Real Magic #1

On Wednesday, I went for a walk with a friend who, during COVID, became slightly estranged due to a misunderstanding. We’ve been close friends for years now, the kind of friend you really talk to. She is kind, smart, humble, and interesting. We have always had mutual love and admiration for each other, so this problem pained us both.

I was nervous to reconnect with her. We hadn’t spoken in several weeks, and I wasn’t sure how the discussion would go. I still had some hurt—she surely did too. She thought I was mad and judging her; I thought she didn’t reach out to me because she was angry.  

As we entered the trail, two large hawks swooped down, talons intertwined. They screeched and dropped right in front of us, curving up just before hitting the ground. The underside of their wings flashed brown and white. “Did you see that?” I said. “Those two hawks were fighting!” 

We stopped and spotted one of them sitting high above us, alone on a branch. My friend stood, face skyward, and said, “Were they fighting or mating?” I paused. I’d assumed they were angry, but perhaps they weren’t. We started walking and talking, and for five miles, we slowly reconnected.

As I sat down to write this, two hummingbirds outside of my bedroom window completed this exact same dance. They twirled around each other, falling fast before lifting again. This time, I didn’t assume they were angry with each other. Rather, I imagined that they were doing that difficult task of creating something new, a deeper connection, a new beginning. 

March 19, 2021

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Introducing “Real Magic” (Reality + Magic)

A new weekly newsletter by me for you.

After publishing Dog Medicine, I received messages from so many wonderful people. Perfect strangers from all over the world wrote to tell me that they found comfort in my story. Writing Dog Medicine was a solitary venture that yielded solace, togetherness, and community. 

Especially after this terribly isolating COVID year, it seems important to keep communicating. So I plan to start sharing a little bit about my next book (which is still a work-in-progress) via a weekly e-mail called Real Magic. Each piece will be a short missive about the magic I see almost daily. By magic, I mean what some people might call serendipity. Carl Jung called it synchronicity. Rudolf Otto, a German theologian, called it numinosity. It’s the hummingbird showing up right when you think of your grandmother. It’s the crow calling outside just as you’re about to do that very difficult thing. It’s the out-of-nowhere breeze when you wonder about your ancestors. These are the most interesting, predictive, and hopeful moments in my daily life. They’re little happenings that confirm the connectedness of us all. To me, they feel sparkly and magical. I stopped noticing them for a long time, but about fifteen years ago, I slowly started paying attention again. The things I’ve seen since then have changed me.

My Grandfather’s Tree, Carpinteria, CA

Almost all of my real magic comes from nature. So, you’ll likely receive stories about birds flocking over lakes, huge trees whispering in a breeze, dogs running free, hawks swooping, rain falling, sun peeking through clouds, and critters scampering across a path at just the right moment. That’s when I feel the connectedness in everything, and when I remember that we are all, in the end, related.

I’ll send one e-mail a week. It will be only a few paragraphs–just a simple moment. Hopefully it will leave you with a feeling of possibility, reminding you that when we pay attention, there’s enchantment to be found. We are held together by magical threads, and there’s beauty, joy, and connectedness in simply noticing them. 

I’ll send the first “Real Magic” on Friday March 19, 2021. Stay tuned! 

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A Winter Solstice Poem

Dear friends,

Today is December 21st, the winter solstice. It’s the darkest day of the year and for me, the most beautiful. Yes, there is deep beauty in darkness. There is wisdom there too. I have long associated with Persephone, the queen goddess who is cast into the underworld every autumn. For half the year, she stays underground, only to emerge in the spring bringing her warmth and bounty.

I believe that the underworld can be a place of learning and beauty. If we stop fighting the darkness, it will show us its teachings. P.S. Persephone is a poem I wrote recently from the perspective of my favorite queen goddess. I hope you enjoy it.

P.S. Persephone

You know my story.
Abducted to the underworld,
offered pomegranate seeds. Yes,
I ate them. What else was I to do?

My mother, in her rage,
made soils barren, skies bleak.
My father tried to bring me back
but I only come spring through fall.

People talk about us.
My parents, my abduction,
me as innocent pawn.
But they forget:

I am the power.
I alone bring Spring.
My return from the dark
brings the fruit.

I love going dark and cold.
When I’m there,
I don’t miss the sun.

Good News & a Howling Bunker

Dog Medicine has had the huge honor of winning the Nautilus Book Award. Unknown It received a silver in the Psychology category.

This feels extra special because these awards are given for “exceptional literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living and green values, high-level wellness, responsible leadership and positive social change.”

Bunker howled whenever he was happy. I’d like to think he’s howling now, wherever he is.

Photo by Bev Sparks, taken in 2000 in the Ravenna District of Seattle.

Order a personalized copy of Dog Medicine for the holidays!

Hi friends, ls

For a thoughtful holiday gift, you can order signed and personalized copies of Dog Medicine from Great Good Place for Books, a wonderful local bookstore here in Oakland, CA.

Click here to place an order. You can put your personalization request in the comments.

  • Order by December 18th for free shipping!
  • Order by December 23rd for in-store pickup.

Thank you!

Order Now!