Someone Moved

We moved to Phoenix in mid-June. I don’t yet feel at home. The oppressive heat has been wearing on me, but I can see an end to the furnace-inspired onslaught soon. I find ways to stay positive and adapt.

I like the skies here. 

Last night, a dear friend from Mount Shasta called.

Before I could even lament the heat, he said, “I know you’re homesick. I know it’s hot there. But if you were here, you’d have to deal with the heat AND the smoke. When the winds are from the north, it’s smoke from fires in Oregon. When they’re from the south, it’s smoke from Redding.”

The fires have been giving me a strong case of survivor’s guilt. My heart is still firmly planted in Mount Shasta. What happens there matters a lot to me.

And yet, the wildfires of the last few years were a deciding factor in my decision to move. I really never wanted to leave. But three summers of intense smoke were getting too much to bear. Watching Alex suffer through the smoke while he was so sick last year was really the last straw.

Some compromises were made after housing searches near the coast were proving unfruitful. A visit to Phoenix in May opened a lot of opportunities. We’re renting and not quite sure if we’re permanent valley residents quite yet. People tell me to hold on, hang in there, by fall I’ll love it here. I am surrendering to that.

I like that I can find anything and everything I want here. 

August was to be trips to the coast, and I was holding out for that. One small problem: the Phoenix area school year starts August 8. Not even kidding. I suppose I should have checked on such things. But honestly, every school district I’ve ever known starts sometime near Labor Day. I thought perhaps with the summer heat, school might not start until mid-September. How naive, non-Arizonan!

With the pain of inevitable growth and loss hanging overhead as I stretch out of comfort zones, I catch glimpses of good things on the horizon. Though it is hot, I am venturing out and about and meeting new people. I’ve found volunteering for things that I like makes a new place so much more interesting and fun, so I am doing that.

And writing.

This blog has languished. And I’m getting strong intuitive messages that it’s time to up the commitment to this space and maybe even another. I switched some design elements around and I’m diving into the WordPress Gutenberg editor. Again, more staying positive and adaptation to my environment.

I like Lake Pleasant is close. There are pools everywhere and I don’t have to take care of any of them.

The move has been hardest on me and Max. We both loved our mountain enclave. I miss my neighborhood, my neighbors, my friends. I miss my morning walks through quiet forests. The desert is so different.

Mark much prefers here, and Claire is embracing change and new opportunities.

So, we adapt.

Fun things:

  • I visited Saint Louis and attended WPCampus as a representative for Defiant. I had so much fun with this group of very passionate and connected higher ed WordPress users.
  • The kids and I took a trip up to Sedona. Max asked why we didn’t move there instead. He has no idea of my lifelong Sedona fascination, and yet somehow he knows. He enjoyed it rather a lot.
  • I have all but given up on Facebook. Long story. Privacy, usability, a community of hateful commentary… I’m done. I still use it to check in on some things, but it’s starting to feel like AOL 1999.
  • Work is fascinating. Every time I think I’ve done all I can do and have mastered my world, a new challenge shows up to pull me out of my comfort zones.

I like that I can smell opportunities everywhere. 

And finally, some photos.

Arizona sky
The skies are beautiful, especially with monsoon season.
Max in Sedona
Sedona got this teenager out of the car and taking pictures.
pyramid mountains
Though it’s not exactly Black Butte in Mt. Shasta, it has the same pyramid like feel. I like these hills.
bodhi and sven
The fur-enabled beasties are either adapting or plotting my demise under the kitchen table. 

This post was written and organized using Gutenberg. So far, so good. Here comes the future. 

 

Magic of Mount Shasta

I know I am woefully behind on getting an update written. So much to write about, so little time. But I had a really magical experience the other evening. Claire insisted that I take her on a bike ride around the neighborhood. I protested that it was too late, but she insisted, “You promised!”

Had I done what I wanted instead of what Claire wanted, I would have missed this magical sunset. The colors only lasted a few minutes. Luckily I have a good camera on my phone, so I was able to stop and get a few shots.

This is why I live here. Mount Shasta is magical.

IMG_6021

A few months ago, Claire insisted I get a lottery ticket, too. It was one of those cheap-o scratcher tickets. I didn’t want to, but she insisted. Of course I won some cash, and now Claire uses that as a reminder that I need to do what she says.

I lament having an 8 year old tyrant at times, but sometimes it pays off to do what Claire asks. The money was nice, but the magic of seeing that lenticular cloud glowing pink with the sunset was worth so much more.

More soon. I promise!

 

Living in Mount Shasta

I was asked by someone if it is expensive to live in Mount Shasta. The answer started unpacking in a number of different ways, so I figured it was a good writing prompt. What is it like to live in Mount Shasta?

Of course, after 6 years of living here, I have my own perspectives on things. Other people’s experience of Mount Shasta might be completely different. But this is what it is like for me.

Is it expensive? Yes and no. Like most of California, there is a wide disparity between the haves and the have-nots. There are many more have-nots in Siskiyou County than there are haves. If you want to live somewhere in the middle, there are not a lot of options.

Housing. Finding nice, clean, inexpensive housing in Mount Shasta is next to impossible. If you’ve found it, you have found the proverbial housing unicorn. Enjoy it.

Housing is split between small rentals where owners just don’t care and won’t fix a darn thing or expensive 4,000 s.f. houses that are triple the rental price of a small rental. Finding something in between is rare.

Living in Mount Shasta or close to the city is the most challenging. There is plenty of housing out in Lake Shastina, but you’re then 30 minutes from town. Even getting to Weed is a long trip from Shastina. There’s Dunsmuir, a small town south of Mount Shasta with fantastic restaurants and a quaint downtown. Houses there are typically older and smaller, but less expensive than Mount Shasta City.

Shopping. Groceries here are expensive. The local grocery store, Ray’s Food Place, is typically twice the price of shopping in Redding or Medford, Oregon, the two larger cities south and north of us. There is a stealthy protester who puts post-it notes on food in the store letting us know we can get things 1/2 of the marked price at Walmart. There is a really fantastic, small organic grocery store, Berryvale. The food is fresh and all organic, but it also comes with a price. There’s also a small grocer, Mount Shasta Market which is a quick easy-in, easy-out market that also makes a great bbq chicken if you’re into that.

Shopping at big box stores, or shopping anywhere really, is a challenge. The only big box store in the county is Walmart in Yreka. Yreka has a good grocery store next to the Walmart, so sometimes I’ll swallow my pride and hit Walmart and Raley’s for shopping when I don’t want to go all the way to Redding or Medford.

Most of the stores in town cater to tourists, but we have a few real gems. A great health food/supplement store, a specialty tea store, and a few other boutiques.

Food. It is very easy to support local farmers, which makes shopping challenges less of a pain. The farmers market, a herd share for fresh raw milk, a local coffee roaster, and everyone and their brother raises chickens and has at the very least a backyard farm. In the summertime, there are plenty of opportunities to get fresh, organic locally grown produce. Almost everyone makes their own kombucha and grows at least some of their own food.

Restaurants. Mount Shasta has a couple of good restaurants, and Dunsmuir is loaded with good restaurants. Hours are wacky no matter where you go, so always check if they’re open. Most places close fairly early.

Nightlife. Uhm, no. I think there is one bar, I’ve never been. I’d rather go look at some stars at night. Or sleep. Sleep is so underrated.

Jobs. Hahaha. There are no jobs here to speak of. There is no manufacturing other than a lumber mill in Weed. Crystal Geyser is opening a bottling facility which they say is going to bring the area jobs, but not many of them. There are jobs in healthcare at the hospital, but since I’ve been here, there have been rumors of the hospital closing. Best bet: work from home for a company elsewhere, be an internet entrepreneur, or fabulously wealthy. Oh, or a pot grower. There are a ton of pot growers all over northern California.

Healthcare. It is VERY easy to find alternative health support here. Of course, we’ve got a hospital and doctors that are willing to prescribe mainstream medications if that’s your thing, but if you’re looking to manage your health in a less invasive and less toxic way, in a way that supports your connection to nature, you can find that in Mount Shasta. Acupuncture, chiropractic, energy healing, herbalists, and of course food as medicine are all par for the course. And even some of the mainstream doctors are as suspicious of mainstream pharmaceuticals as I am and prescribe nutritional support instead of medications.

Things to do. If you’re not really into outdoor activities, Mount Shasta is probably not for you. If you’re into outdoor stuff, you’ll absolutely love it here. Lake Siskiyou is a magical place. Just walking there does something for me. The mountain has many magical places to explore. The trees are immensely beautiful. The natural environment here is so supportive of our spirit. Hiking, boating, skiing, just being outside does something to my soul.

The train. Mount Shasta City is a valley between mountains. You’ve got Mount Shasta to the east, and the Eddy’s to the west. In between you’ve got Interstate 5, which you will travel on a lot, and there’s the train. You’ll hear the train everywhere. If you’re in town, you’ll hear it a lot. If you’re outside of town like I am, you’ll hear it a lot. Sometimes it’s this sweet haunting sound off in the distance. Other times it seems like it is in your backyard.

The snow. When I first moved here, it snowed hard and a lot. If a storm was coming, forecasts were in feet not inches. In the last few years, we haven’t had any snow to speak of. I never thought I would say it, but I miss the snow.

The cold. I came from Chicago. The cold does not really bother me. And the cold of Chicago was much, much worse. Our typical winter temps are in the 20’s at night and in the 40’s in the daytime. We’ll have some a little colder, some a little warmer. But typically, it is not that bad.

The summer. The glorious summer. The wonderful, hypnotically enticing summer. Cool at night, warm during the day, dry clean mountain air, crystal clear, deep blue skies, a Shasta summer is typically something to behold. Lately, we’ve had crappy summers. We’ve had a few glimpses of those wonderful Shasta days, but I miss them.

Fires. With the drought and dry, hot summers,  fires happen in California and Oregon. Fires could be happening miles and miles away, and the smoke can still affect us.

The people. Nearly everyone I know here is spiritually inclined in some way. Even the Christians I know are very devoted to their belief system. There are a ton of people who are into new age thought, probably more per capita than anywhere else. It is quite common to meet people who believe in alternative belief systems, and talking about energetic weather is about as common as talking about the weather itself.

Mount Shasta is partially a transient town. People come and go a lot. Actually, I was expecting to come for a little while and go, but apparently I cannot go. I’ve been told that this is one of the few places on earth that matches my frequency. So I am here, for now, and I’ll stay here for as long as I need to. Because people come and go so frequently, some locals are a little standoffish. I understand it; you meet someone but you’re not really sure if they’re going to be here next week or not.  Once you do connect with people, it feels as if you’ve met an old friend from many decades (or lifetimes) ago.

Once someone has been around for a few years, there seems to be a different type of camaraderie here than I have experienced elsewhere. There is a relaxed nature with people, a place where you can really fully be yourself.

Raising kids. Raising kids here is spectacular. I have absolute trust allowing my teenager to run around town, and there are enough outdoor activities for my younger kiddo to stay active. I’ve found a home with the local charter school. My kids absolutely love school, learning, and their teachers.

Politics. As with everywhere on earth, there are local politics. Siskiyou County tends to be a red county, an outlier in blue-state California. However, most people I know are fairly socially liberal with a live-and-let-live attitude, but quite libertarian in desiring freedom from government oversight. Sometimes things happen statewide that make perfect sense for Los Angeles but no sense for a rural area like Siskiyou County. There was a push in 1941 to create a new state called Jefferson, however, after Pearl Harbor, it was abandoned. It was not abandoned in the hearts and minds of the people who live here, however. The desire for many to escape the tyranny of Sacramento is still an issue.

Honestly, it does not feel like California. Anything north of Sacramento has a much different feel altogether. Shasta is, in many ways, an oasis in the middle of it all, almost like it doesn’t belong to the region, almost like it doesn’t belong to the earth.

Could I live somewhere else? Probably. But from an energetic standpoint, this place is home for me. During a vacation 6 years ago, a few months before we moved here, I heard very strongly, “You can take care of yourself here. And if you can take care of yourself, you can take care of your family better.” And so it has been that way. Here, I somehow find ways to take care of myself a little better than I could elsewhere. I have more work to do, however, and I have gotten some strong messages that I need to stay here for quite some more time.

After all, life is about going with the flow. It’s about going with what feels right. It is about moving through life in the easiest way. And thinking about moving anywhere else doesn’t work. I’ve tried looking elsewhere, and I hit nothing but dead ends. I’m supposed to stay here.

So, that’s kind of what life is like here in Mount Shasta, for me anyway. I’ve found my paradise on earth, and earth is going to have to change a lot before I find comfort elsewhere.

 

 

 

Comfort Zones Kill

About 20 years ago, I was working out a lot. My partner and I joined a gym, and as a part of our new membership, we were required to go through a fitness assessment. Frank went first, and he got a fitness trainer that was incredibly easy on him. I am pretty sure she was a cheerleader and thought that two sits ups were cause for celebration.

I went for my assessment the next day. My trainer was a former marine.

As marines are known to do, he pushed me and pushed me hard. During the time we were together, we chatted quite a bit when I wasn’t coughing up bits of lung tissue. I told him how I had just purchased a house in the suburb we were in and that I worked in the city.

“I grew up here. But things have changed. This town isn’t the same anymore. We’re being overrun by mocha-drinking, cellphone-talking, SUV-driving moms with perfect manicures and judgmental minds. They’re all as comfortable as can be.”

“I think I pulled something in my leg,” I said.

“You’ll live,” he replied.

He told me how he was moving away from the Chicago suburbs and to the Pacific Northwest to escape the decline of civilization as he knew it. “Comfort zones kill,” he said. “And these people here are all as good as dead.”

A well-lived life

I have to admit, I like a comfortable life. I live a comfortable life. I have a beautiful home in a beautiful place, a wonderful family, and good friends. Sure, I have to drive 60 minutes to get to civilization, but it’s worth it for the daily experience of waking up in Mount Shasta every morning. I have the best of all worlds, and I am pretty happy with my life.

It’s an easy place to get comfortable.

And I am. I have been.

When we get comfortable and secure, we tend to erect patterns and structures of protection to keep us in that comfort zone. We stop stretching, challenging, and pushing. It’s an incredibly first-world problem, yes, but it is a problem that our modern comforts and accoutrements tend to create for us.

And it’s killing us.

All we are is change

Being comfortable and secure is not the natural order of things. That marine that pushed me out of my physical comfort zones gave me a huge gift that day, a wake up call to never let myself get too comfortable. But here I am, again, getting comfortable with what is and not really wanting to grow or change.

Growth is all we are, however. All we are is change. And if we’re getting too comfortable, we’re losing out on a part of who we are. We lose out on our expansion. We lose out on joy.

The more comfortable and content I have allowed myself to become, the more I stopped wanting. I stopped feeling much desire to do anything, including the things that really excite me. I lost a sense of creativity and inspiration that comes with feeling hungry for something more.

I started creating some of those structures and patterns to keep things just as they are. I didn’t want change, even though I know intellectually this principle that all we are is change. It became apparent that the amount of effort to keep things just as they are is equal to the amount of effort it takes to grow and change. The world keeps changing, and if I am comfortable with where I am and want to keep things as they are, I still have to exert effort to keep static in the face of the change that is ubiquitous in our world.

Luckily, we don’t live in a vacuum. Sometimes things happen. Wake up calls, enlightenment, awakenings… we get a message. Something unconscious in us recognizes that we’ve become our own worst enemy and it shakes us up a little, destroying some of the structures we’ve created to keep everything just the way it is.

I’ve had a few of those, but I still haven’t wanted to give up where I am. So, the wake up calls get a little louder. Change is going to happen, whether you choose the change or not.

Comfort zones kill. So I choose change.

Pushing out

Part of that comfort was being happy enough with hiking my standard route every morning. When I got the message about comfort zones again, I ran. It hurt. I used to run all the time, but running is one of those activities that is never very comfortable so I stopped. And I got a little too comfortable, and I lost my ability to run long distances again. So, I am running again.

Mark started pushing me in different ways, too. Putting myself out there more, and not worrying what other people think. Taking pictures of myself and putting them on social media. Writing again, even if it isn’t all that great. I’m even going to start with podcasting and vidcasting.

Why do all of this? I explain a little in the podcast I recorded this weekend. The world needs our voices, and the world needs our expansion. This is no time for comfort zones.
success-beyond-comfort-zones life-happens-outside

 

The Guru Within

cropped-meadow-0329131.jpgThere is a meadow by my house. On one side of the meadow is a beautiful view of Mount Shasta. On the other side is a slightly obscured view of Mount Eddy. Like my neighborhood, the meadow is on the edge of nowhere. Directly west of the neighborhood is an abyss of nature full of all sorts of things that can be scary: bears, mountain lions, maybe even bigfoot.

I have spent most of my life in the wilds of skyscrapers. The wilds of bears and mountain lions actually scared me when I first moved here. I would walk with my friend Riley around the neighborhood and peer into the meadow. Riley would look up at me with longing eyes as if to say, “Let’s go in! It’s fun!” Riley showed me how much fun the meadow could be.

I have had a lot of blissful, wonderful experiences in the meadow and in the surrounding woods here. I am no longer fearful of what I might find, or what might find me.

Yesterday, Mark came home from a meeting with a spiritual friend in a state of bliss. I asked him a little about the experience, but he said I had to ask him questions about my own life or my own observations, and then perhaps he could share a little of what he got.

mount_shastaI started talking about the meadow, and how I was realizing how important it has been for me. I recounted a few of the experiences I have had there, connecting with nature, strange noises that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere at once, time slippage, and deep meditation and connection with what is real. I talked about how I have recently taken this natural beauty for granted, how I have not really been diving into it and experiencing it. I was starting to feel that this luxury of an experience in Mount Shasta was ending, and that it was time to go back to the “real world.” I told him how, since Riley’s passing, I’ve been going back to the meadow and remembering. It is a magical place for me, and I am grateful to re-experience it again.

Mark replied, “You are the meadow.”

With those four words as a response to my five minute monologue, he helped me dive deeper into the experience of what I was sensing. Yes, I am the meadow. The meadow is me. It’s all a part of me.

I spent too many years of my life afraid to go into the part of myself that opens up when I visit the meadow. I have turned away from that very large part of myself where magic happens, where I open up.

Riley showed me not to be afraid in the physical world. He showed me that what I really wanted was right there on the other side of what seemed scary to a city girl. Now, Riley is gone. I have Alex, who has of course never been afraid of the meadow. And I go into this magical place and just walk around experiencing the opening of the bluest sky I’ve ever seen, the mountains, and the earth.

And myself. The external magic of the place reflects back something in a deeper part of myself. The meadow, on the edge of an abyss of magical forest, reflects the abyss within myself that I have only danced around in this life of mine. I’ve stayed rather safe in my quite adept mind that likes to think it’s got it all figured out.

When I go into the meadow within myself, there is something much larger waiting for me to meet there. This is what is real.

meadow-032913The meadow is my doorway to the guru. And the guru is within me.

After Mark said this to me last night, I had wild dreams. In one, I was taught to fly. I was adept at it, taking my physical body to fly over everything. One of the places I flew in the dream was my meadow. Then I saw someone do something that angered me, so I tried to fix it. And I couldn’t fly as well anymore.

Sometimes these experiences feel like a luxury. To be able to walk every morning in such an amazing place, to be able to have spirit gift me with such obvious dreams, and to be surrounded by such loving beings in my family, friends, and neighbors. I am so blessed in ways far beyond anything I could ever buy. I am blessed by magic. I am blessed by just-in-time synchronistic experiences that ensure that I am cared for, provided for abundantly, and graced with opportunities to grow, to love, and to experience joy.

In this place, everything is a miracle.

Sometimes we think things are happening to us in life, when the real magic is that there is a larger part of consciousness that is ensuring things happen FOR us. Everything about this magical place I call home has been inviting me to explore the abyss of the guru within myself where only love resides.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
— Rumi

 

The Blessing of Manjushri

Tibetan monks visited Mount Shasta. I wanted to visit and connect with them, so I went to a meditation. I went to the only one I had time to do. It was a Manjushri empowerment meditation and blessing. When I told Mark that we did a Manjushri meditation and learned the mantra, he replied, “Oh no.”

“Oh no? Really? Why?” I asked.

“Don’t you remember? That’s the name Rajneesh/Osho gave [former business partner].*”

manjushri“That’s actually kind of hilarious. Manjushri is about cutting through illusion. See?” I showed Mark the image of Manjushri with the flaming sword. “He uses the sword to cut through illusion. [Former business partner] is all about perpetuating illusions for his benefit. No wonder he has so many problems! If you’re not cutting through illusions, I suppose being called Manjushri would be somewhat of a curse.”

We laughed a little about it, and went about our day. As time went on, I was starting to get messages about speaking out about our time in Austin. You see, neither Mark nor I have said much about our time there. We’ve alluded to things – like his blogs about the types of teachers which angered his former business partner greatly.

But we haven’t talked much about why we left.

I’ve tried my best to move on, and I feel like I have. Shasta has been an amazing home for me for the past 4 years. I feel like a completely different person. I’ve done a lot of healing here, healing I would have not been able to do anywhere else on earth.

But I get the sense that it’s time for us to get clear — really clear — on what happened in Austin and why we left. It feels like there is a bit of unfinished business, like someone left a garbage can open.

Of course, as per former business partner’s MO, that’s my manifestation because it’s in my reality. That I am being judgmental, and thus I am the one with the problem if he does something egregious. He gets a blank check, doesn’t he. He gets to judge, he gets to write lies and untruths, and if I say anything about it, I am only looking in the mirror.

Sigh. That twist of logic happened a lot during those years.

If I said anything about former business partner — for example being horrified that he went on a drinking binge during an event (May 2008) — then I was told to clean on it and not judge. He always had a way of telling people that if we didn’t like what he did, it was a reflection of something wrong inside of us that attracted his behavior.

So, if someone calls me a bitch behind my back (as he did), I attracted him doing it. If I call him a jerk, I am the one with a problem.

It’s a double bind isn’t it. I cannot practice discernment, or else I am judgmental. But he can judge me.  It was so perfectly convenient for someone who wishes to remain above reproach. If you try to defend yourself or even call out him on bad behavior, he turned it around and blamed the victim. It’s all your fault I spent the weekend drinking in my room. It’s all your fault I called you a bitch. And if you don’t like it, that’s your problem, too.

Here’s an important distinction. I get to judge. I get to discern. I get to say, “I don’t like this.” I even get to say, “That’s pretty messed up when you spent the weekend drunk instead of interacting with our event attendees that paid to meet you.” I even get to say, “You’re an asshole!”

There’s nothing non-spiritual in calling events and behaviors as I see them. There’s nothing non-spiritual in saying any of that. It is a contrast.

What I do own is my emotions surrounding the experience. The sadness, disappointment, discouragement, and negative feelings are all my own. I own them and I work on those. Those I clear. But remaining silent in the face of lies serves no one except the liars who intimidate those who might speak out.

Manjushri, take me away!

I know this was not an unusual situation. Having worked in the corporate world, I ran into a lot of personalities like this. However, for someone who was working in the personal development field talking about spiritual concepts, someone who called himself “the buddha of the internet,” there are much higher expectations. He set it up that way. If you don’t want to be called on your behavior, don’t call yourself the buddha.

It finally got to the point where even Mark couldn’t take the games anymore. We had to leave Texas.

We’ve done our best to put the whole experience behind us. He comes up on the radar every once in a while because he’ll write something somewhere. He accused us of “stealing his list” and promptly deleted that portion of his blog entry when Mark called him on it. It’s just an annoyance from a little fish in a big Law of Attraction pond who really doesn’t matter.

His latest exhibition of judgmental anger is in his new book. Chapter one is a laundry list of lies about Mark for which the great guru has expressed his holier than thou forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness for things that never happened is easy when you’re not forgiving yourself. The book is full of untruth couched in spiritual “wisdom.” (Is that Manjushri laughing?) I could go line by line and refute everything. But the people who believe he’s a spiritual guru will never hear it. They are the bamboozled, “hypnotically marketed” into a place where they may never recover.

sagan-quote

And those who are not bamboozled don’t need to hear it because they already see through the games.

Mark has been chomping at the bit to speak out, especially about the lies in the book. He wants to set the record straight. I’ve asked him not to. It’s not worth it. But spirit has asked me rather loudly today to write this post. Perhaps it was the Manjushri blessing from the Tibetan Lama.

Perhaps it’s just time to put this behind us. Perhaps none of it matters anymore.

Perhaps I just need to get it off my chest so I can continue writing about things that really matter. Because these ridiculous games of pot shots at us every 3-6 months from Wimberley, Texas are getting old and tired, just like the same stories he tells over and over again in his books.

Or maybe that’s just me being judgmental and I’m the one with the problem.

I do find it ironic that I receive Manjushri’s blessing, and then three times today I am asked to speak about false gurus by synchronicities and friends.

Cut through the illusions

Illusions. There are a lot of them in this world.

It’s all an illusion. All of it. All of the games we play with each other. The fears we express. Even the actions of Mark’s former business partner are coming from anger at his ghosts and fear of losing it all.

These illusions are not us, they are merely the games we play.

But even though they are not real, we still believe them. It’s one of the reasons I don’t write about the former business partner when he acts like a petulant child, and why I encourage Mark not to also. Some people need to believe in the lies, they need to believe the illusions. Even I have had to at times. Perhaps I still do about some things. I never did about him. I found a lot more power in the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is hard to get to unless you really extract yourself from the charlatans and start finding the guru within.

This is the path the real buddha gave us. It is the path of enlightenment and awakening. No course, no clearing audio, and no guru is going to do the work for you because that journey is within yourself.

 

Bring Back Summer

Winter has never really bothered me. I’ve heard people say that as we get older, all we talk about is the weather. So, maybe that’s it. I am old now, and I talk about the weather.

This winter is really getting to me. On Halloween, as I was standing outside around a fire at a friend’s house after trick-or-treating, I went into a near fit of depression as my fingers went numb, realizing what was before me. Summer had lasted longer than we expected, and I had a spectacular summer. As I stood there freezing and suffocating from the smoke, I felt overwhelming sadness at the end of summer.

Given the fact that I’ve lived in the upper midwest for most of my life, I feel like a wimp. I’ve endured 4 Shasta winters, only one of which really tested me.

We had only been in Shasta a few weeks. It started snowing. Our friend had lived in Shasta for 0ver 20 years. I kept asking, “This cannot be normal, can it?” He kept saying, “Sure, it snows like this a lot.” Then it really started coming down even harder. I think we got about 5 feet of heavy, wet snow in a couple of days. As we sat in the dark huddled around candles and the wood stove, we heard tremendous booms that shook the house. Trees were collapsing under the weight of the snow. Mark, our protector, asked us to move to the center of the house to avoid any trees falling on us.

Four days later, we dug out. I headed to Motel 6 for the longest hot shower I have ever taken. A few hours later, we got power.

Even after that nightmare, I still consider a Shasta winter not that bad. In comparison to Chicago’s ice storms, freezing temperatures, and brutal wind, I’ll take the sporadic massive snowfalls.

Also, escaping snow in Shasta is a short drive south. So, yeah. I have nothing to complain about.

The other part of winter that has been awful is that everyone in my family has had at least 3 illnesses already this fall. A couple of colds, flu, stomach viruses, and some larger and more frightening health challenges that I’ve had to support. It’s not been pleasant. At least now I know definitively that I am not cut out for a career in nursing.

But everyone seems on the mend here. Claire kept her breakfast down. I’m keeping Airborne in business with my own personal consumption. And it’s finally Christmas. Of course, it’s a Christmas I am wholly and totally unprepared for, but it is Christmas, and we’re here together. The weather is not so bad, and the days will again get longer.

I’ve got a few new projects I’m starting for the new year, and I’m excited about them all. Bring it on, 2014. I’m ready.

 

Shasta Summer

I’ve found my heaven on earth, and it is here. Shasta gives me such a fantastic opportunity to enjoy summer, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Now that the crazy busy time is over, I’m finding myself crazy busy doing other things.

Garden

Potatoes!

Potatoes!

The garden doesn’t take as much time in the summer as in the spring, other than watering. I’ve been harvesting plenty of veggies, and I got my first-ever potatoes this week. I pulled up a couple of plants and they had produced quite a few potatoes. It was kind of cool to see such beautiful veggies come up from what was going to be garbage. I had a few red potatoes I bought from the store that grew eyes. Planted them a couple of months ago, and got these… with more to come!

It scares me that I am excited about potatoes, but there ya go.

Hiking

Spring Hill vista looking towards town.

Spring Hill vista looking towards town.

There are so many trails into the forest around here, I cannot even describe them all. Claire has been doing camp in town, and I took that as my time to walk the dog. I did not enjoy walking around town very much, so I started looking for trails close to town.

Spring Hill is just north of town, offers a good workout, and is quiet. I really have been enjoying it. I walk up, I run down, and I’m finished in time to pick her up.

It’s become a great way for me to start the day, tires out the dog so he’s less of a spaz, and it’s conveniently located.

This morning’s jaunt was a lot warmer than what I’ve been used to. That’s okay. After I finish some work, I’m off to cool down.

Swimming

Claire loves swimming!

Claire loves swimming!

I apparently have two fish for children. Max, well, he’s a Pisces, so there’s an explanation there. Claire is a little Leo, but apparently lions can swim. Add some tenacity and you’ve got a little girl who heads for the deep end no matter what anyone else says. We’ve been going to the lake quite a bit. After swimming for 2 hours straight, they both whine when I say it’s time to take a break. Now I know why they used to make everyone get out of the pool for 10 minutes every hour. I used to complain as a kid; as a parent, I get it.

Claire, at age 4, has no problem putting her face into water. I bought her a cheap pair of goggles so she can watch the fish swimming under her.

The water is cold, but when it’s hot outside it’s absolutely perfect. It chills me so much that I end up wearing a hoodie when it’s 90 degrees outside! I ended up having to put two comforters on me last night just to try to get warm so I could stop shivering. It was 75 degrees in my room at the time.

We don’t have air conditioning. Because it usually drops into the 50s at night, we just open windows overnight. The house is so well insulated, it stays cool all day.

The Gift of Living in Shasta

If I ever need a reminder of connection, a visit to the headwaters reminds me. Water that hasn’t seen the light of day for 400 years (or so I’ve been told) pours out of the ground at a very rapid rate. It is cold, sweet, and delicious. I’m certain it’s the best tasting water I’ve ever had.

This is nature. It is also our natural state. It is what we are, and it is what Spirit is. If we need a reminder of our abundant nature, it is right there.

The gift of living here provides me opportunity to connect to spirit like never before. I feel like I’ve got more clarity, focus, and intention in my life now than ever. I feel more healed of past traumas, and more intent on doing what I came here to do.

 

Escape from the screens

It’s been cold here in California for the last few weeks. The kids, used to spending a lot of time outside playing in paradise, have taken to sitting in front of screens. And then, when they aren’t in front of iPads and computers, they are bouncing off the walls. I have had to make more efforts to get them out doing things. Neither of them are interested in snow-related outside activities, which is a real travesty living here in the land of world-class skiing and snowboarding. But I follow what they want…

Yesterday, I took them to Ashland, Oregon for some play time. We’re members of the Science Works Museum and it’s one of our go-to places for indoor activities. For a max-claire-sciencesmall town, it’s quite an amazing kid’s museum. Of course, Max is turning into a teenager and turned his nose up at most of the activities while Claire was attacking everything head-on. I did get them both interested in the nanotechnology exhibit, though, so that’s something.

After the museum, we headed to Kaleidoscope Pizza in Medford. As a Chicago girl, I am not thrilled with what the west coast thinks of pizza. Kaleidoscope is the exception. Great pizza, fantastic salads, all in a beautiful restaurant. It’s usually packed, even at 2 pm. God help you if you want an evening table.

We’ve been looking at cars lately. I’ve been driving a Honda Civic Hybrid for years now. I’m really happy with my Honda. It’s given me exceptional gas mileage and great reliability. I’m almost to 100k miles on it. It’s seen every time zone in America. It’s been to the southeast, the northwest, and everywhere in between. It is a GREAT car.

It is a light car, however, and I live in the land of frozen ice packed streets. Last week, I almost slid into a concrete wall. I often have a hard time hauling large loads. Vacations are like car-packing tetris, arranging kids, adults, and a dog who wants to go everywhere with us, not to mention our stuff. If it was just me, I would stick with a smaller car. However, it is never just me in the car. So, I need something larger.

First thought has been to go back to an Audi. I had an Audi before I had the hybrid, and I love Audis. I miss my Audi.

Max, however, has been looking at Mercedes. My mom drives a Mercedes. And so, we decided to look at Mercedes. We stopped at the Mercedes dealership in Medford to check out an M class.

The kids had other ideas. Ideas that involved convertibles and no back seat. The salesman was awesome and let them explore and play.

max-mercedes

claire-mercedes

Funny how they choose cars with no back seat when they’ll be spending most of their time in the back seat of the one I get myself!

I’m sold on an M class for reasons I can’t even enumerate. It’s time to get a new car. And I’m sold on the M350 at this point.

Of course, as soon as I make that decision, I see Audi Q7s everywhere. The universe sure does have a sense of humor.

 

 

2013

snow-flake

We survived the holidays. Barely. Max came home from school one day with a sore throat. Of course, that was the day before the snowstorm hit. Within 48 hours, we were all sick. We also had about 6 feet of snow in the driveway by the end of it.

I was grateful I hit the stores before the storm and sickness, grateful for not having anywhere to go, and grateful that the kids seems to process through the virus quickly. I was even more immensely grateful seeing my awesome neighbor with heavy equipment in my driveway during one break in the snowfall. He cleared the driveway just enough for me to get out to the store and get some more kid’s Advil. Apparently grape flavored Advil is so last year and completely unacceptable to Claire’s discerning palate.

christmas-2012-snow3

I tried clearing the driveway again the next day, but the plows had come through and made a rock solid berm of snow that made me cry. Literally. I stooed at the edge of the driveway with a shovel and realized that there was no clearing the Luckily, awesome neighbor bailed me out again. And as a return favor I had the pleasure of babysitting their awesome dog for a couple of days.

christmas-2012-snow2

I may live in the snowiest microclimate in all of California, but I have awesome neighbors and great views and it makes it worth it. Also, escaping to a warmer climate takes all of 45 minutes.

I really should take up skiing or something if I am going to live here. The locals seem to really enjoy the white stuff. I suppose after 3 years of living in Mount Shasta, I should do as the Romans do and stop pining for paradise.

Can I blame the Midwest for ruining me for snow?

I am not complaining. I lived in Texas for 2.5 years. I think after that, I can live anywhere and be happy about it. With apologies to Texans I actually like (all 5 of them), I didn’t like Texas very much.

I have high hopes for 2013. We continue to be blessed in ways I cannot enumerate. The kids are healthy, growing, strong, kind and hilarious. My work keeps turning into adventures of exploration. I have great friends both near and far.

I have many goals for 2013. I plan on doing about 1,500 miles of hiking, running, and walking. That’s about 30 miles a week. So far, so good. But 1,500 is a lot of miles, you know. Good thing it will be a long year.

Santa brought us a piano, an ice cream maker, and a soda stream. I plan on learning at least 10 songs on the piano, making all sorts of frozen treats that aren’t loaded with sugar, and lots of carbonated water.

I also plan on writing more, taking more pictures, and being more public about the truly amazing miracle that is my life.

Life is so good.