Hearth and Home Vol 19: You Don’t Have to Share

Foundations

H

e went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.” From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol share

Lunching with two good friends last Spring, our conversation turned naturally to house and home. Spooning gobs of guacamole into Baby Heath’s happy and very large mouth, I bemoaned the fact that I was sure our house was too small for my two big strapping boys. They are both in the 99th percentile in each age bracket for height, weight, and head size. I mean, are we going to have to get a meat locker to meet their ‘feed-me-Seymour’ style appetites? But the thing was, I said, we really did not have a true third bedroom, so obviously we would need to move. Right?

Both of the women laughed and spoke in rapid Spanish that I couldn’t follow. This was, they explained, one of the American attitudes that were a particular puzzle to them, having grown up in Mexico. They could not understand why Americans were so determined to have every child in a home have their own room. It wasn’t because this attitude was privileged or spoiled or ridiculously luxurious that they took issue with it. They just thought that putting a child in his own room seemed so very lonely for the children.

They went on to tell me that in Mexico, even in grand and large houses, the children would naturally all come together in one room, sleep together, tell stories, sneak sweets – in short, do all of the things that children like to do. They would not dream of being isolated in their own rooms. After that lunch, I went home and a few days later my husband and I spoke to our eldest. We could, we said, look for a bigger house so that each boy would have their own room or we could stay put in this house and this neighborhood that we all loved, but Jasper would have to share his room. Jasper, in turn, looked at us with a mixture of incredulity and amusement that only an 8 year old can muster, rolled his eyes, and pronounced that OF COURSE, he was sharing a room with his brother, DUH. Considering the conversation over, he then went to his desk, got out his art supplies and replaced the “Jasper’s Room” sign on the door with a “Jasper and Heath’s Room” sign. David and I looked at each other, a little stunned it had been so easy and also thinking – Well, hell. Why didn’t we do that sooner?

Over the past week, three synchronicities have made me think about this story again and again. The first was a newsletter that contained an enthusiastic exhortation to soulful seekers to share with each other — their ideas, inspiration, favorite people and teachers, the best art and pieces of writing and magic making that stirred their souls. The author claimed (and had a good amount of evidence to back the claim) that online advertising was and always had been DOA and that as a result when we find someone or something that enlivens and inspires us then we have a responsibility to share that with others because that is really the only way we find each other on the internet any more. Sharing is how we make the web work.

The second moment was in an email with a friend who was distraught about a conversation she had had with a couple of her friends. They had wondered if she could marry them and she told them that she did not do wedding ceremonies. They were super disappointed and she felt horrible that she had to say no – bad to the point where she was thinking maybe she should do wedding ceremonies. I asked her if there was any part of her that was interested in doing wedding ceremonies, and she said: “absolutely not”. So then I asked her if she knew anyone who did wedding ceremonies. It turned out she knew three people! She went back to the couple and gave them the names. They were thrilled to have some leads and she was thrilled that she was able to support them after all.

The final situation centered around the shooting at Saugus High School in California two weeks ago. A few days after the shooting, I started receiving private messages and emails thanking me for a specific stream of posts I have shared on social media, hashtagged as #findthehelpers (these posts are about people and animals who help in one way or another). One of the reasons I left social media earlier in the year was because I grew so frustrated with the communal hand-wringing that seems to always happen when tragedy strikes, followed by (what feels to my sensitive soul at least) business as usual in the next few days. This latest tragedy was accompanied by the tragic chorus, but I was also hearing from people who told me that the things I had shared (mind you, I didn’t DO anything, I just SHARED some things) gave them hope when everything felt hopeless. One woman told me that the thread allowed her to overcome her anxiety enough to take a shower and wash her hair. A dad told me that after reading some of the posts in the thread he was able to get it together enough to talk to his son about school shootings. Someone else said that the posts reminded them that there really were good people in the world still and this knowledge allowed them to move through their depression enough to buy groceries and cook dinner. These may seem like extreme examples, but I saw the same theme repeated again and again. And they made me realize something. When I decided to return to social media, I knew I wanted to be a force of positivity and a voice for what is possible. I started looking for helpers – all kinds of helpers who are helping in all kinds of ways, even without really knowing why. When the latest school shooting happened, I understood why. It was because one of the things we are told after these all too common tragedies is that we need to “look for the helpers”. That’s what Fred Rogers advised. I realized I wanted to have a medicine cabinet for our community full of stories of helping so that when the tragedy strikes, we have a place where we can find the stories that might just give us enough juice to make it to the shower or to work, or to the grocery store, or to school. This whole story is to illustrate what the power of sharing can really do. It can restore our hope and keep us tender, both of which are probably the hardest things to come by nowadays.

As we enter into the holiday season we will be told, cajoled, and commanded in every possible tone and tune to “share”. In both of these cases, the idea of sharing loses something, loses a lot. It becomes flat. It’s a have-to, not a want-to – a duty, an obligation, a responsibility. Buy the presents, get them wrapped, give money to the Santa with the bell on the curb because I’m a good person and that’s what good people do. I think that kind of sharing sucks. I actually think that kind of sharing is a travesty against real sharing and discourages it more than anything else. So I am going to say: if that’s how you share then maybe you should just give yourself permission to stop and not share anymore! True story: you don’t have to share.

But…if you are interested in pleasure, dare I say hedonism, then you probably want to share, like a lot. Share what you love, what brings color and depth, scope and breadth to your life. It is the most pleasurable activity because everyone benefits – the person who shares and those who receive the sharing. Like prayer, sharing can be done in a million different ways and like magic, our lives are not quite complete without the pure pleasure of sharing what matters most.

I know this was supposed to be a Hearth and Home so here is a quick check-in: Jasper dressed up as the Phantom of the Opera for Halloween and played the piano in front of his entire school. Heath was a baby dragon and those of you who have met him in person know that this was perfect. Dia de Los Muertos in town and at home was beautiful, quiet, still, and powerful. Making Magic is still going strong and I’m about to celebrate its 6 month birthday (if you loved it, please share that!). David and I just completed the Whole30 which is a whole newsletter in itself and we are feeling pretty strong and sassy. You too can #findthehelpers and see all of the ways that #magichappens on my Facebook feed. Star Stories is officially wrapped and soon will be sent to their owners (each one has to get a final proofread) and then I am diving into the next book.
Oh, and another book I contributed to, The Karma of Cats, is out and has a trailer featuring me reading part of the essay I wrote – so I am sharing that (a fitting ending to this letter) and wishing you all a blessed week!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 13 Opening Prayer

Prayer and Blessing

M

iracles,

My seven-year-old is now an eight-year-old. It happened in the wee morning hours of Friday, March 1st and has been feted all weekend, as it will be throughout the month of March. I typically honor this moment, marking the birth of my first born child, with a blessing of sorts. Two years ago it was this one. Today I am sharing my Opening Prayer.

The Opening Prayer is a blessing I wrote ages ago. It is known by my students and clients because it is the blessing I work with to open the space before we begin to learn or work together. But it is an opening prayer in more than just one sense. It is a prayer created to open us up…to our experiences, our inner knowing, and to each other. A prayer to allow us to be open and at the same time to hold fast to the things that are most important, refusing to be knocked off course. For me, motherhood has been all about opening up. It begins with the body because to deliver a child into the world you must be physically open, no two ways about it. And then it moves from there like so many ripples in a pond…my heart is more open, my mind is more open, my time, my schedule, my checkbook, my sense of possibility, my arms, my hands, my borders, and my doors – all more open than ever before. And it all started at this time, eight years ago.

It is so easy in this day and age to be closed. Ironically, in a time when we are supposed to be more connected than ever, it is now more than ever when I see us closing ourselves off – to one another, to whatever is right in front of our faces, to hearing different ideas or opinions, to dreaming boldly about the future. We build walls and erect fortresses of solitude and silence with our heads down, bent over an illuminated screen of one kind or another. We thirst for connection – for the stranger to acknowledge us with bright eyes and a smile, for our parents to ask us how our day was, for our children to tell us their stories, for our lovers to take the time to really hear what is on our hearts and for us to do the same for them. We don’t want to be closed off…not to each other, not to the extraordinary, but if not closely watched this is exactly what happens. I say: watch closely, hold on to your dear ones, prioritize love and pleasure and tenderness, dare to be open. May this prayer be of good use to you in the endeavor.

Blessed Ones, thank you for this day.
Thank you for the Earth beneath our feet,
And for the Sky above our heads.
Thank you for the breath running through our bodies,
And the blood running through our veins.
We ask that you give us eyes to see,
Ears to hear,
And hearts that know the right path to follow with wisdom and discernment.
May it be so by all your holy names.
Amen.

xo,
Bri

Soulful Seekers Spotlight:

These little cutie pies (and sons of one of community member Jennifer L.) need some dough to go and compete worldwide in robotics. Donate here.
Remember Esmé’s book that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago? It debuted #3 on the New York Times bestseller list! The best way to say congratulations? Buy a copy…or two.

PS: I am starting a new community section in these newsletters (see above), the Soulful Seekers Spotlight. Do you have something awesome happening that you want to share? A challenge that you need a little bit of help with? A situation you would like to receive prayers and blessings for? Send it in here.

PPS: Next week I am hosting a second video chat and we are talking Money Magic + Tax Prep Mojo. This is the second one of these that I have done. Make sure you are subscribed to the Resources list  to get all the info!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 12 These Things Will Change

Lineage and Legacy

L

ast October, my friend Danielle came to my home to take photos for my business and my family. One of the great things about having a professional photographer come into your space is that she will see things you might otherwise miss. Turns out I’ve been missing a lot!

Danielle gathered bunches of beautiful shots, including the unlikeliest — for example, our corner shelf which sits right by the piano (pictured above). This is the shelf where we drop our coats and jackets, bags, and purchases, and where we leave our shoes upon entering the home. It is not unusual to find an assortment of baby gear and toys, school papers, sports equipment, and a magical spray or two tucked into it this way and that. Danielle saw it and immediately captured it on film because as she said “This is precious. These things will change.” She went on to explain that the way that the corner shelf looked on that day in October will be radically different from the way it looks next year at the same time.

I’ve returned to this observation in the months since Danielle first made it because I find it to be such a potent reminder — these things will change. Big things change, as we know. We find new jobs, new lovers, we get married and go through divorces, we get sick, we heal, maybe we have children, eventually those children grow up, our dog dies, a little kitten decides we are their forever person…we’ve all experienced these types of changes. But in the background, humming away, are constant, much more subtle changes that, when properly grasped, can show us the progression of our stories with great detail. If we pay attention, we can find places that bear witness to these small changes. Becoming aware of and finding those places is one of the reasons I wrote Making Magic in the first place. They are often not the obvious places where you think alchemical transformation might happen: they are part of the every day – your closet, your morning cup of coffee, your front door, your corner shelf.

When it comes to magic, we tend to focus on the big stuff, the significant life changes. We seek ways to slow them down or speed them up, to get them jump started or to stop them altogether. In short, we often come to magic as a way of managing the big shifts and changes in our lives. When we approach magic in this way and pair it with wisdom and discernment we can experience awe-inspiring results. But seasoned soulful seekers look closer and go deeper, understanding as they do that the real sauce of magic happens not in the big moments and rituals and ceremonies but in the everyday knowledge that these things, all of these things, will change.

A trite saying is that every change carries with it an opportunity. I prefer to think that every change is an offering, cosmic hands stretched out holding a variety of choices and asking simply: What will you do today? Who will you be? How will you show up? Those options…and the ability to choose the best ones — that too is magic, some of the strongest that I know.

Some of the changes we have been experiencing in Casa de Saussy include:
Heath is this close to crawling!
Jasper loves playing basketball and Bach.
My book, Making Magic, is now available to pre-order and you can snag some lovely bonuses when you do so.
One of those bonuses, an audio recording of me reading the guiding story from the book was sound engineered by David (my beloved) who did an incredible job and delivered something fresh and gorgeous.
There are lots of new blog posts up at canto – some are talking about the upcoming Mercury Retrograde in the sign of Pisces that starts on March 5th and others teach rituals for having a healthier relationship to social media.
We are all obsessing over this album and I am loving this song which my husband introduced me to.

May you have a gorgeous New Moon in Aquarius and whatever else you choose – choose to be blessed and a blessing in turn.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

There is Always Hope

Lunar Letter

Dear Miracles,

There is always hope! Soulful seekers know this to be true and they live it every day. Even when it seems nothing can be done, even when it seems all is lost, a powerful ray of hope can still be found.

“Uh-huh,” we all might say, “Right. I wish this were true, but you haven’t seen my life or walked in my shoes. You’re being unrealistic and a total pollyana. It’s better, or far easier, to be a pessimist, to cut our losses and run.”

I’ve had those thoughts before and I know that some of you have too. But we don’t stop there, do we? Not at all.  Because of her hope, our soulful seeker is in fact more realistic than the realistic tough guy, and therefore also more resilient and tougher as well. Why? Because she knows something else. She knows a little secret that gives her hope.

In this Lunar Letter, I am going let you in on that secret. I am going to let the cat out of the bag.

Standing at the many crossroads of life – and there are so many! – the soulful seeker knows a little something about Soul and its particular and unique sources of power and potency. What is the power of the Soul? It is the real ability to transform bad situations into good ones, to turn a loss into a victory, to allow a scar to become an ornament and to find blessings in the broken places – in our lives, our stories, our relationships and the wide, wide, world.  If we can explore this actual ability deeply enough, and live it as far as we can, new hitherto unexpected and unimagined pathways open to us.

The truly miraculous thing about the Soul is that its powers are entirely within our grasp. They are powers native to every human being. What are these powers? X-Ray vision, invulnerability, web slinging? Not hardly. A special talent or “genius” that sets us apart, makes us unique, makes us special? No.

The powers of the Soul are not found within the pages of a comic book or tale of witches and wizards. You need not be bit by radioactive spiders or spend time in a colorful leotard in order to acquire them. These powers have been with us since, as CS Lewis writes, time out of mind – long before you or I were here in the world, and they will remain long after we have departed. They are the powers native to our very humanity that transform life-sucking and heart-breaking situations into life-bestowing gifts.  And as most true and genuine things are, these powers are easily overlooked for flash and dash of other less effective ones.

Again we ask, what are these abilities?  They are none other than: courage, justice, wisdom, moderation, faith, hope, and love. These words have lost their fashion in our time, but they refer to real capacities of heart and mind. We don’t like to speak of them as virtues, and so they lay fallow and unknown. But they need not be. These are your internal powers, abilities which, if cultivated and cared for, will help you in tangible ways transform bad life situations into better and more life-bestowing ones.

Surprised? See for yourself. Look all around the world’s traditions, cast your net far and wide, and you will find that the most sacro-magical and liminal of medicines, aim in actual fact for the restoration and cultivation of these internal powers of the Soul, powers traditionally known as the Virtues.

In older and more comprehensive ways of understanding, to be in touch with the power of the universe is to be in  touch with the power of the soul, for the soul of a living creature and the soul of the world are one.  To be in touch with one’s deepest most desired medicine is to touch these sources, and have available whatever virtues are needed for any given situation. So when we speak of finding our medicine, we are really speaking of coming into deeper relationship with our inner resources, or powers of Soul, with the Virtues.

Contacting the deep sources of inspiration, experiencing cosmic wonder, living in the mystical, miraculous and magical, attuning to the presence of the sacred, are the water and sun for the Virtues. The way we identify and apply these medicines to our own souls, to way we live through our daily life, is through remembering and practicing the sacred arts.

Every sacred art has an aim:

  • The sacred art of Right Relationship teaches us the medicine of Love.
  • The sacred art of Prayer and Blessing allows us to find the medicine of Faith.
  • The sacred art of Ceremony and Ritual teaches Moderation.
  • The sacred art of Lineage and Legacy teaches Justice.
  • The sacred art of Divination and Dreams teaches Hope.
  • The sacred art of Alchemy and Magic teaches Courage.
  • The sacred art of Cleansing and Purification teaches Wisdom.

The sacred arts act as guide and ally when we find ourselves in crisis, at the crossroads, unsure of what direction to take, while their aim is directed towards the powers, the medicines, of the virtues that we carry within ourselves. This is why there is such a strong focus on memory in the sacred arts – we remember ourselves back together – back into a state of wholeness, we literally re-collect the pieces of soul, psyche, and spirit that get scattered hither and yon by the winds of life.

So what does a soulful seeker do at the crossroads? She knows she needs to summon all of her inner resources, all powers of Soul. In the language of myth, she will then make a descent into the underworld in search of medicine that will help her transform bad situations into good ones. The soulful seeker does not feint right or left, she does not choose one easy path or one slightly less easy path, instead she goes down. Down into the realm of shadow, down into the unknown, down into the underworld where the terrain is often jagged, broken, and parched; and where real medicine, holy and whole-making, awaits.

In love and blessing~

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon Notes – Capricorn Edition

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

Over the past year I have had many new people show up in our community of sacred artists and soulful seekers. I’ve sent out Wonderment readings to so many bright souls around the world and I have received in turn many kind words and heart felt blessings. As we begin another turning of the wheel I would like to say a few words about the salutation that you find here and elsewhere in my writings – “dear Miracles”. Sometimes I change it up and refer to you all as “beautiful” or “stellar” or “kind” but always I follow the adjective of choice with the word Miracle. Why?

I do not call each of you miracles because I think it’s cute or darling or flattering. I call each of you miracles because it is 100% true. Think about it: think about all of the lives and loves, the sufferings, the triumphs, the victories of tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people that led to you – a completely unique, one of a kind, deeply precious soul. Think about one day in your life: the countless number of functions our physical bodies perform without being asked to do so – the beating of heart, the beating butterfly wings of our lungs, the growth of hair and nail, the sloughing off of dead skin and waste. Think about your relationships with others; of each person and creature and being whose life you touch in some way every single day. To think of it for even a moment is dizzying to me and tells me one thing without a shadow of a doubt: you, yes you dear reader, are a miracle. Never doubt it.

Now let’s talk about the upcoming New Moon on January 9th. For those of you who like specifics the moon will be new at 19 degrees Capricorn, 7:31 PM cdt. A good question to ask around this lunar phase is: What needs to be renewed or refreshed in my career or craftsmanship?

The other essential bit of astrological information right now deals with our old friend, Mercury Retrograde.

On January 5th Mercury goes retrograde in the sign of Aquarius and then moving into the sign of Capricorn. Mercury will be retrograde from January 5th through January 25th.

You can read about Mercury Retrogrades here to learn more, but the question is always the same: how can we best deal and get through this period?

Last year I decided to experiment with taking a ceremony that I had done for myself and my family numerous times during Mercury RX and offering it to our community, I called it the Mercury RX Survival Kit – the response and results have been consistently solid so I am pleased to offer it once more – if the words “Mercury Retrograde” make you break out into a cold sweat, then this service is for you. Learn more and participate HERE.

Speaking of all things starry and celestial, if you have not already done so, take a peak at the 2016 Astro RX page – it has the major significant astrological events for 2016 listed, the lunar phases (including time and zodiac sign) for full, new, dark, and first quarter moons, and best of all questions to help each of you turn astrology into something more meaningful and personal than just a bunch of numbers and dates. Enjoy!

Adventures in Soulful Seeking

This month I am keeping the new moon notes fairly short. My wish is that each of you are using this time to make space for grace. And that, as the intrepid travelers in last month’s lunar letter, you find miracles in the everyday.

Words and Wonderings

Let me leave you all with these gorgeous images of our wide, wide, cosmos from NASA and remember:

The beginning is the most important part of any work.” –Plato, The Republic

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.