The Heart of the Matter is Trust

My mind has been so busy this past couple of weeks, that words have not wanted to take any coherent shape. It is not that my mind has been wandering in fearful or troubling pathways. It is more being in “figuring things out mind.”IMG_4119
There are thoughts of family and the delight of spending time with them. There are thoughts of how to find our next home and what to do as we wait for it to be ready for us. There are logistics questions and financial questions and questions of where and when to hike. The common thread has been that I reach the end of the day nicely tired and yet slightly disconnected from my core – my heart – my trust in life.

Trust is the central force of this new life. It was trust in the deeper wisdom within my being that led me to shamanic practice and the journeying work that was the birthing spark of this new life. It was trust that led to connection with the animal guides and helping spiritual ancestors of that practice that opened one step and then the next of the preparation work for the move. It has been trust in the signs, omens, and whispers of my deepest heart that has led us to this place.

You would think that it would be the most natural and effortless thing to maintain the practice of trust as we experience repeated blessing and grace. Yet my mind has held me away from much of it and the general activity of the holiday season has distracted my attention.

Today, I wake in gratitude for the natural world: Earth in her natural desert beauty; Water in her forms of river and clean water to drink; Air in the flow of my breath and the fresh air as I step out to greet the pre-dawn sky; Fire in the warmth of my coffee and the wonderful flow of heat from the trailer’s furnace; and Soul in my true connection at the core of my being with All that Is.

I call to mind the books and recorded classes that I have to support me in deepening my practice. I see the small altar set up in our borrowed trailer and remember my drum resting in a box under the bed. I know that in a few minutes a new cold morning will dawn and reveal the wonders of this day. In an hour or so there will be the sound of family voices and toddler laughter.

In all of this my trust is renewed and my thinking mind quieted. I am not alone and my life is not about figuring things out. The unseen Web of Life shimmers in my awareness and reminds me that my life is a tiny strand in an infinite dance of connection, Life, Light and Love.

Wow! What a difference trust can make.

Finding Brego

IMG_4052As so often happens in this journey, things have unfolded more quickly than expected. We had planned on waiting to look for our home on wheels until after Christmas. Then yesterday, we found it, after Will did a search and discovered signs that pointed to the right place to find it.

Preparing for the trip to Tucson yesterday, we sang and called in the Spirit of the directions and of this beautiful desert. We opened our hearts to be of service to the Sacred Source. We asked to be certain about this decision, since this is a relationship with a “good horse” as well as a new home. We decided that we would like the sales person and that we would know instantly if we were in the right place.

It unfolded with small and large signs – the RV dealer is “Freedom RV” which mirror’s Will’s blog of Freedom, Simplicity and Joy. A horse symbol appeared on the advertised model we went to look at — horse and the name Brego having come to us during ceremonies and drumming.  This 15-year-old, well-tended, 30-foot Winnebago was being sold on consignment by a woman who left it fully equipped from dishes to repair manual – much in the same way we left our rented house for the next family who moved in after they lost everything in the Paradise (Camp Fire). On top of it all, I had sensed for weeks what Brego would cost and that was what we paid (plus a modest fee for the dealer to go over the whole creature and replace any worn parts.)

We drove Brego a bit in an empty parking lot and that gave me the courage that I can ride this big creature. Once all the repairs are done, they will give us several hours of orientation – training us in the care and feeding of our new companion. They even include an over-night stay at their lot so we can try everything before we drive it down to Sierra Vista.

Maybe the most important development of the day was the breaking through of my tender heart. Since the busy weeks before leaving Mount Shasta, I have been living in such a tense way that the tears have not been able to flow. I was teary eyed much of the day yesterday – overcome with the grace and generosity of the Universe as we live into our vows to be of service to the Earth and all her Children.

We do not know where the road will lead us, but we move one step at a time, looking to our hearts and the wisdom of sacred helping ancestors, animal guides and the unseen world. We will enjoy each day we share with family, and every new path and trail we discover.
Thank you all for your companionship and encouragement along our way.

A special thanks to those of you who contributed to our Tiny House fund a couple of years ago – this is our new tiny house. I also deeply appreciate the people who had loaned funds to NW Bookbinding to help me move forward in that direction, and have forgiven those loans with this change in life direction. I hope still to pay forward the generosity all of you have shown.

No New Normal

It has been Less than two weeks since we left out friend’s home in Chico and headed south to Arizona and our son’s family home. We arrived here a week ago, moving into a borrowed trailer that a neighbor generously offered to park in John and Michelle’s driveway. We were greeted with an easy household flow and the liveliness of two 40-somethings, a 17-year-old, a 20-month-old toddler, two old dogs and a puppy.

What has not yet emerged is a “new normal.” Every day has a different rhythm. One part problem solving to get the borrowed trailer comfortable and organized; another part introducing ourselves to the desert with its sunrises, stars, walking trails and rain showers. Yet another part taking care of immediate details for our emerging life; two parts enjoying family and for me three parts playing, dancing and reading with my granddaughter. Underneath it all is the beauty of the desert that opens my heart to this expression of Earth.

We are busy, and happily tired when we go to bed at night.  There is, however, a sense of living in two worlds and struggling at times to hold the clarity of the life that has called us out into this journey. As the days pass, I am beginning to integrate the two, rather than seeing them as separate experiences that bounce me back and forth. Weaving the threads of family, learning, self-care, exploring, celebrating, solitude and writing into an unknown design. Perhaps that is the life of these next years.

My practice of greeting the new morning with thanks for earth, water, air, fire and spirit holds me in connection with the natural world. We have taken time to drum and done deep listening as we hike the nearby trails. Mainly, we request signs and symbols that give us assurance of being part of “The Tribe” and affirm the steps we are taking. In response we have seen rainbows, shooting stars and the reoccurring symbol of a horse (an image we associate with our home on wheels.) In the early days, I was finding quarters in odd places as we packed and unpacked our bags.

The time with family is equally sacred. We have had at most a few days a year with John and his family over the past couple of decades. Now, we are becoming visible to one another as we share their home and flow into their schedule. There is time for casual conversation, shared laughter, meals created and enjoyed, and just hanging out watching football or a movie.

This may not be a new and predictable normal. But we sure are having fun.

Getting on the Road Together

One of the greatest joys and greatest challenges of the journey is staying in synch with the man I love. This is very much a shared calling – yet it is the calling of two individuals who each must follow our deepest wisdom and overcome our worst fears. At times, the most we can do is be with the other person when the waves crash over him/her and allow our presence to provide a reference point as our beloved reemerges.

As we did the final clearing up around the house, we hit a wall. This is not moving from one house/apartment to another. There is no destination that we are planning to reach and no “fixed abode” that is at the other end of migrating to Arizona. We are not moving a household, we are lightening our load for travel on through our lives. Once we shifted to packing as though we were moving halfway around the world to an unfamiliar culture, the barriers eased. We are not trying to find out how much weight our ox can carry forward, but seeking to become light enough to fly.

There is the feeling that we have been preparing all of our lives for this next chapter, and at the same time, none of that preparation fits this set of circumstances. It calls both of us to connect with the core of our inner power and wisdom, standing with as much clarity and purpose as possible. At the same time, the vulnerability of it all draws us into a new intimacy and honesty with one another. There is no room to walk away or conceal emotional weather. We are learning not to refute nor take on the uncertainties of the other. We are not asking the other to be strong; to know what to do; or to walk with equanimity through this unknown territory. We are simply pledged to walk with one another through it.

We are currently with friend in Chico, where we lived for 17 years before moving to Mount Shasta. The familiarity of the place and the warmth of our hosts and friends is giving us some breathing room. Upper Bidwell Park has offered broad, blue skies; slightly muddy trails and open vistas. Yesterday, there was a large golden hawk riding the currents over the rolling hills. A wonderful reminder of the invitation to keep our heart light and open to be carried on along our way.

(While this post was written Dec. 3, it seems an important step along the way. So, I will post it today, and follow with news of more recent steps in the journey in the coming days.)

Potlatch to the Fullest

Just over two weeks ago, we held our estate sale and celebrated a sense of Potlatch release of much of our furniture and a number of decorative items. The following Thursday, Paradise, CA was transformed by wildfire in a few hours from a thriving mountain town with over 15,000 homes and businesses to rubble and a chemical smoke cloud that has yet to dissipate. There are a few buildings still standing, but most of  the 27,000 people who lived there lost everything and are grateful to have walked away alive.

We had been planning to leave our 3-bedroom rental house some time early next year, and then stay in the Chico area for about a month for a few last appointments. Suddenly, that all shifted. We told our landlord that if he found a family from the Paradise fire who needed the house, we could be out Dec. 8. This was a bold move for us, especially with no way of seeing what our next housing step might be. Yet, the image came that, if need be, we would get everything into the Subaru and when we reached the end of the driveway make the decision about what direction to head.

For a couple of weeks we have thought that there might not be anyone ready to make the move because of the slow process of aid and insurance money when there is a tragedy this big. The night before last, our landlord called, excited that he might have found the perfect family for the house. Yesterday, we met the mother/grandmother of a three generation household and the fit was perfect. She, her daughter and grandson will move in December 5 and they need as much of our remaining furniture and household items as we can leave behind. Now, instead of trying to find “good homes” for things in thrift shops and as donations down in the Chico area, we are free to drive away with just those things that will fit in our new RV life.

The other piece that fell into place was that we decided that our health-related care can be done as easily in Arizona. When Will spoke to our son, he and his wife told us we are more than welcome to spend December in their home while we look for our home on wheels. So, we are now in the last two weeks of packing, storing some things, preparing the house for its new family and experiencing the fulness of Potlatch.

Everything we have is free to flow to these four people who have lost so much. And they in turn will pass along anything that does not serve them. We are part of a community functioning like the ancestral peoples — when life transitions occur you release everything to those who need it. Potlatch is being fulfilled more beautifully and powerfully than we could have imaged.

The Path to Potlatch / Bonfire

ash-bonfire-branches-266751

The challenge of writing a blog once or twice a week is not to limit it to the final outcome of a process, but to be honest about the steps along the way.

This past Saturday, we held a Potlatch/Bonfire sale to release the first big wave of our furniture and household items. We had been planning the event for weeks, but it wasn’t until the Monday before the sale that we started the physical work of moving things out into our living room and kitchen to include in the sale and clogging the corners of the bedrooms with things that were not going yet. There was a physical sensation of congestion and confined energy about having bookcases and desks and boxes of knick-knacks stacked around waiting to be set free.

On Tuesday, it felt like things just got worse. We did get out to the Gateway trails to walk and sing, but the house felt more and more a jumble. The psychologic/energetic threads tying us to one thing and another felt especially tenacious. Thank goodness that when one of us lost focus, the other would suggest that we drum, journey, spend time seeking the wisdom of helping spiritual ancestors.

Will  has been playing Freedom songs, including a powerful Freedom Trilogy by Odetta and albums by Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie. These songs reinforced a call to freedom; to break from the cultural slavery that imprisons us in a marketplace economy, never letting us dream of real liberation. Odessa’s powerful voice also gave us the phrase, “I’m on my way, and I won’t turn back,” to inspire our forward movement.

Thursday, I started my walking/singing with the feeling that I was dragging a heavy weight behind me and would not make it up the first hill. But gradually, opening to the wisdom of my spirit guides, I found assurance that the freedom beyond this current transition is not just for me/for us. The timing and the form are important links within a chain which is being created to help support those who, for whatever reason, need to flee the mainline culture.  It pulled me back to my call of dedicating my life to serving the Earth and All Her Children. My body lightened and my singing flowed.

We both went through times of getting caught by cultural conditioning of, “How much do we need to get for this item?” On Friday, we put prices on most things and on Saturday we pulled them off. We did ceremony and drummed on Thursday Night; drummed again on both Friday night and Saturday morning. We had to turn again and again to our spiritual ancestors and our open hearts to help us stay focused on the path we are choosing.

Gratitude was also vital to the process. One afternoon, I went to many of the pieces we were offering and used Murphy’s oil soap, a gentle vacuum massage, a gentle rubbing with soda… to give each one loving care. I sang to it and thanked it for how it has served us. I also told it how much I hoped it would find a fulfilling new home.

By Saturday morning, we had two images. One was of the Potlatch tradition of the People of the Pacific Northwest of this continent. For celebrations of life transitions, you would gather with the tribe and give away everything you possessed – letting it pass from your hands to others effortlessly. This transition in our lives felt perfect for a Potlatch. Through Friday and even Saturday, more little things I had been keeping “just in case,” came out of hiding to be offered.

The second image was of putting a huge juniper log onto a fire and watching it release all of the energy it has contained for decades to create light, warmth and energy. Our “sale” would be Potlatch and Bonfire. Releasing the energy of long-held possessions to bless other lives.

People began pouring into the house an hour and a half before the stated starting time, and waves of people in and items out surged through the morning. There were many sweet moments of taking a small stack of quarters for a kitchen item, or just handing a picture or book to someone who showed a love for it. We watched with tenderness as many stayed caught in the “how little can I give you for this?” mindset, and found it easy to let them walk away satisfied with their victory in the bargain hunt.

The day culminated with a lovely extended family sitting in our living room waiting for a brother to arrive to look at a chair. They had purchased a number of small items and three large pieces of furniture. As we waited, I gave bells to the two little boys. When they left with one of the last big items, we gratefully put up a “Sold Out” sign, knowing that the rest will find its way to a friend who is moving or to the thrift shops.

The fire had burned away to leave a spaciousness and freedom in our home. The Potlatch had redistributed our goods, reminding us that nothing really belongs to us.

We are deeply grateful.

Wind’s Gift to Lighten the Load

I am sharing a post I originally wrote to fellow participants in a class by Sandra Ingerman on Shamanic Journey. I like how I described the experience to that group and wanted to carry that tone here.

I want to continue sharing about our transition from house to RV and the guidance from helping spirits that is a vital part of it all.

For the past couple of months, I have been struggling with how I might carry my bookbinding and book repair business into our new life – playing with various options for less equipment or shared space. Then a couple of weeks ago I had an ideal booth, at a lovely outdoor craft fair – weather was wonderful – all conditions perfect.

I had set my handbook journals up on a bookshelf display and halfway through the afternoon – on a gentle breeze day, a gust of wind came up against the side of the canopy – created a huge sail and toppled the bookcase and books to the ground. It left many of the books with scratches and dented spines or corners and knocked the breath out of me.

My husband stayed with the booth and I went to walk in a quiet place to ask my helping spirits what was going on. When I had quieted enough to listen, the first message was that Wind is my friend and wanted to help end my struggling.

The next message that emerged is that all of this is too heavy to carry with me into the new life that is emerging. All of the supplies and equipment and work tasks weigh too much to pull along behind me. And finally “You can not both leave a culture and be bound up in it by having a business.”

Over the intervening weeks, while friends have begun adopting the damaged books and I have taken steps to close the business, a couple of things have become clear.

First, the transition I am approaching is very similar to when someone of the faith decides to take holy vows and join a convent or monastery. The question becomes, “How little of this present life can I take with me into the next? and Can I drop everything that attaches me to a previous identity so that I can dedicate myself fully to the healing of the Earth and all her Children?”

Second, it was Wind as Eagle that has been trying to teach me the freedom of flying and how little weight one can carry when on wings. I sense the joy and freedom that await as I release these old life weights. 
Finally, both my husband and I are discovering a dedication of body, mind and spirit that we have been working toward throughout our lives. It is a time of deep gratitude.

I hope that if others of you are in transition that you find the same release, freedom and joy that we are experiencing.
Peace and Harmony, Nancy