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.

Conversation with Money

snowflakeI was introduced to this concept through a free introductory session from Shift Network for their course: “The Generous, Loving Energy of Money,” with Sarah McCrum. While I generally veer away from anything that ties spirituality with money, abundance, … I loved her tone. Her premise is that “Money” is one of the most misunderstood forms of energy in the universe. Our conditioned mind, our personal upbringing, our cultural messages, and our life-long experience of ambivalence with money, lead to a love/hate relationship with it.

One of her books: “Love Money, Money Loves You,” emerged as she had conversations directly with “Money.” She recommends this practice, and I am amazed at what has emerged over the months as I have used it. I will share a bit of my dialogue, but encourage you to try it for yourself.

I first did a journey to meet the energy of Money, and found that it appeared in the form of a snowflake — full of light and beauty. In a dialogue that followed, Money affirmed this image as much more helpful that the cultural dollar signs and price tags that we have been taught to place on everything, including our own worth and the value of our life purpose.

In following Sarah’s example, I took time to quiet my mind, and then just sat at the computer, typing my questions and watching what emerged as I typed responses.

An image of the flow of financial resources into my life being like the flow of water available for a garden has been very helpful.

N: Good morning my snowflake-shaped friend. As I open to the possibilities of your flow in support of my life, I find that I am more open to admitting I want that support. But then, I immediately go to, “I don’t want to sound greedy, …” I do not want my relationship with you to become one where I am clawing at you trying to get more and more.

M: Okay, do you see where you veered from your original open, honest, vulnerable statement and went right into an age-old myth? When you make “What I want to support my life” = “Greed” we are in shut-down mode. One of the worst names anyone could call you is “greedy,” so your analytical mind, which wants to stay between you and me, throws out that name to get you to move away and “be reasonable.”

N: Yes, that seems to be what happens. I am to weigh, measure and compare my wants/needs very carefully before I ask for anything. The one in me who does that process is afraid of wanting anything more than bed, rice and beans.

M: Remember that I am not the miser here. My flow is available and unlimited. What you receive does not limit what flows to every other living being. Money is not limited – currency may be, but Money = Nurturing flow to support life purpose, is not.
I am not a Comptroller who is managing your life. You are responsible for the requests you make, the focus you hold, and the way you decide to channel the flow as it comes. If you asked for more water for your garden, the canal operator would not tell you which vegetables or trees to put the water on – he would simply increase the flow. You could not complain to him that you drown your parsley and that your lettuce never matured because of the dry conditions. I am not trying to control your life – I am not here to determine your life focus, nor to make you a good person — or a bad person for that matter. I am a resource which is eager to enhance life on the planet – to bring peace, love, joy and fulfillment. So, can you go back to the beginning? What is your life purpose and what can I do to help support it?

N:  I want to give the gift of my life purpose: “Being an open, human channel for the flow of the Love, Creativity, Harmony and Light of the Sacred Source.” I want to be one who helps bring the sacredness of all of life back into our human experience. I sense this is nurtured by my Shamanic Journey work and a deepening relationship with all living beings. It may be expressed in the weaving of a book from some of the insights this work brings.

I do not see myself working very much in the outward, ordinary world. I give my life focus for the benefit of all beings, and the healing of the planet Herself. In return, I seek a flow of financial resources to sustain the simple life Bill and I are living, with freedom from worry about bills and unexpected expenses. I will continue my inner work to open to this flow into and through my life.

May you have your own conversations with “Money,” and find a new relationship with it that brings freedom, peace and joy to your life.

Sixty-First Birthday

IMG_5236A year ago, I took a transformative birthday hike which gave a surge of flow to some things we were already considering and brought to life others. I shared that experience in my post “Birthday Hike.” At that time much was still unformed, theoretical, and experimental in the unfolding of a human life, lived in harmony with nature. I did not know then what it meant to live an Earth-Centered life, in the service of the Earth and all living beings. It has been an amazing year.

Last year, after my birthday hike, I returned to a rented 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house that was tucked up on the north face of a wooded hillside. The house was enfolded by Dogwoods, Pines, Cedars and Manzanita. The outside critters were pets, having been fed by hand by the previous tenant. We too were tame, throwing out apple and seed in the evenings and watching chipmunk and squirrel; blue jay and deer gather for this staged encounter. Our sky was very narrow, leaving the house in the shade much of the year, and yielding little of moon or starlight.

IMG_5553This year, I returned to our 30-foot long Winnebago motor home, and its lovely small shower. It sits in a meadow-like setting with a dozen or so adolescent pine trees at the near side of the 3 acres. We look out at the cinder form of Black Butte, with the silhouettes of trees marking its outline against the sky. The canopy of the heavens is wide open to bring sunshine through the days and the shifting patterns of moonlight across the nights. The Milky Way stretches leisurely across the sky when the moon is young, and the sun appears at a slightly different point on the mountain side each morning.

There are deer and hare; chipmunk and lizard; sparrow, hawk, golden eagle and swallow in the meadow. I saw a long, thin gray snake one day, and we chased a coyote away one night because it was disturbing our near neighbor’s dog. We still water a small area near the motor home, and scatter some seed for the smaller birds. I have set up a small tub of water near the far fence, sheltering it between bushes and overhanging it with dried manzanita to provide a safe place for the smaller creatures to drink. They are all shy and wild and wonderful.

Last summer, much of my time was spent trying to enliven my bookbinding and book repair business. I put in more hours, went to more craft fairs and took on more challenging repair projects. It didn’t work. The business died beneath me and, in releasing my identity as a bookbinder, the last obstacle was removed from shifting to a full-time motor home life. By December the equipment and supplies were in storage. All of those materials are now seeking a new set of hands to put them back to their intended use of making beautiful books. I hope that my ads with several bookbinding schools will catch the eye and imagination of a new bookbinder.

The practical challenges of living as two individuals in a small home are finding their own solutions. We are playing with our schedule to allow times for independent function. We find true appreciation of the good food, beautiful surroundings, comfortable home and freedom to live simply in relationship with one another and with the Earth, which this home on wheels supports. We are each following our own unique path in ways very different from all of the shared work we have done in the past. We are encouraging each other in our self-understandings that I am more of a mystic than I had realized and Bill is very much the wise elder and mountain hermit.

I had been doing Shamanic Journey for over a year when I turned 60. I had completed a couple of courses on line with Sandra Ingerman and Don Oscar Miro-Quesada. I had met my power animals and journeyed to several places of healing in the Unseen world. Images and messages from this journey work provided guidance, encouragement and vision for the transition that took on its practical form in the late fall.

This year, nourished by many more shamanic journeys, hikes in amazing natural beauty, and continued learning from my teachers, I have settled into this as my path and work. The transformation of the World requires the dreaming into being of that transformation. What takes form in ordinary reality must first be envisioned, tended and drawn through from the Unseen World. This is not the work of my human will, but as a living channel of the loving, healing, creative energy of the Sacred Source flowing through me. My work is to deepen my relationship with the creating heart of the Earth/Source/Creator through experiencing it in my shamanic journeys and chanting.

I hope to be able to weave together a book of the threads – images and insights I can bring back from the Unseen to the Seen expression of Life. I can not describe this work well, but I know the feeling in my core – the focus of my consciousness, my life, my love in celebrating the sacredness of the Earth and her expression in all living beings. The dedication has moved from theory to daily practice, and is now supported by a teacher and shamanic drumming circle here in Mount Shasta.

Over the months ahead we will each continue to discover how to share our gifts with others.  I will do my work for the benefit of all, as all shamanic work has always been done. I will write when the words flow, or when a poem wakes me from sleep. I will send honor, respect, balance, clarity and harmony out into the world with every step I take in my hiking. I will discipline my mind, so that my thoughts are adding light, love and renewal to the Web of Life.

You are always free to come to this website and follow my unfolding life path. Please, share this with others who you feel would enjoy the journey. If you find that it resonates with your being, please explore your own ways of connecting with the Light, Love and Life of the Sacred Source. I would love to hear from you about what you discover along the way.

(The photos are of Black Butte to show how it towers above us here, and the tree line up the southern slope.)

Craftivism and Sewing: Passing the Love Along

Hannnah's Dress

(Craftivism is a new way of sharing skills that can transform our relationships with one another. This is a guest post by my niece, Hannah Wardman. I love the way her connections with her mother and Reginna are feeding her relationships with her niece, nephews and other family members. Her sewing adds a beautiful creative, playful energy to the world.)

I grew up watching my mother do all sorts of crafts: knitting, sewing, crocheting, paper crafts, painting, etc. I started learning how to do some of these things myself at various stages in my life. I started out learning how to knit but wasn’t able to stick with it for very long. Then I moved on to crocheting and that was fun for a while. I dabbled with sewing every once in a blue moon but never got into it seriously. However, I did get a sewing machine when I was in my early twenties and I was determined to teach myself how to sew.

Life took me out to the other side of the country shortly after. I flew when I moved and was not able to take my sewing machine with me. It sat unused most of the time I had it anyway, but I left it tucked in my closet at my dad’s house where it happily waited for three years. When it was time for my dad to move, I went back to Illinois to clean out my belongings and happened upon my sewing machine. It was practically brand new so I decided to put it in my suitcase and bring it back to Washington state with me.

When I returned to Washington, I was determined to learn how to sew. I knew that there was a lot that went into it so I decided that I need to take some classes somewhere to learn how to do it properly so the frustration didn’t chase me away from the craft.
I made a post on a local facebook page which is called a Buy Nothing Group. These groups are set up to be a hyper local gifting economy where things are given freely between members to foster the sense of community. It is the modern day, “Do you have a cup of sugar” if you will. I put a post up saying that I wanted to learn how to sew, would anyone want to teach me? And that is how I met Reginna.IMG_5338

I call Reginna my sewing sage. She doesn’t even live within the bounds of my buy nothing group, but her daughter Jennifer does and that is how we got connected. Reginna worked for Hancock Fabrics for over twenty years before they went out of business. When they closed, she was unable to find another job. She also had to have back surgery which she had a hard time recovering from. The combination of the two made it hard for her to function. She wanted to teach someone her craft so that she could share something that she loved. That’s where I came in!

When I say Reginna knows everything about sewing, I mean it. When I first went to her house, she showed me everything that she had made. The bedspreads, the curtains, the pillows. It was all so impressive. She asked me if I wanted to do more home decoration sewing or clothes sewing. I said clothes sewing as I don’t really have much to decorate in my tiny apartment. She said that I should bring the fabric, notions, and patterns for what I wanted to make to my once a week lessons and we would work on those projects. And that’s exactly what we did.

IMG_5337I asked her if she wanted any payment for her time. There are places and people that would charge easily $20 per hour for this type of one on one lesson. She said that she didn’t want any payment. That she wanted to pass along her craft, which she knows is a dying art, and that me coming over was good for her mental health. I did bring her her favorite coffee once a week: a decaf, non fat, extra hot, white chocolate mocha.
We made all kinds of things together – dresses, skirts, curtains, aprons, onesies, bathrobes, shorts, swimsuits, all kinds of stuff! The lessons I learned from her are absolutely invaluable. I haven’t been going over to her house recently because my life got a little crazy and I needed to take some time for myself to mentally heal. Unfortunately my sewing lesson was the one thing I had to cut out. I hope to resume my time with her soon.

IMG_5489One of my favorite things that came out of my time at Reginna’s was a newly forged relationship with my niece who lives in England. She is eight years old. I haven’t seen her since she was five and don’t have the same kind of relationship with her that I do with my nephews who live in the same town as I do. I decided that I was going to start sewing for her to try and start a unique relationship between the two of us. I sew her dresses with fabric of things I thought she would like and write her letters to go with them. Her dad takes pictures of her wearing the things I made and she often writes me a letter back saying thank you and letting me know what she was up to. She says I am the best at making her dresses and that makes me happy. She currently wears a swimsuit that I made her to her swim class every week and carries her towel and clothes in a bag that I made her to the pool. How cool is that?

We live in a world that often doesn’t slow down. I am guilty of being a person who is always going. When I do slow down, I often find myself in front of a screen to relax. Watching tv, looking at things online, etc. Sewing breaks me out of that. Cutting out patterns, ironing fabric, making sure everything is lined up perfectly and centered before I cut it out. Pinning, sewing, ironing, surging, and more often than not if I’m being honest, ripping seams out and doing them over again! It gives my brain a chance to focus on the craft and forget about what else is going on around me. It gives me a chance to use my energy to create a tangible product that in turn makes someone else who I love happy. And none of it would be possible without Reginna. She has given me every tool in my tool box; all because she wanted to pass along her love of sewing. Thank you Reginna.

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.

 

Age Matters On This Journey

Even as I invite people of all ages to seek their expression of Earth-Centered Living, the “after 60” part this journey does have an impact. Sometimes, I can pretend that age does not matter – that life experience balances physical energy and stamina. Yet, part of this choice is to look clearly at its challenges as well as its blessings.

I got a small lesson on physical flexibility the other day. I was enjoying a solo hike in Ramsey Canyon, having walked about 50 minutes to my lunch/turn around point. I was 3/4 of the way back, considering other hikes on future days, when my toe caught on a rock and I took three off-balanced steps before fully regaining my footing. My first thought was “Good, I didn’t fall.” My second was “I just pulled something in my right thigh/hip and I’m going to have to hobble back to the car.”

In the end, the injury was very minor, but suddenly I was flooded with the sense of vulnerability — out on my own, having our only vehicle with me, having a less limber body than 20 years ago… I can not always count on being able to hike. I need to find ways to let my body rest when these small pulls happen to this aging body.

Will and I are experiencing another challenge that is common to those who set out in new directions in their retirement years.  We find ourselves reaching a physical/mental exhaustion point. While young people fuel their adventures on adrenaline; as older introverts, we have been running on serotonin. After three months of stress and new challenges, including the sense of having left everything and all familiar ties behind, our serotonin and dopamine reserves are at a low ebb. We find our best healing option to come to a full stop and rest.

We will hold steady here with our son’s family near the Huachuca Mountains in southern Arizona. All we need to maintain our motor home is easy to obtain here, and Brego continues to prove a comfortable, sustaining home.

We are spending more time sitting beside the San Pedro River, allowing the stream to flow by with all its nurturing tones. Our walks are shorter, and allow exercise without pushing ourselves to fatigue. Pampering ourselves is becoming a daily practice, as we gather familiar books and DVD’s from the library, eat healthy flavorful foods, and work with materials that nurture our creative spirit. It is a time for very few rules and a large number of naps.

We have been telling others for decades about the impact of multiple major stressors on a person’s overall health. As a friend pointed out, we have hit a overabundance of major life transitions. To those of you considering Earth-Centered living in a full-time motor home framework, I would encourage you to stay close to your current community as you make the transition. Establish a new set of rhythms with support of friends and familiar places in nature that nourish your spirit. Try to carry your current work life into the next phase, at least at first. Allow the changes to unfold more gradually.  And if this is not possible for you. Then learn the glories of sitting quietly, sinking into the generous beauty of nature, and taking a good rest.

 

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.