Friday, May 6, 2011

In Full Spring!

Today is a wonderous day. I am sitting under the blooming lilac and apple trees in our small side yard, enjoying the coolness of the shade on this warm day, as well as the scent of lilac all around me. It is the Saturday of my work week, a much needed weekend.

Lucas and I awoke relatively early today and had our first meeting with our wedding caterer. We then hiked through the snow in our t-shirts up a steep mountain that edges the snow covered Castle Lake. I almost took a polar plunge as we tentatively crossed the lake - my foot fell through the snow into the icy water!

And now, I have color on my skin, my legs feel like jelly, and I am soooo happy that spring is here - it sure is amazing! The temperatures are quickly rising, the flowers are blooming all around, and the trees are starting to fill out with leaves. Finally, we can start to plant some hardy items in the garden and get some other starts going indoors. The weather is allowing us to explore the lay of the land more, in our style. And as the beauty of the area tip-toes to it's summer fullness, we begin to understand more deeply why we are here - this land inspires creativity, activity, meditation, and awe. It brings us closer to ourselves and deepens our connection to the sacred sides of life.

This past week was the final class in the free Infant Massage Series that I taught. It was a wonderful class, and wonderful to see how the babies and parents in the class continually opened and relaxed during the course of the series. Even I found the class to be one of the most relaxing points during my week, just being in the same room as 5 little ones blissed from massage. I learned a lot from the process of teaching the series, and look forward to creating another series in the future.

My job at the Crystal Room is working out great. I am finally starting to feel comfortable with most of my tasks and feel that I am doing well at them. Although it can be stressful at times, the days go by fast and I am grateful to have work. AND, I am lucky enough to have this amazing spot, Sisson Meadow, to eat lunch at every day, just a few blocks away from the Crystal Room:

Between working at the Crystal Room and in the studio, planning our wedding, and taking care of daily chores, life has taken on a new level of fullness. I highly delight in my days off, and the little sprinklings of nature and music and friends that I am able to enjoy during them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The End, or Just the Beginning: Day 40!!!! of 40 Days

The time has come to conclude this lil' daily project of mine. I sure hope that you have enjoyed it as much as I have. And despite my ramblings of looking forward to the 40 days being over, I have enjoyed the project greatly as well.

Thank you thank you thank you for reading all that I have been writing! Really, thank you. It has been a pleasure to share more of my life with you, more of my inner thoughts and experiences. It means a lot to me to have the support of family and friends in this sharing. So, again, I thank you for visiting my "home," for warming me up inside.

My intentions with the days and months to come regarding this blog are simple. I am going to keep writing. Most likely I will be writing on more of a weekly basis than a daily basis. But I will keep writing. I will keep my door open, keep my self open to you.

And for tonight....I am blogging earlier than normal while Lucas cooks a delicious smelling African vegetable nut soup, sipping on a Pipeline Porter (out of Kona Brewing - yum!), enjoying the lingering evening light outside and the scent of spring on the air, celebrating my first payday today and the gratification of doing well at my new job, and preparing to spend the rest of my evening with my love! Life is damn good!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Balance: Day 39 of 40 Days

It feels like balance is finally returning to my life, somewhat anyway. A newer version of balance. It feels good to be busy again, living a full life, and to be finding all the little spaces to fill with good things. Balance is the key, balance is always the key.

I approach my job, which is not the type of job I would typically try to get, with a sense of curiosity and interest. What I am learning to do is quite complicated, with a steep learning curve. But I am learning it, and my brain feels good under the new stimulation. I can even say that, surprisingly, I am enjoying the work thus far, because of the challenge and because it is using my brain in a way it hasn't been used in a long time. Thus, it feels like a healthy activity.

When I leave work, I let it go. Literally. When I walk out the front door at the end of the day, I make a conscious effort to exhale deeply and and with my breath I leave the events of the day at work. I intentionally try to not bring home any stress or lingering tasks. Home is for other things, for other parts of my self.

With limited free time, I have to fit in my other interests and necessary responsibilities here and there, where ever they may possibly be sneaked in. This is where the balance comes in. I cannot expect myself to clean the whole house in one day. I do a little one day, a little another. If I try to do ceramics every single day, other parts of my self get neglected. I have to moderate myself. Just like I need to moderate how many cookies I eat or how often I drink wine, I need to moderate how much time I spend watching movies, reading novels, doing artwork, cooking and cleaning. To make time for it all, I need to live my life in bits and pieces.

Lucky I am to have a partner in crime, a partner in living. We help each other out. We have started to take turns cooking dinner. This has been awesome. Every other night, while Lucas cooks, I stretch or go for a walk or take care of things that need to be taken care of, and then am fed a warm delicious meal. The alternate nights, I enjoy cooking a healthy meal for us both to delight in, while Lucas does what he needs or wants to do. We support each other in maintaining balance, help and encourage each other to have time to do all the things we love. This is good good stuff.

As I said a few days ago, one of the things I have learned during these past 39 days is that blogging every day is not in balance for me. Blogging this often is not moderation for me. I have done it every day as I committed to, and I am glad that I have. I have learned from the process. I have learned that it is too much, and if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't have learned that. AND, as always, I have no regrets about it either. It was a worthwhile experience, it helped me learn and grow, and I am happy for that. It is part of the continual process of learning how to establish balance.

And now it is about time to readjust and realign and reestablish a new sense of balance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kraut Time: Day 38 of 40 Days

Tonight I started a new batch of Sauerkraut and thought that maybe you would like to join me in the adventure of fermenting vegetables. Not only are fermented vegetables super tasty and easy to make, they are also packed full of enough amazing health benefits to be considered one of the Superfoods.

The process of making sauerkraut was developed as a means to help preserve vegetables during the winter months in both China and Germany. Immigrants and military found it a helpful way to carry vegetables along during their endless journies, and discovered that they stayed healthier because of it. Rich in vitamin C, Calcium, other vitamins and minerals, and fiber, Sauerkraut is a cancer fighter useful in treating and preventing many forms of cancer. It boosts the immune system, decreasing rates of colds and flus, skin problems, and weight gain. Because it is packed full of benefical bacteria such as lactobacilli, sauerkraut is a powerful digestive aid, and can even help cure an upset tummy, candida, and other chronic digestive issues.

In our home, we like to have a couple of bites before we start dinner, when we feel like we've eaten too much, or when we feel like we are coming down with a cold. Sauerkraut is a great addition to sandwiches, tacos, salads, and more.

The process is quite easy. While cabbage is the traditional veggie to make sauerkraut with, any vegetable can be used, as well as spices, herbs, and seaweeds. The ingredients may be chopped finely or coarsely. The finer they are chopped, the faster the fermentation process will be complete enough to eat the kraut. It is also traditional to use salt to aid in the process. Salt will draw water out of the veggies, providing an appropriate bath for them to ferment in. Salt will also help prevent bad bacteria from entering the process, acting as a preservative. Some people choose to not use salt, and some use quite a bit. The more salt you use, the longer will be your fermentation process. If you need to watch your salt intake, you may choose to not use salt, or very little, in your kraut mixture. Be assured that there are other ways to prevent the rare bad bacteria, ie mold.

This is what I made my kraut with tonight:

1 green cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot, shredded
3 Tbls shredded red beet
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbls + 1 tsp salt (you really don't need more than this, though you might play with using less. A general rule of thumb is to use 3 Tbls per 5 pounds of veggies.)

* Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Use your fist to punch the mixture. This helps break down the fibers enough so that the vegetables will start to release it's water and the salt and bacteria can start it's action.

* Put a couple of handfulls of the mixture into a glass container. I use a tall crystal vase. Use a wooden spoon to beat/tamp down the mixture into the bottom of the container, compacting it. Add a couple more handfuls. Tamp down. Repeat till all of the mixture is in the vase.

* Next, you will need to put something heavy on top of your mixture to keep it weighed down. My grandmother apparently put her kraut in a crockpot and weighed it down with a brick. In my vase, I nest another smaller glass vase filled with water on top of my kraut.

* Cover with a towel or cheesecloth.

* In the morning, check out what is happening in your container. You should see that a lot of water has been drawn out of the vegetables, depending on what veggies you used. If your veggies are not submerged in water, add enough water so that the veggies are submerged an inch below the surface of the water. No veggies should be sticking out of the water, in order to prevent mold growth. Recover with your cloth, which will help keep fruit flies out.

* Now the magic starts to happen. Somehow, bacteria from the air seeps into the water and then into the veggies and starts the fermentation process. In three days, give the kraut a taste. If you see a film on the surface of the water, skim it off before dipping in to scoop out some kraut. If the kraut still tastes quite salty, it isn't done.

* Check the kraut every 2-3 days to see what it's progress is. You will know it is done when it isn't super salty, when it tastes good, and when it has that familiar fermented flavor. I usually find that my kraut is to my liking about a week to 10 days after I started it. It is fine to let it go longer than this, it will just develop a stronger flavor, and odor. With a little experimentation, you will find what length of fermentation is to your liking.

* When it tastes done, place the kraut in a glass jar, and store in the fridge.

* Enjoy!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Small Town: Day 37 of 40 Days

Riding the bus is always an interesting experience, different depending on where you are, but always interesting. Today, Lucas took the car down to Redding to run some errands, and I took the bus up to Mt. Shasta to spend the day in the studio.

We are lucky that there is a bus in these parts. It runs from our little town of Dunsmuir all the way up to Yreka, the county seat, connecting all of the little towns along the way. The bus runs from around 7 in the morning until 6 at night, roughly every hour, from Monday through Friday. My experiences riding this bus are more similar to those of the country buses in Mexico around Tepoztlan than any bus I have ridden in the States, yet far different too.

The closest bus stop to our house is a 15 minute walk away. There is only 1 scheduled pick-up at this stop: 7 in the morning. If you want to be picked up at a later time, you can call the county transportation office and request a pick-up an hour in advance. When I pick the bus up again to return home from Mt. Shasta, I can stand anywhere along the route and flag down the bus to get aboard, much like in Mexico.

The bus is notoriously late, though sometimes early. Because the bus only runs through town every hour, it become necessary to get out to the bus stop early, even though it will most likely be late. The driving time door to door from my house to the studio in Mt. Shasta is about 15 minutes. This morning, by bus, it took me an hour to get to the studio and 50 minutes to get home.

While I am standing there for 20 minutes waiting for the bus to arrive, I question how much my scarce free-time is worth in money. Is it really worth it to spend this amount of time during my free day to take the bus to Mt. Shasta?? There ARE pluses and minuses to it, of course. Like today, with Lucas taking the car south to Redding, if I am going to make it to Mt. Shasta this is my only choice. It is better for the environment to take the bus. It is much more interesting to take the bus. And, with gas prices what they are, it is actually cheaper to take the bus than to drive!

Gas prices in these parts are shooting up steadily. Right now, we pay $4.37 at the pump. I heard a program on NPR today regarding national gas prices. The lowest in the country right now are apparently $3.50 or so. They quoted the highest current rates as being $4.27 in Santa Barbara and the Bay area. Well, it looks like Mt. Shasta has the rest of the nation beat! Not something to be excited about. But, definitly motivation to take the bus more often.

I can't say that I feel completely comfortable on the bus here. I feel similar to how I did when riding in Mexico. Conspicuous. I feel like I stand out. And so, I know it is a healthy kind of uncomfortable, the kind that pushes me beyond my comfort zone, that challenges me to widen my scope of compassion, and that helps me to be more accepting of others.

I shared the bus this afternoon with a man who was talking to himself behind me, a couple of teens across the aisle who were talking about huffing, and the town drunk at the back of the bus who forgot his bag when he stumbled off, among other riders. The driver was friendly with everyone, talking to and joking with them all on a first name basis. There was a general sense of ease. Everyone knew each other, chatting amongst themselves, sharing town gossip. It wasn't the quiet and solitary bus ride of the city, nor the bumpy ride filled with loud Mexican music, that I have been previously used to.

This is small town living. You tell the bus driver when you get on the bus where you need to be let out, you say "hey" to your neighbor and introduce yourself, you understand that despite our differences we all share similar struggles, and you learn the value of public transportation.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clay Groove: Day 36 of 40 Days

Another blogging request I have had this week is to write about art. So, it seems right and fitting to give a little update on my progress in the ceramics studio and future plans that I have.

It has actually been several days since I was last in the studio. What with the parents visiting and the new job, spare time has been limited. Therefore, I am soooo excited to have two days off in a row, tomorrow and Saturday, during which I can totally devote my days to the studio. I miss it dearly!

I have felt an incredible sense of fulfillment generated from working with clay again after such a long hiatus. I love what I am making. I love the momentum I have already established, the creative doors that are opening up in my mind as I make more and more, and the very real possibilities of selling my art that are beginning to become available.

Lucas and I have decided to try to sell our artwork this summer at a couple of festivals. I would be selling my ceramics, and he his didjeridoos. We named our co-buisness "Stalks and Stones," already have a facebook page started, and are hoping to soon launch an Etsy site as well. So far, we have only applied to vend at one festival this summer, and recently found out that we got accepted!

Harmony Festival, in Santa Rosa, CA, looks like it is going to be fun and fabulous to vend at. The festival apparently draws in around 35,000 people throughout the 3 day event, and our booth will be on one of the main pathways towards the main stage area. Check out the line-up! I am super excited!

Being that this festival is less than 2 months away AND that I don't yet have a large inventory, I need to get crankin' in the studio! My hope is that I will be able to spend my days off in the studio, apart from little jaunts into the sunshine and forest, as well as mornings before my 11a.m. punch-in time at work.

Time to learn to manage my time. Time to start getting out of bed earlier. Time to get my clay groove back on!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Celebrate Love: Day 35 of 40 Days

It was suggested that I write a little bit about my upcoming wedding in August at Stewart Mineral Springs. Without giving away too many of the planned details, here we go.....

SMS is located outside of Weed, California, and is about 30 minutes north of where we live. The property covers 40 acres, with a river running through it in addition to the hot mineral springs. This area has been considered sacred by Native Americans for generations, and many continue to visit to soak in the healing mineral waters. It is a beautiful spot, and a perfect place for us to have our ceremony.

Because there are several cabins and other indoor accomodations, in addition to unlimited camping, we are planning to have as many of our wedding guests as possible stay at the springs for the whole wedding weekend with us. We realize that everyone invited is going to have to travel to attend our wedding, and so we want to be able to spend as much time with all of them as possible. Not just for a few hours during and after the ceremony, but all weekend. The whole weekend should be filled with opportunities for us to connect with our guests. It will be a weekend of reunions and of sweet quality time in addition to a wedding!

The planning is going well so far. We have a lot of the big tasks already taken care of. Guest list. Venue. Dress (currently being made :). Celebrant. Photographer. Save the Date cards. Invitations (just starting to be made :). And we are working on making the next big decisions: Music and food. There are sooooo many things to think about! And so many opportunities have already presented themselves for me to practice letting go and relaxing. As much as I want the weekend to be perfect and fun for all, I also want to set myself up to be happy no matter what happens and to be relaxed in the moment. It has been awesome to have so many people helping already, and to have so many others offering their help.

I am so looking forward to sharing this weekend with my dear friends and family. I am excited to declare my commitment to love in front of these witnesses, to feel their collective support, and to celebrate love all weekend!

It is an amazingly powerful thing, really: To be preparing to stand in front of a large amount of people and declare my love for Lucas, to be preparing a party to honor the people who have loved and supported us throughout our lives, and to hope that our celebration and ceremony will inspire all attending to celebrate the love in their own lives as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Letting Go: Day 34 of 40 Days

Thank you to those of you who have written to me with ideas of things to write about in the coming days. It is helpful to have the prompts as inspirations and lovely to have your support and interest. Please keep the ideas flowing, folks! They are really appreciated. And I will try to get to them all! Thank you!

The first question I received today by email may be the hardest to answer. But it is a good question and one worth really thinking about. A friend asked me how I go about letting go of the things that no longer serve me, how I let go of the things that don't shake free very easily, things that I may not WANT to let go of but know are in my best interest to.

I try to be in constant awareness of my habits and behaviors, my thought processes, my moods, and my attitudes, as well as how they affect me and the others that I am interacting with. Being in a committed relationship, in which I am with the same person every day, helps me see these things more clearly. This becomes possible when I am able to be fully present in the moment. I see the aspects of my self that make living more difficult and those that help make living more enjoyable and easy, for everyone. Every day, I try to choose the enjoyable and easy over the difficult and negative. It is really a daily process, a continual process of assessing, of catching myself earlier and earlier in my habitual patterns of behavior. Of willing myself to stop that pattern even if it is in mid-stream.

But, foremost, we have to WANT to change in order to be able to change. We have to see the benefits of doing so. We have to be willing to no longer live with habits that do not serve our highest good and the highest good of those who are in our lives. Without that personal motivation, it is hard to grow.

For myself, this continual daily process of letting go is greatly helped by the daily meditation that I do. (Though I will admit right here and now that it has been several days since I have done this meditation!! And I can tell the difference in my well-being as a result!) In the Burning Inner Anger meditation, I fully inhale for a count of 2 seconds and fully exhale for a count of 2 seconds, continuing for 11 minutes. At this pace, it feels like a fast pumping of the diaphragm.

As I am breathing in this manner, I scan through my day and pick out the moments where I felt flashes of anger, fear, resentment, selfishness, impatience, stress, overwhelm, saddness, etc. The moments may be on a personal level or on a more global level. With the force of each exhale, I try to send the negative feelings and their sources out of my being with the breath. Because I believe that our bodies hold our emotional and psychological tensions and anxieties, I imagine as I am exhaling that I am wringing the accumulated negativity from every cell in my body. I release these things individually with each breath, over and over, sometimes day after day, until I start to think of them less and less and they eventually go away.

As the days go on, I find that I am able to do this process more and more in the moment, not just during my meditaion. I find myself in a situation where I feel stress or anger, and I notice it. I make the choice in that moment to let that feeling go, taking a deep breath and exhaling it completely from my system. Then I am more likely to be able to start from a fresh calm place.

I don't think there is a sure way to let go of the things that no longer serve us. It is a process. The process is continual. The process is individualized. Negative habits are hard to break. They need to be replaced with positive habits. When I inhale in my meditation, I imagine that emptied space I created with my exhale as being filled with good things...patience, understanding, love, light, compassion, generosity, trust. The more we focus on feeling these positive things and less on the negative, the stronger are the positive neural pathways that we build and the more likely we are to automatically have those thoughts without effort (rather than the negative or undesireable.)

Being continually aware of these habits is a powerful way to let go of them. When we are aware, we start to notice that we are engaging in this habit earlier and earlier. And then we can start to stop the habit earlier and earlier in it's sequence. It is a process. We need to be patient with ourselves and forgiving as we stumble over ourselves in our learning.

I know that I have a lot of growing left to do, a lot of learning as to how to serve my highest self in the most positive way. So, here is to our processes of letting go and letting in the light and the love that surrounds us to help us in our growing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nudge Me: Day 33 of 40 Days

It is late again as I sit down to write. I am tired. I don't know what to write about. And honestly, I am not really wanting to sit in front of the computer any longer today. It has been a long day of facing one screen or another.

And anyway, in this newly busy life of mine, it has become harder to find inspiration of what to write about. My mind wants to rest. Including today, I have 8 days left of blogging. How will I fill these 8 days with words?

So many of you have mentioned to me that you have found my posts to be inspiring. It feels ironic now at the end of the 40 days to feel un-inspired myself.

I have to ask you, will you give me some inspirations, please? Please send me either a private message or leave me a comment with some ideas of things to write about in the next several days. I would love the inspiration I have given you to be reflected back at me!

Life is good, and I am happy. I am just needing little nudges from my people right now with this blogging practice!

Thank you thank you thank you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Snow Falls: Day 32 of 40 Days

Since it has been awhile since images have accompanied my words, today I will share a few pictures from some of the adventures we have had during our parent's visits.

These first pictures are from Hedgecreek Falls. These falls are located in Dunsmuir, just a few miles from our house, and just a couple minute's walk from Interstate 5. They are beautiful and impressive in their fast tumbling over a rocky cliff as the water makes it's way to join with the Sacramento River far below.

The coolest part about these falls is being able to walk behind them, being able to feel the cool spray on your face and the thundering force vibrate through your whole body. Here is Lucas' mom, Vicky, as she makes her way around the backside of the falls:

Today, we took my parents up Mt. Shasta where we did a little snowshoeing and walking around. The parking area at Bunny Flat (elevation 6900 feet) is lined with snowbanks that tower over the cars. We estimated that the snow level here is somewhere between 10-15 feet above the road level. This picture shows the bathroom at Bunny Flat nearly buried by snow:

Because the snow has melted and condensed a bit since the last storm, we sank little into the snow as we followed a wide arching trail through the trees. The view was amazing of the surrounding Cascades. The sun peeked through the clouds just enough for us to feel it's warmth on our faces. The quiet stillness of the mountain calmed us and gave us a wonderful afternoon together.

These have been good times, indeed. It feels good to have our families know where we are living, to experience it first-hand, and to see that we fit in well with this place. It feels good to spend such nice time with them, to share this beautiful place, and to plan our next visits with each other.

Again, I am feeling lucky and grateful for the wonderful people and experiences that fill my life!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life's Fabric: Day 31 of 40 Days

So far today I have sat in front of the computer for at least 7 hours, mostly due to work!! If this is a pattern, I can see blogging taking a lesser role in life after these 40 days are over. And they almost are.

We are in the home-stretch now, nearing completion of this big commitment. And so, I am starting to think about what I have gotten out of it, and where I will go with it next. I know I will continue to blog, and more frequently than I was before these 40 days. But, I am anticipating that because my free time is becoming more scarce and thus more valuable, finding balance with what I do with that time will also become key.

Balance. I am always seeking balance in order to maintain my happiness, health, and sanity! It seems neccessary to constantly re-evaluate my activities and how much time I devote to all of them as everything else in life constantly shifts. The more external obligations I have, the less time there is for myself. And so, I will need to give a little devotion to this, a little devotion to that, here and there, in order to keep the balance, to nurture all parts of my self. The physical, the emotional, the spiritual, the mental, the creative, the social.

I know there will be a large part of me that will miss writing here as much as I have been. I HAVE gotten a lot out of it. I enjoy it, even on these late tired nights. But, ultimately I know that it will need to shift to allow more of the things that I enjoy to be maintained in the fabric of my life.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Forward Looking: Day 30 of 40 Days

Tonight, I give you the answer to another question posed to us bloggers on the NaBloPoMo website:

What is one thing you are looking forward to this weekend?

It is hard to narrow that down to one answer, honestly. There are many many things I am looking forward to this weekend.

First I am looking forward to a full day off of work. I have had to work every day since my parents have been visiting, and so it will be simply lovely to be able to spend a full day with them before they leave.

Along with that answer comes the next. On my day off, my family and I are planning to spend at least part of the day on the mountain. I am not sure what we will do, really. But, just being on the mountain in whatever capacity is worth it. It feels like I haven't been up there in so long, I am starting to go through withdrawal from it's supreme goodness!

I am also looking forward to the warm sunshine that this weekend reportably may bring. Can you believe that it snowed AGAIN in Mt. Shasta last night and today? It didn't stick to the ground, but the wind was whirling and the snow was indeed falling. I am soooo ready for spring.

My last thought again brings me back to another thing to look forward to with my upcoming day off. Because I am finding myself exhausted as I write my blog post at 11:30pm again, after so many days in a row of doing so, I am looking forward to having a day off so that I can write earlier. And also, to have time in the day to think about what I am going to write about!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wonder Full: Day 29 of 40 Days

Today was my first full day of work at my new job. My little office nook is almost totally set up and organized. It is hard to believe that I have my very own desk and computer and cabinets at a job! While I will be doing a little bit of the sales floor work at the crystal store, most of my responsibilities involve processing the purchase orders for the crystal singing bowls, i.e. computer and filing work.

One highlight of the work day was getting paid to sit in on a crystal singing bowl demo that my boss gave to my family for an hour. Yep, apparently part of my job includes being able to hear and feel those beautiful tones from the crystal bowls mingling with each other! They are relaxing, centering, energizing, inspiring, and empowering.

The second perk of the day was having Thai food during my lunch break, also with my family, around the corner from my job. De-lish. And then, while I sat upstairs in my office getting trained, I could hear my family down in the store, literally for hours, as they examined all of the beautiful stones on display. The job ahead of me is going to be complicated to learn, and confusing to figure out. But, I am excited for the challenge.

The day passed quickly. And the week with Lucas' mom, Vicky, passed amazingly fast. Tonight was her last night with us in Dunsmuir. It was wonderful to have her visit for so long, to have her and my parents finally meet, and to share the beauty of this place with her. It was a fun time, and funny to hear the Texan twang creep back into my voice under the influence and presence of her accent!

Really, it has been a fun last few days despite the busy new schedule. I feel so lucky to have spent a life with a wonderful family, to have a wonderful life ahead of me with Lucas, and in turn to be inheriting wonderful inlaws! Life is wonder-filled and wonder-full!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Babies n Sushi: Day 28 of 40 Days

Exhaustion is setting in. I woke up too early today, 2.5 hours before my alarm. The early part of the day was sprinkled with random inconveniences like this. Yet the day ended well, with random delights also sprinkled in.

This morning I lost a contact lens while in the Chamber of Commerce and found them to be closed when I realized my mishap. Later, after driving home to get a fresh contact, I went back to the C of C. I quickly and easily found my contact, squashed in half and dried up on the entrance carpet. Thank goodness! Now, it is rehydrated and waiting to be used again.

During the day, I crammed in moments of studying for the infant massage class that I taught this evening. I was a bit stressed and overwhelmed throughout the day, anticipating the class. But, the anticipation turned out to be the worst part of it. In reality, teaching the class was wonderful and smooth. 4 families turned up, and an additional 2 are exected to join us for the remaining 4 weeks. The babies are so sweet and precious. Their smiles, coos, and enjoyment of the massage totally brightened my day. I loved the process of sharing this wonderful information with the families, seeing the babies respond so positively, and see the hope spread on the faces of parents who have been feeling stressed about their baby's fussiness. It was wonderful.

Afterwards, the long day was rewarded by dinner with the family at the local organic sushi place, Vivify. Wow. It was truly amazing. Delicious and fresh and original. And so wonderful to share a lovely meal with loved ones, all enjoying the food together.

Now, my bed awaits me. And tomorrow we begin again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Loving Life: Day 27 of 40 Days

This past year has been relatively relaxed for me. Not being employed and having few obligations will do that for ya. It has been quite a nice treat for me to have this long of a break!

This week, things start to shift. I start my job today, hopefully. My Infant Massage Course starts tomorrow. Lucas' mom has ben visiting for the past 5 days. And my parents arrive tonight for a week long visit. All of a sudden, everything is happening.

Although I will miss this phase of early retirement, all of these new things are wonderful and exactly what I want in my life. It will all provide me with a good practice to maintain balance and health from being busy again. I will have to relearn how to fit in moments of yoga, art making, meditation, healthy cooking, relaxation, exercise, time in nature, and time with special people, all amidst my busy work schedule. I am happy and glad for this.

This might mean that in the coming days, especially while my parents are in town, that my blog posts will be shorter. This is good practice for me too. I know that when I write I tend to be wordy. My posts always seem to be longer than I intend them to be. They become a lengthy read for you all.

So, while I will continue to blog daily, my goal will be to make the entries short and sweet, more to the point.


Right now, I am outside enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin as I write. The breeze is blowing. Lucas is outside with me, working on one of his didj's. His mom is on a bike ride. I am waiting for a call from my new boss as to when to come in today to get started. Today at work, I will be setting up my office space, with the help of Lucas. Yes, he is even getting some temporary work out of this new job of mine! And then my parents arrive around dinner-time tonight.

Life is good. All of this waiting-time during the past year, during the past several years really, for all of my life's pieces to start to fall into place, is over. Now it is all happening. The life I have been waiting for, NOW I am living it.

I am grateful that there are still more pieces to come, still more things to look forward to in the coming years. It is just a wonderful feeling to have this momentum, this movement forward, this experience of living the life I love.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Curried Soup: Day 26 of 40 Days

Today, I will share with you another of my recipes. It has been a hit with many folks. Relatively easy to make and full-fledged vegan, it is full of different flavors, hearty, and filling.

Eat it with bread or rice, a salad on the side, and you will be happily rubbing your tummy at the end of the meal.

My Curried Sweet Potato Soup:
3 small sweet potatoes, chopped
2 cups water
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbls coconut or olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 large shitake mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbls+ curry powder
1/8 tsp+ cayenne pepper
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp thyme

* Place sweet potatoes in a soup pot with water. Bring water to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook until sweet potato is very soft.

* Meanwhile,in a small frying pan, heat the oil. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are transparent and soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes, until soft.

* When sweet potatoes are soft, add the coconut milk and blend, either in a blender or with an immersion blender.

* Add mushrooms and onions to blended sweet potatoes. Stir in seasonings. Add water to desired consistency.

* Reheat. Serve with rice or bread and salad.

* Enjoy!!

Thank you for reading again. And thank you for trying my recipes! Trust me, this is a good one. You won't be disapointed!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fresh Start: Day 25 of 40 Days

I haven't yet signed up with the online blogging community NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), but maybe I will. The website offers monthly themes and daily prompts for postings, as well as a little extra traffic and certain challenges that result in cool prizes. I am at a loss for what to write about today, so I will use NaBloPoMo's prompt of the day:

How do you usually feel at the beginning of a journey?

I am a last minute packer. But, I also really like to try to leave for my journeys at the time I originally planned to. I was bred to be punctual. Being a last minute packer and being punctual do not always work so well together. And so, as I am preparing for a journey, I am usually quite stressed and overwhelmed and frantic.

The hour or so before I leave is spent packing, tidying house so it is in a good state when I return, tying up loose ends, double checking that I have what I need, and being loaded into the car at just the right minute to be able to leave on time. Then, and only then, can I relax and enjoy. It is once the journey has begun, after all of my ducks are lined up in a row, that I am fully excited about the journey. I can then focus my attention and energy on what I am about to be doing. I can daydream and plan my adventure. I can anticipate what I am about to experience. The prepatory doing is over, and I can be fully present with the journey itself.

The stress is gone. The sense of being overwhelmed is gone. The frantic preparations are gone. As the journey begins, I leave all of those anxieties at my own front door. Starting fresh. Starting clear. Starting new. The beginning of a journey is like the beginning of a new chapter in life.

I am open to what the journey holds for me. I am excited to have something to stir up the mundane predictability of life. I have the sense that my time on the journey is both expansive and limited, and so I commit to being fully present in every moment, to fully live it and appreciate it.

I love to go on journeys. I love to share the adventure with another, to share the joys and beautiful landscapes, to be prompted to experience things I normally wouldn't. And I also love the solo journey, where I can move at my own speed and be fully led by my own nature. Both have their own flavor, both have their own purpose, and both have their own stresses and benefits. Either way, a journey outside of my daily life, outside of my known routine...this is such a wonderful way to let go of stresses and let in new inspirations.

The beginning of the journey is the source of all of the benefits that come from the entire journey. The benefits begin as I take those steps out of my front door, leaving behind the attitudes and perspectives that I don't need to take with me. It is my fresh start.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thanking You: Day 24 of 40 Days

Thank you for envisioning a positive interview for me today! It worked! But not in the way that I had envisioned it would!

Life works in mysterious and perfect ways! When we open to being alive in the mystery, life can sometimes surprise us with it's perfection and serendipity.

My interview today was at a clothing store in Mt. Shasta. It is a nice place, with really nice people working there, but not my ideal job. At this point though, with how the job search has been going, I would be totally happy to work there. It would have been 10-15 hours a week, working with an older clientel, using my creativity to design displays, and using my detail orientation in working with numbers in the Books. The interview, or "informal conversation," went quite well. It felt like the owner and I clicked well enough, and that I could pretend to enjoy the work enough to do it. I left the interview with both of us expressing our interest. But as the owner had already scheduled a couple more interviews in the next week, she said she would get back to me about the job.

I called Lucas when the interview was complete. He was at another local shop where I had also put in a resume a few days ago. I went to meet him there. He met me outside, to tell me that the owner had been trying to get ahold of me regarding their open position.

To make a longer story shorter....this owner was really impressed with my resume and had indeed called me to set up an interview. I never got the message. My phone must have not recorded it properly. And so when she never heard back from me, she prayed to the universe that I would come into the shop.

And today, I arrived at the door of her store, unknowingly answering her call. Upfront, with no interview questions, she offered me a full-time job at a higher wage than I would ever expect in the area. The shop, The Crystal Room, sells amazing and beautiful crystals and crystal singing bowls. In addition to working on the sales floor, I will be assisting the owner with the crystal bowl ordering, learning a lot about this wonderful sound-healing tool in the process. I will not only feel good about the products that I am selling, but I will also be in a situation that will challenge me to learn and grow and move forward on my path.

So, I have a job! I start on Monday! And I think that I am really going to love working there! I won't have to just pretend to enjoy it, I feel like I will love it. It feels as though the owner and I were both praying for each other, and serendipitously both of our prayers were answered. When I was sitting with her, I also had this strong intuitive feeling that I have a lot to learn from her personally. That one of the main reasons I was drawn to live in this area is to learn some important life lessons from this woman. Unsuspected perfection.

For the rest of the day, I have felt a tremendous sense of relief coming over me. A huge weight is being lifted off of my shoulders. The pieces ARE really falling into place. It finally seems that we were right when we decided to move here.

In reference to yesterday's post, I do really believe that what we put our thoughts and intentions into is what we are more likely to receive from life. If we worry about things not working out, they are more likely to not work out. If we envision things working out for us, they are more likely to do so.

And so, I thank you for working with me to envision employment working out for me today.

It did. WOO-HOO!!

We are completely capable of creating what we dream of for ourselves, if only we would believe in it!

What do you want for yourself? What is the most positive thing that you can envision for yourself in the near future? Can you let go of the doubts and worries that get in your way towards realizing these dreams?

I see now that worrying in not productive. Worrying does us no good in helping ourselves create our dreams. Believing and trusting that we are capable of what we hope for is a powerful means towards making these hopes possible.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Envision Joy: Day 23 of 40 Days

"Worrying is like praying for what you do not want." ~ Evton B of Indubious

Indubious is a reggae band from Southern Oregon, starring 2 brothers who both have Cystic Fibrosis. Their lyrics are rampant with positive outlooks on life, happy and uplifting. Both brothers have surpassed the life expectancies that their doctors gave them, by years and years. However, Evton has recently had to take a break from the band to focus on healing related health complications, as he waits for a potential lung transplant.

I read a posting of his today on the band's website. His writing reflects his inspiring perspective on life. It is refreshing and beautiful. He reminds us that as long as there are other people in the world who are suffering more than we are, who are dealing with more hardships than we are, we need to be counting our blessings. Even in his current state, he sees that his life is filled with blessings and potentials that other's may not have.

I read of so many people who survive cancer, near death experiences, or other traumas whose lives are changed by their trials. They are able to find pure happiness by just being able to live one more day. All of them seem to want to communicate to the rest of us how important it is to not wait for trauma to find us in order to really start living and loving our lives. They seem to *know* from experience how fleeting and fragile this life is. Once our time comes to pass on, there is no turning back to live our life differently, there is no opportunity to change the choices we made in the past.

So, knowing this, knowing that life is so fragile and precious....can we find the pure joy and beauty in every little breath that we take, in every day that we are alive? Can we feel gratitude for the blessings that fill our every moment? Can our actions towards others reflect this? Can we shift our attitude? Can we let go of regrets, live fully, take chances, forgive others, and really truly allow ourselves to be happy with what we have in this life?

Lucas and I have been feeling a bit of stress lately, with the employment situation being so dismal after being here for 2 months. But after reading this, we are reminded that there are plenty of people world-wide that have struggles and worries way more intense and precious than ours. And anyway, worrying does little to improve our situations. I would rather believe that HOPING and TRUSTING helps us to create what we want for ourselves. Really we have so much. We have each other. Shelter. Family. Safety. Health. Potential.

And tomorrow I have an interview! Please envision it going well for me, leading to a much needed job!! 1pm PST. Thank you!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Earliest Memories: Day 22 of 40 Days

The earliest memory I have from this lifetime is from when I was an infant. I was at my mother's parent's house in Wellsboro, laying bundled up in a wooden cradle. Pushing it side to side, gently with his foot, was my Uncle Gerry. The memory is dim, but full of the warmth and security of the family surrounding me. There are soft impressions of wooden walls, the smell of food cooking, and voices around me.

Another early memory I have is one that I spent most of my life believing was my first memory. After talking to my mom about it's details, I think I have determined that this memory must have been a dream. And so, this is the very first dream that I remember from when I was very young. In it, I am lying in bed between my parents, snuggled up in blankets. They are sleeping and I am just waking up. It is night-time. Across the room is a window towards the top of the wall. Through the window I can see the full moon glowing. It is winter. I am happy. This early memory also is filled with the feelings of warmth and security, and also a fascination with the moon, peacefullness, and closeness to family. It is nice to know that my early waking life and my dreamtime were happy and peaceful places to be.

The first nightmare I can remember having is also one of my first memories. I believe I was a toddler when I had this dream. In it, I am walking through a flat and warm pine forest. I come across a candy store, go in, buy some candy, and return to the forest as I eagerly bite into the chocolate bar. As I head home, I see a bear approaching me, blocking my way forward on the path I came in on. Scared, I turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The bear is following me. The path ends at a cliff. I start to climb down the vertical cliff wall, only to discover a bee hive hanging next to me on the rock wall, buzzing with life. The bear above, bees beside, and a long way down beneath me. Luckily, at this point I wake up safe and sound in my bed.

Another vague memory I have from my toddler years happened before either of my brothers were born. For me, this memory marks the end of my only-child status. (Of course, I have equally wonderful memories from the time after the brothers arrived as well.) In this memory, I am walking down the sidewalk in between my parents. We are holding hands and they are swinging me way up in the air in between them as we walk forward. Over and over. It is so much fun. There is this feeling of complete togetherness, pure joy, and a deep love that binds us together. I feel that this is from before I intellectually understood my own separateness and independence as an individual. And so this memory reminds me of the beautiful unity and foundation that I grew from. It may be simple, but it is one of my favorite early memories.

I am lucky really, that the only fear that stands out from my early childhood is from a fleeting dream. I am lucky to have been born into a loving and safe family, where respect, gentleness, fun, and joy were cornerstones of our interactions. I am lucky that I was given this good and healthy foundation. I can only wish that everyone could be so lucky. But, again, I can be thankful that my parents made the choice to choose love, over and over again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Day: Day 21 of 40 Days

Today is a better day. I didn't listen to or read the news. I finished the last book in the Twilight series, my latest method of escapism. The sun was shining, warming the local atmosphere into the lovely high 60's. I went on a long bike-ride with my sunglasses on and without a jacket. The snow is melting, and the river is thus swollen and roaring in it's rush. We were able to dry our laundry outside in the sun and open the windows to let the fresh spring air in.

There is something about breathing in the warm dry air for the first time in spring, after weeks and months of the cold dampness. It feels soooo good. It feels nostalgic, reminiscent of that first spring breath from every year in the past. You can almost taste the springs of the past in the air. And with that nostalgia comes the promise that summer is coming. Longer and warmer days, skin kissed by the sun from being outside as much as possible, fresh local tomatoes, stone fruit, and berries.

The fresh air winding through the pathways in the house moves the stagnancy out, gets me up and moving, and helps me feel good. It helps me feel happy, for no tangible reason other than the scent and taste and feel of the air around me. It helps me feel a renewed sense of positivity, a refocused view of life on what is promising and possible.

These are some of the possibilities that I hope and pray for, that I will myself to believe will become reality:

* That all beings will have a sense of health in their bodies, peace in their minds, healing in their hearts, and love for their own lives, every single day. May all beings be happy.

* That humanity will quickly become more compassionate, helpful, giving, accepting, and proactive...from the grassroots level of being neighborly to the global level of putting down our guns. May we all challenge ourselves to share that which is abundant in our lives with others. And may we challenge ourselves to think and act outside of our own boxes.

* That we people finally start to reverse the devastating impact human life has had on the earth, to ensure that all life may continue on this amazing planet. May we examine our lifestyle choices and find more and more ways to decrease our ecological footprint.

* That the health, education, and happiness of all people of every nation become it's priorities, rather than the greed of power, money, and natural resources. May we all find ways to stand up for the basic rights of all humans.

* That all may come from a place of love rather than fear. May we choose love in every situation and no longer have reasons to fear.

And on a more personal note:

* That every one of my friends and family may find happiness and health in every day. That they may find a way to realize their greatest dreams.

* That Lucas and I will find employment soon, work that is meaningful and fulfilling.

* That all of the mold in our house will disappear as the weather becomes warmer and drier.

* That Lucas' tendonitis and my psoriasis will heal.

* That tomorrow will be a good day too.

(If today you were hoping for a check-in on my List of the Week from last week, I apologize. I didn't do any of it. Zilch. The storm and travel of last week totally threw me off. Ah, well. Part of the practice of the List is forgiving the self when things don't get done. Sometimes it just isn't in the cards.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Hope: Day 20 of 40 Days

On the brink of being half-way through this 40 day period of blogging, today I revisited the original intentions I had in this Open House writing project: Opening up more with the people in my life; Pushing myself to move beyond my shy and reserved nature; Creating a challenging opportunity for myself in order to stimulate creativity.

So, in light of keeping these intentions alive in the second half of the project, I am choosing to write today about a topic that is a little sensitive, a topic that holds a lot of weight for me. I was thinking about this while I was working away in the studio today, stimulated by my unfortunate circumstance of listening to the news on NPR.

There is plenty of heavy and intense events going on in the world right now. If I get oversaturated by the news, my thoughts tend to get fearful of the future, and of how uncertain that future is. I worry that there will be continued escalations of conflicts, wars over the earth's resources, budget cuts (i.e. decreased access to health care, good education, social services, free speech, and worker's rights), natural disasters, climate change, over population, etc, etc. AH, sometimes I think that I really shouldn't listen to the news, and rather stay happily blind in my little northwest bubble. Living in fear is not something I want for myself, nor anyone. It doesn't help improve the state of the world.

BUT, when I do get carried away with these thoughts, I am often lead to reconsider having children. Yes, my protective mothering instincts are already strong, before conception. The mama bear in me wonders if I should wait a couple more years to think about having a child, to wait to see if I can be more sure that his or her life will be more clear and easy. I know that this is something we can never know. We can never know what the future of our own lives nor those of our children will hold. There will always be risks, always uncertainties. We can not infinitly and completely protect our children from harm. Yet, I wonder if this is a world I want to bring a child into at all.

(BTW, in no way am I suggesting that I judge others for having children. No. On the contrary, as you will see below, I totally understand the need and desire to procreate. While I don't feel that this earth needs more over-population concerns, I do feel that humanity needs more good-hearted, well-intentioned people to lead the way out of the current mess. The children are the future. They are hope.)

If you have known me for a long time, you will understand how hard and strange it is for me to be questioning bringing a child into the world. I have been obsessed with the idea of being a mother for my entire life, playing "House" since I was old enough to carry around a doll. I have been babysitting since I was 12. I have had children in my life in some capacity ever since: As a childcare provider/nanny, art instructor, day camp counselor, overnight camp counselor, youth group leader, midwife, post-partum doula, orphanage volunteer, auntie, friend.

I have surrounded myself with children, pregnancy, and birth for most of my life as a way to feel closer to my own child-bearing years, and as a means of living vicariously through that of others. Now, with every passing month, as I get closer to menopause and further from my own menarche, I have to acknowledge and accept that I may not even be able to get pregnant if I wanted to. I would be overjoyed to adopt. But, I have always had this biological urge to have a baby of my own. Being pregnant, giving birth, nursing, and nurturing are all part of the scope of womanhood that I want to experience. I want to experience the fullness of my own womanhood.

Now that I finally have a partner to share all of life's joys and fears with...only now do I start to wrestle between wanting to start a new life, and questioning the rightness of the timing of this, from a global perspective. I am sure that if I took a week's break from listening to the news that you would be able to guess who would win this wrestling match. At least in this current round.

In my life, choices of the heart often win over those of the mind. But in this case, I feel stuck in the middle. I do not know what will come, for myself nor for the rest of the world. I accept and surrender and trust and hope.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Full Circles: Day 19 of 40 Days

Today I am seeing the ironies in my life, seeing how bits of my past are coming full circle in interesting and fun ways. I sense the universe joking with me, as well as giving me reasons to not regret choices I made in the past.

I spent part of the day in Mt. Shasta. The four feet of snow the area received last week was piled up in the middle of the roads and along their edges, towering above the tallest cars and vans.

Though it was sunny and wonderfully warm today, the deep snow was unavoidable. Mt. Shasta, visible for the first time in a week, towered above the city in it's glowing whiteness, soft and expansive.

The irony of this for me? I never thought I would live somewhere with this much winter. In fact, when I left Portland last February, I got rid of all of my winter belongings (snowpants, winter jacket, thick gloves, etc) because I was determined to never live where it snowed ever again. And here I am, immersed in it, literally. Even though there are moments when I can appreciate the snow and it's beauty, like when I look at the mountain or when I am snowshoeing, I am starting to wonder: What have we gotten ourselves into by moving here. Why did we not spend the winter in the tropics????

But, I am soooo happy to report that the weather forecast for this week is calling for temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's!!!!! Yipee! That means that I can expose my pale white skin to the sun! That means that the snow will be gone soon, and with it the evidence that our neighborhood bear was in our yard:

While I was in Mt. Shasta today, I spent 2 hours at the house of the town midwife. In exchange for her providing me with a free space to teach my infant massage class series, I am teaching her to start an IV. She is taking the steps neccessary to achieve the same nationally recognized midwifery certification(CPM) that I did several years ago. She is doing her training through self-study and apprenticeship. I am a part of her self-study, then, teaching her a skill that she needs to know. Joining us today for this mini-class was an RN who was never taught this skill in her training!

It was interesting to have the tables turned on me, to be the one teaching a midwifery skill when I have choosen to walk away from midwifery. But, to be honest, it feels really positive to be able to share this knowledge, to know that my midwifery training can still benefit others, that my midwifery knowledge can still be used. In helping another woman become a skilled midwife, I am happy to have midwifery in my history.

While I revisit an aspect of my midwifery degree, I have also been revisiting my art degree. That feels amazing. It does feel like I am coming full circle with both of these educations. I am finally making my art again, finally and fully re-incorporating art-making into my life. And I am finally able to find a way to use my midwifery education in a way that feels comfortable to me. These are good things. The full-circles I am creating...they carry a sense of wholeness and completion. Yet, they offer me a new point to start from, a new way to bring them to life.

Have you noticed any circles that have come around full in your life lately?

I leave you with this picture from the wedding reception we went to in Portland on Friday. These are my dear friends Erico and Kim, or at least their muppet versions sitting in for them as their real selves are off square-dancing and socializing...

Each Possibility: Day 18 of 40 Days

As with every visit to Portland, this one was a whirlwind of a weekend in the Big City. But, I am just grateful that we were able to get up there at all. The energy I spent sulking all day Thursday seems wasted, though I did not know I would end up in Portland after all. What a surprise to find myself dancing, laughing, eating, and playing with friends. Yes, certainly alive in the mystery. Taking one day at a time and doing what is possible with each day.

In Portland, spring is in full swing. The weekend included one day that happened to be full of sunshine, something that has been rare all winter there. The colors were glowing in a saturated brilliance. There were so many different shades of greens in the ferns, mosses, lichens, grasses, and leaf buds. So many flowers blooming their rainbows and flower blossoms sprinkling from treetops onto the sidewalks and streets. It was beautiful, warm, and balmy. A nice change from the monotone cold winter we have had in Mt. Shasta. (By the way, Mt. Shasta City reportedly got 4 feet of snow during that crazy storm that held up our travel plans. A blizzard indeed!)

My visits to Portland have been filled with lovely moments with my dear friends. I get frustrated though, as there really isn’t enough time to spend with each and every friend on each and every visit. There certainly isn’t enough time to have the one on one interactions that I so cherish. Instead, I need to rotate whose house I stay at and who I spend my time with to even it out over several visits. This visit was no different. I hope that next time, I can stay for longer and have less errands taking me away from my friend time.

We did manage to squeeze in many awesome moments in our quick visit, even in addition to the wedding celebration dance party. Brunch at Megan and Todd’s with 15 of us sharing a delicious meal and warming conversation together. A meeting with my dressmaker, Lindsay, in which creative progress was made and tears were shed (my indication that we had the right dress design figured out!). A break from the stress of errands with Ursala at Belmont Station Biercafe, where I sampled the Bend Cherry Baltic Porter (tasty and sweet), and The Dissident by Deschutes (sweet and sour, made with wild yeast!). Yum! Back to Megan and Todd's for fresh baked cookies and the first phase of wedding ceremony planning. Todd is honoring us by being our Celebrant during our ceremony! Before we left town this afternoon, we grabbed Thai food to-go from Pad Thai Kitchen on Belmont. Our palates were delighted by the pumpkin curry and the green curry.

Swiftly, we are back in Dunsmuir, tired and achey from the long drive home. I will post a few pictures tomorrow and say something more meaningful than I am capable of in this late night state of exhaustion. All I can say now, is that each day really is filled with unlimited possibilities, unique and wonderful. We just need to walk through our days with eyes wide open in order to really see outside our limited view.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Big City: Day 17 of 40 Days

It was an oversight on my part that prevented me from writing my blog last night. I was all set to do it right before bed, and then realized that I didn't know the password to the internet network at my friend's house. And that since she was sleeping, I wasn't going to be posting on my blog. I forgot to get that imortlant info before bedtime. To top it all off, I didn't do my meditation yesterday either. Double Party Foul!

So today, to make up for lost time, it looks like I will be blogging twice and meditating twice. Well, we will see about that. Time today is a bit limited.

To make a long story short, yesterday we ended up coming to Portland after all! The weather and the roads cleared up enough to make travel safe late in the morning. We unfortunately missed the 1pm wedding, but were able to make the 7pm reception.

Other than a couple of snowy spots on the road up, it was mostly a beautiful and sunny day. LOTS of rainbows, lots of squinting in the sun. The reception was a fun reunion of lots of friends, fully equipped with a bluegrass band and a squaredancing caller. Yep, we did lots of dancing. It was awesome.

It was interesting that when I decided to surrender all of my plans, the universe made it clear that alternative plans were available. Rather than having to let go fully of my plans, I only needed to let go of part of them. Though I had to miss the ceremony and the exchange of vows, I still got to celebrate with my dear friends and show them my support by being there.

And today, the big city adventure continues.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Surrendering Attachments: Day 16 of 40 Days

Today, Lucas and I are supposed to travel north to Portland for the wedding of some good friends. The wedding is early enough tomorrow that we need to leave today to be able to be there.....


The snow is relentless: Winter weather warnings. Chains required on Interstate 5. Snow pack and ice on the roads. Horrible visibility. High winds north of here. 10-20 inches of expected snowfall today. The worst storm to hit the area in the past couple of months happens to arrive on the day that we need to travel north. It is gnarly out there.

I look at the images online from the Interstate webcams and am discouraged. I look across the valley from my kitchen window to the Interstate and see the semi's either pulled to the side of the highway or creeping at a slow 5-10 mph. It is not looking good. The summits we would need to travel over north of here are some 2000 feet higher than our current elevation. It is typically worse weather in those areas.

So, I am feeling frustrated and disappointed. I so want to be there for my friend's celebration and ceremony!! They are important people to me. I was so looking forward to spending more time with my other good friends of Portland. I was excited to retrieve even more of my belongings that remain in storage: books, pottery tools, even my cloth napkins.

Today, I am feeling so completely done with winter. I really didn't sign up for this. My expectations of what the weather would be like at this time of year here were based on historical data, averages that are not an accurate basis for establishing reliable predictions. A year ago today, it was 69 degrees and sunny with a low of 42 at night. Today, there is a forecasted high of 31 and 100% chance of precipitation all day.

These are lessons to me to not have expectations and attachments. To learn to let go and be open to what is. Right now, that feels hard to do. As the snowfall gets heavier and heavier, I see that I may need to accept this reality, curl up in a blanket on the couch and knit all day.

Life doesn't always turn out the way we want or expect it to. When this happens we ARE living in the mystery. We surrender our attachments, accept the present moment, and keep moving forward from this adjusted perspective.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Motivational Forces: Day 15 of 40 Days

Last Wednesday, a week ago today, I wrote a post that shared with you my List of the Week. I gave myself a week to complete 5 tasks. And today I will follow up with you, letting you know how I was or wasn't able to follow through with my self-assigned tasks. I will also write a new list, for the coming week. I invite you to do the same!

Last Week's List:
1. Call my Grandmother. I did this on Saturday and luckily was able to catch Grandma and John before they left for evening church. We had just enough time to catch up and mutually share the latest in our lives. And it was lovely, as always, to speak with them. They are finally in good health once again, recovered from several bouts of winter illness. I bet as spring continues to unfold, and the sun brings them outdoors more and more, they will feel even better.

2. Finalize wedding guest list. Yep. I think this is done. There may be a few more additions as the days roll on, but for now I think we have it ironed out. Our list is a lot longer than I was anticipating. I always thought I would have a small wedding. But alas, both of us have soooo many awesome people in our lives who are important to us that it looks like we are going to have a big good-time bash. We feel grateful knowing that we will be surrounded by so much love and support on our special day.

3. Plant garden starts in-doors. Nope. This surely didn't happen. I admit, it is hard to motivate to do this when it has been dumping snow every single day for days on end. Lately, when I look outside it is hard to imagine that it is really spring. I talked with a fellow gardener today at my studio about when to plant starts here. She reassured me that it is way to early to do that. She said that the local rule of thumb is to plant your outdoor garden after the snow on the north face of Black Butte has melted. Hmmmm. Based on how it looks now, completely covered in snow, I would think this is a couple of months down the road. Honestly, I find this a little frustrating. In Portland and Texas both, March was when I would start my outdoor garden. When we moved here, we did not know we were signing up for THIS much winter! Other than my snowshoeing adventures, I am so over winter.

4. Go on 4 walks/hikes and do yoga 3 times. I actually went on 5 walks/hikes, yet only did yoga twice. Despite the raging amount of snow, it sure was nice to be outside a lot this week. Walk #1: the railroad hike to Mossbrae falls. Walk #2: 2 mile neighborhood walk to Sketch-ville. Walk #3: 2 mile neighborhood walk to Sketch-ville with Ursala. Walk #4: Snowshoeing on Mt. Shasta with Ursala. Walk #5: Speedwalking in the snow today to get to the bus-stop in time, as well as an additional walk in Mt. Shasta City later in the day. Surprisingly, it is a tiny bit cheaper to ride the county bus to Mt. Shasta than it is to pay for the gas. Plus, it is nicer on the environment.

5. Start new knitting project. I did start the project, but half way through it I determined that it was a lot larger than I wanted it to be. So, I unravelled the yarn and am starting anew.

This Week's List:
1. Finish knitting project.
2. Advertise free infant-massage class more: more fliers and as facebook event.
3. Finish painting bathroom.
4. Apply for 2 online freelance writing jobs.
5. Go on 4 walks/hikes and do yoga 3 times.

And how did your List of the Week go from last week...Chris? Anyone else? Has it felt more motivating to have others like myself hold you accountable for the things you need to get done? I think it is important that we acknowledge what we weren't able to get done, acknowledge the true reason behind not doing it, be easy on ourselves for not doing it, and move on. If it is something that you truely want to do, add it to next week's list.

Thanks for being a motivational force for me! If I hadn't shared my hopes to do these things with you, I probably wouldn't have done most of them. Thank you, once again, for reading and for being in my life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Right Now: Day 14 of 40 Days

Usually when I sit down to write my daily post, I have had some inspiration during the day of what to write about, or have at least put time into thinking about it. Today, I sit down without a plan. Today, I will just see what comes out, what needs to be written. Today, all I can do is start with where my thoughts and emotions are right now.

A couple of days ago, I posted a link on my facebook page directing friends to a memo written by Tashirat, the orphanage in Mexico I volunteered with last spring. The memo was asking for people to help the orphange and the children out by sponsoring a child. The orphanage runs on funds that are donated and on individual child sponsorships. They are currently in the process of trying to adopt a couple of special needs children who are considered otherwise un-adoptable by The System. In order to do this, they needed to first find sponsors. I feel so strongly about the services Tashirat provides to these children and to society that I felt compelled to share this link.

Tonight, as I checked my email, I discovered that an old friend of mine had responded to my post. "Done :)" is how she responded to my request that friends consider sponsoring one of these children for Tashirat. I hope it is safe to assume that this means she IS in fact sponsoring a child, or hoping to. Either way, I am feeling tremendous gratitude right now. Tashirat exists because of the generosity, compassion, and good-will of people like this. And because of this, they are able to help change the lives of children who otherwise would get lost in the system. Now these 2 children will assuredly receive the love, nutrition, education, and family that we all deserve. Thank you Carole. This means so much to me.

It is inspiring and deeply touching to see others do what they can with what they have to help this world change in positive ways. Though it may manifest in various forms, I know we are all capable of helping create positive change. We just need to start with where we are right now.

With all that is going on in the world, it feels like it is the initiative and actions of individuals that will help others, the environment, and all of life realize positive futures and potentials. I am lacking in confidence that our government will do this for us. No. We need each other for this. We need help to survive, as others need our help to survive.

Sharing whatever extra resources we may have, in whatever form they may be, to help where help is needed...

Knowing that what good deeds we pass on will return to us, though the source and the form may be different...

Looking out for the wellness of the whole rather than just of the individual...

Doing what we can with what we have, and starting from where we are, right now...

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Eyes: Day 13 of 40

We really are having somewhat of an open house here in Dunsmuir,in that the physical doors of our home are and always will be open, welcoming in our friends and family for visits. We love you, and want to share this amazing area with you. We will be your local tour guides, share our favorite spots with you, explore new ones, and we will even cook for you.

In the 7 weeks that we have been living here (we can hardly believe it has already been 7 weeks!!) we have now had 3 lovely visitors. Soon after we arrived, my friend Nahba who lives in Southern Oregon stopped in for dinner one evening. Last week, Lucas' friend, Clint, from Arcata spent a few days with us. And this week, my friend Ursala from Portland is visiting for a few days as well. Visitors warm the home, shift the routine, and provide a level of socialization that is rare in this mountain-living life.

I am so happy my friend is here, providing me with girl-time and someone to share this place with. In showing her around, I am seeing this place with refreshed and new eyes. The excitement of living here, the excitement that I had forgotten about amidst the rain, fog, and snow, is being re-ignited.

A 20 minute drive from my house takes us a couple of miles up Mt. Shasta to where the road is closed. McBride Campground is here. We park the car, unload Ursala's dog Scrumpy, and snowshoe through the deep snow into the alpine trees. Of course, it is amazing. Beautiful. Refreshing air. The sun peeks out through the clouds, revealing the blue, dusting the snow with sparkles and shadows. We climb higher and higher into the snow-coated trees.

It feels good to be moving my body, to be on the mountain, to be enjoying it with a friend. I know I will be sore in the morning, but it will be a good kind of sore. The kind of sore that reminds you of the beauty you experienced to create it.

This is why we are living be able to take a quick drive in order to take a 2 hour snowshoeing adventure. To have so many beautiful places so accessible. While I have been sitting in my home these last days wishing for spring to arrive, for the rain and snow to end, this mountain has been waiting for me to enjoy and experience. My new eyes, seeing through the eyes of my friend who is experiencing this for the first time, remind me of what is here for me to experience every day. This is a special and endlessly wonderful place!

Come visit us, warm our home, and help us rub the sleep from our eyes so we can see new layers of what makes this area what it is. Open your doors to others, and let them guide you, in their newness to your area, to forgotten about gems and special places. Even if they are in your own backyard.

Open up that special bottle of wine or beer you have been saving for a special day, and make an extra-special day out of what would have been an ordinarily wonderful one. Take a moment with loved ones to savor and enjoy these treats, to celebrate your time together.

Tonight, we opened up Full Sail's Black Gold Imperial Stout, a bourbon barrel aged limited edition 1pt 6oz ale. After a delicious meal cooked by our guest (traditional sicilian pasta sauce with spaghetti--yum!), this was a delicious desert that we shared and slowly savored. Thick and maple syrupy, with distinct notes of bourbon, vanilla, and tropical flowers, this beer is a perfect finale to a most wonderful day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Living Gratitude: Day 12 of 40 Days

You have probably noticed that I write a lot about having gratitude for the small things in life. I feel like I would like to explain to you why I focus on this so much.

I suppose that part of my reasons are related to why I started this blog in the first place, over a year ago. I was writing about the process of being alive in the moment, embracing the unknowns that come with living fully. Part of the mysteries of living are that we really have no idea what the future holds. We have absolutely no idea when it will be our turn, or the turns of our loved ones, to leave this world. We have no idea what tomorrow holds, good or bad. It is inevitable that with life comes pain and suffering, as well as joy and beauty. We are bound to go through periods that are hard. We just don't know when and how.

Because of this, and because of all of the suffering around the world, I feel like it is important to not take anything for granted, ever. I feel that it is important to intentionally count our blessings, not only when our lives are bright and filled with goodness, but also when the challenges are starting to roll in. It helps, finding things to be grateful for. It helps to ease the stress of challenges as we remember that there are still wonderful things surrounding us. And it reminds us that even the hard times will pass.

I have a little book that I made that I call my Gratitude Book. I go through periods where every day, at the end of the day, I sit down with my book, think back through my day, and write down at least 5 things I can be grateful for in my day. I do this on the wonderful days when it is easy to write this list. And I do this on the hard days when it takes some time and effort to find the little morsels of goodness in the day. But they ARE there, if we look close enough. They always are. Small things or big things, they are all important to acknowledge.

Today, I am grateful for:

* the long lasting relationships I have with family and friends...they enrich and inspire me!

* a life-partner who is loving, supportive and who encourages my growth!

* a fabulously comfortable bed that brings me restful deep sleep through the night!

* chocolate and coffee!

* a dear friend from Portland who is currently on her way to visit me for a couple of days! here comes some much needed girl-time!

Again, I ask you, what are you grateful for?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Helping Hands: Day 11 of 40 Days

In the fall during our roadtrip through these parts, I took a weekend long training in Infant Massage in Ashland, OR. The training was through Infant Massage, USA, and was taught by the wonderful Joann Lewis at her Family Massage Education Center. I had an amazing time learning with this small group of wonderful women.

The training prepared us to teach parents and caregivers how to massage their infants. With a little understanding and insight into the benefits of infant massage, it is easy to see how powerful and valuable of a tool it is for parents to learn. The benefits are wide-ranging, and can be narrowed down to 4 general categories: Interaction, stimulation, relief, and relaxation. These are benefits not only for the babies, but for the parents themselves, and as a result of both of these, for society as a whole. It is another example of the ripple effect I talked about here.

During the class, I quickly found myself feeling passionate about sharing this skill, more than I had previously thought I would. And it is because of the benefits, benefits that studies have and continue to prove, regarding the value of nurturing touch. It is amazing what it can lead to!

Enhanced bonding, development of verbal and non-verbal communication, enhanced development of all of the body's systems and senses, enhanced learning and language development, positive sensory integration, positive emotional development and healthy secure attachments, heightened mind and body awareness, relief of gas/colic/constipation/excess mucus, improved immune system, relief of muscular tension and tonal issues, improved sleep/flexibility/regulation, reduction of stress and stress hormones, decrease in hyper-activity, improved self-confidence for parents, early involvement for dads, decreased post-partum depression, involvement of the whole family, reduction of abuse and violence in the home, increased respect/love/empathy/positive touch, and general well-being! These are good things to ripple outward, yes?

I also have first hand experience in seeing the value of daily infant massage. When I was in Portland, one of the little girls I watched had some special needs. Charlotte was receiving Physical and Occupational Therapy to help with some of her tonal and developmental set-backs. Part of my role was to do the therapy homework with her every day, including a full-body massage. As the days and weeks unfolded, I watched as this little girl unfolded and relaxed and found herself in her body enough to begin to do all of the things the doctors originally said she wouldn't be able to do. And she continues to excel and move forward at faster and faster rates, happily determined to fully experience her world. She is my inspiration. I so wish that all children who have developmental delays were able to receive this daily massage and additional therapy, for they too may be able to reach their individual, full potential if given the chance.

Before taking this class, I ultimately wanted to learn and become certified to be the one to massage the infants. But, now, I no longer do. I find it to be important for the parents and caregivers to be the ones to do this. They are the experts of their own babies. I am here to give them the tool of massage to use with their own expertise. The use of this tool is empowering for parents and enhances their parenting and their relationships with their children. It gives them a tool that they can use as preventative health care and the first line of defense when their babies start to get sick. THEY can take the first steps towards wellness rather than immediately paying and relying on others to do so.

Now that I am finally grounded in one place for awhile, I am ready to finish my certification process. In order to get my certification, among other bookish things, I need to teach a FREE 5 week class series to 5 families. I am very excited for this and very happy to have the space and time already lined up for this class. I have made a great connection with the "village midwife" of Mt. Shasta. She has generously offered for me to use her space for this class in exchange for my assistance in helping her learn some of the midwifery skills she needs to get HER midwifery certification. It is a win-win exchange that I am so happy to do. The class will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6-7pm, April 6th - May 4th. Fliers for the class are posted, and hopefully soon, my phone will be ringing with registrants on the other end.