First Steps to Findhorn: The Mountain Not Conquered

Be careful what you wish for, they say…and after a hectic re-entry following two magical weeks at the Findhorn Foundation eco-village and learning center in northern Scotland, I badly needed time to re-ground, re-center, and integrate all I’d experienced into my life and dreams here in Baltimore. And the solution was effortlessly manifested: a case of acute bronchitis that left me flattened on the sofa with a small pharmacy of meds, and just enough energy to contemplate:

What do I do when everything I say I believe – turns out to be true? When some more of the threads binding my allegiance to a materialist-reductionist, goal-driven construction of the world have snapped, opening perception to a living, conscious, and multi-dimensional cosmos, utterly independent of human agendas? When I have taken steps from the frenetic pace of a human doing toward becoming a human being?

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The path not taken (the steep cut to the right) and the path taken (the long line to the left)

The learning began on the very first day, as I checked into the Edinburgh AirBnb, was greeted and given directions by my hostess, and set off with a daypack bristling with necessities and plans to climb Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano presiding over Holyrood Park.

The one thing I didn’t bring, however, was appropriate footwear…

I barely noticed while pausing for a quick breakfast at The Southern on South Clerk Street or doing the touristy “step, stop, snap a photo” progress through the few blocks to the park….but once I reached my destination and looked at the winding, rugged stone steps leading to the summit, and the parade of lissome young day-trippers in tank tops, shorts, and hiking shoes ascending, I glanced down at my chic clogs with nearly zero tread and realized this probably wasn’t going to turn out as planned.

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Gorse – not for grasping

And indeed, before I’d gone 100 feet up the stone stair with shoes slipping, ankles wobbling, and acrophobia/vertigo/poor balance kicking in, I’d discovered that 1) the prickly gorse bushes lining the steps were not helpful for support; 2) wobbly middle-aged non-climbers were an obstruction to the parade of (very polite) high-speed summiters; and 3) if I was having this much trouble on the way up, the way down would be seriously hazardous.

My late father’s voice was echoing in my memory from long-past hikes – Don’t be such a fraidy-cat! – but humiliating as it might be to turn tail and retreat, I preferred a wobbly, painstaking way down rather than a high-speed tumble. Thanks be for the patience of the summiters as I made my slow way down against traffic…

Back at the bottom, I tested my shoes on the dirt paths toward the crags, watching the ravens and realizing: this day wasn’t about distinguishing myself in the eyes of other hikers, or in my late father’s judgment. This was my journey, and it was up to me to set the rules and goals.

Why had I come to Scotland, after all? I wasn’t here as a mountaineer to conquer an insensate geological formation. I was here on the first step of a pilgrimage to a spot on the planet where humans purposefully co-created with the consciousness of nature. How could I begin the journey in a spirit of cooperation with this environment?

In all honesty, I realized, getting quickly to the stated destination of a hike has never been my motivation: from childhood hikes to last year’s treks in the rainforest of Ecuador, I fume inwardly when led full-speed past amazing plants and sights on a myopic drive to destination XYZ, when I am longing to slow down and see what is around me. For me, the experience of the journey, the connection with the land, then and now, is what matters. 

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Judas-ear fungus (thanks to the RBG staff for the identification)

So I took a second look at Arthur’s Seat: was there a gentler path that would allow me to get acquainted with the mountain, on my own wobbly terms? And there was…

I followed it, slowly, in a child’s spirit of wonder and curiosity, feeling the trail firm under my feet. Taking note of the gorse, the blossoming trees, the lichens and mosses, and one breathtaking growth gleaming translucent as a rose on a sunlit tree trunk.  I greeted leisurely strollers and dog-walkers, watched the ravens flying below us….went as far as I felt called, and turned around and returned, impeding nobody’s ascent, when I felt the climb was complete. And saw and felt and experienced it all, as fully as I could….

…And returned to level ground, radiant, and made my way to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

IMG_20160414_080820808_TOPI didn’t know it then, but that experience set the tone of the trip. It wasn’t about achieving popularly accepted goals, repressing the push-pull between the inner “I must/should/shall” voices vs. the voice of the limited – and sensible – inner child for whom depth of nature-connection always came first.

It was about learning to value my own unique perspectives and leadings… respecting my limitations and the gifts they offered.  Respecting my own journey and experience…

….and opening the doors to discoveries that couldn’t be reached during the single-minded pursuit of a summit.

Escaping the Good Daughter

I’m flexing my wings for another journey this spring…this time to Findhorn, a destination I’ve wanted to visit for years. There’s an Experience Week happening, and with it the opportunity to step into a landscape where the green beings are awake and aware and working with their human stewards. It’s a trip I’ve dreamed of taking for years. 

The challenge is going to be getting there. I’ve learned from experience that each step forward is met with equal inner pushback…call it inertia, call it resistance…and this is no exception. Far from it.

For example, there was the challenge of escaping the strictures of the Good Daughter…

While shopping for my plane tickets to Inverness, I found one of those “flexible dates” offers – a walloping difference in price if I left two days early. How could I resist…it would add free time to the trip, independent time with which I could do as I chose. I’d be crazy to pass it up….

With the purchase made, and 24 hours’ freedom to reconsider, I reconsidered. I could do as I’ve salisbury-crags
always done in past travels – arrive at the site of the workshop, spend all my time in the area, attend the event, turn around and go home….or I could allow some space to be a solitary tourist in a bucket-list land, change my landing point from Inverness to Edinburgh, spend a day sightseeing, and mosey up to my destination by scenic train through the Scottish Highlands.

How was this even a question? It would be the trip of a lifetime! I swapped out my tickets for a (nonrefundable) arrival in Edinburgh, and commenced to plan….

…And awoke at 3:00 that morning, submerged in terror. The plane would go down, Edinburgh would be attacked, the train would derail – my imagination was conjuring up no end of horrors.

After fighting through the cold sweat, nausea, and metallic taste of panic, I finally realized: this was the lifelong conditioning of the Good Daughter, the internalized message thundering through my nervous system like a voice of God, delivered via my cautious, Depression-raised parents: “Thou shalt not stray from the approved path…thou shalt not waste time and money on needless curiosity…thou shalt not add needless expense to thy already unnecessary and excessive vacation…thou shalt not….”

By going to a different and distant landing point and traveling on public transport through wild terrain to my ultimate destination, I was breaching the circle of safety I’d allowed for the specific purpose of the workshop. Like Little Red Riding Hood, I was frolicking away from the narrow path I had allowed myself; and I was ripe for the picking by any predator. And, my conditioned conviction insisted, I would most certainly be picked. Red Riding Hood couldn’t have been any more doomed.

But this trip was for precisely that purpose: making my choices, stepping outside the comfort zone, defining my own experience. Escaping the conditioned straitjacket of the Good Daughter to live my own life, now that I was free to do so. Defining my purpose for the extra time and giving myself my own approval. Indulging the impulsive, curious, adventuresome Younger-Self who regularly hopped off the MTA bus a mile or more from my destinations for the sheer joy of walking and seeing the neighborhoods.

The memory arose: receiving tickets for the commencement ceremony for my Master’s degree, knowing that no one from my family would be attending. At the university bookstore, ordering the frame for the diploma, I saw a magnet: Make Yourself Proud. That became my impetus: I hadn’t spent seven years pursuing the degree, devoting doctoral effort for each 3-credit independent study (my advisor said), for my father’s pride or my family’s approval. I had done it to reinvent and reclaim my life and purpose.

This was another step on that autonomous journey. The work of overcoming my Good Daughter fears was the prerequisite for the work of my stay in Findhorn.

So refusing to be turned aside, I pushed back. Set up my B&Bs, identified the sights that called irresistibly to be seen. Set up the train trip through the Highlands to the beachside town of Nairn, and from there to Findhorn. Experienced a warm online welcome from the people who would be hosting me.

And step by step (picturing my mother cheering me on as I broke out of her inherited reclusiveness), the nightmare scenes of disaster were replaced by the images of historic, mystical, Earth-power sites. The fear was replaced by anticipation and a solid sense of rightness.

Yes, as a fifty-something middle-aged woman, I might be breaking out of the Good Daughter mold absurdly late. But better claim my life, my autonomy, my purpose, my fun, my adventure, late than not at all.

 

Phoenix Rising

There’s been a lot written about September as Suicide Prevention Month. There are walks scheduled, grassroots support movements growing…in particular Project Semicolon, a brilliant step toward reframing the question in a way that warms this grammarian’s heart…

It’s been a passionate topic for me for a long time: I’ve seen friends teeter on the edge and – thankfully – pull themselves back, or allow themselves to be pulled back. Other classmates, sadly, were not so fortunate.

And I also spent a long, long time in my 20s and 30s teetering on that drop-edge of yonder, often getting just close enough to draw blood, at one point making desperate flesh-offerings to propitiate the gods of shame, guilt and helplessness that kept me incapable of changing my past or present.

Those physical wounds were slow to heal…and their scars, like the forces that drove them, remained in my body and psyche. Like an alcoholic always hyper-aware of the location of the nearest bottle, I was always conscious that the drop-edge still awaited should I choose it…and if I forgot, the scars were there to remind me.

Yes, a whale of a lot of personal work took place in the twenty or so years that followed…and I can’t begin to say how grateful I am to the teachers and friends who stood by and supported with their wisdom and their prayers. Sometimes it seemed to take a village  just to keep this woman topside.

What caused the anguish and rage? – do I really need to go into that? Every woman who’s been there – and probably many men – can recite the litany: Not-enoughness. Self-doubt. Shame. Self-hatred. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of being seen. Perfectionism. Self-judgment. The whole Pandora’s box unleashed by a Depression-raised father from a small town with shame/inadequacy/rage issues of his own and an eternal need to be right….followed by a husband whose deep childhood conditioning led him to see women by default as authoritarian abusers. Between the internalized echoes of his mother, and my father, didn’t we have fun…

No. When those echoes started ringing in our minds, it wasn’t fun. We were lucky in that we were deeply involved in parallel men’s and women’s personal-growth organizations, so we were somewhat more conscious than we might otherwise have been, but processes and scripts can only have so much effect when generations of epigenetic trauma are pulsing in one’s DNA and nervous system.

Lots of regrets there. Lots of work to heal, lots of conversations in spirit with a husband nearly 10 years dead. And I would still occasionally lean over that drop-edge and consider…And then pull back.

When did it shift? In the months after my father, after six months’ sharp decline in which we both struggled to reach some kind of reconciliation, passed in my arms, I began realizing – I was no longer obligated to be the good daughter, limiting myself to fit his projected standards, overcome his disapproval. It was over; I was free to be myself.

But while he may have passed, his internalized voice had not…nor had the family shadows. One night’s plunge into the darkness, miraculously allowing Spirit to speak once the convulsions of tears had passed, let me see: if I take that leap off the drop-edge, the darkness wins…for me, and for everyone who knows me. There’s no coming back from that choice. In surrendering to the darkness, I’d bring it closer to those I love.

Previously I’d just waited out the storms – choosing sleep, choosing books or videos or Internet-surfing or other distractions – but that night was different: I chose life. Not out of guilt – what a horrible, selfish person I was to think of ending it all! – but as an active, conscious vote against surrender to the darkness.

As the Project Semicolon people say: A semicolon represents the place where a writer might have ended a sentence, but chose to pause and continue. You are the author; the sentence is your life.

I started looking again at those scars that night – my flesh-offering to the gods of darkness and despair – thinking of some way to shift the energy they held in my body. And the idea of the semicolon kept returning…transforming the energy of the scars with a semicolon…?

Over the next weeks and months the idea grew…perhaps to call priestess-friends to join and bear witness in an Equinox (balance of dark and light) ritual tattooing over the scars, with a semicolon butterfly? The friends I invited were supportive, but their schedules were booked, and how would I get an artist to come and do the tattoo at my home? The idea was shelved, while I supported other friends through their own drop-edge struggles.

That was a hard couple of months. Meanwhile my own self-doubts resurfaced as I worked to birth a deeper vision for my life and work: who did I think I was? All the internalized lessons from my father came roaring out…how could I exorcise these inner demons?

Finally, Andrew Harvey gave me the key in a spiritual-direction session that shook me to the bones. Tonglen practice was the tool I could use, he said, describing a variation on the ancient Tibetan meditation: to sit naked in front of a mirror, tapping deeply into the compassion of the Cosmic Christ/Great Mother Goddess as I viewed myself. To see the place in my reflection  where the blackness lived, open it up and see the dark, viscous, smoggy smoke come pouring out, and to open the Sacred Heart in me to receive it, transmute it into Light, and send it up to the stars. I should do that daily for a month, he said….and yes, most definitely get the tattoo! As I felt the hope and enthusiasm rising in response to his words, I realized – a butterfly was a lovely image, but I needed something stronger.

We agreed: a phoenix. And it should be my personal ritual, in the company of an artist who could support an individual ritual. I began that day to find the image and the artist…and to begin the practice.

My first attempt at the meditation was like draining an abscess. I felt deeply empty and clear afterwards – the shame and self-doubt for once not knotted at the pit of my stomach. Browsing Pinterest in the afterglow, I found the phoenix image I was seeking: stylized, tribal, a dance of flaming flourishes for the bird’s head, wings, and tail. I found the shop: a Steampunk establishment in Frederick, highly recommended by Witchy friends for its spiritual sensibility. I set an appointment to chat with the artist, Miranda; if the energy felt right, I would schedule the appointment for Equinox day.

The meeting went well…the art and the feel of the place resonated; Miranda was friendly, respectful of the ritual element, and powerfully supportive of my intent for transformation. Could she do it on Wednesday? No – that was her day off, but we could do it in the days before…or  we could do it that same day. After a meditation in a nearby park, I was clear: this was the day. I set the circle in the work area Miranda screened off; I called in guides and protectors and stated intent; Miranda stated her intent to support, and the process began.

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In the weeks since that day, I’ve been coming to realize the depth of magic worked in that glorious tattoo. The scars are completely hidden, one under a flame-feather of the phoenix’s wing, the other in a flourish of her tail; their energy of death and despair is completely gone. I look at the dance of red and gold on my arm, the semicolon that forms the bird’s eye and beak, and my heart lifts. A door has opened in my soul to the voice of hope and change, the ability to make new decisions, dare new ventures, reach for new connections. The Tonglen practice, like radiation, is dealing with the tentacles of generational trauma deep in my soul, and – as Andrew Harvey predicted – the tattoo and its intent started the process of healing.

Would Dad, during his life, have approved of his daughter becoming a Tattooed Lady (as he would say)? Most certainly not. I can say that now, thanks be, without the internalized child-sense that I am wrong for venturing outside his approval (where I’ve lived my life anyway); without the need to flaunt my pushback; with a sense of release that that cowering, self-effacing element of the code I learned from him is no longer mine. I am free to live by my lights, to rise, reborn, from the pyre of burning shame.

I have marked myself as my own woman, in my own integrity, making my own choices. choosing my life. And it is good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthing Past to Future

IMG_20150707_085359277Blues night…Dar Williams on Spotify as I de-clutter the kitchen fordonation runs tomorrow. Maybe it’s the rain, maybe it’s the last of Mom and Dad’s odds and ends on the front porch of the old house to go to the dump…fraying carpets, ancient air conditioners, mattresses…the last push of transition.

My son’s old bedroom is packed with stored energy, memory-weighted artifacts to sort, keep, donate or gift. I look at these things and see them as Mom displayed them, hear her reading her writing to me for feedback, see Dad jerry-rigging his unique creations from bits and snips…

I look at the boxes stacked around the dining room, feel a heavy lump of grief in my chest. The past is a vortex that could pull me in; where is the razor’s edge of integration versus submersion; how do I reclaim my forgotten past, discover my parents’ lost history, honor remembrance and retool legacy, while gaining a perspective on a lifetime’s conscience-driven role of family misfit, a grasp on the work of today and the demands of tomorrow?

OK. Start with simple things. Open up space, open up clarity and energy. Open up time to grieve and let go. Listen to the inner guidance on what each piece wants to offer to me or to unknown others.

Reality Check

Questions I’ve been receiving in meditation:

What would you do if you could see that every fumbling step was a lesson, a priceless piece of the mosaic of your life?

What would you do if you knew that the paralysis you feel in the face of greed’s ascendancy is due to your own participation – buying gas for the car, oil for the furnace, etc., etc.?

What would you do if you knew that solutions ultimately won’t come from pointing fingers, blaming self or others, but from sitting in the cosmic dance of interconnected wisdom?

What would you do if you really believed Arvol Looking Horse’s words:” “Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?”

What would you do if you really, really, in-the-real-world-really believed that you were one cell in the Divine Body of creation, with an irreplaceable part to play?

To Stop Feeling Alone, Stop Being Alone

In a long-ago job, a manager once told our team – “I don’t want to hear about a problem unless you have a solution to offer.”

I’ve tried to take that as a guideline for blog posts: not to kvetch about an issue unless I can work my way through it to an answer…or at least a new perspective.

Lately, though, between rollercoaster headlines – the violent seesawing between hard-fought wins and losses for the environment, social justice, the economy, one humanitarian disaster after another – the death of my dad and the breaking up of the old homestead – I’m feeling stunned into silence. Have felt stunned into silence for months, for most of this year, truth to tell. Brief, glittering and profound phrases flicker randomly through my mind, but heavy-hearted,  I feel exhausted at the mere thought of connecting them into a message to inspire thought, feeling, or action..

I’m not alone in this. I know that. Activist friends, writer friends have shared their own feelings of shocked and devastated wordlessness in response to the events of the day.

And I know with equal certainty that my spiritual exhaustion stems also – perhaps even more – from insufficient daily, purposeful, practice in engaging with nature. Just to hug a tree, to sit on a stone and feel the earth under my hands, to work in my garden and listen to the guidance of the plants, revives my energy. This depletion from the human excesses around me is a sure sign of “nature deficit disorder” in my life.IMG_20140827_172826

And just as suffering offers the lesson of compassion, this exhaustion reaffirms the source and inspiration of my creative energy.

So…to renew, get out each day, away from keyboard and screen; go out of the house and feel the rain on my face. Listen to the whispers of the ancestors, in all their faces and races and species, in the rustle of wind in the trees. Hug a tree, place my feet between her roots, and feel my own roots reaching into the earth.

To renew creative energy, renew connection to the conscious, living, interconnected creation. To stop feeling alone, stop *being* alone.

As the New Year Approaches, Many Changes

The past year has been a time of completion for so many aspects of my life…most recently, finishing the last independent studies and project of excellence toward my Master’s degree in Applied Healing Arts (now the School of Philosophy and Healing in Action) at the Maryland University for Integrative Health.

I entered the program one year after my husband’s passing, with the intent to reinvent myself and recreate my life…and it has succeeded. During my time in that program, I tapped into my deepest values and purpose for living, and connected with teachers who have changed my life forever: the Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, Deena Metzger, and Theodore Richards (none of whom are on the faculty of MUIH, but all of whom, amazingly and generously, agreed to work with me remotely as adjuncts).

I am graduating with a book in the works, and a deeper work evolving, feeling profound gratitude for the journey of the past few years, and all the many people who have supported…

So what now? For the moment, a time of retreat and regrouping, while I work out the balancing of this deeper work with my existing copywriting service for sustainable businesses, healing practices, and eco-spiritual nonprofits, Your Words’ Worth. The long-range goal: to build a life in service to the Planet and the People, fostering conscious connection to the Divine embodied in creation through my own work and support of others of like mind.

So SoulPaths will be changing in this direction, offering new conversation circles, talks, book reviews, and promotions of outside events through the Shift Network and others….stay tuned, friends.

New Pope, New Vision – New Hope?

Matthew Fox’s Letters to Pope Francis Offer Audacious – and Necessary – Guideposts to Rebirth the Church

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As an Earth-based escapee from the Catholic Church for lo, these 30-odd years, I’ve puzzled some friends with my enthusiasm over theologian/activist/author and ex-Dominican Matthew Fox. After I’d shaken the Catholic – and Christian – dust off my shoes so very thoroughly, they ask, what’s the deal? Why follow the work of this theologian- still more, why promote him?

Simple: Fox has spent more than 40 years teaching creation-based spirituality – a mystic Christian tradition in tune with leading-edge science, focusing on original blessing rather than original sin, teaching pan-entheism (God in all things, and all things in God, a transcendent and embodied Divine) and speaking out for social, environmental, and gender justice.

He’s spent almost as long calling the Vatican to account for its repressive policies shutting down the voices of justice, dissent, and theological progress, and for promoting the blindly sycophantic and the criminally greedy, corrupt, and pedophilic.

Even a spiritual-but-not-religious Earth-based edgewalker can appreciate a  theologian like that…one who teaches “the Christ Path” rather than Christianity, who honors women, feminism, and the Divine Feminine, who’s transformed worship into a high-energy, dancing communal meditative journey and who attends sweat lodge and Sun Dance and pays heed to the wisdom of Indigenous teachers.  And who carries the scars of Vatican anger for doing all of the above.

So when “Speakeasy Mike” offered me the opportunity to review Letters to Pope Francis, of course I leaped at the chance. ..with the caveat that I’m not an unbiased source, just one speaking from the other side of the religious fence.

Fox has told the story of his struggles in writing The Pope’s War, his comprehensive expose of the corruption in the Vatican. Recently released in paperback, the book is a damning portrait of the corrupt and repressive papacies of Benedict XVI and John Paul II. It is an exhaustively researched and documented – and emotionally exhausting – read, as well as an act of profound moral courage.

Reading Letters to Pope Francis: Rebuilding a Church with Justice and Compassion after experiencing The Pope’s War is like moving from darkness to dawn. Fox is writing from the heart, pouring out hope and prayer and support to a spiritual brother. He addresses Francis as a pope who has demonstrated an understanding and commitment to the teachings of the historical Jesus: justice, compassion, and the reform of corruption. And he challenges the new pope to act boldly and lavishly on those principles, calling on him to fulfill the promise of the papal name he chose and return to the forgotten values of Vatican II.

Nothing escapes examination in this small but intense volume: the need for healing the Church from the wounds inflicted by the Vatican at all levels, from criminal cardinals to molested children…the need for a new awareness and commitment to the poor in the face of global corporatocracy…the need to expunge the influence of fundamentalist christofascism from the Church…the need to recognize the martyrs of the New World and reinvent the failing priesthood…

All of these are themes that the new pope has already sounded. But Fox dreams bigger, audaciously envisioning a Church not only reformed but also re-birthed at the deepest levels to become a voice for healing and transformation in the world, as the Pope’s namesake saint and indeed Jesus, the object of the Church’s worship, taught

He urges Francis to adopt the principles and paths of Creation Spirituality – an ancient mystical tradition within Christianity which Fox learned from his mentor, Marie-Dominique Chenu, o.p., of the Institut Catholique de Paris, and which includes such luminary spokesmen as the late Teillhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry, and which Father Bede Griffiths called the “spirituality of the future.”

Fox urges the pope to recognize the need for the Divine Feminine in the spirituality of this century….to advocate for the rights of women, and to step away from the myopic anti-sex/anti-birth-control/anti-abortion/anti-gay sexual policies of past papacies and embrace the teachings of Jesus on sexuality between consenting adults – i.e., silence. He urges him to hear the words of indigenous peoples on the sacredness of the earth, and to de-centralize the Church, giving greater leadership to the laity, and particularly to women. He speaks to the need for deep and genuine ecumenism, sharing wisdom among faiths – not the Church’s historic facsimile tolerating other denominations as “separated brethren” and ignoring or invalidating other traditions.

In short, Fox passionately envisions a rebirth of the Church to one that is truly catholic – i.e., universal – in its joyous worship, compassion, mysticism, creativity, community empowerment, prophetic voice, and activism. His love for the Church is plain to see – as well as his desire to help midwife the rebirthing.

Reading his words, as an escaped Catholic who bailed out over many of the issues he describes, my heart warmed to the vision of a Church that was genuinely a force for healing and positive change: one that played nicely with other spiritual traditions, that favored the poor over the powerful and the Earth over corporate greed. That recognized the Earth, as the newly canonized Saint Hildegard of Bingen did, as Mother, and all the cosmos radiant with divinity.

I see this book as a message not only to Pope Francis but also, especially, to ex-Catholics and spiritual-but-not-religious “nones” dreaming of what a welcoming and supportive church might be. This is a vision worth manifesting…and now, if ever, is the time.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

 

 

 

Supporting Those Who Support the Change

For a long time now – going back to this site’s .wordpress.com days – I’ve been promoting occasional events and organizations that spoke deeply to my heart and soul. And today, after a weekend of life-changing personal shifts, SoulPaths is taking the first steps toward its next incarnation – celebrating those who are driving the Great Change our world so badly needs.

I’m thrilled to share the news that Starhawk, under whose direction I spent a life-changing two weeks studying the principles of permaculture design at Earth Activist Training – Starhawk, the culture-changing voice of Goddess spirituality and earth consciousness who led ritual at the WTO protests in Seattle and set up the (permaculture-based) camp for Occupy at McPherson Square in DC – Starhawk, who’s held a vision for empowered, peaceful, grassroots actions for decades now, has now published her book on the topic…

Starhawk will be offering a telecourse on Empowerment Through Collaboration: How to Create Transformative Community through the Evolver Network and Living Mandala, July 2 through August 6, online as a webinar.

Whether you are a street activist, a Transition Town participant, or working out the principles of sustainable living with an intentional household or eco-village, in this course you can “learn how to make your participation in groups, in all of its aspects, an expression of your highest ideals.”

If you have any desire at all to help create the global change that is so badly needed, don’t miss this training. She and her guest speakers will be giving interactive mentoring on topics such as…

  • The Balance of Power and Responsibility
  • Communication and Trust
  • Empowering Leadership
  • Conflict, Trauma, and Dealing with Difficult People
  • Meetings and Facilitation

Oh – and in the interest of full disclosure, yes, as an ambassador of the Evolver Network, I will receive a small commission if you do sign up…..but that’s not why I’m making this announcement. I’m making it because Starhawk’s work is profound and powerful, because it is helping to create the peaceful change our world needs, and because it needs and deserves to be shared widely. Seriously – don’t miss this training.

Midpoint: Winter to Spring

Decompressing after a long day of passionate work, promoting a client’s upcoming seminar series, I stumble on an article and video and step through a window in time…

Twenty-eight years ago I was singing these songs in a living-room folk band with the man I would later marry. Today, seven years and a few weeks after his death, I listen to these songs as I have so many times before, and remember exactly the feel and taste and smell of those days…the feeling of being young, newly on my own, intoxicated with freedom and love and music and art and a liberated, bohemian lifestyle after a so-conservative childhood.

A new friend, another widow, said to me recently that when her husband died, “the technicolor went out of her life.” I know what she means, as I work now to regain my zest, confidence, intentionality, sense of living from my heart.

Unused memberships in singles networks still occasionally beckon – do I want to go out on nervous, hesitant coffee dates, hoping I will recognize a kindred spirit across a crowded room as I did once, 29 years ago? Not really. I’m still looking for someone whose powdered bones I and a group of family and friends sprinkled into a river seven years ago.

Work is the best medicine now, as spirit and serendipity guide my copy writing business into new directions and new clientele… changemakers serving Spirit and creation. Still emerging from a deep dark period, I simply follow the energy, discovering tools for growth and transformation, finding new confidence in my inner resources, witnessing miracles taking place in magical connections and undreamed-of developments. We’re a week past Imbolc, ancient turning-point from winter toward spring. The daffodils’ greenery has emerged and buds are forming; some enterprising forsythia are already blooming.

Awhile back I posted an invitation to a support circle for widows who are transitioning from deep loss into finding their voice and purpose for living…that invitation hasn’t been forgotten. In keeping with a circle of empowerment to honor our inner knowing and the wisdom gained from our scars, I’m looking toward the week of spring equinox, March 16 – 22. Bring flowers to hold the intention of your blossoming, eggs for the promise of new beginnings.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YuaZcylk_o]