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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Blood Moon

Summer is in full swing and I thought it might be a good time to check in with you, because this week brings us a special event, Friday’s full moon eclipse, which will be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century! While we always do workings for peace and healing in my Wildwood group at the full moon, this one will be a potent time for doing any intention setting or magic.

Why is this moon so powerful? Because the Blood Moon encompasses a full lunar cycle in one event and this amplifies any magical workings we might do under its energy. As the Earth’s shadow falls over and then again away from the moon, it experiences each of its phases from full to waning to new to waxing and full again and that is why some schools of magical thought believe it to be so powerful. The full moon is already its most powerful phase and when you add to it the power of all its other phases, you’re left with some pretty unique and strong conditions for intention and magic.
 

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So, what kinds of magic do we do at the Blood Moon? In general,  it is also a good time for developing our own intuition and releasing emotional blocks and other unwanted energy, but because this particular eclipse moon is in the sign of Aquarius, a sign that tends to be focused on humanity and the greater good, it is a powerful time for focusing on any intentions that benefit the world as a whole, especially looking at any conditions that need to be healed and released in order to create peace, equity, and prosperity for all. And this is important, because the more evolved and aware we become, the greater is our responsibility to do workings not only for our growth, but also for healing the world.

Areas you might focus on in your eclipse moon workings include:

  • Communication between realms (heightened intuition and ease of entering altered states of consciousness)
  • Working with the ancestors
  • Healing rituals (especially those tied to women and the community at large)
  • Divination like scrying, tarot, and rune work (hello heightened intuition!)
  • Setting transformational goals and intentions (magical workings are augmented!)
  • Offerings to and workings with any of the lunar goddesses

We have a powerful portal this week, may we all use it well!

Brightest of Blessings,

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Queen of Death

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Finding my place as a spiritual being, who is deeply connected to the Sacred Feminine has been a lifetime endeavor. From a very early age, I heard Her voice. I knew that the teachings of the Abrahamic religions did not call to me as did the song of the forest or the heartbeat of Mother Earth, even if I wouldn’t have admitted it publicly for fear of being ridiculed. As a young person, I was painfully disinterested in the pursuits that occupied other girls my age and always felt like I didn’t fit in. It is something I often feel today as well.

At the time, I thought it was because I was introverted or shy or awkward -- monikers I happily claim as an adult, because they are also where the great gifts my creativity, deep hunger for depth and knowledge, and strong sense of individuality are born. Even now, I am your weird friend, who loves poetry, knows how to craft a wand of an oak bough and sari silk, knows the magical, healing properties of different plants and stones, and can tell you how to remove negative energy from your person or space.

The difference between now and then is that I embrace the different beating of my drum, because I know that it is really the beating of my own heart and that I have a deeper calling.  Even though we get caught up in the trappings of our patriarchal and corporate “climb the ladder, if you’re not first, you’re last, he who has the most money is king, so win at all costs” society, the truth is we all have a deeper calling. Some of us have just forgotten it.

As I mature and grow, I’ve come to realize that a lot of my calling is around Death. Perhaps when you read “Death” you think of morbidity and dark, scary things. Of course, physical death and the mourning goes with it is part of it. I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life. By the time I was out of college, I had experienced the loss of my brother, all six grandparents (in case you’re wondering how that works, two had remarried), my childhood best friend, my father, one of my young loves, and several pets (who are no less sacred lives than those in the human part of my Soulpod).   And, yes, the Great Unknown is scary.

But Death in the eyes of one who understands energy and knows it cannot dissipate or disappear, only transform, is not an end. Death is transformation. And that holds true whether we are talking about the physical death of a living body or the death of a cycle or a phase of life. When we hold the hand of a dying loved one, we walk with Death. When we help a client effect the transformative energy to build a new business or life, we are walking with Death too.

For anything new to begin, something must end. It is a basic principle of magic that when you create a void something must and will fill it. And it is the nature of existence that all things move in the pattern of the Great Wheel, flowing from moon to moon, season to season. It is also is nature that for us to be born into a new level of existence, something must die. This is true even of being born. In passing through the birth canal, we experience a kind of death in leaving the womb existence that has been our life for the past nine months.

Several years ago now, I worked with a healer, who told me that the energy of a past life in which I was a sort of Death Doula and Priestess living on the edges of society and that I should look to her in journey or meditation for guidance. At the time, I wrote it off as one of those things would be psychics and palm readers say that sound mystical, but have no existence in reality. I have pink hair and am a natural optimist, who loves wildflowers and forest groves that chime with birdsong and, while I admit to a righteous and fiery indignation in the face of injustice, I am generally overflowing with love and compassion. What do I know of Darkness and Death? But the Goddess, she knows, even when we do not or at least are not ready to admit it.

When I started feeling called to explore the Path of the Priestess and joined, among other training grounds, a Druid order in my quest for more organized spiritual training, who called to me, the gentle pacifist, who works with the creative fire and healing of Brigid, to preside over my dedication but The Morrighan and her Crows? And though she did not stay with me (though Crow remains with me as a guide), I have since heard the call of other Dark Goddesses since my mom was diagnosed with FTD, among them Inanna, Hecate, and in recent years Persephone.

Now in my 40s, I am faced with and prepared for what will probably be the ultimate loss to mortality in my lifetime as I walk the dearest friend and compatriot of my life, my mother, through a terminal, degenerative illness that steals her memory and twists her personality as her soul struggles its way out of this mortal coil. She is not even gone and yet as I watch her own pain as she slips away from me, I grieve for her already and that grief holds deep pain and sorrow even though Death and I have become intimate. And like Persephone, I am fully prepared to walk into the Underworld, even if I am not yet prepared to stay past this illness, which is the dark half of our recent years. My mother has begun her descent and she will not make this journey alone. And I too will emerge from it transformed.

Create a new star

No one day is like another, each tomorrow has its special miracle, its magic moment in which old universes are destroyed and new stars are created.
— By the river Piedra I sat down and wept - Paulo Coelho

This is me three years ago today. I was working in typical corporate job that had me doing regular 12 hour days. Most of my coworkers were nice enough, but the work was boring and unfulfilling and I felt like I was in prison. My creative and intellectual nature felt completely stifled and I felt as sad as I look, maybe even sadder.

When this picture was taken, I was in a lot of pain and probably drugged up as I was recovering from a broken shoulder the week before. I couldn't move my left side much, which sucks when you're left-handed. It hurt like hell, but the unhappiness was so much deeper than that. It went soul deep. My mom had just been diagnosed with FTD a few months before. I was overworked, completely unfulfilled and not living on purpose in any sense of the phrase.

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There came a day in my convalescence when I realized that I was more than okay with trading all the pain that went along with being broken and unable to do much in exchange for a few weeks away from my job. How messed up is that? But the time off turned out be a good thing, because it gave me something we often don't take time for -- time to think. And I mean real thinking of the soul searching kind.

If anyone needed it, it was me. I was already unhappy. I had just been told my mom, my best friend, had a terminal, incurable illness and I felt so miserable and alone and wondering things like "What is the point of life? There has to be more than this." And so, I resolved to make some changes, among them to create meaning in my life and also look for a new job that mattered, allowed me more quality time with my mom, and actually gave raises and paid overtime, something my company was notorious for not doing, even though it liked to spout the grossly false claim that we had a standard 37.5 hour work week.

More importantly, I decided that it was time to really explore what it was that I was here to do. All my life, I had wanted to do something creative and something that made me feel like I was was using my actual talents to help people in some way that made a real difference. And then, as if in agreement, the universe gave me her affirmation.

A week after I returned to work, we all got called to a mandatory meeting, where we were informed that the company was in crisis and there were going to be massive cuts. Then I got the email over the weekend (yes, a fucking EMAIL after 13 years of service that included a lot of overtime and working through "vacation" days!) that said my position was being eliminated. If there was ever an affirmation that the only person who was going to create happiness and fulfillment in my life is ME, this was it!

It was at the same time terrifying and electrifying. The universe was forcing me to follow my sickbed plan to transform the way I was living. And I mean we've ALL done that, right? Said we were going to find that new job, lose 20 pounds, start spending more time with our families, take more me time, more creative time, more whatever time and then fallen back into our old habits? Well, this time, I was left with no choice.

At 45 years old. I was starting over.

And you know what?

I did it! I made a plan and I did all the things I had decided I was going to do. I went back to school and studied coaching, aromatherapy, and hypnotherapy. I became a Reiki Master. I got certified in Earth Medicine. And then I found a mentor to help me weave all of that plus my lifelong interest in writing, self-improvement, spirituality, goddess worship, and comparative religion with my love of fairy tale, folklore, and myth with my graduate degree in literature to create my Into the Wild Woods of the Soul programs.

I'm not going to lie to you and say it has been easy. It has not. There are still days when it is tough. While I have loved it in so many ways, it has also been a LOT of work and a lot of uncertainty. There were months when I didn't know how I was going to pay my bills. There have been times I've had to dip into savings to pay debts or borrow money to work with teachers, who had the ability to guide me in ways that I needed. And there is still a lot more work to do and a lot more to learn as I continue on this journey.

I am a huge believer in the magic of setting intentions and putting our goals out into the universe, but believe me when I tell you this:

No dream happens overnight or without effort.

And believe me when I tell you that anyone who tells you it will be otherwise it full of it. It's a really popular thing right now for business coaches to peddle the myth that having your own business is easy peasy and that you can make unlimited money in your sleep without ever working, but it's not true and anyone who claims otherwise is doing their clients a disservice. Yes, it is a labor of love and there IS a kind of freedom that comes with working for yourself and the trade offs are so worth it, but make no mistake that it IS work. It is all possible, but you have to do the work.

And it is work that I am happy to be doing and I've started seeing results, but it took time. I am so grateful to have had the support of some wonderful mentors. I know and welcome that I will have the chance to work with them again and with others as I continue on my path. And with the challenges there have been some decided boons and pleasures. I have connected with amazing individuals, whom I would never have met, if I haven't had the courage to put myself and my work out there. I have discovered that it is possible to find a fulfilling line of additional work that I never expected doing in translation, writing, and transcription contracting on projects for some awesome clients like writers, creatives, film makers, the U.S. government, the UN and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Most of all, even though walking my mom through her own journey with FTD, a form of dementia that like all forms of dementia is incurable and creates a loss of memory and other functions as it causes the brain to shrink. This disease takes another piece of her away from me each day and it is no understatement to say that walking with her through its progression is one of the most difficult and most emotional things I've had to do in my life. And yet while there is great sadness in this journey, I make it with an undercurrent of peace that was never present in my old life. I consciously have built a life that allows me to be there for her while at the same time expressing myself creatively and doing work that matters. I am so proud any time I get a message from someone who has participated in one of my programs telling me that it left him or her feeling empowered and inspired  to make art or start a new business, make a major life change, remember their purpose or even just find a source of contentment and balance.

This work is important to me. Not just because I don't want anyone to wait 13 years to claim their happiness, but because I believe that we are all connected and because I am Pollyannaish enough to believe that happy, contented people are kinder people and that in illuminating that path to contentment for them, I am doing my little part in creating a kinder, more loving world.

And so, as Samhain passes and a new year in the wheel begins, I feel things shifting again as I retreat into the winter to listen for my path forward in the 2018 calendar year. Already, I sense some things I'm doing now will fade away, while others come forward. I welcome this with anticipation and such gratitude.

I know that this was long, but I hope that you've stuck with me and that this makes clear that you can reinvent your life at any time. If something in your life is not working for you, please don't wait. It may not happen overnight, but will happen. Take the steps to change it. And for God's sake, don't just sit there waiting for it to happen. I waited for 13 years and the only thing that gained me was lost time that I will never get back

Miracles do happen, but they happen a lot more often and a lot more consistently, if you know where you're going and you help the universe by doing the work to get there. If you are feeling stuck, drop me a comment below or send me a message on my contact page. I have learned so much on my own journey that I am happy to leverage in helping you to find your own path too. I'm going to be offering some free month-long coaching opportunities to celebrate the anniversary of my awakening and would love to help you. Because, truly, once you find your path of purpose, the universe cracks open in beautiful ways and there is no going back.

Lisbeth

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At Samhain, one of the two times a year along with Beltane when the veil grows thin, we remember our beloved dead. If you've been with me for any length of time, especially in one of my Wildwood programs, you've probably heard me talk about my German Oma telling me fairy tales and magical stories when I was a child. She always told them, never read them, I imagine repeating how her own mother told them to her. It was her stories that inspired me to go to grad school for German literature and that created such a deep love in me for oral tradition, magic and folklore.

Her name was Lisbeth Behrendt and she was one of the most gently strong women I have ever met. She lost babies, raised two children, and was a war refugee. She survived two world wars, Nazism, Communism, and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. Because of her experience with totalitarian regimes (and my grandfather's penchant for speaking out against them no matter the consequence), she carried a lot of fear, especially of authority, yet somehow in the middle of all the ugliness she remained the kind of person who would pull passing strangers into her house to feed them after the war when everyone was poor and hungry.

She was the kind of woman who sold her gold wedding ring on the black market in exchange for a loaf of bread to feed her family. She lived a lot of her life in excruciating pain from a leg doctors wanted to amputate when she was just a young woman, but she wouldn't let them, because she loved to dance.

I remember once when I was about 20 and she was in her 70s, sitting with her in the kitchen while she told me about the village she grew up in and the dances the local nobility there would hold, inviting all the young people in the area. And as she spoke, suddenly she started dancing around the kitchen, doing a little folk dance. She was always graceful, but in that moment all the years melted away and I could see the joyful, flirty, young girl she once was.

She was Lisbeth and she was my Oma and her compassion, care for others, and desire to make the world kinder and better live in me.

Who are your beloved dead and what are their stories? What piece of them to you carry with you and in you?

#Oma #AWAY #IntotheWildWoodsoftheSoull #Ancestors

Finding Your Path

Did you know that the story of Hänsel and Gretel dates back to the European famines of the 14th century? As horrible as it sounds, it tragically was not unheard for children to be abandoned, because their parents couldn't deal with having the extra mouths to feed.

When you think about the story in that context, you can see how for two hungry children, coming upon a house that was not just made of food, but candy, a treat many of them probably would not have ever seen, it would have felt to them like they were livin' the dream. And that's what makes the gingerbread house such a potent metaphor for what it feels like when we connect with our own dreams and purpose. And make no mistake, while it might not be the kind of nourishment that feeds our bellies, finding our purpose does something even better -- it feeds the SOUL.
 
I remember how giddy and happy I felt leaving my corporate life to create my own fairy tale business of helping women connect with the sacred femininewithin and illuminate their paths of purpose. I feel that same wide-eyed joy and excitement every time I guide a woman to look inwards, into the wild woods of her soul, to remember the joy of what lights her up and why she is here. That is something I want every woman to feel. 
 
And that is why I absolutely LOVE it when I get a chance to teach Illuminating Your Path of Purpose with Hänsel & Gretel. This is a program for every women who has ever felt like something was missing from her life or like she was lost and wanting to make a change. It is for every woman who just feels tired and wants to reclaim a little bit of joy and magic into her daily life by reconnecting with what fulfills her.

Through working with the archetypes of the two children and the wicked witch, this program will gently guide you to clarity and help you begin to silence the false doubts and fears that that keep you stuck.

This empowering journey will take place July 31 - August 18, 2017 and I would LOVE to see you there. Learn more and register by Saturday, July 15 to take advantage of the earlybird rate at www.martinarutledge.com/upcoming-group-program-with-hnsel-…/

Brightest of Blessings,
Martina

P.s. In integrity with my commitment to making this work accessible to everyone, a limited number of scholarships are available. If you have a need, please contact me for more info.