Rainbows on Heaven and on Earth
Aloha friend! I hope this message finds you well and wrapped in the embrace of the changing seasons. It's been a while since we last connected, so please forgive the lengthy note and props to ya if you read all the way through! A couple of weeks ago, I went on a walk in my neighborhood with the intention of finding a rainbow. It was a successful mission, Earth Rainbow pictured above, no filter at all! I love how Pacha Mama's vibrant Fall palette invites us to be present and mindful in the moment as the intensity of the colors demand our attention and encourage us to slow down, appreciate, and find gratitude in the beauty all around us.
It is a bit paradoxical, but as Winter approaches, I am starting to emerge from a personal hibernation of sorts. The last couple of years have been quite challenging and I found myself unable to answer the question "Where do I go from here?" In January of 2022 I made the difficult decision to leave my place of work. I loved my job and adored the community that I had helped cultivate 10 years prior, but unfortunately the head of the company operated in ways that were not in alignment with my values and integrity. This shift unknowingly opened up space and time for me to navigate the most difficult experience of my life. Just a few months later, my dear son, Gryphon, contracted Covid which led to Covid-induced psychosis. I won't go into all the horrific details, but he he ended up in the children's hospital for over a month, missed his high school graduation and when I wasn't in his hospital room, which was 90% of the time, I found myself drowning in tears wondering if this was going to be my (and his) new normal, forever. I spent the rest of last year and a good amount of this one nurturing him back to steady health, with a lot of uncertainty regarding what the future would be like for him and our family. He would have begun college in August of '22 but UNC allowed him to defer for a year I am overjoyed to share that he has made a full recovery and is flourishing in his freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill.
Thankfully by March my son was well enough for me to lead a women's retreat in Costa Rica. Sixteen ladies ranging from age 24 to 70 showed up fully and together we co-created magic through practicing yoga, intimate healing sister circles and exploring the wonders of our Great Mother in lush Costa Rica. It was an incredible adventure that reminded me how much I loved facilitating group work, which is what I had been doing for 16 year of my life through teaching yoga, leading yoga teacher trainings, shamanic breathwork practices, Ayahuasca ceremonies and holding sister circles. Right after I returned from Costa Rica, I found out that a deal that had been in the works for almost a year regarding me buying into a retreat center fell through and I was pretty devastated. I was thrilled at the possibility and at the time, the probability, of having many acres of land and a place of our own (my husband and me) to lead our bimonthly medicine retreats. So much of my being desired a new space to create community for myself and others to share our gifts and medicines and a place for those seeking nourishment, connection and healing to gather.
During the first half of this year, separate of the retreat center, I was on the search with an incredible business partner and friend looking for the perfect venue to open up a yoga center, knowing that we were both excited and interested, but not necessarily "all in." We got about as close as one can to opening our new business and even submitted a letter of intent to the property we were potentially going to rent. My partner had a full time big bank job and it was important for me to keep in mind that she didn't have a whole lot of time to physically give to the space. I delved deep into the recesses of my being to decide if this was something I was prepared to take on. Libra is my Sun AND Rising sign, and if you know anything about astrology, you might know we Libras are notorious for having a hard time making decisions. I journeyed, journaled, meditated, talked to my therapist and a psychic about it, all with the intent of understanding if this was my heart and soul's greatest desire. I remember Oprah (yes, Ms. Winfrey) once saying "if it's not a hell yes, it's a hell no." Although it never felt like a "hell no," I was really trying hard to get to the "hell yes" and it just didn't happen. I simply wasn't ready to commit to a brick and mortar baby, no matter how many parts of me really, truly wanted it. I spent a good amount of time grieving my decision and there is still a part of me that wonders what life would be like right now had we signed that lease 6 months ago. Then I was left with the big question, "Now what?" I had so many years of experience in teaching, mentoring and helping others on their own path and here I was completely at a loss for what I was going to do with myself.
Would I try to teach yoga in a new public space, or just keep private clients? What about my yoga teacher trainings? Would I redirect into more one-on-one coaching? Am I to look for land to build a retreat center from the ground up? What about the end of life doula work, maybe I should focus on that. How can I get more private clients for psychedelic healing sessions? I have been studying herbalism, perhaps I should concentrate on that. Seriously, you have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on trainings, get your shit together!
These thoughts and many more bombarded me daily.
The constant amongst the chaos for me, not surprisingly, has been Mother Earth. The plants that I have been working with for nearly a decade have been my greatest allies. (it would be remiss if I didn't also mention the tremendous love and support from my amazing husband :)) The plants have an extraordinary way of being phenomenal teachers, gentle reminders, and potent healers. They have been part of Earth's ecosystems for far longer than humans. They carry within them the wisdom of centuries, adapting and evolving to the ever-changing environment. Their endurance speaks to a resilience and adaptability that can teach us valuable lessons about surviving, thriving and being in harmony. I lost my mom at a very young age and have found extraordinary comfort, peace and unconditional love from our shared Mother. In September I did my 4th Rose diet. This is a HUGE process and my words will eclipse the profoundness of it all, but I feel it is important to give some context, and in the spirit of not going on and on, I will try to keep it shortish as I veer off on this side road.
The ancient practice of ingesting a plant or parts of a plant for spiritual transformation, teachings and both physical and emotional healings can be traced back worldwide in many indigenous rituals and rites throughout time. Plant diets in the Peruvian Amazon tradition, the one my husband and I have been studying and practicing, are done in total isolation, stripping oneself of most thing that are familiar, comfortable and bring instant gratification in order to turn inward and commune with the spirit of the plant. We do this for a minimum of 10 days. During the diet we adhere to certain dietary guidelines, often water fasting for up to 5 days and when we do eat it is plain, bland food, no oil, salt, sugar, etc. Every other evening we drink medicine (Ayahuasca) with our teacher, which can really help us open up to the spirit of the plant. The process is challenging. It's shadow work. Its inner child work. A master plant diet can facilitate deep healing, visceral connections to nature and all that is, expansion in consciousness, tools for awakening and a plethora of other personal discoveries. During Covid we could not travel to Peru so we did our own isolation diets here in the states. We found an incredible Airbnb in Florida on 6 lakefront acres full of mighty Live Oaks and plenty of gorgeous wildlife. It was dreamy. We fell in love and went back, each time there, I dieted Rose. We went back to Peru in the Summer of 2021 and would have gone last year (husband did twice!) but of course the Goddess had other plans and I needed to be here for my son. I made an agreement with myself not to go back to Peru until he was in college. I'm elated to say we will wake up on January 1st there!
So this his past September I did another 10 day isolation diet with Rose, this time here in NC, at the property where we facilitate our medicine retreats. I was feeling pretty down on myself, a recent empty nester, and although I had been keeping busy doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I was still feeling pretty lost as to "what I was going to be when I grow up." The plants don't necessarily show or give us what we want or hope for or think is most important but they do, and I fully trust this, they give us what they, ancient intelligent beings, without a doubt, know what we need right then and there for the greatest growth and healing on our path at the current given time. I processed tremendous grief. Rose held me tenderly as I wept and screamed and heaved as overwhelming anguish bubbled to the surface of and infiltrated my entire being while I felt, in order to heal, monumental pain, much of which I thought had already been released. Our trauma is DEEP. It was difficult, moments were agonizing. It was also beautiful and moments were magical. My abandoned younger self found and took care two baby kittens who were also abandoned. We helped nurture and heal each other. I received 3 new songs! Although I didn't leave with the clear direction of what I was going to do next as hoped for, I did leave with this (and so much more)!
In the vast tapestry of life, there is an undeniable beauty in embracing the mystery and the uncharted realms of the unknown that beckon us with a sense of wonder and curiosity. It's a recognition that not every answer needs to be neatly laid out before us, that sometimes the magic and beauty lie in the uncertainty itself. In moments of doubt and confusion, when the path ahead seems obscured, there's a profound serenity in acknowledging that we don't need to have it all figured out. Instead, we can surrender to the enigma of the journey and trust the wisdom of our hearts, the intuitive compass within. It beats not just as a rhythmic pulse but as a subtle whisper, a gentle nudge urging us to take one step, to venture into the unknown with open arms.
I have greater faith in the unfolding of my unique story and I hope you do too, especially if you have been feeling a little (or a lot) lost lately. You are not alone. Just step outside and look around. Take a moment and acknowledge that just as the stars illuminate the night sky without revealing every constellation at once, so too, will your path illuminate itself in Divine timing. Try to view the mystery not as a daunting abyss but rather a canvas waiting to be painted with the colors of possibility. Create your own Rainbow on Earth.
I am feeling truly inspired and have many things swirling around that I trust will be birthed in the new year at the most perfect time. I hope to offer more in person public yoga opportunities, a weekend retreat in NC (hopefully in the Spring), another longer international women's retreat, co-creating local sister circles, creating a plant communication course and I am beginning to put together a 2 day online women's expose for March, Women's History month. In addition, my husband and I will continue facilitating bi-monthly Peruvian plant medicine retreats. Our first one of the year will be in February. If you are interested at all in learning about this let me know. We have a separate email list for that group and it is truly one of my favorite things to share with those who feel the call. I do plan on giving more public attention to this sacred medicine and our work with her in the new year.
Mostly, I am looking forward to staying connected to you whether through this newsletter or in person events. I would absolutely LOVE to hear back from you and know what you have been up to. If you live in Charlotte, it would be a true joy to see you for a Winter "Soulstice" Celebration. I have missed many of you and it would mean so much to connect and relish in a mini retreat from the craziness of the holiday season with a yoga class and/or cacao ceremony and shamanic breathwork as we honor the darkness and celebrate the light!
Wishing you all a safe and joyful holiday season. Earth school is hard. There is devastating turmoil happening in our world. We have so very much to be thankful for. Count your blessings and hug those you adore!
P.S. My wonderful and talented husband released an album on our anniversary, the Summer Solstice. It is full of medicine songs inspired by or directly gifted from the plants. I got to help produce it and am even singing on a few songs! I hope you will listen and enjoy.
Heart Spaces by Christopher Henry