Saturday, December 17, 2005


Snow, melt, snow, melt, snow, melt, snow, snow, snow. This seems to be the cadence and rhythm in Northern Michigan. Right now, it’s snowing, and snowing….18 inches in 24 hours this past weekend. On Thanksgiving I thought the driveway shoveling had begun for the season. Then it all melted and I was left wondering why I’d worked so hard. My blisters healed. And then it happened again.

This rhythm and cadence is everywhere in nature. The creek too is in rhythm. As the snow melts, it rises and rushes. Now that the cold is back, its life is much more subdued. The sun that was so high in the sky a few short months ago now never rises above the treetops in my yard. There are hard rocks now buried in the soft snow in the field near my home. Birds, bright during the summer months have dulled to earth tones. Light summer breezes have made way for howling winter winds. Lapping waves will soon be frozen solid and silent. The delicate calls of birds looking for a mate have turned into more anxious announcements that food has been found.

Our own rhythmic actions have a common thread with the Universe. It would serve us well to note that our accomplishments are not solely a result of our skills and knowledge. Our accomplishments also come from our choice of rhythm. Our rhythm or cadence comes from our use of time, space and motion. It’s that wonderful nap before we leap into action. It’s the slow breaths we take in meditation that leads us into the unknown. It’s that long held pose in yoga that guides us to a new understanding of our body and mind. It’s the quiet humming before we break into song. The way we use time, space and energy in these moments makes our journeys interesting. As we learn our own rhythm, changing it in a heartbeat when we feel the urge, we learn to listen and know. We listen and know others. We listen and know nature. We listen and know ourselves. And the songs we sing out into the world, each with their own unique rhythm, will continue long after we’re gone.

"An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language." ~Henri Matisse

"Everything has rhythm. Everything dances." ~Maya Angelou

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Night Walks

Lately, I've been taking longer than usual walks. I feel an urgency to wear the dogs and myself out before firearm deer season starts on November 15 and, for two weeks, we're confined to house and yard during the daylight hours.

On November 15th, I’ll become a night walker, keeping my head down to avoid getting smacked in the face by an unseen branch. Sometimes, when I'm in particularly thick woods, I turn my headlamp on. But I prefer to travel at night without it. I like the mystery. Without sight, sound and smell become more acute. I pick my way along the creek by listening to the water's flow. I judge the distance I've traveled by the smell of the familiar cedar trees and swamps along the creek.

When there is some moonlight, just enough to see shapes beyond the immediate three feet in front of me, the trip becomes even more interesting as my mind becomes more engaged. The small white pine branch gently waving in the breeze becomes something else in my mind. Is it man or beast? Is it watching me? Could it be following me?

Not long after we begin our walk, the dogs move on ahead and well out of the range of my senses. They don't have the dependence on sight that hinders my night travel. Sometimes, they are led by their noses in a big circle and come back to me from behind. I stand frozen as I hear their thundering approach and it takes me a few seconds to interpret what has happened.

Unlike the day, when blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees and ravens fill the woods with sounds, night is for the owl. One will call close by and the other will return the call from a distance, both cries echoing off the steep banks of the creek.

Occasionally a tree will fall. It happens infrequently enough that it takes me a few minutes to calm myself and remember that the beaver, like the owl, are night workers.

A quivering pine branch, the rustling of leaves behind me, a falling tree, and the hooting of a couple of great horned owls are the perfect formula for a messy mind to create all kinds of mystery and peril. But there's nothing to do but go on. I'm in the middle of it now and going back will not be less difficult than moving forward.

And finally there are lights. It's the hunting camp of my friends who have been coming north for the last 40 years to hunt the woods just south of my house. Another passage into the unknown has been navigated successfully and I'm rewarded by warmth and friends. I’ll visit for awhile, rest and enjoy the campfire. Then the dogs and I will follow the two-track back to my home.

As I reach the end of that two-track and cross the open field that leads to my house, I'm awed by the beauty of that field at night. On a night with at least some moon and a slight breeze, the lichen glistens like pools of silver and the dead grasses bend to those silvery pools as though drinking nectar.

I sometimes wonder why I choose to start my walk through the woods along the creek, picking my way, when this perfectly good two-track can easily serve as a way to accomplish dog walking after dark and avoid the dangers, both real and imagined, in the dark woods. But I know the truth about myself. I love the mystery and the unknown of the woods at night. And, truth be told, the adrenaline isn't bad either. I feel so much more awake and alive when I reach that campfire. It's just two weeks in November. I’ll recover.

Get to know a place in the wilds. Get to know it well by day. Then experience it at night and get to know yourself anew.

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That and surprise.” ~Julia Cameron

“Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” ~R. I. Fizhenry

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Benign or Bothersome, It's Your Choice

I've certainly stumbled on more than my share of black bear this year. And I've written about quite a few of them. Here's yet one more muse with bear as the subject. So please “bear” with me. I don't make ‘em up, I just write ‘em as they happen.

You know about the Law of Attraction, Universal Law, Spiritual Law, Quantum Physics; that, what we focus on we create. With fear thoughts, we can manifest disasters right into existence and with energizing, exciting and playful thoughts we can also create that which we most desire.

On my September fishing trip to Northern Ontario, we had driven as far as we could and were standing by the train tracks in Hawk Junction, gear piled high, waiting for the train to take us farther north. Now Hawk Junction is not much of a town. There's the train station, a small convenience store and the very old Big Bear Hotel and Bar. The rest of the town is residential. So I was not surprised to see a small bear wandering back and forth across the tracks to the south of us and a much bigger bear doing the same to the north. There's not much in Hawk Junction to disturb them.

We were a party of four from Northern Michigan and somewhat used to bear. The other party of six waiting to catch the train and be dropped off at the same camp were, however, much more uncomfortable with these bear. Two men in that group were overly concerned and could not stop expressing their fearful thoughts about bear encounters. Even on the train ride up they were having disturbing conversations about bear attacks. The rest of us had pretty much a live and let live attitude about black bear.

And sure enough, as soon as we got to camp we were told by the owners that there had been two bear in and around camp all summer. That we just needed to look where we were going when walking around. Mike, one of the owners, said he saw them every day and enjoyed them. His wife, Hanna, said she did not mind knowing that the bear were there but she didn't care to see them. Consequently, she had not seen one all summer. ChiChi, the camp cat, wasn't talking. So we were 10 guests, two camp owners, one black cat and two black bear in camp all week.

Now here's what we each manifested. It was the last week of camp and Hanna never did see a bear. That made three full months without a sighting, even though these two black bear were practically living at camp. Her husband, Mike, continued to see them every day. Those of us who had little concern, got plenty of opportunity to see the bear and were not bothered by them. And what about the two guests who were fearful? They got their fish and gear messed with and had some frightful outhouse experiences. They blamed it on rogue black bear. I'm thinking it was much more about rogue, black thoughts.

"That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent." ~Chinese Proverb

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It's Your Thing

Summer is waning and we're heading fast into my very favorite time of year. Oh my, September has arrived in Northern Michigan and I'm excited. Fall in the northwoods is outstanding and September has to be the absolutely best month of all!!

Many of you know that I see more than my share of wildlife close to home. The south side of my property borders thousands of acres of State Forest. I live in these woods and have a good five acres between me and any neighbors to the north. But occasionally I’m reminded they are there, usually on holidays when the neighborhood comes alive with the sounds of music, children, and the occasional piece of power equipment. As the crow flies, my neighbors are pretty close. As the dog wanders, it’s not such a short path. So on this Labor Day, when I discovered my dogs had decided to go on a little outing, I headed north, not expecting to see much wildlife. But I knew the dogs would head towards people, activity and, most importantly, food.

As I marched up the road and came within earshot of yapping dogs and the smell of BBQ, I was sure I would find my runaways. This first stop was a Labor Day family reunion that looked more like a blend of Johnny Cash and Elvis convention goers. Everyone was dressed in black, complete with either biker boots or cowboy boots and big belt buckles. And just what bottle did all that black wavy hair come from? There were a lot of little dogs I could not identify. But you know the kind. The ones that can easily sit on your lap and discriminately snack right off the plate of picnic food you’re balancing on your knees. I politely accepted some potato salad as I was told my dogs had just come through heading north. As I moved on in my search, the karaoke machine was being turned up to full volume and one of the senior members of the group was at the microphone belting out his rendition of “I Walk the Line.”

One more house to the north found me in the middle of a big truck Labor Day party. In fact that’s exactly what the sign said, “Big Ass Truck Crossing.” It appeared everyone came to this event in trucks you could only access with a step ladder. I’m guessing that’s not how they really get in those trucks. Pulling out your little ladder does not quite seem manly enough for this group. But I was too shy to ask these beefy, beer-embolden guys for details. If anyone knows the real secret to getting into one of these “bad” machines, please email me. Besides, I had dogs to hunt down and the smell of grilled meat wafting through the neighborhood woods suggested I had my work cut out for me. These jumbo men were, however, incredibly friendly as they offered me a beer and jovially informed me my dogs had just moved through and headed across the creek.

So I rolled up my pants and made my way to stop number three. These dogs on the other side of the creek were all hounds and this appeared to be some sort of Labor Day, pre-hunting season gathering. I can’t report much about the food at this event except that it was most likely wild game that had been simmering for some time in a gravy sauce. I accepted an offered piece of venison jerky and moved on. Hound dogs baying as I exited.

Next door were more pickup trucks. But this time the trucks were not quite so high off the ground or laden with dog boxes and spot lights. Instead each truck had a ladder rack and a tool box in the bed. This group was building a log cabin. Grilled kielbasa and hot dogs was the fare. I opted for a handful of chips and kept moving as I was told my dogs had last been seen heading back across the creek.

I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland as I watched the farmer who lives down the road and his buddies fly over the tree tops of my neighborhood in their ultra lights. Ah, if only I had that advantage on my dog search. Alas, that was not the way I was traveling. I rolled up my pant legs and waded back into the creek.

I finally caught up with the delinquent pooches at the most famous of all Labor Day traditions, the annual yard sale/picnic. Chicken was on the grill. I opted for a piece of chocolate cake as I made my purchase of a wooden-handled spatula.

With my runaways in tow, a new spatula and a full belly, I hoofed it home while wondering how, in a world of such diversity, we’re able to find those we will most connect with. Our choice of pets, food, and transportation seem to be some common factors. I’ll keep you posted as I figure it out. I can suggest that if you want to experience some wildlife and diversity in your own neighborhood, you might start by owning a couple of dogs. Or is it that they own you?

"While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many." ~Lady Bird Johnson

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I rarely need to be defensive. And I'm never on the offense. Generally, people, things and events come and go through my life without any altercations.

I went back to one of my favorite fish camps the last week of July. It's a wonderful place just south of Hearst, Ontario where, as always, the Walleye and Northern Pike fishing is outstanding.

About day three, Sam, the camp owner, and I decided to fish a small lake that had a reputation for BIG pike. We beached our boat and motor and walked the short portage over the dried creek bed to this lake. Someone had left a small 12-foot fishing boat on the other side. Great! All we had to do was go back and grab oars, tackle and rods. There would be no hard work dragging boat and motor over the portage this day. There was only one dilemma. We quickly discovered we did not have oars but paddles instead. Now paddling a fishing boat is doable, if the winds are not too strong, but it's not nearly as easy as rowing. We decided to go anyway.

Although the wind was not strong, we laughed hard at ourselves as we tried to figure out how to paddle a fishing boat. Mostly we went in circles with Sam paddling in the front of the boat and me in the back. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how long it took us to figure out we could move forward, and even backward, when we both sat on the middle seat, each paddling on a side. We brought ourselves to tears laughing at our incompetence and how long it took us to discover such a simple system.

About 4:00 p.m. we decided to head back to the portage, hike to our boat and motor, and get back to camp in plenty of time for a nice fish diner. About 75 feet from the portage, I spotted something dark moving in the water and pointed it out to Sam. It looked like it could be a very large beaver. Or,……the head of a bear! As the bear emerged from the water, we were surprised to see a 350-400 pound black bear with water shining and dripping off his dark, black coat.

But the awe turned to confusion when he plopped down right on the edge of our portage trail. We knew he had seen and scented us. But he just didn't seem to care. So we yelled and banged our now trusty paddles on the side of the boat. This didn't seem to discourage him one bit. What to do?

Our first line of defense was to enjoy the sight while eating all the trail mix. No sense in tempting Smokey with peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins and M & M’s. We finished the trial mix but he was still there. Our second line of defense was to throw back the fish we had caught. Yes, they survived. Dinner was looking more and more like beans and rice and the bear looked like he was thinking about a nap. Our third Line of defense was to wash off that sweet smelling Banana Boat sunscreen. I just didn't want to smell that good once my feet hit dry ground.

And then we approached ever so cautiously with our new and improved paddling system. About 25 feet from the portage, just when we were thinking we might practice backing up, Mr. Bear decided he'd had enough and ambled into the bush.

Adrenaline got us back to our boat and motor in record time. Beans and rice was actually starting to sound good.

What would have happened to our fishing expedition if we'd had foresight and thought about the possibility of a bear blocking our path? At the extreme, we would not have portaged into this lovely lake at all. We would have missed the beauty, the outstanding fishing and our chance to be silly with paddles. At the least, our fishing day would have been clouded with thoughts of looming peril.

So was this something we should have prepared for? Maybe. But a life full of preparation for situations that are yet only imagined is not much of a life at all. I'm choosing to keep my guard down, come what may.

" Everything of value is defenseless." ~Lucebert

Monday, July 25, 2005

Another Lesson From The Creek

By mid summer, you can often find me plopped in a chair in the creek with a good book. In July the mosquitoes seem to back off. Perhaps that's because they are ending their breeding season. More likely it's because the air at the creek is a swarm of dragonflies and damselflies, iridescent creatures fluttering around my head and occasionally landing on me. They seem to appreciate me as much as I enjoy them. I've learned to love these voracious meat eaters not only for their beauty, but their ability to spot their favorite prey, mosquitoes, from as far away as 40 yards and fly in for the kill at speeds up to 30 miles an hour. They appreciate me, I believe, for my ability to attract their quarry.

My attention is frequently drawn from the book to the water swirling around my legs and what lies beneath. There are treasures at my feet. Beautiful stones in various shades of red, green yellow, brown and white. Like gems, they sit on the creek bed tempting me. So clear, so vibrant, magnified in both size and color by the water that flows over them.

Styx, my big lab, joins me to roam the banks and lay in the deep pools when his black coat has soaked up more heat then he can stand. Jersey, my chocolate lab, has become a frog dog. Several years ago she discovered that by walking the edge of the creek, she could stir up frogs that would make a mad dash for the safety of deeper water. A few times, only a few, she has caught a frog. I'm always startled when she returns to me and spits a confused frog into my lap. Probably not more startled than the frog. There it sits, often for as much as 10 seconds, Jersey and I watching intently, knowing any moment it will figure out which way is up and take a wild, long leap back to the creek. Then I resume my reading and Jersey resumes the hunt.

On Sunday, my friends Don and Maggie joined me in the creek. It was Maggie who observed another lesson from the creek. She marveled at the beautiful stones on the creek bottom, wanting to see each one more closely. And yet each time she reached for a particularly beautiful stone, her hand would cause the flowing creek water to blur her visibility, coming up with not the stone she was seeking but another in its stead. Those times that she was lucky to find her target, the beauty of the gem she had sought often faded when it left the water. So as we prepared to climb the bank and return to the campfire that had softened to embers, ready to roast our dinner, Maggie gave back to the creek all but one of the stones she had successfully collected, pointing out that they belonged there. Pointing out that our beauty is very much about the environment in which we are seen.

Choose your environment well. Make it a reflection of you. Create the environment that nurtures you. The dragonflies and damselflies will tell you that life can be too short when you settle for less than that environment that reflects you at your best.

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone."  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bush Cut

I just returned from my annual May fishing frenzy in the Northern Ontario bush. These 10 days kicked off the 2005 fishing season for me. And I'm headed back up for a long weekend next Thursday through Monday. Yikes! I've got to start packing!

On this trip, we did an incredible amount of cutting. We cut brush on overgrown trails to lakes we had not yet fished. We cut up fish for dinner. We cut wood for evening campfires. We cut through weeds in shallow water to get to deeper fishing holes. We cut through the clouds of black flies on the portages to each lake. We cut cards to see who was cooking and who was cleaning. And on day five, after much whining and moaning about no longer being able to get a brush through my dirty hair, we cut that too. It took about 2 minutes. “Don't worry, I’ll take care of it” was the last thing I heard before I saw about 6 inches of my hair fly over my shoulder and into the campfire. That will teach me to keep my grousing to myself when everyone else at fish camp is looking for a good time.

It was really a very simple 10 days. Nothing was rushed. I read a couple of books and fished, ate and slept. I laughed a lot.

And, besides the obvious new hair cut, I cut a few other things out of my life. There was no T.V., of course, at camp. And I've not had the urge to turn it on since I've been home. It wasn't really the T.V. itself that I cut out of my life. It was the trivia and inferior debris that vibrates through it. Time didn't really exist either. Oh, on some level I was aware that it was morning, afternoon or evening. I was aware that it was time to eat or sleep. But I cut out caring about what hour it was. This is so very different from my routine at home where I have clients scheduled by the hour. I think that's one of the reasons I go to the bush to fish? Time stands still and I stop being bothered by the multiple tiny thoughts that an awareness of each hour creates. There's no urge to interfere or do something about or with them.

And the one little thing I was bothered by got handled in 2 minutes flat. How simple is that? Open my mouth and let the Universe handle the details. And thanks to my friend Jim for being such a straight cutter, stepping up to the task quickly and handling the matter before I got too obsessed!

“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Edge Of The Muck

It's morel mushroom season. I'm a bit of a fanatic about hunting the elusive morel. My friends know I'm pretty much unavailable during the season of the “shrooms” unless they want to hike with me in the woods from sunup to sundown.

It's early in the season and the weather has been cold. So last Saturday I chose a stand of woods that produces morels earlier than most. I had some success. But the ground was very, very dry. So I moved on to a place where the hardwoods grow right down to a cedar swamp. I was hoping that the close proximity to the swamp would mean the ground was a little moister.

That's where I hit the “mother lode.” Morels everywhere! And the closer I got to where the hardwoods met the swamp, the better the picking. At one point, as I was bending to pick a morel, I looked up and could see something large moving around in the swamp. Living up to my reputation as a wandering woman, I set my morel bag down, planted my morel stick in the ground, and crept into the swamp.

It was a beautiful cedar swamp, with various shades of green everywhere. Pale green plant shoots were just starting to appear amid the muck. Both the live and down cedar were covered with a deep green moss. The trees were a rich cedar green with pale green tips of new growth on the end of each branch. There was a subtle trickle of water that could easily be heard in the otherwise noiseless swamp. I was struck by the beauty of the sunshine filtering through the cedar trees, bouncing off the water, and creating a shimmering effect on the underside of the cedar boughs.  The swamp was dense and dark and light and colorful at the same time. The smell was both rich and pungent and sweet and airy. I’d never before noticed the contradiction within a swamp.

A few feet further into the swamp, I could see a black bear. Bears are not rare in Northern Michigan, but sightings are. Mostly I feel rewarded if I see signs of a bear or the occasional glimpse of the back end of one moving away from me. I wanted to get a little closer. Fortunately a few moss-covered logs allowed me to crawl quietly into the root system of a down cedar tree with a minimum amount of muck. Like all the others, this tree was covered with moss. It made a delightful seat and I settled in.

I watched this bear for no more than 5 minutes when I heard a sound off to my left. A second bear was coming into the area. Within another 5 minutes, I heard a sound to my right and bear number three was approaching. This was the point where I stopped patting myself on the back for my great find and opportunity and started wondering just what I’d gotten myself into. I was not in a good position to leave. I was at that point surrounded by bears on three sides. And my departure would not have been swift given my awkward perch.

So I surrendered to enjoying my predicament. I watched these bears turn over logs and dig in the muck for whatever had attracted them to this spot. One climbed a tree for what seem to me to be purely sport, up and back down swiftly. There were a couple of small confrontations over whatever it was they were feasting on. Two or three times they lifted their noses to the air and rocked from one front paw to the other. I was sure I’d been discovered. But each time they settled down and went back to their banquet.

It was an hour and a half before the trio had wandered to one side of me and my exit was open. I tried to stand up, only to find my legs would not work. And that's when I apparently got too noisy and the show was over. In a matter of seconds all three had disappeared into the deepening swamp. I'm always amazed at how quickly wildlife can go from seen to invisible with only a step or two.

Now good advice might be that when you find yourself on the edge of the muck, don't go further in. But sometimes being stuck in the muck is a rewarding experience. After my mushroom bonanza, I was in just the right mood to really see the beauty in the mucky mess in front of me and the bear sighting as an opportunity. Doesn't it always seem to happen that way? Once we start riding high on one delightful experience the next experience is delivered. And our only role is to notice and surf from one attraction to the next.

"Come to the edge," He said. They said, "We are afraid." "Come to the edge," He said. They came. He pushed them... and they flew. ~Guillaume Apollinaire

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Spring Frenzy

I started to write about Spring Fever because that's what I thought I was experiencing. But a quick trip to my dictionary and quite a bit of contemplation I've shifted my opinion of my symptoms. I think what I had was “Spring Frenzy.” With this clarity, I was more open to this week's insight and lesson.

I've discovered that for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring Fever has passed. Spring Fever is really that feeling of languor, listlessness, lethargy and yearning brought on by the nearness of spring not yet here. It's itchy and uncomfortable. Now it's April and fever has given way to frenzy. With each day, the pulse of spring breathes new life and makes everything look and feel packed full of possibility. So much possibility we feel we must take action.

A short walk along the creek is enough evidence that I'm not the only one with Spring Frenzy. Most of the wildlife is very busy indeed, emerging from their holes, crevices, and burrows for food and frolic. The creek is raging. The buds are out. The sap is running. The pin oaks are finally dropping their leaves. My jeans are forever mud smudged from cuff to knees. And where is all that dirt under my nails coming from? Daylight is brighter and stretching into evening hours, pushing back the night. I'm urged on to plant, sort and reorganize as busyness blows in on fresh spring breezes. This urge to renew every aspect of my life, and to do it quickly, is Spring Frenzy.

But, what about the renewal of my soul? Just a couple of days ago I saw my first real sign of spring. It was not the stereotypical robin, busily collecting worms and grubs and nest material nor the geese honking and flapping their way north. It was not the squirrels frantically chasing each other around tree trunks. It was not the first blooming crocus or a long ice float cracking and breaking away on the frozen lake. Here in Northern Michigan, I officially mark the coming of spring when I see my first group of men leaning on the bed of a pickup truck parked in the sun. I spotted this rare ritual not far from my home on my way to the grocery store. It was such an uplifting sight that I opted to take the same route home, hoping for a second glimpse. And there they still were. One more had joined the tribe but none had left. And all were pretty much holding the same stance and the same territory of the truck bed that they had assumed when I had driven by a good 45 minutes earlier. I’ll probably never be totally privy to the dynamics of this ritual. In my imagination, these are men, young and old, inspired by spring to make promises that deep down they know they cannot keep and tell stories they know they cannot live up to. If you know differently, please keep it to yourself. It doesn't really matter. My heart always breaks wide open at this sight, knowing that spring is officially here. I can learn from the “pickup guys.”

Prior to the sighting, my frenzy was making me desperate to force myself to live rightly, become fit and healthy, and make lasting changes in myself, my home and my life. After the sighting, I understand I was experiencing Spring Frenzy, that temporary lapse of sanity where getting things done and putting all in order is the only priority. I was gently reminded by the pickup guys to catch myself before I plunged headfirst into so much activity I actually missed spring. I remember now, that renewal of soul is what I’d been wanting from spring. And that too much activity can cause me to lose balance and the ability to relish and savor.

So this Spring, my only to-do list has become this: throw away all other to-do lists; put the hammock up now; sit in a warm patch of sun often; notice; focus only on the activity at hand, not the destination; and, find a pickup truck bed to lean on.

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself." ~A Zen proverb

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Lost Is Found

I've been lost twice in the last week. Yup, one day I got in the car thinking I knew where I was going and I proved myself wrong. On another day, I decided to take the dogs for a walk in an area I'm not very familiar with and I got all turned around. I came out far away from where I thought I was and far away from the car.

I have a bit of a reputation for this. Friends are often hesitant to ride or walk with me. I wander and I explore and I experiment. And I allow myself to be distracted by the new environment. And so while I'm very immersed in the present, all that is new around me, I lose track of the past (where I came from) and the future (where I think I'm going).

So I rather like getting lost. When I'm at home in Northern Michigan, getting lost means I keep walking or driving until I find a two-track that leads somewhere. In Northern Ontario, where I visit often to fish or paddle, I can easily be lost for a whole day or more.

Getting good and lost means I must relinquish all attempts at being in control of my situation and any need to know where I am, where I might be going and what it will take to get back to where I began. In this state, nothing matters but my current surroundings and I am more fully able to immerse myself in those surroundings and let go of what has been and what is to come. “Lost” becomes and attitude that breaks any psychological barriers. And my body responds to that attitude.

There are some cultures, mostly island cultures, which simply don't have a word for the experience of being lost. But for those of use who do “know” lost, there's an attitude shift to work through. So here it is. The price we pay for the freedom of being lost is to be vulnerable. The gift we receive from the freedom of being lost is new, unexpected and random things like unforeseen circumstance, interesting people, and odd surroundings. It stimulates us. If we pay the price of vulnerability, we can let go of being threatened simply because we are lost.  We learn to not waste our energy panicking about the direction we should take.

Current theory from the mathematics of quantum physics indicates that we should be able to remember the future as easily as we remember the past. This theory helps me understand that getting lost is not really lost in the traditional sense; it's lost with the knowing that the future will find me.

“Don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” ~Diane Ackerman

Friday, March 11, 2005

March Thaw

I'm so glad March is here in Northern Michigan. Just a few short weeks ago, it was so very cold the trees were cracking loud enough to sound like gun shots. The creek was running like Jell-O and the snow crunched loudly with every step  Now, the light has changed. It has more color. My outdoor surroundings are coming alive. Down in the swamp by the creek, things are bubbling to the surface as gas and scum make their way to the top of the snow cover. The creek itself is flowing strong. And I'm starting to see critters down by the creek who have not poked their noses out of their burrows, holes and covers in several months, enjoying the break in the weather and getting out to do a little eating, housekeeping and visiting with neighbors. When I stop to fill up the Jeep I no longer hunker at the pump as icy winds blow across the parking lot. And there is no waiting for all the snowmobilers to move away from the pump. Ah, the simple things in life are so wonderful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Strike A Pose

Welcome to the New Year! We're finally having beautiful sunny January days here in Northern Michigan. December is often pretty cloudy and dreary. But with the colder temperatures of January comes sunshine! We've had three days in a row of sunshine and I'm celebrating. The dogs and I have a whole new winter attitude.

We're full swing into the New Year. How are your goals and resolutions? You know I frown on New Year's resolutions. But attitude, now that's something I can embrace!

February 9, 2005 is the first day of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster.

2004 was the Chinese year of the Monkey. And my January 2004 post  encouraged some playful Monkey Business. It was fun to write that post so I was looking forward to writing about the 2005 Chinese New Year. But when I discovered it was the Year of The Rooster, I was initially a bit stuck. However, over the years, I have actually had quite a few chickens. And one of my favorites was a big bad rooster given to me by my friend, Susan. His name was Roo. So I started pondering Roo. And the one thing I can definitely say Roo had was Attitude, a magnificent, marvelous and obsessive attitude! So let's talk about Attitude in the Year of the Rooster.

Just because our parents often told us to “Drop the Attitude,” when we were children does not make Attitude a bad thing. In fact, one of the keys of success is Attitude. I’d dare say it's all Attitude. Attitude breaks down fear, the one emotion that most often causes us to procrastinate. Take on the attitude, and suddenly the fear and indecision are under our control, allowing us to forget the old, reach for the new, and perform the task at hand.

Here's my dictionary's definition of Attitude: 

A manner or disposition, feeling, position, etc. with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind.

Position or posture or pose of the body appropriate to or expressive of an action, emotion, etc.

The thing I like about the definition is that it includes the mind (the way we think) the body (the way we move and hold ourselves) and the emotions (the way we feel). And most of you know I like to access my strengths through my body. The mind sometimes confuses me with its constant analyzing of the situation. So I'm suggesting you Strike a Pose, your New Year Attitude Pose, let your emotions kick in, and let the mind follow. Use your pose to accomplish the task at hand.

Don't know what your pose is? Well, you can borrow one from yoga. I'm especially fond of The Warrior. Or, better yet, ask a bud. He or she will likely be able to tell you the pose you most often take on before strong action.

With an Attitude, anyone can achieve great things. Attitude gives you all the power you will ever need. Feed your attitude. Then, just like Roo, you have a Magnificent and Marvelous Obsession!

Strike the pose, call up your Attitude in an instant and follow it. Soon it will become second nature.

"I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it." ~ Rita Mae Brown