1/12/18 - Be Big
I was lying on a table in Juliana’s Brooklyn apartment. In the part of Brooklyn by the park where the sidewalks were never paved but instead were laid, carefully, with red bricks.
I’m a writer, I told her, but she knew this already. She told me she never really saw me doing what I was doing, that it felt too small, and I remembered how the boy with the cards described me as big. And now, years later, I was starting to believe him.
Juliana told me I should just get in a room with people who were doing big things, the kind of things I wanted to do. She asked me who those people were, and I told her the names of two writers whose careers inspired me the most: Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed. And she told me, That’s easy. She had a friend who did a writer’s workshop with Cheryl Strayed.
That night, I went home and researched Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed’s tour dates. Cheryl wasn’t scheduled to be anywhere near New York City, but Liz had a few dates scheduled an hour or so away in New Jersey in the spring. I could make one work.
2/22/18 - Be Brave
Forty days passed. I had just finished an energy work session with a new client, and I was returning to Earth after visiting the Fairy Realm (or wherever that was we traveled to) when I opened my phone and checked Instagram.
At the top of my feed, I saw a picture of Liz Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed hugging. I smiled and thought the angels and fairies were being cute and sweet and supportive, and I said, Aw, thanks guys, and I closed my phone. Then I heard a voice say, somewhat exasperated, Read the caption!
I quickly reopened Instagram, read the caption, and learned that they would both be in the same place in September, hosting a weekend long retreat called Brave Magic.
I knew this would sell out immediately. I knew I didn’t have time to think, just act. So I cleaned up my office, hopped on a train, walked into David’s apartment, breathed a sigh of relief when I realized he wasn’t there, sat on the couch, opened my laptop, tried to book a room at the retreat, realized that room availability was changing faster than my internet connection could handle, picked up the phone, and snagged the last available private room just before David walked in and kissed me hello.
Perfect timing, I told him.
6/12/18 - Be Bold
Months passed. David and I moved in together and got engaged and got a kitten, and I started a writing group with two friends, and my business started booming, and my memoir started pouring out of me, and life felt amazing, but something was missing.
Many of the friendships from my twenties had not survived the transition into my thirties. People had gotten married or busy with work or were now living hundreds or thousands of miles away, and I, of course, in my perpetual pursuit of truth, had changed.
I also had taken on more responsibility and started my own business and became partnered and mainly wanted to stay at home on my couch with David and the kitten, and I started to fear that this is what growing up looks like. I remembered my parents and how so many of their friendships had faded over the years and how my high school boyfriend once said to me, isn’t it weird how parents basically don’t have friends?
If this was a trend, I was officially committed to defying it.
I longed for strong, intimate female friendships. Friendships where you share all the ups and downs and regularly grab brunch on Sundays. I longed for friends who felt like family, and on the Cancer new moon eclipse, Diana told me that my soul longed for sisterhood, and I said, yes!
Sisterhood. I hadn’t thought of it that way.
Two hours after Diana and I spoke, I took the train to Bushwick. I was meeting an artist in an apartment to get a tattoo. I felt uneasy about it. I’d wanted a hummingbird tattoo for over a year. I’d seen it on my arm - its wings perfectly spread around my elbow. And Jessica had seen it too.
One day she was standing in front of me, and she asked - out of nowhere - do you have a hummingbird tattoo? I told her, Somewhere, someday, yes.
I didn’t think it would be today.
I’d seen the tattoo as something simple - a little sketch, an outline of a bird - and one week earlier, I’d found a story I’d written when I was nine years old. It was titled, “The Song of the Hummingbird,” and on the cover was a little sketch I’d drawn of a bird and a flower. Just the outline.
I dropped the picture on the floor. I thought that hummingbirds first came to me in April of 2017. I didn’t realize they had been with me all along.
The day after I found the story, I saw a post from a tattoo artist that was exactly the style I imagined for this tattoo. The artist was based in New Mexico, but I sent her a message anyway - just in case she was ever traveling to New York. I didn’t expect her to say, I’ll be in town next week!
I thought I had time - months at least - but the universe or something seemed to be propelling me toward this tattoo now, with this Cancer eclipse, and the movement of it all felt so beyond my control that I almost didn’t do it.
Trust, I thought, so I took the train to Bushwick - still scared, still doubting. When I got off the train, I realized I didn’t have any cash. I saw a deli with an ATM sign, but I heard a voice that said, Not that one. And I knew then that there would be another one on the corner right before I arrived, and there was. I got the money and turned the corner and stopped walking when I saw my middle name written in chalk on the sidewalk. I looked up from the chalk. I looked at the numbers on the door to my left. I had arrived.
Over the next four hours, she sketched the bird and poked it into my skin - its wings spread around my elbow - and I told her the whole truth. I told her that I’d had a dream about her the night before:
In my dream, we were on a bus, and on the bus, you told me that we were witches together in a past life. You didn’t remember this yourself, but apparently, we had met before in this lifetime, and when we met, I told you how we’d known each other before in another life.
She believed it.
And now, here we were, meeting for the first time in this life, and I was telling her about how we’d known each other in another life. But I was only telling her because she had told me in a dream that I had told her.
I don’t know who told who first. Over time, I’ve come to believe that life doesn’t really happen chronologically. Not in the way we think.
So, I got a hummingbird tattoo from my former witch sister, and the next day, I lit two candles - one for the women I had wished would be my sisters but never were and one for the women who were my sisters. The ones I maybe hadn’t even met yet, and the ones I maybe would meet again and again.
9/9/18 - Ask for Everything You Want
The eclipses passed, and Mars turned direct, and summer was ending, and I was grateful because I hate the heat.
I sat in a room with three other women to celebrate the start of Harvest Season - the time between the Virgo new moon and the Harvest full moon. This is believed to be a time of tremendous growth, and in my experience, it always was.
We chose what we wanted to grow. We blended herbs in jars, making our own custom teas, and we wrote intentions on small pieces of paper, and we planted the paper in our jars of tea.
I remembered a message I received in January, Don’t hold back. So my paper read: “successful published author.”
A few days later, my friend posted a ritual that the Aztecs performed on the Harvest full moon. The ritual involved placing fresh marigolds in water, soaking them in the sun for three hours, and then bathing in the water. My friend recommended that we all keep an eye out for marigolds. I thought that no amount of looking would bring me close to wild marigolds in New York City, but as luck (or something) would have it, I wasn’t in New York City when I read her post about the ritual.
I was in a car driving north along the Hudson River on my way to visit a farm. The farm was covered in rows of raspberries, tomatillos, and carrots, and among the rows of edible plants, there was one small row of flowers, and among the flowers, there was one small patch of bright orange marigolds. I picked three that had already fallen to the ground and traveled home with them.
I fed them sugar, hoping they’d survive the twelve days until the full moon.
Six days later, I refreshed their water and packed my bag for California. It’d been seven months since I booked my room at the Brave Magic retreat, and now, it was time to go.
9/19/18 - Follow the Signs to Get It
My Lyft driver, Michael, drove me to the airport. I’d forgotten that I was flying out of JFK rather than Laguardia, and as I left the apartment, David was worried that I’d be late.
He had good reason. It can take twice as long to get to JFK as Laguardia, but as soon as Michael arrived and his name was the same as an angel’s, I knew I’d be okay. He pulled up to departures at exactly the same time I had originally planned to arrive at the airport.
I stood at my gate and read the flight details on the blue screen in front of me. I was on flight number 1822 with partnered airlines 8444, and I looked at my ticket and saw that I was sitting in row 18. I remembered that I’d chosen that row on purpose. I chose it because 18 is the day I was born, so from a young age, I decided that it was my lucky number, but my point now is that the numbers were telling me something, as they always do.
44 follows me. From the battery percentage on my phone to the time on the clock to even the time on the phones in the TV shows I watch, multiple times a day, every day, I see 44. Even my home address is 2222, which when added is 44. And the street address where we chose to get married just happens to be 220, and the other day when I placed the deposit in the mail, I learned that its P.O. Box is 444. And the town where I want to move (near where David grew up) just happens to be area code 440 and zip code 44022, and I learned, it was founded in 1844. And of course, 22 itself is lucky - a piece of 44 - and as I was writing this story, I realized that I booked my room at Brave Magic on February 22, 2018, otherwise known as 2/22/18, and here I was, boarding flight 1822 and thinking that the angels were with me.
As soon as I walked onto the plane, I saw that I was not alone. Liz Gilbert was on my flight.
Yes, I was meant to be here.
I sat in seat 18A and watched tens of tiny rainbows cover the wall of the plane and the seat in front of me. I watched them flicker and move, and I wondered where they were coming from. Then I realized there was a ray of light from the open window in row 17, and that ray of light was hitting the base of my engagement ring - my tiny, portable rainbow maker.
I wrote. I read. I watched Netlfix on my iPad. I sufficiently calmed down since realizing that I was on the same plane as one of my favorite writers, and I noticed on the blue screen displaying the flight details in front of me that the plane was traveling 2222 miles between New York City and San Jose.
When it arrived, I was tired from travel, and I figured that Elizabeth would be long gone by the time I made my way off the plane. Sure enough, I didn’t see her anywhere. So I kept walking toward transportation.
Then I saw her, sitting in a chair, rearranging some items in her bag.
(Sidenote: I just looked up from typing, and my laptop is at 44%.)
I placed my bags in a seat on the opposite end of the row where she was sitting. It was genuinely warm, and I needed to remove my scarf. I mediated an internal argument between the side of myself that wanted to say hello and the side that didn’t want to be a burden or disturb her in anyway.
She stood up to keep walking. She was walking away. Don’t think. Act.
Elizabeth, I said, I’m sorry to disturb you. I’m here for your retreat.
There I stood - glasses on, no makeup, holding a plane pillow made to look like a panda - and she just smiled and hugged me and asked for my name.
We talked for a few minutes before parting ways, knowing we’d see each other again soon. And as I walked to the car, I wondered if maybe some of her magic had rubbed off on me. Though I already knew - and this would be confirmed in the days to come - that she, like me, was just a person - living, working, doing her best. But her best, I thought, was pretty fucking great.
Honor Your True Feelings
I arrived at 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley, California, where the retreat was being held, and where I’d be living for the next five days.
When I booked this retreat seven months earlier, it was the most money I’d ever spent on myself without at least sleeping on the decision, and at the time, I didn’t even know where I was going or what was included or what we’d be doing. All I knew is that Liz and Cheryl would be there, and it was somewhere in California, and I could figure out the rest.
Now, here I was, and as soon as I arrived on the campus - its buildings happily nestled amongst the land and tall, red trees - I thought, This is the nicest thing I’ve ever done for myself, and as I walked around campus, I heard voices saying over and over again, We love you so much! And I said, I love you too! Thank you!
Then I stumbled upon the teaching kitchen and its garden. Right there was a large patch of the most beautiful marigolds I’d ever seen. I made a mental note to ask if I could take some home with me on the last day. Then I passed vase after vase full of the same flowers I had used in the new moon tea making ceremony fourteen days earlier, and I spoke to a tree that wanted to be touched and one that didn’t, and I saw a hummingbird.
It moved so quickly through the flowers that I could have easily missed it, but there was no mistaking what I had seen - the first live hummingbird I’d ever seen. Because while I had a hummingbird on my arm and while hummingbirds showed up for me again and again in visions and in pictures, I hadn’t seen one in person (at least that I could remember) until now.
I played with a fairy oracle deck at the campus shop, and this was the card that flew out of the deck:
The waterfall reminded me of the one I’d just seen on campus. I walked toward a small patio that rested on top of the waterfall. I sat down next to a sign that read “Remembering the Light.” I crossed my legs and closed my eyes to honor my true feelings.
I felt the presence of Archangel Michael to my left. He told me, I brought you here, and I said, Thank you. And the muse, Clio, stepped in front of me. I held out my open palms, and she filled them with gold coins and purple petals and told me that now is my time, that I don’t have to wait. I asked them both for an intention to carry with me for the day, and they told me, Soften into beautiful spaces.
I opened my eyes and said out loud, I don’t want to be in New York anymore. I placed my hands in the water pouring down the rocks. I let the water carry my words away, let myself soften into this beautiful space.
The Enchanted Sisterhood
Over the next few days, I remembered just how soft and tender I am inside.
I listened to Liz and Cheryl speak about their lives and their writing. I wrote myself letters from various emotions and perspectives. I ate delicious meals and shared stories with wonderful women - the same fifteen or so women I kept seeing on campus again and again. There were 600 of us at the retreat, but based on my experience, you would think that they were the only other women there.
We believed that we were all kindred spirits. That the thing that lives in Cheryl and Liz is the same thing that lives in each of us. It is this thing, we believed, that called us here and put us in the right place at the right time.
Just like I was in the right place at the right time as I was walking from the campus shop, texting my actual sister.
In the shop, I had opened Cheryl’s Wild, and I’d made a note in my phone of who her publisher was and who her agent was, and I started doing the research I imagine I will need to do in order to fully birth my book into this world. And as I was walking, with this information fresh in my mind, a car pulled up in front of me. Liz and Cheryl got inside, and as they drove away, Cheryl turned and looked at me and waved goodbye.
I couldn’t help but think that there was a reason why I was standing there and no one else was. There was a reason why she waved and not Liz. I can’t tell you how I know this. Only that I felt it. I felt that the reason was connected to the research I’d just done and that maybe the universe was waving through her as if to say, you are on the right path.
Just as the universe was moving through me as I was brushing my teeth and Elizabeth, a photographer from Florida, was standing next to me, brushing hers. Later that day, we just happened to sit right by each other in the auditorium, and then the next day, we saw each other again in the bathroom and accidentally sat near each other again in the auditorium, and then on the last night, we came together with a group of women.
We gathered around a fire pit outside on the first day of fall, under the almost full moon. The hot air above the fire made the world look different. Like the molecules were moving so quickly you could see just how loose reality is. How permeable. Like you could stick your hand right through it.
On one piece of paper, we wrote something that we wanted to release, and on another, we wrote something that we wanted to attract. We chanted and cried and placed the paper in the fire and let our wishes float up and through the loose air, sending them toward another place in time where they had all come true.
I felt the hard armor of New York City fall off of me. That same night, a few of the women I had been spending my time with wrote a poem. They titled it “The Enchanted Sisterhood.”
I had found my sisters.
The photographer and I exchanged information, and she promised to hold me accountable for finishing the first draft of my book. We set my birthday as a deadline, and another voice told me to ask her about a blue folder. A basic blue folder. The magical thing she found inside that folder is her story to tell, but I will share something that often happens, which is that the blue folder had two meanings.
It was both a message for her and a message for me because the next morning, I was sitting at breakfast, across from yet another Elizabeth (she goes by Betty Ann), and she unexpectedly removed a blue folder from her bag. Inside was her book in progress. A few minutes earlier, she had mentioned that she’d printed her book and had it with her and was happy to give it to me if I had space in my bag. Space was genuinely tight, so I suggested emailing it would be better, but the moment I saw the blue folder, I knew I was supposed to take it home with me.
It fit without any problem.
Later that day, I saw the photographer in the campus shop, holding a piece of poster board that had been used by an incredible artist to map the lessons Liz and Cheryl had taught that weekend. They’re cutting them up and giving them away, she told me. I rushed over to the dining area where the artist stood with an X-acto knife amongst the paltry remains of the beautiful mind maps he’d created.
I asked him if The Golden Key was still left, and while most everything else was gone, The Golden Key was there, waiting for me.
The Golden Key was drawn from something Cheryl had said on the first day. She said, We become by trusting the truth that guides us. She described how this truth is like a golden key, and we don’t have to know where it’s leading us, our only job is to put the key in the door.
And so I left California with golden flowers and a golden key - much like the one that had been given to me during a fairy meditation one month before I booked my room at the retreat - just a few days after Juliana told me to get in a room with them.
Leaving this enchanting place was nauseating. Literally.
I clutched my stomach in the backseat of a car that wound up and down a mountain in the dark. I breathed deeply as the car continued to fight the urge to collide with the side of the mountain and the person sitting next to me spoke quickly in an effort to distract me from my stomach.
We drove out of the winding mountain and onto smooth and even road at exactly 7:44 PM.
I still felt nauseous at the airport, but then I saw a massive hummingbird, as tall as I am, lit up by a bright white halo, and I knew that everything was okay. Everything is always okay.
My plane arrived back in New York City the next morning. I placed the new moon marigolds from the farm upstate and the full moon marigolds from the campus in California in a pot of water outside. I let them soak in the sun. Three hours later, I poured the floral water over the crown of my head and down my shoulders and across my chest and all over my body. As the Aztec ritual dictates, I let my body air dry.
As I was drying, I placed my printed book in progress on the table in front of me. I opened the angel deck that I’d brought with me to California. On top of the cards, I found a small pinecone that I had placed inside. I’d found it my first day in California, or rather, it found me. These baby pinecones were everywhere, but for some reason, I was told to pick this one up and take it home with me, so I did.
Then I remembered how Betty Ann with the blue folder had been a park ranger in Yosemite. How we were sitting at breakfast when I told her that a pinecone from Yosemite features prominently in my book. I told her all about the pinecone, and she told me what kind of pine it came from. That pinecone was very different than this small one I found in my deck of cards, but nevertheless, it is a pinecone, which is where my book begins, so I placed the pinecone on top of my manuscript. Then an angel card flew out. It said: Your dreams are fulfilled! Hard work leads to great success. A love for the beautiful things in life.
Then I noticed a pink package on my desk that had arrived while I was gone. I carefully opened it. Inside, I found a surprise gift from the same client whom I was with on 2/22/18 just before I learned about the retreat.
She had sent me a wing - veiny and transparent. I placed it on top of my manuscript - opposite the pinecone - and I smiled because what she didn’t know is that my book ends with wings just like this one and that these wings connect to the sequel, and I could you all about this now and how this same client actually saw something else once that relates directly to my second book and the story of the wings, but I’ll save that story for the book, which now, thankfully, after this weekend and this harvest season, I feel fully ready to birth and prioritize. After all, I am a writer.