Category Archives: photography

The Morning After The Eclipse

Waking up in that perfect moment when the first rays break through the cloak of night, I am delighted to discover that frost has transformed the fields outside my cabin into a white sparkling world. Part of me doesn’t want to leave the warmth and comfort of my bed, yet the magic outside is beckoning and I am ready for this new day to begin.

Last night’s total lunar eclipse felt very special. I was gifted by a dear friend the opportunity to watch this spectacular event from the comfort of a hot bath in an old cast iron bathtub in the forest, which somehow magically faced the moon, so I could witness her light being slowly eclipsed by the shadow of the Earth. Even though the tub was probably one the most comfortable tubs I ever had the pleasure to bath in, the sacred bluffs nearby were calling. Leaving the warmth of the water and dressing quickly I made my way to the bluffs and sat on the soft moss watching the moon’s light disappear in the deep silence and stillness of the night.

What a sight to behold! The sense of the grandness of the Universe filled me, as I sat there with the stars, planets and the milky way surrounding me. It made me feel like I had stepped right into a scene of the movie “The Life of Pi”. If you have watched the movie, I am sure you will know which scene I am talking about. Even though I was aware of how many people out there in the world would be watching this wondrous event, I felt completely alone.

Strangely this aloneness felt magnificent rather than scary or sad. I know I will not find words to truly explain it. Perhaps you have an inkling of what I am speaking about. Since my mother’s sudden death in October, my world has shifted. It is and never will be the same. It is what happens to us when we loose someone of great importance in our lives. Now with both of my parents gone, I do feel an aloneness that is different than anything I have ever experienced. They had been my reference point all my life and now this reference point is gone.

On this beautiful frost covered morning after the Eclipse I know something has shifted. I felt it coming in the last little while like the light slowly returning after complete darkness. The joy and completeness in myself that I felt last night on that bluff beneath the stars showed me that life is ever changing and that in the letting go, something new and precious can be found. As I noticed a shooting star just before the last light of the moon faded, I was aware that my mom and dad are not far, just on the other side somewhere. And I could feel the presence and love of my dear golden companion Frodo who is always looking out for me from the other side and who sat with me on that bluff marvelling at the beauty of this world years ago.

I am grateful for this morning and that in this new light I can write again and put into words what my heart has been longing to express: The biggest Thank YOU ever to the woman who gave so generously and who dedicated her whole life to her family and home. I will never forget our last trip together to Hawaii in 2016, where we celebrated your very special 80th birthday – just you and I – with so much laughter and love. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me my life, for being that steady caring presence, for all we have shared and all you have done for me and most of all for your love!

Someone posted these words by Mark Nepo on Facebook a little while ago. It speaks deeply to me. So I would like to end this blog post with his elequent words today:

…The reasons of the heart
are leaves in wind.

Stand up tall and everything
will nest in you.

We all lose and we all gain.
Dark crowds the light.
Light fills the pain.

It is a conversation with no end
a dance with no steps
a song with no words
a reason too big for any mind.

No matter how I turn
the magnificence follows.”

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Tending The Inner Garden

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This summer seems to be going by so quickly.  Once again I find myself housesitting in a lovely cabin on the south side of Cortes Island with a beautiful ocean view. I am feeling very blessed indeed. Coco, the cat, comes and goes as she pleases. Yet the smoke in the air from all the wildfires covering this part of the world in a thick blanket of haze, makes everything appear unreal and strange. The thick air paints the sun and moon deep red or glowing orange with temperatures that are surprisingly cool.

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This morning I found myself thinking about the Orcas that I had seen one foggy evening earlier this spring when I was housesitting not too far from here on the same beautiful beach. I was having a deep conversation at the time with someone when we spotted the whales. There was a male with a much larger fin in the distance moving up and down through the water and a couple of other Orca whales much closer to us that seem to be resting or perhaps waiting. I had heard before that the male will herd a school of fish towards the waiting pod. Then my thoughts turned to the Orca mother who had carried her dead baby for over two and half weeks recently. How can one not be affected by this display of love and deep grief? I couldn’t help wondering if it was the same pod of whales.

With my heart aching for these giants that are suffering and struggling, I got up to put my mug into the sink and looked up to see where grey ocean meets the grey haze. In that very moment my eyes discovered in this endless see of grey a big white spray of water. A whale rose from the water in that instance, letting itself fall back into the depth of it. The feeling of deep surprise is hard to describe as I watched the whale breach a few more times. What are the chances to be looking out the window right in that moment! This recognition of our connection and the many events of synchronicity that keep pointing that there is no separation brought tears to my eyes.

P1260020As a tiny spider climbs up my computer screen I wonder what her message is. Perhaps it has to do with the web of life that we all weave together and that every action, every thought effects the whole web. When we open our hearts to those suffering regardless if they are two-legged, four-legged, finned or winged, we are each called to respond just like a mother responds when her child cries out.

A few weeks ago I came across this mushroom breaking through the earth. It made me pause and take in this moment of birthing, watching earth opening, as a new life form pushes through into the light. Isn’t every birth worth stopping for a moment to witness this tremendous miracle of something new being born? And isn’t every death worth pausing to honour the being that is leaving, who has given it’s unique gift to the whole web?

P1250585As the summer’s harvest is in full swing and I watch many around me busily collecting and processing what they have planted and tended since early spring, I have to say I miss my garden, but not the huge amount of work that harvesting can be.

I recognize that right now I am tending my Inner Garden. I feel a softness as I write these words and yes, I can see and acknowledge to myself that I, too, am harvesting from my inner garden. A few days ago I picked up my art supplies from home and spend some sweet time in the garden pulling the long overdue garlic from the earth and tying them onto bundles to dry. What bliss it was to see the towering sunflowers and the abundance of beans…

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

Yet it is also fun to play again with colours like I haven’t done in a long long time. And it is so freeing to not have any goal, to just let creativity express in whichever way it wants. There is almost a childlike pleasure of discovery and joy in the moment. I just watch as something unfolds with no preconceived notion what it might turn out to be. This drawing named Inner Garden Goddess that came into being a few days ago is part of the harvest of my Inner Garden.

Elke's Goddess #1Holding out my finger to the little spider it jumps fearlessly onto it, not just once but a few times, before I carry it outside where it happily climbs onto the clematis leaf. Once again I am reminded “I can trust life” and feel deep gratitude for the whales and what they are here to teach us. May we all open our hearts to receive their gifts!

 

 

 

Don’t Ask Why

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All day I meant to go to the garden…but I didn’t…putting it off again and again. You know something is up, when on a beautiful sunny summer day you avoid going outside.

All day I wanted to write, be creative…but felt frozen inside…distracting myself with things that give no life nor joy.

All day something is hovering on the edge of my awareness…and as I am trying to finally grasp it, mosquitos decide I am going to be their meal if I want to or not. Feeling torn to stay with what is finally coming to the surface, yet at the same time trying not to get bitten. What a strange balancing act life is!

Unexpectedly two poems land in my inbox, reminding me of a white dove and a black raven, so beautiful and powerful. Then it rises to the surface and the floodgates open: “Don’t ask why –  sometimes there just are no answers.”

P1250474Like the poems a memory now takes me on a journey. I find myself following in slow reverent steps the white Stag through the dark forest. His horns are glowing light illuminating the path. Jaguar and a Grandmother spirit are walking behind me while Eagle flies above. I am being escorted to meet with the one who can help: the Golden Elephant.

Love shatters any remaining shields around my heart when he comes into view. He gently invites me to climb on his back and takes me to where I need to go back to. It is time to release, heal and forgive something very old.

The love that surrounds me holds me in a tight embrace. On this night I will not disappear in the water. On this holy night I will let the sacred water wash away the blood, the tears, the pain. On this holy night my womb is made whole again as I stand waist deep in the ancient sea.

P1240768As I turn and slowly step out of the water, I take off the bloodied gown. I walk up to the man sitting there in silence watching me. It takes courage to look into his eyes, but I know I must. As I spiral down lifetimes I lift my head and with my hands on my womb I let the words come out slowly: “I forgive you! And I release you!”

Eyes meet, something clears, something heavy lifts and evaporates.

“I ask you to forgive me as well!” Once again our eyes meet.

Slowly I turn around and go back to the shore where it all ended eons ago. The Golden Elephant, our witness, embraces me one last time with his trunk. Words are not necessary anymore, love knows gratitude and gratitude knows love. In the end there is only love.

When the drums call me back the white Stag carries me to the entrance of the cave in which I once again disappear into another world.

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Embracing Life As It Is

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With summer in full bloom I feel constantly called to try and capture the vibrant beauty with my camera. Some of these moments are only meant to be captured with the heart’s eye like the tiny speckled fawn following her mother into the bushes. While others like the butterfly resting on vibrant blooms or the incredible abundance of berries after the rain may be shared here with you. I have never seen such an abundance of berries and marvel at the green lushness on each walk through the forest.

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Last week a different kind of experience left me feeling rather unsettled for a few days challenging me once again to accept life on it’s own terms. For me dragonflies, like butterflies and hummingbirds, have always felt like messengers of joy and magic, delighting me with their beauty as they whirl through the air.

That perception was deeply challenged when I found a dead (?!?) dragonfly on the path to the garden. Stopping to glance at it briefly after another dragonfly had flown away from it, I intended to just walk by to get to the garden to fulfill my mission of checking on the plants and do some weeding.

However as I was stepping past the dragonfly body, a movement near it caught my eye. Thinking that it was perhaps a spider, I curiously turned back to take a closer look. Crouching down I noticed the spider was turning to look at me. My mind reeled when I recognized that the spider was not a spider at all, instead it was the severed head of the dragonfly with two of its legs attached. For a moment I wondered if I had stepped into some kind of Sci-fi movie.

As I moved around the dragonfly in disbelief, it’s head kept turning so it could see me, which was a bit unnerving. Then witnessing the body starting to move as well, I wondered what was happening here. It seemed liked the two parts were trying to move towards each other. All my concept of life, death, dragonflies, nature and beauty were turned upside down in that moment and my mind (head) did not know what to do with this information. 

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Later after grounding myself in the garden with weeding for an hour, I decided to go back to the house to do some research. Noticing my deep reluctance to go passed the dragonfly, I made myself stop to look at it again. This time neither the body nor head moved. Part of me was greatly relieved, while another part of me (my head) wanted answers.

At home I looked up all kinds of information on dragonflies. I learned a lot I didn’t know, but only found one other person online speaking of a similar experience of the detached head staying alive for quite some time. Now several days after the event I am able to share this without feeling disturbed by it. It took some time to come to terms with this and now I can honestly say, I am glad that I had this experience. Once again something in me needed to expand, let go of fear and not only accept something that felt so bizarre in the moment, but find the gift and wonder in it.

I even asked myself what this might mirror to me. Reflecting on this, I am now able to see how often my head (logic) is in charge and how we are so conditioned to let it make the decisions in our lives, often not taking our heart, body or spirit into consideration.

Taking the world in through my eyes (like the dragonflies does with it’s 30,000 lenses in each eye) I instantly put reality into certain boxes of reference and sense that these boxes narrow my experience of life. It also made me wonder if life is asking me to slow down, instead of listening to my mind’s constant nagging “but you haven’t done this…” and run around like chicken with its’ head cut off. This saying has a whole new meaning to me now and I don’t say this lightly.

It also made me look at beauty and how my mind keeps it neatly in a box: This is beautiful! This is not beautiful! I am grateful for the many gifts this experience brought me from challenging my perception of life and nature, looking  much deeper into myself and how I meet the unknown and how I meet life, as well as finding beauty in dying and death.

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The greatest gift however is the realization that I can trust life to bring me the perfect experiences I need to expand and welcome life’s gifts with an open mind and heart. That is not always easy like this experiences showed me. Yet I know that as I open to what is different and unknown, I take another step on this journey towards greater love and wisdom.

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Clearing The Path

img_1527Waking up at four in the morning from the rain and wind, creating a wild song that reminded me a lot of the rhythm “Chaos” in the 5Rhythms movement practice, in which a wave consists of five rhythms: flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. Chaos has always been my least favorite part of the wave, finding it challenging to move to music that feels jarring not only to my body but my senses as well. Usually I would either resist it or eventually surrender to it. Last night the raindrops hitting the metal roof from the trees above in loud chaotic patterns and fitful waves, combined with the unpredictable gusts of wind making the cabin moan and groan, made sleeping rather challenging.

The sudden sound effects kept pulling me out of sleep again and again, causing my mind to try to identify the unruly sounds of the night and wrestling with the thoughts and fears they evoked. At one point going back to sleep seemed impossible, as my mind had latched onto the question that had been swirling around for a day, of what it means to ascend.

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Earlier in the day I had read about this week’s photo challenge “Ascend”, which had awakened in me that particular question, never mind figuring out a photo that would fit this theme. My first response was wanting to google the word “ascend” as an easy way out, so that my mind would rest and let me go back to sleep. But I knew this wouldn’t be enough, something was prompting me to listen to the answer inside of me. After a while of listening  to the wild noise outside and contemplating the question, I had to admit, that “I don’t know!”, and this opened up a space to see some things I couldn’t see before.

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Remembering how much I resisted having to clear the path to the meditation area earlier that day, which was totally overgrown and the jungle had reclaimed it when no-one was paying attention or using it anymore. Wrestling with spiky leaves from the giant century plant and thorny raspberry canes that would tear my flesh and clothing, adding to the “not wanting to do this” and feeling too tired from the super long bus rides into town, not to mentioned the rain which added to the discomfort and resistance.

P1200108.jpgAs the day was coming to an end and it was getting to hard to see, I suddenly noticed a shift in me. Looking around the space I had uncovered and created, I sensed a new spaciousness inside of me and the resistance that was so present earlier, was no where to be found.

Lying there in bed in those early morning hours, I could suddenly see how removing each thorny bush, thick ferns and weeds was also clearing out my own inner entanglement of thoughts, fears, beliefs and desires, img_1522which is exactly what meditation helps us do. Just as my resistance to the noise of the wind and rain was exactly the chaos I needed to wake up and shake out the last remaining ties or blockages, which is exactly what chaos in 5 Rhythms dancing gives us the opportunity to do, which then can lead to inner stillness even when the wind is rocking my little cabin.

Remembering the work of the last thirty days here, all the clearing and weeding of the jungle, as well as bagging pig dirt (the earth that the wild pigs loosen from the lava rocks and we can then use for planting), I feel such gratitude and can see the perfection of it all. How everything is helping me on my path, repeatedly prompting me to love life and what is, love what I am a part of creating and becoming, even if it looks like pig dirt and embracing this impulse to clear the barriers, to evolve and ascend.

Thinking of what happened after I stopped clearing the meditation area, brought a big smile to my face. Hurrying back to my cabin to get out of my wet clothes and change into something dry and warm,img_1521 I disturbed a gecko, who had been lounging on my chair and promptly escaped into the pile of clothing that were there. Seeing his tail sticking out of my pajama pants, I couldn’t help but laugh at the humour of it all and carried my little friend outside, before he got into more mischief. What better way to remind me of not getting too comfortable or fall asleep, but a Gecko in my pajama pants!

I also began noticing the difference in me now as I listened to the rain and wind’s wildness with a sense of openness and gratitude for waking me up and helping me see, that as I am clearing the path and the meditation area, I am clearing the trail to my own inner stillness and center.

After writing down some of these awarenesses, I turned off my headlamp and for a little while I could still see the light in mind’s eye, even though the cabin was once again wrapped in darkness shaking like a leaf in the wind. I wondered for a moment if the light was perhaps shining from my third eye and showing me the way to ascension. This idea brought a soft smile to my face, as I drifted into sleep, listening to the beautiful awakening sound of chaos.

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In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

 

Close Encounter

 

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Preparing for my little road trip and getting caught up in all the things I had to do before leaving, I lost track of time and suddenly noticed that the sun was already setting. I still had to get my car which I leave parked where the pavement ends, but now needed to bring back to the house to pack up for my journey. With darkness was fast approaching I grabbed my keys and started walking quickly through the forest

As it was getting darker and darker I realized that I had forgotten to bring a flashlight and began walking as quickly as I could. In the darkest part of the forest trail, normally so magical with light streaming through the trees, I suddenly heard the eery sound of a wolf howling. I stopped for a moment to get a sense of where it was coming from and realized I was walking right towards it.

Turning around wasn’t an option, so facing the fear that had arisen, I walked on and was glad, when I finally came out at the more open and wider logging road. The half moon had risen and P1170912was there to greet me and I was delighted to see it. If felt strangely comforting. The sound of the wolf’s howling was very close now. It was beautiful, wild and also sad sounding. I waited for a few moments to see if there was a reply, but no other wolf answered. Feeling a sadness and loneliness that wasn’t mine, I walked the rest of the way to my car and got there just before it was completely dark and happily drove home.

Arriving at the house I noticed the moon was shining brightly over the water in the bay. It looked so beautiful and I just had to get my tripod to try and capture the moon and the first star lighting up the sky. As I set it all up on the dock, I could still hear the wolf calling in the distance. Playing with different settings of my camera and noticing how more and more stars were appearing in the night sky, the sound of fish jumping brought my attention to the water lit up by the moonlight. Suddenly I heard a big splash just ahead of me and something rather big with wings rose from the water coming straight at me.

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To my amazement a Great Blue Heron landed right beside me on the dock. That first surprised look from both of us, as we looked at each other, would have been quite comical to witness, I am sure. I couldn’t believe that I found myself standing beside this large beautiful bird and I am not sure what he was thinking. He looked at me intently, as both of us stood completely still.

Knowing my camera was right there but pointing the other way at the moon, I realized there was no chance to capture this moment, any movement and the Heron would be gone in a heartbeat. Instead I allowed myself to be fully present and receive the gift of this close encounter.

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I was sure that this was the same Heron that I had been visiting with out in the kayak, watching him catch his dinner, sometimes with amazing precise elegance and other times jumping into the water with an ungraceful splash, but coming out of the water triumphantly with a fish speared in his beak. I have seen him land on our dock numerous times and hang out there, when no-one is there. A few times he made me laugh as I watched him grab and shake the white rope playfully as if he is bored or practicing catching fish.

On this night he didn’t stay long with me on the dock, but long enough for me to feel like I had stepped out of normal reality into some other magical realm. As I made my way slowly back to the house, wolf was still calling and waiting for an answer. The pictures of the moon didn’t turn out as I had hoped, but that didn’t matter at all. The experience with the Heron on the dock in the moonlight was far more precious than any photo.

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The next morning I set out on my journey, letting go at some point of all the things left undone and trusting they could wait till I returned. Getting to the ferry terminal, the morning fog was shrouding everything in its mystery. Standing at the beach waiting for the ferry to arrive and suddenly seeing it coming at me through the fog, I knew some magical journey had already begun before I even left our little island.

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