Tag: Mountains

Think Like a Rock

Think Like a Rock

As soon as the mountains of North Georgia peeked over the horizon, I felt YES! The closer I got to North Carolina the bigger YES! I felt in my body. Beloved Mountains…I have heard you calling so strongly.

Even though I was headed to Asheville to stay with friends, I saw a vision of myself standing in the Qualla Art Center in Cherokee and since it was hardly out of the way, I found myself standing in the art center looking at a beautiful hand-crafted knife…a woman’s knife. The hilt was carved from antler in the shape of a bear head and as soon as I picked it up I knew it was a tool to help me cut through illusions and my own BS my mind can produce quite prolifically…it was a tool to assist in my work.

I’m pushing 60…not miles per hour. Sixty years of living in this body….well, not yet but less than a year away. For over a year I’ve been in a process of unearthing my life in preparation for the next part of my journey…stepping into the role of elder. Taking my gifts seriously and using them to help this planet…I hear It crying out for those of us willing and able to do our inner work and then be leaders. Even if we know the ecosystems are failing and hope to save them isn’t present, there’s something powerful about standing amidst the ruin or potential ruin with absolute love and devotion to this magnificent being we call Earth.

So listening to Earth is the assignment. The location is the mountains of North Carolina. That’s the new foundation being laid as I step out in faith and trust; however, the actual ‘getting there’ has not been an easy journey.

After three days of looking at property and homes I wisely scheduled a day of play in the woods. First stop, Greybeard Trail with my camera pack and trusty tripod. The pack seemed overly heavy for two lenses and a camera but I strapped it on and grabbed my tripod. There’s so much water at the beginning of the trail I didn’t have to walk far to find mind-blowing beauty. All the stress of the past few days…honestly, the past 18 months…seemed to ease although I was still angry that nothing was clear about location to move, my home selling in Alabama…all of that ‘loveliness.’

I grew snarly about the bright light. I overslept so didn’t get the soft light of dawn and had to deal with hot-spots on the water which is not a pleasant obstacle when doing exposures that are long. But I made the best of it climbing over huge fallen trees, skidding down rocks and climbing back up after photographing the rocks and water. I played….and played….and that was healing.

Finally, I needed to let go of the doing. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in photographing beauty I forget to actually be still and connect with it. So I sat on a huge rock with a perfect seat naturally carved in it. I got still in body and mind and began to listen. Birds, leaves rustling then deep listening that goes to the depths of the innards. Gradually the rock revealed a bit of wisdom that seemed to seep through it into my body and lastly found its way to a verbal message: Think. Like. A. Rock.

My mind wanted to take off….WOO HOO! New wisdom incoming….let’s take it apart and see what it means!!! But I gently resisted the mind’s urge to understand and just sat on the rock, cradled in the rock, and continued to listen…to feel my body let go and become one with the rock. And after I while I got up and thanked it and walked to the car.

I placed my expensive carbon fiber tripod on the top of the car on the padded kayak/paddleboard rack, and loaded my bag into the car. I drove into Black Mountain, parked, ate a huge and wonderful breakfast for lunch and afterwards drove to my friend’s home to play with their dog, feed her, walk in the garden with her….then drove an hour to Brevard…Dupont State Forest…and when I got out the tripod was still on top of my car. It somehow stayed there on interstate travel, on winding mountain roads and nobody stole it when it was laying there for over an hour in Black Mountain. I almost cried with relief. It’s such a wonderful tool when taking long exposures. This was a major miracle. Somehow it stayed with me.

The destination was a short hike to High Falls and even with a cloudless, bright sky I decided to carry the tripod and use dark filters so I could do longer exposures in bright sun. But then, there was this sign to Bridal Veil Falls…only 1.8 miles. That would make a nice hike…even though I was carrying a load….which I had lightened significantly by remembering my laptop was in the camera bag. Oy!

Walking on forest service gravel roads isn’t that easy, especially when carrying weight. And there were hardly any signs…so there was the issue of trusting that I was still on the right road. Finally, I looked at my watch and it indicated 6 minutes until 3pm. Okay…that’s my deadline. If I haven’t gotten some sign or assurance that I’m going in the right direction by 3pm I am turning around. And of course, two people came over the hill and they assured me it was ahead, a bit of a walk still, but not to give up. The woman said, “It would be such a shame to give up now.” Of course, she wasn’t carrying the gear. But still….

Think. Like. A. Rock.

The water rushing over the gi-normous rock was amazing but I was thinking….why did I bring the damn tripod? It wasn’t easy to relax and enjoy the beauty because I was only half-way done with my journey and had dinner plans with friends and there was no cell service so I couldn’t even tell them I might be wandering forestry roads about the time the dinner they fixed was ready.

But I made it back to the original falls I wanted to see and had a little water to spare in my bottle.  But I never made it to downtown Brevard….I wanted to check out the vibe for a potential location to live.

I was only 15 minutes late for dinner and was able to text my friends after getting to an area with cell service. And it was lovely to see them and I was grateful for delicious food after walking/hiking 7.5 miles during the day with my heavy pack….I had visited Greybeard after all…and then there was High Falls…and walking around Black Mountain.

At some point during the evening Steve started sharing his love of cave art and we had an amazing conversation about shamen as being the original artists. They were able to touch the unseen world and bring back the essence of it through their art. He talked of the connecting flow of the visible world and the world of spirit…and it reminded me of the studies I did years ago with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and the work I do in meditation…or whatever you wish to call it…where I connect with nature through the energy that connects us all.

Our conversation was so in harmony with the work I envision doing with people…helping them connect deeper with Nature. The art that comes through me, the ideas about deepening with Nature….WOW! There was a flow of affirmation from the realm of Spirit that was incredible.

The next morning I left my friend’s home to journey back to the coast. I decided to have breakfast in Brevard to see if I could feel more of the vibe needed to confirm a destination for living. The hike in nearby Dupont had clearly shown me the water and rocks abounded and mountain biking is a huge ‘thing’ there so that was a huge smiley face on the idea of relocating there.

So breakfast and then a walk through the farmer’s market…and there I chatted with an artist about living there. She was helpful and encouraging and gave the three other pieces I needed before making a decision…community, art and music. YES! Message received. And….she knew a musician friend of mine from Alabama that had pointed me towards Brevard.

Think. Like. A. Rock.

Be still. Stop the flow of mind. Be grounded. Be still. Nothing to figure out. Be still. Allow. Be still…inside. Allow resistance to fade. Be still. Allow life to flow. Solid. Ancient.

No more striving….no more pushing the river. Time to think like a rock. Time to think like a mountain.

 

Threads

Threads

He stood at the edge of the swamp–antlers upright, eyes staring at me. It was the briefest of glances but I still remember the steam rising from the murky water and streaming from his nostrils as he sniffed and snorted. Magnificent, strong, ruler of his domain, the encounter with the buck has remained burned into my memory…in my heart….and every time I pedal past that gap in the trees I glance to see if he is there. Five years ago…and he’s still there in my mind.

After slowly awakening this morning, I picked up my iPad to check email and realized that for over six years I have opened email in the morning expecting a message. A message from him. I didn’t realize that simple act of finger touching glass was an act of hope. Why this came to consciousness today I don’t know. There is no pining away or waiting for him…I go on with life…so it was a surprise that there’s still the hope lingering….hanging like a thread. I had no idea…

Years pass yet there are imprints…people, animals, places…that simply don’t fade or lose their importance. The connection I have with Nature is like that…and those threads, once pulled, take me to humpback whales, elk, coyotes, dolphins, manatees, tiny reef fish, sea turtles, sunrises, sunsets, purple mountains, cliffs and seascapes, rocks. Once pulled, these threads always lead me back home–to my soul, my true self–the little girl who talked to nature spirits and animals.

And that’s where I find myself these days….embracing that nature child whose wisdom is intact, who knows that Oneness isn’t just a flaky idea, who still hugs trees and talks to whales and dolphins and manatees….and spirits that few others feel.

The Magical Nature Child…all roads lead home to Her. Every thread of memory weaves the tapestry of life that is Her playground, Her sacred realm. This then is where compassion and kindness reside and love for all life is treasured. This then is the place of beauty and sacredness for all life…it’s where instinctual wisdom blooms like a lotus blossom every time I sink my toes in the mud.

Returning Home

Returning Home

I was watching the movie, Hostiles, and heard myself saying out-loud tearfully, “I have to return. I have to go back!” A Native American elder was returning to his home as a dying wish after incarceration by the US government.

Since I was a child the Appalachian Mountains have called me. When my parents asked my brother and me where we wanted to go on vacation I’d prompt my brother to say…the MOUNTAINS! He didn’t….but I tried. Anything to get back there…to spend time in those sacred and most-ancient mountains on the planet. I remember feeling so at home there and so much myself…so connected to the land and my own bones. Then the leaving….was heart-rending.

I lived there for six years and loved it but felt called to the shores of my birth where I’ve spent six years healing and connecting with energies needed to finish the process of preparing me for the next step in the journey.

Any time an impending move is explored, there are questions and ponderings. Before I put my energy 100% behind something as big as this, I want to be sure. So last night before bed I asked to be given a sign pointing me to where I feel called.

After not sleeping much I checked email during the night and found an email from a dear friend referring to my move to the Asheville area. And then tonight….the movie and the message directly from my soul, “I have to return! I have to go back!”

I don’t know how life works…how we feel ancestral connections so strongly and why our bones vibrate with some places so strongly. I can only surrender to the dance of my heart’s rhythm and the song of my soul as it guides me gently back, back, back to those ancient mountains.

Home…ultimately it is the Self, not an outward geographic location. And yet there are places that urge us inward and support and nurture that journey of the Pilgrim…the Fool’s travels on the Tree of Life…the Spiritual Warrior’s Empty-Handed Leap into the Void.

I. AM. READY.

Mountains and Friends

Mountains and Friends

Abbey
Abbey

It has been over 19 months since I moved from the mountain in the Riceville Valley area near Asheville, North Carolina. Today I returned. The mountains snuck up on me as it was foggy and pouring rain as I wound my way up through the North Georgia Mountains. Rather than the usual distant view of the mountains, that always makes my heart light up and teases me with the majesty to come, I found myself suddenly surrounded by peaks and thrust into the beauty of mountain energy.

Living in Asheville was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me. My creativity was unlocked here and connections with others boosted my work…my friend Jen and I used to take wild day trips to the Smoky Mountains and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature while practicing our art of photography. I met her on the mountain.

sharkswebThe owner of the company that published my first book lived a couple houses down the mountain from me. She helped me learn about the business and taught me the art of editing. Other mountain neighbors became friends as we connected through this magical place that draws so many wonderful people.

As I got closer to Asheville this afternoon I became anxious. I wasn’t sure how to return gracefully to a place I deeply loved and left. How does a person love a place so fully and leave it? For me it was a call back to big water and coastal life that I had been away from for twenty years. So the move south was a good one but I was left with a heart full of love for the mountain and friends that became family.

The time spent in my new coastal home has been focused on healing my life. That opportunity came about due to a relationship that ended…the one I thought would be the forever one. Coming back to the mountain meant facing possible emotions of sadness and grief. I have worked so hard to heal my heart I was fearful that I’d slide back into the darkness from which I had freed myself. Nineteen months of deep, inner work were about to be tested.

photoAs I ate at Doc Chey’s, my favorite Asheville restaurant, I saw in my mind’s eye my former husband and I there but rather than sadness I simply observed and enjoyed the meal. Afterwards I walked to Mast General Store, another Asheville favorite, and walked around hearing the familiar clumping of people’s feet on the wooden floors. Downstairs I touched a shirt made of waffle-type thermal material, the kind that he used to wear, and my breath caught. A moment of sadness arose but was replaced with a sweetness as I remembered his strength and then I simply walked on…letting go even more and feeling the strong sense of wholeness within my being.

one of my friends on the deck of my former home here
one of my friends on the deck of my former home here

It continued to rain as I drove east toward my former neighborhood and as my car began the familiar climb up the mountain I felt like a horse being led to something she feared…balking a bit but then I was passing my former cedar home with the wall of windows overlooking the valley and I felt that I had truly moved on and my home wasn’t there any more. There were no ghosts of the past lurking about.

The familiar arms of my friend Phyliss embraced me. Actually it was my buddy Abbey that greeted me, wagging her tail and smiling with excitement. Then the Phyliss hug…and then Bob. These special friends welcomed me with such warmth. All anxiety of facing the past evaporated as I recognized the healing that has come to my life. I realized I had truly come home to myself.

Later this evening we drove back down the mountain and dined with other dear friends. Laleah and Bill provided a wonderful evening where the conversation was rich and varied with deep sharing and multiple explosions of laughter.

the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics....
the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics….

And the mountain…let me say how incredible it is to be on the mountain again. This place nurtured my soul and helped me open to the creative spirit. It was here that I felt my wings expand and carry me into the heavens where I learned that flight takes only surrender to the forces that are ready to lift us all to our potential.

As I reflect and write I sit snuggled under blankets as the wind howls in the rainy, cold night. The weather forecast calls for snow and with the excitement of a child I realize that I have come full circle in my life and am ready for the next flight on which these wings will carry me. What a blessing to be able to return to this family of friends and a mountain of magic and wonder. My heart is filled with gratitude as I count the many blessings that continue to fill my life from the coast to the mountains.

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