My big hearted friend,

Have you ever sung your heart out? My daughter has a new spring in her step as she enters middle school – even with distance learning. She bustles around her room singing along to her Taylor Swift playlist. There are lots of dramatic gestures and emotion.

Taylor Swift has a talent for making breaking up and experiencing betrayal sound almost fun. My daughter hasn’t yet dipped her toes into the world of dating drama, but she is mentally preparing herself for the subtleties of its ups and downs. The first time she has her heart broken she will know how to sing through it.

Is she also ready for the heartbreak of now?

I honestly feel at a loss for words. There are so many, compounding losses. One follows after another and their consequences are enormous.

I have a lot to say about how we can tend hope and optimism in times like these. But we cannot skip over grief. Today I want to give grief it’s due space.

There is a lot of grieve. Even in the best case scenario, in which we succeed in creating a radically new regenerative community, there will be profound losses and hardships. I give my whole life to this future, but when I think about everything I may have to give up to get there it can feel devastating.

I used to feel I must be crazy to grieve ecological and social wounds that few other were acknowledging. Some of my first allies were musicians on the margins who helped me start naming the struggles that are invisible on popular radio.

Finally, when I found Joanna Macy’s teaching 20 years ago I began to feel less crazy; grief is a sign that we are ALIVE and CONNECTED. Grief affirms what I love and cherish. My tears can be tangible evidence that my relationships with nature and with others are real. I can let my grief bring me deeper into love.

Doctors will numb parts of our bodies so they can cut away damaged tissues. I appreciate numbness in this context. But I don’t like how dominant American culture has numbed our relationship to Mother Earth and our history of slavery and genocide. Collectively we  became numb to police shooting unarmed black people. Collectively we have become numb to the poisoning of our water. Numbing the people is a great way to control them.

Today I invite you into the courageous and rebellious act of simply feeling your grief.

You are feeling your ALIVENESS and your CONNECTION.

You are not crazy to be grieving something that no pop song ever prepared you for.

You are not crazy if you need to seek out support for working through your grief.

Maybe it’s time for us to write a few new songs. What if we could speak about the heartbreak of now without bringing conversation to a stop or getting derailed in bitterness? What if we had songs to guide us through the heartbreak of now with the same zest that Taylor Swift offers to dating heartbreak? They would be songs that made you feet sassy and strong, songs that normalize these profound losses and turn them into familiar companions.

Whose songs are helping you? Maybe you can help me create a playlist for my daughter. I’d love it if you replied to this email and shared your favorite.



p.s. My search for songs for navigating catastrophic loss and uncertainty has led me to fall in love with Balkan, Greek, Romani, Turkish, and Armenian dance and music. I would be happy to share these songs and dances with you. You’ll have to come to my class because it’s hard to find them on the radio! Learn more about the Wisdom Dances Circle

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