Seeking Sanctuary


I sat on the shores of the lake, watching the birds float and fly past. A cormorant stood on a post, its wings spread wide to the sunshine. The lake is a wildlife sanctuary. In that space, the birds are safe to do what is truest to their natures. No predators can harm them there.

Sanctuary. A place to be safe.

Wildlife sanctuary. A place to be safe in your wildness.

Near the lake was a church. I wandered inside. It was beautiful, polished, and serene. A sanctuary.

And yet… it wasn’t a wildlife sanctuary. My wildness did not feel safe in that place. I wanted it to – longed for a real sanctuary where my wildness was honoured – but I didn’t trust the immaculateness. I couldn’t feel safe revealing all of myself in that space. Too much of me had been judged in spaces like that in the past.

“What if I DID feel safe in this space?” I thought. “How would church be different if it were more like a wildlife sanctuary? If it were the kind of place where we could be totally free to be our wild selves without feeling the pressure to conform? Without having to protect ourselves from predators? What if it truly represented the wild way that God loves?”

As though to test my question, I took off my shoes and stepped into the baptismal font. The water was cool and sweet against my skin. It felt good – a baptism of my wildness. But it didn’t feel safe. I kept an eye on the door, expecting a stern priest to walk in and send me away for defiling the church. All I dared to reveal was my feet. I stepped out quickly and tried not to leave footprints.

I went back outside to the lake. There I felt safe. With the birds and the trees. I took of my shoes again and didn’t worry about footprints.

A week later, at another lake, giggling in the dark with a small tribe of friends, I tripped through the woods and stepped into the lake. Tentatively, we inched our way into the dark water. It held us and invited us further in. We gave ourselves to it. Bathing suits came off and we let ourselves be baptized in our wildness. For long lazy moments, we floated – just a little bit fearful and yet fully wild and fully alive.

This was our wildlife sanctuary. Here we were safe to reveal all that we were. Here we were wholly loved – by the water, by each other, by the gods of our understanding.

From the moment we step away from the safety of our parents’ arms, we are each on a lifelong quest for that place of sanctuary – that place were we can dare to let ourselves be fully wild, fully naked, and fully baptized. Sometimes (far too rarely) we find it in a church, sometimes we find it in the woods with a circle of friends. Sometimes we only find tiny whispers of it that make us long for more.

Once we find it, we know that we need more of it and we know that we need to commit our lives to co-creating it for others. Because there is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that we are fully loved and accepted in our nakedness. There is nothing that makes us feel more alive and beautiful.

Together, those of us who have learned to reveal our wounds and our nakedness to each other, become co-creators of circles of grace. We are wildlife sanctuary keepers. We are witnesses of the kind of God/dess who longs to help us create REAL sanctuaries, not artificial polished spaces where only those who have washed first can step into the baptismal font.

Because living truthfully in our wildness is the only way to fully be alive.

If you are longing for more of your wildness to be revealed, step into the sanctuary of Lead with Your Wild Heart. You are safe here.

What does it mean to be wild?

you were once wild

I didn’t know how much launching Lead with your Wild Heart would change my life and my business, but it has, dramatically. Interviewing the incredible members of my wisdom circle, researching, writing, and teaching this program have taught me more than any course I’ve ever taken or ever created.

In shamanic language, this feels like my original medicine – the gift I’m meant to contribute for the healing of the world. In helping women (and, in the future, possibly men) get closer to their wild hearts, I am becoming intimately familiar with my own. (The next offering will begin in May, and I expect there will be in-person offerings to come as well.)

The seeds for this course came to me one day last summer when I was wandering in my favourite woods. There are often deer in those woods, and I have such great reverence for deer that I always stop to pay attention when I see them there. Often I follow them deeper into the woods.

One particular time, I almost missed the deer that was standing completely motionless about ten feet from the path on which I walked. The deer was watching me, and when I stopped on the path, we stood locked in a visual embrace for what I think was about ten minutes but what felt like an eternity.

I walked away from that encounter with the profound sense that the deer needed me to understand something that I’d been missing before. Further along the path, it came to me. “I need to create a program called Lead with your Wild Heart. I need to teach women how to get reconnected again.”

The deer invited me back into the wild – back to my wild-hearted trust, wild-hearted love, and wild-hearted courage. Those are the things I now share with the incredible circle of women who have gathered for this program.

Sometimes my coaching clients lament that they are not very good at planning or goal-setting, and I tell them “Maybe you don’t have to be. Maybe you just need to be good at wandering in the woods and listening for the wisdom.” You won’t hear that in business school, but my best ideas have almost always emerged when I’ve found time to be silent in nature.

The deeper I go in this journey, the more I understand what it means to be wild again.

To be wild again means that: 

  • We are connected with the earth, the wind, the deer, and the trees.
  • We are connected with each other in a deeper way than our culture encourages.
  • We trust that which is primal and wild in ourselves and we offer our most natural gifts to each other.
  • We trust that which is primal and wild around us and we honour the wisdom of creation.
  • We remember that we are stewards and citizens rather than consumers and conquerors of this earth.
  • We dare to weep when we are wounded, laugh when we are joyous, and touch when we are in need of each together.
  • We reclaim the circle and gather around the fire, sharing our most vulnerable, wild stories.
  • We dare to plunge the depths of our wild hearts and honour what we find there.
  • We sing and dance, trusting both our voices and our bodies to be expressions of the sacred.
  • We are courageous warriors, serving the cause of all that is good in the world.
  • We dare to believe that the world is a good place to call home.

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