Friday, September 26, 2014

With Wings Outstretched, Lifting Off

A great white egret in full flight, wings stretched out in the big blue sky

Each of us has an affinity with certain other creatures. My own animal kinships are with the whale, coyote, frog and the bird tribe.  When you are with the whale, you are swimming into the vast waters of ancient memory. The coyote is bawdy, foolish, shrewd, shocking and sometimes wise. The frog has secrets, including the magic of bringing water and increasing fertility. And the bird tribe, feathered, winged, they take us up up up into the bright sky,  far from the weight of earthly concerns. Birds, the way they spread their wings, the way they lift off and fly, birds remind us of our spiritual essence and they remind us of the kind of freedom that easily opens up when we come to joy.

Birds like to stretch their wings out. They like to lift off and FLY-- and I am no exception. I've had two bird names, Blackbird and Laughingbird, each of which provided some unusual adventures and insights.  I've written about those in my book Songs of the Inner Life. 

Now my Blackbird and Laughingbird monikers are hidden within me. I walk around in the world as Gaea Yudron, a name filled with its own treasure.

It's time for this bird to stretch her wings, to get up off her usual perches and out of her familiar habitats.

The bird woman has no house and no car

I sold my flower cottage at the beginning of September and the other day I sold my car, too. Some people have exclaimed that I now have FREEDOM! Ha ha ha I want to say, considering everything. I mean it's relative. It's true that I have no house, car, family responsibilities or job.

But being a bird with a philosophical bent, I ask "Does this equal FREEDOM!!? Now don't get me wrong, I place a high value on freedom. When I think of freedom, I think of the sky, of the ocean, of the forest, of the meadow. I think of health, contentment, calm, awareness. I think of lovingkindness, the freedom that comes from deep inner richness, something I have seen in the spiritual masters I have learned from.  The freedom that comes from inner development and refinement is the most wonderful kind of freedom.
Is this the famous bluebird of happiness?

There are other beautiful freedoms--the freedom of good health, the freedom to travel, to create, to pray, to help others. I have a fair amount of freedom, and I am grateful for every morsel of it.

The bluebird of happiness

In my first week without a car, I've been walking around or taking the bus. Being without a car gives me a new vantage point.  First of all, without having to focus on driving, I have much more awareness of the landscape, the big fields filled with goats and cows, the light, the clouds, and the people who are on the bus with me.

The people who are on the bus with me are also people without cars--students and other young people, Latinos of all ages, disabled people, drunks, people who do not seem very healthy, folks who might not have much education. The bus is a lot like Walmart-- Good places to pray in. Because a lot of those bus riders and Walmart shoppers do not have it very easy at all. When I am riding the bus, or walking around town, I am thinking like this: for the bus riders, the Walmart shoppers, and all beings who are troubled, may there be ease. May there be prosperity and love.

 The Mythic Firebird

I'm heading for Guanajuato on October 29th. It's Ashland's sister city, but that is not why I am starting my journey there. My friend Carolyn's daughter Mica told me that it was just more relaxed and authentic than nearby San Miguel de Allende, which is a genuine expat watering hole. Of course I will visit there, but I want something less gringoesque.

I'll be in Guanajuato for about a month and hope to learn some Spanish at a highly regarded language school. Oh, there will be many other things, and I will tell you about them along the way.

One woman said that what I am doing is not what women my age usually do. All I can say to that is, I was not called the class nonconformist in high school for nothing, people. I think nonconformity has been a lifelong preference.

As Grace Slick of the old  Jefferson Airplane said: "In school, I learned about artists and how they were free to express themselves. I was allergic to conformity, and the lifestyle attracted me. I wanted to express myself in a way that slammed people up against the wall."

Whew, alright. I've never thought of my own creative expression in that precise slamming type way, but I understand what Slick is saying. I have always valued the awakening, shocking, surprising and opening power of art. When I can do that in my work, I know I have done something good.

The firebird is a magical luminous bird that brings blessings, but it does not bless its captor. Like creativity, it must be free.

Van Gogh's Kingfisher

I love this painting by Van Gogh of a kingfisher in the reeds at the edge of a body of water.

The kingfisher is an old symbol of peace and prosperity. They say that if you come across a kingfisher,  it could mean success and prosperity are coming your way.

May it be so. May the bird tribe bless you with its many gifts.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Might as well start right here....

In 1977, my then husband and I bought this house in Ashland, Oregon. Our next door neighbor, a colorful, crochety old guy, called it a railroad flat because it was built when the railroad came through, but actually it was the parsonage of the church next door. It is now honored with a historical building plaque, but when we moved in, it lacked that kind of special notice.

I recently listened to an interview someone did with a friend about those times. In it, he described my ex-husband and I as "new age proslytizers." I had to laugh. He has a funny sense of humor. We certainly were passionate about natural, spiritual and holistic healing--of that there is no doubt. We created a healing center and brought a variety of healers to teach and work, as well as doing healing work and workshops ourselves. Our center was called Gathering Together. Many of the classes and healings happened in the house.

When we first bought the house, with the generous help of a family member, we heard about a woman named Anne. She had a new baby and no place to live. It seemed natural to invite her to live with us. I loved having them in the house. It was nourishing for all of us to spend that time together.

I hadn't seen that baby for many years-- until yesterday. He came over to my friend Franny's house, where I am staying for a couple of months. 

He was hired by the landlady to install new linoleum in the bathrooms. 

Now he's a tall, handsome  37-year old blond guy with a 4-year old daughter and a son on the way. He told me that his mother, who died a few years ago, always told him how much she enjoyed that time with us. I guess I have done a few kind deeds in my life and that is one of them.

Some wonderful art projects celebrate aging, and this is one of them, a stunning collection of photographs focusing on older womens' visibility. Visible: 60 Women at 60--check it out!

It's very smoky here again because of a BIG wildfire in Sunny Valley, which has burned over 110,000 acres. They say it will be like this for a few days because of the way the wind is blowing. I took a ride out to Emigrant Lake the other day. The only water left in it is a long puddle right in the middle. All the lakes here are the same. It's scary. And having said that, should I go into a big rant about the state of the planet? I certainly could. But I will spare you that. Most everyone alive today can see what kind of severe difficulties we face.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming People's Climate March in New York City on September 21st, and its associated events across the country. I know several elders that are traveling to the east coast to participate. May this and other forms of activism propel the kind of changes we need to protect all beings on this earth.

In spite of everything, the natural world continues to be astonishingly beautiful. This photo by Grants Pass photographer Jasman Lion Mander shows an aurora he captured the other day at Crater Lake. It may be the first time we've had an aurora in Oregon.

Word is that the sale of my flower cottage will conclude in a few days. The buyers have already moved in, thanks to an agreement we created. They needed to move in. They were without a home. They had already moved out of their previous home, thinking that the sale was about to close. But repairs delayed the closing. I'm glad they are in my old house now. That makes me feel happy.

Sometimes people say to me, "Now you are free." While being free is a relative and changeable thing, I certainly am free of home ownership, or will soon be, and I am free of family responsibilities.  It's true that I do think about my musical revue, A New Wrinkle, as yet unproduced. And my book Songs of the Inner Life, which I have neglected to market as it deserves. I am not free of wanting to complete and propel those efforts forward to connect with others.

But I am taking a break from that and other creative projects to explore who I am now and what my life is about. And that is something  learned through experience. As part of the process, I am re-educating myself about how to float about without a home of my own, as I did in my late 20s, when I journeyed in the Pennsylvania countryside and then traveled west to California and Oregon. We called it dropping out in those days.

Now it feels more like dropping in. Dropping in, settling in, getting more comfortable with the inner home and the way that it manifests in the world. No doubt I will have more to say on the subject soon.