Tag Archives: Encouragement

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.

P1170559

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.

P1170826

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!

P1070320

 

 

Weekly Photo challenge: Waiting

Shimmering Blessings

P1080764

Shortly after publishing my last blog “The Eye of the Storm” I found this beautiful blessing or perhaps the blessing found me. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to share it with you. The words opened my heart like a flower after a heavy spring rain. I felt myself relaxing and breathing deeply.

Jan Richardson is an artist, author and ordained minister and lives in Florida. It is well worth checking out her blog if her words touch your heart as it did mine. If you go to her website (link below) you can check out her beautiful work.

Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
cease.
Let what divides you
cease.
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
possible
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

© Jan Richardson, from her book The Cure for Sorrow.

janrichardson.com

Even though

P1160066

Even though it is raining here day after day or so it seems, spring is here and awakens me to fully be and participate in the great unfolding of life. I want to share with you on this grey morning a beautiful blessing by John O’Donohue.

Let us bless the imagination of the Earth.

That knew early the patience to harness the mind of time,

Waited for the seas to warm, ready to welcome the emergence

Of things dreaming of voyaging among the stillness of land…

Let us thank the Earth that offers ground for home

And holds our feet firm to walk in space open to infinite galaxies.

Let us salute the silence and certainty of mountains:

Their sublime stillness, their dream-filled hearts.

The wonder of a garden trusting the first warmth of spring…

The humility of the Earth that transfigures all that has fallen of outlived growth.

The kindness of the Earth, opening to receive

our worn forms into the final stillness.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth

For all our sins against her:

for our violence and poisonings of her beauty.

Let us remember within us the ancient clay, holding the memory of seasons,

The passion of the wind, the fluency of water, the warmth of fire,

The quiver-touch of the sun and shadowed sureness of the moon.

That we may awaken to live to the full the dream of the Earth

Who chose us to emerge and incarnate its hidden night in mind, spirit and light.

Go Deep In This Fire

 

p1150772

My gaze is drawn to the compass lying on my desk. It’s needle pointing unwaveringly due north. It is lying in the midst of other objects thrown carelessly on the wooden surface.

It stops me in the tracks of my mind, just like a young eagle did the other day while driving home from work. I saw him sitting there on a rather unusual perch: a utility pole right on the side of the road. I kept driving, till I finally answered the inner call to turn around. I knew he would still be there.

I got out of the car after fumbling with my phone hoping for a picture only to find that the battery was dead. The young eagle watched me carefully.  His gaze was as unwavering as the needle in the compass. I held his gaze, wondering…

Then I suddenly remembered that for some strange reason I actually had put my camera in my backpack that morning, which I never usually do. The eagle watched me patiently return to the car and get my camera out. I snapped a few pictures, but something didn’t feel right.
p1150375

A bunch of cars drove by and I was sure the eagle would fly off with all this commotion. He turned his head looking this way and that way, but mostly his eyes were on me. I finally lowered the camera sensing the importance to be fully present. The camera had in some way shielded me from experiencing the power of the gaze of this eagle. As I allowed myself to be fully seen, I felt strangely naked standing there before him as if he could see every part of me, even the parts still hidden even from myself.

Suddenly he lifted off gliding gracefully over the quiet lake. I stood there long after he was gone, feeling a different kind of fullness and aliveness and wonder.

p1150393

I had several different encounters with young eagles since then and none of them surprised me, yet each of them made me pay attention, listen, be fully present, learning to let go of what I want, and instead opening to what life is offering me.

Then yesterday morning, as I was reading and writing in bed, something else stopped me in my tracks. This time it was a poem. I was looking at my 2017 We’Moon calendar curious about the next full moon, when I came across the poem called “Cracked” by Nell Aurelia. It spoke to me in such a deep way, putting into words what I experience night after night. Most nights I feel like I am in a cauldron over a hot fire, resisting, surrendering, resisting, surrendering…What I am slowly learning as the fire is burning away my resistance and what this poem made so beautifully clear to me that this journey is about me fully committing to life and this human experience, even in this very intense time both in my own little world and the greater world.

I knew immediately that I wanted to share this poem with you here on my blog and contacted Nell. She has graciously allowed me to share her poem with you.

Cracked 

by Nell Aurelia

I’m cracked. Completely.

I fell into the furnace long enough

To decide to find my own fire and light,

And when I went all to pieces

Some surrendered to the heat

And those that were left were me

But purer: there is something of a diamond

Rushing through my core,

A full madness of restructuring.

There is no ruin here.

Unless that is your fearful name for transformation,

Which I can understand,

But when you fall flying into your own,

You’ll understand:

Falling apart is full of its own reward,

However much it feels like dying, like failure

Full of the unbearable sensitivity

Of committing to this human experience.

Go deep in this fire.

There’s a point where all explodes and converges,

And you find you are yourself,

Only stronger, clearer, finer.

The messiest refinement of all: Choosing to live well.

Well? Fully.

Alive to pain, to suffering, to inequality,

To joy, to birth, to creation, to love – To all,

Because when you get right down in it

Acknowledging pain only opens you more to joy.

The brilliant imperfections of love, of loving,

Can only make the world shine brighter;

It’s fear that will give you half a life and convince you

You never wanted the other half anyway.

 

I highly recommend checking out Nell’s blog for more of her powerful poetic offerings:

https://thesingingdark.wordpress.com

hot-compass-1

Image by Dancing Wolf

 

Sacred Dreaming

p1110366

Sweet sunlight touches my fingers as they glide across the keyboard feeling light and weightless. Today is a new day and it holds so much promise.

Plans of washing clothes, vacuuming, and cleaning up, are all flying out the window as I bask in the warmth of the light coming through the glass…thoughts of different possibilities drift by gently as I consider how to honour the gift of this day.

Nature is beckoning as light fairies are dancing across the water. I know I will be going outside soon with my camera to capture some of the magic.

It is fun to allow the words to weave themselves as Grandmother Spider is sending out a barely seen thread into the world on a slight breeze on this winter morning.

It is even more fun to allow myself to dream again. This day feels like it was made just for that.

Yesterday I started a new collage. I used to make one almost every year. They help me focus on what I want to manifest in my life. Their images remind me of what is important to me and keep me aligned with my dreams. Many of them have come true. p1130621I just have to look around and see what is here: living in one of the most beautiful places I could ever imagine, a sweet home with a wood stove and many windows and a beautiful view, a partner who appreciates and loves me, living in nature with a bountiful garden, fruit trees and berry bushes….the list goes on and on. There is so much to be grateful for and many dreams are now my reality.

Working on this collage brings up memories of dreams I am still longing for, some old ones and some I only recently allowed myself to have. It is a delight to see this new collage unfold as I carefully choose and position each image. In this process a memory of my father speaking about the fulfillment of one of his big dreams arises. He had a dream for many, many years to one day own a brand new Mercedes Benz. I was so happy when I heard around the time of his retirement that he was finally able to fulfill this dream. The next time my parents came for their yearly visit, I asked him how he liked his brand new car and his answer surprised me very much. He said: “The car is great, but the dream was even greater!” For him the joy of having and holding the dream and the connection to the mystery of its unfolding was more dear than the real thing.

My father passed away a few years ago, but still visits me occasionally in my night time dreams. He was instrumental to my partner and I moving to this beautiful place. I had a dream in which my father gave me the greatest gift. The problem was, when I woke up I couldn’t remember what it was. It was too big to bring back into this reality. I remember wondering all day what the gift had been. That evening I talked to a friend of mine who had known my father and who also knows me well. I told him about my dilemma of not remembering the dream fully. My friend asked me: “What is the biggest thing your father could give you?” Automatically I replied: “His Love!”. “No, bigger than that!” my friend said. I was shocked. This surprising answer from my friend prompted me to enter deeply into the question: “What could be a bigger gift than my father’s love?”  The answer came slowly to the surface with deep emotion. Tears were spilling from my eyes as I replied: “He gave me my life! …And then the memory of the gift came back: “In the dream he gave me permission to live my life the way I want to live it, not the way others expected me to or how I had been conditioned.” Tears are running down my cheeks again as I write this. He could not have given me a greater gift. The day after I had that dream and out of the blue my partner found this beautiful home on Cortes Island. We made the decision right then and there to let go of our lives in Victoria and move here. Less than two months after the dream my life had completely changed. I am not sure if I could have taken the step and given myself the permission to live my dream without the message and encouragement from my father.

The thread that Grandmother Spider has sent out is now anchored firmly to the big Fir tree in front of my window with the light and wind playfully changing it’s colour in the most magical way. I feel grateful to the power and sacredness of dreams and dreaming and hold a vision in my heart that our collective dreaming will weave a web of love, connection and a growing consciousness that celebrates the sacredness of all of life.

img_0262

Life And The Loom

p1130348Here it is: my first handwoven creation!

At the end of October I had the fortune to buy a beautiful small loom from a friend. Weaving is something that I had been curious about for many years, ever since I saw and fell in love with a gorgeous Saori loom on Saltspring Island. I had never tried weaving before, but just sitting at the bench touching the wood left a deep impression. The ideas of weaving were put away till someday when perhaps I could afford a loom like that. This summer the longing to try weaving returned. So I considered buying a more affordable loom, but got lost in deciding how and with what to start. So I let it go once again…

Then out of the blue a friend announced that she was offering her beautiful Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom for sale and I knew I had to see it. Within a few weeks we met up and I saw the small loom for the first time, I knew right away that this was my starting point. My friend showed me the basics and since then I’ve been learning a lot from this little Harp loom about weaving and life.

The greatest joy for me was playing with different colours and textures, immersing myself in the creativity like I never have before. There were also some challenges that I needed to learn from. It showed me clearly my deep attachment to the outcome and how much it effected me when it was or was not going well. The biggest challenge showed up when I was getting closer to the end: one of my warp threads broke and I was devastated thinking the worst had just happened. p1130072My mind was telling me: All this work for nothing! I contacted my friend with no luck, researched like crazy on the internet, tried a few things and in the end had to give up and let it go. After a few days I took the unfinished scarf off the loom and for the first time got to see what I had woven. I had not followed any pattern, just let the loom, wool and colours guide me. I was astounded at what I had created and to my great amazement and joy the scarf turned out to be the perfect length. I guess the loom knew when it was done. A big lesson learned! And deep gratitude for the outcome!

I had just picked up a book from the library, that I had ordered in, called “Dying To Be Me” around the same time I got my loom. The author Anita Moorjani writes about her near death experience and healing from cancer afterwards. I was touched by what she wrote and what she had learned from her experience and want to share a little excerpt as it directly effected my weaving:

“I saw my life intricately woven into everything I’d known so far. My experience was like a single thread woven through the huge and complexly colourful images of an infinite tapestry. All the other threads and colours represented my relationships, including every life I’d touched. There were threads representing my mother, my father, my brother, my husband, and every other person who’d ever come into my life whether they related to me in a positive or negative way.

….In the tapestry of life, we’re all connected. Each one of us is a gift to those around us, helping each other be who we are, weaving a perfect picture together. When I was in the NDE state, it all became so clear to me because I understood that to be me is to be love. This is the lesson that saved my life.”

p1130381

Reading this book made weaving for me a very deep experience. As I wove I got a sense that I was weaving something much bigger than a scarf. Each thread seemed important. As I wove, I reflected on my life and myself. I wondered if perhaps at the end of our lives we take the tapestry we have woven through our interactions and relating from the loom of life and we get to see what we have created and how it all fits into the tapestry of all life. Weaving for me has become another form of meditation and also a beautiful way to express my creativity.

Before I read the book I heard Anita give a Ted talk. I loved the simple yet powerful message she has brought back from beyond. Here is the link, if you feel curious:

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Dying-to-be-me-Anita-Moorjani-a

 

Hallowed Heat

hallowed-heat

I didn’t expect this time of change would be so challenging. Another night of hot flashes and night sweats where I lie waiting for the heat to pass through my body. I throw the covers off, trying to remember if this is number three or four. I can’t believe I’ve lost count again. My body is drenched in sweat. I pull the window wide open and welcome the beautiful cold and fresh air on my heated skin. Basking in it’s coolness, I feel so grateful for a moment of comfort. Eventually I fall asleep again, only to wake up feeling icy cold. I quickly close the window, trying to find the covers I threw off earlier and snuggle under the light feather down and drift off again.

Not sure how long it takes for the next wave to come. At some point in the night I feel myself surrendering to the fire and ice, and to the exhaustion that I feel in my whole being. And then I remember: I remember this feeling of exhaustion and helplessness. I remember when wave after wave after wave of contractions prepared my body for the birth of my first child. Memories are flooding back now as another wave of heat burns through my body. These memories are so vivid: the fear, the pain, the bewilderment as day drifts into night and into day again, wondering in earnest: Do I have enough strength for this?

I think of a young friend who is about to have her first baby. I know she is facing her fears and gathering her courage. I don’t think it matters if it is your first baby or your fifth. It takes courage to surrender to nature, to face the pain, to trust and be in the not knowing of how this will go and how it will change your life forever.

As I open the window again and look outside, I can see stars shining brightly with fast moving clouds covering and uncovering them like a blanket. mooncloudsAs I look at their beauty I see with such clarity the immense amount of courage and strength that women have.

It feels like I am in labour of a different kind. This time there is no other human being growing inside of me that wants to be born. It feels more like I am birthing a new me. The old familiar me seems to be losing ground, in fact I think she is fading fast into memory. With it comes a feeling of loss. At the same time I feel myself opening to the great mystery of it all. Yes, this is a time of great change for me on the inside and outside. And it seems strangely fitting for the times we are in that is calling for great change in our world.

Surprisingly I still dream a lot between the hot flashes and chills. Many short exhausting dreams showing me all the parts of me that are fearful, that feel less than, the parts of me I would rather not see. I am often not sure what is more exhausting the dreams or real life. And I am starting to wonder if it isn’t all just an exhausting dream.

Yet there in the early morning hours when you can feel dawn is not far away, I finally let go of my ideas, thoughts, and techniques to get me through another wild night. I feel them leave my mind and body like blood draining from a wound.  And then something in me softens, opens and in this sweet moment of deep surrender I feel myself drift into a peacefulness that permeates my whole being.

Later that same morning I stand before the mirror and see red rimmed eyes staring back at me. I have to admit I am taken aback by what I see. Then with a little more compassion I recognize the tiredness in the one that is facing her aging and all the changes that comes with it. I look closer and hold eye contact with my Self. And as I hold this contact I feel that same beautiful softening take place in me and my heart gently opens all the way to the one I see in the mirror. And then I recognize what I see reflected in those eyes: Love.

flaming-heart

~Pictures by Dancing Wolf

Messengers

kayak4

It couldn’t be a more beautiful beginning of Fall. I woke up this morning just after the official time of the Equinox which was 7:21 am here on the Pacific Coast. The sun was just rising over the tree tops and I was noting to myself the place where due East is. Somehow this knowing seemed important. The morning has turned into a picture perfect day with amazing sunshine and warmth. Even the hummingbird visited the fuchsia on our deck when I was writing in my journal. It stayed for a long time checking out each bloom carefully, then coming over to see what I was doing. I was glad for the sweet interruption taking me away from my meditation on the inner discomfort I was feeling. The perfect calm and serene picture of our beautiful bay before me did not mirror what was going on inside of me.

Tomorrow I will be attending my first workshop at Hollyhock, a retreat centre here on Cortes Island. The workshop is called “Dance of Oneness: Dance Your Passion!” led by Banafsheh Sayyad. I am excited, curious and a little bit apprehensive, but mostly looking forward to immersing myself in a lot of things that I love: sacred dance, sacred poetry, meditation and chanting. It can’t really get much better.

As I look more closely at the discomfort I notice the familiar fear of the Unknown.  Perhaps that is what has been disturbing me. It is not so much the unknown of being in a group of strangers or what we will be asked to do like dancing in front of each other, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but this is more a fear of the unknown inside of me: what is my passion? Will I be able to get in touch with it and embody it, give it a true expression, without holding back? What else will be revealed in this process and will I allow myself to see it and be seen? Will I be able to let go of the”I”, and truly dance in Oneness? Dancing has been an incredible vehicle for me to let go of fears, let go of beliefs in me that stop me from freely expressing who I am, and a way to step out of my own way and let the divine express through me. I haven’t danced like that in a while. I haven’t let go like that in too long.

The other day when I went kayaking with my partner we came across these beautiful birds on the shoreline. Something other than wanting to get a good picture drew me closer. To my astonishment these birds did not move away. They sat there in stillness watching me and they did not appear to be afraid. kayak5

They looked at me with their beautiful dark eyes even when I was just a metre away from them. This experience stayed with me for a long time afterward. We discovered in a bird book that they are called Black Turnstone. The information about them was interesting, but it was not what stayed with me. Whatever I had seen in the dark pool of their eyes stayed present with me long after the kayak ride, and suddenly I knew what I had seen there and what had touched me so deeply: Trust! Deep trust was reflected in their eyes and the moment I got that, I started to remember…

I remembered the many times in my life when I had been able to take that leap of faith into the Unknown despite huge fears, by trusting. I remembered when I immigrated to Canada at the age of 18 leaving my family and the safety I had known behind, this moment of trust when I said Goodbye to my parents and the life I had known. As a dear friend reminded me this week there have been a number of moments in my life where I had to trust and let go. I can’t even say that I really know what I was trusting: life? myself? something bigger than me? All I know is that trust is what ultimately let me jump of the edge into the Unknown despite all the voices of fear. These little beautiful birds were the messengers asking me once again to trust in whatever will unfold and to trust in the perfection of it all and let the dance of life unfold in its mystery…

 

black-turnstone

~Photos by Dancing Wolf

Reflection

Well, it’s not leaving me alone!

I simply must write. I don’t know exactly why or what, but the deep urging of writing sooner or later gets to me. It is so interesting to watch my strategies of avoidance anything from opening the fridge numerous times and not finding anything satisfactory to looking at a stack of books, none of which holds my attention for more than a few minutes to many other distractions that go nowhere.

P1080506

It’s like I am trying to run away from my Self, which seems utterly impossible. So here I am again, once again immersing myself in the process of Creativity: from not knowing what to write, to letting go, letting flow and letting the words come naturally without constraint or judgement. The moment I do this, I feel like I am coming home. I stop worrying and let the deep pleasure of writing take me where it needs to take me.

Looking back at to my first blog “Springblossoms” and how long it was in the making, how  difficult that process was for me and how unnerving it was to press the publish button. Followed by a moment of joy “I did it!” to instant fears “What have I done?”. Yet also acknowledging despite the fears that this is something I need to do and want to do. I wonder if it will continue to be so challenging for me. Every time I overcome my fears and press that publish button, I recommit to the journey that I am on and also to the creativity inside of me that wants to be expressed.

For the last month or so I was distracting myself with wanting to start a new hobby: Weaving. I got numerous books from the library, talked to weavers, researched looms… spending lot’s and lot’s of time and thoughts around “Should I get into weaving?” Every time I reflected upon what was drawing me to weaving, what showed up was the weaving of words into a beautiful tapestry that brings meaning and inspiration to others on their journey through life.

So today I surrender to the creative urge and allow it to be what it is, rather than get stuck in the stuckness of fears and conditioning. Feeling a deep sense of gratitude to all the little prompts I receive along the way pointing me to what I love….and dropping into the joy of creating.

 

Maiden, Mother, Crone

P1080045

I am breathing in the beauty of this morning, breathing out any held tension in my body and mind. I love when I start the day in this way without a big agenda, even though there are many things to do. I surrender to the mystery of life knowing it will take me where I need to be and help me get done, what needs to get done today. I seem to have lost both the energy and the drive to try to control life, push through, or go against the flow.

The beauty of having a canine companion is that he makes me go outside and partake in the wonder of life outdoors. And there is something so beautiful about walking through the trees glistening with raindrops in the morning light breathing in the fresh air.

As I walked earlier today I reflected on all the changes that are happening in my body and life right now at the age of 50 in what I call the menopausal or emerging crone phase. There is a mystery to be embraced here of leaving one phase for another like leaving childhood into womanhood or the time of becoming a mother.

I remember myself being pregnant with my first child, wondering what it would be like to be a Mother and what it meant, knowing that life for me was about to change forever. I also remember the young girl struggling through puberty wondering what it would be like to become a woman. Now I wonder once again what it will be like to become a crone and what that means for me. It is a personal journey, that is asking me to go back to the beginning, way back and open to whatever is unfolding in me and before me.