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Honoring our Ancestors on Samhain


I’ve never really felt connected to the trick or treat aspect of Halloween since being a kid when candy was the goal of knocking on peoples doors. I love that there is still one holiday celebrated which has the potential to meet your neighbors. What I woke up with today, though, is a call to honor my ancestors.

This is a challenging moment for me to connect with my ancestors in the aftermath of the murder of Jews in a Synagogue, including a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor. Many of my ancestors are Jews, including my Grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor from Poland.

I did not learn about the terrifying news via the media because, I admit, I do not watch or listen to the news. I’d rather learn about it from people directly so there is someone on the other line to express our emotions about the updates. I also easily become stressed, anxious and afraid when listening to the mainstream news channels.

I learned about this awful event in a dream early Monday morning. I woke with fear. I dreamed I was in a large hall with my village. We were in prayer and suddenly a smoke like gas began seeping into the hall through the ceilings. We ran and only a few escaped before the doors were locked. I broke through one of the doors as the last person out. I escaped the gas chamber.

I ran into the arms of my sisters and brothers. I wrapped a sheet around myself, covering any bare vulnerable skin exposed to the cold. An angry man found me and scolded me for escaping. I lied and told him I was not escaping, I belonged outside with my family. As I was lying to him, I felt terrible for not telling the truth. I do not like to lie. But, I knew my words were the only hope for protecting myself. I feared what would happen if I told him the truth. The truth that neither me or any of my people were meant to be gassed to death.

How often do we fear what will happen if we speak our truth?

My body and spirit knew what happened last Saturday night as Jews gathered in a temple to worship during the Sabbath, even though my mind had not yet learned of the news. My body knew.

How much information do our bodies carry that is connected to our ancestors? 

I received a call later that day from a friend who was checking in on me to see how I was given what had happened to my people, our people. This is a powerful action that should never be underestimated – call your friends and loved ones when anything happens that impacts their hearts. We have to check in with each other when scary events happen real time. We cannot forget how important it is to listen to oppressed groups.

I believe we are all in heart-ache and break given what is happening in our world. So, the simplest action we can take is to call one another and deeply listen to each other’s hearts and minds no matter what state we’re in. We need to feel safe to share whatever is ready to come out. We cannot hold it in or it will eat away our souls. The heart-break is an opportunity to let the light in, I’ve been told. It is an opportunity to let in those we trust to hold us in times of grief and pain.

My reaction to my friend’s call was first, numbness. I was not surprised given the turmoil in our country. I felt sadness, but also a feeling of…are those really my people? Am I really Jewish? Am I really connected to an oppressed group? Do I deserve this compassion from my friend? Should I pretend I am not Jewish now? Where can I hide?

I am Jewish. I am not hiding. I love my Jewish relatives. I love all my relations regardless of race, gender, sexual preferences, age, religion, culture. I love all my relations. We are one family.

What do I love about Jews?

We are powerful social justice activists who are not willing to give in to systems of oppression. We are fighting for what is right, for equal rights, for freedom of expression. We love delicious food and sharing it together!

Now is not the time to separate people based on their identities. Now is the time to unite together as one family rooted in love, compassion, and hope for the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. And, I believe your life will improve by getting closer to all oppressed groups, including Jews.

My Jewish heritage has inspired connection to the cycles of the moon and the seasons. Tonight at sundown begins Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival marking the beginning of winter, heading into the darkness. It is also nearing Dia del Muerto, the Day of the Dead, a time for honoring our ancestors, feeding them food, offering gifts and expressing our gratitude for all they have given to us. Remembering and rejoicing in our ancestors feeds them, which nourishes us because our ancestors are always guiding us.

I am grateful for my birth and all the ancestors who made it possible for me to be here now. Thank you for your wisdom even in the moments of deep suffering. I would not be here without you Grandmas and Grandpas. And, big thank you to my last living Grandparent who is 90 years old, a Holocaust survivor, living independently in her own home, was the first female President of her Synagogue, and generous beyond belief.  Thank you for teaching me to be courageous, trust my heart, not take any bullshit, and follow my dreams, Grandma.  I see you and I love you. Always.

-Hannah Lee Jacobson-Hardy (Given Name)

-Hashke Hasaan Ya Nimela Yenezbaa Yehatipa (Navajo Name)

-Sacred Goddess Rainbow Warrior Woman (Warrior Name)

-Chana (Hebrew Name)


The Jewish Witch


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Metal: Lung / Large Intestine


The beauty of the autumn up on the hill where the tall pines grow includes wild turkeys grazing in the pasture, the sunrising later in the morning at just the right angle to illuminate the golden trees, spider webs cast upon the branches, and squirrels climbing up the corn and sunflower stalks to strip what seeds are left. There is so much beauty during these changing times.

As each plant sets seed and slowly dies back to become compost, how can I release what is ready to die inside me? What burdens am I ready to lay down? What old stories am I ready to re-write? What will remain if I let go, truly let go of my grip on what I think is true? The power of really surrendering to the mystery is finding the hidden gems inside our hearts.

How can it be that there is so much beauty even in death?


As I write, a spider walks across my laptop keyboard. I brush it away without even thinking, and it dies. My first thought is, “Ugh, I am so sorry Spider. How insensitive I am. With one brush of my finger you die. How unfair the world is. Death is not easy. This alive being is now a tiny ball next to me, unmoving. Oh, the grief. And it’s a tiny spider! Imagine how much un-felt grief resides inside each of us waiting to be released. This is what Fall, or Metal Time in Chinese Medicine is for – lay down your sorrows and give them back to the Earth where they can be held, transformed, so you can be free.

Metal Time can bring challenges, which are really opportunities to feel the grief of letting go. Metal is connected to the organs Lung (breath in the new) and Large Intestine (let go of the old). These two systems need attention during the fall so by the time winter arrives, we are not carrying excess grief, pain, ideas and feelings that are weighing on us. We want to go into winter feeling strong, supported and nourished, not depleted and run down. This is an important time to pause, tune into what else you can let go of and nourish your body.

IMG_2147Are there projects you’ve agreed to that don’t really fulfill you anymore? Are there relationships that you need to let go of? Are there spending patterns that keep you from saving up for the things you really want? Are there obligatory commitments that take more time than you want to give them? What would you do with your life if you didn’t compulsively schedule until the calendar is so full that the only thing remaining is time to brush your teeth and rush out the door?

If there’s a building feeling of resentment inside you now, this is helpful information. It may mean a boundary with others and/or yourself is being crossed. I’ll ask you again:

What can you let go of right now so you can fully step into the life you want to live?

Let the emotions flow. It can be scary to admit to ourselves that we’ve taken on too much. Listen to your heart during this time. Trust yourself. Those voices telling you that the only way you will be loved is if you stay busy, show up, rush around, finish deadlines on time, and never disappoint anyone is exactly what discompassionate capitalism wants you to hear.

So, will you listen to your heart or a societal message that gives out stamps of approval?

Large Intestine is the system that lets go of what our body doesn’t need after it has taken the nourishment from food. Sometimes, I say, “I am going to large intestine my closet today.” Or, “I am going to large intestine my kitchen cabinets.” It’s the act of sorting (small intestine) and releasing (large intestine) what is bogging you down, taking up space, and not truly nourishing you anymore. If it’s not nourishment, why hold on? Large intestine is like the executioner saying, “begone!”

Lung is the system that takes in oxygen to feed the blood which gives us life. Lung needs space to breathe in new life, creative ideas, new plans, fresh ways of being. So, if we haven’t “large intestined” enough, lung doesn’t have the space it needs to expand. I’ll be direct here: can you imagine going for a hike or sitting on a meditation cushion paying attention to your breath while having to go poop? No fun!

Like spring, fall is a good time to do a cleanse and get your digestion flowing. If you feel stuck, constipated or bloated, this could be signals that you’re holding in emotions. In addition to dietary changes, be curious as to how emotions may be linked in with your colon.

Lung is about opening to the divine messages to behold the true essence of who you are on this planet. Expanding into your divinity for simply being born. Do you ever feel like you’re holding your breath or breathing shallowly? Pay attention to your breath! Taking deep breaths calms the nervous system, brings oxygen to the brain, increases blood circulation, and slows the monkey mind.


Lung is about taking up the space you deserve as a human being. Your birth and existence are miracles. If you feel the need to prove yourself, let that story go! You are enough just be being here. So breathe deep and call in what you really want. Find peace with what is already here now that large intestine has let go of what no longer serves. Great peace resides in the lungs.

If you hold onto grief and carry it with you as we move into winter, lung imbalances such as upper respiratory infections, asthma, coughs, or bronchitis have more of a chance of showing up. So, find a safe place and person to feel your grief, sadness, anger, any and all emotions.

Crying is a way to squeeze out the pain and make space for love.

My dear teacher Darryl says when we pour water, we are making an offering. After a good cry, go outside and pour some water on the Earth so your tears can soak into the Earth. Your tears are prayers. They are like the water flowing into the roots of the plants, we need them to give life.


The dying of anything or anyone has to be felt. We are humans with feelings for a reason. It is our responsibility to feel in a safe, healing way. Martin Prechtel, author of The Smell of Rain of Dust: Grief and Praise writes about how our tears of grief for the death of a loved one is our way of praising them for their time with us. The ancestors, the pets, the plants, our beloveds, they all need our tears. Our grief honors them with dignity. Even if you feel angry toward someone who has died, feel the anger! What is often underneath anger is deep grief. It’s all one – emotions are emotions, feel them.

You are not weak for feeling your emotions. Quite the opposite. You are so strong. What happens if we don’t feel the grief? Disease. Disease is the result of suppressing emotions.

Go where there is grief, for it is there where you’ll find the gold.

You are so brave and courageous.

Blessings for a healthy autumn

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Women & Rage: the Path to Peace

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We Moon Calendar 2019


The world would be a profoundly different place if women expressed their anger. 

Two months ago while attending a gathering there was a young woman who expressed how her throat feels closed down and her neck aches. She knew it was because of the anger she holds down like a corked bottle. It wants to explode, but she says to herself, “not right now.”

I had a vision while I was listening to her speak, so I shared it with her.

“Would you come over to my house and we’ll line the base of the barn with a tarp and throw glass?” I asked. This is not a typical invitation I give someone I hardly know, but it felt right so I went along with it.

The seed was planted in me and we set a date. I invited a few more women who had expressed at some point in the past they felt angry and didn’t know how to share it in a safe, accepting place. We were a small group of four on a full moon evening as the clouds swelled with rain.

We lit a fire outside. Each of us called in a direction: North, East, South, and West. Sage burned to ground our nervously shaking bodies. Intentions were set as we checked in about our relationship to anger –

  • where do we hold anger in our bodies?
  • what were we taught by our families and society about anger especially as women?
  • why are we scared to show anger?
  • who would we be if releasing anger was part of our lives on a regular basis?
  • what are we angry about?

The bottle pressure was rising by this point and we were ready to smash some glass! Our area was set up for each of us to take turns expressing in whatever ways we felt moved. No judgment zone. Only a strong container of powerful women who have each others backs and a willingness to get messy.

Instruments: sentimental glasses and dish ware that held energy we no longer wanted to carry, wine bottles, wooden sticks and pallets, glass windows, sledge hammer, leather gloves, and safety goggles. Check.


This felt like unknown territory and my mind was racing with all kinds of ways to escape the moment. But, my body planted itself in the Earth saying, “Hell yes!”

What I witnessed and experienced brought me somewhere I’ve been before, but not in this lifetime. Watching each woman name all the times they’ve been, disrespected, put down, told to be nice, sexually and verbally assaulted invoked a level of trust and gratitude I did not know could be possible. Our rage actually made me feel more safe.

Her grief and anger was mine, too. Her power and strength smashing those pallets to smithereens was mine, too. Her humility was mine, too. Her shame of being seen in a female body was mine, too. Her unapologetic willingness to scream as loud as possible was mine, too. Her demand that the buck stops here, was mine, too.

What took place that night freed more people than just the four of us. Reverberations rippled into the past, present, and future.

I felt the cord of sexism cut from my womb that my Mother, Grandmother and her Mother and her Mother and her Mother dragged with her. I deliberately chose to release all shame, guilt, and obligations that take me out of my core. I am a human being with every right to be who I am. All of us are.

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Timely with the political bull-sh*t that is taking place right now. As women, children, fathers, and grandparents are being separated for purely racist beliefs, I feel we cannot afford to suppress our anger any longer. There is a lot to be angry about. When I feel helpless, disconnected and hopeless about making any change in the world, I remember that “my” work with “my” community is where I can make a real impact because it is not “I” and “my,” it is always “we” and “us.”

The mountains we moved in two hours that full moon night were not only moved for us, they were moved for everyone. What is possible when we all take a look at our anger and find ways to safely express it? I recommend finding the people you trust to do this work with. Set up your smashable altar, grab that sledge hammer, and get on your safety goggles. It’s time to rage, ya’ll!

IMG_1615We’re making the world a better place by expressing our anger together, in alignment with deepening connections, dismantling racism and sexism, and remembering who we truly are as human beings. Empowerment begins the moment we set free the ways we make ourselves small, hidden, and ashamed.

For more on shame and being brave, check out this book by Brene Brown.

After each woman raged, we placed our hands on her body as she lay on the Earth. Heart racing, breathing heavily, tears streaming, held by us in the circle of acceptance. Home again.

“I feel so much better now,” one said.

“I feel taller!” said another.

“I could not do this while meditating alone,” I said.

“This might have to be a regular full moon event,” we all agreed.

We gathered the well-chopped (!) fire wood from the tarp and gave it to the fire. Transforming the result of our anger into fire felt so natural. The swelling clouds released their rain onto us, showering our bodies with the Mother Earth’s tears. We sang a song and gave thanks for this moment to be alive. Then, we feasted and closed the night with homemade lavender blueberry chocolate cupcakes, which I’ll share the recipe momentarily because it’s delicious.

Thanks to the brave women who showed up to rage with me. You are my teachers. I see you, and I love you.

I want to note here that it can be useful to start doing this work with groups of your gender identity. I find that women’s work and men’s work, though similar and equally valuable, comes out differently in settings with the genders we identify with. The stuff women move when men are not present and vice versa can be a more safe container for some. I want to do this work with men present, too. But, I know that when it’s only women, I can access a part of myself that is not possible (yet) with men around. However you identify, regardless of gender binaries, find a space that feels safe for your journey.


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Solstice Rose Essences

Happy Summer Solstice!

Two years ago when I met my sweetie, Andrew, summer solstice has evolved into birthday celebrations, strawberry picking, and anniversary honoring. He’s a Solstice baby, born on the longest day of the year after 48 hours or labor – bless his mama!

I am filled with gratitude for his birth, our relationship’s birth, the blossoming flowers becoming fruit, and the peak of the summer solstice all culminating on this beautiful sunny day.

Our roses are in full bloom so I’ve decided to share this experience of making a flower essence and glycerite with you all.


Flower essences bring me into the present moment immediately. They involve sitting with the flower in a clear glass bowl of spring water for 15-30 minutes on a sunny day. While meditating near the essence, I do my best to let go of the left brain’s attempts to figure anything out. Just be, breathe, and listen to the inner and outer world.

What are the birds singing about?

Is there wind?

Who are you, Rose?

What’s your medicine for today?

How is your body changing by simply sitting with an open mind and heart next to Rose?

This can be done with any flower or gem stone. I added a selenite crystal to the essence for reasons I don’t yet understand, but the selenite guided me to put it in there with Rose.

Little buddha baby wanted to join in the fun, too. It is no wonder that an hour later I was informed my dear friends had given birth to a baby boy while I was preparing this essence! Oh, the beauty of attunement to the oneness of everything.


It’s truly a gift to slow down enough to hear what the plants and subtle energy spirits are saying to us.

I let the essence sit alone outside, where it’s never truly alone with of all the plants, insects and animals, but I give it space to absorb the beautiful energies of the land. It wanted to stay out all night, too, infused by the crescent moonlight and lightning bugs flickering magical wisdom. So I let it be.

My prayer is this Rose Selenite Essence will bring joy and compassion to all who encounter it – both in reading here and by taking it physically. All you need is 1-3 drops under the tongue to receive the affects of its subtle yet powerful medicine.

Your turn to make one!


Send me an email if you want a bottle of Rose Selenite Essence or any others:

Daisy – heart opening pure bliss unafraid of being seen

Tulsi – embodied Queen & Wei Qi immune support

Lady’s Mantle – self-compassion during recovery from sexual trauma

Trillium – triad for Women’s womb healing

Buttercup –  nourishing confidence

Yarrow – boundaries with self & others

Elderflower – respect what is sacred especially our Elders

Vogesite & Rhodocrosite- balance the Feminine & Masculine energies

Emerald –  attracting abundance & financial stability

Calendula – radiant lion who dances inside the soul

Aster  – soft gentle awakening into your inner truth


Rose Glycerite Recipe

The gift of heart spirit support and emotional upliftment straight from the garden


2 cups rose petals (wild rose, rosa rugosa or organically grown garden roses)

2 cups organic vegetable glycerine

1/3 cup spring water or distilled

1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Macerate the rose petals in a mason jar with the vegetable glycerine for 3-5 minutes. Add the water and mix well. Place in a double boiler on low heat to warm the mixture for 1-3 hours. While warming, place a lid over the jar without the screw top to keep the volatile oils and fragrances inside the jar. Remove from the double boiler, place wax paper between the lid and jar to prevent corrosion and screw on well. Shake vigorously until all the liquid coats the roses. Label with date, name, and where you found the roses. Let sit for 4-6 week on a shady shelf. Stain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and pour into an amber bottle to keep light out.

Enjoy this heart nourishing treat mixed in fizzy drinks, herbal tea, or straight from the bottle! Lasts one year out of the fridge (if Brandy is added) or inside the fridge without an alcohol preservative. Great for kids, too!


Blessings on the Solstice,



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Wild Spring Soup

One of my favorite ways to welcome in the spring is foraging for wild edibles. Having grown up in Western Massachusetts where I’ve apprenticed with foragers and herbalists, I feel confident in my identification of most wild foods and herbs. Although, I only eat what I find if I am 100% sure it is edible. Before making a meal out of anything, I suggest confirming with a local plant identifier, especially when it comes to mushrooms. Books can be helpful, but I never rely on them entirely. The best way to learn what to eat from your backyard is from the people who are well versed.

Two delicious and highly nutritious spring edibles are nettles and ramps (wild onions). Nettles are easily cultivatable by transplanting established clumps or starting from seed. They love to grow in old manure piles near horse barns because they are heavy feeders, which means they are also densely packed full of nutrition.

Nettles are one of the best ways to consume minerals and vitamins after a long winter without fresh greens. They are a mild diuretic which aid the kidneys in flushing out toxins from the body. I put nettle tincture in my Allergy Relief formulas for their anti-histamine properties. The stingers contain formic acid (same as red ant bites) which can be annoying to some, and cause more severe rashes for others depending on sensitivity.

I purposefully sting my wrists and other joints to promote blood circulation. For the past six years I have been stinging my right wrist, which has a ganglion cyst and I do not suffer from tightness or pain any more. It’s similar to bee sting therapy! Try a small section on yourself before going too wild.

You can use gloves to harvest stinging nettles, though I prefer to be gentle and take only the top 3-5 inches. The more mindful and careful I am, the less stings I receive.


Remineralizing the body promotes strong healthy teeth, hair, skin, nails, and bones. Nettles is your ally here!

It’s so simple to make a mineral rich tea:

  1. Lightly pack a quart of half gallon mason jar with fresh nettles (fill 1/5 of the way if using dried).
  2. Pour boiling water over the leaves, cover, and let steep for 8 hours until cool. This long steep can be done overnight. Allowing the infusion to cool allows the minerals to be extracted. 
  3. Drink 2-3 cups of infused nettle tea for 3-6 weeks as a daily mineral rich tonic. Cheers to healthy bones and a healthy urinary system!

** Other spring tonic plants I suggest adding to this tea are: cleavers, chickweed, milky oat tops, raspberry leaf, and red clover.

Another way I enjoy nettles is in soups and stir-fries the same way you would use kale or spinach.




1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves crushes and chopped (set aside for 5 min before adding)

2 carrots, chopped

4 potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup shiitake or oyster mushrooms (Fungi Ally in Hadley is awesome!)

1 TBL ghee (I like Full Moon Ghee, of course)

1 tsp. each of cumin, coriander, curry

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 

1 can coconut milk

1 cup fresh nettles

1/2 cup fresh ramp (wild onion) leaves***

salt & pepper

Combine the veggies and ghee in a soup pot and cook until onions soften. Add spices and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, cover and bring to a boil. Let simmer until carrots and potatoes soften. Stir in coconut milk, nettles and ramps and let simmer on low 5 minutes. The stinger of nettles disappears once it hits hot liquids. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

This soup is delicious with a slice of home made or Hungry Ghost bread slathered with ghee, yum!


home made sourdough bread made by Andrew


*** Ramps Disclaimer: whether foraging or purchasing at a local farmers market, NEVER EVER take the roots, only one leaf per plant. If the vendor has plants with the root in tact, kindly explain that ramps take 7 years to reproduce so leaving the root in the ground is crucial for sustaining the delicate populations. Buy the plants and re-plant them in a shady forest near a spring creek because they love growing near water.

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Spiral of Gift-giving and Receiving


The level of generosity and kindness was truly astonishing while Andrew and I drove across the country. We were on the road for almost four weeks, and every person we stayed with along the way opened his/ her home and heart to us in ways I did not expect for such short visits.

We were showered with gifts, hearty meals, comfortable beds, and even a full tank of gas. I was given necklaces, pottery, tobacco seeds, a medicinal plant book written by a Laguna Pueblo woman, handmade bags, and paintings. None of these items I asked for, only given as a blessing for making the journey.

What I am now able to see is the infinite spiral of giving and receiving. What does it mean to truly receive? Similar to our digestive process of food, our bodies know how to assimilate nutrients and pass on the waste. The wisdom from Milk Thistle plant spirit captures it so well:

For me, really allowing myself to feel the blessings I was given on this journey means trusting that I am worthy of each gift. The moment I forget my true worthiness, I am not only bringing a dishonor to myself, but also to the giver. Breathing deeply while looking into the eyes of the giver and saying, “Thank you,” is creating space in my heart for the gift. And, the more I receive, naturally, the more I want to give. What if our world was built on this level of gift-giving and gift-receiving?

Particularly in Navajo Nation, I recognized a pattern of emptying our gift box to the many hosts along the trip, then filling it back up before our departure. Our box would never be empty. Loading the car up with even more gifts than when we arrived became tradition. It was not an expectation, it was a surprise.

One evening, after I handed a tin of home grown tobacco to the Laguna Pueblo Grandparents we were visiting, the Grandma turned around and brought back tobacco seeds in a small container.  “Here,” she said, “these are from our garden to yours. I hope they grow.” Tears formed on the edges of my eyelids like clouds swollen with rain, eager to water those seeds already.


Hopi Blue Corn & Mohawk Tobacco from our garden – Sweetgrass and Creosote bush gifts

We brought our hosts, or relatives, as we began referring to each person,  ground Painted Mountain and Hopi Blue Corn from our garden in small pouches for prayer and offerings. I watched the Grandpa receive the corn by first blessing his own body. He held the pouch up to the sky and then the earth and then his heart, dabbing a taste on his finger, inviting the medicine to enter his body.  Grandma showed us her grinding stone, then they took us outside where Grandpa offered us a very large flat volcanic stone from the yard. “Here,” he said, “now you will have a stone to grind your corn.”

Grandpa goes on to tell us the stories of women singing songs while grinding corn for ceremonies. Tears welled up once again, reminding me of the dozens of stories Andrew tells about meeting relatives during his walk across America when he was 23-years-old. “It’s happening again,” he says, referring to the endless generosity washing over us.


The next evening we had dinner with a father and son who met Andrew during his walk in 2012. Not only did they bring him a bag of Snickers bars and water bottles while he walked across the unforgiving desert, these relatives flew to California where they greeted him at the ocean upon completing the 4,000 mile journey. Then, they led a ceremony for him back on the East Coast at Andrew’s starting point to symbolize the entrance into manhood. They said, “When you walked through our land, we called you ‘boy who walks.’ Now, you have a new name, ‘man who walks for us.'”

Andrew hadn’t seen these uncles in six years. When we arrived to their home north of Window Rock, they wrapped a beautiful wool blanket around us, sprinkled corn pollen on our heads and pulled us in for a long hug. To be in honest, I was thinking, “Is this really happening, again?” Complete “strangers” just wrapped me in a blanket in a place I’ve never been before. I now know that family is every where. And we’re all just like corn pollen, floating through the wind, hoping to land somewhere full of love, generosity and kindness. The more we can receive the love, the more we can give others.



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Armed with Compassion

IMG_0281In all honesty, I’ve considered changing the name of my blog or starting a new one many times because the word “justice” can be misunderstood. Justice, to me, does not imply there is a good side and a bad side; an evil enemy and a loving hero, or that anyone needs to be condemned. Justice lies in the equity of all people and beings we live with on Mother Earth. To me, the root of justice is peace and interbeing.

Part of living in peace means remembering our interconnectedness with everything. We are visitors here, on Earth while we’re embodied as human, plant, animal, fungi, rock, or microbe. There is no “better than,” or “less than” for being an ant or the tall tree which the ant crawls upon. Suffering occurs the moment we believe we are separate from one another, separate from the Pachamama, Great Mother Earth. This quote by Thich Nhat Hahn describes interbeing beautifully.

In the midst of another tragic school shooting, I watch my mind attempt to blame, shame, and separate myself from the President, the NRA, the Shooter. “This is insanity!” I want to scream until “they” wake up- as if I’m awake and separate, even better than those men and women in support of arming school teachers.

Once I’ve allowed myself to feel the rage and judgments, because shoving it down is merely fuel for violence in the future, I dig to find the truth beneath my anger. I try to imagine myself in the shoes of the Shooter. I recall a poem, Call Me By My True Names,  which Thich Nhat Hahn wrote after receiving a tragic letter.

“I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,

who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,

and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.”

I believe the line, “my heart yet not capable of seeing and loving” is the root of suffering, the root of violence, the root of school shootings. I ask you all, beloveds, what is your heart not yet capable of seeing and loving about yourself, your community, your work, your country?

My hope is that this inner exploration can be shared together, that we may be vulnerable enough with one another so that we can open the door of our hearts to compassion. This is not a time for being passive or believing we are separate, isolated, alone.  It is another opportunity to find compassion in our hearts for everyone. Instead of arming our teachers with weapons that have the potential to end another’s life, why not arm them with the wisdom to teach our children the bravery of non-violence?

Nonviolence means an ocean of compassion. It means shedding from us every trace of ill will for others. It does not mean abjectness or timidity, or fleeing in fear. It means, on the contrary, firmness of mind and courage, a resolute spirit.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Let us join together to envision and activate plans for rebuilding our nation, our schools, and our minds from a foundation of peace and justice for all. Everyday is a new opportunity to begin again. This time, let us include the voices of our Children, our Mothers and our Sisters. The Founding Fathers needed all of us back then when their hearts and minds were clear enough to say:

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” —George Washington


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Unfortunately, they were still far too distressed to see their innate interbeing with the original inhabitants of  land upon which America was founded. Sadly, this lack of compassion or foresight led to the genocide of indigenous tribes who lived here long before white immigrants arrived.

Now, this nation needs all of us more than ever. Our children need us. Listen to them, listen to their screams. Open your hearts to one another. Show the children that you care and trust that they, too, have potential to lead this nation. The end of war is only possible when we create peace within our own homes.

Feeling discouraged already? I’ll never forget the moment I expressed grief and despair about the violence in our world to my friend Darryl, a Navajo medicine man.  He said, “You have a beautiful garden, so water your garden.” I understand this offering as a reminder to take care of your home, family, community, and the land which gives you life. Start with the place you can have the most influence – with yourself.

Grab a trusted friend and be seen in your fears, hopes, and emotions together. Cry, a lot. It helps move walls damming up your inner courage, your brilliance. Peace begins inside you and ripples out further than you’ll ever know. I believe in you. You are so brave. I invite you to be armed with an indestructible weapon, compassion. 

If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”  – Mahatma Gandhi


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