Tag Archives: nature

On The Cusp

Summer is officially coming to an end tonight. I let the fact sink in and notice a little bit of sadness. Somehow this summer was very precious because it was so different. It not only gave my body time to recover but also allowed grief that was still in my heart to finally move through and made it so clear what changes still needed to be made.

There are dishes in the sink waiting to be washed but just for this moment I pause and remember. It feels important to acknowledge the changing of the season and express appreciation and gratitude for the many gifts of this summer: the opportunity to rest and be still, the quiet solitude, the fruits, veggies and the flowers from the garden, witnessing the sun rise, just breathing, deeply taking in the smells, the sounds, the shooting stars, the colours and the unique beauty of summer. Nature took care of me and taught me how to take care of myself by following my own rhythm and to listen.

Photo by Michelle Venne

Today squirrel knocked on my window – literally! It had never done this before even though we had a few discussions about throwing pinecones at me when I am walking beneath the large pine or digging holes in the middle of the path to my cabin.

Hearing the strange knock on the window this afternoon I drew back the curtain just in time to watch something leap off the windowsill onto the deck. I expected it to be a bird and was surprised to see the squirrel instead. Once it had my full attention it talked quite excitedly while moving along the edge of the deck, stopping every few steps as if it wanted to show me something important.

I thought I had learned to listen. Yet when the squirrel asked me to follow it today, I chose not to go. Reflecting back on it now I see that none of the reasons for not going were good enough to miss taking in the fullness of this last day of summer and receiving whatever the squirrel was trying to show me. I wonder now what I may have missed…

One late evening this summer as it was getting dark I got the clear instructions to go down to the water. I was feeling very tired, but I hiked down to the ocean anyways and I am so glad I did. It was profound to get such detailed information where to stand, how to connect with a whale who was resting in the distance through sending messages from my heart to his, breathing together and then having to hurry all of sudden to a certain outcrop of rocks which was not easy to do in the dark. I found myself standing at the edge of the water just in time to witness a pod of dolphins swimming by lit up by the bioluminescence in the water. I will never forget the sound they made nor the magic of seeing them gracefully gliding through the water like fiery arrows with sparkling light everywhere. It felt like the sound and light was moving right through me. In that moment it was so clear that there is no limitations of what we can manifest.

So glad I decided to leave the dishes for now and dig a little deeper. I had completely forgotten about the incident with the squirrel until I stood out on the deck after dinner tonight enjoying the feel of the rain on my face and feeling my socks grow heavy from the moisture.

Feeling grateful and excited about welcoming in the new season I intend to apologize to the squirrel in the morning for not listening and following its invitation. Still I keep on learning…

Gentle Equinox Blessings to you!

First Day

Wet green moss beckons

as she steps barefoot into the New Year

Out of time into the warmth of Now

Love illuminates the barks, mosses and leaves

while stag moves slowly 

towards her unmoving presence

Golden Elephant breaks through

the last clouds in her heart

offering her the universe in one drop

Laughter bubbles to the surface

inviting one numb foot after the other

into the welcoming womb of unexpected bliss

Sailing away into the misty moment

she lets the seaweed caress her skin

on this first day

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wild Christmas Beauty

For Belonging
by John O’Donohue

May you listen to your longing to be free.

May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.

May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.

May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.

May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.

May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.

May you never place walls between the light and yourself.

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you,
mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

Walking through the woods on this Christmas Day I noticed how the trees were lit up like Christmas trees. It was so beautiful and unexpected to find Christmas out there in the forest. Breathing in the forest air a deep sense of belonging filled my heart. There were so many gifts to be discovered, like secret little hiding places which made me wonder who actually lived there and many different mushrooms and mosses glistening mysteriously, hinting at a wild world which was beckoning me to enter. I came home two and half hours later filled with so much joy and wonder.

So before this Christmas Day comes to an end, I want to wish you a “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”!

And may the wild beauty in our hearts guide us into this new decade and New Year and allow us to broaden our sense of belonging and our part in that greater family.

Much love to you!

Messenger Outside

Discovering a young buck lying peacefully outside my door was such a sweet surprise this morning. Peeking from behind the window I watched him for a long time just chewing his cud. It was strangely meditative observing him bring food back up into his mouth and slowly chew it before swallowing it again. Suddenly the elusive answer to a question that my mind had turned into a complex mess popped up out of nowhere. Here it was, right in front of me and so simple. Watching the buck also inspired me to finally start sorting through my boxes, full of things from the past, deciding what to let go off and what to keep.

Flashes of memories of visiting my grandmother and her people on their little farm easily came to mind as I stood by the window gazing outside. I still remember the excitement and fear I felt of helping my great-aunt “Tante Bärbchen” with the cows. We would take them out onto their pasture in the morning and bring them back in the evening. Recalling the loud sound their hooves made on the pavement, as we walked through the tiny village, I always marvelled that they didn’t just run off. Instead they listened carefully to my great-aunt and were happy to come home to the barn, which was attached to the house, to get fed and milked. I loved seeing them lie peacefully in the straw at night chewing their cud.

These memories must have prompted me years later to get my own goats. Again the joy I felt milking them and taking them on their daily walks in the wilderness is still with me. My son was just two at the time and I would take him with me on these walks. Everyone would join us: the horse, our dog Mika, our two cats Cinderella and Tinkerbell and most of the chickens and Mr. Rooster as well. It was a funny looking herd to say the least.

The goats were very protective of my little boy and wouldn’t let anyone except me get too close to him much to Mika’s irritation. After all he was supposed to protect us. Instead he had to watch out that the goats didn’t succeed in butting him if he dared to come too close. He barked with outrage at them, but they kept their tight circle around my son whenever they felt some perceived danger.

Afterwards we would hang out with the goats in their shelter for a while. It was warm and cozy as we watched them peacefully chew their cud. So grateful to have these memories…and yet there is this funny dilemma with memories when you don’t remember who you told them to already. So please forgive me if you have already heard this. These were the images that came to the surface while watching this beautiful wild animal lie so trustingly near my door step. Perhaps in a way it is me chewing my cud in the form of these vital memories from what now seems like a long time ago.

Well, of course I had to try and take a picture of this magnificent animal. It took about ten seconds for him to jump up after I opened the front door and make his way to his brother or buddy who also had been lying down nearby. It was such a powerful sight seeing these two look back at me. You just never know what unexpected gifts, messages, answers or memories are brought to your door step…

Beyond Duality

Looking at the sky early this morning while standing out on the bluff I wondered what the day would be like. The sky looked like it had a hard time making up its mind. The clear division of sunshine on one side and dark heavy clouds on the other made me laugh reminding me no matter what, that I have choice through which lens I want to see the world and meet what life brings me.

As it turned out it was a mixed bag all day, quickly changing from sunny to cloudy… back and forth. However the flowers on my deck still wet from the gentle rain last night and shining vibrantly despite the cloudiness were calling me to take a picture of them. Perhaps it was the greyness of the moment that made their beauty even more pronounced.

I love taking pictures after a rainfall. Each glistening drop sparkling, containing and reflecting the mystery of life to all who care to take a closer look, just as each flower speaks to us of a beauty far deeper than what can be seen by the eye. Perhaps that is why gardening is so deeply satisfying as it allows us to enter and commune with both the very tactile grounded earthiness and the mystery contained in each seed planted. I do not have a garden here as I literally live on a rock, but the planters on my deck filled with herbs, greens and a few flowers gift me with the joy of being connected with the cycle of life and feed me in so many ways.

As the summer is deepening I allow myself to slow down and take in the gifts of the season… it’s scents, colours and delights. The Humpback whales have been hanging out nearby and I can’t describe how deeply it moves me to hear them breathe and speak to each other and perhaps even speaking to me and my friend as we sat under the starry night listening and watching stars fly through the sky. Neither of us had ever heard whales speak. Such incredible magic!

Yesterday the whales were slapping their fins and breaching for a long while. What a magnificent sight that is! It made me long for a better camera, as I kept missing those perfect moments. However I know I did not really miss anything as I allowed myself to take in the joy and exuberance that was being offered with my whole being.

I feel so blessed to have a place to call home and not just any place, but such a special one. And I get to share this gem with others who find their way here for a session or come for a cup of tea and hang out in the magic with me. Each moment is so precious and I love the gentle relaxation after a crazy busy spring, just being, still healing and enjoying this incredible beauty, the abundance all around me and the many fun and heart connecting community gatherings.

Yet just as sunshine and dark clouds meet in the sky and the whales dive again deep into the depths of the ocean I am aware of the duality we live in, which contains it all: birth, life, death, joy and grief… and the pearl that can be found in all of it: the love which takes us beyond duality.

Circling Around The Heart

As I sat down at my little table the other morning facing the still white fields with the intention to write, a movement outside caught my attention: high in the sky birds were circling… and so many of them.

Rushing outside with my camera the birds were now even higher in sky and further north and looked like tiny moving dots. Their white tail feathers flashing in the sun revealed that these were bald eagles gliding upwards in a thermal. There must have been thirty or forty or more.

Running back inside to get my binoculars wanting to have a closer look, they all disappeared behind the clouds by the time I returned.

Standing on the melting snow and taking in the beauty of the day the birds were singing a happy melody reminding me of Spring, when suddenly four eagles reappeared performing their dance in the sky. Mr. Kitty also joined in, circling around my feet as the eagles were drawing spirals in the sky.

Thinking of the beautiful heart cloud that presented itself just before Valentine’s, a gift of Love appearing out of nowhere, I see how my mind likes to put every experience I have into neat compartments of “like” or “don’t like“. The heart cloud filled me with joy, while watching a seagull kill a little duck was heart wrenching to say the least, while an eagle was keeping a close eye on Mr. Kitty who had followed me down to the beach. I decided to stay and protect the cat rather then try to rescue the duck. It was a very weird moment recognizing that we are all predators and prey and that attaching any kind of label seems rather pointless.

This morning waking up from a dream with my heart pounding, I was glad to see the golden light of the new born sun shining on my pillow. Taking a deep breath and releasing the feeling of sorrow that I took with me from my dream in which I had met up with my golden companion Frodo, I jumped out of bed with excitement, feeling happy to be alive and have a day off on such a beautiful day.

The dancing light on the ocean was not to be missed and it didn’t take long before I made my way to the beach rejoicing in the pattern the freezing cold night had painted on the pond and the one single leaf left on the tree made me pause in wonder.

Discovering more delights on the beach, but also noticing the contrast between the pine tree so ladened with seeds announcing new birth while its branches are hanging low over dead logs littered all over the beach for as far as you can see. Trees that were cut down for a reason, but that never made it to their destination or intended use. Maybe not everything has to make sense like the seagull killing the little duck and then just flying away or so many trees ending up on our beaches never used for anything. Perhaps it is in the noticing and being with what life and death are offering that changes the lens through which we see the world. Certainly some experiences change us forever almost instantly and others, perhaps like the rocks being polished by the sea, take a long time to round out the sharp edges and letting in new awarenesses.

I’ve been loving the gift of winter that February has brought us here on the island with so many magical moments, but also the reminder of stillness and death. Yet I can almost feel spring waiting in its wings, ready for it’s turn to offer us its beauty and unique expression. I am looking forward to the changing of the season, ready for the new greens and buds bringing in new life.

Nature has so much to show and teach me and being in the moment is one of the greatest lessons I am learning. And in this moment the sunshine outside is encouraging me to get on my bike and give my body some much needed exercise, even if my mind needs a little more convincing.

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.”

The Long Walk Home

P1260104Change with heart!” These three words were the only thing I remembered as a noise pulled me out of my dream. Yet the clarity and meaning of them stood in astonishing contrast to the grogginess I felt from being pulled out of my sleep. Strangely even though I couldn’t remember a thing other than these words, the meaning was as clear as the raindrops gently falling from the sky: inner and outer change needs to come from the heart!

It also reminded me of the experience of finding a beautiful black and white feather beside my plate one morning a couple of summers ago when my mother was visiting. I still remember the feeling of sweet surprise as I sat down at the table set for breakfast holding the woodpecker feather gently in my hand.

P1100501My love for rocks and feathers was never quite understood by my parents. It was usually made fun of, so it was extra special when I found this treasure by my plate. So strange how a feather can feel like one of the greatest gifts I have ever received from my mother and she has given me so much including my life.

Now looking back at that moment I clearly see that this gesture was her way to acknowledge and honour my love for these offerings from nature despite her seeing them so differently. In that instance the lifelong belief of not feeling understood or seen by her vanished. Instead another memory brought a smile and tears to my eyes: The Spring after my oldest son Magnus was born, my mother and I were taking turns pushing the baby buggy over impossible rough, recently logged, terrain and carrying a magnificent big white rock I had found that I just had to bring home. We still often laugh and remember that long walk home and how much strength it took to bring both the rock and the baby safely home.

 

P1260281That special stone has moved with me from my cabin in the mountains to the ocean and many other homes in between. It holds a very special place in my heart. It reminds me of that powerful time in my life raising my boys in the wilderness and my parents coming every year to help out with so many projects like building a woodshed, or helping me cut the six chords of firewood needed to get us through the winter and the many other amazing things they did for us. My mother who loves the city put aside her own beliefs, fears and comfort, venturing up that “crazy” mountain road where you prayed that you wouldn’t meet a logging truck coming down around each corner especially in the winter.

A woodpecker flies by with its bright red cap announcing its presence and bringing me back into the present moment. I think he agrees it is time lay to rest the old false beliefs and hurt feelings carried from childhood and I thank my dream and my heart for letting me see so clearly how loved I am.

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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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