Phil is an eyeball but I really like him anyway

I work with children, and that work is a gift to me. Every day it is a gift.

Because every day I am reminded, watching them, interacting with them, of what it is to be truly alive. Those children are breathtakingly alive, living in their feelings, stomping around in their little rainbow colored rubber boots, climbing the crab apple tree on the corner of the playground, chasing each other, yelling, crying, laughing. They are pure unadulterated life.

If they are angry, they are ANGRY. They yell at each other. They stomp their feet. Sometimes they throw things. They say to each other, “So and so is making me so MAD” They say to their teachers “So and so is making me ANGRY.” They tell each other these honest things, or we help them work it out, and moments later they are laughing, smiling, and hugging again.

They say to each other, and to their teachers “I LOVE you!” and give hugs. It’s the purest kind of love. It means exactly what it means. It is the love of the universe embodied in their little hearts, and souls, and bodies. Their love is a force. It is tangible, like the earth under their feet.

I watch them climb to the top of the tunnel, to the top of the tower. They stand with their little hands on their hips. They yell orders to their friends. They watch the vultures soaring above. They jump off and land with two feet in the mulch, solid. Untouchable.

And my wish for them as I watch them? That they stay that way. Fully alive. In their feelings. In their bodies. Confident. Angry. Loving. Animal. Human. Themselves.

My wish for them is that the years and experiences that follow this one do not strip them of themselves. That they continue to stand tall on the top of every tower, hands on their hips, regardless of their gender, or athletic abilities, or academic prowess, or reputations, or pressures. That they continue to watch vultures circling above, and that when they jump they always land solidly, two feet in the mulch. Untouchable.

Because I know, as all of us adults know, that our world is not always an easy one to live in, to grow in, to learn in. We all suffer trauma, and we all work to heal from that trauma, to the best of our abilities. But it is a long road, and a bumpy one, and there are many days when many of us struggle very much, and that is just true.

We are hard on ourselves. We are our biggest critics. We harbor such hard thoughts about ourselves, that we are not good enough, that we are not smart enough, that we are unlovable, that we are all alone.

I think the best we can do is say these things. Out loud, to each other. We can say when we are struggling, or when we are feeling like we are just not good enough. We can lean on each other, heavily at times. We can say to each other “ I am angry” when we are angry, and we can love each other and laugh a few minutes later. We can offer each other ice packs and band-aids and hugs when our hearts hurt, which every child knows is the recipe to heal just about anything.

So here’s an offering. An ice pack. A band-aid. A hug. Some poems. A random photo of cats, because cats are awesome.  And a reminder that none of us are alone. The same struggles, and the same joys, live in all of us.


Natasha (and Phil)


“Be kind to one another
By Phil
Every person has a voice in their head
Repeating a belief of their deepest hurt
For me, it is that I can never be forgiven
Not for something specific
Just for being flawed
Just for all the mistakes I can’t help but make
Because I was scared
Because I didn’t know better
Because I had to fail to learn
If I give voice to that belief
I’m told I’m wrong
But I hear that they just don’t know, yet
I think everyone has something like that
Because everything that feels the warmth of the light has to cast a shadow
We get to live in this beautiful world
But for seeing that, we have to carry the dark along
Remember that,
All of us are living with a monster in our own head
So, be kind to one another.


by Natasha

Certainly we are placed here,

Just so,

To find our work, the work we were made to do, alone or together, in pairs or in groups.

And that is sacred as the first morning light, and equally important.

But surely we are here to play as well

To run and jump,

To be loose and free in our movements,

To scale rock cliffs

And swim in the seas

And the streams

So breathtakingly cold and blue.

We laugh so easily

It is clear

That our muscles and bones

And the skies above

And the ground below

Call for the sound

And are fed by it


And nourished


Everything plays. It is the language of the universe. What do you notice? Make it a game

Ask yourself.

Is the sunrise pink or red?

Is that sky behind it blue or gray?

What time do the crows fly home, which way does the river flow, what does the blue jay song sound like as it flies from pine to pine?

A squeaky swing I think sometimes.

The flicker’s wings are bright gold underneath, surely a sign of pleasant things to come.

I lifted a rock and there curled underneath was a caterpillar, yellow and black stripes, and fuzzy, warmed by the winter sun.

Our children know the answers and the questions. Play is the work of their world. It has not been taken from them yet.

Each day the children pick up treasures. Their pockets are full of riches: stones and feathers, bits of wood and bark, acorn caps, hand fulls of sand, a pinecone, a piece of string. Dirt.

They talk to trees. They play with the wind, catching leaves that blow this way and that. They’re in love with mud, delight in the way their boots squish through it. They sit, or lay on their bellies, and muck about in puddles, covered in it, and happy.

We are children too, no?

Or once were

Soft and sweet as puppies

Scented with milk

Tumbling together

Over trails

The ancestors

Laid out for us

In the earth.


Bonus poem using the phrase “space trash”:

photo by Phil; filter by Natasha

Hold Very Still

The full moon was yesterday, and today our world is blanketed by a snow storm. Here is a poem I wrote somehow inspired by both of those magical feeling things. Love to all.

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Hold Very Still

By Natasha



Very still

So that your heart beating is the only movement perceptible



A slight thumping

In your chest



And your breath of course



A slow rhythm

The expansion and contraction of your lungs within the

Careful hollow of your ribcage.



And if you hold so still

You may find

That your body sways on it’s own accord

With the memory of movement

It longs to

Experience again



And that the tiny hairs

On the back of your neck

And those brushing your shoulders

Are lifted ever so slightly

By the most gentle of winds

Just arrived

From some long journey

Across oceans

And prairies

And plains

To get to you



In order to deliver you kisses

From desert sands

And the tops of very tall trees

And mountains

And rain sodden valleys

Where soil and water combine

To make clay and the softest mud



And that is so sweet

And important to experience

And understand

Because more than anything

You should know



You are home

You are wanted

And you are loved

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For many years, most of my adult life in fact, I have been actively seeking a deeper connection with the earth.

Sometimes that has looked like studying the natural world in books. It has looked like pouring over field guides, and reading textbooks, drawing maps and reading about animal behavior, studying watersheds, and the life cycle, and the classification system, and plants. Sometimes that has looked like living outside, camping in all seasons, swimming in lakes, climbing up mountains, and drinking tea around campfires with dear friends at my side.
Sometimes it has looked like hours spent in the cold, and the hot summer sun, sitting very still, watching the birds build nests, or the squirrels feed their young. Sometimes it has looked like
activism, like attending marches and organizing community members and speaking up and speaking out.

Sometimes I have called the process rewilding. Sometimes I have called in
reconnection, reintegration. Sometimes I have resonated with the idea of undomestication.

Sometimes I have just called it love, born from a deep hunger for a life more meaningful than our civilization wishes to offer us.

With reconnection comes grief. The painful part of loving something deeply is coming to understand the dreadful reality of loss. That nothing here on earth is promised to last forever.
That the earth herself will one day cease to exist, and with her all of the magnificent beings that call this place their home.

More dreadful still is coming to understand that our civilization is not attuned to the planet and her rhythms. It is a hard truth to realize we are living in a way that causes suffering for other living beings, that renders whole regions of the planet unliveable, that strips whole ecosystems of any semblance of life. It is a painful and terrible thing to realize this, and worse
still is the feeling of helplessness that can come with it. Even if we know this and wish to change our present circumstances, it is hard to figure out exactly what to do to change things, and how.

I know from my experiences so far that it is possible to remember. We are capable of learning so much, of remembering the names of things, of learning the patterns of leaves, and
tracks in mud. But there is another piece of rewilding that is perhaps more difficult to practice, not found in any textbook, not something one can obviously see, sitting quietly on a cold day, or in the hot sun.

And that is the process of emotional awakening.

Our civilization is a fairly brutal one to exist in. To survive inside of it, it requires us to work against our natural inclinations to be highly empathetic, community oriented beings, and
requires instead that we compete with one another, and turn a blind eye to the suffering that takes place around us on a daily basis. We are not violent at our core. Smart? Yes. Cunning?
Perhaps. Able to adapt, and create, and invent at lightning speed? Yes. We are all of those things, and those things are what have made us so highly successful here on planet earth.

But we are also kind. We carry our babies in a gentle embrace. We make love, we tend to the forests and fields, we hunt, for food of course, and even there our predisposition is to be
gentle, quick, and humane. We are not brutal by nature. Our hands are made to hold, to clasp, to grab, to bring us together. We are successful because of our predisposition to be empathetic;
not in spite of it.

Our civilization does not nurture empathy, or sensitivity. It demands we move forward, always forward, in a desperate march of colonization and capitalism, turning living things into
dead ones and transforming life, the natural world, and our precious ecosystem into commodity.

When we are isolated, when we are faced with a lifetime filled with pain, as a survival mechanism so many of us find that we turn off emotionally. Like a snail in danger pulling itself into its shell, we withdraw into ourselves, drawing the most sensitive parts of our
emotional selves way down deep into the caves of our inner landscapes, where it is safe. We build walls around these emotional parts, and hide them away, and after awhile we grow
separated from them, can no longer access them or perhaps even forget that they ever existed at all.

But to be fully ourselves, to experience the world in a way that is both authentic, and profound, we must reawaken the emotional parts of ourselves that have been lying dormant.
Sometimes, often, this is an unconscious and unplanned process, frequently triggered by intense life experiences, like falling in love, or experiencing great loss. Moments of intense
feeling can awaken our sleeping emotional selves, and like a bear roused from hibernation before they are ready, the experience can feel disorienting, and painful. And also sometimes
intensely pleasant, depending on the circumstances.

As the dormant parts of ourselves awaken and start to function again, it can feel like limbs that were asleep tingling with pins and needles. As we start to experience the world more
fully in our senses, the process can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. Handling our emotions takes practice, and the parts of ourselves that have been sleeping need time to grow,
develop, to become full.

In the past year I lost my mother, whom I was very close to, and also my partner of 17 years and I separated. It’s a stunning amount of change and loss to comprehend, and I have struggled to find balance and a new sense of normal in my life that suddenly looks and feels
very different than it ever did before.
I feel like a newborn baby, not quite sure how to navigate life, and not quite in control of all my faculties. Or maybe the feeling is more like being an alien from the outer reaches of our universe, suddenly touched down on planet earth, and I am trying to learn the ways and customs in a space that is wholly unfamiliar to me.

Losing my mother has led to a seismic shift in my reality. My experience here without her is wildly different than the reality I lived in for the first 35 years of my life. The body that brought
me here, the breasts that fed me, the arms that held me, and the love that supported me have vanished, leaving behind a deep longing in me for something that no longer exists on this plane.

And what can I do about that? Nothing. Except remember her and hold my memories of her dear. I can whisper to her in quiet moments, and visit with her in my dreams, and otherwise I
can only sit with these difficult feelings, let them wash over me, cry an earth’s oceans full of tears, and seek life, and love, and goodness wherever it may live. But the loss has awakened me too. Even after all my years of rewilding work, there are so many parts of me that still sleep. Losing both my mother and my marriage has brought a new
perspective to my life. Parts of my emotional self long dormant have woken up. I am extremely vulnerable, and also probably stronger than I have ever been. When it became clear that my mother’s cancer, and my marriage’s prognosis were both most likely terminal, I thought I would surely die under the weight of all that loss. And honestly in some moments I wanted to cease to exist, the pain was so great. But I didn’t die. I didn’t disappear. I didn’t shatter into a million little bits and go blowing away in the wind. I’m sitting here breathing, my fingers tapping this
keyboard, and I am raw, and a little bit fragile, but also warm, and awake, and alive.

We can help one another through these difficult moments. We ARE empathetic, and we ARE kind. We can offer an outstretched hand to those in need, we can share our experiences, we can walk the roads of love and loss in community with others who are experiencing the
same things.

And, importantly, we move through these awakenings alone too. In the night, in the moments of solitude, we are kept company by the rhythm of our own heartbeat, by the blood
coursing through our veins, by the earth under our feet, and the clouds moving quickly across the sky. As the sleeping parts of us awaken we regain the ability to feel deeply, to sense the invisible, and to know some small bits of the unknowable. And our world shifts in turn, and as a result.

If civilization’s success counts on our ability to suppress our emotions, certainly one of the most rebellious, and powerful acts we can engage in is allowing ourselves simply just to
feel, without judgement, without guilt, without embarrassment, and with great, and thunderous, abandon.



Wolves and sheep

By Phil Watts

We’ve all heard the claim
That our world is wolves and sheep
The weak are meat
And the strong do eat.

But we’ve been taught one part wrong,
That being fast, fierce and ferocious,
Having tearing claws and sharp teeth,
Is the same as being strong.

Those who prey on the weak,
Those who hunt those who can’t fight back,
They are not better, not to be envied
They have their place, but it’s not the only one.

They depend on the weak,
Their power is fleeting,
Stolen from those they feel superior to,
Barely their own.

Those who live with the earth,
Rely on each other for support,
Give freely to those in need,
Own their power.

Were there no sheep,
Wolves would make prey of themselves,
We’re there no wolves,
The sheep would sustain.

Which do you want to be.