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.
Want to post a few words of welcome into the world? What’s your best advice to a new member of our tribe? Share in the comments below!
This came to me one evening, whole.
As a writer, these moments of inspired frenzy are like a port wine buzz or the adrenaline rush of riding river rapids.
When the muse sings, you drop everything else and pick up your pen.
They don’t need to burn us.
We do it to ourselves…
We burn down our passion, conflagrate our intuition, flambé our sense of self.
They don’t need to hunt us.
We hunt ourselves mercilessly,
Gutting our truths, skinning our hearts…
until we are burned out, burned up, burned down.
Until there is only shame and guilt.
Until we no longer know the woman in the mirror.
Put down the matches, sister.
Kindle your intuition, your inner knowing, your bone-deep truths.
Live from your gut, your heart.
You are a wisdom keeper, you are moon-called, you are a witch.
Don’t do their work of fire and fear.
Kindle your candle,
your hearth, your heart.
You were born to truth.
A woman came up to me after class.
“You said you thought it was all bunk and bullshit, back when you first got to Ireland,” she said. “But you changed your mind, didn’t you?”
She was referring to a comment I had made about the “magical” side of my Irish experience.
And she’s right: in the beginning, I did ritual like an anthropologist, drinking in the details but not really living the experience. Lunar astrology fascinated me but I really couldn’t see what it had to do with the “real” world. And tarot cards? They were… fun.
Even learning herbal medicine was a bit of a stretch. But at least there were scientific studies to back up the claims… even if the only scientists who bothered to study botanicals were in backwater countries like India and Pakistan.
Yup, I was that bad.
Or I should say, I was that indoctrinated.
As much as I had always been considered a rebel amongst my family and friends, on a deeper level I was very much product of private schools, suburbia, and a culture saturated in logical positivism.
There I was on the Emerald Isle, in the tiny town of Mullingar, County Westmeath.
I had sold my house based on a feeling, a sense that it was time for that life to unravel. I had decided to go to Ireland based on a dream. Not an “I have a dream” kind of dream, but the go-to-sleep-at-night and get directions from the Universe kind of dream.
Something in me had gently insisted that I was changing, evolving.
But, somehow, I managed to change my whole life without actually changing my mind.
That came more slowly. It took years of having my intuition confirmed by my intellect—which is really easy with plant medicine; my intuition would choose, my intellect would confirm—for me to get comfortable relying on a hunch, a gut feeling, or a tug at my heart.
There’s a sweet spot, where intuition is structured by intellect, that can be taught through plant medicine. Over the years I’ve figured out how to help my students step into this space… and I’ve watched their lives turn toward everyday magic, synchronicity, and joy.
So when I got a call from Max Simon, who has worked with Deepak Chopra on a number of projects, asking me to write a short course on intuition, I was intrigued… and a bit terrified. I have never tried to teach intuition directly, even though I know it is a side effect of Witch Camp and Sage School.
But I figured I should evolve and grow… I don’t like to ask anything of my students that I don’t ask of myself. 🙂
So I spent the summer challenging myself to write a course on intuition. It’s called the Tap Into Your Intuition Challenge.
If you’re up for a challenge, check it out here.
Meanwhile, I want to hear your story. How have you found balance between intellect and intuition? Share with me here.
I paused and put my spoon down.
Deep breath, Maia, you’re being paranoid.
He said there were no tomatoes. He wasn’t confused. He even asked if you had a nightshade intolerance. He gets it.
The smell of the soup kicked up my fear.
One tiny taste and I was sure there was tomato.
Stop it, Maia. No one is lying to you.
I ate a few more bites.
The waiter appeared at our table, he reached for my bowl.
I’m so sorry. New chef… changed the recipe…
I tried to smile, I tried to be blasé.
Nothing to be done. Smile. No big deal.
I’ll just be hugging the toilet vomiting, panting for breath, head pounding, arms shaking.
No big deal, another lost day.
* * *
I teach my students to trust themselves, to trust their own perception and intuition, over what they read or what they’re told or what a waiter says he knows.
It takes some time and experimentation to learn what’s intuition and what’s your brain getting bossy (you can read more on Bully Brain here!).
In this situation, my intuition was screaming but I listened to my brain’s chatter instead.
Why? Why do we tune out when our body is clearly offering up its truth?
If your head isn’t listening to your heart, ask yourself these questions:
* What’s Your History?
My grandmother suffered from migraines and I grew up hearing that she was a hypochondriac. Need I say more?
We each have our own story that colors how we see the world. It’s in the things that have been said (and not said) by those around us as we grew up.
We have a list of things we want to be and not be… and until we make that list conscious, we are always subconsciously measuring our actions against our list.
So for me, I don’t want to be a hypochondriac… and that sometimes leads to ignoring my intuition.
* Are You Exhausted?
Like you, I make a gazillion decisions a day. I make decisions for my health, my home, my business. I decide what to make for dinner.
Every once in a while I want to abdicate for ten minutes. I want to let someone else make a choice.
This gives my brain great leverage against my intuition. It can use thoughts like Are you the only one who knows anything? or Can’t you just let someone else take care of this?
If I had stopped and tuned in, I would have known that my intuition was right. But it was the end of the day, and I was tired, and I wanted my ten minutes of not being on.
* Have You Given Away Your Power?
Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy for someone else to establish authority.
And if you’re exhausted and ready to not be in control for a few moments, it’s even easier.
I asked the waiter what didn’t have tomato or potato.
He said Oh! You’re nightshade intolerant. And proceeded to list what I could eat.
He established his authority by recognizing my condition and appearing knowledgeable about the intersection of my nightshade intolerance with the menu.
Think about this:
If it’s this easy to give up authority to a waiter whom I have never met before, how much easier is it to give up authority to your family physician or lawyer, or to your mother, or to a college professor?
When our intuition flies in the face of what an authority is telling us, it takes a stronger sense of self to stand in your own power.
What’s the antidote?
* Notice when your head and your heart are not in accord.
When I start hearing a voice chastising me in my head, that’s a pretty good sign that my brain is in bully mode.
* Begin to recognize what fear feels like in your body.
Because your brain will usually get overactive when you are scared and fear muddies your ability to hear the voice of your heart.
I am pretty terrified of an accidental nightshade ingestion; it can lead to tremendous pain.
That pain is a big fear driver.
And fear distorts my ability to really listen to my inner voice.*
What distorts your ability to hear the small voice within? What makes you ignore your intuition?
*If you find that fear or panic is an issue for you, try carrying a bottle of Five Flower Formula or Rescue Remedy in your bag. When you find yourself fearful, put a drop under your tongue and take a few seconds to regroup.