Old Turtle, MLK and Peace

 

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[One of 3 turtle journey shawls I’m working on
for the women closest to my uncle]

My uncle Kord was a social worker who collected on vinyl every speech ever made by MLK Jr.  Kord passed on 10/16/16, and a beautiful service was held to honor him intentionally intersecting MLK weekend, since this celebration was something very close to his heart.  He helped found the Open Door Clinic and Youth Advocates in Seattle.  He formed connections with a wide range of people during his life, from spiritual leaders to military veterans (he was one himself).  After 9/11, my uncle formed a special connection with one of the Three Interfaith Amigos, and he made time in his schedule to speak at his memorial.  I am inspired by his example, so signed up for their e-course that begins today on Compassion.

My uncle surrounded himself with animals of many kinds, but identified most with the turtle.  The turtle became synonymous with him.  He saved turtles off roadways on road trips.  He was quoted in my grandfather’s diary as having answered at age 3 when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “I want to grow down and be a turtle.”  He gifted my family live box turtles which remained in our backyard through my childhood.

Days after my uncle died, this book I’d forgotten I owned fell off my bookshelf.  It is a significant story for our time.

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I want to include rare MLK footage I had not seen here, especially as it relates to young people in my own life, including my daughter and her friends.  I cannot listen to a single speech of his without tears due to the emotion his voice conveys.  Each year on this day, I marvel how young in biologic age he was to have such timeless energy and voice that continues to carry through time and touch hearts around the world directly.  We as a society are dealing with so many of the same problems in a different flavor that he addressed 50 years ago.

“Don’t allow anybody to pull you so low as to make you hate them.”

Pair of Golden Fish

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The golden fish symbolizes all living beings in a state of fearlessness, just as fish swim freely without fear through water.  (adapted from several sources)

Today I watched two goldfish who have lived a decade in my room.

Observing in stillness, motions of the fish feel like large gestures in their matrix. My matrix borrows humidity from theirs while they borrow oxygen from mine. I cannot survive in their realm, but every cell I am contains their home.

Every morning I say hello. Maybe the water listens.

I have come to perceive the water as sacred. Because the bowl water has sustained two lives so long without mechanical heat or aeration, and they sleep where I do, I have taken a bit of it to use in my own made-up water ceremonies to honor water and those protecting it.

Only one of the fish actually has lived a decade. Its partner entered the picture 3 years ago after its former friend died.  It spent three days on the bottom of the bowl refusing to eat, the first time I witnessed grief in an animal many think incapable of emotion.  I tried to cheer it, “Hey buddy, you can be a perfectly fine single fish like me,” to no avail.  Finally I saved its current friend from a feeder tank at a store and fish #1 immediately restored to perfect health.

 

8 Auspicious Symbols Series

As I work to design a knitting pattern for a blanket involving the 8 symbols, I am choosing one at a time to meditate on to see where it intersects my own life in the moment.  I am no scholar and describe myself as an “unofficial Buddhist.” So instead of a vow of refuge and following a specific teacher, I find gurus (teachers) everywhere, allow dharma (Buddhist teachings) to inform my mind, and sangha (community) to be the entire world.  Sacrilegious to some, helpful for me in my path.

 

Reality Knitting TV

I work in media, so I am exposed to a lot of what goes on.  But I have found my favorite reality TV.  In Denmark.

When I first started watching these Knit-Off shows, some without subtitles in a language I do not understand, I thought, “You have got to be kidding me.  A knitting show?  What???”

Possibly because the episodes I’ve watched all involve sharing of authentic stories, tears and boxes of tissue, it feels like some of the most real reality TV I have seen.  It also helps me understand why it feels so important to create something with my hands, when paid work for so many of us does not involve pride in something created from start to finish, and when so much we use day to day is created for us.

I know not everyone out there is a knitting nerd like me, but it inspires me to get some of my own design ideas down on paper and learn new techniques.  I’m no master of color work knits, but currently I’m working on designing a blanket with 8 auspicious Buddhist symbols in 8 different colors to represent the 8-fold path.  Knitting it will be an entirely different challenge I may pass to someone else.

Just for kicks, I took the speed knitting challenge today that was demonstrated in this show in order to prove to a fellow knitter who constantly tells me, “you knit fast” that I don’t.  Turns out I’m pretty average among show contestants at least, at 40 stitches per minute.

I definitely want to learn to shadow knit, as I was introduced to in this Knit-Off episode when a piano keyboard suddenly appears at a certain angle from the stitches.  Amazing!

For those interested, this site does hosts some astounding shadow knitting patterns:  Illusion Knitting

There are many baking, cooking, and fashion design shows along this vein that have been exceedingly popular over the past decade.  And in my opinion, they are the best of what is available on television because they honor creativity (American shows tend to emphasize cut-throat competition more than personalities of course).  But they show how anyone can take any medium and create something uniquely meaningful to themselves and others.

Who knows?  If I watch enough of them, maybe Danish will start making sense.  P.S. I learned via Ancestry.com DNA that I am 37% Scandinavian, so possibly those knitting shepherds wandering the fields are in my blood. Never knew until five decades into life that I had any Scandinavian in me.

Cold Morning Poem

 

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Winter Scene by A.R. Ammons (1926-2001)

There is now not a single

leaf on the cherry tree:

except when the jay

plummets in, lights, and,

in pure clarity, squalls:

then every branch

quivers and

breaks out in blue leaves.

 

 

 

By Erin W Tagged

Beautiful Life

imag1136These days the conditions are ripe for gorgeous frost flowers!  Ground not frozen, but below freezing as moisture escapes the stems.  Centuries old Douglas Fir was seen during naturalist New Year Day hike at South Whidbey State Park, and remainder of pictures are from today’s walk.  Yay for sun!

Dreams, Version 2017

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It is time for the ritual gathering of Ratatouille ingredients (click for recipe should you care to join in the tradition), so it must mean it’s time for 2017 goals and dreams.

  • Fundraise and work hard to see daughter fulfill her dream of a travel year.
  • Start leading others in some way around meditation and nature practices I have done over a lifetime even if I am no meditation master or shamanic practitioner like so many in my community.
  • Teach others to knit.
  • Strive to Be PEACE.
  • Start or participate in some kind of no-pets-allowed (except turtles and reptiles) knitting studio space where I can expand my toolkit and manifest design ideas to begin selling a line of patterns I create called Waterwoman Knits.
  • Contribute thick socks and children’s sweaters for refugees via Ravelry group (click link if interested).
  • See what I can do toward my vision for a small hut (tiny house) for myself within 5 years post living with dependent.  Two rooms: One for me, one for my yarn.  Near or on outside space to be with nature.
  • Study more about shamanic practice on my own until I can afford to do so with a guide.
  • Maintain my health with daily walking, meditation and nutrition, no matter how much freelance work I take on.
  • Maybe, just maybe by some benefactor or lottery ticket, build a structure sturdy enough to keep out animals in order to grow and harvest my own vegetables.

Looking Back

Some of the many knits of 2016
Donated 20 hats to homeless

I’d like to design a blanket or shawl around the image below:

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Things to remember as I try to remain fearless in 2017:

Voted Most Outside Comfort Zone 

  • 2015:  Completed the full 26.2 mile Portland Marathon.  Yes, 90-year-old runners finished at my walking speed, but we made it across that darn finish line together!
  • 2016:  Drove large rental utility van full of 12 students and music instruments through unfamiliar California freeways (have you seen those lane-splitting motorcycles????) and towns for 4 days, ending at SF Airport.  Awesome reward of some of the best jazz these ears have heard and witnessing unique group of teens who made up a killer musical combo that doesn’t happen every day or every year.

 

 

Fluid Uncertainty in 2017

There are many opportunities I am intensely grateful for in 2016. One of them was an online course beamed from Pema Chodron’s Abby in Nova Scotia. Another is spending the last few weeks in a group contemplating fearlessness. It all feels like preparation for turning the calendar.

No matter what side of the sociopolitical divide, I can’t think of a more resonant title for 2017 in the midst of global and personal shifts than this book of Pema Chodron’s. (click image to order)

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Absorbing teachings and humor allow me a deeper understanding of ways to work with uncertainty.  Plenty of opportunities ahead to practice remaining fluid and not getting too rigidly stuck in worry and anxiety about potentials for disaster during a time period many people are sensing is apocalyptic to scary to plain sad.

My body certainly tenses every time I read the news, and my mind spins to what if I lose my health insurance subsidy and cannot afford to insure my child, etc.  And what if leadership of the largest energy consumer on the planet speeds up climate change to the point there is no more chocolate or coffee in my lifetime?  I personally cannot imagine a world without chocolate or coffee, but I do understand these are extremely selfish reasons to want to slow climate change.  Thinking about such dietary fallout is one way I am able to laugh at myself and my first world problems and keep tragic real-life consequences for millions of people and beings from ruling my inner life.

Since where we focus grows, I am receiving a strong intuition to work on peace generation in 2017 and attempt to host a few groups on this topic.  How few of us actually know what peace means to us?  What peace feels like inside our body?  To contemplate how to be a peace generator even without a master’s degree in communication skills or military training.  Is it possible to be a peace warrior without embodying hatred and anger toward the “other” and/or take decisive action while being peaceful?

Examples I see of peace warriors are Black Lives Matter, Water Protectors, and feminists.  Fear and backlash against these organic movements arising from imbalance in a larger system is to misunderstand their intended meaning.  Where in “black lives matter” does it say any other lives don’t matter?  Where in “a belief in equal rights and opportunities for women and men” does it indicate men must be demeaned?  What in water and earth protection threatens human life?

All I know is, after a decade of working on this topic inside myself and being barraged with many occasions to practice, I have finally turned a corner where things make sense that never made sense before.  I am able to have strong emotions and let them go quicker, sprout ideas for positive action to shift my situation from fear to equanimity.

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Knitting as a Path to Peace?

In 2016 I knit more than I ever have before, (and crocheted for a young child my first ever stuffed critter – Totoro).  And I feel more peaceful.  I imagine any type of creative endeavor can harvest similar results.  In a 2014 survey of over 3,100 knitters/crocheters, people reported:

  • Feeling of accomplishment (93%)
  • Reduced Stress (85%)
  • Improved Mood (68%)
  • Sense of confidence (56%)

Very similar to reported results of regular meditation.  It’s pretty difficult to be an agitated, angry knitter, though I suppose needles might come in handy to defend yourself in a dark alley if necessary.  Other writers on trends have commented about a rise in knitting post 9/11, a sort of “nesting” phenomenon.

Possibly not all knitting is docile.  There is yarn bombing, a not-so-peaceful moniker for a trend started by this artist who prefers to be referred to as a street artist, not yarn bomber.  She took traditional home-bound work to the streets and inspired many others.  If past trend is any indication of future, I imagine 2017 will see one more spike in knitting demographics.

Solstice Eve Tidings

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I much prefer Winter Solstice to the socialized pressure of Christmas, though whatever you celebrate during the darkest time of year, blessings to you. I’m quite sure our ancestors danced in the snowy woods in ceremonies around trees without chopping them down and dragging them inside to die at one point or another. In that vein, here are my Winter Solstice offerings, one comic, one deeply authentic.

I intend to get my act together and offer a real-life Winter Solstice potluck gathering for 2017 where we gather our intentions and actions on behalf of Earth’s beings, nosh a bit, make music, and walk in darkness with lights, weather permitting.

Please enjoy this Rubber Chicken card by pressing Play:

http://www.rubberchickencards.com/card/8264W

Below is my slideshow taken during my restorative retreat. My version of heaven in 24 hours:

  • Sitting meditation 3 hours
  • Knitting meditation 3 hours
  • Walking meditation 5 hours
  • Cooking meditation 2 hours
  • Reading meditation 2 hours
  • Oh yes, and sleeping meditation 9 hours.

I try to live with a mini-version of this day each day between work. One way I have begun incorporating my current study of the power of the four directions and four elements (air, sun/fire, water, and earth) that impact us all is by turning my daily walk around a high school track into a meditation on them. Amazing what begins to appear in consciousness with that focus. : ) You too can have the appearance of being an average Jane or Joe out for exercise while your kid is in school, when your hidden superpower is actually shamanic awareness.  Next thing you know, you might realize you can fly!

 

Personal New Year

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Birthday cyclamen – always a white sheep in every family

  • Property
  • Prosperity
  • Partnership
  • Peace

One out of four is fine by me. Or if I add the words “of spirit” after the top three, I have arrived. I have worked a lot inside myself on Peace the past few years. Finally, on the day that arrives with an AARP membership birthday card, I am able to acknowledge a peace generator resides in me.

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Speaking of AARP, the entire concept of retirement looks like a mirage from a bygone era from where I sit. I know I’m in good company being a month-to-month survivalist, working more than full-time to have what most consider “basic needs” and likely being required to do so until the end. But I’ve made my peace with all I do have moment to moment. In addition, I was told today I look 40, not 50, so I’ve got a decade of extra moments to embrace.

Peace Recipe

My Peace recipe includes a few ideal ingredients, but the one non-negotiable seems to be consciously pressing pause repetitively throughout a day and greeting myself with a kind hand. The recipe is enhanced by each day adding fruit, oats, vegetables, Holy basil tea, a walk of 2 to 3 miles, and taking at least one action to benefit another person somewhere in my journey from sun to moon.

While so much terrifying and disheartening uncertainty lies ahead in the human realm of poopy political power (loving the aliteration) and absolute horrific humanitarian disaster, I have paradoxically nourished an inside realm of Peace that feels inviolable. Surely this power is greater than any other.

Many around me have experienced great turmoil and loss this past year, but peak moments for me have involved spontaneous, profound encounters with animals and trees during my wanderings, of greater depth than any I’ve experienced this far. I am 100% certain my future lies in allowing Earth to speak through me, take actions to protect our home, and assist people in picking up pieces of their sacred connection with Earth.

Taking steps to honor what calls to me, I am gifting myself a 24-hour retreat in a sanctuary that celebrates Earth and life and giving myself permission to be away from work and electrical stimulus with the intention of clarifying my intentions for my future, making a gift to water to honor all water protectors, and being receptive to messages from existence. Bonus gift, my teen could really use a break from Mom.

The coming year includes a need to work harder than ever during the first half to support my fledgling’s flight during the second half. Her adventure away from home base for an entire year (exchange program) opens a horizon colored by the long list of things I feel called to do when not required to work 7 days a week.

Many thanks to Mollycules, who just mailed out her new deck of cards to see me through another year. The first card I pulled spoke directly to a fear I can let go of now…a fear I will never figure out what’s wrong with me simply because I have not arrived at the first three above-listed Ps by a certain age. It is entirely possible nothing is wrong.

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Birthday Gift

Is it a planet? A smurf? A blue infinity string sculpture?

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I actually requested this blue blob, and my family members listened. THANK YOU : )  For my 11th birthday, my German grandmother gifted me a Wunderknolle (Google translates as “marrow” in English so I have no idea of the correct spelling of the word, but I always thought it meant “wonder ball”).  It is a ball of yarn filled with tiny gifts that become revealed as a knitter knits. My family managed to fit 50 presents inside 500 yards of yarn!  As soon as holiday gifts are completed and pink hats are on women’s heads for the Women’s March, I will begin unwinding the Wunderknolle to work on my first ever creation for myself, in the form of this sweater jacket. (Click on images for pattern) In this way, my 50th birthday celebration and gratitude for familial love will last well into 2017!

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Water Protectors

I have always enjoyed the synchronicity of my name in relation to water protection. No way to know for sure, but possibly one ancient ancestor was tasked with water bearing or water protection.

Some of the most powerful scenes of my lifetime have taken place this week around Native people attempting to protect water. A version of this ceremony on Salon.com alone has gotten almost 3.5 million views, so its symbolic importance cannot be overstated, regardless of what happens in the future.

I live on an island surrounded by water called the Salish Sea or Puget Sound. When you live on an island, water is prominent in your consciousness, but H2O is obviously the most important element of human survival on the planet. Many of the tribes who once had members living on the island where I live now have coordinated over the past 4 years in water ceremony to resist an extension of the ginormous Tar Sands of Canada TransMountain pipeline. Well, two weeks ago that TransMountain pipeline extension was approved by Canada in the Kinder Morgan decision, ignoring US Native treaties.

Many folks may not have heard of this pipeline, so I want to post the information here. Please look at this map for reference of how large the area of land decimated by tar sands is and how vast the risk to communities below it from transporting all that oil by tanker and by pipeline.

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