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. 

On Living Forever, Preparing For Storms, & Valentines Stories [newsletter]

And you won't even have to get bitten by a vampire. 

You Are Going To Live Forever.

And it won't be because you were bitten by a vampire. 
Or frozen. 
Or take 100 pills a day. 

You are already doing it, with every breath you take, every move you make (insert melody from The Police), the ripple you are putting into the universe is ricocheting through the lives of those you touch, and in the absence of those you don't. 

I've been thinking about how to prepare for a storm. 

Maybe the inauguration has something to do with it. 

I grew up in New England. We know a think or two about storms. 

You spend the summer and fall filling your pantry with a variety of canned food for winter and spring. You split wood and make sure it is dry and covered so you have the fuel to keep you warm during the cold nights.  

Now I'm in California. Our tradition is that we empty to the grocery stores the night before a storm. 

It would seem this is as grand a moment as any to take good heed from the wisdom of those who know how to prepare for storms. You do it slowly, diligently, and every day. It isn't about greed. It's about having enough to feed your neighbors if they run out of something. Because at some point you will want to borrow a cup of sugar. 

A few fabulous things coming on the horizon: 

SUNDAY, January 29th Temple Woman
Berkeley, CA

I'll be doing a sacred storytelling circle as part of this day long event. 
This one day gathering is for 50 Temple Women. A Spiritual “Attune Up” and celebration of all you have become with Marta Maria MA. This is a beautiful and nourishing event.Register here. 

Valentines Day  is coming....
Don't let the pressure of Hallmark rain on your love parade!

A special offering for the soul story community special for $250. 
Learn more about Soul to Soul Love Stories here

PLEASE NOTE: I only have a few sessions on Valentines Day available, so if you want to book a session for the day, don't hesitate.  

Berkeley, CA


The earth is asking to receive your gifts.

In this highly experiential and interactive workshop that uses story, music and dance…we will begin with a story…a new story about the times we are living in, and together, through movement, story, a group collaborative process, and an exploration of your inner landscape, we will create an ending together. I'll be joining forces with award winning Italien composer and artist Laura Inserra and the mistress who sees through the dark, Dominique Lando. 

Reserve your space in this workshop here: 

We are entering into a new era on the planet. And it is an all hands on deck moment in the universe. And now, more than ever, we are being asked to stand in the power of what we are, activate our unique gifts, and claim the roles we play in the universe. 

And let's have fun while doing it, shall we?

This ongoing online course is way for us to gather as a community and study what lies behind the story of our time. We work with some of the most potent soul stories that have come through, and receive each other's medicine. 

A special offering for the Soul Story community: receive a 6 month membership for half the price when you register by January 31st. 

Wow. If you made it this far down.... color me impressed. 

May your day be filled with the sweetness that comes with a neighbor happy to bring you a cup of sugar. 

With love, 



The Making Of A Miracle

I don’t pick up the phone.

Not when I'm on deadline. 
But when Adrienne called, I picked up.
Because she lives in Canada, and everyone knows Canucks get special privileges.
Adrienne was crying.
Did I mention I was on a writing deadline and had to walk out the door in 20 minutes? Zut alors. Why hadn’t I stuck to the “do not pick up the phone when on deadline” rule? 
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Adrienne asked if I remembered a woman from when I lived on Kauai.
I didn’t.
“What’s wrong?” I asked again. 18 minutes.

Before I continue, you need to know some things about Adrienne.
She is pure of heart, magic incarnate, has a special kind of genius when it comes to education, and I have yet to meet someone who knows her who doesn’t adore her.
And in the five years that I've known her I've never seen her cry.
We pay attention to these kinds of people.
Adrienne told me about her friend who had a new born, and was without a home in San Diego (for the record: even though I am in the same country as her friend, I am still over 400 miles away).
“Why are you calling me?”
I wasn’t meaning to be brisk, but I only had 17 minutes left.
“I figured you have a big network, maybe you can help her?” Adrienne asked.

I had just finished reading Amanda Palmers book, The Art of The Ask, where she talked about how she connected her fan community to each other by announcing when people needed help. I don’t have Amanda’s reach, but if she can engage the power of the collective, why can’t I?
“Sure thing,” With 15 minutes to go I opened up facebook and wrote, “Who wants to help make a miracle happen in San Diego?”
Within 4 minutes 5 people had responded.

  • 2 people offered me a place to stay without even knowing what I was looking for.
  • 2 people tagged people they knew in San Diego. One person I haven’t met wrote, “Leah is good people, help her out.”

I stopped in my tracks. The power of the ask.
And now the responsibility that comes with the ask.
Fuck. I had to walk out the door in 10 minutes,  had just opened a huge can of worms, and still needed to send the article to my editor before I left.

And here was the truth: I hadn’t written the full ask on my facebook page because…what did it say about me that I run with a crowd that includes a young mother who is homeless?

But the heart spoke louder than the ego when it counter-argued: How on earth do you turn away from a young mother with a child? I thought of how hard my friends worked raising their new babes in safe and warm homes, and then thought of this woman on her own,  without a home, trying to care for a new born, let alone herself. 
I called Adrienne back, and with 8 minutes to go the producer/east coast version of myself took over: “Adrienne, I need 5 lines about this woman: tell me about her strengths and her gifts. No sob stories. Nothing pathetic.” What can I say? I’m a storyteller. We could play the victim card: "Poor homeless woman with new born needs place to stay,” or we could play the hero card, “Young woman with new born needs a home. She is creative, intelligent, has a great sense of humor, has nanny skills, and is open to a work trade.” 
I started direct messaging people on facebook who had reached out and explained the nature of miracle I was looking for.

“That is a big ask,” was the first response.
And it was.

With no time to waste I came clean on my facebook page (which now had almost 12 responses) and provided all of the details about the young woman with child who needed a place to stay.
More offers for help came in.
One offer came from an old friend who lives on a farm in Southern California with her husband and two children. “Have her call me,” she said. I’ll admit it, tears swelled and I choked back a sob. That would be an amazing place to land.
People can be so damn amazing when given the opportunity.
I closed my lap top and ran off to where I was supposed to go.
Later that night I told one of my landmates, “I think I was part of making a miracle today.” I proceeded to tell the story.
“Well happy International Woman’s Day to you!” Nathan said.
And there I was feeling psudeoguilt for not showing up for a march.
Miracles are funny things.

Sometimes just knowing miracles are possible can breed more miracles. 

And sometimes just knowing that that a miracle is willing to find you when you ask is all you need. 

And sometimes just discovering if you have it in you to answer the call… is a miracle in itself.
Postscript: I followed up with Adrienne to see what happened. I’ll confess, I really wanted to be a part of that kind of miracle. Turns out the woman had found a place to say through other means. But it also turns out that she was incredibly touched that strangers 3 to 6 degrees of separation were willing to open their homes to her.

Stories Worth Your Attention: 
Get Out. A psychological thriller that will provide a shocking, haunting, and even at times hilarious new lens to examine race relations.
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
Gyasi's debut novel is so deliciously written that you don't mind being lead through hard stories about slavery because her telling bathes you in beauty every step of the way. Catch her book tour

How To Tell Stories Designed To Transform The World.
Rule #1: The moment you take the stage, the story stops being about you-- and starts being about the audience.

The people giving you their attention should be given a gift of a story that has universal themes. They should be able to see themselves in your story, meet the hero they want to be, and be shown the shadows of human existence where they don't want to live.

There are more rules covered in a talk I gave to the mystics of google. What you don’t get to see in this video, is a room full of googlers holding roses. (psst: in a perfect world I would edit this video. But since we don't live in a perfect world fast forward to 10 minutes which is when the talk begins). 

Myth, Magic & Medicine: Storytelling For A New Paradigm: The Summer Edition?
I wasn’t planning on running a summer course… but there have been enough requests for me to consider teaching a class in June/July. If this piques your interest please direct message me, and if there is a quorum, I’ll be in touch. 

Here is what a participant from the most recent online course had to say about the experience: "Thank you... Your generous, wise, deep and playful stories, exercises and support have opened a creative door that has been closed for 20 years. I'm excited to keep on journeying!"

Is the arrival of Summer Solstice making you earn for your Soul Story?
OMG. Me too. 
Soul Stories are one of a kind stories that help you examine your life through myth, metaphor, archetypes, and more. Sessions last 1.5 hours and can be done in person or over skype. Soul to Soul love stories for partners are also available. 

May your summer days be filled with sun on your skin, and your evenings filled with the sweet scent of jasmine and lit by a lightening bug or two,
PS: The beautiful art featured in this stortyletter was created by the one and onlyRaasa Leela De Montebello.

PPS: Patreon is where I share the day to day thrills of writing, creativity, and the thrills and chills that come with writing a novel. Patreon supporters help make writing happen...

DIY GUIDE To Facing a Crazy World With An Open Heart

There is nothing harder in this world than to keep a heart open once it has been broken. There are so many things I might say in this moment. The frailties of this planet so present on my landscape. I might confess that my heart is broken in 4 or five ways by things great and small. But I have learned that there is something beautiful that happens if you can withstand the pain …these are rare moments indeed when the blinders used to stave off the realities of the world no longer work. No longer filled with desire, or possibility, but only with what is really and truly there. All of the energy that was once used to stave off fear of the unknown exhausted, the arms are put down. And finally, the rubble of what has been destroyed is what creates the firm ground to stand on. The state of the world has finally landed in a whole new way in my reality.

I feel responsible about how to discuss the state of the mind and heart in this place. Not to vomit it out carelessly and splatter on known and unknown friends.

The way I know to seek solace is to listen for the resonance of elders who have wisdom to share.

I saw Alice Walker and Arundhati Roy last night. At the very end of the talk, Alice blurted out of context an inquiry that landed… that in these trying times when it might appear that we can see our end: “It is a good time to get in touch with what is truly worth valuing.” She also said (in the context of a conversation about caste systems, but seemed to have universal applications), “It is so hard to find and access your essence when you are worrying about what you look like.” (Plz forgive: Neither of those are perfect quotes).

A few days ago at a fundraiser for Canticle Farm I believe it was Joanna Macy who said something to the likes of, “The happiest people ~ and the most exhausted people~ are involved.” That rang true.

But I’m still trying to gather the cookies I lost in the road a few days ago when I fellow community member responded to the situation in Chicago where the Dyke parade refused to allow their Jewish community members carry a flag with the Star of David on it…. He said, he didn’t “feel safe” seeing the Jewish star because of Jewish/Palestine relationship. I couldn’t help but wonder how safe the people felt holding that flag and what they had to go through to be able to stand beneath it. I was shocked to discover how “unsafe” I felt upon discovering that smart people can so easily dismiss a culture’s right to identify themselves because of their own insecurities and lack of inquiry and imagination.

And then last night, while listening to women share their stories and thoughts of activism, I looked up at the ceiling of the theater we were sitting in, and there it was, the Star of David.

And I got why I was so angry. 
I registered what I was afraid of.

When we no longer see something for the roots that they are attached to… but only for the moment they are living in…those are dangerous times. Disconnected times.

Let’s take a look (and mind you this is a brief foray into history and only includes a few fun facts) “The Hebrew name for the symbol – a hexagram formed by two overlapping triangles, one pointed upward and the other downward – comes from its supposed resemblance to King David’s shield. However, use of the Star of David as a Jewish symbol only became widespread in 17th-century Europe, when it was used displayed on synagogues to identify them as Jewish places of worship.. In antiquity, the most commonly used symbol of Judaism was the menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum that stood in the Temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.

The hexagram associated with the Star of David has throughout history been used by other religions as well. In Hinduism, it is referred to as the shatkona, with the upward triangle in the star shape representing Shiva (the masculine side of God) and the downward-pointing triangle representing Shakti (the feminine side of the divinity). The symbol thus generally represents the merging of the male and the female, and, the elements of fire and water, respectively. The Star of David also appears in the architecture of Mormon places of worship, where it symbolizes the union of heaven and earth, with God reaching down to man and man reaching up to God.”

The natural progression of thought led me to think about the Swastika. How I grew up associating it as a symbol for hate. So lo and behold my surprise when I discovered that the origins when I was in college.

“Its name comes the Sanskrit word svasti (sv = well; asti = is), meaning good fortune, luck and well-being. The right-hand swastika is one of the 108 symbols of the Hindu god Vishnu as well as a symbol of the sun and of the Hindu sun god, Surya. The symbol imitates, in the rotation of its arms, the course taken daily by the sun, which appears in the Northern Hemisphere to pass from east, then south, to west. It is also a symbol of the sun among Native Americans.
In Hinduism, the right-hand (clockwise) swastika is a symbol of the sun and the god Vishnu, while the left-hand (counterclockwise, called sauvastika) swastika represents the goddess Kali, night, and magic.
The auspicious symbol of the swastika is very commonly used in Hindu art, architecture and decoration. It can be seen on temples, houses, doorways, clothing, cars, and even cakes. It is usually a major part of the decoration for festivals and special ceremonies like weddings.
In Buddhism, the swastika is almost always clockwise. It signifies auspiciousness and good fortune as well as the Buddha's footprints and the Buddha's heart. The swastika is said to contain the whole mind of the Buddha and can often be found imprinted on the chest, feet or palms of Buddha images. It is also the first of the 65 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha. The swastika has also often been used to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. In China and Japan, the Buddhist swastika was seen as a symbol of plurality, eternity, abundance, prosperity and long life.”

Symbols are our oldest form of language on this planet. One of the reasons they are magical is because their meaning is never defined by one thing. Their very existence invokes duality.

So the storyteller and the listener must be complicit to make meaning a reality.

What would happen every time we looked at the American flag, we not only see it as a symbol of colonization and war, but the representation of the dream of what people thought of as possible before they even made it to this continent? 
Oh wait. 
We are. 
Different people are looking at the same symbol and having a grossly different experiences.

This has been a good quandary. If you made it all the way here, I hope it entertained you as much as it satiated me. Now back to work. 
With love, 

References for the quotes are from: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007453 & http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.574736

On Sacred Storytelling & Telling Stories Designed To Transform The World

“Do you want to place that rock on my altar?”

“Oh no,” James said. He is my 5 year old nephew.
“Only sacred things go there.
And this is a stone, not a rock.”
I tried to hide my shit eating grin.
The last time James (and his family) crossed the country and visited my home (what I call a circular cabin, he calls a hut) we sat in front of my altar and he and his younger brother handled every feather, bear claw, moose tooth, and stone on my altar.
And now he associates those things with the word sacred.
(I’m an easily thrilled and delighted auntie).
But what is this word…sacred?


I asked facebook the other day what people thought of when they heard the term, sacred storytelling. They came back with images of old native women sitting around a fire.

AKA: Sacred Storytelling is something that happens far from home in the forest in another time. You know...back in the days when people would gather around and listen without interrupting. 
Houston, we have a problem. 

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Let’s examine this word: sacred. When we go to the greek root of the term we’ll find Holy. So it leads us into a conversation about being in relationship with the divine.

Sacred if often understood as a designated place where the divine lives. 

So anything that lives outside of those bounds.....isn't. [??]

Matthew calls sacred a traumatized word. (That caught my attention.)
That we define sacred by what isn't sacred by creating a boundary around it. We take it sacred away ~ abstract it~  build temples for it to live within and be separate from the world you and I live in. 

When I spoke at Google last week about How to Tell Stories Designed to Transform the World, I began by giving each person in the room a red rose (little did I know I was setting myself up to be in a scene straight out of the bachelor).

I looked each  person in the eye, and asked them their intention (for what they wanted to out of the talk).
My friend Day said I was courting them.
I would say I was setting them up to receive. I was bringing them present into the room. Connecting the audience with their heart, and with me, as I listened to their voice, heard their desire, and invited them to connect with their senses (and their body) by smelling the rose. I was subtly inviting them to transition them out of the assumed role of passive audience member into actively engaged listener~ because the listener plays an equal role in the creation of every story. 
In essence, I was setting the stage to experience sacred storytelling. Where the listener knows and trusts that what is being given is being given in the name of creating connection: to the self, to community, to the divine.
By taking the time to develop a connection with the audience, by truly seeing, and naming that each soul in the room has the power to be a creator of a universe through the stories they tell, listen to, and share, we (and that’s what makes storytelling a collective sport), created a place for sacred storytelling.
This can be accomplished on a train, plane, or automobile.
No fires in the woods are needed according to this sacred storyteller.
(But it sure is fun when we gather around a fire and tell stories.)

Upcoming Events:  

April 19th, NYC, Soul Story Circle
This is a private event, message me and I would be happy to invite you. 

Story Coaching
I have two open slots for story coaching.
If you are preparing a speech, honing your skills, developing your presentation style, wanting to do an office training, working on a wedding toast, or refining how you speak about a major life event…lets explore how to use your words and your intention to have the impact you desire.

PS: I told James that stone of his was from the earth, so of course it belongs on the altar. Which is where it now sits. Along with a few other things he found while gallivanting through the woods.

PPS: I send out a "storyletter" every so often with things like this and other cool things worth looking at. Hop on my list if you want that delivered straight to your inbox. 

PPPS: All of those beautiful images were of Andy Goldsworthy's work. 

On Women Being Too Much, and Men Not Being Enough

( random thoughts and a half baked quandary)

I was in a group a few weekends ago where I heard for the first time the pattern. I have been hearing women talking about being too much for ever. But for the first time I really heard how many men feel like they aren’t enough.

“Is that true?” I asked a man in my life. 
“Ahhh…. Duh,” was his response (along with an eye roll).

OMFG. Are you kidding me?? was my response. And I started to feel the great trap of our time. With the emergence of the feminine, dare I say... the sacred feminine, it would seem that we are in the inbetween…this moment when we are waiting~ with baited breath~ for the sacred masculine to find the trap door and escape out of the prison of patriarchy.

You probably know all I about this. I just stumbled upon it.

I had never realized how stifled the sacred masculine is.

I used to call them SNAGS. Sensitive new age angry guys. Aware of the feminine. Making space for it. But angry as all get out for not having a place of their own in the process. I feel my generation is the one caught inbetween. Where the men are aware of how the female has been mistreated for so many eons and is now trying to make space for it, is trying to learn how to honor it and cherish it…in the women around them, and in themselves. We are all feeling this together. And the force on this planet at this time is mind boggling powerful right? Women are standing, gathering, focusing. 
Many men are standing for women, gathering, and focusing.

But just like any pendulum swinging the opportunity to go out of balance is ripe.

And it feels like we are on the hunt for how to be in right relationship with the sacred masculine. What is this “sacred” my east coast self challenges my west coast self. What is the new age jargon you bounce? I’m sure there has been so much written about this~ and I’m just in the midst of a facebook quandary so will wax on that if I were to feel into the definition, it's the masculine that takes on the role of protector, the hunter, provider, being in service of his community. As we whirl and twirl and mix and match and make our way through this societal initiation of finding our way into balance…where women are providing more, men are finding their place in the home and learning how to be fathers again, I have never had more compassion in my bones about the struggle that men go through as we integrate and come back into relationship with the sacred… masculine and feminine. The men of our time are being shamed. Dressed down. Harassed. And have been beaten into a corner. I see so many men in the position of being just as timid as we once forced women to be. This too is out of balance.

And it is exhausting as it forces so many women to be too much as they reach so far forward, lean so far in, as they back men into a corner who are trying to make space for them.

It would feel so good if we could just meet in the middle.

Enough with the too much not enough dance.

We’re learning a new kind of dance. And when you learn a new dance, if you really go for it, you bump into each other, step on a few toes, and then you laugh about it, rewind the song, and start again until you get the moves just right.

Join The World Of The Whale Dreamer

I'm diving back into an old story.

It began many years ago. I was walking with a deep prayer to play my part in the world we are living in, to know how to meet the times. I thought I heard a whale sing. (I was in the woods.) And on that night, I started writing. And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote the first 14 chapters of what would become, The Whale Dreamer. 

It's many years, and many drafts later. And I am about to start editing again. I was kavetching with a friend who is helping me make some big changed to the book about how hard it is to get back into a story you have worked on for many years --- when you know you have to tear a part the world you created. Matthew likened it to that moment when you are really committed to making a relationship work, even when it isn't working and everything sucks. Because you love the person that much. 

I believe in The Whale Dreamer that much. That this story has the capacity to be a force of healing as it celebrates the life and beauty in the world, while facing the tragedy of our times head on. 

Over the course of the next two months I’ll be mercilessly slashing and burning, removing well over 100 pages, writing in new scenes, making considerable plot changes, and changing the rules of the magical world.

And I want to invite you join me on the journey of bringing this story to fruition. 

There are 2 ways you can participate with The Whale Dreamer as it comes into fruition:

1) Join the Dream Team and read a random chapter here or there: As I do major rewrites, I’m looking for a small clan of test readers that would be open to reading a chapter on occasion over the course of the next 8 weeks. The request is that your respond within 48-72 hours.

2) Become a hunter & gatherer of information: There is often a ton of research that needs to be done along side this book as it weaves in real information about animals that are going extinct. If it would tickle your fancy to join a team of on-call information hunter and gathers (aka researchers)… do tell. On occasion I’ll send you an email with a request for information. This is perhaps one of the most generous ways you can support this process. As you might imagine, staying offline is imperative to completing a book, so the more research help I have the more focused the writing can be!

If this thrills and delights you ~ drop me a line about how you want to join The Whale Dreamer pod! 

If you want to receive updates and the likes, head on over to The Whale Dreamer page and sign up for the newsletter. 

with a love and dedication to the oceans, and all of the creatures that live within them, and all of the creatures that love them, 


Making Love With Grief

“Playing the tuba is helping get the sad out.” 

Raina casually mentioned that after band practice the other day.
Makes sense.
According to Chinese medicine, grief lives in the lungs.
[This week’s commentary isn’t for the weak of heart. As always you can skip through the indulgence of words and get to the LOVE IN ACTION (aka sweet treats & good news) at the bottom.] 
Today I’m here to say, grieving doesn’t have to destroy you.
But It will force you to decide if you want to live or die.
And it can destroy you-- if you let it.

I've been intimate with grief. When I was 15, my closest friend in High School, Sheila, committed suicide. Not long after, my mentor and the woman who introduced me to the world of theater and the first teacher to encourage me to sing, committed suicide. In college, one of my closest friends, Gemma, and the first young woman who showed me what it was to be strong and vulnerable, died in a car accident. I witnessed Mary Lou, mother to my childhood close friend and beloved to my own mother, fight with cancer to the bitter end. The man who showed me I was lovable after I was convinced I wasn’t after leaving my first relationship died in a freak wilderness accident. I’m going to stop my list here. It will sound like I’m bragging if I continue. The point I want to make is (aside from that I used to joke that being my friend could be considered an insurance liability):
I know grief from the inside out. 
And this much I know is true, while you might be able to dance with fear, you don’t dance with grief. You get yanked down into the mud. Thrown against the wall. Choked till you can barely breathe. And then you roll around in the guts and the bowels of existence and get covered with the bones and the bits of life and death and everything you didn’t know existed in-between. And from there, covered in the agony of loss, grasping for what cannot be held, in deep relationship with the unknown, you make your choice: to alchemize the life force that had the power to break your heart-- into fuel your soul.
You let grief destroy you.

You choose.

It doesn’t just happen. It takes time to decide. Sometimes it involves laying spread eagle on the land begging the earth to take away pain you don’t know how to let go of yourself. And it involves dancing. And tequila. And sobbing. And a few of the people you love will be daring and bold enough to come close, but they can’t fight this fight for you. It is yours to do alone. Then one day, you notice how the light hits a leaf and ignites the color in such a way that it brings a smile to your face, and that is when you realize for the first time that you hadn’t noticed beauty for awhile. You watched more Buffy reruns then you cared to admit in public, went on crazy adventures its ok to forget about, you danced so hard you yanked your neck out. 
But when you are ready to rise, soiled, and your hair all messy, when you are finally able to catch your breath, wipe your blurry eyes, remember the strength of what it is to stand on your own two feet. Then, and only then, are you ready to be courageous enough to wash away the mud that when you weren’t looking transformed from captor to protector from the world. And then this new chapter with grief involves being willing to wash away the remnants of grief that keeps you separate from all of those other people. Those…happy… people.

When you can stand, heart open, knowing that with every breath you take in the name of being alive will invite grief to take you again, and again, and again…
Only then can you say, “I survived grief. This time.”
Not every one makes it to the other side. Some stand, but take their heart and hide it away in their back pocket never to be seen or heard from again. I get it. I’ve wanted to take my broken and heavy heart and throw it over Niagara falls. It hard work to lug that thing around.
But I digress. We were talking about how you didn’t just survive, but now you’re thriving because you know that your life force has increased and expanded in a way that can’t be measured.
I didn’t die with Sheila, Chris, Gemma, Mary Lou, Jeri, Sam, or Ali.
I live the way I do because of them.
Every ounce of laughter, and joy, and celebration I experience is chosen over and over and over again.

We are living in times that are asking us to grieve.

So much of what we love is being taken away.
Between the murder of innocent people to the destruction of innocent trees and molestation of innocent rivers, and threat of what we care for, it’s hard to be fully present on this planet at this time, and not hang out in the bowels of grief.
The truth is, I don’t have it in me to grieve for everything that is being taken.
Maybe you do.

Grief claims many victims. It can be a quiet killer that steals the life of those who refuse it, taking up residency as a permanent back seat driver that won’t ever shut up and just let you enjoy the ride.
But there is a strange rule in the universe, by sidestepping grief, you miss out on life.
The trick to grief, if one could be so sacrilegious as to claim there is such a thing, is to let it run through you.
Roll in the bones and the muck and the dead decrepit teeth of grief. Do not wallow. (Except when you must). Do not be lazy in your approach. While fighting like hell for victory, find the nourishment when you eat the bones. And be generous with your grieving. Let your tears water the rivers. Sing the grief into song. Nourish us with your courage and boldness to live.
Stand in the victory that you are stronger.
You will have earned your right to pleasure.
You will have earned your right to love again.
You will have earned your right to a good long belly laugh, to look first for the good in people, to experience joy in random moments, to delight in deliciousness, especially in grieving times.

If you aren’t partying for the planet, dancing yourself awake, singing yourself alive…you’re missing the point of this story.
I’m going to tell you a secret about surviving grief.
Each and every time it comes from you, it runs you over and knocks the wind right out of you the exact same way it did the first time. There is no escaping the pain. But once you have known grief, it is different. Because this time, you won’t be fighting with grief, and the unknown of if you have what it takes to survive grief.
Because your bones know, your heart knows, and your soul knows, that you have what it takes to stand and make love with life in wild abandon yet again. This time, it will be akin to meeting a familiar lover, and she will pull back the covers of your bed and invite you in. And it will be a dark night of the soul, and it will be the kind of love making you do when you know that it is the last time with a lover, sweet and agonizing all at once. I’m here to say, if you can get through it once, you can get through it again.

And here is another truth. Sometimes, the circumstances of life, what is required of us, doesn’t let us grieve. And we find ourselves standing in the grocery line being strangled in a way no one can see while we take too long fumbling for change. And that is true too. Oh truth. What a naughty naughty word.
In the meantime, I hope you learn how to play the tuba, and blow out the sadness in your lungs. And I hope when I die, my funeral will be by the ocean. And that those who gather will bring tubas and will fill the air with a ridiculous cacophony of people playing the tuba for the first time.

There would be hilarity in that.
And that would be a good thing.

(For the record, my stepfather wants bagpipes to be played at his funeral.)

In case you missed it: Air B&B is offering free housing to people stranded by the immigration order.


Let your breath be swept away by the gravity defying moves of Sergei Polunin.
7 Ways to Take Care & Take Action
(written by yours truly for spirituality & health magazine)
FEB 10th 12pm PST / 3pm EST
ONLINE STORY CIRCLE: Celebrating The Life, Love, And Wisdom of those who were lost and survived the Holocaust. 
When the administration decided not to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I decided to host an online story circle remembering the life, love and wisdom of those who lived and lost during the holocaust.
 Join us online this Friday at 12pm PST. Have a story to share? We want to listen. Can't come live, register and you will receive the recording. 

Lets embark on an exploration through the most ancient language of myth, symbol, and metaphor as we commit to living in the largest way possible in the times we are living in. 
FEB 11th

Soul Story Circles Feb/March: 
These are free private house events and are happening in Mill Valley, Sebastopol, and NYC. Ping me for the details (and do tell if you want to host a Soul Story Circle for your community).
Here’s to learning how to play the tuba,
with all my love,
Paintings by Sally Bowring