All of you, all the time

When I design a strategic plan, develop staff training, pencil out projected costs to create healthy profit I have just as much witchy hoo-ha running through my veins as when I am mixing up potions, calling circles and playing at mythology mash ups. I don’t just “decant the moon” when it’s socially acceptable, nor do I turn down my gifts because hell, people, business needs more soulfire and heartbeat.

Many years ago I realized that my body was so attuned to the moon cycles that without dates or calendars I was awake during the witching hour of the full moon for 3 to 4 days every month. This was not because I tried to DO anything; it was a result of living in nature and living by my own natural rhythms and cycles. This is tough in our culture – the land of 10,000 daily planners, where even calls with your best friends need to be scheduled weeks in advance. Not to mention the light pollution, screen time, and global economy that says it’s all happening all the time so don’t miss out.

The really trippy thing that I realized when my body was doing her natural thang was that the messages I was receiving and sharing around the full moons were parallel to and aligned with those that would come out from the astrologers and psychics followed by some in my circles. Now that part, it kinda threw me. The same way it unsettled me to realize that when I worked with people I could read their energetic lineage and see some of their histories; the way I dream walk as well as psychic dream and how I feel like a whole body dowsing rod when it comes to people following their soul path and purpose.

In my own journey, I haven’t chased spiritual gifts. To be honest, they seemed sort of besides the point. Unless I could walk on water, which was eventually replaced by the desire to ride a broom, it wasn’t my jam. What drew me was the vision and promise of living a life fully awake; of consciousness realized. Of participating in community rituals that align with nature and life’s mysteries, of becoming something together that we could only just catch glimpses of. This still compels. And the spiritual gift that matters the most to me? The power of living life with an undefended heart, the strength of active integrity and the peace of following my path no matter what.

The same capacities that I have developed in my path as a reluctant priestess, or midwife, or yes, even a witch are those I bring to business. What I have learned from traveling terrains of consciousness and mythology has honed my ability to see patterns, trends and cycles. Cultivating intimacy with the mystery is what makes me graceful in the face of tremendous uncertainty. My personal recovery has had more impact on my leadership than any training, retreat, mentorship or coaching work I have done. Bar none, your own presence, reflection, self mastery and ability to hone in on creative impulses as well as effectively deal with risks and failures are the foundation of truly inspirational leadership.

It bums me out to talk to people on the spiritual path who promptly tell me why the business of their life (their work, money, family, etc) is separate and distinct from their development. I think it’s a shame. As a culture we are spending obscene amounts of money and time on Ted talks, apps for meditation, all the latest Brene Brown books, etc and yet still missing the point. You have to actually practice this shit for it to work. And the mat? it’s everywhere in your entire life. It IS your life.

My Grandpa was an incredible visionary, and a successful “self and Grandma made” entrepreneur. He wanted me to go into business because he saw that I had the same stuff as him. In fact, he was disappointed because he felt like I was throwing away my talent by working in the nonprofit world. He raised me up on a diet of civic engagement, what I’d call Lincoln era Republicanism and gardening which he did every day including when he had tumors on his brain. He told me once decades ago “good business is good for community; healthy communities are good for business”. It’s a gardener’s perspective, to get that we are part of a larger ecosystem, and the parts impact the whole.

If we want to see things change, we need to act like it. Put on your big person panties, or whatever it is that makes you feel at least pretty or bad ass, and then take the risks. Just like the rest of us. And yes, you do risk, you fail, you lose, you wonder, and sometimes you even fall into a pit of despair. When you persist, though, you end up living a life that feels like the quality of your dreams. You no longer can tell the difference between your work and everything else, and you don’t care because it’s all part of your Self expressed, your contribution to life itself. Instead of looking at a quote over desk about legacy being planting tomorrows orchards, you are out working on the trees you’ve planted.

Maybe stop chasing your gifts and your purpose, and really show up where it’s all happening- right here, right now. Bring your wicked magic to work and stop pretending. Or start pretending that you are living an epic myth or improv, and notice what happens to “the show”. Work is love made visible; what can we do each day to live into this idea?

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Artist: Abacus Corvus, abacuscorvus.com.

once in a blue moon may be enough

In the first minutes of 2018 my love and I lay in the Owls Nest atop Mt. Witchmore, basking in full moonlight and our dreams for the year. At least, this is how it looks in my memories. My deal is not to set intentions or goals for the year, rather to sense into the emerging themes, symbols or patterns and live into it, like the title of a story. Together we landed on “Twice in a Blue Moon, a living fairy tale” with the feeling of golden elegance.

Not the gaudy gold of my high school boyfriends beat up Grandma Cadillac – that did indeed play 8 tracks (which we loved because we were that retro) and fit an unholy amount of passengers (not gonna go there, use your imagination). Also not the gold of most jewelry.

More like the iridescent gold shot through fabrics or the gold hue to the sunlight in Kauai. Some gold hued elegance, that was the feeling of the year shortly after midnight on January 1st.

Coming into the darkening days of 2018, sleeping next to constantly flowing river currents, what has been so about this year is MOVEMENT.

* 2 road trips cross country
* Helped move my parents into my Grandparents house the first week of January
* Found, designed & moved into a new Shakti leadership house in Sacramento in March/April
* Surprise move out of our witchy cabin in the woods in July/August, which included a second move to storage in October
* Moved out of the Sunshine campus in San Diego in Fall. This entailed shipping my office cross country to TN (yes readying the space for the Oracle at Appalachia to move in) as well as moving the TR program to a new house in Sacramento
* Living part time in 3 different states

No wonder I am tired.

There is much moving inside as well. Things shifting around, falling away, an organic searching for a new center of gravity.

We invoked liminal time span with our blue moons and fairy tale living. Perhaps that meant time would flow like the river outside my window – rapid, fluid, shockingly cold, on some level unknowable.

We did feel like we were living a fairy tale – discovering Appalachian roots where he thought he was Californian grown, discovering sacred sites hidden in plain view, living in a town with Granny witches and storytelling festivals, another town with obsidian glass mountains. Our fairy tale had difficulty – tests of initiation (see list of non stop moves), deaths of beloved characters, dream visions of the colors for the Oracle at Appalachia that did not match human paint chips.

The thing I don’t get, yet, is gold hued elegance. It sure wasn’t in the dorky video I just made and sent out for Shakti Rising. It isn’t in the packing and moving and cleaning; rinse, wash repeat. I have not been feeling it in my late nights of work or long days of grieving. It’s not in my closet or heart and certainly not in the phone (gag)…. so what, 2018, did you mean by that sense for the year?

It’s a few minutes after midnight and I sense in my farthest edges there is something important in this wondering. Yes, I AM missing something. A nuance in a book, a movie, a moment that is the entry to a world within a world.

Gold shimmers, elegant in a world with twice the blue moons and tales told by fairies.

revealing beauty, innate genius, saturated in goodness

You know the experience of seeing an incredible piece of art, the raw beauty of nature or even catching a glimpse of someone you love dearly in an unguarded moment? When feeling rises up literally from your chest and swamps all the systems of your body, creating a kind of poignancy paralysis.

It’s like a spell that life casts upon you wherein your sensing cells are saturated in goodness. I used to say when I would walk Hanalei Bay “when it’s this good, you KNOW it’s true”.

Witnessing a person in their brilliance, it’s like that for me. Raw wild beauty in action. There is something fundamentally nourishing when folks bring forth their “no duh genius” as we call it in Shakti speak. Meaning – the innate genius that is experienced like common sense from the inside but blows the hair back of everyone experiencing it on the outside.

I just had one of these moments with my friend Mandy, of Wren & Wild in Bend, OR. On the surface, she did me up so I could feel confident and sparkley in a video message I’m making for Shakti Rising.

Communicating with our community is a big deal for me — these folks matter in more ways than I could describe. Bottom line, for me THEY are Shakti, together we make up this social change movement. What is so neat about us is also the inherent challenge – our community is far flung, diverse and speaks so many languages, many of which aren’t always compatible. (Except the language of the heart and our wilds, but that is another post). The few times I prepare to do one of these messages I get almost sick with nervousness. Not about me, but because I care so much and want our community to feel engaged.

Now flash to Mandy, who didn’t simply do my make up or fix my unruly long hair with static from this desert cold air. She settled me in myself, sourced my natural beauty so that is reflected outside and she blessed me up. Yes. She did. She blessed me up with kindness, love and sacred witness.

She took time in the middle of her busy holiday schedule to do this generous act for me, and shared of what I now know is her innate brilliance.

This is the sweet spot, folks.

It’s not always what we think it is or want it to be, it’s not what you can market or sell or contrive. It’s inside, available and it may be the very thing that you are overlooking.

I’ve forgotten now that I was nervous and I’m just excited. Excited to share our evolving story, excited to simply try. I’m also feeling incredibly cared for in a way I needed and didn’t know.

The power of showing up with our real contributions – can change a day, a life, a community. Can soothe a heart deep in grief and make her ready to do her soul work…. so on it goes.

I’m not a make up girl at all, as you may know. That’s part of the power of Mandy, and transformational beings. They aren’t trying to put a mask on you, they are peeling one away to reveal the beauty right there below the surface, sun spots, grey hair, life lines and all.

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This is how we love.

11 states, a family reunion that included the discovery of a family farm in the holler, Southside West Virginia built by his Grandad and where his Dad grew up, finding Oracle in the middle of Kansas City after falling in love with the surprise of St Louis. Everywhere being beckoned and directed, guided when our eyes are too bleary to see.

Arriving to a sporadic rain storm in Flagstaff, washing clean the Midwest dust and desert sand. Butterbrew lattes and power smoothies combine into a particular comfort for these nomadic souls (with Hobbit hearts, he says). Shaky muscles and slowed reflexes from too little sleep and too many hours in a bucket seat – even the king of seats as it is.

Walking into a witches tea shop in a town we have logged maybe 2 weeks worth of time, total in the last 5 years and she proclaims: I knew when I woke up someone special would show up here today, and I immediately thought of you two. Herb talk, tea blends, synchronicities and divination. Eight ball says — all signs point to yes.

Gund cuddled into the back seat in a blanket. 12 hours away from the wedding location, 24 hours until events start. We have to make it, so we will.

This is how we love.
Across the country. Against the wind.
13 states.
Fuck ton miles.
Because we can. Because we must.
Despite the odds.
Showing up.
just. Like. That.

trusting, as the river knows its way

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What a Fall. it’s been quite a time — except I feel like every single letter, email or text I have written in the past few years opens with a similar statement. We are alive in interesting times, perhaps that suffices.

I’m writing now sitting by the Deschutes River in Bend, OR, surrounded by a wintery landscape and feeling a general sense of difficulty here in the region. As I observe, I see that some is self perpetuated — habituated choices of making things hard; some is the structural reality of this country at this time, and some seems to be the nature of being awake, human and braving an open heart.

yet it seems to me that the way (maybe only A WAY) is to have an even braver heart, and trusting our wild souls. checking those parts of ourselves that cringe from the unknown and try to control life, and instead walking to the edge of the unknown and yelling out “i’m here. i don’t know what the fuck is going on, but i’m game.” even when this makes you weak in the knees.

the thing is, trust: it’s an all contact sport. It’s not a sideline endeavor, not an armchair conversation. It’s messy, sometimes ugly and hard, awkward and scary as hell much of the time. People may say they want it and then cut you off because you brought it. YOU may say you want it, and then do all kinds of things to make sure it only comes to you heavily pasteurized and safe to drink.

trust is part of courage, it’s part of living located inside a different narrative about life. One that has parts, not others. One that includes death and difficulty, but is not death dealing and suffocation by denial. One in which you need never say to anyone “I promise, magic is real” because of a lifetime of naysaying.

These feel like difficult times. Each morning as soon as I open my eyes I begin praying for the courage to get out of bed, to face what I will discover on this day. What I will be called upon to attend, the work I will do to discern what is mine and what is not mine to do. I don’t have any tips or cute tricks for this. Simply the slow grown resilience of now almost 31 years of soul recovery, the desire to live up to, into the blessings and kuleana of my life, and a true commitment to disregard the dross and focus only on what is essential.

Which includes the courage to ask myself “what IS essential?” over and over again, until I know it as surely as the river knows its way to the sea.

Lost Season Open

We left summer in Appalachia, where folks said they could “feel” Fall but my clothes still stuck to my skin and all I wanted to wear was close to nothing. Drove across country in 5 days and caught a glimpse of Fall on the side of the road outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Three Point Reyes weeks later we are at winter’s doorstep in Bend, OR. Somewhere in all that moving I lost seasons.

Rather, I am in a lost season. I fell into this place by accident I think. Kind of like the 9 3/4 train thingy in Harry Potter but I wasn’t looking and surely didn’t run thru a wall to get here. It was more like there was an enchanted border right near the edge of my own life and I crossed right over without knowing what I had done.

Now that I am here I look around as I walk through my days and wonder who else is in a lost season. Do they too sit by the river for minutes and even hours without thought or desire? Feel like leaves dropping from tree branches and drifting on the breeze? Do they feel unmoored, strangely cut loose from the wheel of the year?

Somehow when I was slipping between seasons, moving between states and STATES you died. It’s impossible, really, but it’s true. You lost a season too – an entire season of your life. When we would have gone into Fall’s dying days and adventured into winter together. No one will see the snow as you would have done. I know there are words lost from my lexicon that I have not yet known because I would have found them with you.

Grief is its own wild raw terrain. Sometimes I see you in my dreams and I try to hold on: your voice, that smile, the way you are so entirely you. I wake again and I am still in this terrain amidst a lost season. Not causal yet connected.

I put on my Grandmother’s rings, sit in this baby blue chair and watch the river coursing by. Lost season, open.

 

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October 10, 2018 

Sitting on the side of the road

Cold desert mountain morning, leaves rustling in a breeze both brisk and telling of winters coming. 

Sitting on the side of a small town road, soaking in the local hot springs for a moment’s respite after a long nights drive. It all seems storybook – this moment, this life. 

Yet it’s very real: the sounds of the chainsaw, the chatter of two aunties for whom this is so clearly not adventure but routine. The bubbling of the water and smells of the minerals. The changing colors of the trees. 

Falls feast. Arrived once again, while I was wilting in summers arms. 

parenting as leadership and sacred responsibility: winter perspectives and practices ~ winter solstice 2012 ~ from blackbird cafe, inverness

Written for Green-Mom.com.

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It is true. Our culture increasingly emphasizes consumerism over connection, and overindulgence often replaces the enjoyment of simple and sustainable pleasures. And yet, every year, most of us experience this time as one earmarked for celebration and anticipate this season for various good reasons. We anticipate the opportunity to spend time with family, the renewed sense of wonder the holidays bring, and the possibility of what will unfold for us in the New Year.

This year in particular, though, it is no wonder this season has stirred up a lot. 2012 has been intense and emotional. From the recent election to the state of the economy. From prophecies of apocalypse and talk of ascension to the uprisings in multiple countries. From gains in employment to indecision and inaction from global leaders around the environmental crisis. And just as we began moving into the homestretch of 2012, the shooting at an elementary school. In minutes, we became a people in the wake of a national tragedy. And this has struck a chord deep in our hearts because as adults, as parents, as humans, we know in our bones that it is our kuleana (Hawaiian for sacred responsibility) to always protect the children.

Parenting is a template for how we do everything in our lives – or it can be. At Shakti Rising, the women’s leadership and social change organization and movement I founded 14 years ago, we have a philosophy of embracing parenthood as leadership. This is not to be confused with the role-authority accorded to parents (as in, all parents are automatically leaders), because as we all know, many people who are parents are not leaders at all. However, what Shakti teaches and what I believe is that when we are willing to be awake and conscious in our parenting, we presence and embody a leadership that rises directly out of our kuleana. We step fully into the sacred role we have all been entrusted with to steward our own and the children of the world into the people they are meant to become. This is difficult, meaningful work, and the structures of our culture often make it even harder. Yet, hard work is worthwhile, and many things worth doing place us right on the razor’s edge of growth – most especially things having to do with love.

As parents and as leaders in our families and communities, this solstice and holiday season, with its mixed bag of emotions and energies, provides us with a perfect opportunity to grow in our parenthood and wrap around our families in new ways. Winter, in particular, is a time for slowing down, reflecting and renewing, so what if you followed these seasonal energies as they happen in you individually and in your family? What if your focus this winter was to renew as a family by committing to three ideas – rest, reset, recalibrate – that make up what we call at Shakti ‘practicing the pause’?

Rest: A period of time when your entire system is restored, energy is minimal and deep immune strength is built. It is characterized by non-activity, quiet and non-stimulation. Rest does not necessarily mean we have to sleep more or take long naps (although these are certainly essential aspects of rest, too), but what it does call us to do is nurture inner stillness.

Reset: You know, like pushing the reset button? This is the return to the heart of who we are and what matters most, and it can happen in many ways. Try creating or participating in family rituals, having pillow fights with a lot of laughter or engaging in family talks where values, feelings and dreams are explored.

Recalibrate: This is about creating new rhythms and ways of being that strengthen who we are as families. An example is exploring new holiday rhythms. Perhaps this year instead of going through the usual motions, you create a simple family holiday gratitude practice or choose a key trait that your family works on together, like kindness or listening.

These three R’s are as simple as they sound, and frankly, are incredibly nurturing. One of the aspects of practicing them is discovering what each of them feels like and means to you, as parents, and what they mean to your whole family. Then, you can begin having fun exploring what practices bring these concepts to life for you.

While the practices are simple, the results are profound. They can help us transform our grief, overwhelm, anger, helplessness (and whatever else we may be feeling) into a living recipe of a life-lived-meaningfully, beautifully and one that honors our connections with our children, one another and the Earth and world around us.

What more could we ask for at a time like this?

loving our leaders

I find I am loving our leaders unconditionally

as i know

I am loved myself.

I love him.

I love her.

I love the girls.

the grandmother

the friends

& the deceased

grandparents

& ancestors

I especially

love

the dog. And would hope

for him

soon

a cat.

They are us

you know,

our leaders;

finally leading ourselves

as us:

Who we really are:

more perfect

for

our imperfections:

Unconditionally

& forever

loved

human beings.

do you get that I love you, unconditionally?