I am so thankful to Danielle, who came through with another powerful recommendation. Katie had to cancel our first appointment due to illness and then we got some dates mixed up and then, on this day, a snow storm had come through and it was debatable whether or not my little car could make it down her road, but we finally made it happen. And what's interesting is that it felt like we were meant to meet today. We started the interview with a hug and chatted over a fresh cup of coffee and, within just seconds, Katie had made me feel very much at home. She and her husband Doug have created a very lovely space they call the Harmony House, which is home to drum circles and concerts and grief healing and Eric's tipi and many other powerful and lovely things, I am sure. She has a lovely and inspiring slogan, which I will try to remind myself of on a regular basis - "If you can envision it, you can create it."
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
I would say that I am a woman devoted to reaching out and fostering a sacred container of community in this place, Central Oregon. After many years in the corporate world and ten more years as a personal entrepreneurial coach, I kind of set that aside so that I could open up for the gathering of women - so I could really focus on that. I feel that I'm a medicine woman and a keeper of the wisdom. After 63 years walking on this planet, I feel that I can hold that sacredness.
What matters most to you?
A ritual and practice of meditation is paramount in my life. But the spark of life for me is speaking into the world the connection between the mind, the emotion, and the choosing of how we show up in the world. And it feels to me that so many of the challenges and hardships in peoples' lives is those that are stuck in the pattern of the experiences of their life. And coming to a place of resolve in that and healing in that and then being able to choose how they show up in the world is magnificent work. It's ancient work. And it's all about all of us remembering. And so that's my passion in life is to help others remember.
I think that a lot of hardships and challenges in the world in a life experience can be, if you're open to it, a place of recognition that it's really your teacher. And so, for me, second oldest of nine kids in a household where it was very difficult for my mom - she tried really hard but was in a lot of overwhelm. And so my self-ordained job was to step in in places where she needed a lot of help. That sort of moved me into a world of not connecting with myself but taking care of what was outside of me. In my early twenties I moved to Mount Shasta and lived there for seven years. It is a spiritual vortex. It is a magnificent place of healing and diving deep if one chooses. And had a beautiful teacher - a beautiful woman - her name was Christina Schnack, who really spoke into my life the sacred art of mastering change in my life. And what does that look like to bring our old patterns forward and be living triggered by our life experiences? And coming to a place of clarity and knowing. And so that was the beginning of that journey and that's been a lifelong quest. I truly believe it's not about arriving anywhere, but it's about being open to dive in and to look deeper. That started a real journey of deeper understanding for myself and seeking teachings and knowledge to help. And science around the mind and the emotion and releasing the patterns. That's been beautiful, beautiful work that's been my life's journey as an adult - is to tap into that.
What does community mean to you?
What a beautiful question. Let me just take you back to 16 years ago when my husband and I bought this property and built this home and built the beautiful studio slash logging shop - it's multi-dimensional. We sat here in this very room and discussed what it really meant to hold space in a sacred way and that we felt that we reclaimed this land and that we wanted to bring our hearts' meaning to it. So, we named this place the Harmony House. Our house concert series is the Harmony House concert series. The women that come on a monthly basis for women's sacred drum circle, they come to the sacred drum circle at the Harmony House. I've held many workshops. There's a sacred labyrinth here. When you come on the property - and I think you felt it - you know you arrived. It has that sense. At the end of a country lane with an 1100-acre ranch behind - we're just tucked into the woods here. And it's a place of healing and creativity. People come here to write songs and just be here and winter over in tipis. It's just been a beautiful experience to hold this place sacred as a container for the gathering. So we do ceremonies here - full moon, new moon, and then drum circles. The community of women is fairly far reaching - they come from Bend, Prineville, Madras, all around the Sisters/Redmond area. Women come once a month - 45,50 women is not a number that's unusual. Just to come to be in resonance with one another, to be in rhythm with the heartbeat of Mother Earth, to bring out the wildish and dance and drum and sing. It's a sacred time and it's powerful. And so the sense of community is this place, to me.
What do you think we mean to each other?
I think that when we strip away all the busyness and can look into the eyes of who is before you, finding love - it's about love. Because in my world, it's either love or it's fear. And if I'm motivated by love, I show up in the world differently. If I'm motivated by fear, I'm reacting to the world, I'm coping with the world, I'm doing all of those things that don't express love.
What then do we do with the fact that there are so many of us in fear right now because of our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, or because of where we were born?
Powerful question and I'm so glad you asked because the practices of coming to a place where we can access love means that we have to tend to our fear. And with every fear that's within the heart of man is a story that keeps the fear alive. So when we tend to that emotion that comes up - when we really tend to that, when we really take the time to understand that the mind clings to the stories and the stories cling to the emotion - that's what keeps it alive. It is a principle and a practice since Mount Shasta, when I stepped into the sacred art of mastering change, that I recognized that we could actually come to a place where we can choose love and let go of the fear. And it's a process. But we are in a time of awakening - deep awakening - and it's not gonna take everybody to wake up. There is a critical mass point where we come to a place where we move in this world in love. We get that sense of what Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King and so many others before us who made meaningful change in the world spoke from a place of love. So, it's proof that that is the energy that is so longing to be birthed and expanded in the now.
What is one's individual role in the overall fight against social injustice?
For me personally, it's recognizing what's in that fight. Because I think that we're all here, truly, to remember. To remember what this culture has so forgotten. Stemming from many, many, many generations before us that we're fighting amongst ourselves so we cease to really see the elephant in the room. And that's, I think, something that there is so much polarity and there's so much looking sideways - what we really need to do is be looking up. And to be moving in this collective we that says humanity forwarded by love and compassion for one another is what's gonna get us through this. 'Cause we are stuck in a world of not seeing through the quagmire of things that - to my way of thinking - don't really matter as much as it's an old history and it's an old story. And that's not to diminish that. It says - once again, my precepts are - tend to it. And it is not about what we fix outside of ourselves. It's always an inner-personal journey. It's always the work within. And if we are all doing that work and finding what forgiveness really means in the world, which is not to exonerate, pretend it didn't happen, shove it down, not look at it - that's not forgiveness. Forgiveness - the literal Greek translation of the word to forgive - is to let go. And I would ask you, To let go of what? And for me, to let go of the stories that keep the energy alive around the resentments and the hate and the bitterness and the division, the divisiveness of this country. If we look at it from a personal place and when we shift, we make a shift in the world - the world changes. And I believe that is true from my heart to yours. When I change me, my environment changes. And if we are all seeking that level and showing up in love, the world will be a different place. And again, it's not that the whole word has to do that. There is a critical mass. That light is gonna shift this thing in a big way. So I hold to the hope that my beliefs could possibly be true. I've seen it one by one in the women that I serve in the drum circle and private clients that come for energy work and for conversation - I see it. I see that expansive aha! moment when letting go after we've tended to the grief and the anger and all of those emotions that contract us. 'Cause what we need to do is expand. And that's from the lens of love and compassion and joy and peace and choosing how we show up in the world.
What do you want more of in your life?
Wow. That's such a deep question because I'm clicking through all of the grace and beauty and love and connection that's in my life and I feel like all of it continuing to expand this work of coming alongside others to help them heal, to help them take a heartfelt internal look and then make changes in their lives - I just want to continue to expand that opportunity and do all that I can in this community to foster that.