End-less Curiosity

I crave the grit and dryness. The smell of saltwater and the tightness of my skin after swimming in the ocean. When I was younger, much younger, I assumed everyone knew the ocean, swam in the saltwater, felt the waves. Learning that not everyone experienced the sand, blue horizon and moods of the tides, I was bewildered. Didn’t everyone have the same experiences? I could not imagine life without my feet regularly sinking into the sand with the movement of the ocean.

Being curious, I began to question life different from mine. If others never knew the ocean, what did they experience that was not familiar to me? What existed in this vast world that I didn’t know I wanted, yet? My curiosity is endless and every day, especially in this age of unlimited information, there is a growing list of knowledge I don’t know. Every day, I seem to know less and want to know more.

I feel the salt, smell the cleansing ocean, sink my feet into the sand and know, deeply, all I truly want is this precious moment.

IMG_20170527_122748

Bending Memories

mvimg_20190804_121334

 

I am tempted to take my camera out of my backpack. Each scene unfolding before me is more stunning than the previous image. I hesitate, wanting to be present, to absorb the beauty surrounding me. At the same time, I want to capture the magic of nature. Two forces, existing together – being present in the moment and wanting to remember. 

 

img_20190804_123333

 

I know from experience, my memories are not always accurate. The past has a tendency to bend, fold and sometimes mutilate. 

img_20190804_141944

I notice the running water, the shape of the trees, the katydid with the incredibly long antenna and I feel the urge to hold that memory forever. I am also aware that by the time I take out my camera the scene before me will change, alter, constantly moving towards the next destination. 

mvimg_20190804_121210

My desire for a sense of permanence is strong. I take out my camera, stand still, and look for angles, shapes, and beauty. I look for details, enduring qualities, raw yet temporary wonder. Each image changes me, reminding me of the force of change.

mvimg_20190804_123404

In this moment, standing still, witnessing, capturing the wildness of nature, I am aware that memories of me will be as distilled as the light filtering through the trees. I wonder, will I remember who I am, as life quickly flows by?

Protective Shield

The words surround me then enter my body. I feel them beating in my muscles, absorbing into my bones. The letters forming words and accompanied by anger infect my blood and run through my veins. My back bends, my eyes are unable to look to the sky, my stomach tightens. The words feel as painful as a 2×4 bruising my skin. 

The words are physically painful. I am vulnerable and unprepared. I believe the words, unquestionably. Until.

“Of course you are the one to say something positive.” I hear my friend’s voice but struggle to believe. How could that be true when the words that live in my body have informed me of my defects.

DIGITAL CAMERA

The words of anger, manipulation, blame, follow me step by step as I walk along the ocean. The saltwater finds it’s way into my skin, muscles, and blood. The pounding of the waves weakens the foundation of the bruises. The seagulls call for me to straighten my back and look up at the sky. 

The wind caresses me, removing the illusion of the angry words, replacing them with the awareness that I am worthy.

I learn, step by step, the skills to detach. To find compassion for myself and others. I learn to be responsible for myself and no one else. The process is often not joyful as I peel off the protective shield I have built around myself. The shield that believes in the illusion that I am not worthy. Slowly, cautiously, I begin to believe in my words. Step by step I remember to dream. Surrounded by joy, I gratefully radiate the truth of who I am.

I learn to stand tall when I hear angry words. I observe their painful intent as they fade into the wind, unattached.

IMG_20170117_174044

 

Returning to Nature

The words in the printed book explain about the tides. The moon, sun, depth of the water, how narrow channels influence the distance of the tides. Sitting near the moving water I hear the comment, “The temperature is either too warm or too cold. It’s never just right.” I hear and question. What is just right? Is it our determination, our judgment? Or, is it simply right to know that everything we see, hear, feel is just as it is meant to be, and that is just right?

IMG_20190708_110948

Water returning home

I look at a picture of a major metropolitan city. Heating, air conditioning, public transportation, so much effort to make the conditions just right. Innovation is revered, desired and valued and the new ideas are discussed with excitement. I also remember talking to a Brazilian who had recently moved to the city that never sleeps. He didn’t hesitate, quickly responding “Here, you can’t pray. There’s a cloud over the city and prayers can’t reach the stars. In Brazil, your prayers are heard.”

facebook_1562937177897

People move like the tides. Expanding into the country, retreating to the city. Connecting with the trees, animals, and stars, finding their way back to community, structures, and the future. When is our connection with nature just right?

Routinely Noticing

It’s a short path from my front door to the compost pile. I’ve been walking these few steps for seven years. Every few years the compost will be moved or given a new structure. Most days I need to take my food scraps and follow the familiar path and add the scraps to the decomposing pile. Down the front steps, then right, passing the knock-out rose bush, the peony, and oriental irises. 

Seven years has brought a few changes in my garden. I’ve moved the comfrey to the side of the house. I’ve tried to grow rosemary in different locations in my ongoing attempt to successfully overwinter the herb. Some years I am able to tend to the yard more than other years. Currently, I’ve been able to reconnect with my garden. Noticing the daily changes as I walk the short way from my front door to the soon to be rich soil. I’ve appreciated the primrose that has mysteriously appeared next to the peony. The russian sage is mostly clear of weeds. The peony is large enough to be separated and spread. I never get tired of noticing. My five-minute task of walking back and forth often offers an invitation to wonder.  

img_20190629_080856

Each year I introduce a few new plants, looking for variety, color, and texture. As much as I enjoy the comfort of familiarity I tend to gravitate toward change. Similar to the seasons, I find myself renewed with the shift of the earth’s angle. The light changes, along with temperatures and as a result the landscape is altered. I generally resist doing the same thing over and over, yet, routinely I walk the short path to the compost pile.

img_20190629_080730

Noticing, with curiosity, reveals nature’s beauty and bounty. There are even days when I am able to bring my curiosity, noticing and wonder beyond the short garden path. Witnessing the way a bud slowly unfurls as it enters the world whispers courage. Creativity giggles and ripples from my heart from the way the yarrow and salvia contrast and complement each other. There are days I radiate for hours as I carry the vision of a rosebud softly surrounded by morning mist. I absolutely cherish when I remember to notice, wonder and inquire about and within me. 

img_20190629_080622

 

img_20190629_080816

 

 

 

Vibration of Words

I let the words settle, slowly. The vibration of their energy moves down my throat and into my gut. Of course, I’d like to give voice to the words, to accentuate my anger. Wisdom intervenes and the words are absorbed. Silence prevents me from having to swallow my pride after releasing the distortion of my emotion. I rely on the tools I’ve learned to respond with intention rather than reaction.

There was a time when the distance from my ears, hearing a word, to my mouth responding with a word, was done without the benefit of breath. This time, I listen, breathe, feel, think and then, with intention, choose silence. I want my words to have meaning, to express my truth. At this moment, every part of my body tells me I will not be heard or understood. It’s not that I feel speaking will be a waste of energy. I simply want to choose the type of energy expressed with words. This time, giving voice to the words would only result in manipulation, misunderstanding and hurt. I do not want my words to result in harm. I have all too many experiences and consequences as a result of harmful words.

With silence my breathing relaxes, lengthens. The anger dissipates and other emotions are acknowledged. I do my best to calm my voice and strengthen my determination to unravel the conflict. “I heard you say…. now help me understand.”

img_20190330_214629

Dead Wood

dscn0258It started with the long, hot, dry weather, unusual for the mountains in autumn. It was the drought that came first. Then, the fires. The continued lack of rain combined with human insensitivity ignited a crisis. The physical result included the burning of 55,531 acres. Two months, 987 personnel, 700 structures damage, and at least seven dead, by the time the fires were extinguished. Before the fires started, the weather created the environment conducive to flames.

Another fire was also burning. Decades of civil rights progress, legally, culturally and politically, ignited with comments like

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

“The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yamakas every day.”

“If you can’t get rich dealing with politicians, there’s something wrong with you.”

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”

“One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/stories/5187/23-ridiculously-offensive-donald-trump-quotes#

There are theories that forests need occasional burns to clear the dead wood and create an environment for new, healthy growth.

Politically, as rights are threatened, as violent words are spoken, the flame of anger has the potential to clear the debris of prejudice and the myths that disconnect ‘them’ from ‘us’.

During a forest fire, the animals leave without resistance. Some humans refused to leave, holding on to their material possessions, believing everything will remain the same. Some became aware of the need to act, to make changes, and when the fires became too dangerous, choose safety.

The fires of the 2016 election have released the anger of dead wood in our country. The dead wood of affluenza. The dead wood of sexism. The dead wood of racism. I welcome the burn. I encourage the destruction of beliefs that prevent new regrowth. In time, everything dies, everything is recycled and given new life.

Winter Significance

I love the winter ocean. The colors and solitude. Not the quiet because the wind and the waves are accentuated when empty of people.

I love the push and pull of the water coming up trying to catch me. The dead remaining debris from long ago or maybe recently forgotten. The reminder of being insignificant surrounded by significance.

I love the winter ocean now as the days become longer. Watching the white foam and wondering if the tide is the ocean’s breath or the waves rhythmically inhaling and exhaling. I love standing on the shore and daring the ocean to come and touch my shoes. I love the virgin sand and the awareness that this sand maybe older than me and one day I may be sand.

Coming here to the ocean brings me peace at a time of turmoil. A time when hate and objectification of women has been glorified. The ocean reminds me of the temporary aspect of all living beings of all ideas. Every shift, movement, wind worn debris is a reminder that for every action there are consequences, always.

Open Debate

As the floor was crumbling beneath me, my words were still vague and distant. Another writer suggested I write with anger. Today, I understand what he meant.

For every comment that tells me to ‘be open’ and ‘move on’, well, get ready. Let me clarify, this is not about the election. This is about abuse and hate.

Weeks before the election I could feel the emotions surface. Every woman I talked with was sensing the same anger, along with flashbacks of being objectified. So when someone tells me to ‘be open’ I want to know what they mean by being open. Do they mean be open to degrading remarks about women? Or blindly support hateful, violent statements? Maybe they mean being open to fights breaking out in schools due to threatening statements modeled after political leaders? I use the word leader purposefully, since representatives actually listen to voters. Open? Even something as simple as a hiker being subjected to the false accusation that forest fires were started by anti-Trump protesters. For the people who want me to be willing to give someone a chance, tell me, how ‘open’ are they/you/them/me/we to rational, respectful debate?

I will not be open to sexist, racists, hateful statements. When those comments are expressed by a person committed to dismantling women’s rights, natural resources and constitutional rights, I will not ‘be open’. I will continue to exercise my rights and responsibilities to protect laws and policies that have made America great. Even more important, I will continue to advocate for what makes humanity great. Greatness doesn’t just happen because of a slogan. Greatness comes from significant transformation. The turmoil that has infected America today is from a resistance to change, an attempt to go back, before civil rights, before women’s rights, before protection of national land. I have attempted to engage in dialogues, inquiring about women’s rights and the violent speech of the incoming leader. The responses, “I am not going to discuss this.” Lack of debate = lack of change.

In this world of Social Media I can find any information or fact to support my view. I can believe that the world is flat with a superficial ‘search’. https://flatearthscienceandbible.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/top-ten-undeniable-flat-earth-proofs/

Or, find amazingly creative reasons men are superior to women http://www.menarebetterthanwomen.com/top-ten/

I can find proof to support any imaginative theory I have. I can avoid any challenge to my beliefs, so I can be constantly affirmed and supported. I have been there and done that. In the past I couldn’t write or feel angry. That required dismantling the myths taught to me. It required great transformation to challenge the myths that restricted my humanity.

So, no, I will not be open to ignorance, to hate, to violent speech. I am open to dialogue, to respectful communication.

img_20161014_161026

Skin Sick

Slowly, I feel. Like recovering from a flu, an internal sickness, I am beginning to feel alive again.

I feel hungry. I feel my skin wanting to move. Slowly. I remind myself. You have been infected with a virus of hatred, move slowly, purposefully.

I think of my skin. How or why it can be considered dangerous and offensive. As I emerge from the past few days of sickness, my skin is detoxifying. The medicine I need is intent and purpose.

While I was personally sick, I was aware of the climate of frenzied irrationality. Hate can do that. It feeds on fear and control. Staying calm in a storm requires skill. Just knowing where to start is overwhelming. Do I advocate for women’s rights? Visit the National Parks afraid they will be lost to development? Maybe set up a camp at Standing Rock to support the water protectors? Immigration, and the building of a wall, complete rejection of Muslim’s entering our country. Ok, since the wall will be paid by Mexico, how bad can that be? Maybe Mexico will also pay for the tripling of ICE agents. What about healthcare?

Nausea returns. Overload. Slow . . .

Facts, what are the facts? In this frenzied irrational climate how do I find the facts.

As I begin research, I get distracted.

KKK Parade planned to celebrate Trump’s election. Must be a panic story. Facts.

CNN, Fox, MSN, NYPost, ABC, LA Times, all have reported the announcement of the parade.

Due diligence convinces me to type in ‘snopes’. Confirmed, with a link to the KKK site.

Racial greetings from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan!

It is a simple fact that whenever these races try to integrate themselves into White society, that society is damaged immensely … perhaps even destroyed altogether. Everything that we do as Klan members is in furtherance of our ultimate goal. We are not evil; hateful people as our enemies would have you believe. We are common white people from all walks of life who have recognized the problems that our race is facing. We have chose to stand and fight for those things that we hold dear to our people. Won’t you stand with us, while there is still time! It is the duty of all white Christian men and women to fight against the Communist who have stolen our Nation. http://www.kkkknights.com/

My skin, heart, bones, all shut down. Slowly I breathe. Slowly, I feel, fully, the sickness of hate. I’m building a strong resistance. Purpose, intent, act. Solutions. There must be solutions. I’ve encountered the isms of discrimination, I’ve experienced a few, and continue to do all I can to not be a perpetrator of hurtful discrimination.

Solution. First, gather the facts.

When dealing with conflict, an important first step is: Recognize and acknowledge that everyone’s basic nature is compassion and basic goodness, no matter what they are doing or saying on the surface.  https://www.shambhalamountain.org/mindful-living/ten-tips-non-violent-communication/

First problem, the KKK believes that integration damages society, immensely, perhaps even destroying society altogether.

Slowly, intent and purpose. Essential, critical, intent, purpose.

I could quote most religions on the importance of love. The power of love to save, heal, unite, thrive, love as the answer, the salvation.

So, I allow myself to be distracted. Partly because I don’t want to face the ugly message of hate. Partly because I feel powerless.

Act, what actions can I, one person, one individual take.

Be aware. Be prepared.

Don’t act as though it isn’t happening. Oh, how difficult that lesson has been in my own life.

Be aware of the hatred. Be prepared to act. Be prepared to:  Recognize and acknowledge that everyone’s basic nature is compassion and basic goodness, no matter what they are doing or saying on the surface.

I wish for a easy fix, a vaccine to cure hate. Instead, I am aware of my responsibility, my actions, to recognize the dignity of all, even those who, on the surface, choose hate.

img_20140503_123941_761