the Shadow in the absence of social media.

My Shadow comes closer when I take long breaks from social media.

Without the distraction of putting on and maintaining a mask for an audience of mainly people who don’t know the true daily details of my life and my heart, I am confronted by the parts of myself I’m not comfortable with: the parts that are vain, that are avoidant, that are manipulative, that are resentful and judgmental; in the end, it is these things that have often driven me back to social media and the promise that lies there of crafting a gilded front for people to look at and for me to convince myself there is no Shadow.


I deleted my Facebook profile (completely deleted, not just deactivated) months ago, back in July. When one of my best friends died at the beginning of December, all social media seemed suddenly pointless and a waste of time; here was my beautiful lifelong friend, who on Instagram seemed so content and grateful for her life, for her family, for her homestead with its horses and dogs and house-in-progress. Yet, beneath the facade, her heart was breaking to the point of no return.

After her Celebration of Life, I deleted the Instagram app off my phone, which really only has the memory space for one app at a time anyway; I replaced it with Spotify and a steady stream of music to drown out the grief in my brain. Thus, for the past three months, I haven’t posted on social media (other than here on WordPress, which I don’t completely count because it doesn’t encourage users to present a facade of the lives in order to get and keep followers, like Instagram does).

The longer I am off social media, the more I am forced to be present with my life. Seeing, acknowledging, and learning about my Shadow has become a non-negotiable part of that social-media-less existence. Getting to know my Shadow, via my grieving process, has been difficult and heart-wrenching; there has been a lot of anger, a lot of resentment, a lot of grief, and a lot of tears arising at various moments, in between desperate bouts of sexual heat (another coping mechanism).

But I’ve discovered something else: the Shadow isn’t all nastiness and unhealthy patterns and bad coping mechanisms. The Shadow is also parts of me I discarded as a child and as an adolescent because they didn’t fit what I felt the world wanted from me.

The Shadow is also my child-self. The Shadow is me at five years old, ascending my favorite climbing tree to sit on the topmost branch and feel my spirit soar with the wind against my face. The Shadow is my young feet exploring the forest and talking to the plants and trees. The Shadow is my stubborn belief in magic and wonder and the spirit(s) of Nature that, even as a teenager, I snuck out of my bedroom window to commune with. The Shadow is my 13-year-old self that elected to stay home when my family went to a concert, claiming disinterest, just so that I could stand in the snow and sing to the milky full moon.

My Shadow is my heartbreak at eight years old, sitting in a bathroom stall and hearing my classmates talk nastily about me, how dumb and immature I was for still believing in faeries. My Shadow is my desperation to fit in, the hiding away of my wild nature, and my grief when my attempts to be like everyone else just didn’t work. My Shadow is my hopelessness when my adolescent attempts at activism were looked down on and ignored because I just wasn’t cool enough, just wasn’t popular enough, just wasn’t intelligent enough. My Shadow is my fear of never, ever being good enough to be loved.

My Shadow is the parts of myself that were never bad, really, but are wounded by my and society’s rejection of them. And my Shadow is asking to be integrated again. My Shadow has been asking me to heal its wounds.

Healing the Shadow, of course, isn’t easy work; there’s no 1-2-3 method for it, and the more I get to know my Shadow and think about my experiences since I turned 18, the more I think that the process of healing the Shadow requires both intention and natural progression: I don’t think I could have healed my Shadow at 18, because I simply didn’t have a deep understanding of what a Shadow even was, not to mention I was lacking in the deep self-awareness that sort of introspection requires. It’s because of my experiences the past almost seven years that I am now able to look at these parts of myself and say: This is my Shadow. She is part of me, and she is hurting.

But my best friend’s death was, in its way, a catalyst for forcing myself to really look at my Shadow; not just for myself, but for her. Healing my Shadow is for her, in a way, because in the end she didn’t have the strength to heal hers: in the end, she was happiest when she returned again to Spirit. But I knew my friend, and I know she’d want me to heal in the way she wasn’t able to in this life.

I’ve been starting small — small steps that already seem to be accumulating in big ways. Daily, or nearly daily, poetry has been a low-energy form of introspection and acknowledgement of my emotions (rather than my usual avoidant tendencies). Finally talking about what lies in my heart, even when I’m not sure how the person I’m speaking to is going to react.

I’m also trying to heal my Shadow by taking the steps to return to those feelings of connection and peace I found before I let society scare them into hiding. While reading Material Girl, Mystical world by Ruby Warrington (founder of The Numinous), in a section about “doing your dharma” (your life’s purpose), I tried a suggestion of hers for figuring out, or beginning to figure out, what your dharma is (other than diving into your astrological natal chart): thinking of what brought you joy, ecstasy, and peace as a child, before the world told you it was a bad thing.

I closed my eyes and instantly I was there, in the forests surrounding my childhood home, communing with the land, sensing and talking to, in my child way, its spirit(s). Think about why that thing brought you joy, Warrington advises, and the answer came to me almost instantly.

After giving birth, while I was still living in Alaska, I fell headfirst into herbalism, not just as a way to create medicines and live a healthy life (although that was certainly part of it), but also as a way to commune again in a deep way with the land and with its spirit(s). In some traditions of herbalism — most notably the Wise Woman Tradition taught by Susun Weed — encourages the creation of a connection to herbal allies, often through focusing on one wild plant at a time, not only learning all you can about that plant, but also communing with it in deeply spiritual ways.

How I felt during that period, when I was focused on wild herbalism and the spiritual process of wildcrafting, reflected how I felt as a child, when every plant and tree had a spirit that spoke to me. In fact, it was one and the same: a piece of my Shadow, beginning to be healed.

Unfortunately, some months after moving to Oregon, that passion fell once again into hiding as I dealt with deep emotional turmoil; I forgot about it and never picked it up again. Yesterday, as I envisioned that period of my childhood and remembered my lost joy in active communion with nature, I felt my Shadow stirring, saying yes yes yes.

I don’t know how long it will take to heal my Shadow. From all I’ve read — and I’ve read quite a bit — it’s a lifelong process; perhaps it’s something I’ll never be finished doing. But if I let myself become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, then I won’t do it; I’ll freeze up and the work will be left in stagnation, just as it did when I gave up herbalism and froze my growth in the face of my separation from my daughter’s father and resulting existential fear that came to take the place of that relationship.

So I’ll focus on the present.

I started with poetry, and now that it’s a habit, the poetry will continue to flow.

And now I’ll return to the land. I’ll return to talking to the trees and the plants. I’ll return to the nettle infusions and chickweed salads and dandelion tea. I’ll descend from my head into my heart.

I’ll remember where lush lives: in the soil beneath my feet, and in the fertile darkness of my own Shadow.

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gemini sun, virgo rising, pisces moon.

I am a butterfly
seated on a flower
rooted deep
in moist and numinous
soil:

my mind fluttering,
my body curving,
my heart flowing;

thoughts hungry for knowledge,
flesh hungry for grounded passion,
soul thirsty for gentle,

unbounded,

oceanic love.

48 acts of lusciousness.

want to make your life more luscious? These are some ideas I wrote down that I can turn to when I need help embodying my 2019 focus 
word “lush,” which helps me connect more deeply with my life 
on a daily basis, and helps me go from my head (overthinking
mode) to connecting with my senses and my heart as an avenue
to deeper spiritual connection.


  • Get up an hour before anyone else. Make tea. Practice gratitude. Stretch. Breathe and watch the change of the morning light.
  • Give thanks before eating.
  • Ask my spiritual guides for help in the midst of challenge.
  • Guided meditation. (I love Boho Beautiful’s guided meditations on YouTube)
  • Write and draw a bit every day.
  • Practice ukulele every day.
  • Meditate, draw, and play music WITH my daughter. Do yoga WITH my daughter. Include her in my interests.
  • Learn one new hoop trick a week.
  • Bring my art supplies and my oracle cards to work and use them between calls.
  • Go for a walk in the park more days than not.
  • Collect sticks and rocks to decorate with my daughter.
  • Read inspiring books.
  • Invite friends to hang out with my daughter and I (don’t assume people don’t want to hang out with a four year old).
  • Hang out with inspiring and active people.
  • Drink herbal infusions.
  • Eat mostly whole foods.
  • Read to Luna before bed.
  • Sing before bed (before Luna and with my self)
  • Go on a hike with Luna once a month.,
  • Ecstatically dance.
  • Say no to that which drains my energy in destructive ways.
  • Say yes to that which feeds my soul.
  • Ask thought-provoking questions of myself and others; things like: “What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?” “What mundane act feels like a spiritual experience?” “What inspires you?” “What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced, that ended up leading to something beautiful?”
  • Log out of social media. Stay logged out for at least a month at a time. Continue being logged out for as long as it feels freeing.
  • Get a window shelf. Learn how to grow plants. Start with easy-to-care herbs, houseplants, and simple greens like lettuce.
  • Fast periodically (in healthy, well-researched ways).
  • Take candlelit baths weekly, with bubble bath or bath bombs.
  • Wear beautiful clothes that are also comfy and practical.
  • Take a dance class.
  • Take an art class.
  • Go to poetry slams.
  • Go to pools, and open gym days at gymnastics centers for kids.
  • Speak the truth around the children (don’t assume they won’t understand)
  • Go see live music, with or without Luna.
  • Do low-key guerrilla art.
  • Urban wildcraft.
  • Pick wildly growing “weeds” and herbs, use as bouquets.
  • Buy flowers just because.
  • Use beautiful notebooks.
  • Use beautiful pens.
  • Hold potluck inspiration evenings, where everyone brings a favorite dish and something that inspires them.
  • Call my siblings just to say hi.
  • Once a day, stand with arms wide open.
  • Listen to music that enlivens the body, heart, and soul.
  • Lean against tree trunks and breathe quietly.
  • Believe in the spirit of nature.
  • Spend time in nature alone.
  • Stargaze. Tell stories about the stars.

What can you do to make your life more luscious?

2019 focus word.

Every year, I choose a focus word to set my intention for the year. That focus word ends up becoming a theme for the following twelve months; it shapes my experiences and acts as an arrow in the bountiful light, and as a lantern when my path plunges into darkness, into the valley of my own shadow.

Last year, my word was “goddess,” which helped me to learn that connecting with divinity isn’t simply about ecstasy; it is about connecting with even the rage and the madness and the grief that goddesses go through in their own stories. It is about knowing oneself as one knows the night and the day: not hating some traits and preferring others, but rather accepting, loving, and embracing both as vital parts of life, and moving through them with ease, as Persephone does between earth and the underworld.

In 2017, my word was “self-love.” It was a word that led to me going on a three day, three night vision fast in the mountains, it led to my relationship with my daughter’s father transforming from domestic partnership to a co-parenting friendship, it led to me cleaning up my diet, and it put me on the path to greater self-awareness. It also gave me a deeper understanding of what self-love truly means: it’s not all bubble baths and lazy Sundays. It’s also looking critically at the parts of our lives (inner and outer) that are no longer serving our growth or the growth of the other people involved, and replacing those parts with things that do serve us and all involved.


Normally, I choose a focus word for my year before the new year even starts. But, deep in grief, my word for 2019 could not find me; I wasn’t listening to anything but the earthquakes in my chest.

Finally, nearly two months after the beginning of the new year (and three months after one of my best friends died) and a night before snow began to fall on this Oregon city, my word came to me: lush.

Lush as in beneficial growth.

Lush as in slowness that is not stasis but is, rather, rich with meaning, mindfulness, and possibility.

Lush as in vivid sensory moments. As in not a moment wasted. Every moment noticed and appreciated for the lusciousness it holds.

Lush as in the mundane becoming magical.

Lush as in living my life like I’m in a Hayao Miyasaki film:

Lush as in a focus on beauty regardless, or because of, circumstance.


As with my past focus words, this word will be both a question and an answer given to myself on a regular basis:

What can I do to make this situation more lush, 
more meaningful, more beautiful, more in service to my growth?

Embody lusciousness. Engage the senses in vivid and 
sacred ways. Let the material lead to the spiritual,
by appreciating the world as it is,
not as my mind thinks it should be —
yet, not being too attached to it.
Lush, not as an end goal, but rather — 
as an avenue to Spirit.


This year, the year I descend from my head into my body.

Into my heart. My gut. My womb.

The year I am not wishing: the year I am doing. The year I am loving. The year I am passion, peace, grounding, and creation all at the same time: the year I am like a deeply rooted, steadily growing plant. Every day worthwhile. Every day making a life.

Because nature does not hurry. Nature doesn’t overthink or over-analyze.

Nature grows. Lets go of what no longer serves. Rests. Then grows some more.

Lush as in nature. Lush as in

me.


waiting for miracles.

inspired by the writings of Charles DeLint

I’m waiting for who I was
to catch up to who I’ll be,
and waiting for miracles
to arise from the liminal streets.

I’m waiting for miracles
to arise from the liminal streets,
and waiting for remembrance
to illuminate the spirit within me.

I’m waiting for remembrance
to illuminate the spirit within me,
and waiting for absurd good news
to remind how magical the world can be.

I’m waiting for absurd good news
to remind how magical the world can be,
and waiting for who I was
to catch up to who I’ll be.

I’m waiting for miracles
to arise from the liminal streets,
and beginning again to think

that the creation of miracles
is actually up to me.

intention.

more lush

give me more

candle light curling tea steam

on rainy evenings

more depth

breathing liminal light shadows

where the dawn beckons

more vibrancy

green growing dying colorful things

in the sweet daylight

more spirit

laughing crying dancing incense moon

at sacred midnight

give me more

more

pause

more

center

more

creation

more

more

more

lush

in the

chaos

of

this one spiraling

fractal

beautiful terrible

life.


raven fly over the mountains.

This week, a friend let me borrow his ukulele. A song, based on a poem I wrote, has been drifting along in my head and I decided to attempt to put it to chords and a melody. The following video is my unedited, unpracticed rough draft of the song, flaws and all. I’m looking forward to playing with it more and polishing it up.

I’ve been wanting to learn how to play an instrument for many years, but insecurity always got in the way. This past year, I’ve learned so much about myself that I’m no longer willing to let insecurity stop me from doing the things my soul longs to do; finally picking up an instrument and writing songs is something that I’ve longed to do and never allowed myself.

That changes this year.

gratitude on a misty February morning.

I am grateful
for the cold February morning
that wakes me too early,
because the quickening light asks
for my breath and presence.

I am grateful
for the inhalation of the
gifts of the directions:
I call into myself
inspiration, creative action,
courage and determination,
grounding, community,
and connection,
guidance and nurturing.

I am grateful
for the exhalation of that
which I desire to let go of:
anxiety, fear, laziness, loneliness,
isolation.

I am grateful
for possibility.
For the vast choices
before me.
For the ability
to surrender to
the choice that will lead me
to my highest purpose.

I am grateful
for the flux and flow
of my breath.
For the
Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
centering and calming
me, yet also
inciting peaceful action.

I am grateful
for the sun
dissipating
the mist outside.

It is calling to me.


re-Connection.

We Remember ourselves
through our connections,

like these windswept dunes in sunlight
joyful crashing waves
dripping rainbow moss sunset

and these people
made of dreams
stitched together with hope
illuminated by surrender.

I Remember myself
where boundaries dissolve.

Soak me in tenderness.
Dance me with love.
Together, we Remember ourselves.