Magpie Speak: The Giant Pool of Wisdom

Welcome to the web page version of Magpie Speak: The Giant Pool of Wisdom. Scroll down to leave us your tidbits in the comments below. We are so glad you are here!

Did you get here by following a link? Get the whole series by clicking here.

The Giant Pool of Wisdom

While I was in the process of Leaving Church, I often found myself doubting my heretical ways. But in time, as I continued to move through life without falling into the very pit of hell, I began to trust my internal wisdom. “Dammit,” I’d say, “I know shit!” (It is a post-religious goal of mine to use as many previous forbidden words as possible.  But I digress…)

My point is, I know stuff. Lots of it. Furthermore the wise souls and creative people around me know a lot more stuff. It ’s just that it’s not all collected up between the pages of hard-back book, bound with leather, and titled in gold letters. So what do we call all that amazing collective wisdom? And furthermore, how do we access it?

In 1997 while at graduate school, I’d become enamoured with the concept of “teaching-learning” introduced to me by Dr. Thena Ayres.  In this model instructors don’t just disseminate information from the top-down. Rather they create an environment in which the teachers and the students inform each other; using their collective experience to create a larger pool of knowledge than what the instructor alone could bring.

Then, in September of 2008 the team at This American Life produced an excellent radio piece about the national mortgage crisis, calling it The Giant Pool of Money. The title of that program wouldn’t let me go. It got stuck in my teeth. I loved the way it felt on my tongue.

When I began writing about Soultribes at Magpie Girl, the practice of teaching-learning and the title  The Giant Pool of Moneycame together. (SlurpClick.) In my imagination every post and every reader’s comment was like a fat drop of water gathering together to form first a puddle, then a pool, and someday a sea. Thus was born the phrase: “The Giant Pool of Wisdom…forming now.”

I use this as a metaphor to describe the teaching-learning process that happens at Magpie Girl. It captures the back-and forth wisdom-sharing that happens in the community forming there. And it embodies the beliefs that it’s okay to be learners, that questions are as valuable as answers, and that “there ain’t nowhere to go but together.”

What about you? What bit of knowledge do you possess that you could share with the world? What is your area of wisdom specialty? Put it down in black and white on this special page. (Writing it down makes it feel more real.) We can’t wait to hear from you!

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivonne March 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

it is beautiful to find this place, really encouraging. I love the name. :)
As for my tokens of wisdom I am good in social media, I love it, I’ve been on it for quite a while and I think I manage the internet language to the perfection. I know about photography and I like sharing my knowledge about it with others.
I know a lot about books and music, I find in them a passion and I can’t help but feel attracted to them, so I guess I’m a good advisor in all topics related to them.
I know a little about astronomy and astrology, also I know about languages and history, so I guess I could entertain people sometimes with fun fact about times, places or people.
I’m pretty good, I don’t know if this is knowlegde, at remembering things and details, my memory is pretty accurate. I guess that’s it.

Rachelle March 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm


What a great list of contributions!

I was wondering if you might share with us one or two of your best tips for setting boundaries. I know that is something many of us struggle with, and I know your wisdom on the matter would be much appreciated.

Rwar on!


Rachelle March 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Note to self: Get Ivonne on your team at the next quiz night. ;-)

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us Ivonne. I’m sure many of us could use some of your social networking mojo. Want to share any tips?

Much warmth,


Patricia April 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I so love the idea of the Giant Pool of Wisdom.
I know many things … have acquired much wisdom over the years, and have been a facilitator of teaching-learning for the past 28 years. Encompassing the appreciation of mind-body-spirit into each school day. I love reading everyone’s ‘things they know’ – how beautiful.
I appreciate all that we learn from/with one another.
How great is it to read another persons words and realize, ‘oh, I am good at that too’ … what a gift. Thank you

Lavet April 4, 2011 at 6:35 am

Some thoughts/tips on boundaries in relationships…

1) Be willing to bear the consequences of setting boundaries (such as loved ones being irritated with you, a boss or coworker thinking that you don’t pull your weight, a regular boundary crosser throwing a tantrum because you are no longer cooperating). I remind myself that anyone reacting poorly to my setting a boundary either doesn’t actually have my best in mind or is stuck in an unhealthy pattern of disrespecting other’s boundaries. Which is their problem, I can’t afford to make it my problem. I love healthy boundaries and healthy relationships, they give me life. Unhealthy relationships drain me of life. No contest.

2) I have finite resources, there is only so much I can give or do a certain time frame. If someone doesn’t understand that, they likely have poor empathy skills and therefore are not a very safe person to be close to. There are many people in the world in which to share one’s life with, why not choose conscientious, kind, empathetic ones? What about when you can’t choose (aka family members, employer, etc.)? Work your way out of that relationship. I have chosen to take “breaks” from family members who refused to be respectful of my boundaries, sometimes for several years. I try to convey to them that this isn’t done in anger, I do love them, but certain things are non-negotiable with me and then I don’t budge. I carefully open back up to them slowly if they do soften and come around. If they don’t, that is o.k. They have the right to make their own decisions on how to live and behave, but I also have the right not to pay the consequences for their decisions.

3) I don’t do nonreciprocal relationships. In other words, it doesn’t matter to me how great or wise someone thinks I am (flattery is the wooing of a taker!), I only choose to be in relationships that are fairly even in give and take.

Some thoughts/tips on setting boundaries within myself…

1) I choose to believe my natural state is at peace, being present, and feeling generally well. If anxiety, anger, depression or whatever other negative emotion become my dominate state, then it’s a signal that either I need to slow down and give my emotions room to be expressed and considered or I am living beyond my natural boundaries in some area (lack of sleep, not eating well, giving too much of myself away without receiving, etc).

2) If I discover I am living beyond my boundaries, I come to a grinding halt and begin to brainstorm how I can adjust the situation I’ve gotten myself into. Sometimes this means calling in sick for a day of rest (which I’m doing today!), taking some action steps to resolve or dissolve a relationship or work situation, or radically reconfiguring some other aspect of my habits. I am willing to be a fierce pruner of extraneous, draining things so that my life can be pleasant and I have enough energy for the people and things I love most.

Amy April 8, 2011 at 10:34 am

I know I can trust my intuition.
I know I don’t have to do what everyone else wants me to do but I should listen to why they think those things about me.
I know that I am not nearly patient enough but I am creating opportunities to practice more patience.
I know I am a damn good editor.
I know that my capacity for love it unimaginable.
I know that I have a problem with and easily get hung up on the details but I have a wonderful ability to see the whole picture. I also know this is in direct opposition to being a good editor, but sometimes seeing the whole pictures helps me work out the details.
I know that I work well with others but not for others. I do not like the hierarchical systems of society.

Rachelle April 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm


Thank you for your wise words. I’m going to Tweet and Facebook around that your good advice is waiting for people here!



Rachelle April 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm


I really like how your wisdom list encompasses several different areas of your life — work, personal, communal… What a lovely picture of balance. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Much Warmth,


Sherry Smyth April 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

This is really timely for me and I believe that everything happens for a reason. This is just one example of that.

I have been through a number of traumatic experiences that have changed my life in so many positive ways. The experiences could be considered “negative” and yet they have been translated into positive for me. Surviving abuse, and family dissolving. Surviving early deaths of my mother and younger sister. Surviving breast cancer in myself. In each of these experience I have learned about my strength, my courage and my spirit.

Just recently I have realized that while others open doors for me with their knowledge and their experience, it is necessary for me as well to open doors and share what I have learned. What I didn’t know when I first “thought” this was that I have been doing that — and didn’t realize it because it has been so “natural”.

I know that I have “wisdom” to share so that what I know can encourage others to overcome obstacles and to find joy, or peace or wonder in what happens during every single day of life.

And I love how you talk about this being a pool of shared wisdom. That is profound…and it is true.

Lani April 24, 2011 at 5:27 am

Sometimes all you need is to hear someone’s story about love, bravery, and resilience. Sometimes all you need is to remember your own love, bravery, and resilience.
Thank you Sherry and Rachelle!
Love, courage, and resilience,

Lani April 24, 2011 at 5:30 am

P.S. Thank you everyone else as well. What a wonderful pool of wisdom.

Jess Morrow (So Uprightly Burning) April 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

What I bring to the pool of wisdom is my knowledge of yoga and meditation, and the talent I have for teaching. It’s also my talent for helping people figure out what they want and need without directing them or giving them the answers. And I use that talent in my profession, which is doing advocacy & first response for domestic violence/sexual assault survivors.

Which also demosntrates another bit of wisdom I’ve cooked up, and that’s the ability to take my OWN experience as a survivor and bring what I can to the table in order to help those who ask me for help.

I like the comment above, about turning negatives to positives. How truthful; how timely.

Judy Schwartz Haley May 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I’m in a huge transition right now, so I’m in a place of re-discovering who I am. I was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was still breast feeding. My baby learned to walk in the cancer care waiting room. Now that I’m on the other side of treatment, half-way through my degree, and my darling daughter is a bright, happy toddler, all of the sudden my goals have changed, but I’m not exactly sure what the new goals are. I’m not even sure I want to continue on this same path toward my degree.

But I do know that I have something to offer young women with cancer, especially moms of babies and young children. I love to write, and I love photography. I’m trying to find a way to combine those loves in a productive way that will bring peace and comfort and encouragement to moms with cancer or other life threatening diseases.

Jo May 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I know how to listen deeply to myself, to the earth and to the energy we share. I know my intuitive voice and know, most days, that it is wiser than my brain.

I know how to listen in a way that validates and supports others’ experiences.

I know what it is like to live through trauma, to be a witness to trauma and to still be a whole person.

I know how to love. I am working on knowing how to receive love :)

I know I am crafty – in word, wit and art. I know that I am more colorful than my wardrobe lets on. I know that creating brings me peace.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know me, which makes it easier to know you. I know that self-acceptance is one of the purest gifts we can give the world. This is why I know that I’m good at what I do – as a Coach and Intuitive Reader. I feel that I have love and wisdom to share with other women trying to find themselves and create a joyful, meaningful life.

maxine June 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I know things. This is true. Wisdom erupts from my soul often of its own accord. When I am fortunate enough to witness this in a present and awake moment, I blog about it on my “other” blog, which sadly has been neglected of late. Perhaps this is a jump start to revitalizing more than just my soul…

Rita July 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

Such a great idea! And great shares everyone! Huge thanx!!!

I’d call me a middle(who)man: between people, between people and knowledge, people and skills, people and beings of another kind, people and their true self etc. etc. (I speak 4 languages professionally, am full time helping to grow the 3rd and 4th child, participating in many more lives of young and not so young people, as they grow and develop, can find any thing or info you need: in my head, on the www or elsewhere, can learn almost any skill (at least the basics) to help you to do so, too :)

Rachelle July 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm


I’ve been thinking lately about the messages we so often recieve that says we are “supposed” to move through life without any upheaval or hardship. Or that only the “unlucky” have things like death, abuse, or illness thrust upon them. But the truth of the matter is, none of us get through this life without being toucehd by these things. It is the wise woman indeed who can see these things in her life, and without denying them, turn them into wisdom and guidance for others. Thank you for doing that for those who’s lives you touch.

Much Warmth,


Rachelle July 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm


Thank you so much for sharing how your survival helps other survive. I apprecaite you.

Much Warmth,


Rachelle July 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm


I can totally see your using your photography to help mothers with cancer. I know one thing I mourned when I was ill and my children were young, was the fact that I wasn’t able to document thier growth in the way I wanted to. Just bringing your camera to the chemo room and shooting the children who are visiting parents there could be a powerful gift!

I know Way will emerge before you, as you approach it with a wondering heart.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Much Warmth,


Rachelle July 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Jo –

I feel like, as we move as a cultural way from being obedient only to external sources of authority (church, school, etc) we need guides like you to help us re-connect to our intuition — our internal authority. I know your work will be powerful for those around you!

Much Warmth,


Rachelle July 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm


I love that you are collecting your thought in the blog. So insightful!



Rachelle July 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Rita —

Now that’s an intriguing position — to be middle (wo)man in so many ways. What a neat way of collecting and assessing your skills. Thank you for sharing that idea. I’m gonna go chew on it now. (Munch. Munch)



Cami July 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Wow… I just LOVE the concept of a giant pool of wisdom. I love the visual image that it conjures up in my head. It is like a comforting concept. Wrapping myself up in “the giant pool of wisdom” . It kind of makes me feel safe – protected. With all the wisdom that is around – how can anything go wrong.
So what wisdom can I bring to this pool? I guess I love to connect people to other people. Does that make sense? I would like to take each one here and link them to someone who could benefit by their wisdom. Then every thing would workout and all the problems would have resolutions.
This is fun to jump into this pool.

Rachelle July 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm


I love the spirit that you bring here. It resonates through your words. :-)

Being a Connector does makes sense! In fact, it’s one of the main rolls Malcom Gladwell says is neccessary for a social movement to succeed. If I remember correctly the other include Early Adaptors (try things out first), Mavens (share info), and Sales People (get the message to the right-fit fit people.) It’s all in Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell.

I’m glad we’ve made this small connection here.

Much Warmth,


Fiona Leonard August 5, 2011 at 4:52 am

What a great place! The thing I love about it most is that the most powerful things I know scare the shit out of me and so I tend to shy away from them and shove them down and yet here is a group of people unashamedly sharing the most amazing and wonderful talents. It’s a beautiful thing!

I collect pieces of information and then down the road I meet someone who asks me a question [out of nowhere] and I have what they need.

I ‘hear’ when I’m not getting the whole story – conspiracy theories so to speak.

Sometimes I can know the reasons why people are doing things, or behaving a certain way and I can come up with creative ways to solve problems as a result. This is especially the case with my daughter – sometimes I get a flash of what her issue is with something.

When I’m feeling particularly brave and open to the world I get flashes of what’s going on with people, and sometimes it freaks me out – like walking through a supermarket and getting the sense that someone beats their wife, or someone is incredibly sad.

I write novels and I ‘know’ incredible stories that swirl through the universal soup to me! My characters are all very real – we talk, I try to make them do what I want and they ignore me. :-)

Victoria PM August 7, 2011 at 11:49 am

I have come to understand that confidence is contagious (and so is the lack thereof). It seems that the more I interact with others who are confidently cruising down their life path & overcoming any obstacle they encounter, the more power I feel to do the same (like big ass goals that sound crazy the first time you say them out loud!). However if I spend time with those who don’t have the insight to believe in themselves or are constantly setting limits, I find myself much more doubtful and disengaged from my goals. Misery loves company? So it is in the spirit of this concept that I have made a commitment to reach out to others who inspire me & those who may be inspired by me.

Thanks for this forum.

Tanja October 8, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Just discovered this series, Rachelle, and I’m SERIOUSLY (well, OK, with a little bit of humour too!) looking forward to working my way through it!

The knowledge I have that I want to share with the world is my copywriting. I feel like I’m right on the edge – I know I’m damn good at copywriting in my job, but I want to be able to use that ability to help people who are directly making a positive difference in the world. So my mission over the next few months is to get to know as many such people as possible – and hopefully, as I do, to learn how I can use what I know to somehow offer them value.

Tiffany October 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I know about making people welcome. I entertain like my Italian grandma: I cook for a small army, insist that no one goes home hungry, and putter around in my kitchen while kibbitzing with the guests in the dining room. When a friend of a friend moves to town or comes through on business, we’re the people they’re always told to connect with to be shown around, whether it’s just for a good place to have a drink or for learning the ropes of their new home.

Sarah November 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

In my heart, I KNOW I possess wisdom. However, it’s not always easy for me to articulate what that wisdom is. Not to mention that in my darker moments, the liar in my head tells me I know nothing and am worth nothing.

A few things I thought of though are: I know how to play. I adore playing with my nephews and I have the ability to connect with children. I’m also very in touch with my emotions. Sometimes they seem out of control but I know how to feel them and I am actually unable to hide them. With more learning and understanding, I think I can count true emotional wisdom among my gifts. I have a great deal of creative wisdom as well. I know the power of creating and the pain of not being allowed to create.

Reese June 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I know that liar. Thank you for naming him.

Sarah May 9, 2012 at 7:18 am

I know about being with people in the midst of their shit. I have a deep sensitivity to the needs of others and am skilled in creating space for vulnerability + intimacy.

Rachelle June 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

A beautiful — and important! — skill. Thanks Sarah!

Woz May 16, 2012 at 7:17 am

what a magical conversation. i was a bit intimidated by all the wise comments and wondered “do i really have anything to share?” i actually closed the page, not wanting to offer up something silly or trite. then, i decided to just give it a go. why not? we are all unique, so i’ll let my woz flag fly for a bit. :D

i can share my knowledge of learning how to learn to love yourself. after a major episode of depression (and a hell of a lot of work!), i have finally learned to love who i am and what i bring to this world (thus, my deciding to let my flag fly!). it’s a struggle so many of us face, thinking we are alone. i offer a hand to hold because we should never have to be alone in such a dark place.

i can share my whimsy. my sacred silly. at 35 years of age, i still delight in colored pencils, hello kitty, chewing gum, and dance parties in my living room (oh how my 15 month old loves dance parties!).

i can share my knowledge and love for women doing what they love and becoming entrepreneurs! (hot damn, i can finally spell that word without having to look it up.) i’m in the midst of starting my third business venture and the excitement is palpable.

and lastly, i can share what i know about writing being a powerful tool for discovery, creation, healing, and many times just a way to get it all out of your head. no fancy laptop needed — the backside of a flyer and a grocery store pen will do just fine.

Rachelle June 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

“Sacred Silly.” I LOVE that turn of phrase. That’s Woz!

I like the image of you writting on the backside of a flyer. I often write in the manage of museum maps. I always get inspired and I never seem to remember my notebook. Now I have an old cookie tin filled with scribbled musuee maps! :-)

Sue Top June 1, 2012 at 6:18 am

Most people respond positively to vulnerability. Allowing others to see the authentic me, warts and all, has led to exceptional emotionally intimate relationships with many people. Most of them treat me with love and kindness.

Reese June 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I have also found this to be true! Thanks for the reminder. Taking that first step is hard, so it is nice to hold this thought in mind when doing it.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” – it’s a cliche but there is truth in it.

Rachelle June 1, 2012 at 10:14 am

That’s brave and lovely Sue. Thank you for sharing your practice — and the positive responses to it! — with us all.

Much Warmth,


Reese June 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I know that I am amazing. I know that I have something to offer. I know I have vision – I see the big BEAUTIFUL picture. But I also know the importance of nuance – I value the small things. I do not like to plow through, but I know how to do it. I don’t like to get bogged down in the details, but I know how to do it. I am working on finding a balance. The ebb and flow between work and rest, between big picture goals, and tending the matters of the heart.

I also know that what keeps me from sharing what I already know and learning from others is SHAME. I know that the social structures around me press me down instead of build me up. Some of that is innate to them, some of that is how I perceive them. I know that categorizing everything as good or bad has not served me. I know need to embrace the “bad” – the lazy, the angry, the tired, the slow, the fast, the struggle, the tears, the disappointment, the PAIN! – in myself and others – if I am going to grow, if I am going to open up, if I am going to give and receive.

I know that I am afraid. I know I have relied too much on others, and too little on others.

This has been the hardest year of my life and I know that somewhere deep inside of me, work is being done, can be done, if I let it rise to the surface.

Rachelle June 9, 2012 at 9:58 am

Oh so wise, Reese! I especially like the bit about how lableing things as “good” and “bad” has not served you well. So helpful!

Reese June 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm

p.s. I know that I love nature and hiking, sunshine feeds my soul, I like challenging my mind and body, I love yoga, I love beauty and strength, I am drawn to inspiring images (vignettes, photos, drawings, words/languages/lyrics) – they soothe my soul – I NEED to see/hear them – they help me combat the liar in my head and the hurry that threatens to crowd in on me. I enjoy sharing these things with others as a teacher or as a fellow traveler. I know that journalling is as necessary to my survival as breathing. I know I can befriend myself.

Kerry Estey Keith September 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I just love you all here; I am inspired. I think quiet wild places teach me (almost) all I need to know. The rest comes from family, friends and people like you. I find that running long miles through forests and along mesas opens me up to a guiding voice that flows straight through me from the soul of the world (also called anima mundi by some.)

Thanks you all for being here.

Barbara March 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

Hi! Newbie here! Um, I know about words – they have always been my passion, I have always loved playing and working with them. I’m a writer, an editor, and a reader, and my relationship with the written word has always been sacred, in its own special way. And I have, at times, used it to express my spirituality – and hope to again.


{ 2 trackbacks }