All the Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadow and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.
Make a new watermark on your excitement
And love.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of



Connecting with Autumn Guides

Part of my role with Matrilumina, as well as other collaborations, is to hold sacred space- the spiritual ground beneath our beacons' feet. This is so that when the visioneering gets lofty, there's still a thread holding you to matter, to meaning, to purpose, to soul, to Earth.

This Autumn is finding me quiet and inward, watching the animals more than calling them, waiting for them to show themselves, rather than coaxing them out. My work with the creatures is the one thing that shows up in everything I do and offer. They show up on the cliffs of Big Sur, just as they do near the docks at Squam Lakes in NH, and on the shores of the Outer Banks, in NC. I notice their qualities and try to perceive what their behavior can teach me, us. All of the species, even the winged ones are grounded, by nature of having no plans or worries for the future, other than to do what is in front of them to do: harvest, nest, molt, shed, dig, fish, hunt, den, dam, scavenge, migrate, and otherwise serve their holy purpose. Beautiful just because it is.

This aspect, which is also within us is what we can come back to again and again when we are learning to radiate the energy of life itself, and live our creative purposes fully expressed. 

To see sharp in the darkness like Owl provides a unique kind of sight for those times when creativity isn't exactly flowing and insight is required from the more mystical realms to move forward into the Light.

Love and Autumn blessings,




{photo by Melissa Piccola}

I began my work as a creative entrepreneur 17 years ago, starting out with one computer, one inkjet printer, a 10' x 10' office in a two-bedroom apartment and a wild dream. I continued this work over the next decade, running my business in relative isolation just as the internet was beginning to burst. I'm not sure I even had a website when I officially "opened my doors" in 1995. By the time Swirly was a bona fide brand I did, indeed, have a website, and I connected with my peers, colleagues, sales reps, clients, agents and licensees through email, the phone and a fax machine. Face-to-face interactions tended to occur in one of two ways - either quietly over coffee or at a trade show. I built my business slowly - month by month, sales rep by sales rep - unaware that in a relatively short period of time this pace of entrepreneurial growth would be made all the more challenging by a little thing called social media.

I am still a bit flabbergasted that I managed to straddle these two worlds of pre-social media and post-social media. That I have created and built an entirely new platform beyond Swirly feels like a minor miracle. I still don't feel like I do an exceptionally good job at managing all the facets, layers and portals of social media, but I've done a good enough job that I'm here with Pixie and Maya creating Matrilumina, and that opportunity didn't just fall in my lap. With that, I don't feel the need to dissect the details of my work in order to figure out exactly how I got here; I am content knowing that the common thread of my work - the cord that stretches from that 10' x 10' home office to the grounds of Esalen Institute - has been the real leader in all of this. The work of my soul - to inspire, uplift and leave a positive imprint on the world - has brought me here. It built Swirly, it provided the gust of air I needed to leap from pre to post social media, it paved the way for Matrilumina. It has been the compass, the lighthouse, the guidepost.

In this new age of social media, where we can connect with one another no matter our geography or time zone and share the details of our life and work with photos, videos, journal entries and tweets, the need to carve out time for intimate, face-to-face encounters is all the more urgent. I think we are seeing that urgency in action in the wide array of gatherings, retreats, workshops and summits that are now held all over the world for the purpose of bringing together kindred creative spirits and entrepreneurs. It's fine that we get to stay in touch through our keyboards, but the real magic happens when we can talk, laugh, share and cry in person. When we can share space in silence, when we can hug at the end of the day. When we can hold hands and pass a tissue, say "Bless you" after a sneeze and look each other in the eye, saying more in that moment than we could through words. This is where the greatest gifts exist; this is how we create sisterhoods.

On our Anchors page, when we speak of Celebration, we say: To walk one's own path is to celebrate the gift that life presents: Exploring possibility, excavating oneself for treasure, collaborating with kindred folk, and creating for the pure joyful sake of it. My entire career has been an exercise in Celebration, due in no small part to the face-to-face connections I've made before and after social media took over our lives. My work has been guided by my Desire to Inspire, and this desire has given me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with some of the most extraordinary women in the world. This is - by far - the most meaningful part of the work I do. It isn't the book deals, the license contracts or the essay bylines. Those are lovely, but they aren't what my work is really about. My work is about sitting in a room and looking you in the eye, about holding a space for your dreams, about taking a deep breath in unison and exhaling a sigh of release. It is about the tears we might shed together and the laughter we will certainly share. It is about celebrating those moments, honoring their beauty, and letting that light shine wherever I go from there.



Almost Miraculous

{photo by Melissa Piccola}

This past August, our inaugural Matrilumina gathering was blessed in many ways – we had gorgeous weather and stunning surroundings, and also managed to bring together a circle of women who connected deeply, powerfully and joyfully. Considering this was the first time many of us had met in person, I find it almost miraculous.


Before I go further, I’d like to share the details of how and why we gathered this first group the way we did. When contemplating the idea for a retreat at Esalen Institute, Pixe, Maya and I were experiencing a mild sense of anxiety about diving into the deep end right off the bat. The only dates for a five-day retreat Esalen could offer us at the time was in August – a tricky month to gather people in my experience – and once our names were in ink on the contract, we would be responsible for the cost of all 21 beds whether or not we filled them.

The other part of our reticence had to do with our passion for the vision we were creating. It was very important to us that our offering be rock solid – organized, well thought-out, in alignment with our anchors and fully rehearsed. Not to mention this was the first time the three of us had collaborated on anything. To offer an intimate, five-day “personal transformation” retreat to the tune of more than $2000 without the knowledge and experience of how our ideas would really play out wasn't sitting well with us. We still had work to do, and felt strongly enough about this that we came within inches of telling Esalen we weren’t going to be facilitating an event after all.

Before letting the opportunity go, we headed back to Big Sur for another weekend of brainstorming, heartstorming, visualizing and meditation. We weighed the pros and cons, discussed ideas for marketing, and mapped out possibilities on giant sheets of newsprint. And in the middle of it – a thought:  What if, for this first event, we created our circle and offered it at a cost that would cover our expenses and nothing more. With this, we accomplish three very important goals:

  1. We create an opportunity for ourselves to do our very best work – to give the whole thing a try - in the company of women we know well and wouldn’t judge us if we experienced a few fumbles.
  2. We open a financial release valve by offering the August gathering at a reduced rate - with no profit to us - making it more financially flexible for our guests.
  3. We give ourselves more time to see how well we’d work together and to confirm whether or not this was something we really wanted to pursue for the long term.

With all that, when the question “What’s the worst that could happen?” arose, the answer was:  Nothing. We were going to host a retreat – just one retreat – and then see where the wind wanted to take us. So we started sharing the idea quietly, and sold out within two weeks. There were a few changes to our roster over the ensuing months, but by the time we gathered on Sunday, August 12th, our circle was complete. Partly by our efforts, partly by grace.

This was not an exclusive gathering meant to keep anyone out. This was a test run. This was to see how all the details we had painstakingly lined up would play out in real time. This was to get it all dialed in, so that if we decided to keep going with it, our offering to our community would be rock solid.

When I say the genuine sisterhood that came to be during those five days in August is almost miraculous, I am referring to the anchors that have been guiding us every step of the way – our values, our guideposts. It is said that “like attracts like”, and so I have to give credit to the way our anchors provided the pathway for this particular group of twenty women to find their way to each other and form the bond we did. They were drawn not only by who we are - by knowing us personally - but also by what we were doing and how we were doing it. 

Very often these stories become fairy tales – too good to be true, too glittery, too much gushing, too much fawning. This story is not a fable; it is the experience of twenty women – all wounded, all flawed, all powerful beyond words and beautiful beyond belief – entering a room having already made the choice to connect, engage, exchange and interact from a place of respect, kindness, love and compassion. And gratitude. So much gratitude. Their anchors were our anchors; ours, theirs. We were already connected before we met in person, just as we are now - right now - already connected to everyone who chooses to join us in March.

We hosted a “trial run” to see if this idea could really work – to see if such a passionate adherence to our anchors could, indeed, create the kind of sisterhood we were craving for ourselves. We wanted to see what might happen if we provided a safe and nurturning space that could encourage a little mischief, some ferocious dreaming and plenty of rest and laughter. Would it work? Could we pull it off? The day our retreat ended, we had our answer.

It is real. It is possible. It is happening right now.



Anchored in Firelight

As this manifestation was coming to be, each of us challenged ourselves by sitting around a coffee table in Santa Barbara naming and mapping what the values around this project needed to be. What they already were. What kind of integrity would be required in order for us to feel safe, and satisfied working together as partners, and also, what structure we wanted to hold us up as we leapt into what Esalen recalls as The Human Potential Movement. That was just it for me. Human Potential. It rang with promise.  In our own words, the first idea we wanted to be firmly grounded by was:


We know that light becomes brilliant radiance when we trust enough to shine in truth, transparency and responsibility.  We show up with our collective candleglow in a fundamentally non-competetive community, empowering each other's innate good*ness and lighting up the path for she who is determined to carry her own flame.

Responsibility begets manifestation of what a woman is ready to create, no? What I've found is that honesty with oneself is a gateway drug. It leads to being honest with others, about what is and isn't working for us. It calls us out to change the way we see a thing, or change the way we're doing it. Either way, we have to ignite the lantern and trust what comes to light, and the decisions that may have to be made in order to stay in alignment with what we are wanting to create. When we come to circle with that glow, each woman bearing responsibility for what has come to light for her, the collective glow creates plenty of brilliance to see by. And sisters all around to see with. In a non-competitive creative community, one must be pressed right up against the edge of her best work, her strongest voice, so that she can be responsible for what she makes.

No watered down versions of someone else's vision will do for you.


All Love,



Trust With a Capital T

2012 has been a big year. It began with certain possibilities on the horizon, but they were far out and off in the distance - across time and space and the span of many months. By the time March hit, many of those possibilities had been unexpectedly swept full force into our lives - my husband's retirement, the sale of our house, a move to Santa Barbara. Just as I came off of a whirlwind book promotion blitz for Desire to Inspire, I was thrust directly into all the details that came with one of the biggest transitions couples go through, and my work found a cozy spot on the back burner.

The exception was Matrilumina, and an idea that sprouted - also unexpectedly - about the same time all the changes in my personal life were beginning to reveal themselves. These two journeys have been taken side by side; they've both had specific dates and times associated with them, official contracts had to be signed for each, and, now that our first retreat is over, I see they have also both been about creating a home. They have both challenged me, exhilarated me and allowed me to do many of the things I do best. They have taught me about patience and grace, about gratitude and joy. 

There is something else these two experiences have provided - or maybe created or inspired or called forth. I'm not sure which came first or how, exactly, one evolved from the other, all I know is that beneath the surface of all of the activity this year has given me, a shift has been taking place deep within and has influenced every step of these journeys. That shift has to do with - what else - letting go. Letting go of fear, letting go of the need for certainty, letting go of the worry that I might look like a fool or a failure. Letting go of the worry I'll offend if I state simply and plainly, "This is what my strengths are, this is where I need help. This is what I need to take care of myself and feel safe. This is a moment when my fears are having their way with me and I'd like to just say that out loud and cry about it even though I feel very, very silly. This is what I know how to do; this is not negotiable." 

I have built a business and a brand. I have supported myself as an artist. I published a book on my own, and another one with someone else. I have organized countless events, retreats, gatherings, workshops and classes. I have traveled. I have loved and lost and gotten back up. I have been deeply involved in certain circles and then unceremoniously catapulted out of them. I have created a home that friends all over the world know will always be a safe haven for them. I have helped heal my family. I have worked. I have been lazy. I have failed. I have soared.

And after all of that, I am here to say simply and plainly that the only thing I ever want to do again is pursue work that fills my soul, with collaborators, friends and colleagues who have a strong enough center that they can meet me face to face and walk through whatever we are doing together with respect, kindness, honesty, grace and gratitude. At the risk of making things sound a little too good to be true, I must share that this is what Matrilumina has been about for me - it is about finding something I have been seeking all my life. It is about creating what I needed most. It is about the here and the now, the mystery and the thrill of the unknown. It is about choosing the gentlest route. It is about Trust with a capital T.

Here's to magic gatherings ~ I hope to see you in March.


{For more thoughts on our inaugural gathering earlier this month, click here.}