Guide to the Darkest Nights: Finding Joy

Guide to the Darkest Nights: Finding Joy

Think of yourself as a seed, deep in the Earth’s dark soil…

What do you dream of becoming?

Do you know your passion? Your form? The shape of your flower?

The acorn knows all of this. Even though it will take a decade for it to mature beyond sapling and a hundred years to build it’s girth, the acorn already contains the pattern for the Oak it will become.

We often go into our own future waiting to see what’ll happen next, picturing ourselves as a leaf getting carried hither and thither by the currents of time. But what if you’re an acorn, not a leaf?

What if deep within you, you already know the pattern of your own being and all you have to do is grow into it? Click To Tweet

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Why It’s Important to Have a Toolkit for Happiness: 4 Gratitude Practices You’ll Actually Use

Why It’s Important to Have a Toolkit for Happiness: 4 Gratitude Practices You’ll Actually Use

Some people are grateful all the time.

I’m not one of them.

I tend to be a striver, an achiever, a “what’s next?” kinda gal.

For me, gratitude has to be a ritual, otherwise it only happens on the rare occasion when something completely out of the ordinary whacks me over the head with the wonderfulness of this world.

So, as a Thanksgiving treat, I thought I’d share my super-easy gratitude practices (the ones I actually do.) (more…)

You Belong to the Wild and Wondrous

You Belong to the Wild and Wondrous

You’re hard-wired for wonder…

… for pausing to study sunsets and the afterglow of lightning flashing through the summer sky.

It’s really that simple.

And yet, the same hard-wiring which allows for so much joy can lead you on a merry chase for meaning, for logic, and scientific explanations. When we become overly analytical we close the door on everyday magic. We end up living in Mundania with no mystery in sight. I’ve been down this path: it led to longing, disconnection, and even depression.

When we fail to recognize the wondrous in the daily, we lose a necessary part of ourselves.

I’m not exempt. After the umpteenth time sucking my thumb in the abyss of Why-The-Heck-Are-We-Even-Here, I came back with this basic truth: sometimes we have to allow life to have meaning.

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Tattoos, the Cosmic Cha-Cha, and Why You Need a Rite of Passage

Tattoos, the Cosmic Cha-Cha, and Why You Need a Rite of Passage

Her hands were delicate and her fingertips ink-stained.

Over the course of weeks (months?) we looked at images: That line weight is too heavy, she’d say or I love this! But it’s way too detailed: it will look like a blob by the time you’re fifty.

I got my first tattoo when I finished my Master’s degree. After three universities and enough course credits for a PhD, actually finishing— degree in hand— felt like befriending a personal dragon or summiting an inner-mountain. This was no small moment and I wanted to mark the occasion.

Many people (especially my parents) thought it odd that I would literally and permanently mark my body. But that was exactly what I wanted— a permanent reminder of who I had become. I was not the same woman who had begun degree-hopping six years before and I was craving a way of expressing my inward change in an outward way.

And permanent? Absolutely.

Because, let’s face it, we often take two steps forward and one step back, treating our personal growth like a cosmic cha-cha.

This time I wanted to own it. I wanted it to be inescapable: I wanted it etched on my skin.

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Talking to Stones and Healing Ancestral Wounds

Talking to Stones and Healing Ancestral Wounds

This past week autumn has begun to beckon. Her call is still faint: a crisp edge to the breeze, a few yellowing leaves waving amidst the lush green of summer.

My thoughts have begun to drift toward my autumn rituals, the luscious time of harvest and, ultimately, rest. Inevitably autumn thoughts are Ireland thoughts since that is when I began my studies there…..

We parked in a rut on the side of the road and hiked up a barely-seen track and then across a stile before clambering up a fence line edged with Hawthorn and Elderberry.

This route had become familiar, ‘though I doubt I could find it now, fifteen years later.

The stone circle at the hill’s top was off most maps and worn down like ancient teeth. Walk clockwise to build energy; the stones like that my teacher murmured.

So I set off in a sun-wise direction, moving slowly, trailing fingers over moss and bird droppings to feel the ancient rock beneath. Once, twice… the walking became a meditation. I stopped seeing my teacher, the sun, the gnarled roots beneath my feet. (more…)

The Lost Language: an Unpublished Excerpt from The Illustrated Herbiary!

The Lost Language: an Unpublished Excerpt from The Illustrated Herbiary!

A Cherokee story was told to me by a medicine man.

Native tales hold power and need to be shared in a specific way. Since this story is not mine to tell, I’ll paraphrase it for you and maybe, if you’re lucky, someday a person of Cherokee decent will tell you the tale whole, the way it’s meant to be shared. The short version is this:

A long time ago, on the land right under your feet, people understood more than we understand today. They translated the murmurings of the four-leggeds and the calls of the winged ones. The buzz of a bee had meaning, as did the glub, glub of the salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

Most important for us here and now, those long-ago people understood the whispers of the green world. The gentle twisting of flowers toward the sun had meaning as did the way the wind whistled through the slow-growth forests hugging steep mountainsides.

For reasons only the Cherokee can share, we lost our ability to communicate . . .

. . . And we have searched for this lost language ever since.

Understanding the languages of nature is a universal human obsession.

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