Do Less .


​D   O        L   E   S   S  .

Rejecting the Cult of Productivity and
Re-defining Success in Late Capitalism

( N B D )

.    .    .    .    .

B E G I N     A G A I N

​In life, we always have the opportunity to begin again. To do it sweeter, softer, and with a greater quality of presence than ever before. I’ve heard it said, there are places grace will take you, that hustling never will.  I wish someone would have told me that at twenty two, but I doubt I could have heard them then, and anyway — better to learn late than never. 

Twenty two is the age at which I began my journey with La Abeja Herbs.  And since that time, nearly every moment of my life has been devoted to nurturing it into what it has become — a company whose success and reach have eclipsed any vision I ever held for it at the outset.  But because of this, something in me had felt lost for a long time — or at least obscured — by the seemingly unending list of tasks necessary for maintaining a steady sense of productivity on the rise. (read :: capitalism) But no amount of productivity is worth compromising the aspects of one’s life which matter most or aspects of self which are most precious.  I felt like there was a growing wall between me and the world; like my body had to move two to three steps ahead of my heart just to keep up with the daily tasks of running the business.  And all of this left little time, and even less emotional space, for the real work —  the sacred work — of simply being with myself and with the plants; sitting in stillness and courting the Muse with such tender care, as was once my singular devotion. The magic in my life felt as though it was waning, and I knew something had to give.


L I F E ' S    A    T R I P
In late April, I returned home from, almost precisely, one month of travel.  It seems that I am always leaving, always coming home.  For most of my adult life, I have been mostly nomadic, and mostly happy about it.  I have woken at sunrise beside the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean and folded my laundry causally aboard a ferry making my way from island to island amidst the Salish Sea.  I’ve slept upon the Earth for weeks at a stretch with friends and strangers by my side.  I’ve grown sunburnt for lack of shade and shelter, and made love beneath the waning Moon in the wild waters of warm mountain springs.  And now, for the first time in over a decade — I have what could be called a Home.

For years I longed for the distinctive feeling of freedom that came only from driving away from somewhere.  To be fair, I was often traveling toward something as well, but more than that, it was the feeling of leaving that fed me, the feeling of being free from what was.  But now, I don’t want to leave.  I want to be here — in my house, in my garden, walking through the alleys of my neighborhood at sunset and learning the precise location where each feral cat spends its late afternoon hours.  I want to watch the way the sun moves across my porch over the course of the day and note the subtle changing light of Summer into Fall.  I want to linger over long breakfasts cooked slow in my kitchen for the friends I love, and don't get to see nearly often enough.  I want to have something that resembles a routine for once in my life.

​As my Saturn Return approaches, (oh hayyyy!) the urge and the instinct to settle and to create structure is undeniable.  Nearing the end of my most recent month-long stint of travel, the sounds and sights of Home were what my Soul was aching for.  I wandered through the high desert of California, drunk on the electric buzz of new love and the intoxicating sights and smells of the perfectly-timed super-bloom which coincided with my short visit. And yet, despite this heady, nectar-rich landscape, I felt like there was a palm pressed firmly to my forehead, obscuring my vision in this world and the other. I was unable to see or think clearly, knowing only that I needed rest and solitude in order to remember who I was or what I wanted. My magic was fading, and my sense of self wearing thin.  I could not hear the voices of the cacti clearly and the flowers were shy and suspicious of me.  I was not myself.  Home now, in the cool expanse of my quiet kitchen, I wake to the familiar sound of doves outside my window, the breath of breeze in Oak trees.  The world here welcomes me, and speaks to me clearly once more — but only on the condition that I agree to stay still for more than a few weeks at a stretch.

​On the final day of my trip, I departed from Marfa, TX after offering my fourth year of Spring workshops in partnership with El Cosmico.  As I began the day-long journey toward home, I felt a great weight descend upon me, originating from I knew not where.  I felt vaguely disoriented after my month of movement; heavy and slow, even as I drove ninety miles an hour down the sunny West Texas highway, lined to the horizon with technicolor primroses and pollen-heavy Acacias.  I saw an unfamiliar tree, laden with yellow blossoms, and then another, and another.  Exhausted, and eager to make it home before dark, my instinct was to suppress my curiosity, ignore the beckoning blooms, and press on toward home. As I neared the highway intersection, however, I saw a final stand of these unknown trees, which refused to be ignored. I pulled over to the side of the road and realized suddenly that I was parched and starving, having ignored not only my curiosity and thirst for beauty but for more tangible sustenance as well.  I gulped what little water remained in my bottle and tore into the leftovers stashed in my cooler before gathering my wits about me and slowing down to approach the tree with a proper sense of reverence.  I admired her branches, heavy with otherworldly blooms, and watched in silence as more species of pollinators than I could count, alighted upon the profusion of her flowers to drink deep their fertility.  I lingered there, inviting the warm desert air to penetrate and soften the rigidity that had found its way into my body.  I sensed the sun overhead and the distant hum of cars on the interstate.  I arrived where I was, and I felt calm and present at last -- in the stillness and in solitude, I needed for so long.

I drove on through nodding fields of wild oat and thorny mesquite in bloom.  Nearing an empty tank, in more ways than one, I was grateful to see an exit on the long stretch of desolate highway that indicated some sign of civilization.  I stopped for gas at the station and I realized I had there many times over the years on my countless cross-country treks. The bathroom sink glistened with shimmering fake marble and the wood paneling, left untouched since the fifties, told of a kind of easy familiarity and comfort.  The whole place was suffused with the kind of silence one rarely finds on purpose. I walked outside the station to admire the profusion of prickly pear blossoms, the velvety blood red roses covering the peeling paint of the walls.  The fifteen or so feral cats who greeted me had morphed from grey to tabby in the generations since my last visit.  They languished on the warm sidewalk and eyed me curiously for signs of food.  Stepping onto a small patch of lawn, an instant I was surrounded by hundreds of tiny purple butterflies.  They alighted on the moist earth to drink,  opening and closing their wings slowly as they did.  It was a vision so unexpectedly beautiful, I felt moved nearly to tears.  And yet, again I saw the instinct in me arise, to press onward -- to drink in only so much of this perfection.  But instead I chose to stay, to take as long as I wanted; as long as it took.  I wandered to the edge of the dirt parking lot where a large Agave rose up, majestic and on the precipice of its long awaited flowering. I stood perfectly still and silent as I walked another congregation of butterflies dancing around the wine cups and sage below.  I wandered on, taking in the entirety of this highway side paradise and allowing myself to be filled with the cool breath of meadow and milkweed; the deep refuge offered by the thick mulberry shade.  I was just with myself, in the place where I was; watching, listening, breathing and asking myself  -- 
If I cannot allow myself to experience pleasure fully
in this moment -- then when 
will I finally allow it?

H O N O R I N G    T H E    S A C R E D

Reflecting on this experience as I continued on the long drive toward home, I realized just how a dangerous a thing it is to ignore beauty in the name of efficiency; to prioritize productivity and perfection over pleasure and play.  My heart ached for the countless times I had denied myself what I wanted and needed most - whether it was nourishment, rest, connection, or exploration. I implore you to remain vigilant for this tendency in your own life, for it is this insidious thing which gives rise to a world where fascism is possible and those things which are sacred become commodities rather than forces with which we are in relationship.  How we do one thing, is often how we do everything.

Within each of us exist the same forces which make up the world beyond our own skin and psyche —  as within, so without.  When we see violence, racism, misogyny, destruction of the natural world — we must ask ourselves, how is this war also being waged within my own body, my own heart, my own mind?  What shadowy aspects of myself have I unable or unwilling to bear witness to?  In what ways have I been violent toward myself; toward the people I love? What inner resources am I exploiting?  Because there is no them, there is only us.  The subtle ways in which we treat ourselves and relate to the world around us -- these things matter deeply.  Each act in the this world is coupled with an equally potent ripple in the Otherworld.  By choosing kindness, beauty, pleasure, presence -- we are choosing to orchestrate powerful magic -- not only in our own lives but for the world beyond as well.

I know that I am not alone in recognizing these things and that the recent weeks and months have revealed not only to me but to many, the ways in which we have been acting as our own taskmasters, rather than allowing life to be lived through us with grace. And through this realization, we are offered an invitation to loosen or even remove the shackles that we alone have keep ourselves bound by.


M A K I N G    N E W    C H O I C E S

​Upon returning home, at last, I was already beginning the necessary steps for planning my next trip to teach at the Spiritweavers Gathering — a favorite moment in the wheel of the year when I get to come together with many of the people I love most.  The Gathering this year would be held in Cave Junction, Oregon -- all the way across the country.  My nervous system recoiled and I wept with anxiety at the thought of leaving my home again so soon.  My body was exhausted, spent.  If I moved forward with the trip as planned, I would bid a reluctant farewell to the new home I'd hardly had time to settle into, get on a plane to fly to the Pacific Northwest, and teach for twenty four hours over the course of two weeks.  I would also, of course, be surrounded by many of my closest friends as well as by twelve hundred other truly amazing women -- but to the body, positive stress is still stress.  And much as “I” wanted to go, something much deeper in me simply would not allow it.

I had been praying for guidance, as my delicate system struggled mightily to sense what was best.  My word is sacred and to not follow through on a commitment I had made to my community felt unthinkable.  Not to mention, how I longed to laugh late into the night and wade in the cool wild waters alongside many of the friends I had been looking forward to seeing since we had parted the previous Summer.  But my answer came quickly as I sat in my favorite medicine-filled field, held in the embrace of a towering Texas Pecan.  The tree was like a wise old woman, clothed elaborately in vines which wove, lattice-like, about her ancient trunk. I arranged myself in a sad heap upon the Earth, beneath her shade, feeling far from everything that I loved.  I felt alone; hollow.  And as I sat there, in moderate distress — my phone rang.  Having sensed the urgency of my current state, a generous and wise friend called me and listened patiently as I told her how depleted I felt — how scared I was about my health, my home, my heart.  When she responded at last to my long-winded monologue of overwhelm, her tone alone was all the permission I needed to listen to what I’d known in my bones all along.  Her care as well as her concern were evident — and they made me realize what it was I really needed. That night, I made the final decision to stay.  To give myself to myself.  To create the space I needed in order to first empty and then re-fill the depleted well of my being.


​When your cup is full, you cannot receive.
When your cup is empty, you have nothing to give.

Though I had so badly wished to have the energy to attend the Gathering, I knew that the experience of cross country travel and long hours of teaching would leave me feeling, ultimately depleted, and with little to give to myself or community in the longterm.  To offer teachings on Herbs For The Feminine Heart, while so blatantly disregarding the wisdom and communication from my own sacred center would be a betrayal. To guide the Moon Maidens in an exploration of what it means to Walk In Beauty, while my own reserves and life force were dangerously waning would be a lie.  To sit before my sisters and share the story of my Medicine Path, while neglecting to continue to walk it, would not truly serve anyone.  And so, I'm telling the tale from home this year, trusting that life and love both come in waves and that the tides will bring us all back together again before too long.


​R E D E F I N I N G    S U C C E S S
To encourage vitality and facilitate longterm sustainable growth, we must sometimes make hard choices about what to say no to in the short term.  Much like a hopeful houseplant, searching for light and eager to bloom, we can only grow in so many directions at once without ultimately compromising our overall health.  Recognizing now, the importance of making choices which nourish rather than deplete, I'm no longer afraid to cut my plants or my plans back dramatically, in order to ultimately encourage greater vitality.  And so I am making shifts, large and small, in my life and in my business.  Because I want to be more available for me, and for you as well. I want to return to the deep quality of presence that is needed to offer true healing work, meaningful and embodied teaching, and sincerity in the written word. Everything we do in life takes energy, and each of us only has so much if it -- it is up to us alone just how it will be used and directed.

I don’t believe in progress, as our culture defines it;
because there is nowhere to go; nothing to do; no one to be. 

​I don’t believe in progress, as our culture defines it; because there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to be.  Annie Dillard reminds us, that “How we spend our days, if of course, how we spend our lives.”  Real progress is non-linear.  My teacher, Michael Reed has often reminded me that Humans greatly overestimate what they are capable of in the short term, and greatly under estimate what they are capable of in the long term.  A scholar and farmer both, Michael is a man who sees mountains as waves upon the Earth’s surface, rising and falling with tides which stretch beyond our perception of time.  And there are mountains in our own lives, that we can see if we slow to their pace — they are our life’s work, gradually rising up from the subterranean space of our inner world, until at their peak, they are a thing of true power and magnificence.  But you cannot rush a mountain, for a mountain takes its time.  And sometimes it must pause to linger on its slow ascent toward the majesty of the sky.
A friend asked me recently, speaking in general terms, “What does it mean to live your dream?” I paused, looking up from my phone to glimpse her sly smile, and freckle-dappled olive skin, black curls framing her soft and piercing beauty.  “Dreams change,” I told her, “visions change. When your dreams come true, you are forced to face their imperfections.  You are forced to see how unpoetic they actually are, unless you make the effort suffuse them with goodness from the Otherworld.  When your dreams come true, you realize that it is not so much the outer world which matters, but the feeling in and around things, which comes from another place entirely.  I have been happier in moments of seeming inactivity than I have been upon accomplishing what I held as some my greatest goals.  Most people don’t know what they actually want, what they will actually feel fulfilled by  We learn more, we grow, the next layer of subtlety is revealed to us and once we see, we cannot un-see.”

​Not all growth is good growth.  

So, what does success look like in late capitalism?  In a time when more and more people are waking up to the myth of limitless expansion and endless energy, how can we envision new models of success and remember what it means to truly live well?  I have learned that not all growth is good growth.  And as my "career" continues to take shape and more and more new opportunities present themselves, it becomes increasingly important to clarify what values guide my life and my choices. Is success defined by a higher dollar amount in my bank account and daily visits to La Abeja Herbs website or it is it a life lived slowly and well; a choice to do more with less?  For me, the answer is obvious and has little to do with metrics or external markers of progress, as defined by our culture.  Instead, I define success is having the ability and the privilege to pull over on the side of the road and appreciate the beauty of the world; to bask in the fragrant explosion of spring blooms in the desert. It is feeling safe and at home enough in my body to take my time, allowing myself to be present to the world that is all around me and within me, rather than looking, constantly ahead to my next life goal, or contemplating the emails I have yet to respond to. Success looks like staying with myself through discomfort; choosing to visit my lover in the desert; knowing that the work can wait.


H E A L I N G    C O M E S    F R O M    W I T H I N

If we want to live in a world where that which is sacred is honored, where all peoples are treated with dignity and respect — it has to begin with the way we treat ourselves.  It has to begin with the way that you treat yourself.  When we look at the world around us, and we see violence, oppression, inequality, destruction of the natural world, exploitation of resources, and so on, we must ask ourselves — what is it within me that perpetuates these things, allows them to exist?  What inner resources am I exploiting?  In what ways am I oppressing myself, perpetuating violence in my inner world, devaluing aspects of my own lived experience? If we are fighting for the preservation of sacred sites, the protection of pristine bioregions, the rights of oppressed peoples — and yet we are depleting the landscape of our own body and psyche through this work — what good are we really doing?   Because there is no them.  There is only us. And our actions speak volumes, not only to other humans, but to the spirits and unseen world as well.  When we choose peace in our own lives, choose kindness toward ourselves -- the whole world responds.  Every action, no matter how small, has magical and non-linear effects which are felt deeply in the unseen world and reflected in this one.  So when you are tired, rest.  When you are hungry, nourish your body.  This is the real and sacred work as well.

It is up to us, both individually and collectively, to reject the cult of productivity, and to rest gently in the knowing that our value has little to do with our efficiency or achievements in the outer world.  We must ask ourselves, what it looks to do less, not more.  And the choices you make from this place might not be sexy, or popular, or lucrative — but they will connect with you something so deeply real and important within yourself.  More than your success, this world needs your sensitivity, your kindness, your generosity and your presence.; and these are things which can only arise from within.

C O M I N G    H O M E

​So I am home now and the fireflies are out. My hen is laying and the nopales are green and tender, ready to be enjoyed.  The air is cool and I am grateful.  When I sit down to write, I can feel the peaceful expanse of my home around me, the shifting foundation and cracked walls like maps leading to a place I have never been, but would like to go.  It has been a long time since I have given myself Time -- to rest, to write, to be still and go within.  Something in me is demanding this.  For it is the place from which all life springs.  And it is terrifying and wonderful, to trust that I am enough; I have enough; I do enough.  It has been my experience and observation that most of us are so caught up in doing our lives, that we scarcely realize we are not actually experiencing our lives.

Most of us are so caught up in doing our lives, that we
scarcely realize we are not actually experiencing our lives.

By my estimation, the highest form of art and of activism is a life fully lived. A life, each moment of which is tended to with sincerity and presence, alive with curiosity and slowed to a pace that allows for experiencing the richness of the sensory information available to us as embodied creatures. We can access this richness, by softening into and focusing fully on each task we undertake, by sensing with care where every object in our home wishes to live, by allowing the details and subtleties and countless small pleasures of this world to penetrate our awareness. And through this simple slowing down, we become -- without trying -- grace, embodied.

Each one of us has the most profound and impeccable ability to find and set a pace that is all our own. We must only listen to the steady metronome of our own hearts beating, the rise and fall of our breath as it enters and leaves our bodies.  It can begin slowly, with little more than a loving curiosity about our own cycles of hunger and satiety, our own longings for rest and exuberant exertion--because our bodies know, our hearts know.  And as a first step on the long path of cultivating a world steeped in real love and genuine caring, we have a responsibility to begin by tending to ourselves in this spirit first; by committing to care for and honor the precious lives being lived through us, in each moment. 
 And we always have the opportunity to begin again --  to do it sweeter, softer, and with greater sensitivity than ever before.



Beauty Medicine

B E A U T Y • M E D I C I N E

A deep bow of thanks to the wonderful group of folks who joined us on last night's Edible + Medicinal Plant Walk. It is part of my daily practice to wander through the alleyways and city streets at dusk, following the subtle pull of the flowers, fruits, and feral things which wish to find me. To invite others into this space of curiosity and nourishment is such a gift. As we bask in the quiet presence of each plant ally, I have the distinct honor and opportunity to share the stories and the medicine they have so graciously offered to me and to my community over the years.

My teacher says -- the way to make peace in the world is to know where you are. And for me, this begins with the Plants. By orienting ourselves to the Seasons and Cycles of the green and growing world around us, we come to locate ourselves more tangibly within the wider web of the world.

Remaining true to my belief that by creating space to simply wander, we will be met by the medicines we need most -- I took the group on a last minute detour down an alleyway filled mostly with Beggar's Lice and Turk's Cap, of which we'd already spoken. Nearing the ally's end and still uncertain of who or what had drawn us down this path, I remembered the enchanting Four O Clocks that had left me intoxicated by their scent earlier in the week.

I gathered the group before the flowers and explained that I knew nothing about them, other than their name and that they were beautiful and sweet smelling. But wasn't that enough? I don't believe that plants or people should be measured by their usefulness or functionality alone. For that, to me, is missing the point of life completely. It is beauty, and novelty, and delight which feed the Holy best, and which act as the animating force of all things. To take people on a plant walk, without acknowledging pleasure as primary, seems cruel. For the time spent in relationship and connection with the plants IS the medicine. The final plant of the evening held no utility as far as I knew -- she was not edible and I knew nothing of her medicinal value, but her presence alone was healing and good. And that was more than enough.


Evening Primrose

r a n g e

found throughout the US

c o n s t i t u e n t s

Chiefly glycerides, with fatty acids component high proportion of linoleic acid and
gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which are omega-6 fatty acids, and oleic acid
source :: Herbal Vade Mecum, Gazmend Skenderi

p a r t s    u s e d

Flowers, leaves, roots + seeds. The Evening Primrose is biennial, meaning that it flowers in its second year of growth. In early Spring, Harvest leaves + roots from first year plants which have not yet flowered. To ensure proper identification, prefer those plants which are growing in close proximity to flowering second year bloomers for easy comparison. These pre-flowering plants will be less bitter and more palatable for food uses, described below.

p l a n e t a r y
a s s o c i a t i o n


e n e r g e t i c s

cool, moist, relaxant

a c t i o n s

anti-inflammatory, demulcent, vulnerary,
antispasmodic, nervine, nutritive, refrigerant

p r e f e r r e d     f o r m

In addition to spending as much time as possible in fields of these Springtime beauties and taking the flower essence regularly, my favorite way to enjoy this heavenly medicine is fresh from the Earth, flowers eaten whole, pollen and all. A more practical plan for regular use, however, is to the carefully dry the flowers and leaves, and enjoy them as a hot infusion. I also love to tincture the blossoms along with milky oats, passionflower, and peach leaf for a cooling summer nervine formula that basically saved my life last Summer.

f l o w e r     e s s e n c e

Evening Primrose [ Oenothera speciosa ] essence is is helpful for letting go of the need to control one's environment, the ability to form positive attachment and healthy partnerships, following the heart not the head. Regular use of this essence allows you to experience a deep sense self acceptance--acceptance that you may have been denied in childhood or past relationships. It is helpful for those who are painfully self conscious and instinctively hide their true nature for fear of rejection. The Pink Primrose teaches us to stay centered in our own experience as we move through the world, to acknowledge our own needs and desires as primary, and to stop compromising ourselves in order to gain the favor of others. It assists one in feeling at home in the world and gingerly urges you to let go of all false identities so that you can become a vessel for the Truth of who you are.

The Evening primrose brings us back to innocence and simplicity, to pleasure for and play for their own sake. Her whisper thin Blossom beckons to those who are lost in worry of how others will judge their choices and actions. She guides us back toward the experience of childlike wonder and exploration, a time and space before we cared what others thought of us. Her medicine helps us to slow down and to notice the world around us, letting beauty in, and taking the time to appreciate it. Her greatest gift of all, perhaps, is the ability she has to heal those parts of us we've been told are unacceptable and to reintegrate the entirety of who we are instead of hiding aspects of who we are, not only from the world, but from ourselves. From this space of self acceptance, we can deepen in intimacy with others, allowing them to see us as we truly are, without and masks or posturing to obscure our holy imperfect selves.

r i t u a l     u s e

Add thirteen blossoms to a tepid bath. Use alone or in combination with rose petals, blue lotus flowers, rose quartz, and/or rhodochrosite. Light a pale pink candle beside the tub. Reflect on those parts of yourself which you habitually and unconsciously hide because of a belief that they are unlovable, unlikable, shameful, or unworthy. Invite them into the space with you, into the watery space of your psyche. Ask them what they have to teach you. Ask them to reveal to you their purpose in the larger story of your life. Ask that you might begin to see the beauty which lies beneath them. Invite these parts of you home, acknowledging them as valuable aspects of yourself. Make a commitment to be kind to these parts of you. After your bath, offer the primroses and other flowers used back to the Earth. As you do so, make a prayer to gracefully to reintegrate and to love these aspects of you. If you are seeking connection, intimacy, and partnership with others, make a prayer to trust that these aspects of you are deserving of love and acceptance not only by you, but by all those you wish to share closeness with.

p h y s i c a l     m e d i c i n e

On a physical level, the medicine of Evening Primrose is profoundly soothing, cooling and anti-inflammatory. This delicate blossom brings sweet relief to anxiety and overwhelm that are brought on or made worse by heat. The leaves, stems and flowers can be used externally as a poultice to bring relief to skin irritations and internally as a tea or tincture to soothe an irritated digestive tract. It's effect is also mildly sedative, making it a wonderful ally for nervous indigestion, and stress that effects the liver adversely. Evening primrose is a valuable respiratory antispasmodic with an affinity for the diaphragm and lungs. As a tea, it serves as a safe yet effective remedy to can deepen and strengthen labored or shallow breathing resultant from stress. It soothes parched mucosa irritated by infection and dryness and suppresses unproductive coughing that can lead to exhaustion. Combine with mullein, horehound, or coltsfoot for respiratory issues.

Used regularly as a tea or tincture, this elegant remedy can help to decrease symptoms of PMS, breast tenderness, pelvic fullness, menopausal hot flashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and seasonal allergies. A concentrated form of the oil, expressed from the seeds of evening primrose is commercially available and extremely beneficial in its effect on all of the above as well.

e d i b i l i t y

The roots + leaves of first year plants are a choice wild edible. The leaves can be added to salads, eaten raw. They are peppery and slightly mucilaginous. Combine with young tender wild mustard greens or arugula. The root can be eaten raw or cooked. Flowers make a delightful treat eaten simply in the field during harvest or can be carefully preserved and added to dishes as a garnish at a later, but not much later hour. Evening Primroses are prolific but delicate and will wilt quickly once picked. If you plan to incorporate their blooms into your meal, gather them immediately prior to serving.


Real Love

R E A L    L O V E 

f i r s t ,

L  I  S  T  E  N

+    +    +

Real Love is Soulful, cyclical, non-linear, and often messy.  Real Love is spacious and inclusive and it will reveal us to ourselves, if we allow it to.  Real Love gives rise more of the same, for to Love deeply in one direction, is to strengthen the presence of this holy force in all other areas of life as well.  I am learning this.  I am remembering this.  I am willing this to be so -- personally, politically, and in ways that are deeply private as well.  

Love and Compassion are but two faces belonging to the same ancient Muse.  True Compassion is boundless, and all-encompassing and it is fiercest of all when extended unconditionally to those who've hurt us most.  

+    +    +

While I was in Colorado recently, I had the rare privilege of spending time with a very wise and dear friend who shared her perspective on the current administration through the lens of Buddhism and her belief in the basic goodness of all Beings.  I questioned aloud, what she was saying -- that at their core, the individuals who are intentionally perpetuating and escalating systemic violence, racism, and oppression -- retain their basic goodness, and that beneath the many layers of fear and hate which inform their actions, that they too have an unmarred innocence and sincere desire for liberation.

We walked along the alpine ridge-line as we spoke, through fragrant Ponderosas and crisp cool mountain air.  Like bears just woken from their Winter-long sleep, we made our way, lumbering awkwardly over patches of bare earth in our snowshoes, soil and stone exposed by the early Spring which had melted the snow a month too soon.  I tried to remain curious and open to her perspective so that I might understand what she was saying.  But, I felt very attached to my sense of justice, and to the belief that there are forces of good and forces of evil, that there is life and that there is death.  I was, in essence, attached to a dualistic perspective.  A perspective that, simply put, made me right, and them wrong.  But as our conversation and our walk progressed, something in me began to soften, and to remember.

We stopped in a sunny clearing, and set into the steady rhythm of fetch, as we threw a stick for her eager puppy to retrieve.  We hurled small wooden branches down a steep hillside, with the goal of getting Yeshe, the dog, good and tuckered out, as she put all her canine might into sprinting to collecting her prize before beginning the steep ascent -- again, and again, and again, and again.

To illustrate her point, and help me to see what she was getting at, my friend went into great detail about the unwavering non-violent resistance of the Tibetan people in the face of the truly horrifying genocide and erasure of their culture and religion that was and is taking place at the hands of the Chinese government.  And her words reminded me of the non-dual nature of reality.  Her words reminded me of Time which exists on a scale beyond any of our lives, or our children's lives, or their children's lives. Her words reminded me, that what is important, is not whether we win or lose, but rather how we play the game.  Death felt close as we spoke, loss felt intimate.  My breast heaved and my gaze narrowed toward the horizon, as this [ new // old ] perspective found it's place once more in my psyche.

Lyla June Johnston, an Indigenous Poet, Activist, and Leader, who I admire greatly, reminds us that "when we fall to anger and to hatred, we become the very thing that hurt us."  
We have all been hurt before.  And we've hurt others.  We know that there are many ways to resolve conflict -- some more effective than others.  In my experience, when someone I have hurt approaches me with curiosity and makes generous assumptions about the motivations behind my words and actions, I am far more likely to be interested in their feelings and experiences in return.  On the other hand, if that same approaches me with accusations and blame and the immediate judgement that I have knowingly wronged them, I am more likely to become automatically defensive and shutdown.  This is true for most folks interpersonally, and it plays out on the political and planetary strata as well.  How can we get curious about what is beneath the violence and oppression that we experience in the world?  

I believe in action and I believe in resistance, but I also believe that holding a space of sincere prayer and of unconditional loving kindness for all beings -- most especially those who harm us -- is, perhaps, the most foundational practice for true resistance.  This does not mean that we accept or even tolerate the abuse, or the atrocities, simply that we understand and remember that Love feeds Love, and that violence, whether overt or subtle, feeds violence. 

And I am working this out within myself still, for this belief presents a great many murky waters to navigate, especially as someone who holds a significant degree privilege in this culture.  I am an able-bodied, middle class, femme-presenting, fair skinned woman.  And I see it as my role, ultimately, to listen right now, and to stay curious about how I can stand in solidarity with others who hold less privilege than I do.  I believe, that no matter how I, or anyone chooses to resist, that if we allow that resistance to come from a place of care and empathy, not only for ourselves, but for those who cause us harm as well, that we will be more effective by far than if we allow that same resistance to be born of a place of fear and hatred for that which we deem, other.

"Forgiveness is some of the strongest Medicine in the world."

- L y l a    J u n e    J o h n s t o n
I have been so moved and inspired by Lyla June.  Last year, she led the Forgiveness March to the Morton County Police Department, to pray for the police officers and law enforcement officials who had injured and committed violent acts against the Water Protectors at Standing Rock.  At that time, I felt angry and helpless as I watched from afar, the injustices being perpetrated against the Indigenous Peoples of this Land.  And then I melted into tears of humility when I heard and saw the incredible compassion that Lyla June offered to these same people whose actions so angered me.  Lyla June reminds us that "Forgiveness is some of the strongest Medicine in the world."  Upon hearing her words all those months ago, I understood, that when we can truly love those who harm us --  this is real Healing, this is real Resistance. 
I believe, now, in writing love letters to the Guides and Ancestors of those who misuse their power.  I believe in praying for their healing, making offerings at altars dedicated to their awakening in hopes that they might remember all that which is Sacred.  May softness reign, may forgiveness belong to us all.   May we find more and better ways to offer real Love, fierce Compassion, and Forgiveness against all odds -- not only to those closest to us, but to the people who have harmed us as well.  May we remember that their healing is our healing.  May we remember that Love feeds Love.


Point Of Reference

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains
unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."

- N e l s o n    M a n d e l a

I'm writing to you today from Colorado.  I lived here for many years and it is in these Mountains that my love of Plant Medicine first took root.  I have stayed long away, and returning now, even for a brief moment, has been a gift rich with reflection and revelation.  For it is precious to recognize and to remember, from whence you came, so that you might know more clearly, just where it is you are going.

A place remembers you and through it, you remember yourself, see yourself. My body felt electric, alive with recognition as we drove through the canyon I once called Home. The frozen creek seemed to smile in recognition, reminding me of the morning's I'd spent by her side, in the low light of daybreak, shrouded in mountain mist and watching as the hummingbirds flew with violent precision through the air above her icy waters. I remembered the motherwort and lemon balm and catnip that grew wild outside my door. The plums that ripened in sumner and the apples that floated sweet and offering downstream in fall. I remember baking pies and pressing Cider, falling in love, finding community.

There is snow here, lots of it. And Ponderosas taller and more magnificent than I'd recalled them to be. There is still the sweet and simple rhythm of mountain life, steady and unchanging after all these years, gone. And while I am so glad for the chance to slip into this Rocky Mountain reality for a brief moment, I can see clearly that I no longer belong to this place, nor does it belong to me. The cycles and Seasons of our life are funny things, and we cannot guess at where they will lead us. There was a time when I would have been content to live here forever, high in the mountains, at home in the arms of the one I then loved; stoking wood fires and collecting wildflowers in Spring. But life is vast and I am so grateful for all of the places I have known, and loved, and been known by since that time. For they are like old friends, whose company I can delight in for a time, and with whom I can reminisce on the most honey-hues of memories, sharing gratitude for the lessons we learned together, as well as sorrow for what was and what never will be. These places of the past, they see me now, and nod in warm and silent approval as they witness the woman I have become, a woman I could only have become, because I chose not to stay forever, but instead kept following that thread which has led and continues to lead me, farther down the path I came here to walk.

And that is not to say that there is not an ache that lives within me still, for every Land and Love and Life that I'd hoped to make mine. But I've learned that my deepest loyalty lies not on the world of humans, but rather in some other realm where unseen forces work through me as I give birth to a thing, at once holy and not yet fully formed. And I will always follow that, I will always choose that, I will always be in service to that. For it is Spirit which knows, Spirit which guides us. And when we it is Spirit to whom we answer, we will always find our way back to those people and places we are meant to, but only when the moment is right. Only when we have done the work. Only when we are truly ready to remember. Thank you for welcoming me with your magnificence and your mystery. I'll love your Rocky Mountains forever.


Let's Talk About This

I n    t h e    E n d ,    w e    w i l l    r e m e m b e r    n o t    t h e    w o r d s

o f    o u r    e n e m i e s ,    b u t    t h e    s i l e n c e    o f    o u r    f r i e n d s .

[  M a r t i n    L u t h e r    K i n g    J r . ]

I lately I have said little, but felt much.  I have been in shock and uncertain of the best path forward.  As dear friend very wisely explained to me, it is one thing to imagine what it might be like to visit Spain, to plan your trip there and consider all the ways the experience might unfold, but it is another thing entirely, to actually be in Spain.  And as of January 21, 2017 we are now, metaphorically speaking, in Spain.  And it is much more frightening and much more extreme than we could have ever have imagined.  We knew this was coming. And now it is here and I am crying as I write this. And I believe this is a mark, not of my weakness, but of my strength, because as the weight of reality sets in, the most potent medicine, the most revolutionary thing that you can do, is to first, simply feel; to grieve and to rage and to take those feelings and build a fucking fire inside yourself.

T a k e    a l l    t h a t    y o u    a r e    f e e l i n g    r i g h t    n o w ,

a n d    b u i l d    a    W i l d f i r e    i n s i d e    y o u r s e l f .

After two days of feeling out of numb and disoriented and out of sorts, I really let myself go there, into the grief, and the fear, and the despair, within the safe space of a conversation with my dear friend.  I let myself acknowledge,  f u l l y , what is happening in our country and then further allowed myself to consider just how bad this has the potential to get.  This could get really bad.  I spent all day yesterday, all day today, and most this evening, doing anything at all that I could that was not writing these words.  But I knew I had to write them.  For me, and for you; for the communities of which I am a part as well as those of which I am not a directly a part but with whom I am strongly allied.  I knew I had to write this for my Ancestors and yours, for the generations which will come after us as well.  For the Land and for the wide web of life of which we are a part.  Which is not to say that my voice is any more important than yours or than anyone else's, but rather that   e v e r y   voice is needed right now.

S p e a k    U p .     T h e    w o r l d    n e e d s    t o

h e a r    w h a t    y o u    h a v e    t o    s a y .

Mid-sentence, during the paragraph above, I stopped my writing to open the door for someone who'd already come by twice tonight -- a young man from the Texas Environmental Network.  You know, those well meaning folks with clipboards who probably have so much sincerity and passion in their hearts for whatever it is they are collecting money or signatures for, but who, more often than not, end up simply reading from a script that tells little of their personal connection to the issue and leaves you feeling similarly uninspired.  When he came the first time -- I just couldn't.  When he came the second time, I pretended not to be home, overwhelmed in knowing what our conversation would bring up for me.  When he came by a third time, I opened the door and told him, rarely brusquely -- "I don't want to hear you spiel, but if you want tell me what it is that you're feeling and why you are doing this, I would love to listen and to talk with you. " Taken aback at first, then softened by the sadness so visible behind in my eyes, he started to tell me me that he had just moved here from Flint, MI -- a place where the water is so polluted that it is toxic to drink.  He told me that he left his girlfriend and his dogs to come here and that it was his only his second day on the job, knocking door to door, and asking people to donate money to halt the use of toxic neonicotinoids pesticides in Texas.  These are the chemicals that are causing Colony Collapse Disorder and decimating the Honeybee populations which are crucial to pollinating food crops and are, therefore, vital all life on Earth.  I told him that I was an Herbalist and that the name of my business -- La Abeja Herbs -- means Honeybee in Spanish.  I cried, he cried.  If you are reading this, thank you Jason.  For the work that you are doing, for your courageousness and generosity of heart.  As I let my tears fall freely, they began to well up behind his eyes as well and we hugged and we thanked one another for being so real.  I gave him a bottle of Hawthorn Tincture + told him to come on the Plant Walk I will be offering in February. These are the conversations we need to be having.  With friends, with family, with strangers.
T h e s e    a r e    t h e    c o n v e r s a t i o n s

w e    n e e d    t o    b e    h a v i n g .

Today I asked my mom, a psychotherapist in private practice, what it was she that and her colleagues are doing to Resist and to show solidarity with all oppressed peoples.  I was proud when I heard her answer and even more proud when she appreciated and thoughtfully considered the suggestions I gave on how to be of greater service to POC, Muslims, and the Queer + Transgender community.
T h e    m o s t    d a n g e r o u s    t h i n g     w e    c a n

d o    r i g h t    n o w    i s    r e m  a i n    s i l e n t .

The most dangerous thing we can do right now, is remain silent.  The most harmful thing we can do right now is remain silent. We need to keep talking about what is going on, in all spheres -- politically, environmentally, in areas of social justice and racial equality, and so on.  When we can approach these topics from a place of feeling and personal experience, our conversations can be so much more potent and meaningful, than when we are simply reciting the latest article we've been shocked and outraged to read.  It is these conversations which give us the hope and the sense of solidarity that are needed for the work that we are engaging in now, as well as all that lies ahead. 

W h a t     i f    w h a t    T H I S    i s    w o r k

 w e    c a m e    h e r e    t o     d o ,    t o g et h e r ?

Many of us have felt a sense that there is a singularly important thing which that we came here to do in this lifetime.  It's been a journey that many of us could sense but not see; a fate existing just beyond the veil, but alive in a knowing that has its home in our Hearts and our Bones, and our collective Ancestral memories. Over each of our lifetimes, and perhaps especially in recent years, we've met others too, who hold this sense of purpose within them, this similar sense of shared destiny.  Well, what if    t h i s     i s     i t   ?  What if this is the moment we've all been preparing for, as we've cultivated our courageous hearts and as honed our practical skills in the outer world? What if what this is work we came here to do, t o g e t h e r -- to fight for the more beautiful and free and equitable world that we  k n o w  is possible.  This is the moment to give it everything you've got.  To stop playing like you're waiting for your real life to start.  There is nothing left to wait for.
F r e e d o m    f i g h t e r s    d o n ' t    a l w a y s    w i n ,

b u t    t h e y ' r e    a l w a y s    r i g h t.

[ M o l l y    I v i n s ]

I don't know what's going to happen, anymore than you do, and my hope is for a vital + loving revolution to spring forth from the fertile decay of so much in our culture that is long overdue for death.  My prayer is for a revolution in our relationship to one another as humans, to this Earth as our one shared home and source of life, and to our shared resources, within and without.  But maybe that's not what happens.  There are no guarantees.  What's important now, is that we show up. Again and again.  That we stand together in solidarity for the rights of all peoples, for the rights our Earth, for the right to speak our Hearts and our Minds and to share knowledge and wisdom freely.

If you are despairing, then despair for a little while. Really let yourself go deep into the feeling.  And then move your body.  I will tell you, there is nothing in life that is not made somehow more manageable by an hour of intense exertion.  It is possible to feel good and strong in your body and in yourself despite what is happening right now.  In fact, it is more necessary than ever before that you do, because right now you are so needed.

When a a traumatic event occurs, or a loved one dies, you don't grieve forever, but without taking that time to allow grief to move through you, you cannot take the next steps toward ultimately healing, acting, and moving forward with your life in a way that also honors what has been lost. So join me for a moment now, and just let yourself feel it all -- the grief, the shock, the anger, the confusion, the despair, as well as the tenderness and hope and whatever else it is that wants to be lived through you in this moment. Just fucking feel it.

Often, things have to get as bad as they can possibly get, emotions and symptoms, and toxic relationships, and bad habits have to escalate to the point of intolerability before most people are ready to commit to any kind of real and lasting change. Whether it's a crisis of health, of spirit, of family or community -- a common pattern is that things get much worse before they, ultimately, improve or resolve. In the Vitalist tradition of herbalism passed down to me by my teachers, this is referred to as a Healing Crisis and is actually an indication that a significant and potentially positive shift is imminent. And to my fellow Americans, I believe that the Healing Crisis of the patriarchy, of capitalism, of racism, classism, homophobia, and misogyny, and so much more is reaching its breaking point.

Much like someone who falls suddenly and seriously ill after a lifetime of poor eating, lack of self care, and no exercise --  the privilege of continuing to go about our lives as though all is well is no longer available to anyone. But this is a gift we must choose to graciously humble ourselves to accept. When we are seriously illness, we must wake up to what our body is asking of us, or ultimately risk death. Similarly, now that our political system and the culture of oppression which perpetuates it has come so far out of balance, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to truly heal, and we're doing it, but it takes diligence, vigilance, and commitment. This is our opportunity create the change we want and need in the world. We are the ones we have been waiting for. None of us are here by accident at this time. We all have important gifts and teachings to offer, medicine to share. And the time for this is now. Get to it y'all.

And if you are not already doing so, I urge you to please take this time in particular as an opportunity to openly , fiercely, and unapologetically express and deepen your allyship with indigenous communities, people of color, LGBTQ identified folks, immigrants, women, neurodivergent persons, Muslims, and all others whose safety + continued existence are greatly threatened at this time.