Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Monday, November 23, 2015


UPDATE:   The winners of my B R E A T H E giveaway are Beeara Edmonds and Judith (who left a comment below). Thank you so much for playing along, everyone. Judith, I will add you to my BREATHE list - you will get a welcome email/video shortly and will get week 1 in your inbox this Sunday. Judith, could you please send me your email? My email address is or, you can just share it in the comments here (if you're comfortable with that). Love to you all. xoxo

"Julia’s soul-nourishing, gorgeous new offering, BREATHE, is a gift for YOU. It is a gift of self-care, a deep breath, a warm hug, a reminder that you are so worthy of love." Jenna Whittaker

I wanted to let you all know that I'm doing a giveaway for my new online program "B R E A T H E: A deep breath for your spirit." 

B R E A T H E is an eleven week, (self-directed), deep breathing, creative recovery retreat for your spirit. Each week, for 11 consecutive weeks, you will receive a poem of mine, a writing prompt and a simple invitation to "Dive deep. Be brave." This program is all about mindfulness, slowing down - finding the holy right where you are.

"B R E A T H E, to me, is a life-giving combination of fullness and wide open space. It is the gift of simply being still, of embracing just where I am, without a need to DO anything but simply *be*. It's an offering of Julia's poetry that speaks to deep places, an outpouring of her wisdom that reminds me over and again that who I am is beautiful and lovable and *enough*, and her invitation to let those words live out in an active expression that daily reminds me of truth and light. Julia's BREATHE prompts the most grace-filled opening to write... through a doorway held lovingly open for my soul to dive deep, and be held." -  Robin Oesterwind

I will enter all who leave a comment below - (either letting me know what your favorite poem of mine is or you can leave some words about why you feel called to BREATHE, or if all of that sounds like too much, just leave a heart or a word of your choice). And please, if you know of anyone who could benefit from a deep breath right now (just on time for the holiday season), consider sharing this post so they can enter themselves for the giveaway. If you're already signed up for this program, consider entering anyway (with the idea of gifting this to someone) will choose 2 winners (randomly) on Thanksgiving day (and will announce them here, as well as on my Facebook page).

To read more about B R E A T H E, click H E R E.

Sending so much love,


PS: My new poem "RISE UP" has been published over on The Huffington HERE to be taken to that page

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


You think you don’t have anything 
to say, that it’s been said before
that it doesn’t matter, that you’ll get mocked 
or ridiculed, that someone won’t like it - that it 
is not good enough. That you 
are not good enough. You think 
you’re too young, too old, too tired,
too broken. You hide 
scared-silent behind 
your too much, your not enough. 

You let littleness win. 

Meanwhile - another war 
on something begins. Bombs 
explode. A child loses her mother 
a mother loses her child. Teachers hide 
children in closets to save their lives. Killers kill
in the name of “God,” in the name of mine
in the name of not enough. Division 
division division.

Mommy, I don’t understand

I thought God meant love
in every language
in every religion

Blood soaked shirts
the searing burn
of judgment. 

Dear Child, 

Listen. Rise from the tight walls of your troubled thinking. 

Take your message of love, 
of gentleness, of unity, and, please -
please speak it. 
Write it, paint it, dance it
sing it. Look up and smile 

when another walks by. Toss love
around with wild abandon. Listen 
to trees, sky, the tomatoes that grow ripe 
and red and brave and beautiful 
out of the burn pile. Rise up.

Stop letting littleness win.

That nod of gentleness, of - 
could mean everything. It could 
mean one less bomb, one less 
war, one less mother 
or child or country 
on their knees.

Dear Child,

Put your weapons down. 
Love fiercely. 
Rise up - please.

depends on it.

*   ©Julia Fehrenbacher
*  Photography by Christa Gallopoulos

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Story I Just Have to Share

Dear you,

I have a story that I just have to share with you. 

A couple months ago, right after my girls went back to school, after a very full, nonstop-busy (but mostly very good) summer, I was home in the middle of the day cleaning. Scrubbing toilets and sinks, vacuuming dust balls off the long-neglected wood floors. Washing and folding and washing and folding. After hours of what felt like the worst kind of grind, I started feeling completely depleted/frustrated/angry at someone I couldn't identify. Actually, truthfully - after hours of this, I put my entire life up for question. Doubt crept in a little bit at a time. What started as thoughts like: 

What the hell am I doing in the middle of the day on a Tuesday cleaning?

Quickly went to:

What the hell am I doing with my life? I have nothing going for me. I'm a loser.

You know, the typical stuff the mind loves to throw at us when we're on the ground and when we give it permission to run free and wild.  Minds are so not unique in the way that they love to throw shit at us.

After a little while of thinking these kinds of thoughts, I became so heavy in my body, I could hardly move. But I knew I had to move. That very-hard-to-hear voice inside me was insistently whispering: 

Go for a walk. Go for a walk. Get outside and breathe.

So, quickly - before I ended up paralyzed on the couch for the day, I grabbed some water, my good walking shoes, my good dog, and my heavy-with-blah self, and heading out the door to my favorite forested walking spot.

Once in the woods, I started saying urgent prayers. Prayers that went something like this:

Please, please guide me, show me the way, show me how to serve. Use me. Show me that my being here has purpose. 

Since there was no one anywhere near me, I said these prayers out loud to the trees, to the cushion of pine needles beneath my feet, to the big sky above me, to the oblivious-to-my-pain singing birds. 

After a few minutes of this, my cell phone, which was in my back pocket, made its little chiming sound (indicating an email). I don't always check email in the middle of the forest (usually I make a point not to do this) but, in this moment, I knew I needed to. As I stood there with all that beauty around me, all the heavy-questioning inside me, this is what I read:

*               *               *

Dear Julia,

I wanted to let you know that I have been reading every poem on your blog and each one has moved me deeply.

I'm a rabbi in the midst of preparing for the Jewish New Year, a time of deep reflection and transformation, and I am always looking for poetry to open up the hearts of those who come to my services, as well as my own. My favorites have been Hafiz, Mary Oliver, Kim Rosen, David Whyte, etc. This year I may be using your poetry exclusively, with your permission. 

I want to thank you for being so bold and generous and vulnerable. It is truly an inspiration--a deep and healing breath for the spirit.

I hope our paths cross someday.

In gratitude,


(Shared with permission from this beautiful man)

*               *               *


I stood there reading and breathing, almost-not-believing what I was reading - saying thank you over and over again - to the trees, to the sky, to the oblivious singing birds - thinking:  

Really - does God/Source really respond this quickly? 


I felt like something hit me over the head (in a really beautiful way) - something that wasn't going to let me stand there in my self-doubt bullshit lies for a second longer. It was one of those moments that felt like all the lights got turned back on and I could see with total clarity that there wasn't a problem. That all I need to do, ever, is show up as me in the fullest, most love-filled way I know how. 

In that moment I could see with such clarity that my self-absorbed, self-attacking doubt wasn't serving anyone (least of all me). In an instant, I was washed clean and a deep faith in Grace, in life, was restored. I could feel my own Light and breath again. 

This isn't to say that I don't keep forgetting, but I have this beautiful moment to go back to, this moment where I could see with crystal clarity that Grace/Love is REAL. 

And once something has been Seen, it can't be unseen. 

I wanted to share this story with you, because I want this message, this beauty, to reach you too. I want you to know that beneath the layers of doubt and insecurity and tired and perfectionism and scars and bruises and shoulds and self-bashing and your thinking you need to prove your worth - there is this great, grace-soaked Light. 

Pure light that is always right there, right here, waiting for you to open your eyes. 

I send you so much love today,


PS:  If you haven't already heard, I have created a new 11 week, self-paced online program called B R E A T H E. I've got many beautiful ones who have already signed up. If you feel like you could use a deep breath, a splash of poetry and writing and art-making, click H E R E  to read more about it. It's open enrollment so you can sign up anytime. This is an offering straight from my heart - I would so love to have you along.

Monday, October 26, 2015

B R E A T H E : A deep breath for the spirit



Ready to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? 



is an eleven week, (self-directed), deep breathing, creative recovery retreat for the spirit.

It’s an offering from the deepest, most tender, real place in my heart, to the deepest, most tender, real place in yours. It’s my hand reaching for yours, saying:

Shhhh, let’s get quiet, let’s slowly, bravely - with deep wide open breaths, breathe away that which drains and covers and tugs and clouds and pulls you away from that which is real and true. And take a brave (feeling the fear and stepping anyway), wholehearted, unapologetic step, together - toward. Toward love. Toward Beauty. Toward True. Toward enough. Toward the treasures that are hidden within. Toward the truest, most bursting-with-enough version of you.

B R E A T H E 

▪ is an invitation to slow way down - to pause, to notice. To take a break from the do-doing of this busy, full, often-overwhelming world - to question the mind that thinks it’s all a great big emergency (it isn’t).

▪ is an invitation to accept your messy, perfectly imperfect self, finally and forever. It’s a nudge for your spirit to start to LIVE with unapologetic brightness. To move, even with the fear, to even (imagine this!) befriend your fear. To quiet the noise in your tired, nagging head, to splash a little water on your sleepy face and wake up to you just as you are, to life just as it is.

Abundant. Messy. Spilling with beauty. Just right. Enough.

▪ is an invitation to stop measuring success by how much you get done in a day, or by how many people you please or by whether someone else thinks you're a success. Or by how much money pours (or doesn't pour) in. And to start measuring it by how much holy W O N D E R you feel and whether you're brave enough to follow it.

is oxygen for your tired, trying-too-hard parts.

▪ is a quieting, a holy hush, that will help you hear that deeper, wise, knowing voice within you.

So this, I believe, is the central question which all creative living hinges: 'Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?'" Elizabeth Gilbert



This is how it works:

 Each week, once a week, for 11 consecutive weeks, one of my poems, along with a writing prompt and a special weekly invitation (to dive deep and get brave), will land in your inbox. *NOTE - There will be some bonus surprises as well (that involve me sharing many of my very favorite things).

▪ Once you sign up, you will receive a welcome letter/video of me introducing myself and this program (within 24 hours). All "lessons" will be delivered to your inbox on Sundays (at the same time each week). You will receive week one's lesson the Sunday after you sign up (to begin on 10/18/15).

▪ B R E A T H E   is self-directed, to be moved through in your own time, at your own pace. To the rhythm of your own deepest breaths.

▪ You will be invited to slow way down, to take a step back from this cluttered, often too-much world - to breathe. To write. To create. (I can't wait to introduce you writing practice and intuitive creating - two of my greatest loves.) To play. To lighten up. To have fun. To stop focusing on trying to be "good" and to start following your curiosity and wonder. You will be invited to baby step (or leap) toward the YESes that are calling you, that have been calling to you for a tired eternity. One brave step at a time. Just one.

My intention is that you will come to the end of this eleven weeks quieter, standing more rooted and tall & unapologetic in your YOUness. Braver. More accepting of the messy-beautiful ISness of it all.
More willing to say YES to that which is calling your name. Clearer about those treasures hidden inside you. Breathing more deeply. Accepting more fully the all of who you are (imperfections included).

Ready to begin to uncover those treasures? Or expand upon that which you've already been brave enough to uncover?

Ready to B R E A T H E ?



(Pssssst: it's only $44.00)

I would be deeply honored to have you join me.

With so much love,


Friday, September 11, 2015

Looking for Home

Is there anything more beautiful 
than to sit inside this here 
holding pen and notebook
bare feet resting 
on the kind, green ground
watching clouds hum 
above this homesick

Is there anything more 
beautiful than to stop, to empty mind 
of befores and afters - to listen
to the silent secrets
today holds, to hand over 
the heavy 
to bigger arms

Darling, one-of-a-kind 
beloved, dying-to-be-free human
let your heart burst open wide
to this truth - 

there is only one 
you. There is only one 
now. And - can you hear this? You are already

Is there anything more beautiful?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Do You Most Want?

Dear you,

Well, it's been forever and a hundred days since I last wrote to you. I'm not sure where I've been but I've been a lot of places.

I've just recently completed 41 days of creative play where I painted or drew for 41 whole days in a row (minus weekends) and invited my YES group to play along with me. And many of them did and it was full of great BEAUTY and life and pure awesomeness.

I had a deep and beautiful conversation with the miracle-worker, Elloa Atkinson. You can listen in on our raw and real (and recorded) conversation by clicking HERE. 

I've been doing laundry and dishes and making lunches each day for my girls and all the other stuff that comes along with being a wife and a mommy. I completed an absolutely amazing art class with the incredible woman and artist Flora Bowley. I've taken long quiet walks by myself. I've written a little. Sat with great doubt and wild awe and a beautiful, old woman who was dying.

I've breathed deeply and not enough.

And on and on and on...

I pause for a minute as I write this to watch the cursor blink and to take a deep, deep breath. To look out the window at the newly leafed out trees, to listen to the muffled chatter in this loud coffee shop.

As I pause, I notice a question just rose up from somewhere:

What do you most want?

And an immediate answer:

To be free.

Free to - what?

Free to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it. Free to not be eloquent, to not edit, to not be "good." Free to be ALL of who I am, without apology. Free to have mine not look anything like theirs. Free to be scattered and all over the place and non-linear. Free to be inconsistent and forgetful, quiet or loud. Free to tell the truth even when my voice shakes. Free to tell you that it seems the older I get the less I know. Free to tell you that sometimes I feel such a heaviness in me I think I'll fall down with all the weight. And sometimes it feels like my heart can't handle the great miracle beauty of this flowering trees in full blossom, humming birds who come so close I can feel the wind from their wings on my cheek, the brightness and innocence of my little girls' smiles - the great beautiful honor of sitting by her side while a woman I loved and love dearly takes her last breaths.

Life is crazy-hard and wildly messy. Unbelievably, miraculously beautiful.

And I feel it all and it's hard to feel it all.

And I'm grateful. And tired. And grateful.

I just stumbled upon the following words:

"An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. 'A fight is going on inside me,' he said to the boy. 'It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil -- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.'
He continued, 'The other is good -- he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you -- and inside every other person, too.'
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, 'Which wolf will win?' The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'"
~ Cherokee legend
So strong and bright in my awareness right now is this knowing that I, that we as humans, always, always have a choice. Will we feed the wolf in us that wants to keep us small and contained and safe and liked. Or will we feed the wolf inside us that speaks of great expansion and love and FREEdom?  
I don't know how to sum this up or tie this in a pretty little bow, so for now, I'll leave you with these questions, the questions I'm asking myself pretty constantly right now:

What do you most want? 

Which wolf will you feed?

I send you all great love. May  you breathe deeply. May you trust. May you blossom. May you feed the wolf who will set you FREE.
With so much love,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Holy Now

I know it's important that I pause
in the middle of the almost-spring day
to stand inside the arms
of this holy flowering tree - that I let eyes 
and heart and heavy inside parts be awed 
and opened 
by budding, blossoming pink

I know it's important that I let 
myself speak my own
me-language rather than thinking 
I should mimic yours, that I let paint
and words and color touch what eyes
can't see

I know it's important that I let go 
of the go go go busy busy do-doing 
this life has taught me and slow  

to my own slow pace, maybe 
accomplishing nothing whatsoever

just letting the simple whisper
of this one miracle moment breathe
through me

Friday, January 23, 2015

It Matters

Image found here

It matters that you smile
or don't smile 

at the person 
you don't know 
in the coffee shop. Whether 
they smile back

It matters that you let 
yourself speak on canvas, with pen
and paper - on the keys 
of the old piano, that you let 
hands shape what is real and true
out of soft, breathing clay

or whether 
you push the call
away until some other 
someday - a someday 
that may or may not come

It matters that you listen 
to the beat of your one 
and only wild drum, the beat 
that drums 
drums drums through warm blood 
and veins, that you share 
your holy song 
like it's your very last chance

That you stand up even when you think you can't

You can tell yourself lies
you can say it doesn't matter
but the smart part of you knows 
the truth, pain will be your loyal 
reminder, always pointing you back 
to what matters

You are here now - here
now. Someday you won't be
will you listen or wait? 
Will you wait

or listen? 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Falling Apart

Dear you,

It's been a long, long time since I've come here to write to you and I really don't know what I'm going to say. I do know that there is a world, an ocean, a vast open sea of stuff inside me that wants so much to speak. 

And I know I don't want to speak it in someone else's way. 

Often I don't speak because I get overwhelmed. How does one express a vast open sea? How does one put into words the cries, the deep longing, the celebration, the sorrow, the ache, the questions, the intense JOY? 

How does one get over their own doubts, paralysis, overwhelm, sadness, insecurity and just begin?

So, this is me beginning. Showing up. Saying what wants to come next. 

I'm tired of trying to have a plan, of thinking I should have a plan. I'm tired of trying to appear as together when, really, I'm falling apart. And really, this is a very good thing. 

I'm falling apart and this is a good thing. 

*                    *                     *

The more I watch myself, the more I become the one who observes the other one (and by "other one" I mean the scared, scattered, overwhelmed, unsure, anxious one), the more I really see her. 

And I'm amazed a little. Amazed that, after all this time, after reading a bazillion spiritual books, after showing up and sharing big chunks of my heart, I can still be so deeply afraid and hesitant, so full of doubt and hold back. 

And I see that this is my pain. This sadness is really a deep longing to be me. To let myself speak. To stop standing in my own way. To stop trying to get mine to look like theirs. This is what it's always been about. I think I can say with some confidence that, at the root of all of our pain, is the deep, deep desire to just be who we are. To be seen, to be Known - to be Known by our own selves. To know that it is enough to be who we are. To know that we are worthy already. Whole already. That there is nothing to add or subtract or change or fix. Nothing that is wrong. Nothing we need get rid of.

Nothing to get rid of. Not even the doubts, paralysis, overwhelm, sadness, insecurity. Not even the scared, scattered, overwhelmed, unsure, anxiousness. 

There is room for it all. 

Imagine dropping, really setting down, who we think others want us to be, who we think we should be, and just being who we are. Who we already are. 

So what if some people stop liking us, stop "following" us, stop being our friend. 

Imagine if we stopped thinking parts of us aren't okay. Imagine if we opened up wider and embraced our sadness, allowed ourselves to rest inside it, just as much as we allowed ourselves to open to big, wide eyed, wide armed joy? 

What a fucking relief this would be. 

So, my big YES, and I see that it's been my yes for a long, long time (and it continues to deepen and deepen), is to say YES to me, to me exactly as I am. To you, just as you are. To LIFE just as it is - now. 

To show up with all of it. No matter what.

I'm growing far too tired to care about what others may or may not think.  I think we all are. Plus, I have absolutely no control over other people's thoughts. None.

A couple days after Christmas, in one middle of the night moment, I felt like I would be swallowed up by sadness, like it would swallow me and there would be no me left. I sobbed silently in bed, I felt an indescribable heaviness, a kind of hopelessness that words can't touch. I let myself feel it, really feel it. And, here's the thing - it didn't swallow me. It opened me. It made my heart more tender, more receptive, more full of love.

When I shared about this sadness in my/our YES group, one of the precious women in there sent me the following words, words that (as dramatic as it sounds) have saved my life in a certain way. Here are those words, written by one of the most beautiful, pure, true humans I have come across - Jeff Foster

"Let it come closer, let it engulf you if it must.
Until there is no division between 'self' and 'sadness'.
Until you cannot call it 'sadness' at all. 
Until there is only intimacy.
Sadness keeps you soft and flexible.
It reminds you, when you have forgotten, 
of the beautiful fragility underneath all things.
In the softness of the heart lies its capacity to love.
Sadness is not the opposite of joy, but its gateway." Jeff Foster

In the softness of the heart lies its capacity to love. Sadness is not the opposite of joy, but its gateway. 

Such holy words.

My hope for me, for you, for each and every one of us, is that we can drop who we think we're supposed to be and show up just as we are, right now, in THIS very moment. That we can let it all BE just what it is. 

This kind of open, free, REAL BEing-ness is what The YES Movement is all about. It's holy inside that YES space. If you feel called in the deepest part of you to enter that kind of space, you can read more HERE. 

It's a brand new year and I send each of you so, so much love.