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Summer Solstice

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Eating dinner at the Open Door in Sisters, Oregon

Today marks the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. We are now in Troutdale, Oregon near Portland at Sandy River RV Resort. Our site backs up to the Sandy River.

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Since my last post, we stayed three days in Deerwood RV Park near Eugene, Oregon and then before that stayed at a RV park between Bend and Sisters. We took the kids to the Lava River Cave near Bend, Oregon where Stephen and I had been in 2010 when we did our California to Washington road trip. I think the kids were more impressed by holding their flashlights in the dark than the cave itself.

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IMG_3989.jpgGive the kids a little green grass, and they are happy as clams.


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Color Codes

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Crater Lake with view of Wizard Island

As you can imagine, as exciting as a year-long adventure in a trailer around the country can be, it’s not without some stress. So Stephen and I have borrowed the risk of wildfires color code chart: green = low to no stress, cool and calm, blue = moderate stress, yellow = high stress, orange = very high stress, and red = extreme stress. We’ve been staying in the green/blue range.

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Yesterday we visited Crater Lake and took a walk up the road that was still closed to cars due to snow still blocking the north entrance of the park. They had cleared at least 5 miles of the road when we were there, but we only walked about a mile up with the kids. The kids enjoyed making snowmen and placing them on the road hoping they would still be there when we hiked back down (they were not). Stephen received more than a few snowballs thrown at his neck, head, and backpack. My kind husband iced my arms and took my hand with snowballs in his hand just to cool me off. I remember one being thrown at my chest.

Crater Lake was incredibly beautiful. It was a warm (low 70s), sunny, blue sky day with a few clouds. My stress level was bordering on yellow as we walked and viewed the lake because there are no guardrails on the road and the ranger had told us the day before a man had walked out onto the snow and fell 800 feet. Miraculously he survived. I was just glad we all got out alive.

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The Bicycle Gang at Crater Lake Resort and RV Park

Today we visited Badger Run Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Klamath Falls. Stephen will share some photos from our trip there in another blog post. Tomorrow we pack up again and drive 2 hours north to Bend, Oregon.


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Hitting the Road

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School ended last Thursday. Summer vacation began for us on Friday and we departed for our around the country trip in our 2018 Flying Cloud 30 ft. Airstream. It’s a year of big changes. We sold our ranch in January. Our plan is to travel for a year while I homeschool the kids. We’re headed north so I can complete the July session of my Waldorf grades teacher training. Our first stop was Redding, California.

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We hiked around Manzanita Lake at Lassen National Park. It’s difficult these days to take a normal photo of the kids because they always have to make their funny faces.

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Manzanita Lake with Mt. Lassen in the distance

We arrived this afternoon at a RV park north of Klamath Falls near Crater Lake in Oregon. We’ve had a few snafus with trailer living. I learned tonight I cannot use the Instant Pot, microwave, while also having the AC on with the refrigerator and freezer running on electric power with 30 amps.

Tomorrow we’ll visit Crater Lake and a local train museum. Zoey and Zane have already made biker friends with a 6 year old boy and 9 year old girl in the RV park. We’ll spend 4 nights here and then on to Bend, Oregon.

 


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Thoughts for the Coming Winter

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Photo taken by Zoey at the arboretum in San Francisco

My days begin around 5 o’clock in the morning. The sun has not yet risen. I rise in the dark and in the quiet of the house. I rise to make lunches for the kids, lunch for myself, breakfast for myself while reciting John O’Donohue’s A Morning Offering:I bless the night that nourished my heart/To set the ghosts of longing free/Into the flow and figure of dream/That went to harvest from the dark/Bread for the hunger no one sees. Stephen makes his way downstairs around 6 o’clock, making breakfast for himself and the kids. We do our morning dance around the kitchen, back and forth as we get food cooked and prepared. By 7:30am, I am off down the mountain to work as the sun begins to rise. Orange and pink fills the morning sky.

Tonight as I drove home from work, I listened again to the SuperSoul conversations with Joan Chittister.  In the midst of darkness, how do we hold light for one another? I make attempts at that daily with all the patients I see at the clinic for therapy. And in my own family and friends? I could do better. When I turned 40 in October, I had this awakening that seems perhaps obvious, but usually isn’t until we bring it to our consciousness. I realized I had the choice to choose what media or content passed across my eyes. I didn’t have to take everything in and feel crummy afterward. I didn’t have to watch a scary movie and feel frightened. I didn’t have to read news stories that were ugly and disheartening. I could filter what brought more light, beauty, laughter, and joy into my being. It’s not that I’m not aware of what is happening in the world. Reading the headlines is often enough to fill me in, or perhaps an article sent from a friend that I can trust is worth reading and being moved. But the daily bombardment of ugly, selfishness, and greed? I’ll pass on that.

As we move towards greater darkness, we hold on to the hope of the coming of light. Nature points us in the direction of more understanding if we wake up and look. There are beautiful, inspiring things happening in this world. There are people who are living their life as prayer. May you and I be one of them. And in the words of John O’Donahue, May I have the courage today/To live the life that I would love, To postpone my dream no longer/But do at last what I came here for/And waste my heart on fear no more.


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Five months later: A life lived

IMG_2279Summer is coming to a close even as school has already begun and the 100 degree weather rages on with smoky air lingering from local fires. I pressed the reset button again in June. I couldn’t sustain the life I was living at my previous job. The term “quality of life” has been ever-present in my lexicon since working in hospice nine years ago. How do I want to spend my days? How do I want to live my life? These past few months, as I complete paperwork for my new job, I’ve realized how little patience I have for tedious, seemingly unnecessary work. I have no guarantee that this new job will be better than my last. That’s been my life, changing jobs in search of the better one. I keep coming back to the question, how will I live my life differently this time around? How will I balance home life and work as a therapist? How do the two become integrated into my one life I am living? After seven different jobs in two decades, maybe the answer is that there is no balance for my life as I am living it. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I was listening to the Rewind Yourself Podcast #151 Ancestral Amnesia and the Village Mind with Stephen Jenkinson yesterday, which really stretched my brain in thinking about my life. I won’t summarize the interview, but challenge you to listen to it. It was a bit like listening to a foreign language, trying to comprehend something just beyond my reach. A friend in her sixties said to me yesterday that she didn’t know why she was here, meaning her purpose in life. From my viewpoint, twenty years younger than her, I was shocked and surprised. How could she not know after 6 decades? In my naiveté, I assume that wisdom will come in 10, 20, 30 years from now, but the truth is, we are all just living our days trying to figure this life out. I think that is part of the poverty that Stephen Jenkinson speaks about.

Zoey often will ask Stephen and me to share a story from our childhood. There aren’t too many I remember. And then I started thinking about how the stories we could be telling her and Zane would include not just stories of one generation past, but also the stories of her great-great grandparents and who they were and what their life was like.

So I come back to that question of how do I work differently this time around? The truth that I have lived again and again is that work is hard. Work is tiring and draining. It can be boring and tedious. And sometimes it can be fulfilling and inspiring. We live in a time when we’re always looking for the next best thing, trying to avoid where we are. That’s my story anyway. So maybe this time around I open my hands and welcome it all in. The difficult and the easy, the sorrow and the joy. That’s a life lived, right?

 

 

 


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Living in Between

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This morning I slipped out of the house while Grandmom was reading Charlotte’s Web to Zoey. The boys were down by the shed. I walked over to the lake, sat down at the picnic table on the dock, and watched the wind moving across the water. The sun was shining, there was blue sky, and a cool breeze. Time appearing to stand still or at least passing more slowly.

The last time I wrote on my blog, I wrote about my struggle to survive the demands of my job. I was reminded of the constant change of life as I watched the wind blow across the lake, seeing the ripples expand. There is much to do when you are young, and I imagine the meaning of the doing becomes less important as you age. Doing my paperwork, doing the laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, etc. All that truly matters now and ever matters is the being. As I look at nature all around me, the lake just is, the flowers just are, the trees grow where they stand. Nature teaches us what we have forgotten as we advance our minds and forget our bodies and spirits–we are living and breathing beings–we are of nature and a part of nature. Our greatness and value is that we are, not that we do these amazing things that set us apart from other creatures on earth.

There is such beauty in life. I need constant reminders and moments like this morning to reawaken to what it means to be human. I have not yet been able to welcome and embrace suffering like the flowers and trees who accept the fading of their days with grace. We humans may be smart but we are often foolish in spirit, forgetting the wisdom of our ancestors and fellow earthly creatures. I think to be human is to be one with the earth. We who are capable of deep knowledge, we all have a call to service and to care for one another and the earth we live on. But we too must rest and follow the rhythm of the seasons. As I near my middle years of being, doing takes up much of my time, balancing family life and work life. And somehow living in between. And I hope as I advance in years, the wisdom of the flowers and trees will stay with me and teach me how to be more as I am able to do less. And that I will recognize the value of my being even as my spirit and body fade back into the earth.


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Finding My Way

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I find myself in a state of listlessness or of acedia as the Christian monks would have called it. My inner rhythm has been thrown off since returning to work. For quite some time, I held on to the vision that I would be a runner and enjoy running, but I never did. I would get stomachaches every time I tried to run (except perhaps when I was playing soccer because I’d have rest periods). And then I discovered yoga a little over 10 years ago, and I fell in love with the slower pace that let me breathe deeply but also got my body moving and stretching in challenging ways.

I realized the other day that my present work feels like I’m running everyday. And it only dawned on me after going to Zoey’s school for a parent meeting in the middle of my day. We sat down around Zoey’s circular lunch table to felt little mice for our children for Christmas. We talked and shared ideas and thoughts about gift giving and there was a sense of stillness and rest. And then I returned to work and felt the difference in the energy at my office. We should be a place of healing. We work with children who are traumatized, yet the energy feels frenetic, agitated, and restless. What kind of healing place is that?

About a week after Thanksgiving I was called to my supervisor’s office to explain why I was late on several reassessments for clients which resulted in lost billable hours (meaning our agency lost money). Last month was rough. I got sick for about a week, Zane was sick for a week. I took almost a week off for Thanksgiving. And as much as possible, I try not to do office work at home. As much as I would like to think I could turn my office work into a yoga rhythm, the truth is that I would just fall further behind in my billing, and would feel the need to keep running to catch up.

I recently finished reading Circle of Stones by Joan Dahr Lambert. Towards the end of the book, she writes this paragraph that seemed to sum up how I feel, but on a larger scale seems to also reflect the condition of our world: “There will come a time of imbalance when the dark will blot out the light, when the strong will brutalize the weak, when men will rule over women, force Akat upon them and make them bear young they cannot feed. In all that I have created, there has been a balance, between strength and weakness, between predator and prey, between that which is female and male, between the coming of new life and the resources to nurture that life, between the joy of birth and the release of death. But when the Mother’s ways are lost, the balance will die with them. So terrible will be the imbalance that the earth will no longer be able to renew itself but will strangle in its own decay. All of you to whom I have given life will be trapped in a chaos of your own making.”

I think it comes more naturally for women to be more in tune with daily rhythms and monthly cycles, but often women, too become disconnected from those rhythms. To work non-stop from morning to night without breaks feels more like imbalance to me than balance. My inner Wild Woman called out to me, so I started rereading yet again Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. She writes: “Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you find. It is the only work we have to do. You wish psychoanalytic advice? Go gather bones.”

The bones I’m gathering tell me what I’ve already known–the best part of living is talking to others, soul to soul talking, sharing meals/breaking bread with others, digging down deep in the earth, moving my body, making something beautiful with my hands, breathing deep, sitting still, and listening. This is what I want–in addition to some really good loving–I mean body on fire, tingling loving.

I haven’t found my way yet, but I’m hunting with my nose to the ground.