Skip to content

What Becomes A Legend Most?

ROCK_560-2This post appeared on Donna Henes’ Beliefnet blog on June 4, 2015. I read it aloud to myself and for the world of women every day from that day forth. It reminded me of who I mean to be in the world. How about you?

Dangerous Territory


Dedicated to Our Great Work in the world, and The Cosmic Cowgirls Oklahoma! Hex PIN

We are a tribe of truth tellers.
Revolution makers.
Movers and shakers
of things that need moving
and shaking. Like hips.
And old ideas that need
shaking off.

We are a gathering of women who
straddle the worlds.
We have one bare foot on the earth (toe painted sparkly of course)
and one cowgirl boot in the marketplace of life.
With our heads in the stars for big dreaming
and our arms outstretched
to embrace as much aliveness as we can.
We have our hearts on our sleeves, both of them.
Whether we be sinners or saints
or wear halos or horns there is
one thing you have to admit about us….

We agree…

Be the most you that you can be.
Be your own revolution
while being a part of the collective one.

We believe this truth to be self evident:
That each woman can transform
her life into a legend.
That stories are made for telling
around the campfire, but

 legends are meant to be lived.
And sisterhoods are meant to
be your bridge when you don’t know
the way over the troubled water of
the lies you have been told
and tell yourself still.

To help in the great adventure
of revealing the more you that there is,
we may hand you

a paintbrush
a writing pen

a drum

a fiddle
a magic wand

a bar of chocolate
some cowgirl boots and
a jar of red glitter and

a ball of
red thread.

And the craft of inquiry. That’s right –

the path of questions

is that path each of us must walk

and keep on walking.

Creativity, curiosity
and inquiry into oneself

is the daily cup of tea here.

Here we know what women
are worth and we tell you what we
know of our ancient and future wisdom.
We have been gathering the stories
of our grandmothers and grandfathers
about birth and death and transformation
that have been lost. We will not
allow them to be lost again.

We  are carrying

scrolls of wisdom
across the planet so that thousands
of hands hold these legends
and it will not be lost from us
like it was before.

This is where women
come to gather the bones
and sing their whole selves
back together again.

We believe there is medicine,
sacred and true

in community that comes with the
territory of belonging.
Of being a part of that which
is bigger than you. And me.
A place where the collective
soul can unfurl her bright
wings and together we can
fly in a future that reflects
who we are and

what we care about.

And in closing I must give you a
Warning – if you enter
Cosmic Cowgirl Territory
there is no way

your wild woman

will keep herself contained.

Beware of shifting stories

and old ideas falling away.
Beware of taking up space
that might make others
uncomfortable around you.
Beware of no longer being
willing to live a life

that does not reflect
who you are.

This is dangerous territory.

Your cup of

revolutionary tea
is waiting for you.



Shiloh Sophia McCloud, CA

Saying No Kindly

f2628150-4846-11e4-a8e2-d10955fc51a7_Newsletter-12-3-nothanksA friend sent this to me as a reminder for herself and for me. I’m sharing it to remind you. No is a full sentence.

It’s from the On Being with Krista Tippett blog.


The Spiritual Art of Saying No


Taxi drivers have been some of my best therapists.

Monday morning, I disembarked a ferry with a sea of other passengers trying to get the most out of the last days of summer and made it out to the parking lot. I approached a van cab with a woman who looked to be in her 60s sitting in the driver’s seat, yapping on her cell phone. I waited patiently while she finished her conversation: “Look, I’m not coming in Thursday, so you’re going to have to figure out another plan. No, I’m serious. That’s the deal. Figure it out.”

She hung up. I confirmed that she was free and then climbed into the back seat. “I’m sorry about that — just had to finish up that call,” she said, turning back to look at me. She didn’t smile apologetically, but had a kind voice and a genuine tone.

“Please don’t apologize,” I said. “I’ve been trying to learn how to say no with more clarity, earlier on, so this was a good, impromptu lesson.”

“You got to, girl. If you don’t learn to say no, you’ll either be miserable or die. One or the other.”

I’d never heard it put so bluntly, but as we wound our way through the moss-covered trees of beautiful Bainbridge Island, this spiky-haired, taxi driving, Reiki master schooled me in the spiritual art of saying no. From her perspective, if you don’t learn to say no, you use your energy in ways that don’t make you happy. Do enough of that and you actually get physically ill — heart attacks, cancer, autoimmune illnesses; utter enough unconscious yeses and your body says the biggest, most finite no of all.

It was pretty convincing.

It also wasn’t the first time I’d thought about the spiritual art of saying no and my pathetic lack of skill in it. It’s not that I’m a doormat. So often when this issue gets talked about, I feel like it is portrayed as a problem of wilting flower women who just want to make everyone happy. I don’t mind disappointing people so much as I’m voraciously and indiscriminately interested in the world. I want to learn everything, be everywhere, collaborate with everyone. In thoroughly modern terms, I’ve got major FOMO about anything that fascinates me.

There is a vitality in that, but there is also a violence in it. As Thomas Merton wrote:

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist…destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”


Forget balance. Balance is bullshit. What I mostly crave is integrity and joy — a sense that I’m doing what I do excellently and getting a lot of pleasure out of it, that I’m used up and useful.

I’ve noticed lately that when I try to do too much, the things I should have said no to manifest as monsters under the bed. I wake up at 2 a.m. and am immediately aware of the outsized presence of that thing that, in the light of day, seemed barely possible, and, in the unforgiving darkness, I realize I can’t faithfully execute. I write rambling emails backing out. I apologize sloppily under the moonlight, as if drunk on over-commitment. I hurt people. There’s no grace in it.

images (3)

I’ve been learning to grow things over the last year — my daughter, first and foremost, but also plants and trees that we share with our co-housing community. Louise is the garden guru in our little community, and she’s been showing me how to trim back the bougainvillea and layer leaves into the compost and pick the artichokes before they explode purple. One of the first things she ever taught me was how to tend to the apple trees.

I was about halfway through my pregnancy, finally and noticeably carrying a creature in my belly rather than an extra layer of blueberry glaze donuts. It was a sunny Saturday and Louise — well into her 70s, willowy, and often wearing a t-shirt with some slogan of peace — showed me how each branch of the tree can only reasonably support two apples. You have to go, branch by branch, and pluck off little baby apples until every branch has only as much as it can support.

It felt sad to me at first, twisting off these hopeful little apples and dropping them into a bucket. They amassed quickly, collectively robbed of possibility by this big-bellied goddess of destruction lumbering her way along the front gate. I felt bad. But then I looked over and watched as Louise pruned without fanfare, gentle and direct. She had lived long enough to know that in order for some things to thrive, some things must die.

You say no so you can say yes. It’s sad in the way that all limitations are, but also liberating. You are human and finite and precious and fumbling. This is your one chance to spend your gifts, your attention, most importantly your love, on the things that matter most. Don’t screw it up by being sentimental about what could have been or delusional about your own capacity. Have the grace to acknowledge your own priorities. Prune and survive.

COURTNEY E. MARTIN is a columnist for On Being. Her column appears every Friday.

She is currently working on a book titled The New Better Off, exploring how people are redefining the American dream (think more fulfillment, community, and fun, less debt, status, and stuff). Courtney is the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network and a strategist for the TED Prize. She is also co-founder and partner at Valenti Martin Media and FRESH Speakers Bureau, and editor emeritus at Courtney has authored/edited five books, including Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, and Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women. Her work appears frequently in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Courtney has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and The O’Reilly Factor, and speaks widely at conferences and colleges. She is the recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics and a residency from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre. She lives with her partner in life and work, John Cary, in Oakland, and their baby girl Maya. Read more about her work at


reciprocity3So few of us understand that we cannot withhold from others, and not withhold from ourselves. Another way to put this is: what I wish for others, I wish for myself. The fastest way to change to manifest anything is to pray for that same thing not only for yourself but for everyone else who wants the same.

These words by Joan Chittister inspired me when I read them on Donna Henes’ Beliefnet blog.


Try Saying This

Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days:

“I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.”

If we said it to the sky,

we would have to stop polluting;
if we said it when we see ponds and lakes and streams,

we would have to stop using them as garbage dumps and sewers;
if we said it to small children, we would have to stop abusing them,

even in the name of training;

if we said it to people,

we would have to stop stoking the fires of enmity around us.

Beauty and human warmth would take root in us

like a clear, hot June day.

We would change.

                                                             Joan Chittister