I first noticed it as a kid after having been bullied for quite some time in the 2nd or 3rd grade. By the time the bully and her crew had stopped focusing on me, moved onto someone else and suddenly it was permissible for me to be "accepted" I JUST.DID.NOT.CARE. If there would have been a *rolls eyes* social media sign back then I would have sent it to her. It was empowering at the time, to realize that mean people didn't really matter.
My "I don't care" detachment gene has guided my soul on many occasions. At one social work type position in my very early career I remember telling my supervisor I was seeking other employment. She was sorry to hear that because I had been a great employee. When she asked why I said it was because I realized that I just don't care about the people I'm supposed to be helping. She was a bit taken aback, but agreed that it was certainly time for me to move on. I laugh about it now but the look on her face was sort of a well, aren't you a heartless one inner gasp. To which I thought pffffftttttttt....I.JUST.DON'T.CARE.
Sometimes I wonder if it is the people factor. In general I just don't care about people. I think that (overgeneralization of the day) mostly, people create their own drama and messes and then they want others to care. And that actually, normally their drama and messes create drama and messes for the rest of us so why should we care? The other factor is that I tend to track out stuff on my own inner does this matter in the BIG picture? calculator and most things just come up with a negative result. Of course, that could simply be because I.DON'T.CARE.
Besides the people factor there is certainly some situational baggage involved. Someone stated to me the other day that I am really no longer a "recreation professional" and that what I do at this point toggles between running for office and sitting on a witness stand being cross examined on a daily basis. I had to agree with her, at which point I thought that it was no damn wonder that I JUST.DON'T.FUCKING.CARE.
I think that sometimes it is a shame that the further we climb that so called "ladder of success" the less time we spend doing what we love, or in my case, what is at least tolerable. On the other hand, is caring a myth? I mean, lots of people I'm sure go to places of employment that they don't care about. It is a means to an ends. I think maybe that's what work used to be and that now somehow we have gotten the idea that we deserve to love what we do. Could that be it?
Maybe we have gotten that idea though because we realize that life is too short to not care. Maybe those who keep seeking something to care about keep seeking it for a practical reason and that reason is that time is limited. Too limited to JUST.NOT.CARE.
Hmmmmm...interesting Sunday morning coffee discussion if nothing else.
I'm finding myself so out of practice on many things. Guitar is only one of them :( as at one point I had gotten to where I could almost strum a song. Almost. I tried to do it last night and my fingers were like "huh? We don't bend that way lady" and so I find myself starting completely over, just strumming cords over and over and over and...
It is frustrating, yet I guess that is just life. Everything takes practice. I mean, everything from the moment you wake until you drift off at night has been learned and has evolved from practice. Like, ladies that shave your legs, what happened the first time you shaved? Yeah, you cut yourself! The first time you drove a car (hopefully you didn't wreck yourself). But, it wasn't easy. It took practice.
Ritual takes practice, yoga, mediation, riding a horse, using power tools...everything takes practice. Sometimes I get so tired of telling myself "it just takes practice" though. I just want things to be.
I think living takes practice. I don't think many of us really practice living, myself included. I think we just do and don't feel, act and don't think, we are there but not present. "Presence" was my word of the year at the beginning of 2015 and I am sad to report that the practice of being present is NOT my strong suit apparently. I have a very busy mind. She never sleeps, even when I sleep. I wake up and I'm already thinking about things, worrying, strategizing (mostly for work), planning. It is exhausting. I guess REST takes practice as well.
The thought for the day is that there is no hurry. The day is stretched before us and the season of sacred summer has arrived. The woods and fields are abundant with everything that has slept, then stirred, then quickened, then burst forth toward the sun. To honor the day I will not hurry. I will linger on each and every moment from my morning run, through my chores at the barn and a visit with my father. I will watch the sun set and light a candle to extend this day into the night, for this is day of my longing.
For the love of all that is good in the world I would like to now declare that bastard also known as winter officially outta here. March roared in with Thor and roared out (although not as mightily) with another light blanket of white. Our “Easter snow” consisted of some little ice balls peppering the ground early yesterday and now…. Now we are looking at buds and birds and greenbriers (the first things to appear for spring).
There are things that I complain incessantly about just like every other annoying human. Winter is one of them. Although I remain committed to my eventual plan to vacate this existence in favor of a place with more “suitable” weather for my cold-blooded, heat loving body, I am stuck here for a bit. So, every year, I welcome spring with wide open arms. Every bit of it. Even the mud. Mud is one thing I refuse to complain about. Heat is another. I am NOT an equal opportunity complainer. Winter gets all my love in that regard.
So, right now, things are really messy here. LOL. You wouldn’t notice it quite as much living a quiet, mostly inside life in town, but out here in the woods and at the barn... Lords, we are ankle deep in it. My yard itself has some, uh-hum, drainage issues I am working on. The trail above me sends lots of moisture over the hill right into my backyard. The result is….spongy. The barn, well, let us talk about horse hooves and grass and water = mud.
This is a really messy time of year, which gets me thinking about the birth of a season and the earth in general. I think that spring is possibly the most misunderstood season. Because people want it to be something it is not. Yes, they love the concept of winter ending and warmer weather and “life renewed” but they think in terms that aren’t accurate. People want spring to be like modern Easter. Full of brightly colored, clean eggs and new frilly clean dresses and enormous feasts fit for a very clean village.
That ain’t spring! Spring is fucking messy! It is muddy, wet, gooey and sometimes painful (if you count wiping up your floors four times a day from little dirty footprints as critters come and go). It is true birth. Birth of the creatures that we share the world with, the trees and plants that bud (and pollinate speaking of painful for many), the flowers that have struggled to the surface and finally break through, the cold blooded frogs, lizards and snakes that lie curled in the earth as they begin to come back to life…
These things aren’t sterile and crisp, clean white. They are bathed in the colors of struggle. The colors of blood and tears and grit. It takes an enormous amount of work to renew oneself and that rebirth doesn’t come without those things.
When I walk outside these mornings I am not greeted with promise. Promise was for Imbolc. Promise was the whispered words of those still underground telling me to hold on, just hold on a little longer… Promise has passed now and we have burst forth into what is real. What is real is that birth is all around us and every bit as messy as it should be.
I'm just happy I made some progress. So, these logs were very heavy and long and some of them I was able to get to the ravine and pitch to go their natural route. Of the others I simply pulled them to edge of my property line behind a row of pine trees where a little no man's land of brush and rocks exists. I lined them long-ways behind the pines, making a little fence-line of sorts. May they slowly decay in restful peace. LOL.
I cleaned up the space where they were, cleaned up two other old woodpiles and built (out of rotting pallets) a new wood keeper between two perfectly spaced trees. I will do a little roof for it later this summer to help keep the wood dry.
I dug out four dying hedges and returned them to the woods. They will make great wildlife cover. Birds and small critters love pine-like stuff for that purpose. I trimmed some other stuff I'm keeping. A burning bush and some other ornamental bloomers. I still have to make a decision on a couple more of these pine hedges on the side of the house but they will most likely go as well. Taking out the ones in the backyard really opened it up and I can see a nice little bench back there, maybe some Hosta (which will lead to a deer salad bar I'm sure LOL).
I started the battle with the briers and brambles that are creeping into the yard (ugggghhhhhh I HATE briers) and while working on this made the coolest discovery! On one side of my yard is a ravine. It is lined with limestone rock formations. Very pretty. Really big drop at one spot (about 50ft) but gorgeous. In my backyard the drop is more gradual and in this one spot there is sort of a natural drainage ditch etched out over time. My dad has been trying to work on this issue of the backyard being soppy wet due to water coming off the hill from the trail using this ditch. I am damn well convinced there is also a natural spring under here somewhere. So this ditch leads to a smaller rock formation that is stepped down into the ravine quite nicely, with moss growing on it - one of those spots that as a kid I was always convinced served as a little water fall spot for the Fae. Why am I saying "as a kid"? LOL I still believe it.
So, I started tidying up around it with the rest of the yard. Hoping the spring rain will now wash it clean.
There are so many cool little spots around here and about three miles up the trail there is a swimming hole with a water fall. A runner that I work with told me about it and the prior owner (who had a big dog she took on long walks) mentioned it as well.
So, lots to explore and a ton of work to do.
I was reading a some yoga based literature last night that I started while on my trip to Alaska (and thinking during reading it that I should just simply start the book over because it is good, I don't want to miss the point and I had so much on my mind there that I feel like I HAVE missed several points)....
But, the chapter I was reviewing pertained to cleansing. It discussed philosophical and physical aspects of the same, talked about some hardcore yoga practices related to it and as I drifted off to sleep while reading (something I often do), little bits of what the author was saying were floating through my mind. Mainly, that there are many kinds of cleansing and some are quite painful, mostly emotionally.
It reminds me of my favorite quote from the modern version of Batman. And, why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I've heard that all my life and I must say I do believe it to be true. I have come to think of this winter almost as a cleansing mechanism for everything not gritty inside me. Because, despite my desperate (yet apparently half-hearted) attempts to maintain my independence, my gypsy soul, for the past decade or more I have somehow slowly become detached from the salt of myself.
Why describe it like that? Because I have this notion that people, deep and powerful people, people that experience life and live it, have salt. They are the "salt of the earth" types. They are the people when told to "go pound salt" say yes I will and my blood, sweat and tears will form oceans of promise. They are tough and kind and sometimes weary but they keep going. They are independent, resourceful, magical.
I have been reminded more than I ever care to this winter of life's hard days, whether they be simply due to our own personal struggles, the inconveniences of duty, home, work, weather, or the so much more painful truth of mortality, suffering and lack of hope in the world. Everything had started to leave me feeling beaten and worn down. I got nothing else I said one day in relation to the very real drudgery that winter heaps upon my own mind.
And yet, don't I? I mean, really, can I do anything else except form an ocean of every experience to feed my soul? What other choice is there for me but to go on?
And not just go on but go on well. Go on hard and with purpose. Move forward toward the light like everything else in the living world. Reach up and claw and scratch my way to the surface and taste the salt of my sweat (and tears). Relish in what I can do, remember how to do what I have forgotten and learn to do what I need to know.
Those are the lessons that winter is teaching me. May you come out of the Dark Season with your own hope and knowledge and may you use them well.
The name of the holiday is Imbolc. Oh, you forgot? We often do. I notice mostly that those of us in the colder zones of the country tend to let this one pass right over. We are all too busy staying warm, cursing subzero, prepping for the latest Snowmaggedon, etc. As I noted in my LAST POST, life is tough right now in terms of immersing oneself in the seasons. To put it bluntly, winter is still here and it still sucks.
But, since Imbolc's roots are based around those very first signs that winter's hold is getting ever so slightly less tight on the world, I’m trying to shift my focus a little bit here. I’m trying to feel it, this rustling….and I feel it like this…
Deep below the frozen ground where rooted things have retreated to sleep something stirs…
Mother, may we wake now?
…and stretches ever slightly upward, beginning the journey toward the light. Soon it will burst forth from the dirty forest floor and covered with the debris and the aftermath of the fall, shivering at the remaining icy breath of winter, it will uncurl itself and declare that it lives and that it wants…
The nights have grown less long.
…light and hope and the joyful sounds of the forest in spring. Somewhere, a robin lifts her head and turns toward the wind, knowing that despite the frigid howl of the darkness, there is warmth approaching on a fast horse…
I faintly hear the calling of a robin’s song.
…and a bear slumbers beneath a rocky crag and dreams of the rhythmic sound of hoof beats. Closer and closer to the surface of wakefulness she flutters until her eyes begin to open and the beating she feels is that of her own heart…
Asleep we’ve been under the ground.
…and a tree creaks and moans in the wind as its sap slowly warms and the tiniest spark inside of what will soon be a bud that will then become a leaf glistens and the tree knows…
While snow falls softly all around.
…just like the earth knows and those of us who wait know that winter is long and hard and unforgiving. We know that we are tired and worn. We are cold and aching from work. Our souls are tattered with frost and we feel beaten. We feel defeated…
But Mother, we must wake now.
I feel heavy. In my soul and on my mind I just feel the weighted emptiness that comes in the dead of winter. It is inevitable and predictable, this process of dying in order to be reborn. It is like a fog of sorts. Day in and out the pattern is the same. We wake to snow. We go through the motions of the morning, all of which are made more complicated by the cold and the bleakness. We navigate the additional steps of preparation to even leave the house. It is amazing the amount of extra work that winter brings. Clearing the driveway and walkway best we can, checking the road closures and possible issues via all those modern and super handy social media tools, starting the truck, bundling up the dog, bundling up myself... I find it all very tedious and emotionally exhausting. It is for those reasons that I find myself, by this time of the season, normally barely able to concentrate on much of anything other than going through the steps of seasonal survival and thinking that I will feel much better once the wheel turns just a little bit further.
I still find an adequate fascination with the Dark Season, but when the reality of THIS.SHIT.IS.REAL (and long) hits me, I consider how much more fascinating it would be if I could just hibernate in my little house-cave, practice meditation, drink mead and cuddle with the dog for the remainder of the season. I need to have a career that allows me to work from home. I need to move further south. I need to take a vacation for the entire duration of January AND February and then, perhaps, I would not mind winter so much.
None of these things are feasible of course. So, I muddle through.
I have never mastered the art of enjoying winter. Despite my best attempts and despite my mindset of true fascination and awe during the first portion of the season and near WINTER SOLSTICE I always seem to slip a great deal come mid-January... I just don't have it in me for any more of winter.
Still, I cannot falter. I have to just keep moving forward with the turning of the wheel. Where winter is concerned, I am just along for the ride and I guess that is what weighs on me the most. There is no controlling the weather. Much as we magical folk dream about, it in an overall, regional manner, we just can't. We are just as helpless in that regard as a small boat tossed about in a raging sea. And so my life is impacted (or my lifestyle, more accurately) by this thing I cannot control and that folks, gets really old by this time every year.
It is easy for people to say - it is just the weather, go do what you need to do. The reality is that some things I need to do and like to do are not safe or manageable when winter truly sets in. When younger, perhaps I would have ventured to the barn during a blizzard or with three inch thick ice on the road. Maybe I would have thought of it as a battle, an adventure, a risk I was willing to take. As I "mature" I am much less invincible and much more aware of the impact my choices might have on my well-being (not to mention the well-being of my truck LOL).
See, I live in an area where they don't clear the roads really. LOTS of the outlying places in WV are like this. Main highways and city streets come first, secondary roads (and when I say secondary I don't mean suburb roads I mean 1 1/2 lane winding, hills of roads up every hollow), are an afterthought. If it is a bus route one has a better chance of seeing a plow. Salt or cinders? If you are lucky, maybe IF school is not canceled (because why would they waste them is buses aren't in use?). Add to that the fact that thanks to the fracking industry we are short on every large equipment operator and driver position in existence. Who wants to work for the State Road division for $10 and hour when one can make double that driving for the oil and gas carpetbaggers? It is simple economics on a very personal level.
Growing up in the mountains I am more than used to even greater this level of snow. The difference is that our communities had the means to deal with it and where I live now, they simply do not. In my childhood hometown every other house had a truck with a blade, service jobs were plentiful and winter was a way of life. Not sayin' I ever enjoyed it, LOL, it just wasn't this level of frustration...
So, I am heavy into the reality of my least favorite season now and am reminded as I am every year at this time that in planning for my eventual future I must consider all these factors that I ponder while I slurp my morning coffee and get ready to clear that driveway again.
You could, however, pick a word that might touch on your hopes in a positive way... So, maybe your word would be "wellness" and that would mean SO.MUCH.MORE than beating yourself up over the fact that you want to lose weight. It would encompass caring about what goes into your body and/or moving for the sake of celebration that your body can and will do so...
So, you get the picture. Resolutions are so yesterday. The WORD is where the New Year is at! :)
So, last year my word was TRUTH. I think it is safe to say I rocked that word. Last year's BLOG ENTRY...
I have been meditating on this year's word and letting lots of things filter through my brain in the last week or more. The other day I was just doing some chores and listening to music and the song Rise by Eddie Vedder came on. For whatever reason it gave me pause. I love this song but I don't listen to it much because I hated that stupid movie it was from. LOL isn't that funny how we let things that really have nothing to do with each other shape our thoughts?....
Anyway - so I'm listening to it and thinking about how time passes before us, sometimes slow, most times at breakneck speed. So much life, so many moments, joy, love, regret...
And the word comes to me: PRESENCE
I just want to be PRESENT. I want to practice it, think it, live it, BE it.
So much of life is spent either planning the future or feeling bad for the past. In meditation, they go on and on about being present but in reality, how good can we ever get at that? Yet, I believe it to be a worthy focus. I think, like TRUTH, it can be filtered into any and every number of daily activities and life itself. It will require me to pay attention, to shush worry when it comes knocking, to set aside fear (my constant companion), to filter annoyance and remind myself to just BE.
PRESENCE is the companion of compassion, the sister of patience, the doorway to knowing.
So, here I go into the official "new" year with my little word that could. It is a daunting task, much more so than the task of TRUTH because truth comes more naturally to me as someone who has always been known to see things a little differently than others. This, however, will take serious work. My mind has a helluva time standing still and is constantly littered with thoughts, (mostly the aforementioned worry based in fear), of a million things and scenarios. I hope to make PRESENCE a friend to lean on and after awhile, perhaps it will naturally become a part of me.
In the fall of 2012 I went on an amazing trip to Seattle and spent about a week in the city, exploring and experiencing life in general. I had a good deal of time to myself because I was tagging along on a conference. I didn't actively seek a "marker" of when my mindset started to change about magic, life in general, my future, the fact that time for us all is running out in terms of being authentic and true to ourselves, etc. But, for some reason, that trip has become a marker for me. Nope, nothing extraordinary happened. I didn't have a prophetic experience there. I didn't have an overly negative one either. I had a great time and arrived home happy and exhausted from what I recall.
It was, however, shortly after this that I began to struggle with chronic fatigue (which was my own fault having been pushing myself very hard physically for years) and decided to take a break from travel and concentrate on me. I struggled to do this for some time. Almost two years actually. I did win the CF battle eventually and my body has now regulated. But, I was told that being "still" was not the answer by those close to me (who do not like being still LOL) and for some time, I believed it. It MUST be ME then. I just must not be able to pull my shit together and care about life...
I took baby steps though, tried to be the person I desperately wanted to be... There was major upheaval both personally and professionally. I lost my horse. Not to illness or death but to differing philosophies between owner, trainer and caregiver. Owner trumps caregiver AND trainer. I lost my way. I found myself uninspired to light a fucking candle much less actually talk to the moon. I lost my perspective. I worried I might lose my job in the midst of crazy talks of mega-park systems, other people's retirements and power plays. I lost my soul. My personal life became some odd sort of contemplation on the tree of woe, only not that dramatic! I say it only for the buzzard reference LOL. I felt pieces of me getting pecked away while I stared down at them, trying to figure out how to put them back while not upsetting the apple cart of what I had participated in building...
I somewhere had to make peace with the fact that these were all my choices. There were others involved in my life for certain. None of us live in a vortex of "self" although sometimes it would be easier if we did in many respects. But, in the end, I had made choices as we all do and I had built a life that was not a bad life at all. It was a good life. But it wasn't mine.
I am at an age where many windows are closed. I will never have children. This is not something that I ever wanted deeply so it doesn't shatter my sense of "everything is as it should be" but it is sobering when thought of in terms of the norms of our peers and friends. I didn't find a soul mate. This is more of a deep wound for me. I've had many relationships and they have all required me to give up who I am. Some would say I have had relationships with the wrong people. I tend to think that I perhaps have had incompatible choices in place, time, company? It is like the fault in our stars only without the life-ending illness maybe. Actually I've never seen that movie so, lol. But, timing is sometimes everything. And, unless you have a Tardis....well, you get the picture. I had dreams that will not come true. I will never be a veterinarian. Again, my choices have made this so because it WAS possible. I am educated and was encouraged to learn, so I have not one person on earth to blame for not following a childhood dream but myself. Lastly, I left my next best "dream" job in the veterinary industry over 10 years ago and could never catch up on the technology or experience in that field to regain anything close to it. Once again, my choice. Yes there were life circumstances, money and poor working environment at the time that played heavily in my decision. But, repeat, right place/some of the people, very wrong time in my life.
For those my age and older, I tend to not believe anyone that says "I have no regrets" and feel like possibly they are just not willing to explore them. It is extremely painful to do so, admittedly. But, in times of reflection and planning it seems to me that I have to go there in order to count my blessings so to speak.
I have a career that I DID get degreed for and for that I am extremely thankful. I pays the heaps of bills that come with the freedom to live as one would choose and more importantly to me, it buys my food for my animals, vet care and a roof over their own heads. It allows me to be a good critter mom. I have a home I am making my own and good friends to share in my passion for a magical life, nature, horses, and even mindless discussions of entertainment over good beer. My immediate family is still alive and mostly well so I still have time to spend with them, although I know it will probably never be ideal or enough.
I hope to simply live my life in the state of just being and take the damn time to notice everything that seems to pass us by while we chase dreams and try to keep up with Mr. and Mrs. Jones. I don't think one can successfully do that while in a state of regret so I will make a point to burn those tonight. It isn't that they won't be there. It is just that, realistically they don't really matter. We are where we are and we must move through life from there, not from memories, regret or longing.
Happy Winter Solstice and Blessed New Moon. May the darkness carry all of your worries into the deep earth and may we all begin again and with the moon, transform.