Reclaiming Our Wild Hearts.

Via Bronwyn Petry
on Apr 2, 2014
get elephant's newsletter

Flickr CC

My bruised heart.

Those days where it struggles to beat without aching, when it turns inwards and remembers every crack and hurt, when it asks for comfort, comfort, comfort in every pulse.

It is restless; maybe because the calendar has turned a corner and it is finally spring—the world cracked open like an egg, sunlight reaching long-lost corners and birds beginning to congregate in the sky.

I find myself constantly turning towards the window, looking for rain.

We are in that in-between season where the snow has gone, leaving dusty sidewalks and the grass is still flattened and sleepy. Everything in me wants a thunderstorm—the pulling-together of horizon into a seam of blue cloud, the dance of lightning and thunder, a pounding, dark rain—so that afterwards, we are all electric and clean.

A little while ago I was standing in the middle of the sidewalk and I had a bag with white onions in it, and tomatoes and plantain, and the thought came to me, “you just have to accept that you are wild. You always have been, always will be.”

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before in exactly that way, but something sighed within me and clicked into place.

My heart said, “of course you are. That would explain why you can’t quite fit into any ‘boxes’, why you have never been able to do an office job, why you feel crazy when you’re inside for too long, why you save money for plane tickets instead of RRSPs.

If you just accept that there is something inside of you that can’t and shouldn’t be tamed, then what will happen?”

What happened is, I started caring a lot less about what I thought other people thought. Pretty much right away.

The things I hadn’t done suddenly became a field of possibilities. It became “of course you haven’t done this yet, it wouldn’t have made you happy” instead of, “is there something wrong with me that I haven’t been able to do this?”

A funny thing about “wild” is that it sometimes feels like “lonely”.

But I know there are others like me out there; others whose hearts beat so fast that we sometimes think our bodies cannot hold them, when nothing will do but the long way home and a night sky so vast it can take every mood.

We have chosen experience after experience without necessarily following anything but some instinct inside us—which can be frustrating to the people who want to love us and follow along, but is, for better or worse, how we work.

We have a kinetic energy around us— our hair is big, our laughs are big, our tears are oceans—and we love what we love to the point where we can’t breathe, where we want to stop strangers on the side of the street and tell them, “This is what I bleed for. This, just this.”

Things often break easily around us, not because we are careless or that we don’t love them, but there is an extra bit of electricity around us that gives us a different kind of grace.

We always need a way out.

This is perhaps the one thing that needs the most explanation, but essentially, staying somewhere has to be of our own volition. We still make commitments, but we check in with ourselves regularly to make sure they are a conscious choice.

We learned the hard way, but our wildness has a lot to do with freedom. We need to feed it poetry and long walks and laughter and the touch of someone who truly knows us.

We live to explore. Where doesn’t exactly matter—sometimes the farther away the better, where every face is a stranger’s and the road signs are written in tongues that we will never know—but even another part of the city will do, where there are new streets, new smells, different houses and different music coming from the opened garages.

Signs of a person who has lost touch with their wildness include: fatigue, a vague sense of unease or depression, unusual and uncharacteristic negativity. In those times, we can often be heard saying, “I don’t recognize myself,” or “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,”

Our hearts are trying to tell us that they are still beating and yet, we are not truly listening.

We need to find constant ways of celebrating ourselves, celebrating our edges and our softness, acknowledging that we are wild creatures who live in times that don’t necessarily celebrate those qualities.

To find our way back to our centre, we can use a few of these tricks:

  • Citrus in any form. Orange, grapefruit and mandarin oils have been found to improve stress levels and digestion; orange also opens up the second (sexual) chakra and activates a sense of personal power. Add orange to oil and rub it into our skin until we begin to purr. Cut the peel and breathe it in. Feel something chemical change inside you.
  • Get intentionally lost. Head out of our doors and go somewhere that we couldn’t have predicted when we woke up. The adventure will wake something up, partly because we have done something to appease the parts in ourselves that just need to leave. There is nothing wrong with the way we are made.
  • Cry. We are made of water and there is something that breaks us open when we allow ourselves to cry and truly feel that intersection of release and vulnerability.
  • Scream therapy. (Find somewhere private to do this, unless you live on your own in the country). Screaming without judgement, just to release something inside of us, attunes us quickly back to our own energy.
  • Self-forgiveness. Being honest about who we were and about the growth we’ve undergone to become the people we are now. Rise up, beautiful phoenix. How to forgive ourselves is personal, deep-down stuff and we each have to figure out how to do it in our own way, but being kind to our former selves is a good start.
  • Remember a dream we had a long time ago and do something in the following 24 hours to make it happen. Even a small move towards a long-held goal can shift the tides within us.
  • Journal. Find a book where we can be real and rage and cry and draw and tell our deepest secrets, and then we can hide it or burn it or whatever we want. All that matters is that the words are out there and not still inside us.
  • Dance. In our kitchens with the curtains drawn tight, on the street, late at night in a salsa club we randomly find ourselves in. As Martha Graham once said, “dance is the hidden language of the soul.” We will bring the primal parts of ourselves out of hibernation if we can dance them out.
  • Eat well and sweat every day. Detox from the inside and out: it won’t take long until our spirits are clear and we are able to honour who we are.
  • Find a few friends and ask them to send us some songs that lift them up. Make a playlist of those songs. Listen to that playlist over and over. Their music will call something out of us and our heart will relax and respond.

Never forget that there is a network of wild spirits always listening out for one who may need help, so send up a flare, reach out, and the spirits will come, bringing gifts of eagle feathers and talismans: necklaces, tea, a night out on the town, laughter, being truly seen for what we are.

We are the adventurers, the wanderers, the dancers in the storm.

The next time it rains, meet me outside?


Conversations with a Human Heart.


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Renée Picard

Photos: Dar’ya Sipyeykina, Flickr Creative Commons, elephant media archives


About Bronwyn Petry

Bronwyn Petry wrote her first short story when she was six, and hasn't really looked back since. Writing is the only thing she was ever any good at. Bronwyn is also a yoga student who likes to run, a roller skating enthusiast, an amateur photographer and an inveterate people watcher. Her work has previously appeared in Soliloquies, The Grist Mill, Roots of She, The Body Stories, and a variety of other places. Her hobbies include crossword puzzles and long walks with her dog. She loves her friends, has 17 different laughs and she travels in her spare time to soak up the stories of the world. She lives in Toronto (for the time being) with her partner and their animals. Please feel free to find her on Twitter, Facebook or on Instagram, if you’re into those sorts of things.


21 Responses to “Reclaiming Our Wild Hearts.”

  1. Absolutely brilliant.

  2. Andrea says:

    I love this sooo much!!!

  3. Bronwyn Petry says:

    Thank you!! xoxo

  4. Bronwyn Petry says:

    No, you!


  5. Elien says:

    Damn! My heart feels too big for my chest right now for I recognize, embrace and love this! Thank you

  6. Bee says:

    I love how this seems to be connecting with people, Ellen. Thank you for letting me know.

  7. Julia Elmore says:

    LOVE this… rings true in my heart and makes me want to dance barefoot on damp grass under the stars and scream and sing and cry and laugh and curl up in the arms of the wild one who understands me because his heart is wild too. Thank you! x

  8. Shelby says:

    thank you! thank you for sharing this right when I needed to read it. I cried with relief that I am wild and that’s a perfectly fine thing to be. This made me feel seen.

    I am a mother of 3 little ones (youngest is almost 3 months old) and being wild in my soul and trying to raise children who apparently need schedules and routines and early bedtimes is really quite challenging for me. Maybe I can cut myself a little slack and take the kids out to play in the rain. Any other wild mamas out there struggling with the contradiction of their nature and the requirements of motherhood?

  9. celia says:

    thank u. the thought that i am not lonely in this wild feelings relieved me. i saw my self in part of your words. gracias!

  10. Janis says:

    My kids are grown and I wish I had shown them more (I did some) wildness while they were growing up. Now that I try to fully embrace this part of myself one of them has occasional difficulties with it. However, in some ways it's bringing closer (we're going skydiving this weekend). Definitely indulge in your wild side with your kids. Let them see it's ok to embrace that part of yourself. They'll start learning how to balance it, be wild responsibly, and to dance/play/meditate/everything you can in the rain.

  11. Janis says:

    I am a fellow dancer in the storm. I enjoyed reading this and it inspires me to continue honoring myself by embracing my wildness. I've always indulged in at least occasional wild things (like dancing and being out in the rain), and I did the biggest thing for me to break free a couple years ago. Since then I've been healing and working on giving myself permission to be the one of the wild ones. In the day to day grind of things and others, reminders like this are awesome and reassuring. Thank you!

  12. Emmely says:

    I am SURE that I wrote this piece!!!! Exact my words! So spot on girl, so spot on! And I love your writing girl, following you from now on! x

  13. Bee says:

    I am so so happy that you've found someone to be wild with! Thank you so much for reading!

  14. Bronwyn Petry says:

    Shelby, what a beautiful comment. I'm so glad you found something in my writing that made you feel less alone.

    In terms of the "wild mamas" group I wish I had resources for you—I'm guessing you're on Facebook; I know it's a bit cheesy maybe but the community on Facebook really does work. Maybe you could try that? Please let me know how it goes!

  15. Bronwyn Petry says:

    De nada! Thank you so much, Celia!

  16. Bronwyn Petry says:

    I'm glad that we're out here, all looking out for each other.

    Thank you, Janis!

  17. Bronwyn Petry says:

    Thank you so much, Emmely!!

  18. Consuelo says:

    Love this! So on point! Namaste

  19. Bronwyn says:

    Thank you so much for reading, Consuelo!

  20. Maureen Parker says:

    Love this, does not matter how old you are! enjoy life and every blessed moment- esp when you are outside and on this lovely earth!!

  21. ReneeJah says:

    Thank you for this, my heart remembered in the reading. About half way through (as I read: We always need a way out.) I exhaled from deep within myself.