Dementia Awareness Month, Alzheimer's Awareness Day

Today is World Alzheimer's Day and September is also Dementia Awareness Month (with November being Alzheimer's Awareness Month). Although these manufactured days and months are really created for other people, they always feel a little incongruent to me, because the truth is that when you are living up close and personal with one of these diseases in your home, every day is Dementia Awareness Day. There is not a moment that I forget its presence in our lives.

In the beginning, one can have dementia and still be pretty high functioning, but as these diseases progress, they start to touch everything. Before it stole its way into my home, like most people, I thought Alzheimer’s was dementia and that it was mostly cute little memory lapses and “Oh, look, Grandpa put his napkin in his biscuit again and is now complaining that his sandwich is dry. That guy!”

But the truth is that it’s so much more, and it always ends in the same way. And that’s the heartbreaking thing about dementia. Even though it is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., there is no treatment and there is no cure, only the certainty that the disease ends in death. And it’s not just an old person’s disease either. Early-onset forms are on the rise.

The difficult thing about dementia is that depending on the person and type (Alzheimer's is just the most well-known of a host of forms!), behaviors can vary greatly. While my mom had some short-term memory issues in the beginning, her ability to reason and do things like complex math remained intact for a long time. Even now, she can figure out percentages, but she doesn’t remember what she did an hour ago. She can’t be left alone--not ever, because her judgment isn’t great and it isn’t safe if I don’t want her heating pork chops in the toaster or wandering off and not finding her way back. Other people have different symptoms and behaviors.

But as the disease progresses and more parts of the brain are affected, eventually there starts to be a lot of overlap -- mobility issues, loss of continence, difficulty processing too much sensory input at once, ability to swallow, and ability to perform self-care (a common thread is challenges with and resistance to bathing).

And then, there is anosognosia, where people lack the self-awareness to know they have a disease, which further complicates things, because they just don’t understand why they need this medication or why it’s not safe to drive or why they suddenly need to wear a diaper or why they can't stay or go out alone. Can you imagine as a functioning adult having someone suddenly tell you, “No, you can’t go to Starbucks alone. You need to wait until I can take you.” Wouldn’t it make you angry?

It is a hard, hard road, not just for the person with dementia, but for family caregivers too. As loved ones decline, we are faced with difficult questions like placing them in care facilities (some are caring and good, but it’s always dicey, if you know about some of the abuse people suffer in others) or hiring in-home care or giving up a career or working part-time at significantly reduced income and later retirement to do it ourselves.

Did you know that family caregivers provide $470 billion (yes, you read that right BILLION) in unpaid care each year? Our average out of pocket costs average $10,697, often at great sacrifice to our own futures. I know I have already spent just about my whole 401k on care for my mom, so no retirement for me.

Before we are done, I will likely have to sell my childhood home to finance the rest. I do work and am lucky to be able to work at home doing something I love, but my hours are limited and there are many distractions, because, hello, 24/7 care needs. And I am in no way unique. There are people in a much direr straights and we are lucky to have a home to sell.

And let’s talk about support for care needs. Not a millionaire? Thinking about using Medicaid? It’s great it’s there, right? Yeah, well, not so fast. It’s grossly inadequate and different everywhere because it’s administered by the states and they get to make up their own rules. Living in Oregon, my mom would qualify for about 60 hours a month of in-home care (mind you, she must be supervised 24/7), but it would come out of any equity she had in a home after she died.

Living in some other state, she might not qualify for anything at all. And, even worse, their policies are woefully unequipped to serve the needs of those with cognitive decline, because they mostly only focus on physical disability and don't account for the need for supervision beyond help with a limited number of activities of daily living.

People sometimes qualify for Adult Day-Care. Again, it's not generally enough to help with any kind of significant respite. But even if you qualify, being able to go is not for sure, because care facilities (and this is true of living facilities as well) will often kick people out, if they have any kind of behavior management issues. My mom has FTD, which can come with behavior challenges. She went to a respite facility specifically designed for individuals with dementia for about a year until she was nicely asked to leave for (gasp) exhibiting symptoms of her disease that were hard on the staff.

If it’s hard on a team of 10 for an hour or two, imagine how it is for ONE family member managing it 24/7, 365 days a year. In fairness, they did try to work with us and move her to a sundowning program, but that had the same issue and the end result is no respite for me and no daycare or socialization for her.

We’ve adapted and I don't at all mind having her with me. I love her. But the truth is that our systems for dealing with these diseases are half-assed at best and mostly place the burden on the caregiver to give up significant parts of their life or just say “Too bad for Dad. Guess he’s on his own now!”

It is perhaps one of the saddest aspects of these diseases that services often fail when they are most needed. I didn’t need respite when we were in the sweet shadowing or mild memory lapse phase, but on days where I wake up to door slamming, screaming and being called a fat, lazy, bitch until I want to cry, yeah, I could use an hour off here and there.

And don’t think it’s just respite care. Even doctors lose interest when they see that they are no longer making any progress treating the untreatable. That sad truth is that many are just not well educated on dementia, especially the rarer forms like my mom's. My experience has been that it’s often abundantly clear that doctors and medical staff have no training on how to interact with an adult with dementia. This is true of just about every Medicaid social worker I've ever met too.

And then, there are people. There are some true blue friends who check in regularly or do nice things with like leaving boxes of chocolate on your doorstep because they know it’s been a hard day. But for every one of those, there are several who fade away, even ones you thought you were really close to.

These diseases are isolating and change everything including the caregiver. I am only in the middle of my journey and I know things will never be the same again after what has been the greatest Underworld journey of my life.

And then, there are the strangers. They too are a mixed bag. There are the ones are so amazing, you could kiss them. They are the ones, who smile and play along when your loved one thinks she knows them (she thinks she knows everybody!) or kindly offer to help when things go wrong or just treat her with compassion, like a human being.

But then, there is also the guy who uses the public meltdown your loved one is having to cut in front of you in line at the pharmacy while an employee threatens to “call someone” (aka the police) and the woman who loudly proclaims to her friend in front of your person that she “stinks” (remember I said bathing and also continence were sometimes issues?).

And, at the same time as all of that, there are moments that you treasure, like rides into the country or the same stupid joke that makes her laugh every time you pass a Jack-in-the-Box (Her: Why is Jack in a box? Me: Because he wouldn’t stay in the bag) or when you sing together or when you play your violin and she dances like she was 17.

Or, my favorite, when after days of crabbiness or forgetting who you are, your loved one’s face suddenly lights up with recognition and she grabs your hand to tell you she loves you and for one precious, fleeting moment she is just your mom again and you love her and she loves you.

#endalz #endftd #endallmentia #caregiving #dementiaawareness

Amplify the Children

A pantoum is form of poetry, where lines repeat throughout the poem. This is a found word pantoum made up of real lines from the sworn testimony of children being held in U.S. custody in our concentration camps. The line “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference" is a quote from activist, writer, and holocaust survivor, Eli Wiesel. They are counting on us to forget. Do not do it. Remember. Keep speaking up.

******************************************************************

We are all alone

I am frightened, cold and sad

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference

I have not been told how long I have to stay here

I am frightened, cold, and sad

We are hungry all the time here

I have not been told how long I have to stay here

Children should not be here

We are hungry all the time here

We aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom at night

Children should not be here

We are being held in a cold cell

We aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom at night

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference

We are being held in a cold cell

We are all alone

M. Rutledge, 8/22/19

#AMPLIFYTHECHILDREN

So what?

The other day, I ran across a really wonderful quote from Andy Warhol, where he talks about how our approach to thinking about things changes our experience of them. He says:

Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So what.”

”My mother didn’t love me.” So what.

”My husband won’t ball me. So what.

”I’m a success but I’m still alone.” So what.

I don’t know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.
— Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol by Jack Mitchell

Andy Warhol by Jack Mitchell

Warhol has said that this realization came to him on a trip to Bali, when he went for a walk one day and saw people celebrating the death of a loved one instead of mourning them. What he saw was the difference between a funeral and wake.

Whichever one chooses, there’s no arguing that death and loss are difficult and involve mourning. I don’t know what Warhol’s beliefs about the afterlife and the the nature of the soul were, but his experience illustrates the point that we can have the perspective that it’s a sad thing, because it’s an end and a loss or we can have the perspective that we’re celebrating the life of someone we loved and going to a cosmic bon voyage party sending them on to the next leg of their soul’s journey. In reality, it may end up being a combination of both, but the point is that we get to choose.

It’s not really about funerals and death, but about the idea that we get to decide what we focus on and what we give importance and energy to. We can’t always choose what happens to us or outside of us or what people are going to say and do, but we can choose how we react. We can choose what we’re going to give space and importance. And we can also choose what we are going to allow to make us miserable (or happy for that matter). Most importantly, we can choose the story we are going to tell ourselves about it. And that works for personal history like “My mom didn’t hug me enough” as well as situations like whether we see a job loss as the end of our world or an opportunity, as well as other people and how much import we’re going to give their opinion of us and how we choose to live our lives.

And that’s why so much of the work I do with women focuses on finding, building, and trusting in our own voices. Girls too often are raised to be overly concerned about what others think and to let others tell and shape the story for us. We get messages telling us to “be nice,” don’t make waves, and rhetoric that tells us that we should be soft and accepting lest we be seen as “too aggressive” or “bitchy” or “unfeminine.”

I remember back in my corporate days, I had two direct female bosses who had this expression they’d use -- BGTD, bitches get things done. And they did get things done. They were both really good at their jobs and pretty no nonsense. And yet, I wonder how many men in their positions are spending time worrying that they will be see as “unpleasant” for making a decision or having a bold opinion or pushing to make something happen.

And I doubt that they’re spending a lot of time afterwards acknowledging that they’re probably going to be seen as “bitchy” for doing so. They don’t have to. It’s something unique to women leaders and something we do, because we’ve gotten this message that if we take an actual position and if we’re not soft and yielding, the world will see us as “nasty women,” who aren’t “nice.”

And while I actually am a big believer that we can get things done and lead with a feminine energy that it is softer and more communal and circular than the patriarchal nature of ladders and hierarchy of traditional business, giving women and girls the message that we have to yield to everything a dangerous message for a psyche, because it makes us question our own autonomy and whether we deserve a place at the table and whether we deserve to be the arbiter of our own self-image and authority.

Cinderella -  SARAH NOBLE IVES

Cinderella - SARAH NOBLE IVES

It’s one of the reasons why I have a soft spot for the fairy tale “Cinderella,” despite a lot of it being encoded with a kind of misogynistic “Someday my prince will come and save me” kind of undercurrent, which by the way, we also have to look at as the product of its time and of the Judaeo-Christian culture of the 18th and 19th century in which those who collected and recorded the story lived, but that’s a whole different topic for another day.

The thing I love about Cinderella is that no matter how poorly she’s treated, no matter how often she is told that she doesn’t belong in polite society and that she’s not worth any more than the ash and cinders she cleans from the fireplace, she doesn’t let those messages, those opinions of her affect her own goals or how she shows up in the world, and she doesn’t let it affect her perception of how much she deserves to be at the ball or anywhere else.

She is able to take the input around her, respond with “So what,” and decide her own truth and go to the ball anyway. And she can do it, because she is clear on who she is and has decided to let that and not her experiences with her crappy step-family define what she does or how she feels.

And the lesson here is that it’s worth the time for us to take a look at the things that are dragging us down or making us unhappy and to ask ourselves, “Why do I care so much? Is this even valid? Is it real?”

Never forget that at the end of the day, you get to decide.

Tending the Cauldron

Hello, my friend!

Can you believe that it is almost June? I don't even know what happened to the first six months of the year, but suddenly the roses are blooming and we're on the precipice of summer. I've started working on a book (a long-time dream and one of my goals for 2019!) and just started leading a small group of women through Awakening Awen, where we kicked off our first week talking about how we are all natural creatrixes. And, today, we're working with the energy of Ceridwen and the other goddesses of creativity and inspiration.

Do you know about Ceridwen and her cauldron of inspiration? 

As the story goes, she has two children, one beautiful, one hideous. As a mom, she's worried about the disadvantages the son will face in life due to his extreme ugliness, so she does what any powerful enchantress would do and crafts a potion to give him the gifts of beauty and wisdom, then enlists a couple of servants to tend to her cauldron for the year and a day it takes for it to brew. But, of course, there's a hitch (there's always a hitch).

Only the first three drops of the potion are magical. After that, it's all poison. Ceridwen warns the servants to never, ever let the liquid in the cauldron touch them. Everything goes well until the day the potion is supposed to be done. On that day, the younger of the servants, Gwion Bach, accidentally bumps the cauldron, splashing three drops of Awen on his hand. The hot liquid burns, so without thinking, he puts his finger in his mouth and receives the gifts meant for Ceridwen's son, Morfran. A chase ensues with Gwion Bach and an enraged Ceridwen shapeshifting into various animals until, finally, Gwion transforms into a grain of corn and a hen-shaped Ceridwen swallows him, becoming pregnant, so Gwion can be reborn as the great poet and bard, Taliesin.

It's a rich story with so many messages and applications. When I was studying the Bardic grade in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, we spent the better part of a year looking at it, but the part of it that has always remained with me is this:

Why is it that it's Gwion Bach and not Morfran, who reaps the benefits of Ceridwen's potion?

It's because he is the one there in the trenches doing the work and tending the cauldron, while Morfran is presumably just hangin' around being ugly. Part of Ceridwen's lesson is that in order to receive her gifts of transformation and inspiration, we have to "tend the cauldron" and do the work. It's not enough to just sit on the sidelines waiting for the lightning bolt to hit us.  We have to take an active role in our own development.

Sometimes the work is easy; sometimes it's hard, but the work is the growth and the way.

What do you want to grow and expand in the second half of 2019? How can I support you in that? I offer a range of programs and private coaching to support you in that goal. Contact me and let me know. I'd love to hear from you!
 

Brightest of Blessings,

Martina

A Call to Action

It was back in late 2014 when I realized I was done with the corporate world and never intended to go back again. After a three-month span that featured a series of Tower moments that included breaking my shoulder, realizing that my mom’s dementia had progressed to the point that she would never again be able to manage on her own, and being laid off by email from my corporate career of nearly 14 years during a reorg, I finally worked up the courage to do something I had wanted to do for nearly a decade:

Quit and strike out on my own to do something that was creative, used my lifelong passion for writing and teaching, and MADE A DIFFERENCE.

And it was exciting. For the first time since college, I felt like I was finally just where I was meant to be. But it was also really challenging, because it forced me to go deep and ask myself some really important questions. I had to face insecurities that had kept me rooted way below my full potential despite the constant pull I had felt to do something “bigger and profound” with my life.

Was I good enough? Was I smart enough? Gosh darnit, did people like me? Okay, maybe not the last one, but if you got it, we totally should be BFFs. But I did worry that I didn’t have anything important enough to say let alone teach. I feared that I was just kidding myself in thinking I could advise or hold space for anyone. Why would anyone listen to me? What did I really have to offer?

Still plagued with insecurity around these questions, I took a leap of faith and a chunk of my 401k to go back to school and study life coaching, earth medicine, and hypnotherapy.

Lucky for me, one of the major components of any good coaching program is self-work. And thanks to that program and the amazing mentors I’ve had since, I know what I am here to do:

It is my mission to help heart- and spirit-led women connect with their own sacred center and to empower them live in alignment with their voice and purpose in life and in business, so that they can live happier more fulfilled lives *and* us that energy to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the world around them.

And I am not here to mess around. We were given a voice for a reason and I am committed to using mine.

I have deep truths to share and I am here to encourage my clients to find their passion, purpose, and voice and share it too.

🦋 I am done settling for less than I want and deserve and I hope you are too.

🦋 I am done self-censoring, because people might not like me or my message and I hope you are too.

🦋 I’m done worrying about being “good enough” or taking up too much space and I hope you are too.

🦋 And I am certainly done playing by the rules that seem to pervade so much of the coaching world and that includes some of its downright gross and inauthentic sales and marketing practices. I am ready for a revolution where we ditch the ladders and build some seriously feminine, creative, Goddess loving, and woman empowering circles...and I hope you are too.

Do you know for a long time, I wouldn’t even call myself a coach? To be honest, I still prefer most days to distance myself from the industry by calling myself a mentor or guide. The word coach makes me think of football teams. But most of all, I was embarrassed to call myself that, because so much of the industry seemed more interested keeping a “high vibration” through using the Law of Attraction as an excuse to remain completely self-focused, while ignoring injustice and suffering in the world and selling a “Make seven figures in your sleep,” Prada and Lambos lifestyle than it was in nurturing anything coming close to real transformation. Can you do both? Probably. But it’s not all about the money, you know?

And I’m going to be really honest here. If that’s all you’re about, I’m really not the teacher for you. You see, while I consider myself to be a spiritually guided coach, I have really strong feelings around new agey, spiritual bypassing. It is not spiritual and it's not ethical to stand by and turn a blind eye to suffering and injustice in the world. Not being "political" or socially conscious or aware of what's going on around you is not a badge of honor. Self-work is so important, but the point never is and never was that it end at the tip of our noses. We are meant to take that light out into the world.

That’s why I have such a problem with teachers and coaches who encourage students to hide their heads in the sand in the name of maintaining a "high vibration," so they can pat themselves on the back for being enlightened.

OF COURSE it is good to be generally positive. Our words and outlook do affect our life experience and what we draw to ourselves, but a cursory "loving and lighting" our way past anything we don't want to look at is not growth. It's lightwashing. If you ignore the dark both in yourself and in the world and ignore its suffering, you're missing some of your biggest opportunities for transformation and even spiritual growth.

You want transformation? Drag the dark out into the light and illuminate that shit. Listen to what it's telling you. Don't just pretend it's not there. Show up and do the work. The work is the growth and the way.

And you know what? If you’re if you’re all in and ready to put and end to business as usual and step into a brave, new world where YOU get to decide who you are, what you stand for, and what you have to offer this big, beautiful planet, so am I! I will be your cheerleader, coach, sounding board, and biggest fan, but I can’t do it alone. You have to show up for yourself and for the rest of us too, because we need you, your voice and the special brand of magic that only you with your unique superpowers, insights, and experiences have to bring to this world.

If this message appeals to you and if you know are ready to begin the journey of reclaiming and unleashing YOUR voice, I invite you to step closer and work with me. My programs and one-on-one offerings are designed to help people give voice to their values and vision in both their life and their work. I want people to leave their time with me able to express themselves in deeper, freer, more authentic, more profound, and more creative ways. With

So what are you waiting for? Reach out. Let’s chat. No gross sales tactics. Just me, you, and an honest conversation about how (and if) I can assist you to reach your goals, keep you accountable, and grow your spirit at the same time.

And until next time, be true to your own wild magic, your voice, and especially yourself, for you, my friend, are need in this world and you have big things to do!

SO many books!

Hey there! Are you a reader? I’m a reader.

I challenged myself to read 100 books this year, because knowledge is life and books are a HUGE part of my leisure time and of my work too. If I don't keep on learning and growing, I can't encourage my clients to do the same and I want to keep stretching and expanding, so I can keep on offering deeper and better programs for them.

I've already read 34 and am nine books ahead of schedule, which makes me happy. Looking back over my list since January, here are my top five plus a couple just for fun reads in no particular order:

🌷Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneil - A freaking hilarious journey of what it was like to be a woman in the 19th century.

🌷Belonging by Toko-Pa Turner - A powerful exploration via myth, dreams, and story (I think you can see why it's my jam!) of what it means to find connection to ourselves and each other.

🌷The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer - Not the newest book, but one I needed to read. Writing, creating, visioning, all easy. Self-promotion and taking charge of the vision, much more challenging. Important read for creatives and anyone, who wants to build community and change the world one person at a time.

🌷The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks - I can't can't get enough of this book and its message of overcoming the upper limits we create for ourselves in getting our work out there and creating a better life.

🌷Everybody Writes by Ann Hadley - Just a really nice, easy to read (let's face it, some of these sorts of books are a snoozefest!) guide book for writing content and copy.

🌷JUST FOR FUN 1: Juliet Blackwell's Lily Ivory series. Just a fun read that feeds my love of witchy, woo-ey mysteries in my down time with an added dose of vintage fashion, because in my head, I wear fun vintage dresses and not my usual work at home uniform of leggings, tops, and flip-flops.

🌷JUST FOR FUN 2: Nancy Warren's Vampire Knitting Club. I know, I know. It's totally silly, but I love vampire literature and it's fun to think about creatures of the night having a knitting circle where they make sweaters and solve mysteries and I need fun.

What are YOU reading right now? What is teaching you, sparking your creativity or just giving you a little escape from daily life? Let me know. I still have at least 66 books to read!

The magic of learning & creativity

From the moment I learned what school was like from my bff across the street, who was a year older than me and already in Kindergarten, I wanted in on it and from the moment I started school, I found myself wanting to learn everything and then teach it to others.. I’ve never lost that enthusiasm. By the time I got to college, I had SO many interests that I wanted to pursue that didn’t know where to begin.

I remember sitting in the academic advisor’s office feeling SO excited as I signed up for my first classes. At one point, she had to leave for a bit and told me to just stay and make a list of the courses I was interested in taking and then we’d come up with a plan. By the time she returned 15 minutes later, I was ready to sign myself up for about 400 credit hours in one semester. After talking me down with no small amount of kindly amusement, we decided that I would focus on a double major of music and foreign language and I left her office feeling excited and empowered.

Two years later, I was sitting in a similar advising office, straight A transcripts in hand, listening to a misogynistic geezer tell me that I should give up the idea of a double major, because you have to be (and I quote) “really special to pull that off successfully,” the inference being that I and my straight As and ovaries were not. It was probably one of the saddest moments of my young academic career that 20 year old me let her hopes be dashed and believed him. After all, he was an experienced professional and knew what he was talking about, right?

When I think back on the incident now, it disgusts me that any educator would discourage a smart, motivated young woman from striving to do more than was required of her. I eventually shook it off and ended up going all the way through grad school with fellowships and academic scholarships to pay most of my tuition. If time travel were a thing, crone me would definitely like to go back and tell that tweed wearing weasel a thing or two.

Having your own business feels a bit like that sometimes too. The possibilities are as endless as the imagination and there can be a lot of second guessing of where to grow and what to offer next, especially when you have a broad background. And, as with anything in life, the peanut gallery is all too eager to chime in with its advice. The thing is that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should -- and I can do a lot.

My pre-coaching life includes academia and teaching German language and literature with research interests in fairy tale, folklore, and women’s studies, 15 years in sales operations and international business environments, and a few writing, language and publishing related jobs. When I first started offering courses three years ago, I was really focused on using fairy tale as a lens for self-development. Over the years, that has broadened to include folklore in general as well as a healthy infusion of Goddess and earth based spiritual practices in my work.

Today, I again feel the pull broaden and do new things. I’m not sure yet where that will take me, but the one thing that ties my work together and always will be is empowering people, especially women, to give voice to their mission and purpose.

And that’s why I am really excited to be working on two new projects right now -- a podcast that will allow me to share a broad range of expertise under the umbrella finding and expressing your voice and sacred mission in life and business and a program that I’m going to be launching this summer called Awakening Awen.

In neo-pagan druidry awen stands for the flowing spirit of inspiration, that place where we are in divine flow. In the program, we’re going to be focusing on dealing with the kinds of tweed wearing weasels that burst forth from our psyches to feed our fears anxieties in the creative process and also have some space to play, create, and share our work with weekly creative prompts.

Although my work seems to attract creatives and I myself am a life-long writer and storyteller, the idea of using my own struggles to find my voice and creative confidence as a springboard for a program around nourishing creativity is a new venture for me. And it’s the best kind, because I know will not only create momentum for my students, but stretch me and allow me to express own voice in new ways and that is just the best kind of teaching for all involved.

#HelpMoreHaveMore #awakeningawen #flow #findyourvoice


Working with Crystals

A few years ago now when I was just starting to work with crystals, I signed up for classes with a woman who was also a vendor of rocks and other magickal tools. Every week, she had an array of beautiful tempting new stones and I was like a crow with a credit card wanting to snap up and learn about all the shiny, pretty things. And for a while, I did.Fluorite, labradorite, scolecite, rose quartz, selenite, obsidian, jasper, garnet, aquamarine. You name it, I had or wanted it. 

Pretty soon I had quite a collection of crystals that I was afraid to take out of the little bags they came in for fear that I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart and wouldn’t know what they were for, if I couldn’t match the rock to its identification tag. That right there was a huge red flag and a problem, but it took me a while to really grok that, because for me life has always been an exercise in wanting to learn all the things and the bigger my collection grew, the more there was to learn.

It wasn’t until I started studying earth medicine with a really wonderful teacher, who encouraged us to shift our mindset from “using” tools to one of “partnering with” that I really began to understand that the tools that we use are not just things, but sacred objects that call us to be in relationship. It was at that point that I began to make the shift from collector to practitioner. And the first lesson was that being a practitioner is not about collecting ALL the tools, but about developing deep relationships with the ones that choose us. If you want to have a collection, there is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to be a practitioner, narrow and deep is where the gold is.

But how do we become responsible practioners?

We start by procuring our tools from ethical sources who only do business with vendors committed to responsible practices and who have respect for the earth. This goes for mining, harvesting plants for oils, really anything that relies on the earth as a source for tools.

We also do it by sharing. Not every tool is meant to stay with us for a forever or to become a close, personal ally. Like people, some are only meant to stay with us for a season, others a lifetime. There are so many crystals already in circulation that if we would trade the crystals we no longer use once our work with them was done, there would never be a need to mine another stone again. Think about that. That is a HUGE impact.

Being a responsible practitioner also means developing a relationship with our tools.

Cleanse them, spend time with them, hold them, feel their vibration and energy, meditate with them, get to know them. Be a responsible steward and practice reciprocity. When we work with the goddesses and gods, we make offerings. When we work with the Earth, we should be doing the same and the most profound offerings we can make is to treat her offerings as the sacred gifts she offers us with the wisdom and care they deserve.

So, tell me. What are your narrow and deep partners in doing your work? And if you don't have that practice already, which ones would you choose, if you were going to begin to cultivate such a practice?

Making time for what we care about

I REALLY wish people would get over this stupid idea that we all have the same 24 hours a day and if we cared about something, we'd make time or magically manifest the resources for it. That is bullshit.

✨Do you need to remain positive and keep plugging away even during the tough times to reach your goals? YES
✨Do you need to be committed to the things you care about? YES
✨Does that sometimes mean having to make choices that involve giving up other things? YES
✨Does it sometimes mean you have to find creative solutions to garner the resources you need? YES
✨Do we sometimes have blocks that cause us to self-sabotage? YES
✨Does it mean having faith in yourself and the benevolent nature of the universe? YES

BUT

It is utterly privileged and out of touch to shame people or make them feel bad that they're not doing enough when you don't know their story or what they are struggling with.

Sorry, but...

🌠24 hours for a single mom with kids is not the same as 24 hours for someone who is privileged with the resources to hire help.

🌠24 hours for a solo caregiver who is managing the life and time of a parent or spouse with a degenerative brain disease is not the same as it is for someone who is only responsible for her own life.

🌠24 hours for a woman with chronic disease is not the same as 24 hours in the life of a woman blessed with vibrant health.

🌠24 hours for someone working a 9-5 while trying to start up a business is not the same as it is for someone, who only has a day job.

🌠24 hours for a woman trying to keep her head up while battling depression is not the same as it is for a woman who is not battling just to stay afloat and get out of bed in the morning.

And that's not because people don't want it bad enough or aren't trying hard enough.

Can we learn strategies to help surmount some of those hurdles? YES.

Can we all be better about managing our time and learning to focus on the things are important to us? ABSOLUTELY!

BUT...

Access to resources make a difference. Education makes a difference. Knowledge makes a difference. Health makes a difference. Time makes a difference. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise and don't let them make you feel bad, if you are struggling.

And no, I am not telling you that our attitude doesn't make a difference. I'm not telling you that miracles don't happen. I'm not telling you you can't make it, if you believe and are willing to work and think creatively.

Keep plugging away. But don't let anyone make you feel bad, because you are doing what you can even if that's not as much as you'd want to in an ideal world. The point is to keep making moves and taking steps forward, even if they are little ones. Anything else is a line of lightwashing bullshit.

Swan Medicine

When we think about working with the wisdom of animal guides, we often think of the beautiful practices of our Native American brothers and sisters. But did you know that many other indigenous cultures throughout the world also have ancient practices of transformational healing that works with animal, plant, and stone allies?

Among these peoples were the Celts, who held animals like Owl, Salmon, Stag, and Eagle. They also associated various animals with different Gods and Goddesses. For example, Brighid is associated with several animals including Swan, who dwells in the watery, liminal spaces that were sacred to her.
 
Swan teaches us to recognize beauty in ourselves and the world around us and to make space for grace. As a psychopomp and symbol of the soul, she was venerated by the Druids, whose bardic caste wore cloaks made of swan feathers.

This week, I am so excited to be teaching my students about Swan as we deepen our work with Brighid in Becoming Queen. Enrollment for this program is now closed, but if you're interested in learning when it opens up again, sign up here.

What if they don't like me?

Today as I was reading posts in groups I belong to on Facebook, I came across a question from a woman wanting to know how to get past her fear of advertising her freelance work, because people might not like her.

It’s a common fear, especially among women, who are raised to be unobtrusive, make nice, and please people and it’s a tough one to get over. I know I was afraid for a long time too. Many of us spend a lifetime trying to free our voices and rid ourselves of the fear that we’re not good enough and that people won’t like us or what we have to offer.

Some of us are so paralyzed by it that we live our lives on the sidelines afraid to go for what we really want, because other people might not approve.

The thing is that trying to be all things to all people is a losing proposition. We are never going to please all the people all the time. And more importantly, we’re never going to please OURSELVES or live a truly fulfilling life, if we let others define who we are and what we do. 

And that’s why sometimes we need to channel our inner Cinderella and push ourselves to go to the ball without worrying about what our nasty step-family is going to say.

No matter what we do, we will always be able to find someone who doesn’t approve. And usually. those are not the people DOING and going after their dreams! The more authentically we show up in the world, the more we are going attract a circle that cheers for and supports us. And let me tell you, once you give up focusing on pleasing everyone else and start to put your energies toward letting people see how amazing you really are, everything changes. You start to draw people to you who appreciate your mission and values and suddenly it feels pretty okay to say, “Go with God, but go” to the people, who don’t get you.

And that’s a good thing, because you, my friend, are a unique combination of personality, talents, and experiences and the world needs you. You have so much to offer that no one else on the face of this earth is equipped to offer in your special way, so don’t hide your light. Own your special brand of magic!

We are in the season of Imbolc and spring, the time of new beginnings, Where in your life have you stayed stagnant due to fear? Big or small, where might you make a new beginning that you’ve always wanted to make?

Creating Space for YOU

How has your new year been progressing? I kicked off mine by leading a wonderful group of women through a course on moon magic and intention setting and now I'm leading another group through a 12-week program around stepping into our voice, magic, and sovereignty. For a while now, I’ve also been occasionally freelancing as a writer, translator and editor and I’m getting ready to formally launch a content creation side to my business as I expand into offering more business consulting services in 2019. And I quietly celebrated the anniversary of my third year since I left the corporate world to start my own business.

While I hadn't been happy in my work for a long time and had long wanted to leave, the events that gave me the courage to take that huge leap were kind of a perfect storm. I broke my shoulder and had a little over a month on sick leave to think about how miserable and needing to make a change I was. By the I was pretty clear that I was SO over working 65 hours a week and never having time for the people or things I loved.

Then, just as I was ready to go back to work having made up my mind to start looking for a new career, the company suffered a downturn and laid off 75% of its staff just as I was released to go to work. Talk about a sign from the universe, right? So, I searched my heart for what would make me happy, went back to school, hired a business coach, got serious about figuring out what I needed to learn to be good at my new career.

It has turned out to be one of the greatest acts of self-care I've ever given myself. I have cobbled all of the things I love (story, wooery, self-development, goddesses, writing, creating, teaching, helping others unearth their magic, etc.) in to a job that helps empower women  to grow in abundance, success, authenticity, and creative self-expression.

And you know what? It kicks ass and it was a radical act of self-love for a person, who had always put herself last and allowed herself to remain stuck for fear of meeting some arbitrary standard of "good enough." Do you do that? If you do, you're in good company. I think a LOT of women do. And that's why we sometimes need a reminder that we deserve to take up space and we deserve to pursue the things that make us happy. Consider this your reminder. And think about it.

Do you allow yourself to cultivate space in your life for the things you love and that make your soul glow?

You don't have to change professions to do it, but I challenge you this week to give yourself space to rest or do something you love for no other reason that you love it. Trust me, you will feel so much better for it.

Vision, voice & values in the coaching world

For a long time, I was really hesitant to call myself a coach.

But inspired by a conversation one of my mentors started and a comment I got from someone recently about how she resents people like me clogging up her Facebook to “make a quick buck,” I do want to talk about it.

First of all, anyone who knows me knows that “making a quick buck” is the furthest thing from my mind. I left the corporate world to pursue this path, because I love teaching, holding space, and helping people grow. I am on a mission to make a difference and empower other women not to settle for less than they deserve.

From my very first day in business, I have offered free and sliding scale enrollments. That has evolved into launching programs with a sliding scale “Pay-What-You-Can” pre-sale and offering payment plans, sometimes even for smaller programs, because I don’t want income to be a barrier to growth for any woman who wants it.

At the same time, I am a 24/7 caregiver for parent, who is fading from a degenerative brain disease and have a house full of hungry rescue pets to feed. I love my work, but it also allows me to provide food, shelter, and basic necessities for my little family. I won’t apologize for using my gifts to better our lives and neither should you for using yours.

I have invested in multiple certifications, trainings, and an advanced degree that is pertinent to the ancestral work I do with fairy tale and folklore. I also have formal training in pedagogy, course design, and experience teaching at the university level.

I don’t play games. I am not here to mess around. I favor depth and I want to work with women, who are willing to do the work. If you want fluff, I am probably not for you. BUT if show up for yourself, I will support you with joy and good humor to the moon and back.

But, honestly, I get why the woman I mentioned has the attitude she does.

A lot of what I see under the guise of “coaching” is fluffy and self-congratulatory at best and completely disingenuous at worst. The faux, shiny world and the mirage of “high vibe” at the cost of empathy, compassion and engagement in the world that a few present is not in alignment with me, my values, or what I do. And, honestly, it’s not in alignment with how a lot of my peers work either. Most of us enter this industry, because we care about and love people and we want to see them shine.

So what DO I believe in?

I believe in...
...love, equity, and justice
...the inherent value of life, both animal and human
...recognizing the full spectrum of human emotion and experience
...being spiritual, witchy, and woo-ey without lightwashing
...the voice and the power of BOTH compassion and anger as a force for love
...the grand paradox that that life can hold both intense beauty and pain, sometimes all at once
...that sometimes the only way out is through

I also believe in beauty, creativity, and in the power of the human spirit, the eternal cycles of the moon and seasons, and that we are magic. We just live in a world that tends to make us forget.

The truth is that a lot of people (especially women) settle for less than they deserve. We are taught to put everyone else’s interests first and somewhere along the line, we forget our own.

“Don’t make waves. Be nice. Don’t be selfish.”

Sound familiar?

And THAT is why I create spaces, where women are seen, heard, believed, and encouraged to take up space and step into their own power. I also do it, because I know that when we fill our own wells and improve our own situations, it places us in a position to do the big work and MAKE A DIFFERENCE and make things better for everyone INCLUDING ourselves. Because, honestly, that’s why we’re here and if you don’t see that, then you’re missing out on a big part of what it means to be human.

If you want to learn more about my work, I invite you to contact me or go to my website (www.martinarutledge.com) and check it out. My life isn’t perfect. No one’s is all the time, but being the beneficiary of coaching has done wonderful things for the quality of my life and self-belief and I am privileged anytime someone entrusts me with the gift offering that service to them too.

Take a chance on YOU

Do you want to know a secret?

When it comes to creative endeavors, I am a huge perfectionist. I do it to the point that I could hold onto things FOREVER tweaking them, if I let myself. In fact, when it comes to my creative work, I’ve spent a lot of my life using that perfectionism as a buffer, a way to avoid putting myself out there. Maybe you have too.

A work in progress is filled with promise and potential. As long as we are still working on it, we always have “But it’s not done yet” to hide behind. As soon as we call it finished, though, it can officially start to suck. As a result, in the past I would *never* have run a program in my business that wasn’t planned out in minute detail and edited to death before I started enrolling for it.

One of my goals for 2019 is to stop trying to be perfect and start being more daring, more open to experimentation, more willing to fail, more willing to take a chance on me.

So, I did an experiment. I created a course with a detailed syllabus of what I wanted to cover, but otherwise had faith that the right words for the things I wanted to write and talk about would come to me

Instead of focusing on perfectionism, I focused on building relationships. I got to work on reaching out, making personal connections, talking to friends I haven't talked to in ages, and having enrollment conversations with people.

And you know what happened?

✨ I exceeded my enrollment goal and got to start my year spending time with amazing clients.
I had one person get snarky with me for reaching out and I realized that I didn't care. Not even a little. She's not my audience and clearly is not in tune with my mission. I bear her no ill will, but seriously, go with the Goddess, but go.
✨ I learned that the "Pay-What-You-Can" Pre-Sale Experiment people were telling me was CRAZY, wasn't and that it allowed some really amazing people, who otherwise might not have been able to participate to join our circle and add immense value to it.
✨ Because I set the expectation that I wanted to circle specifically with women who would lift each other up, the women who did show up for my class were not just accomplished, but truly beautiful human beings.
✨ The strong, yet loose (maybe even *imperfect*) framework I created, allowed me to support my students by tailoring lessons to their needs and goals, while still delivering the core learning. 
✨ And best of all, I feel like I've served my people.

I know my story was long (thanks for hanging in with me), but my point is this:

If there's something you want to do. Just DO IT. Take a chance. Don't be afraid to fail and forget about being perfect. Fortune favors the bold. If it doesn't work, you can course correct and try something else next time, but don't hang onto your beautiful work, because you are afraid you are not "good enough."

Make this the year you create something of beauty and offer it to the world, even if that thing is your own happiness.

There’s a reason why the heroines of folklore and fairy tale only transform after leaving the comfort and safety of the village and venturing out into the forests of the unknown:

Big results require big moves.

So, let's all keep on  keeping on. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (if you don't know what that is, talk to me. I can help you!) and aim your arrow for the moon.

As the saying goes, the worst thing that can happen is that it will land in the stars.

So, tell me. Where are YOU feeling stuck and ready to do things differently? What are you ready to let go?

Brightest of Blessings,

Martina

What are your superpowers?

This time of year always has me thinking about goals and what I want to do in the coming year. This year in particular, I'm thinking a lot about some shifts I want to make in how I make my living and the work I do with my clients and that has me thinking a lot about Superpowers.

I discovered a lot of my superpowers when I was just a kid. I bet you did too, because their seed is often in the things we love and gravitate to as children. I was and am also a weirdo, who follows her heart and rarely does anything just because others were doing it.

And for the most part, I never questioned whether I was good or bad at these things. I just did them because they were interesting and joyful and came as naturally to me as breathing. But then comes the age when we girls start to get messages like:

Be nice.
Don’t show off.
Don’t be boastful.
Don’t be pushy.
Don't toot your own horn. 
If you’re awesome at something, you don’t need to tell others, they’ll notice themselves.


(As I learned when I started my own business, that last one is not the world’s best marketing strategy.)

And the thing is that I think a lot of other girls got the same messages, because I see SO MANY of my peers hiding their light too. And I know that shit is hard to overcome, because it’s taken me a long time to do so. And the worst part is that not only do we hide our light, but we start to question whether it is even bright enough to shine.
 


So, what are my superpowers?

I am creative.
I am a great writer.
I am good at teaching people to create attractive DIY websites and even better at creating content for them.
I am compassionate and have a strong drive toward justice and advocacy.
I am unrepentantly outspoken about social and political issues.
I am committed to encouraging other women to STOP APOLOGIZING for having opinions.
I am empathetic and intuitive.
I am great at breaking down overwhelming goals into manageable tasks.
I am really good at encouraging people and making them feel heard.

And you know what? I get to use my superpowers every day. My superpowers help illuminate a path for the clients and students when I teach, coach, and do readings. They are there when I help someone set up a website or start a new business. And they are there when I advocate for people like my mom, who have terminal, degenerative diseases or for my fellow caregivers, who often give up everything to care for their loved ones.

And you know what? I LOVE that I get to use the things I am good at in a positive way. Because, honestly, if we’re not going to do that, why even have them?

So, tell me (seriously, send me a message. Proclaim your gifts and mission. Let me hold space for you!)... 

What are YOUR superpowers? And how do YOU plan to use them to create better things in your life, your family, and community as we march into 2019?

#takeastand #superpowers #better

Be yourself

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When I was a kid, my dad lost a bet to a buddy or maybe it was my Uncle Bud. I don't remember what it was they they bet upon, but I do remember that the loser had to shave his head and my dad was the one who lost. It was a shame. He had thick, wavy hair. But he shaved his head and, to add some extra flair, grew a handlebar mustache, because, hey, why not? Go big or go home, right?

The thing is that in losing this bet, he discovered he liked having it shaved. So, every year after that on March 12 (his birthday), he'd shave his head for the summer and then start growing it back on Labor Day. We all teased him about it, but I think it amused him to be different.

And you know what? Looking back, I think he was pretty awesome, because he taught me that it is way more fun to march to the beat of your own drum. Both my parents did. Neither of them ever did anything just because other people were doing it. They did their thing, spoke up when someone was being treated injustly, even if it wasn't popular, and were just decent, kind human beings. I love them for modeling that the best thing you can be in life is yourself.

And so, today, I am grateful for my parents, because if you're a parent and raise your kids to be kind, to think beyond the tip of their own noses, to be proud of who they are, and to feel loved, then you've done your job. And mine did it in spades.

Who in your life has encouraged you to use your voice and just be yourself?

Around the World, Around the Year is back!

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30,000 years ago long before the last of the great Goddess temples were destroyed and people still believed the earth was our Mother, they told stories. They told them to explain the nature of the world and of the sacred, which was all around us. They told them to entertain and they passed them on from generation to generation. These stories are the seeds of myth, folklore, and even some of the fairy tales we tell today and they are containers for wisdom carried to us on the breath of the ancestors via oral tradition.

In Around the World, Around the Year program, we leverage this wisdom for self-development as we deepen our connection to ourselves and the world around us.

Each month we explore a new story and theme from a different part of the world and each week in your inbox, you'll receive a journal prompt, meditation, or activity designed to expand your knowledge of self, learn about earth based spiritual and magical practice, and to help you connect more deeply with the earth, our Mother, and the Sacred in YOU!

Come join the journey! Your passport awaits!

In the coming months we’ll be working with the following tales & themes:

⭐The Girl & Winter Whirlwinds (December): 
Christmas, Yule, & the Return of the Light

🌜Ceridwen’s Cauldron (January): 
The Cauldron of Rebirth. What is calling you in 2019?

⭐ Shlemiel (February): 
Embracing Your Inner Fool & Finding Your Way

🌜A Legend of Multnomah Falls (March): 
What is love and how can YOU be a force for it in the world?

⭐ Scherezade (April): 
Honoring Our Stories

www.martinarutledge.com/around-the-world-around-the-year/

Full Moon

Traditionally, the full moon is a time when we work on things like healing, completion, closure, and releasing. It's also a time when many traditions focus on workings for peace.

This month, I'm feeling really called to focus on letting go. We all carry so much stuff around with us that we really don't need to be shouldering. Hurts, feeling responsible for others, holding on to feelings, situations, and ideas about ourselves that do not serve us, none of that baggage is healthy for us to be carrying around long-term. And yet we all do it, right?

A couple months ago, I had an experience that created some baggage of just the sort I'm talking about: 

Someone I felt I had given a lot of support told me that she was not going support something I do with her participation (which amounts to reading an email), because "her time is precious." While I love helping others and  generally don't at all have a problem with people coming, going, and drawing boundaries for their own self-care, the way she put it really triggered me. I stewed over how I'd devoted a lot of my own precious time to supporting this person, often for nothing in return, even though it often involved things others pay me to do and even though I am generally pretty busy. Have you ever had something like that happen to you? It's not the best feeling and I won't lie, it hurts.

For a while, every time her name would pop up, I'd get this tight little knot in my stomach and start feeling hurt and irritated. Then one day, I started thinking about why I was triggered me so deeply (it touched upon my ego and insecurities and made me feel foolish for letting her in and including her in spaces where I was vulnerable). I realized that I just needed to let it go. 

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So, I helped someone and it turns out she didn't appreciate it in the way I would have hoped and wasn't in place of readiness to lend the same support in return. So what? We can't dictate how people receive what we offer. In this case, the way it was received tells me that this is probably not a person I am meant to be close with, but that is okay, because I know without a doubt that I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me and that we can love people as human beings while still holding the boundary of not inviting them into our inner circle. 

This knowledge forms one of the guiding principles in my life and work and remembering this makes it so much easier to let go. You see, even in my business, I look for clients I really click with. I have to live like everyone else, but I’m not just here for a quick buck. I genuinely want to help people and I look for projects and clients that feel like they're chocolate and I'm peanutbutter -- we're just meant to go together. We are on the same wavelength, like we could be Soulpod. And those who don't fit that bill, I release with love and good wishes for their journey.

The beauty of being able to release people, experiences, and ideas that are not meant for us without bitterness is that it creates space in our hearts for us to focus on those we are meant to love as well as those we are meant to serve with our work in the world. Won't you join me in doing some releasing at the full moon?
 

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For your soul:

One of my favorite activities do to at the full moon is to write down things that I want to release on slips of paper and then burning them to let them drift away on the smoke. This month, I'll be working on my own ego triggers, hurt, and anger. What will you be working on?
 
Where is your ego causing you to be triggered? Where are you holding onto hurt or anger? How are those feelings hampering you? How are they damaging your relationships? How are they closing you off from the people and experiences that are meant for you? Are you prepared to release them? How will you begin to do so?


Feel free to drop me a line or share in the comments, so I can hold space for you.

Love & Loss

Over the past week, I lost two of my best friends in the world -- Baxter and Teddy. Baxter was an almost 17-year-old terrier mix, whose health had been failing for some time. For the past couple months, my first task of the morning has been to check if he was still breathing. Teddy, on the other hand, was an 8-year-old vibrant and healthy (I thought) goofball, who was getting into mischief up until the night before I woke up to find that he had passed while we all were sleeping. One death was anticipated, the other was not, but both were heartbreaking. Even writing this now, I feel the tears trying to push their way forward. They were my family and I loved them.

But that's the thing about love, isn't it? Love can take us to the giddiest, most joyful heights and plunge us into the deepest and darkest pits of despair.Much like the Wheel of Year, it has its ups and downs and the pain of losing someone we love is one of life's most potent teachers. It's not lost on me that this experience of profound loss comes as we enter that part of the year that is the domain of Demeter and the other Death goddesses who teach us about grief and the sacrifice that comes whenever we enter a new cycle. It is the way of Nature, but that doesn't mean it's always easy.

I don't know about you, but I've had a lot of experience with death and living in the shadow of grief. I was born into a household where a child had already died, my childhood best friend, Jill, was killed in an accident when we were 18, my father, all my grandparents, and a cousin had all passed before I had passed my mid-20s. And today, I am a caregiver for a mother, who is slowly dying of FTD (Front Temporal Lobe Dementia). Unlike riding a bike, which becomes old hat with practice, Death never gets any easier.

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Anyone who has ever lost someone can understand Demeter's grief at losing Persephone. They understand why she would halt the growth of all thingsand scour spheres to find her daughter. But at the same time as it hurts, Death teaches us a lot about how to live. It teaches us to love unreservedly. It teaches us to sit and hold the hands of those who are experiencing grief, because we ourselves know sorrow. It teaches us that we do not have forever, so love and live unreservedly, because you never know when the Summerlands will call.

And so, this week I invite you light a candle for a loved on who has departed and sit with your memories of them and to tell (or better yet show) someone who is still here how much you love them.

Brightest of Blessings,

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Lughnasadh Blessings

Greetings Sweet Soul!

As we enter August and the first harvest of the year, I bid you Lughnasadh aka Lammas Blessings.  I love the harvest season. It is such a lovely, golden time of gatherings, friendship and community, so I wanted to share with you a beautiful story that originates with the Multnomah people of the Pacific Northwestern United States. It is a story that holds a very special place in my heart, not only because it is an origin story about one of my favorite places in the world, Multnomah Falls, but because it celebrates the love and bond we have to our people and the sacrifices we make for them.

As the story goes...
 

Long ago, there was a Multnomah chief, who had a daughter, who was especially dear to him. When she was old enough to marry, he chose for her groom a young warrior of neighboring Clatsop people. The wedding feast was already scheduled, but before it began, a sickness came upon the village. And the people were afraid, thinking they had done something to anger the great spirit. 

Unsure of what to do for his people, the chief called together a group of his most trusted advisors. After much discussion, the oldest medicine man came forward and spoke of a prophesy that the Great Spirit would send a sickness to the land and that everyone would die unless a sacrifice was made of the daughter of the tribe’s leaders and that the daughter must willingly give her life for their people. 

And so, gravely the daughters whose fathers’ and grand had been head men were called. Soon, a dozen or so stood before them and the chief, who loved his people too much to spare even a single one said, “No daughter shall be sacrificed. Tell our people to meet death bravely.”

And so, the disease stayed and more people died and the chief’s daughter struggled. She wondered, if she should be the one to sacrifice herself, but she couldn’t, for she loved her warrior too much to bear the thought of being separated from him. But then he too became ill and she knew what she must do. 


And so, she snuck off at sunset, following the river until she came to a great cliff. And as she stood at the stop, she prayed to Great Spirit and jumped. By morning all were healed and the tribe rejoiced until someone realized what this spontaneous healing meant. 

Once again, the daughters were called forth and one was missing. The young Clatsop warrior immediately set out to search for his love. Following the path she had taken along the river, he found her body among the rocks and buried her there. In grief, her father prayed to the Great Spirit for a token that she’s been welcome into the spirit world. Almost immediately, he heard a rush of water from above that great until the stream became beautiful waterfall that tumbled over the edge of the cliff.

And that is how Multnomah Falls was born and the Multnomah people were saved, because of the sacrifice of the young girl who jumped in a great act of love to save her people and her beloved from disease and death.

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It is a lovely story isn’t it? It is one that speaks deeply to our ideas about what it means to love and to our willingness to sacrifice for it. And it’s a complex issue.  Let’s face it, as women, we receive a lot of not so positive messages that sometimes seem to suggest that the quality of our love is proportionate to our willingness to sacrifice our voices, ourselves and what we want for the benefit of others and that is a very one-directional flow of energy that reflects a not always a healthy kind of love.

At the same time, there is no denying that as manifestations of the Goddess, we hold within us a great capacity to nurture and love our kind and community. Indeed, one could say that all the work we do toward self-development is with the end goal of equipping ourselves to be a great force for love in our families, our communities, or world.

But what IS love and how do we express it in healthy ways?

The dictionary defines it as "an intense feeling of deep affection."

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

The Dalai Lama says:
"If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. "

 Civil Rights Leader Cornell West says:
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

And so, this week I invite you think about love and community.

What does love mean to YOU? What does community mean to you? How might you do the work of love in your own community (no sacrifices required)?

Brightest of Blessings,

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