prologue note, written and posted in Mean Mug Coffee Shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
October 20, 2022:
I keep going back to the beginning.
To how to begin this tale of how I came to ride on the wind whipping me along The Wild Way Home.
I've said some of what I'm about to say before, in different words, from different angles, differently ordered. And yet, there's something to the spirit of the below piece I want to share with you. Hell, maybe of all the beginnings I'm playing around with, this will be the one makes it into the book.
It's the first draft I wrote with the expressed purpose of explaining to my readers-to-be how I arrived upon the verge of another Grand Adventure, how I'd weathered all the defining expeditions and devastating impediments that delivered me to that edge from which I would fling myself soon enough.
At this rate, it's going to take longer than I thought to get to the (good!) part where I actually, physically take off on the Wild Way.
But, that's how it was, leaving, too:
A Universe of false starts that finally exponentiated into the end of everything I'd ever known, and the beginning of The Wild Way Home.
p.s. Legit, as I write this, Coldplay's "The Scientist" is playing in the background of this coffeeshop...
"Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start ..."
Early February, 2021
Chamberlin Inn, Cody, Wyoming
Well, let’s start this journey together.
I’ve been putting off really beginning for awhile, you know.
And here I am.
And here you are.
And we’re ready.
So let’s go.
Founding my Divinity School
We'll start with Guatemala.
I’m not going to go too deep into it — you can read more about my time in Guatemala in the chapter I wrote in the book Visionary: The Future Belongs To Those Who Can See In The Dark (my chapter is called "Living from the Heart").
For now, I want you to know I spent February through July of 2021 in Guatemala, mostly living with a host family in the city of Xela. While there, I started my own creative platform, with intention, for the very first time. That looked like starting a YouTube channel. I named it Divinity School.
Maybe finding me through youtube is how you came to be reading my writing. Or maybe you’re a family member, or a friend, or an acquaintance, or a stranger who went down an interminable internet rabbit hole and somehow landed here. You may even have come as sworn adversary doing your research on how to bring me down.
Whatever brought you here, honestly, I’m glad you’re here to read about what I’m doing.
Because I’ve been wondering what the hell I’ve been doing, too.
Divinity School started out as a spirituality-focused channel.
Spirituality was, in so many ways, this major part of myself I’d been hiding. It signified a piece of me I urgently needed to free, to let fly in the world where people could see. Then, to watch what came of such flight.
And I did that with Divinity School.
I said fuck it to applying to Harvard Divinity School, which was legit what I thought I needed to do in order to validate my view on my own spiritual experience and learning and growth and reckoning and riffing. A dear, brilliant, badass friend and Divine Feminine Mentor, Leigh Jane Woodgate, in true native Aussie fashion said, "Yeah, naaaaaah. ... You’re making your own Divinity School."
And thus was my youtube channel named.
The Trail of Stories that Led Me Here
Lemme back up a sec, and let you know: I’ve been writing and creating content since I could wield a pen.
Originally I went to school for journalism at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University — a big dream of mine from my days as high school newspaper (Cody High School's The Equus) editor-in-chief. Going to Medill — then the best undergraduate school of journalism in the country — marked the achievement of a major dream ... and left my soul empty after a year in urban madness among a sea of sororities.
I transferred to Montana State University in Bozeman (one of my favorite towns in the USA) and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Political Science. All the while I continued writing and publishing in various publications.
I went on to freelance in content curation and marketing for the next ten years, creating for everything from local news outlets to industry magazines to non profits to creative artists to entrepreneurial shops to national organizations to international companies ... (I also nannied, waitressed, ran a horse barn, worked at a bookstore, trained camels, guided treks, and did a bunch of other cool shit in the midst of working from my computer).
Taking a Hard Spiritual Turn
When I was in Guatemala during covid with lots of time to consider my life, it hit me hard and fast: I never had turned my creative and documentative skills onto myself.
Sure, a bit, on instagram and facebook ... but I never wrote nor publicly spoke about what deeply interested and compelled and mesmerized me — like spirituality and philosophy and sexuality and the intersection of these with sociology, politics, magic, myth, and religion.
So I started a youtube channel on spirituality.
And I went waaaaaaaaay spiritual.
Full spiritual, as I was basically living in an in between sort of realm during my time in Guatemala, often meditating for up to four hours a day and spending the great majority of my time alone, what time I did physically pass with people speaking only Spanish.
I went hard into the realm of the ethereal because something inside me snapped. I was just so damn done with the material, the outside validation, the logic, the linear, the tangible, the masculine energy of proving and hustling and doing doing doing.
I wanted something beyond proof — I wanted Love, the Eternal, the intangible, the spirit realm. I wanted to be in a magical place.
Yes, that's what I wanted: Magic. To return to when and where magic was and is real, like I'd always known ... always felt ... it to be.
Breaking Ground for divinity ranch
All this brings us back to what Divinity School transformed into after I returned to the United States, to Wyoming, to my family's ranch and the horses and the prairie and the perpetual atmospheric cloud of creative community — divinity ranch.
Here's what divinity ranch is now for me:
A place to believe in magic, a place to meet and discuss and digest and commune with anything and anyone in that simultaneously secret and welcoming, beautiful, playful, safe, authentic feeling where our realest wholest selves can find a place to belong (Secret Garden vibes, y’all).
divinity ranch-inspired energy and intention can blossom within, at any time. This enchanting spell of acceptance can be cast in any place.
Anytime, anywhere, we can meet where we still believe in magic.
Knowing that magic is real, that anything is possible, we also know no problem is too great to confront and talk about, no topic too taboo or not "spiritual" enough.
I’ve already been told off after recently posting a video celebrating having a woman in the White House. And while my political interest has not been as keen as it once was (I was originally a journalism major in college, okay), to me, political reflections are vitally important in the lens of the collective unconscious.
For instance, all we Americans up to this point in history share the memory that women have had no place at the top, since no woman ever has been in the White House as President or Vice President until now.
So a woman (and a Woman of Color, at that!) being in the White House is something political as well as spiritual and energetic to celebrate for women. It changes our deepest-held beliefs about what's possible, and about how we (consciously and unconsciously) look at women and People of Color. And if anyone doesn’t want to hear that, they have the free will to leave my creative world (byyyyyye!).
If you say "spirituality and politics don’t mix," (as someone commented on one of my youtube videos), you might as well say, "spirituality and humans don’t mix." The word politics refers to the body politic of PEOPLE. Essentially, "politics" means "people."
We acknowledge spiritual truths that apply to people, like, "We create our own reality." If that's true, though, why would we need to pay attention to shit going on in the world of politics?
Because the conscious and the unconscious inform each other. We look at what's going on, for real, in the outside (conscious) world to note what lives in our hidden (unconscious) inner world ... We unflinchingly observe and acknowledge inner truths in order to revise them, which in turn changes our outer world.
If we really want to get intentional about what we’re creating (both as individuals and as a society), we better look at the unconscious — both our own and that of the collective — because in the shadows lives who’s really directing the show.
Our deep, dark, fecund unconscious soil is that from which conscious reality grows.
Willing to See in the Dark
Part of what I'm getting at is: I was really guilty of spiritual bypassing (here's a youtube video i posted on spiritual bypassing).
Because I too was like, Oh I don't need to pay attention to anything that's going on in the outer world; that's an illusion, and I need to only pay attention to my inner world.
Or, Oh, I can’t focus on all that problematic stuff; I'm only making things worse by acknowledging it.
Or, Focusing on violence and conflict only begets more violence and conflict ...
Which can all be true, AND, if I don’t explore the ROOT of problems and conflict and violence, then they will persist.
The root exists inside of me and us (in my/our unconscious). In order to see what roots need examining and enlightening, perhaps replanting, I and we have got to honestly look at their fruits in the outside world in order to follow them to the root.
Sometimes looking good and hard and brutally honestly outside is necessary to lead us to the inside beliefs that birthed those outer realities.
Thinking positive thoughts alone does not heal the deep, dark, sick, real unconscious memories having a ball manifesting themselves from their deep dark hiding spots — murky corners in which everyone refuses to even look, let alone air out.
As Carl Jung said: "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."
All is Holy
Look, it’s time become conscious of and express me, all of me.
All of the authentic me includes the spiritual, political, sociological, adventurous, anthropological, playful, healing, sexual, feminine, divine, damned, blessed, fucked up.
I want this life and my documentation if it to represent that which is wholly and honestly me, and the ever-continuing evolution of that.
In documenting what’s going on in my life experience in the truest, rawest way possible, I believe I can provide a microcosm for the macrocosm.
So for all y'all saying that me talking about other things besides "spirituality" ain't spiritual enough for you, fuck off. (Seriously, do).
How can I do anything "unspiritual?" I AM SPIRIT, yo. Everything I do is Spirit, and integrating everything seemingly disparate into the Oneness of ALL THAT IS is exactly what I want to do.
Because if I think only "positive" or "neutral" occurrences and thoughts and words are Spirit/"spiritual" then I'm missing half the point. I'm denying half of all that is, both inside me and in the world.
I want to make many things considered very taboo, not taboo.
That’s alchemy to me: Finding the divinity in everything.
Even the most damned or mundane or apparently (as we've been trained to believe) disgusting of things, even these I want to shamelessly look upon and wildly love and fervently bless.
Because ALL — including the profane — is holy; that's the rub.
Patterns & Dreams: Returns & Relaunches
For those of you who have been following me since I got home from Guatemala, I’ve had this dream of making my family home and ranch into a retreat center where people from all over the world land to heal, play explore, adventure, commune, and share — COME TOGETHER — and give praise for the present moment, for Life Itself, right now ... with horses, Reiki, acupuncture, essential oils, all animals, and with the Land in every capacity ... with every type of art and trade and practice through which healing and authenticity and connection and raw, therapeutic, playful flow states and work of deep processing can be accessed.
... I could, and still can, see it all. My vision.
... It’s just that ...
I felt like I’d been here before.
Because I have, literally.
I have been away and come back to my hometown of Cody, Wyoming several times over the last decade.
And during part of the time I was here, from ages 24 to 28 (I'm 31 at the time of this writing), I had a hand in our family turning the ranch organic, in our horsewomanship becoming more natural, in beginning to host wellness and health and yoga and writing and walking and meditation and horse medicine retreats.
And yet every time progress began to really happen, everything blew up.
I might have known better to expect all the blow ups, had I been more aware of the unconscious and its utter trump card over all things conscious.
But you know, each explosion did lead to redemptive things (just as the Tower card in tarot leads to the Star). For instance, the blow up of the natural horsemanship retreats we were doing in 2017 led to my friend Jonelle and my dog Peter and me walking 200 miles across Wyoming (which Wyoming PBS did a pretty cool episode on), and that led, six months later, to me walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which later led to me living in Australia for the year of 2019 and doing some pretty epic (camel as well as foot...) trekking there, which led to spending most of 2020 in Guatemala, which, well, you know ... led me here, so ...
So, spoiler alert.
This current iteration of explosion is leading me somewhere, too.
Home: Heading Out & Coming In
It’s leading me on a North American road trip with two dogs, one cat, and no planned routes ... in a sick little mini rv with less than 30,000 miles on it that I’m buying from my dear friend Meredith (note: I end up buying a different van :)
Here’s the difference with the explosion this time, though: IT’S CONSCIOUS.
From what I can tell, this is HUGE.
Because ... go with me on this parallel: The most sacred and holy goal one can achieve in life, according to some great and ancient Yogis, is to die WHILE conscious. Having become conscious in life, to remain conscious going into death as well as the afterlife or next step or whatever. This remaining conscious through death and the crossing over is how one gets off the wheel of reincarnation.
... Soooo in exactly the same way, I spring off the never-ending wheel of an unconscious repressed shadow pattern repeating itself simply by becoming conscious of and remaining conscious during it.
I might still live out the pattern again — in fact I probably will — and, it will be an upleveling of my experience during it because I will be aware of what is happening while it is happening.
Just like, even if I "wake up" and become enlightened/conscious, my body is STILL GONNA DIE, if I'm here alive — ain't nobody physically livin' forever. The point is to become one with the BEINGNESS that I, my awareness, does live forever, and to actually stay aware of this AS MY BODY IS DYING.
So, the explosion — the utter detonation of the way I thought things were — is happening again.
In other words, I’m dying again.
And, this time, I’m staying conscious during my death.
And since I’m conscious, because I’ve made these unconscious parts of myself conscious, I can tell myself ... and you! ... about it. :)
And I want to.
Cause this whole process, this whole wild fuckin' ride this past month, encapsulates so many of the themes and narratives and possibilities and MAGIC of beingness I want to explore and radiate and share and reflect and resonate in my creative world ... themes like ... spirituality, Jungian psychoanalysis, the unconscious, psychedelics, books, magic, relationship, growth, peace, conflict, communication, struggle, love, adventure, truth, the heroine’s journey, mythology, mysticism, signs, sychronicities, affirmations, denials, overcomings, revelations, willingness, cycles, new beginnings, the past, the present, the future. ALL THAT IS.
Coming Conscious in the Volunteer State
The coming conscious of the impending explosion began with a trip to Tennessee to see my cousin.
Oh, damn, I ought to have framed this whole article in heroine’s journey arc terms (I did write a version of this piece like that), maybe I’ll come back and do that.
For now I’ll just mention I’m a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey arc. Did Jung talk about it too? Who coined it, and who expounded upon it? Well, we can probably give credit to our collective unconscious, since that’s where these archetypal arcs reside ... alas ...
Anyway,Tennessee. My cousin was having a tough time of it with a divorce she didn’t want with a guy she thought did (and later realized she didn't!). We were both having trouble processing the separation, really, as her husband had become so much a part of our family fabric, and then, it ripped.
My Mom rolled my trip to Tennessee into a multi-meaning gift bundle: It was to go see and support my cousin while also serving as a present for my 31st birthday (is 31 too old for my mom to be gifting me plane tickets as gifts? Fuck it, I like it ... seriously, THANK YOU MOM!)
So I went to see Caety, my cousin and best friend, who's a clinical therapist working on her licensure. She has a Master’s in Social Work and is currently living at her parents' — my aunt and uncle's house — in Murfreesboro Tennessee while she goes through her divorce, working in tele-therapy from home.
I stayed for 11 days total to catch a weekend and then another long weekend Caety had off work where we planned to do something epic ... And we did, though, I’m sure, not in any of the ways we thought we would.
I arrived in Tennessee on January 8 (2021), and stayed until the 19. My birthday is January 14, practically right smack in the middle of that journey.
As far as the arc of the heroine’s journey, it was during my time in Tennessee that my Call to Adventure arose. It wasn't to adventure in Tennessee I was called (***editing note -- or was I?! as I am editing and publishing this piece from Tennessee, where I've landed again in 2022 ... but that comes much, much later in the story ;) ... but rather Tennessee was the place I received my Greater Call to Adventure. Though maybe it was that one heroine’s journey — my little flight of a heroine’s journey to Tennessee — led me to another: my Larger Heroine’s Journey into the Great American Unknown with four wheels beneath me.
Besides spending time with Caety, my plan had been to use the space and time in Tennessee to write a business plan for the retreat center I'd envisioned on my family's land. To write a business plan for the physical manifestation of divinity ranch, for which my mission statement was, simply, a community of healing. To write a business plan outlining how to appropriately, organizedly, and cost effectively rent horses from my parents, how to rent acreage and the barn from Double Doc Ranch (my parents'/family ranch), how to start holding retreats, healing seminars, workshops, etc.
Instead of making a business plan, I spent most of the week doing what I always do, focusing on relationships and being in almost constant correspondence with up to 30 people a day in addition to my cousin's and my deep processing. Having all the conversations I wished I could record and broadcast to the world because THIS IS WHERE THE GOOD STUFF HAPPENS.
Instead of making a business plan, I sat with my cousin and uncle and watched inspirational movies like Hamilton, the Taylor Swift Documentary, About Time, This is Life, and Soul, in that order. Perhaps the storylines and themes in those films cumulatively and symbolically reflect and outline my own trajectory of growth during this period.
I thought I was coming to Tennessee to help my cousin during a tough time.
It turned out I was in a time and place in my own life that was just as tough, and I needed help seeing that.
Day by day in Tennessee, I became aware of how much I'd needed retreat and perspective to see the utter chaos of my day-to-day life in Wyoming since placing myself under my Father's thumb again. I realized, painfully, how much I needed to acknowledge the continued codependent threads tangling my parents and me. I noted how much time and effort I spent mediating for my parents. I became honest about the amount of emotional work and support for which my parents relied on me; I became real about the amount of financial and material support for which I relied on my parents.
My parents and I were sliding right back into our old, suffocating, snug-fit patterns of toxic entanglement, even after all the places I'd journeyed, even with all the experiences and insights I'd gained.
Once again I felt I could not possibly make my dreams of a physically manifest divinity ranch come true anywhere besides on my parents' land, with their animals, with these out-of-this-world resources I'd reveled ... and drowned ... in since birth.
Why would I ... how could I ... go anywhere else when the Double Doc Ranch seemed the be the only place with all I needed to make my dreams become reality?
But what if ...
... What if everything I thought I needed to live the life I wanted was actually what was keeping me from living the life to which Destiny called me?
In Tennessee I began to make way for the healing that can begin once the unconscious is made conscious ... and preparing for the Adventure that must begin thereafter.