Maia Toll
Squashing Dreams, Going Cold, and What I Learned From RBG

Squashing Dreams, Going Cold, and What I Learned From RBG

When was the last time you exhaled?

I started holding my breath in late February.

Breathing, this thing I’d done daily and mostly unconsciously since I came screaming into the world, was suddenly dangerous. Not only was it dangerous to myself, but I learned it could be perilous for others. So, as I passed people in the newly widened aisles of the grocery store, I found myself, quite literally, holding my breath.

My metaphoric breath followed suit, and soon I was holding everything close: my emotions, my money, even my dreams. By spring I was in a state of almost spasmodic contraction. This wasn’t the 2020 I had imagined when I sat down in January to write my intentions for this trip around the sun.

Sometime in May, after months of being painfully clamped down and drawn in, the exhale came in a convulsive torrent. My burning lungs just couldn’t keep holding, and anything resembling flow or balance had been missing from my life for far too long. In this moment of exhaling, Andrew and I decided to move ahead with the solar install we had been planning pre-Covid, I began re-envisioning what our retail shops would look like in this strange new world, and my literary agent and I decided to shop a book deal for my fifth manuscript.

But while I began once again acting like a living, breathing human, I wasn’t feeling it. During the summer months as I got a (spectacular!) new book deal, created a private label line for Herbiary, and watched The Illustrated Crystallary release to tremendous Instagram fanfare, I disguised the tepid beating of my heart with big smiles and excessive use of touchdown emojis.

And then RBG died. (more…)

The Dance of Duality and Why I (Sort of) Believe in Unicorns

The Dance of Duality and Why I (Sort of) Believe in Unicorns

Do you remember the first time you saw a picture of a unicorn?

Maybe it was one of those pre-Raphaelite remakes with a lovely woman cradling a unicorn’s head in her lap (no layered symbolism there!) or a cartoon in which the unicorn shoots rainbow hearts out of it’s horn. While part of you said “not real,” another part of you said, “hmmmm… wonder if they eat apples?”

There are many kinds of belief. There’s the belief of your mind, a form of believing which wants to be rational and absolute (the brain refuses to remember that it can be faulty or manipulated). The mind wants it’s truths clear, precise, known.

Then there are the beliefs of the heart, soul, or body, none of which are tied to the mind’s rationality. Dreams, shamanic journeys, intuitions, and our spiritual beliefs fall into this second category.

This dichotomy is the difference between what I think of as your daylight mind, which logically navigates the complexities of the modern world, and your nighttime self, which knows life is softer and that shadows are multi-layered. Neither form of belief is “right” and both are valid.To live wholly we must find balance between the two in the same way we balance light and dark, inhale and exhale. (more…)

Overthinking, Self Inflicted Misery, and the Way to Make it STOP for Good

Let’s talk a little bit about our brains.

While incredibly useful and adaptive, they can also be single-minded (no pun intended!) bullies.

A couple years back, I was doing a little number crunching for the business. It was one of those potentially annoying jobs that nobody else had enough time or desire to do. I had a bit of both, so I jumped into the breach.

The truth is, I love detail work. The intricate doodles in the margins of my notebooks would make a pointillist proud.

This was just more detail work, nothing particularly upsetting about it.

And yet, my brain was going to town.


Vision Quests, Secret Societies, and Solving the Mysteries of the Universe

Most of my teens and twenties (and some of my thirties, too) were spent searching for someone to teach me the mysteries of the universe.

I pictured a manuscript buried in the rare books room of a library in Oxford or Cambridge; or an underground society dedicated preserving the spiritual wisdom of ancient seekers; or maybe some Indiana Jones style adventure which would prove to the Powers That Be that I was worthy of being let in on The Secret. Words like “initiation” and “vision quest” would perk my ears, but ultimately, each trail led to the next dead end.

Sound familiar? (more…)

The Sacred Pause: a Simple Way to Step into Daily Magic

The Sacred Pause: a Simple Way to Step into Daily Magic

“Do you have daily rituals?”

Sitting together in her car after our first lunch “date,” my newest friend popped the dreaded question: How do you stay so grounded? Do you have daily rituals?

I cringed. I’m a Gemini, after all— we don’t do daily anything except breathe, and even that is optional. But when you do the type of work I do in the world (back me up on this acupuncturists, massage therapists, and earth mammas) there are perceptions to either live up to… or not.

They go kind of like this:

You wake up at 5:30 AM to meditate.

You say 3 things that you’re grateful for before going to bed at night… every night.

You never eat without a prayer.

You’re vegan (or vegetarian or paleo depending on what the pre-conceiver thinks is the “right” diet).

You smile beneficently when someone treats you horridly.

You focus on the positive and only see the good in everyone, especially the person who just rear-ended you and is proceeding to scream both at you and some poor soul on the other end of his cell phone. No, you don’t maul him with your super wit. You smile beneficently, picture him in the light, and send out prayers for his highest good.

Aaaaarrgghh! (more…)

It’s Easier When You Just Let Go

It’s Easier When You Just Let Go

Here’s my secret:

There was no master plan.

I didn’t visualize herb shops in two states, a couple of books, and a vibrant online community (online??! says ten-years-ago me, that’s crazy-pants!).

The year destiny wrapped me ‘round her little finger and tugged my life into a new shape, I was happily renovating my 1870’s Sears and Roebuck kit house, spending evenings rocking on the wrap-around porch, and making gluten-free mulberry-peach pies with berries fresh from the trees in the back yard. I loved my house somethin’ fierce and swore they’d carry me out in a coffin.

I was 33. Thirty-three is three 11’s, the number of visionaries and dreamers, ideologues and spiritual seekers. Think about your own thirty-third year (and if you’re not yet there, pay attention when it comes!).

I hit my thirty-third birthday and life got officially weird.