Honoring the Dark–Winter Solstice 2020

Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏

 

We live in a culture of polarities that encourages us to construct polarities in our lives: good vs. bad, what I like vs. what I dislike, warm vs. cold, comfortable vs. uncomfortable, relaxation vs. work, etc.

One polarity that arises this time of year is dreading the arrival of the cold, dark days of the year, and the yearning for a climate of perpetual warmth and light.

 

Eairth’s* seasons invite us into a deeper understanding

of these darker, colder days and offer us

a template for living a beautiful, whole life.

 

Winter Solstice marks the depth of darkness, the moment when Winter begins and at the same time, gives way to the growing light. On the longest night, the light is reborn—the circle of the seasons already gestating Spring.

This year, Winter Solstice occurs at 2:02 am PT on Monday, December 21st.

 

We can we learn to honor the cold and darkness

by living into Eairth’s seasonal rhythm

of light and dark.

 

Winter invites us to slow down and rest.

Animals and plants know how to do this. They hibernate, slow down, return to the earth, so that they will be ready for the call of growing light and fresh energy in the Spring. So, too, can we take more time to rest, to do less, to turn our attention inward and tend to our inner lives.

 

Winter teaches us that honoring the darkness includes honoring the darker places within us.

The darkness is often where we put difficult experiences and emotions—we tend to turn away from them and try to focus on the light instead… But all that is contained in the darkness yeans to be welcomed—even the feelings and thoughts we wish we did not have—because from these we can learn and grow.

 

The darkness invites us into more wholeness.

It is in the bright light of day that we see sharp distinctions, that we see and feel our separateness and perceive “otherness.” The darkness holds all things—like the primordial darkness of the universe or the mother’s womb. We can rest into a primal holding and interconnectedness in the darkness.

 

Winter invites us to surrender.

We can’t make Eairth change into Summer before it is time. We can light candles and keep our home and body warm, but the cold and dark are here. We can’t change that. So, can we let go of resistance to this and to the way our lives are unfolding? Can we surrender how we think life should be and be with life as it is? Even when life right now is so hemmed in by Covid? Especially now.

 

The darkness is also a time of dreaming for the year to come.

We can spend time journaling, crafting New Year’s intentions, and listening to dreams that visit us by night. Perhaps we will gain insight about our lives. Perhaps, as Thomas Berry suggests, Eairth can dream through us…

 

One of the biggest lessons of the seasons for me has been to align with Eairth’s circle of life.

The darkness comes and gives way to the light, the light goes and gives way to the darkness… One always leads into the next… This is a truth of Eairth, of life, of our inner lives as well.

 

Light and dark are not two poles,

one to be sought after and the other avoided.

 

Both are necessary for wholeness and both are always present. Can we honor both? Learn from both? Re-member both?

 

We gather to honor both at our annual Winter Solstice Celebration.

Winter Solstice Ritual

This year, due to Covid, we will meet on Zoom for a contemplative, Earth-centered, Celtic-inspired ritual to mark the turning of the year as the darkness gives way to the growing light. This participatory ritual will include calling in the Directions, chanting & singing, meditation, candle-lighting, and deep connection with this seasonal turning of the year. I hope you will join us. Read more

 

If you can’t join us, but would like do mark the Winter Solstice in an intentional way, you can find some ideas for rituals from past blogs:

 

You might also find nourishment in joining the Thursday, December 17th Chant & Song for Community, Healing & Hope which will have a dark and light Solstice theme this week.

 

What polarities in you are calling

to be held, healed, wholed this Winter Solstice?

 

* Eairth = Earth and Air, a spelling for Earth I think I learned from Thomas Berry

Embodying the Transcendent

Image by by Larisa Koshkina on Pixabay

 

“The purpose of life is not to transcend the body,

but to embody the transcendent.”

~ The Dalai Lama

 

That’s not what I tried to do most of my life!

 

I tried to leave my imperfect-in-so-many-ways body to find a place in heaven, where things were perfect, I was told…

I tried born-again Christianity, anorexia, perfectionism, following the ideals of my family, my culture, my partners, and my EnneaType, to name a few big ones!

And none of it transcended me. I had my moments of feeling uplifted, transported, even angelic… but it wasn’t enough.

I still felt caught in a body. Caught in my moods. Caught in my habitual thoughts.

 

And my striving to always make myself and life better was hard on me and on those around me.

 

Being introduced to women’s work helped me to start filling out the picture a bit.

I came to realize that there are ideals up there and there is the reality right here. There is the way I want things to be and the way they are—physical, sensate, relational…

Getting into loving relationship with the inner Feminine helped me be here, in this body, in this life, in this relationship, in this Eairth.**

Not always striving for something that my mind had cooked up about the way things should be out there somewhere.

 

Meeting the Enneagram also helped because I got to see nine different ways of being in the world, and the myriad of individual expression within each. It broke open my idea that there was one perfect way (the ideal of my type, type One).

 

So, you might ask,

HOW do we embody the transcendent?

 

By doing our work to become a clear, open channel.

 

We can’t embody it if we are not living, sensing, feeling, touching, breathing, moving, resting, loving, … being in our bodies.

 

So, it starts with opening that channel—with releasing tension and habit that keeps us from sensing ourselves as human creatures, with learning to ground so we can feel our belonging in Eairth.

As continuum teacher Susan Harper offers,

“Gravity is a spiritual force of belonging that says

I have a place for you and it is right here!”

 

Our place is right here, in this body, in this Eairth. Embodied
(In-body).

 

Usually we have to work a lot with our constrictions of heart and mind, too, in order to become more embodied. We have habitual ways of feeling and thinking. Perhaps we worry or plan or emote or get frustrated or give up—these patterns block our ability to be present, to be an open channel.

 

As we become more embodied, we can offer a home to the transcendent, right here, in this beautiful bodysoul, expressing through us. It is here that heaven can find a place to live in us.

For as Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells us in Women Who Run with the Wolves, “Our work is to show we have been breathed upon—to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowings, from body, from dreams and journeys of all sorts.” (p. 29)

 

The way I most experience embodying the transcendent is when I sing. I feel as if I am taking beauty and inspiration and giving it physical form through and in me.

Artists of all kinds do this most clearly, but so do animals and plants and everything that lives, to the extent that it is embodied.

 

For what better purpose for a life than to marry heaven and Eairth and so to live fully alive, fully inspired, fully present in this precious time we have here in Eairth?

 

What practices support you

in embodying the transcendent?

 

Join me in a few opportunities this weekend in Port Townsend!

and for women, on February 2nd, from 2:00-5:00,

a few more spots available:

 

** Eairth = Earth and Air

the steady center


Cutting Loose by William Stafford
Sometimes, from sorrow, for no reason,

you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose from
all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, sound comes. A reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell you where it is and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be
lost, learning how real it is
here on earth again and again.

 

Thanks to my Full Voice Coach Training last year, I’ve started reviewing the poems I’ve learned by heart over the years. (Poetry is a wonderful way to practice exploring different parts of your voice.)

I almost always start my day with poetry—a bit of beauty, of inspiration, of deeper meaning to open my heart and mind first thing.

 

This poem by William Stafford jumped out of my stash of poems, asking to be brought back into my bodysoul, so I’ve been reciting it every morning, waking up the poem within me again—or should I say, allowing it to wake up me?

 

The reminder that from sorrow—in fact, from anything—anger, joy, even fear—we can sing…

Singing is another practice I do every morning. Usually I sing to greet the morning. Sometimes I hear melodies that become songs through me. And often I sing along to a song I’m learning.

For no reason, except that singing wakes me up, too—lights me up, and connects me with a deeper heartful and devotional contact with life (myself included).

 

Singing has been a lifesaver in this transition of settling into a new home and community, a tether, a grounding cord to Being. Even though I feel lost—and often even “accept the way of being lost”—singing/sounding provides a constant “reminder that a steady center is holding all else.” 

And that “all else” includes me.

 

I also listen to the new sounds here—the shooshing of the wind in the fir, spruce, and hemlock, the west-coast birds greeting the day, the bark and talk of our new dog Sammy to get our attention, the crackle of the fire in the woodstove, the rain on the metal roof, the voices of my parents…

 

Sound/song/singing does help me “slide [my] way past trouble” because it unsticks me, “cutting loose from all else” that might be running in my mind, landing me here, now, in the moment, with this particular beauty.

The “twisted monsters” barring my path are very familiar and include fear of loss, fear of newness, fear of not-knowing, frustration at the time it is taking to settle, overwhelm at how much there is still to do…

And these are familiar stories—they crop up wherever I am because I always bring myself with me… Remembering this helps me “get going best, glad to be lost, learning how real it is here on earth, again and again.”

 

This being human is no joke!

We get lost over and over, and we re-find our hold on that steady center over and over, again, too. This is reality here in Eairth.

We sorrow, we sing, we cut loose, we find our steady center, we get lost, and we do it all over again…

 

How do you hold fast to your steady center when you feel lost?

 

It’s good to remember these teachings now as we move more deeply into Fall in the northern hemisphere. With the waning light and cooling temperatures, this seasonal transition of completion and letting go as we move toward Winter heightens the sense of loss even as we harvest and celebrate.

It’s a time to deepen our practice of welcoming everything, to add more stillness and cozy time amidst the Fall chores.

 

And if you’re near Port Townsend, consider joining me
for a Fall Women’s Practice Mini-Retreat!

exploring wildness

 

Wildness

 

“the spontaneities of life”*

“the ultimate creative reality of earthly being”**

“a subjectivity that is aware of its vibrant place in ecosystems and human community”*

 

What is it to allow the truly wild creative impulse that exists deep within us, deep within all beings, that is, in fact, the creativity of the universe expressing through us?

How do we allow “the spontaneities of life” to express through us and not be distorted by our personality structures, many of which were set in place to keep them and this in control (and safe)?

We learned to ignore our body to get work down, or to over-cater to every ache and pain. Maybe we sit or stand too long…. Rather than follow the intelligence of the body that knows how to listen to and follow her/his needs in the moment.

We cover up our feelings with screens, books, experiences, and intellectual pursuits, or we indulge them and get confused and over-whelmed…  Rather than letting them inform and move through us.

We use our minds to rationalize, analyze, ruminate, daydream, plan, and fantasize, which gives us a sense of being in control of our lives, but fills our minds up all the time… Rather than allowing the mind to be refreshed by quiet, contemplation, prayer, or meditation.

 

“We misconceive our role [as humans] if we consider that
our historical mission is to ‘civilize’
or to ‘domesticate’ the planet…” **

 

When my parents moved back to the West Coast 19 years ago from the East Coast where I grew up, I was struck by the grandeur and beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

But my domesticated senses also registered what looked like mess and chaos.

Brambles covering everything, thickets so thick that getting into the woods proved almost dangerous, and when you did make it in, nettles ready to sting, and thimbleberry and blackberry thorns to grab you. Not to mention the thistles that pop up everywhere the forest is not.

 

Wildness.

I was not sure what to do with this wildness,

how to be with this wildness.

 

Wildness, too, is the energy of the cosmos, elaborated as Eairth, and expressing through the genetic coding of all beings, through those very spontaneities, through this Pacific Northwest expression.

These native plants follow their genetic coding without question—they seek sustenance to survive; they propagate, flower, and fruit; they form mutually nourishing connections, growing together. Their wildness directs their authentic expression.

 

What if we, human beings, considered to be the highest expression of the consciousness of the cosmos, could also follow our natural, wild impulses to flourish?

What if we returned to listening to our true bodily needs—for rest and movement, for food and drink, for following what makes us come alive, for inter-connection with others?

 

This sounds like the healthy, unfettered and natural expression of what we call the Instincts in the Enneagram world. Part of our genetic coding, the Instincts connect us to all beings—animals most directly, but also to the Green Ones and to the entire Eairth!

In the Enneagram world, we divide the expression of wildness into Self-Preservation, Sexual, and Social Instincts. The creative impulse of all beings includes these three—the desire to survive physically, to reproduce, flower, and fruit, and to connect with others.

 

As I now live here in the Pacific Northwest and interact with the wilderness ongoingly, I find myself in creative tension with following and allowing the spontaneities of life, and wanting to shape, corral, and domesticate these very energies—both within and without…

In terms of the environment I find myself in, I strive to allow the forest its wildness, leaving little impact other than a narrow path or a place for the faeries.

In the gardens my parents carved out of the forest, it is a different matter! The wild perimeter stays and provides habitat for native plants and shelter for animals, but the plants that cannot exist without more space around them get my support in trimming, clipping, and even pulling the native wildness.

 

I am finding a place of balancing.

Asking myself how to live creatively with the inner, wild and creative instinctual desire of Eairth

and with my Western “civilized” version of being human.

 

Can I cultivate and tend without domesticating—both inside myself and outside in the garden?

Can I allow the wild spontaneities of Eairth to in-form how I live, garden, and relate to human and more-than-human life?

Can I be truly wild and fully human, not distorting these wild instincts with personality contractions of body, heart, and mind?

 

Asking questions like these invites me into ever-evolving exploration without a definitive answer.

 

So, I practice asking, living, balancing, listening, and am grateful for the support of the Tao, ever guiding:

 

“what works reliably
is to know the raw silk,
hold the uncut wood.
Need little, want less.
Forget the rules.
Be untroubled.”

~ Lao Tzu, from Tao Te Ching, #19,
interpretation by Ursula K. Le Guin

 

How about you?

How do you relate to wildness?

 

* from The Selected Writings of Thomas Berry, p. 135

** from The Selected Writings of Thomas Berry, p. 140

trusting uncertainty

I trust what this body knows
breathing in, breathing out
the way home.

I trust the ground, which I can stand upon–
the earth that rises to meet my feet
and gives gently beneath my weight.

And I trust that ground which I cannot stand upon–
the falling away that everything returns to.

~ Oren Sofer

 

This week and last I am doing my final round of substitute yoga teaching at my local studio–the last because, in a month, we’ll be moving to the Pacific NorthWest!

I always try to align my yoga teaching with the cycle of the moon. In this way, our practice is about more than being flexible, or strong, or having better balance, but also about listening to and aligning with deeper, natural cosmic processes that we are part of, whether we bring our conscious awareness to them or not…

The first week of subbing was the week of the waning moon–the peak of energy at full moon past, falling toward new moon. We practiced feeling the ground with our body and breath, and inhaling this grounded energy up through the body, we also allowed it to rise to meet us, rising us up to connect with sky energy.

Throughout the practice, we continually returned to this rooted and rising awareness, connecting earth and sky in our bodies.

 

This week of subbing, it’s New Moon week (June 3rd)–the week of rest, and preparing the ground for new seeds to grow.

Our practice is focusing on trusting the ground that rises up to meet our bodies and not as actively rising up to the sky. We move more slowly, we spend more time on the ground, we spend more time returning and resting.

 

This is also the stage Dave and I are in

with our huge moving project.

 

The peak was a few weeks back when we loaded the truck, working with on- and off-schedule contractors to get our house ready to be staged while we were away, driving half of our Minnesota home to our new home in Washington State.

Since then, we’ve been coming down, back to ground.

Staying connected to breath and ground sustained us (among other things), and now we can consciously follow, as much as we can, the call to return to deeper ground.

We return to life-sustaining rhythms of longer morning practice time, to embodiment practices that remind us of the body’s natural intelligence, to cooking more wholesome and healing meals that nourish and sustain our animal bodies…

 

And, over and over again, we practice

“trust[ing] that ground which [we]

cannot stand upon–the falling away

that everything returns to.”

 

For us, this means continually seeing how we so humanly reach for habits to shield ourselves from the uncertainty, the unpredictability of the process.

Over and over again, we find ourselves grasping at ways to make life more predictable instead of living in the openness of not knowing–the not-knowing of how the appraisal will go, the not-knowing of how the final loading and moving will go, the not-knowing of how we will find our belonging in a new community and a new land.

Buddhist monk Pema Chodron says it this way:

“We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. Thus we become less and less able to reside with even the most fleeting uneasiness or discomfort.” (from Comfortable with Uncertainty, p.55)

Out of well-practiced habit, we reach for certainty!

  • In the pleasure we know we’ll get from the perfect dark chocolate (me) or the perfect ale (Dave);
  • In the safety we feel if we create a false sense of control by over-thinking and over-planning the way we think our move should go,
  • In the comfort of weaving our old stories back together again–I’m just a One who needs a certain level of organization… or I’m just a Six who can’t stand this level of unpredictability… 


When we catch these avoidance strategies, we practice, yet again, “trust[ing] that ground which [we] cannot stand upon–the falling away that everything returns to.”

That doesn’t mean we completely drop all our helpful coping habits–we’re fully human; so, sometimes, yes; sometimes, no…

But we engage them with awareness and less unconscious belief that they provide the ground of certainty.

 

For we know that the true certainty, the true ground
is being able to stand (and move and sit and rest)
with whatever life is bringing–with the unknowing,
with the uncertainty, and with the unpredictablity.

 

Here, in touch with this ground–the ground of being–we find an open, spacious freedom to respond openly and freshly to whatever happens. In each moment, we can choose to return to rest in this. Over and over again.

 

How do you work with uncertainty?

MovingWays

 

I recently heard the word “lifeways,” in reference to indigenous ways of living in harmony with the natural world.

Something in it really struck me and reignited my desire to live in lifeways, in ways that are nourishing for me and the natural world.

Now I’m applying it to this huge process Dave and I are in—

MOVING!

 

We have been prepping our house for sale and sifting, sorting, packing, and moving our belongings to Port Townsend, Washington State… We just got back from a trip and our house is in the process of being sold. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that this part is quick and easy!

 

MovingWays

As we’ve been in this process, I am aware that there are ways of moving, just like there are ways of living. Some of the ways are more in harmony with the natural environment and some not. Since we humans are part of this natural environment, too, it’s also about how we can stay in harmony with ourselves in the midst of this uprooting, chaotic process.

 

Below are some MovingWays that have really help me—

because even in the midst of 18-hour work days and LONG driving days,
we can always practice!

 

En-JOY

I LOVE this word! Look at the etymology—it’s all about being IN joy. We have a choice, every day, every evening, every morning, every moment to be IN joy. Why not enjoy the process? It’s certainly happening, full force…

Here are a few ways I’ve been doing this as I pack:

As I sift, sort, pack, and let go, I remember the joy I had from items, and feel it in the moment as much as possible, regardless of what I decide to do with it…

Marie Kondo’s “Does it spark joy?” helps with the letting-go phase as you sort and pack. If it sparks, keep it; if not, let it go. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for me as too many things spark joy! So, I practice feeling the spark and letting things go anyway…

Another one that has been really powerful for us is letting things go and imagining how that item will bring others joy (lots on Craiglist for free and Goodwill).

In fact, that’s what’s so awesome about putting things on Free Craigslist—you actually get to meet the people that you are gifting the item to, and they are so HAPPY to receive it. We gave away an old video camera and the young man in his late twenties that came to get it told us how thrilled he was—he remembered his parents videoing him and his siblings as they were growing up. And he just got engaged and wanted this to film his children. SWEET!

 

Time—Chronos AND Kairos

Plan enough Chronos (linear) time! Everything takes longer than you think!

We had a 5-year plan to make this move, but we didn’t really start working on the house until the dining room wallpaper removal and painting 2 years ago. Then at 1 year, everything got more real and we started in earnest, beginning to go through things, too. But we still didn’t plan enough for all the repair work we would need to hire out, and that made things really stressful at the last minute!

Planning enough time also means you can work on recycling, gifting, and selling your belongings instead of throwing them away! This way we don’t create more waste that our natural world has to try to manage. With enough time, you can go through files and recycle or reuse the old paper, giving away the binders, reclaiming the paper clips, etc. With enough time, you can find a home for all that extra yarn or cloth in the attic… We weren’t perfect at this, but we did a LOT, and it felt so good to not just contribute more garbage to our struggling earth.

If you have the Chronos time, try Marie Kondo’s way of sorting before you pack—spread everything from a like-category out in one place so you can see it all while you are making decisions about what to keep (for example, all your shoes, all your summer clothes, all your kitchen jars 😊).

If you simply don’t have enough Chronos time, you can draw on Kairos time in these two ways:

  • Let Kairos time draw you into a project when the moment feels right and trust that process.
  • Use the linear allotment of time available and within that structure, give yourself Kairos time to flow within that structure, to commune/be with each project, each item, each belonging that has afforded you this way of living.

Both kinds of time are necessary for not feeling overly rushed—play with them to weave a sense of wholeness in the process.

 

Be in Abundance

Neither Dave or I feel abundant about money most of the time. We choose to work part-time so that we can spend more time doing things we love to do, but this also means that most of the time, we have to be careful with how we spend.

In this moving process, we have both been giving away things that cost a lot. We originally thought we would sell them, but when it came time, we just didn’t have time, so we gave them away.

We totally didn’t expect it, but we’ve noticed that by giving away something that would otherwise be really expensive to buy to someone who couldn’t have afforded it, we not only receive the gift of their joy, but we feel more abundant!

Dave recently donated a very expensive racing bike, and I gave away a harmonium. The act of giving these away helped us realize that we actually have enough—enough to be able to give! We have abundance. This helps us be in our abundance—and that feels yummy!

 

Sing/Sound/Give Voice

You don’t have to be a singer to make sound—and we’ve been making a lot of it lately! Sometimes, we sit down at the dining room table and before we say our metta-prayer grace, we let whatever sounds need to come through out. Sometimes it’s low growls; at other times, squeaky-sounding energy, or even a long, airy sigh.

It’s a way to voice what is happening inside. We’ve been so busy, working, repairing, tracking, taking care of so many things that some feelings haven’t had a chance to be totally felt. Giving voice to this helps them to move up and out and thus feels complete and released. (This is Full Voice work, which will soon be on my site!)

It’s also fun to sound together! It creates connection (more on that next!).

We’re also singing together more—little made-up ditties, or little songs. Choosing words that express the reality we are living and give us hope—like There is work to be done, which also acknowledges that we are in it together or The only way through is through, which needs no explanation(!)—or words that help us remember ourselves, like Endless boundless gratitude, which gives thanks for the food we are about to eat.

 

Stay Connected

We are doing this moving thing together. It’s really easy, when stressed, for me (as a Self-Preservation One) to sit back into myself and get all independent and self-sufficient. I can clamp down my emotions and just get into doing mode, not wanting interruptions of any kind, even a touch… Dave has his own version of this, too.

What we’ve found, though, is that we need to go against these personality patterns. We need to consciously reach out and stay connected–via touch and words. We need to remind each other, over and over again, that we are in this together, that we are supported, that we don’t have to do it alone.

No matter how adult we think we are, there is this little inner child part that really needs this support and thrives with it. If we ignore this part of ourselves, we get more stressed, more withdrawn, more moody and anxious… it’s no fun! But reaching out to each other calms this all down and makes the process possible.

I had someone ask me recently if we were sitting together on the flight home after taking a weeklong UHaul moving trip to our new home. I said, of course! She was surprised to hear we feel closer than ever to each other because of this practice of intentionally staying connected.

 

Sleep, Eat & Move as Well as You Can!

We prioritize getting as much sleep as we can given each day’s schedule. Dave was actually sleeping on a friend’s couch as I wrote this since we were locked out of our home for an openhouse and showings all afternoon.

Eating well looks different depending on the day. We brought a cooler in the moving truck so we could bring easy noshing food for the trip. At a supermarket in North Dakota, we got a broccoli salad that was too sweet, but it was green and fresh! And I got a quart of uncooked pickles. For the trip, I brought wakame and a container I could hydrate it in so that we could add greens to our hotel egg breakfasts, as well as my own GF homemade bread.

Sometimes eating well means going out to eat and getting a meal made for us so that we can relax and receive. In that case, it always includes eggs if it’s breakfast and a big salad for any other meal..

And we always bring our bamboo utensils and napkins so we don’t have to use extra paper, plastic, or Styrofoam, even at the hotel breakfasts. Next up is to get some lightweight natural-material, reusable plates (just ordered!).

Move your body in many different ways! Packing, carrying, repairing… it’s hard on your body! Break up the type of work you are doing–stand up, sit down, go for a walk and swing your arms and legs, lie down and relax, stretch… I bring tennis balls in a sock in the truck and use them to work out sore muscles, which really helps… Listen to your bodysoul and pay attention to what s/he needs, if not out of love and care, at least so that you can keep going without being injured!

 

Ask For & Receive Support!!

When I asked friends who moved 2 years ago what we needed to know, this was the biggie!

We, honestly, could not have gotten this far without the help of our friends! A group helped us load and a group unloaded us at the other end. Friends came to help stage, to check on the house, mow the lawn, and tend the gardens after we left.

We are calling out DEEP thanks to Phil and Steve H., who loaded the truck with great care, Larissa, Gregg, John, and Steve C., who helped load it, Elizabeth who spent hours breaking up boxes for recycling, Gregg who came back to mow for us, Ellen who checked in on and made the gardens look as good as they could, Cheryl who helped with the staging before and after the cleaners inadvertently rearranged things, and let us crash at her home when we couldn’t be in ours… And the unloading crew of new and old friends—Becky and John, Margie, Bill, and my parents!

Not only did receiving this support relieve the stress of trying to figure out how to do it ourselves, we felt so held, part of community, not alone, so supported. And SO GRATEFUL!

We also asked contractors to do more than they originally contracted for, and most were willing, including Ian, who even volunteered to put a fresh coat of paint on the deck of the porch and the basement stairs and came back in to put the corner-round on when the painters neglected it.

Receiving this support was AMAZINGLY nourishing and has helped us to continue on with what must be done…

 

Keep Your Practice Going

Whatever it is that you do to return to your center, your sense of being in Love, of okayness with the world, of contact with your deepest sense of Self, do that!!

You may need to spend less Chronos time on it to make space for the reality of all that needs to be done, but you absolutely MUST continue something to fill your well.

At first, my morning practice time got shorter. Then when the 18-hour days hit and I let go of that time, I still read something short and inspirational to help my mind, kept presence practices woven into my day going, and practiced everything mentioned above. Staying connected to that deeper wellspring is critical for staying sane and well!

 

I’m sure there are other MovingWays, ways of living in harmony while you are moving, but these are the ones that are top-of-mind as we continue living this process. (Final move planned for early July.)

 

I’d love to hear how you have made it through
so that your moving process was life-giving
and part of your mindful life journey!

Letting Pattern Keeper Guide

 

In preparing for my upcoming SoulCollage Facilitator’s Training, I have been rereading SoulCollage Evolving by Seena Frost.

She includes a long list of archetypes that may be guiding our individual lives—Great Mother, Warrior, Creator, Healer, Compassion, Shaman, King, Dreamer… There are so many unconscious patterns that weave our lives into the Greater Story!

In this list I found one new to me—one that I realize has been a primary guide for me as an Enneagram type One:

Pattern Keeper

 

This archetype, when in shadow and overdone, forces me into rigid rules about how things should be done—from organizing clothes, to making beds, to where to put the dishes, to how to behave…

But that’s just the shadow side.

 

When she is allowed to flow freely, she is very creative!

  • She intuitively knows how things fit together.
  • She sees, honors, and respects how things belong.
  • She constantly looks for and apprehends the deeper patterns, the natural harmony of things together, of beings together.

 

We are getting ready to move to the Pacific Northwest this summer, so this is a perfect time for her to come out to play!

 

Recently, she’s been helping me to dance these patterns:

  • The patterns of how to pack, let go of, and move things so that we can set our Minnesota house up for staging;
  • The patterns of understanding in what order things to do things so we are ready for each contractor to come in and finish up the home reno work in time;
  • The patterns of the new ways of living we will be moving into, so I can let go of things we won’t need.

 

If I let her,

She helps me to keep, to see, and to participate
in weaving the patterns while staying in touch
with the greater pattern of life.

She helps me to understand how this moving pattern we are in exists side-by-side with the pattern of my relationship with myself, with Dave and friends, with my work, with my greater living and wholeness.

 

If I forget this, other fragmented parts like the Pusher or Perfectionist or Inner Critic run the show, without seeing the wholeness, hyper-focusing only on one pattern right in front of them!

And when they do this, there can be some rough-going… (Just ask Dave! 😊)

 

I realized the other day, that one way to keep the pattern and stay with the wholeness of the full tapestry Pattern Keeper weaves is to keep connected to the natural, rhythmic pattern of my heart.

According to HeartMath, the heart is the pattern keeper for the whole body.

The body and brain rely on the beating of the heart. In fact, the heart will keep beating with no input from the brain at all!

When we experience uplifting emotions such as appreciation, joy, care, and love, the heart rhythm pattern becomes highly ordered, looking like a smooth, harmonious wave, a coherent heart rhythm pattern. 

It sounds to me like this is the rhythm of emotions belonging together…

So, if I stay connected in love, gratitude, and appreciation, instead of pushing, criticizing, and perfecting, my heart prepares the soil for Pattern Keeper to work through me, synchronizing the autonomic nervous system and the body’s systems for greatest harmony and functioning. YAY!

 

This is also the secret of Feminine Flow!

 

If we stay with our heart, with our relatedness, with our loving connections to ourselves, our friends, and our family, everything works better, and the patterns we follow and create reflect this awareness of the whole.

If I follow the PIG (Perfectionist-Pusher-Inner Critic Gang), I cut off from my heart, moving into a wounded Masculine, head-centered, rigid or idealized structure instead. A far cry from a living, breathing, beating, weaving pattern.

Staying with Pattern Keeper’s heart-relatedness can also open me up to the “things” I am handling—sorting, organizing, packing—as not just “things,” but forms of existence in their own right, in different physical expressions.

What I usually think of as “things” or non-sentient objects, are also forms of being. While I usually take them for granted as simply useful items for housekeeping, life-management, auto-repair, etc., they are also made of the stuff of the universe.

And as I sort, pack, or find a new place for each of these items, I understand that each has its own need to belong to the greater pattern.

When each has its own place of belonging, its own home, it’s not out of place. It is part of the greater pattern of home, and, right now, of moving.

 

So, as I continue this intense process of sorting and moving,

may I stay connected to Pattern Keeper—

within my beating heart, within my creative hands, within my kind and loving eyes, within all my relationships,
within the whole universe.

 

How is Pattern Keeper manifesting in your life?

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

 

Serene Alchemist of the Wild, she whispers into the circle of women at Women’s Temple, looking straight at me. Yes, the women nod, it’s my temple name.

 

These women don’t know me. We have just spent about an hour dancing and practicing in circle together, but we don’t know each other outside of this. Or do we?

 

I left Women’s Temple that night wondering about this name. It seemed so mysterious, yet so fitting. So big, yet so presumptuous.

 

I wrote it on the top of the full-length mirror in my room in red white board marker. I read it from time to time.

 

Now, 4-5 years later, I am claiming this name as my phrase to live into for this New Year of 2019.

 

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

 

 

I have not always been a serene alchemist of the wild, but rather a lion tamer, a domesticator, a perfecter, a fixer, a manager of all things wild. It has been my job, especially as a Self-Pres type One, to make things proper and right and good. Wild was not that.

 

Wildness had no choice but to go underground.

 

It was OK for those trees out there to be wild, and those squirrels racing around, and those rabbits that try to get into my garden, and nature lavishly abundant in the countryside, but not me and not things around me and not anything that I could get my hands on, that I could fence in or fence out…

 

And serene I was not. I was serious. I was stern. I was carefully contained. I was—yes, truthfully—at times rigid. I was often frustrated that so much wildness was taking over and needed managing, that so much was “not right.” And I needed to fix it.

 

I did transform things. I have always had a knack for improving things, for making beauty, for creating order and goodness out of the raw materials at hand. But the transforming was often fueled with distress and frustration within me and had that effect on anyone in my trajectory…

 

And there was often not much fluidity, but more forcefulness, pushing against the river to try to get it to flow better… I had ideals, perfect ideas in my mind of how things SHOULD be, and I tried to reach them and to make things and people around me live up to them as well.

 

 

Quite unconsciously, I had bought into the “habit of dominion” (from Nora Murphy’s book White Birch, Red Hawthorn). The patriarchal culture I was born into that values using people, animals, things, and nature (a thing) to get, first and foremost, our superior human “needs” met also taught me how to express my type One tendencies. I learned early on how to be an active doer in the world, a subject, not an object, that acts on other human and non-human objects to satisfy my separate “improving” and “righting” self.

 

This separation of us and our superior needs from the rest of life is how, on a small but infinitely multiplying scale, we continue our habit of dominion—over those less economically stable than us, over native peoples, over nature and the earth. How we glean the goods, the profit, the resources we “need” at the expense of human and non-human “others.”

 

In my small case, for example, I assumed that the separate me knew better how things “should” be—better than my husband or even the plants growing outside. And I imposed my ideas on them, not taking theirs seriously, if taking them into account at all.

 

How do you continue the “habit of dominion” to get what you,

as a separate self, think you need (quiet, praise, love, safety, etc.)?

 

 

Cut to now. A new time. A time of transition and wonder and freshness.

 

Winter Solstice and Christmas herald the rebirth of light. The New Year creates a fresh start, recommitment to a new vision of living and promise of a huge relocation to Washington state with my husband, literally a new life opening up.

 

And a new relationship to what I now recognize as my soul’s calling—

 

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

 

It is stunning to me to view my life through this lens—to see how my spiritual practice, my re-training as an interfaith minister, laughter yoga leader, holistic coach, yoga and women’s work teacher… how all of this has been part of the unfolding of this deeper soul’s calling.

 

I am much more serene.

 

Like the trees that bend and bow in storms or ice, that let rain wash over them and funnel it down to their roots, I am coming to a much deeper sense of calm, of contentment, of easeful equanimity amidst the “Sturm und Drang” of life.

 

“In the Virtue of Serenity, there is no feeling of effort or of striving.
We are soothed and soothing. We flow from one experience into the next,
feeling calm and balanced, regardless of the ups and downs of life.”

(Understanding the Enneagram, Riso & Hudson, p. 64)

 

And Serenity is the Virtue for type One (those women didn’t know I was a One)—it is the specific grace of the heart that my One soul learns as all that fixing energy dissolves, allowing me to be at peace and at home in life exactly as it is, unfolding now, and now, and now…

 

“The Alchemist takes our pain and turns it into compassion
for ourselves and for each other… the Alchemist spins
our fear into love and our pain into prayer.”

(Sweat Your Prayers, Gabrielle Roth, p. 189, 190)

 

The Alchemist trans-forms, shapeshifts the seeming dross, pain, fear and dis-ease of life into shining, precious gold, fierce, radiant beauty, and deep, rich Love—within ourselves and through us within those with whom we share the journey.

 

Them’s big shoes to fill!!

 

But we don’t do this alone—it is not a separate “I” that trans-forms me or you. It is God/dess within, True Nature within that shapeshifts and spins our lives into a healing prayer.

 

We orient to this continual “optimization of being” with our lives—by what we take in through our senses, consciously and unconsciously. Just like an Oak tree receives nourishment through sun, rain, soil, micro-organisms, and its connections to other plant and tree-life to grow into its unique form as White, Red, Black, Pin, or Burr Oak (the familiar species here in Minnesota), so do we receive constant nourishment from outside and inside. From our relationships with people, animals, sun, moon, stars, trees, animals, plants, birds, and non-human others as well as our inner relationship with ourself and God/dess, to become, to trans-form and shapeshift into Who we are.

 

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

 

Which brings me to the WILD!!

 

 

The dynamic, instinctual, primal life pulse within us all that keeps us as human animals alive on this planet—that cannot be separated from our wild soul’s calling to BE who we are—wild child and all. That spark of the Divine that lives within and as all of nature, including humans and wants to express and grow and heal and BE you and me.

 

This wild life force participates in the ever-dynamic flow of Being that optimizes naturally by coming into relationship with all that is around it. It comes into a shape within which it is held without being trapped, which gives it form, like the banks give form to the flowing river as well as respond to its flow.

This shaping is not perfecting or domesticating, but a natural response to participating in relationship, a dynamic responding to life. There is a trusting of the wild pulsation, the impulse within which gives birth to a new form, a new shape, a new unfoldment.

 

I finally understand how necessary it is to give each part of me a home—to welcome all the wildness in. The too big parts, the critical parts, the angry parts, the grieving parts, the fearful parts, the wounded parts, the over-indulging parts—all our wildness must be welcomed home within.

 

No part excluded. All Welcomed. Accepted. Loved. Seen. Understood. With compassion, gentleness, kindness, and Love.

“I see you,” say the African Bushmen as they greet each other, responding with “I am here.” (The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo, p. 428)

 

From this place of full acceptance of our wildness, the individual spark of the Divine within can continue its journey of expression in this world.

 

Who knows how that wildness will shapeshift and trans-form when it is held in Love, not forced to be other than it is?

 

Who knows how the passion and juicy life-force energy will radiate in our lives when we are not trying to change it, shut it down, tame it?

 

Serene Alchemist of the Wild

 

 

I accept you as my soul’s calling for 2019.

I am willing to grow with, unfold in, shapeshift and trans-form into who this soul invitation calls me to be.

 

 

How about you?

How is your soul calling you as we enter into 2019?

How will you live into your soul’s invitation?

 

 

 

Join me for some Serene Alchemy this month!

 

Check out my calendar for more information:

the time of interim

 

Autumn Equinox, Saturday the 22nd at 8:54 pm CT.

 

We are in a time of interim.

 

Between Summer and Fall.

 

Summer’s waning light. Fall’s bright, crisp color not yet arriving.

 

You are in this time of interim
where everything seems withheld.*

 

I am here again. This time with learning how to listen more deeply with my body as I continue to learn the lessons pneumonia brought this summer.

Dave and I are here, too, with our planned move to Port Townsend, Washington next year, and all the things to take care of, understand, and prepare for.

Clients and friends are here.

  • Finding a new way to be living with alcoholism.
  • Recommitting to a path of practice when busy life keeps overwhelming.
  • Searching for a way to break up old patterns that just keep pulling back to “happy” oblivion.


The old is not old enough to have died away;

The new is still too young to be born.

 

This is a difficult place to be.

 

Our bodysouls know there is another way, and yet “the way forward is still concealed.”

 

In each moment, we must choose, without seeing the way forward, to stay devotedly, steadfastly turned toward our new life.

 

We must drop deeper than egomind, into an alive body and heart, connecting to the intelligence of life living in / through / as us.

 

Even though the old has not yet died away and the egomind will constantly try to pull us back into our old ways, we choose to practice presence–to come back to the Truth of this moment.

 

There are so many paths for getting under the chattering monkey mind and for cultivating presence: meditation, conscious movement, Course in Miracles, the Diamond Approach, the Work of Byron Katie, The Embodied Presence Process, Circlework, women’s work, the Enneagram, voice work, yoga, zikr, mantra, dance, prayer–to only name a few that have graced my path!

 

It’s all about coming into Presence NOW, under the mind chatter, to whatever needs to be experienced in the moment–often revealed quite unexpectedly in body and/or heart.

“We soften our focus, remain alert, and drop deep into ourselves.” (Anne Hillman in Awakening the Energies of Love, p. 295)

 

We make a conscious choice to shift our attention.

 

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander

This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

 

Can we let the coming of Fall–of beautiful and then falling leaves, nature’s interim–support us in not knowing how?

Can we simply do our practices and face forward toward the unknown newness we yearn for in our bodysouls and trust the process?

Can we faithfully endure so that our hearts are prepared for our “arrival in the new dawn”?

How are you abiding in your interim?

What is supporting you?

 

Let’s gather together to practice abiding in the interim:

 

* Unless otherwise noted, all quotes from John O’Donohue’s blessing For the Interim Time, from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.

Weed or Wild Nourishment?

 

I’ve spent a lot of time pulling weeds.

 

Starting with the most common ones—Creeping Charlie taking over the whole backyard when I first moved in with Dave, grass growing in garden beds, plantain, dandelions, and here in Minnesota, those purple bellflowers that seem to spread everywhere…

 

Other weeds that have caught my attention include all the ways my Enneagram type One personality judges that I (or others) need weeding. Over the years, I’ve dug out my messy emotions, pulled up my gut instincts, rooted out my raw and uncontrollable sexuality, and excavated all the wild impulses that might lead me astray.

 

“Got a dirty eye, see a dirty world.”
~ Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening

I think we all have dirty eyes—in the sense that our vision is clouded from seeing life as it is. Perhaps it’s Enneagram type that clouds, or maybe it’s family upbringing, or maybe it’s trauma, or our culture or religion…and most likely a combination of all of the above.

This clouding keeps us stuck in one way of seeing.

Plant—Weed.
Healthy—Unhealthy.
Clean—Messy.
Civilized—Wild.
Heaven—Earth.

 

But what if that plant, instead of being a weed, is Wild Nourishment?

 

Over the years, as I started realizing there was such a thing as wild nourishment

I dug up the dandelion from my yard, ate some, and transplanted the rest into its own bed in my backyard. I enjoy eating it all summer, but especially when it’s tender in the spring (now!).

I pulled out the plantain and dried it for use in tea and herbal salves. (Internally for indigestion, externally for skin ailments.)

The grass spreading into flower and veggie gardens I still weed out—and the Creeping Charlie, too!

I gave up on weeding out the purple bellflowers—I still manage them in some places, but in others, I let them be a lovely, green ground cover, and on our front stairs, their purple bell flower welcomes people to our home. (Dave’s youngest helped me get this—I was madly ripping them out one summer when he said how he missed the greenery and flowers on the bare concrete stairs, and I realized I did, too. It has saved me a lot of work over the years!)

 

And my own inner weeding?

I am finding the gifts of wild nourishment of my fuller self—

How my unedited emotions, my instinctual-knowing, my juicy sexuality, and my spontaneous impulses don’t lead me astray, but nourish and bring more wholeness to my life.

I feel more alive, more embodied, more present on this earth when I embrace all of me in this way.

 

How about you?

Are there ways you see through dirty eyes and try to weed out parts of yourself that are unacceptable? Or the world around you? How could those parts you are pulling out be important to your growth into the fully alive human being you are?

 

Join me on Sunday, June 10th

to practice seeing our lives through a clean eye with…