The realm of the butterflies

945243_1492284627746627_1717816698092529484_n[1]

Then it dawned on me, that if I want it some way, I have to make it that way…

*****

The morning of December 29, 2015. My 36th birthday. I woke up before the sun and got dressed in the dark. I lit a candle in my kitchen and set a pot of water to boil for coffee. After throwing a cinnamon stick in for good measure, I found my bag of cedar and blessed myself with the candle flame. Real pacific northwest cedar that my brother sent down to me, intrinsically potent and holy. The cedar smoke hung in the air, mingling with the aroma of cinnamon coming from the stove and I knew that this was going to be a good day.

Wearing wool hats and sweaters against the early morning chill, we all piled into the pickup and started up the dirt road as the sky was turning pink. It was just past seven am. There was an unusual excitement in the air as we drove up unfamiliar, winding roads towards the mountains. The new morning sun was shining bright, electrifying the lush greens in the forest. Everything felt fresh and alive, glowing with raw life force.

We made it to a sleepy village around 8 am. We drove around with the heater cranked up for a bit, stopping to ask old women carrying buckets of maiz and men with machetes where we could find Emilio. When we finally arrived at his home, he looked surprised to see us. It was early. They spoke for a while, then he grabbed a sweater and climbed into the truck. We were finally on our way.

After driving for about ten minutes, we began seeing signs for the butterfly reserve and passed through two small villages. We kept going until we passed the outskirts of the town and I began to wonder where Emilio was taking us. We finally made a sharp left onto an unmarked road. This road turned and twisted and had many forks, to which we always stayed to the right. Eventually we began the steep, snaking ascent through the deep forest where the road deteriorated considerably. Dangerously close vertical cliff sides with no guard rails, deep ruts and big rocks. We got stuck several times and the kids and I got out while the guys maneuvered the truck out. At last the road became too much for the little truck so we abandoned it and started walking.

Though the sun was shining, the air in this mountain forest was so cold that you could see your breath. We walked steadily uphill for some time, through a bed of pine needles covering the unmaintained road until it finally opened up on to an immense grassy field. Still chilly, we quickly crossed the sweeping expanse and were back in the sheltering forest. Here the incline increased significantly. The path narrowed until it became a barely visible trough of rocks and roots. Each step was like climbing a staircase, skipping every other step. This trail did not offer one single flat place to catch your breath. You had to lean against a rock and grab a root if you wanted to rest a moment, or risk sliding down the mountain side. I carried the baby on my back less than half way before my legs started to give out. I gave her to V, but even without her extra weight, I could still barely keep up. The kids were whining but keeping pace with our guide. I, on the other hand, was lagging behind significantly and could not rest long enough for my heart to stop pounding out of my chest.

This went on for some time. I felt like my lungs could not expand enough to take a full breath in the thin mountain air. I was compressed. No butterflies and no end in sight, I began wondering why I had chosen this crazy destination for my birthday. I believe that your birthday sets the tone for your next trip around the sun, and I wondered why I was making it so damn difficult for myself. I felt heavy, like I was made of cement. And still I pressed on, one foot in front of the other, breathlessly climbing up into the clouds. We stopped in a sunny clearing and I took a long drink of the agua de limon that I had prepared in the morning for this trip. As I sat there on the rocks, two very important insights occurred to me. The first, that I should never try to keep pace with anyone else. I need to honor my own rhythms and set my own pace always; especially when the person I am trying to keep pace with is well versed and it is all new to me. This has been my main, ongoing struggle since arriving here in Mexico and has caused a lot of suffering and heart ache. The second insight, that I need to drink plenty of water and rest often. Something so basic that I am often too busy to allow time and space for. These things will be important for me to remember in the coming year. Emilio stood up and said that we were very close now. Though I did not believe him, I started walking again.

As soon as I started moving I felt my complete exhaustion. Heart pounding, my legs began to shake with each slow step. I could hear the little kids whining loudly up ahead of me and it all became unbearable. Why this? THIS is what I chose??!! I had dramatically underestimated how strenuous this path would be and started supremely regretting my decision. I reluctantly forced myself to continue, slowly made my way up and around a large boulder and then… Deep silence. I looked up and realized that I was standing in a butterfly cloud. I could feel their wings creating a soft wind. The kids were standing there staring at the sky. Even the baby was quiet. Everything stopped. My entire being shifted to take in these wild creatures. Their delicate, shimmering energy charged the whole area and we were all mesmerized. Nobody moved for a long time, then our guide told us to follow him deeper into the forest. What was waiting there was like nothing I have ever experienced.

I walked watching the sky instead of my feet. I felt so surreal, like wandering around in a lucid dream. Moments later we were perched precariously on the side of a cliff, eye level with tree tops that were vibrating orange and appeared to be visibly breathing. The stillness felt like the precious hours following the birth of a baby, or being fully present with a death; the ever so gentle lifting of the veil. The birds were singing softly and everything was shivering. The only other sound was an almost inaudible wind that undoubtedly rearranged every molecule that entered this sacred space; the butterfly’s secret sound wave frequency. It took me a while to realize exactly what I was seeing. Entire trees covered in butterflies. There were thousands in the air, the ground was covered and so were the branches. I was in the presence of a rare and alluring potency. Extraordinary and almost incomprehensible. We had distinctly and profoundly stepped out of our world and into theirs. The realm of the butterflies.

We sat there on the forest floor amongst dry pine needles and butterfly wings. We ate fruit and watched in amazement for some time before the chill in the air became too much. I could have sat there all day, but the kids were ready to head home. I tied the baby on my back and stood there for a few moments, consciously allowing this energy to deeply imprint, before turning to begin the long trek down.

The baby fell asleep on my back almost instantly once we began the descent. I kept a deliberately slow pace this time, wanting to be sure of my footing on the steep, slippery path. I had a lot of time to think as I meandered down the mountain. With my head full of butterfly magic, I thought about how this journey mirrored the last year of my life. Like my decision to move to Mexico, had I known in advance what a difficult, uphill climb this day would bring, I probably would have bagged it before even starting. And like so many other decisions I have made in my life, especially those which asked me to defy logic and simply trust an elusive, intangible, internal awareness… The rockiest roads and the hardest lessons always bring the biggest rewards. By far.

It’s so easy to get stuck and forget that I chose this. Unlike many women who find themselves living in Mexico, I did not follow my deported husband here. He followed me. The difficulties have been extreme and I often find myself wallowing in victim consciousness. I stepped into my full power and potential when I made it to the top of that mountain. I dropped the illusion of blame and resentment and claimed ownership of everything that I have created and everything that is still a seed. That moment, standing on a mountain top high above the clouds in a cloud of butterflies, gave me strength that I will draw from for my entire life. It was one of those rare, peak experiences that stay with you forever. I will always remember stepping inside the magical world of the butterflies.

I stopped to harvest some wild nettles before stepping into the giant field that was now lit up and shimmering. We sat there in the warm sun while the kids ran through the grass, carefree, trying to catch butterflies in their little hands. The air was thick with them. I could not stop smiling as they flew around me, and I suddenly felt lighter and freer than I have felt in years. All the heaviness was just gone. These angelic creatures lifted me up on their wings and flew me into sacred grace where I was embraced by everything holy. As I watched my glowing children dance with the butterflies I saw so clearly what it all is. My birth was being blessed by thousands of tiny winged fans and I felt myself set free. I am truly wild.

We started back to the truck where the kids promptly fell asleep despite the very bumpy ride. I felt deep peace and contentment as I watched the forest out the window that so resembled my northwest coast home. We stopped in a small village below the mountain where I bought some pretty hand painted clay bowls and cold drinks. We drove Emilio home and stopped at abuela’s house for steak tacos. My last birthday treat was waiting for me when we finally arrived home just before dark… Homemade fresh fruit tarts with walnut crusts and cream. We ate them up and went straight to bed. It had been a very long and amazing day!

Technical stats: Our brick house sits at about 6,800 feet above sea level. Where we sat in the butterfly cloud was well over 10,000 feet above sea level. We hiked about 6 miles round trip, gaining about 1,000 feet in elevation per mile on the ascent. We did not encounter another human anywhere on the trail.

 

When you die in Mexico (My first Christmas south of the border)

29 when you die in mexico pic

In this part of Mexico people celebrate “noche buena” or “the good night” on the evening of December 24th. This is the night that Christ was born. It is a very significant and important time for the people here. It is a time for family and feasting and feeling good.

On the morning of the 24th, I found myself in the central plaza of our small village buying groceries. As we approached the tienda selling fruits and vegetables, we were stopped by one of V’s sisters with some shocking news. A relative died in her home of a heart attack earlier that morning. She wasn’t old or particularly sick or unhealthy. But suddenly, she was no longer living.

We put the food we had purchased in the back of the pickup and drove up the hill to where the woman had lived most of her life. The street was already lined with parked cars on both sides. The gate was open. The courtyard was full of flowers and people and silence. The air was thick and heads were bowed low. I was taken aback by the heaviness and had to take a moment to rearrange my energy before entering her home.

We walked in so slowly through the kitchen, hugging people and shaking hands as we passed. We entered the next room and there she was. Surrounded by candles and beautiful flowers, the woman who gave my children candy and served pozole and taquitos every Sunday. No longer breathing, shrouded in silence and grace, on the morning of the night that the Son of God was born.

The open coffin didn’t affect me nearly as deeply as the stillness. I sat there in a wooden chair across from her until the baby started fussing, then walked out back to catch my breath. Though all the doors and windows were open, it seemed as if no one in the room was breathing. I watched the water in the canal, the trees and flowers and chickens for some time, and then turned back to look at her one last time.

I stopped when I saw him standing there. Her husband, who had been sitting outside since we arrived, was now standing over her. He was not weeping. He was silently speaking to her spirit, his heart to hers, as if remembering every moment they had ever shared together. I could feel so completely the depth of his love for her in the way that he drank her in one last time. His face, as he secretly spoke to her soul, has stayed with me.

As I sat in the passenger seat and made the familiar drive down the long, windy road to our brick house, I thought a lot about birth and death and the door. I took in the view that extends forever beyond the mountain tops and felt my skin touch the breeze. I watched the wispy clouds and the avocado trees. I was acutely aware of my own heartbeat and my baby’s breath. I felt myself living.

I decided to stay home and get the kids in bed early to wait for Santa, while V went back to her house to sit up with the people. All night they stay with her. In stillness. With prayers and reverence. Remembering her life. They say rosaries and light off fireworks. My kids received their christmas pajamas excitedly and cleaned the house so Santa wouldn’t trip bringing in their presents. We ate tacos and talked about “the store lady” that died. Tough night to balance… In the morning, while my kids are discovering their shiny new bicycles, Hela’s children will be carrying her down the hill to the church. On a night when the people in this pueblo typically stay up all night celebrating birth and life, they will be grieving and mourning loss. Looking at the continuum, they are one in the same… but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I didn’t sleep well that night and woke up at daybreak as my kids found the gifts that Santa had delivered. After a few early hours of caffeine induced delight watching as they practiced their new two wheelers, we abruptly shifted gears and drove up to the church.

The procession had already started and we joined in a few blocks from the plaza. Leading the way was an old black truck overflowing with elaborate flower arrangements. Then there were four men carrying the woman in her casket on their shoulders, followed by a mariachi band playing mourning songs as we all walked the two miles to the panteon. Family, friends and townspeople carried flowers and shovels. Some wept and some consoled the inconsolable. The parade stretched on for two blocks, stopping periodically when the men bearing the coffin needed to rest their shoulders and change hands. Oncoming cars and motos that got caught up in the procession switched off their engines, bowed their heads and waited while we all walked slowly around them.

As we turned to enter the cemetery, the crowd that had been very quiet, began to vocalize. We passed through the iron gates to the sound of women wailing and mariachis playing. The men placed the coffin on a raised stone slab under a small roof. It was then that the dramatic display of grief began in earnest. I have never heard sounds like the sounds coming from the depths of the women suffering. Throwing themselves onto the casket, crying out in utter and total devastation, “Aaaaaaaaayyyyyy Mi Vida! Por Dios! Nooooo!!!” The mariachis sang through it all, to complete the surrealistic scene that was playing out around me.

At some point they shouldered the coffin again and carried her the last stretch to the gaping hole in the earth. They lowered her down with ropes. Women held back other women who were beyond reason and attempting to throw themselves in. The intensity of emotion propelling the raw, guttural sounds erupting from the onlookers, coupled with the scorching afternoon sun was extreme and way beyond comprehension. As I stood there with my small children in a mosh pit of human emotion, I wondered what bizarre dream I had landed in. Certainly a far cry from my usual low-key christmas day with chocolate ale and family. There are simply no words to accurately convey what I was witnessing.

The mariachi band played on as the people wept and threw in flowers or a symbolic handful of dirt. When she was covered head to foot in their final farewells, the people cleared a way and the men carried in buckets of wet cement. Bucket after bucket they poured over her until the flowers disappeared. The sickening thud as the cement hit the roses and calla lilies turned my stomach. The men’s resonant voices sang out in Spanish “Now I am gone forever…” while the afternoon sun beat down on the weeping women. V and several men began moving dirt with old shovels and hoes, quickly filling the hole leaving a raised mound of earth. The enormous flower arrangements were placed over her, back to back, bearing the names of families who loved her. A cool breeze blew down from the mountain, bringing momentary relief to everyone that was present so many hours later. And still the mariachis played on.

The kids and I made our way back to the entrance, where opportunistic entrepreneurs were selling snacks and drinks, and we found a man with a cooler. We bought popcicles and stood in the shade of a large avocado tree. I was wiped out. I needed to go home but knew that the day was far from over. We drove back up to abuelas house, across the street from the dead woman’s house, where everyone from the funeral was now congregating. I felt myself shrink away from the crowd and realized that I had had enough. I simply could not go back to her house or spend another moment in that energy. I quickly said my goodbyes and left.

I spent a long time talking to my family in the states when I got home, after all, it was still christmas day. I realized all at once how much I missed them and exactly how far away I really was. I suddenly felt myself clinging to the very things I had rallied against in my “old life”. All of the holiday traditions, patterns that had been ingrained since childhood… I was even craving a fast food hamburger and a side of fries. My entire being was reaching for comfort and familiarity, and a cell phone with a fading signal was as good as it could get. I went to sleep exhausted and lonely and still have not completely recovered as I write this. Sometimes life can be so much…

As I began to process the extraordinary events, I realized how deeply the layers were intertwined. It was the last big holiday of the year and my first big Mexican funeral. It was my first christmas away from family, including my oldest son who has been at my side for fifteen years, and my first time seeing a dead body. Not only was I a witness to Hela’s death, I was witnessing the death of the last shred of the life that I left behind. I felt gutted.

The strange thing about all of this is that I couldn’t help but see an intense beauty there. A rawness that just can not be found north of the border. There was a deep truth in what I witnessed, undiluted, unguarded and still pure. There was a full moon shining down from above, casting light and shadows and the holy spirit holding wide open the door. She chose to fly through the same day as her savior. There is magic in that.

When all is said and done, I hope that when I die, I die in Mexico. I want them to carry me like they carried her. I want them to sing all the way through and I want my loved ones to bury me with their hands and garden shovels. The only other place that would hold so much holy is on the Rez with the Natives. The similarities are uncanny.

*****

Bless our spirits with dirt and let the sacred fire blaze a trail. Drink deeply of the holy water and may the wind always blow upon our backs. With so much love, may we walk in beauty.

 

28 day yoga restoration

28 28 day yoga restoration

What I learned in my daily practice…

Day 1: I am unstable and easily thrown off balance. It’s hard to hold my center. I am carrying a lot of anger and resentment that surfaces easily.

Day 2: Everything I am seeking is available to me. I need to open to love. To be in the flow is free and accessible anywhere I happen to be. I can connect at anytime.

Day 3: Distractions are a part of life, especially with children. It is not important to respond to every little thing. It feels amazing to hold my focus and attention on my practice despite what is going on around me. I am in the flow. I allow the flow to carry me. Creating space for myself daily is vital for my well being.

Day 4: Could not stop smiling today during practice. Listening to old school reggae. Felt and strong. Woke up early feeling clear and ready to greet the day for the first time in quite a while. Baby woke up 3/4 of the way through. Would have loved to continue, down dog was feeling especially productive. But we sat on the blanket outside singing instead. Be flexible.

Day 5: I feel myself getting stronger. I am craving salad and nettles and copious amounts of water. Plank pose makes my arms shake, especially when I engage my abs. Feeling lighter on my feet and more grounded. I find myself looking forward to my practice each day, even after not sleeping much the night before.

Day 6: Distracted today. Angry and impatient. I feel jagged and parched and very open. Stopped practice midway through to fight with V. Took a moment to ground, put on some Damien Marley and Heiroglyphics and started again. Just what I needed… Powerful and charged. Finished with Shimshai and Loop Guru and spent a long time in meditation afterwards. My mantra today, “nothing exists outside of myself. There is only this moment.”

Day 7: Today’s mimi session was almost done in passing. All three kids around and under me, the four of us practiced down dog, random parts of sun and moon salutations and neck rolls. I knew I really needed to make it happen today, even if only for a moment.

Day 8: Try. Do my best and let it be enough. It feels better to focus on the positive. What I have vs. what’s missing. Yet it is easier to see the negative and where life falls short. I need to shift my focus.

Day 9: What am I accessing? How is it shaping my life? My thoughts are creating the road ahead of me. Live consciously every moment. Everything I seek is available to me. Always move in the direction that feels good. Yoga is a manifestation of self love. When I direct love towards myself, more love is available to share with others.

Day 10: My uniqueness is a strength. Being different is not a weakness or a flaw. Creativity is divinity and my art is my offering to this earth and her people. My purpose is to create beauty. Feeling stuck in my left hip today, feels bound and aches. So lots of hip openers. I feel more confident in my yoga as well as in my life. Enjoying the birds and the wind and the wispy clouds as I continue to practice outdoors.

Day 11: This was the day of excuses. When i finally found time to practice in the evening, I had no energy and could barely make myself do it. BUT it was perhaps the most worthwhile session so far.Each pose felt so different after a long day working in and around the house with all the kids. All the stress built up throughout the day drained out of me.Back bends felt especially good, as did forward fold and anything that stretched the back of my legs. It’s all about priorities. What’s important?What do I really want? Today I found myself practicing yoga with my 10 month old crawling around, under and over me, searching for milk. But it worked and I feel great.

Day 12: After a long day making trails on the hillside with a pick ax and my hands, ripping out roots and moving heavy rocks, I practiced yoga in my candle lit kitchen while a storm raged outside. In silence, as all three children were sleeping. Spent the most time in restful poses, feeling tired and sore from the days work. As I looked around, I realized very clearly, that I made all of this. I drew this house on a scrap of paper. I am inside possibly my largest creation ever, practicing yoga. More importantly, I felt how much I love the space I am creating, and felt very sure for the first time, that I want to stay. I have been waiting for this clarity in my heart. After so much time wondering, I finally feel like this is my home.

Day 13: Some days it’s so hard to find a clear time and space for myself, yet those are the days I need it the most. 6 pm yoga today after another hot day swinging the pick ax. I thought I would be shaky and exhausted, but it was the opposite. In plank pose I felt like I was made of iron, with Skrillex and Damien Marley burnin dem like a sun dance. Sinking much deeper into every pose and feeling very strong and confident. My nose touched my knee several times today.

Day 14: Noticing how connecting with other people effects my energy. Feeling fragmented today, spinning out in my head and need to ground. Also feeling stuck in my left hip again. Gravitating towards sun salutations. I waited until night to practice today after a full day of visiting people. It was ok, but I definately prefer practicing earlier. However, the night sounds are enchanting.

Day 15: Today turned into family yoga day. Not exactly the trancendental experience that I have come to enjoy in my solo practice, but important none the less. Everyone joined in, even V for a brief moment. What does this mean to me? They are not only becoming interested in what I like, but are taking it seriously enough to give it a try. My hip is still sore this morning. Meditation didn’t happen, instead we ate muffins. **Side note from later… I am noticing that I bounce back much easier after a set back. I return to my center more easily and it feels like a natural place to be.

Day 16: Back to my uninterrupted morning routine outdoors with music. I really needed this after a full weekend. Very good. Ready to start adding new poses to my simple routine. Today’s realization… What kind of a life am I living that I feel like I need a vacation all the time?Why am I not creating a life that feels more like what I want? It’s time to make it that way for myself.

Day 17: Spent a long time checking in with myself, noticing where I hold stress and tension in my body.Today’s practice was focused mostly on disolving negative energy that is causing me pain. Sun salutations and tried a new sequence with chair and tree. I liked the new stretches a lot and it felt good to add something new. Lots of meditation and clearing. Revisited some of my favorite visualizations. Thoughts of the day… Why am I always trying to hurry? What is the rush and why am I trying to do it all? I have created the illusion of scarcity and it is affecting everything that I do. What if I really listened to myself in every moment and only did the things I was drawn to? How would my life change?

Day 18: This was the 2:30 slow flow. Sun salutations holding each pose for four breaths, four rounds. Not as easy as it sounds. Focused on core strength. Bridge felt awesome today. Finished off with some psycic surgery after noticing that my second chakra fely very off balance and open, like it was leaking? Amazing what shows up when you remember to look. Still trying to quiet the noise in my head. Feeling dehydrated, replenishing fluids and resting today.

Day 19: Same slow flow as yesterday, adding a pilates leg lift sequence with bridge then the tree/ chair flow. Focusing on core strength and overall endurance. Followed by meditation and visualization. Todays realization: I can create wellness. It is a choice. It’s easy to find tranquility at a yoga retreat in Bali, far removed from the stress and chaos of your daily life. Creating that same inner peace and spaciousness while surrounded by your dirty laundry, that is the challenge.

Day 20: Today I felt like I could have continued practicing all day. Everything felt very good, like each stretch was an answer to a question in my body. The music was just right, I chose a nostalgic mix from my days at the Bellingham athletic club. Focusing on strength, endurance and pushing limits. Sinking much deeper into poses, hot muscles bow so much lower. Feeling really good about my continued practice and creating space for myself each day. Empowered and energized. My mind is clearer and I feel more comfortable and confident.

Day 21: I feel myself moving energy and waking up. Or coming back into myself. This place is familiar. Muscle memory is kicking in and I find myself thinking less about each pose. Endorphins are a good thing. Music is soooo important. Todays insight… I have many tools and gifts, I need to use them. I feel like I am on a mountain top with a birds eye view. Yeah… This was a good day for yoga. I woke up ready for it, freezing fog and all. The more space I create for my practice, the more space becomes available for me to practice in. Despite this being Saturday, I found over a full uninterrupted hour this morning.

Day 22: Sunday kids yoga. Today I was the teacher. My 2 and 4 year olds spread towels as yoga mats and followed along with my routine today. Part way through, my little one decided to be a super hero with his towell instead, but it’s ok. Their craziness would have thrown me before, but it didn’t today. I kept to my routine, talking through it like a yoga instructor. It was different and kind of fun. To my surprise, my girl lasted the whole hour and seemed to enjoy it. As the days pass and I feel stronger, more flexible and confident, yoga continues to feel better and better.

Day 23: This was my second indoor session, in my kitchen again. I am a lot more distracted inside. I clearly prefer practicing outdoors. I felt rushed today and realized near the end that it was the sound of the bubbling pot on the stove that was making me hurry. My reflection in the oven door also kept catching my attention. It would have been easy to skip today, rainy and cold outside, feeling achy in my hips and lower back with the dampness. Really glad I made myself do it anyway, my muscles needed to warm up. Meditation was also important for me today. I tend to feel off balance after social gatherings of any kind here. I always leave feeling like there is a lot of energy stuck to my face. Needed to ground and replenish.

Day 24: Outside today. Continued with my same routine. My mind is so full today… Really challenging to let go of all the chatter. Scarcity consciousness is loud. Working on shifting my focus. Feeling healthy and strong, still focusing on core, balance and stamina- in yoga and in my life. Todays insight… keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in the infinite possibilities. Clear and focus. What needs to happen to get to where I want to be?

Day 25: Nice outdoor session today. I can feel the cumulative effectof daily practice in my muscles. As I stretch farther and hold each pose longer, I find myself craving certain stretches throughout the day. I was a bit sore when I woke up this morning, but felt the discomfort drain out of me as I moved through my yoga routine. Deeply relaxing meditation today. The soft breeze and the bird songs really brought it to a new level. I am really enjoying this. As my yoga practice becomes a solid part of my daily routine, I feel the rest of my daily chores and activities finding their natural times and spaces.

Day 26: After a stressful morning, I found incredible relief doing my yoga routine listening to gangsta rap. It was very empowering and super charged. Sometimes it takes a lot to hold my focus and attention and cut through emotions. I felt powerful and energized moving through the poses today. I tried ‘the dancer’ today but it was very wobbly and I could only hold it for a few seconds. I ended with a deep meditation. I am continuously thankful for my daily practice. Todays thought: Why do I revisit painful or negative situations in my mind long after they have passed? What am I getting out of replaying things that bring unhappiness? What if I just let them go instead. I can choose to think about the things that bring me joy.

Day 27: After a full day that included a very long walk with my baby on my back, I almost convinced myself that I didn’t need to do yoga today because I had already exercized plenty. This really pushed me to think about what yoga means to me, why I do it and what I want from my daily practice. Some of my goals are strength and flexibility, confidence and the ability to deeply listen to myself, creating time and space daily to replenish myself and valuing self love and self care. I lit candles in my kitchen tonight as the rain fell, did a series of gentle stretches and spent a long time in meditation. While it was nothing like my energizing morning routine, it was exactly what I needed.

Day 28: Tonight is All Hallows Eve. The moon is where it was when I began. In my candle lit kitchen, I pracriced yoga while my children slept. I listened to my breath. I felt myself return to center. Return to sacred self. The air feels still and it is very quiet. I think about how I felt when I started 28 days ago, the energetic transformation is incredible. My mind is clear and I feel like myself again. My true self. I knowwhere I want to go and how I want to get there.

Reclaim

When everything is so heavy that your entire being caves in on itself… I was miles beyond that point when I finally drove away. Once and for all, a battle cry for my forgotten independence, a gesture that would be louder and clearer than any words that I could speak in any language. I started the old beater truck and sped up the long dirt driveway with my baby in my arms. I didn’t look back. I already knew that there would be nobody watching my dust cloud dissipate.

I arrived at the paved road in a blur. Suddenly there was no ceiling. The floor fell away at the same time and I found myself floating. with no tether I was in flux, between one disaster and the next. I was on the open road, alone, which is something very few women do here. Infinite possibilities lay ahead of me, though I could see road blocks in every direction. Funny thing is, it didn’t really matter.

Through the trucks open window, the wind was blowing the memory of freedom through my tangled hair. It whipped my tear streaked face, awakening something deep inside of me. Something that had always been a part of me, yet had slipped away silently when I wasn’t looking. The truth is, I am not the docile, complacent woman that everyone wants me to be. I will never feel satisfied to stay home all day making tortillas and washing and serving anyone that steps through my gate. I am so much more than that. I am fiercely creative, driven by inspiration and feelings and where did THAT woman go? The one that follows her heart and doesn’t take any shit because she knows herself and listens to the stars and the shells and the roots…

In that crazy moment, driving aimlessly through the mountain roads of central Mexico, I had no idea where I was going except that I was going to find her. I shifted loud, forgot the speed bumps and flew away on wings that I thought had disappeared long ago. The path ahead of me suddenly cleared and it didn’t matter who or what tried to stand in my way. My restless spirit was calling me again and I had no choice but to listen. I need to sing and breathe cedar smoke and paint myself with clay. I’m finally waking up from this long sleep. I’ve been dreaming strange dreams about strange people in foreign lands. I’ve been drinking witches brew…

Now here I am.

Welcome to the Third World

26 welcome to the third world

Welcome to the third world. It is poverty. Hunger. Never having enough. Finding ways to make zero stretch little farther and last a little longer. We are now officially out of money in Mexico.

This is the food shelf in our kitchen. We have two bags of dry beans, barely enough rice to mention, one kilo of potatoes, a few bananas and some honey. The fridge is busy keeping cool some eggs, a pot of cooked beans, salsa, tortillas and a few onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. Outside we have a bucket of avocados, limes and chiles. Nada mas.

When I think back to my old life in the states, I remember thinking fairly often that we had no food. In truth, I always had a fully stocked pantry and reserves in the freezer. Today my freezer contains three plastic ice trays full of frozen boiled water. I have to constantly remind myself that scarcity is an illusion and that we actually have so much more than most of the people living here. And as strange as it sounds, we are better off living here, in third world rural poverty, than we were living our lower-middle class life back in Washington.

It is easy to get caught up worrying and feel stuck, wondering how we will survive here, but then I look around for a moment… We have a strong, solid house with a roof that will never leak or rust or blow away. We have windows, doors and floors, many homes here only have blankets or plastic covering the openings. We have a large piece of land that is ours free and clear, as is the house. We have amenities that are not standard here, like the solar hot water heater, a big tractor and motorcycle. We have animals and corn and avocado trees… Just because we don’t have money doesn’t mean we have nothing or that we aren’t making it here.

What I’m saying is, “third world rural poverty”, like anything else, is what you make it.

When we got here we invested the money we brought in many things, so that we would have something in the future. But we have nothing now. Zero pesos. Baby trees that need a few more years to grow and a young, skinny cow that needs to be fattened up before we can sell him. I knew this was coming even before we boarded the plane… and it still boggles my mind. We spent so much money to come here and be poor. Not United States poor… Mexico poor. There’s a big difference. Back home when I had no money, it meant that I couldn’t order pizza or buy a latte. Here in Mexico, it means beans. Beans every single day. Sometimes with tortillas, sometimes not.

I know it wont be like this forever. One day the garden will be producing enough bounty to sustain us and make a little money. Our chickens will be laying more eggs and hatching babies. We will be eating fruit from our trees and the water will be flowing freely. For now, at least the sun is shining and I have peace of mind knowing that all of this hard work and money and energy is going into something that is ours. We can build and grow knowing that we aren’t going to move in six months and tear it down or sell it all on craigslist.

Contrary to what some readers may take from this entry, this is not a public pity party or a cry for help. This is a very real head check, mostly for myself. I am seven months in to my stay in Mexico and am exactly where I thought I’d be, doing exactly what I thought I would be doing. And it’s every bit as hard as I thought it would be.

Thankfully, I have finally come to a place within the landscape and within myself, that feels like it’s going to be ok. It’s difficult but it’s not killing me. It’s just starting to look like my vision… And finally starting to feel worth it.

We survived the rainy season here in central Mexico!

Lots of work has happened on the house since the last update several months ago. We added a window to the middle room. Finished off the bathroom with privacy bricks and a door. Solar water heater still making plenty agua caliente. Built a stone retaining wall behind the house and took care of several water run off/ drainage issues we were having.

We completed the outdoor kitchen and finished the roof on the other out building. Finally added a chicken coop complete with nesting boxes, four laying hens and a rooster. Put up some chain link fencing along the driveway and planted vining flowers to grow up it to create more privacy and keep the cow and horses out of the yard and garden.

Plowed and planted the lower field with alfalfa to feed the animals. Planted one hundred avocado trees on the hillside above the corn. Also planted bananas, pink guavas, pomagranates, coffee trees, nectarines and other herbs and flowers. Expanded the garden space at the entry. Moved the sheep fence to create a new vegetable garden. Started carving trails into the hillside below the arches and making garden spaces. So far we have planted cucumbers, squash, agave, nopales, strawberries and nettles there. So much room to grow food and medicinal plants! The trail system will eventually go down to the corn and through the fruit trees to the avocados.

Animals! We traded all but three sheep for a motorcycle. We bought a cow and adopted two kittens that we names Whiskey and Sulfur. We still have two horses, two bunnies and two dogs. No more snakes but plenty of beetles.

Water problems continue… With the rainy season coming to an end we need to get on top of the water situation pronto. That means bringing water from the mountains where it flows out of the rocks, via an extensive black pvc hose system. Also building some sort of holding tank. An enormous undertaking but worth every peso in the long run. We would have water forever… or until the mountains run dry. Here, water is a commodity. You need water to live. Our agricultural investments require water. Not to mention, our solar heater needs to remain full to avoid destruction.

Kids are all in school and enjoying it. I am enjoying the bit of down time I get each day. They are learning spanish and making friends. The baby is barely a baby anymore. She’s moving quite quickly, on the verge of walking and getting into everything. She can say “hi” and wave her hand, asks for bananas and dances to any and all music. She has six teeth and eats just about everything.

Living here is challenging everything in me and testing everything I’m made of. I have always been one to push the envelope… This is yet another example of that. My spanish is not much better and I still can’t make tortillas, but my priorities have shifted dramatically in the last month or so, So it’s all good.

This goes without saying, we miss each and every one of you. Maybe by February one of you will need a dose of tropical sunshine and come for a visit25 october  25 2015 update pic

the mexico situation

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to think of this. I have come up with a new way to handle the Mexico situation. (Yes, there is a Mexico situation…)

The entire time I have been here, I have been trying to fit in. When I arrived, I wanted to learn how the people do things here. I wanted to understand how the life works, how to communicate with people, make friends, etc. Well in seven long months, the only thing that I have learned, is that it’s not as simple as I thought it would be. Asking questions has gotten me nowhere, in fact, some people have even intentionally given me wrong information! And although my Spanish vocabulary has improved significantly, people still give me a blank stare when I try to speak, and say “no entiendo nada!” But perhaps what bothers me the most is how people watch every little thing I do, then feel compelled to comment on the things I do, or don’t do or how I should do it or how it could be better.

The reality is, this “celebrity status” as La Guerra, has forced me to go underground. I no longer like most of the people here, don’t care to speak the language or engage in activities outside my home. I have unfortunately developed a very bad attitude and am quickly becoming a big bad bitch. Like I just don’t give a fuck, folks. For real. It’s not very nice.

Well this is not how I want to live my life. Angry all the time, totally guarded and alone. I have thought about just leaving. I have thought about it a lot, actually. That would solve the problem instantly. Just fly away…

But no. Think about it. There’s karma, right? You get what you give. There’s the law of attraction. You get what you think about. And even physics teaches that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So everything is connected. Yes? Everything affects everything. You follow this thought train?

Well then… Game over people. I’m just going to live my life and make it how I want it. I’m going to do yoga every single day, even if the dishes and the laundry don’t get done. Why? Because I love it and it makes me feel good. And because there will always be dirty dishes and laundry no matter what. That’s life. I’m going to work in my garden and sew and sing songs in different languages. One day, I’m going to the rivers below the volcano to find rocks for my sweat lodge. I’m going to create beauty and live my truth even if the people here don’t get it.

** If I don’t care what people think, perhaps they will stop caring what I do.**

This is the key. If I start focusing on what I want, instead of what I don’t want… Get it? It’s so simple yet has eluded me for so long! How do I get so stuck in the mud? So now I’m untangling mind traps… Solving life’s riddles… Demolishing pillars of thought… And yes, remembering exactly why I came here.