Annie_12_2.jpgI am many things: mother, daughter, writer, teacher, wife, and student of life. But my calling, my life's purpose is to create the conditions in which people can reconnect to their personal truth and deeper still, make contact with their true nature so that they can live more potently as carriers of light and love.
 
I do this primarily through Heart Speak Circles, a way of being and sharing with others that evolved from many different traditions over the last 20 years. Here are just a few: I borrow from the Native American tradition of the council way; I use principles from energy medicine to create a strong  "space" or "container" for powerful things to emerge; and I enlist the precepts of Mindfulness practice as a way to witness others and self. 
 
Underlying this work are some principles and inspirations gathered from my own life and the words of others. 
 
From Rosa Parks:
 
I will no longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the truth that I hold deeply on the inside. I will no longer act as if I were less than the whole person I know myself inwardly to be.
 
And from Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the inspiration for the name Soul Flares:
 
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. (Visit here for the full essay.)
 
I have been blessed along the way with many teachers and co-travelers. I am deeply grateful for them and for the presence of Kelly Ulrich, who has decided to throw her lot in with Soul Flares and collaborate with me to create a new chapter for Soul Flares. 
 
The most noticeable outcome of this collaboration are our offerings of Heart Speak Circles happening this fall and winter (2014-2015). Check out out offerings and email us with questions or requests for custom circles.
 

A bit of my story...
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Ever since I can remember, I have had a secret dream for my life. It has more of a feeling than a specific form, broad qualities rather than clear definitions. Bits of it resemble what I felt when my best buddy, David and I, ages 9 and 8, would spend days building a fort in the woods, pretending we were pioneers. There we’d be, sitting on the dirt floor, grinnin’ with satisfaction, independent from “grown-ups,” in league with each other and closely bound by our efforts and our common dream.

More difficult to describe are the fragile moments sprinkled through my life when I became briefly aware that much more of me was still to be birthed, that gleaming treasures existed deep inside and that my life could somehow be of use. The quality is of excited anticipation; the feeling is of being a flower unfolding. Within these moments grew the secret hope — too precious to say out loud — that eventually my truth would be revealed to me and my life would be filled with purpose, my heart with beauty and love.

No wonder this was a “secret” dream. No wonder it only poked its rosy face out in the tender moments — while lying still after making love, my ear against the beating heart of another human; or while perched half-way up a granite cliff, feeling the warm updraft, watching a falcon circle fifty yards away. In Nature, in Love, this secret dream of mine thrived. In the day-to-day world, it was clearly romantic nonsense.

For many years, I moved back and forth between two internal lives: the life led by this dream and my love of wild nature, and the one driven by safety, security, predictability, and convenience. The latter dominated for a long time; my mind reasoned that honoring my truth would cost too much. More times than I care to recount, I closed the heavy hatch of fear over my truth.

But as Anaïs Nin wrote: “The day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

At my soul’s insistence, I made a choice to change my secret dream to an impassioned prayer — a clear intention to live fully, to honor this gift of life with all my heart, soul and mind. And I felt in my heart a big “Yes.” This prayer was answered in many ways over the past 14 years including finding deeply meaningful work as co-editor of Heron Dance for six years and then founding Soul Flares. The prayer was answered again in 2007 as I lost my way, my bearings and my sense of "self".  What I found, once I finally surrendered, was the strong and stable ground of being and the deep abiding beauty of essence. 

These years have been a wild, wild ride for me.  I have never been faced so often with the truth of my own fears and doubts, nor been so constantly supported by something beyond my understanding. Life's unfolding has forced me discover and utilize strengths, skills and a creativity I never knew I had and to look humbly at my shortcomings. It has been a constant process of growth, challenging the deepest parts of me.

Now.. I feel content and open. I have moved from continually seeking and striving for more clarity and peace, to being open and receptive to what arises. I feel my essence and trust in its positive unfolding as I trust in yours.

Visit my essays and interviews page if you'd like to learn more about me.

Blessings and Love to you,

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Annie O'Shaughnessy