Walking makes you wise. The guidance one can receive while walking about in nature, putting one foot in front of the other, is nothing new of course; different cultures all over the world know that fresh air coupled with movement “clears the head.” Charles Dickens walked twelve miles a day around London for his writing break. This spin around town as a bi-ped did not require Dickens’ stroll to be ‘in nature’ although that is where I receive most of my guidance. And, if I can get more specific: climbing a mountain is a sure way to feel grounded, guided and altogether energetically re-set.
Although our big walk is usually taken once a week at Little Ossipee Mountain, this week I wanted to introduce my pooch Molly to the beach! She’s never been to the ocean before and it was time to take her. In addition to introducing Molly to the beach, I myself wanted to commune with the ocean. We’re made of the elements and, at times, our mental, physiological and spiritual alert systems crave them: FIRE transmutes old, worn-out patterns and sparks creative energy; AIR re-introduces us to “fresh thinking” and stimulates mental functions; EARTH works to ground us and stabilize our often taxed brain and body; and WATER welcomes in flexibility, flow and a return to our emotional truths.
This pull to the ocean may not have been all that mysterious: Living where I do now, in the most idyllic, high-vibing rural paradise of my dreams, EARTH is very present. Was I possibly feeling too grounded? Perhaps there’s been some emotional territory I have been avoiding that I sensed water could ‘unjam.’ All water is symbolic of the Feminine but the ocean especially is BIG MOTHER ENERGY. Maybe I was missing my mom (who I haven’t seen in well over a year, almost two!)
A bit more about the paradise I have the privilege of stewarding with my husband Michael: Avalon Acres (as we have deemed it) is fifty acres of mostly woods with farmland and wildlife trails. There’s an apple orchard, wide open fields, vegetable gardens and mature landscaping. The old farmhouse has charm and ‘alarm’–always plenty of things to improve! And we’re on a dirt road–nice and quiet. In other words, this ‘property’ is truly a sanctuary. The word ‘Avalon’ means ‘isle of apples;’ the legendary Avalon is where King Arthur retreated to have his battle wounds nursed by the irrepressible Morgan Le Fay, his half-sister, who was assisted by her bevy of talented high priestesses. Morgan and her eight sisters healed Arthur–body and soul–restoring him to health and enabling him to return to his duties as King. In Arthurian legend, Avalon became associated with magical beings and mystical experiences, where the secret Mysteries of the Feminine were alive and well, where personal gnosis [self-revelation through devotion to spiritual matters] and reverence for the Earth were freely practiced. Those who sought a different kind of healing than what the court physician could provide found themselves making a pilgrimage to Avalon.
Avalon Acres, in Hollis, Maine, has a similar vision. We have mighty big dreams to execute and foresee this ‘isle of apples’ to also be a place where those who are feeling “embattled” with life might come to be restored. When the only safe place to go during Covid was OUTSIDE, the natural world leapt to greet us, hold us, and welcome us back. We are at home in nature because we are nature–not separate from anything else that also lives and dies under the sun. We forget that the pacifier of Netflix [or, fill in your preferred entertainment] used to come in the form of words leaving the mouth of a trusted elder, a wise grandmother or a experienced traveler. We humans would listen on pins and needles to these words with nothing to interrupt the storyteller but the sound of a popping fire or stifled giggles at the amusing parts. Once upon a time, we lived outside, among the furry faces and weather, with an eye to what Bear was eating and how Crow was flying. We had a common aptitude, a connection to nature because we did not see ourselves as any different.
I’d like to return to this All-Knowingness with the natural world. And so the guidance I sought prior to Molly’s beach introduction was around how to NOT feel overwhelmed with the job of executing the vision that Michael and I have for our Avalon. We want to garden and maybe have some animals; we foresee renting the barn out for private events; he wants to re-invigorate his Naked Shakespeare ensemble and dreams of the Bard’s words spoken under the stars; I want to hold vision quests for all of my clients and friends who need that type of sustained spirit-saturation in a safe container; we’d like to sell our produce, maybe make apple cider and have yoga classes, open-mic music nights, writer retreats, Highland games, fundraisers for the community–the list goes on!! There is a lot of potential here but we can’t do everything (not all at once, anyway). Plus, there’s no magic cave with unending amounts of money in it–we need to be strategic. Dreaming Big for two risk takers is the easy part but we need to prioritize!
Earlier in the week, I’d had a near panic attack thinking about the to-do’s–not just with the aforementioned Dream-List but the work of owning a big property. Only eight months ago, we lived in a tiny, posh, maintenance-free condo in Portland. This change has been massive, to put it lightly. My panic attack was right on time–I was consumed with all there is to do. It’s easy to do, isn’t it? No matter what our ‘to-do’ lists hold, it weighs on us.
So feeling the panic, I asked for help. Not sure what other people do but when I get stressed, I pray. Spirit was real clear: “You are always striving, barreling to meet that ‘perfect day’ in the future, when everything is ‘all set’ all taken care of. When the to-do list is done. When there’s no more thinking. Striving towards that imaginary day in the future only pulls your energy away from Your Present Wholeness.” This made so much sense to me! I think many of us ‘strive towards that perfect day.’ We intend to improve our life by enacting certain choices we hope will bring stability, pleasure, happiness, a sense of accomplishment. So, how do we avoid striving (and the energy sink it perpetuates) and still get things done? If we expect to see our dreams and visions realized, how do we not strive?
When we left for the beach, this was what I was hoping to get some perspective on. Before we were even half-way down Broadturn Road on the way to Pine Point, I had been given two answers to this question! Life’s Instruction manual, courtesy Spirit.
Number 1: The first thing one must do to avoid taking too many trips into the future is regular embodiment exercises, preferably ones that involve an awareness on the breath. Yoga, kundalini yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong. Even dancing for long periods will anchor the energy of the body IN THE BODY (where it belongs). It’s not the body that strives and yearns for that imaginary day in the future when things are perfect–it’s the mind that does that! The body is limited to cells and blood and bone and bodily functions. It’s happy to live in the vitality it harbors. The mind, on the other hand, can do either–stay in the present (in the body) or truck off down the road into the future (or the past-). The body can’t leave the body (nor does it want to). What Spirit was telling me was that I barter away access to my energy when I think and ruminate and worry too much about the future, or ‘all there is to do.’ What counters that tendency is the practices listed above. (Great news! I love yoga and dancing and Qigong!)
Number 2: Do every task, even the very mundane ones, with Gratitude. When we bring a sense of appreciation to the action steps of realizing dreams (or washing that sink full of dirty dishes-), our hearts pop wide open. When our hearts are open, we are present. When our hearts are open, we are present to our Present Wholeness! It is super hard to escape the moment when your heart is open. Try it sometime. Try to leave the present when your heart is spacious, not constricted with worry or grief. And when you are in deep gratitude for What Is, your heart is open. And there is always something to be thankful for.
And so, I commit to trying this. It’s really not that difficult when you think about it. I’d rather stay in my Present Wholeness and have easy access to my body’s vitality. The present is where we make decisions and that is where the decisions we make get carried out! There is no perfect day in the future; only the perfect Now.
See you at Avalon. And Blessings to you from Father Sky! Enjoy the longest day of the year on Sunday June 20th!