"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Elements, Part 2: Air

The element of Air swirls around us, unseen but essential to life. Air’s direction is East and its time is spring and dawn. Air's colors are light and peaceful: sky blue, pale yellow, and pure white. Air's essence is expressed by capricious winds, the flight of birds, and music of all types.

We need Air to exist. We can live for a time without sunlight or food or even water, but when we cease breathing for mere moments, that is the end of this lifetime. The physical process of breathing is complex, yet we do it all the time, unconsciously. Deliberate focus on the breath is an ideal way to calm our thoughts and emotions when we are in turmoil. Air brings us back to center.

Communication is an integral part of our relationship with Air. We can only see Air as it interacts with the other elements: we observe the smoke rising from a campfire, the clouds as they travel through the sky, the rippling leaves on the trees as wind moves past. Air can be tricky – when we express our thoughts and ideas, that which seems perfectly clear to us can be confusing or even hurtful to those receiving our message. We can use the power of Air to see through the illusions created by the mind.

Air brings new beginnings. Change is a constant part of our lives. We long for growth and progress, yet at times we resist it. Air brings us a reminder of how fresh and exciting a new phase of life can be. When we allow new ideas to breeze through our minds, we are cleansed and refreshed.

The tool of Air is the athame. This sacred knife slices through old energies, cuts away that which is no longer needed, and defines our boundaries. We hone our thoughts to a pointed focus, take a deep breath, and move into action. Air is our constant companion, from the first inspiration at birth until we expire and meet our death.

Tool of the Oracle: Your True Nature

I'm going to play one of those "blog meme" games, which I found here. Why? Because it sounded like fun.

So, here's the deal:


1. Delve into your blog archive.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Mine, found in this post, is: "I hung out and danced to their music." Interestingly, I think it does speak to my true nature.

Hmm, perhaps it's time to go dancing again soon...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Show Your Unschool Spirit

BlackLion and I came up with a new idea for a collective, called Unschool Spirit. As we've been busily spreading the word about Feline Dreamers, we noticed that a lot of the folks who are really interested in it are also unschooling parents. We wrote up some ideas and have been sharing them with an online friend who happens to be a well-known and beautifully-spoken advocate of radical unschooling. She's excited about the idea too, and we'll have more to share soon.

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from our write-up:

Unschool Spirit is the idea that as we unschool our children, encouraging them to be themselves by learning and growing in an environment of love and freedom, we can also learn to live this way ourselves. As we pursue the delicate and intense work of raising children in a respectful, partnership-oriented model, we find ourselves diving deeper into our own mysteries, exploring who we really are. By growing and expanding with our children, we become wholly ourselves.

By creating a community and framework to grow in, we gain valuable wisdom. We can share our own ways of spirituality in a safe and comfortable environment, garnering new insights and spreading the ideas of freedom, joy, happiness, and peace. Without limitations, fully conscious of our spiritual selves, together we create a world that we want for our children and ourselves.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mountain Time

Last month, I went with my sister-in-law and daughter on a backpacking trip to Baxter State Park. I was born in Maine and have lived here my whole life, but I'd never been to Baxter before. It was amazing! Mt. Katahdin is the tallest mountain in Maine and there are many Native American legends about the area. Along with the beautiful panoramic views, I enjoyed the powerful energies emanating from the land.

We hiked up South Turner Mountain the first day and saw a moose enjoying lunch in a pond along the way. The next day we backpacked the 3.3 miles into the Chimney Pond campsite and then did another short hike in the afternoon. On Thursday, when we were planning to hike to the top, it was too rainy, so we just did a couple of shorter hikes below the treeline. Friday we got up early and hiked up Cathedral Trail, a very steep climb that involved lots of shimmying up over rocks. ElvenTiger loved it! The views were astounding. When we were near the top, although there wasn't much wind (surprisingly), we could feel the sensation when we entered a cooler layer of air. 

Above is a picture of us at the summit. When we got there, we met two Appalachian Trail through-hikers, just completing their 2,000+ mile trek. One of them appeared to be in his 60s. Inspiring! We hiked back to the campsite and then put on our backpacks and headed back out. It made for a long day and the swim in the pond at the bottom was lovely and refreshing.

One of my favorite hikes of our trip was the Pamola Caves. There was a trail that wound in and around all these huge fallen slabs of rock that had created caves. A spring up above the caves allowed water to trickle down in and around them, refreshing us on a warm afternoon. The energy of the place was magickal and empowering. I felt the spirits of the land very strongly. On the way back down, I found out that Pamola is a Native American deity. I thanked him for making himself known to me that day.

The trip was fun and challenging and powerful. I will definitely go back again. ElvenTiger and I want to have time to hike the Knife's Edge next time!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food Labels

Last week Dryst and I went to a BBQ sponsored by his soccer league. We knew the menu involved hot dogs and hamburgers and had been asked to bring a bag of chips to contribute. When it was time to eat, I filled my plate with green salad, a bit of pasta salad, Sun chips, and some fresh fruit. I grabbed a bottle of water and sat down on the grass to eat. While I was enjoying my simple meal, I had a realization.

I've been a vegetarian for many years now and both my kids were raised that way from birth. They've each maybe tried fish once or twice, and that's it. But a few years ago, I would have felt unfairly ignored at such an event. My friends and I would have, faced with a similar situation, brought some veggie burgers and asked the guys at the grill to prepare them for us or at least packed some food in a cooler that we could have. I was pleased to realize that, instead of making a fuss, I could easily meet my own needs at such an event, enjoying a simple salad and fresh fruits.

Rather than labeling ourselves, which is a human tendency, I think it may work better to simply eat what appeals to us. Our food needs evolve as we grow and change throughout our lives. There are many people in my life who have recently made big adjustments to their eating habits: a family who ate primarily vegetarian or vegan for years recently added local meats to their diet; my Dad changed his entire way of eating after a heart attack two years ago; and a woman now craves (and enjoys) eggs after not being able to tolerate them for years of vegetarian eating. After a recent illness, I've re-introduced yogurt to my primarily-vegan diet (see, there's that label thing again!), and it's working well for me.

I think when we limit ourselves to a label based on what we eat, while the shorthand is sometimes helpful, we can put ourselves in a box where some foods are "bad" and some are "good." I personally have no plans to eat meat (because it doesn't appeal to me at all), but the addition of some yogurt or butter to what I eat doesn't mean I'm a "bad vegan." I eat what my body asks for and, like everyone, that changes and shifts over time.

And with this relaxed self-definition, I feel more comfortable allowing myself to eat what feels right, without worrying what anyone else thinks about it. It feels great! Why stop at food labels? Maybe there are other self-designed boxes I can simply step outside...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taking Health for Granted

Several years ago, my Mom was in a severe car accident. She was in the hospital, mostly in intensive care, for two months, followed by two more months in rehab, and some follow-up surgery a year later. As a result, she still has some trouble with her right hip and leg, and uses a cane.

This summer I went with my parents to visit a cemetery where one of our ancestors (who died around 1712) is buried. I use the term "cemetery" loosely - it is actually a burial ground on what was the family land, now privately owned and undeveloped. My parents have been working on our family genealogy for years, but they hadn't yet visited this site.

It involved a trek into the woods with two women from the local historical society who knew where the gravestones were. The entire walk to the cemetery was about half a mile, which to me seemed like a short stroll. But because of the uneven terrain, Mom had to pause frequently to rest and I could tell it was a strain for her.

After we had checked out the stones and taken lots of pictures, and after Mom took a rest on a stump, we started to head back. We realized that we'd been walking down a long gradual slope, so the journey back to the cars was uphill. Mom had an even bigger struggle getting back and was relieved when she could sit down. She took a pain pill and admitted she hadn't been sure at times if she could make it back! Yet before the medicine could even kick in, she was saying how excited she was to have seen the grave site, and how glad she was that she had come!

It was an "aha!" moment for me. I realized how much I take my mobility for granted and I made sure to express my gratitude for it. You see, I'm blessed to be very healthy the vast majority of the time. I don't take any medications, I eat healthy foods prepared from scratch, and I get plenty of exercise. I've avoided injuries and don't have any chronic conditions. And I'm thankful.

Even more so when things don't go as planned. Just recently I've been facing some health issues (let's just say female plumbing problems and leave it at that). I had to take antibiotics, which for various reasons I don't like to do, and I've felt really...well, ill. This situation has brought me a greater-than-usual dose of compassion for those who struggle with health issues and even more gratitude that I'm usually feeling quite well. As my condition has gradually improved, I've resolved to not only stay healthy, but to stay grateful as well.