Suggestions for a newly reset life:
1. Leave home at least twice a day.
2. Go for a hike or a walk once a day.
3. Activities like cooking, sewing, reading are helpful.
4. Seek out settings with people: libraries, coffee shops etc.
5. Do not buy too many cookies. If cookies are needed, do not also buy ice cream.
6. Try attending social events, even random ones and just see what happens.
7. Pay attention to animals and insects.
8. Treat every human encounter as a potential for connection.
Here's something that happened:
I went on a hike, exploring this really beautiful trail that followed a river walled in by cliffs. After a while the trail vanished, and the woods were full of thorny desert things, so I decide to walk in the creek. Stepping into the water I heard a little sound, and looked up to see two river otters a few yards away. Their heads were like a seal's, sleek and wet with dark inquisitive eyes. One of them stretched its neck up, to get a better look at me. Then they dove under water and were gone.
I sat on the shore for a long time, hoping to get another look at them, but they didn't show themselves again.
Here's something else:
I've been going to the little farmers market here each week. There's one very nice vegetable stand that has these crazy long cucumbers, and exotic regional vegis like okra and shiso peppers. What I love about this stand is the way the vegetables are displayed with such care and love. Little onions are gathered together in a half paper bag, Melons laid out in cozy families on a table. Baskets of squash and eggplants bunched by color. Garlic stems tied together with sisal twine. It is such a pleasure to look at all of the vegetables and to make choices about what to try. I find also, that my feelings towards these vegetables are different than the ones I buy at the supermarket. I take more time preparing them and eating them and I rarely let them go bad. Is it possible that the care taken by the farmers has been transferred to me through the vegetables? It certainly feels that way.
That's all for now friends. I'll check in again soon.
This month is a big transition for me. I decided to move to a new city, selling my house and getting rid of most of my belongings. For fifteen years I've lived in Portland Oregon. I have friends, a garden, I know where the good coffee shops are and the best city parks to watch dogs make friends. So, why leave all of those things and go somewhere completely unknown?
A year ago I left Portland and traveled to Ireland. I worked on farms, and lived in communal style situations. It was me, and a bunch of European teenagers. At first, this was a bit off-putting. But soon I began to be inspired by these young people and their enthusiasm for exploring and figuring out what they wanted in their new adult life. I also wanted to create a new life. I had spent most of my adult life taking on more and more responsibility for others, and feeling more burned out. But now I had space and more freedom. I could figure out what I wanted to do on a daily basis. Aside from the work I did at the farm, which was physical and not mentally taxing, my time was really my own.
When I got back from my travels, I looked around the city. I looked at my relationships, the kind of work I was doing. I looked at my basement full of boxes of who knows what. For nine months I had lived happily out of a suitcase, I had five shirts and two pairs of pants. Now, looking at my closet full of options of things to wear I found myself unsure. A dress? A blouse? Which sweater? I didn't like any of them.
I began to plan my exit. I decided that I would get rid of everything except for a suitcase of clothes. I began selling and giving away furniture, appliances, dishes, books. It is amazing how much stuff I had. In this process I kept running into 'priceless things' something that had a memory associated with it that was hard to let go of. A book my father had written an inscription in. My favorite gardening tool. The light green toaster that had always looked so amazing on the counter. When I did give away the toaster a month before I left town, I realized how I had come to rely on it. Untoasted bread is so. . . floppy, featureless, depressing. Did I really think I would not need toast in my future? I had been dead wrong. For a month I fried bread in butter in a pan. Take note: fried bread is not toast, nor shall it ever be.
I picked a town to move to, a beautiful small town called Sedona. I had visited for a week and loved the way it felt. Wherever I lived, I would be able to walk into an amazing landscape of sculpted red cliffs and dry manzanita forest. That was what attracted me, along with the atmosphere of spiritual exploration. Crystal Shops, Psychics, places in the cliffs called vortexes, where people experienced a special kind of vibration from the earth. But more than any of these things, it is just the idea of being somewhere new, exploring someplace and getting to know it. Then, having the opportunity to reset my life by letting go of things I don't really need anymore and then settling in again.
Maybe I'll find I don't need those things or maybe I'll start gathering stuff like toasters and books and sweaters all over again. Stay tuned for Total Life Reset part 2. I'll let you know how it goes.
I've been thinking about time.
For two weeks I lived alone in a tiny village in Spain. I did not speak Spanish, and it was COVID. The locals were friendly from behind their masks, but there was not much chance of any human connection.
So, every day I went walking. I packed up a loaf of bread from the town bakery, some salami and cheese and wandered for most of the day. I walked into tiny towns whose only inhabitants were stray cats, I wandered washed out gravel roads, and foot paths into pine forest dotted with orange and almond groves. I walked all day and I rarely saw a single soul.
One day, I was exploring a dry river valley when I stopped to take in the view. Some whisper of intuition told me to stop and look longer. And then I saw it, a tiny stone cottage, the same color as the earth.
I picked my way over to it, and looked in. There was just enough space inside for one person to sit. The ground was damp, so I pulled at a large flat stone that had fallen from the roof, leaning against the wall. Behind it, I found a wonder.
It was a clay drinking jug, very old, broken where the stone had struck it, falling. I sat there staring , then opened my water bottle and took a drink.
I felt them there with me. The ones who had sat here so long ago. They had come in out of the wind and the rain to take a drink and watch their sheep. They had looked out on this valley. Like me, they had come alone.
My heart swelled with something great and unknowable. Time stretched like an elastic band and broke.
Before I left, I leaned the stone against the wall, leaving the treasure hidden, for another traveler to find. On that day, I will be with them. I will be sitting there still.
Yesterday, winter arrived on my doorstep. 4pm, and already the sun was setting. Outside it was cold and raining with a hint of snow in the air. To ward off the darkness I did some of the things I know to help. I brewed a cup of tea. I baked some bread. I put on pajamas at 6pm and snuggled in with a blanket and a novel. But the next day, when the darkness came again, it came with melancholy and I knew that another kind of magic was needed, so I put on my rain boots and my warmest coat and went for a walk.
When gathering items for making an altar, I let my eyes wander. I become a treasure hunter in a land that is full of surprises. This time I noticed Rosemary growing outside my house. A soft cushion of moss- emerald green. Under some big fir trees in the park I found a fir cone and some of the branches that had fallen together. Peeling bark of a madrone tree. A stick painted with yellow lichen. An acorn, A walnut and a chestnut, smooth and glossy brown. As I collected my treasures, something started to lift inside of me. See, said the something, there are wonders waiting everywhere.
At home, I arranged my gifts and lit some beeswax candles. A smell of smoke and sweet honey filled the air. When I make altars, I like to lay down something there to let go of. Something that feels heavy in my space that I am ready to release. Then, I welcome in the energy that would support to me . Gratitude. Magic. Wonder. Abundance.
I keep the little altar up for as long as it speaks to me, lighting the candles whenever I want to refresh my space with the intentions I have set. Then, after a while, I clear it away to make space for a time I want to create something new.
Over and over again, I notice the same kind of thing coming up. If a relationship truly isn't working for one partner, it also isn't working for the other. For example, sometimes one person wants to end a relationship, and the other person resists the change. But that doesn't mean the ending won't ultimately serve both partner's growth.
I also notice a lot of people struggling with feelings of guilt around making a change that affects others. Guilt is never anyones truth. It does not teach. It does not forgive. It does not allow us to see ourselves for who we are- people growing and learning through our experiences. We all have the autonomy and the freedom to create changes for ourselves and to try new things. Sometimes we are the one who wants to let go. Sometimes we are the one who resists a change or an ending. In both cases we can treat ourselves with gentleness, love and forgiveness.
Relationships are growth periods. If the growth period is over, we can approach the ending with gratitude and grace. We learned something from the relationship and now we can make space to learn about love again.