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