There have always been red envelopes in my life, with their wishes for good luck, a long life, & riches. They were in the Christmas trees, handed out for Lunar New Year, & given on birthdays. My Chinese side is generous. They've never had much, but they've always given plenty. They're also extremely complex, & I consider  Joy Luck Club & all of Amy Tan's books a serious bit of therapy for the many-layered messages. 

Can I show you a moment from our road trip last Christmas?  I hadn't seen these people for years, but a co-creative commitment generated the moment:

Humanity is so gorgeous, right? Marybeth Bonfiglio said this is her family, except not Sicilian. 

With beloveds - not just family, but all human connection - comes so much.  It can be heavy, & it can be lifting.  For D, there's been too much trauma for his extended family to want to gather. It's heavy. I'd like to share Red Envelopes as a lifting practice in forgiveness with you.


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Forgiveness comes up a lot in your questions.  

I believe it is a constant struggle because 1. we can't wrap our head around the infinite moments that lead up to a violation, because we weren't there 2. it's an always-opportunity & 3. forgiveness is often the key to our most coveted transformations.

So we live in the gap. I believe in working with the act of being *for* giving. I believe in the practice of being *for* giving. I believe in being of student of forgiveness, & those who show up for our training & development.

Here's one take on it: There is no need to seek "true forgiveness." Let there be moments where you are *for* giving. There is authentic, & powerful access in that. And many moments make up a life.

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Please know that this is, in every way, a power play for your business & movement. In fundraising, movement-building & working with philanthropy, I have come to learn a fundamental truth:



When flow is blocked, & we feel that we can't receive, it is simply a matter of breathing into the Flow Space. Expanding our capacity to give. And when we feel that we cannot give, then our Flow Space, & therefore, flow, is bottlenecked. Maybe we have money, but not enough support. Maybe we have support, but not enough love. Maybe we have love, but aren't seen in a way that makes the impact we are here to make.

Let's expand this channel, this capacity together.


Here is a ritual from my own practice, & one that I am about to take on this week, to deepen an intense forgiveness journey. For the last few years I have been asking forgiveness of many women that reached out to me & weren't seen, because {I now see} I wasn't thinking for myself. Seeking them out, apologizing, & getting to know these now-teachers to me, I've had to work thru feelings of judgement against myself & also the circle of women who spoke so poorly of them all. A handful of sisters came to me on their own, to heal & share their heart burden from feeling excluded, & "less than." I did a burning ceremony to release the collective pain, & we were shocked to see the prayer bowl burn black, thick, oily smoke for over 15 hours. That's a lot of pain.

Of course I'm talking about the trauma of female socialization. Or "deep circle trauma," as Kristina Wingeier calls it. Do you know this phenomena? I trust you know your version. It is what comes of our tender hearts reaching out & being met by the recycled hurts of others. It comes from our biological need to have allies, & the cell-deep sense that as gatherers, when we don't have allies to watch our back in the fields, our survival is at risk.

This Monday I am going to bring another, very much needed layer of forgiveness to that perceived circle, for those who felt the need to exclude, to slander, & to judge. And what the heck, there's always more forgiving to do. I'm going to make 13 red envelopes, filled with symbols of my prayers for them. I'm going to wish them true prosperity, healing, & joy. And I am going to give us all a moment of space for our humanity.


* * *

Human animal is given by a biological instinct to survive. I need to remember that, & how it naturally includes lying, cheating, stealing, driving, & perpetuating tools like reputation, identity, & allies. I can give space for that, in the form of compassion, for just a moment. And I can maintain healthy boundaries. 



In the Chinese tradition, red envelopes are also given to healers & teachers, to acknowledge & seal an exchange of sacred information.

I believe that each person who comes close enough to hurt us has a sacred contract to illuminate the path & in doing so, brighten our way. It doesn't mean they are good people, or justified. I have no thoughts about that. It simply means that there is an exchange of sacred information that takes place in my own awareness. And so this is about that symbolic, archetypal lesson, very much about completing the stories & working with the characters in my personal mythology, & not so much about the individual personalities. It's another layer of liberation.

* * *


Are you *for* giving? Let's do this. Let's have a triumph of the human Spirit.

Make your 13 envelopes. Take 13 beautiful, hefty coins, or fresh, clean dollars, & place them out, under the dark moon. Read the Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer below. Breathe into it.

This is also the time of Imbolc, the Holy time on the Wheel of the Year between Solstice & Equinox. It's a chance to honor the dance of our inner light as she seeks to expand in the great vastness of our inner darkness. As the Sun begins to return, we are planting seeds for completion & new life in the Spring. We are starting fresh with a strategic, curious mind in this Year of the Monkey, & ready to truly create newly.

As the Sun comes up, picture your recipient, recite the prayer again, & slip your riches into an envelope. Do this 13 times. Take one, & give it to yourself, in thanks & self-forgiveness. Place it somewhere, like your altar, where you can receive it daily. Take the other 12, & mail them, anonymously or in full transparency.  


"Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship)." -Wikipedia




  • Download the template. Print three.
  • Cut out the template.
  • Fold along the inside lines. Unfold.
  • Fold in the side flaps. Apply a bit of glue.
  • Fold up the large bottom flap.  
  • Leave the top flap open. This is where the money is put into the envelope.


A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness  

If I have harmed any one in any way,  
either knowingly or unknowingly  
through my own confusions,  
I ask their forgiveness.  
If any one has harmed me in any way,  
either knowingly or unknowingly  
through their own confusions,  
I forgive them.  
And if there is a situation  
I am not yet ready to forgive,  
I forgive myself for that.  
For all the ways that I harm myself,  
negate, doubt, belittle myself,  
judge or be unkind to myself,  
through my own confusions,  
I forgive myself.


thank you. happy chinese lunar year. 
prosperity. healing. joy.

xx, maya