Nothing Like a Head Cold …

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Attractive woman with cup of hot drink

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

No New Normal

It has been Less than two weeks since we left out friend’s home in Chico and headed south to Arizona and our son’s family home. We arrived here a week ago, moving into a borrowed trailer that a neighbor generously offered to park in John and Michelle’s driveway. We were greeted with an easy household flow and the liveliness of two 40-somethings, a 17-year-old, a 20-month-old toddler, two old dogs and a puppy.

What has not yet emerged is a “new normal.” Every day has a different rhythm. One part problem solving to get the borrowed trailer comfortable and organized; another part introducing ourselves to the desert with its sunrises, stars, walking trails and rain showers. Yet another part taking care of immediate details for our emerging life; two parts enjoying family and for me three parts playing, dancing and reading with my granddaughter. Underneath it all is the beauty of the desert that opens my heart to this expression of Earth.

We are busy, and happily tired when we go to bed at night.  There is, however, a sense of living in two worlds and struggling at times to hold the clarity of the life that has called us out into this journey. As the days pass, I am beginning to integrate the two, rather than seeing them as separate experiences that bounce me back and forth. Weaving the threads of family, learning, self-care, exploring, celebrating, solitude and writing into an unknown design. Perhaps that is the life of these next years.

My practice of greeting the new morning with thanks for earth, water, air, fire and spirit holds me in connection with the natural world. We have taken time to drum and done deep listening as we hike the nearby trails. Mainly, we request signs and symbols that give us assurance of being part of “The Tribe” and affirm the steps we are taking. In response we have seen rainbows, shooting stars and the reoccurring symbol of a horse (an image we associate with our home on wheels.) In the early days, I was finding quarters in odd places as we packed and unpacked our bags.

The time with family is equally sacred. We have had at most a few days a year with John and his family over the past couple of decades. Now, we are becoming visible to one another as we share their home and flow into their schedule. There is time for casual conversation, shared laughter, meals created and enjoyed, and just hanging out watching football or a movie.

This may not be a new and predictable normal. But we sure are having fun.

Getting on the Road Together

One of the greatest joys and greatest challenges of the journey is staying in synch with the man I love. This is very much a shared calling – yet it is the calling of two individuals who each must follow our deepest wisdom and overcome our worst fears. At times, the most we can do is be with the other person when the waves crash over him/her and allow our presence to provide a reference point as our beloved reemerges.

As we did the final clearing up around the house, we hit a wall. This is not moving from one house/apartment to another. There is no destination that we are planning to reach and no “fixed abode” that is at the other end of migrating to Arizona. We are not moving a household, we are lightening our load for travel on through our lives. Once we shifted to packing as though we were moving halfway around the world to an unfamiliar culture, the barriers eased. We are not trying to find out how much weight our ox can carry forward, but seeking to become light enough to fly.

There is the feeling that we have been preparing all of our lives for this next chapter, and at the same time, none of that preparation fits this set of circumstances. It calls both of us to connect with the core of our inner power and wisdom, standing with as much clarity and purpose as possible. At the same time, the vulnerability of it all draws us into a new intimacy and honesty with one another. There is no room to walk away or conceal emotional weather. We are learning not to refute nor take on the uncertainties of the other. We are not asking the other to be strong; to know what to do; or to walk with equanimity through this unknown territory. We are simply pledged to walk with one another through it.

We are currently with friend in Chico, where we lived for 17 years before moving to Mount Shasta. The familiarity of the place and the warmth of our hosts and friends is giving us some breathing room. Upper Bidwell Park has offered broad, blue skies; slightly muddy trails and open vistas. Yesterday, there was a large golden hawk riding the currents over the rolling hills. A wonderful reminder of the invitation to keep our heart light and open to be carried on along our way.

(While this post was written Dec. 3, it seems an important step along the way. So, I will post it today, and follow with news of more recent steps in the journey in the coming days.)

The Path to Potlatch / Bonfire

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The challenge of writing a blog once or twice a week is not to limit it to the final outcome of a process, but to be honest about the steps along the way.

This past Saturday, we held a Potlatch/Bonfire sale to release the first big wave of our furniture and household items. We had been planning the event for weeks, but it wasn’t until the Monday before the sale that we started the physical work of moving things out into our living room and kitchen to include in the sale and clogging the corners of the bedrooms with things that were not going yet. There was a physical sensation of congestion and confined energy about having bookcases and desks and boxes of knick-knacks stacked around waiting to be set free.

On Tuesday, it felt like things just got worse. We did get out to the Gateway trails to walk and sing, but the house felt more and more a jumble. The psychologic/energetic threads tying us to one thing and another felt especially tenacious. Thank goodness that when one of us lost focus, the other would suggest that we drum, journey, spend time seeking the wisdom of helping spiritual ancestors.

Will  has been playing Freedom songs, including a powerful Freedom Trilogy by Odetta and albums by Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie. These songs reinforced a call to freedom; to break from the cultural slavery that imprisons us in a marketplace economy, never letting us dream of real liberation. Odessa’s powerful voice also gave us the phrase, “I’m on my way, and I won’t turn back,” to inspire our forward movement.

Thursday, I started my walking/singing with the feeling that I was dragging a heavy weight behind me and would not make it up the first hill. But gradually, opening to the wisdom of my spirit guides, I found assurance that the freedom beyond this current transition is not just for me/for us. The timing and the form are important links within a chain which is being created to help support those who, for whatever reason, need to flee the mainline culture.  It pulled me back to my call of dedicating my life to serving the Earth and All Her Children. My body lightened and my singing flowed.

We both went through times of getting caught by cultural conditioning of, “How much do we need to get for this item?” On Friday, we put prices on most things and on Saturday we pulled them off. We did ceremony and drummed on Thursday Night; drummed again on both Friday night and Saturday morning. We had to turn again and again to our spiritual ancestors and our open hearts to help us stay focused on the path we are choosing.

Gratitude was also vital to the process. One afternoon, I went to many of the pieces we were offering and used Murphy’s oil soap, a gentle vacuum massage, a gentle rubbing with soda… to give each one loving care. I sang to it and thanked it for how it has served us. I also told it how much I hoped it would find a fulfilling new home.

By Saturday morning, we had two images. One was of the Potlatch tradition of the People of the Pacific Northwest of this continent. For celebrations of life transitions, you would gather with the tribe and give away everything you possessed – letting it pass from your hands to others effortlessly. This transition in our lives felt perfect for a Potlatch. Through Friday and even Saturday, more little things I had been keeping “just in case,” came out of hiding to be offered.

The second image was of putting a huge juniper log onto a fire and watching it release all of the energy it has contained for decades to create light, warmth and energy. Our “sale” would be Potlatch and Bonfire. Releasing the energy of long-held possessions to bless other lives.

People began pouring into the house an hour and a half before the stated starting time, and waves of people in and items out surged through the morning. There were many sweet moments of taking a small stack of quarters for a kitchen item, or just handing a picture or book to someone who showed a love for it. We watched with tenderness as many stayed caught in the “how little can I give you for this?” mindset, and found it easy to let them walk away satisfied with their victory in the bargain hunt.

The day culminated with a lovely extended family sitting in our living room waiting for a brother to arrive to look at a chair. They had purchased a number of small items and three large pieces of furniture. As we waited, I gave bells to the two little boys. When they left with one of the last big items, we gratefully put up a “Sold Out” sign, knowing that the rest will find its way to a friend who is moving or to the thrift shops.

The fire had burned away to leave a spaciousness and freedom in our home. The Potlatch had redistributed our goods, reminding us that nothing really belongs to us.

We are deeply grateful.

Twelve by Twelve

via Twelve by Twelve

By William Martin

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

Transformation Built for Two

Throughout our nearly 30-year marriage, my husband and I have been blessed with a deep connection that allows us to make life shifts and changes in unison. Whenever we have made a physical move, or shifted to a new focus on our spiritual journey, there was not a sense of one leading and the other “coming along.” Instead, it is as though we both become aware of a shift at about the same time. Often if feels like we have already turned the corner to a new way of being and then notice the shift.

It is the same with this transition. It a transformation built for two, on every level of our lives. We don’t remember which of us first voiced the desire to live in harmony with the land and to connect with the ancient wisdom of the People of the Land.

I know that Bill has spoken often of his desire to live with the simplicity of a mountain hermit. Images from the Taoist tradition lead him to want to follow Lao Tzu and get on an ox and head out of the culture and into the mountains. Another image from him is that of living as a turtle who carries its home on its back.

I have been drawn more and more to images of living in the way indigenous people have lived for centuries – in intimate harmony, balance and honor with the land and all living beings. I long to sink into relationship with the life expressed in nature and learn the wisdom it alone can share.

A couple of factors came together to set us on this course of changing our housing as part of living in a new way. One was that we shared in an on-line course with Sandra Ingerman on Shamanic Journey. I have been involved with this work for a couple of years, but this was the first time Bill joined in and found that he too was drawn to drumming and journey. So, we came into step with one another in a new expression of our spiritual journey.

Another factor was that I let go of bookbinding as an essential element of my future. Every time I began to think of living in a tiny house or RV, I just couldn’t imagine the presses, cutters, supplies and tools of my craft work. The moment came when I realized that this is not something at the core of who I am. It is fulfilling, and indeed probably saved my sanity at an earlier point in my life, but it became clear that it does not have to come on the road with us.

Our drumming and journeying is sometime together as ceremony, and sometime separate. Again, much of what we experience is just for the one making the inner journey, but sometimes the wisdom encourages and focuses both of us.

We have been sharing hikes, but usually allow a good bit of distance between us. Bill’s longer stride carries him out ahead of me, and we are each left to sing; open to the beauty of nature around us; and to spend time in deep listening to the wisdom of our helping spirits and guides. Afterward we share insights that emerge. Sometimes there is a phrase that will emerge that gives us a touchstone – so we remind one another of it from time to time.

Our current catch phrase dropped in as I was waking up one morning into the usual mental chatter of all of the challenges and details that lie between where we are and where we hope to be next summer. It was a vivid image from “The Two Towers.” Gollum is leading Sam and Frodo through the Dead Marshes and has warned them not to “follow the lights” that shine up from the marsh. If they do, they will be drawn down into the depths and light little candles of their own. It is not long before Frodo becomes mesmerized by a presence in the marsh and falls face first into the marsh. Gollum pulls him out and lays him on solid ground, but while he is still holding him by the lapels, he says, “DON”T FOLLOW THE LIGHTS.”  So, whenever one of us gets caught by the conditioned morass of things that have to be done, the other gently reminds him/her, “Don’t Follow the Lights.”

I am deeply grateful that my primary companion in this transformation is my beloved husband. There are others who help keep our feet on the path, but this is indeed a transformation built for two.