One Last Winter

The sun is scheduled to rise at 9:02 am today and there is new snow on the rooftops and ground.

Though all signs point to winter, I’m in denial about its presence. Instead I’m choosing to pretend that the snow is going to melt sometime this week, that fall is going to have a resurgence where the leaves magically reattach themselves to the trees, and that the lack of light won’t get much worse than this.

Seeing as how we are slated to get 9 hours and 22 minutes of daylight today, and by the time winter solstice rolls around that number will decrease to 5 hours and 22 minutes, you can see how unrealistic my pretenses are.

The Danish have a word for embracing an attitude of warmth, coziness and a celebratory feel during the dark winter months, “hygge.” Which from my understanding doesn’t have a word equivalent in the English language, but is more of a feeling- a mental state, of comfort, connection and conviviality. Like taking the holiday spirit and enveloping the whole of winter with it.

Over 30 years in this state, and being hygge has gotten me through many an Alaskan winter. Lighting candles, making plans with friends, taking pictures of the beautiful sky, curling up with books and comfort, creating moments of intimacy and connection during the dark season of the stars that feel different than the connections made in the expansive bask of summer.

Being intentional about finding joy during the harsh of an Alaskan winter was a profound teacher years ago, who taught me that our circumstances do not need to dictate our level of happiness. That was the winter I bundled up in cheery coats and thick scarves and zipped around town to all sorts of plays and musicals and restaurants and friendships and filled the darkest months with fond memories.

Those were good days. Cozy days. And those days lasted a long time.

When my husband moved here we added to those kinds of days. Chilly winter hikes in the mountains followed by hot pizza and movie nights. Dates to the Nutcracker, tickets to the performing arts center, plans that made us dress up in the cool months and venture outside. Memories of good food and white lights and tucking into our rainbow home filled with color, plants, and pets.

But over the past few years, a sense of wear has been creeping up on me that coalesced last winter into the realization I am pretty hygge-ied out. It started when we were coming back from our Oregonian wedding and honeymoon, and I found myself sitting at the airport realizing that for the first time ever, I had no interest in going back home, no sense of my usual characteristic excitement about the things to come. Just a sense of burnout with Alaska and a strong desire for change.

Last December was a claustrophobic month. Like I was going from home to car to office to car to home- trapped inside these boxes- and it was always black outside. I did my best to try and embrace things, but somewhere close to solstice, on a dreary gray day where my husband and I forced ourselves to get out and hike, we acknowledged our truth- that life here wasn’t really supporting or nourishing the best of either of us- and came to the conclusion our time in Alaska was coming to a close.

Kauai in December of 2018 we said! Just 3 more winters!

And then Life shook things up big time in 2016, and we got rearranged in that shaking, and 3 years became too long , and now we are down to one last winter.

One last winter.

Things have the ability of taking on a precious quality to them when you realize this is the last time you are going to pass this way. And that awareness- that this is it for Alaskan winters- has the potential to bring a little bit of light and hope to what can feel like a dark space, the potential to create a little bit more magic in the memories being made.

I tried to grab onto that perspective as I walked in the freshly fallen snow yesterday, but the truth is, I dread the winter months and would move now if I could. Life has a certain timing though, and the timing for our move is June 2017, not October 2016. So here I find myself in this odd transitory state, no longer belonging to where I was, not quite yet ready to step into where I would like to be.

You can learn a lot about life in such a space. How to let go. How to sort through what’s most important and find your truest treasures. How to belong to yourself, so you always have a sense of home within, even as your external sense of home begins to shift and change.

How to be patient with Life’s process and your own process. How to lean into metamorphosis and learn to be okay with not knowing how it will all work out. How to continue to define the strength of your connections to others by the amount of sincerity and love found in the relationship and not the convenience of location and geography.

How to release your old molds of self and allow yourself to be comfortable with feeling a little unformed. How to embrace the moment and live in the present, all while wanting to be elsewhere and yearning for what is to come. How to hold two opposing truths side by side in your heart and find harmony among them by acknowledging they both have a right to presence and perspective.

I can walk in the snow and hate winter’s harsh heart, all while reveling in the grace that comes when everything is washed clean and new. I can sadly stare out the window and sigh over all the black, all while letting it lay over me like a velvet sky inspiring poetry of starlight, desire and wonder. I can grudgingly don my boots and gloves and shake my fist at the cold, all while breathing in how crisp the air becomes this time of year as I pull the experiences of one last Alaskan winter tightly into me.

Life doesn’t have to look a certain way to learn how to find goodness and peace and joy inside ourselves. Goodness and peace and joy are simply what happens when we make space for all of our experiences and learn to see them as worthy. Learn to open ourselves up to our full expression of self and know it to be valid. Learn to see that this too- the whole range of self that runs from messy human to lightest divine- is simply part of belonging to this time and place.

Learn to see the sacred beauty in all.

Even in the tired weariness and awesome wonder found in one last winter.


Ordinary Woman

It is amazing to me how beautiful things and awful things can sit side by side in our landscapes of self, both keeping count to the times of our days. Yesterday marked the 9 month anniversary of my brother’s passing- thinking about it still feels a bit like something short circuits in my brain, like it’s all too much to comprehend.

Last night as I sat listening to music, staring out the window at the deepening ink of night, contemplating all that has come to pass in the past 9 months, I was swept into the same space I always go when I think about these things: this massive over awareness of just how tremendous and overwhelming life can be.

It’s huge and massive and incredible to realize, see, and live how the stories of our days play out. There is so much we cannot see at the beginning of the journey, so much we learn along the way, so much that doesn’t add up in the moment but evens out, just the way it was meant, in the end.

I had dinner with an old friend last evening. We’ve known each other for over 10 years, and these days our friendship has come full circle, growing into something more than it was before. We’ve grown up together, she and I, and as we look back over our history, it’s easy to see we are uniquely suited to support one another in this present time and space though that is not something we would have ever seen or could have known all those years ago when our paths first intertwined.

I wonder sometimes what it will be 10 years from now when I look back to 2016 and know that it’s been a decade since losing Brent. What will I see and know then that I don’t see or know now? His presence still feels so close some days, the memories still fresh: how will it be when more time has spun itself out and there are years upon years of memories that don’t include his voice, his being, his face? Even though he’s no longer here, will there still be things that come full circle?

It was a full moon the other night and I was asked to lead a woman’s circle. Three hours of teaching, channeling, intuiting and pretty much using whatever means I could to help instruct and facilitate conversation on inner knowing, learning to be our own wise person, finding soul path and life purpose, and accessing the gifts of spirit in the every day.

It is probably one of the coolest things I have ever done, definitely a big step towards the kind of work I hope to do when I move, and so heart filling to see women of many different ages begin to listen to themselves and step into the paths they feel are right for their hearts. I left that night and drove home wondering: who was that woman with so much confidence that she walked into this group of women and fearlessly led?

She is the woman who arose from the ashes of my brother’s death. Who took all the pieces I’ve been learning throughout the years, all the writing, all the psychology, all the intuitive gifts, all the healing work and she finally decided it was time to put those pieces together and repurpose her life in a different way than she has before.

One of the truths of Brent’s passing is that it has made me fairly fearless. I thought I was confident before, but I still held many, many fears. What if people don’t like my writing? What if they dismiss my spiritual experiences? What if I just sound crazy? Who am I to teach these things anyways? Who am I to say these things? Who am I to dare?

So I doubted. And I waited. Waited for something to make me feel bigger, more credentialed, more expert, more ready. I was keeping myself on hold, waiting for something outside of me to tell me it was time.

Then Brent.

Then I began to realize time is awfully short. Then I began to see all that is sacred in the everyday. Then something inside of me rose up. So I dared.

And that is where I am right now, and it is changing the course of my life. Which is how I found myself leading these women who aren’t dismissing me or what I have to say at all. In fact, they are grabbing onto it, taking it into themselves like medicine to their souls. They are seeing the sacred in the everyday and finding the pieces to their own puzzles they’ve been searching for.

They share their experience of self and begin to realize just how valid those experiences are, as I tell them if it feels crazy, so crazy it makes your heart excited and resonates deep within and gives you a daring vision for your life, well you’re on the right path. And it leaves them feeling empowered, because it turns out I don’t need to be some expert. I am an ordinary woman who sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, and they see this in me, which helps them connect to these gifts within themselves.

The language of spirit is Love, I say. True magic- finding the extraordinary and sacred- simply begins with Love. And that begins with loving ourselves. 

I don’t know how things will come full circle with my brother, but I do know how great is my love. That everything I’ve learned these past 9 months is about learning to take what is awful, and terrible, and horrible, and make love out of it. It is the only way I have found to heal myself: to find what is lovely in dark spaces and bring it into the light. And at the end of this day, I’m an ordinary woman following a calling, a girl who still cries over it all, a little sister who simply loved her brother.

And that love is what will remain.

9 months down, a lifetime to go. I’ll hear you in the wind. Know you in the water. See your face in the light of the stars. Be well out there, old friend.

ordinarywoman             *image courtesy pexels


At the end
of the day,

The only one
who can determine
what matters
most for you
is you.

Not everything
can be reasoned away
or quantified
or reduced to a simple

What matters
to us

And that
is the only
equation one needs,
to make sense
of the Love we find

In the span
of this


sentient heart

It was one of
those days where
the sun skimmed

the tops of the
trees, and the dogs
bounced wild and free

as they ran through
the park and smiled
at the sight of

joy incarnate.
They talked of autumn’s
fall, and how

love makes broken
things whole again,
and made a plan

to eat french fries
for dinner. It was
a simple October

Friday, and the
ease of it all soothed
the places tender

within- Life’s
medicine for her
fiercely sentient heart.


Lessons of The Fall

There are a couple things I love most about this time of year.

1) The way the light comes up in the morning. There is something about the later rise of the sun mixed with the cool of the season that results in all sorts of shades and hues from soft periwinkle and amber and blush, to deep cobalt and magenta and fire-soaked red.

2) The subtle nuances in the loss of leaves from the trees, each beautiful in its own unique way. Some already stripped bare, preparing for winter; some still covered in partial browns and bronzes; and a few just now reaching their height with pops of crimsons and rainbows and bars of gold. How do they decide when to turn? How do they choose when to fall?

It’s like there’s a secret dance of the trees; each step perfectly choreographed to a sacred timing all its own.

I’ve been thinking about timing lately: why some things fall out when they do, the way they do, and how they do. It is my experience that most steps seem to follow some sort of sacred choreography in this universe, our own included. Even the dark chaos of space exploded in creation with an ocean of stars.

Everything has a place, every place in its time.

These days my times seem to be wrapping around full circle. I see cycles completing themselves so new cycles can spin out. I see the old of yesterday make way for the new of tomorrow. And I see myself standing in the middle of all the change, trying to find my equilibrium in the flux, even as life is moving as fast as the quickening rise and set of that fire-soaked sun.

As I go about the time of this fall, I am finding that when I can’t find my Balance, it is more helpful to try and find my Love.

There are these questions I am asking myself these days: How do I love myself in this change? How do I love these challenges in my life? How do I love others through the change? How can I adjust my lens to try and see the situation through the eyes of love, bring the energy of love into interactions and relationships and myself?

How do I invite love into things that may feel unlovable? For all of us- when you strip away our branches, take things down to our unvarnished cores- are as knobby and gnarled as the lessons in those autumn trees.

We don’t always see the beauty in the knobs, it’s too easy to dismiss something that looks ill-shaped. But if you stand and stare at a tree long enough, you’ll start to see there are dozens of colors in the stretches of bark- from snowy grays to burnt slates to whispers of the softest pinks. And you’ll begin to see that all those knots and knobs look like wise eyes, watching over us in this place.

And you’ll notice all the layers that compose the strength of their trunks along with the deep roots it takes to stand solid in a world that constantly beckons change. That their branches are fearless when it comes to that change, growing and releasing and reseeding and budding over and over again-

-Just like our lives: everything has a place, every place in its time.

I don’t always know about the timing of things, but I am learning that Love always has the right timing. Here to remind us of our place in it All. Here to help the leaves fall and the grounds frost in some stunning Dance of Life that we can’t always see, but discern nonetheless. Here to awaken us to the courage in our own change.

Here to cover us with fuchsia rays and remind us-

-The light has a way of creeping up unexpectedly and astonishing us at the most opportune times.



Not every rip
that rips – – –
is meant to be mended.

Nor all tears stitched
back up . . .
into perfect

Sometimes it’s okay
to let those ragged
ends fly

-flapping in the breeze
with clearer space

To breathe.

The holes we hold
in the heart of these times,
are not intended
to be resewn
into the same shape
from where they came:

They are our means
of expansion.

For how will we
ever become bigger
if we don’t let ourselves
be torn?

And how will we
learn to be more

If we don’t let our rips
allow room
for new light.