autumnal reset

In my last post I wrote about ceremoniously burning all my journals, clearing out my stories to allow space for the new. I was about to go camping on Vancouver Island, and could think of no better place to send my diaries than into the flames of a campfire, out in nature and under the stars.

Alas, Mother Nature had other plans. Due to record-breaking wildfires in British Columbia, campfires were strictly banned all summer. The journal burning would have to wait.

My time away was soul nourishing. We spent three days camping near a small logging town on the northeast coast of the Island. I hadn’t been camping in years, and was a little anxious to be out of my comfort zone. This feeling didn’t lessen when we noticed fresh bear poop on our site. Fortunately I didn’t have any close encounters, though we did spot a young black bear twice, ambling down the beach in front of us.

Despite the bear presence, it didn’t take long for me to relax and appreciate the natural beauty surrounding me. The weather cooperated and the other campers made for chill, respectful neighbours. We also saw humpback whales and porpoises, which was amazing.The absence of technology was particularly soothing to my city-jangled brainwaves, allowing my mind to breathe.

After camping, it was off to beautiful Tofino, for the wedding of a close friend. It was a sweet few days, filled with lovely people, food, music, beer (oh so much beer), and laughter. It’s hard to formulate words for the entire experience; they can’t fully capture the magic of the moments. Neither could pictures, which is why I took so few.

The journey felt like a major reset, probably amplified by the solar eclipse that preceded it. But I don’t feel rested and rejuvenated; on the contrary, since my return I’ve been extremely fatigued and lacking motivation. Even when it comes to blogging. I’ve started and stopped this post so many times and it’s been frustrating. But maybe that’s part of the reset. It feels different from resistance or procrastination. There’s no point in forcing something that’s just not happening, even if it’s something we normally enjoy.

our camping spot

And now we’re emerging from the new moon into the Autumn equinox, another potent time to focus on what’s essential. Though city culture can be wonderfully stimulating, my time away – short as it was – made me realize I’m longing for more balance. Simplification. Less dependence on conveniences, and more self-sufficiency. How would I really like to live, and what practical steps can I take to make that happen? What does living harmoniously with nature – feeling connected, having a relationship – mean for me personally, and is my life reflecting that?

Perhaps the idea of burning my journals was part of the drive to simplify. But since writing my post, I appreciate more fully the importance of honouring that journey before I let it go. This means taking the diaries out of the box. Putting them in order, lining them up, setting aside the uninterrupted time to read them.

I want to sit with all those uncomfortable emotions, giving them the attention they deserve. I can then release them with peace. And who knows, I might find unremembered moments of joy in those words. Maybe the biggest gem I will discover is the compassion for the person who wrote them.

This Autumnal reset feels like incubation and integration. The plug is being pulled on so many things, and we are waiting patiently as life organizes itself to respond to a new frequency…trusting, as best we can, that life is lovingly responding in these very uncertain times where no one knows what’s going to happen next.

As the days get shorter and cooler, and the leaves turn colour, I’m grateful to be where am, laying low and letting nature do her thing.

goodbye city, hello island

Just two days after returning from London, I moved to a smaller city on an island a few hours away from my hometown. A day after that, I started work at a local university – the same university I attended fifteen years ago. The past couple of weeks have been a surreal trip back in time. I’m remembering places and streets I’d forgotten, and discovering new ones.

August was a complete whirlwind: wrapping up one job and starting another, packing up my old apartment, temporarily staying with friends in my new city, and of course the transformative journey in London. I’ve now found a place of my own to live in October…so I’m going to relax and enjoy the rest of September in a beautiful beachside property owned by a family friend, assimilating all that’s occurred.

morning sunrise

morning sunrise

This move happened very quickly. One day I had the thought of changing cities, and a week later I had a job offer and various places to stay. I had no time to ‘think things over’; all I knew was a screaming yes! from within.

I can’t say for certain why I’m here. Merely weeks before my UK trip, I’d moved into a new apartment in my hometown. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I’d found somewhere I could breathe, relax, put down some roots – or at least hang some art on the walls! I’d finally found the sanctuary I’d long yearned for.

And yet, something wasn’t quite right.

I was done with the city. I was tired of the noise, stimulation, sirens, the daily grind. I told myself the outer noise was reflecting my inner noise. But I couldn’t get ahead of it to quiet it down.

I believe that wherever you go, there you are – no matter how far we travel, we can’t escape ourselves – but sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what’s needed for a reset. To cultivate new habits. To shake up the system and connect more easily with one’s inner truth.

Here, on the Island that’s my home for an unbeknownst period of time, things aren’t quite so convenient as in the big city. I haven’t had immediate access to all I ‘need’. (What?? You don’t have wifi here?!) It’s been an adjustment, and annoying at times, but I have to laugh. It’s exactly what I asked for.

my new commute

my new commute

I enjoy being in motion. Whether I’m on a long walk or a ferry, plane, or train, I love travelling to new places. It’s often where I feel most connected to Source – where I receive my insights and downloads. Being in new neighbourhoods, discovering new terrain, excites me.

Nevertheless, as I lay in bed last week, I doubted this very fast turn of events. Was I running away? Did I give up a good gig in my old city? Did I make the wrong decision? I woke up to a voice asking me: What would make this decision worth it? And I realized that wherever I am is the perfect place to be. Because, ultimately, I’m not looking for the ‘right’ job or city or house – even if I think I am.

I’m looking to strengthen my relationship with spirit, with myself – to go within, to find the love within and without, to meditate, to practice yoga, to be more in nature and discover the peace that is my true nature. Those things aren’t necessarily contingent upon external circumstances. But I’m grateful for the Island air reverberating in my cells. And its gorgeous trees, water, and slower pace of life. The elements are supporting new habits and ways of being.

I’ve heard, and I sense, that September is a very potent month. What we do with all the delicious, available energy is up to us. I’m choosing to not squander it on fear.

the healing sea

healing sea

The ocean soothes and contains me. I grew up surrounded by water and can’t imagine my life without it. It is not an ‘it’, but an alive being whose consciousness I feel more and more. She feels feminine to me. Receptive, open, pulled by the moon…

Water is my conduit to the Divine, and her expansiveness holds all my hopes, dreams, prayers, fears, tears, and desires. Today I say ‘thank you’ to the healing sea, for always holding me in her loving depth.

my hair is more important than gaia

i was washing my hair the other day and (not for the first time) noticed how chemical-laden my shampoo is.  i felt the usual nagging guilt.  the same admonishing voice in my head, informing me i’m poisoning the earth with my every lather.  the sense of defeat that, when it comes to my hair, vanity prevails.

then came the justifications: that this is not my ‘regular’ shampoo, the one that’s much more natural and paraben/polysorbate/SLS-free.  all the other body care products i use are similarly natural (at least the labels say so).  i recycle every last scrap of paper possible.  i don’t have a vehicle, so i’m not contributing to any of those nasty fuel emissions, which puts me way ahead of the masses.  (feeling quite virtuous now.)  i use my ceramic coffee mug, whenever i remember it.  oh, and gaia’s my mother, so it’s not like she wants me to be miserable.  if i want to occasionally shampoo my hair with the aid of a few chemicals to preserve my copper-hued tresses, surely she understands.  it’s tough to be a human, and i’m allowed a few concessions now and then.

i still kinda feel like shit.

i know that i’ve lost that essential connection with mother earth.  i’m not sure that my efforts to ‘save’ her are motivated by a deep reverence and bond to her as a sentient being, as much as the niggling internal voice that tells me i ‘should’ be doing more.

***

i was in eighth grade when i was first introduced to the concept of The Environment, and how we humans are to blame for its current state.  since then i’ve been fastidious about my recycling, i’ve written letters, i’ve signed petitions.  but i’m a city girl.  i haven’t gone to protests or participated in blockades. i’ve grown up with concrete and convenience. and nature was not necessarily an inviting place growing up.  it wasn’t that it was perilous; just, after the age of five, it became more…well, boring.   less fun and exciting.

thankfully this has changed in recent years, but i still feel slightly alien in nature.  i’m literally on unfamiliar ground.

can one be truly motivated to ‘save’ something they’re not connected to on a very deep level?  i have good friends who really embody a relationship with gaia. there’s no doubting it; they radiate their reverence and respect, and their actions reflect it.  so when i use my nasty shampoo, i feel like a total imposter.  i question my practice of doing some things, but not others.  is it my appearance that marks the line, and does this make me weak, shallow?

what i feel is deeper than a nagging guilt; it’s sadness and disconnection and frustration.  mixed with an urge to lighten up and stop over-thinking everything.

***

in accordance with what seems to be the general theme of this year, i feel it’s time to step up my game.  move the philosophizing and analyzing into action.   i know that gaia does not want me to be so hard on myself, and that it would be good for me in general to ease up on the self-judgment.  i also know gaia would probably love to have a relationship with me, and is waiting for me to make the first move.

all this begs a related question:  can we truly connect with gaia in the city?  author caroline myss puts it this way:

“[Y]ou are on the ‘Earth’ as much when you are standing in the midst of New York City or London as you are in the middle of a forest. You are still ‘on the Earth’. Standing on concrete or in a building does not make it any less ‘Earth’ except if you hold to the perception that what qualifies for the ‘Earth’ is out of the city in green or desert nature. But that’s an illusion. How can you ever be off or away from the ‘Earth’? It’s precisely that perception – that Nature is in the country but not in the city – that maintains the illusion of separateness. You may prefer to be in the country but you always on the Earth” (http://www.myss.com/news/archive/2011/031311.asp).

***

will all this result in my green endeavours becoming more authentic, more motivated by the heart than the head?  i don’t know if things will be dramatically different as this relationship evolves, but my internal conflict is reason enough to try.  i sense that beneath my urban conditioning, the ‘real’ me is having these conflicts precisely because my city/nature life has become far too imbalanced.

though i do agree with myss’s sentiment above, i’m increasingly having fantasies of a lush green climate with no electronic devices, sirens, and honking cars.   this city girl is more than ready for a change of scenery.  bring it on, mama.