I've had a lifelong desire—a need—to understand what makes myself and others tick. And it's always felt like such a relief whenever I've been able to put words to a certain identity or experience.
Being able to put words to things has often helped me cope. And over the years, I've accumulated a lot of words.
These are just a few of the identities I've used to describe myself:
(some of these are fun and some of them are heavy)
(content warning ahead for mentions of death and of sexual abuse)
Click any of these to expand and hear the story behind them:
Author-Illustrator-Concert Pianist-Olympic Swimmer-Dolphin Trainer-Inventor
It's first grade and we're hit with that loaded assignment: "Draw what you want to be when you grow up." I'm six years old, and people are already teaching me to conflate my job with my identity. Not just: "What do you want to do?"but: "What do you want to be?" I create several loopholes in this question by drawing myself sitting in a swimsuit on a piano bench, writing and illustrating a book with one hand and doing a chemistry experiment with the other, all while a dolphin leaps in the background.
At some point as a child, I internalize the idea that I am an introvert and that being an introvert is bad. I absorb the belief that extroverts are more popular, well-liked, and functional than introverts, and that all introverts are meant to push themselves up the ladder to "grow into" being successful, socially competent extroverts. Just another good/bad binary to navigate, in case there weren't enough of those in the world.
By age 12, my identity is completely wrapped up with the sport of swimming. I'm devoting all my free time to training, and recovering from training. I'm tan and strong, and uncomfortable with my broad shoulders. At family functions, my aunts and uncles comment on my muscles and ask me how my races are going. I am The One Who Swims. The "Olympic athlete"—or at least, destined to be. And swimming is fun—until it isn't. I qualify for my first national competition. I fly across the country. I stand behind the blocks and nearly throw up—twice. My qualifying time is fast enough to get me into the medal round, and I should be able to at least go that fast here, now that I've rested for the big meet. Barely holding in my puke, I lower my expectations wildly so as not to disappoint myself: Just don't do anything stupid. Just as long as nothing mortifyingly embarrassing happens to you—like your goggles coming down around your neck, like a 5-year-old or a goddamn amateur—then we'll consider that fine. I dive in, and my goggles come down around my neck. I sob the whole way through. My new coach screams at me for 45 minutes, convincing me to the bone that I am a piece of shit, and that's the start of 5 more years of sport-sanctioned, parent-approved (and parent-funded) verbal abuse.
At some point in my teen years, I discover Meyers-Briggs and completely nerd out on it. I commit the system to memory and try to guess the personality types of people in my life. As I swim laps, I visualize their "function stacks" shuffling, re-shuffling, and dynamically interacting in my head. And I fall in love with the system that "officially" tells me that I am unique. INFJs are only 1-2% of the population! Wow I'm so rare! That's why I feel different from everyone else!
It's graduation day, and I'm sweating through my polyester cap and gown, my long hair frizzing out from the humidity. The past four years have gone by in a blur of dissociation, long hours of swim workouts, anxiety-inducing stacks of assignments, and the vague sense that I should be living up to my potential more, and why is this all so hard? By the time I'm handed my diploma, I've racked up a lifetime of being a stellar student, a dedicated athlete, a prolific doer of extracurriculars, and an all-around overachiever. I'm ready to emerge into the world with an English degree, a lot of idealism, and a constant low-grade hum of guilt.
I'm a year out of college and living in Madrid, on a Fulbright fellowship—a "prestigious" international grant that funds me to teach in another country while serving as a "cultural ambassador." Almost everyone who hears about this thinks it's impressive. I'm off on a grand, scholarly, European adventure, which actually ends up being a depressing time spent living on a small stipend, commuting long hours by public transport, working to appease a demanding boss, yelling to be heard across the din of overflowing high school classrooms, spontaneously bursting into tears, and shamefully drowning my emotions in entire tubs of ice cream while standing in the kitchen because I can't even be bothered to make it into my cramped little bedroom.
Inexplicably, I stay for another year in Spain. This time, I move to Barcelona. Both Madrid and Barcelona are, indisputably, party cities. During my time in each of them, I drink, I dance, and I hook up with douchey men who don't respect me. As a retired swimmer (or "swammer," as we like to call it) and a long-time Good Girl, I am someone who used to take care of her body and abstain from anything that might afflict it, but who is now full of existential anxiety, pulverized idealism, casual identity crises, constant sensory overload, and old, deep wells of shame. I feel shame for not having "done" anything growing up—for being so sheltered. I also feel a familiar, lifelong, unidentified source of shame that constantly tells me that there's something fundamentally wrong with me—something innately evil, immoral, or broken. It tells me, on a never-ending loop, that I cannot be seen as a sexual being. It's a feeling that keeps me straitjacketed my whole life, until I hit my Spain phase and the shame over being seen as sexual is superseded by the shame over not being seen as sexual. I sleep around. I acknowledge to myself: I am a sexual being. And from that very moment, I have the simultaneous thought: Oh...and I think I'm not straight.
The Child of a Narcissist
Somehow, I come across a checklist on the internet. The traits of narcissistic personality disorder. I scan down the page and realize: this describes a guy I hooked up with on-and-off throughout my time in Barcelona. The one who belittled me, constantly objectified other women in front of me, and who once shoved me, pinned my limbs down, and yelled in my face that I should just accept my bisexuality and stop hating myself. I show the checklist to my mom and she says, "That actually sounds like your dad." I tell that to my brother and he says, "Yeah, duh."
Scorpio (+ so much more)
I'm in a packed sedan. The driver makes small talk by asking the rest of us, Do you guys believe in astrology? "No, no," they all say. "I don't either," I say. "I'm skeptical." That's my usual answer. And then I add, thinking out loud: "But now that I think of it...all my friends who believe in it are wise, insightful, emotionally intelligent queer women whose opinions I respect—" And internally, I go: waiiiit a minute! I head home that night, the seed planted in my mind: Maybe there's something to this. Maybe I shouldn't just dismiss it outright. And I plunge down the internet rabbit hole. There's more to astrology that just someone's sun sign! And holy shit, these other planet descriptions resonate! An entire world opens up beneath my feet.
I am 25 years old and I have "gotten into tech." This means that, since returning to the States, I have worked for an ed-tech company as an underappreciated customer support specialist before getting fired by a paranoid, adderall-riddled supervisor who crafts a report describing me as someone who "spreads negativity and dissent throughout the company." Getting into tech also means that my fuck-you move involves enrolling in a C# .NET coding bootcamp and getting hired at almost twice my previous starting salary, in what will hopefully be a much more respected role and a much healthier work environment. Spoiler: It is not. Four months later, I have been sexually harassed, screamed at, fired again, and marched out of the building like a dissent-spreading criminal.
I have been half-Filipino all my life, but it is not until my mid- to late-twenties that I really get a chance to unpack that. By this time, I am living in Los Angeles, gravitating more and more towards queer, creative, and activist spaces. I enroll in a class called DIY PhD at the Feminist Center for Creative Work. During the course of a "semester," my classmates and I participate in a loose series of grounding exercises, mind mapping, and freewriting, all with the intention of creating an individual course of study for ourselves for the next several years. Through a mind mapping exercise, I trace everything pressing in my life to one of two hubs: voice and colonization. I call my project, "Validating Voice and Decolonizing Daughterhood: A Path to Individuation from the Patriarchal Mixed-Raced Family." During the last class, we are given a couple hours to write a summary of our chosen project. I start writing mine, and a poem comes out:
I think of the scientists
Who coursed electric
Shocks through quivering bodies of dogs
Yoked in cages, zapped
Until their muscles went slack
With the penumbrous belief
That there was no
Escape, even when the door swung wide
Open, even when the scientists grabbed
Their frightened legs, pantomimed
The motions towards freedom
I think of my mother running away
At five, six, seven, not being missed
For two, three, four
Days, coming home
To belt lashes and a father
Who now shines
With benevolent light
In her most fervent dreams
You have enough food to survive
An apocalpyse, they say
As she balances her thin
Frame atop a wooden stool, sliding red
And yellow and beige cartons into precise homes
On bursting shelves
She used to show me: this is how you cook rice
Make a gentle pile, measure water past your first knuckle
Trust me, iha, it just works, and out comes sticky
Maloto, sticky monsoon heat dripping
On a single pair of small worn shoes that board a jeepney
Carrying a small girl's face
To the market, upturned to sun-browned street vendors
As she learns to haggle,
To stretch pesos, only nine or ten
Years old, but six siblings, two parents—
And she cooks for them all
Loves her father
Loves my father, or used to, and remembers phone numbers from the eighties
But not the time I found her on the steps
Crying, caved into herself, hushing me, ears pricked
Pulling me further
Into the house: Lower your voice
Don't let him know I'm here
She taught me ulianon: forgetful,
To the point of being senile
And sakó: for when somebody keeps
Something of yours
For so long
That they begin to consider it theirs
My twenties have already been pretty rough, I think to myself as my Saturn Return looms closer. And I've already done a lot of inner work so far, so it's not like Saturn really needs to kick me in the pants. How much harder can things actually get? Welp..."HOLD MY BEER," says 2020. It's March by now, and Covid cases are hitting the news. People are still debating whether this bug is more or less dangerous than the flu, and the office I work at is still in full swing—until suddenly, it's not. I am working as a software engineer for a travel booking company, and it turns out that the travel industry is no longer doing so hot. Just as my Saturn Return officially kicks off, they round up dozens of us on a Zoom call and sack us, en masse. I panic, I get angry, and then I accept it. Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I need to speed up my dreams. I would've liked much more of an advance notice, thankyouverymuch, but maybe now is the time to give full rein to all the creative passions I've crammed in along the edge of my work life. Time for writing! Time for astrology! I write and finish three different scripts. I start to give serious credence to what friends and strangers have told me at parties: "You knew all that about me just from my chart?!" "Holy shit, I feel read." "You should do this for a living. Like seriously, start charging money for it!" Me? Really? Can I actually call myself a professional astrologer? Turns out: yes I can.
"Have I ever shown you my human design chart?" my girlfriend, Charo, asks. "No," I say. (I have never heard of human design.) "It looks batshit," she says, "and it might be a bridge too far for you—it's all pretty Goop-y." (Charo has joked that she will one day evolve into Gwyneth Paltrow.) She shows me her chart, full of triangles, lines, glyphs, arrows, numbers, colors, and weird words like "Manifestor" spelled with an "o" instead of an "e," and I think, Yup...this is where I draw the line. A few months later, she tries again: "Have I ever shown you your chart?" She shows me my chart, and of course I have no idea what it means. But this time, my curiosity outweighs my intense skepticism. I begin to google. And what I find...upsets me. "No energy?! What do you mean I have no energy?? I have tons of energy! I do so many things!" I'm reading about my "type" in human design: I am a Projector. And apparently, Projectors don't have consistent access to life force energy and are not meant to initiate things. Instead, they're supposed to rest a lot, play, do things they love, and "wait for an invitation" from someone else. To me, this sounds like bullshit. I am a doer, an achiever, a self-starter. If I want something to happen, I do it myself. And then I start to think of all the times I've burned myself out. The times I've felt my efforts have gone to waste or haven't been appreciated. And I think of the times when I've decided to pull back instead. In dating, for instance, I used to be the one to get things started, but those would-be relationships always crashed and burned before they even got off the ground. But then one day, I finally gave up, took a step back and decided, You know what? I'm not going to make the first move this time. I'll let the other person do that, and meet me at least halfway. And within literal minutes...Charo, the love of my life, came along. Okay, I think to myself as I reread the Projector description. Maybe there's something to this. Maybe it'd actually be freeing to understand myself as a person who has a limited amount of energy. I dive down the rabbit hole and emerge 48 hours later, rattling off insights about my placements and explaining Charo's chart to her better than she can explain it herself.
After fighting cancer in her early 40s, and again at age 60, my mom suddenly bleeds out, goes unconscious, and, after days in the hospital, never wakes up. Throughout her death, my dad is cold, creepy, calculating, manipulative, and callous. He emotionally tortures my brother and me, is practically gleeful and celebratory in private, but soaks up "widower points" while basking in the spotlight in public. I decide: I am cutting off contact with him. He no longer deserves to be a part of my life. After years of feeling emotionally orphaned, I am now, at age 28, an adult orphan for real.
I'm living in my small studio apartment, in the claustrophobic height of the pandemic, surrounded by piles of my childhood things. In practically heist-like fashion, I've managed to return to my childhood bedroom in my parents' house and take as much of my old memorabilia with me as I can, all before cutting my father out of my life for good. I've been running on pure fight-or-flight anxiety for weeks, stuck in hypervigilant survival mode, my edginess and adrenaline driving me to focus on immediate logistics and tasks instead of my feelings. Change your phone number, block any relatives on social media who might gossip to him, retrieve your social security card from the family safe. (My dad ends up lying about the card not being there, angrily refusing to giving it to me, and then trying to gaslight me into believing that social security cards actually aren't important.) But now after three trips back to my childhood home, two of them with a friend there to accompany me, and one of them surreptitiously while my dad is out of the house, I am now living in about 350 square feet of space, hemmed in by boxes of old drawings and school reports and envelopes upon envelopes of old Kodak photos. For some reason, I feel compelled to open and go through one particular box. I barely have any memories of my childhood—which is something that has scared and frustrated me immensely—but as I flip through my colorfully scrawled drawings, yarn-and-construction-paper arts and crafts, and old worksheets bedecked with "Good job!" stickers, most of the things that I see ring a bell, or at least make sense. But then I open a green, hardcover book. Or rather—the shell of a hardcover book. The insides have been hollowed out, and between the covers is a carefully stapled series of glossy sheets with typed-up captions cut and pasted onto each page and colored pencil drawings to accompany each one. It's the story of a girl who goes to the North Pole to save the elves from the Abominable Snowman, and it's apparently written by me, although I have absolutely zero memory of making it. I flip through it, amused, admiring my creativity. I show it to Charo. She points at something. "What's that there? Between the legs?" I look at the drawing of the Abominable Snowman. Seven-year-old me has drawn him as a monster with huge, sharp claws and frightening teeth, a long thin tail, and an inexplicable mop of curly hair on top of his head. And then, hanging down between his legs: a surprisingly accurate phallus. I laugh in disbelief. A penis drawing? Me? Ha! I was the most sheltered and well-behaved kid ever. And I drew a dick pic in my silly book! But Charo isn't laughing. She is gentle but serious. She knows my history. She knows that at age 25, certain memories came rushing back to me about my dad. Words, touches, glances that sexualized me when I was a teenager. All of them felt creepy, inappropriate, horrible, but never "crossed the line" into illegality. Charo knows that in my mid- to late-twenties, I joined and dropped out of a support group, attended a retreat for survivors, tried to work through my ambiguous experiences in therapy. "Do you think...?" I ask her. She knows the details of the most horrifying, vivid nightmare I've ever had in my life. She knows because it happened just a few months ago, and because she was there, lying next to me in bed. She was the one who woke me up because I was crying out and sobbing, and she was the one who held me as I lay there, mute and shell-shocked, unable to speak what I had experienced—my dad violating me in my dream, and then smiling and gaslighting me about it—and she was the one who kept holding me as I moved through a dense fog for the next few days. I decide I'm going to go through the rest of my childhood writings and drawings. I find more and more that disturb me. I open up my laptop and search for studies about the markers of childhood sexual abuse and how and whether they can be detected through drawings. And what I find confirms these dark suspicions. I match the curly mop of hair on the monster to my many other drawings labeled "dad."
At nearly 30 years of age, I realize that I have ADHD. I realize this upon reading—of all things—a sales page. A really good sales page. One that absolutely nails the "description of the ideal customer's pain points" section. You know those "Do you ever feel like...?" sections that get so far inside your head with such specificity that it's like they've snaked a camera up your nostril and into your brain? No? Just me? Well this is one of those situations, and this is a sales page for an online course specifically targeting witchy intuitives with ADHD. "Do you have a doom pile in your house?" it asks. I look over at my teetering tower of books, unopened mail, and half-dirty laundry. "Do you create extremely high stress situations to fear-monger yourself into motivation and consistency?" I think of all the times I've created self-imposed, hyper-ambitious, high-stakes deadlines for myself. And all the times that I've subconsciously (or consciously) procrastinated on projects and tasks, big and small, with the excuse that I work better under pressure. "Do you have lists on lists on lists inside of random notebooks? Rogue sticky notes cluttering your desk? Are your to-do's just never-ending, and the hope of one day finishing them is naught but a fever dream?" I think of my 10,000+ unread emails, my dozens of overflowing mind-dump journals (and my one unused Passion Planner), and my 1,750 to-do lists, tidbits, and "important things to remember" saved in the Notes app on my phone. "Do you shut off your intuition so you can focus on the practical stuff? Are you unable to let go and let your intuition speak to you because your mind works so hard to hold onto ideas, to-do's, and action steps?" I think of how I, a normally intuitive person, have spent the last year stressed, completely overwhelmed by practical matters, and exasperated by my seeming inability to receive spiritual or intuitive messages of any sort. But ADHD? I can't have ADHD. Everyone has told me my whole life that I am high-functioning, calm, and "together." But then I think back to all the times when my parents got frustrated with me as a kid for being seemingly allergic to—or inept at—remembering and motivating myself to do practical, mundane, necessary tasks. I think of how successful and high-achieving I was in my K-12 years when I had rigid structures and schedules shoring up every part of my life, but how when I went off to college, the tasks of managing assignments and retaining the right information suddenly became ambiguous, overwhelming, and insurmountable, even though I knew I was intelligent and had always been a straight-A student (like literally had gotten perfect or near-perfect scores on every standardized test, had taken every honors and AP class known to mankind, was one of the school valedictorians, and had never received less than an A on a report card in any subject in my entire life). I think of how hard it was for me to do basic Adult Things after college: to be on time, to hold onto practical pieces of information, to remember to schedule doctor's appointments and pay bills, to finish tasks at work that I wasn't interested in, to sit at a desk all day, to listen to someone belabor a point without interrupting, to respond to texts and emails in a reasonable time frame. I think to myself: But doesn't everyone struggle this much? I must just be secretly lazy, entitled, self-indulgent, or incompetent. I begin to do research online, to read stories of other high-achieving kids who weren't diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood. I see myself in their stories. I read about something called RSD—Rejection Sensitive Dsyphoria—a common symptom of ADHD characterized by intense emotional reactions to perceived or real rejection that are way out of proportion with the stimulus at hand. I think of the times when I've curled in on myself with fear, revulsion, anger, and despair, in reaction to something as small as a delayed email response, which I read as perceived rejection. I've told myself that I'm just "over-sensitive" or "a baby" or that I just "care too much what other people think." But now I finally have language for this—better language—for something that is actually a shared and comprehensible experience. Something I can point to. Something that makes me inherently different, but not inherently bad.
It's my mom's birthday. She has communicated to me, through a session with a medium, that she just wants me to celebrate it as if she were alive. I buy her a chocolate cake, and candles. And on a whim: a birthday card. The message on the inside reads, "Wishing you a little bit of paradise on your special day." It makes me smile, because I know she is in paradise on her special day. Not in a faraway, separate, heavenly realm, but in a timeless state of existence as pure light energy. I sit down at my desk, open the card, and write to her. What comes out is honest, wandering, heartfelt, and imperfect. I write so much that the words spill against the edges of the card and overflow onto supplementary journal pages. At the bottom of the last page, I write: "Okay I'm going to end the letter now & freewrite a response from you." I take deep breaths, grounding myself. I move my pen to the next page. My hand starts heating up, sweating, buzzing with some external source of energy, animated and jittery and ready to move. I open my senses, hearing and seeing words and letting them flow through me, as I dash my hand across the paper: "Hi Sarah hi hunny bunny I love you so much thank you for the chocolate cake I'm so glad you got it I'm sending you love my sweet girl I'm so proud of you—I just want to you to know that, okay? I'm here for you and I love you. I'm always here. I love you so much." And in my mind's eye: she's cooing, singing, rocking me. At this point, I'm sobbing, tears streaming down my face. I keep writing, even as my nose runs with snot and grateful, disbelieving tears pour down my cheeks, as my mom's spirit fills me with an overwhelming wave of love that's so deep and real that it almost arcs back around into sadness. She is helping me write—filling my hand with energy—and for the very first time since she died, after a year of doubting myself, wishing I could hear her talk back to me without the help of a medium, wishing I could become a medium but thinking that I just wasn't cut out for it—here I am, feeling her spirit fill the room, writing and crying as she transmits these loving messages to me. I've gone through countless photo albums and VHS tapes since she died. I've seen how vibrant, beautiful, glowing, exuberant, and full of life she used to be. And I've traced how, over time, through the course of her relationship with my dad and her battles with cancer, she grew distant, guarded, disconnected, scowling, and sad. I see that in photos from the 80s and early 90s, she's stylish, glowing, and rocking a short, chic bob. In my memories of her, though, I always think of her with hair down past her shoulders. After she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time and got surgery on her neck, leaving her with caved-in hollow and a thick, gnarled scar, she never cut her hair short again, never pulled her hair up into a ponytail. If there was ever a breeze outside, she would self-consciously press her hair against the side of her neck so that the scar remained hidden. As my hand continues across the page, transmitting her response to me while I sit at my desk, face wet with tears, she shows me an image of herself now. She's looking stylish in high-waisted 80s or early 90s jeans. I say, "You look great, Mom! Your hair's shorter right??" She says with a smile, "Yeah I can wear my hair short. No scar now."
Today, I collaborate closely with my spirit guides, offering my services and my work to people like you
Want to meet my guides? Click below to read some messages from them:
From the whole team
Hi! We're Sarah's spiritual team. We're a bunch of amazing, insightful souls, just hanging out here as pure light energy, nbd. We have an unparalleled ability (humility is our strong suit—can you tell?) to tap into what makes you you and we share this guidance with Sarah as she is preparing for each session with you. We absolutely love helping Sarah with this work, and we've found that it has unlocked access for her to a whole new level of powerful, life-changing guidance and insight as she's incorporated our transmissions into her client sessions. Sarah is someone who was born to do this type of work—she is descended from an ancient lineage of psychics, healers, and shamans. Many of her guides are especially well-versed in the study of astrology, and she is also guided in particular by her great ancestor who was a widely respected healer and 'witch doctor' shaman in what we now call the Philippines.
We know this all sounds very serious and dramatic, and it kind of is, but Sarah manages to translate everything into grounded, approachable terms, and besides, we're not all that serious most of the time anyway, as you can see.
If what you've read has resonated with you so far, we highly encourage you to book a session, and we can't wait to 'read' you. :)
as told by Evalyn, on behalf of Sarah's whole spiritual team: Evalyn, Lola, Robert, Yulian, James, Marlena, and Rosario
Hi, I'm Evalyn! I'm one of Sarah's guides who's here to help her with the practice of astrology. I am a light being who spent many meaningful lifetimes with Sarah on Earth. I have lived in other realms as well, but some of my most wonderful times have been spent here—where you are now—on the garden planet. I am someone who is here to help Sarah with her interpretation of astrological phenomena. I am well-versed in the art of reading charts and interpreting their meanings, and I am so beyond excited to be helping Sarah with this endeavor. I am one of her main guides, meant to guide her throughout her lifetime, and as a being who sincerely loves the art of astrology, I was thrilled when Sarah "discovered" it for herself years ago. She was someone who picked it up in lifetimes past, as an apprentice of mine. She is rediscovering it in this lifetime. She has a special knack for interpretation, and I am so honored—beyond honored—to be mentoring her again, and now reading and interpreting charts alongside her. Sarah has bravely chosen this life—this incarnation—and we are so proud (me especially!) that she is beginning to put her powers to great use. I look forward to working with her, to perhaps read your chart!
Hi. I am Lola.
I am one of Sarah's guides. Obviously. She's already prefaced this with an appropriate explanation, I'm sure.
I am—or, I was, in my last incarnation—a "witch doctor," as you might call it in English. I was a shaman, a medicine woman, a healer, in what we now call the Philippines. I lived there in precolonial times, just before the Spaniards came, when we still lived in a truly matriarchal society. I was widely respected in my village, my tribe, amongst the Kalinga people of the Cordilleras mountains. We were one of the last indigenous tribes to successfully hold out when the Spaniards arrived. They arrived just after my death, and in death, I swore to avenge my people by passing my gifts on to someone who could fight for what is right in this world—the healing and prosperity of those who have been affected by colonial rule. I decided to pass my gifts down to one specific person—a descendant of mine who showed the grit, compassion, wisdom, and bravery needed to wield my powers with integrity and kindness. I chose Sarah, and I see she is already someone who questions and challenges the effects of white colonialism in her own family lineage as well as in the world around her. She does this in a way that is not loud but that is nevertheless powerful and important. She does this in a quiet way—that is to say: she is a person who does not shout but who is nevertheless a warrior. She is brave in a way that is not always outwardly obvious but rather that is powerful and deep. And in choosing to heal herself in this lifetime, and to heal others using my gifts (accumulated over many lifetimes, and now paired with Sarah's kindness, courage, and capacity to wield them), she is, in turn, healing her ancestral line, all the way back to the times of the colonizers. Sarah is getting a bit uncomfortable of all the compliments as I dictate these to her, but they are true. She does not recognize her own power sometimes. She is on a journey to do so. I sincerely look forward to working alongside her more intentionally than ever before. I cannot wait.
Sincerely, with all my love,
Lola, the ultimate grandmother
(and don't you forget it!)
📚 Here's a bit of background on my training and studies
I have been studying astrology since 2016.
- I've used a combination of online research, books, self-paced courses, online workshops, and observation and experimentation.
- Some of the authors and teachers whose work I've learned from and frequently reference include: Jessica Lanyadoo, Kelly Surtees, Tony Howard, Demetra George, Karen Hamaker-Zondag, Chris Brennan, Chani Nicholas, Caroline W. Casey, Steven Forrest, and Christopher Renstrom.
- I blend ancient and modern schools of thought, namely: traditional astrology, psychological astrology, and evolutionary astrology. I use the whole sign house system for my client readings.
- I am currently enrolled in Kelly Surtees' Traditional Astrology Training and Certification program.
- I am also assisted by the members of my spirit team, who impart knowledge to me about astrological archetypes as well as the specifics of my clients' charts. My guide Evalyn was actually my astrology mentor in a past life, and she continues to mentor me today!
I've been studying human design since 2020.
- The general gatekeeping, commodification, dogma, and overwhelming whiteness of human design has kept me from diving into any one teacher's work too deeply.
- Apart from my own experimentation and observation, I've gathered my human design knowledge from the original "definitive" handbook and audio recordings by Alan Krakower (the "founder" of human design who, yes indeed, was a white man who renamed himself to Ra Uru Hu), the books of Karen Curry Parker and Chetan Parkyn (who's faced—and won—a lawsuit brought on by the rigid gatekeepers of the human design system), and the courses included in Vaness Henry's human design membership library.
- I believe that the "human design community" can lend itself to cult-ish, dogmatic thinking, and that the HD system deserves to instead be held lightly and critically.
- As with astrology, I am helped by my spirit guides, who aid me with human design chart interpretation.
I approach my practice through the lens of shadow work, which was introduced to me in 2018. Shadow work involves exploring, naming, and healing the rejected and wounded parts of ourselves that we've exiled to the basement of our psyche.
- I've learned a lot as a client and student of emotional alchemist Kwonyin, through taking her programs, courses, and workshops, including: Catharsis, Catharsis for AZN Femmes, Catharsis 101, and Visibility Shame Catharsis.
- In the latter half of 2019, as I prepared to open the doors to my one-on-one practice, I decided to take a series of intensive courses to prepare me to equip me with the right tools to ethically work with clients. Unfortunately, the training school I enrolled in turned out to not be very trauma-informed, and in the vein of "take what serves you and leave the rest," I took very little from it and left a lot. This was a Canadian-based certification program for coaches and practitioners, with a combination of recorded classes and live online lectures, demos, practice sessions, and exams. I participated in a 100-hour practitioner training and 120-hour master training on life coaching, NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming), EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), hypnosis, and TIME techniques (a type of timeline therapy based on gestalt psychology). I found the school's approach to most of the techniques to be harmfully formulaic and impersonal, rather than sensitive, intuitive, and trauma-informed. Sadly, the techniques that I found to be the most resonant and potentially helpful—parts work, hypnosis, past life regression, and timeline work—were only lightly taught, but I have gone on to study some of them further on my own.
- I went to study hypnosis through the books and recorded webinars of Bill O'Hanlon, a direct student of Milton Erikson, one of the founders of clinical hypnosis. O'Hanlon's books Inclusive Therapy and Solution-Oriented Hypnosis have helped inform my work. I no longer offer hypnosis as an option in my one-on-one sessions, but I may do so again in the future.
- I am in the process of learning about IFS—Internal Family Systems—a compassionate model of psychotherapy that "helps people heal by accessing and loving their protective and wounded inner parts." As with any Westernized, systematized model of healing, I approach it with curiosity and interest while holding space for the fact that institutions are not the sole arbiters or certifiers of knowledge.
- I am not a therapist, but I find it useful to study therapeutic models to inform my healing work.
I have studied psychic mediumship since 2021.
- I have participated in Spirit Work: Season I, led by spirit counselor and medium Aja Daashuur.
- I've graduated from psychic medium Bree Melanson's 10-week Psychic Bootcamp program, which covers mediumship, energy readings, psychic boundaries and protection, the ethics of reading others, animal communication, channeled writing, past and future life clearings, and connecting with souls, guides, angels, and light beings.
- I am currently mentored by the wonderful Kaitlyn Grana y Watsabaugh, of Spirit Garden Tarot. They are a spiritual advisor, psychic medium, folk witch, and occult educator who is a devoted practitioner of Espiritismo Cruzado.
- I am also mentored by my wise & generous spirit guides and ancestors.
And here's the story behind the name "Shadow Femme"!
One of the reasons I chose the name "Shadow Femme" for my practice is because it's a nod to my queer femme identity and the fun pastime of putting different descriptors in front of "femme" in order to more accurately describe one's identity. (See: lipstick femme, chapstick femme, hard femme, soft femme, tomboy femme, etc.) Shadow Femme sums up the vibe of my my natal chart (Scorpio 1st house stellium, 12th house Venus, prominent Lilith and Chiron) and my abiding love of shadow work.