We are officially nomadic and have been for the past ten months – and we are loving it! Wifi is hit and miss so getting posts anywhere other than on Instagram (@wanderingmnm) hasn’t been… More
We stood before our altar space, a handful of images scattered across the surface, a candle flickering in their midst, speaking our gratitude of each of those pictured and those who were not. We spoke of the gifts they brought to our lives, and their continued presence of support from the non-physical realm. These were our kin, our ancestors, our friends and our beloved animal companions that shared their lives with us for a time.
Two images sat in the center, these were of the two beings who were close to us that had passed on since the last time we did this ritual, since the last time of Samhain. A dear friend, Amy, who had passed in the late fall of 2015. We had been plotting a visit from her that winter, one that didn’t happen, but whose presence I have been feeling keenly over the past year, as if she were just on the other side of that thin veil that wafts between the physical and the non-physical realms, cheering me on, sending me support, and smiling her loving smile at me through it all.
The second central image, blurred as I looked upon it, tears stinging at my eyes. My voice shook as I shared my memories and gratitude of this amazing feline being. Ginger came into our lives in early January of 2001, shortly before Mark and I married. Her bold, vivacious spirit filled up our lives with laughter, warmth and a deep connection that still rocks our world. She passed from this physical world in January of this year, and I still feel her physical absence with a deep ache. She has taken to visiting both Mark and myself in the dream world from time to time. I’ll wake and still feel the echo of her warmth, the vibration of her purrs. We look out to the majestic old plum under which she is buried, nearly daily, it being the view out the window before which we sit for our meditation time and do our yoga practices in front of. This spring the burst of blossoms seemed all that much more magical and the hum of bees and flitter of birds visiting the tree throughout the spring and summer seemed all the more perfect, for Ginger loved to sit under a good tree or shrub and observe the world, including all the insects and birds, that came and went from her hiding spot. Today a light breeze flutters more of the plum’s leaves through the air and down the field, settling in the tall grasses where Juncos flit back and forth, tails flashing little white flags, their clicking chatter filling the mild autumn day with sound.
The practice and ritual of taking time to remember, to celebrate, and to honor those who have touched our lives and whose lives are no longer lived here on this earth is something we have been doing for seven years now. Each time it has been a little different. Sometimes we place a few images, and simply take a moment to remember these lives, and the lives of those in our lineage, lighting a candle and raising a glass in a toast. Other times we have placed items on a larger altar space that represent those who have passed and the lands from which our ancestors came. We’ve prepared foods from those ancestral lands and enjoyed a small feast while telling stories of those we remember and ponder what life was like for those who we don’t. No matter how simple or how complex, creating the space for this practice has touched us deeply. Our ancestors and loved ones, human or otherwise, are remembered and sent appreciation and love. It is a precious ritual, one that has offered healing and closure at times and one that has brought with it the gift of laughter and joy-filled tears at other times. Every time it touches a place deep within us, strengthening our feelings of connection to all who have gone before us, and reminding us to live in such a way that we share our own gifts, our own unique selves with the world more authentically, while we are still here.
In honoring and celebrating those who have passed on, we honor and celebrate life.
It’s quite often that I’ll wake up in the morning and feel the pull of a place. It’s not quite as often that I feel I can answer that call. When the two come together though, magic happens.
It was Friday morning and Mark and I were thinking back on the other late October adventures we have had. It was 16 years ago, in another late October, that we met at a trail head. A group backpacking trip in the beautiful Olympic National Park was where our adventures together began. And due to odd work schedules over the years since then we often did our anniversary celebrating around that meeting anniversary instead of our wedding anniversary of three months later.
So it only made since we were feeling the pull to the road, to trails, to nights in the tent, to adventure. We were packed and out the door before noon, only a couple hours after the idea came up in our conversation. We’re old pros at getting out the door, pronto!
Purple Bear, one of our trusty adventure buddies, was ready to go and he was taking his job of back seat navigator seriously – well as seriously as a Purple Bear can. I think he was just eager to get to the evergreen huckleberries!
Mark’s great plan was to go west then turn left. And that’s just what we did. South down the coast, stopping here and there along the way till that evening we arrived at Sunset Bay State Park, one of my old favorites from BM (before Mark) times. It was nice to share yet another favorite place with Mark, who had only really passed through this area, heading further south. Sunset Bay never disappoints!
And neither do my Trusty Tevas – these are happy feet!
We picked out our campsite in the dwindling light of evening, splurging for a site in the quieter hook-up area of the campground. A Grandmother Spruce stood watch over our camp and a small creek burbled at its edge. This place promised magic!
And at sunrise the next morning the magic was revealed…
The next day we explored the nearby State Parks, a string of three that blend together into one stunning stretch of Oregon Coast.
We started out at Cape Arago – with its wild headland, marine-life filled beaches, and sweeping views of mist filled rugged coast line.
Shore Acres offered some sweet wave watching as swells rushed in and crash over the reef and upthrust of rock formations. The geology is amazing here, and I never tire of watching the wonder of this liminal place where ocean meets land.
Another aspect of shore acres are the botanical gardens, a remnant of when this area was part of the grand estate of of pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder Louis J. Simpson. The gardens are beautiful at anytime of year, and even at this late in the season the roses looked spectacular, and smelled even better. There’s a wonderfully eclectic collection of trees and plants here, and I always enjoy a stroll through the gardens. This place is transformed into a wonderland of lights during the holiday season and the work had already started!
We also had to be sure to stop in at my favorite fish market in nearby Charleston, Chuck’s Seafood and pick up a chunk of the smoked tuna. I’ve been coming to this place for this tuna for well over twenty years, and it had been far to long since last I enjoyed this treat!
We added a new ritual and treat to our Charleston visit thanks to the delicious coffee at Bayside Coffee. Mark knew about this place from working with the son of the owners and we were excited to stop in while in the area. I love their focus on fair trade and organic beans and the small batch roasting makes it all the more awesome!
Late afternoon came and we pointed the Suburu north, stopping for a bit of hiking and mushroom admiring here and there, eventually pulling into Honeyman State Park and site 101 just as it got dark. The weather had been spectacular and the rain held off until about mid-way through dinner. We just sat at the table, fire at our backs and kept on eating in the rain, laughing, and plotting how string the tarp in the dark after dinner.
The next morning Purple Bear went exploring. I’m pretty sure he was trying to get to the huckleberries in the bushes that towered over our camp.
After getting the bear out of the tree and into the car we rolled out of camp and headed to the day use area of Honeyman State Park, where we walked along the shore of the dune created lake and found mushroom photo opportunities around every bend.
We continued north, stopping for ice cream at BJ’s in Florence – always a great stop, their lemon chiffon is mmmmmmm!
We wanted one last hike before heading homeward. After looking at my old an well used William Sullivan 100Hikes Oregon Coast guide, we decided on a short loop along Sutton Creek. It was a great choice! The trail rolled through spruce, shore pine and rhododendron forest along the edge of a massive dune system and a beautiful stream. Kingfishers rattled often from somewhere just out of site and I was torn between staring up into the beautiful forest canopy and all the birds flitting there and staring down at the edges of the trail where a wide array of mushrooms grew.
Such a beautiful hike and a great way to finish off this Oregon coast adventure.
It’s been a wonderful 16 years of adventures and we’re looking forward to all the ones yet to come. ❤
Grab a yummy beverage and come hang out with me for a while! My first episode of Creativity Ramble, a new series of videos on my you tube channel all about the joy of creative living.
I was recently sitting in meditation when the image of a sail boat drifted through my mind. It was a series of scenes that flashed through in an instant starting with a sail boat being motored out of a slip in a marina and maneuvered ever so slowly through a harbor. Careful steering, slow and steady as she goes. The next scene was breaking past the mouth of the harbor and heading out into the open water, sails rising, wind catching and filling the bright swaths of cloth and the feel of a strong and steady wind moving the boat forward. With these images came a sense of inner knowing and understanding.
These past months, we have been that sailboat maneuvering in a small and tight space, working to move out into the open waters, to raise the sails, to catch the wind. The wind is the momentum, the flow of energy that is ours when we step more and more into our excitement and take the steps that are before us towards our dreams and desires.
I saw and understood that at this time things are shifting, and what has been taking a lot more energy and effort to do, is now just about going with the flow more than ever, making those fine adjustments, just as you do when sailing, shifting the sail a little this way or that as the wind shifts. It’s an intuitive process, a process that is all in the now. You feel the the wind and you simply know which way to shift to keep the sails full and the forward momentum going.
It’s like we, (and I mean myself and my partner personally, but also perhaps on a greater scale as well, others could be experiencing this), have gotten through the narrow channel and things are opening up before us and the means to move into those things are simplified, if we allow it to be. And, honestly, not allowing it to be feels far more intense than it has in the past. When thoughts turn in a direction that isn’t in alignment with the direction of the flow of momentum that our choices and excitement are taking us in, it is like we have picked up a couple of canoe paddles and are trying to paddle the sail boat against the wind and the current, all with the sails still up. It doesn’t take much of that before you have to sit back and take a breather, and in that brief pause the clarity settles in, you see the thoughts for what they are and you let them go. You set down the paddle, put your hand to the sail and settle into the flow, the now.
Lately I had been noticing that there were several points where it felt like we were being squeezed through a tight channel and then coming out on the other side to a larger space. Each time it is as if the narrow space we moved through removed the extraneous stuff inside us that could hold us back. It was a cleansing, a purifying energy we were moving through that was refining our thoughts, our beliefs, our beings to be more in tune with who we really are and what we really want. Then the Autumn Equinox came and it was as if we went through one more channel, this time what was before us on the other side was the wide open waters of possibility and the means to navigate them with greater ease. That’s where I find myself now.
With the equinox came a lot of clarity. More specifics became apparent in how we want to go forward and in acknowledging what was most exciting we felt a larger shift and a near instant flow of energy to help us move in that direction all the more. I won’t be sharing the specifics quite yet, there are things still waiting to unfold that need to come before that, but what I can say, is that when you say Yes to that inner knowing, that rise of excitement, stuff starts to happen. Energy and momentum and enthusiasm to get shit done that you know is ready to be done is suddenly there, and in large doses. We’ve been riding the wave of that since the Autumn Equinox. That’s meant a lot more downsizing has been happening, a lot more stuff has been going out the door and the preparations for even more.
We took a pause in the midst of all that sorting and sifting to head to the ocean for a day – yet another inspiration that came while sitting and meditating early one morning. It was a day of such ease and peace. Sitting on the beach, running my hand through the rocks, admiring each lovely stone, listening to the surf rush in and flow out in that steady rhythm that my breath so easily became a match to. Walking barefoot in the sand and surf, communing with the great spirit that is the Ocean and who that day was also She Who Sparkles as the sun danced across her waters. Later we watched the Whale Peoples play and feed close to shore, over and over, being moved to exclamations as they came to the surface, blowing spray into the air, tails sparkling in the sun before slipping under the surface once again. Over and over and over, and we never tired of it. For hours we just watched and were. An even deeper peace settling over us through the day.
Even in the midst of momentum, of moving more quickly towards what is next for us, there was space for a day such as this. Where time seemed to slow and stretch to make room for all the wonder the ocean, the whales and our open spirits could give.
There is a spaciousness to this shift, I feel it all around me and I feel it deep within me. Each time I come to something that feels outside of that spaciousness and ease, I allow myself to notice, to back away and to let it go… all the details that still need to be figured out, will simply come in their time. I know this and when I forget for a moment there is space within me to come to the remembrance of that truth more quickly and easily that i can recall ever being before.
As Bob in What About Bob so famously (at least to me) said – “I’m sailing! I’m sailing!”
Yes indeed, I am.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Thoreau:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagined.”
Yes, I believe I will.
How about you?
I wanted to share this video I created a few years back that shares how to bring simple ritual and deep appreciation into the changing of the seasons.
Touching in to the changing of the seasons helps us tune more fully into the now, find appreciation for what has been and look forward to what will be.
Revisiting this video was also a deeply touching gift for me due to the star appearance of my much loved and now non-physical Ginger-kitty who has been visiting my dreams a great deal these past weeks. Thanks Ginger.
Happy Equinox every one – may it be full of the harvest you most deeply desire…
Christopher Penczak, one of my favorite authors in pagan writing, has a meditation in his accompanying CD to The Plant Spirit Familiar,where you journey through the world of plant allies and meet ones to partner with, connecting to their wisdom and personal spirit medicine. Nearly every time I do that journey, somewhere along the way I meet up with False Hellebore (Veratrum sp.) This is a highly toxic plant if consumed, but I find its spirit energy and medicine to be incredibly empowering. Its energy both calming and yet invigorating, grounding yet ethereal.
This past weekend I was so very fortunate to come across this plant in the wild, still blooming and back lit with sun rays – allowing some spectacular photos, full of energetic light dancing about and around the plant.
Go ahead, sit back and connect with the plant through these images and see what wisdom and medicine it might hold for you.
In this video I check in off and on through out my day to share a few glimpses of what I was up to and what yummy things I was eating. Come along and join me in this small sample of a day in the life of The Green Woman. 🙂
lots of smiles.
I take you down to my beautiful creekside sit spot in this video and share my thoughts and reflections on simplyfying my life through how I use my time and energy online. I talk a bit about personal websites, my recent decisions that led to moving my blogging here to Folloing Her Curiosity as well as share some thoughts on making sure that our time online is enriching our lives.
Oh and there’s some new video editing software learning curve going on… enough said! 🙂