As soon as I began to imagine Lead with your Wild Heart, I knew that it would be a program that would bring together the wisdom of a broad circle of people. I started making a list of the authentic, vulnerable, and wild-hearted people that I admired and that I knew that people could learn from, and the list kept getting longer and longer. (To be honest, it could be three times as long, but I had to draw the line somewhere.)

When I sent out invitations to these people, almost without fail they responded with “yes, yes, YES! This is a beautiful thing and I want to be part of it!” In the end, I have gathered together an incredible wisdom circle and I am excited to share these amazing people with you.

Here’s a brief introduction to who they are and how they’ve inspired me (in no particular order). To learn more about their wild-hearted wisdom, you’ll have to register for Lead with your Wild Heart!

About a dozen years ago, when I was feeling rather lost in my leadership journey, I started looking for new leadership models and I came across the work of Christina Baldwin and her partner Ann Linnea. Christina and Ann’s primary work revolves around bringing circle back into the way we gather in our communities and workplaces. In that dark moment, it felt like they lit a candle for me, offering me hope of a better future. Since then, I’ve read almost everything Christina has written and I’ve had the privilege of participating in a story/circle workshop with her. I consider her to be one of my greatest teachers. I now use the PeerSpirit Circle Guidelines for almost every course, workshop, or conversation I facilitate. I highly recommend Christina and Ann’s book The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair.

Janell Kapoor likes to play with mud. With a passion for living in close connection with the earth, she teaches natural home building and is the founder of Kleiwerks International. She has traveled around the world, both as a student and teacher of natural home building techniques. Janell has a beautiful spirit that’s quickly evident when you have a chance to chat with her. One of the things I learned about her recently is that she loves to walk barefoot in the woods, which seems like a great way to get in touch with your wild heart!

I became intrigued with Marianne Knuth’s story when I first read about it in Storycatcher (by Christina Baldwin). Not long after reading about her, I had the pleasure of meeting Marianne at ALIA, where she was one of the hosts. Marianne is the founder of Kufunda Learning Village in Zimbabwe, a place I long to visit some day. Kufunda seeks to create their own sustainable solutions in a country that has been wracked with financial crisis and conflict. Built on a unique model that encourages people to be self-reliant, community-oriented, and resilient, members of the village develop (and share) skills in permaculture, organic farming, making herbal remedies out of locally grown plants, eco-building, renewable energy, and community building.

Jodi Crane found her wild heart through play. She is a play therapist, a counseling professor, and a mom who loves to be creative. I love the fact that she has a long list of credentials (including a PhD in Counseling and Student Services) that would imply that she’s a serious scholar, and yet her greatest joy and the wisdom she shares most broadly with the world is the gift of play. If anyone knows the value of bringing more play into our journeys toward our own wild hearts, she does!

The first thing that happens when you get a chance to talk to Julie Daley is that you get lost in her deep, wise, and soulful eyes. In her presence, I feel instantly safe and seen. She is an open-hearted and wise healer, catalyst, dancer, and writer. She writes beautifully at Unabashedly Female, she teaches creativity and leadership at Stanford University, and she offers coaching and courses that help guide women into their own internal landscape, a land where the sacred feminine makes herself known in Her own way.

I first met Michael Jones when we were both participants in a leadership intensive at ALIA Summer Institute. He didn’t speak often in the workshop, but when he did, his words were rich with wisdom. One evening, he delivered the keynote address and played the piano. Even on stage, his words were few and measured (and interspersed with some of the most gorgeous music I’d ever heard), but WOW did they pack a punch! He spoke about the power of place, and then he demonstrated by playing music that had evolved out of certain places that were meaningful to him. The next day, I rushed to the bookstore to buy his book Artful Leadership and his cd Almost Home. I devoured his book as soon as I got home and listened to his cd non-stop for weeks. My view of leadership was transformed. More than anything, he gave me permission to believe what I had always wanted to believe, that “in a time of vast mistrust we need leaders who are candid and truthful, willing to be present to their vulnerabilities, fears, and concerns, and able to articulate them as openly and thoughtfully as their aspirations, dreams, and ideas for change.”

Three years ago, I encountered Christine Claire Reed online and knew almost instantly that we were kindred spirits. At the time, she was just beginning to rediscover her love of dance. Having dealt with years of rather debilitating depression, her journey in recent years has taken her to a place of healing and wild-hearted wholeness through dance. After immersing herself in various forms of yoga dance, healing dance, and elder dance, she took a courageous step and opened the Girl on Fire Movement Studio a year ago. She now teaches women to get back into their bodies to find healing and hope.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Filiz Telek is the term “imaginal cell”. Like the cells in a chrysalis that hold the hope of the future, she senses the beauty of the butterfly world emerging. She has spent the last couple of years living in the gift economy and traveling to places where she sees the Brave New World emerging. Her role in life is to serve as a storyteller, filmmaker, and edgewalker, showing us glimpses into the future that help propel us forward with hope. I don’t think I could improve upon the way she describes herself: “Wild at heart, free in Spirit, curious in mind, I am a nomadic artist, world traveler, spiritual seeker, a process host, a social innovator, an Earth activist, a community organizer whose purpose is to serve the evolution of human consciousness and awakening a sense of possibility and sacred in human heart & spirit.”

I was intrigued with Ronna Detrick from the first time I discovered her blog. She specializes in seeing the wisdom stories about women in the Bible through fresh (and often controversial) eyes. It was this freshness that really resonated for me, and I kept going back for more. Since then I have had the privilege of having many Skype conversations with Ronna and have benefited from her wisdom, her doubt, her questions, and her big open heart. She is a truth-teller who boldly takes the women she teaches and coaches into deeper understanding of themselves and their faith.

The first time I heard Peter Block speak at ALIA in Columbus, Ohio, I spent most of the time scribbling in my notebook because I didn’t want to forget even one tiny bit of the wisdom that flowed from his mouth. His words resonated in such a deep way that I felt like I had come home. One of the first things I remember him saying was “when we gather like this, with you sitting in rows of chairs and me standing at the front teaching you, we are accepting the patriarchal view of the world, where one has the power and wisdom and the others have to sit in subservient positions receiving it.” He went on to talk about how badly we need to move back into community, based on feminine wisdom and the shared leadership of a circle. After his talk, I approached him and said “as a woman who deeply believes what you’re talking about, I would love it if you would write a book about the rise of feminine wisdom. You have a lot of influence and I think more people need to hear about this.” He laughed and said “that’s not my job. It’s yours. You write the book and I’ll support you.”  Well, I haven’t written the book, but in teaching this course, I’m taking a step in that direction, and I’m pleased to say that he’s living up to his commitment to supporting me. Peter is the author of several books, including Community, The Abundant Community, The Answer to How is Yes, and Stewardship. 

Some day I want to meet Gail Larsen to learn from her and to thank her for the wisdom she has shared with the world. I have been aware of her teachings for awhile, but really immersed myself in them last year when I listened to an audio version of her book Transformational Speaking on a long drive across the prairies. Transformational Speaking is a process that reveals the part of you that is fully capable – right now – of opening hearts, inspiring change, and moving others to act through public speaking. It’s about finding your “original medicine” and speaking from your wild heart. I’m exited about my first (and hopefully not my last) opportunity to speak with Gail!

I think the first thing that created a bond between Lianne Raymond and me were our stories of similar childhoods growing up in the prairies. It didn’t take long to discover that the things we had in common went much deeper than that. Lianne is a gifted teacher and coach, and I think that her greatest gift is her ability to reach right to the heart of a matter before most people have even begun to scratch the surface. She serves as my wisdom-source whenever I have questions about Jungian psychology or Marion Woodman teachings. Through her coaching and teaching, she helps people to live and love with wild abandon.

Soon after Connie Hozvicka and I met online, we began to discover remarkable synchronicity. We would often find ourselves going through similar experiences or having the same thought processes in reaction to what we witnessed. At the beginning of our friendship, Connie and I were both stuck in jobs that no longer made us happy. Within months of each other, we each took bold and scary steps into self-employment. Connie now runs Dirty Footprints Studio where she awakens fearless creativity in others, inspires each soul to radiate their heart’s unique expression, and guides individuals to ruthlessly trust their innate wisdom. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in one of Connie’s live workshops, and I can tell you that she teaches with a wild-hearted passion and authenticity.

I first encountered Deborah Frieze when I read the book she co-wrote with Meg Wheatley called Walk Out Walk On. Not long afterward, I had the pleasure of participating in a leadership intensive workshop that Deborah was teaching at ALIA. The workshop was based on five of the stories that are shared in the book, of communities from around the world that have walked out of unsolveable problems and destructive individualism and walked on to create the world they wished for. It was one of the most inspirational workshops I’d even attended, and I now refer to the book often in my own teaching. Deborah walked out of her own career as an executive in the high-tech industry, following her wild heart into work that sustained and energized her, supporting friends and colleagues around the world who are creating healthy and resilient communities.

Chris Zydel is the Wild Heart Queen herself and I am tickled pink that she will be part of this program. Few people model wild-hearted living as much as Chris does, and I am delighted to have her as a friend and mentor. For more than thirty years, she’s been serving as a creativity mentor for women (and a few men), first as a psychotherapist, and now as a teacher (and writer) of Creative Juices Arts. Though I haven’t yet been to one of her retreats, I can tell by the photos and videos that they are juicy, deep, soulful, and wild-hearted. At her retreats (and teacher training) she teaches people to paint from their wild hearts in an environment of encouragement that awakens their artist’s souls and challenges them to become spiritual adventurers journeying to their own creative source.

It wasn’t long after Desiree Adaway and I met on Twitter that we started to joke that we’d been separated at birth. (Don’t let the colour of our skin fool you!) In many ways, we could be twins – she just came out of the womb a few months earlier than me. We have similar world views, we’re both raising daughters, we’re both passionate about social justice, we both spent many years of our careers in leadership in international development, and we’ve both been to some of the poorest parts of the world. From the start, when we were both on the verge of walking away from the non-profits we were working for, Desiree and I have served as a mutual support system for each other – sometimes she does the crying and sometimes I do. Though we’re similar, we also balance each other off. When I get a little lost in my untamed creativity, she keeps my feet on the ground. When she overworks herself or gets stuck in left brain patterns, I send her to the store for coloured markers and tell her to start playing. Desiree serves as a consultant and coach to organizations that are dreaming of a better world. She’s fierce, bold, wild-hearted, and full of wisdom.

The first thing that drew me to Hali Karla was her prayer paintings. In one of the first posts I saw, she was inviting people to send her prayers which she then printed and embedded into a painting. I was struck by this beautiful offering for the way it took prayer to a creative and community-oriented place. Since then, Hali invited me to share my story in her series about artist healers. I love the wild-hearted way Hali describes herself: paint-slinging word-wrangling artist, dreamer, visionary, life-loving learner, seer, seeker, wise woman in training, explorer, nature’s child, light and vessel, believer, taste-tester, shape-shifter, sundancing moonspirit Source devotee, play-in-progress, music-maker, booty-shaker, space holder, environmental sponge, witness to Healing, cheerleader for consciousness expansion, just another Being looking for a little peace of mind, and ultimately just an Acolyte to the Muse…

Cath Duncan has a deep and wise heart and I knew I had found a place of safety with her from the first time I encountered her. What first bonded Cath and I was our shared stories of baby-loss. When she lost little Juggernaut, I shared with her my own story of losing Matthew and then discovering, in the 12 years since, how much he still has to teach me. When Cath decided to honour Juggernaut by walking 100 kilometres for the Kidney March, I knew I wanted to walk with her. Together we went through three days of excruciating pain and exhaustion, and that created a bond between us that has grown since. Cath now serves as a grief coach and has co-created a Creative Grief Coaching certification program for people who want to explore the emerging field of grief and creativity.

Thomas Arthur is one of the most unique and intuitive people I’ve ever met. He is part juggler, part artist, part shaman, part poet, and part naturalist. I first encountered him at ALIA where he presented a performance that was a combination of juggling, dancing, and earth-wisdom-sharing. Thomas is the enchanted host of Earthanima where he invites people to listen to the wisdom the animate energies living within our planetary nature. Through performance, short films, digital images, conversations and workshops Earthanima unfolds an expression of wonder and delight integrating the natural wisdom of this living planet with the compassionate heart of our human intelligence. I often use the Elementals, a set of imaginative creatures Thomas has found in nature, to inspire the writers of my Creative Writing for Self-Discovery class.

Michele Lisenbury Christensen has started a Hot Love Revolution. It doesn’t take long after you encounter her that you know she knows a lot about love. Love shines out of her eyes. She says she’s on a mission to help happy, well-loved women save the world. Sounds pretty wild-hearted to me! The core of her coaching work is what she calls “sacred ambition” – the way our aims in the world can stoke the fires of our spiritual development – and vice versa. My first encounter with Michele was when I took part in the first offering of Teach Now, an online course she teaches along with Jen Louden. It was one of the best courses I’ve ever taken and it changed the way I teach.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Hiro Boga is the word kindness. She exudes it. Every encounter I’ve ever had with her has been one of genuine, openhearted kindness. She believes that each and every one of us is a sacred gift and that our presence is vital to the wellbeing and evolution of our world. She works with passionate people who are working to create the lives and businesses they truly desire. All of her work is anchored in a very simple, grounded premise: organic business growth flows from deep inner growth and harmony.

I can’t remember when I first encountered Lisa Wilson online, but I believe it was her beautiful, gracious smile that drew me in. The story I read on her face was one of depth and wisdom. Though there’s a lightness and sense of fun about her, she has been through great pain and struggle and so she serves as a light-bearer. Lisa is passionate about passionate living. She is an awareness artist who wants to encourage people to create wildly, to pursue their passions with fervent focus, and to mindfully go where they have not gone before (but she doesn’t want them to forget about the dirty dishes). Through Lifeunity, she offers insights and invitations of how to practice being mindful, compassionate, and present for your mundane matters.

Jen Louden is exuberant, generous, and wild-hearted. She’s got a long list of accomplishments (including six published books that sold in the millions, and an appearance on Oprah), and yet she is one of the most approachable people I know. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with her several times, and I’ve learned a lot from her, especially through Teach Now, an online program for teachers who want to “love the world into wholeness”. Her books are all about how to create a life of wholeness, based on self-kindness and self-acceptance. She leads retreats, coaches, and encourages women to Savor and Serve.

I fell in love with Ann-Marie Boudreau this past summer at the women’s gathering that I co-hosted in Peterborough, Ontario. The first things you notice about Ann-Marie are her twinkling eyes and her beautiful, resonant voice. At the gathering, Ann-Marie led us in all kinds of playful music-making and movement, and each time she did, she’d pull out another intriguing instrument none of us had ever seen before. Ann-Marie is a sound practitioner and psychotherapist. Her mission is working with communities and individuals to enable them on their personal journeys toward self-realization and fulfillment. As a multi-instrumentalist and improvisational vocalist she is adept at performing on a wide range of instruments, the sitar and harp being unique to her repertoire. She facilitates a wide variety of sound-related, interactive and experiential workshops that invite the inner child out to play.

The first thing that intrigued me about Kate Swoboda was the fact that she refers to herself as Kate Courageous online. I am found of courageous women, and so I was pretty sure I’d like her. I was right. Kate runs a site called Your Courageous Life. Practicing courage is her expertise. Teaching others how to powerfully work with fear is her vocation. She stands for righteous integrity and ferocious love, all in service to living life on your own terms and being a force for good. She doesn’t believe in “kicking fear to the curb” and speaks instead about embracing our fear and stepping forward in courage.

Two and a half years ago, Kathy Jourdain and I learned how to be Shambala warriors together in a leadership intensive taught by Meg Wheatley, Jim Gimian, and Jerry Granelli. We faced our fears and by the end of the weak we’d formed a blues band together and each person in the group had written a blues song. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as a story coach for her as she wrote her memoir about the shifting shape in her life after she found out her identity was not what she’d always believed it to be. I’ve witnessed Kathy’s amazing growth in the past few years as she’s followed her wild heart into writing, teaching, and hosting conversations. She is actively involved in the Art of Hosting community and she travels the world teaching people how to host meaningful conversations. Kathy’s passion is co-creative, collaborative leadership born out of what more is possible in teams, organizations and communities when people are also engaged in self leadership journeys.

I think Rachelle Mee-Chapman’s blog was one of the first ones I read on a regular basis. She wrote candidly about her own personal journey toward the kind of spirituality and community that her heart most longed for, and I found myself drawn in to this story. Since those early days of blogging, she went on to launch Magpie Girl, where she serves as a guide for people who are searching for their right-fit spirituality and who value art as a spiritual practice. After getting a master’s degree in theology and spending fifteen years as an ordained minister, she said goodbye to ordained ministry. She now calls herself “relig-ish” and teaches that we each can create our own theology and build a spirituality that fits. She is a misfit, a heretic, a rabble-rouser, AND a person of faith.

Spend time with this amazing wisdom circle by registering for Lead with your Wild Heart.

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