Sharing some deep thoughts and pretty pictures.

coming home

There is a time for expansion, and a time to retreat.

There is a time for the inhale, and a time for the exhale.

Wholeness comes with the balance of the breath.

The inhale. The exhale.

What time is this for you?

The power of just one breath to balance us, to bring us back to wholeness.

On the inhale, deep into our back, with power, strength, receiving.

On the exhale, from our heart, with love, with giving.

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As caregivers, we must remember this.

If we intend to care for the whole person, so must we be a whole person.

What does it take to be whole, to find wholeness, to re-center our being and find that place of balance so unique for each of us?

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And you, dear mother, dear mother-to-be, are you not a caregiver too?

Who better than you will care for your child?

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So it has been a time of withdrawal. Of hands digging deep within the earth. Blackened tips of the nails and calloused palms and skin worn to leather by the sun and wind.

And so it shall be a time of hands softly, gently upon the womb. Supporting. Witnessing. A miracle every time.

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This is about birth, death, life, rebirth. Where does one end and the other begin with one season flowing into the next, one closing to allow another to unfurl?

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And so the seasons move. Slowly at first, then gathering momentum, and we find ourselves running to keep up.

Can we see beyond the path on which our feet are moving?

What happens if we stop?

Now, look up. Look around.

Once our eyes have opened, what do we make of the view before us? Shall we revert to blinders, or shall we step forward into all the ugly beautiful mess before us, calling us like the Pied Piper though we often care not to hear and heed, choosing or safely remaining distracted behind the cloudy veil that enwraps us with a false sense of pride found in busy-ness…

What would happen if we let go and simply stood still?

Would you feel the wind, hear the laughter, sense the rising light?

Paring down to feel the elements.

Return to presence.

Unencumbered by the weight of social pressures, expectations of others, demands of self, and ego.

Who are you trying to please if you cannot please yourself in a sincere manner?

Oh, the worries, such a heavy burden and undue importance we place upon each until we see them all like grains of sand, and there on the beach we sit before the eternally churning waves. Are you still concerned with that one grain of sand, I ask you, and you smile, seeing the senselessness of the situation, and open your eyes and heart to that which is all around. It is beautiful indeed.

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A long dormant winter.

Though summer solstice nears, I remain in my retreat.

Not a place I pay to go, but rather work to remain at. Not a master that guides my learning, but rather the wind, the water, the elements to help me find the answers hiding within us all.

This has been a powerful time of awakening and awareness.

Of remaining present.

How can I reflect and write and share with you when what I need right now is simply to be?

Without reflection. Without judgment. Without expectations, demands, and even desires.

This too shall pass.

Nothing remains.

Everything changes.

You and I included.

Those who claim enlightenment as a state once achieved and forever remaining will set themselves apart and above contrary to the true meaning and state of bliss and understanding. I am grateful for the fleeting glimpses. And then I get back to work. Is this not what life is about?

And then there is this.

The part about life being about giving – beyond oneself – for the bigger picture – no longer about me – learning to shed the skin of ego and stand naked and know you still have all I need.  You are. Unencumbered. What cloaks do we cover ourselves with and think we are because we wear? Are you really the robe than enwraps you?

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As a student and nearly fifty, there is a great lesson in humility. Of simply being open. How else can we receive? The very premise of which is admitting I do not know all the answers. And though I know no one does, it is the wise student that makes no claims and opens themselves to discover. Likewise it is the foolish teacher that takes the stand and defends and judges. No, my friend, the lessons are not about you. Only what you make of them, take from them, and pass on and share. We all have the ability to be both the open slate student as well as the wise teacher – like the Tao – teaching without saying a word. Guiding by living our lives.

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As a student midwife, it has become clear that part of midwifery is not just about birth, or body work, but soul work. It’s working with the whole woman. And as a caregiver for the pregnant woman, how can I care for and nurture you and walk with you while you heal your wounds if I have not done the same for myself?

Yes, midwives can operate without this element of care. The medical profession has encouraged us to look at the body as a separate entity. A machine. Detached from mind and soul.

Are you not the whole of all these parts?

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Being present.

How can we understand the truth and see the beauty and feel the connection if we can’t slow down? We rush around and miss the point and seek the answers but never stick around long enough to allow them to be revealed.

Stop the madness. Stop the filling the self with busy-ness and stuffing the soul with false meaning found in title and a price tag and the latest greatest shiny thing, and trying to fulfill our innate sense of longing to belong with the false premise of social media and shallow relations.

Can’t we get deep and still remain simple?

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After a year of putting myself out there to promote my books (oh, the unexpected discovery, I suppose, that I am a writer, not a salesman) and a year following of returning to wholeness, this season of deep withdrawal has been a powerful transformation and awakening.

The wild beast moves. The wind shifts solely from the flick of her tail. Is it time to rouse?

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And so it has been. At some point we find this within us: it’s not about me, but we. It’s no longer about what we can get out of life, but what we can give to life. It’s no longer about taking, but giving; no longer about me and mine, but at times my place in the bigger picture, and at times, nothing to do with my place at all – only a greater understanding of that bigger picture, and accepting my irrelevance, and realizing that too is okay.

It’s ongoing. I’ve yet to meet someone fully “there,” wherever and whatever “there” is. A state of enlightenment? It’s vague. It’s fleeting. Like seasons. Like days. Some days we’re it. Some days we’re not. I guess that’s why we get to live so long and have this crazy strong desire to keep learning, growing, evolving. Lots of chances to try it again.

One of my wisest friends reminded me. It’s here. Where ever you are. Look around. Be in awe. It’s beautiful. And the answers you seek are already there. No matter where you go, what you run after, what you claim to be seeking… it’s within. You are already there.

I open my eyes as I open my heart. The wisdom is all around.

Lessons from the Elements. Wisdom from the wilds. In this season of turbulent winds and waters, a gentle calm from within.

What have the wilds taught me?

What has this past year taught me?

That next year will be different.

That tomorrow I’ll be someone new.

I’ll say something else.

That nothing stays the same.
Which brings us back to…

It’s ongoing. You don’t get there and remain. You have to work at it, every day. That’s what living is all about.  It’s not a state achieved and remained at status quo and stagnant.

And a half a century of questioning authority taught me this time and again. As soon as we claim a superiority, we separate, and thus we degrade. There is no superiority in this world. The moment we claim to be better or know more is the moment we step into the place of ego, and out of the place of enlightenment. Am I wrong then for sharing what I have found? Maybe…

I do not care to impose my beliefs (and certainly not those of another) but to simply support women in their choices, and am working to have the skills and abilities to do so. It’s about birth and life and maybe a little bit of death and rebirth. How can you have one without the other? Like the inhale and the exhale.

The greatest lesson absorbed from my studies to date is not the message of undisturbed birthing nor the know how of health care. That’s simply part of the package of supporting women in their own choices, rather than imposing mine. Really, it’s the message of humility. That’s what makes a midwife. The ability to serve, to support, to do what needs to be done which may be nothing at all… All of these “skills” come to life within us only through humility. Without humility, we return to it being our beliefs, our trip, our vision of what women should be, birth should be, life should be. Who then are we truly serving?

Oh and one more lesson I’m still working on.

To listen.

I begin by listening to the wind.

And the water.

And one heartbeat at a time.

 

After Equinox.

looking closely

The agitation of the wind creates unrest among naked branches. Beneath an unsettled sky, the monotone of a thawing land broken only by the continual call of the river reverberating against still frozen cliffs, while mud caked boots poke through remaining snow drifts and blistered hands touch sunburned noses and the brown back of the neck – bits of exposed flesh found uncovered from a down jacket that remains adorned though now unzipped.

forrests birthday

Another winter sheds her white skin. The peeling of the snake reveals that which is real, raw, delicate in its renewal. The season begins showing herself subtly in sepia tones. Like an old worn photo looked at time and again, we hold to the past in a futile gesture but the present is always new. Look around. See it. Feel it. Hear it. Celebrate it. Join in and dance with it.

above geod beds

Spring is late to unfurl here in the high country and her early song is soft, hard to hear, often hidden beneath late season snow storms and the howl of the changeable winds. In a land where winter claims half a year, the other three seasons come and go quickly in the shared space of the other half. Savored, appreciated; nothing is taken for granted.

Tenderly she reveals the simplicity of the wilds. We see her new breath in the everchanging motion of the unsettled sky, the unrest in the wind, the thawing of the earth, the swelling of the river, the return of wildlife, the luxury of longer days, shorter shadows, an open road, and the tenacity of simple nameless yellow flowers emerging through the snow.

And the silent assumption that within the swiftness of the season stirs the lure and excitement of change…  Into what, she whispers? And the wind shares a response I do not yet understand.

tres and co

Interwoven in the web of life awakens questions more than answers if we listen solely with reason. How else can we hear? With our hearts, not our minds. With our senses, like the wilds that surround us, knowing not because they read it, heard it, were told to believe. Or are we so different we forgot how to feel? Let go of that, she tells us. Her answers are in the soft shades of brown and grey of the newly opened hillsides.

Do we just let it go? What we had last season? The assurance of the assumed. Today, I tell myself here for half the year, it will be cold and white. What will tomorrow bring? Plans? Expectations? Hopes and dreams? What would we be without them? Shed them and be free, she tells me. But I too feel naked without. Such is the time of awakening, allowing the season to bloom means starting with a seemingly barren hillside.

blue castles

The land calls. I speak to her. With her. She answers with a whisper veiled in translation I try hard to decipher. Words, ideas, passions still remain. From within this tangled tapestry can we see the bigger picture? Can we see the fine lines into which we are tightly woven or the space in between? Perhaps in the early morning when dew catches silken threads and pale pink air is still but for the rousing of the robins unintentionally sharing their sweet song from beneath the leafless trees, and stirring of distant geese down by the expanding open waters of the full to bursting reservoir.

It’s mostly space, I am reminded again. But we choose to see the little bits of matter within the big wide expanse.

Morning’s stillness shares silence of the mountain in a slow gentle outbreath before the awakening of the day, the season, the beginning of change. This is a time of both reflection found in glassy ponds of melting winter, and planning for something we don’t fully understand. Oh but the leaves will unfurl and the grass will green and the summer homes will be lit and the road will be abuzz. And so it goes, no matter what I do and you say.

that unsettled sky

Two different sides of wild.

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rose hip

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horses in snow

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Stand still.

Listen.

A primordial heartbeat, deep and low, buried inside the great expanse of the thawing lake…

Felt within like a slow, steady drum, the Earth pulses back to life.

Ice moans, the river swells, snow is consumed, and red wind roars from the west. The redwing blackbird, blue bird and robin return.

Solstice nears again.

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After the dormant season of natural withdrawal, now I too stir to life, sharing words upon awakening.

Today I share a rather unusual post.

First, an article on birth. The wild side of birth.  Or perhaps, a little bit about the wilds within us all. If you’re interested, you can take a look here: www.cordmama.com.

Second, a follow up to a previous post for which many of you have asked me for a follow up. So, following is just that. (Got all that?)

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An Update on the Elusive Lynx Relocation Efforts along the Upper Rio Grande

The lynx release program into the southern San Juans has been ongoing in our area for nearly twenty years by the CPW, formally the CDOW. Today this project is co-managed and funded by the USDA Forest Service. We love to look at this as a “wildlife success story,” but sadly, we see a very different side to this story, and the biggest loser is the lynx.

The lynx are not listed as an Endangered Species. Nor were the lynx ever considered native this far south. From the US Fish and Wildlife Service website: “Historically, the lynx ranged across the vast northern boreal forests from Alaska to eastern Canada, including the northernmost U.S., and extending in an increasingly patchy distribution along the coniferous forests of the Rocky Mountains as far south as Colorado. For reasons that are not completely understood, the lynx is believed to have disappeared from Colorado by 1973.”

“…There is little evidence that the original lynx population ever lived as far south as the San Juan Mountains (‘Lynx Reintroduction . . .’). According to Byrne, in Colorado’s history there have only been eighteen confirmed records of the species living in the state, and only four of those occurred after 1935, with the southern most being near Breckenridge and the last near Vail in 1973 (‘Lynx Release . . .’)… Nobody knows what caused the species to disappear from this area the first time. Before the animals completely disappeared, their numbers had dramatically dropped for no apparent reason.” From  <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=10148&gt;

No evidence has indicated that these mountains were natural lynx territory, nor do we understand what actually caused their initial decline, but the propaganda and press have incorrectly been using the term “re-introduction” and the public has blindly agreed. And in this day and age of changing climate, global warming, whatever you want to call “the new normal,” trapping an animal in the north east of Canada, and bringing them to the “high and dry” southern Rockies… one can question the reasoning behind this program, see why this program has been struggling against all odds, and sadly understand why so many lives (the lynx) were lost in this human-induced effort.

But still, this animal has tugged at our hearts, received our support, and captured our interest with the regular use of stock photos of the precious kittens. But do we really know what is happening, what has been done, and at what price?

It is our understanding that other species released in this state eventually bring income to justify the human led venture via hunting, or rather, being hunted. Almost twenty years after the initial introduction, and how many millions of dollars later, and at the loss of how many re-located animals from their native Canada, these animals are not hunted, bring no income, and the program continues to spend.

We have lived here full time for nearly 15 years. We have seen more than many wished we would. We live gently upon the land and with the wilds (I am known for running with the wilds, not after them). So as much as I was enamored with the initial idea of having another small game predator on my mountain, we quickly turned from supporting to speaking out against the nature of this program when it became clear this was not for the success of the wilds, wildlife, or those out here connecting with the wilds, but for the success of the humans running the program from some far away desk. If the lynx survive, it will not be because of the efforts of these humans, but in spite of them. Nature is beautifully resilient.

It is reported that our county agreed to this introduction years ago, when those counties further north and more close to the natural lands the lynx once roamed refused. But has our county, or the residents, been involved, concerned, or in any way benefitted from this ongoing effort which cost the taxpayers millions of dollars? Do they even know what is going on?

For many local residents in both Creede and Lake City this project was considered a closed case and a lost cause years ago and most are unaware of any continued efforts, actions and funding. This operation has not been a part of the local community or economy, not supporting nor involving local residents. Furthermore, it is our understanding that the USDA Forest Service on a local level may also be unaware of the continued efforts and the oversight of the contract workers operating within the Forest. Who then is responsible? Who is making these decisions for which there is a great amount of money being poured out, and where is this funding coming from?  And who is concerned with the comprehensive well being of the land and the wilds of the forest, and the public interest, which is intrinsically linked into the responsibilities of the Forest Service plans and actions?

Without taking the time now to site the years of noted and notable concerns with this program, the point here is to simply open your eyes to the current situations. The efforts are continuing, and at a rather large scale. Even from our limited observation base, we are aware of a crew of six trackers, and the daily back and forth by both trucks and then snowmobiles in attempt to collar a few healthy lynx. This is important to note as not all animals trapped are of course lynx, and not all lynx are in fact healthy, and thus not appropriate to collar.

This also brings up the point that we were informed by the CPW that this was a one year only effort in order that the Forest Service could trap, collar and observe the potential long term impact of the dying forest on the lynx. We know already that this so-called one-year program was in operation last year as well, though the trapping efforts were apparently not successful. And with at least one trap left behind and in place from this year’s efforts – do they intend to continue when the road becomes more travelled and the camp ground more used by fishermen, or leave the trap in a public campground and resume again next winter?

Just last week, I was finally able to walk up the road with my dog and without fear of running into the lynx trapping crew. Between the fact that a coyote had been killed for disturbing their operations, and the concerns that my dogs have been known to get in their traps for free goodies, I felt it would be best to stay away from their operations and avoid potential conflict or worse.

I walked to the well known and used campground beside the river at the far end of Brewster. It is an easy afternoon walk along the road, there and back, from my house. This is where I had camped alone in peace for two weeks at the end of hunting season last year and likely the most popular camping spot in Brewster and this far up USFS Road 520. This is also the historical location where the outpost used to be that once rented horses to help travelers get their wagons up Timber Hill. All in all, perhaps the most well know and well used location for recreation on this part of the Upper Rio Grande.

What I found in many locations around that campsite were green aspen trees and green spruce boughs cut and scattered under and around trees. One can presume this is where traps had been set all winter long. One trap still remains in the campground. It is covered by cut live spruce boughs. Cutting green trees, whole or branches, is against the policy of the USDA Forest Service. We have been told the CPW may operate “above the law,” yet leaving evidence of such activity in and around a public campground may not be of the best interests of forest users. This also goes against common sense when up to 90% of our spruce trees and a still uncertain percentage of our aspen have been lost in recent years. Look around up here – how much green do you see remaining?

This is just the latest degradation to land and wildlife observed this winter. Within the lynx program, this winter we’ve put up with dead deer hanging from trees as bait (though lynx are not known to eat dead deer – coyotes are), traps set alongside road with dead wildlife within, and of course, the infamous killing the coyote that was feeding on said bait that became a so-called nuisance to the trapping operations.

Trapping continued well into kitting season. This is the time of year mother cats are so desperate for food they once tried to follow my housecats through the cat door, and chewed on a tarp where we accidently spilled eggs another year. Furthermore, on the chance that a mama cat did fall for their bait and become stuck in a trap for 24 hours, what would happen to her newborns that need to nurse every 2 – 4 hours? One can only hope this was not the case.

…And what for? For the latest efforts, we were told trapping was for collaring and in turn for observing over the next five to ten years to see what impact the dying trees have on the lynx. Our trees have died and continue to die. Snowshoe hare eat the fresh branches of live spruce in the winter. And snowshoe hare are the mainstay of the lynx diet. You do the math. Will these collars tell us otherwise?

The saving grace here is that nature is adaptable. The survival of the lynx in their new territory will not be because of what we did, but in spite of what we do. And still, man (or woman) will take the credit.

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moose~

on the reservoir

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