Getting to Know the Crone Archetype

crone

“Crone.” I love that word. It’s an image that I hope that I can grow into one day.

In order to share my vision of the Crone archetype, here is a story. The author is unknown.

The Wise Woman’s Stone

While walking along a mountain stream, a wise woman found a precious stone. She picked it up, put it in her pocket, and continued her way.

The next day she met a hungry travel who asked to share her food. When she opened her bag to give  him some, the man saw the precious stone. He asked the woman to give it to him, and she did without hesitation. The traveler finished his food, and they parted ways. 

The man was full of joy. The stone could provide him with enough money to live well for the rest of his life.

A few days later the wise woman was surprised to see the traveler return. “I’ve been thinking,” he said. “You have given me a really valuable stone, but I am hoping that I can give it back in return for something even more precious. Will you give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone?”

Some mainstream people see the Crone as a hag, a worthless, ugly, bitter woman whom no one loves. She’s an outcast living at the fringes of society doing her witchy things.

Through the animist lens, she is the free, independent sage who doesn’t conform. She’s done her time as a coquette. Maybe she created children, a career, or nurtured a spouse. Now she retains the juicy power of her menstrual blood and uses it for herself.

The Crone has been around the Sun many times. She’s seen it all and taken it in. It’s not easy to intimidate or frighten her. She’s seen birth, death, suffering, heartache, sex, love, grief, loss, mistakes and survived. Even big things like war and natural disaster are just natural to her. She flows with life and accept it as she finds it.

The Crone doesn’t have a certain look. She can be frail or spry, a firecracker or a hermit, or a fashionista or a fashion challenged. A Crone is true to herself and abhors superficiality and falsehood in others. If she doesn’t have intimacy, depth, and authenticity in her community, she may shun society.

Because of the Crone’s relationship with destruction, death, and decay, she is often misunderstood and feared. One way that this shows up is that the Crone is often the midwife who ushers life into the world and also out of it. The modern Crone revival often overlooks this aspect of her, showing her instead as a bad ass. She’s a bad ass, but it’s because she is not afraid of the Dark. She is the Night. This can make her creepy to some people.

The Crone as a Goddess

Some examples of the Crone as a goddess are:

Annis (Celtic) – Keeper of wisdom and old ways who is shown as a scary, old woman

Baba Yaga (Russian) – The wild old woman; the witch; and mistress of magic.

Cerridwen (Celtic) – She represents the wisdom of old age.

Grandmother Spiderwoman (Native American) – An old wise woman who gave man the sun and fire.

Libitina (Roman) – Goddess of funerals and pyres.

Nephthys (Egyptian) – A funerary goddess associated with death, magic and reincarnation.

The healthiest manifestations of Crone energy are things like magic, intuition, psychic energies, clairvoyance, and wisdom. In Shadow she is bitter, vindictive, isolated, and ostracized. Or she may use her powers and wisdom to harm.

All archetypes are accessible to all people. However, not everyone embraces every energy. Wisdom comes from a life consciously lived. Age alone doesn’t make a Crone.

How to Be a Hero (Archetype)

hero

The Hero is probably more important to American culture than any other archetype. Most of our immigrant ancestors came here with a dream of being the hero of their own life. They were escaping poverty, religious persecution, war, and famine. Many of them turned their fortunes around and were better off than before they arrived.

This dream is the motivation to get our inner Hero gear. If there is no princess to marry, dragon to slay, game to win, or foe to conquer, our Hero stays inside with his feet up playing video games. This is actually one of the many modern problems that we face.

The Hero’s first hurdle is actually a phase in the journey to adulthood. It’s the drive to break the Mother’s apron strings and become our own person. Many people are not making this transition. Since life is so comfortable, it’s easier to not do it. There is no big payoff. Why should I risk the big unknown when Mommy will take care of me for as long as I want?

The Shadow Hero

When this happens, we get the Shadow Hero.

The Shadow Hero is very common in modern society. He’s so common that I’d say he masquerades as the real thing very well. How do you tell the difference?

When the Hero energy is in overdrive, it shows up as entitlement, seeking the limelight, and arrogance. His gestures are big and flashy. He can be demanding and demeaning. Think of the spoiled celebrity who talks down to waiters and limo drivers and you get the picture. Another version of this is the overachieving, corporate workaholic super star from the dysfunctional family. He feels that as long as he is successful enough, he can somehow separate himself from his shameful roots. Both of these Shadow Heroes are deeply insecure and need attention or outside validation to feel worthy.

When the Hero energy is weak, it shows up as the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. He backs down from conflict and let’s others walk all over him. Maybe he tells stories of what he would do if he just got a break or if other people didn’t get in his way. Or maybe he has lots of grand plans, but he never puts them into action.

The Healthy Hero

Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey starts out with an ordinary person in the ordinary world. Something invites him to break out of complacency (like in the Hobbit when Bilbo says, “I’m going on an adventure!). He may or may not say yes right away. While he has a desire to serve others, he needs to prove something to himself. So, he says yes.

Along the way he has trials that make him face his darkest fears – himself. This transforms him. Just when he thinks it’s over, he realizes that there is an even greater hurdle that blows him wide open. (This is when you are free from the bonds of childhood and step into your own being).

There is no going back to the old way of being, and yet he must go back. And this is part of the journey where western Heroes crash and burn.

See, the Hero has to die to be reborn. He has to lose his Hero persona and return with the knowledge that he’s flawed. Without this vulnerability and humility, he remains a Shadow Hero. Pretending to be fearless, invincible, or elite creates a barrier to connection and real life. It’s lonely.

Thinks about soldiers returning from World War II. They went through hell and were expected to tell glorified stories of battle that showed how brave and strong they were. There was no space for fear, honesty, grief, or falling apart. They had to pretend. So they didn’t make it through the next part of the journey.

Everyone has at least one coming of age moment. Some continue to do battle. In this process, they move on from the need to conquer the world and “graduate” to living in relationship with it and the people he set out to protect. We don’t have a lot of cultural support for this. We forget our fallen sports heroes, gossip about celebrities, and take down statues of our imperfect heroes.

Part of the Hero’s journey is realizing that everyone is flawed. Remember when you found out that your parents weren’t perfect? That’s the discovery that allows you to be real and have real relationships. So, you could say the Hero’s journey is about finding your strength and losing your illusions.

Why We Need Heroes

    • If we aren’t the Hero of our own lives, we never know who we really are. It’s an important part of our journey of self discovery.
    • The act of doing something great for others binds us to them and them to us. It gives us a tribe.
    • Having cultural heroes creates tribal pride and identity. It binds us to our past and gives us roots. Seven hundred years ago, William Wallace died. Ask any Scot what he did and they can tell you his story. Ask any Greek who Leonides I was, and they will proudly tell you – even though his triumph was 2,500 years ago.
    • Heroes define greatness. They serve as a beacon forward for us and inspire us to be better people.
    • Heroes provide a roadmap for following in their footsteps. They blaze the trail so others can succeed too.
    • Without Heroes, we wouldn’t imagine or create the impossible.

When our Heroes are sports figures and celebrities, we make the role of mother, fire fighter, soldier, and inventor unimportant. I don’t know about you, but my first hero was my mother. I thought she was the most beautiful person on the planet and my dad was the smartest. I wanted to be like them. Having those role models helped me to grow.

If Martin Luther King, Hercules, William Shakespeare, or Amelia Earhart are not acknowledged for their greatness, do any of us have a chance at it? And if they don’t, why should we break the apron strings or dream of big things? Why bother if we will only be torn down in the end? Without heroes, we tend to stay small, and that benefits no one.

Suggestions for Bringing the Hero Energy Into Your Life

If you don’t know who you are, read (or watch) biographies. Look at the lives of people who have done things you are interested in. Let them guide your journey into self discovery. Once you have your direction, fly!

Look at your own faults. Own them. Accept them. Love yourself anyway.

If one of your Heroes has let you down, forgive him or her. Accept his or her humanity. It doesn’t make their accomplishments any less noteworthy.

Rethink your idea of what it means to be a Hero. The Hero is not the end of the adult’s journey. It’s really the beginning. If you stay there basking in your glory, or searching for the next battle, you’re not living fully. Keep going.

Remember the Hero isn’t perfect. Embrace your vulnerability. It’s a strength that allows you to connect and have meaningful relationships. You can’t connect if your feet aren’t on the ground.

Our ideas of who is a hero can change. Let them evolve.

Remember that the Hero’s success isn’t in overcoming some outer battle. The real battle is the inner one with your own demons. Look within. Find your own greatness.

The Hero’s journey is a personal one. If you do someone else’s work for them, they don’t get the learning or growth. Resist the temptation to rescue or be rescued.

Look for opportunities to be courageous. Act.

Tell your cultural Heroes’ stories. Remember who you came from.

Cultivating a Healthy Rebel (Archetype)

rebel archetype

It is the season of the Rebel!

In America, we are well acquainted with this energy. We were founded on it. The first immigrant settlers were Rebels who were fleeing religious persecution. British colonists revolted against taxation and other heavy handled practices of the British aristocracy to create this country. Freedom and land seeking Rebels settled the American frontier. The South seceded from the Union to protect state’s rights. Abolitionists fought to end slavery. Citizens stood together to demand equal rights for women and people of color.

So we have benefitted from the transformational energy of the Rebel. And yet, many of us still don’t have a very healthy relationship with it in our personal lives. So let’s explore what the Rebel archetype is all about.

What is the Rebel?

The Rebel is also known as the maverick, outlaw, outsider, reformer, provocateur, free spirit, revolutionary, iconoclast, destroyer, wild man, and trouble maker. He believes that rules are meant to be broken and will disrupt, destroy, or shock to overturn what isn’t working.

Some characteristics of the Rebel are risk taking, outspokenness, independence, unconventional, creative, bold, uncensored, hard to get to know, misunderstood, and doesn’t easily trust others.

While most of us love routine and order, the Rebel is fearless enough to move into discomfort to achieve something he believes is better. It’s not comfortable, but it is part of the natural order. Everything moves from Order to Chaos. The Rebel keeps the wheel of life turning. Without the Rebel, there is no death and rebirth, no evolution.

Other examples of this are the season of fall, the zodiac sign of Scorpio, and the god(desses) Kali, Sekhmet, Nergal, and Batara Kala. Examples of humans with a strong Rebel archetype are/were: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther (Protestant reformer), Gandhi, Marie Curie, Pink, Miley Cyrus, Sid Vicious, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The Many Faces of the Rebel

The Rebel can show up as a complete destroyer or simply a nonconformist. Here are some examples to help you spot the Rebel in you.

Ideas Rebel – this person creates change with ideas. She creates innovative products, policy changes, or social structures that change the way we do things. She may not be intent on creating social changes, but succeeds nonetheless. Apple and Virgin are examples of companies that are ideas Rebels.

Agitator Rebel – this Rebel rocks the boat to expose hypocrisy, unfairness, lack of integrity, illegal activity, and other things that don’t jive with his sense of morality or sense of fair play. This could be on the social, business, personal, spiritual or political levels.

Free spirit Rebel – this Rebel isn’t particularly concerned with changing others. Her main focus is simply being authentic to herself. She can come across as uncaring and selfish as she doesn’t conform to social mores.

Misfit Rebel – like the free spirit Rebel, this person is eccentric and values authenticity highly. Unlike the free spirit, this Rebel may deeply long for belonging, but finds it hard to interact with others because he sees himself as so different.

The Shadow Rebel

When the Rebel is healthy, she shows us how to be free and stand up to oppression. She’s courageous, brave, and innovative. She goes beyond change and facilitates transformation of out dated products, strategies, relationships, and ways of being.

When the Rebel archetype is in Shadow she doesn’t know where to draw the line and stop fighting. The Rebel can push the boundaries too far and stray into criminal behavior. He can use his discontent for revenge, personal gain, thrill seeking, or to act out with no reason at all. Shadow Rebels are great at being angry and pushing boundaries, but they aren’t great at living within boundaries, restraining their passion, pulling for something (rather than resisting against something), or fitting in despite the desire to belong.

To move to a healthier place, Shadow Rebels need to:

  • cultivate healthy boundaries
  • learn what they stand for as well as what they are against.
  • learn to pick their battles. Some things just aren’t worth confronting.
  • see the big picture. What are the long term and big picture consequences of their actions? What will their rebellion cost? What is the goal?
  • create and live within structure. It doesn’t have to be as rigid as what most live under; however, structure forms the foundation of stability.
  • attain humility. An unbalanced ego can lead a Rebel into very dangerous territory. And she may take others with her.
  • know who she is aside from rebellion. We can’t relate to others in a meaningful way if we are constantly provoking them. It’s not pleasant and they will desert us.

Unfortunately, Rebels can end up heroes, but they don’t tend to be good diplomats and leaders. They don’t do well with creating or maintaining peace. So it’s important to know when to end the rebellion and call on different energies to create rebirth.

Why We Celebrate Memorial Day

memorial day

It might not seem logical for Memorial Day to be something that animists observe. We already have two ancestor days – Ancestor Day and May Day. Is honoring our fallen soldiers a spiritual practice or a personal one? Is it appropriate to honor soldiers at all? If you have these thoughts, read on and see why you might choose to celebrate Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is not Ancestor Day

Ancestor Day is for remembering your dead ancestors. Memorial Day is for honoring those who died while serving their country during military combat. So Memorial Day is a way to reflect and give thanks for the sacrifice that others gave for your country. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with the politics or not. It’s about the loss of life and their willingness to do this so that others didn’t have to.

It’s an Honoring of the Warrior Archetype

Many archetypal energies are widely expressed in their shadow form. The Warrior is no different, so the Warrior can get a bad rap. The shadow Warrior is either a coward who runs from the fight or the warmonger who fights dirty, wins at any cost, and annihilates the opponent – forgetting all humanity. The healthy Warrior is one who fights appropriately, fights to resolve an issue, doesn’t take it personally, and never forgets that we are all related.

When we set aside a time to reflect on the positive aspects of the Warrior archetype, it can help us to connect with our own inner warrior. This can strengthen us whether we are soldiers or not.

It’s an Honoring of Our Soldiers

War is hell. I can’t imagine the terror that our people in uniform face in their daily working lives. They go away to see and experience horrible things, and then are expected to return to civilization and fit in as if none of that were real.

It’s an unrealistic expectation. There is no reciprocity. They care for us. We don’t care for them. Veterans are underserved. They don’t have adequate health or mental health care. They don’t have the respect that they are due. Mainstream society doesn’t have rituals to purify them before they come back to the community or deal with the things that they endure on our behalf.

The warrior/tribe relationship has got to be mended. Memorial Day is for seeing and remembering what our soldiers do. The way back to wholeness is to be become a community again. We all have to be a part of any choice to do war. We have to practice seeing the “enemy” and soldiers as our brothers. I am told that this is why the Vietnamese didn’t have the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following that combat that western soldiers did.

What Can You Do?

  • Connect with your loss. Which relatives died while fighting? Light a candle for them. Say a prayer. Never forget their sacrifice or your people.
  • Tell the stories of their strength, courage, and sacrifice. True death comes with forgetting. As long as we tell their stories, they stay alive within us. Their stories are the stories of our history. As long as we acknowledge and remember our history, we can learn from it.
  • Visit a battlefield. The ghosts of so many still live here. The best way to help the unresolved dead is through love. They respond to energy. If you can be a light for the dead, do that.  Your brightness can help lift them out of darkness.
  • Show respect to our living soldiers. Even if you don’t like what they do, you can value their sacrifice.
  • Tend the dead. Maybe this means that you clean a grave. Maybe you do this by tending your ancestral altar. Do it in whatever way makes sense to you.

Am I a Shaman?

am i a shaman

Have you read or heard something and now you are asking yourself, “Am I a shaman?” You are the final authority on your reality. No one can answer that question for you, however, let me provide you with some things to think about that might help to make this clearer.

What Is a Shaman?

“Shaman” is a Tungus (Russian) word that describes their name for a person who walks in the spirit world for the purposes of helping the living and dead. It really doesn’t have any meaning outside that context because culture matters. What the person does in that role, and how she does it, varies from culture to culture, so using the word “shaman” generically isn’t all that useful or accurate. 

Some indigenous or animist cultures have healers that don’t work in the spirit world, yet they are still called shaman by outsiders. So perhaps it is more useful to call each culture’s healers by the name that they use. For cultures that no longer have this tradition, I usually use the name spirit walker.

How are Spirit Walkers Chosen?

The answer to this question varies from culture to culture. Generally speaking, spirit walkers are chosen when the person is young. In some cultures, women can be chosen after child rearing is over and menopause sets in. 

The initiation often follows a severe illness, near death experience, or some life changing event. During this process, the old person dies so that the spirit walker can be born. After this process, the old personality’s life is over. He or she may not care about the things they used to care about, may not like the things they used to, and has a radically altered personality and lifestyle. After a transition period, he is generally much wiser.

Spirit chooses spirit walkers. One cannot decide to become one. It’s a demanding and often painful life. These people tend to be isolated and strange. The work they do demands a lot from them. Although they are respected and are a part of the community, they often live on the fringes because they have one foot in the spirit world. As such they don’t have the same cares as other people. They don’t tend to be materialistic, egotistical, or business minded. In no culture that I know of does the spirit walker do this as a business. It’s a calling, a service.

Some cultures say that a person can refuse the call. Some say that to refuse is to die. In some cultures, if the gift is abused, the spirit walker spirit leaves the healer. 

How Are People Trained for This Role?

Shamanism is an animist practice. It’s the belief in animism that gives power to the healer. The animist training for this role comes from culture. From birth spirit walkers are taught how to have relationships with Nature, people, plants, animals, and the ancestors just by watching how those around them live. Spirit walking is the ability to function in the nonmaterial world. Without this foundation, none of the work, love, or understanding required to do this work can exist. Everything is relational to animists. 

The skills required to do this work come from the spirit walker spirit that now inhabits the human body. The person is not the healer. The person is the hollow reed through which the spirit walker works. As such, there is no “training” that happens. Some describe it as being downloaded with the information from all spirit walker incarnations that ever served the community. It’s like the spirit walker spirit never dies, but continues to learn and grow, finding different bodies to inhabit to do this service.

These are generalizations. They do not apply to all people in all cultures at all times. There are always exceptions. When the spirit comes to westerners, they need guidance to understand what is happening to them. They may need guidance to learn the basics of how to connect with their spirit guides. 

Words of Warning

There are many people teaching shamanic skills now. Learning shamanic skills does not make one a spirit walker. One can have very effective healing skills without being a spirit walker. There are many forms of energy healing and faith healing that work very well. Spirit makes one a spirit walker.

In most indigenous cultures, this is not something that one desires or pursues. It is a burden, a responsibility, a sacrifice. If you feel called to this path, I urge you to consider what it means. Ask yourself if you have the necessary relationship with your ancestors and all of creation to do this well. Are you firmly plugged into the matrix of life to serve the whole web well? The primary role of the Healer archetype is to heal oneself. Are you balanced enough in ego and health to serve? 

Lots of people are on the shamanism bandwagon. Many people say that pathologies are spiritual. They say crises are calls to initiation. For example, I hear that highly sensitive people are very spiritual. Psychics and past life readers are telling their clients that they are shaman or were shaman in a past life. All symptoms are signs of dis-ease, however some really are mental or physical issues and should be treated as such.

So be careful. Consider the source and motivation of anyone who is saying they are a shaman or is suggesting that you are. If spirit choses you, you will know it. You will hear it from the spirit themselves. If you have to ask, “Am I a shaman?” the answer is probably no.

Nine Ways Playing the Fool (Archetype) Is Good For You

Nine Ways Playing the Fool (Archetype) Is Good For You

April Fool’s Day is coming right up. That’s the perfect time to talk about the Fool Archetype and see how playing the fool is good for you. Before we do that though, let’s talk about what the Fool is. If you were ever told, “Don’t be a fool” you might think that fools are bad. However, as with all archetypes, there is a positive side and a shadow side.

The Fool is the prankster who loves to laugh and make others laugh. He pursues fun and wants to lighten dark spaces. He can say tough truths to people who may not be open to hearing them because he does it in a humorous way. Other people may not know whether to take him seriously, but the Fool doesn’t really care what others think. This adds to his strength as a wise teacher.

Another attribute of the fool is that he doesn’t take anything too seriously. Everything can be made into a joke. In fact, life is just a big game for the Fool. This moment is all that matters, and so he’s a master of present moment awareness. He doesn’t get stuck in “supposed tos.” If he doesn’t like something, he will just make up a new rule. He doesn’t need to control the game, just play it.

The Fool’s shadow can show up with overindulgence. Sloth, gluttony, hedonism, lust, impulsivity, and addiction can be the Fool’s playground. When the Fool fears that things aren’t fun or light, he can go to extremes to avoid feeling bored or dead inside. He loses all self control and dignity. The shadow Fool can also leave a trail of destruction behind him when his games are too over the top.

Now that we have an overview of the Fool archetype, let’s look at how playing the Fool is good for you. Spring is the perfect time for renewing your relationship with childlike innocence of the Fool. New beginnings are happening all around. The Fool archetype can help you keep the energy moving so that you stay in the wheel of life.

  1. Honesty. The Fool has the eyes of a child and sees everything. He’s not politically correct. He’s got no filter. This doesn’t mean that he’s brutal or rough necessarily, just truthful.
  2. Perpetual Trust. No matter how many times a Fool is hurt or disappointed, he never gets jaded. He is always optimistic and believes that this is a new day. He exhibits eternal trust in everyone and doesn’t see new adventures as taking a chance. It’s just a new game.
  3. Always Present. The only moment is this one for the Fool. He’s always right here. He’s not checking his stocks to see if he will have enough money for tomorrow. You’d never see him crying over last week’s spilled milk.
  4. Authenticity. The Fool doesn’t care about fashion, form, expectations, or saving face. He cries when he’s sad and laughs when he’s happy. When he’s sleepy, he sleeps. What you see is what you get. There is no conformity or restraint. If you think about it, it’s a bit ironic that fools often wear a mask but are more transparent than those without one.
  5. Innovation. The Fool is amazingly creative. He uses his words and body to entertain but also his imagination to solve problems.
  6. Fun. Perhaps the Fool’s biggest motivation is to have fun. Who doesn’t need more of that? Routine and obligations too often bog us down.
  7. Resilience. When life gets tough, the Fool keeps going. Like a Bobo doll, he keeps popping up no matter how many times he’s knocked down.
  8. Trusts in the Plan. Some people portray the Fool as an puppet master who whispers in the king’s ear, thus controlling the realm. I don’t agree with that at all. While the Fool often does have the king’s ear, he is not a conniver. He isn’t that forward thinking. The Fool is the one who trusts that whatever is happening is what needs to happen. He doesn’t have an agenda.
  9. Wisdom. The Fool is a paradoxical creature. He has many childlike qualities that can make him seem simple. Yet he’s not a child. He’s able to see what’s important, functional, and effective and often chooses this path and advises others to do the same.

If you are stuck, depressed, anxious, distrustful, or feeling foolish, check in with your Inner Fool. Listen for his lessons. We all have access to this energy. It’s here to help us through the journey of life, so why not use it? And when you see it alive and well in others, enjoy it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Never Give a Sword to a Man Who Can’t Dance

Never Give a Sword to a Man Who Can’t Dance

Confucius said, “Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” Oh, that confusing Confucius! Whatever did he mean by that?

In some medicine wheels, the warrior energy is found in the north. The south is the direction of music, dance, beauty, creativity, and inspiration. It is the energy that allows us to feel joy and peace. Without this energy to temper and balance the warrior energy, the warrior can become a savage.

Our current society is a warlike society, not a warrior culture. Warlike cultures focus on domination, control, and gaining dominion over others. Warrior cultures cultivate both the lover and the fighter so that a person knows when to fight, doesn’t take small things as an affront, and knows the value of what he takes from another – whether that is his pride, his dignity, or his life. This reduces fighting and treats battle like a last resort. When the battle is over, the enemy becomes the brother that he always was and peace returns.

Most of the world lives in a warrior culture where it’s common to take what you want and lash out at whatever hurts you. We’ve cut school programs for music, dance, and make it all about intellectual learning. We don’t allow kids to even make the shape of a gun with their fingers. Consequently, we aren’t teaching our young ones how to be good warriors or good lovers.

Love doesn’t live in the head. It’s not intellectual. It has to be cultivated and expressed through play, relationship, and inspiration. If you want to be a healthy warrior (and we all have warrior energy), you also have to be a good lover. It’s the balance of north and south, male and female, and warrior and music (the fuel of life).

So what do you do about it? Dance! Find the thing that makes your heart sing, that you lose all time in, and get lost in it. Give yourself permission to play. Connect. Smile with the birds, babies, and people. Sing – loudly. Laugh – a lot. Then share that with someone. Fear cannot live where there is joy. Cultivate that joy so that life isn’t a fight. But when you have to fight, love will be a part of your arsenal too.