Micro Nudges

In a time when the messages from the outside world seem more and more muddled, the ability to hone our inner listening can make a huge difference. When our conditioned thoughts are whirling from all of the input of human culture, it is not easy to pick up on inner wisdom that waits below the surface.

I am fascinated by the idea that within my being there is a place of union between my innate intuitive nature and a Sacred Source that reminds me of my place within the flow of life. I am grateful for this beckoning wisdom that teaches me how to focus in on what I call “micro nudges,” those hints about what to do in this moment of my life.

Micro nudges occur for me in the present moment. They are not interested in setting my schedule for the day or rearranging the items on my “to do list.” They are “micro” because they are subtle and give me freedom to ignore them. I must choose to shift from automatic pilot to being alert in order to notice them. They are “nudges” because they point me toward or away from a specific task or path, again in a gentle form. They are not energies that pull me out of danger, or grab and turn me between one step and the next. Their nature is polite and compassionate; just an invitation, not a demand.

Let me give you a couple of examples from the other day.

I had been concerned about the small rabbits that live at the edges of the front lawn, since I found a rabbit’s foot and leg bone out in the field a few days earlier. I had not seen my little friends and I was wondering if one had been eaten and the other gone to find safer housing.

As I was making breakfast, I remembered something that Bill wanted to have in the motor home. Instead of setting it aside until later, I felt the nudge to go ahead and take it out there now. I had just come back around the front of the motor home from my errand when I spotted one of the bunnies running under the bushes. It gave me a joyful glimpse and the reassurance that I was not to worry about them. Later that day I saw my usual pair of rabbits eating together near the bird bath.

It would not have mattered if I hadn’t followed the nudge, but in doing so I received a treat that added to my sense of connection with the wild creatures around me.

Later that same day, I found myself in a conversation with a woman outside Starbucks where I had gone to do some outside writing. I knew that my schedule was tight and that I was supposed to go to the post office before returning home, but I let myself relax into the exchange. She was one who gives and gives, and I was there to remind her that the light and love that she is sending to protect her family was also filling her being and nourishing her soul. My listening was a small gift she could receive as I obeyed the nudge to stay with her and open to her story.

By the time we finished talking, I didn’t have time to go to the post office, and this changed both my timing and my route. As I drove the back road home I spotted a dignified and strong animal standing in the road a short distance in front of me. It trotted off into a driveway as I slowly approached and then turned to look at me with golden eyes as I drove past. It was a coyote with a beautiful, rich fall coat and an agile body. It held eye contact with me for a moment, then turned and trotted on. The gift was a reminder that both rabbits and coyotes are part of the natural flow of this area.

If I had stopped the conversation short, or tried to push the errand to the post office into a confined time slot, I would have missed the coyote. My interpretation is that, as I open to listening within, I learn to feel the flow of life and receive the gifts that occur when I allow it to carry me along.

If you want to tune into the micro nudges in your life, (I firmly believe they are available to everyone, not just, “sensitive types,”) it helps to let go of habitual patterns. We often move through life in a dream-like state following the programing of our longtime habits. Breaking out of these opens a tiny window into other possibilities and the awareness of deeper connections.

For example, set your alarm clock for 5:58 instead of 6:00. Stop using one minute or 30 seconds on the microwave and punch in 58 seconds or 29. If you always brush your teeth starting with the outside of your top teeth, begin with the inside of your lowers. Instead of reaching for your usual breakfast items, put those to the back of the refrigerator or cupboard and look to see what interesting combination might offer you a unique meal of the flavors, textures, and nourishment your body wants this morning.

I know these may sound silly, but they provide a symbolic invitation to your inner being to align with the way this day is unfolding. You may be surprised how micro nudges can shake things up.

As you go through your day look for the times when you feel encouraged to step out of the patterned schedule and the way you always do things. Listen for just a moment before determining what is next, or what route you will take from A to B. Once you make a different choice, watch and see what emerges. It may be as simple as spotting a tree covered in lovely fall foliage or finding the ripe strawberries you have been craving at the store where you do not usually shop.

I also find that when I open myself up to this subtle inner guidance, I lose interest in the dramas in the world around me. When my attention is taken to a specific issue or need, I know I am there for a reason and watch for the appropriate response to what is right in front of me. I have the energy and insight to know my contribution because I have not been turned, tumbled and spun in circles by all the waves created by contrasting ideas in the outer world.

I hope that you will have fun experimenting with listening for the micro nudges that bubble up from your inner being as it feeds and is fed by all of creation. We are so much more connected within this amazing creation of light, energy and life than we can possibly imagine. Enjoy exploring what comes to you as you listen within.

Joy and Peace,

Nancy

Do Not Save the Structures

“Do Not Save These Structures. Save as Many Lives and As Much Beauty as You Can.”

That is the sign I want to put on the front fence this fire season. It is partly because the structures here are old and weary, and are far beyond their prime. It is partly because I don’t want anyone to risk life or health in a building that might let a foot slip between the boards or the ceiling drop from above. Even more, these human-made shelters and the collected stuff that they hold are trivial. The lives of families, friends and neighbors, creatures and trees are much more precious.

If the fires do come, they may bring the gift of emptying, so that something new can enter in. I have learned “Letting go into emptiness” from the Moon. She is in a perpetual cycle of emptying to her New form and then being filled to Full Moon glory. It is an irresistible pattern, like the waves crashing into the shore and then receding back into the sea. It is like the movement of tides within the ocean and the flow of blood in our bodies. The heart pumps itself empty, moving the blood out to the furthest cells, and then the blood returns to fill the heart and be renewed.

I have experienced times of selling and giving away much of what we owned to open the way for the next stage of our life. When we left Arizona it was in a truck with a camper shell and a small U-haul trailer. I let go of my life as a United Methodist clergywoman and we headed to a small town on the Oregon coast. I became a student of holistic health and worked at the front desk of a bed and breakfast for a year. Oregon provided a pause time while we waited to see what would emerge next.

About ten years later I did it again. I walked away from co-leading The Still Point Zen Practice Center which Bill and I had started in Chico. I knew it was time to let go of the roles and tasks of teaching and guiding others. I spent hours walking the trails on nearby wild hillsides. Nature was all that made sense and the relationship with the earth held me as I waited to see what was next.

What opened up was a major shift to bookbinding and book repair. I took courses in Telluride, Colorado and developed a small business working with my hands. I enjoyed the experience of reviving old books and binding Bill’s published writings. It was creative and different. I followed instructions, measured carefully, learned skills with specific tools and created beautiful books.

Then, four years ago, it happened again. We realized that it was time to make the next major step in simplifying our lives. We left the three-bedroom house we were renting and move into a motor home. In preparation, we held a Potlatch-style sale in which we accepted any offer made for any item. We let everything go, down to what would fit the Subaru and headed to Arizona to find our house on wheel. We kept a small storage unit for the year we were gone, but it held mainly my bookbinding equipment that I was not yet ready to release. When we settled back here that was all donated to a college.

Having experienced these cycles, of willingly letting go of as much of my stuff as possible prepares me for the inevitable times when I will lose everything when I least expect it. I know how it feels to be empty. I know the pause when there is only open space and uncertainty. I recognize the thrill of simple things moving back in, whether new tasks or new clothes.

I have packed three boxes of my own things to grab if we have to evacuate due to fire this summer. I look at the rest of my possessions to consider what I release to the thrift shop and what to take to the dump. There are also the things I enjoy having, but do not have to have. I will appreciate them more knowing they may be temporary gifts. I can willingly release several more boxes of things just to practice holding everything and everyone I love in soft open hands.

Then, I can know that whether of not there is a sign on the fence, the time may come when everything here will go or stay, not by the will of the fire department, but by the movement of the wind. I do not know how empty I need to be at this point in my life. I do know that all that matters are the people I love, our neighbors both human and creature, and the freedom to flow with the natural unfolding of this wonderful land.

Images of Springtime

I wanted to share with you some pictures of Springtime at our home near Mount Shasta. This time of Stay-at-home has allowed us to move from late winter into glorious springtime, which invites us to work on some projects, tend the land and enjoy the life and beauty of this place.

Rock Garden BillOne of Bill’s projects has been constructing a rock garden near Salvia in Rock Garderthe cabin. He loves interesting rocks and this is the kind of space he enjoys creating. With the addition of a few flowering plants from the back meadow, there is now more color at our doorstep.

 

Bill Qi Gong 1We had long known of Qi Gong’s roots in Taoist practice, but recently learned, that its origins spring from shamanic dance. It’s slow, flowing movements enhance the movement of energy through the body, and connect the heart and mind with all of nature. I love doing my afternoon Qi Gong under the trees and feeling rooted to the earth and lifted by the sky.

Nancy Holding up the sky

We had a week of good rain and now that the sun is out there are tiny wildflowers among the grasses. I feel like there are a dozen expressions of life volunteering in the Water can and flowerscorners of the yard and throughout the meadow-like field.

Grasses and Flowers

But of course, when the rains and sunshine mix, there is also the need to cut the grass. Mower BillThis is Bill celebrating the arrival of a new electric lawn mower. It is much easier than the old push mower. It may be hard to keep him from trimming the lawn every few days.

Stay well. We send our love to all of you.

Bill and Nancy Martin

Congratulations to Michelle

Can I Do It?

I begin the day with a spacious gratitude for all living beings. I practice connecting with the unseen and timeless realties to find wisdom and see broader possibilities. I practice Qi Gong and feel the flow of the energy of the universe pouring through my being. I am full of light and love, and allow it to just pour through me in all directions.

Then, in a flash, I am wondering if the grocery store will have rice and pasta, veggie butter and fresh produce. I go on line and read the statistics and projections about COVID-19 and feel as though someone has pulled the pug on all of my energy.

I feel as though this is the moment in history for which I was born. My whole life has been preparing me for this season of transformation. I have no control over what the human species will or will not do. It is my own evolution that is in my hands.

The question is, “Can I do it?”

MetamorphosisThe caterpillar has the innate pattern to metamorphose into a creature of bright colors, wings and flight. This does not depend on the caterpillar envisioning what it feels like to fly or to know what a butterfly looks like. Its whole life experience is of being soil-bound and all its energy is taken with finding food. The caterpillar has no choice, no control and no independent responsibility in the process. It is drawn to complete its soil-laden life and spin a shelter away from the outside world. It does not have to try to let go or to change. It will simply happen. The leap is made for it by its very nature.

What if it is the same with me? I do not need see what life will be like in a month, six months or two years. I do not need to know what my life will become as a result of this crisis. My familiar way of life is dissolving around me and my understanding of who I am in the world is metamorphosing with it. I do not need to understand the process of transformation in and around me. I am not in charge of this roller-coaster of experiences which is remaking me in the dark of my cocoon.

Instead, I can let my inner nature lead me. I will journey to touch the unseen world and find wisdom and compassion there. I will do my Qi Gong for my body and spirit. I will focus on living in a loving and purposeful Universe which is filled with creative energy and possibilities.

Then I will pull out the sewing machine and make cloth masks to wear when I go grocery shopping. I will wipe down the kitchen and bathroom surfaces with the most gentle cleaners I have. I will stroke the dead needles off one branch of the pine tree and another will brush the jangled thoughts from my mind as it brushes my hair. I will dance and sing my gratitude to the Earth.

There is a bridge to the highest expression of my being that will take form below my feet. The cross beams are practical matters. The planks are connections with nature and my own inner being of light. Many more boards and supports of friendship and laughter, compassion and creativity are being added continually. Each day is a phenomenal blend of all the gifts of the Earth. Everything of stone and water, air, fire, energy and spirit are coalescing  to lead each one of us toward the fulfillment of our lives.

As you explore your own unfolding, please share what you find arising to provide ground beneath your feet. (For you are here at this time and place for a reason.) I will do the same. We will each discover our unique ways through this uncharted territory. As you share your light it will naturally make my path more clear and less fraught with uncertainty. As I share mine, I trust that it will do the same for you.

DOORWAY TO NEW POSSIBILITIES

hand-opens-empty-room-door

In the days and weeks following the shock waves of sadness and fear of 9/11 there was a doorway that swung open. There was great fear and apprehension, but for a short time, there were also acts of deep compassion and solidarity. Hearts went out not only to the families who lost loved ones, but with those who were now hated for their religious beliefs and the contours of their facial features.

We looked in the wrong direction for the true wisdom and guidance that might have led us to an evolutionary leap in our self-understanding as individuals and as a nation. We had the chance to fan humility and honor to discover compassion and creative alternatives to life as usual. In the face of great fear, we drew back to “normal life,” as quickly as possible … and we went back to sleep; credit card in hand, marching forth to the shopping malls which we were told would be our salvation. It was familiar and felt safe… we slammed the door shut.

We have had nearly two decades to regret that missed opportunity. Some have become watchful, knowing that we live in a loving and purposeful Universe and that the doorway would open again. Now it has.

This time the threat is global. The flow of two planetary threats are converging to form a mighty river of momentum toward transformation. Earth’s climate is shifting in a natural progression to a return of balance throughout the web of life. Healing from the poisoning of earth, air, and water is essential for the survival of all living beings. Add to this a virus, inviting us to all work together for the sake of those we love. We have challenges which are hard to sleep through.

How do we seize the opportunity and avoid the tendency to lean our weight as far onto our haunches as possible to resist change? Much is happening to shake us loose. Schools are closing pouring children back into homes and neighborhoods. Sporting events and community gatherings are cancelled, letting us draw back into our own homes and let go of a fevered pace of getting young ones to five events a week. People are encouraged to work from home and not travel great distances, freeing hours on the roads and in the air for us to discover new uses for that time and energy. Many are being shaken loose from our ordinary routines. The secret is not to dive into our comfortable hiding places to wait it out until we can get back to “normal life.”

What if we choose to turn off the perpetual media updates; the reality TV programs and the streaming of countless movies? What if we step away from our virtual reality devices and our on-line shopping carts? What if we let go of the assumption that we can hold on for a month or so, and instead plan for the virus and other changes (along with their countless repercussions) to last for six months, a year, or more? What if we begin now to invent a new way of being outside the insane pace and complexity of mainline western culture?

I invite you to begin dialogues with three to five of the most creative, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking friends you have. Brainstorm about the outdoor activity options from community gardens to outdoor gyms. Share book titles of award winning children’s books and uplifting fantasy stories which feed the imagination with new possibilities. Swap ideas of what you can do as a family or in coordination among a few families to enrich your lives with music, art, dance, teaching and learning new skills.

Make your life a “No Kvetching Zone.” You may be part of those circles as well, but seek to spend very little time there. What you focus on and what you put your energy toward is what will grow and develop in your life. Be playful and joyful. Be grateful for what you have in your life and available to learning new things. This is the energy that will align you with the flow of transformation. The possibilities for personal and global transformation have never been as potent and vast. Let’s all head on across that threshold and see what adventures await us on the other side.

Go out there and create the world that will nurture
and delight your great, great grandchildren!

Partner with Trees

Shadow on trees     In addition to envisioning the return of the natural forest to the property, I am compelled to take a hand in the process. But it is an interesting balance between deciding what I want to have grow where, and listening to what the land wants its two-legged, nimble-fingered partner to do.
Yesterday I transplanted three small pine trees. I took them from the area beyond the wire fence which marks the yard of the cabin. Here a small gathering of trees and manzanita create a semi-circular curve out away from the fence. It looks like this space has been created by someone running a very strong mower over the area on an annual basis.

I found ten young pines, each one standing about 6 inches above ground level, with bushy branches in all directions. Numerous smaller volunteers surround them in small clusters. Since they can not all comfortably mature where they are, I decided to transplant one grouping of them out to the far corner of the field. My hope is that they will do better together as a young generation of siblings.
Grandmother Pine corner      Out at the northeast corner of the land, near Grandmother Pine, I discovered a similarly stunted pine. It sits out toward the open field between a large manzanita and twin mid-aged pines.  I asked their permission, and received their assurance that they will make underground connections with the new arrivals to help them join this family group.

All of that was the easy part. Equipped with water jugs, shovel, work gloves, towel, and wheel barrow, I headed out to dig my holes. I was excited when the first hole I made contained part of an old tree stump. Digging out those remains gave me a spacious place for a young tree, and left some good decaying nourishment for it.
When I returned to their present home, I found that this was going to require a lot more than shoveling up a sprout and its surrounding soil. These were established trees, stunted in size by being regularly cut down. They’d grown back stronger each time.

Tranplant Pine 1
Water and the large shovel got the general outline cut, to allow me to move a whole ecosystem of tree, grasses, smaller tree sprouts and hefty root systems. I lifted the bulk of the soil system away in blocks, since it was held together by grass roots. Soon, I found myself with my forearms braced on the ground; the fingers of both hands teasing soil from around the taproot.  Eight inches down, when the root was the circumference of my finger, I began trying to pull the tree out. That was an interesting wrestling match, which the tree easily won. My only choice was to get the large cutters and sever the taproot. I knew that there were plenty of ancillary roots, and a good length of taproot to help the tree survive, but I still didn’t like cutting it.
Once the tree was out, we made the trip across the land to the new site. I began with a tonic of water with a touch of molasses, to help develop the mycorrhizal network around the transplant. Lowering the tree’s root system into the hole, I was able to add a bit of the local soil back in.  Then the block of rich dark soil, roots and grasses from the tree’s original area went back on top to fill the hole. The tree and it’s usual neighbors remain together to make new friends.

    Transplant Pine 2I was already quite tired, and decided that one more grouping was all I could do in the day. Being an adoption agent for older trees is much more difficult than sitting on the bench envisioning the return of the forest. The second round went more smoothly, but again there was the minor trauma of clipping the taproot.
It is no wonder that I dreamed about it last night. In the dream I was in a rare plant exhibit at a museum with high security restrictions. I accidentally broke off the top of a small cactus plant. In a panic, I broke the top apart and hid it. I kept trying to avoid being discovered, and trying all kinds of things to disguise the damage. I woke with a laugh, knowing that I will need to go out and talk with the tree today.

Last fall, we walked the boundaries of this land and made the promise to take care of it and all the living beings within this space. The relationships that are growing from that vow are amazing.

New growth on Cedar youth

 

(New growth on the small cedar transplanted last fall).

 

 

 

 

Connections

DNA and Earth

Your body is the stuff of stars and of the minerals of the Earth. Your blood runs briny with the seas. The essence of the oceans spills through your veins and arteries. The sediments of Earth make up your cells.
Your genes are universes in themselves, coded with enough information to recreate the world. And perhaps these elements of earth and sky, of nature and the cosmos that actually compose your physical being are the mirror of the great nature which has pushed us to the choice points that we now face.
                  Dr. Jean Houston, Salon Lecture at Pacifica Graduate Institute 3/16/17

I have been listening to recordings of Jean Houston’s lectures this past couple of weeks and have been amazed at how they are shifting my relationships with both people and the cosmos. It is as though the images of my cells being a hologram of my body and my body being a hologram of the earth … have led me to much deeper levels of connection.

I have always been a little bit aloof in my life. I’m not sure if it was my training as an elementary school teacher or my work as a United Methodist clergywoman. It was present in my leadership at The Still Point Zen center, and even in the images of my relationship with the web of light in shamanic journeys. I have aways held myself back a just a bit – one step remote, for instance envisioning myself sending love to the web of life rather than being within it.

It has always been difficult for me to ask for help, and to feel gratitude when I receive it. It is a bad mental habit that I learned very early.  To need someone else’s support was not appropriate. Intelligent, resourceful, spiritually grounded people are not supposed to hit bottom in life. We are supposed to be better than that. We are here to be the ones who give, not the ones who receive.

Somehow there was also the message that help had to be justified, deserved, earned. If not, there was a silent wag of the head in disappointment and disapproval. Even when the money, materials, resources were given, there was always the feeling that to ask was to prove that I was foolish, childish and “needy.”

This old mindset was part of what Bill and I had to combat this past week. We have chosen a very simple lifestyle, paring down our expenses and moving through the bankruptcy process with our debts. I am anticipating part-time work as a caregiver for a fascinating elderly woman starting in March. Even so we have been spending down through our savings month after month, trying to hold on until my pension becomes available in the fall. The other day we were forced to admit that we could not pay the power bill on time and have money for groceries. It literally took hours for us to come to grips with “This is how it happens. This is how people end up with nothing in the bank and bills to pay.”

Finally, we found the courage to each pick one friend who we felt we could ask for a loan. The response from both was immediate understanding and loving support for us flowing in along with the money. We now have enough to cushion each month’s expenses and a small amount in savings for unexpected challenges. The trust it took to ask has also deepened and enriched those friendships. We look forward to the day that we can give in this same generous way to others.

I have long envisioned myself as one standing slightly on the outside, finding ways to add light, love, joy, service … to the lives of others. A couple of weeks ago this shifted to seeing myself woven into the fabric of life will all other living beings. I became a strand among millions of others, feeling the balance of supporting and being supported within the web of life.

This week, even that seems too individual. I am beginning to sense myself as one cell within this amazing organism that is the Earth. It means that as I care for my inward needs, filling my own heart and life with blessing and love, I nourish all the rest of this living system. Conversely, I am not separate from all of the resources, elements, energies of the Earth. Whatever is needed for me to thrive is also right here available to me.

I love the correlation between the sharing of love, insights, financial resources among friends and the continuous circulation of nourishment among all of the cells of an organism as complex as the world. I find myself sinking into the marvelous, briny earth soup of life. Here I am part of the pulse and flow of human beings, plants and animal, creation and all that is sacred. It is a wonderful feeling.

(Our deep gratitude to those of you who support us through Patreon. Your monthly support both aids the sustaining flow of financial resources into our lives and gives us deep encouragement that what we offer is valuable.)

Preparing for a Winter Flow

Cabin and BregoAs the season moves from autumn and fall toward winter we are making a number of adjustments to help reduce fuel consumption while keeping ourselves warm. We have decided that since both the cabin and Brego (our motor home) need to be kept warm enough to protect pipes and possessions from too great a temperature dip, we will use both. Bill sleeps in the cabin; going to bed early and rising early to do Qi Gong and write before the sun rises. I sleep in the motor home, sometimes waking in the middle of the night to do a shamanic journey.

When I get up, he already has the cabin warmed into the low 60’s and I give Brego a ten-minute burst from the central propane heater to warm things from 47 to around 50. This also gives me a chance to use the small space of the bathroom as a warming closet for my clothes. I layer my “lounging clothes” over my night clothes, greet the morning, and then head to the warmth of the cabin and the coffee that awaits me. On mornings when it is below 30* on the porch, Bill starts a fire in the small iron fireplace to take the chill off the small living room.

IMG_5991When the sun is up over Black Butte, I remove the three layers of insulation from Brego’s south-facing windows. I drape the felt over the couch to protect it,  raise the Venetian blinds and reposition the reflective silver insulation sheet to catch as much sunlight as possible. By mid-day, the temperature will be 65 – 70. Friends have recommended the large diameter bubble wrap attached directly to the window to let in light, so I am trying to gather that for both dwellings from stores who are trying to recycle their packaging.

Many of our days are still spent out on the land or hiking the nearby trails. Yesterday, we went up the mountain to collect fire wood along a forest service road. Bill will spend part of the next few days sawing it into pieces that fit the fireplace. He is also working on a spiral path to Grandfather Tree. I am tending the young transplanted trees, keeping a small pond available, and using pine needles to lightly mulch some dry spots in the meadow.

Other days we are both at our computers, sometimes using the afternoon warmth to do Qi Gong or do home care and maintenance. Our ritual of sitting out at the bench in our meadow has moved earlier, now that the sunset is nearing 4:15. After some time to share about our day, I go in and put the insulation back up in Brego and we share dinner and the evening in the cabin, which the space heater easily keeps at 60 – 65.

When snow comes and temperatures drive us indoors, there are books to read and others to write. It will be soon be time to create rich soups and drink spice tea. The creative energies will find new expressions. But there will still be walks in the woods and shoveling snow it keep us connected with nature.

IMG_5990A month or so ago, I asked some of my family and friends if they had any yarn to share. I have received about 20 skeins and leftover balls of earth-tone yarn. I’m 2/3 of the way through knitting a warm afghan for the bed, and plan several other projects to keep my hands busy and my lap warm this winter. Today, I will unpack my sewing machine to begin making curtains for three of the windows in the cabin, hoping to add another layer of warmth.

We have decided to drain the motor home’s fresh water tank, in order to protect it.  The hot water heater in the cabin is wonderfully efficient, so showers and dish washing are easy to do there. With a new dryer off the bedroom, the cabin also provides the luxury of warming our clothes while we shower. I think this will be one of my favorite treats when colder weather comes.

At about 7:30, I change into nighttime clothes with lounging clothes over them before I return to Brego. There is another brief burst of propane powered heat to make the transition to bed. Here I do journey work, read and settle down for the night. A small electric space heater in the aisle is set to come on to help keep things above 47* through the night. I climb in under a delicious pile of blankets, draw my scarf over my head and nestle in the a good night of sleep.

I wanted to share these practical matters with you, because it is all part of the fabric of living an appropriate life as a human couple seeking balance with the natural world. We are trying to keep our foot print small even as our living space is now closer to 600 square feet. We are also welcome the bundling up, eating warming foods, and cuddling which make us look forward to the winter.

 

Extraordinary Challenge

gretathunberg_2018x-1350x675-1The outcry of the young is reaching me here in my mountain home. A young woman who has been speaking out for the planet, and trying to get people to listen to what science has told us for most of my adult life, has burst into the public eye. Greta Thunberg’s message tells me that while my inner work is vital, the use of my voice is also essential to being dedicated to the healing of the Earth and all her children.

It was her call for a “state of emergency” response to climate change that caught my attention. If she is right, there is no time to go through endless arguments. If she is wrong, there is no harm done in placing the survival of the planet above the accumulation of money and material goods. One goal she mentioned in a TED talk was the reduction of CO2 emissions by rich nations by 15% per year with a goal of 0 emissions in 6 – 12 years. This is an incredible goal. It will be a miraculous achievement when obtained. It is a nearly impossible challenge which is perfect for this time in our evolution as human beings, and for the work of grandmothers and grandfathers.

We who are seeking to live earth-centered lives in our 60’s and beyond are perfectly placed to lead the way. We have experienced massive changes in our world over the course of our lives. Many of us have let go of “earning a living,” and are settling into a more simple lifestyle. We are aware of the ultimate transition of this lifetime awaiting us on the near horizon. We have worked through many of our illusions, confusions and imagined needs. We have learned that living in harmony with the Earth is a spiritual as well as a practical path.

What are we willing and able to do to slow the rate of carbon emissions? How do we hold to our commitment in the backlash of our conditioned mind telling us that it will not be enough? How do we create an outward space that supports all living beings, while continuing to work on our inner being to allow more of the flow of light, love and creativity of the Sacred Source to flow through us as healing energy for the planet?

These are questions I want to explore on this page. They are at the heart of “Earth-Centered Living after 60,” as we weave our inner/spiritual energy with the outward/practical expressions of deep connection with All That Is. We will each look to our own wisdom and spiritual guidance to see what is ours to do. We needn’t become overwhelmed, since we are each a single cell in the amazing organism of Life.

I think of our parents’ and grandparents’ wisdom. They lived in a less technology-based world and developed ways of living with very few material comforts. They faced rationing in times of war; endured the poverty of depression era living and were often part of immigrant populations forced to migrate far from their homelands. What are the stories you remember of “Victory Gardens,” “Mend and make do,” riding a bicycle to work rather than having a car? Are there images and practices waiting to be rediscovered? Can we honor our personal and collective ancestors by looking to them for the wisdom we need now to help us survive as a species?

From my youth, I remember President Jimmy Carter responding to an energy crisis by inviting us all to turn down the thermostat in our homes and wear sweaters. He cut the highway speed limit to use gasoline in a more efficient way. Can we adapt and adjust these recommendations to help us now?

I am making a renewed commitment to writing in this blog one a weekly basis. I hope this will nurture a forum not for debate about whether extraordinary measures are needed, but how we might take them in our daily lives, in service to this beautiful planet. Please share this with others who may be interested in this community. To face this challenge, we are going to need all of the creative ideas and open hearts we can gather.

Some other background links for Greta and the IPCC report:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018:      IPCC Report

Greta before the US Congress included in: Several speeches in US in September

Life is Not All Petting Bunnies

bunnyThis was what I was told in a recent journey to one of my teachers in the Unseen world. I’m finding it to be very true.

We have nearly come full circle from the time we made the decision to release our 3-bedroom rental house and it’s lifestyle. In a month, we will pass the one year point since the end of my work as a bookbinder. So many changes, and not all of them “petting bunnies.”

This life calls for a great deal of honesty with myself and about myself. I can not sink into the relationship with nature; with all living beings; with my deepest sense of calling, if I am hiding out from myself and others. One of the impacts of paring things back in my life is that when I find something I am unwilling to let go of, there is something important hiding behind it.

My bookbinding equipment still sits in a storage area, which is costing us a monthly rental fee that our budget can no longer support. Yet, I have limited my attempts to sell it to people connected with the bookbinding schools in this region. I was talking with Bill this morning and finally found the courage to explore why.

My bookbinding business failed. I had given myself fully to learning the skills to both create hand bound books and journals, and to do complex book repairs. I had gathered more and more materials, papers and equipment. I tried new craft fair settings, and extending the hours I spent in this work. But the business failed. In fact it failed to the point that we are now going through bankruptcy because of the debts it accumulated. That sense of failure and the accompanying shame keep that equipment and materials locked up in the dark.

I had designed a scenario in my mind of finding the right young bookbinding student, and having my equipment go to helping them set up their studio. I wanted to have a story of generosity. I wanted to pretend that leaving bookbinding was part of the natural flow of moving toward motor home living. What I am learning is that all of this is hard to admit, but vital to my story. If I am going to stay honest about the challenges of this life (and its promises), I need to share deeply.

This is made easier by a TED talk Bill found yesterday. Brene Brown spoke for 20 minutes about Vulnerability , it is liberating. She points out that while vulnerability is at the base of many of our fears and much of our shame, it is also the fundamental basis for creativity, joy and whole-hearted living. Failure is part of life as we give ourselves to commitments, relationships, or projects with all of who we are. We have to launch ourselves into that flight of creative possibility, without reservation or fear. It is not that we are being unreasonable, it is just that we are letting our heart propel our life.

I would never trade the life I have now for a return to a successful bookbinding business. I would not trade my hours of walking the trails, journeying for wisdom to ancestors, and singing for the healing of the Earth, for endless hours in a bookbinding studio creating the most incredible books.

This land and this mountain have claimed me. We have been asked to remain here on this 3 acres of land, to care for it and for an aged cabin for Bill’s sister. Our home on wheels is a strong shelter providing all we need. We have food and some of the cleanest water on the planet. We have just enough in the bank to make the monthly bills, while the generosity of the Universe continues to flow to us in amazing ways.

Our small home keeps me growing in my intimate relationship with rain and wind, phases of the moon and song of morning birds. It is a strong reliable shelter for our living. My devotion to living for the healing of the Earth and All Her Children deepens every day. It is not all petting bunnies, but the transforming flow of life keeps showing me flowers.

P.S. – The bookbinding equipment is now up on Craig’s List.