Cycles of Solstice and Synergy

abstract backdrop of modern building roof in sunlight

Solstice is a time of transition, even as we have been living through a year of intense transition.

The earth spins on its axis, same as always, and it makes its way around the sun, same as always, yet the juxtaposition of angles creates shifts in perception that change our experience. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkness is starting to give way to light again. There is a lot of symbolism associated with light: positivity, life, growth, new beginnings….

And yet, on the other side of the world, the exact same axial tilt and position of the earth in relation to the sun results in lengthening darkness.

For all that darkness has its own associations—heaviness, sorrow, despair— it’s not inherently evil. The darkest soil is the most fecund, rich and full of potential. Celluloid film can only be developed in darkness, or else the picture fades. And it’s the shadings of silence between the notes of a song that give it its cadence and flow.

Light and dark. Joy and sorrow. Life and, yes, death. All come together in a cosmic dance, inviting us to experience the entirety of Life’s possibilities.

May you bask in the warmth of light amidst the darkness.

May you cherish the blessings of darkness amidst the light.

May your life be a blessing to the world.


Rachel S. Heslin
President, MHAA

The Dance of Duality

As I’m writing this, we’re approaching one of the most contentious federal elections in my memory. So many people seem to assume that conflict is innate and inevitable: If I’m right, then obviously you must be wrong.

Except… Life rarely exists in such exclusionary duality. Life is about “Yes, and….” Life is about an expansive, “What if—?”

We do need to take responsibility for our personal choices, and we also need to acknowledge how external factors affect not just the opportunities that are presented us, but our inner awareness of what might be possible.

Stories about self-made millionaires notwithstanding, there is a great deal of disparity in economic foundations. As just one type of example, someone whose grandparents were prevented from purchasing property because of the color of their skin is missing out on two generations worth of wealth appreciation, placing them at a deficit through no fault of their own.

Then there are the mental and emotional factors to take into consideration. People who grow up in an environment steeped in lack and insecurity are going to assimilate disempowering beliefs. This doesn’t mean that they’re lazy or can’t change; it just means that they have significantly more internal issues to overcome than someone who was raised in a supportive environment to believe that they could do anything they set their mind to.

We need to be honest in our intentions, and we also need to be aware of how our words and actions impact others—especially when those others take things very differently than we intended.

Intent matters. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have separate penalties for murder versus manslaughter. At the same time, there is a reason why they say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, because results matter, too. If someone is hurt or upset by something I say, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. As long as I know that I was honest in my heart, I’ve learned to step back from my instinctive defensiveness (because yeah, I don’t like being told that I’m insensitive and uncaring) and try to see the world and my actions through the other person’s eyes. Because if I am sincere in wanting to be a positive influence on the world, it is my responsibility to do a reality check to ensure that the results of my choices are congruent with my intentions. If they aren’t, then I need to figure out how to change my approach to be more effective.

As important as all of the above are, for myself, the most crucial dance is the partnership of Doing and Being. I have a lot of what I call “chameleon energy”: it’s very easy for me to take on Other People’s Stuff. Unfortunately, given how contentious and fearful the world seems right now, if I don’t deliberately cultivate my own inner peace and strength, it’s far too easy for me to be influenced by external factors. I used to enjoy visiting Facebook as a way to stay in touch with family members, friends, and colleagues. Now, even after ruthlessly curating whom I actively follow, it seems like 90% of my feed is yelling that I need to be Outraged and Terrified.

While I do believe in taking action to support the world I want to live in, Outrage and Terror do not motivate me. In fact, they make me want to curl up in a little ball and eat too much chocolate.* They are not aligned with who I want to Be.

In contrast, when I make sure to start my day with my morning walks, looking at the trees and sky and watching birds and smiling at my neighbors, strengthening my awareness of Love and faith and the beauty that surrounds us even in the midst of Life’s sorrows, I feel centered and grounded and open. And when I feel solid in who I am, it becomes much easier for me to recognize what is mine to do.

*Chocolate is awesome, and I realize that the idea of “too much chocolate” may be a foreign concept. It just happens to make me fuzzy-headed and dopey.

Member News

Big Bear Yoga is conducting Yoga Teacher Training with options of either online-only or hybrid (combination in-person and online.) Their next session starts November 15th. If you’re interested, email them at or text to 310-880-8268

Dr. Cal Pramann is open for business Mon-Weds-Fri for all your holistic chiropractic needs! Call (909) 585-2400 to make an appointment. As an added benefit, if you book a session within the next few weeks, you are invited to harvest as many apples off his tree as you can carry!

Brett Hand is organizing a “Family Reiki Day” fundraiser for his non-profit Emerald Phoenix Foundation. Would anyone know of a space that could hold +/- 30 people, split into physically distanced family groups that’s available November 28th or 29th (the weekend after Thanksgiving)?

I (Rachel Heslin) was recently featured on the Guru, Please podcast talking about how to let go of Shoulds, shame, and guilt, and how shifting perspective from “blame” to “identifying contributing causes” can help break the pattern of unhealthy relationships. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and directly at

Words of Inspiration

Do you, too, find yourself caught up in the chaos of Other People’s Stuff? I know that there’s a lot of talk about the importance of “boundaries,” but for me, thinking in terms of “boundaries” is constricting. It cuts me off from the flow of Life and strangles my connection with Love.

Instead, I like to envision an ever-flowing fountain welling up from deep within me. Its waters are clean and clear, filling me to the brim and spilling over to spread in joyous ripples that emanate out from me, cleansing not only the impurities in my own body and spirit, but activating a vibrance in those I come into contact with. This fountain springs forth from Source itself, eternal and infinite in its abundance as it flows through me, re-invigorating my soul such that I become an instrument of Love itself, touching the hearts of those around me such that they start to feel more at ease and at peace with the world as well.

May your heart be strong and alive.


Rachel S. Heslin
President, Mountain Healing Arts Association

Sorrow and Strategy

It’s not depression. My experience of depression carries the weight of hopelessness, like I’ve forgotten how to breathe and I can’t imagine ever being happy again.

It’s not entirely grief, although it carries some measure of it. Grief carries the weight of judgment, a plaintive cry that It Shouldn’t Be This Way. I’ve seen too much and understand too much about humanity to be surprised by the violence and horror people can inflict upon one another.

No, what I’ve been feeling is sorrow, a deep, empathic sadness for the anguish, rage and fear that has been roiling beneath the surface of the world for so long and is finally bursting forth into the open, jagged and screaming.

It hurts.

Oh, God, it hurts.

It seems everyone is bleeding, to one degree or another. Illusions of safety and security and control are being swept aside, the veils we hide behind torn asunder as we cling to them like a child clutching its ragged blanket.

It hurts.

And yet, I know better than to try to “fix it.” Not all brokenness is pathological. Sometimes the Old must shatter to make room for the New. Caterpillars don’t grown wings. Instead, they dissolve into amorphous goo, messy and disgusting, before re-forming into something completely different, beautiful and wondrous.

Our society is breaking up and breaking down. People are dying because of stubbornness and fear and an inability to step back and question the stories in their heads.

And yet, everybody dies.


I don’t know what will emerge from the chaos. I am hoping for something beautiful and wondrous. But for now, in this time of upheaval and dissolution, I give myself over to sorrow.


The thing is, although sometimes necessary and useful and an expression of divine grace, sorrow is insufficient. We also need strategy. I say “we,” but I’m really talking to myself. Our society places so much emphasis on Doing over Being that I sometimes overcompensate, trying so hard to immerse myself in the experience of the moment that I forget that Doing does have its place. In fact, Bill Treadwell poked me a couple of weeks ago to make sure I was alive, asking about the website and the Farmer’s Market. 

The website has been frustrating primarily because I haven’t been able to find a directory plug-in that I like. When I took on the redesign and maintenance of the website, my primary goal was to reduce expenses by both taking the project in-house and replacing the paper brochure with a searchable database. I’ve done website design before, but the truth is that, because it isn’t my calling, it’s been easy for me to keep putting off taking care of it. If anyone would like to volunteer to take it on, let me know, and I’ll be more than happy to share my notes and login and resources. You can see the work in progress at

As far as the Farmer’s Market, yes, it’s up here every Tuesday. Would anyone be interested in acting as liaison and coordinator for an MHAA booth? You can review all the forms and instructions at

Both Rita McMillan and I have Easy-Ups, although the people running the Farmer’s Market require 40lb canopy-style weights attached to each leg. Since we’ve usually just used bags of rocks, we might need to purchase some. The weekly space fee is $45.

Which brings us to the logistics of finances. At the moment, I only have record of 5 people who have contributed dues for this year (Carol Neu, LEAFS for Wellness, Gina Weiss, Brett Hand and myself.) I negotiated with the Big Bear Lake Chamber of Commerce to make a partial payment of our annual membership with the remaining $50 to be paid in the next month or so. Right now, we only have about $45 in the account, so if you’ve been intending to contribute, this would be an excellent time to do so. 😀  You can either mail a check made out to 

PO Box 3004
Big Bear City, CA 92314

or you can use if that’s easier. As a reminder, Professional membership is only $25, while individual Supporting membership is a mere $10.

I miss getting together so very much. There’s an irony to the pandemic closing everything down just as we were starting to rev up all of our in-person activities. Ah, well. Does anyone have any upcoming events they’d like to share? Let me know, and I’ll send them out to the community. I know Brett’s doing Reiki training this weekend (July 11th & 12th.) What else do y’all have going on?

Finally, I apologize for disappearing for a bit. I’ve been working through my own reactions and transmutations (as you can see from the start of this newsletter!) but I think I’m back now. May you be a beacon of Love amidst the chaos, bringing us together in hope for what may come.


Holding the Light Amidst the Chaos

It’s funny, sometimes, the things we remember, snapshot moments that retain their clarity even as all else becomes fuzzy with time.

  • I remember sitting in Mr. Hollis’s social studies class as the secretary announced over the loudspeaker that President Reagan had been shot.
  • I remember checking my email before going to work and seeing a few messages from my friend, Chuck. The subject line of the most recent one was, “TWO planes?!”
  • I remember sitting in one of the portables at the high school back in January, watching CNN10 with the class as the reporter talked about a new virus that seemed to have originated in the Chinese town of Wuhan.

And yet, not all my snapshots are negative.

  • I remember my grandfather, gap-toothed smile and crows-foot creases at his eyes, as he bent down to show me a proud handful of baby potatoes he’d grown in his backyard.
  • I remember the first moment I ever saw the man who would become my husband, standing next to a mutual friend on the other side of the room.
  • I remember my son’s face, so small and innocent, full of pure joy and wonder as I carried him in my arms through softly falling snow. Even now, I look at the towering teenager he has become, and I still see that child in his eyes.

Life is messy and complex, joy and sorrow so intimately entwined that it is hard to imagine a deeply lived life that is missing either.

When the schools closed down last month, I spent the next few days on Facebook, seeking out and sharing links to information, research, and resources to support us in the coming months. I shared art, music, and educational opportunities, moments of grace and contribution that showed how people are coming together to help each other through this time.

And then I stopped.

It was too much: too much data, not enough information. Too many things I could not control. Too many people declaring their emphatic Truth when the actual truth is that there are too many things we simply do not not.

It’s hard, not knowing.

So I pulled back, back to what is in front of me: my family, my home.

My husband drove down to his mother’s to set up her computer so she could work remotely. While there, he found out that she’d been exposed to the virus by a positively identified co-worker. He quarantined himself in our bedroom when he got back, just in case. Two weeks passed, and neither he nor his mother developed symptoms. But then our son got sick: coughing, high fever. My mind shifted towards pragmatism: what can we do? I laundered clothes and bedding, sprayed his cuddly friends with disinfectant, wiped down doorknobs and light switches and other surfaces. I wasn’t panicking. I’d read the articles. Even if he had somehow managed to contract COVID-19, he was young, otherwise healthy, and without any of the comorbidities that had been associated with complications. I was calm, reassuring, and efficient–until I was alone with my husband and allowed my tears of What If to fall.

Because we don’t know.

For the most part, to my mom-sense, he didn’t feel all that sick, except when his fever spiked super high. Even knowing that the tympanic/ear thermometer we use was expected to run a full degree higher than an oral one, a reading of 103.9 is still scary.

We took him to the ER. We were instructed to wait in our vehicle in the parking lot, and a nurse and attendant in disposable protective gear wheeled out a machine for checking his vitals. Apparently our thermometer was out of whack, because by the time they checked him, his temp was under 101 by mouth. He tested negative for strep and flu but didn’t qualify to be tested for coronavirus. So we went home.

His fever broke a day or two later. He’s been coughing and tired, but otherwise happy to lounge around in bed, chatting with his friend on his Chromebook. They started school again this week, so he’s been attending his Zoom sessions and doing his classwork, grateful he can stay in his robe and jammies.

Then I discovered that a mentor of mine had tragically lost his 24-year old son the same day we’d taken our son to the ER. I don’t know the circumstances, but it seems to have been wholly unexpected.

We never know.

Heck, look at the Mountain Healing Arts Association. I was so excited about building a living, breathing community where we could get together in person every month and share Love and Presence and Inspiration and, well…. Maybe we can see each other in the fall?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have a choice. Every moment is an opportunity to pause and ask myself: who do I want to be? And are my choices supporting that way of Being?

Am I doing everything I can to nurture myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?

What else can I do to honor my dreams and aspirations?

How much more deeply can I allow myself to feel? Not to wallow or drown, but to allow my sorrows and fears space to breathe, bringing them forth into the light and warmth of Love eternal.

How can I be an inspiration to others, helping them remember their own strength and joy?


So. Given all the chaos in these [insert overused adjective here] times, how can MHAA support you? Do you provide services by phone or online conferencing, distance healings, or mail order? Are you looking for any of these services from others? Big Bear Yoga ( has been doing online classes, and Robin Bradley is doing an online Peace, Freedom & Passion meditation next Tuesday, April 21st. Janet Grace just did a free webinar on Courage and Confidence a couple of weeks ago; does anyone else have anything they’d like to share? 

As far as filling in for socially distanced “potluck” gatherings, I know that I am personally inundated in Zoom invitations, but if there are those who’d like to connect via some sort of group video chat, let me know, and maybe we can set something up.

Thank you to all those who have submitted membership dues for 2020. I still would very much like to expand our reach, although it’s even less clear how that’s going to look, given the state of flux that everything is in right now. I know the past few weeks have had me in a tizzy, but I am gratefully starting to sink back into Love and Flow, and I’m curious what new opportunities may arise for our community. If you would like to contribute to MHAA’s desire to promote the vitality of mind, body, and spirit, and have not yet done so, dues are $25 for professional members and $10 for individual supporters. You can either send a check made out to MHAA to PO Box 3004, Big Bear City, CA 92314 or make a contribution online at

Finally, how are you doing? Are you able to hang in there, more or less? Is each day a struggle? Or do you, too, find yourself fluctuating between confusion and conviction, love and loss? E me if you want to chat or vent or celebrate whatever is going on in your life.

I love you.

An invitation to the newest incarnation of the Mountain Healing Arts Association


I’m going to be putting together an actual mailing list service to make it easier to sign up and/or unsubscribe, but in the meantime, here’s the Mountain Healing Arts Association newsletter. There are three sections:

  • MHAA updates
  • Upcoming events, programs, and member news
  • Words of inspiration

Here we go!

MHAA Updates

We had our first potluck of 2020 at Big Bear Yoga on January 26th. It was so good to see everyone who came! Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:

  • The institutions that were supposed to support our society are failing us. Therefore, it is crucial that we come together in community to support each other.
  • One way to nurture community is to have a physical space where we can gather, either for events or for individual members to provide services. We’re looking for ways to maximize the use of the Big Bear Yoga studio space, individually and collectively.
  • Although MHAA will continue to promote the services of our business members, we are also opening our doors to individuals who share in our desire to be a focus for the light. Again, our goal isn’t just economic well-being, but true community.
  • Annual dues for 2020 will be $25 for Professional Members and $10 for Individual Members. These funds will go towards a collective membership in the Big Bear Lake Chamber of Commerce, promotional opportunities such as a vendor booth at the annual Big Bear Yoga Festival, possible co-sponsorship of booths at the Big Bear Farmer’s Market, educational and/or promotional materials, and other expenditures agreed upon by the membership.
  • If at some time we decide to embark on an event that would require additional funding, Bill Treadwell says that Leafs for Wellness would be willing to act as an umbrella 501(c) organization to assist in applying for and implementing grant monies.
    (I don’t think we’re there right now, but it’s something to keep in mind.)

If you’d like to either continue as or become a member, please either send a check to:

PO Box 3004
Big Bear City, CA 92314

or just come to our next potluck (scheduled for Sunday, March 1st—see below!) You can ask any questions you may have and take care of things then.

Upcoming Events, Programs, and Member News

The next MHAA potluck is scheduled for Sunday, March 1st at 1pm at Big Bear Yoga 421 W Big Bear Blvd #633, Big Bear, CA 92314. Bring something tasty to share along with your thoughts about possible promotion ideas for members, what we can do to nurture a deep sense of community, and how we can use the Big Bear Yoga studio space to support us all.


Robin Bradley’s 6-week integrative actualization meditation training classes started this past week. If you weren’t able to sign up for the full program, she’s doing monthly meditation sessions at Mountain Yoga starting February 25th.


In addition to their regular classes, Big Bear Yoga has some special events coming up:

For more information and to see their full schedule of classes, visit


Sandy Steers is running a 4-part series of weekend workshops that combine ancient Shamanic traditions with contemporary quantum understandings to help you

  • .Awaken your inner strength, power and wisdom
  • Clear away ‘dis-ease’-creating imprints
  • Release blockages to love, happiness and peace
  • Recover your essential self to remember who you really are
  • Open to the full expression of your love, joy, passion and creativity

The first session is scheduled in Fawnskin, CA on March 21-22nd, 9am-9pm daily. Future sessions will be scheduled in June, September and December based on the availability of participants of this first session. In addition, Sandy is also going to be running these classes in France starting in July!


MEMBERS: if you have events, programs, services or celebrations that you’d like to include in the next newsletter, e me the info at

Words of Inspiration

This is a quote I shared at the meeting from Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity by Margaret J. Wheatley. It’s not that we can’t have an impact on the world, but if we pour too much energy into wishing or pretending that things are different, we end up taking away energy from being present in this moment, here. 

And it is in this moment, the one you are experiencing right now… and now… and now… that you can breathe, choose love, choose faith, choose connection, and step out into the world with an open heart, knowing that you are not alone—that we are not alone—in this journey.

May you be a blessing to the world.


Rachel S. Heslin
President, Mountain Healing Arts Association