Saturday, May 29, 2010

The River

Crevice, crook and cranny, digging in my toes for balance

The rock face illuminated by the sun lowering in the sky

Cedar bough chandeliers hang over head, the damp scent clears my mind

Perched on a ledge, I close my eyes

Starbursts shine through my eyelids, blindside, right side up

Warm wind, wet dogs, muddy riverbed, all soft breath and rushing water

Rib cage expands, contracts, back settles against stone in gratitude

Heart moves, open, a quiet receiving, a pulsing winding river.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cleared for Landing

An end is the beginning is a cathartic journey rewinding through retrospect.

I could never have imagined the width and breadth of the events that would transpire when I walked into my first yoga class at 3 West Superior Street over three years ago. I wasn’t even sure what yoga was or even why I was there but I ended up finding myself transported on to a path that has ushered me into a new place of being and living in the world and my heart bursts with gratitude for it.

In the beginning it was if my eyes were seeing for the first time; the veil of morass, negativity and conditioning lifted with each chant, each posture, each breath.

The unfolding continued through deep valleys and ravines of sorrow, despair, rage, betrayal, sadness and finally joy, openness, surrender, serenity and awareness. I met myself many times on my path, in my teachers, in the students, in the community and in my bathroom mirror.

I came to have a minimal understanding of projection, assimilation and growth. I came to recognize that what I saw in someone else I also possessed; both greatness and weakness, strength and futility, positive and negative. It was not so shocking that I possessed the same debilitating negative character trait as someone else. It was shocking that I also possessed the greatness I recognized. Over time I realized it was true for many people; easy to accept the negative, hard to accept that which makes us great.

I also came to have a minor understanding of how to traverse both worlds, inner and outer. I now recognize the connection between all beings and events; spoken, seen, heard, invisible. I watch my mind and when I am present, understand that the stories I tell myself are not true; simply projections of a mind determined to live in the past and the future rather than RIGHT NOW.

I have had to say goodbye many times over the last few years and this to, has been an astounding dance of consciousness. I have said goodbye to homes, friends, relationships, my father, teachers and ways of living and being in the world that no longer serve me. The circle of birth, life and death is one that none can escape. Change is inevitable. The recognition of this cycle, this dance, is a gift that I deem invaluable as my path continues into uncharted territory.

In the end I found even the ability to surrender and let go to be another invaluable gift. Birth, life and death demand that it be so, it is only our own egos that get in the way of the natural flow of being in this world…

Going forward I hold it all in my heart. I hold the community and the connections that I made deep in my being; solid roots sinking into the fertile earth. Thank you to everyone who participated. The gratitude I feel for you and for the space at 3 West Superior Street is immeasurable and indescribable; thank you, Namaste, Sat Nam!

Friday, May 21, 2010

As Within, So Without.

My eyes barely blinking open, I register that the sun is about to come up. I am so comfortable and warm on my futon mattress, a body pillow wedged just so, the window slightly ajar letting in the sounds of chickadees and finches. Che is on my legs and I know that if he senses that I am awake he will begin his ritual food dance that will reach a crescendo culminating in slobbery licks to my face. I decide to surrender to the other realm and softly allow my eyes to close once more.

An hour or so later I awaken again and this time Che is on to my game and Darth is already running around the living room meowing and wailing. Then I’m up and the ritual commences; food for the animals, shoes for me and we are out the door.

The air is cool and the sky is not as overcast as yesterday. We hit the Superior Hiking Trail running, veering off onto a ski trail that meanders through a young pine grove. I stop and inhale, then smile.

We reach the hwy and I decide that today is the day we cross it to reach the next section of the trail. We make the transition smoothly and are soon headed towards an overlook on the spur trail. The air is damp and deer scat litters the flattened ground. As I walk, I notice the volume of broken twigs, decomposing leaves and tree branches. It dawns on me that this process is necessary for the survival of the forest, that this refuse is actually forming the top of layer of nutrients and soil for the surrounding undergrowth and trees. This cycle is slow and it takes its own time, affected by many different variables; moisture, animals, foot traffic, weather.

I began to think about this in relationship to my own processes and life. The cycles are inevitable and natural events that meld into one another with no real end or beginning; each one facilitating the next, shaping and growing who I am. Even grief and trauma in their own state of decomposition are renewing other pieces of my expanding self, creating fertile soil for the next process.

I lay back on a moss covered log over a small ravine pondering surrender. I look up through the tree branches that were reaching for the sunlight to the blue sky beyond and remember just how small I am. And not only small, but linked; the macrocosm within the microcosm, as within, so without.

Life is not static or linear, it is a circular chain of present moments, each one folding over onto the next.


My eyes blink open at the first sign of the new day; gray morning dawn peeking through the plants on my windowsill. The sun rises in the West and I roll out of my comfortable den, embedded with the dogs to greet it. There is space here, the space of being.

Following our morning routine, I feed the ravenous hordes and put on my trail running shoes. The three of us exit the house and head down towards the Marina, our destination, Knife River Beach.

Che and Stella are unleashed and flank my sides, never wandering too far ahead.
Grandfather is breaking through the clouds along the horizon now and the birds on the island are waking up. Seagulls dart through the sky, soaring into the great wide morning. Thirteen ducks come speeding into the bay for a water landing, sliding along the surface of the Great Lake, feet in front, wings extended. Crows in the trees greet each other signaling that a new day has arrived for all of us.

I land on a piece of milky white driftwood, squatting to observe the unfolding. The dogs are at my feet digging their ten thousandth hole; they live for this, competing, pawing the ground for a stick that keeps being pulled under into the quick sand beneath their frantic paws.

I am settling into a new life here; a life with less doing and simply, more being. The time of day, the day of the week, a list of tasks are all unimportant and far away; the remnants of an old way of living in the world.

I sleep when I am tired. I eat when I am hungry. I am content to be out in the dense forest or next to the pebble and sand covered shore line; in these places the subtleties of spring are everywhere, green shoots, leaves uncurling, flowing water. I am these places. I am uncurling, flowing. I am rooted, green. I am expanding and contracting; no longer subject to the minds predilection with externalities.

I observe the stories I tell myself in my mind and I laugh; they are fabricated by the most ingenious of imaginations, events that never happen, worry that never comes to fruition. They are not real.

Poem: Transitioning

Rough and tumble, pushed and propelled
Carried by turbulent lake winds
Drug forward almost against my will
Too tired and weary to protest
Paddled up stream by grief phantoms
Cajoled, coaxed and shepherded in
I am here now at rest in mind and body
We sit in spirit, in her enveloping embrace
A soul content, utterly satisfied
A center resolute
Having pushed up through the soil to greet the sun once more
Coming home, returning around the circle.

Sunday Morning

I am up with the sun.

Birds chirping, deer munching in the early morning; Che and Stella by my side meandering down the North Shore Scenic drive. There is a cool breeze and the sound of water rushing; the pup’s breath escaping from their panting mouths like fog outrunning the horizon.

We pass the smoked fish house, follow a river, traverse a water fall; I breathe in the fresh cool scent of the sun rise heightened by notes of dew and pine. This is my favorite smell and I snag a handful of needles and humus with my fingers and inhale a sharp breathe. An old man with a beard driving a pick-up truck passes us and waves. I love that old time village hospitality; it reminds me of my youth and dirt roads.

A cup of Chai, blueberry granola pancake mix, scrambled eggs with feta; I call mom over for breakfast, she is only 10 minutes away now.

Bree and baby sleep soundly on our first Sunday morning in Knife River. This is the most relaxed and at peace that I have felt in months. Who knew that rejuvenation was right up the shore of the Great Lake?

I look forward to mending, repairing, healing and birthing here. I planted pansies in the window boxes, they remind me of my Finnish great grandmother; she once lived in a similar village, husbandless and with an overflowing candy dish.

Last night I was so elated to be here that I didn’t want to go to bed. I decided it was time to return to the tried and true Oracle and pulled the goddess card Inanna which means embracing the shadow; journeying to those parts of yourself that have been lost or forgotten. The card invites you to explore the depths and tunnel like nature of those places and reminds you that the journey takes as long as it takes and can’t be fit into a schedule. “Take comfort in the fact that all journeys to the Underworld do end and that you will indeed return-much different from who you thought you were when you went.”

If this is the Underworld, I’m golden.