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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

New Year :: the emergence of Light from Dark

Katie Gordon

This winter has been a time of deep introspection, exploration, and surrender for many of us. Becoming more acutely aware of old patterns, perspectives, and projections that no longer serve, and actually detract from, the path of Soul. One particularly powerful lesson of the last month for me has been in giving myself full permission to feel exactly what I'm feeling. Not trying to change, alter, redirect, invalidate or discount anything that comes up. And I'm noticing when I really allow myself to feel the full weight, it often shifts quite quickly. Not always, but often.

I used to deeply fear feeling the full heaviness, sadness, and darkness of whatever I was feeling because I worried I'd just keep sinking in. That it would never end unless I pulled myself out. That I would end up BEING whatever emotion it happened to be forever. This seems to be encouraged in many of our modern therapies. Reframing, redirecting, changing perspective, etc. Which I see the value in. But that approach also takes away so much power from our own souls in the way our inner Self teaches us sooooooooooo much via our feelings and our bodypsyche. 

What would it be like to love yourself so deeply and unconditionally, that you gave yourself full permission to feel and be with yourself in whatever feeling state happened to be showing up in the moment? What would that feel like? 

This time of year is full of words like "intentions," "resolutions," and "new beginnings." But as Marion Woodman writes in Dancing in the Flames"Intentionality in itself does not lead to an enlightened heart. It is better thought of as a way of giving meaning to experience. It is open to both conscious and unconscious information." Meaning, we need to be open to what is trying to come forth from our experience of life and not live by sheer power of will, which can often end up blocking what the unconscious is attempting to bring forth. There is an aspect of surrender in setting intentions for the year ahead. Surrendering to the deeper dimensions of our experience, surrendering to our dreams, to that which our souls are stretching toward.

Lavender Mint Body Butter

Katie Gordon

Last weekend I got to hawk my wares for the first time ever (!!!) at Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. It was one of the best experiences I've had in owning a business, and it made me realize how much easier it is for me to simply sell my products online, either through Etsy or my own website, than it is to actually have to stand up in front of people all day and talk about what I do and why. But I loved it! Getting to see HOW people experience the things you've put so much love, time, and energy into crafting is one of the best things ever. Knowing that people deeply resonate with your art, in whatever form that art takes, is what keeps us creating and doing the work we feel compelled to do. 

Photo credit:  HerbRally

Photo credit: HerbRally

One thing I got great feedback about was my body butter. People actually asked if I ever take on apprentices to teach how to make body care. (I don't. But if you're interested, live in the area, and don't mind being paid in tea and good, albeit sometimes sarcastic, company, feel free to shoot me an email ;) ) I will, however, share my body butter recipe! I don't actually sell this particular scent, although maybe I will now, but it's one of my favorite essential oil blends. This is, however, the base that I use for all my body butters, sometimes mixing and matching various butter and oil combinations.

Lavender Mint Body Butter

1/4 c. Shea Butter
1/4 c. Mango Butter
1/2 c. Sunflower or Almond Oil
A few drops of Vitamin E Oil
30 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
30 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil 
Optional, few drops of Vetiver Essential Oil - because it's rooty and cooling and wonderful

As a side note, this is just my method. It's a bit of a process, but one for which I very much enjoy setting aside the time. 

Begin by melting the butters and oil together in a double boiler over low heat. Once completely melted, put the bowl in the fridge and let it cool until it becomes mostly solid (at least one hour). Shea butter crystallizes if it doesn't cool quickly enough, which is why sometimes DIY body butters feel a little gritty. Cooling it in the fridge will keep this from happening.  

Once solid, take it out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature. Add your essential oils and vitamin E oil. Then use a hand mixer to whip everything together for a minute or so, just until it's smooth and the oils are all mixed in. Since we waited for the mixture to come back to room temperature, it'll be much easier to spoon into your jar. This will make about two 4 oz. or one 8 oz. jar of body butter. 

Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. I like using body butters right after a bath or shower so that it can really soak in. Enjoy!

The benefits of being lost

Katie Gordon

In surrendering to being lost, you discover that not only do you not know how to get where you wanted to go, you also are no longer sure of the soul-level rightness of that goal. You’re able to be chosen by new standards that come not from other people or your old identity but from the depths of your soul. You’re attentive to a new and much larger guidance system.

Read More

Herbs for Stagnant Anger

Katie Gordon

You know how anger can live in your body? How that smoldering heat can take up residence for so long that you can physically feel it? Stuck, hot, fiery, like you're living in a pressure-cooker? That, my friends, is stagnant anger. Stagnancy means energy isn’t moving. When energy isn’t moving, our body-mind-soul doesn't function optimally. In Chinese Medicine, anger is related to the liver, energetically and physically. To put it simply, when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, the liver gets overwhelmed and stressed out. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy, and when it's stressed out, you think it works smoothly? Answer: Nope.

With a stressed out liver, energy stagnates EVEN MORE and anger, along with poor digestion, allergies, and compromised stress response, among other things, often manifests. It's like a hot mess negative feedback loop. This isn’t to say that anger is a direct result of liver stagnation. There are a gazillion things that can cause us to feel angry. However, emotions are energy and supporting your liver with herbs (as well as movement, finding healthy ways to express anger, etc.) can help move that stagnant energy because if energy isn’t flowing freely, you're left feeling stuck emotionally, physically, and even mentally.

So here's a few of my favorite plants to help move stagnant anger. Think cooling, sedating, calming...

This is in no way an all-inclusive list. Keep in mind everyone’s body responds differently to plants. It’s best to experiment with how your body experiences various herbs. Take your time to develop relationships with these plants. Explore what really nourishes you. Listen to the plants themselves and get curious about how to interact with them.

Bitters: Bitters are cooling. Why? I actually don't know. But they are, and the liver loves them. Happy liver = smooth flow of liver qi/energy = less energetic & emotional stagnation (Yes, that's a hugely simplified version of a much more extensive discussion on liver energetic and physiological function. I'm sure I'll talk about bitters in the future A LOT because we should all be using them way more than we do, but for now you get the idea.)

Motherwort: Also bitter. Very bitter. I don't recommend straight motherwort tea if you actually like to enjoy your cup of tea. But as a tincture it's fabulous. It is, among other things, a nervine and antispasmodic, meaning it both acts on the nervous system and relaxes tension. Muscle spasms and tension are often a symptom of a stressed out, stagnant liver. Motherwort moves that constraint. Another beautiful thing about Motherwort is its effect on the heart and the connection it reveals between the heart and liver. Mainly the anger that results at feeling unable to express our hearts, our emotions, our freedom, our creativity, our individuality, and our deep voice. The anger of feeling unheard, unseen, and even unvalued.

Rose: One of my absolute favorite plants in the world for overheated tissues! Now, there are lots of reasons for tissues in our bodies to build up heat, but one of the big ones is anger. When this heat has no where to go (because we don't express it in a healthy, productive way), it stagnates. Cooling, sedating, Rose speaks my language. Considered a relaxant nervine, Rose relaxes the nervous system, and in particular, it works beautifully to relax the liver, relieving stagnation and tension in the liver. I find it works wonders for people experiencing nervous exhaustion and adrenal fatigue as a result of too much heat. I think what I really love about Rose is the sweet, heady, wild, and thorny aspects all combined into one plant. Rose is tough yet compassionate, resilient yet tender, tenacious yet she invites you to soften your edges, set down your sword, and explore those parts of yourself you so staunchly defend.

Lemon: Also cooling, sedating, and sour, lemon has become well known as something we squeeze into our water in the morning to get our digestion moving. Cooling and sedating plants cool and calm hot, irritated tissues as well as a hot, irritated mood. You know that rising heat we feel when we're angry? Our chest and face get hot, we probably start sweating and in cartoons steam comes out of the character's nose? Lemon, especially when blended with other deliciously cooling, sedating herbs like rose and salvia (see below) can help to cool and ground that rising heat.

Salvia: Native species of Salvia, particularly when paired with nervines like lemon balm, lavender, salvia (aka sage) can cool, ground, and shift that fiery energy because it’s a stimulant. Stimulants move stuff around. My personal favorite to use is White Sage (Salvia apiana), which in terms of herbal energetics can be heating or cooling depending on who you ask. This is the reason why it’s really best to experiment with how your body experiences plants. For me, this plant clears heat, stimulates movement (of energy, digestion, tension, fluids, blood, etc.), and grounds me into the present moment.

Of course these plants will support the movement of energy, but what most of us also need to do is learn how to experience, feel, process, and express our anger. But that's for another post.

Here's a recipe for a tea blend to help move some of that stagnant liver qi...

Lemon Calm Tea Blend
1/2 c. hibiscus flowers
1/3 c. lemon balm
1/3 c. rose petals
1/4 c. peppermint or spearmint
1/4 c. rosehips
1/4 c. lemon peel

Combine all of the ingredients well in a bowl or mason jar. Store in said mason jar or some other air-tight container. I brew about 1 Tbsp. per cup of water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. This makes a (beautifully pink) iced tea also! And please feel free to play with the ratio of herbs and perhaps add fun things like lavender or lemongrass or vanilla bean or...

 
 
Disclosure: Wild Grace uses affiliate campaigns from Mountain Rose Herbs that may be displayed as text links or images such as banners, buttons and widgets.  When you click on these affiliate program links and make a purchase, a very small commission may be credited to Wild Grace.  The commission that I receive is very small and helps me to defray the cost of buying ingredients to craft skin + body care recipes.  When you do make a purchase using my Mountain Rose Herbs affiliate link, your purchase is the same price you would pay if you went directly to MountainRoseHerbs.com.  I sincerely appreciate your support and if you plan to purchase something anyway, I would be truly grateful if you did so through my affiliate link to Mountain Rose Herbs.

Paws

Katie Gordon

I've been craving the wild, deep forest.
Past the edge,
the point where you question continuing on.
The point when you begin to feel deeply the beat of your heart...
in rhythm with your feet.
Your feet turn to paws.
Ears prick up.
The outer sensory layer of your body softens to take. in. everything.
Through the threshold of maybe, potentially turning back.
Deeper and deeper until you are safe once again because you are at home.
At center.
At core.
And you find your howl once again.
Your body hasn't forgotten how to move, run, hunt.
You just had to re-member. To come back home.
Return.

Wild Woman Hair Serum

Katie Gordon

It took me a loooooooong time to embrace my wild, out of control, thick, curly hair. I used to actually cry because I didn't have "normal" straight hair like most of my friends when I was little. Throughout high school and college I either straightened it or just threw it up because I didn't know what to do with it or even how to take care of it.

After trying out SO MANY products - supposedly for curly hair - and years of frustrated, wanting-to-pull-my-hair-out moments, I eventually learned what my hair needs to be healthy (i.e. curly sans frizz). So even though it's still crazy, in the best way possible, my hair's now softer curls rather than dry and frizzy. It's becoming more common knowledge now that our hair, and the rest of our skin for that matter, needs oil just like our bodies need fat. Curly hair especially needs A LOT of oil because it's naturally drier and because of that it's more prone to breakage which leads to even more frizz. In order to care for our locks we need to nourish it with oils that not only smooth our hair but also repair damage that happens as a result of everyday elements (wind, heat, water, etc.)

When I first started adding oils to my morning ritual (yes, getting ready is a ritual) I was worried it would leave my hair greasy or weighed down, but my hair literally drinks this stuff up! This combination of oils is my favorite...and it's not an exaggeration to say it has changed the way I relate to my hair.

For women who run with the wolves...

Some of my other favorite essential oils, are rosemary, jasmine, lavender, cedarwood, peppermint, bergamot, and sage. Think fresh and perhaps a bit floral. I get all of my ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs because I know I'm getting the highest quality organic oils and herbs.

In a small mason jar, blend your carrier oils and give it a little swirl. Then add your essential oils, if you're using them. This is when you can get creative and play with different scents and combinations of oils. Once you're happy with your oil, use a little funnel if you have one to pour your serum into a 2 oz. bottle. I use a dropper bottle because it looks cool and it keeps your bottle from getting oily when you use it. Make sure to label it in some way! I generally find that if things aren't labeled, I won't use them because I forget what it is.

To use your hair serum, rub a few drops between your palms, flip your hair upside down, and "scrunch" your hair from the ends with your oily hands. I find doing it this way keeps the roots from feeling too oily and it adds enough moisture to all of my hair to keep it curly and not frizzy. If you have thick hair don't be afraid to use a whole dropperful of oil. It's like a leave-in conditioner and your hair will love you for it!

Disclosure: Wild Grace uses affiliate campaigns from Mountain Rose Herbs that may be displayed as text links or images such as banners, buttons and widgets.  When you click on these affiliate program links and make a purchase, a very small commission may be credited to Wild Grace.  The commission that I receive is very small and helps me to defray the cost of buying ingredients to craft skin + body care recipes.  When you do make a purchase using my Mountain Rose Herbs affiliate link, your purchase is the same price you would pay if you went directly to MountainRoseHerbs.com.  I sincerely appreciate your support and if you plan to purchase something anyway, I would be truly grateful if you did so through my affiliate link to Mountain Rose Herbs.

An embodied look at addiction

Katie Gordon

The other day I was having a coffee date via Skype with a close friend who is also a soul sister/mentor/mystic. She has a knack for truth-telling in a most compassionate & loving way to which I can only aspire. We were talking about relationships, in particular the patterns and lessons you learn about yourself within each relationship. How much potential there is for growth within love and how intense, heart wrenching, and amazing it all is. And then she pointed out to me (again, very nonjudgmentally) my pattern of running in relationships. Or more accurately, running out of them. Since a large part of the work I've been diving into lately, what Bill Plotkin refers to as "Soulcraft," is recognizing old patterns in thought and behavior, relinquishing old identities, and giving up addictions, her observation struck me as something that obviously required my attention.

In his book Soulcraft, Plotkin dedicates a lot of time to the topic of patterns, why we have the ones we do, how they developed, why they were necessary at one point in our life, and why it's imperative that we untangle ourselves from them once we've accepted our journey of descent into soul. Addiction is one form of pattern, something we ALL fall into, whether it's addiction to a substance, food, shopping, sex, Facebook, checking our email 8000x a day, etc. And of course there are countless theories of WHY we develop certain addictions and how to treat them. I'm not even gonna go there today. It's Plotkin's opinion that many times, addictions are either attempts at self-initiation, because basically here in our western, non-nature-based society we no longer have cultural rites of initiation built into our education, OR an addiction is a distraction, a way we have of numbing ourselves because we feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied, trapped, claustrophobic, and we deeply know we're meant to do more in our lives than we're currently doing.

In my experience, and in my opinion, it's often a bit of both. I've distracted myself from fully feeling uncomfortable or intense feelings, from fully acknowledging that I'm feeling those uncomfortable and intense feelings, and then feeling guilty for not acknowledging or feeling those uncomfortable and intense feelings. (P.S. that's a lot of energy moving around without being released. It's best not to do it that way.)

I've also acknowledged that my journey into anorexia and bulimia was absolutely an attempt at self-initiation. Pushing my physical body to its limit, approaching that breaking point when it couldn't take anymore, allowing myself to almost physically and metaphorically disappear, diving deeply into that shadow side of my psyche that didn't feel valuable, loved, seen, or heard. Of course at the time I didn't know that's what I was trying to do, but at some level, I did know the reasons behind all of those behaviors were much deeper than body image and self-esteem issues. Something in me was seeking answers, meaning, and explanations of deeply rooted feelings and my purpose for being here on this Earth.

Anyway, back to my "running" story...

When my friend said that I realized I DO run many times a situation begins to feel out of my control or I don't see a pleasant way out. I have (had) an addiction to running. It was a deeply engrained pattern. Of course often the way out is working it THROUGH, which I also wasn't a huge fan of doing. However, being in a committed and healthy relationship now, one that I want to show up in and not run from, means having to wade through the unpleasant feelings that arise, the disagreements that occur, and the feelings that surface as a result. Not always fun, folks. Some of my ugliest shadows have shown themselves. Each time I feel like hiding, running, or otherwise pretending the discomfort and intensity isn't happening, I see that pattern in myself. I see my need for things to be comfortable and if they're not, to make them better by smoothing it over, even when it's not for the best of the relationship. I know whatever's coming up is at least partly a call to sit and feel, hear, see, and know my own soul deeper. And then it's a call to act in alignment with my soul.

"Be still and know..." - Psalm 46:10

Here's one thing I know for sure. When we can sit through all that intensity that exists within our own wounds, we see that's where our greatest opportunities for growth and brilliance lie. We can witness our own sacredness. We can act from our deepest truth rather than from an old, outgrown identity. We can allow those parts of us to die.

What are your favorite addictions? I invite you to consider seeing them as stemming from an attempt at awakening/stimulating ourselves out of what we've come to see as ordinary reality. Out of our everyday lives. Our small selves. Perhaps acknowledge them as your soul's call to initiation to a deeper level of consciousness, opening us up to a new layer of being seen, heard, or felt.

Evolving yoga & the bodysoul

Katie Gordon

A friend and I were walking and talking the other day about how, as teachers, both our yoga practice and the way we approach teaching has evolved. I came to yoga during college after leaving ballet. I had struggled with bulimia and anorexia for years, but even more than that, I felt mentally, emotionally, and physically rigid. I was stuck in this foreign body that I had numbed and quieted for so long, I no longer knew how to hear the voice of my soul or feel my physical body enough to even know when something was wrong. So I stumbled/dragged myself into a yoga studio around the corner from my apartment in Boston's Back Bay, started teaching awhile later, and discovered a world I saw as completely opposite from my rigid, extreme, self-loathing reality. And unlike the pain and exhaustion of ballet, I had found something that made me feel literally high afterward. Plus it's healthy (both physically and mentally), it's great exercise (they don't call it a yoga butt for nothing), and I felt good about myself as a person, justified in my somewhat-self-righteous approach to the yoga-raw food-vegan-sattvic-clean-eating lifestyle because I'm doing something "of value" and teaching people how to feel better, right? Now I see all I had done was carry that same rigidity, the same self-imposed rules into a new setting.

And then I got disillusioned with the whole thing. I got bored. I got injured. I wasn't down with paying $100 for a pair of yoga pants. I got tired of feeling burnt out after teaching SO much and struggling to pay my bills. Seriously, if you want to be a "successful" yoga teacher (and they're out there!) you gotta hustle. You gotta have passion. And I didn't. My body hurt, I could barely make rent, I didn't even have the time or energy or desire to maintain my own practice. So I said f*ck this.

I gave up trying to survive by teaching and I got a "real job." You know the whole work 9-5, wear "professional" clothes, get a paycheck every 2 weeks, have health insurance, work in an office kinda job. This was that stage in my practice when I was so happy to NOT stress out about money/survival/my-family-thinks-I'm-a-total-failure that you'll do anything for this new job. And don't get me wrong, the company I worked for is GREAT! They treat their employees better than any I've seen. The people there are wonderful. But my connection to my wild soul was fading. And my physical body was like, "How can you possibly have a job where you're sitting at a computer all day??!! Have I taught you nothing??"

During this time my practice taught me to slow down. Because of injuries, I couldn't do everything I used to be able to do. I had to be super mindful, take my time, and listen to my body in a way I never have. I felt like because I no longer had to depend on yoga to make a living, I could make it all about me. What I needed, wanted, craved in terms of movement. How my bodysoul needed to manifest herself. And through that work, it became increasingly clear that, even though I was comfortable & happy enough, I wasn't living my full truth or my soul's purpose in the world.

So when the opportunity arrived, I left. I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I'd wanted to live since I was a kid (after watching The Goonies. Because pirate caves.) and where I could focus solely on my little business. And since Wild Grace is an extension of me, it became VERY clear that to have an abundant business, I needed to cultivate a healthier mind-body-soul connection. For me, even though I hated to admit it for awhile, the way in to that connection was through my yoga practice. It forced me to sit, breathe, be, and listen. It showed me how to deeply honor my body when I was practicing honestly and from a place of love for myself.

As I was preparing to teach a demo class in my new home town, I realized my yoga practice and what it meant to me had changed because my relationship with my body had changed. Because of the way I used to practice, always pushing myself, forcing myself further into poses, to keep going even if practicing didn't feel good or if I was hurt, my body had finally had enough and my practice HAD to change.

You're probably thinking, "Well, duh!" But really, I could finally see clearly how the way I felt in my body, the way I surrendered to my body, the way I saw it, felt it, heard it. The way I allowed it space. The way I honored the open spaces and the tense, closed, traumatized spaces had shifted in each stage of both my ego & soul growth. And because of that I was finally allowing my body to evolve rather than stay within a "safe" range of weight and shape. I was allowing my soul to expand, to be her brilliant & bright self. Where there was once a major disconnect between my soul's desire for compassion and self-love and my mind's need for some semblance of control, now there's just (for the most part) quiet, space, and a deep honoring of the way it sometimes all has to play out so that we can actually learn how to get out of our own way and meaningfully make something of ourselves.

And so I guess when you can finally let go of your opinion of the yoga industry, your fear of not being "good enough," the constant need to compare yourself as a teacher and student, and the competition for classes, all that's left is your relationship to your body (physical and energetic) and the practice of showing up each day to be with yourself.

On Nourishment + Creative Inspiration (plus a skin care recipe!)

Katie Gordon

I made it to Oregon! I'm getting settled in and loving the Pacific Northwest. I knew being in a new environment like this would have a huge impact on my physical & mental health. Already my body feels different, my hair feels different, my sleep is noticeably better, and I'm allowing myself time to process, shift, and integrate.

The thing I noticed immediately was...I'm exhausted. When you spend so long burning the candle at both ends and surrounding yourself with stimulants (caffeine, people, noise, traffic, Netflix binges, a general addiction to busy-ness) and not nourishing yourself properly (with sleep, tonifying foods, time in nature) you don't even realize how tired you are. Slowly I was losing my creative fire because my nervous system was so depleted, running purely on coffee and external stimuli.

So many of us live with that as our reality. We don't think it can be any other way. But it can. And on my first full day here that I spent on my own, all I wanted to do was sleep, read, make tea, and sit. It was strange (yet comfortable) how quiet it was, and even though I kept feeling like I should be doing something or listening to something or watching something, I tried to let that go and just feel what it was like to be quiet. My nervous system took a huge sigh of relief and layers of tension dropped away.

I'm still integrating, but it's amazing how quickly that creative spark comes back. And how much energy is bound up in our bodies in the form of tension, pain, and stagnation. I'm really excited to test new recipes, research, write, blog, and fully dive into Wild Grace! Expect lots of new content and products in the shop...soon. For now, a poem because I'm feeling inspired by all things sea-related & a recipe for a facial mask (or masque if you want to be fancy)...

"Gather a shell from the strewn beach And listen at its lips: they sigh The same desire and mystery, The echo of the whole sea's speech. And all mankind is thus at heart Not anything but what thou art: And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each. ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Sea Limits

For this mask/masque I chose ingredients that most people will either have on hand or can find easily in a health food store or even grow in your garden.

Clay + Chamomile Facial Mask

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mason jar, add your essential oils, cap the jar, and shake well. When you're ready to use it, mix 2 teaspoons of the mask with 2 teaspoons of water. You can also use herbal tea (cooled off), milk, or yogurt. Apply to your skin and let it dry. Rinse with warm water and a washcloth and follow with a moisturizer.

Enjoy your potion-crafting!

discernment + divine feminine

Katie Gordon

Last night I had a dream that I was helping a female mentor (who doesn't exist in "real life"...only in dreamland) pack her magical workshop. At first, as I was going through her things, I was asking her what I should throw away and what I should keep, picking up random objects, some of which I recognized, some I didn't. But as time went on, I intuitively knew what I could toss and what was important for her to keep and take with her into her new space (wherever that was). Of course I woke up and thought, "uhh...WTF??"

Who's this lady? Why's she throwing away all this great stuff? Why does she have purple hair? And why does she look vaguely familiar? Like an older version of...me?!!

As a side note, my dreams are typically VERY reflective of what's going on in my conscious reality, whether or not I want to acknowledge the situation or not. And this one felt important, deep in my bones. The feeling of building trust in myself, rather than looking outside of myself to an external source of wisdom to discern what to keep and what to toss, was what stuck with me the most.

The last couple years have been full of powerful lessons for me, but the most profound has been that of DISCERNMENT.

Who and what do I allow into my space? And why? With what intention am I acting? How can I give myself more room for conscious connection with the people, places, things in my life?

Now, as I make pretty huge decisions in the realm of creating and nourishing conscious relationships, where I'm going to live, who I'm going to spend my life with, what I'm going to do to support myself, how I align my actions with my soul (you know, little things like that), I see why this woman showed up last night.

What do I need to take with me into this next stage of my journey? What needs to be seen, acknowledged, and released? With which old stories identities, patterns, even words do I feel complete?

What has been healed enough to be able to know in my soul that I know I can thank those teachers and move on having absorbed and integrated that wisdom, knowing that I'm authentically EMBODYING my soul?

Apparently a lot...

...or at least enough.

Recently, I've been working around the energy of the Divine Feminine, how to embody my own femininity, what that means amidst the trend of New-Agey, awaken-your-inner-goddess spirituality that tends to label one thing as the right way to be "feminine." I often felt like there was something wrong with ME because so many aspects of the "return of the Goddess" movement and feminism in general that didn't resonate with me. It felt forced, inauthentic, even, energetically, masculine.

I've felt the need to create my own idea of the Her, of what it means to be divinely feminine. And realized, there are as many expressions of Her as there are women (and men) in the world! Our souls express themselves in countless ways, and to categorize ONE thing as feminine seems to me to come from a wounded place within the human psyche. It separates us from our actual feminine soul and creates rigidity, a false construct in which we think we need to fit ourselves.

To me, this dream meant my own feminine soul, my innate ability to intuit, discern, separate the gold from the raw material, absorb what I need and discard (or even destroy) the rest, make decisions that feel in alignment with my soul's purpose, is not only feeling quite confident to be seen and heard, but beginning to integrate with my physical, dreaming body.

YESSSS!!!

Obviously the work is never done (which is one thing I love about being human) but to receive the message that I'm on the right track, I've done enough work to still have the physical feeling of holding something in my hand and knowing "I definitely don't need this where I'm going" deserves a self-high-five.

Realizing that spirituality is NOT the same thing as living from my soul and can often rob us of our capacity to express our femininity, which is innately divine, has given me the room to ask, "What feels spiritual or feminine for me to do today?" Every. Day. So many different answers, so many reflections in just my own life of the feminine. I can't even imagine how many expressions there are if we'd all give ourselves the space to be with that question.

The Divine Art of Witnessing

Katie Gordon

Just a little over a year ago, I wrote this post on why I don't do New Years resolutions and what I do instead. On focusing not on some particular goal, arbitrary weight, new job title, etc. that we feel like SHOULD matter to us, but rather on our CDF's (Core Desired Feelings). I told you about how (in my opinion) we show ourselves so much more compassion by focusing on how we want to FEEL rather than what we think our life (or ourselves) should look like. But here's one of my major lessons from this year: if we don't feel the "bad" stuff, we also can't feel the "good" stuff. The stuff that motivates us to ACT because we want those feelings. We want to feel desired, empowered, radiant, loved, abundant, embodied. But if we don't witness the "bad" feelings, if we shut down, become numb, and deny the uncomfortable feelings, we block the feelings that we're actively trying to invite in!

As someone who spent a very long time in the seductive, addictive grasp of an eating disorder, I know a few things about shutting down. When I allowed myself to become aware of the compulsion behind the behaviors, it was so simple. I was afraid of feeling. I had zero trust in my ability to deal with anxiety, grief, and anger that I wouldn't even sit still long enough to allow it to come into my consciousness. So it stayed in my physical and energetic body, making me sick, making me angry and then feel shame about that anger. It swirled around in my belly, my pelvis, and my heart creating what I felt as so much ugliness and shame that I didn't know how to even articulate asking for help.

This year has been one of HUGE growth, initiations, lessons, and incredible teachers. One thing I've learned is this: Sometimes, when your soul has decided that you've had enough, when a pattern has finally been exhausted and it's time to move on, some sort of cosmic switch is flipped and it's almost effortless to let it go. There came a day when I found the inner strength to say, "Nope, not this time. I'm going to sit with myself through this moment of total-freak-out-anxiety and see what happens."

And the world didn't end. I cried what felt like tears of pure energy being released. The next day it came up again, and I sat again. It wasn't a moment of white-knuckling through it. It was a moment of grace, a conscious decision to allow awareness to heal old wounds. I finally understood at a very deep and visceral level that nothing can be healed if you're not willing to hold it in your awareness with compassion. Awareness, as one of my favorite people says all the time, is the container for alchemy.

So my INTENTION for this year is to witness more of myself with deep compassion. No judgment, just love, understanding, and forgiveness.

*I'm not sure who said this, but it wasn't me so I can't take credit...*

"Its not who you are that holds you back; its who you think you are not."

With this new level of awareness, I intend to release old versions of myself. The ones that feel too small. The ones that hide from her own brightness.

And now to move into the light...

My Soul Speaks of Rewilding

Katie Gordon

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Wild Grace is shifting, shedding, growing, playing, and experiencing a lot. In contrast to the typical summer energetics of expansion and opening, the last few months have been a time of contraction, going inward, craving quietness, contemplation, exploring the inner terrain of my own soul and how it's reflected in my business, and allowing myself to be guided by my intuition, spirit guides, passions, and deep desires. I've been listening to the plants I use in my medicine in new ways, experiencing them rather than simply learning about them intellectually.  Understanding that they have so much more to teach us than we ever thought possible. That we can learn so much from our environment, the spirits that inhabit the local trees, rivers, meadows, tide pools, and deserts that must be understood through communicating with them rather than reading about them.

Recently, I journeyed with Datura, one of my favorites of the poisonous plants, and thought I'd share with you the wisdom she has for us...

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First came visions of canyons, ancient tree groves, old gnarled twisted trees extending their roots and branches out to take up as much space as this space will allow.  Damp, mossy, loamy forest floors, echoing our shadow places, the darkness so many of us are afraid to explore and experience even though it makes itself known in numerous ways every day and we don't even notice...

And then a snake wrapping itself around my low belly and hips, not tight like it's trying to constrict or squeeze, just loose heavy rings encircling my pelvis. Winding its way up my spine, around each vertebra, and I can feel the muscles soften to let her pass by. She comes up and over my right shoulder.

The shoulder that hurts. The one that holds so much and is never seen because I'm afraid of what's there. The one that's been waiting patiently for me to be quiet, sit down, lie down, settle down, and cool down. So patient. Just waiting. For me to let go of my anger to see there's another way to release this fire, to be seen and heard. Okay love, I'm listening...

She speaks of the wild, of the Earth Mother from which I can now see I've been hiding because she's so powerful, amoral, primal, and raw. Life means death, and death means life. Life is not happening to me, I am part of the event known as Life. An observer. A participant whose role is ever-shifting, but that will go on long after my time on this earth is over.

She speaks of a wildness that is beyond my comfort zone. One in which I go wild and let go of the things I've previously believed to hold significance, and go deeper. To listen, to honor the spirits that inhabit this environment. To hear the plants speak their wisdom not in words, but in extra-sensory experiences.

This is what my soul craves. This is what the pain is speaking of, what it is guiding me into, and where the illness originates. And it has been long enough. Through lifetimes I've heard these messages, always coming in different and new ways, speaking the same truth. Time to rewild, to step into the shadow with my light, to embrace the death, the shedding, the truth. To descend to and traverse the messy, gnarly, brokenhearted creative chaos of the primal Mother that is reflected in the terrain of my own soul.

And to explore and experience this space between worlds with lightness of heart, allowing my soul to shine in her full brightness, trusting that while we may use anger as creative fuel, it is really love that transforms, shifts, and heals the relationship with our Self, each other, and our Mother.

Midsummer Magic

Katie Gordon

This Saturday, June 21, is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and while some say it's the first day of summer, it actually marks the peak of light, the peak of the element of fire in our Wheel of the Year.  In the old days, and among some groups nowadays, Midsummer is celebrated as a fire festival, honoring the Sun as it passes its highest point and begins to gradually decline into dark, marking the waning of the light.

So this is a turning point. All of the seeds we have sown for ourselves are reaching maturity and coming close to harvest time, when we can see and reap the fruits of our labor. It's a still point, before the pendulum swings the other way toward darkness, when we begin to turn inward and reflect on this past period of growth.

And as for this fire?  Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation.  It can burn, consume, shed light, or purify.  In order to transform though, there has to be a container, and that is why we have our spiritual practice.  To hold space for ourselves in love and trust.

I have been deeply listening to my soul, allowing myself to feel grounded, settled, and supported. More and more, I'm letting myself say "no" to things that don't resonate in order to allow space for things that call to my spirit.  Things that I know I'm meant to do.  I'm following the wisdom of my heart, my guides, my allies.  Old wounds have begun to heal, and I'm going back to pick up pieces of my soul that had been cut off and left behind.  This Summer Solstice I'm reflecting on the teachers I've had this past year, lessons I've learned (mostly the hard way), and how much I've grown to trust my Self.  

What this means for Wild Grace?  You can expect to see a lot more work in this space with plant medicine, moon magic, animal spirits, weaving words, and dancing with shadows.  Sharing more of my spiritual practice and my deep soul with you.  

And as for you...What is being transformed in you by this elemental fire that we've been in, that's been burning, transforming, and purifying?  What has this fire felt like for you?  And as this light is waning, what is waning in your life?  What is ready to be lovingly and graciously released?

On surrender

Katie Gordon

moon whale Usually I work with the theme of release during the Full Moon.  I meditate on the old patterns, things that feel stuck that I'm ready to release, to let go of, to clear.  Often I'll do some kind of releasing ritual usually involving burning things (I am a Leo after all...we love our fire) and then burying the ashes or letting the wind carry them away.

This month, however, in honor of the huge transition going on in my life (as well as I'm sure many of yours), I've been sitting with the idea not of letting go, but of surrendering. They sound like the same thing, right? Although they may be similar in definition and sometimes even outcome, to me surrendering has a different energy behind it, and so contributes a different quality to this journey through transition and change.

For most of us, change can be really uncomfortable.  Even when we know it's what we need or even want, we tend to resist, freak out, lose our center, and fight to hold on to situations, people, jobs, or patterns from which our soul is ready to move on.

To say the first half of this year has been intense for most of us would be a gigantic understatement.  To me, it felt like my very foundation was being shaken until everything I knew to be true crumbled, my walls were leveled, my heart broken open to reveal a softness inside I had allowed very few people to witness before now.  I was knocked to my knees, literally and figuratively.  My physical body changed, and sometimes it felt like those deeply engrained ways of moving, thinking, speaking, and acting were being burned away, consumed by that very fire that used to terrify me when I'd feel it rising.  And when I finally surrendered to that fire, that blaze that I had been afraid would burn out of control if I didn't contain it, began to soften and reveal something brilliant underneath.

And then I could finally take a deep breath.

All that crumbling, breaking, splitting, and destruction that we've been navigating can finally lead to the most space, the most depth, the most compassion, and the most peace we've ever felt.  As I look back at the aftermath of the last six months, I see the rubble of old beliefs, relationships, addictions, and roles that I had held onto for my whole life.

And now is the time when I surrender to my uncontainable and irrepressible Being within.  My wild grace.  My creative spirit.  With all this space that's been opened up, with this unwillingness to abandon myself any longer, unwillingness to edit or hold back this wild creature that's been set free, I can finally surrender to the Wild Soul I've always known was there, waiting to be awakened and uncaged.

So it's not a letting go.  I've done the necessary (for now) letting go and making space.  Now is the time to surrender to my truth.  Under the blessing of this Full Moon, standing in my own sacred space, I now have the necessary space to fully trust my soul to guide me.

What would happen if you sat in the fire?  If you held your space, not knowing how you would come out the other side?

I have gone a'bone gathering...

Katie Gordon

Dearest souls, I wanted to share a poem with you this week that echoes my own journey, and I imagine the one I share with many of you as well. Especially, the past few weeks, I've been coming back to it a lot as a sort of anthem. If you find Shiloh Sophia's work as inspiring as I do, please check out her website.

Bone Gathering

Returning to one’s self after a long voyage into the desert is the work all beings must do one day. The day will come when the absence of the missing bones and the pieces of your heart that you left on the highway to die after too many mornings waking up alone, in body or spirit or both, will require you to return. For this sacred work, a map for returning will be provided, so you can find the missing persons reports. This map is not in a language you will understand. Are you surprised? With each stop on the quest there may be a sitting-down-hard head-in-hands-wondering-why and even despair you thought you had gone beyond. Grief and wonder are the companions you will find because they are also the way through the hard to see places. Give in to them. You will be okay. I wish I could say it could be easier than this. Hiding, cutting, dismembering ourselves wasn’t so easy, was it? We did it to survive, we thought, and we wrapped up the bloodied limbs and continued on, almost soldier-like in our sacrifice of ourselves. Never mind the blood-loss of not being ourselves. Never mind not even knowing what song belongs to our mouth and what movement our body loves the most. How did we go on this way? All that is done now. No more, we say, and that is how we found ourselves here. This excavation requires specialized tools, if it didn’t bone gathering would have started long before now. Yes I know you have already started. I can see that in your tender eyes. Don’t worry, yes it is scary at first. The tools are intact for excavation and user friendly, you will find they fit your palm just so. The stranger within you knows how to use each one. She was the one yelling at you before, to listen listen listen inside the soul cave, but now that you have listened to her, she will be the one to help you see in the dark. This is the one we call the Muse. Visionary bones are made of stardust and glow in the darkness. Come. You will find them. You have to. I need you to. We need you to find them. I have gone a’ bone gathering and I found this poem here in the wet earth and brought it to you. Dust off the mud and muck and you find words dry enough to light your spark.

-Shiloh Sophia

When self-love sucks (and you wanna crawl out of your skin)

Katie Gordon

People don't believe me when I say that sometimes practicing self-love sucks.  But have you ever had one of those days when you just want to get the f*ck out?  Your mind might be racing.  And it's not even that you can't sit still, it's that you don't want to stop moving.  Because if you stop moving, you'll have to feel all the shit you've been trying to run away from.  So you watch episode after episode of some TV series on Netflix.  (There are like 8 seasons of Charmed, FYI.)  Or you turn to food.  Or alcohol.  Shopping.  Sex.  Facebook.  Checking your email 8,000 times. Recently, I've been going through A LOT of soul growth, and as a dear friend once told me, "Transformation is way less fun than I thought it would be."  Truer words have never been uttered. Transformation is awesome, awful, painful, empowering, and it'll tear you up and spit you out.  Sometimes (a lot of times) I don't know what to do with all the emotions that come up around it.  I'm highly sensitive, as I know most of you are, which is a wonderful gift and can also feel like WAY TOO MUCH!

I also come from a long line of addicts, and let's just say the gene definitely didn't skip a generation. Sometimes it's by sheer willpower that I don't give in to my own addictive patterns and behaviors.  And sometimes I still do.  That's okay.  Here are some things that work for me on those days when all I want to do is crawl out of my skin, escape, shut down, turn off and I know that I can't because I've come too far.

1. Sit.  Just. Sit. Down. Take a breath. And then another. Feel your magnificent, beating heart. Feel that pain you're in?  That's a good sign.  Because that means you're feeling.  And because pain is THE BEST WAY to heal, transform, shift, and make the changes in your life that you've been asking for.

2. Create.  Paint your heart out.  Make it messy.  Write a poem to your darkness.  Make jewelry.  Cook.  The process of creation transforms that manic, "I need to get out of my body" energy and channels it into objects and symbols.  That, my friend, is some serious magic.  (Side story: When I was in treatment one summer I channeled all of my energy into knitting.  Everyone got scarves that Christmas.)

3. Or destroy.  Part of creation is destruction.  So tear, rip, cut, smash.  I have a stack of old magazines reserved for the sole purpose of cutting up.

4.  Cry.  Loudly, quietly, slobbery sobs where you can't catch your breath, or soft, silent tears that roll down your cheeks.  Whether it's on your meditation cushion, your yoga mat, a friend's shoulder, or falling apart on the tiled floor of your shower, that energy's gotta go somewhere.  What's that quote about salt water being the cure for everything...?

5.  Call someone.  This one comes with a caveat, though.  I have a lot of friends who are coaches, which is AWESOME!  But when I call them in a "just let me fall apart" moment, I don't need to be coached.  I just need to be heard.  So either know in advance who can hold your space, or tell them, "Please just listen with compassion and don't be offended if I use the f* word a lot.  I'm not yelling at you."  Which brings me to my next point.

6. Ask for what you need.  Sometimes it's a nap.  Sometimes it's food.  Sometimes it's quiet time, to crawl into our little cave and hibernate.  Maybe it's a walk by yourself, or with your best friend.  When you ask for what you need from the people who love you, it makes us vulnerable, and thus humanizes us.  THAT opens up lots of room for love and compassion.

7. Get outside.  Nature is the most healing, restorative, high vibe place to be.  When I'm all up in my head, there's a favorite tree I go to sit under, lean back onto, and let all that stuff melt into.  I literally imagine everything that feels too heavy, too much, too dark seeping down into the ground, and giving it up to the earth to be transformed.  Sound too woo-woo for you?  Just try it before you get all judge-y.

8. Trust.  I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason.  Maybe it's my inner optimist, but I refuse to believe in coincidences, in shitty things happening for no reason, in bad luck.  I believe our outer world is a reflection of our inner reality, and that we are responsible for the way we participate in life.  So trust that if you're showing up, doing your best, and honoring your truth, things will play out the way they need to.  (Notice I didn't say they'll work out the way you ideally want them to.  At least not right away.)

If none of these work, that's okay too.  It's a lifelong practice to be able to sit with your feelings and feel them.  There's no such thing as failure here.  If it doesn't work out today, you'll probably get another chance to practice tomorrow.  Keep showing up.

You can stop asking for permission

Katie Gordon

Some time between two and three years old, one day as I was strolling through a park with my mom  and some friends, I was attacked by a gigantic blue peacock.  No worries, there was no blood drawn.  No mutilation occured.  I think my mom was more scared than I was.  All I remember is a flurry of brilliant blue feathers in my face and feeling the strong peacock feet pushing into my chest.  Somewhere in a faint memory I recall everyone else freaking out and wondering if I should be doing the same. In many native cultures, a shaman-in-training will be led into the forest/wilderness to confront their spirit animal.  If they survive, they've passed a major test toward becoming a medicine/warrior shaman.  If they don't, well, they don't.

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Back to my peacock...

For awhile now, I've been studying totemic arts with this incredible tribe, meeting my spirit animals, healing archetypal wounds, and rediscovering hidden parts of myself.  This work has taken me to the deepest places of my heart, guiding me to reclaim lost parts of my soul, and helped me to see huge reservoirs of untapped power within.  I've been practicing extensively how to listen to and follow my inner guides to meet my animal totems and receive the wisdom and medicine they have to offer.

Often, an experience such as the one I had with a peacock can be a sign that animal is one of our totems.  When Emelie first suggested peacock as a potential totem, I had MAJOR resistance.  Of course resistance (or a strong emotional reaction) to an animal is another sign that animal is one of our totems.

So I started researching peacock medicine.  Looking into their behavior, patterns, habits, colorings, mythology.  As soon as I opened to this incredible animal I noticed their imagery was ALL OVER my Pinterest boards, articles and photos I had cut out of magazines, long-forgotten books on my shelves, jewelry, etc.

From my research I realized peacock totems are both rare and incredibly powerful medicine.  That they've been associated with mysticism, greater vision, immortality.  Like the mythological phoenix, the peacock represents the rising from ashes of that which is ready to be released and sacrificed.

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And then a NEW kind of resistance came up, and that voice came in saying, "You're not good enough for this animal."  "It's just your ego that wants to have this totem."  "What makes you think you're special, good, powerful enough to see any of this in yourself?"  Not only was I afraid of claiming to reflect any part of this rare and beautiful bird, it made me incredibly uncomfortable to think I could contain any of that symbolism within my soul.  It makes me squirm even now as I write about it.

And then I realized: Here's the shadow side of peacock medicine.  Staying small.  Believing I have too much darkness inside to heal and resurrect those parts of my soul that have been torn.  Afraid of proudly displaying my vivid colors, appearing arrogant or egotistical.  Feeling shame around being SEEN and told that I'm too much.  Scared of my own magnetism and beauty.  Unworthy.  Sound familiar to anyone else?

I briefly stepped back into my small self, looking to have someone outside of me validate me and give me permission to own my peacock self.  To tell me that it was okay to show off my colors, to shine, to stand out and accept the power and magic that peacock medicine has to offer.  I watched myself look for that external validation, realize that's what I was doing and that ALL of my totems thus far have brought the medicine of deep listening and intuition, reflecting to me that I already have all of the answers within me.  Peacock was now showing up to help me own my power, my voice, and to show off my colors.  To show me that the magnetism I was afraid of was actually a HUGE ally for me!

peacock goddess

So now, even as I feel that resistance STILL, I say to myself, "Katie, just own it."  I'm done with the "not enough" the "unworthy" the "I'm too much for people so I'll just shut up, sit down, become invisible."  I'm done with invisible.  I'm done with seeking permission to shine.  I'm listening and honoring my soul's voice and wisdom.  And I'm ever-grateful to my shadow for teaching me where there's room for growth.  Where the cracks appear.

Oil Changes, Financial Freedom + Self-Love

Katie Gordon

As many of you know, I've been on a journey lately to heal my relationship with money. I knew it was time to write this post because as I sat down to write it, I really didn't want to. Resistance. It's a beautiful and VERY anxiety-provoking teacher. As Steven Pressfield writes in The War of Art, "The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.” So here I am, writing about something I NEVER thought I'd be writing about, self-love and money. Another thing I resist? Doing anything related to car maintenance. I know it's ridiculous. It's a very grown up and responsible thing that we automobile owners need to do. And why do I avoid anything related to cars? Simple: it makes me feel stupid. Disempowered. Small. Totally out of my element. Transmission fluid? Air filters? Alignment? Yeah, no thanks.

But one of my Core Desired Feelings this month is "Empowered." I want to feel empowered and independent around my life circumstances and my responsibilities, especially the ones I've previously avoided.

Don't get me wrong, I'm SUPER independent! I left home when I was 18 and moved 3,000 miles away from my family, I like doing things myself (sometimes to a fault...delegation is not my strong suit), and I'm not afraid or uncomfortable going places and having a great time on my own. Solo road trip? Hell yea! Exploring new cities on my own? Totally!

So the other day I decided it was time to get my oil changed. (Actually the sticker in the top left corner of my windshield SAID it was time.) As I sat in the waiting room, biting my nails, feeling small and super awkward, I realized here was a perfect instance of a lack of self-love.

In a moment of perfect synchronicity, I was sitting there reading Kate Northrup's book Money: A Love Story so it hit me...*cue facepalm*...

There's another area of my life in which I've always felt disempowered: MONEY. Budgeting, financial planning, accounting, bookkeeping? Nope. Again, major resistance. I've been working SO MUCH to cultivate more self-love in my own life, teaching self-love to my clients, so here was my chance to practice getting into my body, listening to my heart, and begin healing this part of me that felt inadequate.

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The major pattern in ALL of this? Avoidance. Burying my head in the sand and *fingers crossed* hoping things would somehow just work themselves out. It's worked thus far, right? Kind of. Mostly. Not so much. So here are the new practices I'm implementing with deep commitment and intention to cultivate a LOVING relationship with my money...

1. Checking my balance. Making it a part of my daily routine, a ritual, even a spiritual practice in mindfulness, gratitude, and intention behind my conscious, daily choices. 2. Feeling gratitude. Feeling abundant isn't about the amount of money in your bank account. It's about the way you FEEL about the money in your account. When I check my balance now, I see the work I love doing. The clients and students I love working with. The fact that I get to live a purposeful life AND make money doing it! 3. Notice what I spend my money on. Not to create guilt and shame, but to make sure my purchases are in alignment with my values. You've heard it before: We vote with our dollars! So why would I invest my money (and therefore my energy) into businesses that don't feel good to support.

I wrote out these action steps as I waited for my car to be ready, then got into my car feeling lighter, more conscious, and EMPOWERED!

Intend to shine

Katie Gordon

Watch this video (it's short) and then read on...

"I can do anything good!"

What would happen if we all said this to ourselves every day?  Awhile back, after much deep soul work and transformation, I realized I can actually do anything.  I can make stuff happen.  Manifestation, the ability to do anything "good" when we align heart, mind, and action.  That realization is POWERFUL!

We all have the power to create the life we want.  Usually that power is just hidden beneath layers of old beliefs, old patterns and stories that we hold on to because at one point in our life they served us.  But they don't anymore, so it's time to say "Thanks, Fear.  I know at one point you kept me safe and I appreciate it SO much.  I don't need you anymore."

This little girl, Jessica,

The thing about fear is that it allows us to play small.  It's safe.  We don't have to risk exposure, criticism, judgment, or getting knocked down.  And sometimes we need to get knocked down.  I know it doesn't sound fun, but stick with me for a minute here.

immediately-regret-this-decision

We all make mistakes.  In the words of Ron Burgundy, "I immediately regret this decision."  Or as one of my lovely friends says, "Ya done fucked up."

It irks me a little bit to hear new-agey people say, "there's no such thing as a mistake.  It's all a lesson."  Yes it's all a lesson.  We learn A LOT from messing up.  But mistakes do exist.  Failure exists.  But it's not the end of the story.

If you're doing big things in the world, if you're in a state of personal growth and development (which, if we're doing our work, then we are), your ego is gonna get checked.  You'll have moments of arrogance, idiocy, thoughtlessness.  You'll fall short of your own and someone else's expectations.  Sometimes you'll get criticism without necessarily "earning" it, but simply by speaking your truth.  But that's another matter for another post.

Today, we'll just acknowledge that mistakes happen.  So let's feel empowered around our "epic fails" rather than shaming ourselves because of them.

Action Time: Think of a time you really screwed up.  Your "favorite" failure, and by favorite I mean the biggest bungle you've made.  What did you learn?  Get SUPER honest with yourself.  Don't get sarcastic, mean, judgy, or defensive.  That doesn't serve anyone and it puts up all kinds of walls that we're working to tear down.  What did this snafu open your eyes to that you didn't see/know/understand before?  How did this mistake make you stronger than before?

You can then take it one step further.  Is there a pattern in the lessons you've learned?  Perhaps it's taken a few lapses in judgment to learn a particular lesson (I've totally been there).  As humans we seem to have a propensity toward making the same mistakes over and over.  And over.  We'll get it eventually.

And that, my friend, is empowering.  That is Self-Love.  Own it.  Love it.  And then let it go.  Because as Danielle Laporte says, "You can't face forward until you've processed your past."  And because you can do anything good.  Intend to shine.

Plant Totem: Hawthorn, Fae Tree of Heart + Transformation

Katie Gordon

For a good while now, I've been considering how to work with plants just as some coaches/practitioners work with animals.  As spirit totems.  Teaching how to work with plants not to only heal us physically, but also spiritually, emotionally, and energetically.  Understanding what they have to teach us in terms of our relationships, career, life circumstances, money, and most importantly, how to form better connections with ourselves, other people, and with the earth. hawthorn-tree-12

Lots of herbalists out there write beautiful and well-researched pieces on materia medica of western herbalism, herbal energetics, and the medicinal and therapeutic actions of herbs.  However, I think the deepest healing occurs when we form our own relationship with the plant and learn to work with the medicine it has for us individually.  This is the story of my own journey with Hawthorn, one of my foundational plant totems.

Traditionally viewed as a heart tonic, Hawthorn reminds us to be patient with ourselves, slow down, and give our heart space to breathe, be still, and speak his or her truth.  Though its prickly thorns protect the heart from outside assault, that very protection is what allows it to be such a nurturing and calming spirit.  It provides sacred boundaries and a soft space to rest in times of heartbreak, grief, or when the energetic heart needs a rest.

hawthorn thorn

For the past few years, I've been working and learning to listen closely to the whispers (or sometimes shouts) from my heart.  Establishing boundaries, softening, opening, protecting, clearing, and filling up my heart with the things she desires, yearns for, and guides me toward.  It's been the hardest thing I've done so far because so often my ego wants to take over with the shoulds, the have-to's, feelings of anger, guilt, and most of the time, fear.  Hawthorn came to me soon after my heart got cracked open during part of my Visionary Craniosacral training that I learned to work with the four-chambered heart (another shamanic concept that I'll write more on later).  The lessons Hawthorn taught me allowed me to integrate the wisdom of my heart and of love itself, sometimes gracefully sometimes not so much.

Artwork by Ruby Clark

Hawthorn is known for its associations with magic, witches, and fairies.  As Darcey Blue writes, Hawthorn's "rank smelling flowers and thorns and association with spirit worlds make Hawthorn a tree of 'death' and transformation, and also of protection and caution."  Death here, to me, doesn't mean literal death, but rather a shedding, releasing, letting die that which no longer serves us.  The archetypal theme of life/death/rebirth.

A key element of transformation, of alchemy of the soul is in the allowing of what needs to die in order for the rebirth parts of our self.  It's the Death card of the Tarot: learning how to detach and release, cutting through old patterns that bind us so that we can give birth to new forms and previously unexpressed parts of ourselves.

Death card from the Thoth Tarot

One of my favorite things about Hawthorn is the magical obstacles it presents to us at just the right moment.  It reflects to us the exact lesson we need at the exact moment in life that we need it.  Synchronicity at its finest.  Somehow she knows what we're ready for, what our next lesson needs to be on our path in order for us to meet our purpose.  Hawthorn will "guard you as it teaches you - sometimes strongly, sometimes gently - but always with love."