Archive | February, 2016

The Lonely Priestess

I’ve been faced with a lot of demons and shadows in the last couple of weeks. It’s been really tough- emotionally and physically – but I have learned a lot about taking risks + making mistakes. I survived, I learned. And I really lived the process- staying present in the journey, not just looking to the goals for satisfaction.

In the course of all this, I have uncovered how an old story is holding me back. During a massage last week (with a super intuitive dude) I came to understand that I embody a particular archetype. An archetype is a meaningful symbol or theme. For instance, some women identify with the Queen archetype- they want to rule their world (there are light and dark sides to this, of course). I identify with the Lonely Priestess archetype.

What’s that?

The Lonely Priestess is the one who is too high above everyone else. She weaves her spells and prayers and benefits her people, but she lives far above them. They can’t touch her, in her tower. She is special, to be sure, but she’s also not quite human. And this leaves her alone, and sometimes lonely.

I have always been told I was too much.

Too smart.
Too intense.
Too serious.
Too weird.
Too spiritual.
Too lofty.
Too high up for others to touch.
Too good.

These labels hurt. They set me against myself and I withdrew. Which looks like loftiness, but isn’t. My ‘loftiness’ was a defense against loneliness. Because of my loftiness I have been lonely and unable to accept the love that is around me. Even a priestess, too lofty or not, is loved, though. And I ignored so much love around me because I was up in my tower, trying not to hurt anyone with my intensity|intellect|weirdness, and no one came to visit. (A rare few climbed the tower to find me, bless them.)

I have been so broken these last few weeks; the risking + the rejection, the feeling + the despair. And it has made me realize I cannot keep above my life.

I must actually live what I love. Down on earth. Being human.

This has kind of ruptured my image of myself. I am not who I thought I was (in so many ways). It’s been good. And it’s been shattering and my bloodied hands don’t want to pick up the pieces of the old life.

I just want to sit + love myself + look at the sky + weep + pray for rain + and let my hands bleed + sleep + breathe + touch the grass + touch my own lips + sleep some more +run the shard against my palm + rest for months.

And then, to sit up and breathe again + eat something good + think of standing once more + listen to my own heart + love myself + begin to walk again.

Less priestess, more human. 

Wounded. Humbled. Healed. Just like everyone else.

And, finally, willing to be alive in just the way I am. Weird me. Intense me. Serious me. Smart me. Real me.


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Rachael Maddox wrote:

When you begin to see yourself in everyone and everything
When you can call yourself what you really are, without pretending that you are not
When your big bold life begins to topple over the edge of normal and into the realm of whole
And when you let yourself worry that this–this expansive way of being alive–makes you even stranger than before when you had no where to put your love […]
We are all so very vulnerable. No one immune. No one getting to play hookie in the health room during the math exam. Not forever, anyway.

We all eventually have to sit for that test–the one that exposes how little we know, the one that makes us feel like beginners again, the one that softens our ego and teaches us to ask for help, or say nothing at all and just be with our own tender limitations.

We are all creeps. All weird-o’s. And there is someone out there, someone so fucking special meant to make your creep stand tall like hairs on your back. Meant to remind you of your fragility. Meant to point you to your strength by illuminating your wobbly parts.

Sit for your test. Struggle to let someone see your vulnerability. Over and over and over again.

Passing’s not the point.

[See the full text here.]

::: ::: ::: :::

My massage dude was also clear that I am full of divinity + sensuality + creativity + power – I just need to open to all of it. This felt like a true story, too. So, as I connect with my divinity and sensuality, I find that I am even more human.

And thus, I am willing to pour myself into even more of what I love. Dancing (I am daring to take a Bollywood class). Tarot + energy + symbols. Self love practices. Self-empathy. Taking new risks and stepping into my power in work and love. Being weird in my own, alive way. And finally, finding connection and accepting all the love that has always been here.

Look at what a messy, broken human you are, Joanna. Isn’t it great?
Yes, it is. 



Oh. I fucked that up. Royally.

If you meet the Buddha on the path, kill him. – famous Zen koan


I used to wonder what the hell this Zen koan meant. (A Zen koan is an statement or question that is unsolvable to the logical mind. One of the most famous is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”) But today I think I know.

It means that if you meet someone who claims to be the Buddha they are full of shit. It is a mistake of the ‘enlightened’ to think they are enlightened. That they are somehow better than others on the path.

And I made that exact fuck up this week.

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I’ve had a series of conversations with someone I have an old contract with – we’ve been finishing up the contract with some spiritual guidance. And over the last few weeks I have been able to provide guidance and insight that has helped them.

But in our last conversation, I made a huge mistake. I offered some last insights and ideas, but as I hit the ‘Send’ button on the email, I realized: I was too involved. I offered guidance beyond the stage they were in. I thought I knew what they really needed and wanted. I wanted to direct their potential to a particular goal. I think I also committed the coaching sin of saying ‘should’ to them.

Some of my personal shit had gotten stuck in the recommendations I made. I wanted them to grow in the way I thought best.

Which is the mistake of thinking you are ‘enlightened,’ that you know what is better for someone’s life. It is also the mistake of someone who is too personally invested in a client. I saw their potential and I wanted it fulfilled in the way I thought was best (I told you I have a problem with this).

My biggest shame was that what I did was the opposite of empowering. That makes me the most upset with myself. I attempted to cut off their ability to choose. (Good God, that’s just fucking awful and against everything I believe in.)

My client did the only thing that was reasonable: laughed in my face. Because 1- I was wrong, 2- I was ridiculous, and 3- they felt defensive.


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I have never called myself a ‘spiritual teacher.’ I know my role is much more that of ‘spiritual guide’ – I help people and accompany them through dark nights of the soul and other human troubles. I tell stories, use metaphors, listen to what is not being said, offer tools, ask questions, and use intuition.

But after this, I am not even sure I can call myself that anymore. I am humbled by my mistake, and learned from it the moment I realized I made it. But now comes the application of that learning.

Learning means I look at myself, why I felt the need to say such things, and where I became too attached to the outcome. It means I review the timeline and see where I lost my self-awareness. It means I look at what triggered me, and why, and where that emotional reaction comes from.

Learning also means I handle myself with compassion as I do this- not with self-hatred. And it means I apologize with a contrite heart. (The contract is finished, so I can hide myself away and lick my self-inflicted wounds now.)

One thing I know for sure now: I am not the Buddha. I am not any more ‘enlightened’ than anyone else. I only have my own stories and mistakes. And now I have one more. If I am lucky, I will make wisdom of it. Until then, I sit with the lessons and let their pain seep into my mind and heart and hope this will lead to transformation.




Inside my head

A variety of things have been roaming around my head this week on the topic of love and healing. I have dumped them here for your perusal.

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It only hurts us to love when we do so with expectation. And that’s not really love, anyway. Love has no expectations, no qualifiers, no conditions. Love is pure, untouched by our mind’s demands, untainted by our desperation and fear. Love can only be beautiful. It can only be divine. No, love doesn’t hurt, not when it’s real. Real love empowers. It strengthens. It reminds us who we really are and why we’re really here. Love, more than anything else in this entire world, heals us.

Scott Stabile

[This is really lovely. And certainly something to use for guidance. But human love (especially romantic) only rarely reaches any of these goals. In my own life, love (of many kinds) has been painful. Terribly so. And that pain has also created healing and growth.]

::: ::: ::: :::


I love you between shadow and soul. I love you as the plant that hasn’t bloomed yet, and carries hidden within itself the light of flowers. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. Because of you, the dense fragrance that rises from the Earth lives in my body, rioting with hunger for the eternity of our victorious kisses.

Pablo Neruda One Hundred Love Sonnets

[The love of potential has been my greatest joy and sorrow.]

::: ::: ::: :::


The humanism bypass. I did it for years. I saw glimpses of someone’s potential, their beautiful soul, their loving heart, and told myself that this was who they truly were, ignoring all the rest. But the rest was what destroyed. The rest is where they lived most of the time. The rest was  no illusion – it was them, too.

The self-destructive pattern was birthed in two places: 1) my deep desire to see the best in my difficult parents. Nor for them, but for me. I needed to believe that there was something kind and caring inside of them; 2) a misplaced projection from my own self-concept work. I held the belief in my own potential as a way of overcoming the shame I carried. But I made the mistake of assuming that everyone else was just as eager to find their light.

Of course, we all have glowing potential. At the core, we are all magnificent beings with profound capacities. But how many of us fully actualize it? At this stage of human development, not so many. The trick is to hold space for two things at once- a deep belief in everyone’s possibilities, and a deep regard for your own well-being.

It’s okay to pray for everyone’s liberation without joining them in prison. Pray from outside the prison walls, while taking exquisite care of yourself. It’s okay – you can’t do the work for them anyway. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries…don’t leave home without them.

Jeff Brown from Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation

[I am deeply attracted to potential. And to those who are broken. Because I am part witch, part Empress, and all healer I want to love up all the torn souls. I have been hurt a few times, quite deeply. I am learning about boundaries again.]

::: ::: ::: :::


The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.

Dr. Steve Maraboli

[This process is painful, but necessary. I have to remember that the pain of moving through is so much less than the pain of staying stuck.]

::: ::: ::: :::


This time, she’s practicing the art of conscious endings…

She doing endings differently now. No more unfinished stuff, no more walking away leaving loose ends. Or unshed tears, or unsaid things. It is all part of her journey of taking ownership of her life and how she runs it.

She’s learning the art of difficult conversations, to end what has already ended. She reading the signs. She’s understanding cycles. She’s no longer pushing and pulling a cycle that’s already over.

She’s releasing entanglements that were like a thorn under her skin. She’s walking away. She’s repairing what she can. She’s giving away a lot of good stuff.

She’s being neat. Conscious endings will take her into conscious beginnings.

Joyous Woman With Sukhvinder Sircar via Facebook

[Because I love and work for healing so fiercely, this is always hard for me. It’s like doing it for the first time, every time.]

::: ::: ::: :::


My darling,

You are only human and you are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to fall apart sometimes. You are allowed to hurt and feel pain too much. You are allowed to ache and get jealous.

Be easy on yourself, and let yourself grow. Let yourself learn. Let yourself be.

You are only human and you are allowed to make mistakes.

Nikita Gill

[What a prayer for self-healing.]

::: ::: ::: :::


I am actually extremely grateful that some things didn’t work out the way I once wanted them to.


[Me, too.]





Endgame :: Mark Nepo

This is from Mark Nepo’s excellent book, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. I highly recommend getting a copy. His insight about life is beautiful, concise, and practical. Worth a few minutes of your day.

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‘Now there’s nothing left but to keep dancing.’

I don’t know if it is human nature or the way of life on Earth, but we seldom become all of who we are until forced to it. Some say that something in us rises to the occasion, that there is, as Hemingway called it, “a grace under pressure” that comes forth in most of us when challenged. Others say this talk of grace is  merely a way to rationalize hard times and painful experience, a way to put a good face on tragedy.

Yet beneath all the talk of tragedy and grace, I have come to believe that we are destined to be opened by the living of our days, and whether we like it or not, whether we choose to participate or not, we will, in time, every one of us, wear the deeper part of who we are as a new skin.

Either by erosion from without or shedding from within – and often by both – we are forced to live more authentically. And once the crisis that opened us passes, the real choice then becomes: Will we continue such authentic living?

It is no secret that cancer in its acuteness pierced me into open living, and I’ve been working ever since to sanctify that open living without crisis as its trigger. But can this be done without crisis pushing us off a ledge? That the question now, years from the leap – how to keep leaping from a desire to be real, so as not to be shoved by an ever-lurking crisis.

Perhaps the greatest moment of shedding and breaking for me came as I was being wheeled into rib surgery. I found myself numbly afraid, spinning from the Demerol shot, watching the hospital ceiling roll on by, and I found myself repeating over and over the following words on my stretcher:

“Death pushed me to the edge. Nowhere to back off. And to the shame of my fears, I danced with abandon in his face. I never danced as free. And Death backed off, the way dark backs off a sudden burst of flame. Now there’s nothing left, but to keep dancing. It is the way I would have chosen had I been born three times as brave.”

We are often called further into experience than we’d like to go, but it is this extra leap that lands us in the vibrant center of what it means to be alive.


::: ::: ::: :::

This is how I try to live my life now. Having learned that crisis could pull me forward or that I could pull myself forward, I try to dance with fear now. And it’s messy, but it’s good.





the ‘right now’ playlist

it’s what’s keeping me company during my days and nights right now.

Human | The Killers

‘Are we human, or are we dancers?’
I wonder this all the time.


I Think I’m in Love Again | Kat Dahlia

I think I’m in love again/
(In my head, yeah, you’re in my head)/
I didn’t think it could be true/
Let alone that it would be you/

I find that I am falling in love with myself in a new way.
Such a surprise.


Whispering | Alex Clare

It’s a haunting song for when you’re falling apart.


10,000 Emerald Pools | BORNS

Under water/
Time is standing still/
You’re the treasure/
Dive down deeper still/
all I need is you

How my husband sees me. Who wouldn’t want to hear that all day?


100 Years | Five For Fighting

This song always reminds me to be glad for where I am and what I have.
And that more beauty is always on its way.


Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down | Fall Out Boy

(Yeah, Fall Out Boy. I’m not apologizing for my music tastes anymore. They’re eclectic. Dig it or quit reading.)

We’re going down, down in an earlier round/
And Sugar, we’re going down swingin’/
I’ll be your number one with a bullet/
A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it/

There is nothing that describes me better some days.
I also find the chorus sexy as hell.


My House | Flo Rida

Welcome to my house/
Baby, take control now/
We can’t even slow down/
We don’t need to go out/

A little ass shakin’ heat for the winter.


Wildfire | Michael Murphey

This is, simply, my favorite song from the 70s.


Skeleton Key | Dessa

by now it’s just a simple trick/
not much to see/
you hear the tumblers catch and click/
then turn the key/
but I’ve found work and welcome everywhere I’ve been/
cause everyone’s got someplace they wanna be let in/

don’t waste your worry on me/
I always find what I need/
come and go as I please/
I’ve got my skeleton key/

If you don’t know, Dessa, you need to. She is a poet and weaves the most delicious music and lyrics into magic. Get her album Parts of Speech and sit yourself down for the entire ride.


Sweet & Low | Augustana

This song is helping me feel my way into a new aspect of my self.
See more here.


Sugar, How You Get So Fly | Sugar Fix

She’s something mystical in colored lights/
So far from typical but take my advice/
Before you play with fire do think twice/
And if you get burned don’t be surprised/

Another way to describe me.


Let’s Dance | David Bowie

My husband and I love to dance, and this one let’s us get close and sexy.


If I Lose Myself | One Republic

You can feel the light start to tremble/
Washing what you know out to sea/
You can see your life out of the window tonight/

If I lose myself tonight/
It’ll be by your side/

I’ve lost my footing in the past week, and regained it.
But only with the help of dear friends who know my soul and love me up, no matter what.

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If you would like to hear the playlist, you can check it out on