Winter Solstice

fire “The Winter Solstice is one of the oldest and most potent rituals of renewal. As the northern hemisphere of the earth reaches its darkest point of the year, the Winter Solstice is the turning point of increasing light from December 21st onward. It is the sacred juncture within yoga and the Tantric Body that mirrors the drawing of the light and in-breath into the lotus of the heart – a linking of the individual and cosmic flow. This is further heightened by the alignment of the nurturing soma or inner nectar of the full moon. For many world cultures, the Solstice is the true new year as the ritual marker to truly let go, honor and bring closure to the past year and ignite our deepest visions and intentions for the coming year as the light is emerging. Our bodies as nature are intimately connected with this macro solar rhythm giving us a powerful opportunity to align and be in harmony with the greater flow.”    ~ Shiva Rea

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The depth of darkness precedes the returning of the light.  In many cultures the solstice is celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth: out of darkness the birthing of the sun. It is no accident, I think, that it coincides with the western celebration of Christmas, and the story of the birthing of the son.

Seasons remind us that life is cyclical. The cold gives way to warmer days, dark turns again to light, we live, we die, we grieve loss and let go, and we celebrate renewal and give birth to new joy as we cycle through the seasons of our lives.  Darkness can be a time for turning inward, for reflecting, for taking stock – remembering the joys, the sorrows, the laughter and tears, acknowledging change and the shifts in “who we be” that come as a result of our experiences.

As I reflect on the many changes this past year – the growth and the sale of my business, letting go of what once looked like home, family re-connections, moving, travel and the opportunity to spend time with my sister, a deepening yoga practice, and through it all an evolving spiritual awakening – I am struck by a strong sense of change and evolution. Life is shifting.

I am letting go of who it is I have been up to now, making room for something new, some new expression of life and love.  I don’t know yet what it will look like, and so I open to possibility, moving in the moment, one breath at a time. I am grateful, and honored to take this journey through life with my husband JB, to have in my presence a mirror, a sounding board, another whole to share this life with.  I am grateful too for the friends whose hands and spirits have held me up in moments when I most needed it.  I am grateful that I can walk this path with my sister, whose life in many ways is a reflection of my own, and whose grace and strength touches my core, teaching me about love and letting go, connection and family, life and death.

Without darkness, we would not know the light ~ for as the light comes forth from the darkness so also does the darkness reside deep within the light.  Experiences, good and bad, are opportunities to ask….  Who Am I in the presence of This? and somewhere in the choices we make we discover we are more than what we had believed ourselves to be.

This winter solstice, I will be spending time in prayer and meditation, honoring the darkness within, opening to the light, and allowing intentions to unfold as they will…

Joy to you in the year to come.  May you find your own peace in the midst of chaos, may common sense and reason guide your steps, may you laugh through all the ups and downs, gain wisdom through your experiences, be passionate in what you love, and revel in the living of your life.

Om Shanti ~ Namaste


May Peace Prevail on Earth

join with others in a universal prayer for peace

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 12:49  Comments (1)  
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Small Spaces, Large Living

I’d forgotten how the wind can blow here in the Carson Valley. Hard and strong, whipping between the hills, whirling with yellow gold maple leaves. They dance together across the roof of my tiny trailer as I awaken, making me believe it must be raining. It’s not. The clouds, tossed about by the winds, are at first dark and stormy, then momentarily relenting, they reveal bright morning sun.

We arrived here on Monday, nearly a week ago, greeted by warm sun and cold uncertainties. Our little caravan consisted of a Penske rental truck (driven by the amazing JB) pulling our small 21 ft Komfort trailer that (yes, really) would soon be home; followed by me, four cats and a dog in the Honda Odyssey, pulling our vintage tent trailer (that might soon be up for sale – it IS a collector’s item – interested?) Everything we owned was there on the road… Maybe like a turtle we are learning to carry home on our backs. Learning, I say, because even this trip we carry too much. Let go of much of what remains in the rental truck – next trip, we carry only what fits in our home.

Downsizing. We’ve been downsized, people say sadly, yet here we are downsized, and gladly. It feels good to get small, to release the extraneous, to let go of the irrelevant baggage. Really, how little we need in order to live! Some things are admittedly hard to let go of… this must be my third full library that I’ve gathered, then sold or given away. Books are good friends, and while sad to see them go, I imagine their lives expanding into other people’s lives, sharing good words, good stories, good times. In letting go, we expand.

So what’s left in that Penske truck that would require temporary storage? JB’s tools, for which I will never begrudge him. They have saved us too many times to count, fixing what needs fixing, making life simpler, and most recently – keeping us on the road, and safe. And my tools – those implements I keep for work: massage tables and accessories, Thai mats and yoga mats, and books relevant to my learning.

And kitchen things. I said to jb, as he was selling and getting rid of our many household goods – if its in the kitchen keep it and pack it – but I hadn’t realize how many kitchen toys we have! I love the kitchen – want to someday grow my garden, to be able to can, freeze, and store food; cook, bake, and play. I love good food, nutritious, home made, organic. For now, though, in the simplicity of a small space, I will keep only those things that are currently relevant, so some sorting and selling and giving away will make our stuff even smaller.

(btw, here’s a great video animation about Stuff that’s been around for some time – if you haven’t seen it, take a look.)

We don’t need much stuff to live, and live well. While life circumstances necessitate change, it is also an opportunity to be really conscious about our lives. What is our impact on our Earth, our environment? Lessening our footprint, living sustainably, supporting life, living compassionately – these are issues that matter to us, and are informing our choices as we take new directions in our life. Living in a tiny space is certain to make us more conscious about resources – how we use what we use, and what the impact is on our immediate environment, and on Earth herself.

I love this Earth. Driving, traveling, exploring – there is so much beauty. How do you ever choose one place to live? The ocean, the mountains, the desert hills ~ from desert sagebrush to open sea ~ there is beauty in every landscape. Everyone should travel, at least a bit, even if its only around their own backyard. We need to see, feel, experience the beauty of this Earth in order to come back to our true responsibility of stewardship.

JB and I, and our country dog, are living in a city now (small, granted, by city standards, but large when compared to outskirts of La Pine) – we are re-adjusting to traffic noise, occasional sirens, an overwhelming number of people and dogs, lights that prevent us from seeing the stars at night. And yet, even here, we can see the sky, the sunrise over the mountains, the cloud patterns above us, the leaves falling to compost on the earth below us, the bits of green tenacity that rise up through (creating even) cracks in the concrete city. Earth: she is determined to Live, with us or without us.

I’d like it to be with us. Our lives are intricately connected with every other life on and including this planet. So how do we begin to align ourselves with the Earth, our Home, in such a way that we all survive? How do we come to realize that our health is intricately connected with the health of the earth, that the health of our planet is intricately connected with ours? (more on that later!)  How do we come to know that we need each other, in community, for health to be realized?

It’s all grass roots. Remember that famous quote from Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Living sustainably, being good stewards of our home, is a choice we each can make, individually and in community. Maybe we don’t make changes all at once, but simply becoming aware of our impact on the earth is enough to allow the changes to begin to unfold… once you know, once you really see, changes begin to happen. How can they not?

So here we are, JB and I ~ living small in order to live large. We are making decisions with a new level of integrity, being aware of our every choice. Yes, we still have a car – we had to use oil and gas to get to where we are, and will again, as this is a temporary location. But we also now live where our bicycles and feet can become primary modes of transportation, saving the car for only occasional use. We are conscious of where our food comes from, what we eat, how much stuff we use and how much garbage we produce. Living in a small space will help increase that awareness. Our goal is to live lightly, to be more compassionate, to love the earth, and the people on it, and to live with the integrity that love requires.


It’s late in the day now. The winds have gone, leaving rain clouds settling in the valley and snow dusting the higher mountains, and I am remembering that there are hot springs right here in Carson City…. mmmm, cold weather, hot springs…. Oh yes. Off we go to soak our tired, sore bodies in healing waters ~ a gift from the earth for which we are indeed grateful.   🙂

Published in: on November 7, 2010 at 18:14  Comments (1)  
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Cold and Dry.  The autumn air deepens into winter’s bite at night ~ below freezing temps in the high desert of Central Oregon.  Time moves on:  autumn, just arrived, already merging into winter. In the moving, stillness.  The dryness of this day, in this place, is crisp, cold, unyielding.  Waiting.

I find myself depleted, emptied of purpose, watching, listening. Waiting.  Dry.  My skin is dry, my body craving water, moisture. Even my spiritual center feels dry, crisp, like an autumn leaf that crumples when you fold it in your hands, bits drifting down into the earth.  Compost.

I imagine walking barefoot on the thick, wet carpet of a rain forest  (avoiding slugs) under drips of rain from bright green mossy branches, or diving in to the wild waves of a cold, salty ocean (not that I would really…being the cold wimp that I am, it is more a romantic notion than a practical one, no matter how thick my bathrobe may be).  I crave the idea of moisture, of wet, of wild water, of a fertile flow that might feed some new step, some new force of creativity.

Dry spells are normal, I suppose. This emptiness, this nothing…. creative types know it well.  Writers block that comes after a period of prolific writing, blank canvas that stares back at a painter as if nothing could ever fill it, architects or web designers who lose, momentarily, that creative flow that builds something out of nothing.

And if it happens in creative endeavors, why wouldn’t it also be a natural part of spirituality?  Spirituality is nothing, if not creative (in fact, when creativity is separated from spirituality, there can be no true inspiration, but that is a thread for another day).

Contraction precedes expansion.  Expansion requires contraction.  Perhaps contraction is necessary to integrate creative and spiritual expansion, and maybe emptiness is part of a letting go that allows space to open for a different kind of creative expression.   Yin and Yang, and All that Jazz.

oceanEven the ocean contracts and expands in response to some greater force that we can only marginally grasp.

This dry, brittle spiritual center is, I know, a momentary contraction.  I’ve known it before, know that this too will pass. Creative contraction is always temporary, no matter how absolute and devastating it is in a moment.  The emptiness is not really empty. My friend William used to say: “even numbness is a feeling,”  and Pema Chodron reminds me that feelings are simply energy, they come and they go, none of them are permanent.  Change happens.  Contractions give way to expansions, emptiness invites form, and is filled.

For now, all I can do is allow the emptiness, allow the dry spell.  Here God, this too is yours.  It is all I have to offer in this moment.


Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 09:13  Comments (2)  
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Autumn Equinox

I arrived home yesterday, the Autumn Equinox.  The earth turned toward a full, bright, harvest moon, and Jupiter sparkled with sunlight.  A rare occurrence, they say – the harvest moon on the date of the equinox, the moon in conjunction with jupiter and uranus, jupiter in opposition to the sun: a night sky watcher’s paradise.

It is a time of change ~ seasons shift, the earth moves, the journey continues.  “Home” is also in transition. Boxes are packed and hearts are opened as we wait, listening, for the unfolding of what comes next.   This Is.

Tonight, we enjoy the full moon.

Full Moon Festival, by Thich Nhat Hanh

What will happen when form collides with emptiness,
and what will happen when perception enters non-perception?
Come here with me, friend.
Let’s watch together.
Do you see the two clowns, life and death
setting up a play on a stage?
Here comes Autumn.
The leaves are ripe.
Let the leaves fly.
A festival of colors, yellow, red.
The branches have held on to the leaves
during Spring and Summer.
This morning they let them go.
Flags and lanterns are displayed.
Everyone is here at the Full Moon Festival.

Friend, what are you waiting for?
The bright moon shines above us.
There are no clouds tonight.
Why bother to ask about lamps and fire?
Why talk about cooking dinner?
Who is searching and who is finding?
Let us just enjoy the moon, all night.

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 21:01  Comments (1)  
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