Friday, August 26, 2011

Seeds of Change

We finally had our belated honeymoon, a trip we nearly put off doing all together because of financial considerations. I'm grateful we didn't let money concerns stop us. We discovered a world of adventure together, learned how to rely on one another, trust one another, guide one another. A gentle quietness grew in us that gave way to a terrific, much needed calm and peacefulness.

The hikes were arduous, climbing over 2,000 feet nearly straight up the side of bare-backed mountains covered in nettle, sage, fennel, wild flowers, and camomile. We traveled over 30 miles with packs on our backs and blisters on our gritty feet.

I often spent the afternoon tracking up the mountain sides in search of wild camomile, making careful clippings and plucking the tissue-soft buds from their stems.

Often our paths were lined with field after field of wild flowers and herbs, filling our noses with the smell of god's great garden.

Some mornings the mist from the sea would fill the mountain crevices, blanketing everything in a cool fog. It was eerie and beautiful and full of such moving silence...

By mid-afternoon the fog would break free and the skies opened up to a glorious, crisp view of the ragged ocean far below. Much of the sea gave off an intense aqua color because of all of the gorgeous green serpentine rock.

By late afternoon fog could be seen gathering again like smoke rising from the sea towards the mountains, reminding us of the all too recent wildfires that swept through the ancient Ventana -- a site just 20 miles from the Tassajara, where a group of zen monks gaurded their forest monastery against the flames that claimed so much in 2006.

The trip was a remarkable journey. I united with my best friend, soul-mother, Rita. For fifteen years we have held between us an indescribably close relationship. Spiritual and profound, meaningful and prophetic, even rescuing at times... all built over countless letters, emails, and occasional phone conversations. Seeing her for the first time brought me to my knees, literally. I cried and kissed her head and listened to her for hours upon hours. I breathed her in and felt so much love flowing between us. Our presence together had a magical, healing effect -- not only for her, but for me as well.

I also really enjoyed meditating deep in the redwood valleys, or perched at the edge of a mountain overlooking valleys and ocean. We had the great fortune of hiking through Big Sur while the full moon grew in the sky, reaching her peak on our third day in, and waning as we made our way back out of the forest. The way her light illuminates the forest and the mountains fills me with awe and amazement. It is so much easier to become concentrated and quiet in the deep of the forest. It is much harder returning to the city with the trains and the traffic and the demands of home and work.

Nonetheless, we pick up where we left off. The new semester has begun. I'll be volunteering with hospice starting next week. Already the inner-workings of the psychology program have begun to fill my mind with introspection and reflection. Last night I worked on my personal loss history for psychology of loss. Creating such a heavy inventory brought a lot of 'ah-ha' moments as connections became clearer between life-moments of growth and regression. To look back and see this tangled string of losses and how they steered who I was to become from day to day, life to life, I'm finding a new sense of self-compassion and forgiveness. I am also seeing how every person I come into contact with has such losses in their histories, too, and this fills me with even deeper compassion for our shared humanity -- our shared pain.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dog Days

This has been one of the hottest July's I can remember. Humid + Muggy. To cool off, I borrowed some dried lavender and a delicious recipe from my best friend and sworn soul twin. Have I mentioned how amazingly wonderful it is to have her so near again? Memories come flooding back... nostalgic for my "free" days as a teenager in some sense, but also grateful for a different kind of freedom that comes with wisdom and age. Though our lives have progressed in very different ways outwardly, on the inside, I still feel the oneness I've always felt with her. It's a nebulous feeling that is beyond my capacity to write about in a way that captures the true depth or essence. When she so much as blinks her eyelashes, I feel as though I too, have just blinked. When she breathes in, I feel it in my chest. Beautiful, and strange, and untouchable. It is special to me; sacred. This bond.

The lemonade, though following the exact same recipe, tasted different from hers somehow. Mine had more punch to it from the citrus, while hers was much more fragrant in the lavender. I invited the ladies over and shook the lemonade with rosemary and cucumber vodka.... a perfect summertime cocktail I dubbed "the herbalist." Unfortunately, the cocktail seemed to lack the intense aromas of the herbs I envisioned it showcasing.

We spent the evening doing what typical, and non-typical women do: chatting about failed relationships, stupid men, personal and professional insecurities. We laughed a lot and ate Jessica's amazing gluten-free coconut cake, brought out the old beloved "birthday book" of astrology, and I gave tarot readings.

Alone the next day, I decided to do a reading of my own. The cards point to stability in the home, financial security, and spiritual cultivation as well as integrity and the taming of one's animal nature. It also suggested my husband and I would have two sons -- possibly twins. I wanted to know if I should expect that last one sooner or later, but I could not get a read off of the last question. To be completely honest, I'm okay with later -- I really am. I'm also okay with just one child, which is something I never thought I'd say.

As the heavy heat continues to sit like a fat man on a park bench over Atlanta, I'm staying indoors and making things to cool us off. Mint iced tea and avocado gazpacho.

And as for the practice, well.... I've given myself a day's break. I've felt recently as though I've been too close to the pratice, my face pressed up against the mirror in order to make out my whole image: all I've been able to see is my nose, and mistaking two eyes for one. Sometimes it helps to give it a little space, a little breathing room. Relax, take a step back.... and gain a little more perspective. Then go back to the cushion.