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.

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.

In Physical Training for a New Life

There are many days when I feel that my most important task is to be in training for the new life that we are creating. As we piece together what it means to live in balance, harmony and honor with the Earth, the first phase for me is physical training.

It began with the lengthening of walks and the addition of longer hikes into our lives. In June, a 45 minute walk on fairly level terrain was the “big walk” done at most 2 -3 times a week. Once completed, there was the feeling that all of the physical energy for the day had been consumed. Lunch, followed by nap, followed by watching movies on DVD was the norm.

The turning point was meeting Flora and the Strolling Bears (a group of senior adult amblers). They are avid hikers who hike  4 – 6+ miles, once a week, on a wide variety of trails; including some very steep and challenging climbs. They walk at a a slow pace, and invite each participant to listen to their body – rest, turn for home, or keep going depending on the energy of the day. They will not leave anyone behind who is lagging, but pause at each change in the trail to let everyone catch up, rest and be assured that they know the way.

You will see on the Favorite Hikes page, that it is not unusual for us to spend 3 -4 hours walking around Lake Siskiyou; climbing from Bunny Flat to Horse Camp, or taking the McBride Trail from Gateway to the campground. When we are with the Strolling Bears, we visit with people who love nature; tell us the names of flowers and birds; and share their joy in living simply and hiking often.

Our “shorter routes” at Gateway (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours), are what we now think of as  “strolls” or everyday walks. Through the summer and into the autumn we have tried take these strolls several times a week.

When we are on our own, Will, ( my husband), takes a good leading start, so we can each spend time in communion with the healing spirit of The Mountain and our spiritual ancestors and guides in this journey back to unity with the land. There are occasional insights and new perspectives that emerge as we walk. More often it is simply sinking into the beauty and harmony of nature: sky, breeze, trees and brush, rocks and hillsides, and a variety of animal and bird companions. If nothing else is emerging, we each sing a song that is our reminder to open up to the path ahead.

The July – September part of my path was building my stamina, leg strength and physical confidence. The altitude and steep last half mile of the climb to Horse Camp still leaves my heart pounding and calls for “breathers.” Now, after three visits, I feel comfortable negotiating the downhill rocky stretches as well as the uphill push. A few weeks ago we made the whole 6.8 mile circle around Lake Siskiyou for the first time.

The growing confidence in my body translates to being more at ease in nature. I can relax and experiment. My view broadens to include more tree-tops and sky views – including a golden eagle that circled over the Gateway path the other morning. There is a stretch of the Horse Camp trail that I did barefoot last month, enjoying the sensation as the temperature of the sand shifted from cold in the shade to warm in the sunshine.

It all seems connected with not needing to be coddled and protected from the challenges of life. When I move in nature in this sense of freedom and strength, I know that I no longer want to be insulated from this wonderful planet. While the weather is beginning to shift, there is still time for a few more hikes up high on the mountain before the snow. Then, it may be time to borrow snow shoes and give that a try.

Birthday Hike

I had known for months that this year, for my 60th birthday, I wanted to make a pilgrimage hike to Panther Meadows, high on the slopes of Mount Shasta. We live near this amazing mountain and I have visited Panther Meadows many times. I always feel the sacred nature of the alpine wilderness. It has been a place for shamans and healers of the people of these lands for generations – a place where they hold ceremonies and gather plants for the healing of the Earth and the people of these lands.

A couple of weeks before my birthday, we spotted a notice about Dog Trail from Bunny Flat up to the Old Ski Bowl parking area. It is an alternate trail, marked only by pink ribbons tied to the trees. As soon as I saw it, I know that would be my birthday hike.

Early in my hike I greeted all of the spirits of this powerful mountain and the life of these slopes. I soon felt more open to the feel of the air currents on my face and the song of the birds in surrounding trees.

I felt that I was walking in the midst of the ancient people of this place, not as phantoms, but as helping spiritual guides. I was encouraged to return to the power within my belly – the energy of life rises from the core in the belly, igniting the fire of the heart, and creates a balanced dance between heart and mind. This all emerges as wholeness in physical form.

This unknown trail (from 6,950 ft to above 7,800 ft in 2.5 miles) had some very steep climbs that left me winded and feeling the challenge in my muscles. I began to see that this pilgrimage was about the physical more than the spiritual. It was a call to set aside all of the limiting images of being a premature baby; sickly uncoordinated child; not capable of much physical activity or endurance. It was an introduction into becoming a “Tough old bird” – a woman comfortable in nature and capable of a difficult climb.

It took me 2.5 hours to climb that 2.5 miles. I paused several times to rest and eat some snacks and drink water. On one of those stops I began laughing as how much I was beginning to feel like “The Woman on the Mountain.” I continued the next 1/4 mile down into Panther Meadow and enjoyed my lunch while being held in the arms of my favorite sacred tree.

I considered the 3 mile walk back down the roadway to my car, but knew that I had fulfilled all I needed for the day. Gratefully, I accepted a ride from a National Forest Volunteer back to my car. He was the one who spoke to me of 60 being the age when one becomes free.

That was two months age. Little did I know all of the freedom that was beginning to break into my life.