THIS BOOK IS A LOVE NOTE TO THE WORLD. It is informed by my firm conviction that there is no separation, that all things are connected, and that we are loved beyond measure. I cannot claim the ideas you will read here as my own original design. I was merely the conduit for this message, opening my heart and soul to allow the gift of this new vision for our world to break through, first in the mysterious though undeniable form of love and grace and then with words on the page.

My soul desire is that the hope for humanity in the heart of the cultivating essence message stirs your soul as they did mine. There is no question that the winds of change are blowing in our world. My belief is that they are also winds of grace – the sweet whisper of a dream breathed into possibility for a flourishing humanity. As you read, I invite you to lean into those winds, and imagine the dream alive.

The ideas set forth in the pages that follow came to me from my greatest mentor and teacher in this life, an intensely stubborn and beautiful soul who insisted on believing in me when I did not believe in myself – for a very long time. Apparently, this is an eternal cause for him, as he continues to speak to me in dreams and waking moments. This is his book.

Jim died in 1999, before reaching his 50th birthday. He remained then and remains now very much alive to me. Frankly, he is just as annoying and powerfully persuasive from beyond. Persnickety, too! Jim was a rough-around-the-edges guy who made his own way through this life. Fiercely committed to showing up, he stood by many who society had dismissed as misfits, miscreants and lost causes.

His life seemed ordinary from the outside, filled with the mundane routines that consume the hours. He was far from perfect. And yet, in the ten years I knew him, which seemed like lifetimes, he demonstrated with his every choice what was most important. And now he continues to do so.

Jim was a restless soul, to be sure. But, for me, he most certainly came trailing  clouds of glory along with all his quirks and eccentricities, imperfectly reflecting both the world we live in for a time and our home in God. With his life’s star, he was a guide to my full awakening to that home and to my own sacred seeds of promise – the essence I am only just beginning to cultivate.

In Jim I saw someone having a fully human experience who remembered his soul came from afar and “not in entire forgetfulness” as William Wordsworth penned. You can find the Wordsworth poem in its entirety at the close of this book, which Jim has called “a manual for the many.”

Cultivating Essence is for those who want to walk with as much ease and grace through this messy life as one can. It is for those who long to know why they are here now and live into that truth more fully.

There are always two roads. We are given a choice. Two roads diverged. And two roads will converge again one day. Which will we choose to walk for a while? Less-traveled paths are rough and rocky. Some choose it for that appeal. Others see the wide and well-worn path and choose the easy road. We can climb the rigorous mountains if we want. We can even be transported – effortlessly I am told, from one view of reality to another.

Either way, we will arrive where we once began. Either way, the journey will be beautiful. I can attest to that much as I have at times traveled both roads. I have been blessed on my journey. I have been loved despite my every attempt to thwart life’s love for me. And still it pursues me. It envelops me. It changes me.

Jim is teaching me still to be the one I’ve been waiting for, to allow myself to surrender just long enough to catch a glimpse of all that is most beautiful within me and around me, to cultivate essence and to breathe deeply from the matrix of soul from which we come and go. As always, the depth of his love lifts me out of my present circumstance and connects me to wide wonder of the worlds within me, reflecting the worlds without.

Or is it the other way around? He is laughing now at the joy we might rediscover on the way.

With deep gratitude,


Dawn Richerson