I made arrangements, set aside 20 minutes and found Jane’s Office on Union Square.  The doorman allowed me to board the elevator and I plunged into the reception area.  Jane was busy in a movie rights meeting in the other room.  I was brought into her office to wait for her.  It smelled like lillies and had wonderful huge windows with a view of the city behind  Her wall was covered with dozens of black and white head shots of her beloved authors from the years.

I spoke with Miriam, Jane’s partner for a bit.  Then Jane entered.  A petite powerhouse…impeccable dressed and coiffed with beautiful fiery eyes.   “Sarah I’m so sorry- I’m not able to meet for long- I’m in a meeting (I had gotten my time zones swapped and was an hour late.  “That’s OK Jane- I just wanted to say hi! Can we take a selfie?” I wanted to have a memory of this moment.  Miriam, her partner said-  why don’t I take it?  So we plunked down quickly on a chair and Miriam snapped the picture.  I gushed and said how thankful I was to both of them for taking me on and championing this project. The whole thing was over in less than 5 minutes.

Now did this change my advance? No.  Did it make a tangible difference? What I realized is that these details of our dreams MATTER– and it’s so important to do what we can to make them come to life—to make them real in any way we possibly can.  So, I wasn’t flown out by my agent-  I used frequent flyer miles of my own.  But I smelled those lillies, I hugged Jane’s tiny frame.  I looked into her eyes and because of it I feel closer and more excited than ever that she is MY AGENT.

Do you have a dream?  How could you really put yourself (with ALL 5 SENSES) into the dream-  using the resources you have at your disposal?  Why NOT go, do or in some small way make it come alive.

The next day, we strolled into the store owned by my DECOUPAGE HERO- John Derian.  The last time I’d been in the shop was 10 years ago.  Back then,  I’d been dying to meet him to tell him how much I adored his work- how much it encouraged me.  But this time I was just there for FUN. As we walked into the store, a man immediately offered us Halloween candy- “take some!” he said kindly and then disappeared into the back.  I had to do a double take-  it was HIM-  my hero.  Moments later- standing near a paper mache taxidermy menagerie (of course!)- I was able to meet John Derian and tell him how much his work and career meant to me.

I  felt as if honoring my heartfelt desire to see Jane made this magical moment spring to life.

(as you can see from the pic-  I was EXTREMELY KEEN to meet his man!)

There is power and magic in making your dreams come to life.  How could you bring yours to life in some small way using sight, sound, touch, or scent? How could you use the resources you have now?

Blessings!!  Sarah

As always you can read more about shamanic healing too- it’s a wonderful way to clear out the cobwebs of you soul or to reclaim what’s been lost.

For those of you new to this list-  WELCOME!  I wrote BORN TO FREAK just for you so that you can continue to blossom like a LOTUS and express all of you marvelous multitudes!

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Discover your core Beastie and get TIPS to feel good from an Elephant here!!

If you’ve ever been fascinated by Cheryl Strayed’s adventure on the PCT in her book Wild-  you’ll love my interview with Wendy Battino.  She lives in remote Alaska in a cabin she built herself.  She takes us along on her solo trip into the Alaskan Wilderness last March-  her intention was to become more comfortable treading this earth–to be able to be even more steady even when her world was being rocked.  Also she longed to experience a deep connection with her sled dog Lucy.  You won’t want to miss this incredible story of singing birch trees, vulnerability and wolverines!



Wendy Battino is a Transformation Coach who supports fun, smart people who want more fantastic in their lives by blending her experiences as an Archaeologist, Founder and Executive Director, Life Coach and Adventurer.  Wendy built her log home in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness where she embarks on expeditions with dogs across the winter landscape in order to challenge herself and immerse in wild nature.  An outdoor explorer, she knows the powerful medicine that is the natural world and teaches how to tap into this power.



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Discover your core Beastie and get TIPS to feel good from an Elephant here!!

Let’s explore pilgrimage–the idea that travel can offer a sacred opportunity for us to become more aware of ourselves and to discover what is true.  I took a pilgrimage to India in 2013 to visit the Kumbha Mela (watch my video here)-  the largest gathering on humanity on earth.  We all went to dip in the Ganges…seeking a blessing.  It was such an astonishing experience that I’m writing a book about it called Swimming with Elephants:  An Irreverent Pilgrim’s Tale of Leaving Medicine for Spirit which will be published in Fall 2017 by Red Wheel/Weiser.

In this episode, I interview Becky Bacon- one of my favorite organization coaches.  She just returned a few weeks ago from the Camino in Spain…a 500 mile pilgrimage that has been going on for hundreds of years.  People of many faiths, not just Catholics were walking it alongside Becky.  Learn Becky’s biggest ah-has and tales from the trail.  Her intention?  To become more fully present in her own life.

Next week we’ll hear from Wendy Battino, intrepid explorer of Alaska whose solo voyages are not for the meek!

Becky Bacon is an Organization and Productivity Coach helping professional women struggling with overwhelm and disorganization. With over 30 years’ experience supporting women and their environments, she offers a holistic approach which encompasses mind, body and space.

Becky helps women simplify their systems, create a positive workflow, and implement mindful practices to reclaim their time, money, health and well-being

Becky Bacon, Certified Coach

Organization | Productivity | Life Transition | Mind-Body Health

(415) 385-6057                                      

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Discover your core Beastie and get TIPS to feel good from an Elephant here!!

Have you ever wondered why you go through periods where you felt sort of stuck, flummoxed or in a deep rut you can’t seem to break free from?  This is RESISTANCE** and it will keep you from love and creating what you want.

**Resistance looks different for everyone:  grouchiness, NOT creating/writing, headaches, stomach aches, throwing your back out, rage, jealousy, complaining, self medicating, allergies, gossiping, picking fights, drinking/eating too much/too little, sleeping in when you’re not tired, hiding under the covers!

I got to thinking about what it would look like if I wasn’t RESISTING my life ( format inspired by the wonderful poem-  she let go.)  Here’s what bubbled up.

{She dropped all resistance.}
It was all quiet in the house when she decided.
She dropped all resistance, and began to FEAST on her life.
She did it with everything she had.
She rose early so she could watch the sun rise.
She began saying “yes” more often … trusting she’d be given the how to’s.
She started running again at after years of believing she couldn’t.
She joined the club (her Mother had been asking her for years) and recognized it was a sacred sisterhood.
She turned a blind eye to the dog hair and called her sister instead.
She dropped all resistance.
She bought the tickets to Peru and put a dream into motion, not knowing if she’d ever reach the summit.
She noticed how beautiful the sun was when it lit the trees from behind.
She baked bread from an old recipe and served it with raspberry jam she made from bushes in the yard.
She learned a few songs by heart that made her feel like she was home and sang them to friends.
She dropped all resistance.
She read books slowly over lunch…tasting every word.
She listened carefully to the flowers, birds, animals, mushrooms and bees.
She looked into her children’s eyes and could see that they were really ok.
She cried at the drop of a hat for joy and for deep sadness and sometimes because she remembered something very sweet.
She traded her 1.3 carat diamond for a gold band and a BIG adventure.
She dropped all her resistance.
She swapped wine for a fully alive Kombucha sweetened by bees.
She offered tobacco each time she harvested something from the earth.
She cut out big fat sections of her treasured manuscript making it leaner and richer.
She stopped reacting to the mercurial moods of others and honored them with peace.
She emptied the dishwasher with quiet purposefulness and joy.
She dropped all resistance.
She saw light workers EVERYWHERE … Donald Trump was one too — she gasped at the realization!).
She looked into the eyes of the convenience store clerk and smiled at him.
She felt a strong kinship with trees and took time, especially with the oldest ones to converse and learn a bit each day.
She whispered THANK YOU each time she drew water from the tap.
She envisioned feathered comfort surrounding all those who were suffering.
She dropped all resistance.
She caught her own eyes in the mirror and saw the light in them and smiled.
She shared everything she had with those around her because it felt like dancing.
She wrapped up things in brown paper and mailed them with love.
She blocked off time to write.
She noticed her palms stopped sweating.
She fell into a luxurious cadence with the earth.
All because she simply dropped all resistance.

I don’t even pretend to imagine that I can be HER each and every second of the day but just to have this vision gives me such inspiration.

What would it look like in YOUR LIFE if you dropped all resistance?

SHAMANIC Tip:  For those of you who know how to journey to a Beastie or other spirit helper-  try journeying for 25 minutes and ask for them to “please dismember with compassion all of my resistance”- and see what happens:)

I actually did sell THAT RING (ahhh so much lighter!) and I started running again (VERRRRRY slowly) because of that wonderful kickass nun.  I found that this app made it FUN-  the music and handsome sounding dude voice (You make it look good!) helped tremendously!

Another way to drop resistance is to ask for help-  the spirits love it when we do that:)

With love and the courage of 16 honey badgers, Sarah

P.S.  As always, I am here to serve with Alice the Elephant by my side!  My schedule is a little tighter these days but Monday, Weds and Friday are still open!  as I’m working on polishing “Swimming with Elephants”  my new book-  coming out in 2017 with RedWheel Press!  Find out more here.
If you have trouble finding a time- just shoot me an email (or hit reply to this email) and we will find a way:)

P.S.  A great quote about resistance:

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”

Steven Pressfield, War of Art

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Discover your core Beastie and get TIPS to feel good from an Elephant here!!

About Me

I am not a pie in the sky person. I’m a realist with 4 real kids, a real husband, 2 real dogs and a "real life" – it’s just that my reality has shifted. I am a Board-Certified physician who left my pathology practice in order to live out my destiny as... LEARN MORE