Beyond "Just Say No:" Substances, Sobriety, and Initiation

Growing up with rites of passage and related practices woven into my life, I felt like I had all the tools I needed to navigate through any transition that life could throw my way. And it’s true, my toolbag is hefty, including mentors and elders I can call on, ritual and ceremony, practices for connecting with nature, and an ability to build community.

Then a few years ago, it became clear that alcohol was negatively impacting my life. It had became a key coping strategy for managing life’s stressors. While I would attempt to set limits, I couldn’t keep them, and the occasions of waking up embarrassed by what I had said or done the night before--or even worse, at times not remembering--felt miserable. I can see where this is headed, I thought, and it is nowhere good...

Cultural Habitat Restoration

Cultural Habitat Restoration

One of the things about focusing my life on supporting people through transitions is that being willing to face my own is kind of a job requirement. And the truth is, our changes are constant—they simply don’t stop.

My mom said a couple of years ago that gardening taught her that there aren’t four seasons, there are 365. Last year when she drove from New Jersey to Seattle, she observed that transitions across the landscape were marked by similarly subtle gradations. I see this in my own life, as well—how each passing day marks a subtle shift in who I am and how I relate to the world around me, an opportunity to cling and try to control, or to surrender and observe what unfolds. Or—as is usually the case—to do some weird contortion of both at once, a thoroughly uncomfortable and awkward dance...

 

We Are Our Landscapes

We Are Our Landscapes

Five years ago, when I moved to Hawai’i, I was steeped in the question, “what is the indigenous soul?” This term, which made me uncomfortable because I felt like it objectified and homogenized Native peoples, and because I wasn’t even really sure what it meant, had nonetheless seeded in my mind and taken root. It gave a name to a deep longing I felt. One day, I asked my friend Chris Quiseng what phrase indigenous soul evoked for him. Chris responded: “We are our landscapes.”