Monday, October 8, 2018

⛵️Exploring a New WorldπŸ—Ί

Photo of me by 4 year old on a "Pirate ship" in a marina playground  

I invite you to set sail with me to discover a New World.

I am aiming for The Land of &. Please scroll down to the bottom of this post under the image of the green hill if you are unfamiliar with this place*

It is a land of extreme paradoxes and radical inclusion and it is a place where hero/ines, villains and victims find common ground.

I'm warning you ahead of time that the waters we sail today will be turbulent and chaotic.  I anticipate there will be mutinies along the way. AND if you make it all the way to the shore without abandoning ship or having me keelhauled, I trust it will be well worth the journey.

Today's New Moon (readers of this blog know that I consider new moons to be a time of fresh starts and that I believe those new beginnings to be even more powerful when they follow extremely challenging times) falls on Columbus Day. This day is also celebrated by many now (including me) as Indigenous People's Day.

It is also Canadian Thanksgiving. They are ahead of us in their celebration due to an earlier harvest. And perhaps they are ahead of us in some other ways as well.

But whether or not you are in love with the (admittedly imperfect, but still a heartthrob for me😍) Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau; celebrating and giving thanks early and often is a really good idea!

The practice of gratitude and focusing on the harvest is one that I guarantee will offer a cornucopia of benefits.

I am overly ambitious in the abundant themes that I want to offer to you today, but I hope you will find nourishment here if you have the time to pick through this profusion of ideas.


This New Moon is also on the heels of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation on the Supreme Court.

Feel free to skip the orange highlighted part unless you question my motives for the rather controversial stance I'm about to take --I don't want to be dismissed as someone who doesn't take this seriously.

I make no secret of my political leanings. I am way left of Bernie Sanders. I believe Dr. Ford with all my heart. I have my own #me too stories. I have a minor in women's studies and have been a very strong feminist for most of my adult life.

If I added up all of the protests I have attended, all of the petitions I have signed, all of the political campaigns I have devoted time, energy and money to, as well as taking into consideration the variety of actions in the public realm and my private choices in life that I have taken, I'm pretty sure no one could fault me for being a slacker in taking action on behalf of my beliefs.

 In addition to politics, my spiritual beliefs include being a champion of the Divine Feminine in the world as well as part tree-hugging, Earth worshiping Pagan AND I am part Christian, as well as actively celebrating a wide variety of holiday/holy-days from many traditions around the world.

AND I drive a car, use a cell phone, and (despite very limited purchases and most of them either used or local/fair trade etc.) purchase other products that were brought to me by exploited people.

I have an enormous respect and admiration for the way of life and teachings of Indigenous People all over the world (most recently I have been blown away by the people at Standing Rock), AND I live happily on stolen land.

It is a messy, chaotic time and we all do our best to make our way through it according to our individual belief systems.

So here comes the part where those who are feeling anger, betrayal and despair about Kavanaugh, Trump, and all who support them might follow my more conservative readers-- who probably jumped ship as soon as I described my beliefs.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope all of you "hoisted the sails of willingness" (as Caroline Casey says) and are willing to hear me out. If you are still with me and haven't read the part that explains about this land we are sailing towards, now would be a good time.*


In The Land of &, Christopher Columbus, Brett Kavanagh, Donald Trump, (or if you take the opposing viewpoint, Christine Blasey Ford, the conniving Democrats, and witch hunting women), all took the actions that YOU would have made if you would have lived in their life circumstances with their unique conditioning.

This does not in any way justify any harm perpetrated by anyone. Rape or any form of sexual intimidation is wrong. As is lying. Or (from the opposing perspective), a political pawn lying to destroy a man's life for political gain is wrong. Exploiting an entire people, (as Columbus and other conquistadors/conquerers/dictators have done) leading to destruction of their way of life is also not okay!

We, the observers are affected by what happens and should not be complacent, neutral or passive about what we believe to be harmful AND we need to reconsider the strategy of fighting --especially when it involves vilifying "others" who are not like us.

We, the perpetrators (and we are all perpetrators at one time or another as even minor, subtle unkindnesses and untruths ripple outwards), should not be self-righteous about what we believe "they" deserve. We need to hold ourselves accountable for our actions AND forgive ourselves and others for past mistakes.

I am Christine Blasey Ford (I have been abused in various ways and have courageously stood up for what I believed even when I knew it would be detrimental) AND I am Brett Kavanagh (when I was younger I drank to the point of blacking out and did shameful things I don't remember. I have also lied to keep from getting in trouble or to get what I wanted at various times in my past.)

We all have our shadows and we have all harmed others. We did what we did largely because of our life experiences and cultural/ancestral/neurological conditioning.

I'm not going to get all new-agey on you and say we should not fight because we are all a part of Source/God/Love (although I do believe that) nor am I advocating that we all act out of open compassionate hearts because that's what Jesus/Buddha/ Quan Yin or your deity of choice would do. Although that would be awesome --if everybody did that!

History has shown what happened to the openhearted, trusting and innocent (or in some cases just less well armed) Indigenous Peoples of the world. History also showed the abysmal failure of appeasement in dealing with Hitler.

Oh sure, why not throw in Hitler and (by extension) maybe some pedophiles and terrorists at this point just to make things a little bit more challenging for me?! Can I just say that I am not enjoying what my Muse directed as my assignment today?! I had other plans for this blog...



AND history has also shown the endless perpetuation of conflicts with continual fighting. Even when the "bad guys" are conquered, whatever it was that caused them to "go bad" does not just disappear.

It really is true that what we resist, persists AND we can't just roll over, expose our throats and soft underbellies while trusting in the best nature of predators.

If innocent people (or creatures or the planet) are being harmed, those who have the capacity to protect or offer justice need to take action.

We need to take action AND we need to very carefully consider what actions will be most effective.

There are circumstances where violence is absolutely necessary. If a hungry tiger is leaping towards your helpless baby, there is no time to consider an alternative to shooting if you have a gun.

Obviously there are less extreme examples and there are more subtle forms of violence as well.

For instance, shaming or mocking can give a self righteous pleasure (and one I am totally guilty of indulging in --mostly passively by laughing at clever humor when I'm feeling despair), but ultimately this only adds fuel to the fire.

Those who are shamed or mocked may be burned by that fire, but they are even more likely to come back to burn those who treated them that way --to say nothing of those innocent bystanders who get torched as well. And furthermore those who wield the torches are also harmed, whether they realize it or not.

Rather than make further assertions as to what I think you should believe or do at this point, I just want to ask some questions. They are, of course, leading questions, πŸ˜‰ but I'm hoping you'll overlook that and answer them as honestly as you can. I'm asking the same questions of myself and doing my best to recognize the ways in which I too, perpetuate these dynamics.

?????????????

What if fighting against the villains only makes them fight back harder?

What if "they" (and maybe even peace-loving you?) are addicted to fighting due to unfortunate choices made a long time ago? Getting a fix feels good in the moment and may temporarily "fix" a "problem", but what if fixes are not the answer?

What if in escalating conflict, you are encouraging them to perpetrate even more harm on themselves and others?

Are your friends, (including "friends" on social media) family and community members with opposing views all wrong, bad and stupid? Should you just push them out of your life? Will that resolve anything?

What if (as Charles Eisenstein advocates) we sincerely ask the question "what's it like to be you?" And then genuinely, empatheticaly listen to what they say and ask more to learn why it is that they believe what they believe?

What if you also paid close attention to what happens inside of you when having these conversation? Do you recognize some things you share that you don't like? How do you handle feeling triggered and vulnerable? Can you sit in the middle of that without running or fighting?

What if we look for common ground, even (especially!) in the midst of the worst conflicts? Is there even a faint possibility that we can find that? And if it is possible shouldn't we give that a try?

What if things need to get really bad to get our attention and force us to do something different?

What if we view what is happening in our World right now as a powerful time of evolutionary change and brainstorm ways to respond in a new way to disturbing events and behaviors?

What if you believed in the concept of Pronoia (Life is conspiring on your behalf)? If you play with the thought that this outlandish belief might be remotely possible; what creative possibilities can you come up with about how this present time in our country and on our planet could somehow be beneficial?

If you have your eyes on the prize, what is that prize? If that prize is living in a happier, healthier and more harmonious world (which I think everyone agrees upon, even if they don't agree what it looks like or how to get there), how likely is it that we will attain this prize by fighting with each other? Has that ever worked for very long?



In the midst of ever widening polarization, where the stakes get higher and higher and behaviors get lower and lower, we can do what we've always done. We can assign roles to our selves and others of villain, victim or hero/ine who will fight forever.

But what else is possible?

Typically those who have little power are unlikely to gain access to people who are in the positions of the greatest power.

Realistically, I can't literally go up to Donald Trump and look him in the eye and ask "what's it like to be you"? Even if I could, and could spend enough time with him to gain his trust to have an in-depth conversation, it would probably be pretty difficult for us to find a lot of common ground. But I'll bet we could find enough to at least allow for some tiny shifts.

Of course, when someone is entrenched in extreme views and attached to the power that goes with them, it is very difficult to connect if you are coming from the opposite extreme.

But we do have access to plenty of people in our circles who disagree with us about many things.

What if we start where we are, with whoever is in front of us --or on social media or however we connect?

What if we treated everyone (especially young children whose views of the world are just being formed) with a little more kindness and compassion? What if we listened with our full, open, honest attention not only to what they say but to what they're truly longing for that is under the surface of their words?

Can you imagine how different the world would be if someone wise and kind had taken Little Adolph under their wing?

I sure as hell don't have all of the answers to all of these questions, nor do I always walk my talk. I do, however do the best I know how to do. And I'm betting you do too!

I didn't get to go where I wanted to with this blog. I wanted to play more with the paradoxes in The Land of & and explore more about the role of gratitude and celebration in the midst of (or on the heels of) difficult times when we feel scared, despairing and betrayed. I know a lot about that.

But this post is already way too long and convoluted. And I do not have the time to do the ruthless editing that is needed. Fortunately, there are gifts to be found in chaos, and there is always room for more exploration in The Land of &!


This is a photo I took on the shores of Lake Lagunitas that I am using to represent The Land of &. And yes, it is for sale !
*If is the first you have heard about The Land of &, here is an excerpt from a previous post:

I have been using the theme of the Hero/ine's Journey (which is the theme of a huge number of our best loved stories from ancient times to popular culture's Blockbuster movies and best-selling books) as a way of exploring those in-between places where an old life or way of life is ending (or recently over) and the new one is still a mystery.

Joseph Campbell called the place in the Hero's Journey after you cross over the threshold from the ordinary world; The Special World. Charles Eisenstein describes what he calls The Space Between Stories (in reference to our world right now). SARK calls it the Marvelous Messy Middle. William Bridges in his enormously popular and practical book Transitions, calls it the Neutral Zone. Lewis Carroll called it Wonderland.

There are other names for it as well, but what is noteworthy is that in all of these places, the usual rules of the "ordinary world" do not apply. Paradoxes are around every turn in the path in this misty, mystical, mysterious and often maddening territory.

I came up with the "The Land of &", because there is usually an "and" (sometimes looks like a "but") between the two seemingly contradictory truths found in paradoxes.

That "and" spot in-between the two truths can be a confusing and uncomfortable tight place AND it is a zone where magic and transformative alchemy can take place.

Transformative alchemy takes us far out of our comfort zone sometimes into excruciating pain. Think about the heat it takes to melt metals, the pressure it takes to form a diamond or the bug soup stage of the caterpillar.πŸ΅πŸ›

Pain, fear and confusion cause our survival conditioning and consumer culture to warn us frantically of 🚫danger πŸ›‘ AND it is the only way to evolve so that we can reach the miraculous New World that is waiting for us. πŸ¦‹

The list of paradoxes in everything from philosophy to quantum physics and many more mundane topics about how to live our day-to-day lives is a long one.

Playing Sparks & Leaps will not solve all of the paradoxical mysteries of life (and I will explain later why this is a good thing), but it will offer alternative ways to find your way when you find yourself in the "The Land of &".

In the meantime, as I am putting the game together, if you find yourself in a confusing time of transition, I invite you to do your best to be present with the discomforts that you find there (rather than trying to figure out how to fix your problems or make the pain go away with your favorite addictive fix) AND to RELAX and soften your resistance--even when that feels impossible.

I promise you will find magic there if you can do this. Don't forget to enlist allies to support you.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

πŸŽ‰Celebration🎊

Every day, including ones that suck, I find something to celebrate. 
Celebrating everything can change everything and bring treasures beyond measure.

I know this may be hard to believe. It may seem as though celebrating everything is Pollyanna naivety or covering evil with a smiley face πŸ˜€, spiritual bypassing, or a frivolous waste of time. But I promise you, what I propose is none of the above and the reasons for doing so are myriad and compelling.

As an example, let me start with today (9/9/18). I am celebratingGrandparents Day --a day to revere our elders.

My grandparents had some pretty major "issues". This is an understatement for two of them who, in addition to being brilliant and charismatic were also often cruel in ways that rippled damage far and wide.  The spouses of those two were much sweeter, but had other issues.

Some might say they spoiled me (including both definitions of that word, when the "collateral damage"/ "friendly fire"is included with those many tiny, sweet indulgences), but I genuinely and gratefully celebrate my grandparents with my whole heart.

All four of them adored me and the feeling was absolutely mutual (most of the time!)
I miss them.
Rather than focus on what was damaged as though it were a problem, I chose to reframe it. I do not deny their flaws or the ways in which their  behaviors affected those around them --including me (mostly by the aforementioned "collateral damage"/ "friendly fire") AND I have tremendous respect, empathy and love for all of them. I believe they did the very best they were capable of doing, and in addition to their precious gifts to me, all of them made wonderful contributions to the world.

I would not be who I am today (with my unique gifts/quirks/ flaws --all of which are invaluable to me) without them.  And, of course, they are literally a part of me, inside my DNA, as are all my ancestors.

In making the choice to both honestly acknowledge the darker sides of my grandparents and how that affected me, feel all of the complicated mix of emotions fully as well as highlighting everything lovable about them, and celebrating ALL of that; the damaged parts of me became part of
a Wabi Sabi creation.



This month also marks Respect of the Aged Day (Japan 9/16/18) and Ancestor Appreciation Day (9/27/18) --just in case you want to honor your ancestors.

I will return to holidays (so many significant "holy-days" over this next couple of weeks which I will find some small way to honor) in a moment but let me shift to my current passion of celebrating minutiae and how that is changing my life.

πŸŽ‰πŸŽπŸ¬πŸŽ€πŸ§š‍♀️πŸ’”πŸ₯‚πŸ’πŸ§š‍♂️πŸƒπŸ₯€πŸ‚πŸ’πŸ’Ž

You may recall from previous posts that I am turning Sparks & Leaps into a game. The game is based on tens of thousands of hours of research on a wide variety of topics including cutting edge science, ancient wisdom traditions and so much more.

The game will help players navigate circumstances ranging from major life implosions to the overwhelming minutiae of everyday life, and in the process of playing, contribute to personal as well as planetary transformational evolution.

My ambitions are not small! πŸ˜‰

Part of the game involves the counterintuitive strategy of curiously, creatively and courageously choosing to engage with that which seems wrong, bad, overwhelming, painful and/or scary rather than follow the insistent directives of survival conditioning.

Fight, flight, freeze --or fix (as in repair what is "broken" or get an addictive fix to numb the pain) works excellently if you are being pursued by an actual tiger 🐯or stitching up wounds (if you weren't fierce or fast enough to escape that tiger), or if you happen to experience the equivalent in terms of physical danger or damage.

However, survival conditioning/fixing are actually not effective strategies for most of the problems the majority of people who are likely to be reading this blog face right now*.

In fact it causes more harm than good if your nervous system is on high alert all the time in response to the ever accelerating pace of life and the many crisis situations of which we are made aware --in the constant onslaught of information that most of us receive on a daily basis.

The game of Sparks & Leaps offers alternative strategies.

I took this photo of a mosaic in the window of the home of Sue and Greg Cantrell --who have a magical Airbnb in Portland. Artist Lianna Bud. I love the translucent SPARKleS & LEAPS of joyful fairies made out of broken pieces!
In this game, challenges are reframed, broken down into the easiest, smallest components and interspersed with rewards, play, rest, support and celebration. Celebration is key!

Players receive points for each tiny triumph. They send their points to fellow players and allies (real and virtual) for weekly feedback. After a loooong delay, I finally came up with a workable system that is simple enough to practically and easily implement, yet with enough repetitive reinforcement to allow for the nervous system to settle and new neural pathways to form --both of which are crucial.

I am practicing breaking things that are overwhelming down into what SARK refers to as micro-movements (although I've modified her process a bit), and also sometimes deliberately pushing to the edge of my comfort zone, for another level of the game. Points are awarded according to level of difficulty.

There are additional ways in which everything from catastrophes to the overwhelming minutiae of every day frustrations and endless "to do" lists  become transformative vehicles for profound evolutionary change.

Life has always been about constant change, but the changes are happening faster now.

Fortunately, we have an incredible abundance of wisdom available to allow us to make use the hidden power of those changes. But it's really hard to do from the old paradigm of working harder and faster to fix "problems". Especially without sufficient support.

And that's where the game of Sparks & Leaps comes in-- I look forward to sharing more with you soon.
Autumn is a beautiful celebration of the cycle of life and death. 
As we are transitioning from summer to autumn, below are same ways to celebrate that. Please click here if you want to know why celebration in general and also of holidays will benefit you in surprising ways.

This lineup of holidays is pretty impressive in its diversity, synchronicity and significance.

Tonight begins the high holidays of Judaism with Rosh Hashanah --the Jewish New Year

9/11 is marked on the calendar as Patriot Day. I have respectful reverence and sorrow for all who have been affected by terrorism all over the world, but I celebrate this day for different reasons.

9/12 is Muharram (Islamic New Year). This is a floating holiday that can happen at all different times of the year, so this year it's placement next to 9/11 and so close to the Jewish New Year is interesting. I also love that Ashura which is also a floating holiday and bears many similarities to Yom Kippur is right between Yom Kippur and the International Day of Peace this year.

9/13 is the Hindu holiday of Ganesh Chaturthi --celebrating the elephant headed god of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles.

9/19 is Yom Kippur (Jewish)✡️

9/20 is Ashura (Muslim)☪️

9/21 is International day of peace☮️

9/22 is Mabon (Pagan)-- The Autumnal Equinox πŸƒπŸ‚

BTW --for those who expressed an interest in purchasing my photos, THANK YOU! I have been busy with the Game (and many other pieces of my current life). I will be in touch soon!
*With the exception of my relatives whose home was struck by⚡️ lightening ⚡️last week (they have A LOT of fixing to do!) and to whom you are welcome to take a moment to send a little good ✨juju✨. I believe in the power of sending love πŸ’žto those who need it and the more sources the better. Ready? GO!🌬✨πŸ’“πŸ™




Saturday, August 11, 2018

🏰Castles & Dragons🐲


I love that my life includes castles --and dragons! I took the above photo of little darlings on a day filled with adventures last weekend.

This month, I have been playing hard, exploring several castles and labyrinths and engaging in other magical adventures with various young companions, as well as navigating a currently overflowing life --despite my best efforts to minimize all distractions.

This has left me little time for writing over the summer, so once again, I am sharing a previous piece.

This one is from a full moon post, so if you only follow my New Moon Blog, or you are new to my writing, (this was from January of 2016), I recommend you check it out.

Dragons and Tiger and Wolves, Oh My! πŸ²πŸ―🐺😱


It has strategies for dealing with evildoers and difficult times. Even if you've read it before, IMHO, I think it's timely and worth a second look.

Today is the last eclipse of a series of three and a supermoon.

Whether or not these events in the sky have contributed to the blazing intensity of current times (as all of the astrologers are postulating), it has certainly been a fiery time for many of us recently.

One friend's home (and dog 😒) burned down during the Carr Fire in Redding CA on or near the last eclipse two weeks ago. She is a renter without insurance and no cushionand only social security for an income, since she was doing a work trade for rent. If you are feeling charitable and have a few dollars to donate, here is her go fund me campaign.

And on Wednesday (8/8), I nervously watched the firefighters (from the hill above their station at my nanny job) respond to a large nearby wildfire on Black Mountain. The kids and I watched many trucks, helicopters and planes rush to the scene. After work I hiked up a hill to view the billowing clouds of smoke in the distance and give thanks that it did not spread to my home.

I took this shadow selfie up on the hill observing and respecting the fire

You may not be in jeopardy by flames, but you may be feeling the heat of other difficult challenges right now.

If so, why not take this opportunity of this propitious occasion of this last eclipse of 2018 or go out tonight to a dark place to view the Perseids Meteor Showers (should be excellent viewing with the new moon!) and wish upon a falling star. Or invent your own special occasion --perhaps a celebration of your newly reorganized sock drawer as your token gesture to create order in a chaotic world!

Find some reason to embrace this moment and honor any darkness, burning or chaos. And then infuse this time with the power of your intention to give thanks for whatever blessings you are experiencing and begin a new chapter in your life story.

After this next busy week, I will start a new chapter with my day job and begin the last year of the decade of my fabulous 50s. It's been a very full summer of work/play and my 50s have been the best years of my life so far, so I'm eagerly anticipating this next year.

My hours will be much shorter this school year, so I will be highly motivated and will finally have time to return the creation of the game of Sparks & Leaps!

Last night my employers surprised me with a love and gratitude filled card (with both hilarious and heart melting comments from the boys) and a very generous gift in honor of my one year anniversary with them.

Here is the first picture I ever took of my fearless little adventurers one year ago. I am feeling wonder and gratitude for how life has unfolded so far and curious what will happen next!























Thursday, July 12, 2018

😼The Triumph of the Cat Over the Dogs🐢


If you are not experiencing any inner turmoil today, then you can just enjoy the funny story at the beginning of my offering to you today and file the rest away for a time when you might need it.

But if things feel extra intense right now, perhaps because of the unfolding circumstances in the collective, perhaps because of these extraordinary astrological circumstances*,  or perhaps you're just having one of those days, I hope this blog from the 2015 July New Moon will help.

I am at the tail end of three overflowing weeks of adventures including just returning from eight days of travel last night, so rather than write a new post I am sharing one of my favorite old ones. I hope you enjoy "The Big Scary Kitty of Doom".

And I hope that if you celebrated the Fourth of July, or if you are planning to celebrate the other red white and blue, revolutionary July holiday of Bastille Day on Saturday, that it was/is fun.

I was at Prairie Creek Redwoods on the 4th, on my way to see my mama!

* Here is an excerpt from Mystic Mamma about this potent New Moon. Whether or not you believe in astrology, this might ring true for you. It sure does for me!
Feelings that have been dormant in the underworld of our psyches, are returning to us like waves rising toward the shore.
The past is knocking on our door, not because it has come back to haunt us, but because it has come back to heal us.
There is a part of our lives that we have disconnected from because it has left a deep wound. 
These are the imprints that we would rather forget as we continue to move rapidly into our future. But sometimes, the cycles of Life turn to bring these pieces from our past back into our present for reconciliation and healing.
The reclaiming of our past is our soul’s retrieval of power. It’s the reconnaissance of all our orphaned parts back into ourselves, back into who we are now.
And who we are now is precisely because of the past we have lived, not in spite of it.
As individuals and as a culture, we need to make amends with where we’ve been. Our histories are all marked with stories of abuse of power and we all fall somewhere within the spectrum. 
I took this photo on the 4th on the beach at Crescent City.



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

πŸ’₯πŸš‚ Slo-mo Trainwreck or Miracle in Progress? πŸ’«

I like "Miracle in Progress"

Is there anything in your life that appears to be a potential train wreck? Or perhaps you are watching someone else's impending train wreck (or looking at the world at large!) peeking through your fingers...

Unlike an actual wreck, it is possible to derail a train of thought before a crash occurs and changing stories can avert disasters. I have had success with this in the past and watched many others pull off a miracle against all odds.

So I'm hoping to do it again and I invite you to ride along with me-- or at least watch from the sidelines.

πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ

In my last Full Moon post, I shared some of my old and new stories about my loooong process of creating my life's work.

My old stories are not very nice ones --about as reassuring as Harry Potter's Boggarts and Dementors telling bedtime stories (which helps explain the periodic insomnia that has slowed my progress of creation). And while I would like to say my stories just disappeared *poof* when I brought them out into the light; such is not the case.

They're definitely nowhere near as powerful as they were when they were hidden in the dark, but I've been telling myself variations of these stories for over 50 years, and those neural path ways (or well traveled train tracks) are pretty well grooved.

Although I am open to the possibility of them going *poof*, I am also willing to give them my full attention so I can honor them and discover what gifts they have for me --even when they activate everything in my survival conditioning and sometimes make me feel despair and hopelessness over my prospects.

Once I have listened to them in this way, I can then create newer stories that are equally if not more true. And when I do this, the way I move forward changes.

My intention in sharing this process with you is is not to over-share to get attention and/or pity. Nor am I trying to elicit your encouragement.

Part of the reason I am putting myself through this process of publicly exposing my insecurities, is because it helps me release the need to try to win love and/or approval with a sparkly façade.

I admit I still want everyone to adore me, but even though it would be painful if my worst fears came true and everyone recoiled in horror because they believed my old stories about me too, I would rather lose that coveted warmth than to believe that only a false version of me is worthy of love.

Also, my hope is that ifwhen I actually am successful (hopefully sooner rather than later!), it will give courage to others who are wasting a ridiculous amount of energy trying so hard to hide what they believe to be their worst selves.

And just maybe whoever reads my tales will be inspired to offer their much needed unique gifts to the world as well.

If my miracle is successful, and you need one too, I invite you to give changing your stories a try! Maybe we can even change some BIG stories about our world.

Or possibly these posts will serve as a cautionary tale of a train wreck! Either way, I hope my process will have served you well!


There are so many polished-shiny-bright people with their PhD's from Harvard, perfect bodies, six-figure incomes and their New York Times bestseller books giving you the message that 🀩"you can do it!"πŸ˜€

But they're already successful, so it's a bit more of a leap of faith to imagine that you can achieve similar heights (unless you already have --in which case, let me offer you my congratulations!)

Yes, what they have to offer is valuable (I have certainly benefited greatly from the teachings of many such mentors) and it is obviously highly motivating, in that perhaps if you follow their 7 steps/ 4 pillars/10 rules/ money back guaranteed 12 module programs or whatever it is that they are offering, you too might be able to duplicate their success.

I have diligently followed the advice of so many luminaries, and yet, here's my current reality:

I'm pushing 60, divorced, in debt, and working as a part time nanny. Not exactly what most people are aspiring to achieve or willing to pay me money to learn how I did it!

Furthermore, despite my best efforts, I'm continually fumbling, bumbling and stumbling. But I am still showing up. I am still doing my very best to keep the faith even when I feel discouraged by the disparaging internal voices narrating my old stories and when I encounter the myriad stumbling blocks Life continues to present.

Maybe hearing my stories of the challenges I have undergone and my fears of what could transpire in my life if I fail to do what I have set out to do does not seem that harrowing to you, but to me this is what it feels like:

Okay I'm not as hot as Lara Croft, but there weren't any video game images of middle-aged nannies courageously persevering against all odds to create a game that will save the world! Plus I liked the background ship wreck.


AND I have New Stories ✨πŸ“’✨that are equally if not more true than the old ones. Here are a few (and more here):


My New Story ✨πŸ“’✨ about pushing 60 is that my 50s have been the happiest years of my life so far, and I have one more year left in this decade.  My life just seems to continue to be getting better and better. I actually kind of like the idea been an eccentric old bat or maybe even be a wise elder someday. My wrinkles and stray gray hairs don't bother me and while I would be delighted to shed a few pounds, sleep easier and eliminate some aches and pains, I wouldn't trade this time for any of the previous ones I have lived. Not even close!

My New Story ✨πŸ“’✨ about being divorced is that my surprise divorce was by far the greatest gift I've ever received! My 10 year marriage had its ups and downs, but even though my former husband was the greatest love of my life so far, and if you had asked me I would have told you that I wanted to continue that "comfortable", "secure" life forever, I am beyond grateful to not be married to him anymore and living that life.  I'm open to the possibility that there might be some other partner at some point, but for right now, I'm not looking. I love being single. Hanging out with me is so much fun! I have a great imagination and sense of adventure. I always know exactly what I most want to do and don't have to consult or persuade anyone else. I have a difficult time imagining wanting to give up even a tiny bit of this delicious freedom and whatever precious bits of solitude I can find in my overflowing new life. 

My New Story ✨πŸ“’✨about being in debt is that although I am not currently experiencing financial overflow, at this moment I have enough money to take care of my basic needs and a little bit more. I am grateful beyond words for all of the many blessings that I have. Plus, I have heard enough "rags to riches" stories to know that it is certainly possible for me to be more abundant as well if that is what I truly want. I do not aspire to live in a big house drive a fancy car, wear designer clothing, travel the world or have expensive jewelry. None of that appeals to me in the slightest. I would, however, like to pay off my debts, travel to visit loved ones and go on road trip adventures. I want to be able to continue to live here in this gorgeous place where I miraculously landed, eat pricey organic food and indulge in other self-care luxuries like my daily outings in the beauty of nature. I have faith that I will continue to be able to do so.


My New Story ✨πŸ“’✨ about my employment situation is that I love my job! The little boys that I care for in my nanny job are incredibly sweet and delightful companions. I get paid to cuddle, play, read stories, go on adventures and hike in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. And I have my mornings, evenings and weekends free. And who knows how this time I am spending with these little boys will affect their future?! Plus I'm learning a lot from them.

My New Story ✨πŸ“’✨ about the long slow train wreck of my plan to fulfill my life mission and create a sustainable livlihood is that it is, in fact, a miracle in progress!The game I am creating (and the amount of time it is taking) is all coming together perfectly. It will be something that anyone and everyone can do in their own idiosyncratic ways to discover the new stories, valuable gifts and transformational portals within their unique challenges --as well as within our shared collective experience. The game synthesizes tens of thousands of hours of reading, viewing, listening to and experiencing all that my voracious curiosity has insisted I explore on topics related to difficult life transitions.  Even though what I have created so far doesn't seem that impressive to my inner critics, considering how much I have I put into it, and how long it has taken, I get that I couldn't have done it any other way and it will continue to be a work in progress --just like life. Finding a way to allow players to engage in the easiest possible ways without being overwhelmed by information overload and yet entice them to dive as deep as they want has been a bit tricky! Especially given my quirky skill set, health challenges, and a variety of "dragons" that have served to keep my game of creating this game interesting and ultimately beneficial to my personal evolution.  After all, how interesting and character forming of an adventure would it be if it were a total cakewalk for me --and what what I have to offer you if everything had come easily to me?! I trust it will be worth the wait and come together in the best timing for me and for whoever wants to play.
So, here I am sending you this blog post on the last New Moon of spring (and according to the astronomers and astrologers, it's a powerful super moon), which I had once again hoped was finally going to be an announcement of my latest offering --rather than another post about why I have not finished yet.

Just think of it like the continuing Star Wars series. It wouldn't have been very exciting to watch Luke Skywalker walk easily up to Darth Vader in the first movie, give him a hug and say let's be friends, and then watch the two of them stroll off arm in arm into the sunset, talking about what a great New World they will build together.

My game is not done, but I'm getting closer everyday to at least having the basic structure in place. If you would like me to send you what I have so far and offer your feedback, I would be delighted to share it with you I'm grateful for any input you might have. You can be a part of my miracle!

πŸ¦„πŸ¦„πŸ¦„


Send an email to michelle@sparksandleaps.com with the subject heading "Send Me the Game!".

And if you are one of those who volunteered to be an ally for me as I play my game of creating my game, I will be sending you instructions on how to do so (if you are still game) very soon.


Photo of middle-aged nanny (dressed as the Queen of Chaos) taming a dragon.















Monday, May 14, 2018

πŸ‘―‍♀️What If The Hokey Pokey Really IS What It's All About?!πŸ•Ί


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Chances are pretty good that you, someone you love, your country, your planet, or possibly all of the above; are in the middle of some serious challenges.

You might think this calls for serious measures.

YES, you absolutely need to pay serious attention to what is happening--vs adopting an ostrich like strategy.

YES, you may need to take serious and responsible actions -- keeping in mind responsible means "able to respond" vs reactivity. Also keeping in mind that "fixing" what is broken is not always the most responsible action. Sometimes the most serious and responsible thing to do is to spend quiet time doing nothing "productive" and just appreciating what shows up in the broken places.

YES (no one likes this part but it is absolutely essential), you will need to feel all the seriously unpleasant feelings associated with serious challenges to the best of your imperfect, current ability-- vs the ever popular strategy of getting a fix from your addiction of choice to numb and escape from the pain.

Forgive yourself if you make this choice, but know it is like an exorbitantly high interest credit card from which no bankruptcy can stop the inexorable requirement of repayment.

Slapping on a happy face πŸ˜ƒ and/or doing a spiritual bypass to pretend to yourself and the world that everything is just hunky-dory, may seem like the right thing to do, and sometimes it is the best you can do to cope. But ultimately, this is also a serious mistake.

YES, there are times when you need to get serious and "put on your big girl panties" or "man up" for a short time in circumstances where falling apart is not an option.

AND serious measures will only take you so far.

Sometimes you need to play The Hokey Pokey. Maybe not literally, (my sincere apologies to all of you who now have this ear worm burrowing into your brain), but relaxing, being silly and irrational, playing games, dancing, singing, shaking things around, connecting with others in a circle, will all serve you surprisingly well when you are in the middle of a serious challenge.



The ever increasing number of scientific studies (especially in neuroscience), teachings from respected thought leaders and the ancient wisdom traditions from around the globe (with all of the associated merry celebrations/holidays/holy-days), as well as the personal experiences of countless individuals (including myself), all show the benefits of the same kinds of tactics that The Hokey Pokey is all about.

If The Hokey Pokey (or whatever preferable creative equivalents you can devise) can positively impact physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health, perhaps you might want to try playing with putting different parts of yourself forward and back, not worrying about if you get it wrong, shake things up in your usual strategies, and turn yourself around!

To quote Jimmy Buffet:
"Maybe it's all too simple for our brains to figure it out. What if the hokey pokey is all it really is about"

I could explore further possible philosophical dimensions of the Hokey Pokey, but I am seriously busy and delightfully playing with the creation of my own game of Sparks & Leaps, which is slowly and beautifully coming together!

I am beyond excited that I finally discovered a way to combine all of the cool stuff I have learned in a fun and easy game, that starts off super simple and allows for pretty much infinite levels of skill development.

The game will enable players to not just more gracefully navigate the ever accelerating changes in the world, but actually welcome and use these challenges for their personal evolution as well as contributing in a more positive way to supporting planetary transformation.

Yes, these are big promises from a nanny in multicolored twirly outfits advocating the Hokey Pokey,   celebrating obscure holidays and (if you have read previous blogs) encouraging mythical journeys and the wisdom of fairytales.  But strange times call for strange methods and strange people!





Optional silly musings
about the Hokey Pokey in relation to this week's holidays for those who want a longer read. OR scroll to bottom for video version of this New Moon Blog post. 


Shavuot (a Jewish holy day whose timing varies each year and depends on a complicated series of calculations related to the moon) originally came from an ancient grain festival in which the Hokey Pokey would fit in perfectly with the celebratory seasonal dances!

Also, Jews eat dairy treats on this holiday, and one of the theories of the origin of Hokey Pokey (which is called Hokey Cokey in the UK) is that it is based on an ice cream treat called the Hokey Cokey.

Pentecost (a Christian holy day which is related to Shavout, and often falls on the same day but not always) celebrates when the Holy Spirit came down and allowed everyone who would normally not have been able to understand each other to speak a common language*. Also known as speaking in tongues.

There are some who claim that the origin of the phrase Hokey Pokey came from hocus-pocus which
"is said to be a Puritan parody of the Latin "hoc est enim corpus meum" or "this is my body" used by Catholic priests to accompany the transubstantiation during mass...and the dance came from the days when priests celebrated mass with their backs to the congregation and whispered the Latin words of consecration with many hand movements."

So maybe skip doing the Hokey Pokey if you happen to be celebrating Pentecost at a Catholic church this year.

Ramadan (a Muslim holy-day begins on the first sighting of the moon this month and continues until the next New Moon is cited ) is a very serious holiday with fasting etc.  I love the Sufi branch of the Muslim religion. Not only because they "turn themselves about" in their trademark dance of ecstasy, but that is definitely a factor!


* While I'm not likely to join a Pentecostal church and handle venomous serpents, 🐍I really love the idea of a dove flying down πŸ•Šand miraculously allowing us to actually be able to hear and understand each other better.

Even those of us who speak the same language, often seem to be unable to truly hear what others are saying. I think that in our hearts we have the common language of love and wish for peace. We just say it differently and have different ways of accomplishing what we believe.

And even though many of the holy rituals that are celebrated around the world are very different, they also have common roots. I believe with all my heart that if we could sing, dance, celebrate,
and play together, and perhaps dance The Hokey Pokey, we could find common ground much more easily. We need that common ground to survive and thrive together right now!

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

πŸ’ŠEverything is Medicine.πŸ’‰


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Are you ready for me to give you all the right answers about how to be totally physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally healthy?

Because I have spent way more than the requisite 10,000 hours it supposedly takes to become an expert on anything. I have been researching and practicing each one of those aspects of health obsessively for years. I totally deserve at least two or three PhD's.

Okay, I might have seemed just a tad insufferable at times (especially in regards to nutrition), BUT I KNOW MORE THAN YOU and I have cutting edge science and renowned spiritual teachers throughout the ages to support my theories.

So just pull up a seat near my feet and I will enlighten you. You're welcome.


Just letting you know that the irony of the following has not escaped me and I am a bit more humble than when I kind of thought I knew it all.

I, who have shunned almost everything that can be put in or on the body which is not organic and sustainable (and all of the other ultra-healthy buzzwords) and

I, who no longer smoke or drink alcohol (yes, I formerly smoked organic cigarettes and drank organic alcohol) or take any kind of drugs (including over-the-counter) and

I, who have all kinds of lovely spiritual practices and

I, who hike and dance every day in the healing beauty of nature and

I, who have been trying so hard to do  everything "right" (the list goes on and on)...

I have been struggling with insomnia and put on 50 pounds in the past few years. And, I have been sick nearly steadily for the past 11 weeks with cold and flu viruses as well as experiencing a variety of miscellaneous aches, pains and mysterious, distressing symptoms.

Me at work last week, sick and beyond exhausted, with severe pain in my right foot, but dancing anyway.
I have so wanted to blame all of my current set of problems on the insomnia, thus exonerating me from the fear of doing something wrong and inevitable punishment, because it is not my fault that I have this issue and I have done everything possible to correct it.

But resisting, fixing, and blaming are missing the point. These strategies make this condition into a villain rather than a helpful friend.

What we resist, persists, so even though my survival conditioning (which flips automatically into Fight/flight/freeze when there is pain) screams RESIST and FIX (or get a numbing fix), I am doing my flawed best to welcome these visitors with curiosity, humor and kindness.

I believe the anxieties underlying these issues (especially the insomnia) have origins in younger parts of me and that helps me be kinder. AND to be more understanding of the invalid, immature beliefs that underlie the fears.

I am not passive in the face of that which causes harm. I can listen to these abandoned orphans of my psyche and invite them to be on my team, but they don't get to drive the bus! Similarly, any symptoms that truly threaten my survival, will be addressed by whatever means are necessary.

I'm sure lack of sleep probably helped turn my formerly rock star immune system into a welcome mat for every passing bug which then wreaked havoc with my already precarious finances. And doubtless, insomnia contributed significantly to my weight gain which in turn exacerbated my other physical issues.  All of which, of course, caused anxiety and contributed to more insomnia.

AND it is equally if not more true that the insomnia, and all of the other related physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial issues have invaluable gifts to offer.

I am still unpacking these gifts and putting them together (kind of like a really complicated piece of furniture from IKEA that you know is going to look great).



But the most important piece is this jumble in front of me right now is that "everything is medicine". I have been saying this in a variety of different ways in my blogs for years, but let me share with you blurbs from a blog that landed in my email last week.

In her blog on 4/3/18, Dr. Lissa Rankin said:

Through the lens of “everything is medicine,” physical symptoms may even be perceived as a gift, a message from the Universe that helps you get back on track...
This isn’t to say that you caused your illness or that all illness has psycho-spiritual roots. Some traumas to the system are external, like when you live next to a toxic waste dump or are filling your body with toxic food or poisoning substances. But this opens a portal of inquiry that allows your physical illnesses and accidents to become messages from your soul. If disease or pain is here with a message for you, are you receiving the message?

Later in the blog Dr Rankin quotes from the new book that just came out entitled "The Sacred Science" By Nick Polizzi

There is a principle I learned from the shamans ...: Everything is medicine.
 I’m not saying you should take a spoonful of Elmer’s Glue to cure your cold. It’s more figurative than that. What native healers are getting at is that everything that happens to you in this life, every single moment, good or bad, has a lesson to teach you.  
 Everything that has ever happened to you and will ever occur around you can be seen through one of two lenses: medicine or poison. It’s totally your choice, but your mindset will determine which choice you make. 
Healing crystals, ritual objects and magical elixirs from a Shaman

Another fascinating perspective on this concept of "everything is medicine" is the recent book by Dr Joe Dispenza entitled "You are the Placebo", in which he
" shares numerous documented cases of those who reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even the tremors of Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo. Similarly, Dr. Joe tells of how others have gotten sick and even died the victims of a hex or voodoo curse—or after being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness. Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies to try to exclude the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs."
What if the "spoonful of Elmer's Glue" that Nick Polizzi mentioned above, could cure my maladies and "repair" all that is "wrong" with me better than the most tried and true conventional and holistic remedies if someone convinced me it was a magical healing substance?

What if the reason all of the myriad remedies I have tried (including various practices and healing modalities as well as machines, pills and potions) have been ineffective is because deep down, I don't currently believe that there is a fix that will work for me?

What if one the reasons for my lack of faith is because on some level I understand that as distressing as these symptoms have been, it's not about making them go away, but of paying attention to the messages/gifts they are bringing me?

And what if it is more beneficial to explore and celebrate the cracks in what is broken than to fix and erase/hide them?

Wabi Sabi - highlighting  and celebrating beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. OR As Leonard Cohen says, "There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in." 
These are some of the pieces I have currently have spread out before me that are causing me to wonder --in both senses of that word.

I would rather get a root canal by a hungover dental student reeking of the previous nights jello shots in a room full of angry hornets while watching I Love Lucy reruns at full volume than attempt to assemble anything from IKEA.

But I love puzzling over the chaotic mess of broken pieces of my life and combining them with the heartbreakingly, beautiful pieces from the stories of others broken lives (and every single truly compelling success/healing story has these pieces) with the intention of creating something that inspires a more heart-centered, trusting, adventurous and joyful approach in the midst of life's most difficult times.

I may not have all of the "right answers" for you, because first of all, I don't think there are any black and white "right answers" -- just a whole lot of mind blowing paradoxes. Furthermore, all of us are unique and ever-evolving and living in a world where change is accelerating at a bewilderingly astronomical pace.

But I hope you find some of what I am learning helpful in creating your mosaic. I would love to hear what you are learning, if you are willing to share in the comment section below.

We all have pieces to contribute. Whether or not you choose to share publicly what you have discovered that is essential for you right now, I encourage you to at least think about what feels true and write it down or speak it out loud to someone today.

We are all in this amazing time together.

Artist : Laurel True

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

🧚‍♀️ Magic in the Mists ☘️



A misty photo I took here in NorCal, not Ireland.
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My maternal grandmother was a hibernophile. She loved all things Irish, including the vile liqueur called Irish Mist that she proudly kept in a Waterford Crystal decanter. Truly vile!

I celebrated many a St Patrick's Day and attended many a Catholic mass with her, but I am far more intrigued by the older Celtic/ Pagan/ Druidic religions that dwelt in the magical mists of Ireland's past. And I think Grandma Peg was strongly influenced by this as well.

My horoscope from the unconventional astrologer, Rob Brezsny* for last week was right on target.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In his book *Whistling in the Dark,* author 
Frederick Buechner writes that the ancient Druids took "a special interest in in-between things like mistletoe, which is neither quite a plant nor quite 
a tree, and mist, which is neither quite rain nor quite air, and dreams, 
which are neither quite waking nor quite sleep
." According to my reading 
of the astrological omens, in-between phenomena will be your specialty in 
the coming weeks. You will also thrive in relationship to anything that 
lives in two worlds or that has paradoxical qualities. I hope you'll exult in the educational delights that come from your willingness to be teased and 
mystified.

I have been totally consumed with the topic of in-between places and paradoxes for some time now, but even more so recently. I am particularly interested in to how to be non-judgmental, compassionate and inclusive and AND have good boundaries with those who inflict harm.)

This escalated to a near obsession just prior to reading this horoscope due to several highly stressful AND ultimately instructive and helpful (for me) life situations involving loved ones engaged in conflicts.

So I decided to use this "magically delicious" ☘️πŸ’—πŸŒ™ New Moon to share a little bit about the paradoxical new land that I'm adding to the developing game of Sparks & Leaps. I am calling it "The Land of And".

I recently read that the ampersand is a broken infinity sign

In case you have not read any of my previous posts, I have been using the theme of the Hero/ine's Journey (which is the theme of a huge number of our best loved stories from ancient times to popular culture's Blockbuster movies and best-selling books) as a way of exploring those in-between places where an old life or way of life is ending (or recently over) and the new one is still a mystery.

Joseph Campbell called the place in the Hero's Journey after you cross over the threshold from the ordinary world; The Special World. Charles Eisenstein describes what he calls The Space Between Stories (in reference to our world right now). SARK calls it the Marvelous Messy Middle. William Bridges in his enormously popular and practical book Transitions, calls it the Neutral Zone. Lewis Carroll called it Wonderland.

There are other names for it as well, but what is noteworthy is that in all of these places, the usual rules of the "ordinary world" do not apply. Paradoxes are around every turn in the path in this misty, mystical, mysterious and often maddening territory.

I came up with the "The Land of And", because there is usually an "and" (sometimes looks like a "but") between the two seemingly contradictory truths found in paradoxes.

That "and" spot in-between the two truths can be a confusing and uncomfortable tight place AND it is a zone where magic and transformative alchemy can take place.

Snake making the infinity sign (photographer: Mark Laita)
NOT one of the ones St Patrick exiled!


Transformative alchemy takes us far out of our comfort zone sometimes into excruciating pain. Think about the heat it takes to melt metals, the pressure it takes to form a diamond or the bug soup stage of the caterpillar.πŸ΅πŸ›

Pain, fear and confusion cause our survival conditioning and consumer culture to warn us frantically of 🚫danger πŸ›‘ AND it is the only way to evolve so that we can reach the miraculous New World that is waiting for us. πŸ¦‹

The list of paradoxes in everything from philosophy to quantum physics and many more mundane topics about how to live our day-to-day lives is a long one.

Playing Sparks & Leaps will not solve all of the paradoxical mysteries of life (and I will explain later why this is a good thing), but it will offer alternative ways to find your way when you find yourself in the "The Land of And".

In the meantime, as I am putting the game together, if you find yourself in a confusing time of transition, I invite you to do your best to be present with the discomforts that you find there (rather than trying to figure out how to fix your problems or make the pain go away with your favorite addictive fix) AND to RELAX and soften your resistance--even when that feels impossible.

I promise you will find magic there if you can do this. Don't forget to enlist allies to support you.


Photo credit: Matthew Harvey


Saint Patrick was credited with driving to snakes out of Ireland, and some say that those snakes actually were those who followed the old religions.

Whether or not you believe that 🐍,  or in the banished Little People🧚‍♂️, or like to drink green beer 🀒 or think Irish Mist is delicious, or believe St Pats Day is a rebranding of the Vernal Equinox (🌸FIRST DAY OF SPRING ON TUESDAY🌷), I hope you have a fun time celebrating. Wear green and smile 😁 at everyone you see who is similarly attired! A sweet and fun way to connect. πŸ’š

And if you discover a pot of alchemical gold at the end of a rainbow following a perfect life storm; may it bring you richly deserved blessings. 🌈

Best to be respectful to any little people you might meet. Just in case!

* Rob Brezsny is also the author of one of my favorite books of all time: Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, Revised and Expanded: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

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