Flip It

 

After we take a thousand or more baby steps, suddenly breakthroughs in awareness can happen. These epiphanies can seem sudden, but they are built on all those micromovements behind it. One of these awakenings happened to me this week when I suddenly recognized that I felt at home in my body. For the first time in my adult life. I do remember having the sense of coherent body as a child, pre-life traumas, pre-adulthood.

Losing 40 pounds this year was not unique, as I’ve done something similar twice before, but this time it was about letting go of emotional eating and looking at physical health as a sort of math equation, a balance of activity and intake that can be harmonious, completely separate from emotions. And emotions can be observed and handled any number of different ways separate from food.

Feeling at home in the body can start at any point and not be connected to any specific weight, but for me the two coincided, having little to do with outward appearance and everything to do with harmony.  The morning I woke up and realized my decades long feeling of wanting to crawl out of my skin any time I reflected on being inside a physical body was simply gone, I recognized a huge shift had happened. Lightness on many levels.

Then I considered applying whatever this flip was to other aspects of my life. I thought, can I flip any way of thinking? I started practicing with one of my biggest fears, something I’ve intuitively sensed my entire life.

“Monetary success means cloaking my true nature and being disconnected from the natural world.”

I started realizing that I do have a means to earn a living, and even if my media freelancing can seem nature disconnected, can be unpredictable in volume and requires me to be stationary in front of a screen rather than active outdoors, the freedoms I experience in being self-directed and self-employed are worth any negatives.

I try to think continuously about what I can do to honor Earth, to give rather than take. I have a vision of the way I’d like to live that is not entirely manifested yet, but for now I have to acknowledge some baby steps. I do not have a lengthy vehicle commute. This alone honors Earth. In lieu of commute time, I have freedom to continue my daily nature connection practice where I consciously focus on reciprocal relationship with any or many given elements in the natural world as well as attune my radar to the four directions. This freedom has to be taken into account as part of “success” for me.

After two slow summer months where I began to question finally giving up my work of 25 years completely and forge a new unknown direction, I instead sat and touched base with my spiritual “support” and asked for help and guidance. I asked to be shown a new way to earn a living and/or help remedying my present lack of ability to pay bills. Rather than forging which takes great effort, I allowed what happens to happen. Within one week, I was offered as much work as I could possibly want and in this particular week worked 90 hours in 7 days in order to achieve a specific goal.

I do not intend to sustain 90 hours a week of transcribing, nor is it physically advisable anyone do this. I do have to consider the fact that escaping injury while doing this feels like a miracle or at least spiritually supported.

Slowly I’ve begun flipping the idea I am lacking in abundance simply because of my income or having a somehow deficient relationship to money, and instead experience great happiness and love for my hands’ ability to do what they do, and the freedom I am able to build into every single day, even if for minutes, that allows me to keep connected to my true nature and the natural world where real prosperity lives.

IMAG1931

 

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Window to Light

Emotional pain can be a window to light.

During my daily wander through the woods, I was pondering the best TED talk I’ve seen on topic of gratitude, a great reminder that leaning in, touching, embracing our pain, sadness, grief, whatever is our suffering helps us live with more equanimity.  Then I encountered this.

What I learned from this tree echoes my lived experience. That when we touch sadness, grief, rather than push it away, it becomes possible to recognize even darkness exists inside a container capable of refracting light. Once we know this in our cells, we unburden ourselves from at least some of the heaviness of our suffering.

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees. ~ Karle Wilson Baker

This morning an industrious orb weaver set up a shop window, spanning its web from door frame to plant stem.  As I watered plants I became mindful to allow the concentric circles this weaver is building to remain unbroken.

Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.

~ Rumi

Windows on Greenbank Farm

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Abundance

Any Saturday morning I can spare from work, I walk 7 miles round trip to the farmer’s market. This time I returned with the always loved red cabbage in my backpack, a vegetable I had not tried before (kohlrabi) and gorgeous cherry tomatoes. When I returned home, I found a neighbor had left more gorgeous cherry tomatoes on my doorstep and a housemate left a jar of honey from a hive she harvested. This morning, I looked at the kitchen counter and thought, “If that is not a picture of Earth’s abundance, I don’t know what is.”

It’s already carved up, so not in photo, but turns out, for anyone who cares to know, kohlrabi is kind of like a jicama or daikon radish great raw and nutrient rich. I did not google it before I thought I’d taste the leaves, and turns out they make a tasty little saute with garlic, cumin and cayenne, just like kale or collard greens. Here’s a link to a blog that lists kohlrabi recipes.

My deepest intention is to live in a way that takes less and less from Earth, only what I need to sustain and celebrate Earth’s life of which I am a part.

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Favorite Season

I get to walk on jigsaw puzzles
in my favorite season.

Always footward my eyes
dart from piece to piece,
dream carpets and puzzles turning
brown, pumpkin, cranberry, gold
coin collections rusted,
Chinese fans and willow tears
silverfish, almond husks,
chestnut leathers,
open palms tan,
Japanese lacquer paints,
cantaloupe crescents,
pear skins and flesh
cedar slivers,
Miro designs,
crystallized citrus peels:
grapefruit, orange, lemon.

In my favorite season
the sun comes from the ground.

~ Erin Waterman, 1991
(inspired by walking Burke-Gilman Trail 10 miles daily for work)

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Dreams Are Free

My latest Helen Stewart shawl, “Sprite’s Fen” reminiscent of a stained glass window

String of Hearts plant in bloom

George Addair is paraphrased as having said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” It occurred to me that I do not fear much, but everything I want is on the other side of money. I must try harder to overcome my allergy to money. Do I fear money? Possibly that’s part of it.

Dreams are free. To that end, I try to daily live my top three unrealized decades long dreams in some small form.

Taking actions that exist in our dreams even though maybe not amid the precise context we can imagine for whatever we want to accomplish, it feels to me that we can be in a state of perpetually living our dreams.

  1. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail or walk across the US or some other months-long walking endeavor. What can I do instead? Put on a day pack and walk out my front door for miles any opportunity I have. Frankly, even though I would like to, a grand dream of backpacking distance feels more like an ego calling than anything. To be able to say to myself and everyone “I did this,” is ego, when I can have an experience for free on my own two feet anywhere. Researching what’s involved to cover any giant distance safely, it’s on the other side of money, so I don’t let that stop me from the distance walking I enjoy.
  2. Earn a living from knitting. I recently found 200 cloth labels with a business name I created in my mid-20s, so that dream’s been in the imagination hopper a long while. What can I do for now with limited resources? Jot down pattern concepts even if I don’t know how to make them come to fruition or compete with all the other patterns out there, buy supplies only when 70% or greater discounted, and keep knitting
  3. Live in a 2-room cottage or tiny house with structures for a sustainable garden as ground zero from which to travel. Both house ownership and travel are on the other side of money I’ll likely not see during my lifetime unless it falls from the sky, since I am unable to work more than seven days a week. But I can surround myself with houseplants and use an old aquarium as an herb/tomato garden planter if I can’t build a structure for a huge garden, and I can look to models for inspiration such as this incredible space in Ireland, which is sustained by online contributions. In other words, a woman who found a way to live her dream by redefining working for money differently than how I think of it.

Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel  – I’ve taken to watching these videos as a balm to the current sense of threat in the world. So grateful to her for beaming such a healing space through the internet.

Fading ocean spray ending summer

Dreams and Dreamers are top of my mind today of course, and here are some numbers for them, these young immigrants who have accomplished way more than I have in my five-decade lifetime. Putting hope in Congress to act is like holding breath under water, it’s not going to last long. But hearing the young Dreamers speak out on their own behalf this week has been inspiring and I wish them continued support from people in high places.

“More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.”

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Knitting Dreams

Several days before, during and after the total solar eclipse over the United States on 8/21/17 I was inspired to create an Eclipse Wrap. A prayer of sorts in yarn. This is the first time I created something without following a pattern or writing anything down beforehand, using yarn I had on hand as I went. Increasingly I have started to conceptualize working with yarn’s textures, colors and structure in a similar way to working with music as I did in my distant past as a musician.

Not only has my own life included an abrupt change the week of the eclipse with my daughter leaving home for a year, but the heart heaviness I feel over crises happening in the US and world needs some place to go. For me this year, that place has been knitting.  Below are two short vlogs about my knits taken in my favorite setting – outdoors.

To quote the foundational teacher Elizabeth Zimmerman:

“Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”

If that is not instruction for our times, I don’t know what is.

Eventually I would like to obtain a better camera than my phone for vlogging and make videos of my knits outdoors. I always have at least four projects on needles at any given moment, but as I begin to create my own designs, it would be great to have a visual platform to share them.

Currently, I am spending as many hours a day knitting as I am for paid work. And both activities heavily rely on repetitive hand/forearm arm motion. To avoid permanent injury, something will need to give.  I am following advice of several great sources like this one, to experiment with varying knitting styles.

My knit dreams consist of the following:

  1. Continually learn new techniques wherever I see tutorials for free, low cost.
  2. Earn a second income stream from knitting in different tiers (commissions, design, tutorials/teaching, social service). My goal is to continue the physical practice of daily knitting no matter what, because it provides me great joy and benefit. I have listened to many interviews with knitting/fiber arts professionals who find they have zero time to knit in order to manage their business, even though their passion for the act of knitting was their whole reason for going into it.
  3. Earn enough from second stream that I can cut transcribing hours in half so as to prevent injury from attempting both full-time simultaneously.
  4. Eventually be able to afford help to set up a system I can live with in online marketing for said knitting business since the words “online marketing” make me want to shrivel up and blow away. I don’t like being on the bombardment end of email and social media marketing, so I cringe at doing it to others.
  5. I dream of involving my knitting in ways that support others, and someday I envision incorporating empowerment and self-sufficiency for women (and whatever men are interested), since knitting is a skill that can be learned and practiced with very little formal education and across language barriers.
  6. Develop monthly gathering for Stay Strong Totes Foundation and build network of shawl/shrug providers for “Hugs Through Shrugs” for moms entering the Ronald McDonald Houses in Washington State.
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Enjoying Food

I realized some things this year:

  • Food can be an addiction, and I no longer have the addiction.
  • Eating is 99.9% habit.
  • I’ve lost and gained weight in the past, but cravings have never disappeared like they have now.
  • Taking care and attention to optimize what your individual body needs food-wise can truly be life changing.
  • None of this has to do with how I look, for me. It’s all about how I feel inhabiting my vehicle for this one life.
  • Asthma attacks are rarer, I no longer have hay-fever or chronic mild allergy symptoms (animal dander red alert hasn’t budged), I love feeling truly hungry, and I have greater sustained energy without peaks and valleys.

Thought I’d share a few favorite things in my journey of vegan living and shrinking 4 clothing sizes and a ring size thus far. (I was vegan and obese too, so veganism does not necessarily equal health – I just prefer the kingdom of vegetables as a way of living light on Earth).

Raw red cabbage.  Gorgeous and good for you.  I go through a head of cabbage a week, whack off slices each day, and leave it in fridge without a bag since it comes with it’s own outer layer of protection you can peel as you use.

A serving of red cabbage contains 85 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day, 20 percent of the vitamin A, 42 percent of the vitamin K and just under 10 percent of B6, as well as potassium, manganese and other minerals.

But best to eat it raw if you can: Cooking red cabbage degrades the anthocyanins and glucosinolates. If you must cook it, steam it very lightly for a short time.  (New York Times – 03/24/17)

A while back before I started realizing I felt great eating red cabbage every day, I was so inspired by the way it looks that I drew it and never finished coloring it in. (And I’m not an artist!)

Kimchi and fermented foods make a great combo with bland proteins such as tofu or beans. Fermented foods are also great for gut health, and this is my favorite local company.

Some essentials for my weekly organic grocery list:

  • Head of red cabbage (duh)
  • Head of cauliflower
  • Whole broccoli
  • Mixed greens
  • Kale
  • Cukes, radishes
  • Apples
  • Golden and/or Red Beets
  • Onion, Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes (red, Yukon and sweet)
  • Extra-Thick Oats (one bag of Bob’s Red Mill lasts a month of breakfasts)
  • Soy milk, almond milk
  • Tofu (one tub I slice into 5 portions and store in see-through container to use for 5 meals)
  • Frozen edamame
  • Kimchi
  • Pumpkin seeds (tbsp at a time)
  • Lundberg grain crackers of any kind, Lotus Foods Arare rice crackers
  • Thin-sliced whole seed bread to give you 2 slices of toast for the calories of one regular slice (like Killer Dave’s, Franz)
  • Pure peanut butter any that is organic with 100% peanuts (Crazy Richard’s is current favorite)
  • Field Roast Company whole-grain sausages
  • Good dark chocolate
  • Organic coffee
  • Holy Basil tea, fennel tea

Here’s to health!  (Am I too late to pick some of these guys in the neighborhood this year? Hope not).  My goal is to work 80-hour weeks starting September 1st, so it’s make hay while the sun shines. Literally the sun is shining.

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