Happy May! Today is one of those perfect, dreamy days of warm breezes and blue skies, and it’s officially my last day of sabbatical! I’ve been so blessed to have the last 12 weeks away from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) – a break from my computer and the stress – and instead focusing my full energy on my amazing boys, adventure, exercise, and creating delicious food. And all the while getting paid full time. I am eternally grateful to RAN for this gift it gives to its employees after 5 years of service.

Since having Jules 4 years ago and substantially changing my role at RAN, I’ve vacillated between staying and leaving the organization. Going down to part-time has been amazing as it allows me the best of both worlds – time to work hard to protect our planet for my boys, as well as time to be a present, engaged mother to my boys. This delicate balance, however, has come at a cost professionally, and I feel that I’ve been stagnating for some time.

For a few years now, my true passion and great calling is to transform our food system and the way we raise animals for food both so that animals are treated better, the climate, forests, and waterways are protected, and the workers treated with respect and dignity. Part of this work is to reduce meat consumption, which ultimately drives the irresponsible production of cheap meat, and with that our public health crisis, water scarcity and pollution crisis, etc. (Did you know that Americans eat 3x more meat per capita than any other country in the world? Our protein addiction is unsustainable.) And the other part of this is challenging the status quo of current factory farming production methods, which subject billions of animals to torture every single year and crap on our environment.

I was so honored and thrilled to be building a new program at RAN called Responsible Food Systems to tackle this huge threat to human and planetary health, but it hasn’t been easy. Every step of the way I received push back internally (Are we a vegan organization now? Why would we tell people to eat less meat – we’re a systems change organization, not a lifestyle change organization, etc. etc.) and I just found out that the Responsible Food work is getting cut entirely, so I am leaving the organization after 7.5 years! Ah. Sigh of happiness. 

The day after I told my director that I was leaving, I had a very intense dream about an ornate, very large structure of spider webs filled with spiders. I had a flash back of the dream world the following day and I knew spider medicine was weaving its way into my dreams to send me a message. But I forgot to read the Spider Medicine Card (from my medicine card deck and book I’ve had for years, which has been the most amazing source of wisdom and spiritual guidance!)…and then that day in our backyard, Jules had two spiders crawling on his foot at the same time (never happened before!). It reminded me that I had forgotten to read the book! Later that night, right before bed I was flossing my teeth in the bathroom facing the mirror and out of literally nowhere a huge spider crawls down from who knows where and lands on my shoulder. Seriously?! I never see spiders in our house! I flicked him onto the floor and watched him crawl away. Ok, now I really need to read the spider message! The problem was, the book lives in the room where baby sleeps, but I was determined to read it the following morning. So as if this isn’t already weird enough, just before bed, I walked into a huge web and started pulling big sticky web strands from my left ear and head and everywhere…I was entangled.

Tarantula: At a crossroads, claiming life’s purpose
The Tarantula represents a moment when a great decision must be made. It involves prioritizing your life’s deeper purpose, or dharma. A habit or routine from the past is sidetracking you from your dream, yet a voice inside keeps begging you to refocus your attention. In order to find true happiness, you must choose dharma. Until you do, satisfaction will be fleeting. The tarantula hovers, patient and calm, like an old friend that knows your inner soul. It already knows you’ll choose wisely. — 
From The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit book and deck

I was so incredibly struck reading the card as this is precisely my situation right now! The night after I gave my notice at RAN I had that dream, and then the ensuing 3 days I had spider and spider web encounters.

In my life, I always know I’m on my spiritual path, my life path, and fulfilling my life’s work when unexplainable events of synchronicity transpire, especially when they relate to animal medicine – my greatest teacher.

The Spider card also had a nugget of wisdom for me: The spider is an ingenious creator. Its greatest gift is weaving the thread of dharma into a vast intricate web that supports the spider (and those around them) both financially and spiritually. It is hard work, but the spider neither tires nor becomes impatient. This card reminds us creativity is everywhere. Be process-oriented rather than results-oriented, and soon your “work” becomes like the weaving of a magical, priceless tapestry. Abundance follows. — From The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit book and deck

This is very helpful advice for me right now. It is exhausting and daunting applying for jobs, trying to re-imagine your professional career and the myriad directions you could take it all the while supporting a family.

Spider’s body is made like the number eight, it’s the symbol for the infinite possibilities of creation. Her legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions on the medicine wheel…If Spider has dropped from her web into your cards today, she may be telling you to create, create, create! Look for new alternatives to your present impasse…Spider gets your attention so that you notice that something you have woven has borne fruit. Congratulations! Spider caught you just in time, before you missed the opportunity on the edge of your web or reality. — from Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams & David Carson