The Quickening

I went outside this morning with Reba-girl and discovered the most beautiful, spring day. Sunny and warm, with that kind of freshness that only hangs around in spring.

It’s a bit early, of course. I’m pretty sure our trees are going to be very confused. But that’s nothing new around here.

It’s interesting timing for me, pesonally. Today is Brigit, one of eight holy days in my spiritual tradition. It’s the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The Quickening, we call it.

In winter (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), the earth is fallow. The soil rests and replenishes itself. If there are seeds in the ground, they lie dormant.

But then something happens. Something stirs inside them. A quiet, lightless spark ignites, so subtle it can hardly be perceived but with the power of a locomotive, for from barren stillness will grow a plant that feeds or a mighty tree.

That something is the Quickening.

And we begin to perceive, finally, the growing length of days (though, in truth, they have been lengthening since the winter solstice).

In my tradition, this natural phenomenon is seen as a metaphor for the cycles and seasons of humans. By the earth, we are called to settle in and dream during the winter cold, to lean into our communities, to rest and replenish (SO profoundly not the stress, shopping, and sleeplessness of the typical holiday season!). There in the literal dark, when hours of daylight are naturally scarce, our dreams are at leisure to emerge and evolve. They play off each other, expand, contract… like an eternal blossom ever unfolding.

And then, the Quickening.

Our dreams begin to coalesce into clear visions. The most fervent of those visions rise to the forefront of our consciousness and their brilliance, so luminous in the darkness, inspires our dedication. They become our priorities, our goals for the coming seasons.  We begin to invest our hearts more and more deeply in those few visions. And that love, that commitment and attention, acts like that same sacred something that awakens the sleeping seeds. Our dreams, like the seeds deep in the earth, germinate.

In accordance with the natural world, those dreams won’t take physical form until spring when, just like the tender sprouts of seeds breaking through the thawed crust of ready soil, they’ll become tangible and real in the world, infantile but poised for growth.

At least, that’s the idea.

So I find myself wondering, what are the dreams that are floating to the forefront, gathering momentum, condensing into potent seeds. Where will I place my devotion? To what will I dedicate myself?

There are two coming to mind in this moment. One is my memoir… My poor, suffering, neglected memoir. The other is a non-profit organization to house my work with women on a shero’s journey. (The campaign to raise funds for my work with Cheri is definitely inspiring me.) And actually, there’s also a third, though it’s vibrating considerably more slowly, and that’s an updated blog/website that reflects the evolution of my work and mission. (Ooooooo, that’s vibrating more swiftly now just for naming it!)

It’s too soon to say where precisely I’ll land. In my perfect world, I’d know this today, but I absolutely do not live in my perfect world! So, I’ll be comfortable with what I do know right now, and watching in the coming days as things evolve. Having asked the question, it’s usually my experience the answer begins to appear.

And you? What dreams are coming forward for you? To what will you dedicate yourself when the light fully returns and all around the natural world, there is birth, growth, and fruition?

(Click here for an update on Cheri’s Shero Fund to Beat Cancer.)

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Come on, angels!

I am not an angel gal. I was never moved by the angel craze– (Sorry, “craze” sounds disrespectful. Thing? Fad? Fashion? Ugh… I need another word… Affinity? Ok…) Nope, never had an affinity for angels. Never felt inspired by paintings of cherubs. Never resonated with having a guardian angel. Never felt any impulse to commune with, or ask the intervention of, angels. Until I met Cheri.

Cheri is an angel gal. Not sure she surrounds herself with cherubs exactly, but she is in deep relationship with the angels. She talks to them, they talk back. She sees them in her mind; they tell her their names. While we were on Shero’s Retreat last year, the angels played a huge role, even sending me direct signs and signals. In fact, their presence was so profound (or the presence of something that we are calling angels), angel wings became the symbol of our work that week. And I became somewhat of a convert.

Last week, you know we launched Cheri’s Shero Fund to beat cancer. I already told you how the cavalry came in, raising 25% of our goal in just 1 day. Well, there was more work to be done, more money to raise, so I got busy. We reached out to various groups of friends via Facebook last week, and this week, I started reaching out directly to individuals.

Just as a side note, that was a real boot-tempting activity. It’s quite the challenge to your self-worth to write a personal note to an acquaintance or someone you’ve not been in close touch with, and directly ask them to give money to support you and a total stranger. But, apparently, boot-tempting is what I’m into these days!

Anyway, the first day of individual appeals, I reached out to 15 people and a few dollars trickled in. Cheri and I firmly believe that every dollar counts, but this wasn’t going to meet our goal anytime soon. Still I wasn’t discouraged; we’d raised almost 50% of our goal the first week (!) and it was only the first day of individual appeals. I had a commitment to personally contact 70 people over the course of the week. So the next day, Wednesday, I carried on with the intention and reached out to 20 more.

But that day, something was totally different.

I felt it right away, like a surge of energy. I was looking at a huge list of friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances, when certain names would just… vibrate a little  when I got to them. I noticed it especially because when I read the other names, they’d feel… flat. Just names on a piece of paper, even though I loved a lot of those people, have wonderful relationships with them. Usually their names invoke something in me. But this time, only a very specific few, some of whom I never would have guessed, lept out at me.

So I started contacting those few. And BOOM! Immediate response, more than 2x the average donation. Then again, immediate response, same big number. It slowed a bit after that but still, the donations kept coming in, more than $300 altogether, pushing us over the $3,000 threshold. It was incredible.

Later that night, I wanted to check in with Cheri. She had what we hope is her last round of chemo last Friday and it’s been really wiping her out. I picked up my phone to text her and there was a text from her. Here’s what she said:

“Exhausted with this last treatment but before I went to bed last night, I asked the angels to show their support, for there to be at least $3,000 by today. I just went on [the GoFundMe page] and I’m blown away. The angels are with us!”

I guess that woosh! of energy was angel wings. 🙂

Today’s the last day for awhile that I’m focusing on fundraising. Next week, Cheri and I begin our intensive work, and I simply can’t do both.

But we’re hoping to raise just a little bit more before then. We’d love to reach $3,500 (63% of our total goal) before we lay it down for a bit and as of this moment, we’re only $165 short! So I’ve got just one thing to say….

Come on, angels!!!

(If you’d like to help the Angels out, please consider a $10 donation and some words of encouragement for Cheri here. Thank you, for all you do.)

 

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Participating in triumph: Cheri — a shero rising

The time has come.

Yesterday, I launched a campaign to raise money for a shero named Cheri. She’s fighting for her literal life and I’m in a position to help her but I need a lot of support.

So I gathered her story and, together, we put ourselves out there. She took a chance on being worthy of support (though she often doesn’t feel it). And I took a chance, well, on the same.

You know what happened?

The cavalry came, or the angels, or sheros, or circling wagons…. You can pick your metaphor. Just 24 hours into the effort, we’ve raised almost 25% of our goal.

That’s an extraordinary show of support. Thrilling…. and humbling.

You know what didn’t happen?

The boot.

And no old story of worthlessness stole Cheri’s day.

In fact, it’s been especially thrilling to witness Cheri taking in all the love and support. Six months ago, it would have been so out of alignment with her self-image, it would have flattened her.

So, now it’s time for me to ask for your help.

If you remember Cheri’s story and want to jump right to the campaign, click here.

Otherwise, allow me to share the nutshell:

After finding out that her marriage of 20 years was full of fraud, my client Cheri scraped herself off the ground, borrowed money to work with me, did extraordinarily deep work, and positioned herself to rise from the ashes.

Then she got hit with a cancer diagnosis.

Her fight to thrive has become a literal fight to survive.

Miraculous things are already happening, but she desperately needs more support. She’s still extricating from her toxic marriage, still without independent resources, and every day is a brutal challenge to stay rooted in her power.

I can help with that. We’ve already seen what she can do with my support. Cheri is ferociously strong and flawlessly intuitive. Everything’s in place if she can just stay the course. Please help her complete her shero’s journey.

Cheri and I are raising $5500 so that Cheri can continue her work with me. I’ve cut my fees as much as I can and, combined with your help, I can provide support for a full SIX MONTHS. If we can inspire just 550 people to give just $10 each, Cheri can position herself for the greatest chance of recovery and continue rebuilding her life.

Here’s how to help:

  • Check out our GoFundMe page and read Cheri’s story. Then make a donation in any amount. Every dollar matters actually matters and brings us closer to Cheri’s goals.
  • Share this story with your community and include your endorsement. Five hundred and fifty people is a tiny percentage of our combined tribes. It needn’t feel a burden to anyone and, together, we can really do something special.
  • Leave a comment for Cheri on the GoFundMe page. Her world is shockingly devoid of positive voices. Your encouragement is literally priceless.

I can’t tell you the fire in my heart for this cause. I’ve never asked for anything like this before and, as I’ve said, it’s downright terrifying. But I don’t care. It’s worth any terror to do this work, to walk with this woman when she needs it the most.

My longtime friend, Jennie, put it beautifully after she’d read the story and donated/commented at the campaign:

“Love and thanks to you for letting us participate in Cheri’s triumph!”

That’s how I see it. We are all participating in Cheri’s triumph. I hope you see it that way, too.

Thank you… for believing in us both.

Cheri’s Shero fund to beat cancer

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The ant and the boot

Next week, I’m going to do something that scares me half to death.

In a nutshell: The shero’s journey of a former client (you might remember Cheri) has taken a very dark turn. She’s been given a cancer diagnosis and is in critical need of deep support. She hasn’t the means to fund continuing work with me, and given the dedicated attention her journey demands (and deserves!), I can’t do the work uncompensated.

So I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to reach out to my community for help. Not a little bit of help, mind you. A lot of help. And it’s got me jacked up with fear.

Boy, do I feel foolish/ridiculous/small even saying so. I imagine all the wise and well-meaning naysayers saying, “Whatever for?? There is no rational reason to be afraid and, frankly, it’s Cheri who is at risk.”

All true.

And it doesn’t matter.

So for a minute, I’m going to put aside all that gorgeous wisdom and any (all) self-reproach and just tell you my truth.

Three days ago, I felt like I was in mortal danger.

Trying to get dressed and enter my day, my heart was racing and I couldn’t catch my breath. Terror was clearly mounting so I asked Dean for a hug. After several desperate seconds of clutching, my heart settled down, my breath came back, and I started wondering what precisely was I afraid of. A history of anxiety has long since taught me it’s always best to get specific.

First to float up: humiliation.

I’m not afraid of simple failure. I can weather disappointment and there is always a way forward. But this work is my calling. And I am following a delicate thread into the unknown solely because I’m inspired.

So I’ll be putting my heart out there, way up front and naked, to rally other souls to a concrete show of support and I might be met only weakly by lackluster reflection… That would leave me grossly exposed on the tender fields of my brave hope. And that feels humiliating, if not downright mortifying.

But even as my stomach lurched in a nauseating vote for retreat, I knew such fear was superficial. I am aware that mortification isn’t actually a mortal wound. And if it should happen, though I might shrink, I will surely rebound.

So I turned toward the fear once more and took a deeper step into the darkness. Here is what I saw:

I am an ant.

With conviction in my belly, I crawl into a clearing and raise myself on spindly rear legs. I gather my breath and with all my strength, call out to the creatures around me, offering a vision of healing and service, an invitation to believe and belong. I ask them to give of themselves and, by implication, to demonstrate their belief in me.

Not many are moved. My voice peters out, disappointment creeps in, and embarrassment starts to sting. But before I can recover and look for a new clearing (because I won’t give up), the boot arrives.

It belongs to a demon that lurks in my field but from my insectile perspective, all I see is the boot.

The boot is a bully and failure its food. No matter how small or temporary the shortfall, the boot makes a meal of it. And with its filthy, leather creases freshly plumped, the boot rises and bellows:

Who are you to call anyone forward?

Who are you to ask for support?

You who think your vision is worthy, your life consequential… You are nothing. An ant. Puny and common. A speck and a pest.

Who are you to say, “This matters, please help me?”

Back to the earth, stupid bug.

And the boot smashes my body into the dust, crushing my frail and trembling legs, leaving me destitute in its craterous imprint.

The truth is (and I suspect it might surprise), I have lived under threat of the boot my whole life. Its vicious force scares me breathless.

But this is also true. Next week… It won’t matter.

In a few days, I’m going to stand in the clearing and ask for your help and do my best to inspire you to action. Knowingly, willfully, I’m going to put myself in range of the boot.

Why?

Because Cheri deserves it.

And because beyond what I see, this is what I know:

If the boot takes me down, I will be brought up.

On Her silver bow, the Goddess will lift me, above the walls of the crater and into the moonshine. And there I will rise, like a phoenix from fire. And I will be stronger and clearer, ever more ready to serve. Cheri, herself, reminds me – the soul of the Shero is nourished by ash.

So stay tuned. Next week I’ll be back, standing on my spindly rear legs, asking for your help. Cheri has a real shot of beating this cancer and living the life to which she’s been called. I won’t walk away from that potential, and certainly not for some dumb-ass boot.

I hope you’ll hear the call and join me.

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The beauty of surrender at the MCC church

I had the privilege of telling a piece of my Shero’s Journey story as part of the Creative Services evening at the Founders Metropolitan Community Church this past weekend in Hollywood. It was an honor to step onto the stage with and for this community, one full of soul and love and diverse expressions of beauty. And though I was touched by many of the creative offerings that night (songs, dance, poetry, a fashion show — so not church as I’ve ever known it!), what moved me most was the heartfelt and honest offerings to our Surrender Prayer Flag.

PrayerFlaginWaiting

I’d been invited to create a pre-service writing experience for congregants, and knowing my story would focus on the extraordinary gifts of surrender (as I experienced them hanging in mid-air), I wanted to create an opportunity for congregants to encounter some of those same gifts.

So I put out some beautiful paper, a few pens, and offered this prompt:

If you could lay back in the hand of God, swaying gently in the space between your life and heaven, knowing that everything was taken care of…. what would you finally, finally let go?

NoShame

NoFearDespairWorry

FinallyForgive

 

It was such an honor to hold this space.

So now I turn the question to you:

If you could lay back in the hand of God… Swaying gently in the space between your life and heaven…. Knowing that everything was taken care of… What would you finally, finally let go?

If you’re feeling brave, I hope you’ll share your answer in the comments below. Or write it on a beautiful piece of paper and hang it on a tree branch, railing, or clothes line.

Either way… for even just a moment… may surrender by yours.

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Coming up this week on Shero Rising Radio:

Obsessive Thinking — What a lunatic bird had to tell me about the human mind

Saturday, August 15th at 9:00am Pacific
Listen to the replay here.

And please join our fledging Facebook group — Shero Radio — a place of love, healing, and support on the path of transformation…. A nourishing oasis on the Shero’s journey. There you can share and read reflections, responses, questions, a-has, and other comments inspired by each episode.  The Shero’s journey can be arduous…. Let’s walk it together.

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And finally, a loving welcome to congregants from the MCC church, new to the Shero Rising community. I’m SO happy you’ve joined us. xox

 

 

 

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