The Radicalization of the Soul

There come these moments in life when you just have to look yourself in the mirror–right into your own eyes–and ask, “Am I really willing to fucking do this?” And you have to listen when your eyes say yes, put on your big girl panties, and thicken your skin. Because the shit that your soul wants doesn’t come easily. It comes with pain. It comes with controversy. It comes with misunderstandings and bullshit. But you somehow know that it’s all happening because you’re bumping up again a system. You’re bumping up against the beast. You’re bumping up again the thing you’ve waited your whole life to change.

You were born for this. This is why you live.

So fucking live.


I Want You

Last night, I snuggled my nephew Gehrig as he fell to sleep. At one point, I whispered to him that I was going to my own bed. He rolled over, wrapped his arms around my neck, pulled me close and whispered, “But Auntie Annie, I want you.”

It was so sweet. So pure.

No neediness. No clinginess. No angst. He simply wanted me. Me. There with him.

I stayed with him a while longer until he fell to sleep. Then I moved to my bed across the room and went to sleep myself, filled with love for this sweet little guy.

I woke up this morning and read the news. You know how that can be. Another black man shot. Another group of people afraid of Trump. Another bombing. Another this. Another that. Another “Fuck!” Another “Oh my God.” Another “What can I do?”

Yesterday, my friend was a victim of racism in “post-apartheid” South Africa. He was strong and proud, and he said “NO. This shall not be.” He said no to judgement. He said no to inequality. He said no to poor treatment. He wants equality, respect, and freedom.

That same friend told me today that he misses reading my blogs. He wants my words. He wants me to share.

And so I’m sharing.

I’m sharing that I want you, black men—that you and your lives are important to me and that I will fight to keep you safe and alive.

I’m sharing that I want you, women of color—that I see who you are and that I will fight for the removal of your shackles.

I’m sharing that I want you, immigrants—that I want you to survive and thrive and that I will fight for your freedom.

I’m sharing that I want you, activists disappeared by the state—that i treasure your contribution and that I will fight for your justice and cause.

I’m sharing that I want you, Muslims—that I see your faith and that I will fight for your protection, distinction, and honor.

I’m sharing that I want you, child soldiers—that I see your innocence and that I will fight for your healing and freedom.

I’m sharing that I want you, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered, and queers—that I am your ally and that I will fight for your rights, security, and protection.

I’m sharing that I want you, people living in poverty—that I see your struggle and that I will fight for your wealth, your health, and your security.

I’m sharing that I want you, powerful women—that you are strong, intelligent, and necessary.

I’m sharing that I want you, powerful men—that you are valued, treasured, and important.

I’m sharing that I want you, powerful children—that you are wise, protected, and free.

I’m sharing that I want you humanity—that I want you to emerge from the hate, the fear, the murder, and the rape, and to wrap your arms around us.

We want you, humanity.

We want you, love.

We want you, equality.

We want you, global health.

We want you, global security.

We want you, global freedom.

We want you.

We want.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose





Honoring the Mystical

I want to pause for a moment to honor the mystical.

I want to honor the messages and the passageways.

I want to honor the stones, the candles, and the relics.

I want to honor the ancestors and the spirit guides.

I want to honor the secret code of nature that reveals itself in our presence.

I want to honor the space beneath the skin.

I want to honor the space outside the brain.

I want to honor the awareness around the root, the solar plexus, the heart, and the crown.

I want to honor the moments of serendipity when life reveals itself to be okay.

I want to honor the sacred words that whisper themselves in our ears.

I want to honor the power of the hug, the kiss, and the touch.

I want to honor the deepest unknown that is profoundly known.

I want to honor the closings, the openings, and the revealings.

I bow to the mystical and the gifts it brings, the life it keeps, and the awareness it expands.

Thank you, mystical, for being.


From a sacred crevice in your body

A bow rises each night

And shoots your soul into God.



In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

Surfing with Dolphins

Today I saw dolphins while I surfed.

The first sight of them is always magnificent. First I see fins, and then I see the arches of their bodies as they move in unison through the water.

When they appear, most surfers, it seems, stop, point, and look on in wonder.

I told my husband as we left the water that no mater how many times I see dolphins, they always surprise and delight me.

I wonder what it is about them?

And how do I bring that into my everyday life?

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

P.S. A little story (since I am a storyteller): I was once waiting for waves in the ocean when a pod of dolphins swam by. One came just 5 feet away from my board. It paused, rolled over, and looked right at me with its eye. I looked at it, and we had a moment. I was so in madly in love, I could hardly breathe. We were so present…so connected…so free. After a few minutes, it rolled back over and gently glided away.


Make Magic. Give a Hug.

Last night I dreamed that I was at an event with a group of friends. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and I saw that a line had formed in front of an old man. He was African, in his 80s, and wearing a long, dark green robe. He had a dark green turban wrapped around his head and a huge smile on his face.

Everyone was lining up to give him hugs. I stepped in line and watched him hug people, one by one. When it was my turn, I wrapped my arms around him, settled my head into his chest and thought, “I’m going to send him so much love.”

I could feel his love return to me and we both held on tighter and started lifting off the floor. At that point, I became aware that I was dreaming (called a lucid dream), and I consciously put more love into the hug. I knew this was a visit from an ancestor or spirit guide, and I knew it was for my healing. As we lifted away from the ground, we laughed and laughed. I felt energy (tingles) throughout my body, especially in my heart and root chakras. We eventually drifted down, and we both said thank you with our eyes.

My dreams after that were downright weird (think hard-spraying hoses, cats of mine who have been dead for years, television sets that were actually stages for plays, and chocolate chip cookies sitting on lit burners in the refrigerator. Yes, I’m busy analyzing today), but this one left me thinking of the magic of hugs.

Hugs are gracious expressions of intensive magic. They connect people. They reveal people’s humanity. They infuse interactions with kindness and care. Giving good hugs is a powerful art, and one we can use for healing at all levels.

I’ve enjoyed amazing hugs in my life. One of my favorite hugs arrived when I was walking through a township in South Africa. A woman walked out of a school, walked down the sidewalk, literally grabbed me and pulled me into her, and laughed as she hugged me. I hugged her back and cried. Then, as soon as it had started, it was over, and she left. We never spoke a word.

Another one of my favorite hugs arrived on my recent trip to Kenya. A fellow-participant in our course walked up to me and asked if he could give me a hug. Being a hug-enthusiast, I of course said yes. We put down our things, and we hugged. He wrapped his arms tightly around me, and I could feel his love. That hug led to the beginning of our friendship. It grows in depth everyday.

Then there are all of the other great hugs. I am lucky to be surrounded by great huggers. When I hug someone and they hug me, I feel safe, held, and known. I feel like everything is ok. Pretty rad for something so simple.

So what makes for a great hug? I thought about this on my morning walk, and here’s what I came up with. In great hugs:

  • People soften into each other. When I hug someone, I let my body soften and drift into theirs. As I feel them do the same, I let my body soften more to meet them. Great huggers, I think, give each other this gift of melting into one another. They meet each other, melt, by melt, until they’ve drifted into one body held together by arms.
  • The hugger listens. They “listen” to what the other person needs, and they hug accordingly. They pay attention. They notice if the person needs a tight hold or a gentle one. They notice if the person needs a hand on their back or the back of their head. They notice if the person needs soothing touch or just to be held. They notice when it’s time for the hug to start and time for the hug to end. If you want to give someone a great hug, listen to their signals and give them exactly what they need. If you’re not sure what they need, ask them.
  • The hugger breathes. A great hug is a bit like holding an awesome yoga pose. You’re present. Paying attention. Being intentional. Holding your body in a particular shape. Just as you don’t want to be rigid in yoga, you don’t want to be rigid in hugging. You want to breathe into the hug. Let go. Release. Soften. At the same time, be there. Be present. Be strong in your love for the person being hugged.
  • The hugger infuses the hug with love and selfless intention. When I hug people, I do it for them. It ends up being wonderful for me too, but I pay attention to what they need, and I send them love. I give them a hug as a pure gift—one that does not extract obligation or require exchange. I hug someone until the intention is fulfilled, and then I let go. People can sense, whether consciously or not, whether a hug is a hug or someone holding on for selfish reasons. People can also sense when a hug’s moment has ended and the hug itself has not. Hug it out and let it go.
  • The well-practiced and present hugger can generate presence and intention in any moment of a hug. Let’s say someone gives this hugger a hug, and he or she can sense that the hug is selfish or not conscious. He or she can use their masterful hugging skills to infuse the interaction with exactly what it needs. Maybe the “selfish” person needs extra attention or to know that they are held. Maybe they don’t know what they need or how to ask for it. The present hugger can work with that and infuse the interaction with love, intention, and purpose. Hugs give us an opportunity to come out of our own worlds and into the worlds of others. This is where the magic happens.

Hugs are funny because they’re somewhere between a handshake and sex. Have you noticed that? I think we sometimes think that if we hug too intimately, we’re essentially having sex with someone. In some ways, that’s true. When we hug authentically, we make love to another person. We connect our bodies and we say with our hearts, “I love you and I’m here with you.” That’s a bit like making love, isn’t it?

But it’s not intercourse. It’s not an invitation into bed. It’s not an invitation into penetration. It’s an exchange of love and presence.

Perhaps because of a hug’s intimacy, we sometimes give bullshit hugs. We hug with one arm or with lots of distance between our bodies (I’m all of a sudden concerned about all of you reading this who give those kinds of hugs. I don’t mean to call your hugs bullshit. It’s just that they’re more like full body handshakes than hugs, that’s all). We bring people close but we don’t let them in. We give them our bodies but not our heart’s.

And that makes sense. Hugs are intimate. Hugs make connections. Hugs start relationships. Hugs are magic, and magic is crazy-making (in the best of ways).

Let’s all give more hugs. Let’s connect ourselves with others and let ourselves be seen.

In love and hugability,

Annie Rose

Paddling Out to Sea

When I first learned to surf, my husband taught me how to read the waves. We’d sit for hours, sometimes on shore and sometimes at sea, watching waves and observing their timing and tendencies.

The best way to learn about waves, of course, is to get in them—to paddle through and over them, dive beneath them, be tossed and turned by them, and, in moments of sheer delight, connect with and ride them.

Sometimes, when I catch a wave and paddle back out to sea, I get caught in a set of waves. This means that I stop paddling, ditch my board (letting it remain connected only by its leash), and dive under each wave until the set passes. Sometimes I dive under fourteen or fifteen waves before a break arrives. At that point, I grab my board and paddle out before the next set arrives.

When I’m caught in a set, I sometimes find the wave’s sweet spot and get sucked right through. Other times, I don’t dive deep enough and the wave has its way with me. I get caught in its cycle, and it wrestles me toward shore, spitting me out when it’s done with me. In those moments, I have less air, less orientation, and next to no control.

I’m caught in a set of waves right now, and I’m looking for the sweet spot. Sometimes I find it, and sometimes I’m gulping for air. Sometimes I’m sucked right through, and sometimes I’m pummeled.

But here I am, paddling out to sea. I don’t have to do that. I can choose to enjoy the safety of shore. But that’s not my lot in life. My life is in the ever-changing sea.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose


I’m going through what feels like something big right now. For the last decade or more, I’ve been huffing and puffing in the realm of personal growth and development. I’ve been cultivating who I am in love and relationships and exploring who I am as an identity and human being. In all of that time, I never fully explored my relationship to money and earning money, and I never really dug into how I might make money AND be exactly who I am.

So here I am, very evolved in the area of love and relationships and a bit underdeveloped in the realm of career. I’ve enjoyed lots of great adventures over the years and I think I know to a great extent who I am at my core. But I have no idea what my contribution is in the realm of career or how to earn the living I’m now ready to earn.

I knew at the beginning of this year that I would be exploring this. I didn’t know it would be so fucking uncomfortable. It turns out I have my career and how I earn income collapsed with my self-worth and purpose for living. I feel very worthy and purposeful when I’m not focused on money; and I feel very unworthy and purposeless when I am focused on money. The logical solution here is to not focus on money, but that’s not what I want. I want to be free. I want to focus on money and feel worthy and purposeful. I just don’t know how to get there.

So I’m diving in. I’m exploring what feels like a beast. I’m going to devote myself to this as I once did to love and relationships and see what is revealed.

Wish me luck.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose



I could reflect on the beauty of my walk for days, but I want to start integrating what I learned into my everyday life. I want to start verbalizing and embodying my experiences.

And so I will attempt to do so…

I learned a lot about participating as part of a group.

I sometimes resist community. It feels messy and risky to me. I’m afraid of disappointing others, and I often think I have to be someone I’m not to keep others happy and comfortable.

I resist what I think being a part of a community brings: obligation and drama.

Given my relationship to community, I imagined I would walk and eat alone on my Camino and occasionally connect with kindred spirits. I pictured myself acting independently.

That rarely happened. As I wrote in my journal the first day: “Apparently it is impossible to escape community.”

I met my first walking mate the moment I stepped off the bus in Irun, the first city on the walk. I met many more over the next several days, and I quickly became a member of a six-person family. We spent eleven days together, walking, eating, and looking out for each other. We even took a family portrait together. We called ourselves “la familia.”

On day twelve, I left la familia. I needed to change the dynamics, and I felt it was time to walk alone. I told la familia at the end of a long day that I was leaving them. We hugged. I cried. They stopped to eat and sleep; I walked on.

I walked independently for the next week or so. I met several amazing people, but I always bid them farewell at the end of a section, meal, or evening. I engaged with people, but I moved on and maintained my individual freedom. I walked alone during the days and enjoyed many meals while reading a book or sitting outside, just me and the birds.

While I was alone, I started hearing rumors that a woman on the walk had disappeared. People started warning me to not walk alone. Having heard such warnings before, I brushed them off, not wanting to make a big deal out of something that was potentially nothing. However, I eventually read the news and saw that a woman had indeed disappeared and that numerous others had been attacked. I knew it was time to once again find community.

It took me a few days to do so. I didn’t want to walk with just anyone—I wanted to walk with people who felt good—who felt right. I therefore continued to walk on my own. As I walked through remote forests, I sometimes imagined what I would do if I was attacked. I imagined how I would quickly throw off my backpack and where I would run. I had more than a few jumpy moments as I heard rustling in the bushes or saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Thankfully, however, my nervousness quickly subsided and I enjoyed what would be my last few days alone.

In a tiny village called Bodenaya, I met my next family. Bodenaya had a community-oriented alberque, and we all had to eat together, commune together, and wake together. None of us acted independently—all of us connected over food, conversation, and wine. The people I met in that tiny village became my partners for the rest of the walk and my family for life. We walked together, cried together, talked together, ate together, laughed together, and took care of each other. We sometimes walked alone, but we always tracked one another. We waited for each other at restaurants, tricky parts of the trail, and moments when we had multiple options for places to stay. We became each other’s people.

A particular day on my journey with my people stands out. I was on my period and had a horrible cold. I was miserable, and I had to walk 17 miles without a place to rest, use the bathroom, or eat food. My friend Mike and I stuck together that day, and I remember walking behind him silently. I was watching his feet and telling myself that all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other like he was. Mike granted me the gift of silence and lovingly handed me tissues and rolls of toilet paper to handle my ever-dripping nose. He patiently waited while I peed in fields and kindly encouraged me to keep moving. Upon reflection, it was one of the most beautiful days of my life, even if it was full of suffering and challenge. It was beautiful because of community.

On another day, my friend Juan Luigi stopped and waited for me. When I caught up to him, he told me he had stopped to protect me from a huge bull. We walked nervously past the bull, holding onto each other as we moved through thick fog along a thin trail lined by a steep drop. His kindness and desire to protect me still move me.

A few days later, my friend Marco and I arrived at an alberque. All of the beds were taken with the exception of one. He gave the bed to me, and I gave him my pillow and blankets. We moved the dining room table and made him a super comfy bed on the floor. We took care of each other and made the most of the situation. We laughed and bonded as we created our places to sleep.

I had equally simple and beautiful moments with each of the other people in our group and numerous other I met along the way.

I completed El Camino with my people. On our last day, we walked to our final destination in joy and tears. We hugged and congratulated each other and made plans to meet that night. We briefly parted ways.

I went to pick up my dad and father-in-law from the train station (they had been traveling in Spain and were meeting up with me). I was so happy to see them, and I felt incomplete without my group. Later that night, when the three of us walked into the restaurant to meet my group, they applauded our arrival. Then, true to the spirit of the Camino, 100 or so strangers joined them. The entire room erupted in joyous applause. We smiled and bowed. My dad and father-in-law got to witness and experience the power of Camino community firsthand.

In quite perfect timing, I just received an email from Mike, my friend who walked me through that hard day. He wrote to say hello and to check in on me.

This is what we do! I love my people. (Mike, by the way, turned 72 on our walk, and our group gave him a beautiful birthday party, complete with dinner, dessert, presents, and songs.)

I could write about this forever, but obviously I won’t.

So here’s what I learned and what I now declare:

  1. I can be exactly who I am in community.
  2. Who I am and who others are is a contribution.
  3. My community supports me in living life fully, being happy, and being safe. My community loves me, holds me, and protects me. I love, hold, and protect my community.
  4. I get to choose who is in my community. I can love everyone, but I do not have to include everyone in my intimate circle. I can choose who I walk with in this life, and I get to do so with joy and intention.
  5. My people are my people, and they live throughout the world. My people is a group that grows and flourishes every day.
  6. It’s okay to leave community behind. Sometimes doing so is the perfect choice.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

La familia

La familia

Some of la familia

Some of la familia

Me the moment after I left my first family (I walked 28 miles that day!)

Me the moment after I left my first family (I walked 28 miles that day!)

The first person I met and walked with for an afternoon during my independence walk.

The first people I met and walked with for an afternoon during my independence walk.

The alberque in Bodenaya where I met my second family

The alberque in Bodenaya where I met my second family

Juan Luigi and the giant bull

Juan Luigi and the giant bull

Me. Marcos, and Mike the night we made Marcos' bed on the floor

Me. Marcos, and Mike the night we made Marcos’ bed on the floor

Keiu, Marcos, and Mike

Keiu, Marcos, and Mike

Mike on his birthday. Tereza made him a head-wreath with wildflowers

Mike on his birthday. Tereza made him a head-wreath with wildflowers

Us celebrating Mike's birthday

Us celebrating Mike’s birthday

Some of my group at our final dinner in Santiago de Compostella (the night of the applause)

Some of my group at our final dinner in Santiago de Compostella (the night of the applause)

My dad and Len in Santiago de Compostella

My dad and Len in Santiago de Compostella

Mike and me. Can you tell we love each other? :-)

Mike and me. Can you tell we love each other? 🙂