Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dare to Trust

January 4, 2015

Sometimes it’s hard.
Life intervenes.  Doubt 
blossoms.  Imagination is hollow.


Believe.  Dare to trust that this tremulous 
something is nonetheless incredibly potent and wanting to 
come through you into the world.  

The rest of life eagerly awaits it.  Take one brave step.  
Listen for those who are kindred.  
They are there.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ripe Communities: Vulnerability and Patience, July 2014

Ripe Communities:  Vulnerability and Patience   July 6, 2014

Perspective & Hope.
How can I be nearly a year down the road of this particular journey?

It is easy to be impatient, to fear that I am too immersed in the details of arriving, of daily living.  Am I truly moving ahead in my life and my intentions of building rich human community, of devoting my experience, skills & voice— as wilderness guide, engineer, artist, parent, teacher, elder— towards a sweeter future?

There’s something about backpacking together with Shane that feeds my perspective and hope.  We are growing into this new life-place:  one of adult comrades with a variety of kindred interests and a deep history of knowing each other.

Shane’s current inquiry into the botany & ecology of wild places inspires conversations between us about the future of these mountain forests & humans within them.  I leap ahead— linking islands of native habitat & Shane’s idea about bringing permaculture & indigenous plants into local communities & yards— and connect all of that to my imagining of a land-based cross-generational teaching community.

Such a contrast between the more limited & “tame” forests of central North Carolina where Shane spent his elementary through early high school years, and this immense much-more-trackless land of north Idaho of his late teens and early adulthood.  

Musing about his love now of pathfinding across wild topography and his skill in using tiny twig-fires to heat food, we saw the gift of his younger years in North Carolina as a just-right and safe enough container.  That period and place— roaming those less-wild woodlands and learning basic fire skills— provided amazing freedom and stepping stones towards the future he now inhabits.

Something in all of this reminds me that it takes time for big dreams and futures to take visible shape.  Fostering underground roots that are mostly unseen and yet potent is the foundation.  Patience, persistence, holding intention:  they are roots.

(Do you see the mourning dove on her nest?)

Vulnerability seems a gift in this, too.  Often I feel my hesitation to risk; to articulate and share my deepest-held hopes and dreams.  “Someone” might laugh, or roll their eyes!  I might lose some conventional approval.
But I am NOT conventional.  And I do hold these big dreams.

Continuing to introduce myself genuinely as I am has brought in new and inspiring friends with kindred hopes, and I bet that in some years down the road, I will be able to have the perspective looking back of how these beginnings have grown into some chunk of the future I hope for. 

So I cheer myself on— and you, my friends— in holding to dreams.  May shy and wild snowshoe hares emerge to greet us as we stand, unsuspecting that some aspect of us and the way we are present has made a safe place.

Settling In, written May 2014

Settling In May 7, 2014

I arrived in Sandpoint, Idaho ~ 6 weeks ago.  It is a small town of about 8000 and wild creatures are close, like these moose in town the first week I was here:

The mama: 

Mom and 2 teenagers:  

I am working ~ 4 days a week as a cashier at the local independently-owned natural foods store here.  

It is much like Weaver Street Market in Carrboro!  It is a HARD job to learn, I have great co-workers, and it is also a sweet way to meet good people, not to mention some steady cash flow.  I have a bike with baskets so I can commute by a combination of bus and my bike.

There is a separate bike path along the entire 3+ mile route all the way to my door.  I am renting a room and sharing kitchen in a home in Dover Bay, with wetlands, geese, ducks, osprey and beaver almost at the edge of the back porch, so it is a lovely place for my morning run, and to be in the midst of beautiful wildflowers and migrating birds.  

Here is the house:

the nearby mountains:  

and the wetlands:

I’ve found Glacier lilies, “grass widows”, shooting stars, and willow catkins blooming:

in the last 3 weeks on a nearby hill where I have sat and just listened and watched all the wildness around me:

Last but not in any way least, Shane!  We are having some incredible times together backpacking and listening to hopes for the future and dreams to get there; discovering amazing new birds and flowers and wild country along the way.  To hear, witness and support this time in his life feels like an incredible and important gift.  He is part of the future that gladdens my heart.  I am finding other incredible community here too, and there will be opportunities for collaboration on rites of passage, beginnings of Phoenixes Rising, and tiny homes.

Shane and I camped together 2 nights near Shiloh Guard Station at the end of April - an area we have now hiked 4 or 5 times last fall and this spring- Here’s a potpourri of flowers, mountains and camping.

Rekindling Friendships, written March 2014

Sights, Inspirations and Rekindling Friendships  March 18, 2014

It’s three weeks since I’ve written.  At the moment I’m on a bus in Oregon along the Columbia River that Amtrak has hired to shuttle us— our train lost time in the Cascades behind a limping freight, and now they are aiming to make up time and catch the eastbound Empire Builder that left Portland ahead of us.  

One way or the other, I should end up in Sandpoint, Idaho in the wee hours of the morning.  I have a place to stay for the next 2 nights, and various leads to follow towards finding a small place or room to rent for the next months.  I expect these next few days to also rendezvous with Shane and my little car, battery reconnected after its long winter of hibernation.  For sure, I am unlikely to be sitting around much in the next while, so this bus ride seems the perfect opportunity to write you all.  I plan to stop by the Sandpoint Library tomorrow, connect to the Internet, and send this off!

These weeks have been rich in incredible countryside, and even richer in people, stories and  conversation.  In the midst of much unknown, I am also hopeful and inspired.  

Powerful winter storms and uncertain timing of ice in Chicago encouraged my friend Elizabeth and me to err in the direction of caution and cancel our long-planned trip to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in nearby Missouri.  We turned the disappointment into quiet time together and a project with Elizabeth’s vintage Singer sewing machine and a lovely Goodwill Store silk scarf to create a lavender-filled eye pillow as a gift in appreciation for our hostess at Dancing Rabbit whose significant coordination efforts were for naught.  And we feasted on the incredible variety of an orchid show at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Traveling by public ground transportation has gone well.  It was just delightful to benefit from my strategy last summer of accumulating Amtrak points and to have earned a tiny sleeper space on the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco.   The space design is superb and I took notes and pictures:  living and sleeping space for 2 along with a compact closet in less than 32 square feet!  I loved it!  During the day there were 2 comfortable facing chairs that at night flattened into a lower berth with another bunk above:

Arriving in the soft spring of California began with another wonderful Servas host family in Palo Alto and a gentle transition to Petra, Joseph and the Wilderness Guides Council’s annual Gathering in an absolutely sweet place along the Pacific near Bodega Bay.  At night, I could hear the ocean surf, and this is the time of year that the grey whales are migrating back north from Baja along this shore with their newborn calves.

The entire Gathering was incredible for me:  I particularly loved all the new members we had, many of them in their twenties and thirties.  And hard work that I and others had invested beforehand concluded in a broad and amazing consensus process to move ahead with the intention of becoming a public benefit nonprofit that I will continue to be significantly involved in, towards long-held dreams by many of us to one day make earth-based rites of passage work accessible to every family and community.

I’ve spent the week since the Gathering with 4 different sets of friends in northern California, sharing news and hopes for the future.  Over the weekend, I was with Dominique, David and Torin, hiking along Sly Park Lake and catching up- we originally met when Shane and Torin were in a Montessori pre-school together.

And yesterday I was with my two best friends from California teacher training for the first time in 13 years or so.  Deb and I joined Arlene in her 5th grade classroom, and then had some great visiting time together before I caught the train last night out of Sacramento.

I feel quite blessed in all these circles of amazing friendship and possibility in my life.  Connecting, and staying connected across wide gaps of years and geography--- it's a discipline that seems vital to community and creating the potential for it in a broad variety of ways.

P.S. Wednesday, March 19  Arrived safely in Sandpoint in wee hours last night and found a friendly fellow-traveling family to give me a ride to the home of the young friends where I am staying through tonight, so I didn’t have to wake any one up!  Currently at the library with internet access and have started following leads for congenial places to live.  

Community Winter and Idaho-Bound, written February 2014

Community Winter and Idaho-Bound  February 26, 2014

I realized that this winter was a time to put some good foundations in place and tie up loose ends   I sold my car and my old laptop, finally got a will and a Health Care Power of Attorney written, moved everything into a different storage unit for a lower monthly rent, wrapped up final energy models with my engineering work, navigated the Affordable Health Care Act, and the like.  

I spent a good deal of time with my sister Susan, Mom and as many friends as I could manage to connect with, and with the land of North Carolina.  

And I had the good fortune to share the home of my good friends Becky and Lee, surrounded by their larger co-housing community of Arcadia.  

Our neighbors were welcoming and generous to me, sharing beeswax for a candle-dipping project, a bike with great side baskets that supported some helpful bus-bike travel on various errands, an interesting book on off-the-grid power, and some hiking boots to keep my feet dry climbing various springtime mountains with Shane!

33 homes clustered this way chew up much less land in roadways, and neighbors walk past rather than driving, so connections happen easily.  The storm water pond attracts birds, and there are shared garden, play field, and community dining/cooking space for meals and celebrations together.  Every morning I could run through the small woodlot next to the pond, greeting my favorite white oak tree and whoever else was out at the same time.  (You can tell we had an unusual heavy snow a couple of weeks ago!)

Of course it’s crucial to be kindred, AND I am more and more inspired by the huge benefits of house-sharing with others— now more than ever, with natural resources precious and dwindling, finances tricky, and demographics leaning towards many single people.

The most lovely part for me is how easy it is to counter the isolating impact of busy schedules this way, with impromptu and rich conversations, laughter over side-by-side meal preparations, games.  I reveled in it!  Turns out Becky had as much fun dipping beeswax birthday candles as I did, and we are a dynamite jigsaw puzzle duo!

Instead of working inside all day after our big storm, I yielded to temptation and played with my buddies in the snow!

Becky dreamed up a shared trip as I was leaving North Carolina that was an incredibly sweet transition:  first to the mountains near Asheville to visit land that is about to leave her family, while camping with my dear friend Justine.  We had a sweet morning snuggled in our sleeping bags near the pond full of springtime frogs, and talking about life. 

Then Becky and I headed to Charlottesville, Virginia and we each visited good friends before her return to North Carolina and my boarding the train for Chicago.  I had a joyous evening with my high school friend Jane and her good husband Mark.

And I’m getting to spend time with two lovely women I got to know last year— Kristina in Charlottesville 

and Elizabeth in Chicago.  

Before I head on to the San Francisco Bay area, Elizabeth and I are quite anticipating a weekend trip together to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, a very interesting intentional community in northeastern Missouri that is hosting us to learn more about what they have figured out.

Most of the tiny house frame, various tools, my bike, and boxes of books, cookware and some clothes are tucked into my 10 x 10 storage unit as I head towards Sandpoint, ID and the mysterious yet-to-emerge patchwork of community and livelihood that await me there, along with great time with Shane.  I expect I’ll head back to North Carolina in September or so, and maybe this next winter will see the tiny house taking form.