C8C8741B-E991-4174-9454-4580A00C13A6National Writing Month DAY 17:
(Word Count: 956)

“I began the new year with skin exposed to sheets of rain
and trust exposed to the elements—an apprenticeship to vulnerability.

A break up, a break out, a break down, a break in.

I suspected a master craftsman lived within me, soothing a tenderfoot’s tender heart, pierced with perceived ruin. One of those end-of-the-world moments. It’s often the end of the world as we know it. And then…the new one.

I pitched a tent under a semi-shelter of long redwood limbs. The rain and tears came in buckets for days and nights without end. Then colors returned.

For the moment, I was dry. But I found there’s no protection for my heart because there’s nothing to be protected from.

What did I know already that I didn’t want to know? That I was scared to know? At some point I knew my heart could hold it all and more. And much more. It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times since.

On day 3 my fear dissolved in the coming clouds, knowing once again that water rolls through a parched land as tears fall as rain. On day 4 and 5 my pain became a glorious lotus bloom.

I had forgotten—Love will always be bigger than fear—and then I remembered. And then forgot again and then remembered—this is the dance.

It’s the same trust that sees even the darkest shadows radiate like a beacon signaling home—My own and others.

On day 6 I vowed to keep cracking—to meet the lightning bolts hidden on the magenta horizon as my long-lost best friend.

Oh how we missed each other.

On day 7 I walked back to town, to the beat of my heart.”
For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie


8B0CE8D6-179F-46AC-AC7E-41F99EB9609ANational Writing Month DAY 7:

Then clouds appeard from every direction, merged, climbed, surrounded, hugged the crevices everywhere. I can see only maybe 25 yards in any direction—can’t even see the ridgeline, nor back down to camp or Heart Lake. I’m socked in here. It seems the mountain has plans that are not “mine”.

I lie on a chunk of mountaintop in between snow patches and recall the words of David White, in his poem Tilicho Lake, ‘In this high place, it is as simple as this, Leave everything you know behind, Step toward the cold surface, say the old prayer of rough love, and open both arms. Those who come with empty hands will stare into the lake astonished there, in the cold light reflecting pure snow, the true shape of your own face.’ And I start to cry. Some of the reasons I know why, but mostly I don’t know. And my tears keep falling and falling, until they are left like a lake on the mountain, along with everything I thought I knew.”

For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—each unlike anyone else’s story. What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery with you. #mywildnatureheartstory

(Word Count: 1670)

My Wild Nature Heart story

D3DEBFB8-3381-4916-8781-2E449F549D73November is National Novel Writing Month. And while I write a lot, especially poetry, every November I let go by without seizing the opportunity to push my story forward. And I am sitting on mountains of stories.

Until my friend and business partner Katie challenged me and herself to tell our wild nature heart stories. And not only that, but to make it public and share on our Wild Nature Heart channels glimpses of our process and progress. We asked each other: do you dare to show up on the page with the truth of your own story?

And we answered, “Yes!”

And so, in the spirit of council circle, and for the love of the juicy particularities of individual stories and the universal mythos they are held in, I am stepping forward in the challenge. And while I often tell my soul stories through poetry, writing a long-arc narrative is a very different enterprise and I am excited to do it!

So here’s what’s happening: We each (@ryanreturntotheearth & @katie.baptist.1) signed up for @nanowrimo, with the aim to complete rough drafts of the memoirs we’ve been meaning to write for a long time. In many ways these are the back stories for the work we do at Wild Nature Heart, and why we care about it so much.

Throughout November I will be posting updates here on Rumi and the Shadow and my social media channels, and we will do our best to each post on our Instagram and Facebook feeds our word counts, plus a juicy phrase or two capturing our latest writing session. You won’t see the stories in their entirety until they’re ready, but we will be offering  little glimpses as a way to include you in our process, so you know more about who we are, and we hope that by December 1st you will be begging to read more!

Looking forward to sharing this journey into vulnerability & self-discovery with you!
Thank you!


Not At Home

EBAE6DE5-97DE-4E48-BA11-974908711FB0This is an atypical poem for me, experimental and a vulnerable one. It describes part of a seminal event as a teenager, when I began forming a false identity out of pain of abandonment, one too much ruled by anger and smallness, and skewed towards intellect—thereby abandoning myself, beginning the habit of inhabiting false homes and stories. One that took me another 3 decades to understand and transform—so I could finally come home to true self.

When you wake up in a locked room
with a red eye camera on you
on a chain-link window morning
you know you’re not at home

When the only mirrors are
strangers’ faces sterile
asking you what you did wrong
to “get in here”
you know you’re not at home

No, you can’t look in the bathroom mirror
for there are none
in which you might break
and use the shards
to tattoo graffiti
on your arm
or carve out slices
of your wrist
bleeding your life
onto the anti-septic floor
or stab a nurse in the neck
you don’t know why

So you can’t look
in a mirror
to see if you still exist
so you have to take the word
from the eyes
of the Professionals
who know you are
a problem.

But problems
at least exist.

You wish it were…
…a swimming unit
a backwoods unit
an ice-skating unit
a Christmas unit
a grandma’s cake unit
a fishing unit
a cornfield unit
a tree house unit
a VCR with Star Wars unit… but it’s just a psychiatric unit
a goddamn it unit
a prison unit
a question mark unit
a kill me unit
a kill you unit
a break out unit
a breakdown unit

and you know you’re not at home.


Down to the Skin at Last

F6493E87-7B38-4127-83EB-519B4997775BSplash of red, bring me a tortoise head.

Open the blessed spiral once again
and spread unguaged, unmeasured.

Weeds need not outgrow me yet.

The light with sweetness conquer
The dark, with song.

You can’t catch raven,
so join his club.

Not all your preposterous belongings
need a witness
but all need watering–Drink!

Holy, you there, the stone in you
inclined and breathing out the sighs unsized–
mark this moment, it heeds you well, saying:

Begin with wind, end with the sea.

Down to the skin at last.

The Biggest Circle Holds All the Parts

desert sun2Bees buzz and dragonflies dance
as the wolf howls call us into circle

We settle in to be unsettled
vulnerable to the rising eastern sun
and the gaze of others
Witnessing our unfolding stories
spiraling in towards the truth
that is ours alone to claim

arriving at our target
like an arrow of Artemis

no longer invisible
we become curious about what
sacred nuggets and rose-scented revelations
come pouring out of our heart-mouths
into the Inyo

The sun keeps chasing us, saying:
“You can’t hide anymore”

But it can rain at any time,
and sometimes it is rainy and sunny
at the same time
in the weather systems of our soul

And now: we show up
to take our places on the land

in gratitude and yearning
in celebration and commitment
marking the next unfurling
of that place within ourselves
which is none other than
taking our true place in the world

We bring but our gift of tears
of grief and joy
and ears to hear
what is already here

The land speaks with us
and through us
because we are not separate

we do not believe the Big Lie

The land speaks through us:

as an earth poem that unlocks hearts
as a log we carry home in love
as a bird with whom we whistle, saying, “Pay attention”
as an exquisite trust in the Beloved, the Great Mystery
as the scent of a burnt tree
and paw prints in the dirt, tracking them back to the Source
as a rabbit dancing with love and fear
as gnarled roots we love
as an ever-emerging tree being seen
as an unmatched sunset, saying goodbye with a squeeze of the hand
as honey in the rock that cracks open
as a consuming fire that forgets what it once was

as a mid-day sun stretched between the horizon of elation
and the horizon of desperation,
taking a Sacred Pause

knowing IT IS ENOUGH

Because the land holds us

all the parts
all the parts
all the parts