Why stuff doesn’t make you happy and what to do about it

Why stuff doesn’t make you happy and what to do about it


Stuff is for pleasure.
Lack of stuff is pain.
Neither pain nor pleasure is happiness.
~Krishna Das

I have trouble with some vision boards and manifestation.

What? But you make and sell manifestation candles! you might respond.

I do. So let me clarify:

My stomach always churns (literally) when I see vision boards chock-full of stuff like fancy cars, houses, jewelry. Why is that?

Because none of that stuff makes us happy. 

Sure, if you don’t have it, you might think it does. But it doesn’t. 

Since it doesn’t, is stuff a helpful objective?

Maybe happiness would be a more useful goal.

And if happiness is the objective maybe we need to dig a little deeper into what that would mean.

Certainly having good health. And love. Having “enough.”  What else makes us happy? How do we find out?

Listen to what’s inside us. Because, as KD said the other day on retreat, “all the teachings are really inside you.”

We have the wisdom. We know what really makes us happy. And THAT’S what we should look toward. What makes us happy.

After all, stuff is just stuff.

Just stuff.

How can you polish the mirror of your heart?

How can you polish the mirror of your heart?

mirror-of-your-heartThe other day on retreat Krishna Das pointed out that if we really want to see things accurately–and not just our projections–we must polish the mirror of our heart.

Only then, he says, can we act and RE-act differently, and not through the filters of our fear, anger, greed and self-centeredness.

This profound Sufi concept holds that only by removing the veil over our hearts can we achieve both personal and spiritual growth –and get closer to the Divine.

That means recognizing and gaining control over our lower instincts. This is even MORE important in today’s world, when we see so much low stuff all over the place–and we are tempted to respond in kind. I’ve succumbed to that temptation, too.

Our challenge is to polish our hearts so we can shine a light on these dark places. We must work hard to stay in a place of compassion for all beings. Harder than I’d like. And yes, even the ones hardest to love. This takes constant vigilance and effort.

Until it doesn’t. Until love and compassion become who we are.

That’s the aim.

I am a work in progress.

Aren’t we all?


How you can make endings new beginnings

How you can make endings new beginnings

If we go into life understanding that nothing is forever, it’s so much easier. But we don’t do that. So endings can be tough.

I don’t like endings, myself. I like to stay connected and when I can’t stay connected to whatever has ended, I feel that I’ve failed. It’s hard for me to not own it, even when it’s clear that it’s not my circus and those are not my monkeys.

Oh, transitions! Bumpy roads at times.

Meditation teacher Jack Kornfeld is wise when he talks about “making peace” with the fact that all things end. He doesn’t tell us to “cope with it” or ‘deal with it” but to MAKE PEACE with it.

Which is why I love him.

There is, however, a next step. Once we’ve made peace with endings, well, what then?

And that’s where I have become an expert. The “what now?” question never fazes me because I’ve learned through many, many transitions that there is an effective framework for that question. And the plan that follows.

That, my friends, is how I came to plan this awesome retreat, during which I’ll teach the framework for “what’s next” after whatever life throws at you. Curious? I’d love to talk to you about it.

How will you know when it’s time to do nothing?

How will you know when it’s time to do nothing?

Every year we visit Maui with friends. This year was different though.

It’s always peaceful. But this time, my mind was peaceful, too. I didn’t feel a big push to do anything. Not sightsee, not cook, not anything.

“That’s what it’s like here,” said our friend Danny. “And that’s your agenda: do nothing.”

I come from a father who had a strong work ethic, one that became part of my life, too.  Even as I entered and went through my 60s, I felt no stress at still working. It just wasn’t time for me to do nothing.

That time will come, I know. It comes for us all.

I know some people who make the choice earlier than maybe I would in their position. People without any financial security but who are an age when, well, they’re tired. They’re done. They call it early and I always send up a prayer that it works out for them.

Others I know have had that do-nothing transition forced on them through layoff or disability. That’s an entirely different story. Some rise to the occasion. Some do not.

This is in fact the first year that doing nothing has intrigued me. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not ready yet. But the day is coming, I can sense it.

How will I know when it’s time? I’m so glad you asked!

There are so many factors and believe me, I’ve been through them all.  If making that kind of change is something you’d like to consider, I invite you to join me in Jordan to learn just how to figure out if it’s time for doing nothing. Or for doing something different.

You may think you are unprepared. Or you may think you’re prepared. Either way, we’ll reality test it on retreat. Together. All of us. Supporting one another as we walk through these life changes.

Give me a call and let’s talk about whether this retreat is for you. You can schedule a call on the retreat website. And oh by the way, you might want to look at some of the details!

That time when the joke was on me

That time when the joke was on me

Nobody likes to look at their wounds, not even me. And yet, there they are, influencing us in ways we sometimes can’t even recognize.  We all have them. We can’t escape life without being wounded in one way or another.

Like so many of us, I have some from childhood and also some from relationship. Ah, relationship. 

But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya.- Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

That was me. I carried the deep wound from my first divorce for a very long time. It influenced every relationship that came after and one of the ways was that I never allowed anyone to leave me. I always left first. 

The joke, though, was on me, because the very perpetrator of that wound came back some 26 years later, just when I was planning a remarriage. Leaving had been a mistake, he told me. And now he had an opportunity to change things, he said. The timing wasn’t optimum for either of us, he admitted, but if he didn’t approach me now he’d always regret it.


Life can be hilarious in its apparent randomness, but of course, it’s not random at all.

But what was I to do? I could do what I always did, which was to protect myself, make irrational decisions or to do something that would make my life difficult.

Or I could do something different. I could look at the situation with clear eyes. I could weigh the pros and cons. And only then would I consult my heart.

I won’t lie. It may have seemed like a no-brainer to my well-meaning friends, but it was a hard decision. “Two paths diverged in a yellow wood…” wrote Robert Frost. Yes. Yes, diverge they did.

That was 10 years ago. This story has a happy ending: I’m living a life I only dreamed of, in every single way.

Women friends looking for a relationship tell me things that reveal exactly why they haven’t found one and what they can do differently to change the outcome. It’s obvious to me. But not to them. Just like my own ineffective paradigm was obvious to my friends, but not to me.  But I get how it works. And it does work. And can for you.

The only reason I’m describing my own situation so openly is that I want you to see another reason to go on retreat with me. I’ve been there and I have a template that works, even for relationships.  So if you’ve got big relationship decisions to make, consider it a relationship retreat

Let’s talk about how it might help your situation in a clarity call. 

How to answer the question “Now what?”

How to answer the question “Now what?”

When life changes hit–and any transition can sneak up ….or explode with a big BANG! our first instinct is often to draw back for refuge.

To retreat. To draw the covers over our head. Because we do not want to face the question, “Now what?”

I know this first-hand. I know, it looks like I’ve got it all together, but it was a long haul to get here, full of trial and error. Mostly error, to be honest.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E or any breakup

Divorce was a big shock, at least the first one was. I was a mess. Embarrassingly so.

The next time, it was my choice, but that wasn’t much easier. Sure, momentum got me through, but after that? The question was “Now what?”

Job changes

Job discontent was a pivot point more than once. Let’s face it: It’s hard to work for someone else and when your values don’t coincide, it’s even harder.

How about when it becomes drudgery and you hate to even go in? Or it creates anxiety? I’ve treated clients who have job anxiety.  I know someone who was so stressed by her job she went out on long-term disability. Then the question becomes: “Now what? What do I do now?”


Retirement is an infamous transition. A financial planner told me to be prepared emotionally for the day when I withdrew money rather than deposited it and he was right. Rather scary. Anxiety-producing.

And then, all that time on my hands. Sure, it sounded good but I wasn’t ready to sit back.  “Now what?” I asked myself.

Oh, honey, I’ve had my share of “now what” and the answers didn’t come easily.

Struggling in the muck

Many of us stumble around, out of our element. We’re doing the best we can but we’re unprepared for putting our next act together. The next chapter. The “now what?”

First, there’s coming up with it.

Then, the risk: what if we’re wrong?

Not to mention not knowing how to increase the odds of success.

Our expectations.

It’s all big mess at first, and we muck around until we figure something out. And yes, there’s value in struggling in the muck.

But we don’t have to. It’s not the only way. As I learned over the years.

There’s an easier way.

I’m a super-analytical person and I did figure out how to make things work. Just about anything. Yep. And I want to share my secrets.

That’s the core reason I put together my retreat to Jordan: to help people figure out and test their next steps–and to provide some outside eyes to help spark new, creative ideas for that next chapter, whether it’s a relationship, a job, or something else.

If you’re facing a life transition and haven’t been to the retreat website to see what it’s about, I hope you will. Because it’s the perfect place for anyone facing a life change. And it’ll be fun, too! or email me at ccassara (at) gmail.com to set up a time to talk about it!