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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.)

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.

 

 

 

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.

Life Flowing with Shuffles

IMG_5081
“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.