Thursday, October 31, 2019

❤️🔥Friendly Fire🔥🧡

Chaos is dancing wildly in my world here in Marin County and presumably also in the larger collective as well -- although since at the moment of writing this with paper and pen, as I have been without electricity or Internet for four days, I am blissfully oblivious to all but immediate survival needs.*

Fire, dangerous wind gusts, darkness, occasional horrid smoky air when the wind shifts, and mass panicked confusion of many thousands without electricity or internet have been the spooky pre-Halloween tricks.

And the treats were stumbling upon a store giving away it's melting frozen food on the sidewalk or the Black Swan rarity of a highly coveted bag of ice. Oh and the starry night skies along with a delicious excuse to read for hours by candle light!

My original idea for a blog topic (before the additional level of chaos brought on by the blackout occurred), was to honor Maleficent.

This was not inspired by the recent movie as I chose my Halloween costume and this theme before I knew about it. I look forward to seeing it now that the movie theater is open again!

My intention was to embrace the elements of chaos that she represents for me.

The characters of Maleficent and Eris (aka Chaos) have related stories that have fascinated me for many years.

My biggest take away from their tales is that it is a really good idea to invite them them and welcome them (albeit with mindful caution and protective boundaries) because they are going to show up anyway, and it is a futile and foolish idea to attempt to shun them.

Out in the hidden pumpkin woods, attempting to scare some children. 

The stories of an entire kingdom put to sleep and the Trojan war --both of which were started due to invitational omissions (Maleficent for a baby christening and Eris for a wedding), are useful allegories.

Few enjoy Chaos showing up at their door in any form: whether dark fairy, goddess or some kind of nasty Life surprise.

We quite naturally prefer more well behaved guests.

Just about everything in our survival conditioning, neurobiology and cultural norms makes us crave that which is smooth, safe, easy and predictable. After all, if we are still alive, whatever we have done must be working --so it feels dangerous to mess with that even if we are not cozy and content.

This makes it extremely difficult to even consider a willingness to explore the evolutionary benefits of inviting Chaos. (I have written about these benefits in previous posts, so won't go into it much here).

Obviously, I am not saying I would invite the fire-breathing dragon manifestation of Maleficent anywhere near my home, because once she gets to that point she is not going to be amenable to friendly connection. The time to make her an ally is much earlier -- prior to alienating her!

I also admit I probably wouldn't be so philosophical or be making overtures of friendship to the Chaos in my life if there were actual flames at my door.

Once things are at that level of crisis, usually the only appropriate response is survival by whatever means possible. This is the time to activate that cortisol and fight or run!

What I believe the deeper message of these stories about Maleficent and Eris demonstrate is that even though they (and the chaos they represent) are troublesome and it seems easier and more prudent to avoid them; this strategy is an epic fail.

Change is the only constant in life. It is inevitable, inexorable and essential.

And of course, change always bring some level of disruption/chaos. Whenever it is possible to lean into the discomfort earlier in the process, rather than trying to control it, resit it, or fix it, I highly recommend trying this seemingly counterintuitive strategy.

In the example of my current and recent situation, I do not get to choose whether wild fires or the winds or smoke come to my neighborhood. I did not get to choose to go without electricity for four days.

But I did get to practice saying yes to the gifts of Chaos, embracing the Mystery of having no idea what was next and dancing with what was happening. Not every minute, but I did the best I could!

One day when the winds brought some smoke, I headed for the cleaner air in the woods with my little charges and our masks.
All of us had a totally magical time! A holiday from school for them and opportunity to make extra money, do something altruistic (always helpful when I am feeling scared or sad or mad) and hang out in beauty for me. They played imaginative games of their own creation about survival and I danced to Halloween and fire songs, made little mandalas out of fall leaves, and sent prayers to all in the path of fire.

I have thought a lot about what caused these fires on a deeper level than just blaming the evil electric company (anyone seen Stranger Things?!). 

I have also pondered the gifts of Chaos and how fire (and all the other disasters dancing wildly in our world right now), could actually be viewed as friendly helpers.

Too many threads to tie together here in this post, but much of it has to do with the choices we make around wanting life to be more easy, comfortable and safe than it inherently is and the evolutionary benefits of difficult times. 

AND firing (with the weapons of judgement, blame and punishment) wildly at everything in sight--thus harming many potential allies or burning "witches".

Please know that I am not saying we should ignore or put a happy face on tragic losses or terrifying circumstances. Nor am I saying that we "deserve" whatever pain we are experiencing because we made "wrong or bad" choices due to being "lazy" or not courageous enough. 

I am not judging anyone (okay maybe PG&E executives, but I aspire not to!) including myself.

Of course we experience natural consequences for our actions and we need to hold ourselves and others responsible when we are perpetrating harm, but when we can do so from a place of common ground without pointing fingers of blame, I believe we will be able to move forward in an entirely different way rather than caught up in the soul sapping energy of conflict.

Perhaps fire can be a friend if it sheds light on the hot and destructive consequences of our previous ways of life and teaches us to be more creative, come together in kindness and love (SO much of that happening in the midst of all of the disasters).

And so on this belated New Moon blog and on this Spooky Halloween, I wish you all of the blessings of the Witches New Year -- Samhein.

*This post was delayed for obvious reasons. Most was written on paper and hastily typed in with a few new thoughts

PS the text is totally wonky in the second half and resists all attempts to correct it. Mercury went into retrograde today and much as I do not want to cast blame, it is either that or a merry little Halloween prankster. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

🧟‍♀️Zombie & Love Stories 🥰

I shot this photo and the ones below a few days ago. All are of my shadow (and a couple of small friends making a guest appearance) dancing at twilight on the Earth.

Twilight (literal and metaphorical) is when our shadows become most interesting. 

I have a dark and complicated shadow AND I have parts of me that shine with bright love. Both are an essential part of who I am. There's no point in trying to run or hide from my shadows or to fight the shadows of others. But I can choose to dance with both the light and the dark within and around me. 

One of the ways of dancing with the shadow involves the stories we are telling ourselves each other during darkening days and/or just before exciting and extraordinary new dawns. 


Some of the content of this post was taken from something I wrote in a Facebook group in response to a meme presenting Greta Thunberg as a tool of dark forces. Although I mention politics, the point I am making is not about furthering any agendas of the left or right. 

It is about the stories we tell (on both left left and the right as well as in nonpolitical situations) and the power those stories have to shape our lives.

These are liminal times on our planet when we can no longer live comfortably in the old story or fully inhabit the new one that is still a mystery. 

Liminal can mean a transitional doorway between two worlds. Such as dusk when day is turning into night. Or dawn when night is turning into day. 

In this transitional time we are all collectively inhabiting, so many old paradigms are crumbling and thrashing around in their death throes and our exaggerated shadows are dancing wildly at the edges of the dark void. AND there is magic during these times as new paradigms are being formed.

I do not believe that the void, the edges, the shadows, the darkness, death, Mystery, anger, fear, and an enormous range of differing beliefs (including “conspiracies”) are wrong and bad. 

Consider the opposite extremes of perpetual sunlight, and only that which can be proven by dry, logical certainty, that which can never decay or die, nothing but sweetness, etc. 

Perhaps in another realm, there might be a world where that there is nothing but sweetness and light. However, here on planet Earth we live with cycles and I, for one, celebrate that.

I also celebrate exploring dissonance (part of harmony) as well as that which we fear and resist. ALL are a vital part of the whole. 

I understand there are dangers in the darkness and I struggle with how to stand sovereign with a sword of discernment and demarcate clear boundaries (especially when defending the innocent and vulnerable) AND be curious, open, and willing to listen --even to those that hold diametrically opposing views from my own. 

For the record, I do not believe that Greta is being used by shadowy political cabals. 

Nor do I subscribe to very many conspiracy theories. Although some of them are compelling, I try not to invest much of my energy in that which is fear based, with villains that should be fought, as I believe that which we resist persists and grows more adamant with conflictual energy.

I do not want to breathe life into those stories. I just looked up the etymology of the word conspiracy. It is to breathe together.  What if, when we collectively breathe life into stories of evil, we give them more power? 

I am not saying they're not possible. Evil definitely has a powerful presence in the world. I have seen some extremely convincing articles and videos around various “conspiracies”.

And there are many in my wide circle of loved ones who hold views that I do not, including "conspiracy theories". I care about them and want to live in as much harmony as we can create in the midst of our differing views of reality. 

So I will respectfully listen to what they believe and try to understand what they are feeling that underlies their beliefs. And I will search for any possible common ground; shared beliefs, shared fears, shared griefs as well as shared hopes and loves.

As for those who are not in my circle of loved ones (and for whom I confess that despite my best intentions I harbor strong judgments), I am not advocating a spiritual bypass. Yes, we are "all one/children of God" but that doesn't mean I just want to give all politicians and CEOs of polluting companies etc. big hugs and tell them to go ahead and continue perpetrating harm. 

There are times when it is not responsible to refuse to take action (which under extreme circumstances could involve extreme measures). 

I just do not choose to use my precious time and energy to fight battles I couldn't possibly win --especially using the weapons of "shadow powers", since they clearly have more! I would rather in-spire rather than con-spire and to use my playful creativity and kinder means to explore what else is possible.

This quote from Ariel Spillsbury arrived in my email yesterday:
"In a sense we are putting "spells" or closed feedback loops on each other, hypnotic suggestions by the way we see others, the expectations we hold of them, the stories we tell about them. In quantum physics it is called the Observer Effect. In essence, that means we see what we expect to see. (Though paradoxically, no one is absolutely at cause, because reality is actually acausal, self-arising, non-linear, holographic.. a mutually created holographic dream projection.)”
I also love Leah Lamb's take on what she calls "zombie stories”. These are stories that may in fact be “true", but telling them leaves no place for the listener to engage.

 For instance, if you tell the story that we are doomed (from an environmental standpoint, or powerful cabals), then why even bother to take action, since it is clearly hopeless? Here is a great quote from Leah: 
"Speak with fear and you will speak to the fear in others. Speak from scarcity and you will breed scarcity in others. Speak from love, and you will wake love in others."
We can tell stories of the zombie apocalypse : the planet is dying and it is hopeless --we will all soon be dead OR there are zombie cabals trying to control us with lies about environmental disasters.

But all zombies eat brains and leave their victims with no will of their own. Groupthink zombie stories are not alive and do not allow for the individual listener to have even a spark of hope that might inspire them to take life-affirming action.

I believe with all my heart that the only way we can individually and collectively navigate this time of transition is to respectfully and kindly dance with those other shadows that are here with us to the best of our abilities and start telling different stories.

Instead of seeing our shadows and those of others as bad and unlovable, what if we try to get to know them a little better and maybe even embrace them?

Instead of telling zombie stories (even if you believe them to be true) which spread fear, anger and hopelessness as well as making shadows darker scarier and bigger, why not find ways to connect with teams of allies and start telling stories that are equally if not more true that use creative imagination, loving kindness, and new possibilities?

I invite you to consider what other stories are possible. Can you come up with stories in which we create changes that allow us to care for our planet and the children and other beings who live here? I encourage you to think outside of the box of our current narratives in which there are clearly defined villains and that is soon as they stop doing bad things everything will be fine.*

I am hugely inspired by the massive movement of children (and all of the adults who support them) rising up to protect their planet, but our kids deserve better than only scary zombie stories. And all of us are responsible to add our piece to the narrative and to join together to create change.

*This is my favorite book about climate change  it offers a surprising perspective that people of all political persuasions will find interesting.

Friday, August 30, 2019

🃏Foolish Wisdom👵🏻

You can't really tell from the above photo, but I am dancing at the edge of a steep cliff next to The Land’s End Labyrinth.

Literally and metaphorically, I am at the edge of the solid land, walking reverently in mystery as well as dancing and taking wild leaps in precarious circumstances.

I share this information, not to alarm those friends and family who read my blog (please don't worry, I trust that one way or another, all will workout as it always has!), but because I know there are many of you who are at similar metaphorical edges.  I share what is happening in my life in the hopes that my experience will benefit you.

My current edge is finances, exacerbated by my inner anxieties (with their own set of side effects that impact my life) which come to the surface when I don't feel secure.

For you it might be your health or a relationship issue or any of a wide variety of challenges. And even if by some miracle you are currently sailing smoothly through your personal life, all of us are a part of the aggregate uncertainty (a dark gift) at this time on the planet.

Being on the edge may not feel comfortable, but it is a place where magic can happen.

I have discovered that there is rich potential for transformational evolutionary leaps if I am willing to be open to the mystical possibilities that are more available here, than in the midst of "safety" and comfort. AND it is also, of course, vital to PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to every step and take practical measures*.

The heightened awareness of Life and it's infinite possibilities (including both the potential for miracles and danger) is one of those invaluable gifts in disguise that I am (mostly!) embracing right now.
Photo taken from inside the outer edge of the labyrinth.
As I was walking the labyrinth which is right up against the edge the cliff with a sharp drop off down to the sea, I suddenly thought of the lovely Alison Krauss song with the line “Whatever the answer, it's yes that's the question-- I am the fool dancing over the edge.”

Yes, I may be a fool to be living so close to the edge. I suppose there are more sensible choices I could make, but none that feel right in my heart. And even when fear pushes me to consider backing away, there are really no viable, sustainable options available to me at this point.

And so, I will continue doing my piecemeal jobs (searching for more now*) while continuing to create Sparks & Leaps and living in my precious little sanctuary here in ridiculously pricey Marin County. The joy of this home here in this sweet community of Fairfax, where I have put down deep roots, made dear friends and have found more joy then any place I have ever been in my life is where I want to stay.

In order to do this, I am reaching out to any and all allies. I would love it if you would hold strong thoughts for me as I navigate this perilous territory (I believe in the power of Love and shared intention) and perhaps help with useful connections—see below*,

In addition to the peril and need for support, I see this as an opportunity to walk (dance and leap) my brave talk about cultivating curiosity and exploring the paradoxes that present themselves in times like these. Game on!

As I am playing my own game of Sparks & Leaps, I am practicing leaning into discomfort, building a team of allies, (including befriending the troubled inner aspect of myself), embracing adverse circumstances, looking for the buried treasure of the gifts in disguise and cultivating gratitude for every blessing.

I am not saying I am sailing through my challenges with total equanimity, (and I have my little escape indulgences)  but this strategy of saying YES with playful curiosity to adventure and cultivating trust feels way better than the seriously flawed coping mechanisms I tried during previous difficult times many years ago--such as curling up into a ball under my blankets while whimpering with despair and ruminating on my worthlessness and hopelessness or recklessly drowning my sorrows with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.

So far, every single major crisis in my life (I have had many, especially around the times of the beginnings of new decades, starting with my traumatic birth), has ultimately benefited me and I truly believe this one will too.

Moment to moment, and with every step, the Fool leaves the past behind. He carries nothing more than his purity, innocence and trust, symbolized by the white rose in his hand. The pattern on his waistcoat contains the colors of all four elements of the tarot, indicating that he is in harmony with all that surrounds him. His intuition is functioning at its peak. At this moment the Fool has the support of the universe to make this jump into the unknown. Adventures await him in the river of life.
The card indicates that if you trust your intuition right now, your feeling of the 'rightness' of things, you cannot go wrong. Your actions may appear 'foolish' to others, or even to yourself, if you try to analyze them with the rational mind. But the 'zero' place occupied by the Fool is the numberless number where trust and innocence are the guides, not skepticism 
On 8/19, just before midnight in my last moments of my 50s (in theory, I am a wise elder now😄!), I drew this single oracle card from the Osho Zen Tarot Deck in answer to my question "what's the most important next step for me at this time of transition in my life.”

While I definitely have fears about the real possibility that foolish steps will lead to a dangerous fall for me personally as well as that choices being made on larger levels could lead us collectively to disaster, I am doing my very best to trust myself and to trust how life is unfolding for all of us.

After drawing my fool/joker/wild card, and after my labyrinth walk on 8/24, I watched this short video about the Amazon rain forests that came to my email inbox on 8/27. It was (surprisingly, given the grim topic), enormously comforting and inspiring. It was also synchronistic in that it addressed issues such as taking next steps towards the destination of trust that our heart knows exists with naïve confidence, even when our logical mind does not understand or approve.

This does not mean sitting back and passively waiting for magic or luck or a diety to take care of my predicaments or the larger issues on the planet. I am taking a profusion of practical steps* to address current as well as long term survival needs. As for the larger world I believe we need to conjointly  take a great number of  “down to Earth” steps regarding our shared environment, economy, policies etc.

The tricky part for for me ( and perhaps for you too?) is to take those steps from a place of trust rather than fear of scarcity. Given that scarcity fears are a part of intense and powerfully strong survival conditioning, and that I really do need to pay rent and bills, eat and consider my future, this is a moment to moment challenge. I do better in some moments than others, but I aspire to be a fool!

*This Virgo New Moon is all about taking practical action steps. Focusing on details and creating order and clarity out of chaos. Resetting new intentions and committing to them. 

So, here is what I am up to and how you can support me if you have any inclination and/or ability to do so.

  • If you have connections in Marin and hear of any child care opportunities (I charge $25.00- $30.00 per hour depending on circumstances) for under 20 hours a week afternoons, evenings or weekends --on going or on call, please send them my way!
  • If you know anyone who would enjoy easy, customized adventures into Nature, (individuals or group I charge $50.00 per hour), please send them my way. 
  • If you would like to purchase any of my Nature photographs, for yourself or as a gift, please contact me.
  • If you (or someone you know) would be willing to help me put together an ebook, I will split the profits.  I need help with organization of concepts, clarity, and brevity.
  • If you (or someone you know) would be willing to help me with  technical skills in creating the Game of Sparks & Leaps (either on a website or app --several possibilities), I will split the profits.
  • If you (or someone you know) has connections to Jane McGonnigal or others who know how to create games and can help me create the Game of Sparks & Leaps, I will split the profits.
  • If you are not already one of my patrons on Patreon, I would be ENORMOUSLY grateful, if you would check out my page and consider supporting me. And you get cool content in exchange. 
  • If you can think of any other way you can assist me at this time with immediate survival needs or my long term dream, I am open to love💖, support 💞and miracles✨! 
  • AND If there is any way I can support YOU with my quirky skill set and/or holding you in my heart, leaving a flower or other token with your intentions/requests up to a labyrinth, etc. please let me know. Because we are all in this together. Whatever I do to serve you will benefit me, and I would love to show my gratitude for your taking the time to read my words!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

❌ SEALed With a Kiss 😘

In this photo, (shot last Saturday by my awesome 27-year-old former nanny charge who was visiting from Minnesota), there are literally tons of elephant seals behind me.

Elephant seals appear to be just lazy lumps laying around on the beach. And it is true that they are nearly immobile for most of their time on land. But 90% of their lives are spent swimming gracefully in the water where they can cover 60 miles in a day and dive over 5000 feet deep.

I have felt a bit like the beached seals recently. They go here to mate and molt. This involves a lot of posturing, making funny noises and is quite an exhausting process for them.

Although I am not mating, I have been creating a new life and this has involved posturing (LOOK AT ME —check out what I am doing!), and making funny noises  (I suspect much of what I have been trying to communicate has sounded as silly and/or incomprehensible to many of you as seal barks and snorts!) and it has definitely been exhausting.

I have also been taking some deep, dark dives into emotional waters recently while trying to avoid being consumed by my inner sharks. I'm looking forward to gracefully swimming to wherever I am meant to go very soon.

 As for molting, like the mythical Selkies who their shed their skins to transform from seals to humans, the messy process I have been undergoing while creating Sparks & Leaps feels like it is becoming transformational and magical.

Not magical as in “abracadabra POOF” with a magic wand where transformation takes place in a flash. 💥

More like a slow painful alchemical process that involves a lot of molten heat.

I, of course, wish it was quicker and easier, but my understanding is that no true transformation happens like that.

Fortunately, it feels like I am nearing the end of the torturous part. Whether my leaden lump is ready to become a SPARKly nugget of gold, and I begin making quantum LEAPS or I at least change into fools gold and my baby steps start to cover more ground, I am cautiously optimistic!

If you are also feeling like things are a little too hot for you (and I don't mean this summer's heat!) or you feel like an awkward seal out of water, maybe you are also in the midst of a transformative change!

We are all, always, in the midst of change, so if there is a transformation you would like to have occur in your life, it might help to consider the possibility that whatever is happening is actually for your benefit.

It can't hurt to shift that perspective and you never know what might happen!

On 7/7, I committed to playing the game of Sparks & Leaps every day until I turn 60 (45 total days) on Facebook. I know many of you are not on that playground, so let me know if you are curious what I'm up to there and I can send you some copies of posts —they are kind of like mini blogs.

Otherwise, I will send you my love, SEALed with a ❌. This ❌, serves as both a kiss and an ❌-spot.❌-spots are one of the key features of the game of Sparks & Leaps and you will be hearing more about them.

In addition to wishing you a Happy Black Moon/Super Moon/ New Moon, I also send you my best wishes for a lovely Lammas/ Lughnasadh (8/1 & 2 or 8/7 --depending on whether you celebrate the pagan or astrological date).

Translation for those of you who don't celebrate any of that, but are curious : Black Moon is the second New Moon in a month, Super Moon is closest to the Earth in orbit and Lammas/ Lughnasadh is the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Is a time of celebrating the first harvest.

OR if you are in the southern hemisphere, perhaps you are celebrating Imbolc/ Candlemas and Grounhog's Day!

Since my Groundhog's Day Sparks & Leaps attempts at new starts have looked more like the middle of that GHD movie than powerful magic, I'm going to see what kind of first harvest I might glean from the mirror holiday of Lammas!

And if this is sounding more like seal snorting and barking to you, then please just accept my wish for a happy August!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

🍰Not like this...🚶‍♀️

I wish there was a sturdy, straight, short bridge going safely over the gap between my old story and my new one. I would also like to be totally luminescent -- filled with light and love as I dance gracefully across.

Despite all of the things I have doing to be as responsible and creative as I know how to be regarding practical obligations (putting in the hours for income generating jobs as well as frustrating entrepenurial dead ends), bizarre random complications and challenges  (such an overflowing abundance lately), and many more activities in the way of self care and spiritual rituals, ( including massive purging of physical and metaphysical stuff I do not need); the above description of my passage is far from accurate.

I am baltering (Balter - To dance artlessly without particular grace or skill but usually with enjoyment) through the murky muck!

It's not a cakewalk, but there is a certain sweetness and mysterious beauty about the often dark and confusing territory found in these in-between places. AND there is an abundance of joy and magic as well. (Is it just me or are there more and more crazy cool synchronicities happening all the time?!)

This paradoxical mix, which I call "The Land of &" and Charles Eisenstein calls "The Space Between Stories", is not just showing up in my current personal world. It is also true of the larger "Marvelous Messy Middle" (SARK's name for this place) we are occupying collectively. Perhaps you are hanging out in some paralell universe like this too right now.

If so, I invite you to balter with me!

On this day of a Solar Eclipse (not visible here in USA) I am taking the ashes from my recently burned old journals (old stories) to the sea. I will flirt with the waves alongside my trusty young adventurer friends (internal children and two very real little boys) and dance with wild abandon.

Lots of change happening (partially what dictated brevity of this post) AND lots of wild magic!

I went to this favorite spot last week (it is a windy vortex on top of huge rocks with a view of the sea) and added a favorite quote to the photo.I can't find who originally said it, but it feels especially true right now! 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

❄️Frozen in Time🥶

I have always claimed that if you went back to my elementary school, you would see the claw marks in the walls where I was dragged out to the dreaded horror of recess on the frozen tundra. My attitude about winter did not improve much with age.

On Memorial Day weekend, this younger aspect of myself was dragged out to play in the snow once again. But before I tell you about why I was hanging out with a sulking "Little Mickey" (my childhood nickname was Mickey) and why you might want to subject yourself to listening to someone's tale of their" inner child" 😝, let me share a powerful and true story from history, related to my icy memories and Memorial Day.

After WWII, there were soldiers who did not believe the war was over. One of them, Hiroo Onoda,  was still hiding out in a Philippine jungle, conducting an occasional raids and refusing to surrender for 29 years after the war ended.

Dr Bill Plotkin tells the story of how,
"some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
The only identity many of them knew was that of being loyal soldiers to their country, having shaped this identity through the formative years of their lives. Many of them simply weren’t mentally or emotionally fit or prepared to reenter humane society. Some of their communities created rituals where the soldiers were thanked and praised in public for their service to the country. A community elder would stand, and with great fanfare, announce, 'The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and served us so well up to now. The community needs you to return as a man, a citizen, and something beyond a soldier.' "
Fr Richard Rohr has this to say about Plotkin's work on "discharging the loyal soldier":
"This kind of closure is much needed for most of us at the end of all major transitions in life. Because we have lost any sense of the need for such rites of passage, most of our people have no clear crossover to the second half of their own lives. No one shows us the stunted and limited character of the worldview of the first half of life, so we just continue with more of the same. The Japanese were wise enough to create clear closure, transition, and possible direction...The voice of our loyal soldier gets us through the first half of life safely, teaching us to look both ways before we cross the street, to have enough impulse control to avoid addictions and compulsive emotions, to learn the sacred “no” to ourselves that gives us dignity, identity, direction, significance, and boundaries. We must learn these lessons to get off to a good start...The loyal soldier is the voice of all your early authority figures. His or her ability to offer shame, guilt, warnings, boundaries, and self-doubt is the gift that never stops giving. Remember, it can be a feminine voice too...The loyal soldier cannot get you to the second half of life. He does not even understand it. He has not been there. He can help you “get through hell,” with the early decisions that demand black-and-white thinking; but then you have to say good-bye when you move into the subtlety of midlife and later life. "

This "Loyal Soldier" is very similar to our Survival Conditioning, black-and-white subconscious thinking that we all (to varying degrees) received and internalized from our parents, teachers, culture, ancestors etc. And whatever you want to call it, this is what guides many,( possibly 95% ) of the decisions we make in any given day.

For a variety of both practical and spiritual reasons, (having very little to do with the Muslim religion), I decided to use the occasion of the month of Ramadan to do my own version of a fast and 3 mini "holy pilgrimages". In addition to not eating solid foods during the day and simpler dinners at night, I also cut out most of my addictive entertainments --like novels, movies and Facebook.

A big part of my motivation in removing these distracting addictions, was to bring my loyal little soldier out of the hidden jungles within and invite her to integrate (with all of her quirky gifts and superpowers) into my current life.

One of the main reasons for focusing even more strongly on my ongoing process of integration is that I have been steadily gaining weight.  I am unwilling to try yet another restrictive dietary or hard-core exercise regime or "money-back-guaranteed" healing modality.

 I loved this FB post I saw from someone named Jamie Kennedy:

"I'm amazed by people who lose weight w exercise. When I exercise nothing happens bc my DNA still thinks I'm a European peasant. So it's like 'Oh! Are we running from the English again, lass? Dinnae ye worry: we'll keep ye plump as a partridge to outlast the murderous bastards!'"

Part of my European peasants background possibly includes a starving Mickey from the potato famine of Ireland, (and of course it's complicated because I also have the DNA of murdering English bastards as well as of the raping and pillaging Norwegian Vikings).

But even though there is compelling research that shows we are impacted by traumas from previous generations, I think the more relevant "Mickey" is the one who was starved for other nourishments in her childhood* and whose favorite comfort was; large quantities of food --especially potato chips! Furthermore, (in her opinion) the best way to consume that food was curled up with books or TV and avoiding any and all extraneous activities.

My tastes have changed, and I no longer own a TV or qualify as a couch potato, but there definitely some similarities in our behaviors.

So my plan for this month of Ramadan, was to break some recent/ old habits (apparently "Paleo friendly, organic, sustainably sourced", salty, crunchy, snacks are not really that much better than potato chips as far as weight gain) AND to bring Mickey/ my strong little loyal soldier out of hiding where she has been sabotaging my food choices (like Hiroo Onoda conducting raids in the Philippines) for decades.

As soon as I made that intention to connect with her and find out what she wants and needs that can be satisfied without addictive behaviors, I received so many opportunities to hear her voice and feel her pain. SO MANY!

I spent the entire four hour drive from Marin County to Mount Shasta (one of my three mini pilgrimages), having a conversation with her. I figured that should just about wrap it up. Four long hours. With my inner child --😝. I figured I could cross that off my to do list and then I should be well on my way to total mental, spiritual, physical health. And maybe miraculously shrink back into to a size 7.

But she was not about to suddenly become a well behaved sweet little girl who was totally on board with with my agenda.

Nor was she willing to conveniently retreat back out of sight when the drive was over.

Things got particularly challenging when my friends I was visiting in Mount Shasta wanted me/us to really frolic (sinking with each step into the wet, cold, deep, snow) on the mountain. Not just the token photo op in front of the snow bank, and maybe throwing a snowball or two like I had anticipated when I learned there was still snow on the mountain and said I was ready to frolic.

And did I mention that I was hungry (due to my liquid diet during the daylight hours) and it looked like my eagerly anticipated dinner would be delayed due to this torturous plan? Yes I know, it wasn't the anguish of the potato famine, but it felt pretty intense.

These are dear friends who I was really excited to see. And they were really excited to play in the snow. I wanted so much to be a good sport/ good girl, versus a whining wet blanket.

After all, I am all about being playful and going on challenging Nature adventures. The previous day I had thrown myself repeatedly into a 33 degree creek (in between a hot bath and sauna).  But I wasn't hungry. And I was by myself so I could control what I wanted to do and how long I wanted to do it.

The issue of 🔑control🗝 is key. Obviously, we can't live in total chaos and there are circumstances when rigid control, protective constriction, black and white thinking and distrust are essential for survival. But at least in my life (and I'm guessing in the lives of most of you reading this), those circumstances are pretty rare.

I am finding more and more that surrendering control, relaxing (especially physically) into whatever is happening --including pain and discomfort, and trusting in myself and my ability to handle the distress --as well as trusting in my circumstances; greatly reduces my anxiety.

And it turns out that anxiety has almost never protected me from anything genuinely harmful. What it has done is caused me endless misery and a whole lot of unfortunate side effects --including recently, the merry little dance between insomnia and weight gain.

Anxiety is also contagious and spreads to others in my presence and then ripples outwards.

AND anxiety has gifts to bring IF I am able to get curious and listen. Which is tricky to do!

On that snowy mountain, I finally forced myself (and a very reluctant little Mickey) to at least pretend have fun. I promised her I would make it up to her later. I threw myself literally into the snow. I log rolled down a hill. I threw snowballs. I made a snow angel.

And I even had a little bit of real fun.

On June 1, it was the nine year anniversary of my move to Marin (which was preceded by my first night in Mount Shasta) and the beginning of this new life where I have been happier than any other previous time or place.

I went on my second mini pilgrimage of a 3 1/2 hour loop hike to Phoenix Lake (with the whole "rising from the ashes" theme that was so alive for me 9 years ago) and back.

I had created a playlist on my iPod for the occasion and although most of the hike was silent, I danced and sang my way through some of the more deserted parts of the trails.

But not on the narrow trails where I was continually brushing up against tall grasses and branches, and where I was stopping every few steps to check for tiny poppy seeds sized, potentially disease infested ticks--I only found one and brushed it off before it latched on.

I refuse to wear toxic pesticide or only walk on the wide fire roads, and my homemade concoction of vinegar and essential oils has not been repelling ticks this year. I just found another little vampire attached to my neck last week.

Given the dangers of disease as well as just the overall creepiness of having something sucking your blood, this is a circumstance where control, distrust and diligent protection seemed legitimate.

The trick was to accept the paradox of choosing to go on this adventure with the necessity of protecting myself and the anxiety that there was no guarantee, even with the most careful control that I would be 100% safe AND to do my best to gratefully enjoy the experience and relax even though every part of my body constricted each time I brushed against anything --which was unavoidable and happened every few seconds on some of the trails. And there was a lot of poison oak as well.  :)

I remembered the excellent example of watching my friend Kao, gleefully hoping to be attacked by snowballs the previous weekend. Whether he caught the icy cold ball in his mouth or got hit in the face by it, didn't matter in the least to him. He was just ecstatic to be out there playing.

I failed at relaxing more than I succeeded, but it was excellent practice, and I got better at it as I got closer to the lake. Mercifully the trails widened for the remainder of the trek back home after reaching the lake, but then I had a new challenge.

Because I am carrying extra weight and also have not gone on a hike this far in quite some time, my feet started to hurt more and more with each step.

There was no other option but to keep going, so once again I had the opportunity to practice relaxing and even gratefully experiencing the beauty and the joy, despite the pain.

I had so many opportunities to ask myself the question of whether constricting my body was going to save me from the ticks or from the pain in my feet. The answer was "no" every single time, because of course, resisting, resenting, fighting against the circumstances with constrictive "protection" did not protect me at all.

I'm a slow learner, and decades of old fearful patterns as well eons of evolutionary survival conditioning do not just disappear with a little bit of logic! AND there are magical portals right smack in the middle of pain and anxiety.

Through the game of Sparks & Leaps, that I am learning how to play (and developing to share), I am slowly learning how to turn adversaries (including ticks, physical pain and my anxieties) into allies. The more I am able to bring curiosity and compassion to challenges, the more trust and joy I discover is available to me.

Much like the Japanese soldiers, there are parts of all of us that are still fighting a war when we could be transforming those rigid, constrictive, protective energies in living a more relaxed, expansive, trusting, life. Life is messy, but it is also playful and magical. And it is most fun when it is not black-and-white. Dancing with paradoxes is way better than fighting with them!

6/1/19 --9 years of playing on these gorgeous trails!

* just to make it clear, I am not blaming my parents or other family members for any deprivations. They all were doing the very best they could, given their survival conditioning/ loyal soldiers/DNA and the logistics of limited resources-- and I lived a very privileged existence compared to so many others on the planet.

 World War II, some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
Dr. Plotkin tells the story of how, after World War II, some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
The only identity many of them knew was that of being loyal soldiers to their country, having shaped this identity through the formative years of their lives. Many of them simply weren’t mentally or emotionally fit or prepared to reenter humane society.
Some of their communities created rituals where the soldiers were thanked and praised in public for their service to the country. A community elder would stand, and with great fanfare, announce, “The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and served us so well up to now. The community needs you to return as a man, a citizen, and something beyond a soldier.”

Dr. Plotkin tells the story of how, after World War II, some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
The only identity many of them knew was that of being loyal soldiers to their country, having shaped this identity through the formative years of their lives. Many of them simply weren’t mentally or emotionally fit or prepared to reenter humane society.
Some of their communities created rituals where the soldiers were thanked and praised in public for their service to the country. A community elder would stand, and with great fanfare, announce, “The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and served us so well up to now. The community needs you to return as a man, a citizen, and something beyond a soldier.

Dr. Plotkin tells the story of how, after World War II, some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
The only identity many of them knew was that of being loyal soldiers to their country, having shaped this identity through the formative years of their lives. Many of them simply weren’t mentally or emotionally fit or prepared to reenter humane society.
Some of their communities created rituals where the soldiers were thanked and praised in public for their service to the country. A community elder would stand, and with great fanfare, announce, “The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and served us so well up to now. The community needs you to return as a man, a citizen, and something beyond a soldier.”

Dr. Plotkin tells the story of how, after World War II, some Japanese communities helped returning soldiers successfully reenter civilian society by reframing the identities many of them had adopted as soldiers.
The only identity many of them knew was that of being loyal soldiers to their country, having shaped this identity through the formative years of their lives. Many of them simply weren’t mentally or emotionally fit or prepared to reenter humane society.
Some of their communities created rituals where the soldiers were thanked and praised in public for their service to the country. A community elder would stand, and with great fanfare, announce, “The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and served us so well up to now. The community needs you to return as a man, a citizen, and something beyond a soldier.”

Saturday, May 4, 2019

🧙‍♀️Witches and Tacos🌮

Did you know that if you put your clothes on inside out, tie a wild radish around your neck and venture out to a crossroads on Walpurgisnacht (April 30), you will be better able to see the witches and fairies that frolic at this time when the veils between the worlds are thin?

This is a two part Blog. For those short on time, there is a short version, addressing a different perspective on what we really need and how something that may seem frivolous can help you find joy and reverence (and irreverence!). Just read up until the Radish necklace image. For a deeper dive, go below the radishes. 

Stories like these have been told (and often believed!), all over the world, throughout time.

For our ancient ancestors, experiencing the cycles of nature could be a matter of life and death.

Telling stories and creating rituals (including weddings, funerals etc.) was a way of honoring the Mystery of the life/death/life cycle. This creative process also added vitally important elements of play and/or celebration to help diffuse fear and grief during hard times.

Sharing stories and rituals, especially in the form of holidays/Holy days, strengthened the tribe/community/family groups that were (and still are, even though we don't typically acknowledge this truth in our independent lifestyles!), essential to survival.

The story of Walpurgisnacht*, like virtually all stories, (including our personal stories that we tell ourselves about our lives and our world) has layers of meaning that morphed over time as a way of adapting to newer belief systems.

Our holidays and other ritual celebrations along with myths, fairy tales, poetry, novels, movies, art and games, are not just for entertainment. We need them as much as we need practical essentials that contribute to our health and well-being.

And although food, clothing and shelter may seem to take precedence, if we are deprived of these, stories can help us survive. Such as when Viktor Frankel (and countless others in similar circumstances before and since the concentration camps) changed the story of what was happening to him.

The prevailing story in our current times, is that cold logic, dry facts, serious effort, endless work, efficient fixes, constant struggle and hard science are what we most need. But as important as all of these can be in the right circumstances, they only take us so far in the face of the dark and beautiful mysteries of life and death.
I was up at a Spiral last weekend overlooking breathtaking beauty after a Beltane gathering. 
We also need luscious pleasure, unfettered imagination, wild celebration, insatiable curiosity, mysterious paradoxes, playful frolicking, ridiculous humor, natural beauty, artistic creativity, bewildered awe, loving kindness and lighthearted whimsy.

These are not frivolous luxuries only to be enjoyed when the all of the problems are solved and the work is done. The problems will never all be solved and the work will never all be done.

This does not mean we should ignore the issues that need to be addressed in our lives. We need to put food on the table, do the work of caring for ourselves and others and our planet, etc.

But just as there are cycles and seasons in the natural world, this is true in our contrived world. We have created stories about what is important. After we meet our basic bodily survival needs, the rest is a matter of choice --and the stories we tell ourselves.

What if we tell ourselves the story that we need work AND play, logic AND whimsy, science AND Mystery? I think this is a way more interesting and enjoyable story and I also believe it will be ultimately more functional and practical.

And why not celebrate as many holidays as you can? You can modify the ones on the calendar or even make up your own. Just make a day holy in some way. Gather with your tribe, dress up, eat yummy food, tell stories, play games,  give gifts or do some kind of private ritual to take time out of the serious business of life.

Holidays give us excuses to take a break, find joy and reverence and strengthen connections.

Wild radish necklaces are optional!

End of part 1. Venture below the radishes into deeper territory for part 2 of this Blog.

Keep in mind that some holidays require more reverence then frivolity. For instance May 1 marks Beltane/May Day which is all about frivolity --and fertility! Gathering flowers to put in baskets and dancing colorful ribbons around Maypoles --as well as lusty entertainments for those so inclined.

AND it is also May Day/ International Workers Day which celebrates workers, but also commemorates the exploitation, oppression and death of those who protested unfair conditions.

Probably no one who is reading this blog experiences the kind of horrendous working conditions that were being protested at the first May Day. However, far too many people in this current day and age are either forced by circumstances beyond their control or choose (for complicated reasons) to spend the vast majority of their time performing tasks that bring no joy and/or dispiriedly engaged in mind-numbing distractions.

Interestingly, MayDay is also a distress signal--named because it sounds like the French word "m'aider", which means “help me."

If you didn't take time to celebrate May Day yet, do not despair --it's not too late! Take some time off this weekend to do something playful and joyful. Whatever tasks you think have to happen can probably wait just a little longer. Life is short and deserves full attention. And a bit of whimsy!

The base of the May Pole I danced around and the flowers each of us placed there to represent our wishes. 

And for a really serious holiday, Holocaust Remembrance Day began at sundown on May 1. It is a solemn occasion, but also a way of connecting with compassion. The intention of honoring this story and those who lived through it is also to prevent a reoccurrence.

Even if we don't tell the stories out loud, they live on in our DNA. An intriguing and compelling study done with mice and cherry blossoms shows how Epigenetics affects the lives of the descendants of those who experienced the Holocaust as well as other trauma survivors --even if they didn't hear the story.

So in order to move past what happened to our ancestors, (and all of our ancestors had some kind of trauma), and to move past what happened to us in the past of our current life, we need to both commemorate what happened in some way AND change our current story so that we can evolve in ways that allow us to live with more joy.

And finally, tomorrow marks two more holidays.

Cinco de Mayo (a holiday largely ignored in Mexico) was originally about a bloody battle, but the reverence for the sacrifice of those lost lives was overshadowed by celebrating an unlikely triumph of outnumbered forces. The day has now morphed into honoring Mexican American culture --and is mostly observed with significant consumption of alcohol as well as Mexican food.

I will be attending an annual Cinco de Mayo party where there will probably not be a single person of Latino heritage, and I won't be drinking alcohol (since I spontaneously lost interest in this activity several years back --a miracle which never ceases to amaze me) or eating (see Ramadan holidaybelow), but I relish any opportunity to celebrate with this community of people whom I adore.

And I also like knowing that on some level I'm connected with all of those who are celebrating the day and the Mexicans who make such enormous and often unsung contributions to our country. Especially here in California.

I'm all about the holidays with twirling dresses!

The last holiday I am featuring begins at sundown (or whenever the new moon 🌙 is sighted) and goes for a month.

Although there is a little bit of feasting and celebrating in the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, it is more about fasting, sacrificing and religious reverence.

I have decided I'm going to do a modified version of a Ramadan fast this month. Although I usually only relate to the mystical Sufi branch of the Muslim religion (gotta love all of that ecstatic twirling!),  and do not share the many of their beliefs, the timing is perfect for a change I want to make with my personal food consumption.

And adding the element of spiritual discipline to the rest of what I am exploring with this experiment will provide a helpful dimension.

I also love knowing that there are millions of others who will be similarly engaged over this next month, even though our intentions and methods will differ.


I understand that my quirky celebrations of myriad holidays will not resonate for everyone, and I certainly don't expect that my readers will do the same.

But I think it's important to at least acknowledge that the stories of different people around the world matter.

Whenever we can connect to the joy or reverence of people honoring something that is significant to them (and this also includes rituals like weddings, graduations and funerals), we feel a little closer to them.

Given the current state of our world with so much polarity and divisiveness, AND our current incredible wealth of information, as well as our ability to connect in real-time with people all over the planet, it seems to me that finding ways to connect with joy and reverence is a good thing.

So is noticing the common threads in all of our stories--including our holidays.

Currently Jews, Mexicans and Muslims are being targeted as people who should be feared and therefore "justifiably" hated and mistreated, I advocate for finding ways to connect to, celebrate and love them.

One of the ways I do this is to honor and share their stories.


And of course this goes for the witch loving Pagans as well. After all, the vast majority of the holidays originated from the original earth centered religions that commemorated the seasons and cycles of our world.

Walpurgisnacht has been celebrated in many ways by different people. Some used it to burn effigies of witches in fear, and some just used it as an excuse to drink a lot and hang out by fire.

April 30 is the night before the midpoint between the Spring equinox and the summer solstice. there is magic a foot at times of transition. And we tend to fear that which we don't understand and can't control.

I am advocating for embracing and celebrating the Mystery.

Especially at this time of transition (on SO many levels) in our world .

So Happy New Moon and happy whatever else affords you an opportunity to celebrate the cycles of our  beautiful and mysterious world as well as ALL who live here.

The process of weaving those different colored ribbons was sometimes chaotic and confusing, but it was a merry dance.
*The subtitle to this fascinating article in the link is "Pagan Holidays: Walpurgis Night and how a British lady went from Catholic saint, to Germanic goddess, to witch and gave us a second Halloween"

Friday, April 5, 2019

❓What if...⁉️

What if crashing my car last month and narrowly escaping death combined with an almost comical (in retrospect although certainly not the time!) cluster of misery inducing events was my choice?

I am not saying that it literally was my choice, either consciously, subconsciously or on some metaphysical level*, but merely posing the question causes physical, mental and emotional changes (many of which are scientifically measurable). And each one of these changes affects my ability to respond to what ever I need to address in any given moment.

When I say "ability to respond", that is also the meaning of responsibility. Not to be confused with blaming myself for attracting "negative" experiences. There are some people (such as those referred to by Jeff Brown as "New Cagers") who might tell a person with cancer that they chose it and they're responsible for healing it with higher vibrations and a positive attitude. The implication being that if they don't heal, they're doing something wrong and it's their own fault.

I don't agree with that, nor do I believe in spiritual bypassing, where I might tell myself, that no matter what happened, I just need to have a beatific attitude, showing the world only Love and Light and proclaiming to myself and anyone who will listen that "it's all good" --rather then fully feeling all of those uncomfortable, "negative", messy emotions and/or painful sensations.

I do not have all The Answers, I don't even have all the questions. But I'm finding more and more that the questions are way more important than The Answers.  When I am able to ask from a place of genuine curiosity, and compassion without expecting the reassurance of certainty, the mere act of asking opens up new possibilities that offer me totally unexpected gifts that are nowhere to be found when I'm focused on figuring out The Answers.

There were tinkling wind chimes and a little treasure chest with tiny gifts tumbling out of it in the crook of this magnificent tree.  The tree was itself a totally unexpected gift that I discovered when I recently stumbled on a new trail with a surprise Fairyland right in the middle of an area I would have sworn I had thoroughly explored. I found it exactly 4 weeks from the day of my car crash, when I asked the question : "I wonder where this goes...?" And then (one baby step at a time) I faced the fears of pain from my injuries/ticks/Poison Oak that had been keeping me on only the most familiar and safe trails for the previous month.

On 3/22/19, I listened to the beginning of a free workshop from Jamie Catto entitled "Monster Hunt and a Bit of Death" --part of his Academy of Sacred Fools program. He suggested asking something like "what if I had planned this as a training to teach myself valuable lessons? Why might I have chosen this and what are the gifts and how might this ultimatly be beneficial?" 

I didn't get the exact quote and may have mashed up a little with some other teachers who have suggested asking similar questions, but the point is that reframing something like a seemingly random crisis or series of unfortunate events has the power to transform to what will happen next.

  • Like my car crash/tick bite/allergic reaction/poison oak/virus/plus a bewildering array of related chaos 
  • OR my previous life implosion nearly a decade ago, of losing my husband/ best friend/family members /adored children/home/dog/community/"secure"future/identity 
  • OR insert your own "clusterfun" from your life

But don't take my word for the power of asking questions; try a little experiment for yourself. 

First, imagine either a crisis or loss (minor or major)  from your past, present or something you dread that could happen in the future. Take a quick dive deep into the feelings that accompany this scenario.

Tell yourself that this is not fair. It shouldn't be happening. Consider who is to blame. If someone else, ruminate over their culpability and what makes them wrong and bad. Possibly consider how you might make them suffer for the pain that they have caused you. 

Think about how you might have caused or contributed to the situation, castigate yourself thoroughly for having screwed up. Ponder the many ways in which you are wrong and bad. 

Consider the worst case possible scenarios that could result from this terrible thing that is happening to you. 

Doubtless you could find other ways of continuing this probably all too familiar process, but take a moment to pause and pay attention to how you feel in your body. Do you feel tightness and constriction, shallow breathing, a furrowed brow and frown, concave chest, hunched shoulders and/or perhaps a disturbance in your digestive system. 

Now, as you pay attention to your current physical, mental and emotional state of mind, think hard and fast about how you need to figure out how to fix this problem or how desperately you need an addictive fix of some kind to deal with the pain of these stressful thoughts, emotions and sensations. 

How likely do you think you will be to take effective action which will result in a favorable outcome from this place?

Now activate your imagination and switch to curiosity.  What else is possible?  

What if I play with the idea that I chose this challenge --like if it showed up as an obstacle in a game I had designed or a plot twist in an adventure story I had written? 

Or what if I imagine I was planning what I most needed for my evolution before I came into this life and decided this experience would be perfect --what valuable lessons could I learn from it?

IF I had on some level, chosen this, what unexpected gifts (even if even if small or slightly silly) could possibly come of this? 

Let your imagination run wild and and ask more "what if " and "I wonder" questions involving best case scenarios and at least somewhat plausible, happy repercussions. 

Once again, assess how you feel physically mentally and emotionally as you ask these questions and contemplate what your imagination offers in response. 

You are likely to feel more relaxed, breathe easier and maybe even smile a little. Both curiosity and smiling will release dopamine, endorphins and serotonin to help deactivate your fight or flight survival conditioning and also help with discovering unexpected solutions. 

Research (from numerous studies) shows that when we focus on a happier or more successful outcome, it is far more likely to happen. Just a simple reframe of how we perceive stress, for instance, changes the physiological effects on the body and performance.

Plus when we feel like we have some kind of agency (even if only imagined) it gives us a sense of sovereignty. And this level of confidence helps with moving forward.

AND we just make better (and more "responsible"!) choices when we feel better. 

I wish I could tell you that knowing all of this will help you navigate your "perfect storms" in life, with total grace and ease. 

That has not been the case for me. 🙃Although I am way more functional (not mired in suicidal depression or frozen in anxiety, numbing with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs) and kinder to myself,  I still resort to addictive fixes (junk food, novels and DVDs) when it feels like too much. 

I still struggle with embracing the mystery as I ask questions while trying not to demand immediate definitive answers. Part of me still believes I am entitled to certain outcomes if I follow what I think are the "correct "steps that a "good girl" "should" take.  

And yet, despite my imperfect results (it is so humbling to be human!), being willing to show up, ask different questions, try new behaviors in the middle of all that mess gets easier for me each time I practice, and I AM becoming more graceful in my responses to stress. Given my history, I am pretty sure that if I can do this; you can too!

Stressful times tend to be messy times. It's not comfortable to peel off layers of old conditioned behaviors. But it is way better than keeping all those layers! 

Shedding another layer, having an opportunity to practice what I have been learning, a renewed layer of gratitude and joy for my life, learning how to receive more gracefully, and feeling bathed in love and support from friends family and community, and cool insights are just a few of the gifts I got from my most recent catastrophe.  So whether or not I actually chose it on some level, it was beneficial for me in many ways. 

This Eucalyptus I encountered last week (photo by 7 year old boy --5 year old hidden in the tree --have I mentioned how much I love my job?!) peeled off swaths of outer bark and was beautiful to behold.

* although I am not completely ruling out this possibility. There are many fascinating philosophical theories.  I do not have the definitive answers on how the universe works, so I keep an open mind.