Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Time Between Worlds

I will begin today's New Moon blog with a humorous adventure excerpted from my archives and then offer some wild magic to address this time between worlds that we are in.


On the New Year’s Day after the surprise ending of my former life on 9/11(09),  I was attending a party at my aunt’s son’s home in North Scottsdale, AZ. 

I took a break in the middle of the event for my daily hike and set off on foot through the festively decorated neighborhood in search of a trail into the desert. 

When I entered the world of the wild, I kept my eyes open for all of the possible dangers: the javelinas, rattlesnakes, scorpions, cholla cacti, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. 

As I exited that terrain and was back on the surreal suburban streets of my cousin’s gated community, I saw a hopeful plastic snowman clutching a sign with the words “Let It Snow”,  Santa in his red snow suit atop his sleigh with the Nordic reindeer pawing the tile roof of an adobe house and the Saguaro sporting snowflake lights. I completely relaxed my vigilance. 

I was chatting on my cell phone, wishing my mother a Happy New Year and strolling right toward a large mountain lion walking just a few feet ahead of me, crossing the street that I was walking up. If I would have been in the desert, I would have been terrified, but in that setting, it just did not register as danger. 

NOT my photo

I was in awe of it’s feline grace and KEPT WALKING TOWARD IT while mentioning to my mother that I had just spotted a mountain lion and was going to get a closer look. 

I do not remember her words to me, but her sharp tone of alarm and clear advice that this was a really bad idea awoke me from my trance and I stopped in my tracks.

In the meantime, the cat had quietly melted out of sight into a back yard. All of this only took a few seconds, but we definitely got a good look at each other. 

It could be that it had recently dined on a poodle from the neighborhood and was not hungry or maybe my insane lack of fear convinced it that I was not to be trifled with or perhaps it reasoned that since we are what we eat, it did not want to be that stupid.

Whatever the reason, my mother did not have to start off her 2010 by helplessly listening to the sounds of her daughter being mauled to death by a wild cat.


Part 2: In times of change, Wild Magic is afoot*.

That winter in Phoenix, where I rose from the ashes of my recent life implosion while wandering in the desert, I was in a time and place between worlds. 

The view from the pile of cold ashes had looked totally bleak and hopeless, but once I had dived down into the depths of my despair and faced what was there, wild magic in the form of unexpected blessings and astounding synchronicities began to happen that led me to a new life.

I could never have imagined what was about to unfold for me.

Since that time, I have been fascinated with what happens when dark times occur in our lives. I have been immersed in research in multiple disciplines as well as hundreds of anecdotal stories of people from all walks of life who have experienced similar transformations and astounding miracles.

One of the most interesting aspects of this phenonema is that there is a world between our crumbling Old world and the New world of unimagined possibilities.

I never would have imagined I would end up in this New World !

This land goes by many names. In the classic mythical hero/ines journey, it is called The Special WorldCharles Eisenstein calls it The Space Between StoriesThe Buddhists refer to it as the Bardo. Bruce Lipton (among many others who use the same analogy) uses the story of the chrysalis with its imaginal cells in between the catapillar and the butterfly to describe it. Dan Millman calls it The Bridge Between WorldsIn the book Transitions by William Bridges (which was one of my bibles during my transition), he referred to it as The Neutral Zone. 

In the beginning it felt more like a nightmarish episode of the Twilight Zone to me --but the phrase "Twilight Zone" is also appropriate as the times of both twilight and dawn are like opaque and mystical worlds where everything looks and feels different. And of course dawn and twilight are daily reminders of natural, necessary and beneficial cycles in between the light in the dark.

There are also countless fictional stories which borrow from the same theme. I love the name "The Neitherlands", from Lev Grossman's bestselling book, The Magicians (a book I found rather depressing but worth it just for discovering this wonderful name).

At this lull between the winter holiday celebrations and the New Year and between political administrations and so many other in-between places in our worlds (planetary and/or personal for many of us), we are in just such a spot.

I recently took this photo of a bridge in my current wild Neitherlands
As hard as it may be to consider the possibility that any kind of magic exists, much less the magic in times like these, I am asking you to do just that.

Pretend you are watching a movie or reading a novel. Activate that "willful suspension of disbelief" that allows you to enjoy the story. 

I am not downplaying the intensity of the chaos and possibly excruciating pain that accompanies devastating transitions. That darkness is as real as the night sky. 

I'm also not saying that we should just sit back passively rather than take an active part in creating the New World. 

But I am suggesting that there are very different rules in this magical realm. What works in the ordinary world does not work in the Neitherlands. 

If you are trying to work harderfastermorebetter to "figure it out" with your logical rational mind, or to force outcomes, or to "fix" "problems", or to numb the discomfort of uncertainty and the pain of unwanted changes with your favorite fixes/ addictions, or in any way resist the experience you're having, it is like thrashing around in quicksand. You will just sink further down. 

Like it or not, one way or another, sooner or later, you will have to face whatever lessons this place holds for you.

Even though it seems counterintuitive and almost everything in you and around you urges you to try to rush through to the other side --where presumably things are more secure, stable, safe and pain free--your best strategy is to surrender to what is and slooow waaay down. Take a lot of very deep breaths, and consciously relax your body into wherever you find yourself.

Actions taken from panicked fear rarely have good results --unless of course you are fighting or fleeing from a mountain lion that happens to be less friendly than the one I encountered! 

If you can cultivate a willingness to emotionally and physically fully feel everything that arises, have compassion for all involved (especially yourself), a sense of curiosity and even playfulness, your passage through this World will yield wild magic and treasures beyond your wildest imagination.

The more difficult the visit, the greater the rewards for those who are able to fully open to the experience of their time between worlds.

I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring, but my plan is to be as fully present to whatever transpires as I am capable of being. No matter what happens, I trust that in times of change, wild magic is a foot. 

* I looked for who said it first and could not find it, but I found THIS by Tama Kieves!

Monday, November 28, 2016

☂️Never Say NeverπŸŒ‚

If you had children, would you want to hire a nanny who refused to provide references or to agree to stay for any period of time more defined than "when the wind changes"? How about if she drank on the job (rum punch), and took your kids along with her filthy, soot smeared boyfriend up to dance on the roof with a bunch of other strange men, who then trashed your home? To say nothing of other questionable and dangerous activities...

And yet a surprising number of my former clients when I ran Umbrella Child Care Services ("Practically Perfect Pop-in and Permanent Providers") would tell me they wanted me to find them a Mary Poppins. Go figure!

I first read her stories and saw her on the silver screen when I was five years old*. I began a lifelong career related in some way to serving families with children starting at age 11--  at 50 cents an hour.

My best description of our past relationship is :"It's complicated".

We had an ugly break up two years ago on the day before Thanksgiving, and I told her I never wanted to see her again. Although I swore there would be no Mary Poppins Comes Back, she has worked her magic with me once again. And this time, I finally understand how we can be happy together forever!

So we are off on a different kind of adventure. I'm not going back to working with children or searching for her replicas again.

This time we are teaming up in service to grown-ups. I will tell you more soon, but in the mean time, below is a post from a year ago with both bad and helpful ideas on how to deal with anger and endings.

*a year later I saw Julie Andrews perform another role as a nun turned governess who would dance and sing in the hills at every given opportunity. Perhaps this helps explain not only my career, but long periods of celibacy and my current daily excursions to dance in the hills of Marin.



One year ago today, I ended a 44 year relationship. I broke up with my Mary Poppins alter ego. I would like to say that this occurred on a high note. Perhaps with me firmly holding a parrot headed umbrella in one hand and a trusty old carpetbag in the other, floating off gracefully into a cloudless blue sky with my sensible skirt swaying gently in the winds of change.

Instead it was more like lobbing a Molotov cocktail onto a an old wooden bridge as dry as crisp fallen autumn leaves during a California drought. There will be no “Mary Poppins Comes Back” sequel to this story.

Have you ever stayed in a relationship where you were unhappy, unfulfilled or maybe even bored silly, because you were afraid of doing something unfamiliar and difficult - like creating a whole new life? Or did you ever stick around because you were scared to think of who you would be if you were no longer the person identified with that relationship? Or maybe you just couldn't bear to hurt the person you once loved by causing them the pain of your leaving. Or maybe you were the one who was unexpectedly left behind.

I had been trying to ditch Ms. Poppins for over a quarter of a century. We went through times when we barely saw each other, but I usually spent at least a few hours each week hauling out my old trusty bag of magic tricks and playing with young friends.

It's not that I didn't love my nanny persona and her companions. I will always cherish the memories of sweet cuddles with soft little bodies curled trustingly in my lap as I murmured stories or sang lullabies. I also delighted in co-creating fun projects, devising adventures, and teaching valuable life skills  - like dancing in the woods and how to lurk with flashlights in the bushes.

My gratitude to each and everyone of those amazing little beings (many of whom are all grown up now) who graced me with gifts beyond measure is greater than I could ever convey.

But in my heart, I had been done with child care for a long time before that kerfuffle with my former employer. The bridge burning email that followed that unfortunate incident poured out my frustrations from 4 years - and possibly ancient accumulations of a lifetime and maybe even previous lifetimes (!) of unexpressed resentments.

In retrospect, I think torching that bridge so completely was the only way I could do it. If there had been even a few charred, rickety planks to walk across, I might not have been able to resist the wistful little whispers entreating me to return to what was so familiar and easy for me and would have snapped on those loving bonds (shackles lined with tattered silk edged security blankets) one more time.

Dumping Mary Poppins was not the first time I ever waited way too long to pull the plug on something that was already essentially dead.

Something similar happened with my marriage of 10 years.  I loved my former husband (hereafter FH) dearly, and although I had been unhappy for a while, I assumed that we were just going through a long, rough patch in our marriage. I would have never have given up if there would have been anything left other than a pile of smoking rubble.

I may have been the one one to walk away, and I may even have unintentionally been the instigator in subtle ways, but in that situation, I did not have the courage to hurl the necessary explosive devise.

Thank heavens for “The Other Woman” (hereafter OW)!

As Thanksgiving was approaching six years ago (which was only a little over two months since OW was the catalyst for The Day My Life Changed Forever), I did my very best to be true to that holiday. I wanted desperately to find gratitude and (especially since I was feeling scared and vulnerable at this precarious time) to ensure that I would win loving approval from everyone for my saintly behavior.

I recounted this story in my last year's Thanksgiving blog post entitled The Little Squid on the Prairie, and alluded to the incident with my former employer in the next blog, but since then I have had further insights regarding the issue of anger.

I still believe that my attempts to be loving, gracious and grateful at the end of my marriage were sincere and helped make that Thanksgiving an easier one for everyone. In terms of my actions towards FH, my stepchildren and OW, I would not change a thing (except for a few snarky little comments in my emails).

And I also believe that by repeating and reinforcing what started as faint, forced forgiveness and gratitude, I helped these longed for feelings grow stronger and more genuine each time I affirmed them. Now they are as real as every beat of my heart.

Unfortunately, I did what John Wellwood termed a “spiritual bypass”.

Almost everybody agrees it's not a good idea (for you and everyone around you) to lash out in  anger or to turn it inward. And a cooling off period is often advisable, but refusing to acknowledge anger exists is a really poor strategy.

I scrambled to suppress, squelch, stuff, stifle and smother all sparks of “unspiritual”, unpleasant, uncomfortable and “unacceptable”  anger that smoldered way down in the dark underground depths of my soul.

I cannot stress enough what a bad idea this is!

If you are the kind of person who is able to immediately feel unconditional love for anyone who causes you pain, I bow to you. I aspire to be like you.

But if you do feel anger, then FEEL it - all the way through to the other side. Anger like all of the other E- motions, is Energy that needs to move.

One way or another it WILL move. Perhaps tortuously slowly over a long period of time with sideways, passive aggressive snark, bubbling frustration, cold leaking resentment or sudden surges of fury. But it will not go away if ignored or denied. In fact it breeds in captivity.

There are many theories as to the best way to deal with this irksome emotion. Some say it's a good idea to pound or scream into pillows or other similar harmless violent expressions. Some say this only feeds and strengthens anger. There are good arguments for both sides and different things work for different people.

It may be a good idea to get support from a trusted friend or professional (I have consulted many of both!), or maybe you can do it on your own by consciously intending to address the issue while doing some kind of physical activity like running, lifting weights, dancing, Qi Gong, EFT or some other kind of energy work.

I highly encourage you to find what works for you and just get it over with!

On this Thanksgiving, I am beyond thankful to no longer be in my former marriage or former employment situation. I would rather walk over hot coals than go back to either one. I care deeply about all of the people involved. I know I was unskillful in many of the ways that I harbored resentment or had brief flares of rage, but I also know that did did the very best I was capable of doing at that time.

To the best of my current and evolving ability (thank you Rafael Cushnir for that helpful phrase!), I forgive all of the ways in which anyone caused harm to me in my lifetime and I forgive myself for the ways in which I caused pain, including to those who experienced collateral damage. I understand that none of us did what we did with bad intentions.

I'm still cleaning out the storage closet in the basement of my psyche. I keep finding old taped up boxes, but hopefully the work I am doing will benefit me and those with whom I interact as I move forward in my personal and professional relationships. I'm guessing you probably have a similar closet that could use some caring attention!


Saturday, October 29, 2016

πŸ’€ BOO! πŸ‘»

One year ago, I had a well known and rather creepy guest writer on my Full Moon post. Due to my current life circumstances --which have severly cramped my writing time, I'm running it again for this New Moon Blog. Even if you caught it last year, it is worth a second perusal.


Let me lure you with candy and treats. We can slip into creative costumes and alternative identities. Who wants to bob for apples, carve pumpkins or visit a spooky haunted house?! Come play with me. I shiver with the anticipation of dancing with you at this time when the veil is thin between the worlds.

I am Death.

Wait! Don't run away. I promise I haven't come to take you…yet.

 Aside from this festive holiday, I know I'm not popular. But consider for a moment what the world would be like if I did not fulfill my promise of taking each and everyone of you. Trust me, it would not be a nice place! You may not like me, but you need me.

At the risk of alienating you further, I want to confess that I not only end lives, but I am also responsible for many other endings during your lifetime. You need those mini-funerals too.

That marriage, job, home, body part, companion, family member, identity/role, car, or whatever it was that you did not want to let go of had to go.

Endings are every bit as essential as beginnings and no beginning comes without an ending first.

Sometimes I like to jump out and say BOO! to give you a warning that that you need to change something in the way you are living your life.

You may then scramble to save a life (yours, a loved ones or a life situation). Your efforts may be temporarily successful. You think you defeated me. I indulge you in that illusion. Enjoy your reprieve.

But of course you know that nothing lasts forever. When I take your hand (or that of someone or something you love) and let you know IT IS TIME, it will be much easier for you if you do your best to accept me with grace.

As Heraclitus pointed out, “change is the only constant.” Even happy changes like births and weddings signal the death of a former way of life. So Life and Death are hand-in-hand  throughout your entire existence.

You crave security, stability, predictability and for bad things to NOT happen to good people. You want nothing but kindness, sweetness, sunshine and light. You certainly do not want pain.

This is totally understandable. You are biologically and culturally programmed to crave a safe, easy, happy world. But it would not serve you and, and like it or not, that is not how I work.

There's really no point in resisting this. All that does is tie up your energy in fear or in propping up corpses of expired ways of living, (perhaps telling yourself that they are just “resting” or “pining for the fjords” — like in the Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch) so that you can't fully LIVE.

By all means, love whatever and whomever is in your world. Live life fully cherishing what is alive for you, even while it is dying. Nourish yourselves and do what ever it takes to preserve and enhance health and vitality. This is your sacred mission as a human - living is what you came here to do.

But just as there are natural cycles such as autumn and spring, night and day, dark moons and full moons, so too are there natural cycles in your lives.

I know it is scarier and much more difficult to accept it when I leap out suddenly and whisk someone or something you love away without warning.

And often I take more than one thing you love at once. Sometimes I take so much at one time that seems truly unfair and more than you can bear.

After you go through the natural cycles of all the emotions associated with loss, you may discover that there are gifts. You may actually thank me. But sometimes you loss will remain an unfathomable atrocity.

I'm sorry I can't tell you all the answers to the great mysteries, but you need Mystery too.

You may hold someone or something in your heart forever, and never cease to miss them, you may move on with barely a backward glance or something on the spectrum in between.

However you say goodbye is up to you and totally fine as long as you fully feel whatever is present for you when the ending comes and then let go with love. Then you will be free to recognize and accept any gifts that may accompany new beginnings.

If you do not believe in life after death in any form, or believe that you will end up in some version of HELL, then the wisdom I have been sharing with you today about new beginnings will not be comforting to you as you contemplate the dirt nap in the pine condo (or whatever other euphemism you prefer).

I can't help you with that, but perhaps you can at least see the truth in how endings during your life work.

If you believe that you have only this one, short precious life, then all the more reason to live fully, fiercely, and courageously rather than trying to hide from that which is inevitable.

Whatever you choose to believe and however you choose to live it's not my business. It is yours. And my business is mine, not yours. You do your best to live and die well and I will show up to help you when I know you need me - even when you don't want me.

Thank you for celebrating me on Halloween/ Samhain and Day of the Dead and All Souls Day. This is the time of year (assuming you are in the Northern Hemisphere) when the last of the living things growing in the gardens and fields have withered on the vines and your ancestors faced the very real possibility they would not survive the upcoming winter.

I love how, even in the midst of legitimate fear, they chose to recognize this time with playful rituals and games and that you continue this tradition. Honor those family and friends who have gone before you at this time - they like to know you remember them.

Also feel free to poke fun at me. I love gallows humor and any opportunities to play. I'm really not that scary, once you get to know me.

P.S. Obviously, I (Michelle) am not Death. I don't know how Death would answer the tough questions about senseless violent murders, genocide, slow torturous deaths or any of the other traumatic endings that seems so cruel and pointless. I have a few questions of my own to ask if I ever get the opportunity! But based on my experience with the endings in my life and those of many I know personally or know through the hundreds of publicly shared stories I have heard or read, I feel pretty confident that Death would approve of this post.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

πŸ”₯Red, Hot and DeadlyπŸ”₯

Fires are licking at the edges of my world right now. The above photo is from Santa Cruz to south of me and there's another one in Sonoma County to the west of me both of which are  gleefully gobbling up land and homes as I write this. And I just learned of others in too-close for-comfort Petaluma and Novato since I started writing this.

As I survey the map of Northern California fires with little icons of flames blooming all over it, see the bright EXTREME FIRE DANGER signs at the trail heads and listen to the warnings everywhere of how perfect the conditions are for new wildfires, it's feeling just a little bit toasty here.

When the two recent fires here in Fairfax were burning, as I listened to the sirens, helicopters and planes of the fire-fighters doing battle, I thought about what I would grab if I needed to escape and what I would do if I lost everything I owned.

Here is the photo I took several days ago of a fire that stopped right on the edge of a trail I love to hike. I danced on this edge and honored the destructive power of fire. I sent gratitude to the fabulous Marin firefighters who stopped it, sparing my favorite trees and the nearby homes of friends. And I sent love to all of the wildlife who lost their lives or homes.

Whether a fire, earthquake, tornado, tsunami or some kind of life implosion like a divorce, injury, disease or loss of a loved one, scary surprises spring out of the shadows at all of us at one time or another.

In the middle of such an event I don't know anyone who says "oh thank you for this delightful evolutionary opportunity --I am sure there's a sparkly gift in this excruciating pain and I am so excited to receive it!"

But I have found that when the inferno has at least mostly going out and I start to sift through the ashes to survey my losses, if I am at least open to the possibility of benefits I always find them.

I am hopeful that when the next raging blaze (or at least the next brush fire) occurs in my life I will remember the truth of this and be able to surrender to whatever the fire needs to burn in me.

The following quote from Martha Beck came in my email this morning and if you substitute "firestorm" for "storm" it works perfectly:

"Contemplating this—that the Storm isn’t a curse, but preparation for the blessing—ushers me into the Calm. Right then, just like that, I feel the pain ease. Before the wind dies down. Before the argument is resolved. Before the disease heals. Before the rent is paid. The Calm doesn’t come because the Storm is over. It comes because I’ve moved into the truth."

As I look at the many disasters occurring in the world right now, I am superstitiously knocking on wood as I report that right now, for me personally, Life is good. 

This goodness is partially due to my new service (assisting clients here in Marin with practical tasks and next steps during a crisis or transition) whichis spreading over my calendar like a wildfire. I am SO grateful, but it has burned up my writing time.  So I'm once again offering you a previous post from one year ago.

Disasters can torch old stories and leave empty space for new and better ones.

πŸ”₯FIRE! 9/27/15 πŸ”₯

The topic of fire is very much alive for me right now. Not only is this fire season here in California, but I have my own internal flames licking around old patterns that need to be burned to make way for new growth.

Fire is a both a vitally alive force in its own right, dancing gleefully and irresistibly impelling others to join it and also a part of the life/ death /life cycle.

I know many of you are experiencing your own versions of singeing flames, smoky clouds of confusion obscuring your vision, or scorched earth underfoot.

On the other hand, some of you are gratefully enjoying life, perhaps reveling in the colorful splendor of this new season of autumn - - or perhaps a combination of these two.

When we take the time to honor our experience, connect to natural cycles and the celebrations associated with these cycles, the fiery times become  alchemically transformative and the times of grace and ease help set the stage for more of the same. The secret is to soften and gratefully surrender into the moment at hand, no matter what it is bringing you.

The seasonal changes, the cycles of the Moon, day and night, hot and cold, Sun and rain, life and death…NOTHING stays the same. Nor would it benefit us if it did! Nature and our personal evolution (which is of course integrally connected to natural cycles), is always on the move. The sure way to suffering is when we resist what is true. What is; IS. There is simply no way to fight, run or hide from this fact.

This is not to say that it is a good idea to blithely fling lit matches into dry tinder or that we should passively sit on sidelines watching our home burn to the ground when we have water to put out the fire.

But when there is a conflagration that is beyond our power to extinguish or a sudden implosion that that leaves us bewildered and despairing in a pile of smoldering ashes and rubble, then this is the time change the most essential things we can -  our story and how we choose to show up in this moment.

If you haven't read it yet, here is the story of how I suddenly lost my husband/best friend, home, dog, job, children, community and more. It is also about how I subsequently turned this seemingly devastating disaster into an opportunity to rise from the ashes and then found greater joy than I had ever imagined was possible.

When I encourage celebration I do not expect someone who has lost everything to break out the champagne and dance a jig in the midst of a tragedy.  Even if this were possible, It would be a terrible idea.

Every painful event needs to be deeply felt in every cell of our bodies allowing the full range of emotions that arise to move through us. If we can dive down to the depths while opening to the possibility of the gifts that will follow this is where the magic happens.

Here is a new song entitled Ashes that I highly recommend. The song is perfect for this post and Lauren Arrow's voice is powerful and gorgeous!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

🐜Psyche's Ants🐜

Yes, I can!

As I told readers of my Full Moon post, two weeks ago, I am engaged in several different projects  right now*, so for the time being, rather than write a lot of new material in my posts, I'm going to offer you little tidbits from my archives.

This one is from a Full Moon post a year ago. A strange but true story and the benefits of Pronoia.


My next morsel is from the book Transitions :Making Sense of Life's Changes by William Bridges. This has been an influential book for me that I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone going through a major life transition. It has been enormously popular for decades with readers from all walks of life.

In the epilogue, Bridges (gotta love how appropriate his name is!) tells the story of the goddess Psyche. After making a bad decision, Psyche was given the chance to redeem herself by completing four difficult tasks.

For the first one she was put into a room with an enormous pile of mixed up seeds and told she must sort them by morning. Eventually, overwhelmed by the impossibility of the task, she gave up in despair and dropped into an exhausted sleep.

As she slept, the room swarmed with ants who sorted all of the seeds for her.

When I first decided to create Sparks & Leaps over five years ago, I felt much like Psyche. I had more thoughts bouncing in my brain than a field of leaping locusts on a hot summer day and my piles of paper rivaled Psyche's pile of seeds.

I did my best to pin down some of the random concepts on paper and organize them along with the chaotic piles of scribbled scraps, the grocery bags filled with stacks of clipped file cards and a rainbow of tiny sticky notes on tag board.

Like Psyche, I eventually gave up in overwhelming despair and exhaustion. Since I had recently reread her story, I thought of wistfully of her "assist-ANTS” and on a whim, I wrote the word "ants" on a little blue sticky note and announced to the Universe that I could use some kind of assistance as well. Then I went to sleep.

In the morning, (I swear I am not making this up!) The wall of my kitchen above the counter was covered with ANTS! I had never before that time seen a single ant in my apartment and I freaked out. My first horrified thoughts were of how to annihilate them without toxic poisons or squishing them all over the white wall.

And then I remembered the blue sticky note.

It seemed unfair to kill them when I had asked for them, so I started to scoop them up on file cards (God knows I had plenty of those around!) and deposit them outside  - much like my previous adventure with the bees. Feeling ridiculous, I thanked them for their helpful intentions but explained that it was meant to be a METAPHOR!

Although the ants did not magically sort out my piles of paper or endless seeds of ideas, they helped reinforce my faith that "cooperators are standing by".  As a result, my task felt much lighter and more manageable. As I shifted out of overwhelm, I was able to think more clearly and to make some progress.

Synchronicities like this one have been happening with the ever increasing frequency in my life and I simply don't believe they are coincidences.

It is certainly possible that this is the case, but when I live my life believing Pronoia  -the opposite of paranoia (Rob Brezsney's  book based on the theory that "the whole world is conspiring to shower your life with blessings"), I am MUCH happier and consequently am kinder to myself and others.

I'm also more willing to take healthy risks - not jumping off cliffs, but dancing on the metaphorical edges of life. And I have more energy, enthusiasm and confidence. If I am delusional, I just don't see the downside!

I'm not saying we should all be perpetual grasshoppers (as in the tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper)- we do need to put food on the table. But when we honor those times between our old and new lives with some kind of ritual, and/or allow for moments of quiet contemplation or "frivolous" play, especially in the midst of challenges, we create a gap that allows other ways of seeing to emerge.

When we are trying to sort out the chaos of major life changes or even just survive during this time of enormous planetary changes, sometimes the most productive thing to do is to be "unproductive" . 

Ants can play too!
*One of the projects I am currently engaged in is one my "inner ant" is happy about.  I am now offering my services as a Crisis Assist- ANT to anyone in Marin who needs temporary support and/or help with practical tasks during a crisis. I am still writing my book and redesigning Sparks & Leaps, but I decided to offer this service part time while I am completing those projects.

If you know of anyone in Marin who could benefit from my help, please send them the following: THANK YOU!

Crisis Assistant

I will come to your home and help with a variety of practical tasks such as:
  • soothing a crying baby
  • amusing your children
  • walking your dog
  • running errands
  • starting dinner
  • clutter control
  • helping you set up a support network
  • researching helping professionals (finding a child care provider, a divorce lawyer, doctor, therapist etc.)
  • supporting you with determining your next steps.
  • offering some resources for navigating change (books, videos etc.)

Please contact me at  if you would more information. And in the mean time : BREATHE!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

🌽 Unlikely Pagans 🍞

Harvesting nourishment and creating celebration from endings.

Not actual photo of the faculty party

Although the faculty and their spouses from my former husband's department were a far cry from a bunch of wild Pagans, they were accustomed to my unconventional celebrations.  

They dutifully brought items with bread or corn, as instructed by me, for a Lammas gathering (see below the row of corn for more information about this holiday) on August 1, 2009 at a sunny beach on the shores of Lake Michigan.

This crew did not always play happily in their sandbox at school together (many minor kerfuffles), so coming together in celebrations created a more friendly playground.

I had been inviting the faculty to occasional holiday celebrations or small dinners with menus and/or rituals reflecting obscure holidays from around the world for a decade. My ten year wedding anniversary was two days after this event on August 3. 

None of us knew it, but this gathering was to be the last time that we would be together.   

Some of them are dead now and some of us were never that close. With many it was just too awkward to remain friends--given the reason for my surprise and sudden departure from my marriage a few weeks later. 

I still have friends from that era, and hear tidbits about their lives, but it was strange to have a bunch of people I cared about gone from my world without a good-bye.

Had I known that I would never see them again, the day would have been much different.

The thing is, we never know when it will be the last time we see anyone. Life is full of sudden surprises. Creating celebrations and enjoying whatever time we have together deepens our appreciation of each other and of life. 

Also, whether our inevitable endings are planned or not and whether they are fairly insignificant or devastating; honoring terminations helps them become as beneficial to our evolution as possible.

I am grateful that I have the memory of those unlikely Pagans laughing on that warm summer day at the beach, as we awkwardly ripped our loaves of bread apart, sharing our offerings, with the crumbs trailing between us into the sand.


Lammas falls on a New Moon this year. I will be traveling, so I am just offering you the above vignette and the below post from last August. The New Moon is on Tuesday.

Originally my blog was a story from my life offered on the new Moon and my full moon offering was a newsletter, but the full moon posts has morphed into more of a blog. Since the full moon posts are not on my website or on Google but only go out to my Sparks and Leaps list, this may be new to some of my readers. And some may have missed it the first time around. But even if it's a repeat, for some of you, I think it's worth a reread. 


Correction, that is "Happy Lammas" (or Lughnasad - pronounced Loo nah sah).

Lammas (meaning loaf-mass) is a holiday that begins at sunset on 8/1 and goes until sunset 8/2. It is shared by Christians and Pagans and marks the beginning of the harvest season. It is traditionally celebrated with community gatherings, family reunions, blessing the fields, bonfires, dancing - and bread.

Keep this cheerful theme in mind - we will get back to it!

There are an abundance of celebrations and myths around the world that center around the theme of harvesting grain, some dating back to the stone age.

The basic motif of death and resurrection runs through most of these stories and whether you are religious or not, this theme is worth pondering in the context of navigating life transitions.

 Sickles and Cycles

Consider a grain of wheat that is buried in the earth, sprouts with life, grows tall and then is harvested with Death’s favorite tool - a sickle.

Next it is ground into flour which is baked into bread. The bread nourishes a person who contributes to the lives of others and who will eventually encounter the sickle and be buried in the Earth where the body will, in turn, nourish the soil that is waiting for another grain of wheat.

Our lives and all of our endeavors and relationships on the planet follow the same basic pattern.

Sometimes we see the threat of an ending that can and should be postponed, and this may rightfully spur us to prolong life. We might find a cure for our life threatening disease, revive a dying relationship, fix that old car or save an ecosystem, but  eventually the end will come to all.

When the sickle appears we usually feel fear and believe that something is WRONG. We resist the end of whatever cycle is completing, not realizing that new growth (which is always preceded by some kind of death) is necessary and beneficial.*

Yes, that sharp blade is scary and we are biologically hardwired to resist pain in all of its forms. But pain, like death, is inevitable and also brings beautiful gifts. Practicing the art of learning to dance ever more gracefully with this truth, also prepares us for the final transition. And it makes living life a whole lot more enjoyable!

Okay, let's get back to the part about celebration. I lured you in with cute llamas and then dragged you into bleak scenarios of pain and death. Please forgive me.

One way to help us look for and receive the gifts of our life transitions is to tune into the seasons of nature. Many of our holidays (holy-days) have some connection to these natural cycles. When we engage in familiar rituals, connect with loved ones and/or community, decorate, feast, sing and dance, we celebrate the rhythm of life.

In addition to the four seasons, we observe the moon waxing and waning and day turning to night. Although we have distanced ourselves from these natural cycles in many ways in our modern world and we attempt to distance ourselves from the natural cycles of life changes, as Heraclitus pointed out; "nothing endures but change".

Rather than expend enormous amounts of effort trying to create "security" and control endless variables, it might behoove us to accept a little more chaos and mystery - especially in our ever more rapidly changing world.

As we reconcile ourselves to the fact that we simply do not know with any certainty what is next, we can also take comfort from the cycles of nature and our connections to each other. What better way to do this then with celebratory rituals?

The full moon that occurs the night before Lammas this year on 7/31 is also a blue moon, in that it is the second full moon this month.

[2015 was a blue moon - 2016 Lammas falls on a New Moon -  also considered a powerful combination]

Full moons are thought of as powerful times for letting go of that which does not serve us in order for renewal to occur. Blue moons are considered even more powerful and associated with rare circumstances.

Whether or not you believe in the Christian or Pagan story behind Lammas or the power of blue moons doesn't really matter. If you are experiencing a transition in your life, and struggling with an ending, why not pretend whatever story you want to believe is true and construct your own little ritual. Create a rare circumstance!

There is tremendous power in stories and rituals. You might be surprised to see what happens if you write something you want to let go of and burn or bury it under the full moon. Invite your loved ones to celebrate with you in a meal (be sure to include bread -even if gluten free!) the next day.

Or if you prefer something with a more Christian flavor, take out your Bible and hunt for all of the miraculous stories about bread. Bake a loaf, or draw a picture of one and bring it to your church on Sunday, August 2. Ask for the support of your community there and pray for help with surrendering any fears to God.

Whether you subscribe to a particular belief system or not does not matter. You can still experiment with forming an intention to let go of any stories that are not serving you, being willing to accept what is happening in the moment, taking some kind of creative action that demonstrates your intention to engage, connecting with others in celebration and expressing gratitude.

It is always helpful to give thanks for the abundance you have in your life (hint- Did you eat today? Do you have running water? Does anyone love you? Are you able to read these words?).

Celebrate your time of transformation, rebirth and new beginnings.

What have you got to lose?

My photo of the last full moon

* for those readers who have no belief in any kind of life after death, I realize that the prospect of enriching the soil may not be very reassuring, but hopefully creating an enduring legacy or just knowing that your presence on the Earth now is nourishing the lives of others will provide some comfort.