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Over the years, women have come to me wanting to know how they can cultivate more meaningful relationships with other women.

They tell me they’re tired of the same old surface level conversation, the automatic default to complaining about their partners or their job, gossiping about other women, or the dreaded social awkwardness that can come with new or different social situations with other women.

Yes, there is a certain comfort in talking about the weather or what happened on The Bachelor last night, but deep down…they/she/you/I am craving a deeper, more meaningful connection with the woman on the nearby mat in yoga class, or at school pickup, or in the cubicle down the way.

To get to know who someone is on the inside – to hear her story and know her heart – and be able to share all of yourself too is something that has me taking a deep breath just thinking about it. What freedom!

Meaningful connection is something so many of us deeply crave in our lives, but can feel so scary to dive into.

What if we’re judged? What if we’re mocked? What if we’re straight up rejected?

“It can be so hard to talk about living meaningfully with others without sounding like a crazy person,” said one woman to me recently.

I felt her words in my belly as soon as I heard them, because I know them well.

Growing up, I was often called weird by girlfriends when I would bring up unconventional topics or talk about complicated emotions. Looking back on those moments, I can see how the little girl me felt rejection and other-ness by being called that word. For whatever reason, those women were uncomfortable with what I had to say. And, because I deeply desired to feel accepted by them, I allowed that word to affect me so much that I put a lid on my curiosities and desires for many years.

Years later, I found out that the word weird has ancient roots including the Anglo Saxon word wyrd and Old Norse word Urðr – all meaning fate or destiny. So really, when those girls were calling me weird, they were truth tellers about who I truly was at my core.

It is so important that we make meaningful connections with women, even if it means we risk being “weird”.

Because there was a time when women communed together in a way we don’t anymore. They lived in spaces of trust and support – helping to birth each other’s babies, make nourishing meals, tend to sickness with age old remedies, bleed during their moons, and provide additional support wherever it was needed.

These feminine spaces were safe, so the women could wail and moan and rage and fall apart with each other knowing they were held and supported.

Please don’t mourn the loss of this level of trust and compassion in female relationships today. Instead, I invite you to join me in bringing it back – in helping all of us remember the ways of sisterhood.

It all starts with listening.

A huge part of cultivating a safe space to be vulnerable and connect in a deeper way is by purely listening – without an agenda, without a solution. This is also called witnessing.

It’s just like it sounds – when you are a witness to someone, you aren’t intervening in their own process.

It doesn’t mean giving advice or offering your take on the situation. When you witness, you are simply observing and saying “yes I see you.”

This was tough for me to understand at first. It felt like it was going against my compassionate, helpful nature to sit and watch someone else suffer. If I was worried, I would intervene. I would proudly be the first girl to offer a box of tissues to the sobbing girlfriend.

But by sitting quietly and observing someone else’s struggle, you are creating space around them to allow them to work through their own process. You get to open your heart and watch them open up more and more until they can see what needs to be healed in order to transform. To be fully present to another woman’s experience is the greatest gift you can give her.

Feeling ready to start some meaningful conversations with your girlfriends?

Here are some conversation starters inspired by and sourced from Alexandra Franzen to help you get started. Pick a few and then feel your way through with the women you’re with. You got this.

  • Are you living your life purpose — or still searching?
  • Can you tell when someone is telling the truth?
  • Do you believe in magic? When have you felt it?
  • Do you ever hunt for answers or omens in dreams?
  • Do you ever yearn for your life, before Facebook?
  • Do you have a morning ritual?
  • Do you have any irrational fears?
  • Do you have any physical features that you try to cloak or hide? How come?
  • Do you like to be saved — or do the saving?
  • Do you think we should live like we’re dying?
  • Do you think we’re designed for monogamy? (Why or why not?)
  • Do you think you’re currently operating at 100% capacity?
  • Have you ever fantasized about changing your first name? To what?
  • Have you ever had a psychic reading? Did you believe it? Was it accurate?
  • Have you ever pushed your body further than you dreamed possible?
  • Have you ever unplugged from the Internet for more than a week?
  • How do you engage with panhandlers on the street?
  • How do you reign in self-critical voices?
  • If social media didn’t exist, how would your life be different?
  • If you could custom blend a perfume or cologne, what would it include?
  • If you were to die three hours from now, what would you regret most?
  • If you wrote romance novels or erotic fiction, what would your “pen name” be?
  • What do you value most: free time, recognition, or money?
  • What is your spirit animal?
  • What was the best part of your day, so far?
  • What’s in your fridge, right this moment?
  • What’s one thing you’re deeply proud of — but would never put on your résumé?
  • What’s your recipe for recuperating from extreme heartbreak?
  • When was the last time you astonished yourself?
  • Would you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?
  • What are you most grateful for, right now, in this moment?

I want to hear from you!

How’s your relationship with the women in your life? Do you have any go-to questions you like to ask at girls night or on coffee dates that help you go deeper?

Share in the comments below.

Photo by Rosa Delgado

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Over the years, women have come to me wanting to know how they can cultivate more meaningful relationships with other women. I'm discovering how to have more meaningful conversations with women. Check out the blog for more!

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As much as I can feel like I was born in the wrong era and find myself drawn to earlier times of cobblestone streets or ancient temples, I am extremely grateful for technology right now.

Let me explain.

Not only is modern technology connecting us in this very moment through underground cables and wireless routers and efficiently powered smartphones…

Not only is modern technology making it possible for you to google something on the web and go down a rabbit hole to eventually find that life changing blog post or informative article or long lost friend you thought you’d never see again…

Modern technology has made it so I have been able to connect with Helena – the original mother of my lineage – who walked this earth a mere 20,000 years ago.

Cue tears-in-my-eyes-jaw-on-the-floor when I found that out.

Here’s how it happened…

I began this year with a desire to connect more deeply with my own ancestry.

As someone who has always been drawn to ancient cultures and yearned for a deeper connection to spiritual traditions, I started to become aware of many women who were like me (of European descent) that were teetering on the edge of appropriating other cultural traditions. I believe this comes from a desire to feel connected to something deeper and bigger than ourselves, but can result in further perpetuating the marginalization of minority groups in this world.

I recognized times in my own life when I was unknowingly appropriating other cultures, and wanted to make a shift. I wanted to honor these cultural traditions as sacred and also come to more deeply understand my own.

Throughout my life, I’ve had little stirrings of knowing around certain cultures.

When I watched Outlander for the first time, I openly wept. The hilly Scottish countryside, the songs, the historical context all felt so deeply real to me.

When Tim and I visited Iceland several years ago, I also couldn’t help but feel so at home wherever we traveled to (which is strange since the conditions are so harsh in that part of the world).

I also felt this sense of familiarity when I traveled to India during my junior year of college and it comes back up whenever I read about the indigenous tribes of the Northeastern states. It perplexes my rational mind, but I believe this to be a connection to my soul lineage – the line of ancestry that I resonate with from the deepest core of my essence. These are the life ways that I can remember, that I already know, without logical explanation for it.

Through all this realization and exploration, I decided I needed deeper clarity on who my people are and were.

So for the winter holidays, Tim and I gifted each other the ancestry test from 23andMe. We surprised ourselves with how excited we both were to spit in a tube and finally find out what our actual global ancestry was. It took 8 anxious weeks to get our results back.

It turns out, I’m 99.7% European, concentrated mostly in the northwestern regions. Here’s a screenshot of my results:

My results pretty much confirmed what I knew to be true (with a few unexpected data points – like the fact that I am 0.3% Native American and 1.6% Ashkenazi Jewish), but then something very magical happened.

I was sharing my results on Instagram stories and my friend messaged me, asking if I knew who my Clan Mother was. My response was, “No, but tell what that is because my whole body is tingling with intense curiosity!”

She explained that, for people who are primarily of European descent, the DNA they inherit from their mothers can be traced back many thousands of years back to just one woman – the common maternal ancestor for her clan.*

The idea of finding out who my ancestral grandmother was got me googling like crazy, learning about this world of Mitochondrial DNA (or mtDNA).

Here’s a cool fact: Your mtDNA assists your cells in using oxygen. So every time you breathe, you are using the mtDNA of your your clan mother.

The moment I read this, the feeling I felt was indescribably palpable. Thanks to modern genetic science, I had the opportunity to connect with my 20,000 year old Grandmother.

Using my ancestry report from 23andMe, I was able to easily find my maternal DNA Haplogroup which is a long chain of letters and numbers. What’s important, however, is the letter it begins with as there are only seven of them. For me, that letter is H.

Armed with my letter H, I found my way to the work of Oxford genetics professor Bryan Sykes who wrote a book called The Seven Daughters of Eve. In his book, Bryan has taken each of these seven letters (representing each Clan Mother) and given each of them a name and a story.

My clan mother is Helena (Greek for light).

According to Sykes, Helena lived 20,000 years ago at a time when the last Ice Age was at its most severe. In the winter, the Atlantic Ocean froze and pack ice could be found as far south as Bordeaux in France. Britain was still joined to continental Europe by dry land, and what are now the English midlands, central Wales, and southern Ireland were all buried under ice.

Helena spent her childhood on the shoreline and in the woodlands south of the ice sheets. She would help her mother comb the woods for wild mushrooms and toadstools, or wade into the brackish lagoons searching for oysters. Her father patrolled the woods alone, on the lookout for small deer and other mammals to hunt with handmade spears.

Knowing I am a descendent of Helena brings me a sense of grounded connection – like a tree whose roots go deep into earth for miles and miles – rooting me into a lineage of women that go back thousands of years. It gives me a deeper feeling of purpose – that I am Helena’s legacy.

That she hand-stitched clothes with sinew and pelts to survive through those ice cold winters and birthed her babies in a cave by the river during the annual reindeer migration to 20,000 years later pass on her DNA through the very breath that moves through my lungs brings me to my knees in awe.

So, even though I still wonder what it would have been like to be a medicine woman in ancient Ireland or a parfumier in 18th century France or Nordic warrioress in old Scandinavia, I’m also eternally grateful to be alive here in this moment. To have the ability to connect to Helena and all of her that is within me.

Curious about the other clan mothers? Here they are below:

{image via The Seven Daughters of Eve}

The clan of Ursula (Latin for she-bear)

The clan of Xenia (Greek for hospitable)

The clan of Helena (Greek for light)

The clan of Velda (Scandinavian for ruler)

The clan of Tara (Gaelic for rocky hill)

The clan of Katrine (Greek for pure)

The clan of Jasmine (Persian for flower)

*This is true for all major cultural clusters around the world. Among Native Americans, there were four clan mothers, among Japanese people, there were nine clan mothers, etc. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on my own European ancestry but I encourage you to research your own.

Now I want to hear from you!

Do you know who your clan mother is? Have you researched your ancestral heritage? What did you find out?

Share in the comments below.

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How my genetic ancestry report helped me find my 20,000 year old Grandmother. Read the post to learn how you can find your own!

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Water is sacred.

You probably know this already.

Afterall, 75% of your body is made up of water.

You know what else? Trees are made up of 75% water too.

Water is in your blood, your brain cells, your saliva and your tears. You were created and birthed in an amniotic sac filled with water.

You can live a month without food, but just a week without water.

Connection to a water source has been the source of community creation for thousands of years. It’s a source of nourishment, sign of access to food, and the transfer of goods and people through its ability to move.

In the energetic and earth medicine space, water is connected to empathy, emotion, and embodied intuition. Water is a carrier of energy and feelings and it can hold so much. Water teaches us how to release our emotions, how the depths can serve us as we expand, and how to replenish ourselves to cultivate resilience.

We live in such a modern world – with toilets that flush with ease and taps that produce water within an instant of turning them on.

In our privileged access to water, many of us have lost our deeper connection to and reverence of its very existence.

So how can we reconnect to water and deepen our relationship with it?

Care for your lands. Keep your water clean and support organizations who do the same.

In ancient cultures, wells were decorated and altars were placed nearby to show gratitude and respect to the waters. In ancient Europe, the sacred Hawthorn tree (which was the tree to stand under during a wedding ceremony and to conceive a baby near) was planted near wells.

If you live near a well or source of water (like a river or reservoir), consider creating an altar next to it or leaving an offering to show gratitude.

What I’ve been trying to do is thank my water when I bathe, flush the toilet, cook, or wash my clothes. I remind myself the water has journeyed a long distance – from the sky to the rivers to the reservoir to the pipes that bring it out the tap whenever I turn it.

I thank it for my life. The water that surrounds me and is within me.

I also researched where my water primarily comes from to form a deeper connection with it.

Where I live, 75% of my water comes from rainwater captured on the mountain I live just next to – called Mt. Tamalpais. When I learned that (from a simple google search), I felt a powerful resonance in my body. To be able to wake up, walk outside, and look up at the mountain watershed that nourishes me feels like such a beautiful blessing.

So I decided to paint a little reminder to myself – using my beloved watercolor paints.

I painted my mountain, wrote out a little blessing, and cut the paper to fit an extra frame I had lying around – placing the frame just above our kitchen sink. I’m going to make one for our toilet next.

There’s more I can do to create deeper awareness of and honoring of my source of water – but this feels like a really tangible first step that I encourage you to join me in.

I want to hear from you!

Did you look up your source of water? Tell me what it is! How else can you honor the sacred waters in your life?

Leave a comment below.

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Click through to read how I'm connecting more deeply to the waters that nourish me.

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“Bees and flowers….you can’t invite one in without the other.”

A knowing shiver ran down my spine as I heard those words uttered. I felt my lips mouth a knowing yes as I listened to the radiant shamanic bee priestess speak these words of truth.

For a few months now, I’ve been taking a class called The Folk Medicine and Magic of Old Europe with the amazing Liz Migliorelli.

One weekend a month, I make the long trek up twisty roads – through vineyards, and orchards, dense redwood forests, and along a widening river that finally meets the wild sea town of Mendocino. 12 of us meet in an old red cabin, circling around an altar of candlelight, photos and belongings of our ancestors, and the medicines we make together.

My time in that cabin has been profoundly altering. Not so much in the gathering of knowledge (I’ve got books upon books of stories, facts, and data for that), but in the remembering of the wisdom that already flows through me.

This past weekend, as the sun trickled through the windows and mingled in and out of the incense smoke swirling around us, I became re-enchanted with the honeybee.

As women, we are so naturally drawn to beauty. Flowers are such a profound expression of nature’s range of artistry when it comes to the beauty of this planet.

But flowers (and life itself) would not exist without the honeybee.

Did you know that the honeybee spends the last 2 weeks of her life making love?

Let me explain.

The majority of the bees in the hive are ladies (sisters, actually). They spend most of their short lifetime working in the hive – feeding the young, tending to the queen, cleaning comb, and making sure the hive is in working order.

It is only in their last 2 weeks of their life that they leave the hive to interact with the flowers and pollinate.

Flowers are the sexual organs of a plant. They flaunt their unique shapes and colors to attract the bees to their flowing nectar, who in turn drop some pollen from their bee bodies into the flower and allow for fertilization.

How incredibly beautiful is that? Raw, life-force energy embodied in her final days.

The honeybee was revered in ancient cultures – a symbol of sovereignty and queendom.

She is deeply connected with all living things and isn’t afraid to use her venom when threatened.

In ancient Greece, the bee priestesses (or the melissae) would congregate at the Temple of Delphi where there was a spring from which they would receive the wisdom of the earth. The beehive – the entire unit of bees – was the keeper of that wisdom.

A single bee cannot be of service without her sisters.

That, to me, shows that we cannot do it alone. The honeybee and her hive – perhaps one of the most exquisite creations nature has created – illustrates this beautifully.

And her honey, a gift. Intoxicating in its sweetness and nourishing in its properties.

In some ancient cultures, honey used to be the first thing that touched a baby’s lips before she took the first drink of milk from her mother’s breast – a symbol of her divinity in human form.

Raw honey is a sacred thing that nourishes our human bodies in so many ways. Beyond the sweetness that delights the tongue, honey is antimicrobial, antibacterial and an antioxidant for the body.

A few ways to incorporate honey into your self-care rituals:

Milk & Honey Bath

Add 1 cup whole milk and 3 tbsp raw honey to a hot bath for a sensual, skin-softening bathing experience.

Herb Infused Honey

Infuse strong smelling aromatic herbs into honey to add to teas and food. I’m about to make use of the lemon balm growing in my garden and will add in some lavender.

You can infuse in 2 ways, depending on if you have dry or fresh herbs.

You can pour the honey over dried herbs and letting it sit for 2 weeks before straining and bottle. You can also warm the honey in a double boiler (being sure it doesn’t get too warm and start to cook) and place dry-wilted fresh herbs in the warm honey for 4-5 minutes at a time 3 days in a row (letting it sit in the pot overnight with the herbs between warming sessions) before straining and bottling.

Check out this video I made 4 years ago that shows me infusing dry herbs into honey using cheesecloth.

Raw Honey Face Mask

To soften and moisturize dry skin that’s recovering from the winter, spread raw honey all over your face (or body for that matter) and let sit for 10 mins before washing off with warm water.

Honey is not to be taken for granted. 1 worker bee produces 1/10th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

I urge you to get to know a local beekeeper and purchase honey that is raw and not processed. The large-scale, conventional honey industry doesn’t serve the longevity of bee populations and processes their honeys so much that it’s nothing much than sugar syrup when you add it to your tea.

I want to hear from you!

What’s your relationship to the honeybee? Did you grow up scared of its sting? Do you keep bees yourself? How do you work with honey in your kitchen or medicine making?

Leave a comment below.

Many thanks to Ariella Daly and Liz Migliorelli for their teaching on the bee that inspired this writing.

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The sacred honeybee. Learn more about ancient bee priestesses and self-care rituals using raw honey.

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Recently, a beloved sister in The Creative Sisterhood shared an article that struck a nerve with many women in the community, including myself. It brought up beliefs around what it means to be successful, the sheer exhaustion of striving, and the glorification of the Type A perfectionist in modern day culture.

Through the sharing of our own experiences, it quickly became clear to all of us that healing is needed around the not-enoughness we often feel as modern day creative women.

But this idea of making peace with mediocre feels half-baked to me.

While it is reclaiming your own sense of well-being as the true measure for a full and happy life, it is still comparing it to the standards of conventional society – deeming it mediocre.

The dictionary definition of mediocre is “of only moderate quality, not very good.”

So if embracing a slow life of tending to your beloved garden, knitting while your cat sits on your lap in the evenings, reading books on the porch at sunset, and working a job that makes you enough money to keep doing all those things that bring you joy…I wouldn’t exactly categorize your life as “of only moderate quality.” I would characterize it was purposeful, sacred, and freaking amazing.

My point is this: what brings you joy and pleasure and purpose is the only thing that really matters.

Where we get tripped up (even me…still) is when we compare it to the stories and images we are presented with on a daily basis with the headline of “wildly successful.”

And I don’t mean to make this all sound so simple.

The transition we are all experiencing (from the linear model of success to a more felt sense of life pleasure) is deeply healing work.

The system of patriarchy that has ruled society for thousands of years tells us that if we follow the straight line that is laid out for us, everything will be ok. Work long hours, keep your head down, don’t make a splash by being too different, and you will be rewarded in the end.

But I am telling you this:

You don’t need to suffer in order to succeed.

You don’t need to keep striving in order to make your dreams happen.

You don’t have to do it all on your own and never ask for help for fear of appearing weak.

You don’t need to hold it all together all the time.

You don’t have to do it the way your mother or father or brother or boss or mentor did it.

If it doesn’t feel good, stop.

You are still incredibly brave and smart and worthy of everything you desire. It is when you remember who you are, your true nature, than all the striving becomes less important.

Because you have found devotion – something far more invigorating than blind ambition.

I want to hear from you:

If you weren’t afraid of what other people would think, say, or do what would you do?

Share in the comments below, sister.

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Read more about my thoughts on a culture of striving and the not-enoughness we all feel.

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