There is Magic in the Spaces in Between. {Poem}

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Oh, how furiously we rush about. Busy enough that one might assume our lives depended on it.

I was chatting with a colleague, the other day. She isn’t the first to tell me, “I just don’t do well sitting around with nothing to do.”

Why is that? Why do we feel such discomfort when faced with being “in between” anything? Why this almighty rush from point A to point B, day in and day out?

I’ve felt it. God knows I have. And still do—sometimes, as though there’s a fire within.

Restlessness abounds.

But when I was sick with Chronic Fatigue, I was, for the most part, confined to my bed. I was chronically in between things. Chronically unable to live my heart’s desires. Chronically unable to busy myself. Chronically unable to partake in anything active.

So I found solace in teaching the world how to “be.”

I just found a poem I wrote during this time. Today, as I sit between things, feeling peaceful and excited one minute and up, down and sideways the next, I find this brings me a sense of calm and remembrance. A reminder that there is great magic to be found in the spaces in between.

As Dude, the turtle from Finding Nemo, said:

“When you get to the trench—swim through it—not over it.”

Iconic advice to remember when facing whatever the present moment brings us.

Here’s my poem—I hope it will bring you some peace and whip up the magic and memory you have in your own soul:

beneath the chatter of the world,
enveloped in a rich, pregnant silence,

Immutable power
winds its way through the spaces between.

You’ll know it, because you’ve felt it.
And you’ll know the discomfort between this and that.
When you’re feeling lost and fidgety:

Tune in.

I am your Ghost Writer.
I am your un-seen.
I am The Instigator,
The Presence in your being.

You are incandescent in your own blackened wasteland,
strewn with soot and chaff.

Bold as brass among the silverware.
Like broken shards of light upon the glass.

Discomfort is a hallowed bunion of pithiness and point.
Our most painful, unbearable bits, are the best way in.
If we’d only stop and sit.

Listen to the language of the heart:

Sit with it.

A vast and ancient wilderness.
Fierce as the seven seas
and tender as a mother’s arms.

Space is full of magic, power and light.
A vibrancy that lifts our stature, fills our bones.
A shortcut to delight.

Don’t rush into thoughts, but sit down in your soul.
Let your body do the talking.
Feel all the messages it brings.
Are they feelings of joy and peace, tingling and ease?
Or perhaps a sagging sorrow?

Hope for tomorrow?
Settling into confidence that holds your heart in place,
As though suspended from a force that’s far greater from within
Far greater than flesh and bone,
and far from commonplace.

You might feel:

I’m not quite here or there, but in between, somewhere.

I’ve got nothing or too much to do and no place to go.
Or something isn’t quite right in my soul.

You’ll have to sit and face the void.
Face your fidgeting, your fussing and your feelings.
Face the lot.

We’re so used to filling space,
that we lose the simplicity of each moment’s grace.
Confidence grows with awareness.
And that’s the magic within.
The power of presence,
herein, found
in the spaces in between.

Author: Catherine Simmons

Image: Rudra Boopathy/Wikimedia Commons

Editor: Nicole Cameron

The Difference between a Life Lost & a Life Lived is as Simple as This.

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I know a man who attributes his life to these two words: “Hey, Will.”

A couple of days before he heard those words, he was living in a dark apartment, subsisting off of malt liquor and frozen pizzas. Years of alcoholism and depression had narrowed Will’s life to a singular point, a lonely dot that would have barely budged were it GPS trackable.

In despair, Will sought help. He went to a 12-step meeting. The following day he went a second time. As Will neared the uproarious room, the desire to shun connection and isolate struck. One dollar Celeste pizzas and Old English called. Will waivered and ultimately chose the familiar life despite the pain he knew it held.

As he skulked away and circumvented the meeting place, a man near the door called out to him.

“Hey, Will.”  

Twenty years later, Will still remembers the feelings induced by that recognition. He credits his sobriety and all the good he has done in the world to that moment. The fact that another human being smiled and thought enough of him to remember his name from the day before changed everything. He went into the meeting, connected with other people who understood his plight, and got better.

Fifteen years after that moment, I met Will. He gave me his time and was kind enough to hear my incessant rambling about why I didn’t need other people to get better. Deep down I felt Will implicitly understood my desire to shun connection and isolate. Over the next year, he shared his home with me and nurtured an interest in meditation that persists today.

None of this would have happened if that man hadn’t smiled and remembered Will’s name.

I believe every human being possesses innate healing abilities. When explored and exercised, this powerful medicine has the capability to do more good than most complex surgeries and modern chemicals. The breeding ground for disease and unhealthy behavior is loneliness and isolation. And the antidote to such a situation could be as simple as a smile and a “Hey, Will.” 

When I disconnect, it is only a matter of time before life becomes unbearable. In this state I start to see everything as good or bad, as desirable or undesirable.

Once a few “undesirable” outcomes happen in a row, I really change. My gaze lowers to the space in front of my feet as I walk. I ruminate. Mental gymnastics permeate the space between my ears, and I am incapable of registering the beauty around me. Almost undoubtedly, the way out of this condition is a warm gesture from a stranger, a joke from a friend, or a conversation that deepens my connection with another human being.

I understand this dynamic now, so it is always a choice on how long I suffer and remain apart. But there are countless people out there who aren’t so fortunate. They have nobody, and the difference between a life lost and a life lived could be as simple as a smile and a moment of recognition.

Like most people, I would like to leave a legacy—something that extends beyond my years and changes the world for the better. Traditionally I’ve hoped my stamp on the world would be concrete: a company, a book, whatever. But I have this unshakable feeling that the best thing I could ever do is be available and kind to the people I interact with on a daily basis.

The ripple effect of loving-kindness will always outpace the most magnificent individual creation.


I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world—
it is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

– Sam Shoemaker (excerpt from “I Stand at the Door”)


Author: Christopher O’Connor

Image: SplitShire/Pixabay

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Learning to Trust again after we’ve been Badly Broken.

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“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~ Ernest Hemingway


Trust issues—I knew I had them. What I didn’t know was how much they were hurting me.

Anyone could take a look at my past and see where my trust issues came from. I have a long history with people who are supposed to love and protect me letting me down monumentally. Though I’ve worked tirelessly to heal the wounds of my childhood and my failed marriage, the residual pain remains. All these years later, my past was still keeping me from the depth I craved in my relationships—and in many ways, from becoming the full expression of who I am.

Trust issues come in lots of different packages. They extend far beyond the expected suspicion or throwing up walls to keep people out. A big result of my underlying issues with trust, I recently discovered, is that I don’t ask for help—even when I really need it.

Being let down so many times in my past made me feel like I was on my own in this big, scary world. To admit my needs to another person made me feel exceedingly vulnerable. It was terrifying.

I am superwoman, after all. I shouldn’t need help.

In fact, I’m much more comfortable offering my help to others than asking for or receiving help from someone else. For me, there is safety in giving. It makes me feel valuable, useful, needed. Truthfully, when I am giving, I feel in control. That’s where the safety actually comes from. It’s in the feeling of control.

Admitting that I need help means that I don’t have everything figured out. It makes me feel weak—helpless even. I don’t want to be helpless. I don’t want to be dependent on someone else. I don’t want to be a burden, or take too much from anyone. But mostly, I don’t want to be let down again.

I don’t want to be rejected, or hurt, or told that my needs are too great or not important enough. I don’t want to experience the pain that comes from revealing my needs to someone, and watching them walk away. I don’t want to feel like I can’t do everything in this world all by myself, because life has taught me that sometimes that’s the only option.

This fear—based on real, painful, terrible moments in my past—keeps me from trusting people who have never hurt me before. People who would never hurt me intentionally. People who would like nothing more than the opportunity to be trusted with my needs, my happiness, my dreams. People I unknowingly keep at a distance, because my ego won’t let me ask them for what I need or accept help when they offer it to me.

Two things happen when I don’t let people help me: one is that I make life harder for myself than it should be.

And maybe that’s the way I think I want it. Maybe I’m still getting off on the idea that I don’t need anyone to help me. But that’s just my ego continuing the great cosmic “f*ck you” that began in my early years.

That sad, scared, lonely little girl inside is still hurting. In her anger, fear and brokenness, she refuses to admit that she does not, in fact, have it all together. The hardest thing in the world, for her, is telling another human being that she is lost, scared to death and without a clue as to what the next right step might be.

She’s asked for help before. She’s been told she didn’t deserve it, she was not worthy, her needs didn’t matter. She’s been told she asks too much, her requests are unreasonable, she should find a way to just be grateful for the scraps she was given and not ask for more.

She’s experienced rejection, abuse and neglect in too many forms to face. The last thing that sad, scared, broken girl wants to do is ask another person to meet a need that she can’t fulfill on her own. The last thing she wants to do is put her needs in the hands of another person, because she knows all too well how deeply it hurts when those needs go unmet. Or worse, when the one she has trusted with them intentionally uses her weakness against her to bring her pain.

Ultimately, this fear keeps me feeling overwhelmed. Because I choose not to reach out when I should, or I push away help when it is offered to me. I end up doing things on my own unnecessarily. There is no reward for suffering in silence, or breaking our necks trying to be superhuman. There is no prize for the longest to-do list, or least hours slept for the most consecutive days.

Trying to do it all on my own only hurts me. 

The other thing that happens when I stubbornly refuse to ask for or accept help from others is that it makes them feel like they have nothing to bring to the table in our relationship.

It’s a subtle way of telling them that they are not needed. What they have to offer is not enough. Their contribution to my life is not valuable, it’s not appreciated, it’s not important. Truly, this is never my intention. But, it is the implied message of my inability to put my needs in the hands of another.

When I refuse to let people help me, I’m taking away opportunities for them to feel valuable, useful, needed—all the things that feel so good when we do something for someone we love. It’s quite selfish of me to keep those opportunities from the people who want to make meaningful contributions in my life, and it’s also quite unnecessary.

What I really mean with this behavior is: “I’m scared to admit that I need something from you. I’m afraid that you will let me down or use my vulnerability against me.”

If I were brave enough to speak these words, it would spare those who dare to offer love and friendship to me the confusing signals that come from my being so utterly human and also so relentless in my struggle to avoid admitting any normal, human weaknesses.

I’m learning to show my weakness again. To ask for what I need. To admit that I don’t have it all figured out. I know that I have much to offer. I also need much in return. I’m learning to trust again—one day at a time—and embracing vulnerability as a beautifully human part of who I am.



Author: Renee Dubeau

Image: Pexels

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Learning to Cope with the Mid-Winter Blues & Harnessing new Potential.

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Winter is the season for rest, decay and preparation for ultimate resolution.

We’re offered a chance to relinquish old energy, so it may be cleansed in the spirit and slumber of winter’s embrace.

Some things I’ve learned, especially over these past couple years of enduring personal hardship, are quite simple to integrate into one’s lifestyle. It’s important to recognize that throughout the fall and into winter, nature is arriving at more of a restful state.

We are inseparable from the natural world, despite our insistency to behave like it’s mid-summer and it’s light out until 9 or 10 p.m. (go-go-go!) That being said, I’m learning to advocate for more rest periods, less productivity and more time for the body, mind and spirit to process yet another year gone by.

What I’m learning from ample time outdoors each day and evening is that stillness largely pervades the material plane, especially this time of year. The sap has receded into the roots, limbs droop as though trees are asleep, and the leaves they once bore now blanket the frozen soil.

The architecture of cold, creates new icy land mass over the creek that the hardy mallards and wigeons can rest upon during the bright and warm feeling, yet often deceptively cold days. It feels as though we’re in the midst of some alien frontier when the snowfall accumulates in heavy proportions.

Get outside and breathe in that fresh air. Let this cold nature consume you—feel it to your very core. Learn to accept it.

Many of our natural temptations are to remain isolated indoors for longer periods throughout the winter months, but I’ve learned to embrace the simple art of walking often to battle the mind’s depressive episodes that inevitably creep in, especially after the often-stressful holidays have subsided.

It’s a simple activity that usually births new insights for me to focus on as a means of steering away from neurosis or cabin fever.

Writing is another pastime I enjoy, to gather my thoughts on paper as a means of deciphering the source of whatever ails me this time of year.

It also serves as a great conduit or outlet to release whatever travails I might be suddenly stricken by—emotionally, mentally or physically (known or unknown).

We’re simply bringing to light, what the mind wishes for us to reconcile with or do differently. A great way to discover what’s limiting us is to get into a practice of automatic writing, where we simply write whatever the f*ck wants to flow out from our being. The intention is to let it all flow, absent any judgement or attempts to modify, edit or revise.

There’s a saying: Let it flow, then let it go. Burn it if you must, as a sign to the ethers that this energy is slated for cleansing and ultimate transmutation at its source.

No one else will read it, which can spell out an incredibly liberating method of release that frees us from the burden of carrying these thoughts or emotions within our body, mind or spirit.

Give it back to nature.

Let whatever stagnating energy that’s no longer serving you shed naturally from yourself. These cold, blistery months are meant for this process of decay, dormancy and eventual rejuvenation to unfold naturally. Being overly busy too often this time of year seems to induce unnatural stress levels that we were never designed to cope with.

Our connection to nature is never severed, and all that’s required of us is surrender.

Surrendering to the grander nature of our being and elements—allowing these sometimes incredibly uncomfortable moments to assimilate more naturally via rest, contemplation, writing or simply walking does wonders for a person’s spirits.

Now is the time to remain poised for what’s to come. These months are great planning periods for those apt to strike out toward a new career path or move. Getting back to the basics, like self-care and additional rest, will help the body restore its functions normally.

Sit with whatever comes up through you.

Provide a serene space for energy transmutation. Witness it with the intent of letting it go—giving it back to source. We’re learning to accept what just is. We are vessels through which this vital, life-force energy flows, and our primary function is to ensure there’s no impedance to this vast reservoir or potential energy which abounds us.

I used to bathe in my depression, and sometimes can still get overwhelmed by it, but I’ve learned that it’s much more complicated than I can truly comprehend. Many of us are sensitive to the world around us, or more empathetic to our surroundings. We feel greatly, which can be a simultaneous blessing and curse oftentimes.

My personal conviction is that some of us (empaths) are here to transmute energy that never belonged to our own, personal experience, yet nonetheless, we are the instruments through which this energy is meant to be observed, relinquished and eventually transmuted.

Over this past year too, I finally began to recognize my own, inner critic telling me that I’m an idiot for feeling so deeply, when I’ve fallen into such despair. This voice is only one from my past—born outside of myself—and I’m learning to stop judging these intense feelings that inevitably overcome me, these mid-winter blues.

Creating a sanctuary for one’s self to shed unwanted energy or alleviate past energetic distortions is paramount to the discovery of our deeper origins.

This space is reserved for quiet contemplation, creativity, rest and to shed those lonesome tears, absent any outside worldly influences, misconceptions or judgements. Animals often den up or hibernate in the winter, and this place can be viewed in much the same light.

Our denning period, where we grant ourselves permission to work out our karma and seek new pathways for the burgeoning seasons to come.

Lastly, I recommend intensive energy work or massage, coaching or some form of therapy like yoga or an art class to learn something new as a means of engaging our intuitive nature as well.

Addressing our creative tendencies is beneficial to overall health, and I’m glad I spent this period of time last year learning Reiki and attending monthly Reiki circles to mingle, and receive and give energy healing work amongst my spirited peers. Connection like this is crucial to a healthy existence. There are many ways we can meet connection out in the world, or within the safe confines of our denning sanctuary that promote health.

It largely falls down to body wisdom. Learning to turn inward more during these slow, colder months so that when spring finally arrives, we’re ready to literally spring forward into this next, new wondrous season of rebirth.

One final note—I also advocate a whole food diet, over the devastating vastness of processed foods, which largely condemn good health and are nothing more than a marginalized, subsidized and inappropriate method of madness, intended to create dis-ease, while promoting further demands for external health-care (big business).



Author: Thayne Ulschmid

Image: Noah Silliman/Unsplash

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

The Year of Revolution.

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Every year, I have a theme.

2014 was The Year of New Traditions. 2016 was the Year of Speaking Dangerously.

This year is The Year of Revolution, and the theme is Vigilance.

I have long maintained that loving is hard. That in many situations, it is the hardest thing to love, but in those situations where you feel small or hurt or threatened, it is more important than ever to respond with love.

This does not mean allowing hatred. It does not mean allowing violence or exploitation. It means that when those things arise, we find the strength to choose not to add to them, but to replace them with love.

It is much like training a dog. You ignore the bad behavior and reward the good—and when bad behavior does arise, you re-direct toward good behavior.

This all rests on the basis of my self-love practice, spending more time, energy and money on feeling, rather than looking good. My focus is centered on a strategy to love and accept myself—and by extension, others, just as they are.

The rest is in-response-to. For instance, in response to the swastikas going up all over the country, I am creating images of love, compassion, acceptance and inspiration. I hang them around my house, send them to friends, make posters and stickers, and do my best to get them in as many hands as possible.

In response to people scaring, persecuting or exploiting others, I stand for those people. I wear clothes clearly communicating that I am a safe person. I speak out wherever I see injustice.

When I go out into the world, I share a smile and a hello with whomever will have one. I will speak freely to anyone who speaks to me. I help people who need my help whenever I can in whatever way I can. I am unapologetically myself. I let my light shine as brightly as possible, so that others are encouraged and inspired to do the same.

I might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is fine. I may do things differently, see things differently, say things differently, but I am not here to ignore the gifts I have been given, and neither has any other person on the planet.

We are at a crossroads. We can no longer say that we don’t know. That we have not seen. It is on us now to choose. Are we to “hunker down” and blindly follow those who say they are here to lead us? Though their tactics and tendencies are inhumane at best? Do we give in to the fear we feel in the presence of those who wish to scare us into blaming each other? Do we turn against our friends, loved ones and neighbors?

No. We do not. We must not.

We must now, more than ever, find a way to love. And once we have found that way, stay on that path. It is wide and sturdy with enough room for everyone. And we must cling to the belief that everyone’s feet are welcome upon it.



Author: Sara Young

Image: Instagram @ane_aleksandra

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Sara Young

Sara Young is a writer, artist, cyclist, amateur yogi, and avid poetry appreciator. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Sara is presently living in Bellingham, WA., making art, writing, and riding her bike along the bay every chance she gets. She is a Freedom Fighter, a Creative Adventurer, and the owner of Eloquent as Fuck, a company whose mission it is to help people live boldly and confidently in their own skin, loving the ride as they go through their wild and wonderful lives.
Sara is prolific. Her books include 20 Dates in 20 Weekends, and Epic Selfies Made Easy. She is currently undertaking a project where she takes a nude selfie every day and posts it on line.

Buddha is not a God—but thankfully, He is This.

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“Siddhartha’s awakening from the illusion of permanence gives us reason to refer to him as the Buddha, the Awakened One. Now, 2,500 years later, we see that what he discovered and taught is a priceless treasure that has inspired millions—educated and illiterate, rich and poor, from King Ashoka to Allen Ginsberg, from Kublai Khan to Gandhi, from H. H. the Dalai Lama to the Beastie Boys.” ~ Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse


I’m lucky to have interactions with people from different religions.

And I’ve noticed that the ones who aren’t familiar with Buddhism often perceive Buddha as a God, an idea that seems reasonable in their own religions. Before studying Buddhism, I thought the same.

When you enter a Gompa in the East, you see statues of the Buddha, with candles and offerings below them. It all appears to be a form of worshiping. The truth is, it’s not.

Buddha was not a God—he was just a man who found a way to end suffering.

People are sometimes baffled to learn this, since Buddhism falls under the category of religion. But, when studied in depth, it’s not. The Dalai Lama loves to call it “the science of Buddhism.” In my Buddhist studies, they call it “the philosophy of Buddhism.”

It is the science and philosophy of the mind.

The difference between Buddhism and other religious institutions is the concept of suffering. The Buddha taught that we are the cause of our own suffering and we are the only ones who are capable of ending it. Buddhists do not believe in a God who will do the job for us. And since every problem begins in the mind—and the mind is a part of us—then we are its own masters.

Buddha studied the mind. He asked his followers to investigate what he taught them and to put it into practice. If it resonated deeply with them, then it was of benefit to proceed with the teaching, but if it didn’t, then they must drop it. He made it clear that he wanted no worshiping, nor blind followers.

To worship a God means to praise him and ask him for particular wants and needs in prayer. This is not what Buddhists practice. Offerings are placed at Buddha statues to show respect and gratitude for a human being who offered teachings that can eradicate suffering.

Most beautifully, Buddhism is accepting of all religions. Buddha accepted people from all backgrounds with open arms since he believed that studying the nature of the mind shouldn’t be limited to a certain class of people. It should be available for everyone, regardless of their beliefs.

Knowing that Buddha is a not a God, but a man who went out into the world, beheld suffering and sat in meditation for years to discover the solution, is incredibly important. This realization is paramount because knowing that Buddha is just a man, like us, means that we also have the intellectual capacity to reach enlightenment and experience an end to our suffering.

When most people refer to “God,” they imagine an external figure, superior to themselves, or an entity capable of “saving” them. This can hinder our progress on the spiritual path. However, acknowledging that there was a man who did all of this by himself, is motivating to our spiritual growth. It gives us hope that enlightenment is reachable. It is available to all of us.

In some ways, we’re all like the Buddha.

We see suffering in the world every single day: hunger, wars, shootings, natural disasters, bombings, accidents. And the most intense suffering that we see from moment to moment is inside ourselves.

But only when we’ve had enough of the pain, do we truly opt to work on ending it. This is what happened to the Buddha. And we can all walk the same path, but only when we choose to.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: @bethstuartyoga/Instagram; YouTube

Editor: Nicole Cameron

The Unexpected Emotion that helps me Let in More of Everything.

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Tonight I cried.

It was a hard cry. I had trouble breathing, and scrambled to grab a hand-full of tissues.

It was the kind of cry where you just don’t think the tears will ever stop.

But I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t hurt.

I was laughing.

I was laughing so hard that my joy had no where else to go, so it ran out of my eyes and into the world.

It was 11 p.m. and I was curled up on the corner of my couch, a cup of tea on the table in front of me and my dogs fast asleep on the carpet. I was reading a book—something I sadly don’t take enough time for on an average night. But here I was, deep into Carry On, Warrior, as Glennon Doyle Melton explained in great and hysterical detail about that one night she submitted a Mommy Resignation letter to her three children.

Now, I’m not a mom. And I am responsible for approximately zero children, yet I could feel an uncontrollable laugh building in me. It started small, a giggle, mostly to myself. Then the first sound escaped my lips, waking the dogs. Before I knew it I was sobbing, soul-deep in laughter.

And it felt crazy good. It felt like soul therapy. 

There are so many emotions in life. Emotions that we give empty labels to—happy, sad, angry. Emotions that we don’t always give ourselves time or permission to feel—lonely, vulnerable, anxious. Emotions that are too big, too full, too human to truly explain—love, hate, acceptance.

But laughing so hard that I cry? That is the emotion that makes me feel most alive. The emotion that brings me completely into my body. The emotion that is the closest to pure physical joy.

And what’s best about laughing-while-crying-while-laughing is that it’s rare.

I think about my days—days that are full of work and responsibility and passion and play—and I can almost pinpoint what emotions I’ll encounter.

Exhaustion or determination when I wake, depending on how well I slept and what my schedule looks like.

Peace when I wander downstairs and crawl on the floor to cuddle my dog.

Satisfaction when I eat…literally anything.

Freedom when I’m driving down the highway scream-singing to a cheesy 80s pop song.

Empathy when texting with a friend whose life is harder than she deserves.

Relief when I’m finally home after a long day of people and questions and thoughts and I can put on my white fuzzy socks and slip underneath the covers.

We get used to our days, used to what and who we know we will see and encounter and feel.

But there is still magic left in each day.

There are still moments when an unexpected connection with a person or a story comes along and we get to experience what I think is the most magical of feelings: that moment when one emotion isn’t enough, when every pore in our body starts to bubble up with stuff, when we just “get it” and the only way we can handle the connection, the truth, the absurdity, the joy is to laugh and cry and cry and laugh.

When we can let out all the emotions that are too empty or too full and make room to let in more of everything.

When we sit still long enough to let life in.


Author: Nicole Cameron

Image: Angelina Litvin/Unsplash

How our Cosmology Shapes our Identity.

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Often times people question me on my beliefs. From their perception, I have a nihilistic view and I don’t believe in anything.

This observation is in itself a biased statement which ignores the options inherent in the idea of “belief.” It is founded on the assumption or belief that you can only believe in one thing, so if you examine multiple perspectives for the sake of generating an intellectual dialogue you are coming to a zero-sum conclusion.

Categorical cosmology plays a role in disillusionment and disconnection of the individual from the whole, increases biases, and limits an individual’s ability to see a larger picture, while encouraging ego and self righteousness.

Categorical cosmology is an attempt to categorize people.

Example: “Are you atheist, theist or agnostic?”

Yet, without all three of these the other one wouldn’t exist. Thus, they are all different sides to one whole.

The limiting perspective of categorizing people based on a self-educated, conceptual filing cabinet is a dehumanized way of looking at the world, as it fails to acknowledge the infinite potential of individuals, as well as non-extremist or dual perspectives.

If we examine the universe, we can see that without one thing there would not be another. Without day there would be no night, without heat there would be no cold, without sadness there would be no joy. This observation is to point out that by focusing on one side of the coin and thinking it is superior, we are operating under an assumption that fails to honor the full cycle of reality, a reality in which one’s opposite is actually its equal.

There is a cultural chase to “figure everything out,” research everything through an ego-based scientific pursuit of trying to understand the world based on limited perceptions and tools of measurement that are only able to detect a fraction of the fullness of the reality we exist in.

A much more freeing perspective is to be comfortable with not knowing everything, without trying to intellectualize everything, as it takes away from the wholeness of our experience. In other words, much of the educational experience of life is experienced and linguistically obsolete.

Our cosmology or philosophical standpoints dictate what we may or may not consider acceptable.

Example: Based on our cosmology or philosophy, we might think it’s okay for a complete stranger to saw us open while we are unconscious on anesthesia and cut out our organs, even though we have no real idea who they are.

Based on our cosmology, we might think it’s okay to be the superior sex, race, or religion, and that anyone who is otherwise should be expunged. This is one example of how coming from a certain cosmology might influence a person to do horrible things.

Some other examples:

I have to be the best mother possible because I have to raise children who will save the world.

I’m a healer.

I’m a yoga teacher who is spreading my message of heart felt yoga.

I’m a rockstar.

These are statements of self-identity that create a story, encourage arrogance and ego, and dictate how one compares themselves as distinct from others.

Essentially, everyone—regardless of belief—ends up thinking the same thing.

To be more specific in this context, ask the question:

“Tell me what you think you are?”

We will be met with a variety of answers that are all the generally the same, with one nuanced difference:

Meat suit.

Meat suit with a soul.

Meat suit with electricity.

Meat suit that has electricity but also has a soul.

Everyone agrees that this society is hierarchical, based on the beliefs that we are all meat suits, yet some part of us, depending on our belief system, is somehow separate or different and therefore assumes superiority.

Example: “Religion is stupid, we have science,” versus “Religion is restricted and causes violence on the planet but it’s all about your spiritual experience. You’re a spiritual being having a human experience.”

Regardless of the perspective in the above example, it is still coming from a place of superiority above others and placing oneself into a perspective that situates itself as The Perspective. This is a form of arrogance and entitled ignorance.

In short, we think we have life all dialed in, that we have the answers—but ironically this way of thinking entirely blocks and limits us from being able to obtain answers outside of this egocentric sand box.

Ideas worth emulating are more likely to come from simplicity, not complexity. This most commonly takes the form of rearranging the same material and calling it new.

For example, music. Most people learning to play guitar are repeating what other guitarists are playing and maybe making minor changes. Similarly, alternative spirituality and new age ideas are a product of rearranging old ideas and giving it a new style or look.

At a certain point, the effort to re-label, categorize, and spout new ideas that are actually old ideas is exhausting, ego-driven, and extremely obvious to anyone who has paid attention to these patterns. In a larger sense, it strips humanity of their individual ability to offer authentic contribution without mimicking learnt behavioral patterns of marketing, Western cultural appropriation, and overly-emphasized appraisal, while ignoring offering credit where credit is due.

In short, cosmology is in itself meaningless to a larger truth as it can lead to a disillusionment of self, through a dissociation of the individual to the whole, and takes one further from their true nature.

Lastly, it potentiates biases, -isms, and a stagnant perception of the universe which only limits the person from seeing multiple truths as they relate to the whole.


Author: Brandon Gilbert

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Emily Bartran

“If someone calls you a b*tch, you’re probably doing something right.”

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I remember the first time Judy Vaughan said, “If someone calls you a b*tch, you’re probably doing something right.”

There were a dozen of us sitting in a circle attending a peer-counseling class and that night’s topic was women’s oppression.

LovingWell Institute was founded by Judy and her husband, Michael, and classes took place in their suburban home outside of Houston, Texas. In my late 20s, I had begun a journey of personal growth and recovery from an eating disorder. My new friend, Richard, introduced me to the Vaughans. He thought I would really like Judy. I really did. We were inseparable for almost ten years.

The late 80s and early 90s were a fertile time in healing and recovery communities in Houston, Texas. Twelve-step meetings, workshops on healing the inner-child and treatment centers were springing up everywhere. John Bradshaw, best selling author and television personality build a self-help empire and was also from Houston.

LovingWell Institute sprang up in this fruitful, lush ground, and attracted a strong following.

That night when I first heard Judy’s assertion, I panicked. The possibility of exhibiting behavior worthy of being called a b*tch was beyond my understanding.

Right alongside the sudden, uncontrollable urge to run, I also noticed a pulsating energy that thrilled me. Doing something so out of my character that I’d be labeled a b*itch sounded risky, dangerous, and a little fun.

Growing up as a middle-class, Catholic, Italian girl, I learned early on to keep my focus on the needs of others, keep the peace by taking care of everyone else, and as a bonus, I learned how to cook and feed large quantities of people. Caretaker extraordinaire.

I was compliant and nice. Very nice.

As a matter of fact, a quote underneath my senior picture in the yearbook read, “It’s so nice to be natural when you’re naturally nice.”

If I were a codependent cocktail, I’d be two parts approval-seeking, one part focused on you, and a dash of “can I carry those feelings for you if they’re just a little too heavy?” Shake well and top with a sweet, maraschino cherry. Sugary and artificial—that was me.

Even so, Judy had planted a seed in me that night and I could feel that it wanted to take root and push through the politeness and people-pleasing soil that was covering it.

Continuing my mentoring with Judy revealed how much of a “doormat” I had learned to be to keep the peace and please others. My continued abstinence from compulsive overeating and the binge and purge cycle of bulimia required me to find my voice and start speaking up. If I didn’t start to be honest with others, learn to confront disrespectful behavior and take the risk of being called a b*tch, I’d slip into a relapse.

I decided to take my recovery on the road. When I called an old friend after we’d seen each other at our high school reunion and asked her about a hurtful comment she directed at me, she asked, “Why are you being such a b*tch?”

I remembered Judy’s words.

Shortly after that, I asked a waiter to take back an improperly cooked meal that I had ordered and he refused, stating that I had ordered it just that way. When I refused to pay for the meal that I’d not eaten and left without tipping, he followed me to the door and said, “I’ve never had a customer that was such a bitch.”

I remembered Judy’s words.

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” ~ Melinda Gates

Speaking up for myself has become a regular practice in my life, and here is what I now know about being called a b*itch:

>> What you think of me is none of my business.

>>  If my assertiveness and personal power threaten you to the point of you calling me a name, that is about you.

>> When I stand up for myself or for someone else, I am a woman in my power. Sometimes the world does not respond kindly to this. Again, not about me. As Gloria Allred said, “There are some people who still feel threatened by strong women. That’s their problem. It’s not mine.”

Judy Vaughan died of an overdose in 2001 at the age of 51. The last gift I received from her was knowing that we are all flawed. Learning to love flawed and imperfect mentors teaches me deeper love and greater compassion for everyone.

I miss you, Judy.



Author: Sally Bartolameolli

Image: @maxfromtax on Instagram

Apprentice Editor: Anne Marie Morello/Editor: Emily Bartran

This Is Life. {Poetry}

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This is life.
Hands slam

When birds sing or a tree falls
Children laugh, the sky is drenched in smoke
A wave curls and crashes
Mother weeps

This is life.
Owl hoots

As the moon rises or a volcano erupts
A long awaited baby is born, scum bubbles on a pond
Gazelles leaping, poetry in motion
Agony consumes

This is life.
Loud thunderclap

While rainbows soar or the air boils
Love springs from nothing, whales eat garbage
A child blows kisses
Grief overwhelms

This is life.
Wind howls

When a song crescendos or the earth cracks in pieces
A hug consoles pain, dogs huddle alone in cages
Warm baby breath on my cheek
Crying, crying, crying

This is life.
Lion roars

As beauty transforms or anguish unfolds
Squeeze every element from each precious moment
This glorious wretched breath
A child has wings

This is life.
Hands clap


Author: Deb Lecos

Image: Author’s Own; Jen Y./Flickr  

Editor: Emily Bartran

Deb Lecos

Deb Lecos LMT, CST-T is a regular contributor to elephant journal, freelance writer, and speaker on topics of healing, enlightenment, parenting, nature and shamanism. As a business owner/practitioner/mentor of the healing arts, she utilizes CranioSacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation and shamanism. Deb is currently working on a memoir about her triumph over an abusive childhood. Deb lives in Illinois with her husband, where everyday living often collides with mystical moments of hoo-ha. These are the events on her blog. She has a loving-via-text relationship with her two children who are on an extended sleepover in the ancient rain forest of adulthood. You can follow Deb @DebLecos, on Instagram or on elephant journal.