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.


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.

i walk through the valley of my own shadow.

The sky is a cold winter blue; a few smudged lines of peach cloud linger over the forested hill where the sun will soon rise. A mug of yerba mate sends wisps of steam into the quiet room. No one else is awake yet — my favorite time of day. I light a stick of dragon’s blood incense, watch the smoke curl. Remember, like a sped-up flashback of my life, all the times I’ve lit incense.

I think part of healing and integrating our shadows must be dwelling in nostalgia sometimes. I’ve been remembering so much of my past, and marveling at how many people I’ve been; and yet, how little I’ve changed. Remembering the people I’ve hurt, and who has hurt me. Remembering the people I’ve loved, and who have loved me. Remembering how those two kinds of people have so often been the same. 

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Joy and Sorrow,’ The Prophet

And yet, when I consider this, I am grateful. 

Grateful that the world is so full of paradox, grateful that I cannot feel one thing without feeling the other, grateful that life is so full of sorrow and joy, and so often at the same time.

Grateful that it is light that casts shadow, and that shadow is what gives life three-dimensional form.

I am grateful for that which has wounded me, because that which has wounded me has also shown me great ecstasy. Love has torn me apart, and made the way for even more love. Agony and despair has shifted my course, but my course has only shifted towards ever more blessings.

And this, more than anything else, is what gives me hope when I dwell on the past and feel anxious of the future: that no matter what agonies await, they will lead to ecstasies. No matter what pains await, they will lead to blessings. 

I am grateful for my Shadow, and for the Shadow of the world. Because it is what makes us real. It is what gives us form. The more we accept, heal, and integrate the Shadow — the more power we hold to dwell again in the natural rhythms of life. 

And life is blessing. And life is challenge. And life is blessing.

shadow work.

The universe always guides us back to embracing the totality of ourselves. We attract whomever and whatever we need to mirror back the aspects of ourselves that we’ve forgotten.

Debbie Ford, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers

Maybe there is parts of myself I’ve forgotten,

left like breadcrumbs as I venture into the forests of life —

it’s a wilderness in jeopardy, I don’t know we’ll survive,

and I’m terrified

that nothing I do will ever make a difference, and I just

want my daughter to live, and I want to feel fully alive,

and remember what it’s like to be whole — 

to embody ever shadow and light of my soul; 

regardless of the state of the world, that’s my goal.

I’m hoping maybe in that state of remembrance,

I can make a difference

for the land, for the people, for my daughter,

and I know it starts with me, her mother …

I’m a mirror of the world, I am The Mother. 

The world’s healing starts with my healing,

and my healing starts with the land beneath my feet,

and learning again to sit with my feelings, 

to create poetry from what my heart is thinking,

to love my darkness without judgment like a child,

like my child, named for the moon,

who flows with her own spirit like a dancer flows with a tune.

i am a vineyard.


“And in the autumn, when you gather grapes from your vineyard for the winepress, say in your heart,

‘I too am a vineyard, and my grapes shall be gathered for the winepress,

and like new wine my soul shall be kept in eternal vessels.’

And in the winter, when you draw the wine, have in your heart a song for each cup,

and in that song let there be a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.”

Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Eating and Drinking,’ The Prophet

I often don’t feel as though I have anything of interest to anybody else to say. Certainly I have many thoughts, both deep and shallow, thoughtful and focused, hurried and half-formed; I have many feelings, that span from dark and shadowy to light and inspiring. When it comes to writing down such thoughts and feelings, however, I’ve felt recently like I’m a bit in a dry spell; not too long ago, poetry seems to pour from my fingers like honey. Now I drink in poetry from other sources — from Kahlil Gibran, Nayyirah Waheed, Rumi, Mary Oliver . . . 

When my heart and my hands can’t seem to work together to produce its own poetry, I steep myself in poets. I let their metaphors sink into me, become part of my breath and sight, taste the wine of the Beloved on my lips. 

“Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, ‘Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.’
For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.”

Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Good and Evil,’ The Prophet

I’m a believer in the cyclical nature of life, in the fact that nothing can ever grow and grow and grow without ever resting; even the most invasive and determined plants have a time of year that they go dormant. There is no difference when it comes to our creative and spiritual lives. 

There are times when we seem to be unrelenting, generous vessels of creativity and light, like the grapes in the autumn. And there are times when we are the root, sucking at the nourishment of the compost the fallen fruit has become, drinking the wine that the grapes were pressed and fermented into. 

There are times when we cannot help but give nourishment to the world.

And there are times when we must receive nourishment.

It is a pity that we’re taught by our Western culture — especially those who are woman-identified or woman-passing — that receiving is shameful. In a linear, capitalistic, ever-growing society, there has been little respect for our innate, natural cyclical inner lives. 

But I see that changing. 

More and more people are seeing, understanding, and integrating the importance of self-care. Of pause. Of balance in this world of extremes.

And though I am at a time in my life when I am the root, not the fruit, and I am aware of the conditioned shame of that curdling in my stomach in my lowest moments — I am so grateful to be reminded all the time that it’s OK to rest. To draw inward. To know that change and transformation are happening deep in the shadowy realms of my psyche, of my inner world — even if the change isn’t apparent outwardly. And I am so grateful that in knowing that, I can be compassionate not only with myself but with others who are also in the fallow seasons of their lives.

Darlings, spring shall come again.

355. experiences are only bad if you don’t learn from them.

from my poetry book Cycles, picture/link in sidebar

Yesterday, after a very busy day of running back and forth around town going to a business meeting, picking up my last CSA box of the season, and doing laundry, I went to my daughter’s father’s place to dogsit/housesit for him and his partner. On the way, I stopped by the store, and decided to grab a bottle of cider made from nettles (I’m a sucker for anything with nettles in it). 

I always thinking drinking is a great idea, until I actually do it. 

It’s funny because a lot of people think just one drink once or twice a week is actually a really great example of healthy moderation, and for many people, I think it is that way. However, I’m reminded every time I have one (1) drink that for me, moderation is none at all.

My one drink feels great while I’m drinking it. That nettle cider was tasty, I won’t lie, and the light feeling I got from it was rather nice since I so rarely drink. But then I get to deal with the almost immediate consequences:

  • Extraordinary difficulty getting and staying asleep. Some people find alcohol helps them sleep. Not for me. Last night, I got a grand total of maybe 2 hours. Why?
  • Anxiety. Suddenly I’m spending two hours vividly imagining tense conversations that have not happened yet and probably won’t happen. Suddenly I’m remembering scenes from that one scary movie I saw years ago that made me afraid of babysitting for months. Suddenly I’m incredibly worried that every little thing I’ve done wrong in the last several years are going to come back to bite me in the butt all at once, probably in the next few weeks.
  • Of course, all that anxiety and no sleep means I feel very blue the next day, maybe the day after that as well. I’m questioning my worth. My value. My ability. If I’m not careful, that can make me spiral down into a week-long stormy cloud over my head.

just because something is okay for everyone else, doesn’t mean it needs to be okay for you.

It’s OK if, for you, moderation means pretty much none at all. That’s what I have to remind myself of when I’m thinking of crossing my own boundaries and doing what I know isn’t going to make me feel good (and ends up being a waste of $8.75, to boot). 

I also have to remind myself that one bad decision doesn’t make null and void all of my other, better decisions.

In the past week, some good decisions I have made for myself are:

  • Switching up my daily 2 cups of coffee for 2 cups of yerba mate. 
  • Drastically reducing my bread-and-cheese intake.
  • Doing 30-45min of yoga, pilates, and hooping every morning. 
  • Staving off my urge to distract myself with sex by choosing instead to work out, call my mom, go to a success seminar, going for a nature walk, read, and write in my journal.
  • Standing up for a personal boundary in a calm and respectful but clear and firm way.
  • Letting myself rest when I feel stretched thin.

My one bad decision yesterday to drink a 16.9 fluid ounce bottle of hard cider does not cancel out all the good I’ve done for myself, nor can it stop me from doing good things for myself today. 

Because that’s, I think, the biggest part of self-love: self-forgiveness and moving on. If you can forgive yourself for the small mistakes and live a vibrant and integrated life anyway, then just imagine what you can do for yourself and your life when the bigger mistakes happen.

Because they will happen. 

But because you have practiced self-forgiveness on a daily basis, you know you’ll be better than okay.

Every morning is a new day. Every moment is a new opportunity to be just 1% better than you were before.

356. you are worthy of growth.

why do you resist your blessings?

why do you put off what you know will help you?

Why do you tell yourself, “I’ll get to it tomorrow,” or, “After I….” ?

Why do you resist what makes you come alive?

I bet you never knew / there’s a universe inside of you

Can I,  by Alina Baraz & Galimatias

Are you afraid of stretching yourself? Of growing into the light? Are you afraid that you might feel…ecstatic? Content? Beautiful? Powerful?

Or are you afraid that you don’t deserve it?

That your past makes you unworthy? Incapable?

I have a secret to tell you. 

The tallest trees have the deepest roots. The most healthy, flourishing plants have the most complex and intriguing root systems. 

Roots dwell in the darkness. They are what enable the plant to reach for the light.

The darkness of your past is compost for your future.

You are more worthy than you realize. Your roots run deep. The rain that pounds overhead is what has been feeding you. The sun is waiting eagerly for you to break your lush shoots through the soil.

You will never be rid of your roots. Your roots will always dwell in the deep, fragrant soil. 

Let your roots ground you and accept growth. Accept the discomfort of struggle.

Do it because you crave it. Even if it’s scary. Even if you’re not sure you’re strong enough.

You are. You are.

The world is waiting for you to bloom.

But in the end, it’s all your decision.

are you ready to accept your birthright?

“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you, and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it–and correct your course along the way.”

Timothy Ferris

It starts today.

I recently went to a success seminar lead by a prominent philanthropist who, eight years ago, was living in a two bedroom apartment with 5 roommates, and couldn’t hold down a minimum wage job. One of my big take-aways from the seminar was this:

Today, whatever it is you long to do, whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish,

try to be just 1% better than you were yesterday.

Just 1%. That’s it.

Do it again tomorrow. Just 1% better.

And the next day.

And the next.

This time next year, you’ll be 365% better.

1% doesn’t sound like much. It may not even look like much. 

But next year, you’ll see the difference.

and trust me. you are worthy of that.