Original Face

My first blog was a sharing and exploration of my journey through breast cancer treatment in 2005 and 2006.  The book Breast Strokes came from the blog.

My second book was about the relationship between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, a complex one for sure, as each of us is complex and when we have two women loving the same man, a man perceived differently by each, understanding and compassion come to the fore.    

The third book, and the initial reason for this blog was my journey to Nepal in 1993 when I was 43.  I wrote it without the journals I so meticulously kept while there, so I relied on memory, but sometime this year I discovered the journals, carefully wrapped and tucked away.  I kept saying I’d go back through them, but then, there was always something “more important” to do but today,  New Year’s resolutions connected to hands connected to heart, I step back into the trip.  

My New Year’s intention is to post every day, and part of that will be a sharing of what I discover as I go back through journals from 27 years ago.  Today, I realized that the theme of the book, Airing Out the Fairy Tale, and my life, and possibly yours, relates to the Zen koan, “Show me your original face before you were born.”

Vicki, Celeste, and I went to Nepal on a spiritual quest.  We stayed in Kathmandu at 5000 feet to prepare.  We flew into Lukla at 9000 feet, and from there we walked down to acclimate before we continued back up.  

Today I’m reading of standing in line in Kathmandu on October 3, 1993, and it’s not really a line, but instead a cacophony of people anxious to get trekking permits.  I saw that all those around us were young, and yet I felt young even though I was 43.  Not intimated by age, I wrote, “Our spirits are high and so high we will go.”

Now, reflecting, I feel I touched my “original face” in Nepal. I was given the gift of understanding, a visceral immersion, elemental and original.   It is said that all souls circle around Mount Everest, Sagarmatha in Sanskrit, and Chomolungma to the Tibetans, when they pass. My mother-in-law passed away when I was there, and now, this beginning of a new year, I honor those who’ve passed even as I release.

Peace resides with the Tides!

Elaine Chan-Scherer’s photo of the sunset last night at low tide – Ocean Beach

Mother Trees

When I was young, I had a tree, a nest into which I climbed.

I resonate to these words of Richard Powers from The Overstory.

The judge asks, “Young, straight, faster-growing trees aren’t better than older, rotting trees?” “Better for us. Not for the forest.”

She describes how a rotting log is home to orders of magnitude more living tissue than the living tree. “I sometimes wonder whether a tree’s real task on Earth isn’t to bulk itself up in preparation to lying dead on the forest floor for a long time.” The judge asks what living things might need a dead tree. “Name your family. Your order. Birds, mammals, other plants. Tens of thousands of invertebrates. Three-quarters of the region’s amphibians need them. Almost all the reptiles. Animals that keep down the pests that kill other trees. A dead tree is an infinite hotel.” She tells him about the ambrosia beetle. The alcohol of rotting wood summons it. It moves into the log and excavates. Through its tunnel systems, it plants bits of fungus that it brought in with it, on a special formation on its head. The fungus eats the wood; the beetle eats the fungus. “Beetles are farming the log?” “They farm. Without subsidies. Unless you count the log.” “And those species that depend on rotting logs and snags: are any of them endangered?” She tells him: everything depends on everything else. There’s a kind of vole that needs old forest. It eats mushrooms that grow on rotting logs and excretes spores somewhere else. No rotting logs, no mushrooms; no mushrooms, no vole; no vole, no spreading fungus; no spreading fungus, no new trees. “Do you believe we can save these species by keeping fragments of older forest intact?” She thinks before answering. “No. Not fragments. Large forests live and breathe. They develop complex behaviors. Small fragments aren’t as resilient or as rich. The pieces must be large, for large creatures to live in them.”

Trees and Puddles
Celebrate the nature we are – our Interdependence

Solstice

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year.  I sink into the darkness, the touch of candlelight and the scent of pine and cedar.  Two squirrels chase around and up and down the redwood tree.  

The tilt of the earth’s axis gives us the seasons. It’s a time to honor and reflect. What comes to me now, and how open am I to receive?

Peace – dark – light – change 

Living – Relationship

Yesterday when I came to my Sensory Awareness Zoom class, I thought I felt fine, but as we worked with feeling the support of the floor, standing was too much.  I needed to get down on the floor to fully receive and feel the support.  We were working with boundaries, and I felt how my cells had been invaded by something foreign, and potentially dangerous, though the purpose was to potentially save my life.

I felt nauseous and tired as I processed the effects of the Covid booster shot the day before.

Then we went to the wall, and placed our hands there.  At first, my feet were so sensitive from noticing, my hands needed time to meet, to truly meet and receive the wall, but then the support came through. I rested my forehead and hands on the wall and received and filled with reception, woke. I was no longer tired. I was awake, soothingly, comfortably, easily awake. In relationship, when we notice what is always here, there is the possibility of renewal, connection with the core, the inner-outer cord of support.

Martin Buber wrote: All real living is about relationship.

And Marion Milner discovered through her own explorations in her wonderful book A Life of One’s Own that: 

But now concentration, instead of being a matter of time tables and rules, was a magician’s wand. By a simple self-chosen act of keeping my thoughts on one thing at a time instead of dozens, I had found a new window opening out across a new country of wide-open horizons and unexplored delights.

We’re not alone.  We’re living Relationship.

Elaine Chan-Scherer took photos of the sunset at Ocean Beach last night. We’re in the time of December King Tides, though Queen works, too, and the tides are extraordinarily high balanced with a shore-revealing low.

Enjoy the December light and receive the gift of her perception capturing these moments blending water, fire, earth, and air.

Elaine’s sunset photos of Ocean Beach

Anchors of Support
Touched

Centering

Today I’m reading about the heart in the womb, its formation and beginning to beat between four and five weeks.

I honor the music of the beating of heart, my heart, connecting the cells in my body, bathing and nourishing the cells in a rhythm of growth and possibility.  I feel my roots in pelvis and feet, grounded on this planet we share.  I’m touched by the tiniest branches into which blood reaches, invites, and cleanses.

I’ve been in the South Bay checking out areas, climates, houses, and now I’m home.  It’s been raining and the smell of wood smoke fills the air.  It’s like when we moved here 44 years ago.  I feel nourished in my cells by moisture, gratitude, and growth.

At times, I feel overwhelmed with possibilities, and in this moment, I feel peace.  My heart has been beating and supporting me for many years.  I trust it knows what I need and what draws me forward as I meet what comes and comes.

Jiddu Kristhamurti: 

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

Anne Frank wrote during the Holocaust “Whoever is happy will make others happy.”

And so water sinks into soil.  

Morning Comes to Light

I wake and all is silent. I read Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes” and then these words of Thomas Merton:

Let me seek then, the gift of silence and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into a prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer.

Emily Dickinson now comes to body and mind.  

To live is so startling that it leaves little time for anything else.

Guidance arrives and settles – lands, flows, flies.

Rain brings water to the mountain. The creek rises and flows, then lifts.

Celebration Time

Rain!!    It was a weekend with two birthday celebrations augmented with the joy of rain.  Even in CA, two year olds have rain boots and raincoats and there’s nothing cuter than watching them bounce and prance about.

And today, the clean air invigorates and birds are happily out and about.

Ducks frolic in the marsh
Egret surveying the scene
Circling
Egret filled with fish

Birth

Last night I was outside with the full moon, and now I receive the news that a baby we have been waiting for is born.  What a relief!  I know that childbirth in this country is mainly safe but years ago, a friend died in childbirth at a hospital in Palo Alto, and so I’m always on alert until the little being is through the canal and here, seen, and cared for.

Her mother had a tough and long labor and now this little girl is here and my grandson has a new cousin.  He loves music and rhythm, and so alive with vision and possibility, he channels Gene Krupa and the joy of playing the drums.   

The Reward for Labor

Autumn Light

There’s a softness to the light as darkness comes.  I light a candle each morning and settle into the pulsing approach of winter, this seasonal exchange of light and dark.  I circle my spine and pelvis, dig more deeply into expansion, grateful for more time to look up and out and be with more stars than the essential gift of our sun.   

Being with the wisdom of the cave

Impermanence

When we were in Monterey recently, I was enchanted with the aquarium. I’d never seen anchovies circling in the Kelp Forest before. Now, I read that they’re not always there. These will be eaten by bigger fish within two weeks.

That morning, I’d been enchanted with this sculpture. After seeing the anchovies, I knew what it represented.

Anemone waiting for the tide to come