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Tina Fey stands outside my window, shuttling questions and getting ready for a gig. Inside, I try to figure out what to do with my fingers. I don’t know how, but they’re purple and stiff, and…shall we say…estranged from my hand. They’ve been sliced off. Maybe if I soak them, they’ll come back.

When I wake from the dream, I try to shoo off the image, till I remember that before bed, I’d put away dinner leftovers: two and a half barbecued sausages, which looked in the container like my fingers did in the dream. Weird. But a relief.


At the farmers market a few hours later, I buy lettuce from a man who has no fingers on one hand. He wears a small, black, leather sheaf around what I’m assuming is the remaining portion of his hand. I drift back to Lisa, lettuce in hand and tell her I’m traveling between dream and waking world today. As I tell her this, I spy fresh dill, and wonder aloud if it will wilt on the long drive home. “Maybe if I soak it, it’ll come back,” I tell her. And then look at her wondering which world she’s in, dream or waking.

We round the corner. Kate joins us. I’m staying at her place while I’m in town. Sometime in the dark, between the dream and the rationalizing it, I got up to go to the bathroom and got spooked. “Grandpa,” I thought, loud in my head. Grandpa’s been gone a long time, but I still call on him when I want to feel safe.


We wait for Kate to select peaches at a fruit stall, and while she does I’m fairly levitating in space-out mode. My eyes are fixed on the mulberries, and I think, “Mulberries. I haven’t seen mulberries since Grandpa’s mulberry tree.” And then I think, “Man, those mulberries are long. So long they’re curled. And purple. Like the fingers in my dream.” I get the willies I got on waking from the dream. And then I remember last night’s call to Grandpa in my head. And then I think, “Hey, Grandpa.” We leave the stall with Kate’s peaches and my arrival from my trip between worlds. Thanks, Grandpa.

Come to our party

Our first-ever Saturday morning pancakes and mimosa story charming party will be wonder-filled. Come over and tell+hear stories, drink champagne, and soak up Portland’s first blush of summer together.

Saturday, July 7, 10:30-2:30, downtown Portland, OR

As space is limited, slip in to the invite list to receive yours.



Spring dreams

As a kid, were they dreams, those times I’d sit on the playground step at recess trying to strain open my heavy lids because the kids were getting in line to go in?

Or was that real?

Light finds the dark

If you’re astrology inclined, you know it’s Mercury Retrograde, planetary sleep time. For three to four weeks, things break, need fixing, communication falters.

But what happens when they break? Stasis is interrupted. Chaos begins. A journey must begin to achieve stasis again. And what’s a journey but an invitation to catharsis? And what’s a catharsis if not a waking?

Every story begins with chaos or order. Every story travels through both.

If it breaks, fix it from its depths.

Just sayin’.

Seasons blend

We begin seven days of Wake Up calls tomorrow, the first day of spring, right in the middle of sleepy Mercury Retro.

What dreams will you wake to, in this season of sleep?

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You can still join us. 4:00 a.m. PDT. March 20-27.

Reach out —>  Hi [at] StoryCharmer [dot] com

Receive the Wake Up Kit.

Get on the call.

Or don’t. And wake up anyway.

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Wake up with me for the 7-day Wake Up. March 20-27. Join us + watch your life pop open. Cost: Zero dollars and a few dawns.

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.

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Anxiety dreams in a day like sleep

Anxiety dreams. Have them? Some friends and I were comparing ours last week when I realized that THAT DAY had itself been an anxiety dream: Hurrying to get home because of a date I was already too late for, traffic on all north-south streets  backed up into the intersections, and even a tiny old lady taking two light-lengths to shuffle her walker across the road in front of me, and at one point even to stop and rest. At this pause I finally laughed, right before I got home and cried my eyes out.

When I finished crying, long, loud, sad bouts of tears that, the longer they came, the more I realized it wasn’t about the being late or missing my date or the little old lady or the traffic being impassable. It was a release of something deeper and older in me that finally had to come out, perhaps attached to the familiar anxiety. And when I was emptied of it, depleted, exhausted and salty with tears, I felt…awake. I felt my body weight, heavy under me now that the psychic weight had lifted. I felt young and old. I felt…my self, spent…and utterly awake to a new experience, as if a storm had cleared up and on the other side of it a brand new view.

You’re invited to Wake Up with me

Just like a crazy dream, the only way out of the anxiety was to wake up from it. Had I kept sleeping, I might never have made it…home, really, to my self.

Throughout March I’ll be writing on my blog about WAKING UP, shifting consciousness individually and otherwise, leveling up in this game of life we play. And I’d love your thoughts leading into it.

What comes to mind for you when you consider waking? What does waking mean to you, and in the same vein, what does SLEEPING mean to you?

Waking from winter into spring

The project will start March 1. I’ll be writing about it up to and through end-March, and would love to play with your ideas, stray thoughts, one-liners, deep beliefs, in this month-long meditation.

I’ve also got a few tricks under my pillow I’ll share closer to the start. Till then…

Think about it. Come over. Wake up with me.

P.S. You can do more than show up to wake up:

If you want a deeper part in the project, you’ll be able to join or follow along. More details to come on that. For reference, here’s what my last blog project looked like (click down there on the yellow badge). This one will have the same girl-on-a-journey thread, and hopefully the same community story circle flavor.

Memory to Light


Dreamtime loss

Last night I had a dream about sharing grief. I didn’t know it then. I was just trying to make something happen, and hitting obstacles. When I woke up crying, it began to become clear what was working through me. Later today, I happened on a beautiful tribute of shared grief, to help me understand.

In the dream, I am in the childhood home of a childhood friend. I am adult, out of place in the old house, shining wood, spacious and shot through with yellow sunlight. It’s like I have teleported here. We have to get out before someone finds us. I am with someone very dear to me. And we have to get out so we can continue our conversation and get through this, this heavy heaviness.

He is reticent to leave but he doesn’t tell me that. Instead he makes jokes, and when my phone breaks because I have dropped it on the floor, he kicks the pieces apart so that it will take longer to pick them up. He doesn’t realize the importance of getting out of this house. It belongs to other people and they don’t know we are here. We are just borrowing it, I am just coming to get him. But he keeps dragging his feet.


My anger flares. Impotence against what is bigger and out of my control, it melts at once into tears. He has lost his wife, his daughter. In a nasty divorce. He cannot defend himself. He doesn’t have the skills or the resources to handle either the legal battle or the emotional one. His daughter is learning that he is a bad man, when in reality, he is crippled with hopelessness, without a map.

I am crying. He is not. And then he begins to cry. I feel bad for making him cry. For making him feel. But happy that I can help him by crying for him, sharing his loss. In my sleep, I can feel my body heaving. In my dream I ask him gently, “Why?” And in my mind I am hearing, “Why? Why? Why? Why?”

We cry together there in that sunlight. Then I wake up.

I think about the dream. In my growing up years, the family of the childhood friend to whom the house belonged lived down the street from me, until they lost their house and lived in a van. Two of the girls, my friend and her sister, lived with us for a while as a result.

We were trapped in loss that started a long time ago. The only way out was crying together.

Shared by community

This dream followed me around today, leaving me with so many questions. And then I came upon this gorgeous, loving tribute honoring a lost loved one in the food blogging community last week.

Love and blessings to Jennie Perillo, her family, and all who reached out to share the grief of her loss together, and carry the pain with love and joy.


Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey from Evolution Multimedia on Vimeo.

May joy find its way to you through sorrow.

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Thanks for reading Day 5 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.


Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara is the top of a hiking trail that pulls you right onto the spine of the range’s foremost rise, the shorter mountain that stands closest to the city, hovering over its shimmery lights and blue ocean, and sheltered by the bigger mountains behind it. When I sit up there on that ridge, the sensation of safety quiets me as if I were a cat tucked in a shoe box in the corner of the room.

The mountains absorb sound and emit a steady heat. The scent of sage and dirt and chaparral filters my brain of stray thoughts. To the north, a long view of the foothills, reaching down like fingers into a sylphy mist, makes me feel like I am party to an eternal, magical moment. The town below goes about its beauty and business, innocent of my watching it. I breathe deeply here.

Birthday inspiration

One year for my birthday, I drove to Santa Barbara from L.A., hiked to Inspiration Point at dawn, meditated through the morning, then hiked down and jumped into the ocean. It felt like a communion and a cleanse. A practice and a letting go. I felt prayerful and hopeful and supplicant, and then ocean-scrubbed and clean and ready for the next year of my life.

On this particular morning, fog shrouded everything. When I looked out to the ocean I couldn’t see it, or the town below. So as I sat to meditate, I faced the mountain. Fog crept along the mountain’s face, silencing everything but the sound of its pin-point drops, fixing to leaves, branches, skin. I sat cross-legged between two bushes and put my hands in sandy dirt. For a while I watched patches of mountain get revealed between fog clouds. Then I closed my eyes.

It had been a tough year. Major opportunities revealed themselves to be major distractions in the end, and I feared I had thrown my biggest dream off a cliff. I had picked up and moved across country–again–in hot pursuit of the thing I already had in my grasp. And then I lost it. I sat on the mountain that morning listening for guidance, asking for answers to get back my dream, find my way again.

A promise of birth

When I opened my eyes, the fog opened onto an area of rock that looked like a fertility symbol, a long phallus pushing deep into a corresponding yoni. The fog framed it a moment and then spread over it again.

I sat there quiet, startled, like I had caught sight of a secret. The word, “fertilized,” buzzed in my ears. My dreams are fertilized, nascent. They will take root. Nothing is lost. Be patient. It is just the beginning.