I know I broke every safety rule in the book. I set out with my dog Jethro to hike an uncharted trail with no food, no water, no layers and no one knew I was going.

On a whim I found the Rim Vista trailhead, one that boasts the best views in the state of New Mexico. The climb up cut through rugged terrain on a well-marked path. One spectacular vista after another overlooked the cliffs of the O’Keefe inspired landscape.

An hour or so later, at nearly 8000 feet high, I received a text that most likely saved my life.

“Can’t find my peanut butter cups. Did you take both of them?”

This started a conversation that let my friend Don know that I did not know where the peanut butter cups were since I was out hiking on the Rim Vista Trail. Someone now knew where I was. My phone was dangerously close to dying. His last words to me that day were “keep your feet on the ground.”

“Ok” I texted and shut down my phone.

Although the hike up seemed clear the path down clearly did not. I kept walking along the cliffs wondering if I was on the trail or not. I hiked back to the last visible trail marker I could find; a pink plastic ribbon hanging from a tree branch. Back and forth, over and over, I walked until I no longer had a clue what was the trail and what was not.

The only thought that occupied space at this time was…

I have to get down. 

The sunlight was waning. It was difficult enough to climb up here during the day. Without light, navigation was impossible.

Alongside a cliff ran an arroyo of rocks and boulders, a staircase to lower ground. Jethro and I began our descent.

Jethro was not always willing to traverse the path. The heights and contours were frightening causing him to head back up the trail. I tied the sleeve of my windbreaker around his collar for a leash so I would not lose him. We continued on with me carrying him over rock and stone when he thought he could not.

The arroyo flattened out to a limestone ledge. The only way to continue down at that point was to slide. Once the commitment was made to go there was no turning back. Nothing would stop the descent into the rock quarry five feet below.

I managed to land with my bones intact. I looked up over the ledge and there sat Jethro. I called for him to come but he would not budge. Nothing, I mean nothing, would get him to move. I surveyed the area for a way back. Rocks and boulders filled the space but none were positioned to give me height or leverage to climb up.

The last light of day was ready to drop below the horizon. There was nowhere else to go, nothing else I could do. This would be home for the night.

The ledge offered protection overhead. I gathered small rocks to build a low wall. I climbed behind the wall with my tank top and vest. I pulled a tube skirt from my hips to cover my shoulders. My jacket was tied to Jethro who sat above me out of sight. I curled into a ball on the hard ground, behind the rock wall, under the limestone ledge to prepare for the drop in temperature that night would bring.

If there was ever a time for fear and worry this was it yet there was never a moment when that existed. I was vulnerably broken open to a will far greater than my own.

Stripped of any physical comfort, there was nothing to hold on to other than faith. As night unfurled, grace descended. Stars filled the night, many shooting across the sky.

The moon bathed the cliffs in her light revealing images and shadows of Ancient Ones in stone. I felt protected by the Apus. Although I had learned of the mountain spirits from the shamans in Peru, here in New Mexico I had a direct experience of their presence.

I kept my legs and feet moving so they would not get cold. I pulled my vest up over my nose and began a yogic breath of fire to generate internal heat and fill the inside of my vest with warmth.

And so it went, as night grew deeper and temperatures turned colder.

In the dark I could hear Jethro whimper. The only condolence was that meant he was alive. I called to him.

Mama is here baby.

You are such a good boy.

Look up at the sky Jethro.

Do you see the stars?

Night will pass.

Morning always comes.

I love you.

I am here with you.


Moment by moment, breath by breath, the stars receded from the sky and made way for dawn.

The light of a new day let me search for a way to reach Jethro. An hour must have passed before I was able to grab hold of the trunk of a small sage bush. With nothing other than sheer will, I wrangled to higher ground. Reunited, we now climbed up again.

There seemed to be two choices to find our way off the mountain; go up and try to get back to the rim or find a trail along the mountainside that went down.

We traversed the landscape and found a friendly arroyo to climb down, one full of trees, shade and elk tracks. Surely the wildlife knew the way. I was hopeful this would take us safely to lower ground.

I turned on my phone and was able to send the final texts to my friend Don before my phone died completely. I let him know we had spent the night here and were heading down. I could see Abiquiu lake directly in front of me and Rio Chama at 3:00. I texted these landmarks. By the time search and rescue would read these messages hours later the coordinates no longer applied.

Even at this point I was vague about asking for help because of my deep seated and distorted belief that it would not be there when I needed it. This left others reading between the lines about the danger I was in.

The friendly arroyo turned menacing as it led to an impassable precipice.

Again we turned around and climbed up.

Twenty four hours had passed without food and water. I was not hungry but my mouth was as dry as the desert I was living in. It was painful to swallow.

I could not keep moving. Small efforts were becoming very taxing. I laid down in the shade and could feel my heart beating against the Earth. My body ached in pleasure against the cool ground. Pachamama seduced me into lying still.

Plans changed. I thought a day of rest would give me the stamina to climb again tomorrow. Finding shelter took precedence. The mountain ledge we were now on was dotted with low-lying cypress trees. One in particular was hollowed out on one side. The front end faced the sun and the back end was shaded. I spent the day cooling off in the shade when I got too hot and warming up in the sun when it got too cold.

Resting in stillness I thought I heard the sound of a human voice. I walked to the edge of the cliff and looked out. Something moved in the distance, the very, very far distance.

“HELLO” I yelled.




I did not know if I was heard or not but I was certain what i saw moving was another human being. After a time I went back to the cypress tree and prepared for the sun to set.

I wrapped Jethro against me with my tube skirt like a pappoose. I kept moving and breathing but with much less vigor than the night before. Although I had two more layers, my windbreaker and Jethro, I felt colder.

It was completely dark when a far off caravan of lights began moving towards me. Was it possible they knew I was here? Did the person I see earlier hear my calls for help?

Soon after the car lights were in position a stream of headlights began moving below me. As they got closer I could hear their voices.






I never imagined anyone would show up at night. I could not see how they could make it to the ledge I was on in the dark but they were here. I was sure they would start their way up first thing in the morning. I could last another night knowing they were down below.

Then I heard voices coming from behind me.




I was much closer to the top of the mountain than the bottom. Could the voices behind possibly reach me tonight?



The overwhelming gratitude upon hearing…We Are Coming…could only be expressed by a spontaneous stream of tears rolling down my face.

A miraculous matrix had been mapped that led four men to a woman and her dog sitting under a cypress tree on the side of a mountain in the dark of night.

Their first words to me were, “You don’t know how happy we are to see you!” It could never be matched by the inconceivable happiness I felt upon seeing them.

They offered tea and food. I was wrapped in hats, gloves, warm layers and a down jacket. They had water and beef jerky for Jethro.

“Do you know what time it is?”, they asked. I had no way of knowing.



I never believed anyone could make it here at night. “Will I be able to meet the person that called for help? They saved my life.”

“That was your friend Don”, they told me. “He was incredible in helping us to find you.” I later learned he was the person I saw moving in the distance. He had hiked in with food and water thinking he would meet us on our way out.

Uplifted by the support of our rescue team we began our hike out with headlamps, topographic maps and a lifeline to the Command Unit waiting below. Four rescue teams had been sent out that night. We arrived at the base camp of Santa Fe SAR at 3:00 in the morning.

There are angels walking this Earth. You will know them because they uplift humanity, they take an extra step and literally go an extra mile. Their desire to be of service guides their actions.

There are angels on Earth and they light up the world so others may find their way.

My deepest thanks to the angels that saved my life that night:

Don Myer
Richard Goldstein, Incident Commander
Jim D. and Ray W. the Ops SC and Deputy OP SC who came up with a plan based on interviews with Don Myer.
Tom M, Joe, Jim K. and Chris K., SF SAR Rescue Team who hiked out with me
Atayla SAR, team calling from below
Communications Unit Terry and Richard D
Safety Officer Charlie
Al was ORDM
My apologies to anyone whose name I have left out because I know there were many more.

Click here for more on the Santa FE SAR, a volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives in the state of New Mexico.

Be safe in the wilderness. Click below.


IMG_5544In an ICU unit in New York I held the hand of my former husband as he took his last breath. Even though we had been divorced for many years, his death ripped through my life like the aftershocks of a tsunami.

When I returned to New Mexico I got to watch my dearest friend and the man I was in love with fall in love with another woman. He let me know he needed a break from me. The fragments of my fragile heart lost their tenuous hold on life as I knew it.

The next day my dog Jethro ran away, scared off by thunder into the dark night and wild foothills of the desert landscape where I live.

I was broken.

Beyond repair.

I wanted the world to stop spinning so I could get off.

Losing Jethro tore the last thread of love from my life. I was isolated in a remote terrain I now called home.

I cried myself to sleep at night believing Jethro was gone forever. I cried for my daughters who lost their dad on the threshold of young adulthood. I cried for the tragic death of a man whose life was woven into the fabric of my family for thirty years. I cried for my own dreams shattered in illusions. I cried for the wasted years as a fool in love. I cried for my failures as a wife, a mother, a lover and a friend. I cried for all the people I had let down, the mistakes I made. I cried in prayer for relief from unbearable pain.

After three nights away, Jethro came home. He showed up on my doorstep while I was at work. A neighbor called to let me know she had let him in.

Jethro’s return was a light in pervasive darkness. I looked straight at a miracle when I walked through the door that day. He made it home.

Somehow the idea to write a story about Jethro’s runaway penetrated the barren emptiness of my psyche. A children’s story? I had no idea what happened to Jethro during those three nights he was gone. I would have to make it up, as if I knew anything about surviving in the desert.

My first attempts were lame. But the idea persisted. It became a lifeline to the other side of grief, one that led me to the principal’s office at Abiquiu Elementary School.

What better way to write a children’s story than through the unencumbered imagination of children? The idea of collaborating with the students to help finish the story was extended to their principal Ms. Sena, an Earth angel who received this lifeline wholeheartedly.

Meeting the students was an opportunity to listen to their stories. Most of these children in rural Northern New Mexico have dogs in their life. Many had stories of their own dogs running away. Not all stories ended with the dogs return.

They shared openly and innocently their stories of death and loss, joy and laughter. Jethro’s story lived in their stories. In writing Jethro’s story I wanted them to see the stories they would write are their own.

Each child held a precious story that only they could tell. A tale that weaves itself into the tapestry of all tales of love lost and love returned through the uncontainable cycles of life.

Jethro’s story is a mystery beyond my comprehension.

Perhaps the mystery is not ours to comprehend. Perhaps the mystery is simply to be lived for miracles lay in the loss, the heartache, the despair and the loneliness.

Our story, the one that only we can tell, is part of the great story.

The immortal story of our shared humanity.


My dog Jethro and buddies Charlie and Snoopy girl

My dog Jethro with buddies Charlie (center) and Snoopy girl (left) Photo Credit Don Myer

Dogs are not a usual topic on my blog but my proud mama heart inspires me to write. I am simply in awe of the young woman my daughter is becoming as I witness her ever deepening compassion for animals.

New Mexico is perhaps the dog friendliest state in the country. People bring their dogs everywhere here, even restaurants. Santa Fe dedicated 135 acres in the wild foothills so dogs could have a park. That kind of real estate in New York is worth millions.

Not all dogs here lead a care free life though. Many dogs spend their days tied to three-foot chains or locked in crates. I pass them as I enter the homes of the patients I see in rural Northern New Mexico. They are usually pit bulls or shepherds with sharp teeth and menacing growls. If they were to break free from their tortured captivity their unleashed rage would rip me apart. Who can blame them?

Whenever I see a dog in chains I am terrified and heart broken and helpless. All at the same time.

I am not here to pass judgment on the ones who own these animals. They are lovely people and I know there is no intentional harm in the way they treat their dogs. It is just a different mind-set.

As I entered one home recently the dog was chained so close to the house that his lunge stopped right at the front door. I walked in sideways to avoid his contact. Noticing my trepidation his owner told me, “You don’t need to worry about him. He’s too friendly” he lamented.

“My last dog would have bit you” he said proudly.

“How come you want a dog that bites someone?”

“So I don’t have to lock my doors. Keeps people from breaking in,” he said as if the answer was obvious.

I understand the need for protection. Crime is a part of the landscape. Resources for fancy alarm systems are in short supply.

Dogs can provide that role as protector.

Without chains.

My daughter shared her news with me that she and her boyfriend had applied to the New York Bully Crew to foster pit bulls. At twenty-one her compassionate action touches me deeply. If she could, I know she would rescue every animal in the world.

I was sharing my experiences with the dogs I see here and it didn’t make sense to her. If someone broke into your house how is your dog going to help you if he is chained up outside?

Dogs can alert us to intruders and offer more help if they are in the house should someone break in.

Many who have their dogs in chains don’t see this logic. How can we change what we cannot see?

I cannot break every chain but if one person sees something different, if one dog is unleashed, a prayer is answered.

May all beings be happy.

May all beings be safe.

May all beings,


be free.

My blog has been quiet a long time. Grief stripped my heart of anything to share. Death took things I thought would never return. Gone was my desire to be a part of this world.

I will write on grief at another time. For now I offer how seemingly incongruous events paved the way back to my first despacho in a long, long time.

For weeks I was finding the wings of moths on my back porch. Their beauty and sheer abundance seemed like a gift from Spirit. I began to collect them on my altar as harbingers of light.

Each year the Sun returns to the exact point that it occupied at the time of our birth. Mine was last Monday, August 10th. According to those who follow these sorts of things, our solar return is a powerful time to bring our inner light into alignment with the Cosmic Light.

Since it was Monday and since it was my birthday, I was at my Kundalini yoga class with birthday cake in hand. I also brought Love Oracle cards to share with my fellow yogis and this too was placed on my altar.


Not only was it my birthday but the powerful lunar event of a New Moon was days away. And if that were not enough, the annual Perseid meteor shower was about to take place (I really did not know anything about this until my friend sent a link after I missed the first night).

These cosmic events seemed to propel the hand of Spirit to guide me to the medicine I thought was gone forever. With the elements of the despacho gathered on my altar they needed to be wrapped before offering. The market in my remote town does not sell wrapping paper but they do carry burlap bags. For the first time ever my despacho was wrapped in burlap.


Although a ceremony may start with a certain intention, the communion with Spirit has a voice of its own. As prayers were blown into the wings of moths a waking up was sparked; a waking from the slumber I had been in; a waking from the pain I was carrying; a waking from the fear of not knowing what life would bring. The wings of the ones who flock to light carried a message I was ready to hear.

It was time to wake up.


The wings holding prayers were placed over the card that spoke to the freedom in love. Offerings of flowers, sweets and sparkles built a feast for Pachamama and Spirit.


Even the burlap seemed to have a voice. The cloth spoke of humility; to be humble in our power, humble in our walk, to be humble in our heart. The bundle was carried to the center of a labyrinth to be informed by the cosmic light of unknown galaxies through the night.


The next morning I woke at 4 am. I thought of the meteors and my prayer bundle in the labyrinth. I was tired and wanted to stay in bed.

If this were to be my last day on Earth what choice would I make then?

I got out of bed and lay under the dark sky as stars sparkled and meteors from other worlds washed me in wonder.


Our most powerful teacher.

A few short months ago I gathered five stones in an arroyo in Abiquiu. They held the seeds of ancient wisdom to take into new frontiers. Little did I know that souls the world over would hear this call too.

I return to the arroyo in gratitude for the guidance on this first ever journey to build our personal mesa and deepen the connection to the ancient wisdom that lies in every rock and stone.

Arroya_Rocks2It was a glorious day in Abiquiu to open ceremony for our Mesa Building Journey. After a chilly and overcast morning the sun held us in warmth in the middle of winter.

A beautiful herd of cattle met us at the entry point to our sacred site for ceremony. On New Year’s Day I buried what did not burn of our despacho beneath the tree here. What gentle gatekeepers for us.


“Cows can teach us about home and community and the joy and contentment therein. Cows aid us in realizing to be easy going and live in the moment. They show us about love and connections at work and home. Cows can teach us how to make the changes needed to bring joy in our surroundings.” Animal Totems by Starstuffs

Before heading into the arroyo we prepared our luminous body with a white candle clearing to release the energetic impressions that have imprinted us in lack, limitation and fear. We carried the candles to our ceremonial site to burn.



At the start of our trek we found large stones to carry the burdens we are ready to release. The intention was held for all those on this journey by blowing them into the stone with our breath.

They were laid to rest at our site for ceremony in a circle of protection around our burning candles. Elizabeth Inman of the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu brought her essential oil from the farm which we used to anoint the stones and each other.


As we laid to rest our burdens and burned the energetic patterns that limit us, we fed our prayers with offerings of flowers, sweets, chocolate and wine. A feast for Pachamama and Spirit!



Prayers for the highest manifest vision for humanity and the Earth were blown into the peace flags and wrapped around our Apuchetta or little mountain offering.


Our prayers and intentions created a vessel of beauty for our beloved Earth Mother, Pachamama, as we heed her ancient wisdom and travel to frontiers not yet known.


Let us remember we are born as the sons and daughters of Pachamama.
Let us remember we are her caretakers and stewards.
Let us learn to listen to her rhythms and cycles.
Let us learn to live in harmony with her
and all her beings.


A bow of gratitude to Valerie Hart for capturing some of these moments.


A Despacho To Open Our Mesa Building Journey

We prepare our hearts and call to the Grace of Spirit,
The wisdom of Pachamama and
The power of the Apus,
To guide us through the darkness of winter
As we build our mesa
To weave our hearts to the love and beauty
Of our Earth Mother, Pachamama.


May the white petals of the rose hold our prayers in purity.


We call to the Four Directions
So we may be in balance with all your elements,
So we may live in harmony
With the rhythms and cycles of Nature
Around us and within us.


We feed our prayers and intentions to you
With offerings to bring color and sweetness
To our hopes and dreams
As we walk this path of transformation.


We wrap our prayers as a gift to you Pachamama
With a forgotten prayer holder of the white rose
To hold our intentions through time and space
Until they manifest in this Earth dimension, the Kaypacha,
For the highest good of all.

We wrap our despacho in the sacred cloth
Informed by the blessing of a new snow
On the first morning of a new year.

We thank you, thank you, thank you
For receiving the prayers of our most tender and humble heart.
We bow in gratitude for the blessings you bestow upon us
And for clearing the path ahead so we may walk
In the beauty and the abundance that you so
Lovingly provide to us all.





Mount Rainier


The year was 1988. I boarded a plane in New York bound for Seattle. I was going to climb my first real mountain, the kind that needed headlamps and dehydrated food pouches, crampons and gaiters. Mount Rainier, at 14, 410 feet is the fifth highest peak in the United States and I was on my way to the top.

Being a novice climber, a one-day school of mountaineering was mandatory. I learned how to conserve oxygen at high altitudes and effectively use crampons, metal spikes strapped to the bottom of boots to insure secure trekking on ice.

Is there such a thing as a secure trek on ice?

We simulated rope travel. After leaving base camp at 10,000 feet we would make our ascent harnessed together in groups of four. Climbers die every year by falling to their death or landing in a crevasse. An ice-ax arrest was paramount before attempting the climb.

If one of the climbers you were roped to were to tumble down the mountainside they needed to call for an arrest to alert the other three climbers they were falling. Chances are the falling climber would take you along with them.

Once a fall was established, by either a cry for help or by your body sliding down the mountain, the ice axe was to be plunged into the snow taking care to avoid any of your vital organs or limbs. The ice ax arrest is a highly technical and physically acrobatic maneuver that I prayed I would not need on the mountain.

After a crash course in mountaineering our ascent began at dawn the next morning. The trek started easy enough. Rolling green hills and lush meadows covered the lower mountain slopes in late August. The sun soon gave way to a soft morning drizzle, common in the Northwest.

As we reached higher altitudes the wind picked up speed. A once innocent drizzle began to rage to a blinding snow. The climb was no longer rolling but steep. The overnight gear and protective layers weighed heavy on my back. I kept thinking how would I ever get off the mountain? There seemed to be no strategy for manuevering the treacherous trek back down.

My mind raced eons ahead of my body. Although we were climbing up I could not figure any way back down. Was anyone as panicked as me? I had no way to know. The climbers ahead were blurs in the snow.

When it seemed that every nerve bundle in my body was ready to unravel, a deep stillness descended. There was a voice. Whether it was inside of me or somewhere outside is hard to tell but it said, “Follow the step in front of you. That is all you need to do. Just take one step.”

That much I could do. I could take one step.

I did not realize it at the time but it was the first time a mountain ever spoke to me.

excerpt from the forthcoming A Feminine Path to Enlightenment...and so the book opens



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