Summer Solstice 2022–Becoming an Earth Being

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

Summer Solstice falls on the 21st of June, 2022 at 2:13 am Pacific Time.

By honoring the solstice, we are participating in earth time, marking the changing of the seasons not by imposed, human-made calendar time, but by following the rhythms and natural changes of the earth as she changes from the new growth and freshness of spring into the full on blooming and vibrant growth of summer.

It’s a time to really lean into and enjoy being embodied, being the animal body that we are, experiencing everything that our bodies enable us to sense, to feel in this amazing and beautiful living earth.

You’ve probably noticed that over the last few years since we moved to the Pacific Northwest, my deep interest is about learning to live with earth, learning to be a responsible, ecological citizen of earth. But this doesn’t quite catch it… there’s also a very deep spiritual yearning to come back to what is my birthright, what is all of our birthright, communion with the living earth.

This blog explorers my journey toward this re-union, and is the current version of the first part of a sermon that I will be giving July 24th, 2022 online for my Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington. 

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Mom calls me over to see and listen to the yellow grosbeaks that have returned. I notice them, but I’m not really touched. I have other things on my mind.

My sister follows the call at an early age to spend as much time as she can outdoors, to explore and eventually take up outdoor sports and camping, even training to guide others. It all seems like so much work to me, and expensive, and dirty. I have other things on my mind.

It took me many years to begin to understand the importance of reconnecting to earth and to find my own ways of coming home. It’s not that I didn’t have moments of deep connection, but I didn’t prioritize them, and I’ve lived my life in my head a lot.

  • In my teen years, I spent a lot of time believing and being a good born-again Christian.
  • As an adult I studied a lot and traveled abroad, learning German and Swedish.
  • I was always singing, and trying to be a better singer.
  • I’ve read a lot of books about how to heal and grow and develop myself, and coached and taught others about this.

But living my life in my head, even though I studied and taught helpful, spiritual things, hasn’t been enough.

Though I have often found solace and beauty in nature, it was almost as if I have expected nature to be there for me when I needed her. I didn’t realize that there could be some kind of reciprocal relationship.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us—the land is not broken. It is our relationship to it that is broken.

It’s hard to have a relationship with the land when we as a culture move around so much. The average American moves every 5 years—that certainly makes it hard to have a sense of belonging to the land… Instead of a sense of belonging to the earth, we move to a new place and bring our belongings with us.

We experience nature as a thing, something outside of us, an object that we can use—a resource to use to grow our food, for water to drink, for building materials to make homes and shelters, for fuel to drive our cars and fly to see our friends and family and visit new places, etc.

In his book Biology of Wonder, Andreas Weber invites us to swap out the word “nature” with the phrase “the living earth.” You probably noticed that I introduced the blog with this language. This reminds us that we can enter into a living relationship with earth rather than a one-sided for-human-enjoyment-only experience.

Take a moment with me:
Close your eyes and take a few breaths. And then just open your awareness to your body, noticing any sensation, any aches, any pains, any tingly, bubbly, electrical, flowy, or other sensations. Any warmth, any ease, any relaxation… Just notice this aliveness in your body.

And if you’re having trouble feeling anything, try shaking one hand for a minute and then stop and sense that hand compared to the other one, noticing the extra aliveness.

Andreas Weber suggests that this inner aliveness you feel, this is the same aliveness, the livingness that is in the living earth. This aliveness is the center of our being and is our direct connection with the living earth. Feeling it reconnects us with our bodies, made of earth’s body.

Andreas Weber again: “Nature is about beauty because beauty is our way to experience aliveness as inwardness. Beauty is aliveness felt…”

No wonder beauty calls to us! The beauty we celebrate in the living earth, that we snap photos of, send postcards of, look at picture books of, travel for and long to take in… this outward expression of aliveness reminds us of our own inner aliveness, of our own connection with the living earth.

And we need these reminders desperately since our culture has created a lot of deadness.

At least since settled agricultural life, we have steadily and cruelly enforced a worldview of pillage and domination over the land and any beings—peoples, creatures, other-than-human beings—who stood in our way.

Whether we and our direct ancestors were involved in this or not, our bodies and our relationship with the earth bear the burden of this colonization. In fact, Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands, speaks eloquently of how white folk carry the trauma of being perpetrators in our bodies. In addition, most white folk are descendants of people who were treated cruelly in the countries we originally immigrated from. We also carry this trauma of being victims in our bodies.

Because we no longer can sense and feel our inner aliveness and that of the living earth, we overdo to try to get back in touch with it. Too much screen time, too much coffee or caffeine in any form, too much sugar, too much alcohol, too many drugs, too much work, too much play… And not enough contact with the living earth.

So what do we do about this?

How do we become an earth being?


Stay tuned for Part II of this blog at Lughnasadh/Lammas or Fall Equinox in which I share more of my exploration or watch the service on July 24th or after.

Spoiler Alert: I don’t have the answers, just some experience and hopefully, some inspiration! 🙂

In the meantime, though, I’d LOVE to hear about your experience!

 

What does it mean to you to become an earth being?

Autumn Equinox–Earth-Based Practice

Happy Autumn Equinox!

 

Autumn Equinox 2021 falls on September 22nd at 12:20 pm PT. It is the balancing point between light and dark, the approximately equal day and night before we tip toward darkness.

When I think of balance these days, I think of how out of balance we humans have gotten with Eairth,* how our presence has caused such harm to Eairth’s life systems.

 

Listen to an Equinox round by Laurence Cole
that invites us to walk in balance with Eairth.

 

How do we walk in balance with Eairth?

What does that even mean?

 

There are so many plans for mitigating the crisis we find ourselves in, living on a planet whose weather is getting more and more erratic and whose life systems are failing.

For me, the biggest thing is to find a way to live in balance now, in this forest garden home where I am living. To find a way of belonging, of connecting, of being in relationship with Eairth. If I don’t have this, I won’t be able to choose well how to act in the world.


I find what helps me the most are earth-based practices.

It’s been a gradual shift for me to take on earth-based practices consciously, even though I have been slowly moving in this direction for years.

My first official foray into a deeper connection with Eairth was through Sara Avant Stover’s The Way of the Happy Woman. This work helped me get more connected to the seasons—how they manifest not only in Eairth but in me, how I can align with them in how I eat, how I plan my life, even how I do yoga. This was thrilling to me—to realize that I could choose to energetically match my life to the natural patterns of Eairth. 

Tending the earth continues to teach me about how alive Eairth is. When I see how Eairth can grow plants without fertilizer, without artificial interaction, simply from the basic elements of earth, air, water, and sun, how can I not be grateful and amazed?

I often greet new sprouts and blooms by singing to them, thanking them for growing, welcoming them. It is not a very big step to simply thank and praise Eairth for the larger gift of life, that allows me and my beloveds also to live.

I take inspiration from indigenous practices, the Native American medicine wheel, Pagan and Celtic practice, the work of Charles Eisenstein, geologian Thomas Berry, cosmologist Brian Swimme, deep ecologist Joanna Macy, wilderness-based soul guide Bill Plotkin, poets Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, and many others.

While I have found it helpful to learn the data points that comprise this experience of being alive, of plants greening, of earth sustaining us, I have also felt a need to enter more deeply into relationship with Eairth, into more-than-head-based knowledge.

 

So, other than thanking and praising the plants as I tend,

the trees and ferns and moss as I walk,

what does this look like?

 

Most mornings, I practice a version of what Native Americans call a medicine wheel, just outside our back door, turning to face each cardinal direction and addressing one of the Elements, or what Brian Swimme calls the Powers of the Universe. The circle I move in also blends elements from Wicca and from Bill Plotkin’s wheel of eco- and psycho-spiritual phases of development. Sometimes I add yoga, too.

I greet and thank East, Power of Wind, of air, of breath, of sky, of the new day dawning. Grateful for the qualities of freshness, newness, of innocence and open mind, of the generous distribution of air that keeps plants, animals, and humans breathing and warms and cools our planet.

I greet and thank South, Power of Fire, of flame, of warmth, of noon heat. Grateful for the qualities of passion, of growth, of flowering, of playfulness, of the instinctive life force that runs through the animal body that I am.

I greet and thank West, Power of Sea, of water, of flow, of depths. Grateful for the qualities of sensitivity and responsiveness, of the ability to be affected by others, to absorb and assimilate, and to be absorbed into the One/the Beloved.

I greet and thank North, Power of Land, of matter, of stone, field, and mountain, of cosmic memory. Grateful for the qualities of gravity, of strength and action, of re-membering and remembering, for my elders, teachers, mentors, and ancestors.

And in the Center, I touch earth and reach up to sky, turning in a circle, bringing my hands to belly and heart, breathing in now. I feel myself taking my place, as human, as being, as earth standing on two feet, as a member of this amazing web of life.


I think what we are all seeking in our lives is a feeling of connection with True Nature.

Call that God, Goddess, the Universe, Higher Power, Beloved, Love, Truth… to me, it is all the same. We had a taste of this connection, this love in our mother’s womb and have been searching for it ever since.

Being surrounded by the natural world, as opposed to the human-made world, helps me feel this connection more easily. Many people experience this—we seek moments of wonder, awe, beauty, peace in nature.

What if these moments are simply openings to True Nature, that which is the most essential and natural to us all? And what if we could consciously cultivate this connection on a daily basis?

There are many ways to practice connecting—this is just one detailed example of a morning practice. Bill Plotkin’s books, Joanna Macy’s work, The Way of the Happy Woman, Forest Breathing practices, books about getting kids in to nature—there are many more ideas out there. One other important way for me to connect is through singing—check out this song by Gretchen Sleicher.

 

What earth-based practices support you?

 

* Eairth = Earth and Air, a more descriptive way of spelling the planet we live in, from geologian Thomas Berry

life-death-life

stump feeding new life, with close-up of lichen

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the

Life-Death-Life cycle recently.

 

That’s how Clarissa Pinkola Estes names it in Women Who Run with the Wolves—this ever-regenerating, ever-cycling pattern that permeates the universe and all existence.

 

It is the energy of the Wild Woman in Estes’ frame—the instinctual upsurging of life that naturally peaks, dwindles, and returns to Source to feed the next upsurging.

 

It is the cycles of living—we are born and learn through the stages from childhood, adolescence, mothering/fathering, loving, creating—and at the end of each stage, we die to our identification with that stage and move into the next, growing into new life.

 

It is the cycles of the seasons—from the new growth of Spring to the vibrant, flourishing of Summer and to the falling, waning and drawing in of Fall, and into Winter, where things return to rest, to compost, to mysteriously and ultimately be reformed into new life.

 

As a species, we experience this cycle on a macrocosmic level.

Our human life story starts way back with the big bang 13.8 billion years ago. And the death of stars led to the creation of the planets, Earth among them, with conditions that supported life to grow.

Our ancestors—from first amoebic life forms through fish to mammal to ape to proto-humans and including indigenous peoples today—live(d) WITH Eairth.**

Their lifeways honored and respected Eairth, not taking more than they gave, living in such a way that Eairth’s elements of air, fire, wind, and earth were not harmed. In this way life, for all Eairth, not just humans, could flourish.

 

It’s hard to say exactly when it first started, but as far back as settled agriculture, we can see how humans begin to take more than we returned to Eairth. And since then, especially with the Industrial Revolution, this unsustainable pattern has continued rapidly.

 

While it may look like humans are flourishing—and we certainly are manifesting the creativity of the universe in all the innovations and developments our minds have been able to discover and create—we have exceeded the carrying capacity of our own planet home.

 

We see this in the death that is happening all around us—from melting glaciers, to more and more extinctions, to climate chaos.

Our planet, and all her inhabitants are moving

into the Death part of the Life-Death-Life cycle.

 

That means that we, the human species that caused this to happen,
are moving into this cycle, too.

 

In Estes’ language, we must call on our inner Wild Woman to help us through.

She knows how to return to our roots.

She knows how to navigate death as part of the greater arc of life.

She knows that with death comes loss—necessary loss:

  • Loss of human-centered ways of living
  • Loss of the excess we think we need to live
  • Loss of the hyper-individualistic orientation we think is normal
  • Loss of our too-busy-to-practice or connect attitude that keeps all of this going.

 

Just like the blizzards in St. Paul where we used to live, when our neighborhood came together to shovel each other out from under 2 feet of snow, these Death times can bring us together again.

The goodness of our human nature can be cultivated and practiced.

We can invest more in meaningful relationships, in community building.

We can return to participation with our more-than-human brothers and sisters and find ways to get into right relationship of respect and honoring.

We can consume less, reforest, clean up our messes, and help to restore any amount of balance possible.

 

And, ultimately, as Wild Woman knows, as Eairth’s seasons know,

We have to move through Death for there to be

new life, for Spring to come again.

 

We don’t know what will survive, but Life will have its way. Spring will return with new life in some form, in some way…

 

How will we navigate these intense times of the Death cycle?

 

By practicing, by loving bigger, by coming together.

 

I’m offering a few ways to practice together. 

I hope you’ll join me!

 

FREE Full Voice Workshop, March 7th

 

And a Spring Women’s Mini-Retreat on March 29th!

 

** Eairth = Earth and Air

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

Freedom to Rise like Trees

Painted by Laurie Evans

 

From all quarters, life on this precious Eairth

is desperately calling for the rising of

the rooted Feminine—in both women and men.

 

Eairth* and all her creatures are gasping for breath.

We lose between 1 and 300 species every day (low to high estimates), and it is widely thought that we humans are causing the sixth great extinction, presently underway.

Our Eairth home is warming and her interconnected life systems are responding by creating chaotic and destructive weather patterns which make it less hospitable for all life, humans included.

Our human family is forgetting not only our connection to Eairth, but to each other with the rise of more and more nationalistic movements across the world.

 

And meanwhile, we continue business as usual, as if the worn-out industrial-growth society could ignore the problem and continue consuming more and more…

We pour more money into unsustainable practices, trying to get the last bit of fossil fuel out of Eairth with complete disregard for Gaia’s life systems** that are being broken in the process.

We pour more money into genetically engineering seeds and animals and genes as if we could do better that Gaia that has been evolving and supporting us for 4.5 billion years…

 

We need to wake up and let the rooted Feminine

consciousness rise up and inform our lives, our actions,

and our world before it is too late,

 

before we lose the freedom we celebrate on July 4th—

especially the freedom to be alive on this precious planet.

 

The beautiful image at the top of this blogpost, painted by my dear friend Laurie Evans, can give us an image to hold before us, to live with.

Can you feel how rooted she is? Rooted in tree and freely branching, leafing, flowering into life.

 

Before growing tall, tree roots take time to grow deep—up to 200 feet deep—into the earth. There they receive nourishment and stability from the depths, from deep sources of water and minerals and stone.

What deep sources of nourishment do you have, to fill your well, to root you in your deepest Essence?

The Feminine embodied consciousness knows the value of turning within, of the nourishment of inner life.

When we are deeply rooted inside, we discern Truth and are not swayed by the opinions of others. We choose healthfully for all life. We value our spiritual practices as a way of sustaining connection to soul including the anima mundi, or, world soul.

 

 

Tree roots also spread wideat their widest, three times the width of their crowns (and mature crowns spread up 590 feet wide, so you do the math!). In his astonishing book, The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben describes how this wide root network is the primary way trees communicate with and feed each other.

And even more beautiful, trees communicate through symbiotic relationships with special types of funghi that grow on their roots! The funghi receive sugars the trees produce from photosynthesis and give back water and minerals, as well as communication networks that Peter refers to “the wood-wide web.” They can transmit messages to other trees along these root network systems—about danger and sickness, and the need for nourishment.

What wide root networks do you have, that you feed and that feed you? Our interconnections with others are necessary on the path of awakening. We need to support each other—to be warned of danger ahead or when we lose our way, to be reminded of the need for true nourishment…

The Feminine is relational.

When rooted in our Feminine nature, we do not over-give or lose ourselves. We do not stay too long in relationship. We do not forget ourselves and wind up exhausted and burned out. We stay connected and know that each person brings a gift to the table.

 

 

Tree nature has intricate, indigenous lifeways that guide natural tree growth. What we could call tree instincts respond as needed in the moment without question—sending sap, messages, and energy. Their instinctual tree-wisdom arises to meet life, with utter faith that their response is in alignment with Gaia’s rhythms.

How do you trust your instinctual, indigenous nature? We humans have life-intelligence inherited from our animal ancestors. This native wisdom helps us stay rooted and alive as part of the interconnected web of life. It tells us when we are hungry, in danger, in need of bonding or of the shelter of a friend.

Rooted in the Feminine, we trust our instinctual intelligence to guide us.

We know ourselves as embodied—as earthly, incarnate, with a body that needs tending, a heart that needs loving, and a mind that needs opening. The Feminine knows the value of the body and does not try to transcend it and the greater body of Eairth, but to live more fully embodied, more fully incarnate, here, in this life, exactly as it is right now.

 

 

Trees know how to not only root, but how to branch and leaf and flower and fruit and seed!! Their circulatory system pumps sap nourishment from the sun through the leaves down to the roots, and from storage in the roots, back up when it is needed. A healthy sap-system supports not only inner, but outer growth. Mature trees release their seed, give away the fruits of their growth—in flower, fruit, or seed—so that their essence can live on even after they release their standing forms to the earth.

How are you called out, once your well is sufficiently filled, to branch, to leaf, to blossom? What have you been developing deep within yourself that calls for expression, that wants to be given away as a gift for others? It needn’t be big to be of service—we’re not all meant to be Michelle or Barak Obama, Joanna Macy or Brian Swimme! But we are all called to be ourselves and of service to the world. Maybe it’s random acts of kindness, or a listening ear, or maybe you’re called to protest or form a PTA or help save a river.

As John O’Donohue says in Eternal Echos, “The wisdom of the tree balances the path inwards with the pathway outwards” (p. 149). When we are deeply rooted in our inward path, the pathway outward is a natural outcome. The rooted and rising Feminine is not about just doing our spiritual practices!! Yes, that’s crucial to keep the root well-nourished, but we are also called to give birth—to blossom and give of our fruit.

The Feminine within us all feels the call to embody our Truth—to birth it in our daily lives and to be of service to Eairth, to others, to the world…

 

 

As I was writing this blogpost, a big, welcome storm blew through. I was sitting on the front porch in the early morning watching the graying sky on the horizon, feeling the wind gaining strength, blowing my hair and clothes. When the storm landed, the trees started dancing with the wind—not just their leaves and branches, but their trunks, too. Being deeply rooted, deeply belonging to Eairth, trees have faith in their foundation and solidity. Buffeted by stormy winds, trees stay flexible and participate with the storm. Not resisting—simply responding to the wind, they become its dance partner.

How flexible are you when the storm hits? (Because it always will!) Are you able to sway with the wind and trust your nourished, deep and wide roots?

The Feminine knows the value of fluidity, of responding to life flexibly.

She is not stuck in fixed opinions and beliefs, but knows that everything life brings is worth interacting with, worth considering. She feels deeply, responds, and flows with the winds of life.

 

 

Trees root in one place for their whole lives. Because of this, they know the value of patience, of endurance, of trusting time. Storms come and go, predators cause damage and may even cut them down. But they persevere, even in death, knowing that right here is where they belong.

How do you find belonging in these times of disrupted families, ever-growing screen-time, and lack of Eairth connection?

The Feminine knows how to make home, to create the shelter of belonging wherever we are

in the city or country, in a house or tent, with yourself or with others. This is the part of us that knows how to belong to ourself, to others, and to Eairth. And in that belonging is the safety and shelter of home.

 

Like trees, rooting, we freely rise.

 

Nourish your roots, trust your instinctual intelligence, be of service, be flexible, and create a shelter of belonging for all Eairth, for all life.

Together, with the rooted and rising Feminine in each of us, we express our freedom, and heal our relationship with ourselves, with each other, and with Eairth.

 

The trees do everything totally.
They don’t hold back.
They fruit completely.
They stretch to the sun completely.
They give their all. They drop their leaves completely.
They disappear into the ground
and root themselves down completely.
They’re total. They’re total permission.
If you want to learn how to live, learn from trees.
~ Clare Dubois, Founder of TreeSisters

 

What do you need to learn from

 the rising Feminine nature of trees

in this season of your life?

 

* Eairth = earth and air together, our planet home, first heard from Thomas Berry (I think!)

** Gaia = the self-regulating living system of our planet

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!

waves welcome me

 

Friend, our closeness is this.
Anywhere you put your foot
Feel me in the firmness under you.
~ Rumi

 

On vacation at Mar de Jade (Mexico) two weeks ago, my morning meditation was being on the beach with the rising tide of waves.

Usually, I was the first one down to walk on the sand, at the intersection of land and sea, contemplating ocean, contemplating waves.

I didn’t do a formal sit. The ocean called me.

I slowly wandered and stood facing the ocean, letting the waves take me. Waves filling up, coming to fullness, to readiness, then spilling over to give, to surrender, to gift the land with their essence, their “waveness.”

Breathing with the waves, taking them in with eyes, heart, body, bodysoul, in awe, in beauty, in wonder.

Touched by the unseen shaping guiding their rhythm and form, a circular flow of rising and forming and breaking and ebbing–a yang giving way to yin–a giving way to giving again. A cycle of giving and receiving, of generativity and rest, of expansion and contraction.

A circle of wholeness, of life.

 

Foreign territory to me, a land-dweller who grew up in the country, far from the ocean.

I felt a deep, interior call to be with her immensity, her power, her being.

Every morning for about an hour, I would join the confluence of land and sea, waiting for the rising tide to come and splash my feet, my legs, my clothes.

One morning, when Dave joined me, he said the waves were greeting me. Yes, I smiled, it feels like this.

I was being welcomed by ocean waves–Good morning, Katy–let me touch and taste and kiss and splash you in greeting. Thank you for being with me.

 

 

I walked and stood in the waves, feeling their wetness, their saltiness, their tickly touch, their caress, and their pull out to sea while my feet were buried in wet sand, holding me on land, and singing my human greeting to them:

Waves, waves, waves, ocean waves, Great Mother’s waves, welcome me.
Touch and be touched, meet and greet, welcome the mystery.
Human and wave, matter and sea, life, love, and me.

 

Back in Minnesota, I’m not barefoot all day, not feeling the touch of waves and sand so immediately.

But I am feeling the touch of this bioregion–the greeting of Spring–in the earlier light kissing my face as I awake, in the scent of wet earth after the melting of snow, in the warming touch of air on my body, in increasing liquid birdsong.

In the firmness of life continuing to hold me and support me here in this precious eairth.*

 

How about you?

How are you greeting and being greeted this season?

 

How do you feel the firmness of life, or what Rumi calls “the Friend,” under your feet, supporting you?

 

 

* earth and air as one being = eairth

nurturing & greeting rituals

Image by SofieZborilova on Pixabay

 

Imagine coming into the presence of a baby. (Or, if it’s easier, a baby animal.)

Eyes round and open, she is awake and alert, expressions flitting across her face.

 

Would you ignore this luminous presence?

 

Or would you take in her precious being with an attuned, loving, perhaps even grateful greeting? Perhaps some sweet words, a higher-pitched, maybe even cooing, voice, a soothing tone…

In so doing, you acknowledge that her presence affects you. That she is here and you are here. That you are connected with her. In a way that feels nourishing and contactful to both of you.

 

What if this were the way we lived our lives?

 

In contact with each other, with the earth, with the other-than-human beings, and with the rhythm of our lives, all the time?

 

What would change?

I know I would feel more open, more grateful, more awake, more alive… more present.

From what I understand, our indigenous ancestors lived in this way—in deep contact with themselves, each other, and the earth—and from this deep experience of kinship, in deep gratitude.

Our Native American brothers and sisters, indigenous to North America, continue to carry this relationship of kinship, of respect and gratitude into our modern times. They remind us of what is possible.

 

As you know, I’m all about practicing presence!

 

It’s my tagline, afterall: “practice presence for life.” And I’ve written a whole e-book about small, doable rituals you can incorporate into your daily life to feel more present AND created a free 5-day Practice Presence for Life Journey to support you in putting this into practice… 

 

But I think there is something else I’m exploring here.

It is what all my presence practice rituals are pointing toward. Like the Buddhist story of the finger pointing to the moon, we don’t want to get fixated on the finger, but to focus our gaze on the moon.

All my presence rituals are meant to support a dropping into this deeper contactful presence.

So, what is presence, anyway?

 

Right now, I am experiencing it as a full-bodied, full-souled contact with myself and “the other.”

And when I feel it, I feel grateful. Presence and gratitude go hand in hand.

Since many of us don’t often get the chance to interact with a baby—human or animal—how about practicing with an alive being you connect with daily?

  • A partner or child
  • A pet or plant
  • Some other being outside—the snow (a good choice this winter in MN!), the sun, the moon, a tree, or a mountain?

 

Find a specific living being—human or otherwise—and let that being teach you how to be fully present. (You might also find some of my other presence practices/rituals help prepare you for this. Poetry is one of my favorites, so here’s one:)

 

Praying by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

 

Here are a few suggestions* for getting started:

  • Open all your senses to this being—sight, sound, taste, scent, touch. And keep returning to your senses when your mind sidetracks you back into thoughts. Take this being in as fully as you can.
  • Receive how their presence affects your whole bodysoul—body, heart, mind, soul. You might experience it as pleasant or unpleasant. Continue to drop thought and come back to body and heart, in particular.
  • Make some sound—words or otherwise—to express your experience. It might be joyful or sweet, or you might feel sad or angry or confused. Express whatever it is with sound.
  • Notice how you feel nurtured having greeted this being.
  • Take some time to receive any greeting in return.
  • Then thank the being for this contact that brings you here, in touch with yourself and the living web of relationship all around you. Use words or sounds or movement or gestures and keep coming back to your body and heart.

 

Let’s close with a nurturing and greeting ritual:

Place your hands in prayer position in front of your heart with me.

As we bow our heads to our hearts….

We are bowing to ourselves for practicing.

We are bowing to each other for practicing together.

We are bowing to the earth as the ground of our practice.

Namaste.

 

For More Practices

See my calendar.

Read more practice blogposts.

Download Welcoming the Sacred.

Sign up for the free, 5-day Practice Presence for Life Journey.

 

Notes:
* After writing this, I realized how influenced I was by the recent work I have been practicing. You can find a similar practice in Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin.

I also want to credit the phrase “nurturing and greeting rituals” as originally from Erik Erickson as “daily rituals of nurturance and greeting,” which I found in Dolores LaChapelle’s book Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, Rapture of the Deep. She uses it not only in the realm of humans, but to include all of the natural world. (p. 170+)

to love

 

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way
as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them
by what is deepest in themselves.

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

We are part of everything we see—
this is the love that keeps moving us back into wholeness when divided.
To love by admitting our connection to everything is how we stay well.

~ Mark Nepo

 

We spent last week on a retreat in the strangely and wildly beautiful Sonoran desert pictured above. I had no idea how many living beings I would encounter in the desert!

I was struck, over and over again, how what looked like inhospitable earth—rocky, dry, severely lacking the the lush green carpet I am familiar with as an Easterner living in the MidWest—could not only endure, but encourage such hospitality!

Every day, we participated in practices to connect us with our earthly selves, in particular, our wild, indigenous nature and deep instinctive, and imaginative soul. These included yoga, dancing, dreamwork, ceremony, council, and long wanders on the land.

 

 

We gathered together, united in our love for this precious eairth.* Our practicing was to come into deeper communion with eairth and the other-than-human beings living in the desert, as well as to see the ways we get lost and forget this primal connection, this original love.

There is no wasted energy in the desert. As a cactus passes from life into death, it slowly allows its outer skin to fall away or decompose to create nourishment for the next being to grow. The generosity and nobility of each being releasing its life to the next joins them in an unending cycle of death and birth, and, dare I say it?, Love.

 

Love unites, completes, and fulfills them, joining them

as outward emanations of eairth’s love, as we humans also are.

 

On this Valentine’s Day, I invite you

to engage in presence practice on behalf of eairth.

 

Something that joins you to this deepest uniting, wholeness-creating power of Love that eairth and all her beings so generously express, even as we pollute and ravish her/them.

  • Thank the water as you use it—for washing, drinking, flushing, cleaning—the wood as you burn it, the food as you prepare and eat it, the gas, oil, and electricity as you heat and light with it. This is being present with and appreciating in the moment, the gifts of eairth.
  • Sing to eairth, her creatures, and her other-than-human (and human) beings.
  • Engage in a ceremony to acknowledge and honor your commitment to being in deeper relationship with eairth’s love.
  • Or try a practice we did on retreat: Take a praise walk and appreciate, bless, and praise all the other-than-human beings you encounter (plants, trees, animals, rocks, snow, sunlight, rain, fog …).

 

What are some other practices you can engage in

to live your deepest Love today?

 

* eairth = earth and air as one

 

Join me to connect with your deepest Love through:

Laughter

Women’s Yoga

Yoga Nidra

Tea & Poetry

The Enneagram

Everyday Love

It’s Valentine’s Day.

How about a focus on real, everyday Love?


Romantic dinners, heart-shaped gifts, chocolate, sexy lingerie—they are a fun way of expressing Love, but I’m talking about taking steps to choose and create Love in a simple, daily way.

Today, can you remember to:

  • Give yourself the benefit of the doubt?
  • Be friendly and kind when you make a mistake?
  • Not rush?
  • Listen to the needs of your body? (move, rest, eat, use the bathroom…)
  • Listen to your heart, not judging your feelings, but allowing them all and being gentle with yourself?

With others, can you:

  • Be present with yourself as you interact with them? (That way you’ll be more attuned.)
  • Offer your kind attention, even to strangers?
  • Go out of your way to be of service?
  • Put yourself in their shoes before responding?
  • Receive their goodwill?

 

Everyday Love is a choice, an action, a verb.

 

Even if you don’t feel Love, take a step to choose it. Start with yourself and move out from there. Let everyone you touch receive your Love.

The world needs you, showing up as you, which is an expression of Love. And the world needs us all choosing Love with each other, one babystep at a time.

This is the way we can create Everyday Love, every day.

 

Come practice Everyday Love with me!

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