Wednesday, June 13, 2018

๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿš‚ Slo-mo Trainwreck or Miracle in Progress? ๐Ÿ’ซ

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.

๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™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 faรงade.

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 ๐Ÿคฉ"you can do it!"๐Ÿ˜€

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 ✨๐Ÿ“’✨that are equally if not more true than the old ones. Here are a few (and more here):


My New Story ✨๐Ÿ“’✨ 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 ✨๐Ÿ“’✨ 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 ✨๐Ÿ“’✨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 ✨๐Ÿ“’✨ 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 ✨๐Ÿ“’✨ 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!

๐Ÿฆ„๐Ÿฆ„๐Ÿฆ„


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

๐Ÿ‘ฏ‍♀️What If The Hokey Pokey Really IS What It's All About?!๐Ÿ•บ


IF YOU PREFER A VIDEO VERSION TO READING, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM.

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 ๐Ÿ˜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, ๐ŸI really love the idea of a dove flying down ๐Ÿ•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!

VIDEO VERSION OF BLOG

Sunday, April 15, 2018

๐Ÿ’ŠEverything is Medicine.๐Ÿ’‰


PREFER VIDEO VERSION TO READING? SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF POST.

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

VIDEO VERSION OF THIS BLOG














Saturday, March 17, 2018

๐Ÿงš‍♀️ Magic in the Mists ☘️



A misty photo I took here in NorCal, not Ireland.
DON'T LIKE TO READ? SCROLL DOWN TO BOTTOM OF POST FOR VIDEO VERSION

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" ☘️๐Ÿ’—๐ŸŒ™ 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.๐Ÿต๐Ÿ›

Pain, fear and confusion cause our survival conditioning and consumer culture to warn us frantically of ๐Ÿšซdanger ๐Ÿ›‘ AND it is the only way to evolve so that we can reach the miraculous New World that is waiting for us. ๐Ÿฆ‹

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 ๐Ÿ,  or in the banished Little People๐Ÿงš‍♂️, or like to drink green beer ๐Ÿคข or think Irish Mist is delicious, or believe St Pats Day is a rebranding of the Vernal Equinox (๐ŸŒธFIRST DAY OF SPRING ON TUESDAY๐ŸŒท), I hope you have a fun time celebrating. Wear green and smile ๐Ÿ˜ at everyone you see who is similarly attired! A sweet and fun way to connect. ๐Ÿ’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. ๐ŸŒˆ

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

VIDEO VERSION OF BLOG

Thursday, February 15, 2018

๐Ÿ˜€Friend or Foe๐Ÿ˜ก?



It sure looked like a foe!

The attack was sudden and hit me on all fronts (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial) with particularly horrid timing.

I saw it coming and I put up formidable defenses, confident that I would prevail.

But I went down. WAY down.

And now, over two weeks later I am just starting to pick up the pieces and assess what's next.

The first thing I did as I crawled out my bed, was to attempt to reframe my foe as a friendly ally.

After all, I sent out a call in my last post for allies for the game I am creating *and one of the key components of the game is to transform challenges and "enemies" into allies.

How perfect that I received this opportunity to not only practice what I preach but to also learn about what works and what does not in seeking support. Especially given that creating a supportive team is another important part of the game.

It turns out that the flu, (or possibly two flus --one that hit my chest and sinuses with a fever and sapped every drop of my normally effervescent energy and the other that wreaked havoc with my digestive system), brought me some truly precious gifts. For real!




Nothing happened the way I planned. I certainly would not have asked for the flu or for the many repercussions. And I'm still in the process of learning the lessons and appreciating the gifts, but the lessons and gifts are definitely there.

In my next post, I will reveal what I learned, and how it can benefit you.

In the meantime if you are one of the many people in my network experiencing intense times, or if you are just feeling the stress of so many (and not just humans) in the larger world in crisis, I invited you to consider the possibility that the foes in your life, might just be friends in disguise.

I also want to remind you that this week, (2/11-2/17) is Random Acts of Kindness Week. If you are having a rough time, one of the best remedies is to do kind things for others. Even tiny acts will help you as well as those who will benefit from your kindness. I promise!

Also, in addition to Valentine's Day, it was Mardi Gras, and the important Hindu holiday of Mahashivaratri and Ash Wednesday-- which marks the beginning of Lent.

Today there is a solar eclipse , the Buddhist holiday of Nirvana Day, and the very ancient Pre-Roman festival of Lupercalia.

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year (the year of the Earth Dog) and Losar (Tibetan New Year) begins on the same day this year.

Another surprising remedy for difficult times is to connect (even if only in your heart, or by a small gesture like eating with chopsticks tomorrow and thinking of how many millions are doing the same), to others who are celebrating the natural cycles of life.

Aside from the commercial Hallmark holiday of Valentine's Day, all of these holy days are connected to natural cycles. They remind us that Life is filled with cycles within cycles.

Light  becomes dark and dark becomes light. Love and gifts come to us and loss is inevitable.

And we are all in this together.

I am not suggesting that you pretend everything is one giant party or that you should not use caution in the face of danger.

I am however, unequivocably stating, that no matter what you are experiencing, you can help yourself and others by creating opportunities to connect in kindness and adopting a spirit of curiosity as to the possible gifts from even the worst possible "foes".

Artist link

* ๐Ÿ’žFor those of you who responded to my call for allies after my last post with messages of support, I can't even begin to tell you how much that meant to me. I started crying with an answered longing I did not even know I was feeling.

I will be in touch soon with clear, easy, quick options for how to participate. For those of you who are just seeing it now, click this link, it's not too late --I would be thrilled if you want to play with me!

Sorry, no video this post. The timing of my almost-but-not-quite-complete recovery and all that is clamoring for immediate attention after over two weeks of neglect did not allow for me to create one.

Update: last night after the first day that I was feeling almost back to normal (or as normal as I get!), I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. It was much easier to befriend the flu in retrospect, thinking it was on its way out, then to have it as a lively companion again. Especially since I have dear friends (whom I enjoy hanging out wit a lot more than this one!) coming into town to see me this weekend from Minnesota. So once again, I am being given the opportunity to show that I really mean what I say about befriending seeming foes. You have my attention, my friend!
















Tuesday, January 16, 2018

๐ŸญRATS! Another failed New Year's resolution. ๐Ÿพ


SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR VIDEO VERSION OF THIS BLOG

If your effervescent hope for a fresh start on New Year's Day has fizzled like flat, stale champagne, you're not alone.

And if styling the fur of decomposing rats* or rubbing your head with a cheese grater sounded more useful and enjoyable than torturing yourself with another exercise in futility (like a fat-free diet combined with 6:00 a.m. fitness bootcamp), so you just skipped the whole resolution plan, you are definitely not alone!

Perhaps you are that rare breed, (like the hairless Guinea Pig pictured above, but hopefully more attractive) who is actually rocking that New Year's resolution and will continue to do so. If so, I congratulate you as being one of the 8%! ๐Ÿฅ‚

I am happy to report that I have kept my resolution --which was to not make a New Year's resolutions this year.

Believe it or not, this is much more difficult than it sounds. I have an abundance of extremely compelling issues that cry out for resolution. I so want to try again to do what I have always done (never mind that it always eventually fell short) --which is to try and fix my problems with some new angle/gimmick/miracle program.

I have fabulous will power and am willing to work hard, so I always believe that surely this time I will figure out the way to force lasting change.



And I am a sucker for the concept of new beginnings like a New Year. This is where The New Moon Blog got it's name, since a fresh start every month is so appealing!

However, I have learned a thing or two about failures and new beginnings over the years. And one of those things is that any changes I try to make happen with the underlying premise of needing to "fix" what is "wrong" with hard work is doomed to fail.

Sooner or later, that fear based motivation and serious drudgery will sabotage even my most sincere and diligent efforts.

So, in two weeks, I will be offering myself up as a Guinea Pig for a fun experiment and inviting you to play along with me.



What's in it for you?

I hope you will benefit greatly, first from being a part of what I am doing (either by witnessing or actively participating) and then, once I have had a chance to fine tune it, to get to try it yourself.

I anticipate that this game will work for any challenge you are facing and will be a-MAZE-ingly helpful if you feel lost, confused, and hopelessly stuck in the middle of a mysterious world (what Charles Eisenstein calls "The Space Between Stories" and SARK calls "The Marvelous Messy Middle") with no idea where to turn next.



If you receive my Full Moon posts, then you will find out more soon. If not, and you are curious, then send an email to michelle@sparksandleaps.com and I will put you on the list.

On 1/31/18 : The Blue Moon/Super Moon/Total Eclipse, I will reveal all!

Just in time for Groundhog Day †. Unless the Guinea Pig sees it's shadow.



*Attribution to one of my former nanny charges, Kaethe Schwehn who is now a grown up college professor, mother and published author, for the phrase "styling the fur of decomposing rats" which I just read on one of her FB posts today in reference to an unenjoyable task. I am so proud of her! And yes, I should probably offer to help pay for her therapy...

† I have a long and complicated history with this holiday which began 46 years ago (see link for story) and this year will mark the fifth new beginning I have created with Sparks & Leaps.

I might not have started out quite as cynical as Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day and I hope I will never end up as desperate as his character was to get unstuck, but I am counting on a happy ending to my story too!



CLICK FOR VIDEO VERSION OF THIS BLOG







Monday, December 18, 2017

☀️๐Ÿ•Ž๐ŸŒŸCelebrating Miracles ๐Ÿ’ธand Playing Games ๐ŸŽฒin Dark Times๐Ÿ•ฏ


Happy Winter Solstice

OUT OF THE DARK AND INTO THE LIGHT

Short on time?

Take Your Pick!

1. Update from my world.

2. Games to play in dark times (both this dark time of year and this dark time on the planet).


3. MY VIDEO WITH A SWEET LITTLE MIRACLE STORY.


1. Update from my world.


Didja miss me?

Here is why it's been quiet in my little blog world recently.

In this quiet time, I have had a delicious Sparks & Leaps concoction enticingly simmering and sometimes wildly bubbling. It has required sloooow brewing on a back burner rather than the quick formulation I was hoping for. I am doing my best to be patient and trust that will come together in perfect timing.

As I've been stirring that pot and adding pinches of this and that, I have been refreshing important life skills such as playing games, creating exciting adventures, reading and telling stories, exploring trails and secret playgrounds, singing, dancing, climbing trees and giant rocks and playground equipment, designing art projects, practicing photography, swinging and sliding, cuddling, and perfecting the art of blissful silliness.

The young masters (4 and 6), with whom I have been studying are excellent teachers.



I furiously resisted taking a nanny job to supplement my income while Sparks & Leaps was doing it's maddeningly slow thing.

I thought it was a step backward and would detract from my true mission in life.

Fortunately, it has turned out to be a source of incredible joy and delight. I decided when I took this job that I would be the best damn Nanny I could be, and I have truly been at the top of my game.

Although it's not a sustainable long term career for me at this point in my life, it is clearly the right thing for me to be doing right now. It is a wonder -full job that pays me to play!

I have also been volunteering in my community, and doing my very best to take good care of myself while offering kindness and compassion as much as I can to all I encounter in my world.

I am richly blessed and truly grateful.



And yet, with all this evidence that all is well and knowing I am doing my very best, I spend many hours in the middle of dark nights, reviewing all that seems wrong --in my world and the world at large. SO much rich shadow material!

I know I'm not the only one who experiences these kind of ruminations.  So I've been also using my dark nights to play with ways for all of us to discover what is good about this kind of experience and how to use it for our evolution.

In between trying to get enough sleep (despite insomnia) so that I can frolic with my little charges and keep up with the rest of my life, I have also been researching the astonishing benefits of playing games and am exploring how to turn in Sparks & Leaps into a game.



2. Games to play in dark times (both this dark time of year and this dark time on the planet). 

I highly recommend watching the video about the astonishing benefits of playing games, and taking some time to have some fun in the dark.

When things are dark and difficult, one surprisingly effective strategy (backed by tons of scientific as well as personal on the job research) is to celebrate the dark and have a little LIGHT hearted enJOYment.

Hopefully you can come up with your own inspirations, even if just practicing lurking in the dark with flashlights or playing your favorite boardgames by candlelight. But if not, here are some fun ideas. I can't wait to play the "Monsters" game. NOT just for kiddos! 

3. My Video with sweet little miracle story.

Wishing all of you peace, joy and many blessings during this holiday season. May your celebrations bring brightness to the long dark nights and may you have faith in the returning light. And remember it is in the dark where the most luminous miracles occur!


Photo by budding 4 year old photographer.








Monday, August 21, 2017

☀️Going Out With the Solar Eclipse ๐ŸŒ‘

Today's photo of the Solar eclipse (via my iPhone which could not capture the magic)

SCROLL DOWN TO BOTTOM FOR VIDEO VERSION OF BLOG

In my last full moon post, I explained why this new Moon blog would be my last one for at least the rest of the year and perhaps longer.

I've been writing faithfully every two weeks since June 2014 with the intention of sharing what I have been learning about natural cycles in life and the bright gifts of dark times.

So, this solar eclipse, (a time of light and dark, and a reminder of Nature's cycles as well as the second New Moon in my sign of Leo -- which makes it an astrological blue moon and the day after my birthday), seems like good timing for a reset and fresh start for me.

Many astrologers and spiritual teachers have been talking about how this particular eclipse is a powerful opportunity for a reset.

And coincidentally (or not!), I have recently been in the process of clearing out as many things from my life as I possibly can in order to create a fresh start in my life.

Therefore, I am taking a break from writing these posts.

Whether or not you went out to view the eclipse today and whether or not you believe in astrology or the significance of celestial events, you can still use this time as an opportunity to create a reset in your life.

Why not now?!

 It's as good of a time as any.

I assure you, that intentionally stopping and then starting again from a place of thoughtful reflection will help with whatever kind of issues you are facing in your world.

I am writing this after an intensely busy couple of weeks so I will keep this short. But just in case I do not resume writing to you, or it turns out to be a long break, I want to offer my gratitude for all who have taken the time to read my words (and/or view my videos) and especially to those who have been offering me thoughtful feedback.

Many blessings to all of you!

Photo of previous eclipse I witnessed on Mount Shasta -- with better camera.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

๐Ÿ˜ฎ Jaw-dropping Miracle ✨

I took this photo a few nights ago. 

FOR VIDEO VERSION OF BLOG, SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF POST

The text from a woman I met ONCE,  3 months ago,  arrived on my phone screen on the Monday evening of 7/10/17.

It read : "I can loan you $10k right now if you need it. All is going to work out and fall into place for you. Believe it. But let me know if you need a float. I have it."

She had read my last full moon post in which, after recounting my current life circumstances and including the quote from Einstein "The most important question you can ever ask is if the world is a friendly place", I asked for comments about why the readers believe the world is a friendly place.

I received an outpouring of sweet comments and offerings of support (including one from my mother that still makes me cry every time I read it), but my situation was far from resolved.

Earlier in the day, I had shared the Facebook post below, with the request "I could use some reminders of magic and miracles today. Whatcha got for me, friends?"


It turned out to indeed be a Monday of magic and miracles and so I am sharing my miraculous experience with you in the hopes that you can benefit as well.

Because if a miracle is possible for anyone then miracles are possible for everyone.

Here are some miracle tid-bits.

Oxford defines a miracle as "a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency"

The etymology of the word "miracle" is from mirari "to wonder at, marvel, be astonished,”... earlier smeiros..."to smile, laugh" (source also of Sanskrit smerah "smiling," Greek meidan "to smile,"

I like this definition from ACIM: "A miracle is just a shift in perception from fear to love."

This astonishing, marvelous, surprise and welcome event of the text out of the blue certainly made me smile and shifted my perception from fear to love.

I also learned the origin of the phrase "jaw-dropping", as my mouth literally kept falling open every few minutes that evening --a nice change from my recent tensely clenched jaw,  furrowed brow and tight shoulders. The benefits of relaxation cannot be overestimated.

Me shortly after receiving the text.

Furthermore, it felt Divine in nature to me, because this Deux Ex Machina ("a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of some new event") renewed my faith that rather than being alone in a cold, hard world, the Universe really does have my back.

I could not have planned or predicted this happy occurrence.

It makes me wonder what other unplanned blessings are on their way to me and on their way to you!

Those of you who are skeptical of all of this "miracle" and "friendly Universe" nonsense may think me delusional.

That's okay.

I have moments when I doubt all of that as well. But those moments, for me, tend to be my darker times, when I doubt myself and doubt many things that I increasingly know in my heart and deep in my bones to be true.

During those times, not only am I less happy, but my intuition is turned off, things do not flow well for me and I am less able to be productive. I also notice this heavier mood is contagious to others.

This is not to say that I (or you) should always be skipping blithely with sunny smiles. Dark and light times are part of the natural cycle of our lives.

And sometimes jaw-dropping surprises can be disastrous events. Both kind of surprises serve the purpose of getting our attention and raising vital questions.

✨Here's what I have observed about miraculous events (which often are preceded by those darker times) and magical synchronicities in my life : they have a cumulative effect!✨


I have experienced so many incredible and astonishing happenings, that it's getting harder to not believe them to be miraculous, even when I am feeling fearful.

This does not mean that I will lounge with my feet up waiting passively for more manna to fall from the heavens* or that nothing but happy miracles will come to me in the future.

I know some "blessings in disguise" await me. And some may be devastating. I deeply love a whole lot of people, all of whom I will lose to death (unless I go first). And there are of course many unforeseen tragedies and minor mishaps ahead.

But when I trust in the benevolent nature of all of these occurrences, I am able to relax just a little bit more every day and look for the gifts instead of feeling paralyzed by the fear of my survival conditioning.

The more I welcome what I believe to be miracles and define them as such, the more they come to me. They're also accompanied by ever-increasing joy and delight. Given my lifelong history of depression and anxiety, this definitely feels miraculous to me!

And what is even more miraculous is that I can find joyful and truly grateful moments even in the midst of my greatest fears.

May it be so for you as well.

I invite you to consider everything in your life so far that you could possibly define as a miracle --and then to invite more to come to you. You just never know what is possible!

On the day I took this photo  last week, I unexpectedly saw more whales and seals than I could count. I continue to celebrate the miracle of being alive and living here!

⬇️ Note for friends and family ⬇️


*I just accepted a part time nanny position. Full time would not have allowed me to pursue something more long term sustainable and would have been soul-crushing. Just living on that 10K (which I considered with the thought that I could devote every minute to creating the livelihood that is the best use of my quirky gifts) would have put too much pressure on figuring something out --FAST, which I've already learned is a total buzz kill!

So this is my compromise. I did NOT want to take another nanny job (for so many reasons), but I thought long and hard about it before making a one year commitment. It feels like the right thing to do, so I'm going to embrace it and be the best damn nanny I can possibly be!

I am also going to be making some changes in my overflowing life (especially in regards to screen time and extra curricular activities) for at least three months, to make room for both the new job and my creative process. I have been way too easily distracted by all of the wonderful people and enticing events in my world.

So please support me in being more still, focused and grounded, even if it means a little less connection with those of you who are my friends and family.

I know I've said this in the past and then always succumbed to the lures of engaging with emails, Facebook messages, texts, and invitations. Like the alcoholic falling off the wagon, I'm getting back on again. If you see me hanging out at the equivalent of the bar or the liquor store, feel free to gently remind me to go Home --to the present moment. Thank you!

On the day I took this photo last week, I was seeking clarity about the job situation so I hiked to the top of a big hill for a clearer view of the world. It worked! I am loving this Rumi quote lately, not just for my life but for all of us right now. 
























Friday, June 23, 2017

๐ŸŒžSenses and Non-sense to Find Light in the Dark๐ŸŒš

My photo of a wild place I had never been before. Life feels wild and new in many respects  lately, but not always this pretty!
VIDEO VERSION OF THIS BLOG BELOW. SCROLL DOWN TO BOTTOM.

At this time of the summer solstice, there is so much light and beauty. For me, and for many others, it has also been a time of difficult challenges.

The photo above was part of this recent Facebook post:

After a flurry of recent activity, I finally had a day to do some serious reevaluation. I made a humbling, heartbreaking and difficult decision to end something that was not working. It is a complete mystery to me what is next. I felt drained and miserable afterwards and so I headed for a big hill with the determination to go farther on that trail that I've ever been. By the time I reached the point where I decided to turn around, I was filled with indescribable joy. Given that it was a completely deserted wild trail, I danced and sang my way all the way down to the bottom. Nothing changed in my life circumstances, and I am still scared, but I feel more ready for whatever is around the corner.
I am not sharing this story with you (or re-sharing it if you saw on Facebook), with the intent of advising you to head for the nearest steep hill in your colorful twirly skirt and funny shoes to dance and sing (although I truly do think it could be life-changing for you -- especially if you're a conservative businessman! ๐Ÿ˜‰). 

This was from another day last week when I chose to follow my intuition rather than my original plan -a story filled with synchronicities and and insights that may bear interesting fruit. 

But I would like to encourage you to be creative and willing to try something unusual and perhaps even non-sense-ical, instead of (or perhaps in addition to) employing "sensible" strategies.

If whatever you do makes use of your five (or preferably six!) senses, this will help take you out of your busy mind, so you can hear your intuition better. Although eating a large quantity of chocolate or using any other kind of sensory experience to numb your discomfort will muffle that intuitive voice.

Spending time in nature and/or moving your body, especially if you can get your breath deepening, heart pumping and endorphins flowing is much more effective than sitting around miserably ruminating if you are looking for a way to shift your experience.

A willingness to go where you've never been before (metaphorically and/or literally) with a spirit of adventure, a lively curiosity and a sense of humor and humility will also help.
I can't guarantee that this approach will "fix" your "problems" --and I would also invite you to consider that whatever it is you're facing might not be problems in need of fixing.
But I can promise you that if you explore an alternative to worrying and working harder to figure out the perfect answer when nothing seems forthcoming, it will help you to relax and be more receptive to internal guidance.

And I can also promise you that from that more relaxed and guided state, you will be more able to discover next steps. And you will feel better!
Whatever you choose to do, to tap into your inner wisdom has to be authentic to you. Don't do anything just because it works for somebody else.

I truly can't even begin to convey the delight I felt in this moment --even in the midst of fear and uncertainty. 

This is totally a work in progress for me. I am still dancing with my shadow metaphorically as well as literally. I do not claim to be the guru of tuning into my senses and relaxing in the midst of difficult times.

My go-to strategy is still to tense up, resist, worry and try harder to figure out The Answers and control the situation --and when that fails, to overeat or find some other escape route. 
However, more and more, every time I recognize that I am caught up in my old and highly ineffective survival strategy and choose to do something different; magic happens. If you don't like the word magic, I can substitute "really cool astonishing occurrences" --including the alchemy of despair turning to joy.

I wish you a beautiful Super New Moon and a belated Happy Summer Solstice. I hope wherever you are and whatever your current life circumstances, (including extreme heat--literal or metaphorical) you are finding some of the joy of summer.

On the Solstice -- a quick stop at Stinson beach.

HERE IS THE VIDEO VERSION OF THIS BLOG