40 Days Week One Menu

Sunset on the Oregon desert is so inspiring

40 Days Menu

The next 40 days are not about restriction. Rather, it is about actually freeing the spirit that is inside. We all have developed coping mechanisms, some conscious and some unconscious, that may no longer serve us. I believe we each have the innate guidance of God within us. We know what is right but sometimes that little voice can get lost in the tumult of our daily life.

What am I going to eat?

What am I going to eat? This is pretty much the first thought that crosses my mind on any adventure. Food is a big THING for many of us. We eat things we know do not serve our bodies well and yet we still do it. Why? Why is there the struggle of what we should do against what we want? Regardless of body shape, I am confident that every person alive has felt this struggle, whether it is with food or exercise.

Sometimes I do things even when I know they are not a good idea.

When starting on any journey one must have a destination in mind. In the case of this personal journey it can be called setting an intention. Answer these questions:

  • Why am I setting this goal?
  • What do I commit to doing to achieve the goal?
  • How do I believe achievement of this goal will affect my life?

 My intention (why I am setting this goal) for this 40 Days to Personal Revolution is to live in the flow of life. To me this means that I will move with the cycles that occur in every day, that I will accept without reservation these cycles and  listen (how I believe achieving the goal will affect me). I know that refusal to accept what is causes suffering, sadness, disconnection, and emptiness. I know that trying to “fix” these feelings from the outside is at best only temporary. Actually, there is nothing that needs to be fixed. I am perfect right now. Can you say that to yourself during your meditations this week (what I am committing to doing to achieve this goal)? If something comes up for you, and sheesh, it is coming up for me even as I write this, can you just let it come up? Can you breathe in and imagine a large and welcoming space for that feeling? Maybe you name the feeling, maybe you don’t. But do not explain it, do not justify it, just accept it with an open and loving heart. If feelings come up in your body, like for me it is a tightness in my throat and chest, hold those body feelings in the same open space of absolute acceptance. At the end of this week, let’s see how this experience of complete acceptance has worked.

Ah, so it would seem with the title of this post that I promised a menu. When I started this writing my intention was to research all the recipes and menus I have saved over the years to find those that would fit into my preconceived idea of what I should eat during this conscious personal journey. Now I see that the menu is not one of edible food, at least not at this time. The menu is one of spiritual food. The theme for the first week is of Presence. Coming into your body. It is about waking up.

Now THIS is a good thing! Fresh from the garden.

Still, I am Susan, a person who likes to plan and research and organize because it makes me feel more comfortable. I like knowing that I have healthy food choices and sometimes I like not having to decide what is for dinner because the menu has already been set for the week. Sometimes trying to decide at 5:00 what to have for dinner results in just wanting a glass of wine and some nachos or a bowl of cereal. I do not think that is bad but I do not want to live life in default mode. So, what are some of the things I will eat this coming week? For dinners I think Hibiscus Enchiladas will be nice, and how about Frito Pie and something tofu based, like a marinated tofu steak. Lunches may be leftovers from dinner with a fruit and small salad. Breakfasts will be yogurt, pea protein smoothies, and egg tacos. There, I have fulfilled that mission. I will share the recipes as they occur. I hope you will share with me your food choices! And share also your spiritual menu, if you will.

Yes, guacamole is healthy for body and soul!

Religious discussion: At times I will quote the Christian Bible but the truths written in the Bible are also true in every other religion and I may also quote the Buddha. Truth does not change. I know the Christian Bible best, having studied it, but I cannot call myself a Christian within the tenets of current Christian religion beliefs because I do not subscribe to them. I do not believe you have to be a Christian to know God and to know truth. I identify as spiritual because of this. If you like the religious quotes, cool, if you do not, just skim over that part.

Having a Beginner’s Mindset

Howdy, Y’all! How was your summer? For some of you readers it may still feel like summer, regardless of what the calendar says. Summer is one of the busiest times in the mountains of the Pacific and Inland Northwest. Gorgeous weather calls to come tiptoe on the mountain ridges and float along the river, the garden needs tending, the mules get fat and sassy on the green pasture grass, friends and family come to visit. Yes, summer is a whirlwind of activity up here!

There are a few reasons for why it has been so long since I shared any of the goings-ons with you. Besides all the activity that is summer, I want to remodel this blog site and I got so caught up in trying to figure out how the finished product would look that I did not actually start the project. I have heard it called many things but analysis paralysis is one I will use. You know how it is, you want to do something but do not have any idea how to do it or maybe even how you want it to look when you are finished. That is why we hire professionals, because they can have so many ideas and experience and move wishful thinking into action. Alas, hiring a professional web designer is not an expense I can incur and so it went, round and round.

Delightfully, I spent time with my daughter recently who did a reading for me with these cool Animal Spirit cards.

These are the spirit cards that Erika brought. Such lovely packaging!

A reading consists of shuffling the deck, spreading it out face down, and choosing cards. We like to wave our hand over the cards until it feels like one of the cards “calls” to select it. Then you look up the card in the accompanying book that describes what the card can mean in life and how that value would appear if you are in balance or out of balance. I find it a fun way to share time together and interact sans screen.

Actually we did two readings for me, each about a week apart. Both said the same thing essentially: creativity is about starting, just do the work, start where you are, it is not the finished product that requires focus but rather it is the process of working that is important.

Below is a shot of the cards from my second reading. These cards are not about telling the future. I think what they do is help you get over yourself and the blockades you put up. They can be a tool to help you open to possibilities that your heart is longing for. It was interesting, however, in that when we started this second reading and I shuffled the deck, the cards drawn were similar to the reading that had been done immediately prior, including this spider card (the center card). I decided to reshuffle the deck and try again.  First card drawn was the spider card, something that surprised Erika and me and caused Erika to comment that I obviously was not getting out of that message! The spider’s message is to focus on the expression of creativity, not on the finished product. It is hard not to also get the message that we each weave our own web of life. Am I weaving the web I desire?

The three cards from my second reading.

We were able to include a dear family member in the fun via video chat. Don’t you love technology?!?!

Video chat card reading, you can participate in the fun even if you are not in the room!

If you want to take a look at the cards or buy some, here is a link you can use. If you follow it and make a purchase, I will get a small commission and it won’t cost you any extra. The Animal Spirit cards are quite beautifully drawn and the book that describes each card is well written.

Such lovely drawings of real and imagined animals

Isn’t that interesting? I have had on my mind how to revamp this blog but have been stuck because I do not know how or what I want. I feel the interface is clunky. I have tried to envision how to make it more polished and interesting and I cannot figure that out; perhaps because I am not a web designer. Instead I am just going to start messing around and try different things. It will be an experiment in process-driven work rather than results-driven, just like the cards suggest. Sometimes it may be icky, maybe even break down, and sometimes it might get a little better. I have to accept being a beginner and not being great.

Consider it experimental art, perhaps. Have you ever been to an experimental art show? They are not always enjoyable. One show I went to consisted of a guy walking up and down the alley of a warehouse with a cow head. Not a skull, the full head with skin and eyes and gore at the neck. As he paced the alleyway he was muttering and then hollering words that were incomprehensible to me, perhaps because I was in my head trying to figure out where a person gets hold of a freshly decapitated bovine noggin in the middle of Houston. And also I was staying back to avoid the blood and gore that would fling out from the cow neck when the artist (and the bitchy part of me writes that as “artist” but the professional in me would never be so crass), back to what I was saying, when the artist would fling the cow head around to make some point. Art is cool, pleading with the dry cleaner to get the cow blood stains out of your blouse is not cool. And yet, of the many art shows attended, this icky one stands out most strongly and is the one I chose to relate to you. I have no idea what happened to that guy or those other people in the audience over these past many years but I know that I was inspired. If that guy can get up there and be insane and repulsive, then maybe that gives me freedom to do the same in my own way. No dry cleaner needed.

It can be hard to be a beginner. To not know exactly what you are doing, or how to do it. It can be exhausting, too, because everything, every detail and action is consciously considered. Once you get good at something it just flows. It becomes easy and it feels good to do well without working so hard. I think as we get older we become intimidated by the idea of starting over. The idea of not being good at something, of not knowing what to do and how to proceed several steps up the road, it can be overwhelming. Well, it is overwhelming when one tries to foretell the future and see the end before even beginning. No wonder I have been dragging my tail, that is a lot of weight to bear!
I have also been trying to figure out what this blog is about. In trying to get the professional and polished vision I thought maybe I should narrow the focus to specific content. After tossing around lots of ideas: travel, outdoors, food, healthy living, it was apparent that no single idea was resonating. I have decided that, at this time at least, the blog will just be about whatever is on my mind and agenda. (That is agenda as in calendar and what I am doing that week, not agenda as in take over the world)

I hope your summer was wonderful. I cannot wait to share all the late-summer and fall stuff with you! Hope you are hungry, the next post is about food! That is something I do know well!

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Identity Crisis

“Leaves of three, let them be”

For many of us, this is pretty much the total of our woodsman training in avoiding poison ivy. However, if you have an outdoorsy nature and have traveled to other wooded areas then you know that poison ivy can look very different from one place to another. If you have read my earlier post then you also know that plant can take several morphological aspects in the same geographical locale. If you don’t have experience in that location then you are back to your own little ditty to hopefully protect you from itchy skin and oozing blisters.

It’s quite mind-boggling to try and figure out who is who in the plant world on the hill above me. I have been promised that there is no poison ivy anywhere on this hill. Oh yeah? Well, what about this?

Oh, wild strawberry? Really? Not poisonous then? Oh, okay. (Does it really make strawberries?)

Lalala… whoa, what’s that? Three leaves climbing up a stick- kinda like that one down by the Snake River in Hell’s Canyon. Surely that is some version of poison ivy? Nope, just a plant, and don’t call me Shirley.

Monty and I decide to meander down a creek. We love these fresh walks in the woods. The crisp air, the sunlight streaming through the trees and making little patches of light in the green shadows. And here is more three-leafed wonder

Three leaves, viney… watch out!!! Oh wait, thorns? Blackberry?

Sheesh, I’m beginning to question the validity of that saying now because everywhere I look there are three-leafed plants and some even have the mitten-leaf appearance of the poison ivy I am familiar with.

Oh lordy, look at all that, the mushroom is probably poisonous, too. I used to feel so safe in the woods. I guess those were “my” woods, with animal sounds and plants and topography that I have known for many years. There is PLENTY of poison ivy in Texas, believe you me, but after so many years of exploring I just instinctively knew where it was and how to avoid it and if it did get me a little, well, it was only a little. Maybe a couple days of itchy and a wee bit of blistering. Not a full-body event that is utter misery like I had a couple of months ago. Swear to God I’d rather birth a child than go through that again.

Oh, here is a three-leafer but I do know this one. It’s trillium and is quite lovely.

And look at all the other kinds of three-leaf around it. It begins to get overwhelming, just trying to figure out what is what in a new place.

Pretty lighting but who are you?

Pretty sure this is okay

Monty doesn’t concern himself in the least with plant identification. He does worry about staying close to me and will check on me frequently if I am loitering or moving to slowly. He is so funny that way! I do like hiking with him because he does always check and if he hears me exclaim over something he comes running to make sure I am okay and give me a bop with his nose.

Ummmm, I’m not seeing this in the plant identification booklet

I keep trying to figure out who is who in this three-leafed plant world. My guidebook is not really all that helpful at times. I think it assumes I already kinda know what I’m doing here. I’m beginning to realize I do not know jack. It’s rather humbling because I used to know A LOT and feel totally at home in the woods. Here I don’t know anything. It is both interesting and uncomfortable at the same time. The discomfort makes me think more about what is what. No comfy ruts for me. Every step is examined. Sometimes I can only hang on to the few truths I know still exist, but what are those again? Oh bother, here we go getting existential again…

There are so many encouragers saying, speak your truth. Walk your path and find what serves you. Follow your bliss…

Well, what if you don’t know what your truth is or where your path is or goes? What if you spent your whole life doing what you were supposed to do, what others wanted you to do, what you thought would be “the right thing” to live happily ever after and you played nice in order to make things better for everyone? (but were you included in the everyone count because how did suppressing your own outrageous being make things better?)

How then can you speak your truth and walk your path to the glory of God or whatever if you don’t even know what your own voice sounds like?

A story of a little girl I know has cracked the door open for me. I spent many years playing a role to make life better for everyone else. Like many women, I focused on taking care of others and, in the process, hid who I am and what I want. Maybe it was easier to keep the spotlight off of me rather than risk everyone finding out I am so small and imperfect. Whatever the cause doesn’t matter anymore, it is done. Now I am trying to figure out who I am without the layer of b.s. I caked on to play a role that was not really me.

“I am done obeying for today.”

Rip off the costume you thought you wanted to wear but that does not fit quite right, grab the ice cream cone that you desire and give not a care how it will affect your appetite for dinner. Get in touch with who YOU are, the base instincts and desires, the stories you tell yourself about life, about today. Begin to feel what is real in you. If you are feeling grumpy and bitchy open up and accept the grumpiness, accept the bitchiness fully. You may find that when you open up, and make a place for this so-called ugliness that it no longer needs to grump and harrumph and take up so much of your precious time on this earth.

And this acceptance of the wholeness of who you are just might be the way to start hearing the sound of your voice and recognizing it as you.

My goodness, if you are still reading then you are probably related to me. Thank you, Mom!

So all this came about as I was partaking in an activity that I adore and the circumstance were less than adorable. I had been feeling a bit untethered for a few days and decided to head out for a few days of solo backpacking. Would the place of respite that I had always enjoyed continue to bring solace when things get difficult for me? Who am I now anyway without the jobs, the friends, the home that defined me for so long? That was a question to which the answer still eludes me. I was hiking along a trail and was getting so aggravated, I will blame it on the incessant biting bugs that were thicker than a wool blanket so that I could not stop to take in the views . Even taking a photo was a challenge for in the half second it took to get my camera  from my pocket, 3 to 5 mosquitoes would land on my hand, swarming my face so that I had to hold my breath and keep my ears covered and eyes squinted to take a photo. All the tricks I knew of going to a ridgetop for wind, staying away from water, even bug repellent did not deter this irritation. And I was getting grumpier by the step, being driven on by these bugs. Finally I let myself just be grumpy. “Fine, here is some direct attention, bitch all you want about anything, not just the bugs, anything whether it seems to have merit or relevance or not.”

Shockingly, once I had permission to be fussy, there was not really anything to be fussy about. Yes, the bugs were still bad, no miracle came and erased them for me, but my horrid mood was diminished and my emotional load was certainly lightened. I wish I could say this lasted forever, or even the rest of the day but alas, I am not that enlightened. It did last a few moments though, enough to give me a break and some space to see how I was letting circumstance outside determine what was going on inside.

And so I asked, why am I here?

Not the philosophical question but for real. Why, if this is sucky, am I still here? Go somewhere else. And I had no good answer except “well, this is what I planned on doing.”

Well, if you aren’t having fun then go do something else. What would you like to do instead?

…(crickets chirping)….

Searching…

Well,… I don’t know. This is what i have always done for fun, to get centered, to get my head together, to find peace and respite and answers to questions. It is who I am. What would I do, who would I be without it?

Who would I be?

Monty doesn’t worry on such matters. He is a good teacher that way. Just chill out and be here now.

OMG, girl. Quit thinking so much and just enjoy the ride!

Okay, okay. I know Monty is right. All this wondering is not much different from worrying. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boom

I probably ought to go get on my yoga mat but first, Monty says to take a nap. And Monty knows best.

Me and my boy chillaxin


Wishes…

Wishes…

Just before I left Houston my beloved friend placed a kiss on my cheek and this wish bracelet on my wrist as I silently made my wish. As I understand it, the wish will come true when the bracelet falls off. As you can see, it is just a few threads away from happening!
However, it’s been like this awhile now. These few threads, frayed and colorless, holding on to what was and refusing to be broken, perhaps fearful of the idea of no longer existing. These few threads are preventing my wish.
So, dear reader, I am making a plea to you for help. The wish I made is for all the people I love to have the courage to follow what is in their hearts, to pursue their dreams and not have to know the exact ending before beginning. I can promise you that there is so much more available than you can even imagine or know to ask for. Just take the first step towards opening your heart and mind to possibility. If trying to figure it all out seems overwhelming then don’t concern yourself with anything more than this next step, leave the last step for later. You can handle it when the time comes.
I think of the story of Noah frequently now. I wonder how many people God told to build an ark? I am confident it was more than just ol’ Noah. Noah reportedly had zero carpentry skills and certainly no ship building experience since he lived inland. Even though the way and reason weren’t clear, Noah pursued what was in his heart to do.
Is there something in your heart calling to you?

Acceptance of impermanence lets me have courage to go into the unknown. Terror, happiness, peace, insecurity, security, these all come and pass like a breath. In sitting for meditation I see how an itch or a tickle can arise and engulf my attention, my mind screaming out to jump to it, scratch and rub, then everything will be better. But in my short 10 minute meditations from Calm app, I learn how those very itches can seemingly engulf and then be gone to be replaced by another attention-taker. I learn how mind/ego wants to be anywhere but here now, wants attention and throws mental tantrums to get it. I know I can handle an itch or tickle for just 10 minutes and so I watch it, giving 100% attention but 0% action or reaction. And I watch it subside, then a few moments or seconds of blissful peace before another tantrum.
My fears, which have been numerous these last few months, are similarly handled. Give attention, do not try to assuage or distract from the uncomfortable or un-pretty. Accept all as part of this experience, love this life as it comes. Soon enough this body will go back to the ashes and dust of its origin. The poet Rumi, as always, has something to say about this:

WHO SAYS WORDS WITH MY MOUTH? All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there
Rumi

Where, my dear friend, is your soul from and what are you doing to get back there?

WWFD

3/31/18

 

So, it was pointed out to me that I have been remiss in my “ob-blog-gation” as I have not posted in quite some time. I absolutely agree that the stories I think of in my head are not sufficient, they have to get written and posted. I do have many ideas, sort of the opposite of writer’s block. What I didn’t have was discretionary time. However, I have decided to make writing 30 minutes in the morning every day for a week my current goal, then assess. Surely the farm won’t fall apart because of 30 minutes!

One part of the time challenge was the sale of the farm. When I came here it was up for consideration that I would buy the property. I made a decision about 4 weeks ago not to purchase. Then, within days of me making that decision, another potential buyer came along. I spent most of the day working the farm and then the evenings in meetings and visits with the potential owner. Unfortunately, after almost 4 weeks of negotiating and planning, the deal has fallen through. I have learned a valuable lesson about how to live and work in the same place. Hold holy the time and habits that feed and nourish you and keep yourself sane and healthy. Hold holy that time.

As I was out on the property the other day thinking about my beautiful friend who pointed out my long time since posting, I was remembering a marvelous gift he gave me. It was a bracelet with the words, “WWFD yoga massage wine nature” printed on it. I began to meditate on the different things Frank would do.

Hang in there, even when the world seems to be washing away from beneath your feet. Kalaloch Beach

Yoga- to me yoga is about centering, accepting what is in this moment, finding ease in the difficult poses (on the mat and in life), knowing when to push a little harder and when to relax and be easy on yourself. Oh, and yoga is also a nice way to strengthen the body.

Gluggaveður
Icelandic for “window weather” which is the perfect time to connect with a loved one and share a bit of sunshine on a frosty morning.

Massage- touching, recognizing the similitude in all of us, letting go of worries and notions and breathing in the gift of connection and also of reciprocity, this is what massage means to me.

With no good restaurants in this area, I’ve taken my cooking up several notches.

Honestly, this fence is pathetic but coated with fresh snow it is transformed into a beautiful vision.

Wine- food and life are meant to be enjoyed! Yes! Allow the amazing qualities of the world, physical and metaphysical, to transform you into a glistening jewel-like substance. Rumi’s poem about wine says “there are thousands of wines that can take over our minds. Don’t think all ecstasies are the same! … Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. Be a connoisseur and taste with caution. Any wine will get you high. Judge like a king and choose the purest, the ones unadulterated with fear or some urgency about “what’s needed.” Drink the wine that moves you as a camel moves when it’s been untied and is just ambling about.” Rumi cautions to be thoughtful of what we choose to enter or let enter us. Whether it is food, work, a partner, books or movies, be attentive to the deeper ingredients of these items and choose those that are the purest for you. How to know? By how you feel, are you tense, worried, angry, fearful or are you calm and relaxed, peaceful, like a camel that is no longer having to work but is just chillin’. That is the wine that serves you best!

The sun is always there, even when we cannot see it for the clouds.

Swirly tracks on Ruby Beach at sunset

Nature- “And forget not the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran reminds us that we must connect with our natural self, we must engage and be willing to get dirty and messy to fully live. We must let down our guard and our striving for perfection in order to see it is the imperfections that bring depth and beauty to our experience. Look at the forest, the tangle of trees and branches and the interesting rocks half-buried in the dirt and the bugs crawling across the rotten logs that have fallen beside the trail. See how these tangles and rot come together to create interest. In the same way that we can look at a knobby tree with appreciation, we can see the places in us that are kind of knobby and have compassion and acceptance for them. Does the riverbank worry and fret over the flood season? No, even when the floods come and wash away a part of the bank, the riverbank still is, it does not cease to be. So even when the difficult times come, and they will come, they do not wash away who you really are but instead reveal even more depth of your being.

So, thank you, Frank, for your inspiration! We can all remember What Would Frank Do and get on with it!

Sun kisses

Alchemy

Meditation is the alchemist
Transforming putrid shame into joyful rapture
Dust swept under the rug becoming sparkles of gold as I sit

I was inspired by a recent meditation experience to write the poem above. If you have read any of my other posts, you will no doubt know that I am a big proponent of meditation. Not for the relaxation that occurs when sitting on the meditation cushion, although that is nice, but for the transforming effect if you let what is learned on the cushion to occur in the rest of life. Maybe it is a result of critical thinking skills, being able to take what is learned in one arena and apply it to not-previously-seen arenas. In school those are the hardest tests, when the teacher makes you really think about what was learned and apply it creatively versus just spitting back a particular powerpoint slide. In life, it is also about taking what we learn and applying it creatively to a situation. In doing so it builds a trust in one’s self that allows you to believe you can handle the next thing that comes. And the next thing, and the one after that, even if you don’t know what is coming, you know you can handle it. Boy, there is so much less worry when living this way!!!
What you may or may not know about me is that I love rules. I am a big believer in knowing the rules and then, with creative thinking, deciding which rules can be broken. It isn’t until one has mastered the rules and can maneuver within them that one begins to know which can be broken to achieve a certain result. Now this does encourage an understanding of the difference between a law and a rule. Laws cannot be broken. Gravity is kind of a law, as is pretty much all of physics and chemistry and organic chemistry and math. A carbon with only 3 bonds is going to be one unhappy guy, that is something you can count on. Rules aren’t so rigid but are a pretty decent framework for living if you don’t want to think about stuff all the time. You should not eat dessert before dinner is a decent rule, because you are hungry and might overeat the sugar and then undereat the salad. There are times that you should break this rule and eat the cookies, dammit, like if you are getting ready to menstruate and you deserve a congratulatory cookie for getting up and not spitting venom at any object in your path. That totally deserves a cookie or two. And a glass of wine. And quit looking at the clock because, really, that is how addictions are made. But you don’t go and break that dessert rule ALL the time or else it loses its effectiveness when you need it. Like crying wolf. You don’t want the new normal to be one devoid of rules because then when you do have a wolf attacking your sheep no one will show up and you will probably get eaten, and if the wolf is getting ready to menstruate and thinks of you as a cookie, then it will probably eat you first and go for the fuzzy sheep afterwards. And then where will you be? If you were lucky enough to be like Jonah and eaten by a whale, then you would stand a chance of surviving to tell the tale and probably be an internet sensation since you’d no doubt have some great video footage of the whale tummy and being puked up on the beach of Nineveh. But you wouldn’t survive in a wolf’s stomach.
“Squirrel!”
Actually I have no idea how crying wolf relates to meditation but maybe that just proves the alchemy part in the poem I wrote at the beginning of this post. Yes, that is EXACTLY what alchemy does so somewhere my brain is making connections and I just have to trust the path and not be so doggone worried about knowing in advance where it leads. Never place limits on what can be by demanding to know the future because how could one even IMAGINE such a connection?
I have some possible big changes coming up in my life. Not that I haven’t been living with big changes the last couple months anyway, and changes that I could not have imagined have occurred just because I trusted in the ability to try and even to fail and get back up and start going again. Failing and then getting going again is dust turning into gold.

Oh yeah, I wanted to show you some sights from the farm.

Here is what I do every morning. I am one of the best fire builders. The wood is fresh cut and wet and green, not good for making fires but I have developed a system or series of systems that lets me succeed as long as I am patient and attentive. The wood stove has water jackets on each side of it that circulate heated water through the floors and help heat the basement bedrooms. I guess because of the water jackets taking up space, the firebox is not big enough to be able to stoke enough firewood to keep the fire going all night so every morning I build a new fire. It is kind of a relaxing way to wake up.

Next I go for a walk. It might not be immediately in the morning but sometime before mid-afternoon I head out. The snow lately has called me out to walk and enjoy a real winter. Monty loves all the freedom of walking without a leash and sometimes I bring a guest’s dog along.


In between fire-building and walking is some work or other, maybe bookkeeping or maybe farm chores or fixing something that is broken. There are lots of things broken and some I can fix on my own. And finally I decide what to cook for dinner. I am fortunate that I like to cook and the grocer in town is acceptable and Amazon delivers. It is a little hard because I do not have a full kitchen with all the spices and accoutrement my old kitchen had but that just makes me more creative. And flexible. Did you know that for some recipes baking powder can stand in for baking soda with no appreciable difference. But coarse-ground cornmeal, which is great for polenta, cannot be used as is for a breading on stuffed jalapenos. I will try grinding it in the coffee bean grinder next time and I suspect the hint of coffee taste will be a pretty yummy addition. and if it is not, then a little extra sriracha-mayo dip will take care of it. I enjoy taking my time fixing dinner. It is a nice chance to have me-time as the cooking kitchen is separate from the main living area and kitchen-prep area.


Sometimes guests or neighbors will join us for a dinner party and that can very interesting. Unless all the guests are avid fishermen which means the discussion devolves to types of hooks and such. Those are the nights I go to bed early. Sometimes we have very personable and interesting guests and I get to learn all about other parts of the country, what their work and lives are like, how they see the world. Those are my favorite times. It helps fill the void left by not being in the salon and talking with all my interesting and fascinating clients. Shoot, now I am thinking about some of them and there is a catch in the back of my throat for those I love dearly and miss so much. Sometimes I wonder if I am selfish and foolish for chasing this dream. But sometimes I talk with a dear friend and I can feel the love is still there even if I do not get to lay eyes or hands on them right now. Breathe in loneliness, wistfulness, missing you…breathe out warmth, compassion, understanding, ever-abiding love. Meditation is the alchemist.

Feeling the Glory

Daily I read from Jeff Foster’s The Way of Rest and am inspired by his poetic earnestness. It just so happened that today, Valentine’s Day, I read his “Out of the Ashes” and, as usual, was struck by the depth of his work. There are many layers to his writing if you are willing to open up to the deeper meanings. Even when I am not ready to open wide, his work is beautiful and moving but, oh, those times I am courageous enough to fling open the doors to my heart and soul and let the light stream into the dark places, Jeff’s insight caresses as gently as a mother’s kiss. Those places where fear and shame dangle like cobwebs in my being are laid open, sometimes still flailing, and I can hear God’s voice, full of compassion, reminding me of my true nature, my true being, and that I am made from Him. How could there possibly be anything wrong with me?

I am perfect in my imperfection.

What is not to love, then? What could there possibly be in this bit of God made human that is not delightful and lovable? Even my quick-to-judge ways, my moodiness, my tendency to interrupt, my rough feet that look more like a dog’s paw, my stretchmarks and crow’s feet and hail-damaged thighs, all these places where I want to be different than I am, I can look at with eyes of my soul and say, “Is that so?” And sometimes the compassion and patience that is bigger than me sifts down into this mortal and imperfect being and I take myself a little less seriously and a bit more joyfully and with gratitude for this very moment.

Sometimes I do love my Self so much that I laugh out loud with the joy of Being.

May you feel the deepest love and gratitude for yourself today, my friend. Start there, with complete love and acceptance for your own being, and see what happens.

 

Out of the Ashes

Jeff Foster

Do not despair if you are now feeling far from love. You are only seeking a reflection of your own heart. Love is burning even more brightly now, even if it feels like pain and longing, chaotic sensations in the belly, chest, throat.

If it is warmth you seek, if it is closeness you long for, begin by feeling the warmth of your own broken heart, reconnecting there at the very source of disconnection, finding presence in your own presence. Your loved one is near, for you are near.

When you feel like seeking outward for love, turn, come closer, get more intimate with yourself.

Even if you find yourself in ruins now, understand that even the ruined place contains seeds of grace and the fragrance of renewal. You cannot go back, life only marches on. Dignify its ever-onward movement. The power that was there at the big bang is still with you; you are undivided from the cosmos. There is power in your doubt.

Know that a new life can only grow from the earth upon which you stand. A new painting must begin with a canvas. Use the canvas that is given. Even old canvases can hold fresh paint.

If you dream of a new tomorrow, your dream appears now, held in your presence. Keep sight of the goal, yes! But never lose connection with the Origin, this moment, the lace from which goals are seen or not seen, held or released.

Being present is never in conflict with holding a vision of a more expansive future in your heart, for the holding can only happen in Presence. The present holds the future.

And then, out of the ashes of ground zero, that dark place associated only with death and destruction, a new kind of life may suddenly appear possible, and, with love and trust, begin to manifest.

Never give up on life, for it never gives up on you, even when you give up. And know that your heart is near, broken yet radiant. Allow it to be closed now, and it will open when it is ready, and not a moment before.

 

 

The Invitation- Oriah Mountaindreamer

Here is an excerpt from Oriah’s poem that speaks so deeply to the heart. Her eloquence is inspiring.

“It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”

This is a photo from 2014 when I took my grand-dog Moose to the Pecos Wilderness. What an amazing dog and place!

Not Earned

Monday, January 15, 2018
Today I leave my last stop of this traveling vacation and enter Forks and my new home and work. Yes, I have mixed feelings about it. I like traveling and especially not working or being answerable to anyone. It is like being a kid again, such freedom! I have fears but, for some crazy reason I choose to barrel headlong into whatever fears I have. I do not run from fear or push it away or excuse it. Probably, more than anything, this is what makes me hard to live with. In my last writing (in my personal journal, not on here) I mentioned Dan and his discussion of how he thought i am beautiful and did I know that.
No. I do not know that.
I have people who have told me, friends who love me and one who was even surprised when i revealed that I do not think of myself as pretty. so i can say that, based on their opinion i must be pretty in a socially accepted way. and I (mostly) accept and appreciate my internal appearance, though I do battle my self on occasion so it is yet to be full acceptance.
And so today I read in Jeff Foster’s “The Way of Rest” about why you are beautiful. If you have not familiarized yourself with Jeff, go do that. Now. Come back after you have wiped your eyes from the tears of love.
So anyway, he writes to look in the mirror and to fully accept all the feelings that arise. Do not resist anything. Do not fight back the disgust or shame with platitudes and affirmations of worth. Let it all just chatter around like seagulls squawking on the shore and then begin to see yourself through loving eyes, whether like a parent or lover or God, just see with full acceptance the pimples, wrinkles, deformities of body and personality.
“And the medicine now is naked, choiceless attention, being as spacious as the mirror itself, making room for thoughts and feelings but not mistaking them for the truth.”
Whoa.
Feel it. Accept it. Hear it. And know what is the truth.
“You are beautiful, without changing a thing; your beauty is not earned.”
I will be meditating on this today. maybe this lifetime.

Imperfections

This morning I acknowledged that it is the imperfections that are interesting to me. I hope I can remember this as I seriously enter my 50th decade!

Maybe, though, this is not a new thing. I have always preferred local theater or high school productions to the perfectly polished Broadway-style professional assemblies. I am attracted to earnestness, soulfulness, lovingness, Loch Ness…

okay, I have not really been to Loch Ness but I imagine I would like it better than Lake Superior, if only because Nessie chose it first.

Poor Nessie. She must be so very lonely. Can you imagine being the last of your kind? I mean, it is hard enough to find someone of your own species who understands you, but then to not even have that commonality? I was feeling quite out of my element as I traveled through the southern portion of California. I could find so little connection with the people here that I encountered. This is a very unusual experience as I can connect with and small talk anyone. I mean, I am a professional at this back home! I have attempted to talk to many people and it has been like no one is home each time. There was one guy, when I was buying a replacement camera (why a replacement was needed is a story for another time) who, after about 20 minutes, finally looked me in the eyes but then went back to his internal world. I wonder if that is how Nessie feels? Maybe she pops her head up to try and find a soul connection but then all the camera flashing and hollering sends her back down to swim with the fishes.

Maybe we all need to read the Dr. Bronner’s label and take it to heart?

See, there was the digression again. This is supposed to be about how we need to embrace our so-called flaws because that is what makes us interesting. Without these beauty marks, whether they are on the inside or outside, we are just plain white walls. We do not require fixing, we do not need to wait for some future date  to be better, to lose those 10 pounds or close that big deal or buy the perfect house with the perfect mate. Full and authentic acceptance of our uniquely human imperfections is what makes us beautiful.