Tag Archives: photography

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.

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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.”

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

 

A Sacred Journey

P1180481Putting another log on the fire, I nestle into my soft blanket as the day comes to an end. I am surprised to see the soft glow of the moon in the East already, while the intense pink sky in the opposite direction announces the departure of the sun. Settling into the stillness of what is ending and beginning all at once, vivid memories from my recent trip return. I remember clearly my feeling of excitement and some fear as I sensed that this trip was just the beginning of a much bigger journey, as I stood at the back of the ferry watching the little island I call home disappear in the dense fog, leaving a sparkling trail of light.

Three ferries took me to the mainland and my car, after sputtering unhappily for the last two years, was finally back in its full power and taking me effortlessly across the mountain passes back to where my sons were born more than twenty-five years ago. My heart was beaming with joy as I drove the familiar route through the mountains, both delighting in what I saw and the memories that kept resurfacing of two little boys and a big golden dog and all the sweet adventures we shared with their grandparents that came faithfully each summer for an extended stay from Germany, helping us on our homestead.P1180693

I must have stopped at least fifteen times, drinking in the scenery and beauty of the changing season with all my senses, reacquainting myself with the different, yet achingly familiar, fragrances, plants, birds and wildlife like I would with dear old friends. Taking my time to rediscover special spots and stopping whenever I felt the sense to pull over, I was filled with deep gratitude and wonder. For once I had all the time in the world.

As I drove through the fall landscape with beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow I was reminded that this is the season of my life now and that there is beauty and new experiences waiting to be discovered by the woman who I am now, not the young mother I was then.

P1180866It was such a sweet joy to visit with my dearest friend and as always share deeply with each other both the blessings and the pain. One of the many magical highlights was going for a hike together, climbing her favourite little mountain. My muscles were screaming by the time we got to the top. The little mountain was much bigger than I had anticipated. But the view overlooking Grand Forks and the wonderful feeling I always get when I climb a mountain and can leave behind old ideas, confusion and any heaviness I might be feeling, made more than up for the discomfort of my body.P1180939As we sat on the top of that mountain, dark clouds began moving in quickly and we watched a lonesome crow ride a thermal right in front of us. We remarked on how unusual it was to see only one crow and wondered why a group of them is called something as strange as ” a murder of crows”. No sooner had we spoken the word when more and more crows joined the first one. All of sudden the murder of crows had appeared out of nowhere. There were more crows than we could count, all dancing with the strong winds right before our eyes. It was exhilarating and quite the show to watch, making us wish we could join them.P1180780But there was another gift waiting for us. When we got back down to the bottom of the mountain, my friend found a Praying Mantis right by my car and we took turns holding her for a little while. I couldn’t help but feel profoundly touched by the encounter. P1180797This Praying Mantis with one broken antenna captured my heart as she sat there looking at me in complete stillness, helping me find my own inner stillness and connection to the Sacred.

Visiting my sons on Mayne Island on my way back was just as special and filled another part of my heart. More delightful hikes and discoveries on this small Gulf island with the highlight of a fun ride on the back of a motorbike through the autumn woods with a picnic by the Sea. Probably the most magical moment was hearing the most astonishingly beautiful song by a raven I have ever heard. It took us a while to identify who made these enchanting sounds as we sat in wonder and listened. Eagle watched carefully as two families of otters came for a drink of water and passed beneath the tree he was sitting on and disappeared in the woods perhaps for an afternoon nap.P1190046When it was time to go back home and the ferry pulled away from Mayne Island at sunrise, I felt quite differently than when I started out on my trip. And one thing that became clear is that my journey isn’t over. As I allowed myself to first entertain the possibility of listening to a deep inner calling to visit the Big Island of Hawaii on my own, that possibility quickly took on a life of its own. I will be leaving for the next part of this journey in just over two weeks. My heart is filled with much gratitude and wonder, but also fear arises in the dark hours of the night, as I continue on this sacred journey into the Mystery.

A sacred journey

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing.

Make sure before you go,
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you towards
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life;
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

~ John O’Donohue

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In response to the Daily Prompt: Gratitude