joie de vivre

There is a place on the exact opposite of our globe.  As children we set our expressions to serious and would dig in our sandbox intent upon reaching China.  Somehow hunger or the elements would always end the project or occasionally we learned there was an offensive bottom to the sandbox.  Feeling ripped off, out in the orchard we’d gossip about the conspiracy and hatch plans to find a spot in the garden, ultimately unsuccessful when chased away by some adult authority.  

I haven’t heard yet about a kid who made it to the other side of the world by digging but I do know a lot of us who never lost our curiosity for things that might solve the great mysteries that weren’t readily apparent within our own bubble.

Today the internet can take us to China in a fraction of a second, as well as nearly anywhere else on the globe, and then even out, far out, into the stars where we can watch the cosmos in a constant state of renewal,  birthing baby stars. Times have changed and still the mystery exists: how to live?  The French chose their current dialect not because it is the most easily learned but because it is the most beautiful. They have a phrase called “joie de vivre” that I think of often. Like trying to dig to China, I still haven’t succeeded in finding an American equivalent for this notion. We don’t understand the concept and the most reasonable translation we have is “joy for living,” which does not remotely capture the French sentiment.  

Equally, is this concept of longevity.  In Okinawa (among other places on the globe) there has been an extraordinarily high population of people who live to be one hundred years old and beyond. Remarkably, they don’t just exist in a coma-like state at some institution, these centenarians live- they are active, they are mentally clear, they are physically capable.  They are engaging life.  

My family, many of them, died quite young, not much older than I am now. For several we could see it coming, for a few, it was just tragic accidents.  I still haven’t figured out how to dig fast enough to escape the lightning bolts of fate, but as for the others, I have learned things that could have changed everything. When it involves choice and free will, we truly can alter our experience of existence. We really can choose the joie de vivre.

What is our greatest wealth? Health. What is our most essential currency? Time. There are plenty of things we can buy, and plenty of services we can pay for that will help, but what it really comes down to is perspective, attitude, application and translation. We live in a culture of consumption– once thought of only as a disease term, we now readily identify ourselves as consumers, not citizens. This complicates our notion of health.  

We must dig deeper into the mystery now. We must remember our curiosity. Believe me when I say I know for sure, the clock is ticking and this one needs to hit the top of the priority list every day: Health. What am I going to do today to cast my vote for wellness? If I pretend I’m not voting it doesn’t change the fact that I am.

Great book, Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, he tells of his crash with death then wrote this book of how he made himself return to thriving. I love this kind of motivation. Positive and intentional, he tells us his personal recipe for wellbeing. He calls his recipe a “habit-stack.”  

So each day, on the top of the to-do list should be something that casts your vote for health. Something that peers into the joie de vivre and dances with it, something that addresses your own specific complaints in a positive orientation…then the rest of your priorities.  

People tell me this kind of “habit-stack” would not allow them time to do anything else. I believe that sometimes, depending on how far down that other kind of hole you’ve dug, say five, five and a half feet, that might be true. I say, “so what?” I say this with great, heartfelt compassion, “so what?” If that is what it is going to take to not go to an early grave, or worse, being debilitated beyond any reach of the joie de vivre, then what are you going to choose? I get very quiet and pensive when I know what is happening is a choice but I just can’t figure out how to crack into that mentality that the overculture has effectively brainwashed into our people.  

This is why I write. I want to share what I have learned in researching and practicing the medicine rooted in world knowledge and about the real human people who have saddled the riddles and live, really live well, often to 100 years old or more.  

This year I am completing a home care manual for you to use as a reference book. There was a time when most health contributions were administered first and foremost from our own kitchen and by cultivating a healthful lifestyle. Most (not some) common ailments were effectively treated at home. As the medical “industry” becomes more and more unaffordable for the average household I have recognized the dire need to return health to the people.  I will be educating through classes, coaching and blogposts as I compile the reference guide and welcome your feedback as to how I can better help you learn and implement health promotion and the joie de vivre.

Horseshoe Lake, CO

longsightedness [12,000 feet]

Providence: “the protective care of God or of Nature as a spiritual power.”

Hi All, I’m still providing consultation support while on this journey to find the base camps for future retreats! If you need support, guidance, accountability or coaching you can text or call my office at 503.714.5772 or email TheArtofLivingHealth@gmail.com to get on my schedule for a phone or video chat session.

I’ve been working most frequently with health lifestyle management and assisting with the phases of the rites of passage in the dynamic changing world we are all finding ourselves. These are wild times and navigating them is requiring new tools and skills that address the unified mind-body-spirit axis. It doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor and there is much wealth in our human traditions that can assist with the passage we are collectively undertaking.

The following article addresses how the story we choose to tell can create or destroy fortitude. Please read on if you have interest in this topic and also let me know if you feel called to be a part of my writers retreat slated for next year!✨

A favorite John Lennon quote: “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.” I hear that statement as truth but still I can resist. What do you believe? Is it possible to be in the wrong place? As you look back over the terrain of your life, the junctures where you made difficult choices, the things that came from left field or from behind and totally spun or hurt you, were they wrong? Having learned what you learned, released what you did, rerouted, do you believe in your gut it was a mistake, a terrible error?

I am not a believer in regrets. This may be a personal defect. Even when I have legitimately been victimized, injured, betrayed, lied to, traumatized, I didn’t choose to let it steal even more from my life-force.

This “defect” if that is what it is, has served me well. Roald Dahl said, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Because I believe that I am always exactly where I should be to be in alignment with my highest good, because I am willing to make the effort to take longsighted vantage points, I am steeped in the evidence that everything that causes me pain is a “rerouting opportunity.” It might need many years of climbing to new heights to be able to look back and “know” with certainty that the terrible thing that happened was one of my greatest teachers, my most powerful muses, a dark and powerful angel. This is what wisdom has gifted me. But maybe it isn’t wisdom at all. Perhaps it’s “magical thinking,” something the field of psychology deems as pathology. And maybe you don’t believe in magic or in providence, or in climbing.

I’ve “taken to the bed,” as one of my grandmothers used to call it. I’ve been flattened and not able to rise up. That condition was never permanent. Was it not because I refused it to be, or was it not because I don’t believe that’s any way to live my life, or was it not because it just wasn’t yet? That place, in my estimation, is the death bed. Until that time comes, I’ll accept suffering and embrace it only as long as I have to. It won’t wring a second more out of me.

To be an explorer, one who conducts life experiments, a pioneer, to be uniquely creative and rich with the magic of this world and this one life, these require failure, dark valleys, narrow, suffocating passages, terrifying storms where we’re sometimes caught out. We most certainly can use up a whole lifetime just trying to avoid these educators, but some are going to sneak in the back door anyway. Climbing to get a look at the topography has the capacity to both strengthen and enlighten; seeing all the beauty this wide world has to offer, inspires.

“Everything can be taken,” says Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, “but one thing: the last of the human freedoms– to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

It’s going to be hard work either way, why not figure out what it means, why this has happened and why that didn’t go the way you hoped it would? Rewrite. Figure out the next step. Figure out what would be better. Imagine the best that could happen. Scamper up the terrain of your own inner mountain. Use whatever life force and time you have left to get some perspective.

Who knows? It might even save your life.


It’s a warm summer morning so rich it’s permeating me with that particular smell only fresh summer mornings have. I am blessed for this morning, really, I feel the blessing to my bone centers. I feel it calling back my childhood heart that was so wild and joyous and—what?—integrated. I am hearing my calling, hearing it, like standing on a cliffside above the ocean, seeing as far as one can see, hearing as far as one can hear, not just with mind and body, but with soul. I am hearing as far as I can hear with my soul. 
My mind and my body are being wrapped in my soul’s soft morning shawl permeated by summer light and summer smell. Summer, in the land of my people of the North country, is distinct.
I imagine that people who can love living somewhere with less dramatic seasons are more evolved than me. My cavewoman self, who is still a hunting/gathering genetic, needs seasons to understand life and my place in it. I need these mornings when I land in my writing position to a crisp clean morning dawn in several layers of wool that get discarded one at a time until I’m nearly naked and my skin is laughing from the sun before I have even finished my meditation.
Listen for just a minute, can you hear it? Really listen. The whole natural world is alive. It has something rich and old to share. In the summer mornings it tells kind things about nourishment, about how you are loved. If you have forgotten, run, run for your life out-of-doors, even if to just a place you can see a square inch of sky. Run prisoner, run outside, escape! Escape just to see and hear and feel the touch of the sun on your skin.

Solstice ☀️

I have climbed high, high, high up to a place where I can no longer hear the traffic, or the machines of civilization, I have no cell service (will send this message later). I have gone alone to a bowl in the topography of the mountains where I have found nourishment, nourishment for my soul. I used to be ashamed of my climbing to these places, as if I was shirking my contributions. I did not understand then, there is deep value in taking in nourishment. This kind of behavior I have learned from the wild, wise elders who inhabit these cosmos. The self-reliant understand that there is a give and a take, a flow of nourishment that comes in and through us. We must find that place where we can be vitalized and spend time there. That place for me is in the wild lands of nature. It takes consistent resistance to the overcultures’ messages that are designed to keep us drained and dependent. I send word from this luminous place as way of reminder.  

As we near the longest day of light in the Northern hemisphere, the summer solstice, also on the full moon, an energetically powerful alignment, I want to communicate this message that has been gifted to me by the wisdom-holders. Our culture is ensnared by a psychological adolescence which is the natural development phase for an adolescent. For those reading this that are not an adolescent, my message is to join me in holding space for the maturity and enrichment of our culture and of our world. There is work to be done, land to be tended, a world to be held sacred. In this deep growing season to come, it is vital that we raise our consciousness and bond together in the making of nourishment. Starting the season that can be most bountiful depleted will not yield a sufficient amount of nourishment to live strong through the winter to come. If we survive that once, we are weakened and vulnerable. Though many things are outside our control when it comes to nourishment, stewardship, and the foundations of life, we cannot use this as excuse to go unconscious of the things that are absolutely within our influence. A mature adult takes responsibility for their own life and the life that they support in their field of influence. We have become a time-impoverished culture due predominantly to consensus. The nourishment we require cannot sustain that paradigm. So listen to your soul this summer, awaken. Find those places of nourishment, real and deep non-commercial sources of nourishment, and run for your life to them in wild abandon! Do not stop for a moment to listen to the admonishment from the adolescent culture that instructs you to stay in your ignorance.  

Hiking to this green place framed by the blue and vast forever, I had a word singing through me from no known origin. Of course I have heard the word but couldn’t recall what it meant. It made it more noteworthy that it came from mid-air. 

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

I looked it up when I returned to the land of cell service: 

Sanskrit: “Be calm, rest, tranquility, bliss, a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. ”

I had gone to that place to think about impermanence, the question I struggle with because I know its truth. Maturity is about developing this capacity to discern the truth and then accept it, live in harmony with it. In a world, and especially a culture that shed its time-honored traditions of real ceremony that acknowledges life change, we are left to fend for ourselves. Often we are self-initiating into and through our rites of passage. This is draining for sure, if not outright dangerous. The rites of passage are like the seasons, which teach us all of the life-death-life cycles of which we humans are absolutely a part.  

I came to this place because I needed to make peace and take rest with the knowledge of impermanence. What does it look like to live and to thrive when everything is changing all the time and the illusion of permanence is a cultural addiction that the striving for is riddling our entire planet with cancers, traumas, and diseases? How can I find a way to live and serve here when I have seen the structures our society manufactures are disastrous? We live in a way that assumes we and the planet will not die. The lie creates an absolute adolescent, adrenaline-seeking recklessness that leaves the mature drained and the immature vulnerable. If we mature to the level of accepting that change happens, whether we agree to it or not, then we take real stewardship of the life we have, the nourishment is rich and abundant. We understand that the work we put in to this long, light-offering growing season is in the effort to sustain us when the winter comes, as it does, and we prepare for it because we are willing to learn from the messengers of change that have already asserted themselves for each and every person. 

I write this to my friends, the other lovers of this great, green earth.  I am contributing this communication to all those who embody the archetypes of the healer, artist, nurturer, visionary and wisdom keeper. I know that you hear it too: the call to your place in the great poem. We are taking residence in our bowls of creation, holding space in the holy lands, and beginning to unite our light. When the light of one crosses the other, this is called amplification . This is the work now, the amplification of the life-giving forces. 

In the long, sustaining days of light we put in to practice preserving and storing, fertilizing and nurturing, birthing and developing measures to create nourishment that will sustain ourselves, others and the planet we call home through the changing, impermanent experience of being alive. I hope you will seek your nourishment, take your rest, create space for change and growth, release to the compost pile that which has expired, and step by step eliminate each and every thing in your life that creates dis-ease and malnourishment. Use all your Creativity for life-growing.

Be calm, be at peace, take rest, go to the tranquility, live your bliss, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

the earliest spring since 1896


spring nettle

This spring (vernal) equinox will happen during the very early hours on Sunday, March 20th. Hurray– this is the earliest spring since 1896!

Equinox means “equal night,” when the sun is positioned directly above our equator. The creativity akin to fertility that begins pulsing above ground at this time tells us to come out of our hibernation and consider what we might like to do with our “one wild and precious life.” (-Mary Oliver ❤ ) Spring is that gorgeous awakening that inspires us to look for glimmers of the self we may like to grow.

In ancient traditions, spring equinox would be celebrated as the start of the new year. One of the four great solar festivals, much preparation would have gone into welcoming the budding growth cycle. After a thorough deep clean and a thoughtful purging, there would be a sense that new goals could be set and that steps could begin in those directions. There would be planning of crops and tilling of soils. There would be dancing! Unlike the artificial turn of our conventional calendar in January, this seasonal new year places the power of alignment behind our aspirations.The natural rhythms at spring equinox are about rebirth and renewed confidence. An optimism is pushing up through the soil and out through the branches. This energy can assist us in cleansing the excesses, the toxicity, and the old cloying habits that are preventing us from seeing clearly. [The urge for spring cleaning abounds! Seize the day!] At this time, we have more assistance (energetically) to let go of the old, to make room for the new. We begin asking, “Is there a way to be happy with this life?”

In February the cycles of nature aligned us with the capacity to look at our deepest hunger. [read about the hunger moon ] As this new and palpable change in our natural environment approaches, we build on this concept of cycles by review of what is filling up our container (our life). We can begin again to consciously assess if our choices are yielding us long-term satisfaction and supporting foundations. 

Meeting our needs and offering legitimate nourishment is not easy at times, but it is simple. From the study of rhythms in nature we can gain invaluable insight for our own life sustainability and how to thrive!

Are you enjoying your story?
Go for a long walk at your next opportunity. Imagine you have wiped your eyes clean of the sleepiness of winter and look at the crisp world that is vibrating in every branch and bird. See if you can feel in your body the sap rising up in the trees and imagine you are rising up too. Take your full height. Be willing to allow the sap and flutter from outside to fill you. Imagine you are drawing spring energy through the soles of your feet up into your lungs as you take a deep, intentional breath. Breathe it out through your heart back into the world. Visualize that you are an integrated part of this nature. “See” how you can allow the energy in and through each cell of your body in the same way you take in the air that fills your lungs. Let the whole of nature breathe you. Be willing to surrender anything that inhibits this flow of energy in your body— just let it go out on the breath of this seasonal power.

Over the next several days, read things you find inspirational and write down your conscious intentions for this year. Study after study finds that our human potential improves remarkably if we merely write down our goals. This simple method is a consciousness awareness practice. If you feel committed to a particular goal you may even want to put it somewhere you might read it right before you fall asleep and then again when you first wake up. 

It takes energy to be healthy and it takes energy to be sick. Choose your direction consciously and then begin your journey of the year in that direction. 

May your path be blessed with love and light,


fresh nettle tea