Training Day 1

Training Day 1


While I am on hiatus from the BnB consulting job awaiting payment for services rendered, I have taken a temporary position located in the northern Rockies. I had some preliminary training on the basics of my new job requirements last week and today was to be the first real training day. Some of the new skills I must master involve knots with different rope sizes, harnesses, and very important is tree identification.

The project involves finding very specific trees using GPS and previous identification of these same trees and then climbing them (not a skill I have mastered but am learning) to harvest pollen right as it is ripe but before it has had a chance to be contaminated by the pollen from nearby trees. After the collection will come the cleaning and proper storage of the pollen using (relatively) clean methods to avoid cross-contamination by other trees or other pollen collected and then appropriate storage of the pollen until it can be turned in for use. I would like to think my many years of experience in the chemistry of haircolor as well as my time in university research labs will aid in the cleaning and packaging of the collected pollen since none of that aids me in climbing these 100 foot trees. I did once climb an 80 foot pole at Philmont using spikes and a rope and was tied in for protection using the classic belaying method of trusting your partner to hold the rope if you fell. That time i did not fall but it was slow going and i developed an appreciation for the trapezius muscle that had heretofor been absent in my experience. This time would be a little different, however. There would be no partner to belay me and catch me if I goof up and I will not be wearing spikes BUT I will have two ropes and only one will be moving at any given moment, with the other being my own personal belay. the don has done this type of work before and assures me that it is worthwhile having me as a part of the team. I am hopeful he is right and that it is not just that he wants me around because his dog has taken a shine to me.

here the don is about 95 feet up in the white pine. soon I will be doing this!

Obvious as it may be since you are reading this, I did not fall to my death from a tree on this first jaunt. Sadly, the intel received from the contracting body (which I will not name) was incomplete. While the contract has specific about what measures are to be taken to reach a designated tree, these parameters were not considered when the don was tasked with accessing this tree that was to be my first foray in the training of my new job. While I am quite disappointed in not getting to learn more about this new job and whether I will get any monetary compensation for my time spent sitting in a truck wrangling dogs and snacking for SIX hours, I have to say the perks are not bad. See my current “office” view along the North Fork of the Clearwater River and, bless his heart, the don already bought salsa and chips and beer as well as dinner and breakfast items since we are having to camp near the trees location. So while I may or may not come out ahead monetarily, I am certainly not out where food comes in. If you know me, you know just how much salsa I can eat so the don might want to be careful how he bids these trees when I am along.


This post will be brief as I am heading out again in an hour to find and, hopefully, climb more trees. I did want to show you the place I am currently staying in Idaho. If you are my friend on Facebook or follow me on Instagram you will have already seen some of these photos. I have to admit I had no idea Idaho could be this lovely. I am quite taken by the cool spring and mesmerized by all the flowers. I love having a forest for a backyard and a creek running beside the house. I cannot tell you how it feels to have wild turkeys calling you to wake up, the sun is rising, and how it feels to slowly watch the sky turn from black to morning light through the window above the bed that does not have or need curtains. I cannot tell you how this feels because there are not words that can express what it feels like when your soul, after a long and arduous journey, comes home. Even when it is a home you never stepped foot in before, your soul just knows when it is home.
Big kiss to you all and may your soul be at home today.

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

The Never-Ending Search for Balance

Just jump in, do it, don’t over-think things, follow your dreams/bliss/heart

Good planning makes good products, measure twice cut once, patience is a virtue

Sometimes all these sayings seem at odds with each other. How can you know when to just jump in and when to carefully plan out how things will go?

As a trail runner I would start a rainy day run trying to avoid mud puddles. After a moment I would accept that getting wet and muddy was inevitable for me and how I choose to run and with that acknowledgement I would begin to run through the puddles and let the mud splash up on my legs and soak my shoes and socks. The sooner I just accepted how it was going to be for me the more fun the run was. Some people I ran with were different and would avoid all mud puddles and filthy trails and get back to the cars with clean shoes whereas I was usually coated with mud and gunk and exhilaration. So maybe I can say that if the end result is inevitable then I should just jump in with both feet at the beginning so as to fully immerse and engage with my situation.

Okay, that is easy enough. Now, what about when I don’t know the end result? What about when I am not in control of the outcome, when I am flowing with what life brings and letting go of worries for tomorrow’s happenings? Prayer and meditation have worked wonders for letting me live in faith that I can take this step without knowing what the exact next step would be. Well, and to be perfectly honest and transparent, God knows I am a bit headstrong and impatient so the little vision peeks that are given to me on occasion help, too. Okay, that is where patience comes in and patience is a discipline of practice.

Now here is where it gets interesting to me. How do you know the balance between patience and jumping in? Patience to let the path unfold without forcing your own will versus jumping in to accept the change that you wish to have in life without knowing exactly where the change will take you. Where is the balance between modesty and full monty? What, you thought I knew? Ohhhh noooooo, balance is not my strong point!

The only thing I have learned so far to help determine what to do at any time is feel for the joy. Not happiness because happy is too variable but true and deep joy that pervades every moment, every interaction. Meditation helps me find the joy even if I am in a situation that is uncomfortable and conflict-ridden. Joy sits back and says, “Wow, even during this argument where you are trying to get your way and he is trying to get his, even during this discomfort you are so animated and believe so fully in how this tiny detail will make everything turn out. WOW, you are SO HUMAN and ALIVE!” And then some part of me will begin to giggle at how intoxicating all these feelings are.

One of the things I love and cherish about my new life is the time outdoors in nature. Every single day has long walks to explore this new land of mine and it is easy to make time to go outside regardless of weather. I am enraptured by this rain forest and, in the same way your fingers trace the curves of your lover’s body, I walk the curves of this land, venturing farther and deeper each time. I took the afternoon off to explore the hill that is my view across the meadow, Reade Hill. There is so much more of her to traverse but this is a beginning and I hope these photos can convey to you how crisp and clean everything is, how joyful life is in such a nurturing environment. Most of all I hope you have a special place that you love and loves you and that you take time every day to keep that love alive!

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.

Sometimes the line between love and addiction gets blurred

I breathe in deep your scent

And memories of past days and promises of what is to come

Dance through my thoughts.

As your warm and slightly bitter taste envelopes my tongue,

It is as if you move immediately into my blood

Enlivening me and bringing light to my darkest morning.

Oh, coffee…

I am your willing slave forever.

Contagion

“Fear is contagious and so is courage”      -Elizabeth Gilbert

I read this in an email from Tami Simon of Sounds True. Like all well-crafted guideposts that point to the one truth, it made me think. We as a society are very thoughtful about the people we surround ourselves with in regards to their disease state. We have PSAs about how to sneeze or cough in a crowd, we use hand sanitizer like modern-day armor and tell others to stay home if we hear they are sick. We do not want to catch the disease and we certainly don’t want someone spreading disease in our community. We recognize how disease and illness inhibit our productivity, impair physical and financial well-being, and just get in the way of our constitutional right to pursue happiness.

Yet are we as thoughtful about the internal state of those around us and the fact that this is also contagious? Have we as a society created a version of leper colonies wherein everyone in this group has the same fears? Those who are afraid of not being enough and so must “look” successful via a big house, expensive car, the mate who meets all the check-list wants? Are our leper colonies filled with others who support our illness to the point we pass the fear-sickness back and forth and strengthen it?

Or do we surround ourselves with those who have the courage to walk their own path thus encouraging others to do the same? Are the people around us supporting each other in finding unique ways to joy and contentment, are they able to truly connect on a heart and soul level, can we be different and still be connected? Do we spread the germ of fearless vulnerability and acceptance in our connections with the people in our community?

As we enter the season of (hopefully) connecting with our family and friends, perhaps we should take a good look at what our group has in common, what is the contagion, and make sure it is something we want to catch.