Mountain Signs


Recently, I was out in Seattle with my husband visiting my daughter. One day the three of us took a trip over to the majestic old growth forests of the Olympic Peninsula where we hiked for the day. As we were going along, and I was thinking my thoughts, my mind turned towards the book I have written, and am working on getting published. This is such an out of my league venture. It is one for which I have no past experience, nor some of the skills that will be required to make this happen. It is something I cannot figure out with just the rational mind. Therefore, I decided to put it out to the trail by asking for some kind of guidance or clue as to how I should proceed.

I walked for a very long time open to some sign along the trail that would give me information about what to do, or what to expect. Nothing. Only, it wasn’t nothing. On my way back down, when I wasn’t struggling so much to go up, I saw that the whole hike had been symbolic of what I am venturing into, what I already possess, and some instructions on how to proceed.

I saw that the hike up had been one where I did not know where I was going, having never been there before, nor possessing a map or given any markers along the trail to indicate my whereabouts. I saw how though the trail had been very strenuous, I was able to meet it. I saw that I was traveling in the company of those that loved and supported me. And I saw that I was in the presence of great beauty and a face of the mystery I had never encountered before.

All of this, every bit of it, was the guidance I had asked for. And it had been reflected back to me by the steep trail, the forest surrounding me, the company I was in, and my own efforts. I realized in that moment that though I was entering unknown territory, I would be able to meet it, I would be held by good company, and I would be known and supported by Something more than me.

So often in life, we are up against times for which we have no prior experience or knowledge on how to proceed. Or what it is going to ask of us. It could be a relationship struggle. A health challenge. An inner emotional turmoil from the past. Or all of those things in life for which there seems to be no possibility of changing what is happening.

But through it all, there is guidance. And it is everywhere we look. Try it. Hold a question in your mind of something you need help with. Be as open as you can as you move through your day. Notice what shows up. Maybe a bird flies by at a particular moment. Maybe the clouds take a particular shape. Maybe you have an encounter with an animal. Many traditions refer to this way of knowing as divination: the art and practice of discovering hidden knowledge by interpreting signs.

This way of knowing is not just for those with special skills. It is not just the sphere of children’s fairly tales or fantastical movies. Nor is it relegated to the domain of those “simple,” naive people who have no other choice; lacking, as they do, scientific or rationale ways of knowing about the world. In fact, it is a birthright of every human being to be able to tap into what we are inseparably a part of, and to make use of that as a way of being in the world in fuller and more supported ways.

“All” it takes is openness and some practice. You can even keep your skepticism. For when that information hits you, it will land so completely in every single part of you, that you will be left wanting more. And as they say, skeptics often make for the most faithful of converts.

“Contradictions” In Being


Multi-Flora Rosa is considered to be an invasive in Massachusetts. It is a plant known for the way it will spread, and spread, and spread; making its thorny and flower-laden way through the landscape, while crowding out other plants. Oddly enough, I love her for this. She is both delicate and ferocious. She knows how to give, and she knows how to take up the space she needs. And she is immune to the notion that she is a problem.

I love her hardy nature and her fragrant offerings. I love the powerful, deeply feminine, heart-opening medicine she so freely gives. I love how she feeds the bees in spring with her pollen, and the birds in fall with her rose hips. I love the shelter she provides for animals, and the beauty she so generously bestows.

Most recently, I have come to truly appreciate the contradictions she contains. She is both open and defended. Soft and unyielding. Generous and boundaried. I find it comforting to know that within one being, the pairs of opposites can co-exist so beautifully and so beneficially; not just for her, but for all. A kind of coexistence in the balancing act of containing all that one needs to be, while bringing yourself forth in the world. She provides me with a map about not only what is possible, but what is inherent, natural, and necessary in a life. A clear reflection that says you get to be everything that you are. No matter what.

Nature un-self-consciously embodies what we humans struggle to integrate within ourselves. What I mean by this is that without effort or apology, the natural kingdom takes on every quality it requires in order to live and to give; without judgment, shame, or conflict within. I find this more instructional than the beliefs and the ideas we humans take on about who we are and how we get to be in the world.

Is there something you struggle with regarding yourself? Maybe who it is that you allow yourself to be? If so, is there a plant, a tree, or an animal that you feel particularly drawn to? What qualities does that being naturally embody that you could use and relate to? And if you do not currently resonate with something in nature that could serve as a role model for you, would you be willing to look around and see if something speaks to you?

Can you imagine a life where all of your qualities were seen, affirmed, celebrated, and nourished? If you do, and can’t quite get there in the human realm, check out the natural kingdom for a more honest reflection about what a life gets to be without apology.

Two Hawks Dancing


While away several weeks ago, spending every day in the deserts of New Mexico, a mantra of sorts organically arose during the days I was out on my own. And while it took some time to get there, after the dust of my habitual mind states had settled down a bit, this is what came in: It is everywhere. It is in me. It includes everything. It is always available.

I walked my steps to this. I breathed this. I returned to this when my crazy mind went crazy. I opened to these truths as fully as I could. And in a relatively short period of time, It was not something I experienced as being separate from me. More to the point, I was It. “It” being Something Far Greater than me, yet including me somehow. It knew me. Considered me. Responded to me. Was aware of me. Was me.

Out there on my own, without my usual distractions and agendas, I was able to live that in a way that was immediate, visceral, and magical. Completely aligned with It, every prayer was answered, every yearning was met, every fear was allayed, and every deepest hope was known.

So, perhaps you will not find it a surprise that I am left wondering how it is that I will bring the woman back from the desert who not only knew, but embodied the magic and the mystery of knowing what she is inseparably a part of. And how it is that she will meet up with the modern woman who lives in a world that does not so naturally orient in that direction.

As I was wondering about this one morning in practice, I saw a shadow moving over the land, and peeked out to see that it was a hawk flying over head. Right behind it came another hawk. They soared together in the most magnificent dance; spiraling, descending, ascending, and moving in a kind of unison that defied the rational. When one finally broke off and flew away, the other followed. As tears came to my eyes, the phrase, “Two Hawks Dancing” came to mind.

In that grace-filled moment, I knew, as reflected by what I had just witnessed, that the worry I had about weaving the desert woman into my life was unfounded. Based on what I had just seen with how the hawks moved together, I knew in my bones, that the desert woman would do a dance with the modern woman with ease and agility; where one or the other would take the lead, and that lead would change depending on the circumstances, and in exactly the right way and with exactly the most precise and exquisite of timing in how each showed up. There was, as I had feared, no division, no choice to be made about who to be. Or how to be in the world.

When we are present to more than our version of how things need to go, our addiction to busyness, or our ingrained, unconscious habits, knowings, affirmations, and guidance can be found and reflected in the observation of, and the experience of, absolutely anything that is around us. Or in us. Because, It Is Everywhere. To be tuned into this possibility requires a level of attention, care, openness, and trust. Most of all, it requires a kind of slowing down, almost to the point of stopping.

What would it be like to hold a question, or a wondering in your mind, while you sat quietly and openly? Would you be willing to allow whatever arose in you or around you to serve as guidance? For in truth, is this not what we are all so hungry for? Is this not what we are in desperate need of at a time in our history where far too many of us have turned our lives over to something outside of us? Something or some number of things decidedly not superior in intelligence? And that does not carry our best interests at heart?

When in doubt, look to the Natural world for a clear and connected reflection of who you are, and what you need. Suspend what you think you know about things, and what they stand for. Instead, see if you can open to what something might stand for in light of your question. See if you can let something stand for other than your preconceived ideas of what it is.

And then, let yourself be with the alignment that comes when you can feel that all the way down to your bones. No matter what your mind might say. No matter what you can or cannot “prove” to anyone.


Not One Thing More


For thousands of generations, human beings have evolved with the natural world. The light/dark cycles, the turning of the seasons, the very pulsing of the earth’s electromagnetic field. It has held us. It has grown us. It is imprinted in our DNA. It is what we pass on to our offspring. It is what we historically not only leaned into, but fully embodied, knowing without a shred of a doubt where it was that we came from, were inseparably a part of, could count on, and would, ultimately, return to.

I recently spent two weeks outside in the deserts of New Mexico. I slept outside on the ground each night. I ate all of my meals outdoors. I did my morning practice outside. And I gathered, shared, and communed with a circle of women under the expanse of a southwestern sky each day. So, perhaps, in some deep cellular memory kind of a way, it is not surprising then, though it has been to me, how much of a transition it has been to go back to living more inside, than out. It is as though I was returned to something I did not even know had gone missing in me, and I am fiercely, as well as worriedly, reluctant to lose track of it again.

It is strange to be feeling this way as much of the experience of being outside during that time was most definitely, not comfortable. Whether it was spending time under a tarp with the relentless heat or winds of the desert, day after day. Or the efforts to eat; whether to keep food alive in a cooler that sat in 90 degree weather, or what it took to keep a camp stove lit in the wind. Or how it was to climb out of a tent in the middle of the night to pee; careful to not startle a rattle snake or step on a scorpion. Or all of the additional calisthenics it took to do yoga and meditate while in a fleece coat, hat, and gloves, still being chilly, with bats circling over head, at the start of each day.

As I write this, it sounds like nothing I would want to be a part of. Yet, I was; “comfortably” and gratefully so. Why is that? And why would I be missing all of that “discomfort” so deep in my bones that it sometimes hurts just to think about it? And why is it that every day since getting back, I am left wondering how it is that I can keep from closing myself back in?

Despite any “inconveniences,” what I miss is how naturally in tune I was moment by moment with my entire being; sights, smells, and sounds sharpened to the point of animal knowing. I miss the relentless simplicity of living without unnecessary distractions or senseless activities. I miss the ease and the straightforwardness of living that arose from tending only to real needs; leaving me intoxicated with the Source of that experience.

I miss how as sure as day followed night, the intense heat would give way after sundown, gifting us and the land with the much needed and yearned for coolness. And I miss equally how the morning cold would be transformed into a brief, momentary warmth that would leave you grateful for the heat, despite the fact that in a few short hours, you would curse that very same heat.

I miss all of the actions and the routines that had to be established to make it through a day; ones that were so vital, necessary, and attuned to keeping a human being alive and in community. And not one thing more.

I miss the truths offered up each day by the environment that had absolutely nothing to do with me. Nothing to do with  my plans, needs, wants, or inclinations. It left me with an unexpected ease around how much bigger, wilder, and wiser Nature is than my own personal agenda; allowing for a kind of natural surrender, liberating me from all of the managing, hoping, and anticipating that normally goes on in my modern day mind.

In the end, I went from a visitor on the earth to an inhabitant. I deeply, deeply miss that way of being, and am left wondering how it is that short of moving out of my home and into the woods, or experiencing some apocalyptic disaster, that I can live closer to what I discovered in the desert. One thing that I have brought home and am experimenting with is the choice to be outside without agenda. Time spent in nature that is not goal-oriented like going for a run in the woods, tending to the garden, gathering herbs, or feeding the chickens.

Instead, and of the utmost importance in returning to the truth of my nature, time to just be. And not one thing more.



I am just back from fasting for four days in the desert as one part of a much larger experience of self-discovery. While it may seem horrific and insane to go willingly without food for so many days, I will tell you that while I experienced extreme levels of physical discomfort, hunger of the body turned out to be only one part, and perhaps, most importantly, the least part, of a much larger revelation.

Beyond physical gnawing, sickness, and cravings, beyond emotional crutches and confusions around food, there came the most unexpected waves of soul hunger; wrenching,clawing, and desperate pangs for primal needs known deep within, but often left unspoken. Or worse yet, unrecognized.

For all of the material abundance and unfettered access to food so many of us experience in this nation, we are a culture famished; literally starving to death for what matters most. We, who throw out upwards of 40% of the food we produce, spend day after day deprived of the true nourishment that human beings require to live whole, connected, and well. Things like clean air, food, and water. Things like a human pace in our daily doings. Things like authentic connection. Things like being valued for who you really are. Things like acceptance, safety, dignity, and respect. The list is both endless, and unmet in too many ways, and for far too many of us.

Day after day, and sometimes moment by moment, when the physical sensations of food deprivation felt unbearable, leaving me unable to move, I spoke my hungers into the desert floor. When I felt as though I could not bear it for one more second, I let pour out of my mouth my physical, emotional, and soul hunger; all of the things I was ravenous, and literally, dying for. All of the things I needed to feel nourished, sustained, and at home in this world and in this body of mine. I prayed my hungers. I wailed them. I screamed and whispered them all. Peace. Justice. Equality. Protection of children. Reverence and respect for all Life. Healing. Recognition of the Sacred in the day to day. On and on it went, seemingly without end.

To be human is to hunger. And to know the feel and the scope of real hunger, at any level, is to live honestly, authentically, and guided by the Truth of Existence Herself. Unfortunately, we live in times where our truest hungers are being sidetracked, obscured, and forgotten. Unfortunately, we live in times where we have come to fear, deny, and escape from the very ache that would set us right.

Try it. Step outside and speak to the trees or the sky everything you are starved for. Or whisper it into your pillow before you fall asleep at night. At first, it will break your heart. You will feel ruined by the intensity and the seemingly impossible hope that any of what you must hunger for could be sated. But once the sorrow clears, a great conviction, clarity, and commitment, in a world lacking all three, will reveal itself. And it will remind you of who your are, what you stand for, and what you know to be true. Despite the ache. Because of the ache.