Sunday, 2 January 2011

Making more room (and a thank you)

I am letting go of this blog. Trying to make more room in my life for writing, yoga, pottery, my creative life, and for deeper connections with friends and family.

I have enjoyed and appreciated connecting with all my blog sisters and brothers. You have been a treasured gift to me. And you have taken part (perhaps without knowing) in a new birth of my soul. In a way, you've been like midwives to me, encouraging my voice, helping me to reach and to live more in wisdom. Thank you.

I will probably be back sometime in the future, perhaps in this space or in a new one, but for now, for this coming year, I will turn toward writing more essays and writing more letters to friends and family.

I wish you the gift of wisdom in the New Year.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A mighty tree and her lessons: a book review

I have just completed reading Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy of Luna in which she tells her story of living in Luna, a mighty redwood, for two years as she struggled to save the California redwoods.

I have been thinking a lot lately about place and home, about traveling and returning, about holding on to intentions and about letting go. Butterfly writes that she wanted to go around the world, and yet, instead she found a tree to climb. A tree to live for. A tree to live in. A world to make a difference. Butterfly finds herself in the least expected place, a tree.

Isn't that so true? We find our true selves in the least expected places. We think we might find the real self when we travel a great distance, perhaps visiting a sacred spot, and yet, we don't have to travel too far to find the right desire to grow into who we really are. The real path to the self begins internally.

I have the luxury of having traveled to many interesting places around the world, but I have to say that home continues to be the place where I find me, the real me. I must confess, I think I must have resisted this for a while, but now I see the wisdom in starting the journey where I am, here and now.

All those places I have visited were vital to my spiritual growth, but the main thing I learned was that humans share common needs: we all want a warm, dry home, we all want to be loved and to love, and we all want to seek truth. So, perhaps in a way it is not about finding a place but finding the right intention.

Julia Butterfly shares this prayer: "When I pray, I ask for guidance in my life to be the best person I can be, to learn what I need to learn, and to grow from what I learn. Always when I pray, I ask to let go. Letting go is the hardest part."

The practice of letting go is universally challenging. Letting go. Non-attachment. Try practicing it daily as Elizabeth Bishop writes in her poem, One Art. "So much seem to be filled with the intent to be lost, that their loss is not a disaster." I have a hard time not seeing loss as a disaster. Start with lost door keys. A favorite book. A sweater. Then maybe places. People. A loved one.

Bishop further suggests "try loosing something everyday, loosing farther, loosing faster." Let go of expections. Let go of dreams. Let go of holding on. Let go of the prayer. Allow Mystery and Magic and Beauty to enter and then we will hear the Universe calling us with a wisdom that awakens.

Butterfly shares this wisdom of Luna after a storm:

The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go...Those trees and branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break...Learn from the power of the trees. Let it flow. Let it go. That is the way to make it through the storms of life.

...Once the storm ended I realized that by letting go of all attachments, including my attachment to self, people no longer had any power over me...I was no longer going to live my life out of fear, the way too many people do, jolted by our disconnected society. I was going to live my life guided from the higher source, the Creation source.

In my daily yoga practice, I sometimes turn to Judith Hanson Lasater's A Year of Living Your Yoga for a daily thought. Today's thought, "if you think you like a yoga pose, hold it for five minutes." The tree pose has been on my mind lately. Maybe it is Luna. Maybe it is that I finally caught sight of an old beauty while visiting my childhood home: an Ohioan sugar maple, bright red in the October sunshine.

Trees matter to me. I guess that is why I love Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy of Luna. It is a story about the human spirit. It is a story about a tree. And yet, it is a story about you and about me.

Stand like a tree. And when the storms come, move with the wind. Let go but stand strong.

I stand with the trees (and with Butterfly) in service of life in love, Nicki

Photo: Julia Butterfly Hill in Luna, 13 November 1998, Shaun Walker.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I am finding home.... the simple things.

In the sight of orange butternut squash soup. I can't make enough of it. I love its taste but I mostly love how bright orange the flesh of the squash is right before I place it in the pot. What an autumnal sight.

In the sound of Legos jingling in a box or as hands sort through piles on the floor. We've just returned home from a three month journey so my children and I are spending our days sorting and re-discovering what we can make with all these Lego pieces. New worlds await us.

In the touch of hot bath water on my skin. Colds winds are beginning to arrive here in Scotland. My toes and fingers are chilled most of the day now. Water bottles and hot baths (barely) keep me from continuously chattering teeth and bones.

In the words of a dear friend who writes about non-attachment parenting. Although she wrote this in July, I am still coming back to her thoughts about what this sort of parenting might look like. A beautiful reflection.

My spirit finds home in the tree pose. Trees either bend with the wind or break in the storm. I am learning to stand like a tree, swaying a bit in the storm, moving to the wind. I don't want to break anymore.

Hoping you find home just where you are.

Peace, Nicki

Saturday, 28 August 2010


Taking some time for in-breathing.

While I am paying more attention to my breath, building more awareness through mindfulness meditation and yoga, and enjoying what is right in front of me, I am aware that I long for re-creation time.

Time to re-create more love and patience in my life, to build deeper connections, to listen to my breath, and to find a sense of inner and outer balance and peace.

I will be back in the Autumn.

Peace and light,

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Finding Some Ground

I don't need to travel far, over sea and land, to find myself, right where I am, standing, grounded like a tree, my roots, my emotions, my real self, connected to the earth below, collecting her energy, her support, her will to be.

I can travel far away in my mind's eye, deep in the memory of experience to find that my own two feet tell me where I am, right here, right now.

It has been a long journey to find some ground, solid ground, a place deep within myself where breath is my map and my feet see greater distances than my keen eyesight. It is hard to let go of the thoughts and dreams and glimpses of the future and to trust that my feet know the way. That my breath has been here before helps.

I realize, finally, the silent communication between my breath and my feet--they know where I am even when I don't. They are old friends who love to be together, walking, returning again and again to a place called home.

It is impossible to contain this place called home because it lives inside me, in my thoughts, my experiences, my emotions, my hope, love and peace. This home lives in my breath, my breathing, my gentle movement, my feet.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Two Modern Mystics: de Mello and Neill

Just wanting to share these treasures I have found in my summer reading. Lots to think about in de Mello and in AS Neill--about parenting, about love, about awareness, about childhood and play, about happiness, and about letting go.

From Anthony de Mello's Awareness:

"Nurture yourself on wholesome food, good wholesome food. I'm not talking about actual food, I'm talking about sunsets, about nature, about a good movie, about a good book, about enjoyable work, about good company....what kind of feeling comes upon you when you're in touch with nature, or when you are absorbed in work that you love? Or when you're really conversing with someone whose company you enjoy in openness and intimacy without clinging? What kind of feelings do you have? Compare those feelings with the feelings you have when you win an argument, or when you win a race, or when you become popular, or when everyone's applauding you. The latter feelings I call worldly feelings; the former feelings I call soul feelings."

I love this idea of soul feelings. Where are those spots in your life where you meet those soul feelings? And what do you do about those worldly ones?

From AS Neill's Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood:

"The function of the child is to live his own life--not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows what is best. All this interference and guidance on the part of adults only produces a generation of robots.

You cannot make children learn music or anything else without some degree of converting them into will-less adults. You fashion them into accepters of the status quo--a good thing for a society that needs obedient sitters at dreary desks, standers in shops, mechanical catchers of the 8.30 suburban train--a society, in short, that is carried on the shabby shoulders of the scared little man--the scared-to-death conformist."

As one of those anxious parents, I find his call to be challenging and life-giving. Makes me think about the real source of my longing for true freedom.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Ode to the berry

There are two joys in our house this time of year.

Our almost daily trip to the berry farm just two miles down the road brings us such simple delight. Whenever we pass by, we stop. Sometimes we get an ice cream. Sometimes we bring home a punnet of berries. Sometimes we just like to go and be in the space of awaiting ripeness.

Sounds kind of silly, I know, but this berry farm represents a deep joy that we find in waiting for something really special to us: the strawberry, the raspberry. These sun soaked fruits remind us that summer is here, that long days bring sun energy, that the color red, in all its variety, is absolute beauty. The taste in our mouths as the juice falls into our taste buds calls us to remember how a favorite food nourishes the soul. To savor becomes an act of worship. And all the ice cream and jam making is our attempt to celebrate its pure taste.

But there is another berry joy too.

This one is blueberry joy and it has to do with a special blueberry hill. These blueberries we find are wild, uncultivated, and free. It is a different type of joy. We become the watchers day in and day out (like our beloved berry farmer who gives us an update each day about how long til ripeness); we notice and monitor these tiny treasures. We are wild gatherers and we look for ripeness.

But even though we are not surprised by the presence of these blueberry bushes, we find ourselves giddy with surprised joy when we notice it is time to pick, to eat, and to mark our fingers with purple juice. It is a simple marking that says, "we are wild and uncultivated and free."

But there is even a deeper blueberry joy that fills me. Finding fruits in the wild, knowing that they belong to all who pay attention, seeing where the fruit comes from, the type of leaves it has, how low or how high it is on the ground, makes a difference to how I enjoy what I eat. With the blueberry I become that much closer to its magical source. I am grounded and I have also found heaven in its ripe, round, and full form.