Friday, June 28, 2013

holiday memories ♥

A family practice after we take a vacation, is for each of us to put down our Top 10 Favorite Moments from our trip.  It is fun to see the overlap and equally insightful to discover what experiences deeply resonated with my family.

Of course, this is all just an excuse to review more of my vacation photos and share!

In no particular order (and culled from our respective lists) here is our Top 10 from our Portland/Seattle trip:

no. 1 Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, OR 

  no. 2 exploring tidal pools and seeing sea birds at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach OR

and holding a tiny hermit crab

no.3 nature walks with friends 

and building a fairy house

no. 4 the berries at the Portland Farmer's Market (to die for!)

no. 5 anytime we were near water (splash fountain and Elowah falls)

no. 6 anywhere Diana takes us out to eat (especially for ice cream!)



 no. 7 seeing the many wolves at Wolf Haven 

no. 8 Seattle Aquarium and seeing the octopus and the sea otters being fed

no. 9 exploring Seattle on a sunny day

no. 10 quiet beauty of Kubota gardens, a quick visit before heading to the airport

funny, no one remembered how we started things off ... with fine dining at the Rusty Tractor!

Thanks for the memories, Portland & Seattle, friends, fairies, and wild critters.  We will be back! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Solstice blessings ✸

The message I continue to receive, is to steep myself in practiceTo cultivate simple, but daily ritual involving quiet presence, stillness, and attentiveness.  To train my "eyes" to perceive the support, the guidance, and the magic that is all around me.  

So I was excited to follow a daily shamanic journey practice the week leading up to the summer solstice.  While half of that time took place while we were on vacation and staying in hotels, it seemed a real test of my commitment to myself to follow through even though conditions weren't optimal.  Lying on a drafty hotel floor (not thinking about the standards of the house keeping crew) and fumbling with spotty internet connection, I managed to journey every day. 

It was the best gift I could have gifted myself (and in all honesty, I am pretty damned generous when it comes to self gifting!  I mean, I bought my own 25th wedding anniversary present while in New Zealand. Hey, I am practical and magical!) In one journey I was instructed to create a prayer tie in acknowledgement and gratitude of the wisdom shared with me by my guides.  So that is how I celebrated this Solstice: creating the ties with the help of Cowgirl ...

Each day's journey was associated with one of the seven chakra centers, so each of the seven ties had a animal/totem we selected from my stamps, inked in the appropriate color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and pink) upon a 5 by 5 inch fabric square.
Using ceremony I review each journey and the lessons passed onto me, giving thanks and an offering of tobacco, sweet grass and cedar in each bundle before tying the bundle to a length of plain cotton string.

I drew three cards for insight into the coming season.  Two of the cards were the same cards I pulled at the end of my New Zealand trip.  The Lady of the New Buds keeps appearing for me, her message slowly sinking in: care every day for small matters, and the large ones will care for themselves ... work hard at what it is you love. (Lucy Cavendish, Oracle of the Dragonfae)

I spent time with Cowgirl talking about the meaning of each chakra, crafting her prayers for ways to connect and receive the lessons of security, expressive/creative flow, strong boundaries and sense of self, open heart, freedom to speak her truth and access to insight, intuition and spirit.  It was humbling to ask my child "what helps you to feel safe and secure?" and have her respond, "You."  As a parent we know that, but it is another thing to feel the weight of that responsibility and privilege.  Another insight to slip into my pocket: to always honor that trust and remember it is my sacred duty - my dharma - to be that rock of stability and support for her even when I don't feel so steady myself.  For her, I am enough and she nurtures that understanding within my own heart.    

Our prayer tie hangs in the tree above the fairy circle.  From my back door I can see it dancing in the wild summer wind.  Each breeze, each rainstorm sending our prayers out into the world; clearing the way for the second half of 2013 and all that I am so ready to receive and share.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

summer rhythm ...

Returning from vacation ... 

 I know - another vacation - such is the life of the unemployed but never slow wildish woman.  Except it seems my lessons of late revolve around me accepting and transitioning into a new rhythm of living ...

While summer is often discussed as the place on the medicine wheel for action, I find my expectations for focused action or intentions crashing headlong into the seemingly random and erratic movement of the summer schedule. Bedtime is a hazy concept right now, as is the notion of routine outside of swimming, eating, ice cream and my favorite - puttering.  

Suffice to say, I am ambling my way into change.  Uncertain as to which fires I should tend, I am allowing myself the luxury of responding daily to what calls to me, to where the energy and my interests seem strongest.  My only practice is to practice something; writing, painting, drawing, sewing.  Summertime and a child at home do not allow for much more focus than that.

Coming home, I realize the greatest gift of my travels has been time to connect in the flesh with other creatives who value and see mothering as another piece within the crazy quilt that is the multi-passionate women.  (I so prefer this title over the more 19th century educated young lady-esque category of dilettante.)  

My time spent with these sister/mamas fortifies me for the challenges faced daily with my dragon-blooded child, while also supporting me learning to trust my mothering instincts.  I gain new tools talking to, and witnessing my friends be with their children; I am refreshed and inspired to continue to craft an ever-evolving relationship with my child based upon respect, love and being true to oneself. So many of us are bringing mindfulness and light to our roles as Women and Mothers; dismantling habits of thinking and reacting passed down by previous generations while at the same time revitalizing the sense of connection us to a rich and storied past.  

We are home for quite awhile now and I am allowing myself the luxury of savoring: long bedtime reading (we are currently in the second of the Lemony Snicket series The Reptile Room); mornings on the patio before the heat and winds kick up; transferring the main floor into a painter's atelier (Cowgirl's latest series focus upon the Food Chain with Dragons as apex predators); simple dinners (after some series food and beer binging in Portland/Seattle area) with early fare from our garden; and weekly coffee dates with girlfriends to get me out of the house.

Not sure what my slime trail looks like, but am certain it is colorful.

Did I mention the goal is to hug as many friends as I possibly can?  Summer's just beginning and Cowgirl and I have some important work to tend to ...

So chill-ax and enjoy the long days!



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

the inner work

How it feels ...

She is days away from being released back into the wild ... 

While in captivity she shed her skin twice ...  I am processing what that means on a symbolic level ... but I definitely know how she feels.  Waiting and shedding ...

That's all I can say right now.  Somethings lie too deep for words ... but I am trusting I can feel the truth, even when I cannot fully articulate it just yet. 

(this little beauty of a snake was one of many critters rescued by the Nebraska Wildlife Rehab Inc. and we got to visit and learn more about their work over the weekend during an open house event.  They do amazing work for the animals and for education of the public in responsible care and stewardship of these beings who share their world with us. It IS the Year of the Snake, remember?!)


Friday, June 7, 2013

slow flow

It finally feels like Spring around here.  June always catches me off  guard as my mind is thinking summer thoughts as the schools let out for the year around the third week in May.  The neighborhood pool opens on Memorial Day weekend and everyone busts outdoors to enjoy the mild weather.  I feel like we should be easing into July, but then the scent of lilacs carried by the cool night air to our bedroom window restore my sense of time.

It is early June and summer's easy stride is still weeks away.

I've just gotten an early start.

I sound like every retiree I've ever chatted up:  How did I ever find the time to work and live my life? 

My first college art professor shared with us the reward of immersing oneself in creative pursuits: a return to a medieval sense of time.  Rather than experiencing life in tidy segments of time - hours parading by in quick step - art making and the absorption it necessitates, brings me into an experience of time that is expansive, shiftable, and detached from cognitive experience. Minutes feel vast and hours collapse into a handful of thoughts, a breath and a sigh. The only evidence of the passage of time is my body's hunger for fuel after an immense expenditure of energy.  

My self-imposed retirement (not that I am referring to this phase as such to the Husband who would certainly raise an eyebrow while quietly freaking out inside) is challenging me when it comes to organizing my days.  I suppose I should be abandoning such an old-fashioned notion as I embrace my radical self-reinvention;  but my habit is to create some structure or routine which allows me to room to improvise and play with some illusion sense of security and order. 

The trouble is, I cannot rush my morning coffee and I do believe puttering should be classified as a High art.

This morning I sat for what I told myself would be a brief meditation session.  It helps if I ease myself into such things.  So I sat there thinking at best I would notice a couple of complete breaths and then hop to ...

But that medieval sense of time kicked in and I found it fascinating to watch how my mind trudges like a foot soldier through the forest of my thoughts, convinced that there is an end to that forest, that a clearing of some sort awaits discovery.  I could almost hear my mind bellowing: forward hup

This is how I have been living my life: as an never-ending check-list of things to hustle through, no end in sight but a belief in some sort of completion or finish line that once crossed, would blast me into a state of fulfillment if not nirvana.  I am always seeking: the answer or the question to be asking; for meaning, for purpose; insight or understanding.  Always on the look out, forgetful that there is no place to go where I won't be there with all of my uncertainties in tow.   

 There is no magic threshold to cross where my life falls into meaning, into order.  There is only right here, right now.  This evening with the sun easing itself below the green hills, the symphony of birdsong in the Spring air, the steady rhythm of Moose dog's breathing as he rests by my feet, my girl in her room singing a raucous lullaby to the company of stuffed animals circling her on the bed.  Right now is my life.  These words, the thoughts of this moment which soon will be followed by new thoughts which I will try to capture like fireflies in my hands, in these computer keys going clicky clacky click.  

This is what I attempt to practice ... to slow down, to relax into this new flow and stay as open as I can to the immensity and magnificence each moment offers up so effortlessly and so lovingly.  

This is the gift offered, received, and shared by us all.  This is how I choose to live and love.  What about you?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I remember well the months and days leading up to Cowgirl's arrival and how even though I was not physically pregnant, I had fallen into the rhythm of preparation that I witnessed with my prenatal yoga students.  Cleaning and clearing, gathering and organizing and the overwhelming pull to create a shelter and sanctuary for the new expression of family that we were generating through massive amounts of paperwork, stress, day dreams and anticipation.

Nesting.  It sounds so cozy and settled, doesn't it?

Talking with one of my many recently recruited pit crew members working tirelessly to keep my anxiety at bay, I shared with her how poorly wired I am when it comes to resting and waiting.  Nesting is not a normal state of being for me, although it sounds lovely in theory.   My friend brought up the image of this in-between phase being very scratchy.  Indeed.  As the longer I sit, the more I am aware of the individual twigs and brush digging into my soft underbelly.  The more I try to rest in the moment, the greater the urge to flap, fly, move and shake things - myself included - up.

A big "of course!" moment occurred when we discovered the tumble of sticks in the gutter over my side of the garage turned out to be a morning dove's nest.  The Husband had grabbed the ladder to climb up and clear the mess out when he came face to face with mama dove.  They stared at each other in surprise before mama flew away, leaving behind the evidence of her nest and its two eggs.  Being a good mama, she attempted to distract my husband with her wounded bird antics and he quickly climbed down, leaving the nest, eggs, and mama in peace.


So she sits.  Every day I see either her head or tail feathers peeking over the rim of the gutter.  And I believe I can see in her bead black eye a familiar look of uncertainty, fatigue and wonder: How long?  Will everything emerge intact?  How can I ensure that only shells will be broken in this process? and Is that even possible? 

What mama is teaching me is a determined resignation in following the natural process of things.  We both may feel ready to stretch our wings and take flight, but now is not the time.  Now we sit and wait.  We keep our eggs safe and warm.  We allow them the necessary time to deepen and develop, become more material and solid, less yolky and vulnerable.  

While we wait, we tap into establish rhythms ... honoring sunrise and the new day with some quiet time to honor the spaciousness of life that resides within eggs, within ideas and dreams. We attend to basic needs of food and rest,  restoration and nourishment both physical and emotional.  So I am attempting to return to the habit of writing morning pages, sending out letters and postcards, and some form of daily painting or embroidery play.  Embracing this slower pace of living and noticing the itchiness is beginning to diminish.  

Mama dove's eggs have a fourteen day incubation period while I am not sure how long I will need to stay on my nest.  I am slowly habituating to the itch.

But I dream of the expanse of branch and tree, sea and sky.  One day my little chicks, one day soon ...

One project I am attempting with more regularity is a monthly newsletter for my InnerGlow Self Care site.  Each month I offer tips and support for maintaining a practice of self care including downloadable audio practices and meditations.  I promise not to flood your inbox!