5 years ago I defended my dissertation

That morning I woke up, prepared to answer “all the questions” my committee and external examiner would ask me, walked to the water, chanted, cleared my energy, got dressed up and headed to campus with my partner Stacy, my family, and my good friend Laura Kooji.

I remember choosing not to faint when I began my presentation, kicking ass when it came time for the hour and a half of questions, and nervously waiting to find out how I’d done.

My mother asked me the hardest question. She’s an anthropologist so she gave me an article to read to answer it! My supervisor was floored but I loved it because she was asking me about the value of writing reflexive ethnography.

I have three degrees in cultural anthropology and a diploma in social research. My dissertation was on how hope for a post-industrial city was embodied in a local arts scene and became a site of pilgrimage.

I’ve always been interested in how people create meaning out of their relationships to place (both sacred and ordinary). Before that, I’d spent most of my time studying anthropology of religion so my topic kind of surprised me (I had intended on studying crop circles, ruins, stained glass and trees in Great Britain).

Looking back it makes all the sense in the world because, at the end of the day, I’m simply fascinated by the ways in which everyday life, creativity and spirituality come together in new and exciting ways.

When I look at, and am part of, emerging spiritualities I see great strength and energy in how people are reimagining themselves in relationship to spiritual experience.