The past few weeks have been really busy for me; perhaps its the holiday season, or maybe I’ve just picked up too many new projects. Anyways, I’ve been working a lot and today, as I went outside to gather some herbs and greens from the garden for breakfast, I realized that although I’m busy, one of my relationships needs tending to, just like my garden: my relationship with Spirit/Source/God/Goddess (call it what you’d like). I felt a little tug in my heart and a very subtle knowing that no matter how long my to-do list is, I must maintain my relationship with my Source. I acknowledged the feeling and promised to take a hike later on.
I finished work a few hours later, slipped on my jeans, and started walking. I immediately knew where I needed to go, even though I live on over 200+ acres of land. It’s like my body was guiding me and I didn’t resist, but let my feet carry me. Right as I arrived to the piece of land where I was called to visit, I spotted a large deer antler lying on the ground. I walked slowly to it, picked it up, and took a seat where it had been. I spent a few moments in prayerful thanks and gratitude, always humbled at my relationship with Spirit and with this land. I don’t believe in coincidences and I know that I was led to that spot to receive a gift: a physical gift of an antler, but more importantly, the gift of trust, of unconditional love and acceptance that only Creation can provide for me.
My relationship with this higher power is similar to all relationships in my life; the more that I tend to it, nurture it, care for it, and honor it, the stronger it grows. My phone doesn’t ring with the name “Spirit” showing up on the screen, but I hear the call just as loudly, and even if I can’t answer that day, I always acknowledge the call and promise to make myself available as soon as possible. And my life has changed tremendously since I have started respecting my relationship with Spirit, above all other relationships. I am blessed beyond belief, over and over again, and that empty spot inside of me is now filled with unconditional love. Anytime I’m struggling or feeling overwhelmed, I can pick up my phone (aka heart) and reach out to the one that loves me, to the one that gave me life, to the one that will always be there. And I feel safe; safe because I know that I’ll never be abandoned, because that this relationship is eternal and Everlasting.
This morning I woke up with a pebble in my shoe, a sticker burr in my pants, and eyelash in my eye, and uncomfortable feeling that I couldn't quite place my finger on. I had thoughts zooming around in my mind like little viruses zooming around in a petri dish, so I put on my lab coat and got to work trying to figure out the source, the place of origin for these foreign thoughts. I was hearing shrill shouts in my mind, saying things like "You're on your phone too much! You didn't sell enough jewelry last week. There's so much that you haven't gotten done." These thoughts started eating away at my morning, making the sunshine seem dimmer, my tea taste bland, and my day feel overwhelming. The thoughts felt like invasive little pests that I desperately wanted gone.
Then, like some antivirus was dropped in the petri dish, the thoughts cleared a path for me to see their source: lack of self-acceptance. This has been coming up a lot for me lately and when I arrive back at this place, I often feel exasperated that I haven't "graduated", that I'm still dealing with this. But then I realize that those feelings of frustration and impatience with having to continue the work in this area are coming from THE SAME SOURCE: lack of self-acceptance.
So, although the "antivirus" cleared the path and allowed me to see the source of these pesky little thoughts, it didn't annihilate them. No, because that's my work. And although I do believe I'm a Gryffindor, I don't actually have a magic wand, a spell to cast them away. My work is harder, requires more patience, more love, more gentleness and kindness. My job is to simply Be; it is to be with those thoughts, with those little viruses, by observing them and witnessing their tenacity and dedication to infecting my mind. It is my job to put them to sleep, to sing them a lullaby, and let them drift away into some other reality, because they are not welcome in mine. So, today, when they inevitably return, I will observe and witness, caress and coax, and send the thoughts away, because my heart and mind must remain clear, a clean vessel of Love, and most importantly, of Truth: the truth that I am perfectly perfect exactly as I am, even when I "stay on my phone too much, even when I don't sell enough jewelry, and even when I don't get enough done".
I took a hike today. I was sitting on the couch, being cozy and embroidering a flower when I heard the whisper. I looked out of our large glass door and saw the grass swaying, beckoning me, the wind promising to caress me and the sun promising to nourish me. I slid on my pants and stepped outside, inside, stepped out of the comfort of my home and into the thrill of the Wilderness. As I walked and stopped, paused and listened, I realized that I made the right decision. I needed to acknowledge the Earth, my feet needed to touch the ground, my hands wanted to be bathed in dirt, and my mind begged to be cleared. I followed deer trails and stepped lightly, pausing after every few steps to listen and to learn. I found a clearing deep inside of a circle of juniper trees and sat down, heavily, my eyes sleepy and my breathing deep.
I closed my eyes and swayed With the Wind, with the energy circling me, swirling and swirling, cleansing my whole self like water washing down and drain. The scent of animal in Earth filled my nose, my favorite smells. Warbling birdsong danced on the air above me, a little creature making musical my meditation. I sat for a while longer, heard the donkey braying and felt my body Rising, crawling itself out of the clearing and onto another Trail. I walked and shield in my eyes from the bright Sun, my head full of fresh air and the perfume scent of juniper wasting through the breeze. I saw a flower Standing Tall and had a sweet conversation with it, giggling at the way it danced in the wind and the delicate texture of its petals. I found an old bone and some feathers and made a tiny alter underneath the tree. I gave my moon time blood to the Earth, thanking her for her offerings and apologizing for our shortcomings. I slowly made my way home and breathe deeply before closing the door behind me, feeling utterly grateful for living in the wilderness, amongst the friendliest trees and the sweetest Earth, feeling blessed for being home.
I’ve been noticing a new term going around lately: adulting.
Adulting means doing things like going to work, paying bills, calling a plumber, etc.
When I see the word, the context it’s used in 99% of the time is negative. “Ugh, I’m tired of adulting.” “Adulting? No thanks, it’s the weekend.” etc. I remember being young and feeling so impatient about growing up and becoming an adult. I felt that on the other side of childhood/adolescence, there was this special world, a secret utopia that only those over 18 had entry into. I imagined that the funnest things happened after I went to bed.
There were days when I would leave school early, for a dentist appointment or something, and I felt such a profound freedom in the fact that I was riding around with my mom at 1:00 in the afternoon. The world seemed different, expansive and full of possibility. I couldn’t wait until I was free from the prison of my school, free from waking up each day at 6:30 am, packing a lunch, shuffling from one classroom to another at the sound of a clanking bell, returning home at the end of the day, and doing it all over again, 5 days a week. Of course, as a child, I had no choice. My parents both worked and they sent me to public school and that’s just the way it was.
But now, now I’m an adult and I finally feel the freedom that I always imagined as a child. I wake up when I want to, I spend my days how I want to, and I go to bed when I want to. I chose this life, this freedom, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make. The easy choice would have been to continue to be an elementary school teacher after college, waking up at the same time each day and returning home each evening, 5 days a week. The easy choice would have been to collect my paycheck and rest in the knowing that it would be there again the next month. But I chose another path. I chose a road that started out muddy, unclear, and my feet sunk in the quicksand with almost every step. But the path I chose got easier with each step I took. The mud dried up and although I still had to cross peaks and valleys, I opened my eyes and breathed in the fresh air, let my eyes wander over the expansive openness, let my ears bathe in the silence of nature, and although the road still has bumps and rough spots and is quite isolated, I would choose it over the easy, known road any day.
I recently came to the big city of Austin for a 24 hour trip and it really felt like a trip, if ya know what I mean. The longer I live out here on the land, the stranger it feels to be somewhere else. I start to feel the change as I enter into Dripping Springs, the town between where I live and Austin. The energy feels taut, more tightly wound, the air has an electric feeling and I usually start to crave a latte. Sometimes I stop at SummerMoon and get one, the coffee running through my veins, matching the buzz I feel around me. I start to feel this hum of anticipation, excitement building about the idea of air conditioning, a bath with “endless” water, and wifi. I pull up to my parent’s house in typical suburbia and visit with them, take a long shower, put some laundry in, and do computer work. On my last visit, I marveled at the fact that I could get a haircut at Supercuts, a juice at Juiceland, and things I don’t need but want at Goodwill, all within 50 yards. The city is so convenient! It felt like a body, its own entity, with separate parts all working together to create harmony, to create society, to create a lifestyle in which people can drive to their jobs, get paid, and conveniently spend their money all within a pretty small radius.
As I moved around the different city organs/stores, I felt strange, like some sort of alien creature, a bug that was released from a glass jar miles from where it was captured. I also had the strange sensation that I was in a video game, or on a movie set, or even dreaming. There was a lack of realness, but the rawness was overwhelming. The concrete all around soaked up the sun and the air was suffocating. The sounds of the traffic and the music in the stores was violating and the contrast of the air conditioning with the heat outside was shocking. But through the intensity, underneath the overwhelm, I felt happy, calm, and at peace. I enjoyed getting my hair washed by the talkative cosmetologist Supercuts, her experienced hands massaging my head. We shared laughs about another customer stealing the magazines and how she never thought she would get back together with her ex boyfriend. I enjoyed the smell of Juiceland, a fruit utopia, and I even enjoyed getting mistaken for my twin sister for the millionth time. I loved going to over-priced Goodwill and finding a vintage crock decorated with a beautiful butterfly. I bought a wonderfully tasteless organic frozen pizza to heat up for dinner and ate Coconut Bliss ice-cream for dessert while I watched cable television.
The next morning I woke up and did some more computer work and then said goodbye to the city. As I passed through Dripping Springs, headed home, my body began to unwind, the air around me felt more still, and the silence that greeted me as I arrived home was magnificent. Here I am sitting around half-naked, sweat dripping from behind my knees, desperately wishing our tiny freezer would hurry up and freeze the ice cubes, and yet I am happy. I am peace with the sweat and the heat, with the bugs and the increasingly shorter supply of rain water. I am calm in the silence and in the dark, and I am grateful for the contrasts that life provides.
"When we were born, we got blasted apart; we burst into a million fragments, scattered around like a 1,000 piece puzzle on the floor. We were kids so we didn’t even attempt to put the puzzle together, we just kept living. Then we grew up and we saw all the fragments lying on the ground and we started piecing them together, one by one. But, above it all, looking down at the mess and the sweet gentleness with which we search and search for the right piece, there is a part of us that is witnessing, just observing the process. That part of ourselves doesn’t get overwhelmed with the daily search, with the frantic hunting for lost fragments; that part of ourselves realizes that we are complete, even in our fragmentation, we are complete, we are whole, we are perfect, and we are Love.”
This message came to me during a downpour, a literal rainstorm and a downpour of healing + tears happening in my own heart. I was confronted by a loved one about some of the things that I share with the world/whoever sees it. I am asked often by this person why I share so much of my story, my life, my feelings. “Considering the feelings of those you love is part of loving someone. It is not all about yourself and what you want. Sometimes we do things or don’t do things because of our love for another person.” This is what they told me. So what is love, then? Is love hiding parts of ourselves so that we don’t upset someone else? Is love making decisions based on someone else’s life experience rather than making a decision based on what we desire for our own lives? I think that Love- true, unconditional, Love with a capital ‘L’- isn’t based on these things and doesn’t even exist in the same space. Love is remaining authentic, being true to yourself no matter what the world around you is asking of you. This kind of love is HARD. It’s easy to hide parts of ourselves from others, to walk a path already laid out instead of bush-wacking your own, to nod and smile when you actually feel like crap inside. But those things aren’t done out of love. They’re done out of habit, convenience, and fear.
In our society, it’s much more challenging to be vulnerable, to be open about your dreams and your fears, to be honest about how you feel, and to live the life you truly want to live. When we live in this wholesome, honest way, we are actually able to truly love others because we know what it means to love ourselves. As my teacher says, “You are told to love your neighbor—but you have never loved yourself. And a person who has not loved himself, how can he love his neighbor? From where can he get love? First you have to have it. You are loving the neighbor—you who knows nothing of love because you have never loved yourself. The neighbor is loving you—he has never loved himself. Such insanity is happening in the world: people who know nothing of love are loving each other.”
The inner work that I’ve spent my whole life doing just isn’t okay with that kind of “love” anymore. So, although others may find me selfish or unloving, I will continue to live a life based around authenticity and my truth. Even though it hurts me to see those I love hurting, especially when they blame their pain on my actions, I still cannot change the course of my life for someone else. And so it is.
Our inward spiritual journey is the archeology of ourselves and like any skilled archeologist, we must be very careful, slow, and delicate in extracting our own pain and facilitating our healing. Someone walking in a field doesn’t stumble upon ancient remains and just take a jackhammer and start digging in. They take stock of the site, concluding that extraction is either going to be a safe and harmless process or that the environment just isn’t reciprocle to any digging at the present moment, without damage to the remains. And that security and knowledge about our inner landscapes is what we deserve as well.
Lately I have been feeling a dull ache, a pain somewhere deep inside that I can’t quite pinpoint. I hear the echo of where it originated from, but I can’t grasp any specific memories around it. I felt a strong feeling surface the other night, but what was rising up felt too big, too much for me to hold at that moment, so I asked for the healing to happen “behind the scenes” and I lie down and let my body tremble and quake, download and cleanse. Today I decided that, once and for all, I was ready to face it, whatever “it” is; I was ready to face the pain, the memory, the wound that is throbbing and asking to be examined and cleansed. I let the smoke of Palo Santo bathe me while I asked for the clarity to see. I used the mimosa plant as my ally and tool and I lay down to “let the healing begin”. I closed my eyes and felt my 3rd eye throbbing and I was trying hard to make sense of the visions I was seeing. After a while, i just sat up and glanced at the tree beside me. I call him my brother tree. I immediately got a message saying “You’re trying too hard. This wound will heal when it’s good and ready and no sooner. If you try too hard to extract it, you could cause damage, so just trust that it will fully surface when its time for it to.” I immediately began weeping at the truth and compassion in the message I’d received. As much as I like to take part in my own healing and growing, it is like an adult tooth pushing out a baby tooth: no amount of pleading and swearing that I'm ready for the pain will make the baby tooth fall out any sooner. I must rest in the knowing that I am growing and healing at the pace that is appropriate and healthy for me, even though it may not match the rate that I would like. My job is to remain patient, trusting, and (most of all) kind to myself.
Lately I've been reminiscing on the last couple of years in my life. This time two years ago, I was Wwoofing, living and working on a farm, trying out a lifestyle I had only dreamed of before. I spent my days outside with my hands in the earth, occupied and working, my mind free to wander and dream and ponder, tallying numbers and figuring out if a life on the land would ever be feasible and affordable. During that time I was also introduced to ayahuasca (a shamanic brew from the amazon) for the first time, in ceremony, opening myself up to a whole new world of magic and possibility, my intention and intuition become sharp, like a piece of knapped flint.
This time last year, I was in ceremony again, communing with the Spirits and meeting my Love. I met him in the underworld, in a dark room where energy was swirling and whirling around me and time was incomprehensible; I was a baby again and couldn’t use words to express my feelings and fears, so I held his hand and there, on that soft mat in that dark room, is where I fell in love.
Now, it is spring time once again and now I am on the land that I dreamed of for so long, my hands in the dirt again, digging beds for our garden. Our love is just one year old, yet it feels like I’ve been by his side for a lifetime and even beyond. This love feels deep, reaching into the shadows and depths of my core, like the medicine that introduced us.
Lately, I have been practicing an old, seemingly never ending exercise of mine: letting go. To surrender to the flow, to be aware of the fifth element (as the Sufis called it), the fact that although we have some control over our actions and daily life, there is a higher intelligence, a big Mystery that rules us all. It’s a force that I acknowledge daily, treating it with reverence and care, like rubbing lotion on the hands of an old person, or offering nuts to a curious squirrel, or planting flowers carefully in freshly dug holes. This is the force that pushes my body down onto my soft bed some days, asking that I conserve my energy and quietly rest for a few hours. This is also the force that rises me out of bed early in the morning to make jewelry all day and take photographs of my work. This force reaches from my belly to my throat and brings songs to my voice, the message aching to be embodied and shared.
So, as spring arrives and brings new teachings and new challenges, I will honor the changes and the truths. I will honor the Mystery behind all of life.
Spring has arrived here on the land; the flowers are stretching their petals towards the sun and our front yard mandala has sprouted many weeds from the recent and frequent rains. I have begun to amass quite the collection of my favorite fungi, “desert seaweed”, thanks to a large drying screen that my love created for me. I like to have enough to give to friends and loved ones and also to get us by when the rains don’t come, because the water is what brings this green, algae-like nourishment, so we’ll still be able to enjoy it even in the summer. We finished construction on our bedroom at the very beginning of the year and what a lovely little addition it has been. Our one-room cabin was just fine when it was all there was, but now that we have room to stretch our arms out, it’s really lovely and spacious here. We found an 800 gallon rain water collection tank on Craigslist recently and so now, combined with our other 500 gallon tank, we have 1,300 gallons of water to use! It’s a less stressful feeling now, knowing that we have enough water to last about 3 months, with no rain. Our 1,000 Watt solar panel is still treating us just fine. We don’t use much power at all during the day; just enough to run the vacuum every now and then and to light the closet, maybe. Our newest project has been our garden. We don’t actually have one yet, but we’ve started working on the site, clearing the land and building a structure that can house garden supplies and a chicken coop. It’s really exciting to me. Some of my favorite moments in life have been harvesting and working in a garden, my hands in cool soil, later to make a meal from delicious vegetables and herbs, straight from the earth. I am remaining patient, content with the fact that our garden may not be up and running until the fall. I want to create it right, intentionally and unhurried, trusting that it’s completion will simply bring another part of my life in balance, and then it’s off to discover the next creation that wants to be birthed!
Someone asked me recently if I ever think about teaching again (I used to be an elementary special education teacher). I always say no. I say no, even though I often have dreams about my former students and wonder where they are now. I say no, even though I miss getting to see the same children 5 days a week and becoming such good friends with them. I say no, even though my paycheck was steady and good and I had health insurance. I say no because, at this point, I can’t imagine a life unlike the one I’m living now. Each day is a flower that unfolds, the color inside a mystery until it reveals itself. I don’t follow a schedule anymore, simply flowing with the river of the day and relaxing into the moods, emotions, and creations that arise. It rains and I take my basket and harvest the desert seaweed that I often speak of, my mud boots squishing and squashing, feeling delighted when I stumble upon a particularly large mass of the green algae-like stuff.
Some days I work on my jewelry business until the afternoon and then feel the urge to take a hike, so I put on my hiking pants and set off. I start out walking at a normal pace, my eyes and ears taking in the sights and sounds until I start to tap into the Spirit of this land. Then my walk slows to taking a few steps at a time and then stopping to listen for deer or pigs and search the ground for fallen treasures. My senses get overwhelmed, although not as easily as when I first arrived here; to be completely surrounded by Earth, alone, is quite stimulating for me and I often sink to my knees in humble gratitude, offering my happy tears to the ground.
Once, I found the tip of a spear (made from flint) lying on the ground and when I picked it up and held it in my palm, I swear I could almost feel the ancient history running up my arm.
So, while I do miss working with children daily, I do not miss the monotony of that time in my life. I admire those that are able to stay centered and balanced while sticking to a schedule, but I also appreciate my own quirkiness (doesn’t seem like quite the right word, but a better one escapes me) at not being able to adjust to it. So, for now, I will stay out here; out here where the days flow like streams and where the seaweed needs to be collected; out here where the rising sun means there are hikes to take and treasures to collect; out here, where the wild things are.
These are collections of thoughts in my heart + head.
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