We Are Stardust

Today in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine
is my latest article called 

Can you wrap your mind around the reality
that both you and I are literally made of stardust? 
How does an identity of being made of stars feel when you try it on? 

Do you stand a little taller? 
Does it blow your mind, just a little, or maybe a lot? 

Does it make you want to swagger or maybe
just stare up at the night sky and say
“Why hello there my friend, I had no idea we were related?”

(p.s. ~ the Symphony of Science video at the end is quite moving)

Mojo Monday ~ Equilibrium

Contemplate U by Larry Poncho Brown

Lately I have been feeling more contemplative and observational about life.  It seems as if I know quite a few people who are facing very difficult health issues or life challenges.  Some of them are people I have known most my life.  The pattern of life can sometimes seem very rote for all of us with our daily routines, but then life also has a way of throwing the unexpected at us too.  Sometimes life is incredibly joyful and everything seems to be going our way.  Then a day arrives when life seems really hard and we feel very challenged by health issues, job losses, tragedy, death and more.   

During a particular difficult time we may even wonder, “Am I going to get through this?”  I have certainly felt that way at times.  Back in 1995 when my fiance died in a car accident I wondered for a great long time if I would ever be able to feel happy again.  The loss felt so deep and profound.

What I have learned from my own life experiences is that we humans are remarkably resilient.  We are tough, even when we may feel weak and are incredibly sensitive.  Life really is much like a roller-coaster and there are always going to be ups and downs.  There will be good times and tough times.  Even just remembering inside our head the phrase “This will not last forever” can help pull us through.  Though of course the other side of this coin are that those magic and blissful moments, that we sometimes wish could last forever, but alas cannot, because even the great and good things come to an end.  Yet have no fear, more great and good things are always ahead of us too.  

I think that trying to see that there is a bigger picture and a longer view to life, can help us get through the darker days.  If we choose to live our life more this way, the dips of the roller coaster of life don’t seem as scary or an pronounced.  I think we can choose to learn from our life experiences to flow more with the ups and downs.  There can even be comfort in knowing that a particularly difficult time won’t last forever.  We will rise again.  

Here is a wonderful essay along the lines of this topic by author Charlotte, Davids Kasl, PhD from her book Finding Joy: 101 Ways to Free Your Spirit and Dance with Life.

“It Matters, But It’s Not Serious”

“Having balance in our lives helps us find joy.  Keeping our equilibrium is about letting things matter yet realizing they are probably not of earth-shaking seriousness.

People who get lost in the ‘it matters’ side of the equation tend to treat every little ache, slight, upset, mistake, or rejection as if they qualify for headline news.  Someone slights them and they hold on to it, chew on it, bear grudges, or get obsessed with it.  On the other hand, people who don’t let anything matter tend to grin and bear it, numb out natural feelings, and say ‘ It’s fine’ even when their best friend betrays them, the roof leaks, or their feet ache.
Both of these approaches leave out part of the picture.  If you tend to create a big drama about life’s bumps, you might want to develop your ability to realize that it’s not terribly serious –it’s only a cosmic blink in time.  On the other hand, if you tend to tough out situations and play the martyr, you might want to give yourself permission to let things matter a lot more.  let yourself feel your anger, jealousy, sadness, frustration, hurt, or resentment.
One way to balance the two concepts is to first let it matter.  When something upsetting happens, let yourself feel the disappointment.  Don’t swallow it.  Don’t rationalize it.  Feel it.  Otherwise, it fests away inside.  Then, after you have had a good fit or a good whine, back off and put the experience or problem in perspective.  Look at the big picture,  Find a phrase that brings you back to yourself, and puts things in perspective.  (I remind myself that I have shelter, a warm bed, food, friends, and work, and the rest is gravy.)  Then write it down and put it up someplace so it will be there when you need it.  The more we accept our inner world and the less we deny, the more we come home to our center and the dwelling place of our joy.”

Do you feel you are able to keep your equilibrium?  Or are there things that set you off kilter and make it difficult to stay balanced?

Do you have a phrase that helps you keep your perspective?

What do you think of the phrase “It’s only a cosmic blink in time?” 

Mojo Monday ~ Redvolutionary

What is a Redvolutionary you might ask?  Well this is how author Sera Beak describes it for us: 

“A Redvolutionary is someone who does not play by the social, religious, cultural, sexual, or political rules.  She affects change by daring to be herself, forging a unique path, and serving her planet authentically through “ecstatic activism.”  She’s a kind of ‘spiritual superheroine,’ rebelling against dogma and ideology in order to experience a direct and intimate relationship with the divine.  She has a fearless commitment to truth and freedom, healing and empowerment, hot love, red wine and gold body glitter…for all.”

A few years ago I read a book by author Sera Beak called The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark.  Out of the blue I recently began receiving newsletter updates from author Sera Beak about upcoming workshops here in California.  What seems like eons ago, I had signed up on her web site to receive updates from her, and my twin mommy brain vaguely recalls getting something a long time ago, but then nothing.  So, to start receiving new emails from this fascinating young author made me take notice.  I pulled the well-read and dog-eared book from my shelf and began refreshing myself with the delights inside.  I also re-visited her new web site and learned that over 3 years ago Sera stepped back from the path she was on at the time.  She said goodbye to a publishing deal for her second book and the production of a film. In her own words she puts the experience this way:  “Over 3 years ago, the Universe ripped me a new one, a new Red Heart that is, and a lot has changed.”  She goes into more detail in a keynote speech she gave in Spring 2012.  (You can watch the video on her web page by clicking here.)

Sera Beak

Sera Beak is a world traveled, Harvard-trained scholar of comparative religion, a spiritual cowgirl, and a redvolutionary.  She has whirled with Sufi dervishes, had a private meeting with the Dalai Lama on her 21st birthday, took the host from a Croatian Catholic mystic who had the stigmata and has experienced life-altering visions with shamans (and everything in between.)  Her book also received rave reviews from the likes of Sark, Neale Donald Walsch and Rob Brezny.  

Here is the preface, called Prelude to A Kiss:

“Do you ever get that funny feeling, slightly surreal and disorienting, maybe late at night or early in the morning, maybe right before lunchtime or perhaps when your friends are chatting, a lover is changing, a job is droning, or a TV is flickering, a feeling that there’s something more than all of this?  That you are more than all of this?  That perhaps life is more purposeful and magical than you give it credit for, and never mind all your unpaid parking tickets and bad work days that seem to prove otherwise?

You do?  Me, too.  As does your best friend, your boss, and your weird neighbor.  As do Russian rocket scientists, Belgian sheep farmers, and the Dalai Lama.  The feeling is, in fact, universal.

So, what is this funny feeling?  Sure, you could explain it away as some Freudian childhood glitch or planetary retrograde or even some of last night’s margaritas coming up for an encore.  But more likely, it’s something a bit more profound.  Chances are it’s a coy catcall from the universe, disguised as existential angst.  It’s the divine ringing your inner doorbell.  It’s your higher self, stealing the spotlight.  It’s your potential, aching to be realized, and your spirit, itching to be scratched.  So then the question becomes, what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to explore this feeling?  Are you willing to open the door?  Are you willing to refocus your lens?”

Author Sera Beak ~ Ignite Your Divine Spark

Chapter 1, called Light the Match: Set Your Intentions Free, begins off like this:

“So how the hell do you start igniting your divine spark?  Well, first and foremost, start by setting your intention.  Your intention is the energy, the electric charge, the awareness you bring to every aspect of your life.  It’s the force that  lies behind everything you do, the fuel for your fire.  Your intention helps create the pathway for your experience; therefore, setting it ain’t no trifling, careless thing, but a responsibility, one not to be taken lightly…

Setting your intention is a bit like offering up an invocation to the universe.  You place your desire out in the world, as an energized thought, a pregnant idea, an open prayer.  You envision how you would like to be, to feel, to progress…

You can state your intentions every morning before you get out of bed; it’s like applying an all-day moisturizer for your spirit: ‘I intend to be divinely aware and connected today, no matter what.’  You can sing them in the shower: ‘ I intend to follow my gut on this business deal and make it soar.’  You can let your intention move through your body during  a yoga class: ‘ I intend from now on to be healthier with my eating and exercise habits, and to love my strong, sexy body.’  Or set it when you take  stroll in the park: ‘ I intend to genuinely smile at every thing and every body I come across.’  You can set an intention for the coming day, week, year, or lifetime, or just for the moment you are in right now.  It’s really that simple.  If you don’t have a specific intention to set, just sit still, check in with your heart, and start sensing how you would ideally want to feel in your job, in your personal relationships, in your body, in your life, in your relationship with the divine.  Hold these feelings strongly for a moment in your mind and heart, and then release them, breathe them out into the world.”

In what ways do you inspire/conspire to be Redvolutionary?

What Sparks are you feeling/experiencing right now in your life?  

If Sparks are lacking, what might you dare to do to ignite some?

Have you set any intentions for yourself?  

**One great way to get inspiration for your intentions is to participate in !Spark!, a Cosmic Cowgirl University offering, that inspires and supports you for thirty days in achieving your intentions.  The next session starts September 1st and you can learn more here.

There is much about Sera Beak that hollers Cosmic Cowgirl, in addition to her self-proclaimed Spiritual Cowgirl identity, Spark, Divinity, Red, Intentions, Revolutionary,  Daring, Glitter… and Oh, the list goes on and on.   She had been working on a book called The Red Book of Chakras three years ago, until her life took an unexpected detour.  She offers this particular book for sale on her web site.  She shares this about it: This was the book I started to write three years ago before my ass got kicked by the universe.  While my writing style and focus has changed since then, this book still packs a power-full punch of She-force and that’s way I’m sharing it with you all now.  Enjoy!

She is now working on her official second book called Red Hot and Holy: A Heretic’s Love Story and she still has intentions to complete and release the film called Redvolution: Dare to Disturb the Universe.

Sera is offering some amazing workshops in California, along with other opportunities to work with her, and you can learn more about that here.

Mojo Monday ~ Wonder


Noun:  A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
Verb:  Desire or be curious to know something.
Synonyms:  noun.  marvel – miracle – prodigy – astonishment – amazement  verb.  marvel

Recently I had the extreme pleasure of gathering with some of the Cosmic Cowgirl tribe in person.  It was a whole-hearted weekend full of such things as inspiration, fun, aha moments, emotional connection and creativity. 

One part of our weekend’s explorations together was to discuss our developing Cosmic language.  After various sessions of heart-storming, prior to the weekend long gathering, a list of words has developed.  They are as follows: wonder, identity, creativity, perspective, heart, courage (awareness), embodiment (manifestation), play, transformation, mystery, legend (legacy), revolution, community and last but not least the overarching concept of sparkle.

Here is a photo of the beautiful rendition of the exploration that Shiloh McCloud diagramed for us.

Our time together included some journaling on various words and seeing what came up for us.  We were also asked to ponder and remain aware if there were any words with which we currently identified with more strongly.  I knew that my attention was drawn to the center of the diagram where the word “wonder” was written.  When we were asked to write down some thoughts regarding wonder this is what came to me:

The beginning of a heart beat.
The birth of a child.
A smile.
The universe.
Holding a hand.
A flower.
The stars.
The smell of a rose.
A favorite flavor.
The emotional life of animals.

My fascination with wonder seem to fit in with how I have been viewing the world through a lens I can only describe as “Wow” or as Shiloh wrote on the diagram next to the word wonder “the awe ha!”

When I began my list with “the beginning of a heart beat” I was actually recalling a documentary called In the Womb by National Geographic.  During the show they show and tell the audience just how and when a heart begins.  I was left in wonder about the amazing nature of our bodies and how we humans begin.  If you want to see for yourself a brief part of the video I have included it below and you can watch the particular portion I mention if you fast forward to 5:20 and watch until 5:57.  Here also is written form of the narration that describes what might be considered a miracle of nature: 
“One of the first organs to form is the heart.  Until now the tiny clump of heart cells, about the size of a poppy seed, have been still, but after 22 days a single cell stirs, as if jolted to life.  This tiny movement sparks a chain reaction and other cells in the cluster pick up the rhythm.  Incredibly, they all begin to beat in perfect unison.  The new cells divide, dance to the same beat and will grow to form the embryo’s heart.”

My mind, and heart, is also in awe of our universe.  This image to the right is from the Hubble Telescope and has been nicknamed The Galactic Rose.  If you have never really explored the images from the Hubble telescope I encourage you to do so.  The images are amazing.  Here is where you can locate the Hubble web site: http://hubblesite.org/the_telescope/

When I gaze at such photos taken in deep space I am in awe.  I experience feelings and thoughts that encompass and contemplate being humble, miniscule, and yet also expansive and connected.  In the scheme of how grand the universe is we are a speck in the dark night sky.  We are these tiny bunches of cells and molecules that are alive and running around on the surface of planet Earth.  Dr. Seuss even contemplated such a state of being in his classic Horton Hears a Who.  

Star Woman painting by Michelle Fairchild
The fascination with the stars also connects with the amazing fact that we humans are really made of cosmic stardust and this really isn’t just some California “woo woo” idea.   The late astronomer Carl Sagan once stated “The surface of the earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”  What he knew when he made that remark is that the same elements that make up the stars in our universe are the very same elements that came together to create our planet and our very bodies. 

According to Chris Impey, professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, “Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal — as well as most of the matter on Earth — contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.” 

Here again is a beautiful video I shared just last week.  Listen to Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse, and understand why he feels big, not small, as part of the universe. Something we should all remember when we feel alone, insignificant, or disconnected. This video is a result of when he was asked by TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This is his answer.

The Most Astounding Fact from Max Schlickenmeyer on Vimeo.

Then there is water. When I read the book Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls I was intrigued to read the following section about water.  I loved how she so poetically explores the amazing, and almost magical qualities and history of water.

Photo by Michelle Fairchild
“Sometimes over supper, when Jim got home after a storm, the kids would describe their escapades in the water and mud, and Jim would recount his vast store of water lore and water history.  Once the world was nothing but water, he explained, and you wouldn’t think to look at us, but human beings were mostly water.  The miraculous thing about water, he said, was that it never came to an end.  All the water on the earth had been here since the beginning of time, it has just moved around from rivers and lakes and oceans to clouds and rain and puddles and then sunk through the soil to underground streams, to springs and wells, where it got drunk by people and animals and went back to rivers and lakes and ocean.

The water you kids were playing in, he said, had probably been to Africa and the North Pole.  Genghis Khan or Saint Peter or even Jesus himself might have drunk it.  Cleopatra might have bathed in it.  Crazy Horse might have watered his pony with it.  Sometimes water was liquid.  Sometimes it was rock hard—ice.  Sometimes it was soft—snow.  Sometimes it was visible, but weightless—clouds.  And sometimes it was completely invisible—vapor—floating up into the sky like the souls of dead people.  There was nothing like water in the world, Jim said.  It made the desert bloom but also turned rich bottomland into swamp.  Without it we’d die, but it could also kill us, and that was why we loved it, even craved it, but also feared it.  Never take water for granted, Jim said.  Always cherish it.  Always beware of it.”

What comes to you when you contemplate the word “Wonder?”

What makes you think or say WOW?

What leaves you in awe?

One more thing that also leaves me in awe is the emotional lives of animals that share our planet.  There are actually many books written on the subject.
I am frequently so touched and moved by photographs of animals that portray their obvious connections to one another.  I have always been drawn to animals, but it wasn’t until recent years that I really, really began to see them.  Have you ever really stopped and considered that animals bodies have organs and bodies that in many regards are much like our own. The have hearts, lungs, brains and blood.  They are born and they die, just like we humans.  
It was partly my awe and wonder in regards to my four-legged, feathered and finned friends that led me to adopt a vegan diet about four years ago.

Lastly, for your enjoyment, a beautiful song by Miten and Deva Premal called Inarticulate Heart.  The lyrics include the words “I am a soul in wonder.”

Mojo Monday ~ This is the Year of…

In October of 2008 I attended my first Cosmic Cowgirl event.  It was the Bountiful Conference and really I had no idea what attending that one conference would lead to and how it would alter my future.   Now it wasn’t like everything fell into perfect place and I immediately began to follow my true purpose.  There were some bumps along the way, in fact on my 40th birthday in April of 2009 some news made me feel that my world was crashing down around me and there were some very tough days from that point forward.  Yet, even through that year, which was one of my own dark nights of the soul, Cosmic Cowgirls was one of the things that sustained me.  It was a combination of both the amazing women I had met, but also just knowing that something like Cosmic Cowgirls could even exist.  I was sustained by knowing that there were women from around the country and even overseas, who were connecting and creating a circling tribe full of artistic, creative, passionate, loving, inspiring, kick-up-their-boots hootin’ and hollerin’ kick-ass wild women.

I have learned so much from the classes I have taken with Cosmic Cowgirls.  One of the biggies is about the power of intention.  In 2010 as things in my life were healing and as I delved back into participating more with Cosmic Cowgirls I attended the member conference and then I took the class called A Year of Great Promise.  Meeting in person with some sister Cosmic Cowgirls was good for the soul and during our time together we contemplated what we wanted to declare for that year.  What I ended up declaring for myself was that 2010 was the Year of Passionately Embracing My Soul’s Creative Calling.  We also shared something we were going to release and my personal declaration was “I release perfection and embrace myself with Grace and Love.”  We created collages and special containers to hold our dreams and goals for ourselves for the year.   The course called A Year of Great Promise was really powerful and by the time the course ended I had about a 15 page document that detailed my vision for myself and the life I want to lead. 

The art collage I created in 2010.

Somehow in the beginning of 2011 I did not make a statement for the year and now I see that I was pressing forward with continuing as I did in 2010 to embrace my creative calling.  I joined the Cosmic Cowgirls 6 month long Leading A Legendary Life course in 2011, which was a big dream for me.  Again the work completed led me to feel more confident in my artistic abilities and to gain more clarity on the personal legend I am creating. 

A week ago when I pulled out the letter I had written to myself back in 2010 I knew immediately what my 2012 declaration would be and without hesitation I said to myself 2012 is the year of completion and new beginnings.  I love the clarity that I have this year, but don’t be disheartened if that is not the case for you.  It can actually be fun and interesting to still be in the place of figuring it out and exploring what you are wishing for to happen next. 
As I write this Mojo Monday post I am realizing that I have not yet considered if there is something I wish to release and embrace this year.  The first thing that comes to mind is the fretting I have done over friendship these past few years.  I experienced some shifts in friendships that put me through a great deal of distress for a few years.  I think it has taken this much time to get to this place and makes it possible for me to say that I release those former connections with great love and I embrace knowing deep in my soul that though I am imperfect and may make mistakes I am a loving and good hearted friend who cares and loves deeply and never intentionally hurts others.
My letter I wrote to myself in 2010.

Before I bid 2011 goodbye I will write myself a letter and I will create a new piece of art that will represent my intentions for the new year.  

Consider what your heart and soul wishes for you in the new year.
Join me in making your own declaration and then make the time to go through your own creative process of expressing that declaration. 

Maybe you want to create a collage or paint the vision you hold for yourself. 

Another possibility is to write a poem or take some photographs that capture your intentions.

Also is there something you wish to release and in turn embrace? 
I hope you’ll share your new year declaration and your plans for releasing and embracing.   

If you need time to think it through, explore it this week and come back and share what arises for you.

One other great lesson I have learned is that there is great power in speaking aloud one’s intentions.  One can gain strength from sharing such things within a community or a circle.  

I offer that this is a great place to be witnessed and heard.

With Love and In Support of Your Intentions,
Michelle (aka Red and Ida Shine!)

Some other things to explore as you ponder your dreams and goals:

Oprah’s January issue that is just about to hit the stands has a great article by Martha Beck called You Can See Clearly Now.  She takes readers through a clarifying process of really determining what one wants.  She breaks it down into the four P’s: Pushback, Possibilities, Preferences and Pinpointing. In the simplest terms Pushback involves figuring out what you don’t want. Martha describes it as the “bitch and moan” portion that allows you to figure out that you no longer what to do such and such or no longer want to be with so and so.  The next step of Possibilities involves beginning to use your imagination to see past what is no longer working for you.  She describes Preferences as being the place where you start to notice which possibilities leave you feeling intrigued, curious, and a bit lighter.  When you get to the Pinpoint part this is when you are finally reaching clarity on exactly what you want.  You are envisioning it and can then set your intentions on achieving it.

There is a great book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  I was given this book a several years ago by the fost-adoption agency I have worked for for nearly 8 years now.  When you buy the book new there is a sealed envelope in the back that when opened provides you with a key to enter into an on-line personality test.  I was really blown away by the accuracy of the results.  The exam identifies your strengths and can be a tool for some people to use in seeking their path in life.

Lastly for fun you can always check your numerology and see what personal year you happen to be leaving and which one you are about to gain entry to in 2012.  Supposedly we go through 9 year life cycles.  2011 was a 9 year for me which means I am at the end of a cycle.  Entering into a 1 year in 2012 means I am embarking on a new cycle.  A common description of a 9 year is that this is your year to finish up all unfinished business, to clean house and make room for new things.  In short the 1 year is described as follows: You are starting a new nine year Epicycle. Everything you do now will affect your future. Do not hold back the inner force of creation. Be direct, daring, bold. You will have more confidence and determination this year, particularly in comparison with last year, which was a time of letting go. This year represents a time of birth. It’s a time to take charge and to apply yourself to your dream.

Two sites that offer free numerology readings can be found here: