A mindblowing escape with elly, into the hot wind blistering sun of northern California. BLISS. Winding roads, lakes, heat that makes your shoulders melt and all the tension just pour through them & into the dusty dry earth, magic adventures, and so much clarity and conversation and goodness.
Pixy-led at every turn, which continued the entire weekend! I forgot the counter-spell for this (jump through a hole in a stone? something?) so we were stuck! What it did do is give us hours and hours in the car to talk about everything – perhaps those pixies are on to something. I’ve been having many thinkings and epiphanies about my past relationships and how I interact with the world, something about the new perspective and getting out of the city helped everything just flow out. Perhaps even the melty heat! Without my shoulders around my ears and tension against the world, life is much softer!!
We started out trying to find a cafe in Petaluma we both recalled going to a long time ago, with stuffed ravens and cutie baristas! It was in the old part of town, but we got off at the wrong place and drove in circles trying to get…somewhere. If anyone knows the name of it, let me know! I know exactly how I want to do this trip again, now that we’ve worked out the directional kinks. More on that later!
Onward to Napa, where we finally did find coffee and the day actually began. Oh, sweet sweet elixir of life! We decided to head to Clear Lake and go canoeing. We got lost a few more times, found ice cream, ate it in the baking hot sun, got to Clear Lake and found that it was almost done with canoe rental time (at this point it was 4pm. How it took us 7 hours to do a 2 hour drive is a curious thing. Abductions?)
Winding up tiny windy roads to a place called Haven, land where they are very much doing what I would like to do in Vermont. No one was there this weekend, but we were greeted by 4 little kittens and a mama cat! It was like arriving in heaven on the top of a mountain, everything was magical and amazing and shimmering in the golden afternoon light. Tipi! Trampoline! Hammock! Yurts! Firepit! Magic kitchen! A labyrinth made of sticks which really drove home the thoughts I have been having about artmaking and installations and why I want to make art that functions the way travelling functions — to give us a new perspective on life, a new space, an uplifting magical experience right then and there!
Lying in the sun on the trampoline, playing with kittens, starting a fire in the firepit to cook dinner as the sun goes down, an amazing meal of grilled veggies with rosemary, vegan sausages, corn on the cob, eaten at a table with nothing but the silence of the woods and a small lantern.
Time for sleeping and I found my heart racing against the dark. I’d initially planned on sleeping in the hammock, but ended up on the trampoline with elly. Such darkness! Such stars! I imagined things coming up the hill to get us, wolves eating my hands off, fire being licked up the mountain by the hot dry wind that kissed my face, trees falling. I unclenched my heart with tiny soothy thoughts, soft soft soft. Felt the fear pour out and into the ground.
Without my glasses on the stars turned to a grey light, highlighting the edges of trees. The trees turned into a dragon, a dog, and a dolphin – elly suggested I could do divination by the shapes I saw in trees. I decided the tree-shapes symbolized the mythological creatures we need to create in order to be magic (dragon), the creatures we feel the need to tame so we won’t be lonely (dog), and the magic creatures right in front of us that we don’t appreciate or understand(dolphin.) (i.e. peopleplacesthings!)
& then the strangest thing — a creaking sound wakes us, and we hear a branch, maybe a 1/4 mile off, fall to the earth, and then…the entire tree came crashing down. What a thing to hear in the night!
Morning and hours in the hammock reading Woody Guthrie while kittens climb all over me, a hot shower (solar powered!) in the outdoor tiled shower overlooking the valley, finding blue jay wings on the ground, packing up and saying goodbye to such a wonderful place & all the darling kittens.
The bluest nice lake, a canoe, and swimming! The lake was filled with crazy kids having fun, gypsy circus kids in a school bus blaring guns and roses. Yelling at boys on rope swings & watching babies learn to swim.
More winding roads, this time deep into a hidden valley; Orr Hot Springs. Divine, but I was feeling a little strange being naked with so many strangers & since the sun had gone out of the valley, a little chilly.
So what would I do next time? Start Friday evening, stay at Haven Friday night, wake up early and go to Orr, lie in the sun naked and read books, go to all the amazing thrifts on Saturday when they are actually open, stop at the Russian River spots on the 101 on the way home, get coffee before leaving home or actually map out the cute cafes on the way…
So what was the sum of the learning-thinkings? I want to write some things I remember down, because it’s important to be able to look back and recall the moment of knowing when something truly sunk in and I knew it to be true for me at this moment. We change constantly, but as lessons come to us, it’s great to have a map of where we’ve been and where we are going. You can stop reading now.
Responsibility > Looking inward for cause.
In situations which I consider to be limiting or repressing or restricting, look at why I feel restricted. It is my perception. I am responsible for being as honest to myself, as compassionate and caring as possible to others, and as deeply grounded a person as I can be, I am not responsible for how others act or react. The more grounded I am, the less I am thrown off balance or restricted by other people’s negativity and judgment. By staying grounded, I can be understanding and able to support them through a bad day rather than react to it.
If I am made uncomfortable, unsafe, or unhappy by someone else’s behavior, I need to look inward to see what I am reacting to. What piece of myself is being pulled to the surface & how do I need to nurture or accept it so I am not hurt by others? Most people are not intentionally being rude or mean – I know I wouldn’t be with anyone (friend or otherwise) who would be intentionally mean – so all I can have is compassion for them in that moment instead of letting it trigger my own fear. Start with a baseline of trust and react from that space, not from a fear or vulnerability.
My main work right now is removing the internal obstacles to being soft and comfortable in my own skin, cultivating a softness & grounding that makes vulnerability irrelevant. We feel unsafe or unhappy when we feel vulnerable or exposed – it is possible to have enough acceptance and love for oneself that negativity from others flows off like water from a duck. This also helps with removing the expectation that your person is going to be the end-all-be-all of your emotional needs! Because, yikes! They aren’t!
Respect > In the cosmic hum, the playing field is level.
I have a lot of work to do around the idea of respect. I feel disrespected when I feel as if I am being treated as unintelligent. I feel disrespected if I feel unheard. I feel disrespected if I feel like my opinion is not being taken seriously. I must work on communicating clearly, asking questions if I feel misunderstood, and recognizing when people are just too unstable or self-absorbed to be thoughtful people. I shouldn’t feel disrespect because of a fleeting experience with another person.
A lot of the disrespect and restriction I feel is grounded in my upbringing and my issues around class and power. It’s a bit much to go into this here, but so much of how I interact with the world is based in my class issues that it seems off not to mention it. Because of the financial situation I was born into, there is a sense of “not good enough” or not having the power of money. I used to sneak in the back door at my first “career” job office, past the higher-ups, because I felt they would know I am not “one of them” and fire me!! I also felt like I was betraying my family by moving up in the world financially. Strange, no?
Class privilege is a huge part of our society, and I don’t meet that many people with a solid awareness of what that really means. There is a sense of entitlement when one grows up comfortably – you command respect, and higher wages, and feel like the world is open to you; and likewise when you never have enough it creates so much fear and worry and inability to move into that world. Everything from my body image to my self respect is somehow tied to this. On a positive note, the fact that I have been through so much & lived so many different ways makes it pretty easy for me to feel comfortable with a wide range of walks of life — with the exception of very wealthy people! Life lesson to tackle next: don’t hate the rich blindly, fight the system that creates such arbitrary inequality, and purge the patterns I learned that hold me back from realizing my own financial and career success.
Collaborate, not compromise > Look for opportunities to collaborate and grow, not “problems” to change in each other.
Think about the ways I can constructively engage the person whom I feel is disrespectful or thoughtless. Stop seeing other people as impediments to “progress” and start asking them how we can all make progress together. The very obstacles I see in my way could be sources of connection with other people. We’re constantly looking for new problems and issues in other people – instead of looking for opportunities to grow together.
Once we choose to look for opportunities, for doors into another person’s heart instead of walls built against us (they’re the same thing, you know!) then that’s what we see and we keep seeing them. And the brighter and lighter and happier we start to feel!! Instead of viewing a situation as contentious, troublesome and worrying with the idea of limiting damage and protecting vulnerable areas of your world, become strong and brave and determined with a combination of compassion and faith in the fact that we are all here together, and we can all rise up and evolve and find happiness together!
Working with the ways I differ from others, instead of fighting them. Thinking of these differences and melding as a fun and interesting learning experience, not a compromise or a limitation on my world views.
Acceptance > Accepting my nature, accepting others differences.
Accepting things like loud chewing, or bad shoes. Not accepting – negativity in a severe level, lack of interest in me, thoughtlessness, paranoia, non-compassion, abuse, etc. This one is hard! There are many things we should draw the line on, but then it’s so important to keep compassion for others. If someone is self aware and in the process of evolving, a lot more is acceptable and workable! A work in progress.
Clear, positive communication > Listen, question, clarify.
Listening!! This I’m already getting way better at, just paying attention and not interrupting. I interrupt myself all the time, I just get spinny-fast-thought-head, it’s not meant to be disrespect. (Note to self: see how easy it is to misinterpret disrespect? I know I am not trying to be disrespectful, but I can see how it’s perceived as such!)
Listen to what people need and be clear about what I can give and how I interact. Ask questions instead of assuming. Say what I mean and mean what I say and don’t be mean saying it. If I find myself complaining to my friends about the person I am dating, step back and look at what that is really about and how it can be dealt with in a healthy, collaborative way with the actual person. One of the most heart breaking side effects of relationships is that little bit of ugliness where our close friends often only hear the “bad!”
Celebrate > Create magic as much as possible!
Celebrate what’s good, and in the process create more and more magic and good. Move myself one step farther away from all that’s false and empty and unnecessary. It’s possible to find so much joy and inspiration in the things we hold ourselves back with, because the things we use to keep people away are the same things that could be used to draw them to us. Let our weaknesses become our strengths, become the moments and magic we celebrate in ourselves and other people, because it is our weaknesses and our heart’s vulnerabilities that make us human, that make joy possible & love so amazing!!
Over & out from the hippie-thinkings! Did anyone read this far?!