Fierce Times


“There are many fierce moments in any one life span: times of turmoil, upheaval, challenge, and change. These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”
~ Adyashanti

Wood Line, a work of art by Andy Goldsworthy; photo by Julie Daley

Fierce times.

I’m personally in one of these fierce times.

I’ve left a relationship with a really lovely man. A man I love. I’ve left my home with him and moved into a new city, a city I’ve longed to live in for quite a while now.

Many have told me I’m courageous. I’m suppose there is some of that. And, to be honest, I simply could no longer stand the pain of avoiding what I knew was true in my heart.

It’s painful to avoid what gnaws at you during the night.

It’s painful to keep lying to yourself about yourself.

It’s painful to continue a relationship with someone you love, deeply love, when you get clear that it is no longer where you want to be.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all of me wanted to leave. A part of me was happy because I love him and I felt safe and secure with him. But that was only a part of it.

I also felt hemmed in by my own unwillingness to be true to myself…the real self.

And, I felt pain in my heart. The heart always knows.

This is where freedom really is…where there is no safety. I’m learning this. Not all of me believes it yet, but enough of me does to have brought me to this place.

The way does not reveal itself.

It doesn’t have to. It’s the way.

It doesn’t show up as a brightly lit, four-lane boulevard. Rather, it feels like the image above.

As I would lie awake at night, torn by this sense of needing to leave and a sweet love for the man lying next to me, I could feel the wild trees all around me, so thick I couldn’t see. It felt as if they were hiding the way, wrapping me in a darkness that felt frightening.

I was surrounded by the unknown, with just a small sliver of light and path ahead. Only a bit of the way was shown, and now, in hindsight, that bit was plenty. Always enough.

Somewhere in the midst of this wild forest of life is my wood line. The way is made from life itself, the wild forest giving over her bits of wood to be laid down end to end. A long curving line that snakes through the wildness of life.

Even the wild trees, the wild forest serves. I know without conflict, tension, friction, there can be no creativity. It’s in those sticky places where the desire for safety and the desire to be free rub up against each other. It is here where we can come to know the most humbling feeling of being the wild eye of infinite spirit living life through the limited reality of a human body.

As in the outer world, so in the inner world, so in the collective world.

This meandering path of Wood Line, forged by the death of cypress trees in a grove of eucalyptus, shows the way to a new life in a new world. The snake winds through me, too, beckoning me on to somewhere I can’t yet see, or that (as Marjory writes) “hasn’t been revealed to me yet.”

We are in an unshaped place.

This week I was on a call with Meg Wheatley. We spoke of her idea of hopelessness as a necessary way for these times.

In sitting with this sense, hopelessness is an invitation to let go of the ways I hold on to my old life. If this new life is to be truly new, letting go of hope means really letting go of my need for safety and security, of the ways I’ve known these things in the past. It means being with the shittiest of feelings that I have tried to avoid. It means beginning to trust in nothing but the ground that gives rise to existence itself.

And it is so in our collective world. The cypress trees of the old way, where greed, separation, and a wanton disregard for the earth were once cornerstones of how to be in the world, are taking their last gasps. As they die, the ground will again be visible.

“These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”


Wood Line by Andy Goldsworthy

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50 Replies to “Fierce Times”

  1. In his book Yoga Spandakarika: The Sacred Texts as the Origins of Tantra (which, I might add, is a WHOLE LOT more accessible than its title suggests!), Daniel Odier calls hope “anger gone bad.” I love that.

    It’s rare for someone to recognize that hope isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

    It’s even more rare for someone to be brave enough to lay that recognition out in public.

    I salute you; this is a beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. Me too…a big, huge, whopping “me too.” Facing change, taking steps away from the known and into the unknown…the fear and everything that goes with it. Thank you for sharing your courage – it has helped me.

  3. Wow. Julie this really touched my heart. I’ve laid awake at night those same inklings. I love how you articulate the grayness. How you won’t always see a clear path. It will be gray, not black or white. Love this. Thank you.

    1. Rachel, thank you. It’s amazing how universal these things are. It’s where our humanity meets.
      Lovely to see you here!

  4. Thanks Julie. I am in a very similar place, and am so uncomfortable with the feelings of hopelessness. I so honor and respect you for being true to yourself and embracing the unknown. And, especially for sharing these feelings and experiences with others. I’ve said this once before, and I’ll say it again – I hope that it helps you to know how much you help me. xoxo Susie

  5. I just love the clarity you bring to that which is muddled. I salute your honesty, your eloquence and your gutZ! The feminine energy is gathering because it is time. Thank you for stepping up to add your vibration!

  6. It feels like Kali dancing in our hearts. To all dies and is born in this space of deep mystery and intimacy. Thrown out of our nest again and again as Pema Chodron says and as you beautifully state here:
    “This is where freedom really is…where there is no safety.” Yes from deep in my belly. Love you dear.

  7. I feel your words, and the image of the woods, so deeply inside me it’s hard to describe. Sending you love and grace during this time. And what an inspiration you are, the kind of woman in this world I want to be. I mean it. xo

  8. Julie… I can hardly read this. I’m in what feels like the most unsafe, uprooted, intense place of my life. My discomfort with everything is glaring me in the face every single day. I’m simply doing my best to keep perspective, keep my lens wide. But what you said about freedom & safety struck a chord. I’ve never felt less free than on this trip. And oddly enough, there’s safety (for my relationship) in staying.

    Thank you for baring your truth here. Do you feel like you “know how” to navigate? How’s Your heart through the process? Im so curious. I hope I’m not the only one who cries almost every day in her discomfort.

    Sending you so much love. I can’t tell u how much I adore & appreciate u.

    I adore you so so much.

    1. pay attention to where it struck the chord in you. i don’t always know how to navigate, other than when i do know the truth, i try to live it…except for when i don’t, when other things take over. we can just do our best to listen to our hearts, to be kind to ourselves, and to challenge ourselves to see where we’re ourselves.
      love you,

  9. This is a truly moving personal story and describes the intensity of feelings that so many have or had at one point in their lives. I myself have been at this point in business and personal relationships in the last several years.

    It is very difficult to know what the right choices are and to fear the consequences. The one thing I have learned over the last several years is inside of me I know what to do and when. I just trust my heart and gutt, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and move toward the fear. Things are seldom as bad as we fear and many things have resolutions that we don’t expect and even if they are painful give us away to grow.

    Thanks for sharing your moment with the world. Perhaps others will find courage to make changes they need to make because of your eloquent description.

  10. Sometimes we all have to release what is good and true and seemingly safe for what pulls us from a deeper place. That pull can be like the tides … the way the moon pulls our ocean to move us into new alignment … and the not knowing “for sure” … the releasing of the need to be right or certain … just letting go and making the change … is the final straw that allows the water to flow.

    You will know in time what this means … and for now, time to grieve the loss of the boundaries that used to help you feel safe. Time to savor what you had and wonder what you have created with the change you could not deny any longer.

    1. Yes, Dike, Savor what we had.
      I like what you write about the pull being like the tides. It does feel just that way.
      Thank you for your comment and for visiting.

  11. oh, Julie, this post radiates with the tenderness of truth laid bare…thank you for sharing your journey so authentically and evocatively.

    I love the image of the wood line… (and I love Andy Goldsworthy too)

    And amen to this: “These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”

    Thank you for continuing to remind me to keep touching in to the heart *and* the grounding of earth — I’m really beginning to see you can’t have one without the other.

    big love to you as you ground into the sweet space of groundlessness,

  12. I think you are very brave – and also, experimental, in a way that I don’t even understand. I am reading and re-reading this post to get a sense of what this kind of courage might feel like, might look like. This ferocity, this wood line. Wow.

    1. Brave, and I don’t really know what i am doing other than simply following the pull…as Dike described above.
      I bet you do know this quite well, dear.

  13. Brave!

    Wishing the best for you as you go forward.

    I need to read more about this hopelessness and letting go of the need for safety and security. That pull.

  14. The heart always knows. The heart always knows. The hearts always knows.

    Yes. Ouch. And yes, again.

    Much, much love, Julie.

  15. Thank you, beautiful woman. Such beauty, grace, and honesty.

    I have been in that place so much lately too – hoping for the way to be more clear than it is. Just this morning I taught a leadership workshop about inspiring a shared vision, and before I went there I kept thinking “how am I going to teach about vision when absolutely nothing seems clear right now?” But then the most beautiful conversation opened up about how we need vision, but we need to accept the blurriness of the vision and have the grace and self-forgiveness and trust to deal with the vision shifting and sending us into an entirely different directions than we once thought we’d go. The way always has curves.

    I used to teach this same workshop, and I’d get people to try to write personal vision statements, but that no longer works for me because there’s just not enough clarity for a “statement”. We need openness, trust, and acceptance of the wilderness.

  16. Julie, this is indeed a post full of courage and a desire to be honest with oneself. Honesty is a form of service to ourselves and I wish we extended the kind of listening and care that we show others to our own selves more frequently. What strikes me most about the post, however, is not its boldness. It is that it suggests that your desire to, as Dead Poets Society would have it, “suck the marrow out of life” comes through so beautifully. Best of luck in your new move and new environment, and much love to you.

  17. Dear Julie, Thank you so much for your honesty and for your generosity in sharing the wisdom you access by stepping into the fierce times and places.

    I’m at a place in my life in which ‘the way’ has not been revealing itself. I was wondering whether the wisest choice, in such moments, might be to stay put until clarity emerged. So these words were a gift to me today. Thank you for reminding me that the way does not reveal itself. That it doesn’t have to. That it is still the way.

    I’ve wondered for a long time about hope, and whether it was really just another form of fear. Hopelessness often feels much more liberating for me, and I wondered whether that was strange, perhaps all my years living in places like Afghanistan had turned me into a fatalist.

    But I’ve come to trust, rather than hope, and for me it is a much more liberating experience. So I wish for you grace, and trust and the love and support you have obviously so often offered to others as you stand in this fierce place.

    With love,


  18. Julie,
    I just discovered you WONDERFUL blog and love this first post that I have read. I particularly enjoyed the section under “The way does not reveal itself.” Wow! In these times where so many, myself included, want some sense of control over our lives and a clear path to the end result, rooting around in the wild lands is deeply humbling and deeply rewarding.

    I’d love for you to check out my recent blog post about the call of the wild. And I most definitely look forward to following you more. YOu have a lovely style of writing and a clear and resonant voice.


  19. Your blog blows me away! This is so raw and amazing and brave. Wow. I wish you the blessings of infinite blessings on your journey. Thank you for sharing your courage and grace.


  20. I was intuitively guided to your post today and felt an uncanny resonance with the core message that you share here. I am going through my own version of this dying away of the old (letting go of hope that this can be better while still within the “old way” and mustering the daily courage to play in the waters of the unknown where I cannot see the bottom beneath my feet – yet trusting that these are the waters of “the new way” that are essential in order to restore and refuel me for the “new way” I am meant to “be” in the world. Hugs to you my courageous friend!

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