Coming Back Into Focus

IMG_E4828I can not even begin to explain the blending of factors that has led me to fall silent these past six months. I am still watching as Grandmother weaves together the mixture of threads of my life transition to give some form to the experience. I know that it is more complex than I could have imagined. I know Bill and I went straight against all we knew about the ways in which multiple changes add to the stress on the body and mind. I know that we were blessed beyond measure by our family; the Spirit of the Huachuca Mountains and San Pedro Valley; the living beings that surrounded us; and the help of those in the unseen world. I also know that it will take time for me to integrate our winter in the desert. I will share that process with you as it takes a more solid shape.

For now, I want to return to the blog as I return to our home on the skirts of Mount Shasta. We have come back in our motorhome, Brego, and are living about one mile and a world away from where be began on December 1 of last year. Brego has become home in a deep and stable way. I am familiar with the rituals of folding out the bed and spreading out the blankets when it is time to sleep. There is a pattern for washing and rinsing dishes to put a minimum of soap and food particles onto the land. I fill jugs of water from the faucet for our drinking water and other uses for the time being, while Bill solves the issue of air in the fresh water pump. We take wash tub baths and try to do part of our laundry by hand. In sum, we are finding how to live congruently with this home and in harmony within our natural environment.

We just returned from our first “unplugged” camping experience up along the McCloud River. Our original plan had been a very brief touching down with our son and his family, and then out into the open lands doing dry camping (without electric and water hook-ups). But somehow life had other plans. The connection with family was one of the threads in our weaving of this new chapter of our lives. The time we spent with them extended through the winter and the dry camping just never came into place.

One week after getting back to home territory we found the time was right. The weather was perfect. We were in Fowler Campground –  a lovely area right at the edge of the river between the Lower and Middle Falls of the McCloud River. This has been a wet and snowy winter and so the falls and river are especially captivating. I hiked for hours each of the four days we were there and Bill combined writing, hiking and gathering wood for our morning and evening fires. We had the sense that this was the life we came out to experience. This is what we are walking toward so we can more fully appreciate and serve the web of life. For me, it was a settling back in with cherished land.

I feel like I am just waking up from a complex, beautiful and disorienting dream. My practices of greeting the day, and doing shamanic journey and ceremony were present in Arizona, but somehow they were sharing my attention with a great deal of learning, living and adjusting. Now there is a sweet feeling of asking permission to sink back into the amazing energy field and companionship of Mount Shasta and all the expressions of nature here. The practical aspects of life continue their pull, but here it is the devotion to the healing of the Earth and All Her Children which promise to fill my days.

 

On the Outside!

IMG_4272I had one of those moments the other morning when suddenly the perspective shifts and everything changes form. The wisdom that dropped in months ago suddenly makes perfect sense.

It happened during my morning ritual of watching the new day dawn. I was looking at the colors dance in the clouds across the valley, gazing past widely spaced cottonwood trees, and over grasslands. Then something sprang into focus that has been right here all along. It is the small swimming pool surrounded by a concrete skirt and a wrought iron fence in our son’s side yard. I looked at that fence, hugging an 15 x 20 space and began to laugh.

You see, back in October, I wrote a post “The Prison of Our Culture,” including:

As I was seeking deep wisdom for our transition out of this culture and economy, the thought suddenly appeared, “You will stand at the prison bars forever shaking them and struggling with them, and the jailer will never let you out. But if you will turn around and begin walking the other direction, you will find that you can walk through the walls that you imagine hold you in.”

I had forgotten that in our culture we build fences to define what is ours and to keep others out. Those who have acquired wealth, power and property put up fences around themselves and then convince everyone else that they really want to be allowed in. We all gather on the outside of the bars, pushing through pay checks, time, talent and life energy, hoping that those inside will receive these gifts and find us worthy of entering in. Every now and then, the gate swings open to allow someone in, so the rest feel that they too will some day enter the chosen ground.

What we do not see is that those inside are the ones imprisoned. Fenced in to protect what they have and cut off from the riches beyond the boundary. We are held in place, hands on the bars, because we are look the wrong direction. When we turn around, we discover all the wonder of the natural world, given without price – abundant for all to receive.

I come out in the mornings to live my gratitude for all of the stars filling the predawn sky which speak to my heart of vast open spaces and light that travels through time. There are the cliff and canyons, pebbles and rocks that give solid form to this beautiful land. There are grasses, bushes, shrubs, trees and many other members of the plant family, all adding color and texture and life. There are four-legged, winged, crawlers, swimmers and one who slither, moving with howl of coyote and rustling grass of rabbit. There is the gift of water in the nearby streams, in the San Pedro River, within my body, and coursing through all living things. There is the wind – the breath of the spirit and the breath of our life, given freely. It carries vibration through the cosmos and dances with the wings of hawks. There is the sunrise, seen by billions of living creatures this morning as they look to the horizon for the light of a new day. With light come the gifts of vision and colors so varied from subtle to brilliant that they make my heart leap. There is the gift of the divine light within every human soul. The call to be one vibrant strand in the Web of Life with all humankind, all living beings and all the expressions of creation.

So, why would I ever cling to the bars again. I am a rich woman. I have no need to fight my way in. I will sit here, surrounded by beauty and filled with gratitude. A free woman indeed.

 

 

Nothing Like a Head Cold …

cold

Attractive woman with cup of hot drink

 

Two days after we claimed Brego (Our 30-ft. 2003 Winnebago house on wheels), we both came down with head colds. Plain, simple head colds that leave you feeling miserable for about 7 days if you do everything right and a week if you don’t. But there is nothing like a head cold to test the home-worthiness of a new abode.

Part of being a couple in a small space is finding a way of letting one another get needed rest. In Brego, there is a wood door that swings open across the hallway to give the bathroom/bedroom a private feel. It muffles the sound enough, so my nighttime self-care in the front of our home has not completely disrupted Will’s sleep in the bedroom.

I have taken to the couch/bed, finding it perfect for sleeping partly sitting up. “Bergo’s blanket,” a rough hand-woven horse-like blanket that we brought with us, has been my extra warm top layer. Topped with a scarf around my head, my forward nest has been perfect for the times my sinuses have allowed me to sleep.

Changing position to sitting cross-legged, with thick robe and blanket around me, it has also offered space for tea and spiritual journey when I’m awake in the night. What a head cold does to the brain cells seems to make it easy to slide into that dream-like thought pattern that allows helping ancestors to teach me at 3 AM. I have received constant reassurance about my current path in life and images of being painted with the colors of this desert landscape as a way of integrating my life into the service of this expression of earth, sky, water and light.

Another message that dropped in one pre-dawn was the challenge to drink 10 cups of tea by 2, a reminder of the wonders of hot, spiced tea. Letting the warmth and moisture move up into my sinuses as a natural decongestant and feeling that relief has lifted my hopes of feeling better.

This is not to say that there are not huge piles of used tissues and a nose chapped almost to bleeding involved. I have done my usual thing of trying several over the counter cold remedies as well, and my body has withstood the challenge. Many times I would have preferred an immediate cure of this cold as a message of the support of the spirits of this land. Yet, now on day 6 1/2 I can acknowledge that there is nothing like surviving a cold to convince me at my core that Brego is my comfortable home and will support me in sickness and health along our way.

 

Dedication of My Life

I wrote and began living these vows in November. Throughout the preparations for our move and transition to Arizona they were in the foreground. Over the past few weeks they have been obscured by learning new things and building new connections. I am therefore especially grateful for the turning of the year as a time to remember and reintegrate them into my breathing, my waking, my dreaming and my living.

I ask those of you who read them now to be my witnesses – those who hold me and my intention in love and light.

DEDICATING MY LIFE IN DEVOTION TO THE WHOLENESS OF                                      THE EARTH AND ALL HER CHILDREN

I dedicate my life – devoting my body, emotions, spirit, mind and soul to the healing and nurture of the Earth and all Her children in all expressions of life.

I will seek to clear any thing, thought, habit, issue, or memory which diverts my attention from this devotion.

I will seek the guidance of the helping spiritual ancestors in their many expressions, through ritual, ceremony and honoring of the Earth. I will place my trust in the wisdom and insights they provide, resting in a perspective that is higher and broader than my own.

I will do those actions, nurture those images and follow those works of disciplined mind that enhance my ability to live my life as a being of light, sheathed in a human, Earth-walk form. In doing this I honor the sacred core within every living being and expression of divine creativity.

I will serve with my physical time and energy where and how I am led by this deepest truth, not assuming need or lack, but adding my gift to the renewal of the Web of Life and the reflection of the Sacred in All that Is.

I will seek this deep wisdom for my decisions about my travels, priorities, standard and way of living my daily life, my writing, speaking and listening.

I will honor the inner call I feel to be a hollow bone – to be one through whom the Light and Love of the Sacred flow freely and without hindrance of ego and self-interest to the best of my ability in each moment.

I will keep the questions of “How can I live and What can I give of my deepest heart for the healing of the Earth today?” as my daily companions and supports of my devotion.

I will place living this life and walking this path at the center of my life, allowing them to be the pivotal expression of my Earth Walk.

I am answering a calling I received at latest in my youth, and possibly in many earlier lifetimes of seeking to be of service to this world. I say YES to expressing myself as a blending together of the elements of this beautiful planet, enlivened by the Light of All that Is – A Daughter of the Light and a Child of the Earth.

In my living, and one day in my dying, I will honor who I am called to be within the Web of Life.

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.)

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

Twelve by Twelve

via Twelve by Twelve

By William Martin

This fits so well with the discussion of the appropriate size of dwelling and the mindset that accompanies it, that I am sharing this guest blog from Will’s Freedom, Simplicity and Joy site. I had hoped to repost the whole piece, but have been having human error problems. For now, I am glad to send you to his site which holds added riches that you may also enjoy.