Unlike many people, I’m actually a fan of change.
I used to joke that I was Change’s Whore, always ready to prostrate myself to potential.
Still, even with my propensity for riding whirlwinds, change is bittersweet. Especially when it’s unexpected.
Bend of Ivy Lodge, where I’ll be holding my November gathering this year, just contacted me to book my fifth year of hosting the Deep Magic Retreat. But instead of eagerly signing the contract, something in me whispered pause…
So I took a deep breath and felt into the moment. Since I can get brain-centric (trying to wring decisions from my sometimes indecisive mind), feeling into things is my personal life-hack for connecting with my inner-wisdom. This helps me make decisions aligned with not just my brain but my whole being.
So what the heck does it look like to “feel into” something? (more…)
My students often want to know what their purpose is; ancient stories tell us we all have a unique purpose called our “medicine.”
Our best medicine is this original medicine: the spark you brought into this life that is yours and yours alone. When you live from this soul-space, you thrive, even when external circumstances are difficult.
Each of us knows, deep inside, who we are. But this sense of self can get buried beneath who we think we’re supposed to be.
Over a lifetime, you’ll have many manifestations of the same essential self.
Check out this poem I wrote fifteen years ago when I was teaching poetry to kids in Harlem. Can you see my essential self poking her head out?
Trust your intuition, my heart whispered.
You’re being paranoid, my head replied. He said there were no tomatoes. He wasn’t confused. He even asked if you had a nightshade intolerance. He gets it.
We gain a year, a “birthday,” at the end of the cycle. So you’re born, you make it through a year, and you get the tally mark for that year (your first birthday) when it’s complete and you’re beginning your second year.
I’ve made it through 48 years and I’m embarking on the forty-ninth…. which is feeling pretty friggin’ profound. So I’m taking stock… and sharing the bounty of this glorious, messy life:
1. You’re gonna get pushback for staying true to you… and that’s okay.
When you step outside other people’s notions of how things should be done, you’re gonna get some pushback… and that’s actually not a bad thing. Pushback makes you dig deep and find your stick-to-it-ness, your grit. Finding this deep well of self will get you through the times when you’re the only one who believes in your vision.
2. Most things that advance society happen outside the lines.
From Marie Curie to Steve Jobs, people who create change have a willingness to push ideas that seem impossible, absurd, revolutionary, or counter-culture. So see number 1, then dig in, dig deep, and stay true to you.
3. Bringing something new into the world will stir up a bit of chaos.
Creativity isn’t neat. It doesn’t start at 9 and end at 5. It’s okay to be messy, to experiment, to screw up, to change course… When you do, you’re probably gonna get some pushback. See number 1.
4. Reading it in a book or hearing someone else describe something is not the same as true knowing.
To know a thing you need to experience it: taste it, smell it, feel it. You need to see how your body dances with it and your soul sings to it. Book knowledge is someone else’s knowing; take it from your head to your heart to your hands to make it your own. And don’t just do this once and call it good. Take the time to practice and master it. You don’t know how to bake a cake just ’cause you did it once; you know how to bake a cake when you can replace missing ingredients with what’s available in your cupboards because you understand the fundamental make-up of cake.
5. Buying into someone else’s wellness plan is a disservice to your body.
Taking an herb or supplement ’cause your BFF takes it is simply absurd. Your body came into this world unique and it becomes more so with every experience and germ you encounter. Tending to your body takes empathy and respect and commitment. It is so worth it to find people who can support you and let them help you to stay healthy and whole (before you get sick). ‘Cause your body? It’s your most important tool for connecting with your spirit and living your dreams.
6. Buying into someone else’s spirituality is a disservice to your soul.
You’re never gonna find your own truth if you keep buying into someone else’s. Your DNA is built on the memory of generations and your soul on the imprint of stars. Tune in, check in, and see what your body knows. You might be surprised.
7. Follow your gut even if your head doesn’t know why.
To be a whole person you’ve gotta live in your whole being. So get out of your brain. Do a gut check and listen to this non-verbal but oh-so-wise part of yourself.
8. When you engage deeply with life, it engages with you.
Ever watch a bird and find it watching you back? The world is vibrant and alive and oh-so-magical when you give it a chance to be.
9. Go with the weird superpowers.
At my retreats I’ve started doing this… thing: I read people’s auras while I’m smudging them (LOL— I always wanted to be psychic— maybe it’s finally happened! Happy Birthday to me!). But seriously, it’s totally oddball and I love it. The smoke seems to tell me stories, igniting my intuition and letting me see deep and true. Yeah, I could resist. But why? There’s so much joy in giving in to your superpowers, whatever shade of weird they might be.
So go forth and live weird, be engaged, create a little chaos, and be true to you. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it as a birthday present for me. ‘Cause I truly believe that the only way we’re gonna push to needle and overcome some of the situations our society has gotten itself into is if each of us shows up as our best, truest, deepest self.
I shivered deep in my womb.
A premonition, a creeping sense of dread.
Jess, our student coordinator, had just shared with me the details of her morning in the hospital. She had been made to feel, like so many pregnant women, that she wasn’t functioning efficiently (as if her body were a machine!) because her baby had not arrived with the precision that modern medicine demands.
I felt this rift in my bones, in my blood.
And then my brain got in on the action. Sirens began wailing in the deep recesses of my mind:
That shiver was intuition! Something’s wrong! Jess and the baby are not okay!
Panic began to set in as I looked for someone to corroborate my story, to reinforce my brain’s interpretation of what my body experienced. I reached for my iPhone and started typing.
As I read the text back to myself– quickly, mind you, because I needed to hit send and get the reply that would let me know that I was right and we should be very, very worried– I accidentally took a deep breath…
… And the breath created space. And in that space I realized just what I was doing.
Not only was I in a panic, I was trying to rope a friend into my worst-case-scenario thinking. And it hit me: this is thinking, not feeling (I call this Bully Brain and you can read more about it here).
So I breathed some more.
And turned inward, gently focusing on my core, on my womb.
What was that tremor?
What I suddenly knew, not in my brain but in my being, was that my body had been poked and prodded medically in ways that hurt. And those hurts resonated with the hurts Jess was going through.
Two bodies tuned to the same frequency.
Another deep breath, this time filled with sage smoke to clear the vibration from my mind and body…
…Some rose essential oil on my belly…
…And a love note sent to Jess.
My mind quieted. The feeling passed.
The hardest part of working with your intuition is untangling feeling from thought.
Here’s a hint:
If you are hearing words– language– that’s directing you toward an action, you are probably operating from your brain.
Your intuition speaks in images and sensations, it is more about knowing than thinking.
Pause. Breathe. Smudge. Tune back in.
Jess gave birth to a healthy baby girl. No pictures yet but I’m sure she’s beautiful, just like her mamma.