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.)

Each One a Living Dance – Poem

This poem emerged as I was waking up the other morning. It was born in that place between sleep and wakefulness –  words tapping themselves into being on my computer keyboard.

As I reread the words, they are exactly what I want to say to family members and dear friends; neighbors and coworkers; classmates and students; teachers and guides. They are the promise I want to make to strangers and loved ones.

They are the words I will speak, looking into my own eyes in the mirror. I invite you to do the same.

Now, in deep gratitude, I speak them to you.

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EACH ONE A LIVING DANCE

I will not hold you in a static form:
for you are a brilliant dance of energy,                                                                                 shifting and changing in each second,
becoming more than any imagination can hold.

I will not lock you into my “knowing:”
for that is just my limited mind
reassuring itself through the ability to categorize                                                                        and find familiar patterns.

I will not confine you in terms and descriptions:
for they speak of the past and of the surface,
missing the eternity of your being,
and the constant transformation in all things.

I will open to your becoming.
Only your own soul knows your road,
for it alone recognizes the dream
which invited you here in the beginning.

I will embrace the mystery of your unfolding.
No other will ever carry this dance of
emerging, expressing and releasing
for it is your unique gift.

I will listen to the song of your creation.
It alone reflects the riches of your being,
singing out in vibration: color as well as pitch,                                                                            to birth the dawning of a new day.

 

 

 

Life Flowing with Shuffles

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“I do nothing. It is more difficult than it sounds,” responded one of my companions from the Strolling Bears. I had asked how she connects with the mystery that runs deep within life. “I allow Life to live,” she continued, tipping her head to one side. “It takes awareness and patient attention to catch the current of where it is flowing.” It was an unexpected response and one that fed my thoughts as we hiked along the trail beside a rushing river coming down from Mount Shasta.

The scene was amazing. Dancing rapids and singing river to the right. Hillsides of moss- covered rock which were home to layers of small plants, wild flowers and grasses of all sizes and shapes. They made a tapestry of varied shades of green with pink, yellow and purple bright threads woven in. Above, there was a blue sky with gentle breeze to ease the heat. Below, a rock and packed soil path, narrow enough to keep me focused on “just this step.”

We had lunch overlooking a small waterfall, little more than a series of rapids with their own waves splashing back into other bowls of rock. On the return, we paused to soak our feet in the icy waters and laughed at the complexity of getting out of and back into socks and hiking boots. I had remained alone, toward the back of the group, most of the hike, and it was great to have this companionship of cold toes and river-water moistened hair.

IMG_1710There is a picture of me, one sock in my fingers and a butterfly resting on the back of my hand, licking salt and water from my skin. That butterfly visited each of us, resting on hand or finger for a leisurely rest. When we got ready to leave, it landed on the back of my head and rode there for about a quarter of a mile, sipping river water and tapping my scalp with its long tongue. My mind played with the idea of a butterfly symbolizing transformation, and me carrying it along, coming up with,  “I am a vehicle for transformation.”

When my friend had left me and the weariness of being 3.2 miles into a 4 mile hike began to set in, life turned again. I came around a corner in the trail and my three companions were talking with a young hiker from the Pacific Crest Trail. She was looking for a ride out into town. My fatigue eased and I chatted with her as we returned to our car. She is from New Zealand, completing California sections of the PCT she could not do last year due to fires and smoke in this area.

What started as a ride to town ended up with her being our cabin guest for the night. She was delighted with the shower and a place to unfold her sleeping bag and sleep through the afternoon. Bill made one of his famous pasta sauces and we added chocolate cake for dessert. Dinner was enjoyed sitting outside our motor home, sharing stories and book recommendations back and forth. Her perspectives as a 20+ from a “tiny country on the bottom of the world” meshed seamlessly with our 60+ perspective on living simply here. She spoke of living on the trail; waking in the night and seeing spiders on the outside of her tent, having her tent blow over on top of her, walking long hours on road portions of the trail that beat your legs and tire you whole body. She also shared the joys of seeing bear and snake, stars and eagles, and making friends along the way. We spoke of the freedom of living in our home on wheels and our appreciation for our place here at the edge of a meadow with pine trees, with Black Butte as the backdrop. What a wonderful gift.

The next morning I got to spend more time with Shuffles (her trail name) driving her to the segment of the PCT near Dunsmuir she needed to complete. I came back to pick her up and set her on her way toward Burney Falls. It was great watching her walk off, big pack comfortably on her back – one who loves to hike and is living her dream.

I could not have imagined a more lovely two days in my life. Why would I feel that there is something I am seeking, something more that I need to discover? Life, when allowed to flow where it will, makes it perfect to be carried by its marvelous currents.

 

Words That Come Before All Else

earthWhat follows, I found in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, “Braiding Sweetgrass.” I have drawn only segments of this commonly quoted version of the Thanksgiving Address of the Haudensaunee tradition by John Stokes and Kanawahientun, 1993. Robin quotes this and uses the Onondaga name “Words That Come Before All Else.” She sought and received not only permission but encouragement to share this traditional way of beginning any gathering or meeting. In her book she speaks of how it is used to begin each school day on the Onondaga reservation.

Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that
the cycle of life continues. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one
as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.

We are thankful to our Mother Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for
life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she still
continues to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother,
we send thanksgiving, love, and respect. Now our minds are one.

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst, for providing
strength and nurturing life for all beings. We know its power in many forms —
waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans, snow and ice. We are
grateful that the waters are still here and meeting their responsibility to the rest of
Creation. Can we agree that water is important to our lives and bring our minds
together as one to send greetings and thanks to the Water? Now our minds are one….

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants
grow, working their wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered
together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations
to come. Now our minds are one….

With one mind, we honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden,
especially the Three Sisters who feed the people with such abundance. Since the
beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans, and fruit have helped the people
survive. Many other living things draw strength from them as well. We gather
together in our minds all the plant foods and send them a greeting and thanks.
Now our minds are one….

We gather our minds together to send our greetings and thanks to all the beautiful
animal life of the world, who walk about with us. They have many things to teach us
as people. We are grateful that they continue to share their lives with us and hope that
it will always be so. Let us put out minds together as one and send our thanks
to the Animals. Now our minds are one.

We put our minds together as one and thank all the birds who move and fly
about over our heads. The Creator gave them the gift of beautiful song. Each
morning they greet the day and with their song remind us to enjoy and
appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader and to watch over the
world. To all the Birds, from the smallest to the largest, we send our joyful greetings
and thanks. Now our minds are one.

We are all thankful for the power we know as the Four Winds. We hear their
voices in the morning air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They
help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing
us messages and giving us strength. With one mind we send our greetings and
thanks to the Four Winds. Now our hearts are one.

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers the Thunder Beings live. With
lightening and thundering voices they bring with them the water that renews
life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our
Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest brother the Sun. Each day
without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new
day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings
and thanks to our Brother, the Sun. Now our minds are one.

We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon,
who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of women all over the world and
governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time
and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. Let
us gather our thanks for Grandmother Moon together into a pile layer upon
layer of gratitude, and then joyfully fling that pile of thanks high into the night
sky that she will know. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our
Grandmother, the Moon.

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We
see them at night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew
to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home.
With our minds gathered as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars.
Now our minds are one.

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have
come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony,
they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind,
we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers. Now our minds are one.

We now turn our thought to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings
and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good
life is here on Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather
our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks
to the Creator. Now our minds are one.

Imagine the profound difference it will make in our relationship with Mother Earth and All Living Beings to greet each day with this deep gratitude for the Love and Abundance of Creation.

Coming Back Into Focus

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

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

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

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

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

 

On the Outside!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Affirmations Emerge

Affirmations are taking on a new and powerful role in my life. Once I dismissed them as wishful thinking and a childish repeating of magic words. Now, I am discovering their power to shift the thought habits in my mind and allow me to see new possibilities ahead.

The basic premise is that our thoughts literally create our reality. The creation of habitual thought patterns establishes physical neurological connections that lead us to the same old inner judgements and conclusions about life. It takes focus and repetition to loosen the old thought patterns and develop new ones.

Trusting a connection with a loving Universe, I allow an affirmation to arise that feels true in the depths of my being. I ask my heart/soul for signs of recognition, not my mind. When a statement sparks within my heart, I let it become my companion for a number of days or weeks.

This companionship includes writing them out five times each morning and again each evening, letting both hand and eyes reinforce the words. I also find them bubbling up as I sit under the stars, hike the canyon trail, or sit knitting. The times when, unattended, my mind would tend to return to old patterns of worry that reinforce old connections, I invite affirmations instead.

My main challenge right now is being open to a new expression of my gifts in the world. So, some of my current favorites are:

“Creativity flows from the Sacred Source, through me, to bring healing and transformation to my life and the lives of others.”

“As I walk away from the prisons of my culture, I am guided and sustained along a new path.”

“As I move forward, one step as a time, led by the One Source, my Earth Walk purpose is being fulfilled.”

“I am an expression of the light and a child of the Earth.”

It takes time to train my eyes to see these affirmations coming into reality in my daily life. I am not in the habit of believing the expansive and creative messages they contain. It is only now after some weeks of practice that I am catching glimpses of how they are taking tangible form.

This practice may seem difficult, silly, crazy or useless at the beginning. All of these are the judgements of a mind conditioned to limit, define and categorize our lives to death. Sink deeper. Let the voice of your heart echo above the chatter of your mind. Once you find your first phrase and begin doing the work of reinforcing new open pathways in your mind, you will be amazed at what will emerge.