In The Softness

 

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This morning I pulled a card from my beautiful new Yantra Deck, the Art of Being Present, that I found in Nelson, BC, on my little road trip. The card was Simplicity’ and it inspired the following journal entry, which I would like to share with you on this Thanksgiving Day here in Canada:

“I love being in the here and now, immersing myself in the peacefulness that I find beneath the busyness of my mind. The soothing freshly brewed nettle tea brings warmth to the inside, while the crackling fire in wood stove wraps me in its warmth on the outside.

Life feels so simple in this moment and so full, as Raven glides by, clucking its unique sound in agreement perhaps. The ‘trying to figure it all out’ mind has receded into the background for now. I can tune into it if I wish, but I don’t, staying instead in the contentment felt in this moment, where breath, sounds, the beauty around me, all call gently for my attention, just as the hand holding this pen glides softly across the page, mirroring the softness I feel on the inside.

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I’ve been noticing it a lot lately: this softness, when I yield to what is in the moment, rather than resist or try to change or stop what is happening. Allowing all the emotions and the changes to occur in me, in my life and in the world has somehow brought me into this more open, vulnerable state of acceptance, allowing and embracing the not having any answers. As I soften to whatever arises, I discover the joy of  my heart opening to receive it all.  In this softness I can hear a whisper “All is well”. I hear my mind faintly protesting in the backseat while my eyes fill with grateful tears: Yes! All is well!”

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Happily giving thanks for this moment and all it contains, especially this softness and love permeating from the inside and coming to me in so many forms and disguises on the outside. Giving thanks for life, each breath, each moment, each opportunity to discover, receive and express love and life, meeting and welcoming it as it is, not as I want it to be.

Sweet hummingbird comes and looks at me through the window, bringing more tears of gratitude and joy to my eyes. And with that image of beauty in motion left behind by hummingbird like a soft imprint on my heart, I want to come to your window of awareness and say Thank you for your offering of your love and presence in this world.

Wishing everyone a “Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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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.

Leaf, sunlight

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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Exploration

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Being still and sitting with what is, is not always easy, especially when life feels like it is unravelling. It has been for a while, but admitting it to myself has not been easy. Sitting now in the uncertainty of possible changes in so many areas of my life: relationship, home, work, etc., I find moments of clarity here and there, as if clouds are parting and suddenly I can see the brilliant blue sky beyond.

Change is in the air. The Fall Equinox is happening as I am writing this at 1:02 pm here on the West Coast. Summer has ended. You can feel it in the cool crisp air and see the leaves turning bright yellow and brown, some letting go, gently drifting to the ground below. The theme of the Equinox of finding Inner Balance, as the sun enters the sign of Libra, certainly speaks to me in a big way and my sense is for many others as well.

Looking at the passing clouds and watching the interplay of different layers, shades of grey and their transformation before my eyes, gives me the opportunity to view change not through the lens of fear, but with openness and wonder.

 

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What I love both about photography and writing is that it exposes unseen layers, discovered through both the stillness of the image or the words and having the opportunity to dive deeper into what is being shown. Often I may see something that I couldn’t see before, revealing a deeper magic and a much wider perspective on things.

It is in these layers and different textures of life as well as the spaces in between, that I slowly find the clarity I need to move forward on my path. Exploring all that is happing and taking time to look from different angles, close up and from a distance, creates a field of vision that is needed to see a more complete picture and also allows me to open up to what is being uncovered. Some of it is easy to see and some of it is painful to receive and be with.

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As I witness my inner restlessness pushing and pulling, I am reminded of one of my favourite poems by Mary Oliver “The Journey“, whose words describe so well that deep inner calling to step out of the familiar and into the unknown. For now I soften into the restlessness, the not knowing, the fears and the dreams, trusting that love will guide me on this journey, wherever it takes me.

 

The Journey 

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

 

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In response to the Daily Prompt: Leaf  and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered

Owl Medicine

The day was drawing to a close, when all of sudden I had this sense that I needed to go outside. I had been captivated by a novel for most of the day and was happily lounging on the couch, when this feeling to go outside nagged at me. I put down the book stepping out of the world of fiction and into the Here and Now and out onto our deck, just at that mysterious threshold of dark and light.

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Pulling the fresh sea air deep into my lungs, I gazed at the beauty of the familiar surroundings. And that’s when I saw her! Forgetting about my breath or anything else for that matter, I looked closely at her sitting on the lowest branch of a Fir tree in her beautiful grey plumage, very close to where I was.

Standing transfixed and gazing into her black eyes, I knew that she had been the one calling me silently. I sat down on the top of the steps and we continued our dyad holding each other’s gaze. Time stood still. In fact everything faded away as the bottomless blackness of her eyes drew me deeper and deeper into the Mystery.

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Suddenly a movement on my left caught the corner of my eye. Breaking the spell, I turned my head to see what it was. It took a moment to figure it out, as I watched something move zigzag in and out of view from beneath the house. Finally coming to a still-stand, just a few feet from me, was a rat.

Astonished by this development I turned my head back towards the owl who was now completely focused on the rat with such an intent, that I could feel the tension rise in me. The rat, protected somewhat by the overhang of the roof, seemed totally unaware of either our presence and began grooming herself. I have to admit she looked rather cute and innocent in the waning light. My gaze went from owl to rat, back and forth, wondering what will happen. I could feel both the rat’s relaxed way of being and the readiness of owl waiting to pounce at the perfect moment.

Then the rat moved out into the open and straight towards owl. Holding my breath I stared at both of them. In the next instance rat turned back, perhaps now sensing the danger, zigzagging back beneath the safety of the house. Taking a deep breath in, I felt both myself and owl relax once again. We looked at each other but without any tension. There was just a deep presence welcoming me, holding me in the black pool of her eyes.

A moment later she dropped silently into the Salal beneath her. Again no luck! Taking off to a tree by the water, I was amazed how P1170814my eyes had adjusted to the dark and I could see her land. Rising slowly from my seat I felt deep gratitude and wonder.

The next evening she visited once more. First I heard her hoot, then saw her land in a tree not far from the house. Dropping everything, I grabbed my camera and ran outside. She let me come very close, but as soon as I lifted the camera owl flew to another tree. I just had to follow her. Noticing that I had forgotten to put any shoes on, I continued on barefoot. Owl led me up the hill towards the bluff, then disappeared out of sight.

Being this close to one of my favourite spots, I decided to climb down the hill, making my way carefully with no shoes. When I got to the bottom I lifted my head and to my amazement there she was again right in front of me. Once again I felt deeply drawn into the dark mystery of her eyes.

As I stood barefoot before her, memories arose of past encounters like when she came a few weeks after my father had transitioned. I was sitting outside with my dog journalling and I had noticed the owl sitting on a post not far from us. Engrossed in my writing I suddenly felt her big wings right over my head. I could feel the power of the wind from her wings and Frodo jumped up immediately to protect me and barked at her. Owl swooped down over him as well. It felt like she touched us both with her wings. I wondered at the time if my father, who had been very fond of Frodo, had sent her. It sure felt like it.

I remembered other times, too, but the one most dear to me was when owl sat outside my window in the pouring rain for hours, watching me pack with a heavy heart getting ready to move to a new place. Her presence was so comforting at the time.

Once again it feels like a time of transition for me and I am glad Owl has come to guide me through it. My sense is all I have to do is trust and know I am being guided!

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Weekly Photo challenge: Waiting

Dancing With Possibilities

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A dear friend of mine told me about a great and simple idea, that got me really excited. She told me that she changed the title of her ‘To Do List’ to ‘Possibilities‘. As soon as I heard this, my whole being lit up. Wow! Imagine for a moment the word ‘Possibilities’ at the top of your To Do List!  For me it changes the whole vibration of it and it brought instant joy instead of resistance.

Now all of a sudden, rather than having endless tasks before me, I have all these possibilities to dance with. All I have to do is choose one. Another important part for me is that it allows me follow my own natural rhythm and choose something that I actually want to do in the moment.

Instead of feeling like I will never get it all done, I now allow myself to also add things that are fun or nourish me in some way but never find the time to do. And no, I don’t just choose the fun things. For me it has changed the mundane or what feels like work into fun. I actually chose cleaning and doing laundry when it felt like the natural thing to do in that moment and to my surprise even finished a few tasks that have been on my list for a very long time.

So interesting how much power words have….and for me the word ‘Possibilities’ has enormous power. It’s worth a try…

The Journey Home

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

Owl was calling softly the other night as I stepped outside with a dishpan full of dirty water for the thirsty flowers and trees. Listening to the haunting call for a while, I stood there with the now empty dishpan in my hand. I had asked owl to come the night my dog Frodo died. Here she was now a week later on the other side of the bay hooting loudly and persistently. I wondered what she was trying to tell me. Perhaps that he had made it home alright. As soon as I had that thought, owl fell silent. It felt like a confirmation, she had delivered her message.

He left in the night before the Lunar Eclipse full moon. Even though we knew it was his time, it was still not easy to let him go. P1170472I am so grateful he died at home and I was able to be by his side as he made that transition. It felt like he was labouring, birthing himself into another world. Day and night blurred together as I sat with him, holding him. No, it was not easy to see him struggle, part of him perhaps wanting to stay for me, the other ready to leave. Exhausted I feel asleep beside him in the early hours after the moon had risen and woke up with a start. I knew instantly that he had gone.

It will take a while to get used to him not being here. Fifteen years is a long time and I am so very grateful for every moment. There is an emptiness in the house and inside me, that is not easy to describe. But most people know what that emptiness feels like after losing a beloved pet or person in their lives.

P1150416[3]There have been so many beautiful signs from beyond since then, that even though there is sadness and grieving, there is also a knowing that he is well and free wherever he is now.

I want to mention some of these signs, because for me it is one of the most comforting things at this time and also one of the greatest gifts.

These little messages from beyond included the many heart rocks I found while digging his grave, to let me know this is the perfect spot for my friend. We were guided to bury many meaningful objects with him and this made the ceremony we held for him extra special.  Then there were the two eagle wing feathers I found while walking on two different days and paths, both within a week of his passing. One is from a left wing and one from a right wing and both are the same size. These were the first eagle feathers I have found here on Cortes and it felt so perfect to have one from each wing. Another deeply moving experience was a dream I had a few days after Frodo left. In the dream he and I were going for our last walk together, crossing over a large bridge. Frodo ran ahead of me and into traffic. As a young woman was holding him, I watched myself walk towards them knowing he was gone. I felt strangely comforted by this dream and grateful for that last walk together. On another day I spontaneously decided to go for a hike after work. So many memories came up for me during that hike of the many adventures Frodo and I had shared over the years. It felt so strange to be hiking without him, when suddenly this beautiful lit up dead leaf caught my attention. As I took a closer look, I instantly felt his golden presence.

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Today when I sat down to write this, I noticed a little bird sitting on the big heart rock outside my window chirping away while hopping exuberantly. It made me laugh like Frodo used to do, when he did his crazy runs through the forest running in circles and figure eights around the trees as fast as he could for the sheer joy of it. I thanked my little messenger for her sweet and potent encouragement to write again. It may not be a coincidence that the heavy rain that fell while writing this match the tears that are falling on my fingers.

Farewell, my friend!

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

Death is not extinguishing the light,
it is only putting out the lamp
because the dawn has come.

     ~Rabindranath Tagore

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Weekly Photo Challenge: shiny

 

Zufriedenheit (Towards Peace)

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When I think about the word “satisfaction” or feel into it, words like contentment and fulfillment arise. In my mother tongue (german), the word for satisfaction is “Zufriedenheit“, which loosely translates to “towards peace“. I love that!

What leads me towards peace? For me it implies taking some kind of action that moves me towards fulfillment or peace of mind. As I sit with the question, more and more answers bubble to the surface.

On the last New Moon I set an intention to write each day for at least 12 minutes. This has brought me more satisfaction and joy than I expected. It was the piece missing in my life: a commitment and making room for something I love doing on a daily basis. Of course more often than not, the 12 minutes turn into an hour or more, because time just doesn’t exist when you are happily flowing in the realm of creativity.

 

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Also there is something incredibly satisfying of capturing a perfect moment or the beauty of what I see in a photograph. It can be just watching a sunset or beautiful cloud formation, or discovering the unique patterns of a leaf or the mysterious bug on a flower. Often the satisfaction comes from being present and taking in fully the beauty or essence of what is before me or what I am experiencing, like the wind gently caressing my skin.

And then there is just being in Nature, no doing. There is nothing that brings me more joy and “Zufriedenheit” than that.  In our busy world it is a worthwhile question to ask ourselves: “What moves me towards peace?”  Perhaps as each of us move more in the direction of inner peace, the world on the outside will reflect more peace as well.

 

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Photo by Dancing Wolf

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: satisfaction