I Am Free

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Freedom is in my hand

You know how the internet is. Next thing you know, you’re looking up Swahili proverbs and applying them to your life.

There is no one who does not make mistakes.

 

Yes, this one hits the nail on the head as far as my long journey to live an authentic life. We could all practice a little more self acceptance.

A frog has no feathers. Don’t be too demanding.

 

We all know who this refers to. Perhaps it insults the cow?

A fool is a person too, don’t say that person is a cow.

 

Love this one.

It is not necessary to blow out the other person’s lantern to let yours shine.

“I am free.” These three words keep running in my head over and over these days, a message my soul must need to be reminded of. I do not mean to compare my journey to anyone else’s much more arduous path, but this blog post is only to highlight some inspiration on the theme of freedom and what it means to me. I am realizing more and more I only need to claim it, and my freedom is there growing in my consciousness. It’s so easy to feel constrained or imprisoned by constant work and economic realities, by “the rigged system,” by “politics,” by gender norms, by relationships, by our own mind.  The more I take baby steps outside the framework in which I’ve lived for 25-30 years toward where my heart wants to be, the more freedom I experience.

I have no idea how financial or other success will be part of my freedom, but I’m going to continue expanding my life in this way, volunteering where I can between work where I can engage more parts of who I am and impact other lives, transitioning toward work I love honoring Earth. Is it possible to become an organic farmer without any money or land over age 50? We shall see. Great farm school happens to be in my backyard and hope to enroll by 2020 so that I leave the nest simultaneous to my child. Farm sitter or intern more likely in my future, but I love being physically exhausted at the end of my days, work among my plant nation friends, produce food that is healing for humans, my blood rushing with the magnetic pulse of Earth instead of WiFi, and not least, put my body where my mind and heart is on climate change. (Food production ranks #3 and #4 on top 100 solutions in Drawdown).

I visited my local Tilth Market today and soon after I arrived, some members of the Open Circle Singers broke into singing “Rolihlahla Mandela – Freedom is In Your Hand.” Which immediately brought me back to the moment I learned Mandela walked out of prison,  February 11, 1990, because at the time I had good friends among the South African in exile community and celebrated among them along with my friends from other African countries. And I couldn’t help but become teary, because I’ve been hearing an internal voice toward living an authentic life and the freedom that brings for a few weeks now.

 

A message we sorely need for these times in 2018.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 

Images from a mindful walk today.

 

 

P.S. 07/18/18 – I honestly did not know it was Mandela’s 100th birthday celebration two days after I published this post, but his spirit was speaking to me this week. In that light, I will add this speech out of South Africa that I find provides a great overview of vision. (Start at 2:27 for Obama’s portion).

“It shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more. Instead of saying, ‘Wow, I got so much, who can I help? Who can I give more and more and more?’ That’s ambition, that’s impact, that’s influence. What an amazing gift to be able to help people, not just yourself. Where was I? I ad libbed. You get the point.”  ~ Barack Obama

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Sharing My Light

Saddened by first learning that suicide among middle aged American women spiked first time ever, then teen suicides and attempts doubling in the past decade, and most recently by Anthony Bourdain’s departure, two sides of a coin, depression and anxiety have become a super salient topic. I wrote the following paragraph in response to an online conversation about suicide and depression, and it was suggested I do share my light. So I will try.

“I went from being someone tried on every antidepressant there was over decades and told I needed to remain medicated for life in order to live, to being off pharmaceuticals for years without depression and gratitude for life. Since I work in media I’m aware of the epidemic and wish I could figure out how to bottle what steps I took to be healthy. But each person needs their own healing and I’ve been hesitant to preach or teach a solution. I do think shifts in focus are powerful retraining of destructive mind capacity inherent in us all, because what we focus on expands. Yes, there are many aspects of American “culture” that are sick, but at least for me, a focus on timeless elements the Earth provides which are bountiful in America is part of healing the disconnected heart.”

I’ve written about depression in this blog many times.

Here – What Helps

Here – Raveling

Here – Silent Happiness Lobby

Here – Love and Sadness

To recap my two cents if I could bottle a moment of teach and preach:

  • Becoming familiar with the part of yourself that can unconditionally love you no matter what can save you again and again. Meet this part of yourself. It exists in all of us.
  • Figure out what “habit scaffolding” you need to build in your life to maintain your balance, through trial and error. Once you find those things – walking daily, supportive nature connection practice, diet, meditation and creative practice for me – stay with them! Build them into your day in, day out, no matter how you feel on a given day, how great you are at talking yourself out of a habit, or where you are, and you will remain balanced in the face of whatever the universe throws at you. This does not mean rigidity. After all, scaffolding can shift with high winds, but at least you will have a framework that works for you.
  • Keep your focus on what works for you, because shifting your focus to what brings light outside and inside of you will expand that light.
  • Consider the possibility that food may be one of the most powerful pathways we have to control the chemical soup our physical bodies swim in and the impact this can have on our brains and mental health.
  • To feel more whole, take baby steps to heal a mind-body disconnect that can be caused by any number of traumatic experiences. My rift lasted decades until it recently felt healed. One book that especially helped me was In Touch: How to Tune Into The Inner Guidance of Your Body and Trust Yourself. The next step for me is incorporating a leap from decades of frozen sedentary computer work to being physically engaged outdoors more and more of the time, regardless of income. I’m taking baby steps in that direction, granting myself freedom where I tend to see none possible due to economic constraints.
  • Consider the possibility “Nothing is wrong with you” and work from where you are. No perfection needed.

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Growing

Over the past month, I’ve shifted my 7- day work schedule to squeeze in more and more freedom. The amazing thing is somehow this has helped me earn more rather than less, because I feel more productive when working, even still 7 days a week.

I’m trading weekly work on an organic farm for food, because 1) I love organic vegetables, 2) the difference in my entire being when I’m outdoors and active compared to sitting in front of my computer screen has become too hard to ignore or deny any longer than 25 years. I’ve been a great denier. It was heavenly today to get to feed some sheep a bounty of wintered over kale. Yay sheep!! The only animal I’m not allergic to on a farm.

My dream for my big looming transition to a different life post living with child next year, hopefully in Habitat housing or tiny rental, is evolving into working part-time on a farm even if $12/hr and part-time transcribing. But we’ll see as time closes in.

I also started offering to teach anyone to knit so I can share the coping and creative tool that’s brought me to a place of peace over and over during trying times of any kind. My KNIT HAPPENS project will hopefully garner enough 8×8 squares from the community to make a blanket that can be auctioned to support the rent monies on the space where I teach each week.

Life is beautiful and full, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens when people make choices to live in any way “against the grain.” For me to choose to return to solitude and the natural world for strength instead of partnership, for any woman choosing not to have children (or man, but expectations seem higher for women), for anyone choosing anything that helps them feel at peace in themselves versus what is expected of them by others, I value this quality.

I hope I can enter the later years of my life working in ways aligned with sustainable practices that honor Earth and community while choosing as much solitude as I need to feel whole.

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Daydream

We interrupt this weekend’s 20 hours of transcribing to bring you this daydream from reality almost too good to be true.

Part of my spiritual practice is to visit this tree often in different weather and times. No burden is too big for it to hold, and I’m grateful for its presence.

PS. What does it say about my auditory processing if I simultaneously hear Laurel and Yanny equally? Maybe I’ve been in the right career all these years.

 

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Expressions of Great Mother

Breathing in joy from Earth every day rain or shine. Always remember this is simple inborn technology that heals us.

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Soul and Consciousness Query

Just as law of attraction suggests thought energy is as powerful as physical energy, the two quotes below appeared from completely separate sources in my inbox today.

The past few days while living my life and while all these images were captured, a piece of my background chatter has been churning on the word soul. What is it?

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather,

“I have found a truth.”

Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.”

Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.” For the soul walks upon all paths.

The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.

The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

~ Kahlil Gibran

The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter—often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter—in the eye.

~ Charlotte Bronte

How can Buddhists not believe in soul concept yet believe in reincarnation? What are general Jewish teachings on soul? Christian?

After reading briefly about each, they all seem similar except what’s lost in translation. Some of the differences in definitions actually seem to be more error of translation than difference. Buddhists analyze there is no permanent “self” or “soul” because self is an illusion, a construct of the mind. All forms are impermanent, ever-changing, interconnected. So therefore an unchanging “soul” cannot exist, but consciousness can have continuation lifetime to lifetime.

Hebrew version of soul very generally is breath, life force, vitality.  Christian soul concept is something created by God but separate from mind, heart, body and spirit.

Western thought seems to be using the word “soul” often to mean simply an individual person or expression of mind consciousness.

Merriam-Webster soul definition:  “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life.”

So what is consciousness? The closest thing most modern writings come to is a spectrum of states in spiritual, medical and psychological fields. Many writers have decided defining consciousness is next to impossible. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is far too limited to material individuality to satisfy me personally.

1: a: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
   bthe state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
   c: awarenessespecially concern for some social or political cause. 
2the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought: mind
3the totality of conscious states of an individual
4the normal state of conscious life, regained consciousness
5the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes
 

After this brief review, I recognize that my personal understanding of consciousness is as a cosmic field of energy expressing itself through all sentient and nonsentient beings in different ways yet transcending and connecting all life forms as one entity. In other words, consciousness is what can both be witnessed by sensory apparatuses (I looked up plural and it is not apparati) of life forms AND extend beyond physical body, through lifetimes, whereas soul is the manifestation of that consciousness. In my limited way of perceiving, a soul has an integrity throughout a life like a person’s fingerprint and may be the seed of yearnings, drives and deep longings for expression during a lifetime of an individual, but soul is informed through truths of life experience and does not extend as far as consciousness beyond a single lifetime.

Such are the ramblings of my limited understanding, but it’s something I just want to jot down for further exploration.

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Sacred Time

In my endless progression toward what works for me, I have discovered a key. We all have to find our own keys.

I call it sacred time.

One of the things I observe in years of working around media that grants me often a bird’s eye view of business and culture are some core messages that seep through the collective unconsciousness.

  • Everyone is behind and has to work super hard to catch up.
  • If Company A does not do what Company B is doing, Company A is doomed.
  • No one has time, and things are speeding up. (Which is why we need automated technology services like home and car deliveries of consumer packages or why we need navigation systems that should be able to understand our voice as if they’re a human and guide us precisely to the kind of coffee we want. So we can get more energy to keep up).

I’ve found a key that seems opposite of it all.  Even while my circumstances are such that I exist inside a system making it hard to avoid the work-every-day-much-more-than-40 hours a week to get by.

  • Slow down. Just take the next stop off the faster-faster train and breathe.
  • Make time daily for what gives joy. Whatever that is, if only an hour. That’s your sacred time. Note to self that you may need to hear as well:  “It’s okay if you haven’t found that joy-filled, money-earning job. Just don’t let a day go by without practicing moments of joy around it.”
  • Connect with nature. Daily. For me and therefore I assume most humans, this connection is what most in the human-constructed rat race unconsciously crave even if they may not think so. There’s a whole lot of nature unfolding in every moment and many have forgotten we are part of it and it is us. And money doesn’t mean a thing to it. Some days I feel inside my heart the pressure around money is so great that it becomes easy to assume money = life energy. But if you want to experience a utopian, waste-free, non-monetized system, look no further. Spend a few moments standing in the woods or by the ocean listening to waves.

Nature does not hurry, yet all is accomplished. ~ Lao Tzu

Waiting for Salmonberry

Green Shadows

Knitting Experiment In Progress

I’ve identified a few things that feel like boundless joy for me:

  • Teaching knitting to others because knitting has given me so much, I want to share.
  • Walking anywhere in nature. Hopefully far and free range some day on more of the Earth. Ooh, and when I figure out a way to combine knitting AND nature in some kind of workshop, I’ll have arrived in the ultimate joy zone.
  • Living simply, in touch with a self-identity free from several cultural conditions to be a consumer, to eat things that don’t come from the earth, to always be partnered, and instead embrace myself as a maker, a mystic seeker, choosing to live in as much solitude as I prefer because it’s where I’m happiest, no matter how many psychologists and writers on happiness warn me otherwise.

I hope you find your keys. They’re probably exactly where you left them.

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