Like an Old Friend…

Coming to my blog site is like visiting an old friend that has been a long time gone.

It’s late. I need to go to bed and rest, for tomorrow is another day of dawn to dusk laboring. I am in a birthing process. It is not a human baby I am birthing, well perhaps in a way, but I will get to that. What I am birthing is a dream.

For years I have dreamed of a gathering of all my beloved friends and family…a coming together of many souls whose only connection to one-another is me. From around the globe they will come and as their eyes meet for the first time they will see a kindred spirit. They will know one another in an instant of soul recognition. Eyes will light up with smiles and arms will hold one another in the warmth of loving embraces.
I am birthing this dream by creating a space for such gatherings. Each day is a labor of love but as in all birthings there are moments of fear and pain.
There is spilled blood, dripping sweat, and nights of aching muscles and deep fatigue.
Through it all is a push to complete. The urge to reach the climatic moment of revelation is intense. It is what wakes me at 5:30 with instant alertness and clarity of purpose. It is what keeps me moving from project to project, checking off one after the next as they reach completion. It is what makes my heart sing with joy when I vision the gathering of friends who will soon be crossing the threshold of Mountain Valley Retreat.
The birthing of Mountain Valley Retreat is also the birthing of me. Through this creation I am coming out as myself. Everything about this place represents my authentic self.

IMG_4967[1] I am, through this place, revealed at last.

Mountain Valley Retreat…Launching!

Here I go, ready or not! Launching the new website for Mountain Valley
Retreat! Let me know what works for you and what does not…I will greatly appreciate all feedback.

The Fountain (Edited)

I am participating in a writing class called Writing Your Practice. One of the prompts is to write from the perspective of an inanimate object, giving it a voice. I read The Fountain and did some edits and ended the piece by giving the Fountain a voice.IMG_4250[1]

I am sitting at my desk, cup of tea steaming, ready for my morning writing session. Looking out the window, the sky is pale blue with the early morning light. I can see the oaks and pine trees. Large rocks grace the hillside surrounded by sage where the property climbs the hill to the fence. In the lower right corner of my view is the patio. In its center sits a fountain. I feel pleasure and gratitude every time I look at it.
I moved from rural St Louis to a small holding 15 miles south-east of Warner Springs, California in April of 2009. In 2010 I took a position as a massage therapist at The Spa at Warner Springs Ranch. The Spa was a horseshoe-shaped design of low adobe buildings around a central stone courtyard. A prominent water fountain, the focal point of the courtyard, drew me in. As I walked with clients through the courtyard from the lobby to and from the treatment rooms, the sound of the falling water was like soothing music to my ears. Two years later, the owners sold the ranch and closed it for renovations.
Out of work and with an hour commute to the closest city, I rested as I considered my options. The vision of a residential retreat center came to my mind. As I explored the vision I “saw” a patio with a beautiful fountain that would attract birds and bring balance to our high desert climate with the addition of a water element. I remembered the fountain from the Spa!
I called my friend Sharon, the owner of the Spa at Warner Ranch. She told me she was selling all of the furnishings from the Spa, including the fountain, and she would love me to have it.
Today, I look out at the fountain with the hummingbirds and finches, stellar jays and acorn woodpeckers bathing and drinking from its endlessly moving water and my heart expands.
The history of this fountain is unknown to me although I know that the ranch opened in 1849 and the Spa was a popular destination to Hollywood stars in the 1920’s.
For me, this fountain holds the energy of the Spa at the Ranch which was my oasis at a time when I needed connection and roots. It represents a place of restoration and a loving group of compassionate women.
Its previous owner, Sharon, is a sister of my heart. The fountain brings her powerful healing spirit and profoundly beautiful presence to Mountain Valley Retreat. As I gaze at the fountain, I am grateful. My heart sings with joy.
The fountain is a metaphor for chi, the life-force energy that animates all living things. Flowing up its central channel from the base, energy bursts forth from the crown. Waves of sparkling air-and-light-filled-water fill the air descending in rivulets, cascading over the sides of the upper bowl falling like rain into the waiting vessel at its base to be drawn into the central channel. The cycle repeats again and again, mimicking the human energy field.
What might the fountain say if it could speak? “I am of the earth, made of stone. I am the mover of air, water and fire. Like a jewel, my oxygen-rich water refracts sunlight sending elemental energy out into the field. I feed life. Grounded through my stone pedestal deeply into the earth, I sit in the center of this red clay patio. I offer life-giving energy to the plants, the birds, the animals and the people who enter my field. I inspire humans to appreciate the beauty of nature. I am observed with gratitude and therefore, I am.”

Mother

mother pin

I hesitate to write about this subject that is the first thought on my mind at 6:00 this morning. It is a subject written about, discussed and psychoanalyed perhaps more than any other. What about this primary relationship we each have with the woman from whose body we entered this life? Some never know their birth mothers while others have life-long intimate relationships. Some of us have the insight that giving birth to a child has brought to the subject. Others are left to wonder what that event brings with it to the human experience.
My mother is 89. I just returned from a visit to celebrate her recent birthday. She lives with my father in South Dakota, the state she was born in. She has lived there all her life. I have moved about, leaving South Dakota and my mother when I was 18, returning a couple of times a year for visits.
When I was a young mother she came to stay with me to help with my babies. We took a few vacations together when my children were young. Mostly our relationship was a distant one. The truth of our realities was kept from one another. I felt as if my mother didn’t want to hear any of the challenges and difficulties I came up against…that she didn’t want to know when I was sad or angry about something. The few times I attempted to engage her in conversation about something that had happened to her when I thought she might need support, I was told, “I don’t want to talk about that!” So I stopped asking.
Now she is in the final chapter of her life. She could live several more years or die tomorrow. I know that is true for me as well, but for her, the odds are she will not live more than a few years. Her memory is failing and she is getting frail. Some days she tells me that she is very tired and “doesn’t want to do this anymore.” There are also times when she engages in a way that makes me think she is enjoying herself. Mostly she is “flat”, going through the motions of her limited life without emotion. I wonder what degree of that “flatness” is the result of the medications her doctors give her.
When she is gone, in truth, not a lot will change in the appearance of my life. The deep connection that exists between my mother and me is in the invisible realms. That is the place where the truths that have never been spoken between us live as well. I’m not sure what to do with this. I feel a regret here but I cannot name it. There are no words.baby stroller

Early Morning Pages

Ganesha

It is early morning and I am here. I am committed to writing daily for ten weeks as part of Susanna Harwood Rubin’s writing circle, “Write Your Practice-2013.” This writing circle has the added element of Yoga. Susanna is a yoga teacher and student of Hindu Mythology, a subject of long-standing interest for me.
I feel empowered by choosing to write this morning. I realize how much I missed the discipline I kept sacred for six months from January through June of this year. I stopped the practice in July as I prepared to be away from home for five weeks. I am grateful to have found the inspiration to return to my writing practice. Thank you, Susanna!
The theme for week one is “Finding Your Voice” represented by the Hindu deity and mythological being, Ganesha. Easily recognized by his elephant head, I regard Ganesha, the patron of intellect and wisdom, during this writing session. It is a common Hindu practice to honor Ganesha, the Hindu god of beginnings, at the start of a ritual or ceremony.
Today is the start of such a ritual for me. I invoke Ganesha and welcome his support in this new writing endeavor.
Susanna offered some intriguing prompts for this week’s writing. As I read through them, two stand out. The first is to explore my story through the objects around me. “In what ways is my personal creation myth represented by the objects I choose to have near me? What do those objects have to tell about themselves and about me?”
The second concept that attracts me is, “Always be poised at a threshold and then move through it – embrace change.” I wonder about the thresholds I have crossed in my lifetime and how well I have embraced the changes that ensued.
My monitor sits on top of a wooden box that was a gift from my Japanese sister, Keiko. Kay is an artist who creates beautiful objects from glass, yarn, fabric, wood and metal. She built the box and painted it inside and out in a Scandinavian style of artistic design. She incorporated my name on the lid. I have had the box for over forty years and it has until recently held keepsakes and letters that touched my heart. When I remodeled my laundry room into an office, my monitor needed a platform to raise it and the box was perfect. I like that I look at it every day when before it was hidden in a cabinet. I feel my connection to Kay through it.

IMG_4679[1]
As I consider it now and give it a “voice” this is what I hear:
“I am a loving expression of the Divine Feminine. Through me, Kay reveals her compassion. She demonstrates her intention to serve. I am showing you the intricate details of nature finely created by Kay’s pure focus and rapt attention. Feel into my field and experience her joyfulness as she participates in this beautiful creation.”
I feel deeply touched by my experience with this box that I have kept close for so many years. Kay was a heart opening influence in my life for the year she lived with my family. I was twelve years old and she was an eighteen-year-old American Field Service student from Yokohama, Japan. I absolutely adored her. She and I spent endless hours sewing doll clothes, making origami cranes, and playing cards.
I understand now why she spent more time with me than my sister, Sandy, who was eighteen. The more sheltered and innocent upbringing of Japanese youth was not equal to the American teen’s level of sophistication, even in 1962. Kay and I were more alike in our interests and emotional maturity even though we were six years apart…and we shared an interest in artistic endeavors. I loved to draw, paint and sew and she was my more-than willing teacher.
I look at this box she made for me and tears come to my eyes. I miss her. I am so grateful for the gift she was to me at that formative time in my life. She is a gem to be treasured. Ah, now I understand why I have kept this box near me all these years.IMG_4673[1]IMG_4678[1]

Relections on Love and Marriage

I was married on July 17, 1973, forty years ago today. I am no longer married and have no intention to marry again…and, I never know what lies around the bend in my path.
My parents have been married seventy years. They modeled for me a marriage that lasts. The difference between their marriage and mine appears to be that my mother has been an excellent accommodator…not I.
I tried, but never got the hang of accommodating my husband’s wishes without feeling resentful when it was never his turn to accommodate me. Of course, that is my perspective…I am sure his story sounds quite different.
I have two friends who have been married to one another all of their adult lives and they are a joy to be with as a couple. The three of us traveled together for several weeks in a foreign country. We have also house-shared on a number of occasions over the last few years. This intimate sharing of space and time has allowed me an inside look at their marriage.
I have observed gentleness in the way they relate to one another. They have genuine concern for one another’s happiness. They carve out the time to consider each other’s needs and they care enough to try to meet them. They both have generous natures and this extends beyond their relationship to their children, their families, their colleagues and friends. The most significant factors I have observed in this beautiful marriage, is recognition and respect for their diversity and the ability to let down all pretense and laugh with each other at themselves.
Love is a word that is so overused it has lost its power for me. I understand humankind’s constant attempts to conceptualize it; I just feel those attempts usually fall short. Being with my friends, I see beyond the concept into the experience. With them, I see what love is and I realize what makes a marriage not just last, but flourish.
I am in a relationship with a man who gives me hope that I too may have finally found an experience of love that takes me beyond the concept to the experience. Trust is key.

couple sillouette

Motivations

etheric meditationThis morning I am exploring the motivators that move me to action. I know that an urge to do something does not necessarily imply action. I also know that I have an impulsive nature, a “jump now and ask questions later” style of living. The upside of my spontaneity is the many experiences I have that I would miss if I spent time considering all the risks and benefits.
Thoughts need not be spoken. I ask myself, “When a thought appears do you always consider the possibility that it is best left unsaid?” Unlike my overall positive experience trusting my instincts with spontaneous action, I have discovered that when it comes to voicing my thoughts, less is more. The risk of being misunderstood may greatly outweigh any benefit derived from speaking.
The bottom line with “thought = word = action” is defined by the question, “how clear is my intuition?” Are my domesticating Ego filters over-riding my intuitive Spirit nature? Who is driving my bus?
When Spirit is in charge, I can trust my “gut impulses.” When Ego is controlling, I better stop and consider long and hard the consequences of engagement.