[Self Discovery] Embrace Your Authentic Spirit Through Shadow Work

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 51

To be on a constant quest of self discovery is the most human thing there is, and it seems like for the past year and a half we’ve all been thrust into the soul searching world of personal development – whether we’ve wanted it or not. With the societally imposed downtime that COVID and quarantine have given literally all of us, it’s been the perfect occasion to dive deep and discover your unique truths. In my personal quest to appreciate, understand and evolve – I’ve found that it’s not always easy to love myself completely, in my entirety; for all my cracks and flaws, all of my shadows, have given me moments of pause, potentially even moments of discomfort.

In my darkest times, it felt disheartening; as if I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did. A walk of emotional shame from an expectation hangover, where I was picking up bread crumbs to skeletons in my mental closet that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. It wasn’t until I fully committed myself to shadow work that I understood how fundamental it is to not only address the places within me that contain resistance, and parts of me that have been hurt in the past – but how I can hold space for those memories, observe them from a birds eye view, and then create a kinetic, positive feedback cycle to replace my old thought patterns.

Shadow work has helped me overcome my imposter syndrome, and catalyze a newfound growth in self confidence. But more than that, shadow work has helped me love myself in my entirety – and that’s something I haven’t had in a good, long time. So, let’s dive in and understand what it’s is all about, and maybe (hopefully!) shadow work can help you as much as it’s helped me.


“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” 

Nietzsche

So, what exactly is shadow work? It’s a hot topic, a buzzword you’ve probably heard tossed around more times than ever in the past year – especially if you’ve dabbled in yoga, meditation or the transformation communities.

If you’re familiar with the philosophy of yin and yang, then the principles of shadow work will feel like a lightbulb moment; a modicum of thinking that we’re now able to put a name on. We all, as individuals, have an ego, a side of ourselves that we consciously display to the world, as well as ourselves. It’s the side of us that we’ve been constantly mastering our whole lives – building it up, and tearing it down wherever we’ve seen fit. As true as we can be to ourselves, there are things that we repress, resent and shudder away from that are true to who we are; there are facets of our personalities that we brush under a rug or hide in a closet in the corner of our mind. That is what creates the ego – the shadow of the ego is, in a way, the entire contents of that closet. It’s what happens when you take your demons out and acknowledge them as a gestation of your being just as much as the events or memories worn proudly on the sleeve of your soul.

The shadow self, then, contains all the parts of us that the ego eclipses; parts that go unseen to the conscious, or awakened, mind. It’s our unexplored; our uncharted waters and undiscovered emotional depths. Stemming from Jungian psychology, the shadow encompasses traits, feelings and emotions that are ‘unknown’ to an individual either through active or passive repression. If we are balls of clay, and society is molding our ego into the personality we externally display – our shadow side is the culmination of all those chisels into our soul. Negative experiences, expectations, interactions – if we are unable to deal with them as they are when they occur, they build up into our shadow self bit by bit.

“There is nothing scarier than facing the deepest realms of ourself, but there is also nothing more rewarding than that”


To commit to ‘shadow work’, then, is to do the mental and emotional ‘homework’ to bring your shadows into the light and out of the darkness; by acknowledging yourself as a dynamic presence, one that truly does contain multitudes, you’ll be infinitely closer to loving every fiber of your being as you authentically are. You’ll discover incredible personal growth because you’ll be able to see yourself for all that you are to the point that scars of the past will become tattoos and stories to muse over. While doing the work, it’s important that you really hold space for yourself and your growth as you re-experience dissonant events with new eyes – and remember, the point is to uncover discomfort, so be kind to yourself along your path into the light.

There are some fabulous creators out there who have done wonders to create templates and journal prompts for this very task, here are a few of my favorites:

[Unrefined Prose] 50 Shadow Work Journal Prompts to Help You Realize Your True Potential

[Seeking Serotonin] 31 Days of Shadow Work Journal Prompts For Healing, Self-Awareness & Growth

[Scott Jeffery] A Definitive Guide to Jungian Shadow Work: Shadow Work Exercises

My personal recommendation is to get a journal for shadow work and self reflection; it’s a calming and cathartic way to compartmentalize, and put to bed some feedback cycles and habits that I’ve held onto and the perfect litmus test for my temporal dexterity. But for all it’s worth, you could grab scrap paper or type it into the notes application on your phone. The important part here is that you do the work, not how you do the work.

I’m in much more of a mental flow state once after getting my mindset right – that includes yoga, breathwork, meditation or some combination of the three. For you, it might be as simple as right after your shower or after a good workout. If I have time in the morning before work, I’ll try and sneak follow it up with a gratitude prompt; but, if there isn’t an open chunk of time for my mental gymnastics, then I’ll use this as a wind down activity late at night as I’m getting ready for bed.


Have you had a chance to delve into shadow work before? What are some tricks or tips that have helped you embrace the totality of your being and process your past trauma? Drop me a line in the comments, looking forward to reading what y’all have found to be personally useful.

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”

— Carl Jung

The Shadow: what you do behind your own back |Jungian Analysis

[The Audiofiles] Catch Cautious Clay’s Debut Album ‘Deadpan Love’

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Though over time this blog has become has undergone as many iterations as I feel like I have, it’s original purpose – and the ever evolving gestation of my being – is music; sharing, enjoying, loving, grooving with, dancing to and discovering good music and fantastic artists. Over the past year, I think we can all agree that music has healing and saving properties and quite frankly I fucking miss going to see live music, letting the bass reverberate through your bones to the core fibers of your being.

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When the venues start reopening and concerts start flowing through – I already have a healthy list of new artists that I’ve had the pleasure of discovering over the the last year that I’m just itching to hear live. One of those artists is Cautious Clay and I’m so pumped that he’s finally releasing his first debut album Deadpan Love on June 25th.

Fusing blues, jazz, hip-hop and indie rock in a seamless manner – Cautious Clay curates a timeless air with his musical prowess while demanding your presence with deliberate and delicate vocals and lyricisms, evoking mature moods and complex emotions on a grand scale. Think Darius Rucker and Gary Clark Jr. meet Bloc Party, pull up a seat and lose yourself in the musical moments that he’s expertly curated.

A modern day musical hat trick of production, singing and songwriting, Cautious Clay – otherwise known as Joshua Karpeh – is (currently) an independent artist hailing from Cleveland, Ohio; why’s that in quotes, you ask? Because after this EP I simply cannot see his talents going unsigned. If you think you recognize his voice, you just might – Cautious Clay has two songs with John Mayer under his belt, and had his phenomenal track ‘Cold War’ sampled on T-Swift’s ‘London’ Boy’. In addition to his own songwriting credits, Kareph has assisted on three songs on John Legend’s ‘Bigger Love’ album, in addition to Alina Baraz and Khalid’s single ‘Floating’.

For more on Cautious Clay, fly by his socials:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

For more new music, follow me on Hypem or check out my ever evolving playlist on Spotify for new June tunes.

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[Seattle Sights] Shoreline’s Best Kept Secret: The Kruckeberg Botanic Garden

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.’ — Frances Hodgson Burnett

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an affection for botanic gardens and the art of landscape gardening in general. For as much credit as both my mother, my step-mother – and now my mother-in-law – deserve for instilling this love inside me, there’s ample credit due to a few locations back home; from the lavish landscaping at Filoli Gardens to the expanse of parks at and around Stanford University, as well as the now defunct Roger Reynolds Nursery and school field trips to the original Sunset Gardens Headquarters in Menlo Park. I didn’t know it at the time, but my senses were spoiled rotten – and my admiration for the beauty of nature was born.

After moving to the Pacific North West, my husband and I started putting little lists together of places to explore at one time or another; swimming holes, sunset spots, and interesting hikes. Now, a few years in – we each have some excellent lists of parks, gardens, beaches and scenery to check out from the coast of Washington to the desert, the Columbia River to the Canadian Border. No matter how far away we get from home, admittedly the places I have the most fun exploring are just a hop, skip and a jump away in some hidden part of my neighborhood that’s been itching for adventurers.

Falling head over heels for both the Arboretum and the Seattle Japanese Garden, I went down the digital rabbit hole looking for other local spots worth exploring. First things first, I was pleasantly surprised and proud of myself to realize that I’d gone to most that were on the lists! I could check off the Kubota Garden, the SAG and Arboretum, Discovery Park, The Woodland Zoo’s Rose Test Garden. Immediately, the Blodel Reserve on Bainbridge Island skyrocketed to the top of my bucket list – but then another caught my eye: a garden in our zip code; the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden.

Tucked away in a small corner of Shoreline near Richmond Beach, the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden spans four acres of land, and boasts a blend of natives to the Pacific Northwest in additional to unusual exotics in a natural woodland setting. Founded in the 1950s by Dr. Arthur Kruckberg, a Professor of botany at the University of Washington, and his wife Mareen – a self taught botanist and enthusiast of all things flora and fauna. After purchasing the property in 1958, Mareen curated the first on site greenhouse for her rare plants in 1970, with a second coming just six years later. During this time of growth and evolution for the nursery, the rest of the grounds began to be expertly established. In 1998, a foundation was finally created to preserve their love of labor and just five years later, the garden was formally placed into a public trust to preserve it into perpetuity; it’s through Dr Arthur and Mareen’s love, legacy and dedication that we now can appreciate the wonderful gift of the Kruckberg Botanic Garden for generations to come.

Through their own collection of specimens, as well as a rich network of locations to exchange seeds with, their collection grew to contain everything from trees like the Giant Sequoia, Hemlocks, Spruces, Larches, Pines Maples and Oaks to flowering woodland plants like magnolias and rhododendrons, and to what my husband can only describe as ‘fern envy’ with a luscious undergrowth of vegetation around every turn. To boot, the Kruckberg Garden is home to a variety of State Champion trees (raise your hand if you knew that this was even a thing!), including a Tanoak, a Chokecherry and a lovely Striped Bark Maple.



For more on the history of the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, and insight into educational offerings through their nursery – head to their social media channels; if you’re in the area, pay them a visit and thank me later! The grounds are open Friday through Sunday from 10 to 5pm, and admission is always free; one of my favorite f-words!

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When’s the last time you stumbled upon a hidden gem in your neighborhood?

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Events and Tours | American Public Garden Association

[I’ve Got 5 On It] Step Up Your Home Gym Sessions

How to Set up a Home Yoga Studio — Simple Tips from Amy Ippoliti –  YogaOutlet.com

Rewind to two New Years Eves ago as I was dreaming up resolutions for 2020; I was getting into my groove of living in Seattle and was aiming pretty high. I wanted to go back to school to further my education, I was eager to make new friends in this new neighborhood in a new city, and get a gym membership and get back into some kind of athletic shape. Going back to school was easy, or at least on the easier side; sign up, show up to a digital learning environment, digest, regurgitate knowledge, repeat. Making friends was a bit more difficult, but I made do – forming closer bonds with the few friends I had that were local, and making friends with my new neighbors. So, last but not least – it was time to tackle my workout routine. Well, wouldn’t you know it but by the time I was ready to right my workout wrongs – COVID hit. Well, life hack: if you didn’t have a gym membership, you didn’t have to spend time cancelling it!

It did pose a new problem; when the gyms closed, I was left to my own devices. Good news – those devices included healthy limbs, running shoes, a yoga mat, and a few dumbbells. Fast forward to now, and my house has a punching bag, resistance straps, fitness bands, a balance board and so much more. For whatever I would have spent on a fitness membership, I transferred into having equipment of my own – and now I have a ‘no excuses’ gym in my own living room; and I’m here to tell you, you can have one, too!

As we inch towards vacations and social activity amongst the vaccinated, we’re all craving a Hot Girl Summer a la Megan Thee Stallion, and what better way than by leveling up your home gym game. For a full list of my favorite home gym products to level up your work out, check out my personal shopping list on Amazon. But for now, I’ve got five on it and have a good feeling these little home gym additives will get you to your six pack Summer without breaking the bank.


Yoga Mat


Ewedoos Eco Friendly Yoga Mat $28.95

Living in Los Angeles, it was only time before I fell in love with a local yoga studio. But once I moved to the Pacific North West, I stopped looking for one. Why? I found a great amount of resolve with Gaia and their vast array of yoga instructors, each with their own twists on poses and positioning.

Regardless of what style of yoga, how long you commit to your practice or what level you’ve reached – having a good yoga mat makes all the difference, especially on your joints. From headstands to meditation, and all the nuanced poses in between – having a good mat is the difference from a dedicated practice and not practicing at all.

The Ewedoos Eco Friendly Yoga mat is waterproof and easy to clean. Featuring sturdy gri and multiple guide lines for better posture as well as balance, Ewedoos mats are crafted from flexible Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE for short) which makes for durable, long lasting equipment.


Yoga Block Bundle


Heathyoga Yoga Blocks 2 Pack with Strap $19.99

Once you’ve got a good yoga mat, it’s only right that you get a few goodies to go with it to elevate your practice! Whether you’re a novice or dedicated to your practice, you’ll benefit so much from using blocks and straps for healthy stretching – and this set from Heathyoga is perfection.

Crafted with EVA foam, the pair of yoga blocks is moisture proof and non slip in addition to providing a bit of a cushion, even under heavy weight.

Coming in a bevvy of different colors, the yoga blocks are durable and flexible while providing the utmost support for perfect posture and your range of flexibility. Not to mention, having a strap in your arsenal makes even the most difficult poses feel doable!


Amazon.com : Mdikawe 53In-62In Adjustable Height Boxing Bag, Adult/Child  Training Boxing Suit, Quick Recovery Speed Ball, Standing Air Pump with  Base, Suitable for Fitness and Decompression. : Sports & Outdoors

Punching Bag


Mdikawe Punching Bag with Stand$49.99

After the last year, I doubt I’m the only person who just wishes they could hit something.

From the anti-vaxxers and the anti-maskers to the racists and the internet trolls, from fake news to terrible presidents and politicians spewing contemptuous levels of false vitriol, I can count on so many fingers the times I just wanted to punch a wall; I wanted to get my energy out in a fit of rage.

Now, thanks to having a punching bag in the house – I can get those feelings out whenever I want to in an incredibly constructive fashion.

This punching bag from the team at Mdikawe is adjustable, making it perfect for any age and any body height, featuring a durable speed bag that moves at lightning speeds.

The unit is highly responsive and quick as hell to install – perfect for improving overall fitness, in addition to your hand eye coordination.


Balance Ball


EveryMile Wobble Balance Board – $29.99

If I close my eyes and think about balance, I’m immediately transported back to my favorite yoga studio in Los Angeles, One Down Dog.

One morning as I was struggling through a practice, the instructor offered this bit of wisdom and it hits me all the time: our yoga practices mirror our relationship with the outside world; a flexible practice means exceptional your life – conversely, someone that finds balance easier in practice engages in better balance in their life as well. I am flexible, in my modes of communication and ways I choose to engage with the world. Unfortunately, I have terrible balance even standing on two feet! So, meet my newest best friend – the wobble balance board from EveryMile.

With a nearly 16″ no-skid surface, this portable balance board has a full 360° of rotation and a 15° tilting incline – paving the way for skillful stretches and improved dexterity. Target your core strength by playing around with one legged balance, or rehabilitate and recover from injury with improved muscle strength.


Resistance Bands


Kootek 18 Pack – $28

For your well rounded workout needs, snag this diverse set of equipment from Kootek and instantly step up your home gym with just one click. Whether you’re gunning for strength training, or want something to keep you on your toes during the work day – this package has you covered.

Last, but most certainly not least – this has been one of my favorite fitness purchases in the last year. Featuring ten different levels of strength training between the tube resistance bands and loop bands, you’ll also get ankle straps, handles, core sliders and a door anchor to ensure wherever you are, you can dive right into the workout your body needs.


Are you keen on heading back to the gym, or have you started to get your home gym into gear?
Am I missing something you love?


Let me know in the comments below!

[Self Discovery] Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Last weekend as I pawed my way through ‘The Voice of Knowledge‘, a cascade of thoughts started rotating through my head: what does my voice of knowledge lie to me about, how did I become my own biggest critic, what are inauthentic truths that I try and force on myself and how can I be kinder to my own mental space. As it turns out, what I was suffering from at that time is called imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome has kept me from raising my voice at important times, from trying my best at something I’m new at, and to be very honest – is what almost prevented me from writing this post to begin with; who did I think I was to try and explain imposter syndrome, why does it matter what my opinion is, and who the hell actually cares.


So, What Is Imposter Syndrome?

The psychological sibling of feelings like self-doubt, fears of failure and inadequacy, imposter syndrome is what prevents us from pursuing our dreams while instead reinforcing the idea that we are a living in a nightmare we have no control over. Though similar to feelings of low self worth and diminished self confidence, imposter syndrome is the continual feeling of rejection, or of being exposed as a fraud of sorts that doesn’t deserve their roses, no matter how well earned they truly are.

The Imposter Syndrome as a structural problem – Contemporary Issues in  Teaching and Learning

Imposter syndrome is the voice we have that refuses to acknowledge our wins – big or small, nagging us with ideas that we’re not good enough, that what we’ve gotten out of life has been by dumb luck and not our own doing, and that we are undeserving of any good that comes out of our life. Overwhelming and convincing, imposter syndrome pulls us away from our creativity and new ideas, while fortifying a negative feedback loop that screams we simply aren’t good enough and people will see through us to the hypothetical frauds we believe we have become.

Unfortunately, or fortunately – depending on how you choose to look at things – imposter syndrome is much more common than you think, and it’s synonymous with that pestilent ‘Voice of Knowledge’ that Ruiz refers to. Imposter syndrome seeps in when you move into new and novel realms of your life: from getting that new job, raise or promotion to releasing your creative genius into the world; I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been overcome by it at some point in their lives. The problem with imposter syndrome arrises when we use our psyche and ego as an excuse – we stop pursuing our growth and deny our human nature of evolution.

Own Your Success: Try These Tips to Overcome Impostor Syndrome | CCL

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Remember those cartoons when we were kids, with the angel on one shoulder and devil on another? If you live by your imposter syndrome – you’ve shut the good news out, and have been focusing on the negative for far too long; often forgetting that there’s a large part of you that loves yourself, respects yourself and wants to be heard. If you can’t get back to negotiating between the duality of these feelings, the least you can do for yourself is to shut down the pessimism and marinate in the art of being still. By acknowledging imposter syndrome and calling it out for what it is – we prime ourselves to reframe our mental space in a healthier fashion. If we can learn to adopt a growth mindset – we realize that as we negotiate with and move past what we are not, we reinforce the unique beauty of living as our authentic self. That might sound easier said than done, but I promise – it’s truly just as easy as trapping yourself in your negative emotions.

Imposter Syndrome : comics

At the end of the day, we are all the best at being ourselves; meaning that you are the one person in the world that is the best at being them. What we are not, however, is our emotions. We must learn to let them pass over us as clouds to our mental sky, they might cast a shadow – but we are not the shadow, we are the sky that wants to shine as bright as possible. When we listen to our imposter syndrome, we are choosing to not share the beauty of our true nature with the world. Instead of falling back into the feedback loop of imposter syndrome, try these mental tricks instead.

Let's destigmatize the conversation about impostor syndrome! - BioScope

For starters – be kind to yourself and the way you talk to yourself. Would you let a stranger talk to you the way you talk to yourself? If we come at our relationships from a point of love and understanding, we allow ourselves to hold space for our emotions in a more positive light. Start by writing yourself love notes and leave them around your home and office; remind yourself how amazing you are! Be able to separate what is fact from what you’re feeling; they are not the same but our minds are so strong that the two can become intertwined. Understand that to make a mistake is human, and to grow outside of your mistakes is divine.To win the mental war you’ve been waging against yourself, it’s just as important to win the smaller battles. Limit your time on social media; if comparison is the thief of joy, then Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are emotional burglars. They reinforce the attention economy, while taking time and joy – replacing them with feelings of gross inadequacy and depression. Compile a list of your tiny, day to day wins – and know that they’re just as fantastic as larger ones. Start working with a gratitude journal – my personal recommendation is the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal – or Spirit Animal Cards to establish more positive emotional pathways. It’s on us to ensure that our exterior world has our backs, and best intentions in mind – ensure your support system is full of positivity; we are the synthesis of the five closest relationships that we have – and chances our, they’ve felt a similar way – if we open the lines of communication, we can not only champion our own imposter syndrome but we can help others overcome theirs as well.

Do you recognize when imposter syndrome is setting in?
What tips and tricks have helped you bounce back to your authentic self?

Share some love in the comments below and let’s help each other be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

[Reading is Sexy] Understanding the ‘Voice of Knowledge’

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”

– Mortimer J. Adler

When a good book hits you with words you need to hear, it gives one pause and perspective; and often, a necessary shift in mood. For the last few months, I’ve been bouncing between a few books – but nothing that had truly immersed me into it’s literary universe until the other week when I bounded through the last pages of David Brin’s ‘Sundiver’; after several months of investing myself into the characters and plot twists, I had finally made it to the end, fully enthralled in Brin’s ‘Uplift’ sagas. After I make it through any work of fiction, I tend to re-set my mind with a book on the other end of the spectrum – like the natural sciences, psychology, mathematics, etc. As I started pawing my way through my bookshelves on Saturday morning, one popped out at me that I simply couldn’t put down: The Voice of Knowledge from the esteemed don Miguel Ruiz.

“You are alive, and you don’t need to justify your existence.
You can be the biggest mystery in your own story.”

― Miguel Ruiz

I’d read ‘The Four Agreements’ and ‘Mastery of Love‘ some years ago, and had apparently forgotten that I was in possession of the third in the series. If you’ve never heard of any of these before, you’re in for quite the treat. Now, you don’t necessarily have to have read his other books to jump into ‘Voice of Knowledge’, but having some rudimentary knowledge of his other materials provides a nice frame of reference to this one.

Inspired by the Toltec wisdom of his family line, don Miguel Ruiz implores his readers to open their eyes, minds and hearts to a healthier way of handling the world – the one we create inside ourselves, and the external world we live in. In ‘The Four Agreements‘, Ruiz implores on us that if we keep the four agreements in our hearts and in our heads, we will find that life is kinder to us – that the world around us vibrates at a loving frequency, and that we are more at peace with ourselves, more in love with our true nature, if we can establish these four agreements as a psychological baseline for how we interact with the world.

If we are impeccable with our word, we pave the way for concise and clear communication – both externally, and (this is the more important part) internally; being true to our own nature, allows others to be more authentic with us. By not taking anything personally, we don’t allow others to dictate our emotions through their actions (or, inactions). Without making assumptions, we deal with the world as it truly is – not an idealized version of it. Finally, always trying your best means you can wake up and go to sleep every day knowing that you did all you could to be you.

Within ‘The Mastery of Love’, we are reminded that the best way to have a fulfilling relationship is to build a relationship of love with yourself. Once we have acknowledged the need for the ‘four agreements’, the first person we must establish those with is in fact ourselves. By learning to respect ourselves with our own truths, we can embody the ‘Mastery of Awareness’; in becoming spiritual masters of our own realm, we immediately commit to the ‘Mastery of Transformation’. When these two masteries are combined, we engage with the full ‘Mastery of Love’

Finally, we meet ‘The Voice of Knowledge’ – and what an enlightening look at the way we deal with our own personal truths, and our own suffering. As society heads back into a ‘new normal’, I think it’s important to own, understand and hold space for our authentic selves – and reading the ‘Voice of Knowledge’ truly drove that home. When we remove the ego driven ‘voice’ of knowledge that we carry in our head, and commit to living the four agreements – we find a life based on respect, love and honesty. First, that involves respect, love and honesty with ourselves. Throughout the book, Ruiz implores on his readers that we need to be kinder to true nature, and revel in being ourselves.

We were all born with a childlike sense of wonder and amazement in the world, and overtime our personal narratives told us that we weren’t good enough as who we are at our core – from teachers, to family, to friends and strangers in between, each interaction with the world molds us into something we didn’t intend on becoming, and never were. The ‘Voice of Knowledge’ helps us dissolve the ideals placed on us by the world without us, as we start listening to our own spirit once again. We are with ourselves all of the time, it’s important to learn to enjoy that relationship with openness and honesty, and that begins with being honest with ourselves. As we discover our authentic voice, the one that we’ve learned to quiet over time because of the words and actions of others, we can start regaining our personal power and live our lives in truly touch with our spirit and soul.

Are there any books or authors that have helped adjust and shift your personal perspective on the world? Let me know in the comments below! For more on don Miguel Ruiz and his other fantastic books on Toltec wisdom, head to his website or social channels.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Good Reads

“You are divine, you are perfect, but as an artist,
you create your own story and you have the illusion that the story is real.
You live your life by justifying that story.
And by justifying the story, you are wasting your life.”
― Miguel Ruiz, The Voice of Knowledge

[Seattle Sights] Tranquility at the Seattle Japanese Garden

“The art of stone in a Japanese garden is that of placement. Its ideal does not deviate from that of nature.”

Isamu Noguchi

If you thought the Washington Park Arboretum was fantastic, meet it’s neighbor and kid sister – the Seattle Japanese Garden. Tucked away in a small corner of the Washington Park Arboretum, the Seattle Japanese Garden is host to some of most marvelously manicured walks, featuring beautifully landscaped arbors and a reflecting pond in the middle. According to local lore, the Seattle Japanese Garden is one of the finest Japanese-style gardens outside of Japan itself, and after one visit I can handedly see why – the attention to detail is exquisite, and their variety of specimens from the flora and fauna, down to the stone architecture and specific placement is impressively thought out, expertly designed.

Though the Seattle Japanese Garden isn’t the only Japanese Garden in the area, it’s easily the most gorgeous detailed and well thought out. Taking up a little over three acres, the Seattle Japanese Garden was first envisioned back in 1909; but, it wasn’t until the end of the 1950s, after World War II, that the garden started to really take shape – and became the first Japanese Garden in post-war construction on the West Coast of the United States.

Before we dive into the Seattle Japanese Garden, let’s take a little dive into the detailed qualities of a Japanese Garden! An ode to Shinto, Daoism and Amida Buddhist philosophies, Japanese Gardens (日本庭園, nihon teien) encourage visitors to reach a state of Zen and meditation through naturally created, or nature inspired, pieces within a minimalist aesthetic with weathered elements that evoke the ephemerality of life. The origins of the nihon teien date back to the Asuka period of Japanese history in the 6th and 7th century; the Japanese observed and digested many of practices at the epicenter of Chinese gardening at the time. Initially, Japanese Gardens popped up on the Honshu island of Japan, the main island, and immediately took natural elements of the landscape into the gestation of their gardens – the seasonality of the area, which had a distinct feel for each of the four seasons, in addition to waterfalls and streams, reflective lakes adorned with beaches of small stone set against slender valleys and the jagged tops of volcanos.

There are two major schools of Japanese Gardens – there are hilled gardens, tsuki-yama, or level gardens, hira-niwa; where the tsuki-yama gardens feature ponds in addition to their hills, the hira-niwa are more akin to moors, or valleys. As a traditional rule, tsuki-yama contains a stream, as well as a real pond of water; however, a tertiary variety of garden, the dried-up landscape or kare-sansui garden, is built to imply a former waterfall while dried ponds, or sand, replace the reflective pond to imply the barren nature of the terrain. Fun fact, the Japanese word niwa has evokes a purified location that is anticipating the arrival of the Shinto spirits, otherwise known as kami.

Other variations on the traditional hilled Japanese Gardens include rin-sen (forest and water gardens), sen-tai (water gardens); amongst the hira-niwa, you’ll discover the bunjin – the Literati, or “literary scholar” garden which is succinct, simple and typically is full of delicately manicured bonsai trees. Last but certainly not least we have the tea gardens; referred to as roji, these have a specific style that’s up to par with the requirements for an official tea ceremony. Some common elements among the nihon teien include guardian stones, springs and streams which flow from a waterfall, lakes, hills, islands, a variety of bridges.

Now, back to the Seattle Japanese Garden! In 1957, as the Arboretum Foundation began raising money for the project, the foundation reached out to Tatsuo Moriwaki from Tokyo Metro Parks to assist with their project – and he tapped in esteemed designers Kiyoshi Inoshita and Juki Iida to bring the vision to life. The garden began construction in 1959 under the guidance of Iida and Nobumasa Kitamura, finishing the next year in 1960. To fill the space, Iida and Kitamura ventured deep into the Cascade Mountains to Snoqualmie Pass, hand selecting 580 granite stones to be used in the Seattle Japanese Garden. To finish the construction, Iida, Moriwaki and Inoshita had the assistance of other Japanese American gardeners – on plants was William Yorozu, for stone setting they brought in Richard Yamasaki and finally for the garden structures themselves they solicited the help of Kei Ishimitsu. The Seattle Japanese Garden features details from the 16th century Momoyama Period, in a more formal or, shin, setting, as well as odes to the 17th century Edo period.

Even before gracing the grounds, you first have to pass through a detailed and lovely bronze gate from Seattle based sculptor Gerard Tsutakawa. Once inside, traditional features of a Japanese Garden present themselves in beautiful succession. First, you’re greeted by an open woodland and mixed forest that delights in Japanese Maples and a mix of Evergreens, with hints of pins, camellias and bamboo scattered around. Winding around the reflecting pond, there are a variety of different bridges to cross; first, a bridge created of earth (known as a dobashi) and then a bridge of planks (tatsuhashi).

Reaching the Northern peak which represents a mountains foothills, you’ll find a large stone wall that gives way to a sweeping view of the park. Coming back into the main grounds, on the Western side of the park, you’ll discover an orchard that sits sweetly surrounded by flowering cherry blossoms during the Spring, finally reaching the roji. Unfortunately, the original tea house on site was burnt down by vandals in 1973 – but was beautifully reconstructed in 1981 by Yasunori Sugita. Last, but most certainly not least, you’ll uncover the final treasure of the gardens – a bellowing waterfall, that ebbs and flows into streams, and finally to the central, koi pond.

The Seattle Japanese Garden is open from the beginning of Spring through the end of November, technically March 1 to November 30 when the grounds close for Winter Maintenance.  Open Tuesday through Sunday, park hours range from 10am to 7pm in the Summer, to closing at 6pm in April and September, 5pm in October and last but certainly not least until 4pm in November. Currently, the park is observing COVID protocols so be sure to be on your Ps and Qs with masks and social distancing inside the grounds. For parking, you can either park right at the SPG or if you’re on an adventure through the Arboretum, the park is on the South East end and a beautiful deviation from your normally scheduled blooms of the Washington Park grounds.

Curious if you have a unique, Japanese Garden in your neck of the woods? Head here to see your local fare! Do you have a Japanese Garden that you’re head over heals in love with? Show it some love and leave me a link to it in the comments below – I can’t wait to check out the places you can’t get enough of!


For more on the Seattle Japanese Garden, head to their socials – or just take a visit!

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“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu