We asked Olivia Woodford to share some words of wisdom about the human journey, as it relates in particular to finding purpose and direction in life. In this interview, Olivia also speaks to her relationship with the Sacred Fire community, and how this helps her stay on the path of Heart.

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Olivia, can you share with our readers, what is your compass in life?
I think my compass in life is, “Do I feel good?” And feeling good doesn’t necessarily mean being happy or even necessarily being relaxed, but I can feel when I am aligned. When I’m aligned, it’s like everything begins to move, or I feel like I am getting carried or being held, and so when I am aligned, I feel I am moving in relationship with life.  And so I look for that alignment.

What does it mean to you to be a mature adult in today’s world?
Being a mature adult in today’s world means questioning most of the values of mainstream culture and, I think, remembering how people always lived, and remembering the ways of our grandparents. It comes down to basic things of self-care, of integrity, of “Am I caring for myself? Am I caring for you? Am I caring for what is right in front of me? Am I doing this in a good way, and not coming from this place of grasping or controlling or demanding something be a certain way?” There is a relaxedness, a confidence in my own capability and my own capacity to respond.  

Have you found a sense of purpose in the world and how has that come about?
Yes, I have found a sense of purpose in the world.  And that purpose has to do with the care of the world and the care of the people of the world, and I do it through a particular tradition, but in order to do this, I need to be able to work with others. You can’t do it alone. One person can’t carry a load. But if you work as a group, aligned in a common purpose, aligned with certain values, extraordinary things can happen. And then, the burden on me is not so great. It’s like I’m being held and supported, and I can feel how the group energy, it can lift and carry something, and I am not having to carry such a huge load, and then this lofty purpose doesn’t feel so overwhelming or impossible.

How have you come to be an adult and what has helped you in this process?
When I think about the journey to becoming an adult, the first thing that flashes in my mind is the journey to walking, which is that you fall an awful lot of times before you walk. And when you fall when you are a toddler, nobody goes, “Oh you fell, oh!” They say, “Get up, try again,” and then you are applauded when you take that step.

Becoming an adult is an awful lot of missteps, and an awful lot of falling down, because we live in a culture that doesn’t teach us how to walk or become an adult in a good way. 
So we have to discover this for ourselves. And it is about care of self, care of life, care of how I am engaging the things I am responsible for, whether it is my job, or my home, or my family. The kind of caring I can bring to it and that when things get tough, I don’t run away, I don’t collapse in myself, I don’t run screaming, I can stay face to face with it and move from a place of, “This is not too big for me if we take a step at a time, we will find our way. We might fall but we will get up and we will figure out how to move through this.”  And so it is a self-responsibility, and I’m now not looking for something out there to take care of me, nor looking for some person to rescue me. It is like I am able to meet life as it comes to me and not reject it and not bemoan it, but go, “Here is what is. How do I want to meet it?”

How do you see Sacred Fire helping people come into their purpose?
The first thing that happens to me when I engage the Fire, or the Sacred Fire, there is an immediate relaxation, like the shedding of armor. You know, it’s like the day just falls to the side, and then I can come to myself in a quiet way and I can feel my heart and I can feel my feelings, and so that’s the place where we begin.

You cannot find your purpose until you are quiet and calm within yourself, and able to be present with yourself.
What I have found regarding purpose, if you are rushing out there trying to find it, you are not going to. The purpose is going to arrive, but if I am not ready to receive it, because I’m running around trying to find it or doing something, I miss it.  And so it has to do with the presence of self and being present with what is showing up. Because as the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” When I am ready, the purpose will come and meet me.

So, Sacred Fire: first, when you sit there, it is how to come to your self, and then it opens your heart, it softens the heart, it warms the heart and the heart then opens and can want what it wants, feel what it feels, long for what it longs for. From that a sort of calling goes out: “Here is what I long for. I long for my people. I long for connection.  I long for purpose.” And then that becomes a guide, and what happens in community, you are all resonating with the longing, and then in conversations that longing gets amplified; so does the warmth, so does the intimate connection with life.  

There are many avenues by which one’s soul purpose can be found.
Within the Sacred Fire community, it is like you need to sit by the fire long enough. It’s like there are all these doorways, and if you sit around it long enough, one of these doorways opens and there is a way to move through.

At first, it can feel like, “There’s all these people around who have found a doorway; where is my doorway?” But it is like Grandfather Fire has talked about, the wood needs to be dried out before it is  burned, and so when I am sitting in front of the fire with that longing, I need to be able to be dried out to be ready, for that door to open, and for me to move through. And then suddenly it is like I don’t remember when I had the longing and when it was met. I don’t remember how I walked through, only that, “OMG, I walked through.” It comes in an effortless way. If we are really trying to effort and we are struggling to find, it sort of will miss us.  So being with the Fire keeps us in the moment, and keeps us in the Heart.

Watch the video we excerpted from this interview: