Dear June

Dear June:

you are here so briefly (like it all is)
so when you invite me on long walks I drop everything to go

when we watch the clouds float by like thoughts, one right after the other,
I tell you people call this “doing nothing”
but you call it “being”

I introduced you to my little boy and
you two greeted each other like old friends (he’s wonderful like that)

we spend lots of time looking for my heart (I thought I left it on the desk by the colored pencils)

until I find it you tell me to trust my bones, that there is more wisdom in them than a college campus
(and I know you mean the wisdom that can’t be taught)

by the end of your visit I’ve learned to play my heart again (she was wedged between the guitar and the yoga mat where I left her at the end of May)

I ask you to stay a little longer
I’ve just gotten the hang of this “being”

you smile and promise to visit again next year, to see how the boy and the giant sunflowers have grown and to remind me to slow it down and trust my bones

you leave in the night when I am sleeping because you know goodbyes are hard for me (I’m so human like that)

but I’ll whisper it anyway today while I’m watching the clouds.

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Shamelessly

full moon

There was a time when the sun and the moon were my only constants.

I could see both out my window and, although I didn’t know it at the time, they were serving as my nonjudgemental friends, as the witness to an inner life that I shared with almost no one.

They rose with me, set with me and refused to leave my side.

At some point I ventured into mama ocean and over and over tested her watery strength to hold all the parts of me that needed holding, challenging, cleansing, nourishing.

During this period a connection was created between nature and myself that has never waivered. Sunsets are always a time of respectful silence and awe. Full moons and new moons are cycles of filling and emptying. Mama Ocean is my mirror, reflecting back to me every nuanced mood shamelessly, as all things in nature live.

Shamelessly.

I return to nature time and again to take solace in her light, in her darkness, and in her wild wisdom. Tonight I sat under her light and listened. I didn’t ask my questions. I didn’t ask for anything. I just listened.

There, in the listening, I found clarity. Which is to say I came home. Home to my heart that houses that same light, darkness and wildness I often seek.

I share it with you here. On these pages. In this voice. In person or online, face to face or heart to heart. Shamelessly. As we are all entitled to share our hearts.

Shamelessly.

Still.

IMG_2143If I sit very still
(as still as a stone)
I can almost see the growth happening
in me, in the soil around me

as the first green stems push up
un-earthing

Such is growth.
un-earthing what is possible
what is unknown
what is to be

I can almost sense the earth’s rotation
and my rotation
around my heart,
my axis

If I sit alone
(for longer than I like)
I can almost hear my voice
small and uncertain
daring to speak up and break the silence

like a bird’s song at dawn
rousing me from sleep
inviting me to listen
to the silence that follows
to the beat of the universe

If I walk slowly
(as slow as the sun sets)
I can almost hear my blood swishing through my veins
and my heart pumping
thump thump thump
and my breath swooshing
inandout inandout inandout inandout

The symphony of Life
I am the conductor
and I am the spectator

So here I sit very still
(as still as the moon)
watching it all
being it all
allowing it all
remembering it all

So that even when I move
(quicker than I should)
and break the spell
some of the magic lingers

like morning dew
or the smell of rain

proof of what was
and what is
and what will be.

Going Back to Our Roots

Stormy Skies-KyraI’ve always found it fascinating when I see palm trees withstand winter storms with such grace and ease.

They bend to extreme degrees, yet somehow defy the forces of nature upon them and don’t snap. When the pressure is released, they bounce back to their full stature, amazingly intact, alive, and unbroken.

It’s equally fascinating when humans withstand life’s storms with grace and ease.

Just like Palms, the human spirit can bend unbelievably, and not break. When the storm passes, it emerges intact, alive, and unbroken.

Palm trees are monocots. As such, instead of having deep, thick roots to ground them, they have numerous small, fibrous roots called adventitious roots. This means that their roots are produced from a ”root initiation zone or area.” As long as conditions are favorable, the roots will grow. If conditions become dry, the roots stop growing.

So it is with our root system. Some people possess a primary, deep, nourishing root system feeding their lives. Many may feel they have no roots, however. Whether literally, as in you have no family or community, or you just don’t feel rooted in your life.

Palm tree roots are not very deep. In fact, they are quite shallow when compared to the towering heights the trees can grow to. The multitude of small roots enables the palm tree to stay rooted while being tossed around on the surface.

We may not have one deep root, but we all have access to numerous small roots.

These roots can provide us the nourishment we need to grow and to withstand any of life’s challenges with grace and ease.

Palm trees and other monocots don’t develop what’s called a secondary xylem, or layer, which is the hard, rigid wood seen on many trees.

Lacking this hard outer layer allows them great flexibility. Since they sway with the forces, instead of resisting them, they are able to bend with the pressure instead of break, unlike many trees that are not so flexible.

It is no different for us. We grow our secondary, hard outer layers for protection, so we don’t get bruised, banged up, or hurt by life. This is completely natural after lifetimes filled with trauma, loss, or a lack of love.

When these hard outer layers are no longer needed, they can begin to trap us in our own skin. We cannot sway with ease because we are stuck.

Healthy roots are important because they anchor trees and provide a channel for nutrients and water to enter, which allows for growth. Roots house food reserves and produce other organic materials trees need to grow. These functions are vital for a healthy tree.

Our roots need to be nourished also. When we ground into fertile environments, we create a channel through which we can receive love, energy, and connection. All things we need to grow and stay healthy.

The fascinating thing about growth in nature is that, when the seed germinates, it sends up a sprout and sends down a root.Sprouts of life

These forces that seem at first glance to be oppositional actually work in unison.

This simultaneous process of grounding and growing allows us to reach out safely, with stability and confidence.

We all know people who, faced with difficult circumstances, weather it with grace and ease.

When under pressure they remain flexible, reasonable, and don’t seem to have a problem giving way to dominant forces.

The key here is that they don’t give in. They give way.

They can afford to give way because they know they aren’t being crushed. They are grounded, rooted, and know they will withstand whatever comes their way.

These are traits present in all of us. We all have access to this grounding, this rooting, this flexibility. It’s sometimes just a process of checking whether our lives are being nourished through our root system.

This process of growth is not an uprooting. It does not involve changing who we are or where we’ve come from. It involves softening our outer layer and trusting our roots.

Taking a good look at our root system can prove revealing. If we’re lacking nourishment in our lives, we can plant seeds. Water them with patience, love, and give them space to grow.

When we simultaneously ground and grow into our lives, into our bodies, and into our potential, our roots will hold us steady as we reach great heights, bend with the force of life, and emerge from challenges intact, alive, and unbroken.

Photo credit: nist6ss & Robin Jacob Abraham

Happy Winter Solstice

While many are focusing on whether or not the world will end today, to me the more interesting aspect of December 21 is the Winter Solstice. This annual occurrence provides a clear line between light and dark, summer and winter.

The Winter Solstice is the yin sister of the Summer Solstice. While the Summer Solstice marks the “longest day” of the year, in terms of sunlight for those of us living in North America, the Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year.

This unique transition is the perfect opportunity to observe the natural shift that occurs on the planetary and earthly planes.

The Solstice is the astronomical result of the earth tilting on its axis. Thanks to this tilt, the earth orbits around the sun at an angle, resulting in the seasonal distinction we call Summer and Winter.

The Winter Solstice is a time when the seasons trade places in what seems to be a perfectly orchestrated dance. Observing how seamlessly nature allows for each of her seasons can encourage us to allow for our own life seasons. They serve as a gentle reminder to embrace both the light and the dark in our lives, to honor it and to allow it, in ourselves and in others.

After the solstice, the days will slowly inch longer. Daylight will begin to stretch her arms, and the darkness will start to fade. This is a good time to contemplate where we’ve been and where we want to go. It is simultaneously a starting line and a finish line.

Syncing our minds with nature’s rhythms reminds us that everything in nature opens and closes, waxes and wanes, begins and ends. As humans we are not excluded from this cycle. Our lives pulse with joy and sadness, life and death, inhales and exhales. Honoring all of it, whenever and however it’s presented to us, is the invitation.

Contemplating the end of the world, whether on a global scale or an individual scale, can inform and inspire our lives. I often ask myself the question, If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

People seem to be asking the first part of this question everywhere. Will there be a tomorrow?

The more poignant part of the question is this:

What would you do today?

Stepping Off Solid Ground to Get Grounded

There is something truly grounding about becoming comfortable with something previously uncomfortable.

It’s not always a physical grounding, although it may come from a physical experience. It’s an internal grounding that no one can touch. It feels steady, balanced, peaceful, rooted, and free.

This is an interesting topic to me because there are lots of things I am very uncomfortable with. Approaching them over and over and seeing the discomfort soften ever so slowly is fascinating and beautiful.

I experienced this in the ocean recently. It’s been a while since I’ve been out in winter surf, which is generally bigger and stronger than summer surf. I discovered doubt and fear had moved in and made themselves at home while I’d been spending the majority of my time doing yoga. Revisiting fear and discomfort on my yoga mat over and over again and becoming comfortable with that process is a worthy effort, but slightly different from fear and discomfort in the ocean.

The latter is not always gentle, uncontrollable, and very, very much alive.

Which is why I love it. There is only instinct here, in this wild place. And even when you are with other people, the effort is a solitary one.

This open-air cathedral can hold prayers large and small. This body of water can handle anything you can give.

The more I visit the sea, the more comfortable I become. Size, power, and conditions that intimidated me before slowly lose their fear factor.

This process of facing fear on an external level is sometimes easier than facing fear on an internal level, but the approach to both is the same. I see it as a lifelong practice that gets easier the more we do it.

Whether we choose to step off our solid ground and into unknown waters is often a choice, but sometimes we are pushed into unknown waters against our will.

The more I practice getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, the more grounded I feel in my life, the more clearly I can navigate my life, and the more rich my experiences become.

This, to me, is a crucial part of living fully and embracing the stable, the unstable, and the sweet balance between the two.