medicine wheel


You know that feeling when you first reunite with a good friend that you haven’t seen or spoken to in a very long time?  There is that pull of urgency in your belly, you feel a bit flustered and slightly overwhelmed because you aren’t sure where to possibly begin in order to fill them in on all that has happened since you last saw each other.

That, kind reader, is how I feel right now about writing this blog.

I take comfort in the fact that I have been in the above-mentioned “real life” scenario quite a few times in the past, and from what I can recall, things just worked themselves out.  The sense of urgency begins to gently subside, the explosion of words that you feel compelled to vomit somehow manages to fall out of you, and somehow, a vague sense of order emerges from its chaos.

I am taking this sense of urgency, overwhelm and flus-tration (new word!) as a good sign… a verrrrry good sign.  You see, it means that I WANT to re-connect with you (you = the outside world).  And this is the first time I have felt like this in a very long time… about three years (give or take).

The tricky thing here is that it is often (not always, but often) a one-sided conversation on the old blog.  You see, I have been blogging for seven years.  You might recall that this blogging adventure began with “MareBare Necessities: A Year of Living with Less”, which was a one-year project in which I gave up being a consumer of new goods.  It turned out to be an epic journey, and somehow, unintentionally, it became quite well read.  Like 50,000-readers-per-month well read!  (I know, it still shocks the hell out of me too!) 

After the “MareBare” project was over, I quit blogging for a bit, but then I was pushed,pulled and practically dragged back into it because of people like you: you see, my blog had started a CONVERSATION.  (I know now that this is no small feat – I have been trying every since to “continue the conversation” with my “on-line community”, only to discover that as I shifted, morphed and changed, so did they).  Today?  Not so much of a conversation.  Not so much of a community.  And so, I find myself once again in a very much one-sided, somewhat awkward, I’m-really-excited-but-overwhelmed-to-tell-you-stuff social situation.

(And after yesterday’s post… you can just guess how I feel about that… cue the sweat).

However: I’m doing it anyway.  You see, when I started MareBare Necessities, I couldn’t friggin’ WAIT to write my posts each day.  I was SO excited to connect with “my tribe” (which started off as one or two readers… one of whom was my mom).  And that is, once again, how I feel about connecting with you kind folks (there are about 8 of you all told)…

So, where shall we begin?  Ah yes.  The title of this post: GAME-CHANGERS.

Because of the overwhelm/excitement/flus-tration, it occurred to me that maybe I should just tell you what the biggest, most epic changes, challenges, self-discoveries/uncoveries have been over the past three years.  This post then, can kind of serve as the “index” for the rest of the blogs to come.

Here they are, in no particular order of timeline or importance (and please note, I shared the first two with you yesterday):

·Giving up alcohol (for 510 days and counting) and moving into “recovery” (I love this word – it means: to regain possession of something lost and return to a normal state of mind/health)

·Discovering that I am actually a very introverted/shy/socially anxious person

·Going through a divorce (duh). We have done this in the most conscious way possible and although it has been unbelievably painful, it has also been a phenomenal journey of self-discovery and growth.

·Working as an educational consultant (turns out that I really love this work and it continues to change and expand as well).

·Taking charge of my mental and physical health through a life-changing dietary program called Whole30 (look it up.  No seriously

·Moving (several times) and finally settling into The House With The Red Door.  Lately we have been “Tidying up” our home (via the work of Marie Kondo) and so far this has involved disposing of 45 garbage bags of “stuff”, and we are only about ½ way done.

·Learning about co-dependency and moving into recovery from that sticky mess (this is also connected to learning how to set boundaries).

·Continuing to learn more and more about mental health and depression and continuing to navigate recovery (through WHOLEistic methods)  (I call this “taming the dark dragon”.) In other words, this has meant freeing myself of my behavioral addiction to and pattern of being “dark and twisty”.  This has meant taking FULL accountability for all areas of my life and letting go of my victim story (again and again and again).

·Facing ALL of my deepest, darkest fears, (most of which surrounded mortality and death) and emerging on the other side.

·Discovering a different way to be in an intimate partnership, and re-discovering the different forms/roles/shapes that can exist in a “family”

·Taking my medicine wheel training, travelling twice to Peru to study shamanism and beginning to practice and share my gifts as a shamanic practitioner.

·Changing my legal name back to my birth name.

·Claiming a medicine name (more on this later).

·Navigating intense survivor guilt (this is truly a one-day-at-a-time journey).

And there you have it: the list of “game-changers” and the likely future index of this blog.

Any questions?

Nahanni, DCW

Fire Walker

I have always loved ritual and ceremony.  As a child I can remember casting spells and making potions out of items that I found in nature.  I even had a "magic wand" with a miniature purple-wizard-guy on the top of it, and I can still remember the sound of the bells on his tiny hat as I swooshed it through the air, Blessing my creations.  Yes, I love the magical side of life.

I also love reason.  I love to have my questions answered… definitively.  I love reason and rational thinking so much, that I even have three University degrees, one of them in Science.  

One part magic and one part reason: there's that Gemini thing at play again.

Anyway, every year at New Year's, for as long as I can remember, I have chosen a word for the year.  I need to do this with a lot of consideration and care, because, as it turns out, whatever word I select typically becomes kind of like an intentional axis for the teachings/intentions over the entire year.  I do not know exactly how this works, but it does.  (My rational mind hates this fact, but my magical heart absolutely LOVES it).  

My word for 2015?  Trust.

So, let me tell you how this actually works.  When I first started doing this ritual, I thought, yes, I'll pick a word and then receive that word or feel that way all year long.  Well, Yes… and, No.  What really happens is that I will inevitably receive opportunity after opportunity to CHOOSE the vibration of whatever word I've chosen, often in the face of difficult or counter-intuitive situations… kind of like a test (or more like many tests).  

To be honest, I wasn't aware at first that this is how it worked, and my first couple of years of this practice were actually quite painful.  I thought the Universe had totally heard my prayer/intention, looked at my word and then laughed openly as it gave me the opposite.  But that IS how it works.  I can now see that when I pick a word, I will be given ample opportunity to put it into action!  (Last year's word was Grace… you can just imagine how messy 2014 was!)

Now, 3/4 of the way through 2015, I can honestly say that the Universe is right on cue with this year's word.  

Reflecting back on the year so far, I can see that there have been many examples to step into and choose Trust: avoiding river pirates in Peru, drinking Ayahuasca plant medicine (yes, again), riding near-wild horses in the Andes, rock-slides on crazy Andean roads, money stuff, work stuff and BIG relationship stuff, however a few weeks ago the Universe brought me what felt like a very, very big test.  

As some of you know, I am currently on a one-year training program called The Shaman's Path - facilitated by my brilliant friend and colleague Sarah Salter-Kelly.  We meet four times over the course of a year, in accordance with the equinoxes and solstices.  It is a training program based on the teachings of the medicine wheel and so far, it has proven to be nothing less than life-changing (I know, I know, how many times can I have a "life-changing" experience?!  Apparently many.  Infinitely perhaps).  Anyway, at the last gathering for the fall equinox (West direction), part of the program was performing a fire walk.  

Now, I had some vague recollection when I signed up that there was going to be a fire walk during the program, but honestly, I never gave it much thought.  It was one of those, "yeah, yeah, I'll worry about it when I get to it" kind of things.  

Well, on Friday night of the fall program, there it was, staring me straight in the face as a red hot, bed of coals.  The time had come to "worry about it".

I did what the facilitator (Brian) said to prepare, I connected to my breath, I connected to my energy field, I envisioned "cool moss"… but I was scared as shit.  My rational brain would NOT SHUT UP, with many others in the circle voicing my internal concerns: "Won't we get burned?"  "What is the science behind this?"  My magical heart, on the other hand, was totally in.  

Do or die.  Ok.  That's a bit dramatic.  Let's say "Learn or Burn" instead… or maybe "Trust or Bust"  (oopsie, my dorky sense of humour just got out).

Erm-Erm (throat clearing).

Who do I trust?  My magical heart (which I know is fully connected to the Universe), or my rational mind (which is actually quite a smarty-pants).  

We walked in silence, our group of thirteen.  I went quickly, right after Sarah and Brian… wanting to literally walk away from the conniption fit my mind was having in my head.  

And I did.  And it worked.  

On the other side of the coals, I collapsed in a heap of emotion.  

The Universe DOES have me.  I AM supported.  I CAN trust.  I DO trust.

Later, when we looked at some of the pictures (the one above).  I have to say I was a bit gob-smacked.  I don't know if you believe in capturing evidence of spirit on camera or not, but after hearing Dr. Wayne Dyer talk about it at length and show many photographic examples, I do.  I choose to believe that all of the white in the above picture is spirit.  That I am surrounded by love and support.  That I CAN trust in that.  

Grateful for the lesson.  Humbled beyond measure.  

Yours, in Trust,


Nahanni, Dancing Coyote Woman