Saturday, March 17, 2018

๐Ÿงš‍♀️ Magic in the Mists ☘️

A misty photo I took here in NorCal, not Ireland.

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 

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


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


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 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!


Monday, December 18, 2017

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

Happy Winter Solstice


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).


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)


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. 


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!

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.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

๐Ÿฆ‹Wonder While Wandering and a Warning๐Ÿ›

Alice in Through the Looking Glass
Scroll down to the very short video at bottom if you prefer to view rather than read.

Seven years ago on June 1, 2010 I arrived in paradise by way of some astonishing synchronicities. But I would've never gotten here, nor would those synchronicities have happened, if I had not first dived into the depths of hell.

The beauty, magic, love, joy, and gratitude that I have experienced almost every single day since I began my new life here are also accompanied lately by big challenges, along with fear, resistance and a whole lot of instability, insecurity and uncertainty.

But I now trust (except for those moments when I don't!) that chaos and trials are the trail that leads to transformative evolution and undiscovered treasures.

So many aspects of myself and formerly highly unskillful behaviors transformed suddenly for the better after my descent into the underworld seven years ago. Other aspects are more slowly evolving.

Even with these many changes (some of which are pretty miraculous), I am still the marvelously messy mix of me that I have always been.

The cool thing is that I have grown to love and appreciate who I am, with all of my human "flaws" (like aspects on a gem that make it unique) and "sins" (an archery term that means to miss the mark).

This is a much more enjoyable way to live than my previous state of self-loathing and being obsessed with a relentless struggle to fix myself so that I could gain approval from outside myself.

But again, the path to this happier way of life was as a result of a miserable time of chaos.

This is how evolution happens. Not just for me, but for all of us. Think of how the caterpillar disintegrates into goopy bug soup (made of 'imaginal cells") before emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

Perhaps in this case "Stoned soup" ๐Ÿ˜‰

My life circumstances are bit precarious at the moment*, but I'm certainly not alone in this dilemma right now on the planet.  It is a scary and difficult time even for those who are in more stable circumstances than mine, and I foresee a rough patch ahead for all of us.

But I also believe that we (individually and collectively) are ready for the next stage of our evolution and that the rocky road through this sometimes terrifying territory is the only way.

If someone tries to assist an almost formed butterfly emerging from its chrysalis by cutting a larger hole with a scissors, this is not a helpful action. The butterfly develops it's ability to fly as a result of the struggle through the tiny aperture and could be deformed and flightless if everything was made "easy" for it.

This does not mean we should not offer assistance to those who are having a hard time, (we are all in this together and need to be as compassionate as we can to each other) but a certain amount of pain and challenge is necessary.

This journey is full of paradoxes that require paying close attention to each moment. This the function of crisis in our lives. 

Big shocks, surprising changes, painful endings and other disturbing events are very effective ways of getting our attention and moving us forward on our (essential, vital and non-optional) evolutionary path.

What I am discovering lately is that this quest through difficult terrain is not facilitated by demanding answers and fixes.  It is more about asking QUESTions with an open attitude of curiosity about what is happening and what lessons and gifts are possible.

It requires slowing down and cultivating trust, even when it seems imperative to speed up and work harder to make something happen.

This journey also needs a willingness to explore the messy middle ground as well as the jagged edges that appear at the brink of the abyss.

The warning is that this journey is dangerous. There are no guarantees of safe passage.

And the only way out is through.

You can temporarily avoid it, but this will only make it harder later. This I can safely promise you.

I can't promise that you will find bliss like I found in my little paradise. And there is no promise that I will continue to live as I have for this incredible seven years. The only constant is change.

But I offer you my experience and the wisdom I have gained from hearing and watching countless stories (fictional and real-life) of others who have followed the same kind of journey.

Whether a trip down the rabbit hole into a bewilderingWonderland with a jabberwocky and a capricious bloodthirsty ruler or a surprise divorce or any of the endless variations of our life (and death) stories, there is a discernible and reassuring cyclical pattern.

And one of the elements of this pattern is that there are treasures beyond measure to be found in the darkness.

So on this New Moon, the dark time of the cycle of the month, I offer hope to those of you who are feeling fear. And for those of you who are experiencing the magic, I celebrate with you. And if you are both feeling the fear and experiencing the magic, I welcome you to my world!

Adventures with wonderful little friends in Wonderland 

*in part due to my encounter with a service called Wondersitters which I invested ridiculous amounts of precious time to join in the hopes of picking up on-call child care jobs to supplement my finances. They are... um...not wonderful. ("They" can refer to both my finances and the owners of Wondersitters)

Although they do prompt the question of "I wonder if I or the hundreds of others who served their families will ever receive our money..." And the even more helpful question of "I wonder what the lessons and gifts in disguise are."

I am pondering the latter question in full faith that there are gifts AND spreading the word to prevent others from going down this rabbit hole.

The kids pictured above did not come to me not through Wondersitters but through a wonderful little synchronicity.

Here is the very short video.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

๐ŸฒHere There Be Dragons๐Ÿ‰


Where the hell is a knight in shining armor when I need him?! 

Or perhaps Queen Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, from Game of Thrones.

Or even a kid like Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon or the clever young Paper Bag Princess.

I could use any one of these character with good dragon wrangling skills to assist me with some that are visiting me. 

I am welcoming and learning from them as best I can, but these metaphorical beasts have been swooping around in my world recently, so my energies have been diverted from other tasks.
Therefore, I am offering you snippets from my full moon post a year ago to assist you with any person, internal aspect or circumstance that is serving as a "dragon" in your life right now.

This is St George whose day of celebration was on Sunday (4/23/17)

The evil dragon with glittering green scales is drooling as he prepares to shred the helpless princess with his razor sharp claws and then pop the dainty delicacy into his ravenous mouth. At that very moment a knight in shining armor gallops onto the scene, leaps off his white horse, swiftly pierces the dragon's heart with his trusty sword, and swoops the swooning damsel into his arms. The knight and princess leave the dead dragon behind and ride off into the sunset where they will live happily ever after. 
Countless versions of this archetypal tale have played out through the millennia and they're still quite popular -- albeit not always with literal dragons, princesses and knights. 

I confess that even though I totally get the dysfunctional aspects of this classic Karpman's Drama Triangle of victim/ persecutor/ rescuer, which I explained in a previous post, there's still a quivering little part of me that longs to be magically rescued with such dramatic flair. Apparently many years of cultural conditioning continue to captivate me despite my best intentions!

But lately, I have become increasingly interested in an alternative story in which my princess becomes a courageous heroine, who matures into a sovereign queen. My dragons morph into wise teachers and even in some cases, powerful allies. And knights transform into fellow adventurers. All of us become partners on a journey.

We can't allow “dragons” (internal or external) to run rampant, but we need different strategies rather than killing or fighting -- unless there is a life or death situation where there is absolutely no time to take any action other than violence. 

But in most cases there are creative alternatives, especially if we address situations at their inception.

Dragons come into our lives for a reason and we need to discover what that is, so we can address the underlying need. 


Every shadow is connected to light and every lie has some kernel of truth. When we understand the origins of our dragons, we can find out what their purpose is and how best to write them into our new story.

Changing your story is not just an academic exercise. The creativity involved is more than just re-writing the details of a piece of fiction. It is quite literally creative --meaning you can at least partially, create what will happen in your life by creating a different story. 

I know this can happen, because I did it before.

And now I get to do it again! 

My dragons have morphed into new ones. And I am a different protagonist than the one 7 years ago. And yet I am still me and my dragons are just different manifestations to help me with the same core issues. 

But the adventure is definitely a new one! Stay tuned...

How have dragons shown up in your life and what has your strategy been? Have you been a dragon slayer or perhaps a dragon snack or maybe a dragon dancer? Have you have even been a dragon in someone else's life? Consider how well your previous strategy has worked for you and whether you might want to explore a different one.

Daenerys "Stormborn" Targaryen
We are re-born in the storms of our lives

Sunday, March 26, 2017

๐Ÿค The Adventures of Calamity Jane๐Ÿž

My Barbie dolls did not dress up or go to parties. They were badass babes who went on perilous adventures.  Sometimes they rode on the back of Skippy --a once fluffy white dog who had become matted and gray and whose tail was dangling by a safety pin.

In this post, I offer some snippets from my youth. I share this slice of my life for a reason which I will explain later.

If you prefer to view rather than read, scroll to the video entitled "Quan Yin VS Snidely Whiplash" -- below the photo of the labyrinth.

Keep reading (or watch the video) if you have any traumatic stories involving people who you believed wronged you in your past and want an easy and powerful way to transform your relationship to them.

OR if you want to learn about a opportunity for an adventure in the wilds of Marin with me (below the castle and above the labyrinth). 

Let's start with Skippy, Calamity Jane and the daredevil Barbies.

Skippy was the only surviver of the horrific purge of my large, grubby and scruffy but well loved collection of stuffed animal friends that my mother had stuffed in the garbage can while I was at school one day. But Skippy escaped and lived for many more years of adventures!

A blue clad, hard plastic Calamity Jane doll whose flexible joints allowed her to straddle Skippy, was often the leader of these dangerous expeditions. Sometime she would carry wounded Barbies in her strong and bendable arms to safety when necessary.

The Barbies sustained a lot of injuries in climbing dangerous heights etc, so Jane was kept busy. Calamities were her specialty.

I spent a lot of time in solitude as a child, due in part to being an only child and for many years the only grandchild. When I was very young my divorced young mother was a full-time college student who waited tables nights and weekends. Then she became a full-time schoolteacher who had piles of homework to correct at nights. Plus there were years when we lived on isolated farms and Mom always had a long drive everyday to get to her job.

I did not have babysitters or nannies. I wore a key around my neck starting when I was in second grade, so I could let myself in after school.

During my time in suburbia both before and after the years on the farms, I was not as as secluded and had friends to play with, but was frequently grounded for long periods of time for my wicked deeds. I started getting into big trouble by the time I was in third grade.

So, my piles of books, trusty television, stuffed animals*, Barbies (and sometimes the elves and angels surreptitiously extracted from the boxes of Christmas ornaments in the basement at my grandparent's home) were my dear companions (embarrassingly) well into my early teens -- when I was having perilous adventures of my own with drugs and petty crimes.

And now, a bit about my mama.

She was by far the most important character in the story of my first 17 years of life. I have mentioned Karpman's Drama Triangle in previous blogs --which consists of villain, victim and hero. This device is very popular in myths and fairytales and other plots as well as most dysfunctional relationships.

I used to cast my mother in the role of villain for what I considered to be unskillful parenting (although I phrased it differently back then!). When I got a little older, I upgraded her to a fellow victim in view of all she endured from the time she was a child --she certainly didn't have a good role model for mothering.  And for all that I witnessed her struggle with during my childhood --my father was not available for support of any kind and there were many other challenges that she faced as well.

But I decided to change that story so that she was neither a villain or a victim. In my new story, we were on a journey together and she was my ally, as well as a true heroine in her own right.

When I changed the story, I did not ignore the old "facts", nor did I insert anything that was not true. I simply used a more compassionate lens in a search for evidence that supported stronger roles for both of us. (I outlined this process in a previous post about Shawn Achor's research - scroll down below elixir image).

It turns out that my mother truly was an adventurous Hero/ine. I just ignored all of her amazing feats (expert horseback rider, motorcycle rider, pilot of small planes, award-winning Elementary school teacher, voracious student of a wide variety of topics, handy woman who could assemble and fix anything, spiritual explorer, fiercely independent, a pioneer in trends that would become popular later and so much more) because I preferred to see myself as a victim deserving of pity.

My childhood years were not easy for either one of us (I will not share those dramas because they are not my story alone), but we both did the very best we could under the circumstances and together we made it through.

As I began to believe the new story, my love and respect for both my mother and myself grew bigger and bigger.  And in the process some difficult old behavior patterns began to shift for me.

When I look at the two stories side-by-side now, the new one actually feels more true --with a capital "T". The old stories were harmful both to myself and my mother and not good for anyone else who heard them.

Furthermore, stories ripple out into the world. Both the good ones and the bad ones. I would rather be spreading stories that cause people to feel better than worse. We have more than enough toxic stories in the world -- especially now.

Doris Day played Calamity Jane in the movie a few years before I was born. Here is a photo of Doris that looks remarkably like my mother in the '60's.

And a faded one of me with my parents. I'll bet Mom is a better horseback rider than Doris!

Also 3/26/17 is Mothering Sunday in the UK -- a day to honor your mother, so I am honoring mine.

Okay, one last embarrassing little tidbit and then another one raising the possibility of me appearing utterly delusional.

I had a role in the adventures of my inanimate friends. Whenever things became really challenging for them, they would come to me and I would offer them wisdom on how to triumph over their current adversity. They referred to me as "the princess". I told you this was embarrassing...

Okay now for the part where you begin to question my grasp on reality if you haven't already.

I like to think that perhaps my current or future self reached back in time to that unhappy little girl to give her support. I am toying with a story that maybe, during the times when my younger self's pretend companions were facing great peril, they did so on behalf of her. And when they came to their sovereign leader, an older version of me spoke through her to them -- thus comforting and offering hope to that scruffy little kid.

That story is a bigger stretch, than the one I shared about my relationship to my mother, and unlike that one, this one has no actual evidence.

There is, however ample evidence that the stories we tell ourselves about our past can impact our future. And there's also an abundance of evidence that any story that we truly believe becomes powerful beyond our wildest imagination. For one example,  Consider the placebo effect --and the nocebo effect.

And the most incredibly amazing thing about this is that we get to choose our stories and create new ones. Not pie-in-the-sky, impossible stories like "Once upon a time I won the lottery and lived happily ever after". But ones in which we are the hero/ines of our story no matter what challenges life offered in the past or will present now or in the future.

My new happy 4 word story: Changing stories changes lives!

There is a popular bit of wisdom circulating that says the things we first remember enjoying as a child are what we should consider when finding our mission in life.

I was never able to think of what that could be. I followed in my mom's footsteps, working with children -- and some of the adventures I created for them are legendary among my many former young charges, but I think that it was this enactment of the Hero/ines Journey, with the aptly named Calamity Jane that led me to my role as a guide to the Hero/ines journey now.

I offer a seven-week version of this journey via email and telephone AND on this first new Moon of Spring, I am announcing a new enhanced version for those who live in the Bay Area.

I will be taking seven adventurers into the wilds of Marin County to discover seven different labyrinths and spirals. Each week we will also explore a different stage of the Hero/ine's Journey

I'm only accepting seven intrepid Explorers, so if you are:

  • in the Bay Area and
  • in a time or place in between where an old way of life has ended and the new one is still an elusive mystery and
  • in need of some guidance on how to get through this place and
  • someone who enjoys fairly short and easy hikes in spectacular natural beauty and
  • free on Sunday afternoons starting 5/23/17 (I will offer short make up hikes on Thursday evenings for those who need to miss a Sunday) OR
  • someone who knows someone who meets these criteria and want to tell them about this opportunity or offer this as a gift -- and keep in mind that I offer the email and phone version anywhere in the world
Please contact me at to learn more. 

This is one of the 7 labyrinths we will visit



*I realized this post was getting too long, so I cut this part. But I could not completely leave out my beloved real animal friends -- especially the "complicated " kitty "Raza the Wild Thing" who was a major player in my life and Ramashundra the seventh in reincarnation of Vishnu --my sweet afghan hound with whom I also had a complicated relationship for different reasons --another story!
    I had many animal friends. Dogs --13 at one time, cats, horses, chickens, chameleons, turtles, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils, but my relationship with them was complicated due to what felt like overwhelming responsibilities to care for them.

    I had a particularly complicated relationship with a scary, Siamese kitty who adored my mother but hated everyone else. She would growl menacingly in my mother's lap whenever I came close and frequently attacked me --sometimes lying in wait for me at the top of bookshelves to pounce when I got up for a drink of water in the middle of the night or hooking her furry black paw with claws extended underneath the bathroom door to grab my toe.

    Raza lived with us from the time I was in kindergarten until I was a senior in high school -- well technically I had dropped out by then, but I would have been a senior. She and I made peace at the end of her life, but she felt more like a dragon on my road of trials than a friendly ally for me at the time. Although she was a heroine to me when she stalked the police officers who had come to discuss one of my many misdeeds with my mother. 

    With apologies to Asians who were stereotyped by these characters from Lady and the Tramp, this pair perfectly depicted my view of Raza at the time. I have since changed my story about her,  especially after she came to me on an Ayahuasca journey, but that is another story....