Full Moon Ramble in the Rain

the night pulled me awake... the moon pulled me outside.

full moon flow bursting through my soul...
guess I better get out there in it.

bundled up myself and my tender heart.

a sweet, sweet soul-grounding 3am walk in the rain...
after a crazy and surprising day.


noting the forces enticing me to play...

smiling and laughing as I lose and find my way.

art by karabrown

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posted by ashley


A Nourishing Place to Grow

I've just published a new What's Possible? Newsletter. You can read the full newsletter or enjoy the main article below.

I’d like to share with you an experience I had during a recent yoga class. It has become a potent metaphor for me in regards to how we shape nourishing and inviting environments where people can relax, feel connected, learn and grow.

During this yoga class I’m resting in child’s pose. My body is curled into a ball, relaxed and releasing into the ground. My torso, chest, back and head are folded over the bottom half of my body. My shins, knees, the tops of my feet, my forehead and arms are resting on the floor. I am relaxed. Breathing in and out. I sink deeper and deeper into the pose. My brain is calm and at rest.

The instructor invites us to imagine that we are a seed. To feel ourselves as a seed resting deep in the earth. I feel myself let go even more fully. My seed is so light, practically weightless, as if it is floating. And yet paradoxically I can also feel pressure all around me. An encompassing sensation of gravity pulling at me and pressing against me from all directions. In a comforting way, I am engulfed by the moist soil that is holding me in the earth, holding me close. And yet I also feel totally free. I am peacefully a seed. Everything feels right. There is no stress. I let go and fall into my surroundings. I feel open, trusting and free.

And then the instructor invites us to imagine that our seed is getting ready to sprout. I start to feel the initial inner stirrings, the impulse to grow. Something inside me is awakening. Sparks are firing. Energy is stirring. Every part of my insides begin to tingle, in all directions, 360 degrees, three dimensionally, all my cells are humming with potential. I feel a tension pulsing against the edges of my seed coating. While this frenetic energy is growing inside me, I still feel gracefully held in the utterly calm stillness and nourishing surroundings of the earth. My surroundings continue to support me. I trust this ground to hold me and I keep relaxing into it, feeling safe and letting go. I don’t have to do anything but be a seed. The creative energy continues to purr inside me.

I feel an aliveness of beauty and potential growing inside of me. I know that when the time is right, my seed will break open into the vast unknown, moving beyond the protective boundary and allowing all this potent energy to unfold. I can feel that my seed wants to grow and it will do just that. It does not need to be forced. It simply needs a nourishing environment in which to rest. The earth is holding and nourishing me in such a comforting way, and thus I am free to let myself expand and grow.

As a seed held in the grace of the moment, my only task was to relax into myself. The more I did that, the stronger the inner stirrings of potential and creative force became inside of me. Where have you or your child felt so held in the grace of the moment that it was safe to relax deeper into yourself? How can we create more places like that? What opportunities might you provide for yourself and others to experience and give life to the potent creative force within?

As adults we have much influence and power over the environments in which children live and interact. We can create places where
children feel welcomed to be themselves, where they are contained in ways that allow them to be open and free -- this is our response-ability. This makes room for them to connect with their deep inner stirrings and relate to the nutrient-rich world around them. This is not about over-protecting and shielding them from bad weather. This is about mindfully attending to the spaces in which they are living and growing, supporting them as they connect with their own interior landscape and impulses to learn.

How can we create more places where people recognize that they are held in the grace of the moment, feel safe to relax deeper into themselves, and thus are able to give life to that potent creative force within? Where have you experienced being held in such a way? What makes a place feel welcoming, inclusive, and safe for you to let yourself be and grow? In what environments do you notice your child feeling such freedom and creative expression? I would love to hear your reflections.

Bulb paintings are by KaraBrownLovesArt.

If you would like to subscribe to future newsletters, please sign up here.

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Driving Across the Country


posted by ashley


Images that Express Play

What images do you connect with the word play? Is there a photo, symbol, or drawing that evokes a playful experience within you just by looking at it?

Please share links in the comments or email them to me if they aren't already online. Thank you!

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Celebrating Life

My soul is glowing with recognition, opening wide in awe and wonder and resting in familiarity as I experience Autumn emerging in the mountains of Appalachia. The leaves are changing with their bright life bursting forth, one last powerful hurrah before they let loose, releasing into the heart of winter. It's such an honor to be here for this process. It invites in me to celebrate the exuberance of life and the beauty of change!

(ooh, the photos seem to lose their punchy color in these images. They are a bit better when you click on them... and if I played with them, they'd be even better... another time!)

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posted by ashley


A Life of Many Streams...

Glaciers in the Alaska Range seen from an airplane flying near Denali

A life of many streams...

Pouring through,
igniting different flavors,
waking up my being to the spirit of my soul,
dazzling my senses
with wonders to behold
and desires I want to know!

Which sparks capture my attention? Can I get quiet enough to hear the inner wind whispers? How glorious the sun feels soaking its warmth unto my skin, held as I float, the water carrying me upon its flow, to where, I don't yet know...

A few details of my life:
  • I've just finished 4 amazing years as a school counselor for children in preschool through third grade and with the parents, teachers and staff of that learning community. It was an enriching, inspiring and highly creative time for diving into many of my passions and being a part of a vibrant and rich with potential community. My learning has been immense and much of which I am still to discover. The time to leave arrived somewhat unexpectedly in February, I turned in my notice, and in June walked the path of closure and transition.
  • The day after my last day at the school, I left for a 12 day excursion into Alaska with my family... part of the journey on land and the other part on a cruise ship. The profoundness of that part of the earth enchanted my soul awake to a grandeur that frequently took my breath away and stretched my roots deep into a source. And the heart-strings of love and family connections played their melodies in a variety of harmonious and dissonant tones that sew me deeper into the fabric of my being!
  • Upon return I moved out of the house I was living in, transferred my few remaining belongings into a storage unit, and embarked upon another floating adventure into this mystery of what is next. For three weeks I am blessed with an amazing haven as I house-sit on a gorgeous houseboat on the water of Portage Bay in the heart of the city of Seattle.

And right now... I ponder a life of many streams. In Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve I witnessed as the deep sea waters of the bay made contact with a new stream of "glacial flour."
As gravity pulls glaciers down out of their mountain birthplaces, the ice grinds away at the mountains, ripping off large chunks of rock and abrading smaller chunks down into rock powder, called "glacial flour." When [streams that contain glacial flour] meet the sea the glacial flour colors the seawater, an iridescent green [meets] a muddy brown or sometimes a gray or milky white. source
. . . . .

I feel like my life right now is that expansive iridescent sea with tributaries filling into my bowl. Some of these clear, freshwater streams invisibly blend into the whole. At times I recognize a cool new flow pulsing through my system and at other times this new life circulates through my being unbeknown to me. And then there are these streams bringing a new and different color and composition, carrying artifacts and remnants, invitations and offerings from other times and places, like glacial flour mixing with the salt water.

One question I hold is how do I write about this? How do I both stay in contact with the changing and present currents of my life, including the mystery, and also find ways to reflect and share, give voice, words and images to these experiences unfolding. Obviously this is my first attempt and hopefully there will be more to follow.

Rainbow, mountains and glacier from airplane

P.S. I'm really wanting to write about my experience of "cruising."

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posted by ashley


The Social Synapse

The Social Synapse

Look closely at the body and you will discover layer upon layer of highly complex interlocking systems. As you examine each layer, you will discover countless individual cells (neurons in the nervous system) that differentiate and migrate to specific locations throughout the body. These cells, in turn, grow into an infinite variety of forms, organize into functional systems, integrate with other systems, and, ultimately, creating an individual. This we accept easily; but what about the notion that nature used this same strategy to connect individual animals (humans) into a larger biological organism called a species?

Individual neurons are separated by small gaps, or synapses. These synapses are not empty spaces by any means for they are inhabited by a variety of chemical substances engaging in complex interactions that result in synaptic transmission. It is this synaptic transmission that stimulates each neuron to survive, to grow, and to be sculpted by experience. In fact, the activity within synapses is just as important as what takes place within the neurons themselves. Over vast expanses of evolutionary time, neural or synaptic transmission has grown ever more intricate to meet the needs of an increasingly complex brain.

We know that neurons communicate via these chemical signals, activating and influencing one another through the transmission of multiple biochemical messengers. When it comes right down to it, doesn't communication between people, as complex as it is, consist of the same basic building blocks? When we smile, wave, and say hello, these behaviors are sent through the space between us via sight and sound. These electrical and mechanical messages are received by our senses and converted into electrochemical signals within our nervous systems and sent to our brains. These internal signals generate chemical changes, electrical activation, and new behaviors which, in turn, transmit messages back across the social synapse.

The social synapse is the space between us. It is also the medium through which we are linked together into larger organisms such as families, tribes, societies, and the human species as a whole. Because our lives are lived at the border of this synapse and because so much communication is automatic and below conscious awareness, most of what goes on is invisible to us and taken for granted.

Children photo by Nathan Golden with A-scribe Images
Neuron found at the Slog
Tree mandala by Woven Essence

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posted by ashley


This Little Seed of Mine, I'm Gonna Let it Shine

Tick tock, fingers locked.
What to write?
How to talk?

a rhythm, a voice, a harmonizing force
fluency, disruption and curiosity, of course!

Ever since some point in my young life, I’ve identified with trees. Mom, dad, do you know when that started? They are my teachers when I need wisdom, friends when I long to experience belonging, mirrors when in a search for validation and reflection, support to rest upon and give my weight, and elders willing to make contact with me, hold me close, and shelter me from the rest of the world. The trees, they help me let go, they allow me to release from the habits and contractions, the mind looping and obsessing, the wondering and searching. They hold me still and steady and provide space for me to open -- expanding, releasing into the essential beauty and oneness of this sacred moment, feeling connection with all of life, and grounding in the solid wonderment of me, of life. Thank you dear beings of wood, earth, soil, sun, water, rain, breath, fun.

A brief pause for an update on my life:
Change, change, everywhere

asking questions
listening to what’s here
recognizing aliveness
centeredness that’s clear…
and crumble, crumble, crashing it goes
breaking up perceptions
of clarity and form
scattering ideas and concepts
building a foundation for a future that’s near

following my heart
pause, pause, pause

listening for guidance
pause, pause, pause

thinking, scanning, action planning


In March of 2002 this image peeked out of my subconscious and invited me home. While the drawing didn’t quite capture the beauty of the tree and the alive posturing of the young girl, I heard its song and my bodybeing felt the familiarity of that existence. At home and at peace I feel when tucked away in the base of a big solid tree. Protected. Free. Spirited. A pulsing life force emerging through grounded essence, connected to a web of existence, alive, as is, of service, here.

Right now there are many elements about what is next in my life that I don’t know. Where will I live? What will I do? As I listen and look for these answers, I continuously invite myself into deeper inquiry and discovery around the aspects of my being that I do know… or think I know!!

I am called to become rooted in purpose and place.

Which means… much inquiry (writing, drawing, visioning, thinking, dancing, talking, looping, dreaming) about what is the purpose I feel called to, what kind of place (what all is included in my idea of place) do I want to root and roost in?

And so this illustration by Terry Widener captured my attention with a bit of longing. Instead of actually rooting, could I just hang out in the roots? I know that I am being called from the place of hanging out inside the trees for respite and security, into the realm of being a tree… big, bold, beautifully being, breathing, bending in the breeze, beckoning others to believe. . . (believe in ourselves, believe in what's possible, be with what-is)

There are two guiding questions that arrived for me a couple of nights ago… that are steering my listening right now and igniting much energy and excitement:
  1. What invitations would I love to receive? What could someone or someones invite me into that would be so evocative and affirming that my being would readily leap and say YES!, recognizing a soul’s calling, a place to step, a direction that might root what’s next?
  2. If I am a seed right now, what is in my seed? (am I a seed to become a strawberry plant, oak tree, lilac blossom, dandelion?) What is in my seed?

seeding at Rialto beach last month

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posted by ashley


Don't Miss the Love-Messages Flashing From Every Eye

The world is an open green
in the middle of a garden

Beings in various forms
see their reflections and laugh,
love-messages flashing from every eye


photo by divyanshs

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posted by ashley


Good Being is Contagious

“Good being is contagious.”

~ Brandon Leonard, Youth Mentor

I met Brandon at workshop during a mentoring conference. His bright spirit and
compassionate perspective was the highlight of the workshop. This comment rocked my world!

Photo by carf from a powerful story that is part of their Children At Risk Foundation. This organization is an incredible example of using social media to invite involvement for a meaningful cause. I just stumbled upon them because they have very moving pictures that are all under a creative commons copyright. I'm in awe as I look more into this rabbit hole of goodness I've just discovered. It's true, good being is contagious.

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posted by ashley


Kara Brown Loves Art

The new avatar that debuted below was created by Kara Brown with KaraBrownLovesArtIf it speaks to you and you think you might want one of your own, do consider contacting Kara! I imagine that there is a whole community of beings patiently waiting for us to invite them to life... other sides of ourselves that are ready for that artistic mirror to reflect our beauty and magic. I'd be delighted to re-unite with this community of beings!!

Perhaps you have an online presence, website, blog, Facebook or Myspace page or Twitter account. Maybe you post to an online forum. Now might be the time to bring your own superstar avatar to life!

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posted by ashley


I Love Autumn

I love North Carolina this time of year.

And, in general, I love autumn.

Thanks, Zevotron, for the photo.

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posted by ashley


Listen To Your Heart's Song

"Do not try to tame the heart,
but listen to its song,
and it will lead you to the place
where you most belong."

~Author Unknown

Thank you Saroeum for the quote
and Tearsandrain for the photo.

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posted by ashley


Dahlia Heaven

A few photos from the amazing (truly) Dahlia Garden at Volunteer Park. If you live in Seattle, I highly recommend you getting over there now to experience these beauties.

p.s. God, how are these made?

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You Are Amazing

Just in case you needed a reminder!

Photo source

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Enjoying the Sadness of Life

A beautiful Sunday in Seattle. Before a walk in the park, I pick up the book In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World. I open randomly to a page, in search of a word to carry with me on my journey. It's a Japanese word I find:
aware [a-wa-reh] (noun)

An awareness and appreciation of the ephemeral beauty of the world. The seasons change, the cherry blossom gently falls, the crops are planted, grow, and die. Aware is that poignant sensation one has of time passing, of the inevitable cycle of life and death. From the noun comes the idiom mono-no-aware. Roughly translated as "enjoying the sadness of life," it's that bittersweet, vaguely poetic feeling you get around dusk, on a long train journey, looking out at the driving rain... a few autumn leaves still clinging to your coat.
The colors in Seattle are phenomenal right now

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posted by ashley


Returning Home

I'm back in Seattle now after a little over 2 weeks in Atlanta with family and fate. I sit in one of my favorite coffee shops. Drink coffee, eat a bagel, watch the people around, smell the smells, hear the many sounds, feel the quiet/loud, stillness/activity. It's sunny outside. I see the light shining through new spring leaves. That makes me smile!

There are so many thoughts, feelings and sensations moving through me. Is it that I don't know where to start or am I afraid to dip into the well, what might I pull out?

My heart has been deeply touched and changed through life experiences of recent days. I went home to be with my dad and family as my dad had major surgery. I was there before hand, during the 4 hour surgery, at the hospital for the 8 days of healing, at home a couple of days, and back to the hospital just before I left town yesterday. Our family has grown closer and supported each other phenomenally through the stresses of surgery and the surprise of a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Our spirits stay high, the laughter continues to rumble and some of our outer shells slowly soften. We cry also!

One thing I've been fascinated by is how disordering it can feel when one is unable to play the accustomed (habitual) roles in a social system. For me it was in my family. For a few of us, we noticed that there are roles that we generally play, that are expected of us. In times of stress and intensity, sometimes it wasn't appropriate for us to play those roles. And then we felt a loss of identity. If I'm not the helper. If I don't know how to be supportive and how to express my love in valuable ways. If my presence isn't a comfort. Then who am i? What is my purpose?

And now I return to 'my life.' What is my role here? I've been immersed moment to moment in the life of my dad and how each of us around him, who love him so dearly, are responding to the intensities of change, fear and discomfort... to the heart-touchings of life's fragile importance, of love's expansive blessings, and of the gentle gifts of grace that emerge from vulnerability and closeness.

Now I'm in a coffee shop with other people on their computers, the espresso machine clicking, the guy walking by and smiling, a child trying to figure out how he pays for and receives his drink all by himself, the humm in my head of what I need to do today to return to this world... Life just keeps going. My body's here now. My mind and much of my family are still there. And I'm confused. Peaceful... and confused.

It's hard for me to stay centered in this moment. I drift away... drifting backwards through the stream of experiences that happened in the hospital, at the house, in the car, in the woods, on the phone, by myself, with my loved ones, in the silence. Those were some of my favorite experiences... the pauses between the moments... especially with my dad. Being with him, sweetly and genuinely, in silence. Just there. Together. No boundaries between us.

My mind also drifts to the future. What lies ahead for him? What will he experience? What will we experience? How do I proceed? How can I be so far away? And gently, I remind myself to breathe. I feel my lungs rise and fall. I try to focus on some part of my body. I notice what's going on around me. And then, settling into here... I feel confused... and wonder, how do I proceed?
The Way You Live Today by Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Your entire destiny is contained in and determined by the way you live today: the orientation you give to your thoughts and feelings, and the activities on which you choose to spend your energies.(…)

This is something that has to be done every day: be conscious and aware at each instant of how you are using your energies...You can do it while you are walking to work, on the bus, at the dentist’s, or in your own kitchen. Wherever you are, at any moment of the day, you can always glance into yourself and ask yourself: {What is alive right now? Is it helpful to focus my attention here?}*

Let the word ‘harmony’ soak into you at every moment; keep it within you as a kind of tuning fork: if you feel that you are beginning to worry or get upset, pick it up and listen to it, and do nothing until you have tuned your whole being once more. Harmony is the foundation of every successful venture, every divine realization. Before undertaking any activity, whatever it may be, learn to concentrate on harmony and your work will bear fruit for the rest of eternity.

*My own questions, not from the author
I stare at that tree with the light shining through the green, green leaves. I soak in that harmony. There is harmony all around me in the outer world. I invite this harmony to soak into me at every moment. I will carry it around with me in the form of a smooth polished stone, inviting me to be present, surrender and listen to this moment. To trust in this moment. And to tune my whole being, once more, to harmony. I get to learn who I am now... and what does harmony in my life now feel like.

Green Leaves by Cathryn Cooper

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Pieces of a Puzzle

Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
For some there are more pieces.
For others the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.
Some seem to be born with a nearly complete puzzle.
And so it goes.
Souls going this way and that
Trying to assemble the myriad parts.

But know this. No one has within themselves
All the pieces to their puzzle . . .
Everyone carries with them at least one and probably
Many pieces to someone else's puzzle.
Sometimes they know it.
Sometimes they don't.

And when you present your piece
Which is worthless to you,
To another, whether you know it or not,
Whether they know it or not,
You are a messenger from the Most High.

--Lawrence Kushner, Honey from the Rock

Photograph by Right Eye

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posted by ashley


Ever-changing States of Being

Life is a wild trip. A little over a week ago I was very busy, holding many different threads. I was working on many projects, bringing delicious things into being, maintaining my usual jobs and trying my best to stay balanced and keep up with it all. I was on the edge, close to being totally overwhelmed by all my involvements, but I hadn't tipped. I felt delicately balanced. For the most part, I was feeling content with how I was showing up.

Then I got some big news. My dad updated me about what-is in his life right now, a major health scare. His big news brought forth a whole lot of new information -- a full spectrum of emotions and thoughts, a stream of possibilities for what could-be in the short term and long term for me and people I love. My experience of being alive shifted.

One thing that I notice now is that my relationship with attention has changed over the last week. I need to focus on different things and in different ways. I don't have the energy or the interest to pay attention in the same ways and to the same things as I did last week. I find this fascinating. I've given over a lot of responsibility to others. I think this has been an important thing to do. I also feel guilty that I'm walking away from my commitments. And I know this is necessary (can you hear my uncertainty, mixed with certainty!!).

It is clear to me that I must slow down. Center. Breathe. It is essential that I connect with greater stillness and silence... living more intimately with what is happening right now. Sometimes it is hard for me to be in this way, to simply be. My mind races. Go, go, go. Do, do, do. I feel confused. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to be feeling? Slow down. Breathe. Center. Connect with the essence of this moment. Listen carefully to what is present now.

Planning for the future is very challenging at the moment. Holding together details for how to make things happen requires a lot of effort. I don't have nearly as much energy to give to others or patience for the little details. The fire of my passion and curiosity continues to rage.

Beauty, stillness, connection and curiosity are medicines right now. I am grateful that timing has been on my side and in a time of waiting-to-see-what's next, I've been on spring break from my job at the school and in a most sacred place to find stillness and reconnection. In general, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. May we all find peace along this journey.

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posted by ashley

Here! Take My Fin!

Fish Friends
by Clara, Age 9, Brookside Elementary
"My piece of art is compassionate because one fish is helping the other."

From the What Does Compassion Look Like Campaign?

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posted by ashley


Voice Dialoguing and A Personal Story

Journaling yesterday morning, I found myself wondering about how I operate:
Who is it that has all the control? Who is the dominant decision maker?
I decided to explore this inquiry through Voice Dialoguing.

If you’re not familiar with Voice Dialogue, Brandy George explains it here:
Voice Dialogue work allows us to transform the unconscious struggle of opposites that we carry within us into a conscious acceptance of all of our humanness. It makes it possible for us to disengage from old, automatic, reactive patterns and become more fully alive in the present.

Voice dialogue work is based on the theory of the personality as a multiplicity of selves. These selves, which are also called “voices,” “sub-personalities,” “parts,” and “energies” or “energy patterns,” are real live autonomous “people” in their own right. They have their own feelings, desires, memories, opinions, worldviews – they not merely concepts and this is not therapeutic role playing.

Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, creators of the voice dialogue process, describe an “inner family” of selves that evolves in each person. These selves are family members, friends, teachers, or anyone who has any kind of influence over us. They may also develop as the polar opposite of the models we have had in our lives.

"Learning about this inner family is a very important part of personal growth and absolutely necessary for the understanding of our relationships since the members of this inner family, or “selves,” as we like to call them, are often in control of our behavior. If we do not understand the pressures they exert, then we are really not in charge of our lives." ~ Hal and Sidra Stone
In my process, I engaged with 'the dominant decision maker', Pure Curiosity, and Seeking Harmony and Understanding (the three voices that showed up). It's a personal sharing, but I find the process fascinating and the learning extremely helpful so if you're curious to peer into my psyche, have a peek!!

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Learning From Others

I feel so fortunate that my life includes opportunities to learn from and be with children. Here is a bit of learning that I journaled about the other day. One day as a school counselor, a fortunate human being, sharing, relating and exploring in an educational community.

Today I learned about bravery.

These children are so brave to reach out to someone and ask for help with emotional problems. To accept and surrender to a feeling state that isn't serving them and to vulnerably reach towards another and ask for help.

I learned from the teachers, honoring their bravery to open up and be willing to learn in public, from their peers.

I learned about gossip from a group of third grade girls. They discussed some of the reasons that people talk about other people... For "Something to do", because we're bored, and because it can help to strengthen a bond with another person by talking about a different person. I felt humbled hearing the clarity they expressed of some of the reasons why gossip happens... and how those self-serving intentions can effect the well-being of others.

And I learned about how deeply someone can be touched (I can be touched) by a thank you that bellows out straight from the heart. It amazed me how profoundly I was (and still am) effected when I reached out to a family, helping them to have a resource they needed. I was on the phone with a grandmother when a 5 year old un-promptedly called out a "thank you" that was the most heartfelt, genuine expression of gratitude I have ever heard.

It still echoes through my core, vibrating as my cells, sparking and fueling a current of hope and life's vitality.

Photo collage Celebrating Children by Cocoabiscuit

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Feeling Belonging and Warmth

"Just outside of Nairobi there is an elephant orphanage where elephant calves found in the wild without a mother are brought to and raised till they are old and big enough to survive in the wild and then they are released back into the wild. NOTE the blankets tied around them. This is done with the smaller calves to give them a " Feeling of Belonging and warmth". When they are older this is removed. They have about a dozen calves in different age brackets. these are some of the smallest as you can see by the man feeding them." ~ Picture Taker 2

Those of you that know me in person know that I love hugs. I love to feel my body embraced with another human being, to feel the warmth and aliveness of life connecting with life, and to be an expression of appreciation and often love wrapped into form. As a preschool teacher my life was a daily waterfall of hugs. When I left that job I went through some real withdrawals as I realized/remembered that in my 'normal' life I don't get the easily 40 hugs a day to which I had become accustomed. I transitioned from that job in 2002. I've acclimated to that change and yet I still have days where I can physically feel the effects of not having had enough human contact, physical touch. My cells long for it. Closeness. Belonging. Warmth. Touch.

Am I looking for proof that I'm alive? Am I looking for assurance that I'm lovable? Am I looking for belonging and warmth to hold me? Am I looking for a safe place to rest? Do I need to open more fully, receive more wholly?

Who is it inside of me that needs the hugs and contact? How old is that part of me? Six perhaps? A bundle of joy, running around, sharing love and wanting to be loved? Wanting to know that I'm good enough in this form of being that I'm inhabiting and wanting to see and, more importantly, feel confirmation and reflection in embodied forms.

Mark Jones invites us all into a HSL (hizzle) experiment where in every interaction, one Hears, Sees and Loves everyone – including yourself.

Some questions I'm holding (and I'd love to hear from anyone interested in sharing): How do you hizzle with your body? How do you reach out and touch someone? How do you reach out and embrace yourself? How free do you feel to allow touch and contact to move fluidly as a form of expression? Are you inhibited by cultural norms, gender roles or personal insecurities?

And the next layer of my personal inquiry, In what ways do you feel belonging and warmth that transcends touch? How do you recognize existential belonging and spritual warmth?

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posted by ashley


Forever Emerging: A Dreamstory

A dreamstory, poetry of visions, moving through on a crisp morning at the Art of Hosting on Whidbey Island.

Trees droop on a heavy wet morning.
The fog offering a lightness to the sky, an air of awakening becoming evident in the crisp light softened by the mist.

A woman sits at the base of a tall pine. Her spine sculpted by its embracing form, heart blending, space sharing, love unending. They breathe together. Giving freely, opening widely, surrendering effortlessly.

There’s a spirit circling the edges… a shimmer in the light? a falling drop catching a reflection? a bird whispering through? What is that effervescent heart skip that tickles her awareness and peeks her curiosity? Her mind pokes forward, leaning in, wanting to engage, feeling pulled to follow. And yet… at her back she feels the tree’s shape-shifting. A giant oak with ominous limbs looming down to embrace her. Her spirit picking up. Her own tree form emerging. A sacred union of goldenous love echoing the heart of all that is. The roots of the oak are growing beneath her. Fat, full, forever reaching. She (as we) is solid and grounded.

she as we is solid and grounded. there is no separation. there is complete illumination. it is.

Forever Emerging. A heart pulse. a tear. long grains of moss growing. a teacher, a warrior, a shaman, so dear. Forever Emerging.

Time passes and she wakes from a dream of tomorrow, feeling cuddled in today, wondering when next week will next court her fire. The bends and wraps of time have been intensifying her dance. Space and shape have taken on all new meanings for her since this great convening. She’s discovering what it means to live as a shapeshifter. She’s discovering what it feels like to adorn this cloak of being becoming, always here, never exactly clear where the next moment’s relations will invite her soul to travel.

Like the xylem of the tree, drawing water and nourishment from the ground, traveling the journey to the tip, a fluid channel… a constant source… she too is finding this place of calm knowing at her center. And she marvels at the steadiness around which the chaos and order emerge, takes shape. A teacher, a guide, a student, a child, an elder, a foe, a mirror, a cloak, an angel, a fox, an eagle, a lizard. How to host these many entities circling the core of her relations, igniting the core of her expression, and loving the soul of existence which cradles her in being. She walks steadily this path of love. A fire enraptured as her heart, lit upon her hearth as the embrace and companionship of dear friends, heart play mates, circle in all forms, inviting her into this new journey. Forever Emerging.

Tree photo by Andy Burrows
Video and story of the ritual art

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posted by ashley


Balancing Knowing and Not-Knowing


my cells breathe
a deep knowing clarity

my body resonates
with recognition

my heart is awake
a full knowing awareness


I open, accept, surrender

being with
the mysterious emergence
of this moment

falling, floating, flailing, flying
a flower turning inside out
a void of total stillness

knowing is trusting
the sacred listening
of my human instrument

not-knowing is trusting
the sacred wholeness of wisdom
transcending my personal reach

~ knowing photo by Right Eye in an inspiring series called Essence: What shapes our identity?
~ not-knowing photo by Denis Collette
~ monkey photo by pandiyan
~ poem a Woven Essence collaboration

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posted by ashley


M74: The Perfect Spiral
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI / AURA)- ESA / Hubble Collaboration
Acknowledgment: R. Chandar (Univ. Toledo) and J. Miller (Univ. Michigan)


posted by ashley

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