Of Here

It’s difficult to hear someone you admire say something that is, or seems, contradictory to all of the things they’ve said before. An author and spiritual mentor wrote this week that, because we feel pain in this world, perhaps it means that our spirits are not of this place, but of elsewhere.

This, from a teacher of Earth Medicine, whose writings and teachings are of the medicine of plants and animals, the magic of the soil, the air, of nature.

It’s not so much that I completely disagree with the sentiment, that perhaps our essence is not originally of here. But, the idea flies in the face of all that I’ve admired and learned from this teacher.

It feels like she’s changed her tune. Which we’re all free to do, at any time or place, but perhaps an introduction to a new idea, a preamble to a complete change of heart, a warning that everything has changed, would have been a gentler way for the student to learn.

The concept that my spirit, my soul, my essence, whatever I choose to name it this week, is not of here was a very difficult and damaging, and long-held, belief for most of my life. I clung to my Christian faith, in its many forms, ferociously, desperately, and forced it to bleed me dry and empty in its not-of-here-ness. It was a cop-out on my part. If I was not of here, I could simply rely on the “fact” that, some day, there would be an escape. And sometimes, I wanted to make that escape come sooner than it should.

I’ve had several suicidal times in my life, and still think of death in rare moments. However, it has been Earth Medicine, my faith in nature, that has brought me the farthest from the precipice, and has kept me away from swinging out over the edge. I consider the doe. What does she do? She survives. Her absolute purpose is to survive. Why? It doesn’t matter. It’s just what she does.

She is of the earth. She is earth. She survives.

And that is the belief, the knowledge, that has changed me. When I feel desperation slipping into the cracks of my fragile peace, I look to such things as the doe, the rabbit, King Prawn. I look to the sun and the moon, to the stars, the darkness, the breeze on my face. I pick up a pretty, round stone, pluck a sprig of wild sage, a cornflower, hold a twig of just the right size.

And these pieces of the mundane, these bits of silence and birdsong, these things that circle around, season through season, remind me that it is the simple things, the basic and earthly things, that are my sustenance and my refuge. A pink wildflower reminds me of my beautiful daughter. A leaf, grown so large it seems unreal, reminds me of my wildly ambitious son. A buck in velvet tells me tales of my loving husband, my best and most faithful friend.

The moon is my mother, the sun my father, and the world in green and sea blue is my realm, a place of every possibility, every emotion, every wish and desire and dream. I sit on my patio chair, watch the hummingbirds drink scarlet juice, see the ants busily and endlessly about their work, watch the clouds float by through a curtain of aspen leaves. And I am home. This earth is my home. It’s where I come from, and to whence I’ll go.

Yes, I am fully of here. It appears I am my own teacher now. And that is a story of evolution.

 

A Beckoning

Sometimes we’re not sure of the direction in which we’re headed. And so we study, and we grow, and we learn, and we search wholeheartedly for that one thing that moves us into knowing, into truly living in the essence of who we are. This is a journey of years, of lifetimes. And it is one that all of us share, one that we who name ourselves seekers willingly acknowledge.
We dive in. Even when we are afraid.
Starting With Rabbit has become my little window looking out onto the world, my treetop perch, where I can quietly state my piece, pass my gifts (such as they be), share my passions, and create from the inside out the person that the Great Mystery beckons and calls me to be.
I am made of the sweet smell of sage at the start of a burst of rain, of bird feathers and fallen branches, of the infinite shades of green in early Spring. I possess the brightness of a high noon sun over a sheet of diamond-encrusted, deep-winter snow, and the velvety darkness of the February New Moon.
I am a coyote calling, looking back as I run, going wherever it is that wildness lives. I honor the Earth, and consider this ground my sanctuary.
Run with me.

 

The Feels

The way one FEELS may be directly indicative of the way one feels.

The physical feelings…uncomfortable, stiff, slow, restrained, queasy. But wow, the worst of it is this neck pain, starting at the point behind my hear, extending down my neck and shoulder, and into the area of my shoulder blade.

I can’t turn my head to the right, can’t tip my head back, and it’s actually difficult to hold my head up at all. I feel like my head is huge, and my neck is too weak to support it. The pain comes and goes, but its coming is frequent these days.

In her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup writes about the connection between physical pain and emotions. She states, “For example, instead of ‘My stomach is hurting,’ say,’What is it I’m having trouble stomaching?’ Emotions such as anger, or any other emotion that you may consider unacceptable or that you may find difficult to experience directly, will often affect your body instead.”

So…I ask myself, “What is it that I am feeling too weak to support?” And “What is it that I find sickening?” And even, “What situation am I uncomfortable with, and which I may be avoiding?”

I am a well-educated woman, and have worked full-time for over twenty years. I am about to accept a part-time position in another town, for a fraction of the pay, but in an office that is calm, friendly, and…yes…air conditioned.

I am leaving a job that makes me feel sick in my skin, that requires me to act in ways I would never act in my everyday interactions away from work. A job that sickens me with the dishonesty and lack of loyalty I see so many of my clients’ family members and representatives exhibit. I am leaving a job where the only clients I have (sometimes as many as 800 at one time) are helpless, and sick. Very sick. I have several clients per week pass on, due to aging, with new clients coming in to replace them. A revolving door of illness and death.

But the pay is great. And money is security. And I’m supposed to want to advance, and make more and more money, right? Isn’t that what is supposed to make me happy and healthy? Oh wait…but I’m not in the best health, and I’m not as happy as I know I could be.

I can shoulder the responsibility that comes along with less money, fewer hours, and happy people. I can shoulder the demands of one more move. I can shoulder the financial restraint I’ll have to exercise when my salary shrinks. I can shoulder the transition period.

I can help to support my family financially, even with a lower wage. I can support my family even better by having the time to maintain our home, take my daughter to events, grow my own vegetables, walk my dog.

I can leave the discomfort of draining hours, of exhausting client needs and demands, of the burden of an extremely heavy workload. I can leave the discomfort of feeling out of place in community, of worrying about living out the rest of my life in the same job that I have never, ever truly enjoyed, and that at times I have hated, and that has led me to anxiety attacks, depression and even one solid nervous breakdown.

I can stomach change, when it leads down a road of sunshine and fulfillment, even if my pockets will be emptier, and my bathroom shelves will be stocked with fewer lovely and expensive skin care products.

I can take a deep breath, enjoy a walk in the morning, and it will all be ok.

Money talks, but most often its words are so very dirty.

Let the hunt for happiness continue.

Stay Here

wpid-20141205_170238_sun_vignette_cornered.jpgOver and over.

The track on replay in my head is “you need more education”…”go back to school”…”be something.” Figuring out what I want to be, however, is tough. I want to:

  • teach others how to identify and use native herbs for beauty and wellness
  • lead intuitive art classes
  • help people nurture their minds and their spirituality
  • help others feel beautiful
  • write. write. write. always write.

And then there is the internal dialogue of how I want to feel. I want to feel:

  • respected
  • educated
  • cultured (I know…there is a bit of snobbery in my blood)
  • open-minded
  • artistic
  • writerly (and yes, no such word, but isn’t it lovely?)
  • beautiful
  • wise
  • kind
  • welcoming

Too much to ask? Perhaps, and probably. I’m constantly on the Google lookout for graduate degrees and certificates that will help me achieve the goals in category one, and feel the essence of those things listed in category two. The test is to see whether or not the graduate or certificate program meets both categories. Most often, the program will only meet part of one category or the other.

Throw in a third category of “will my current employer pay for this graduate program?” and my wishes are even less attainable. I work in social services, but it is most definitely not my calling. It is a good job, for which I’m thankful, and my employer has been very good to me for many years now, even allowing me to maintain my work on a part-time basis during a very difficult emotional time (a.k.a nervous breakdown) last year. They’ve been very good to me at work, and they are willing to pay a good chunk of money to help me go back to school.

However, I just can’t figure out what the hell I actually want to do. And to be honest, what I’d like to do most of all is cut hair, and write my heart out on the side!! Ain’t no viable option for that, though. I don’t live anywhere near a cosmetology school, and couldn’t dedicate the significant amount of time and money to the training, even if I did.

I’m taking free courses online in art therapy techniques, and I do so love the courses. But, free training doesn’t lend much to my credibility, even though the courses are taught by a national leader in the field. I also plan on taking a lovely weekend course in 2016 in the art of SoulCollage, which allows a practitioner to lead courses which integrate art and personal, internal spiritual and therapeutic work. The practitioner leading the class need not be a licensed therapist, and this program lights me up immensely.

I don’t want to be a therapist. But I do want to be a helper. I want to help people feel better about themselves, to help them figure out what what motivates them, what moves them, what makes them feel more whole.

I think part of what makes me feel whole is the search. Although I feel a bit of angst and frustration over trying to figure out what courses to take, which avenues to pursue, the seeking and finding of wonderful classes, inspiring programs, and incredibly creative teachers just fills me which such awe. I’d take every class, if I could. I’d be a lifelong, full-time student, and I’d never, ever graduate from anything, because life would be my homeroom, and learning would be my degree. And one is never, ever finished learning.

So, where am I going with all of this? Not far. I am just here, playing, looking for yummy new experiences. I believe I am simply a perpetual seeker, one who always has at least four books on the bedside table (and the dining table, on the floor by the sofa, and on the kitchen bar) at once, one who is always suggesting books to friends, family and people in line at the grocery store (“It’s life-changing!! You’ll love it!”), and one who perhaps will never feel complete. And maybe that is what I want to teach others. Maybe the feelings of incompletion, of the not-quite-knowing, and the motivation to keep searching, really are the point in all of this. Maybe those are the driving factors that truly can help the depressed person, the lonely heart, the lost soul, to stay here.

Because really, staying here is the main thing.

Wild and Blue

I moved to the country fully believing I was already a country girl. I grew up in the country, had chickens and rode horses as a girl, loved the quiet, secluded life, and always attended very small schools.

I love my little house, my beautiful view across the empty sagebrush valley, the wildlife, the silence, and the opportunities this rural life offers my daughter.

I expected a few bumps along my new country road. I didn’t expect to fit in with the locals. To be bluntly honest, I didn’t come here to make friends. I expected to experience a little culture shock. But I didn’t expect the intense feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy, the feelings that tell me, loudly and without reservation, that I am no country girl.

I am just a woman from the burbs, with a storebought chicken coop and five mismatched chickens in the back yard. I like my expensive skin care. I like shopping. I like smoking a Marlboro on the back porch while perusing Facebook on my smartphone. I like my yard to be right proper and pretty. Prettier than everyone else’s, I might add.

I don’t like country sports, how the whole county rallies around the high school football team. I don’t know how to hitch a horse trailer up to the truck. I’m afraid of horses. I like art and music and rebellion. I like academics. I like big libraries. And reliable internet. I like a fucking Starbucks frap with soy every now and again.

But, here I am living my dream of county life, and I do adore it, and don’t regret the move. I miss many things about the burbs. But I love solitude, I love watching the storms roll across the skyline, unobstructed by any man-made structures whatsoever. I love how black the nights are at the new moon, that I’m seeing stars I never knew existed.

I’m ok that the nearest Starbucks is two hours away. But I am not a country girl. And now I move forward, yet again, to try to figure out what and who exactly I am. I can’t seem to get the universe to divulge that little secret to me yet.

So far I just know I’m wild and blue and the only pagan in the county. Maybe I don’t need to know much more than that.

We Are

So many things I wish I could be, wish I was, wish I wasn’t.

My mind often tells me I’d be happy if I weighed 120. 127. 135. 140. Even 150. But I once was lighter, and once was at each of those weights, at one or two or three times or another. And I wasn’t happy.

I wasn’t happy, because happy doesn’t depend on weight, no matter what the weight loss commercials, magazines, and diet books tell us. Happy doesn’t depend on weight.

My mind still replays the old monologues, still hurls the old slams and insults. Fat. Frumpy. Lazy. Disgusting. Pathetic. Old.

My mind still tells my stomach, my upper arms, my neck and my chin what they are, and what they aren’t. What they should be, what they may never be again.

And then my Spirit steps in and says, whoa, Mind. Chill. Remember we’ve been through this before, and you were wrong last time. Everything you said, turned out to be wrong.

Happy looks a lot different than I used to believe. Happy isn’t about whether my skin is saggy or not, whether I have wrinkles around my eyes or not, or whether there’s a bit of a muffin top above the waist of my jeans. Happy isn’t about white furniture and clean kids and dinner on the table at six each night.

I’m finding that happy is actually much simpler than I ever realized. Happy is about getting a little sunshine, sitting on the back porch, being in the right place, and being here, right now. Happy is this moment, a deep breath, the sweet, pungent smell of sage, and remembering that this is sacred. I am sacred. You are sacred. 

Happy is holiness, and gratefulness is bounty.

I am here. Here, I am. Be here now.

Hush, breathe, and let the sweetness of the air sink in.