Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do Who You Are, Love What You Do

Lately, I've been thinking about whether or not we are what we do.

It seems that some would rather believe we are not what we do, because they want to see themselves as separate from the actions they have taken which they are ashamed of or otherwise regret.

I've been thinking though, there's two problems I have with this line of reasoning. The first is that I promote unconditional love and acceptance of ourselves no matter what we do. The other is that I think we are what we do, not what we have done. We are what we are doing in this moment. Write now (freudian slip), I am writing.

Get it? I'm writing. I am writing.

I am Meagan.

I am Writing.

Earlier, I was dancing.

Thus, I think that the fact that we are ashamed of some of the things we do is not cause to separate from these actions and disown them, but to love them compassionately, and all the feelings that go with them. Because no matter what we are doing or have done, we are alive, and that is reason enough to celebrate.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I was going to write about art.

I was going to write about my process of doing art in college. I declared myself as an art major this semester, something neither I nor anyone I knew saw coming. As one of my best friends said when I told her when I said she did something random, "Its not as random as you changing your major to art after showing no artistic interest whatsoever." Or something like that.

But shortly after I changed my major, I remembered something I said a few years ago to a fellow student: 'If the world didn't need saving, I'd be an art major.' I always thought that art was a luxury. I thought I could go to school for something that would help make the world a better place.

As it turns out though, school doesn't teach you much of anything useful for saving the planet. Thus my degree change. And now I have to face what I have rarely dealt with before: being challenged in school. Because school has always been a breeze for me. I picked up math, language, even science and history, easily and naturally. I skated through school, a straight A student the whole way. But art? Art is completely different territory. This is right brain stuff. This is why I changed my major.

Since changing my major, I have discovered a place in school where I question my own sense of self worth. Although I enjoy being challenged and trying new things, I'm not used to not being able to do things. Such as draw Kendall Hall. (I was nearly in tears that day, as I worked my way around my paper, only to discover that I was going to have to erase everything and start over to make it come close to looking right.)

The hardest part about making art is feeling excited about my work, and wanting to show it off to my friends, and then feeling embarrassed when I imagine how I look. Like a little kid coming home from school showing their parents their scribbled monster drawing, to which the parents can only respond, "That's wonderful darling!"

I panic when I think I am acting like a little kid. I fear being seen. I feel immature. Part of me hasn't grown up. I noticed the other night that while watching a movie about high schoolers that I felt younger than the kids in the movie. They seemed older than me. Why is that? Didn't I ever grow up? Shouldn't the high school kids seem younger than me? What's wrong with me?

When I see high schoolers in person they seem younger though. So maybe it was just the movie.

Part of the problem is that our society's idea of maturing entails becoming part of the capitalist economy, something I rebel against. Does this condemn me to being a kid forever? Can I psychologically mature in this context? What does that even mean?

This idea that I am more immature than people around me, more clumsy and irresponsible, is part of a general problem with devaluing myself. But I ask myself, do I really want to grow up? The answer is yes and no.

Yes I want to take responsibility for my part in the scheme of life. Yes I want to create, to influence and help shape this world in harmony with my values. Yes I want to feel that I am growing, emotionally and spiritually.

No I don't want to get a boring, soul-killing job. No I don't want to let go of my idealism. No I don't want to settle for being a cog in the machine.

All this leaves one question unanswered though. Am I a little kid if I want to show off my art? Can I let go of this shame of being proud of something I made? Pride and shame...they're dating these days. But for how long?

Monday, December 6, 2010

By Now, Intuition is Old Hat

When I ride my bike around town, which I do every day, I constantly get urges to go a certain way, take a certain route, turn here, cut through there, go down this sidewalk or that path. I might look spastic, by how erratically I bike. I follow my impulses and take the path that my gut is telling me to follow. I live on a grid so there are a lot of ways to get from one place to another.

Often there isn't an obvious reason why I am being guided in a particular direction. Sometimes I run into someone I know, and stop to say hello for a moment. Maybe its not about what I find, but what I miss. Maybe if I had gone a different way I would have passed a cop, or a car accident. The other day, though, I saw an incredible example of why its worth it to follow our intuition.

Ever since it got cold I've had cold ears. I've often had this problem in the winter. If I pull my hat down over my ears it just slips back up. If I pull it down far enough to really cover my ears, its in my eyes-- very uncomfortable. Finally, I found the solution: this year, I'll get a hat with ear flaps! However, I'm an ex-Gandhi wannabe, so buying new things is still kinda hard for me. Especially because I knew I needed a fair trade organic cotton or wool hat. So I put off looking for one.

Then, as I was biking down my street a few days ago, I got this urge to turn a block earlier than I usually do to leave my neighborhood. I ignored it at first and kept going-- lately these urges have been bothering me, seeming more like OCD than intuition. The feeling was so strong though, that I actually turned around and went the way I had felt pushed towards. Within ten seconds I probably forgot about it, and about a minute or less later, I saw a dirty hat laying in the street. Although it was covered in leaves, it had ear flaps and smelled like nothing but wet fabric and dirt (it had just rained). I threw it in my bag to wash, super stoked at finding something I'd been wanting. As I went to get back on my bike, I realized that if I hadn't turned around and came this way, I never would have seen this hat.

Maybe I'm not OCD after all.

Monday, November 29, 2010


So far my favorite blog on here is Looking Both Ways. Or more accurately its the one I think is most acceptable, the one that follows the format of a typical good essay or blog post. Its essentially a rant, but besides going off topic for a moment, I stick to the basic structure of a linear, logical argument, embellished with a few personal insults.

The problem with linear, logical arguments, though, is that they don't allow for growth and learning to come about through the process of writing. I knew the answer before I began writing that post. I knew what I wanted to do: to complain about a behavior and explain why it bothers me, blowing off steam and hopefully persuading people to agree with me in the process.

Most of my thought processes aren't as linear as all that though-- they don't stick to this typical blogging format of telling a story with a point, a lesson, or moral. I appreciate learning something new about myself or the universe though the act of writing.

All throughout school I found writing conclusions to be the most difficult part of essays. Conclusions always seem so cliche. Everyone ends chapters in nonfiction books the same way-- with a short sentence that's meant to sound profound and make the reader feel warm and cozy or inspired, but above all else to agree with the author (Barrack Obama's The Audacity of Hope is one of the most obvious examples I've ever seen of this).

In school they taught me that an essay goes like this: tell the reader what you're about to tell them (introduction), tell them it(body), and then tell them what you just told them (conclusion). This always seemed redundant to me. I had a hard time being redundant on purpose, and I am bothered by it when authors do this too obviously in books. Also known as a 'recap', I hear it in my head as a lecturing voice, automated, not authentic.

Life has taught me that any time I think I reach a conclusion, there is always something new to be learned. For example, after I wrote about the old man and the red light, I started wondering about his perspective. That got left out. I don't think I will come back to it here, but the process has continued for me. Conclusions are an illusion. They are inherently temporary. Although that ironically sounds like yet another conclusion. Ah, the eternal paradox strikes again!

So this is fair warning. I am not a linear, logical person, at least not most of the time. And I can't guarantee that I will ever come to much of a conclusion.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks

Someone said on 'Thanksgiving Eve' that this is the only holiday that isn't corrupted by commercialization. On Thanksgiving, you don't buy gifts, or candy, or tons of little plastic eggs, or even boxes of cardboard valentines. You get together with friends or family and appreciate each other. Safeway trying to sell you discount turkeys is about as commercial as it gets.

I have a new appreciation for Thanksgiving this year. I think it is a special holiday. Not the history of it-- I of course hate the land-thievin' native-deceiving settlers as much as the next decent person-- but the idea of having a day devoted just to gratitude. In my case the whole week has seemed like Thanksgiving because school is out.

I am grateful for so many of my experiences this week. I am grateful for going on a walk in the park with a new friend and his dog, where the pathways were strewn with leaves and we sat on logs overhanging the creek, chatting about life. I'm grateful for spending the night before Thanksgiving with my silly drunken neighbors, playing Pokemon Monopoly and wrestling on the floor, after baking pumpkin pie and making cranberry sauce. I'm grateful for going to the hot springs on the day of Thanksgiving, sitting in warm water looking up at the blue sky, surrounded by mountains and trees and naked people everywhere, with my boyfriend giving me a massage. I'm grateful for the deer I saw yesterday, and the good food and friends to eat it with.

I'm also grateful for the growth I'm experiencing in my life right now. I'm becoming more centered and grounded in myself. I'm learning to meet my own needs, to take care of myself. I give thanks for all the abundant support I receive.

Feliz Dia de las Gracias!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Education That Matters

This morning, as I have done other mornings, I biked to the park to do my homework.

Sounds normal enough, though not many college students take the time and energy to enjoy the refreshing life-force of our urban riparian sanctuary. To be honest, I probably wouldn't either, if it wasn't required of me. I wasn't doing homework for Chico State, the school that I attend so I can get Financial Aid and a degree that will serve as something to fall back on in case civilization doesn't collapse as soon as I think it will. I was doing homework for Ecotherapy, a program through University of Earth.

U of E is a radical, evolutionary college program that was founded by Rich Silver, the same man who founded the Endangered Species Faire which takes place in Cedar Grove every year, which is where I ran into him last May. I feel touched when I reflect on that day, hearing an adult say the words my heart speaks: that there are two possible impending disasters. One of them is the disaster we will all have to face if the economy, and potentially our entire ecosystem, comes crashing down upon us. If suddenly food is not available, or clean water, or transportation. If the crops won't grow and there is fighting in the streets.

The other disaster, the disaster with a capital D, is that business keeps running as usual. This Disaster will have species going extinct at ever increasing rates, will have more and more children growing up in cities where they don't even see trees, or ground that could grow something. This Disaster will (and is!) sucking up people's souls like a fleet of Dementors, keeping them in high-rise cubicles computing all day. Ultimately, too, this Disaster will inevitably end in the first disaster. Rich told me that day that he prays for a third option-- a quick and graceful transition to a sustainable human society.

I think this path is the least probable. That doesn't make it not worth trying for though, and that is what University of Earth aims to do-- to educate people in appropriate ways for the times we are in, by offering degree programs in Ecotherapy, Eco-education, and Ecoguides. Although I turn in my homework online, because there is no campus, the Ecotherapy program I am working on has me at the park, observing, breathing, and learning about how I relate to nature and how nature nourishes and affects me. I highly reccommend this school. I would love to see all my friends take courses through this school. They have an Orientation course (called "Our Sacred Living Universe"), which I did this summer, that can be taken by anyone without having to enroll in a program.

I never knew there is already a whole school of thought based around why mainstream psychotherapy isn't working, and is perpetuating the socio-economic system that destroys and corrupts our psyches and all life. Now I do, and I am greedy to soak up all the knowledge and insight I can from our class texts.

How grateful I am to have just come from the park, having watched the leaves fall magically from the sky, to sit by the creek and ask myself, "Who are you?" as the stream rolls by. This is where education should take us. I am so grateful, and so inspired to have a community of classmates on the same page (literally!) as me in these times.

To learn more about this, go to

Monday, November 22, 2010

Looking Both Ways

Today as I was crossing the street to Tin Roof at 7th and Broadway, an old man crossing perpendicular to my companion and I said something along the lines of, "So red lights have gone out of style, huh?" Feeling defensive already, I replied in an annoyed tone of explaining something to a small child, "There were no cars coming." In retrospect, I wish I had said, There were no cars coming, dumbass. He in turn responded by saying that it didn't matter, the point was that its illegal to cross at a red light. The conversation quickly became a three way argument, my friend and I trying to point out to him that the whole point of lights is to keep traffic flowing smoothly, and that when there is no traffic, its ridiculous to wait for a light to change before crossing the street.

I felt riled up and exasperated with the disgusting degree to which this man had conformed his decision making to the structures of laws, rather than actual functionality. He raised his voice over us, saying something about how we'd rather argue than be 'correct' (or maybe 'corrected', which is what my friend heard). As he disappeared from sight, I yelled after him, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery! Don't be a robot!"

This situation pissed me off. To use NVC terms, I felt pissed off. I feel enraged. I need a shared reality, and functionality. And since anger comes from fear, I think on some level I am terrified at how deeply people have entrenched the forms of laws, rather than their purposes, into their psyches. I am really scared that anyone would propose for a moment that you should wait to cross a street when there are no cars coming, unless there was a blind curve (which it wasn't, we could see for blocks). This isn't just about the red light, although the actual situation alone is enough to aggravate me. Its symbolic for all the ways in which people conform mindlessly to society's rules and expectations.

Of course, this was an old man, I could rationalize to myself. He comes from a bygone era, in which the government was always correct. No one our age would agree with his ridiculous time-wasting conformity. Although I doubt that's completely true, regardless, there are plenty of other examples of ways in which people follow rules simply because they were taught them at a young age, when they were impressionable, when adults could answer the magical question "Why?" with, "Because," or, "That's just the way it is." And eventually most people stop asking why, stop asking and just accept orders from anyone above them in the hierarchy. This is what allowed the Holocaust to happen. This is what makes prison guards abuse prisoners and get away with it. This is what created Abu Ghraib. This scares me. I am very afraid.

One of my favorite quotes goes, :"Rules are guidelines for people who can't make decisions for themselves." I don't know who said it, but a lot of people have thought of it independently. I read it recently in a book, or on Facebook. It doesn't matter if I cite it, because that's just another rule. I was thinking about anti-copyrights today. It's something that anarchists often put on publications. It'll say, Every sound, word, thought, and idea you hear is free for you to use as you please. I like this. All our ideas are shared anyway. Like when you think of something new, and then you google search it and get 3 million hits. It's all shared consciousness. And if you don't get any hits, now someone somewhere else is gonna think of it independently of you. Who gets credit? Whoever copyrights it first? How is that fair? Its not.

Not that I don't think anarchists and hippies shouldn't copyright their shit. I think we should. Because if we don't, some capitalist will. Might as well copyright or patent it, and then let the public use it for free. Only sue the big guns when they try to make money off your idea.

I digress. The point is, lets liberate ourselves from the forms of things, and remember the purpose of social agreements. If the purpose is important, we can all find our own way to make it work. Like looking both ways before crossing a street, and then crossing if no cars are coming, even if it is a red light.

And fuck you, old man. I feel sorry for you. Its too bad you were so easy to indoctrinate. But don't push your mechanical way of living onto me. I'm alive, and I can make decisions for myself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hitchhiking, Halloween, and Elections, Oh My!

I'm telling myself the title of this blog is cliche. So be it.

Curiously, I spent my second Halloween hitchhiking in the Bay Area (or points nearby) this past Sunday. Even stranger, the last time I did it Halloween was also on a Sunday. Which confuses me, because that was six years ago. Something to do with leap years, although I would have thought that would make it eight years until we got a repeat day, not six.

Allow me to compare. Last time I hitchhiked on Halloween, I was 14. I was returning from Davis, en route to Chico, after a failed attempt to go to San Francisco for Halloween with my traveling buddy at the time, Courtney, who was two years older than me. We were not in costume, but dressed as bums, as usual in those days.

I wanted to make it down for an animal rights conference put on by PETA (I now hold PETA in much contempt, when I think about them, which isn't often, but that's another rant). We abandoned our mission in Vallejo late Saturday night, and returned to Davis, which was completely dead. No parties to be found. Courtney and I spent the evening in a hot tub at an apartment with our puppies, a random dreadhead who later turned out to have poor communication skills regarding physical boundaries, and his dog. The next morning, Halloween, we ventured to the Davis co-op (I found this very exciting, I had never been to another co-op besides good old Chico Natural Foods), and then headed home by thumb, stopping at a random burger joint to beg for free food. (We got hooked up. Veggie burgers, french fries, and drinks. Yum.)

Unfortunately hitchhiking wasn't going well that day. Long past when the sun went down, we had only made it to Sacramento. As any hitchhiker knows, Sacramento is comparable to the pit of despair. We were having a fine old time at a gas station in West Sac though, where at least it was well-lit and crowded with friendly people willing to stop and chat a moment, or give us a souvenir mini-baseball bat. Our doom descended with a misguided and somewhat overweight taxi driver who told us she knew exactly where we should hitchhike from if we wanted to go to Chico, and then offered to take us there for free.

I didn't notice what a dark and desolate place she had brought us to at first. Or maybe I did. Either way, all that surrounded the highway on-ramp was a closed Chevron whose parking lot was under construction, a diner, and empty industrial buildings. Looking back, we didn't have a chance in hell at getting a ride that night, unless we broke the law and passed the "No Pedestrians" sign half-way up the on-ramp, which we were too scared to do. We were used to getting a ride at the bottom of the ramp, staying within California's legal bounds for hitchhiking.

After a long-time and quite a few cars passing us, a car full of guys blaring gangster music slowed down. There was a moment of hope for both of us, until we saw that the car was full, no seats available, with four or five young men who didn't look very friendly. Though I'm not sure I even heard this, my friend heard one of them say, "Get in the car!" and one of the guys in the back seat started to open his door. She stood her ground, and told them never mind, and waved them on. Luckily they left, and she immediately started panicking. What if they had dragged her in? What if they came back? She wanted nothing to do with hitchhiking there anymore.

We left our post by the highway and tried to sneak into the nearby diner with our puppies in our jackets, to spend our last few quarters on hot chocolate while we figured out what to do, but the puppies were quickly discovered and we were kicked out before we even got seated. (We may have tried to go into the diner earlier, the time line is blurred now). If I was in that situation now, I would have asked the diner to use their telephone, telling them we were in a desperate situation.

My younger self, though, followed the 16-year-old whom I looked up to so much through the industrial section of town, into a dark neighborhood, past a lonely looking drunkard who crossed our paths (I had my knife in my hand for that block), and to a very closed Pacific Pride gas station, across the street from Goldie's Adult Superstore, ran by transvestites, and apparently a meeting place for prostitutes and their customers.

Long story short, the rest of the night involved calling a friend to drive two and a half hours in the middle of the night to come get us, pooping behind the adult video store, approaching a Salvation Army Headquarters for help only to be traumatized into flight by a costumed security guard in a faceless dummy mask, and another taxi driver, this one with vampire teeth that Courtney insisted were real. We made it home to Butte County that night, safe and sound, exhausted enough to get great sleep and wake up at our rescuers home, a solar-power run sanctuary in the woods.

This year's hitchiking adventure was quite a bit different. I awoke Sunday morning in San Francisco (perhaps this means I completed my mission in some way) in an unfamiliar but comfortable bed in the Haight Ashbury area with my friend and sort-of-roommate Michelle, having danced the Spiral Dance the night before. We made our way to Berkeley via BART. (I, with very little cash, managed to do so for less than a dollar. Ask me how.) We conversed with a friend few the afternoon, and then walked to the nearest highway. On our way, we passed the Berkeley Natural Foods store. I didn't even notice this parallel to the previous journey until now.

There were no rides to be had, especially not when our options were limited to trucks and other large vehicles because of having a bike in tow. I'm guessing we spent at least a couple hours by the side of the road, me in costume as a Witch and Michelle with her Bluebird gear on. Our only visitors were a cop who told us not to hitchhike ("Hitchhiking's lega!" I yelled as she passed, and she responded by telling us not to hang out there as she drove away. Well how are we supposed to hang out somewhere else unless we leave, which is what we're trying to do?) and a woman who would not stop talking for what seemed like forever. She was blocking our view to the street too, infringing on our ride-getting potential. She went on and on about how Berkeley is full of crazy people and is the most racist, sexist place on the planet. She guessed our signs and got them completely wrong, and then went on about astrology when we told her what our signs actually are.

Eventually we decided to try to walk to another on-ramp where we might have better luck. We managed to walk all the way to the next town, Albany, without realizing it, where we got kicked off the premises of Arco and found ourselves in The Pearl House for most of the evening, charging our cell phones, drawing on our place mats, eating chow mein, and looking up rides on Craigslist (needless to say, we made it to Vacaville, and from there, home with our good friend Alyse).

Not long after leaving the Arco, I thought, hitchhiking is a great way to quickly become disgruntled about everything that's wrong with society. Everyone's scared of each other, which is why we couldn't get a ride. And if you look poor, there's no where for you to be. You get caught between a rock and a hard place, as when the cop told us not to hitchhike, and not to hang out there. If we didn't hitchhike, we had to hang out there, because that was our only available mode of transportation. And if we were not to hang out there, we needed to hitchhike. Sitting down at a gas station for a moment of rest is bad for business, so you get kicked out. When Michelle asked the man why he was telling us to leave, he said the police are really strict about 'it', which is a lie because a gas station is private property and police have nothing to do with it unless the owner calls them. She had the audacity or maybe just the innocence to ask him where he recommended we go then. He of course had no suggestions, because he didn't really care. When you look or act poor, your very existence is treated as an inconvenience.

After being grumpy for most of the afternoon though, I began to appreciate the beautiful sky as the sun was setting. Albany has quite a few trees. As I took this in, a crow swooped past my line of sight and landed on a streetlight. The bridge we had to pass to come to Albany was also worth appreciating. The architecture had taken bikers and pedestrians into consideration through an elaborate system of underpasses and curving pathways between Berkeley and Albany, for which I was grateful. In some places pedestrians are more likely never to be considered and end up having to go five miles around to get where they want. All in all it was an absolutely beautiful day.

I'm dog tired of writing about now, so I think I'll sum it up by saying that, yes, I went as a Witch this year and I have at least one fantastic picture to prove it (my hat came out of the gutter in SF!). And as for the elections, its great that 23 got shot down, but it reminds me of what Derrick Jensen says about how environmentalists fight so hard to stake our territory, and then we have to spend much of our time just defending it and not making further advances. So maybe we need some new tactics. He has suggestions for this, which I'm not necessarily opposed to, but I have my own, which lean more towards upping our involvement on the psychic plane. Psychic forces are available to all who call upon them, and get stronger as we do so. The corporations weave their own dangerous magic, so let us respond by blasting them out of the water with the force of every deity known to humankind, and maybe even some unknown ones too. We are as strong as we believe. And while doing magic is not a substitute for planting community gardens or smashing the state in more physical ways, I do not think we can save this planet with out it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Judgement Day

I pulled the Judgement card. Rebirth, resurrection, honesty. Heeding the call.
The call from my Higher Self.

I thought I didn't have anything to write about, until I had too much. I slept with Judgement under my pillow for the past two nights. Gabriel coming down from the clouds, blowing his horn with a cross hanging from it, while the dead rise up singing from their graves.

The first night I dreamt I was standing in a forest with a friend (no face appears in my memory). Civilization had apparently collapsed, and we were organizing our selves according to bioregion. We discussed the desire to maintain the integrity of the forests, and I suggested a rotating-shift system of volunteer forest rangers, similar to volunteer fire departments. I thought I saw a forest ranger come out of the trees, but I don't remember him coming into the story. Next moment, there is a GIGANTIC brown bear at the bottom of the hill we're standing on. I can feel my friend's body as well as my own. We are rooted to the ground; I can feel the plant fibers weaving our feet to the ground. The bear charges. Straight at my friend, who runs, but I am sure she will die.

Initial reaction: relief. I notice how little I care. I have no desire to attempt to save her. All I want is to get away. I am grateful the bear went for her instead of me. I am amazed at how my own sense of self-preservation nullifies the bonds of friendship so quickly. I run down the hill, but a baby bear (very large though) comes out of the trees. Shit, now I'm between a bear and her baby. Guaranteed ticket to a mauling and death. I run to the side but my feet don't seem to work right, they keep getting bound up with the plants.

There was a cave under where we stood on the hill. We could have jumped into it. It was small, and dirt, not rock. Hardly more than a vertically-oriented hole in the ground. It might have saved both of us. It also could have trapped us though, which is why I made the split-second decision to run instead.

Was this dream inspired by the Judgement card? Did the bear choose the other girl instead of me for a reason? (Although later in the dream I got the impression my friend had somehow gotten away alive, beyond all odds.) Is it because of some purpose I am supposed to fulfill?

Or was it about the judgment call I made, to run instead of hide? To pass the pain onto someone else?  To run instead of fight. Is this what I want to do in my waking life? Is it what I am doing? What do you have to tell me Bear? What is your message?

I meant to write a blog about the voyage I took to St. Louis. Now its been so long, in the sense that so much has happened that has been meaningful and intense for me, that I don't have much to say. I flew. I felt the magic of flying, as I did not on the other plane excursion I went on three years ago. I surrendered to being 30,000 feet above ground. My heart soared too.

St. Louis smells like sewage. It is full of cathedrals and abandoned buildings. It was a nice place to visit.

There are 3 Things I want in my life: Nature, Magic, and Yoga.

I mystified a squirrel today. What seems like a long time ago, a high school teacher told a story to his class about hitting a branch on a tree as a squirrel did the same. He joked that hitting the tree in rapid succession is squirrel for 'fuck you'. I never learned if that was true though, so I tried it out on at least one squirrel. I tapped a branch of a tree over and over again with my palm: tap-tap-tap. She tapped back. It worked!

That was also many moons ago. Today I noticed a squirrel climbing through the brush as I sat by the creek. When he saw me he climbed high up a tree away from me. I watched. After a moment, I thought to tap on the cover of my sketchbook.

He looked for me, intrigued as to the source of the sound. I continued. He climbed down the tree to a lower branch and stared, twitching a bit. He began to tap back (he may have already started tapping when he was higher up, the memory is getting muddled). We stared at each other for a while, with me tapping at times to keep him engaged.. I felt a mutual acknowledgment. I felt that I was able to recognize him (or her) as an individual, rather than just another copy of the prototypical squirrel. Not to say that I could recognize him for sure, but maybe. I told him I would return, and if that was his home, perhaps we would see each other again.

Now I just looked up 'squirrel tapping' to see what it does mean (because the whole time I was concerned that I was saying fuck you after all). I didn't find anything! There were some sites that looked like with a lot of mining I could find some vague hints as to what it might mean, but nothing clear and easy. So if anyone knows what squirrels mean when they tap, I'd love to hear from you! When I left, he was looking mystified, which amused me. I mystified a squirrel. Maybe today is a success after all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting Better at Being Lost

Today I read in a book by Philip Sutton Chard that psychotherapy and other healing modalities all help us to be better at being lost, but that we are still, for the most part, lost.

I feel this applies to me very succinctly.

In the past, say, six years, I have learned a lot about how to successfully navigate my way through this world. I still don't really feel at home though, and depression inevitably returns when there is a pause in my life between activity, connecting with friends, and the occupations of school and labor.

What is depression? Is it a chemical imbalance, as drug companies would have us believe? Or is it a sign that we are out of touch with our unmet needs, as Marshall Rosenberg writes in Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life?

Or is depression simply a sign that there is something amiss in the context within which our lives take place? Mightn't it be normal to feel depressed when other beings, to whom we are intimately connected whether we see it or not, are suffering as well? Could it be that depression is a "natural" effect of drinking toxic water, eating toxic food, and breathing toxic air?

This is what the authors of some of my current reads imply. And I am not saying they are right or wrong. It meets my need for truth on some level though.

Today I was napping in bed after getting little sleep the night before, then awaking early to rock climb at Bald Rock, outside of Oroville. I awoke from my nap feeling as funky as I had when I fell asleep. I had no idea what to do with myself. I felt no motivation to do anything, so I just laid there. I asked myself, what should I do when I don't feel like doing anything? Fulfill obligations? (Homework, housecleaning, etc.). That was no motivation to get up. Pleasure myself? As if I don't do that enough. Read? I get more than enough sensory input.

Somehow I thought of what my mentor at U of Earth would say: Go wandering! Tell the trees and birds how you feel, be engaged with the more-than-human world. It got me up.

I stopped to get some seaweed salad on the way, remembering how delicious it is and how a recent Tarot reading I was given included a suggestion to eat more green things. By the time I got to the park it was getting dark, so I didn't stay long. I ate my seaweed salad by the public pool, not a very wild place, but safer at night. I read a chapter in The Healing Earth, and that is where I learned of this idea that most of the tools that have been offered and shared in psychotherapy and personal growth and healing communities have helped us cope with being lost, but have not helped us to actually find our way.

It meant something to me at the time. Now I feel doubtful. What would it be like to feel at home, in place, to truly have a sense of belonging? How many generations has it been in my family since one of my ancestors felt that? The nearest one of my ancestors who felt that sense of belonging was probably in the Cherokee line, which is a small pinch of my genetic make-up. The rest is European, and Europeans have been civilized (and by that I mean psycho-spiritually removed from the natural order of things) for many, many generations. Except perhaps the Irish. Something about living on an island seemed to help them keep their magic alive.

Hmm. Maybe its time to look into my ancestral roots. To see where I have been before I try to figure out where I'm going.

Wow. I wasn't expecting that idea to come out of this tangent.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Learning to Embrace Change

Embracing change. This was going to be the title of this blog, but it was already taken.

I have been thinking about creating a blog for some time now. I've made blogs in the past and not kept them up-to-date. Or I didn't want my friends to know they were mine, because I posted such outrageous stuff.

Facebook's note app isn't doing it for me anymore though. So here I am.
In the computer lab at Chico State.
Meandering my way towards a story.

This past Wednesday there was a "Wellness Fair" on campus. I'm not sure what a lot of the activities had to do with wellness, but all the booths with colorful wheels you could spin to win prizes drew me like a kid at, well, a fair.

I strolled up to one booth with such a wheel, knowing I was making myself late for the drawing class I already feel behind in (I have barely drawn in my sketchbook this semester, and making accurate representations of architecture stumps and frustrates me). All this booth had to win was pencils though, so I continued on my way (after winning one for answering some random question).

After filling my Kanteen with purified water, left out for all to drink, I spotted another wheel, even bigger and more colorful. The spots were labeled with such titles as "Emotional Wellness" "Spiritual Wellness" "Cultural Wellness" and so on. The trick was to answer two of three questions correctly. Then you get a prize. It seemed like a wonderful excuse to delay my journey towards arriving at class on time. So I spinned the wheel.

First Spin: Emotional Wellness. Question, relayed to me by one of the kids operating the booth (when I say kid I mean goofy college student): "True or false-- being happy can keep you from getting sick."

True, of course. Spin again. Mental Wellness. "How many students come into the counseling center each year?" 1000, and I guessed it even before he gave me the multiple choice answers.

I had already won my prizes, but I spinned again for good measure. Academic Wellness. "If you wanted help in deciding on a major, where should you go: Academic Advising, the Career Center, Counseling Services, or the Student Health Clinic?"

I thought, counseling seems like the best option to me, but that's probably not what they want. Health Clinic is obviously not it. The Career Center isn't about school, its about after you leave school. So Academic Advising it is.

Wrong (according to their little cards)! I should have known. In a culture where education is for the purpose of fitting every individual into the functioning of the economic machine, your major is a product of what your career will be, not your interests or desires or passions at the moment.

Regardless, I had answered two questions correctly, so I kept my cynicism to myself and stepped up to receive my prizes: a rock, a Tootsie Pop, and an affirmation. I pondered the Tootsie Pops, wondering if there was any purpose in taking a ball of sugar, dyes, and chemicals on a stick into my possession. As I debated, I reached over to grab a rock from the pile, all of which had words or phrases written on them, without looking. When I pulled one to me, it said on it, "Life is Awesome!" My initial response? To put it back! I went to put it back, and then thought, What am I doing? Why don't I want this one?

It wasn't the one I would have picked with my mind. I would have gone for something about growth or healing or acceptance, not celebration. The Cosmos had something else in store for me though. I surrendered. I kept the rock. I also grabbed the first Tootsie Pop I spotted, which had a green piece of paper attached to it, with the words "I can learn to embrace change" imprinted on it. This message also felt very applicable to my needs in my current phase of life.

For the rest of the day, I kept these two ideas in my awareness. I felt celebratory, something I haven't felt much lately, having been stuck in a mucky swamp of inertia and bad dreams. I also felt confident in my ability to face change, even regarding something I have been very scared of acknowledging at all.These were the messages I was meant to receive, when I dropped my mental filters and stepped in to the flow. Which reminds me of a song we sing at Witchcamp:

Step into the flow and then I let it go
I open my mind my heart and my soul

Which brings me to something else entirely. Or maybe not so much. There is a pattern to the madness, as it turns out. I am part of a 5 Rhythms class this Fall, and right now we are working with flow. This last class I connected with my need for the lessons of flow in my life. I need to feel grounded and present in myself before I can reach out and connect with others. I love feeling present and aware of myself while interacting with others; it enriches my appreciation of them so much.

I also connected with my own creativity. This semester I changed my major to art, and I've been feeling very challenged. My right brain hasn't received nearly as much cultivation as my left. I danced with my creativity though. I was a volcano erupting with inspiration. Today I am wearing orange. I put on my new orange tie-dye dress without even realizing I was honoring my sacral chakra.

Tonight is the healing part, which I initiated. I don't know if it will go as I want it to. That will be another story. For now, the best thing I can do is surrender.

I surrender, I surrender
I surrender
I open my mind my heart and my soul

*song from Suzanne Sterling