Category Archives: masculine & feminine

Women’s Joy Circle: the wanting

Flaming June.

I brought a lot away from the radical pleasure workshop I taught March 30th with the inimitable Briana Schuck and the incomparable Laura Alvarez. The ringing one-liner, though, the kernel around which last night’s joy circle crystallized, was something Briana said about the difference between a want and a desire.

When you want something, you are aware of a lack.  You are bemoaning what isn’t.    There is a gulf between you and what it is you want.

I wrote this song in the throes of want, languishing in an unhealthy relationship and confused about what I really wanted.  The misery of wanting is downright audible!

When you desire something, however…ahhh.  You feel it in your body.  You come alive with the tingling sensation of desiring this beautiful thing.  You luxuriate in the knowledge that it is already in you.  And you celebrate every time you see what you desire, because the fact that it exists at all just lights you up.

Last night’s joy circle was a celebration of desire.  We ate the lavender-infused truffles I keep going on and on about (because they are THAT GOOD) and sipped kombucha and rose petal tea.  We did a lot of yoga.  We turned off the lights, lit candles, and had a sweaty no-holds-barred dance party with the delicious help of Modest Mouse, Florence + The Machine, MC Yogi, and Garmarna.  And then we settled in with our notebooks and wrote down our desires.

When you write down a desire, it should feel really, really good.  Your whole body should come alive.  Here’s an example:

“I desire an exquisite, handbuilt earthen cottage set into acres of gardens, overflowing with light and scent and flowers.  I desire built-in windowseats with bookshelves for curling into on a rainy morning, and an airy kitchen with space for all of my drying herbs.  I desire a little bathroom with large, light-filled windows and a clawfoot bathtub surrounded by blooming scented geraniums and dozens of varieties of lavender.  I desire gardens that contain cherry, raspberry, peach, plum, sea buckthorn, goji, jojoba, hawthorn.  I desire winding paths through my acres of medicine herbs and food forests that end at a year-round creek that supplies my little home with abundant microhydro energy, a cool place to submerge and swim in summer, a quiet place to meditate in winter.

I desire to share this beautiful space by hosting earth-centered events, exuberant parties circling on the wheel of the year, counseling circles,  healing herbal gatherings and permaculture courses.”

Wow.  That feels so good, just writing it again.  So different from wanting it...desiring it, feeling it, sensing it already there.  It’s a joy to desire something.  It’s agony to want it.

Knowing what you desire is an immense boon to those around you. Taking the time to write down your desires, in great detail and specificity, gives all of your tumbling tumultuous creative energy a locus point.  And in time, you become so comfortable with what it is that you really, truly want that you recognize it when it comes.  You make the choices that lead you to it.  You tell everyone you meet about the fulness of your desires and they voluntarily enlist in helping you achieve them.

Because our deepest, truest desires are for the things that lead us home.  And when we are home, creating what we were made to create, living the life that lights us up, we are doing the best good we are capable of.


April 10, 2013 · 3:14 am

our darkness is divine

English: Persephone kidnapped by Hades.

English: Persephone kidnapped by Hades. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago I heard herbalist Deborah Frances use sacred stories to describe the rhythms of living in a female body. She spoke about the underworld journey of Persephone, and the plants whose medicine specifically strengthens women who go on that journey. I have been pondering this ever since.

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March 29, 2013 · 4:45 pm

a letter to my dearest friend

English: Love Letter

Recently I received an acrimonious letter from a person who has been a great teacher (read: tremendous pain in the a**) in my life.  As I was composing my reply, carefully choosing each word, deleting many entire drafts, it struck me how much time I have spent communicating with this individual.  Hours upon hours: deliberating over how, and whether, and with which medium I should communicate.  Days: reading his poison-pen diatribes over and over, taking each painful word deep within.

And I thought about how I dash off letters to my friends–fragments of sentences, sometimes omitting both my name and theirs, when I remember to write at all.  I suddenly recalled a handwritten love note sent to me years ago, still tucked carefully away in the secret drawer of my desk.  When had I last read it? Continue reading


March 22, 2013 · 12:48 am

Women’s Joy Circle: Arousal

It starts with her beauty in my eyes, it moves...

Ooh, arousal.  It has such a sexual connotation, doesn’t it? And yet it’s important to specify just what type of arousal we’re talking here.  Arousal of the nervous system–the fight-or-flight response–is the opposite of sexy.  When the nervous system is aroused, stress hormones get dumped into the bloodstream, halting digestion, cutting off blood supply to the extremities, and eventually suppressing the immune system.  Great when you need to wrestle a mountain lion off your back, but not so hot on the lion-skin rug, if you know what I’m saying. Continue reading


March 20, 2013 · 3:09 am

New stories


1.  I used to think I was a flake.  Now I know that people called me that because they couldn’t handle my constant creativity.  Now I revel in my flakiness: hug strangers, hand out kisses on valentine’s day, break out dancing in the aisles of the lumber store.

2. I used to think my weaknesses defined me. I hid when I was sad or ashamed.  Now I know that it is my strengths that define me.  When I dwell in my strengths, I lift everyone around me. The weaknesses are there, yes, but they just aren’t that important!

3. I used to think my periods of depression were unhealthy.  Now I know that as a woman, I naturally flow through periods of introspection and vision, periods of action and joy.  When I feel sad, I call a friend instead of hiding. When I feel tired I go inside and dream. Continue reading


March 16, 2013 · 1:59 am

a dark quiet room, with tea.

The young mother

except she’s on a metro bus and she’s exhausted, terrified, and broke

In the early days of my young motherhood, when my marriage was falling apart and life was an unending cycle of wailing and washing and vomit and sleepless nights, I used to dream of a special room for mothers.  In that room, time would stop.  There would be endless, quiet hours of darkness and unending cups of warm tea.  In that room I would rock, and rest, and recharge against the chaotic and ceaseless cycle of my life.

I was so taken with this image that one night, sitting around a sacred fire with a squealing baby on my lap, I shared it.  No sooner had I spoken than a young woman I’d never met before burst out: “I know that place!”  She quickly blushed and silenced herself, but after the fire she approached me and she told me of a Korean spa she’d discovered, a place that for a small entrance fee entitled one to soak in warm mugwort baths and sweat in a salt sauna and sip endless barley tea and nap on a warmed jade floor.  We set a date, I cashed in numerous babysitting favors, and when the day came I found myself in motherhood mecca.

I had never been to a spa before (I had walked past buildings labeled  ‘day spa’, but they were so far out of my realm of experience that I vaguely thought they might have something to do with eyebrows.)  My new friend led me into a steaming room filled with laughing naked women. I spent six hours sweating and soaking and scrubbing and sleeping on the jade floor and writing in my journal, and my life was changed forever. Continue reading


March 14, 2013 · 2:27 am



the space art takes when
two minds endeavor to

the purpose of laughter
a textured voice like
degrees of warmth in sunlight

why language at all?

also try:
outlined eyes
stepped heels
a soft hand on the arm

lift of wind
linen on skin
count of syllables
or told


a memory twists sentences in passing.
a note blown on the floor.


March 11, 2013 · 2:10 pm

when it’s all torn open


There are days when the magic is flowing, pleasure is abundant, good work comes easily, and all is right with the world.

But for all of us, there are times when the beauty of life seems to flee and we are swallowed up in deep, defeating pain.  Sometimes the pain seems insurmountable and all-encompassing, the weight of getting through it too heavy to bear.  We may have lost a partner, or a job, or a child, or done something that feels unforgivable; sometimes there is no apparent reason and the pain just rises up to consume us.

I wrote earlier about waltzing with medusa, but to be honest sometimes it is less of a waltz and more of an eviscerating body-slam.  You can take St. John’s Wort, sure, or soak in a valerian bath, or better yet take a long walk somewhere beautiful.  But this kind of pain is not something that can ever be fully addressed with external remedies.  This pain comes from inside. It comes from the core of who you are, and if it is to be healed, it will be healed from the inside.

How? Lying there with your heart clawed out, unable to move or think, how can you possibly begin to heal? Continue reading


March 8, 2013 · 2:29 pm

waltzing with Medusa

Medusa by Arnold Böcklin, circa 1878

Medusa by Arnold Böcklin, circa 1878 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have tried to be “good” my whole life.  I was voted Most Likely To Levitate in my high school yearbook (seriously.) I wed a spiritual teacher/petty tyrant and meditated every day and grew organic vegetables and ate a vegan diet and picked up trash and marched and voted. And there came a day when I could no longer get up in the morning.  Continue reading


March 3, 2013 · 5:28 pm

in praise of men


Thinker (Photo credit:

You know, it’s surprising, but I honestly don’t meet a lot of men in the women’s spirituality/herbal beauty field. And so often, in my work, I’ve run into this subtle undercurrent of warfare–as though men are the enemy and women can’t heal until men are trampled underfoot. The focus on women’s empowerment can leave men feeling very excluded and unappreciated.So I want to make this very clear: I adore men.

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February 27, 2013 · 5:33 pm