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My hope is to one day be an elder, not just an older.

During my conventional school years, I prided myself on being able to find the right answer in a moment’s notice. All it took was an easy internet search or quick purchase of a bright yellow spark notes booklet that contained everything I’d ever be tested on.

But that was back then…when life was more linear.

I had been conditioned to learn to interpret the syllabus. It took me mere moments to suss out the sort of answer that was deemed “right” and “good” and plow my way towards it using the abundance of tools and technology that had always been at my fingertips.

But most of that knowledge now? Gone. Stripped from the record. It all seeped through cracks once the tests were taken and the grade was given.

Nowadays, I’m focusing less on consumption of facts and more on the intentional gathering of wisdom.

I’ve been working to release my attachment to ways of learning that never really empowered me from the beginning. I’m consciously re-directing my attention towards what makes my heart say yes and what has me naturally reaching for my journal to write it down, sing it, memorize it in such a way that the pressure of knowing is turned way down. Because the joy of wisdom nourishes and motivates me in a much deeper way.

This concept of being an elder, not just an older was presented to me by my friend and teacher Liz in a circle of women.

Her words struck me deep down in my belly. They felt powerful, especially living in a time when facts are so easily accessible by technology but so many stories have been lost. The stories that explain where we come from, who we are, and our connection to the medicine and wisdom of this planet and our ancestors.

In my own journey of understanding the folk magic, medicine, and lore of my own ancestors, I’ve been shocked to find out just how little of that recorded history is still around today. Much of the records of the old ways of living were destroyed during times of war and the rise of the patriarchy. What has survived has done so through story – through the people who kept records safe in their homes and memorized the songs, recipes, and stories – and passed it down to the next generation.

I have long been seeking keepers of these stories and this wisdom so that I, too, can one day serve that role for the future ancestors of this land.

And as amazingly convenient and helpful technology can be, there is a different way to truly gather the wisdom and store it within yourself.

Our bodies carry the stories of our ancestors.

So, dear one, I encourage you to go to gatherings, take classes, and work with your hands. Talk to your grandparents, your elderly neighbors, or the woman in your town you see at the library who you know carries potent stories.

Seek out wisdom and share it.

This is how we heal the wound of suppression. This is how we remember who we are and why we’re here. This is how we reclaim ourselves.

Image via Regina Felice

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As I journey deeper into the ancestral traditions of the women of my lineage, I feel all the more connected to my own body.

I often look at my hands with such awe and reverence for what they are capable of and how all the women that came before me are helping to guide them in my daily acts of making (from breakfast to writing emails to dip dyeing fiber in indigo).

Having grown up in this beauty-obsessed culture, feeling comparison with the hair (and bodies) of the women plastered on billboards and in the pages of magazines has come up for me often. There have been times where I’ve hated that I wasn’t blonde, didn’t have curly enough hair, didn’t have straight enough hair, or sucked at making it look good.

But a lot of that has shifted over the past year as I’ve begun a deeper exploration of my hair as an expression of who I am and my connection to the earth and the people who came before me.

Last summer, I met a mama of 2 named Roxie Jane Hunt at a gathering of women in the wild redwoods called SpiritWeavers.

Roxie is a hair healer, self-care empoweress and creator of crown adornment. She helps women find their identities and learn to empower themselves through the honoring hair as a tool for expression.

Images via howtohairgirl

I hosted a hair care rituals and braiding workshop with Roxie at my home a few months ago and, the whole time I was wishing every woman in my tribe could experience the magic of Roxie’s knowledge. So I invited her to a video conversation about ancestral hair care and even convinced her to lead us in a virtual hair brushing ritual.

So go grab your hairbrush and click play on the video below!

Some snippets of what we talked about:

3:45 – Ancestral traditions of braiding + the matrilineal passing down of hair care.

7:50 – Reclaiming our crowns + unlearning beauty standards

10:45  – Why experimenting new hair styles based on how it makes you feel

11:30 – Detaching from the patriarchal beauty myth that we can get so swept up in with our hair.

15:55 – The power of a haircut to bring you more into your power

17:15 – How to cultivate a deeper relationship with your hair

25:30 – Roxie’s hair brushing ritual one the new and full moon

31:10 – The power of Tired Mama Braids for those of you with littles

Here’s what we mentioned during our chat:

Check out Roxie’s handmade brush here

Check out Roxie’s handcrafted hair oils and adornments here

Roxie’s post on when to shave your head.

Roxie’s post on a messy spring flower dream braids

You can find more from Roxie at HowToHairGirl and follow her on instagram @howtohairgirl

Roxie and I want to hear from you!

What are some your takeaways from our conversation? How are you going to apply what we discussed to your hair care rituals?

Leave a comment below.

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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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