Radical Storytelling For Radical Times

Radical= [latin] Forming the root.

2014 could have been declared as the year of the story. It was the tipping point in our understanding of the power of story in pop culture, as the advertising, entrepreneurship and leadership industries discovered there was a super highway straight into people’s hearts and souls…by getting to people through the most ancient thread of what weaves our humanity into existence: story. 


And then a second industry emerged, those who sold the concept that you could dissect the process of creating a story. A flood of books and instructional manuals were created that picked a part and dissected the procedure of building a story. But somewhere in there they hijacked stories, forced them into a form of slavery where they were designed to force you down a path of wanting, desiring, needing, rather than be true to their nature, which is to give something to you.


In the midst of this, mythology is as powerful as ever, and our modern day bards Clarisa Pikola Estes, Michael Mead, Steven Martin Shaw, and Martin Prectel, Jean Houston, and Carolyn Casey are holding down the guideposts of this lineage for our modern culture. But they hold stories in a different way, not as a rollercoaster ride that leads the mind through a process of thinking and believing and desiring, but rather, as a force of nature that courses through them.


The power in a story comes alive in the listener.

In a culture obsessed with consuming, when we come into contact with stories we are given the experience of sitting back and receiving…this powerful role of listening is being undermined, almost discarded. In a culture accepting of this idea that we have no influence or impact, we have nearly forgotten that the only way a story can live: is through the listening.

One of the reasons stories are magic… is because they are a vehicle for the soul to be expressed. And not just the soul of the person telling the story in that moment, but the soul of every person who has ever carried that story before them so that it can still live and breathe and affect our world today. You see…as I see it, stories are living entities.


But there is another kind of wild magic that happens inside of a story…we create a unified field of resonance. Ellen Schneider, founder of POV and Active Voice spoke to this as a way giving a shared experience to an audience. Stephen Spielberg speaks to the thrill of getting a group of strangers to laugh, cry and even all feel fear—together.

Stories are born of creation energy, just like you and I. And in that way, they have the capacity to have a soul, and to influence you, your thinking, your belief systems, your values, and even influence what think is possible.  

And my favorite kinds of stories (sorry, I have been known to play favorites) are the myths; the old ones that have been carried through time from mouth to mouth, absent of a named creator. And we can be with these stories in the old ways, as Michael Meade says, as an oracle to explore where we are living in our unconsciousness. 


So with that said…when we make a story with only the intention to sell something, when it is built from nothing but form and structure with the intent to manipulate the listener into doing something, we are essentially creating a soul less entity, a clone-- something that walks through our life like a zombie. These are dangerous stories. And you need to know them when they are coming for you so you can duck, dive, and take up aikido. One of the most dangerous stories that plagues our time is the story of scarcity. This story of not having enough haunts the way we relate to our loved ones, is threaded to our relationship to time, and lets not even get started about money, food, and resources.


So many within this society are obsessed with parts and has forgotten the whole. There is thinking that we can kill the elephant for its horns, and the for its teeth, and have missed out on the understanding that it is the wholeness that we are most longing for.


The same is true for our stories. We are longing for whole stories, that not only have structure that grabs hold of our attention, but that provides meaning and context for our lives.


We need to be creating trustworthy stories.

Healing stories.

Inspiring stories.

Nourishing stories.

The kinds of stories that we can call upon when we don’t know how to live in the moment.


As we approach uncertain times, there is a searching for the anchors of humanity that will hold us.

The trees will die.

The oceans may dry.

The land will burn.

The buildings will fall.

The damns will break.

And yet there is this mysterious thing that has been carried through space and time, that hasn’t required an object made of matter to hold it in order for it to live onward,

and this is our stories.


Some say we need new stories to provide context and guidance for how to survive times we are living in.  


But what if the first task as hand is to go hunting and excavating for the missing stories,

the lost stories,

the kidnapped stories that who long to walk among us but require our listening in order to love and live?


The Australians say that in order for the future to be created we must carry forward our stories from the past so that they can live there.

And the Sicilians say that words poke holes in the universe.

Hawaiian’s understand that words have the power to speed up or slow down the planet.


So to learn how to create a story…is no small task.

Because stories are built in the crib of chaos. 

You allow for the pieces of the story to fall through space and the structure and form will naturally create itself.


There is a earning to be taught structure,

but a baby is not grown one bone at a time.

Life in the womb of creation begins with the heart.


You need to feel for the heart of your story, for the soul of your story, and it will as naturally as the cells build a body, come into shape and form.


And then you need to listen for your story, with as much attention as you would listen to a young person, not so much as literally to their words, but for what is asking to come through them.


Creativity is the antidote to the paralyzing fear of the unknown and provides an opportunity to practice the skill of being able to create something from nothing. Our relationship to creativity provides a way to develop the muscles needed to thrive in uncertain times: deep listening, trust in the process and your intuition, radical collaboration, ingenuity, generosity of spirit, and willingness to embody and follow the creative impulse.


Once we have created a new story, we need to fill the stories that we tell, and retell, with our medicine, with that which comes through our soul to give. The resonance in which we speak, carries the medicine we have to give to this world, and is carried and delivered through the stories we choose to tell.  We speak through the realms when we speak out loud, and we bring the soul of a story, and all that have told it before us, to life.


And what our voice carries…is what we fuel the story with.

Is our voice fueled on fear hopelessness? Is our voice fueled by the meat of animals tortured through big agriculture, sugar made from slave labor? What do we feed our audiences when our voice is threaded with the vibration of scarcity? And therein lies the ultimate challenge: our words won’t be medicine if they aren’t riding on the currency of authenticity.


Speak with fear and you will speak to the fear in others.

Speak from scarcity and you will breed scarcity in others.

Speak from love, and you will wake love in others.


Words are magic.

There is an old story from the Laguna People that Leslie Marmon Silko shares in her book Storyteller, about how the horrors of our time were created.


The essence of the story goes like this: The story is about a group of witches showing off their abilities in the dark arts. While most of the witches showed off their skills using corpses and bones. One witch used her words, and she spun a tale of a time when humans would be filled with fear, and then they would kill what they fear. The story spun a tale of when people lost their connection to all when fear took over. When she was done casting her spell, the rest of the witches told her to take the story back and undo it. She refused.


So now it is up to us.

This is our legacy, and old story carried into our times that we are learning to live with.


But what story will we leave for our future selves?

It seems careless to leave behind a story of destruction.


What if…

We were able to create a story of a planet that learned how to love through the hardest of wars? Of humans who remembered how to sing the oceans back to life?

Of the land who welcomed us back and cradled us in her caves when the storms came.


So you see how meaningful it can be to understand the old stories…that provides hints and clues to how we got here… so that as we call out for this new story…we understand what old story is asking to be healed.


Whatever the circumstance, each moment we are given the choice of choosing which story of the world you most want to live within and breathe life into. We can serve the careless stories made from another time, we can feed on the zombie stories, or we generate the joy, love, and courage—we can choose to speak with a disciplined fierceness so that something else happens-- a life sustaining story born from generosity is woven into our times and can be carried by generations to come.


Ready to engage your story?


Long Distant Relationship: Love, Distance, Romance

I'm in that moment of returning

It's never easy to come back after 5 days away in rural Canada, in the company of a community committed to scholarship and wondering with a man who has committed himself to eldership, culture, grief, community, and flirts with making sense of the times (as in all of the times) we are living in.

I am, as they say at the Orphan Wisdom School, wrecked on schedule-- with not much desire to speak out loud as all of the words spoken outloud and within settle in. 

But since I have, afterall, reached out to you on this day~ I will share this.
It wasn't discussed, explored, or wondered about, but for me...the worst of the most unimaginable thought form entered my mind and now that I have it in my grip...I'm wondering out loud about it's unwelcome arrival.


I was walking through a field...watching the tall grass waved by the wind as it  fondled them so, taking in the generous scent of the Indian Paint Brush, in a state of awe of how blue the sky was, how vibrant the green of the trees was...how almost unbearably beautiful everyone was against this backdrop...
...and this is when it happened.
...and I'll never be able to take this experience back....
...and you see this is why I am so devastated today.

For a moment, 
the part of me that had been tamed by the cities, 
the part of me that had allowed for white and polluted skies to become normal,
the part of me that has gotten used to living among starving and famished trees and grasses, 
allowed this thought to make it's way past the guarded gates.
Here's the thought: 
All of this beauty...
didn't look...

For all the time I have spent in the wilds...I didn't think this could ever be possible, (not to me at least).

That my mind would on its own accord create a calculation based on the number of times I had seen this and that, and then present me with an equation that would make me question which state of environmental health and wellness has a more valid place on the planet.

Something announced that no matter how hard I have attempted to escape the consequences of our times...no matter how many times I have run to the edge of the earth and placed myself at her shores for months and sometimes years at a time, there is no where to run.
No place is safe from what is happening.

And as my plane descended into Toronto, it was impossible to ignore all of the houses with pools painted blue, mimicking the ocean they might not have realized they were trying to remember they missed, while just a stones throw away, lived their neighbor, the river, appearing ignored as she shriveled in her loneliness.

It would appear I have finally come to terms with what it means to be in a long term long distance love affair. But it has been going on for so long...the quick thrill of being reunited can no longer hide that relationships aren't built in fragments scheduled here and there, but over time and by weathering the storms of many seasons. 

May the stories that come to you be gentle and kind,
and may the old stories that are ready to be laid to rest do so with ease and grace,
and may the ones still aching to be heard because they have a gift worthy of giving find generous ears to receive them. 

all the best, 

Teachers VS Wisdom Keepers

"Whatever you're trying to do over there-- you're not going to do it that way."

I was trying to figure out my whole life.
While filling my car with gas at the gas station.

My brows must have been furrowed something fierce because the guy pumping gas beside me was inspired to reach out to tell me life doesn't work that way. Man oh man was he right. What an act of generosity. What a teaching.

This much I understand today: anyone who declares themself a teacher, and then tells you to pay them for the experience of giving away your self authority... isn't to be confused with wisdom and knowledge keepers.

My teachers are the ones woven so finely into the thread of life that they sneak up when I least expect them. And they rarely require that I pay them for the luxury of learning from them.


Some of my favorite covert teachers slip in without rhyme reason, and usually without bells or whistles. Such as the woman who sat next to me on an airplane at a turning point in life when I thought I was about to abandon a path committed to youth.

Just last week, a homeless woman sat next to me at a coffee shop and struck up a conversation. As you might imagine my first inclination was to focus on my ditrac-o-gadget, but for one reason or another what she said engaged me, and then she asked me a big question. A really big question. A declaration to universe question. Which invited me speak something out loud I had never been willing to speak out loud before.

The teachers I work with are the ones who live close in.
Interwoven in the day to day.
My family.
My friends.
My beloveds.

And just when I think I've figured out how to spot them, they sneak in disguised as a story that has taken up residence between myself and someone I care about.
They live inside of every conflict.
Inside of every rub.
Every yes. Every no.

And then there are the super covert operators, who teach just by being, their teaching so strong the student has to not only have the lens to see them, but the tools necessary to metabolize and digest them. 
Ahhh~ this school of life is so much fun.

The story of young people being betrayed and trespassed upon by people who claim to be their teachers is overwelming in my field of awareness today.

i know I'm winning when I see the upset with someone as an opportunity to learn something that is being offered to be taught. And I know I'm losing when if I think I'm right and they're wrong. 

And I do wish that as a collective we could help younger people, younger women in particular, learn how to make the distinction between someone who claims to be a teacher, and someone who is a bit further down the path, knows how to wield a tool or two, and is committed to either teaching you how to use the tool they learned how to use, or supporting you to identify your own tools of self mastery.

And don't get me wrong, there are a lot of wisdom holders and knowledge keepers I love studying with. And those teachers...who teach through betrayal...well...if we were to weave a mythic story about the gifts they ultimately offer if the student can distance the lesson from the messenger, well then, that could be a fine story to weave into being.

May the stories you tell be kind and generous teachings, 

Powerful Kindness & Radical Acts Of Gratitude [newsletter]

I'm going to tell you a story about how a
hostage was returned. 

Perhaps you're thinking: "Leah, it's the holidays...can't you bring us something more season appropriate?
I’m asking you to trust me.
But even more than me, I’m asking you to trust this story, because it has been banging at the door asking to be shared. It begins like this...
Laura Ling was a journalist who was held captive by the North Koreans for 5 months.


This story has nothing to do with how or why she was kidnapped. 

It has everything to do with what she did while she was being held captive, facing a sentence of 12 years of hard labor. 

I worked with Laura at Current TV, not closely, but close enough so that at nearly every gathering, every meal, every hike in the wilderness during those 5 months I thought of her, alone in a cell. It’s weird when you know that someone who is humble and kind and makes self-deprecating jokes is being held captive by North Korea.


Laura was released after 5 months. 

Kim Jong-un agreed to release Laura under the condition that Bill Clinton would meet with him.
You see, when Kim’s father died, Bill Clinton was one of the first to call him with a condolence.
And ever since receiving that phone call, after recieving someone reaching out under and over the story of politics and into the story of human connection, Kim had always wanted to meet Bill.
Kind of mind blowing when you consider what one little act of radical kindness would eventually influence.


A medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis "of or having roots," from PIE root *wrad- "branch, root"
Meaning: "going to the origin, essential"

“Gratitude is what got me through”

It was a few years later when Laura and I were meeting for tea talking about a few story concepts. I don’t know how it came up, but when someone starts telling you that gratitude is what kept them from going coo-coo while being held hostage in North Korea, you pay attention.
“But I had to be grateful for what was actually happening in the moment, it wasn’t about being grateful for another time, it was being grateful for what I had in the moment. Sometimes it would take real effort to find something, such as being grateful to the guard who decided to whistle when I hadn’t heard music in months.”


Laura's story reminded me of my own experience of experiencing radical gratitude. 
Gratitude introduced itself to me when I was walking the rings of a large circular garden I built while in the six months of recovering from thyroid cancer. Every morning I walked into the center of the garden with my gratitude, and walked out with my prayers. I wouldn’t say I was particularly spiritual or prayed before that event. I don't even know how I knew to do it. I just know that it changed me.

When I wasn't looking or trying. Gratitude wrapped its arms around me when I needed it most. 
It would appear that extreme situations can provide insight on how to live in normal times.

Want More Story In Your Life? 


Here are a few ways we can play...
A grand last minute gift idea (If I don’t say so myself) is a SOUL STORY.
(Gift certificates can be emailed within a few hours of an order)

A soul story is a one of a kind story that is created for the receiver of the gift. It is a mystical form of storytelling that helps one see their life and how they are experiencing it through symbols, myth, and metaphors.  I do them for individuals, couples, and groups.
To help you understand this out of the box interpersonal storytelling session I'll share that Clarissa Pinkola Estes references how a sect of mystical storytellers use El Duarte (the wind) to blow the soul of the person into them, and Michael Mead says that behind this dimension, is the mythic dimension. This is exactly how I understand a Soul Story to work. It's esoterical and magical and mysterious in the best of ways. Here's how a few people explain the experience:

“Receiving my sacred soul story was truly a gift of great proportion. I thought at first it would be a fun idea. Little did I know how greatly transformative the whole process would actually be for me.” ~ Marta Maria Marraccini
“Leah's story was the sweetest medicine to my soul. I felt not only reflected in my essence but lifted up to enjoy the greater story unfolding in all of us.” 
-Dominique Lando

Other ways we can play in the realm of story include these upcoming workshops;
Online: Myth Magic and Medicine
In CA: Temple Woman (1 day event) & The Story of The Witch (5 Day Retreat)
Jan In Kauai
Feb In Maui

Green Gift Ideas Part 4

Welcome to the last installation of green gift ideas. As always, I receive no benefit from sharing these aside from the pleasure of sharing good things and good people. And in this case: some shameless self promotion. You can catch Green Gift Guides parts 1-3 here. 

A Date With An Artistic Experience:  Season tickets: think global act local: another great last minute gift idea. Support your favorite local arts organization by purchasing season ticket for your loved one. Museums, theater, film festivals..

A Date With An Artistic Experience:

Season tickets: think global act local: another great last minute gift idea. Support your favorite local arts organization by purchasing season ticket for your loved one. Museums, theater, film festivals..

Mojo:   A DIY guide to planning and strategizing magic in your life.  Kat Teplyan’s new age planner is using old school ways (pen and paper). It’s like Franklin Covey meets Martha Stewart in the planning of house and home and even includes reflection and gratitude. A great gift for yourself in prep for the new year.

A DIY guide to planning and strategizing magic in your life. Kat Teplyan’s new age planner is using old school ways (pen and paper). It’s like Franklin Covey meets Martha Stewart in the planning of house and home and even includes reflection and gratitude. A great gift for yourself in prep for the new year.

Myth, Magic, & Medicine A 4-week online class connects you to an online community dedicated to exploring the art of sacred storytelling. Gift your loved one an opportunity to explore the myths they live with, the medicine that runs through them, and the magic them make when they consciously tell stories infused with the medicine they came to give.

Myth, Magic, & Medicine
A 4-week online class connects you to an online community dedicated to exploring the art of sacred storytelling. Gift your loved one an opportunity to explore the myths they live with, the medicine that runs through them, and the magic them make when they consciously tell stories infused with the medicine they came to give.

Bow Glass An ancient art form, hand crafted just for you or your beloved. (True confession, Pierre, the creator of Bow Glass, is my brother, so I come by my awe of his creations honestly.) He hand blows and designs decanters, bowls, glasses, and many other beautiful things.  Follow him on instagram  or order a work of art at  Blowglass.com.

Bow Glass
An ancient art form, hand crafted just for you or your beloved. (True confession, Pierre, the creator of Bow Glass, is my brother, so I come by my awe of his creations honestly.) He hand blows and designs decanters, bowls, glasses, and many other beautiful things. Follow him on instagram or order a work of art at Blowglass.com.

Laughter, Big Moments, & How To Bring More Storytelling To Your Hometown [newsletter]

“I can't die. Bill Clinton needs all the democrats he can get.”

The air was pungent, filled with the sweet and soft smells of a southern summer as we sat on Kelly’s front porch watching fireflies light up the darkness.
Kelly was telling me the story of how her mother almost~ or rather did ~ die while giving birth to her younger brother. “She said she was hovering above her body, watching the doctors and nurses rush around, and when she realized she was thinking of politics (it was right before Clinton’s first election) she started laughing. And that is what brought her back into her body.”

Laughing at herself.
“My mom told me that story in a really dark moment in life. Sometimes you just need to look at what there is… and laugh,” Kelly eyed me. “Are you thinking about death a lot?”
“It’s hard not to. We’re living through the 6th mass extinction after all,” I answered.
“Even my 6 year old is thinking about it, she said. "Last week he asked me if I thought humanity is going to end soon. And when I asked how he thought it would end, he answered we’d either die from climate change or nuclear war.” 
It seems in right action to pause when we discover that our children are considering the end of humanity.

On that note… might I suggest a beauty break and that you open another window to listen to the glorious music created by the one and only Arianna Savall while enjoying the rest of this storyletter? (click here in case you missed the cue.)

Big Moments.

I don't know about you, but all of the big moments I have experienced have been made up of little moments that didn’t feel like much. It wasn’t until later, when we dressed the moments up with context and meaning that they became big moments.
The big moments are minutes are waiting on a clock on the date you place a lot of expectation around, and you really want them, more than any other, to be good moments. But some of the most impactful big moments really suck…in the moment…and only become the ingredients for legacy when you look back.
And yet, there are so many great moments that saunter by when you aren’t looking for fabulous, have no expectation for epic, and so they can fly by… under the radar…under appreciated.

I had the pleasure of seeing The Art of Courage a few months ago. Of course now it carries a different round of meanings in our most recent state of affairs since the film tells one of the stories of the creation of the 100% Renewable art piece created at the Paris UN Climate Talks from last year. I think you can see my hand in one of the scenes. 
It was a big moment by any standard.

These are listening times.
When you need to read the signs and look for what’s living between the lines.
So soften your focus, escape the confines of literalism, and act like a tracker might when she or he is trying to catch the scent of wild animal on the run. Best I can tell, that is where the path to sanity might be found.

Want To Bring a Storytelling Event or Workshop to Your Hometown?

I’m planning the fall schedule and now is a grand time to tell me if you want to bring a storytelling event or workshop to your community.
Let’s get the conversation started here.
To wet your whistle here are a few things that are available:


  • Myth, Magic, & Medicine Storytelling for a New Paradigm A 2 day workshop
  • How to Tell Stories Designed To Transform The World: This workshop has been done in corporate settings and classes. 
  • Good Old Fashion Storytelling Skills: This class is designed for people who want to master the art of storytelling

Storytelling Events:

  • Storytelling Alchemy: These gatherings use story combined with a unique group process to improve empathy and build community. Examples of topics that have been worked with in the past include rights of passage, love & betrayal, and forgiveness. These work for intimate gatherings as well as office trainings.
  • She Rises: A New Story for a New Paradigm explores the state of climate and politics through a mythic lens.
  • Soul Story Oracle Circles: Easier to explain once you’ve experienced one. A story is channeled in the moment as the participants unpack and apply the symbols and mythic context to their life circumstances. Great to do with a community, yoga studio, birthday celebration, or any other purpose you dream up. 

Sweet Treats:

Solstice Soul Story Special

In honor of the longest day of the year, I am offering a 1.5 hour Solstice Soul Story Special for $111 (normally $250). This special is available for sessions that are booked by June 21st.  You can learn more about these one of a kind story created just for you at medicinestories.com.

White Ally Tool Kit:
This tool kit was created by David Campt (aka the race doctor), advisor to Clinton's race relations committee. “Research says there are ways to reduce racial bias. Calling people racist is not one of them.”

Griefwalker:Documentary Film

This documentary introduces Stephen Jenkinson, who has been at the deathbed of well over 1,000 people. What he sees over and over, he says, is "a wretched anxiety and an existential terror" even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care itself, he has made it his life's mission to change the way we die - to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life.

Men Explain Things To Me:

A small book filled with sharp tongued essays and insights about what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women.

May you find your way to laughter through the big and small moments, may you remember to return to your body when you are needed most, and may we cross paths again sooner than later,


A word (or two) about Patreon... Want to play a part in bringing more art into the world? I’m working away on The Whale Dreamer~ and am traveling with a small but mighty group of people ~ sharing the intimacies of what it is to write a book and create a campaign designed to engage the next generation of ocean and land stewardship. I share special treats with Patrons, such as the latest story recorded on audio, The Day I Married A Polar Bear, recorded at CDM Studios.

Dumb Guppies, The Story Of Scarcity, & Crowdfunding From The Heart [newsletter]

On singing, scarcity, crowdfunding, and more! 

“Some of the best opera singers are dumb as a doornail."

They don't let their mind get in the way of their breath." My voice teacher, Tamuz, is teaching me how to breath.
(psst. If you clicked for the free guide on crowdfunding-- skip to the bottom of the page. Now back to this regularly programmed storytletter)
“You have to let the mind get out of the way. Just act like a dumb guppy.”

Tamuz let her mouth go slack, allowed her eyes to wander up and to the left as if staring into nothing, and showed me what it looks like when you just open your mouth and trust that all the air you need will come and provide what is needed to belt out the next note.
I’ve been singing till I’m depleted and out of air, then gasping, sucking it in with desperation before the next note. My voice has become a critical part of the performances and Soul Story work, the resonance creating a form of magic that I can’t begin to explain, so I knew in my bones that I needed to address this running out of air piece.

I just didn’t know why.
Until now.  

I’ve been studying scarcity. 
It was no surprise that it showed up in my conversation with money.
I didn’t realize it was so pervasive in my relationship to time.
Or that it lived in my relationships.
Or whispered to me in the kitchen.
But it never occurred to me that it could be living in my breath.

“You’re working too hard,” Tamuz explained.
I couldn’t help but think about how our whole planet is working too hard, and the harder we work, the more resources we use as we stay up late, use more oil as we commute longer hours… We are using so many of our planet’s resources to depletion because we are working too hard.

A few years back I got an idea for a book called, “Dangerous Stories.” I liked the title. But I didn’t know what kind of stories would go in it.
Now I know.
The story of scarcity is a dangerous story.
I really wouldn’t recommend diving in without a belay.
“You aren’t really trying to do this on your own?” Matt asked rather incredulously. Then I realized that this idea that I had to face the darkest parts of my navel gazing on my own was even woven out of the threads of scarcity. Then he showed me a piece written by Tad about how our current model of self reliance and the village making (link below).

I’ve been asking a uncomfortable question: Do I need to blow up the whole foundation and structure that has been built out of scarcity consciousness and start from scratch?
Or can I just build a new platform of prosperity consciousness on top of this foundation?
And I started to realize…I’m not the only one grappling with this question is living deep inside of our collective unconsciousness as we  try to imagine what it will take to create a sustainable mode of living on this planet.

Do we need to blow the whole thing up and start again from scratch?

Or can we build on top of an infrastructure that was built and designed based on a depleting resources model-- and find a new way to find balance with the inherent prosperity that this planet is created from?

Meanwhile, I’m putting together the next cohort of crowdfunders. After I ran a couple of kickstarter campaigns people started approaching me for consulting. I love it. I get to put all of my knowledge about online engagement, online communication and strategy, writing and long term community engagement strategy to good work while supportying activists, social do-gooders, and artists manifest their dreams into reality.

I put together this rad video interview series (if I don't say so myself) with some stellar human beings and social good entrepreneurs who have raised from 30K to over 100K and share their systems, techniques, and tricks of the trade. After hosting 6 of these conversations, turns out every single conversation is threaded with the same keys to their success: Love and generosity. I kid you not.
You see, the trick to crowdfunding, is that is has very little to do with asking for money, and everything to do with cultivating a massive field of generosity. 

If you want to know more about the logistics, as part of my storyteller community I would love to offer you my 23 page Action Guide on how to crowdfund as a gift. Just email me and I'll send it along. 
 And if you knowof anyone who is getting ready to launch a campaign, I’m putting together a group of people who can support each other in the process.

Because friends don’t let friends crowdfund alone.

Allison sent me this photo~ inspired by some of the art in the past newsletters. I love it (and her). 
A few really great resources out there if you want to keep exploring scarcity: 
The Soul of Money (an absolute must read and is also on audio)
The Art of Ask by Amanda Palmer (available on book, audio and a Ted talk)
On Village-Making: The Means and the Ends of Our Personal and Collective Redemption (mentioned above: by Tad Hardgrave)

And if you are in the bay area, Tamuz is one of the most extraordinary voice teachers I know. 
May you breathe with the ease of a dumb guppy,


PS: Tamuz swears that the dumb guppy metaphor was created in my honor. It made me laugh so hard it was really hard to sing. 

PPS: Thank you to everyone who responds with a little love note after receiving this wild experiment in storyletters. I appreciate every single one. 

PPS: Illustrations by April Wilson

Love Letters And Sweet Nothings: Myth, Magic, And Medicine [newsletter]

Creative approaches. How to do Aloha. It's all in there. 

Let's be gentle during fragile times. 

Let's breathe into the places we were once convinced we couldn't.

Let's find comfort in the chaos.

Last week I learned that hearts broken open can create pathways for the ancestors to walk through. And when you surrender to the pain and stop resisting, that is the invitation for Grace to walk in.  

I'm learning that giving up on hope can be liberating. 

And taking on the task of trust requires focus and commitment. 

I'm learning that during uncertain times, it is good to go to the creativity gym, the listening gym, and the generosity gym. Building these skills takes practice...and while there is no such thing as perfect...there is something to be said for getting in shape. 


(Early Bird Special ends Feb 28th)

Calling all Changemakers, Teachers, Entrepreneurs, Healers, & Everyone Ready to Make Meaning Out of Their Story!        

Transform your old stories into powerful teachings

Learn new skills to develop your intuition and creativity

  • Expand your knowledge on archetypes, myths and mythic stories from around the globe

  • Be witnessed in the telling of your personal story

  • Discover new ways to bring ritual and the sacred into your life

  • Embody the magic and medicine we are into your every day life

  • Join a private facebook group and community from the moment you register comprised of the Myth Magic and Medicine community of students who have taken this course in the past.
    Learn more here. 

Deep Listening & Creative Approaches

Matthew Stillman, author of Genesis Deflowered, meets love in action via listening to strangers. Since 2009 he's been setting up a chair at Union Square in NYC with a sign that offers a creative approach to your challenge of the day. And then... he listens. To gangsters. To urban gardeners. He's listened to over 4,000 people and come up with a lot of creative solutions to a lot of problems. If you want to know where to begin taking this in, blush away as you read, I don't think we need to go all the way to 20. 


"When time is seemingly running out and fear is running in there is a sense of urgency and everything becomes an emergency. In these moments I tend to force things that should not be. Pushing hard against the flow (is silly) and not allowing what is to simply be (is sillier :). It is my experience that this is not a good way to live, if you can even call it living at all, and it certainly does not allow for my highest self to present him/her/itself.

It is difficult to live in truth when you are running away. 

Things I know right this second…
Uncertainty is challenging.
Change is hard.
Acceptance can be a straight up bitch."

Chris Pilaro said that. As he faced the knowledge that he was dying from cancer, and choosing to live as much as he could in the process.  
Chris died yesterday. (It's worth re-reading now that you have context.)

I could say more, but I want to honor him and the way he chose to live his life today by letting him speak for himself, and introduce you to The Greater Good, an award winning film about vaccine issues Chris co-produced.

I had the honor of making my very first film with Chris in college (a "how to" film about how to steal a car), and was reunited over a decade later when Celia brought me in to join their amazing team to help design their outreach and engagement campaign.  It was a bold and daring documentary that doesn't make vaccines right or wrong, good or bad. But it shows the complexity and explains how the pharmaceutical industry works. The website provides access to research that is not easily available to people who don't know how to research medical journals.

I'm thinking about Aloha today. 

Remembering this day when I was driving. 
James was in the passenger seat. 
We were on Kauai. 
A car was at the intersection, and I gestured for them to go. 
"What was that?" he asked.
"I was telling them they could go.
James gave me a look.
"What?" I demanded. "I was being nice." 
"That was not done with Aloha." James schooled me. "It's not just a wave through the air. When you do it with Aloha, you do it with generosity."
James made a graceful movement with his hand moving through the air with his palm facing upward. 

Here is to Aloha and generosity living in every gesture of life,
with love,

PS: Those images are from a book published back in 1983 titled “The Red Couch – A Portrait of America” and that final image was of a bunch of friends from college who were apparently inspired by that project. It didn't feel right to keep dropping images of people by themselves. 

PPS: That top bit of writing is speaking to the experience of living through these times and was partly inspired by the creation of She Rises, A New Story For A New Paradigm. This is an amazing workshop where we work with groups to co-create a new myth about the times we are living in. I shared one of the audio stories and a bit about the creative process with people who hang out on patreon (just sayin). 

Love Actualized [newsletter]

Love Stories, Love Actualized, and the risky business of love. 

“Love is Risky Business.”

Dominique dropped that line after I spoke to the pain in my heart.
I have this theory, that love has a super power: it never dies. It can change form, it can run to a mountain top far away, hide under a rock when afraid of being destroyed, but once created, I'm pretty sure that love never dies. 

But it’s complicated, and love hangs out with a motley crew. Can’t you see a bar scene where Love struts in, wearing a sailor cap, and a thick gold chain around its neck. And on one arm it has its buddies Ecstasy, Intimacy, and Romance, and the other arm is linked with Jealousy, Rage, and Abandonment. 'Cause when Love show up it brings the party. (I have an entire animated script on that very topic waiting to be produced).

Valentine’s Day is beckoning.

Want to delight a loved one with something that that fosters your intimacy and connection (and doesn't involve cards, roses, or lace?)

Soul to Soul Love Stories (50% off for Valentine's Day) could be a delightful way to honor a soul love, whether that person be in the form of a lover, a friend, or family member.

To explain the mysterious: a Soul to Soul love story sheds light on how your relationship dynamics play out in the archetype, myth, and metaphor. This is a dynamic and fun way to look at your relationship through a completely different lens. 

Michael Mead says we have a dimension right behind this one, it is a mythic dimension. Clarissa Pikola Estes refers to an ancient lineage of story tellers that used the wind to blow the soul of the person into their face. The way I explain this unique work is that we integrate your mythic/archetypal self into your human form by calling in your soul's story. We make the intangible tangible through the word and symbol so that you can relate to it. It is a great way to examine what is living in your unconsciousness in a most delightful way. 
If you are curious but still scratching your head, the best way to understand is to hear from the people who have experienced them. 

When I’m winning, my favorite Valentine's Day game to play is to think about who needs a little extra kiss from the universe and make sure they get a good dose of a secret valentine. Sometimes I win at that game and get fueled by the thrill of a generous and giving heart.

And sometimes I end up in the corner sobbing about how no one is loving me in the way I most want to be loved.

But you wouldn’t know anything about that, so we’ll move along.

“Oh onion, you are just so handsome.”

 (That was Emily, falling in love with the vegetables she was putting into her soup. She also spoke with fond affection towards the fennel).

There have been moments when a simple and sweet love walked in and dressed the walls of my being with beautiful paintings, causing a radiance to flow through and fill the space with grace.

And then there has been that love that drops in unannounced and blows the whole place to bits. If you’re lucky that doesn’t happen too many times in a life time.
And if you’re lucky, it happens at least once.

Celia says that she has a friend who is advocating for lovecations. It’s sort of like family leave, but is designed for those first few months after you fall head over heels in love and have a hard time concentrating on the realities of life. (For the record, falling in love is a tragic expression. Can’t you just see a big pool that all of these people fall into, and they are gasping for breath as they grab at the air trying to get out? Or maybe we should change the scene, they aren’t drowning at all, they are all swimming in love, rolling around like happy dolphins…)

A few years ago I was watching the sun rise over San Francisco on New Year’s Day with Kait and Rae. Rather than make new years resolutions (that’s so 1999) we declared a phrase for the year. Mine was LOVE ACTUALIZED. Yeah, I wanted romance. But I wanted more than that. I wanted to live a life in love, love of self, love of work, love of friends and community, and love in the bedroom. 10 days later I woke up on my birthday to discover that Rae had made me a Love Actualized sign. I hope everyone gets to have a friend like Rae. And be a friend like Rae.

We lost a lot of friends of the planet this week. In two separate stranding 650 pilot whales beached themselves in New Zealand. 350 have died. But 200 self rescued yesterday and have joined their pod out at sea. Tesa called to tell just as I was finishing up this love note to you. I like to keep these letters a sweet oasis for you— a safe place from so much of the tragedy that is fills our news stream. But today, a great number of dear ones have given their life, and I can’t speak about love, and not speak to these gentle giants. These beloveds of the planet that have evoked the sensation of love in me like no other. 

We first met when I was in college, studying marine ecology in Baja when a calf jumped out of the water and looked us right in the eye. Her mother rolled over beside our skiff like a dog on the rug gives her belly to be rubbed. Somehow, this animal, that I have never touched, held, or ridden, not only captured my attention, but my commitment, and my love. I’ve spent 6 years working on (and off) a book called The Whale Dreamer. Listened to more whale music than I should admit to while writing it, and bask in their resonance every chance I get in and out of the water. The book is nearly done, and I am earning to bring the outrageous story of Kelley, a young girl called to by the whales to surface something they have been protecting for a very long time: the dream of our future. 
When 400 whales bring themselves to the surface of the ocean, and land themselves on our shores, I can't help but wonder what are they offering to bring to the surface? 

It only seems right to leave you with this video. It was designed as a pilot for a series I wanted to produce about people healing through their contact with the natural world and introduces Rebecca Goff. I'll let her and the whales speak for themselves.  

We filmed it in Maui, and not more than a few hours after arriving, the sirens went off as Fukushima took place sending a shock wave across the ocean. Two days later we were in the water, swimming through the resonance of the whale songs, as the earth recalibrated through a series of small quakes around the world. We received aqua cranial in the deep ocean that day, with whales singing, and the earth shaking. There are but a few moments in this life that I can pin point and say, “There, that one changed me.” That day was one of them.
I hope you go swim in the wild with the whales. That you drift on the surface as a song that holds the resonance of mothers milk seeps through you.

Once again, I have been indulgent with my words. I hope a few were placed in such a way that served you.

And it romance calls, or your want to honor a soul connection with a friend or family member, Soul to Soul Love Stories are pretty darn delightful if I don't say so myself. 

May you love well, and generously, and risk what is worth being lost in the name of love,


"What we are doing here is so important, we better not take it too seriously." Suzuki Roshi

Do You Believe In Me? [newsletter]

Thoughts about artists, what we believe in, and great examples of Love in Action. 

I'm not asking if you want me, or if you approve of me.  

What I'm asking:
Do you believe in what I'm taking a stand for? 

  • That art plays a critical role in society.
  • For being committed to delivering messages of inspiration, liberation, imbued with information.
  • For claiming our power to influence, impact, and change the narrative of our time.
  • For championing that stories are the fabric of our existence, and giving people the tools they need to transform their stories, along with the mindfulness practices to implement these practices.

Artists bring us something necessary to survive challenging times…a healthy and productive way to channel our unknown and unexplainable feelings, a way to reflect on the circumstances of life, and a healthy and productive way to express ourselves. We demonstrate the courage to speak, have the courage to feel, and the daring to express what we might not otherwise be expressed.
Artists help make it possible to see the beauty in everything around us.
Especially in those moments when it might not be so easy to see beauty.
I’m coming to you in a humble way on this day.
As I sat under the stars this last weekend, reflecting on life at large, I had to ask the good hard honest question… While I know I am on the right track, am I riding on the best vehicle?
And the universe said… ask out loud.
Be vulnerable in your inquiry.
And listen for if people believe in what you are putting out in the world.

For the record: I don’t really want to send this email.
But I made an agreement to listen and to act on what I hear, and some of the most amazing epic and extraordinary things have happened over and over and over again when this game of life in this way.

I'm asking for you to be my sign from the universe. 
A few months ago I decided to go all in. And I mean ALL IN. Against all practical advise I left behind my work as a media and communications consultant and followed what was yanking on my soul. In the wake of that a lot happened.
The sacred storytelling ceremony was birthed. Two new huge creation stories about the times we are living in came through. Soul Story Circles have happened from coast to coast. Stories have taken place at Symbiosis to Burning Man, the online courses Myth, Magic & Medicine: Storytelling for a New Paradigm & Love, & Courage and Awakening The Warrior were created. A talk at Google is scheduled for March. Transformational Workshops designed to integrate and help people take control and claim their role in the great unfolding of our times are happening, and an extraordinary opportunity to help people learn how to dream a new future has presented in a immersive tech theme park in Asia.
I've been working day and night.
Working on things that I am passionate about and believe in, and feed the soul.
This is a luxury.
And now I'm coming here in a vulnerable state of inquiry... Is what I'm offering what you need? What you want? Is what I am offering feeding you? I want to know. (You can tell me by responding to this email with a y or n. (but we both know I really want more than that).
 Here is how you can be my sign from the universe:

  • How can we collaborate? Lets talk about how to bring the power of storytelling, exploring our mythic realities, and transformational workshops into your workplace, community, church, inner city program or anything else that comes to mind.
  • Become a patron of the arts: You can come on to support (for just $1) very specific projects or join a community of people who want to bring a bit more of the creative process into their lives. Patreon is a great place where we can get personal about the creative process. I also give special treats over there, like a sneak peak at articles that are being published before anyone else gets to see them and creative exercises to inspire your own creativity.
  • There are so many offers over on my website for ways we can engage. Feel free to take a gander. 

As always… a few presents for you.

  • Our engaged citizenry is having an impact. Here are just a few examples: Uber pledged $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after #DeleteUber trends on Twitter. --- The ACLU raised 24M over the weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year)--- US agencies: HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted.
  • Unlocking Performance: Breakthrough Strategies for Effective Action. (WORKSHOP) Tammy White is offering this amazing course and is introducing a somatic component to learning practices and strategies by engaging a master somatic practitioner, Denise Benson, to deepen the distinctions of embodied learning.  With a maximum capacity of 16 participants, they intend for this journey to be an intimate exploration with a small community of committed individuals. I can’t say enough good things about Tammy~ I took a course with her and Lynne Twist a few years that changed my life and catapulted me into a new chapter of my career.  
  • Intelligent Trees: Prepare to feel inspired, connected, and informed by this beautiful documentary out of Canada about the intelligence of Trees.

I hope this email stirred the stardust inside of you and sparked something… An idea. A new story. Some courage to stand for what you believe in and ask for a sign from the universe in the most vulnerable of ways. If nothing else, I hope it encourages you to speak out loud to things you believe in most.
With love,

PS: the images featured in this email were created by Vladamir Kush.