Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Musings

I have been a self-proclaimed List Queen for as long as I can remember. I come by it honestly, my mom has always kept to-do lists: daily reminders of what needs to be done. My maternal grandfather, the king of lists, even kept one on his honeymoon, dutifully recording each mile, gallon of gas, and penny spent as he and my grandmother traveled from Pennsylvania down to Florida, and then on to Cuba. Quite the romantic, him!

I have come to rely on my lists as useful tools in helping me keep track of the many projects, tasks, and goals going on in my life at any given moment. They have assisted my outcome-oriented personality since high school, when I clearly remember setting the first goals for myself: I decided that I wanted to one, join the small-flag team, and two, play the cello. I succeeded in making the flag team, but realized quickly it was the idea of playing the cello that seemed appealing, not the reality. So I have also been good at knowing it's important to let a goal go by the wayside in order to make room for new ones, and that lessons can be learned in the process~from the successes~as well as from the “failures.”

This goal setting has helped me accomplish many things over the years, introducing me to new places, new people, gaining new skills, and learning much about myself along the way. I hosted a college radio show, joined a cycling club, moved to Japan, backpacked around Asia, lived in Europe, got a Masters degree, started a non-profit organization, and most recently, opened a belly dance studio and store. I’ve kept busy.

The lists that accompany these many adventures helped me stay organized and focused along the way. I’ve enjoyed listing out the steps needed, checking them off dutifully as they were accomplished, adding more items as needed, and making new lists to carry me onward.

But I’m keenly aware that when life is planned out step-by-step, with no room for spontaneity or sudden inspiration, much can be missed. In my mid-twenties my goal was to move to the Czech Republic. It didn’t matter that I was very inspired and intrigued--right where I was at the time--by Thailand, and even offered an opportunity to stay there. I had a plan. Move on I must. Yet it turns out my time in Eastern Europe was quite lonely and depressing, not at all what I had “planned.” For years I wondered what would have happened if I had followed my heart, my intuition, and stayed put, instead of keeping to my schedule. What did I miss out on, by being so “organized?”

As this year draws to an end, I’ve come across many blogs and postings suggesting how one can achieve anything you want if you set your goals and regularly check in on how you’re doing. They offer templates for plans, grids, outlines, and list-keeping tools to help you along the way. I imagine if you have bumbled about in life not sure how you’ve come to be in the place you are at, these tools are instrumental in helping you find focus, meaning and direction in our chaotic world.

For myself, I have lived this way all of my adult life. I think it’s time for something new. This Winter Solstice, as the Sun turns towards the light on the great wheel of life~my “New Year”~I can’t help but wonder, what have I missed? What has my heart, my spirit, my soul, been calling out for me to do or be, that I have not heard for all of the lists, the goals, and the plans crowded into my life?

So I bravely embark on a different kind of journey this year, one filled without plans, goals, or schedules (this just may drive my friends, family and colleagues nuts ~ please bear with me!). Instead I open my heart to its song, to the music of the trees, to the inspiration of spirit.

And yet it is not about just being blown by the wind, this way or that, directionless and at the mercy of whatever energy is nearby. It is a chance to truly hear my soul’s voice, to find out what I may have been missing in all the structure. It is living in the present, open to spontaneity, honoring the now of life, letting go of worries about the future or the “should of’s” of the past.

This in and of itself may sound like a “plan” for the year. And in a way it is. But one of a very different nature. A new adventure indeed! I am very excited!

Blessings for the Solstice and this New Year,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Anything Really Is Possible

What is possible? Anything.


Yes, really!

We can do anything we set our mind and heart to.

Of course, there is that little factor of FEAR to overcome. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of ridicule, fear of criticism, fear of ... I'm sure you have a armada of words to insert there.

But what do we have to lose, really?

What is our alternative? To let FEAR keep us back? Then we can safely sit where we're at, saying, well, yes, but that's just too scary, so better to do what is "just okay", rather than soul-fulfilling and inspiring and spectacular.

Is this really okay with you? So-so. Safe. Secure.

Bored, stifled, asleep, frustrated, jealous, lethargic...?

No, not really.

The Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura, Golden Transformer, spiraling upward, higher and higher, maybe a little wobble here and there, but self-correcting, not hesitating, not doubtful, soaring higher and higher, transforming all that needs to be transformed.

There are invisible currents, ready to spiral us higher and higher. But it requires Faith and Trust, knowing they are there. Taking those risks anyway!

Transform your fear into action, try it, if something doesn't turn out the way you'd hoped, then there is a lesson to learn, and the reward of knowing that you DID IT ANYWAY! And then you move onto the next challenge. Growing, stretching, pushing beyond what you think is possible. Embracing even more than you could have ever imagined.

...knowing that you are not alone on this journey, there are many of us reaching and stretching and pushing the limits everyday. Being part of a community ~ virtual or otherwise ~ of friends that will say to you, YES, GO FOR IT! or YOU ARE NOT CRAZY for wanting to pursue your dreams. Those are the ones you must seek out. I am one. I am seeking others of like mind.

Let's join together, encouraging each other higher and higher.

Beyond even our WILDEST dreams.

Are you with me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tribal Twilight: an Evening of Belly Dance

Hello Friends of Kundalini Belly Dance!

This Friday is the day!!

Tribal Twilight: An Evening of Belly Dance ~ and a Benefit for Khylee!

Clark's Corner Cafe in Ione.
Friday, August 28 from 8-9:30pm
(with an intermission)

This will be our 2nd show at Clark's and will be a special benefit for Khylee Monson and her family. In lieu of a cover charge, donations will go to Khylee and her family. For more information about Khylee see below, and please visit the website

We'll have dancers from all over the foothills and Sacramento!
Last time we had standing room only, get there early for a seat!

Hope to see you there!


On June 11, 2009, 4-year-old Khylee Monson of Pioneer was diagnosed with a brain tumor that her doctors say is terminal. We are hoping for a miracle, and Khylee’s family can use all the help they can get! Friends of Khylee and her mom, Jackie Harrison, have formed the fundraising group, For Khlyee’s Sake, and are asking for your donation. All money raised will go to help pay for her medical care. You can donate at any Bank of Amador (Jackson, Pioneer, or Ione) or by going to For tax-deductible donations, please send a check or money order to the Amador Community Foundation.

Tracy Carlton
Kundalini Dance
Belly Dance...Sacred Dance
Classes, Workshops, Performance Troupe


Monday, July 27, 2009

13 Daily Doses of Intention

I find that even though I believe in the idea of being present, of living not only life, but also each moment, with intention, I still get caught up in the "tasks" of daily life and end up going about my day distracted, in a rush, or at the very least, lost in thoughts or worries that have nothing to do with the present moment. Intention gets lost in the dust.

On a typical day, I jump up out of bed before the alarm has even gone off because my four year old is already heading down the stairs and ready for breakfast. Then the morning continues at a less than leisurely pace in order to keep to a school or work schedule. And it can be non-stop from then on for the rest of the day. I'll then find myself with my head on the pillow, ready to sleep at the end of the day, wanting to acknowledge all that I am grateful for that day...but find myself quickly drifting off to sleep before I get past "Thank you for today...".

So I decided to come up with a tool for myself, a tool to help me make Intention a greater part of my daily life. And, not a surprise to anyone that knows me, this tool happens to be a list. I LOVE lists. I am the list queen! I have many things I'd like to accomplish in my life and my many lists help me stay centered and grounded. And though they are lists that have daily tasks, the focus is more on big projects and long-term goals. They do not necessarily address the day to day routines.

So in going about creating my check list, I spent quite a bit of time allowing it to emerge organically, better reflecting who I am over time, rather than jumping into a plan that wasn't truly me. I also have committed it to memory, so that at any given point in the day, I can review it to myself and see how I'm doing that day.

My list gives me focus. It brings the idea of intention into a tangible form ~ not just an idea that sounds good. And just having this tool to reflect on, whether I've adhered to it or not, has made me stop and pause for a moment ~ which really, pausing is the intent! Granted, there are some days when I forget about it entirely, but they are becoming fewer and fewer in number.

Now, this list is for me, and if you like the idea and decide to create one for yourself, make sure it reflects you, not me. After all, you are the one that it’s for ~ make sure it fits your life! And why 13 you may ask? Well, 13 is a sacred number in a lot of cultures, and I strongly resonate with it. But you can use any number you'd like, start with just 1 item if that's all you want to take on at this point. Just be careful to not overwhelm yourself from the get go, you'll just end up tossing it aside in frustration!

There are definitely days when I only get to 5 or 8 items on my list, but I am just glad that I'm doing SOME of them. It's taking the first step that matters, not the destination, right?

So here goes ~ and these are NOT in any order of importance by the way, they are ALL important to me, but it was too hard to draw a circle with all the components in this blog format. If you're more of a visual person, that may be the better way to go than a list anyway!

13 Daily Doses of Intention
1. Give thanks for today and for this life.
2. Give thanks to the four elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth), because it is with them that I create something new and change the universe for the better each day.
3. Identify one way I will change the universe (ie: myself) for the better.
4. Play with my son.
5. Connect with my husband.
6. Walk or dance (some physical activity each day)
7. Be outdoors.
8. Have alone time.
9. Be quiet, do nothing, breathe. (sometimes I get #7-9 all at the same time!)
10. Identify one thing I will create today. This can be dance, a meal, art, sewing...whatever taps into my creative talents and expresses who I am.
11. Create that something (see #9).
12. Give thanks to someone, acknowledge their gifts and presence in my life.
13. Learn something new.

Reviewing my list each morning (even if that means at 10:00 in the morning), and then again during the day, and finally at night, I am able to stop long enough to insert intention into my day. And the idea really, is to make it a habit. The more I do it, the more it becomes just a part of my day, rather than something I have to “remember” to do. And eventually, the list itself will become obsolete.

But then, that will mean that it’s simply time to create a new list of some kind!

Blessings on the journey!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Flea Market Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the flea market today!

Thanks to the vendors and all of your fabulous goodies: Ursula, Thalisha & Brandi of Nyx (and Richard too!), Sonya, Lesley, Patti, Kimberly(who we missed today) & Leslie for Sandy. The studio was transformed by all the beautiful items you brought to sell!

Thank you to the many local folks who came to say hi, support the vendors, learn more about belly dance, and are a part of this community! Nice to see so many familiar faces!

Thank you Thalisha and Brandi for the scrumptous blueberry coffee cake, YUM!

For those that couldn't make it, we missed you! Hope to see you at the next one!

Thank you to the local belly dance community! I am so honored to be part of it!

These are the 4 photos I took before my camera stopped working!

Many thanks and blessings, Tracy

PS: Jane! So wonderful to have finally met you ~ thank you for taking the time to stop by! For everyone reading, here's a link to Jane's most wonderful blog:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Belly Dancer's Flea Market!

A first ever Kundalini Belly Dancer's Flea Market!

Join our local dance community!
You can find all sorts of goodies, whether you dance or not!

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Going Local - A Community Garden Upcountry

Yesterday we helped start a new community garden in Pioneer.

About 10 folks turned out to turn a bare patch of earth into the beginnings of our own local food fest and community gathering spot. Thanks must go to Sean Kriletich of UC Cooperative Extension and the Amador County Recreation Agency for bringing the idea and the day about.

The garden is located at the Mollie Joyce Environmental Center. Earlier this year Fred Joyce, a fourth generation Amador resident in his 80's, generously donated the 80 acres to the Amador County Recreation Agency. He decided to give it to the recreation agency to honor his grandmother's wishes - to help children and youth.

Currently the house is being used for photography classes and has a room that's been converted into a dark room. The new garden, out back, though small to start out, has lots of room to grow and expand, depending on the interest of the community.

In just 3 hours so much was accomplished! Fence posts put in, a fence put up, two garden beds and some paths formed (using resources right at hand - old logs and large stones to border the beds), vegetables planted, irrigation put down, and pine needle mulch spread out on the paths and beds (also found right near the garden under the nearby towering pines).

Sean shared the many benefits of mulching with those gathered (for example: regulating the temperature of the soil, keeping moisture locked in, suppressing weed growth, and as it decomposes, instant compost). Our 4 year-old son even pitched in an helped haul the pine needles over to the garden spot. Sustainable gardening from the get go! Using resources at hand, rather than hauling in and paying for outside materials that come from miles away.

We look forward to nurturing this little plot of soil, getting to know our local neighbors, and sharing our passion for sustainable, local food sources with others.

Alas, we all forgot our cameras yesterday, so all the hard work being done isn't shown here! But I returned today to make sure we had some photos. At least you can see the lovely and humble results!

Share the news, and if you live upcountry, visit the garden! And stay tuned for the next work party.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I’m a Medicine Woman Too!

More sharing from the wonderful world of Anima !

I’m a Medicine Woman Too! - Signed Hardback Copies & Free Art Gift - Please Forward and Post

“Please buy our new book and share it with lots of people. It has lots of powerful things to teach, about herbs, and about believing in ourselves! And I would love to hear from you how you love it!” -Rhiannon Hardin, (soon to be 9!)


Finally available, personally signed hardback copies, with a FREE signed Medicine Woman art print ready for framing:

Herbal Wisdom & Personal Empowerment for Budding Healers & Daydream Believers

An illustrated story of self discovery and personal empowerment for all children and adults alike… and not only for budding healers but everyone heeding a calling, seeking a purpose or pursuing a vital dream

Written & Illustrated by
Jesse Wolf Hardin

“I believe I’m holding a new children’s classic, a book that will be treasured by children –and their parents – for years to come.”
-Rosemary Gladstar, Herbalist, author of The Family Herbal

The author’s delightful daughter Rhiannon was the inspiration and model for this tale of realization and growth, as she first resists believing she could ever be a Medicine Woman like the herbalists and healers she’s met, but then realizes the ways in which she is already the woman of power she hopes to be! Includes a “Name the Herb” medicinal plant identification game.

Notice: The first 250 people to order will receive a FREE hand signed and numbered (limited edition of 250) color print of a new “The Medicine Woman Tradition” drawing by the author and illustrator, as seen below, ready for you to frame and hang! Rhiannon was the model, along with Mama Kiva of course!

Personally Signed Copies

In the US: $15. Donation + $6.50 Priority Shipping

In Mexico & Canada: $15. Donation + $9.00 Shipping

International Orders: $15. Donation + $11.00 Shipping

3 Signed Copies: $40. Donation + $10. Priority Shipping

Click here for book excerpts or to place your order

And click here for information on Animá Medicine Woman Courses & Events

When ordering directly from us instead of somewhere like Amazon, you should know that only $7 of the cost goes to the publisher, Hops Press, whereas the other $8 is able to help support the continued restoration of the Animá Botanical Sanctuary and our Medicine Woman herbal and lifeways school!

Be sure to tell us the name of the person you would like it signed to, and a little about you or them!

Finally, you likely understand the degree to which we depend on people like you to spread the word about “I’m a Medicine Woman Too!” and its message of personal empowerment to others who might benefit and enjoy. If you know of any independent book stores or herb shops that might want to carry it, please take a minute to show them your copy and suggest they contact Hops Press directly for wholesale quantities. And when emailing your friends about it or posting on forums and blogs, kindly include our Medicine Woman Too website address: The site includes excerpts and more art samples as well as PayPal buttons for easy ordering of your signed copies.

We sure appreciate you interest and help, and Rhiannon as well as all of us would indeed LOVE to hear you impressions of this book and how it affects you, as well as any reactions or responses from its younger readers.


The Author & Illustrator

Jesse Wolf Hardin is the author of 7 books and over 500 published articles, a teacher of Animá nature-inspired practice and cofounder of the Animá Medicine Woman tradition. He and his partners offer empowering online courses, as well as counsel and healing consultations, retreats and Summer events at their botanical sanctuary in the enchanted wildlands of Southwest New Mexico. His work has been praised by luminaries from Gary Snyder, Paul Winter, Edward Abbey and Joanna Macy to Terry Tempest Williams.

“Wolf’s work helps us to see the world as whole – even holy.”
–Terry Tempest Williams

“My initial inspiration,” the author writes, “included not only my daughter Rhiannon, but all those kids who from an early age seem inclined towards self exploration, challenge and growth, sometimes longing for meaning and a special purpose as much as they desire fun and love. This includes the fortunate daughters of herbalists and healers, looking for affirmation, positive archetypes and strong women models to look up to…. as well as all the other little girls who seem called to tend and heal, or who feel drawn to the amazing ways of nature and intimate company of plants. It was halfway through putting this book together that I realized I was actually doing it for every child including little boys – and indeed every person regardless of their years on the planet – who might be able to benefit from it’s core theme: learning to believe in ourselves enough to dare to live our dreams.”


“I felt the voice of the Earth Mother herself speak from the pages of I’m A Medicine Woman Too!. The sense of presence and higher awareness will benefit younger and those with accumulated years as well. A fine offering to raise consciousness!”
-Margi Flint AHG HM, author of The Practicing Herbalist

“A book thoroughly enjoyed by both myself and my little boys, I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! entices us not to look to others for ourselves, but rather to go within and bring out what we are, and know in doing so that we give the world around us what it needs. That such an important insight is accompanied by such beautiful images makes this book even more of a treasure.
-Jim McDonald, astute Herbalist and teacher

“I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! is full of wisdom, beauty and encouragement not only for young girls, but for people of all ages. The author’s exquisite illustrations quickly draw the reader in and cleverly teach about healing plants. A high recommend for empowering all medicine women!”
-Lesley Tierra, author of Healing with the Herbs of Life

“This is just the kind of story I want my children hearing over and over – the kind of story that will help them grow into themselves with grace and beauty.”
-Kimberly Gallagher, M.Ed., CCH, &

“I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! is a wonderful book to connect children with herbal traditions. The story role-models an ethic of healing and caring for other people and honoring our elders. The delightful illustrations touch the reader at an emotional level, compelling us to become healers too.”
-Thomas J. Elpel, author of Botany in a Day and Shanleya’s Quest


I’m a Medicine Woman, Too!
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
© Hops Press 2009, 8.5×11” Hardcover, 48 pages
35 Full Color Illustrations ISBN 978-1-892784-31-5

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Two Most Important Questions in the Universe*

*According to Chris Guillebeau

The other day I was led to the website and blog of Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Nonconformity - Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work, and Travel. I highly recommend it for those of you looking to live your life with more purpose, especially those of you looking for tools to help you find your purpose, and also for some very entertaining writing.

In his manifesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination (not what you might think it is), he encourages anyone looking to live a life less conventional, to live a life instead filled with purpose, to ask yourself these two most important questions in the universe:

1. What do you really want to get out of life?

2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Okay they may seem daunting at first, but try it out, ask yourself these questions, and be honest when you answer.

The challenge for me, and perhaps many others, is in not stopping myself before I even get started. Plenty of nay-sayer voices came rushing to the forefront trying to tell me, for example, all the reasons why I couldn't possibly have something unique to offer the world. I had to tell them, "HUSH! You've had plenty of air time in my life, no more! Now it's time for the affirmative answers to step forward and be heard."

And what did they say? Here they are:

What do you really want to get out of life?
~choose at each moment, what I am going to do or be (it is no one else’s choice but mine)
~dance in sisterhood
~a relationship with a certain patch of Earth, interwoven with a web of family and friends
~grounded, and able to fly
~life enriching experiences, at home and abroad
~make beautiful things, make things beautiful
~no regrets

What can you offer the world that no one else can?
~my life as an example of living life outside the box
~belly dance - giving women permission to do something for themselves, having fun, and trying something different
~encouraging others to find what they are here in this life to create (be it one big thing, or several small) and how they can give to others through their creation
~doing all of that beautifully
~combining all of the above into my own unique way and offering it up to the world!

And now, the next step, checking in on every single area of my life to see how these two above questions are being answered, or not. Yikes. Big committment, but I'm worth it.

By the way, I do believe it's possible to do something you love while giving back and doing something for others. It usually works out better for everyone if you love what you're doing, whether it's for yourself or for others. Afterall, if you don't love what you're doing, what are you waiting for? (I have my own challenges in this area!) And if the way you give to others is less than satisfying, ask yourself if the world really needs more martyrs? Probably not.

And I'd love to hear your answers to those questions! Please share!

Happy discoveries!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Art of Nonconformity

This blog, by Chris Guillebeau, is, well, just absolutely fantastic.
Here's a post I thought I'd share.
Check out the blog yourself! The Art of Nonconformity
Unless you would rather be Unremarkabely Average. It's a choice, always.

February 18, 2008
How to Be Unremarkably Average

Simple Tips for a Risk-Free Life:
Accept what people tell you at face value. Surround yourself with people who think like you. Don’t stand out. Stay close to home. Get a normal job. Do things the way everyone else does, because there has to be a method to the madness.

Go to college because someone said you should get a degree, not because you want to learn anything. Take four years to finish, or maybe even five. No one’s counting. Take out student loans to “invest in yourself.” Follow the plan in your course catalog even if you hate some of the classes. Believe your advisor when she says you have to do things a certain way. Jump through hoops. Check off boxes.

Personal Finance
Use your credit card as your primary means of spending. Get the largest mortgage you can qualify for. Fill it with plasma TVs and expensive furniture. Buy a big, new car and complain about the cost of gas. Spend all you earn, or maybe even more than you earn. The government will help you if there’s a recession. Spend money on things you don’t want but will help you impress others. Give token amounts of money to charity. Change the channel when a charity appeal comes on. Believe the 3,000 marketing messages that the average person in the U.S. and Canada receives every day. You need things you’ve never heard of before because they will help you feel better about yourself. You deserve to buy luxury products because you’ve earned the right through your hard work.

Go overseas once or twice in your life, to somewhere safe like England. Tell everyone what a great cross-cultural experience it was to visit London. (“They talk so differently over there!”) Wherever you go, make absolutely sure that you will be safe and comfortable. McDonald’s is now in 119 countries, so you can always find something good to eat. If you want to be brave, go to somewhere like Mexico. Never travel unaccompanied to any place “really foreign.” Don’t try to speak any language other than English. If people don’t understand you, speak louder. Africa is for safaris and Asia is for cities with big shopping malls. Don’t drink the water!

Work at a job you don’t like for the majority of your professional life. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work. One day, the corner cubicle will be all yours. Until then, get really good at Minesweeper. Read every article on every day. Attend useless meetings. Take the credit when things go right. Put the blame on someone else when things go wrong. Never take responsibility for anything. When you fail at something, resolve to never try again. Form alliances of convenience to survive office conflict. When you are forced to mediate a disagreement, make your judgment on the basis of personality instead of principle. To advance in management, don’t confront anyone and only give positive reviews. Instead of trying to fix big problems, focus on unproductive work that everyone notices. In times of crisis, wonder out loud what someone will do. Polish the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Don’t question authority; it’s there for a good reason. Believe in and actively defend “the way things used to be” even if your memory is hazy about when that actually was. Feel threatened by new ideas. Never be the voice of dissent. Support your country’s foreign policy when it is popular and reject it when it is unpopular. Don’t wonder about someone’s motivations for pursuing one choice over another.

Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry about being average, because no one will ever question you about it. Average is the status quo. Politicians pander to the average out of political necessity. When they try to promote their own unconventional ideas, they quickly learn how risky it is to be truly different. If you go through life following this advice, you’ll find yourself in good company with virtually everyone who lives an unremarkably average life.

What more could you want?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Unexpected Gift

Last weekend, just after my husband and I were talking about the challenging financial times (ours personally, not globally), our dryer broke. Hmmm… no extra cash this month for such inconveniences. So instead we put up a clothes line. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for over a year. It makes sense ecologically of course, and with the times, saves some money as well. And so now, out of necessity, we got to it.

And what a great gift this has been, what a delightful shift in our routines! We have, as a result of our “misfortune,” started to live our life more consciously. We have had to actually pay better attention to the weather – no point in starting a load of laundry when it looks like rain (we’ve had unseasonably cool and cloudy weather this June in the foothills). And that habit of starting a load at 8:00 at night? That won’t do – wet clothes sitting for long periods of time take on very unpleasant odors! Wait until morning it must.

The best gift of all though, has been spending more time outside. In the ritual of hanging out the clothes to dry, and then in taking them in again, I have been blessed with shifting my life to more of an outdoor focus. While draping wet towels over the line, I listen to the different birds sing and call out, whether in harmonious joy or in alarm to warn each other of our approaching cats. I feel the gentle breeze on my arms as I pull the clothes pins from their drawstring bag. I watch the turkey vulture soar down the ridge as I hang up the socks. More often than not, I forget what I'm doing and just stop and take it all in. The dark greens of the live oaks contrasting with the bright greens of the black oaks, the trickle of water still meandering in the seasonal creek, and the smell of bear clover and pine trees in the warm morning sun.

Once the clothes are dry, I also now remember that I need to bring them in at the end of the day. As dusk settles over our home, I walk outside and notice the rosy light on the tops of the cedars and pines, I smell the muskiness of a skunk somewhere in the area, and I feel the coolness of day’s end on my skin. Before our clothesline, I may not have ventured out much after dinner, but now, out of necessity, I do so more often. And then, not needing a reason any longer, I instead choose to go outside on my own, without the need to bring in laundry, but rather, to simply experience the many sensations of nature, of the earth – the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings of this beautiful place I call home.

I see no hurry to ever fix our dryer at all. Actually, donating it (after we get it fixed) might be the best thing we could do with it. Hmmm, something to consider!

So I am thankful for this chance to become more conscious in my actions, and in my daily life.

I am grateful for this unexpected gift.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shaman's Path Intenstive

Spreading the word ...

Please Forward to Friends & Post to Any Forums– Announcing:
The Shaman Path Intensive(for both men and women)
July 2nd - 5th, 2009

A 3 day intensive held not in a classroom but an ancient Place Of Power. Taught by Jesse Wolf Hardin with Kiva Rose and Loba… with the focus on realizing a deep and experiential understanding of empowered self… and on redefining the role of the contemporary shaman in terms of envisioning possibilities: maximizing awareness, discovering purpose, bridging the worlds, and healing personal and societal imbalance.

“The change of direction can be accomplished only through what Carl Jung has referred to as ‘an obedience to awareness’.”-Joan Halifax The Wounded Healer
Specific topics will depend on the needs and desires of the participants, but may include:• Developing conscious hyperpresence, hyperawareness, hypersentience, precognition and intuition, tapping primal instinct• Sensing, connecting with, drawing energy and discerning lessons from the various manifestations of the earthen spirit.• Recognizing and learning from our kindred spirits, including our animal totems• Reshaping perception• Plant medicines and teachers• Moving energy, and the Animá principals of healing• The Animá Medicine Wheel• Reincorporating the scattered or denied parts of our whole selves. Reintegrating mind, body, heart, spirit and earth.
“A surprising experience; archaic, fresh, future, wild, refined, all at once… my respects to Jesse Wolf Hardin.”-Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Together participants walk through the portal of the feeling heart, to enter into deeper connection with the daily miraculous… taking responsibility as potentially powerful, artful co-creators of our world and our reality. Those wishing, have the option of spending a night or more out on a mini-quest, or otherwise customize the weekend experience to best meet their needs.
“Jesse’s voice inspires our passion to take us further — seeing the world whole — even holy.”-Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge
To Participate, Click Here For Your Shaman Path Registration Form:
Download this Announcement without photos, to kindly forward and post:
And click here to read Jesse’s essay: “The Shaman: Awakening the Powers Within”:

Logistics & Particulars will be mailed to anyone sending in a Registration Form.
“Jesse Wolf Hardin has a true understanding of embodied spirituality – the sacred spirit in nature and in human beings… not as an abstraction but in ways sensual, practical, and transformative.” -Starhawk, author of Spiral Dance
“Wolf sings us Full Circle to the raw, sweet wildness within, and calls us forward to the future primeval.”
-Joanna Macy, author of World As Self, World As Lover

Thank you very much for forwarding this announcement, and posting it on any forums or sites you may be involved with.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sensations of a Morning Walk

Grosbeaks singing awake the day
Quail taking flight as I tromp by
Sun warming the top of my head
Air heaving in and out of my lungs as I struggle up a hill
Breeze on my skin as it whispers through the trees
Small dogs--big dogs--furry dogs--fat dogs - barking warm wishes or defending their space
Warm smell of bear clover briefly interrupted by diesel fuel
Madrone tree trunks resembling elephant feet – or elephant feet masquerading as Madrones?
Raccoon scat
Faded plastic raccoon poised nearby
Robins singing in call and response
Mosquitoes trying to keep up with me
Someone cooking breakfast
Tummy growling
Wispy clouds floating by
Grin and a wave from a passing elder
Buzzing flies
Hovering bees
Fluttering by blue, white, yellow, butterflies
Crunchy gravel underfoot
Pine needles smelling fine
Ants marching along
Water trickling downhill
Creativity flooding in
Fawn in the road reeling my wandering mind back to now
Tall grasses waving
Wildflowers displaying
Spiders weaving
Welcoming return from a hungry cat.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Living the Good Life

The soft gurgling and clucking of chickens, raindrops on the greenhouse roof, the smell of freshly snipped sunflower sprouts and the singing of the leaves in the wind...these sensations filled my day yesterday. Oh how I love them all! We spent the day at our dear friend Carolyn's farm. We have bought produce and eggs from her farm for almost 5 years now and want to see her succeed in every way. Yesterday we spent a good part of the day trying to be of help in various ways, potting up seedlings, fixing the greenhouse thermostat, harvesting sprouts and giving her moral support. She works from dawn till her head hits the pillow (way beyond dusk) and does it not because she loves hard work, but because it's what feeds her soul.

One of my dreams that I have nurtured and fed bit by bit over the past 10 years has been to live on land, growing food, raising chickens, connecting to the seasons and putting my roots deep down into the soil. Almost two years ago we put our little cabin in the woods up for sale as a way of moving closer towards that dream. But, then, well, the housing market, or divine forces, or whatever reason that we just don't know yet, has prevented our house from selling. So we sit up here in the beautiful pines and cedars, appreciating every ounce of it, but yearning for flatter land, open spaces, and no snow.

For now, we can help out Carolyn, feed our souls by lending a hand, connect on a deeper level with someone we like very much, give our son a chance to connect to where his food comes from, and spread the word about the benefits of eating seasonally, supporting local farms and growers, connecting to the land, and creating community ties.

Afterall, when a four year old who normally picks anything green or slightly "herby" looking from his food will eat a fresh sunflower sprout straight out of my hand and declare, "YUM," I know we're on to something good!

Please visit Carolyn at Butte Mountain Organic Farm!

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Day Job

I don’t often go into the details of my day job, but thought I'd share a little bit here.

I am a Project Coordinator for First 5 Amador. Each county in California has a First 5, which was formed to support children age 0-5 and their families in 1998. Our office is a small one and we each wear many hats. Mostly I oversee the fiscal side of things, but also help manage community grants, and when needed support other organizations and agencies by doing graphics work for flyers, brochures and outreach. My left and right brains get equal time!

This month the First 5 Northwest Region distributed a very comprehensive report on the positive impact those counties have had on children and their families. And although Amador County is in the Northeast region, the concerns and challenges are similar. I wanted to share with you all the great work that the Northwest counties are doing. Taking a preventative approach ~ good work for a good cause: children!

Here are the links to both the summary And the full report .

For more information about First 5 you can visit either of these links below:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recreate Yourself as Your Very Own Super Hero!

Okay, I got this link from the blog Jane's Medicine Tree. She in and of herself is amazing! Definitely a good read. But, here is the link I am referring to:

You can recreate yourself as your very own super hero, fun!

Here's me:

I love the name I ended up with: Splintery Condor!

So appropriate because I have many parts of myself which splinter off the core. And, I have a very deep affinity for the Turkey Vulture (a Condor of a sort).

Have fun discovering your inner super hero!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kundalini Belly Dance

Clark's Corner Café Photos!
I meant to share these way back in March! I'm so honored to be part of Kundalini Belly Dance Tribe. I dance with some beautiful and talented sisters!!! Kimberly wasn't able to be there that night so she's not in the photos...we'll get some of her soon!