Finding the Feathered Pipe Ranch while in the thick of my healing journey with Lyme Disease was one of the biggest blessings of my life, a crossing too serendipitous to be chalked up as coincidence. I was 27 years old, and I wrote a letter to India asking if I could come out and spend time on the land among kindred spirits. Within a few weeks, plans were set. I made the trip from the East Coast in the summer of 2016 for a Yoga and Ayurveda workshop with Baxter Bell and Melina Meza. It was this exact week five years ago, and I’ve been involved with the Ranch in many different capacities since then.
Through the process of healing my body, I began to learn the power of stories—the stories I told myself about my worth, what I “brought to the table” with these new limitations on my health, the fears of life as I knew it coming to an end. I recognized the ways in which I had built my identity around the aspects of myself that are visible to the outside world: what I do for work, my outer appearance and physical capabilities, family structure, friend groups, interests and hobbies.
This unexpected crisis stripped those identities one by one, leaving room to contemplate deeper parts of my existence—what’s underneath all of that chatter? What stories live in the quiet center of my being, where my truest self sits? How can I release the stories that are holding me back and rewrite new ones to serve my understanding, growth and connection to myself and others?
Change Comes From Within
I believe that change is an inside-out job. That in order to write new narratives on a larger scale—communally, globally, economically, politically—we must first make peace with the multitude of stories that live within each of us. Feel our attachments, our joys, our longings, our heartaches, so that when we walk beside each other in this life, we recognize these universal needs and experiences in others.
It’s this belief that fuels my work on The Dandelion Effect Podcast and the private Storymapping Sessions that I offer at the Ranch. We have each walked a beautifully unique path, and if I can gift someone a safe, trusting space to reflect on their lives and develop greater compassion and understanding for themselves, I know it will ripple out.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, from yoga teachers like San Francisco’s Nat Kendall to public officials like Helena’s Mayor Wilmot Collins—and I can say with certainty that the big life questions exist across the board: Who am I? Why am I here? Am I enough/loveable/worthy?
We have so much to learn from contemplating the answers to these questions, sharing our stories, listening to the similarities and differences, the ups and downs, the ah-ha moments and the confusion. Giving rapt attention to each other’s existence.
If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, I invite you to subscribe to The Dandelion Effect Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google (or wherever you stream your audio), and pick a conversation that seems most out of your realm. Something you’d never choose when quickly scrolling through. As you listen, see if you can recognize parts of yourself in the guest’s story.
Can you hold them in compassion as they share? Can you relate to how they were raised or what they’ve been through? Can you hear emotions in their voice that you’ve once felt in your life?
Can you see the Divine in them… and know that it’s in you, too?
Professional Writer, Host & Producer of The Dandelion Effect Podcast
*Special thanks to Jonathan H. Lee of subtledream.com for the images!