Coming down

Coming down the mountain for a spring vacation.

Rick and I came down the mountain for an “all-inclusive vacation”.  Since the Trump travel ban we have decided to avoid the airport chaos and just drive down the mountain to Boulder instead of flying to a beach area like Florida.  We have found our favourite hotel called the St Julien in Boulder.  We joke that it is our own “all-inclusive resort”.  Anyway, my good friend John flew down from Canada to visit.  We walked through Boulder on a Friday night trying to find a restaurant. We were told the wait time was about 2 hours without a reservation.  We walked up and down the Pearl Street Mall looking for live music.

The only restaurant with live music on their patio was a 1.5 hour wait.  We ended up at our hotel St. Julien  in Jill’s restaurant.  We had an amazing meal, and my fiance bought the butter dish from the hotel as it was very french.  My fiance has a love affair with butter dishes from all over the world, he tends to buy  one whenever we visit a new place.

We went into the lobby of our hotel and there was this great band playing called the “Pamlico sound”.  They had a horn section, saxophone player,  a female trumpet player, french horn, electric organ, guitarist, drummer and a gorgeous soul filled singer.  The hotel was turned upside down.  People were dancing everywhere; by the concierge desk and around luggage racks.  Groups of women and kids were dancing in the lounge while the kids played tambourines handed out by the band.  This five-star hotel was turned into a dance hall with everyone standing, everyone moving, everyone grooving. It was amazing.  I got to dance with my fiance and practice our Rumba. It was so amazing to move together in love, and feel the room disappear, only us smiling and moving together.

I asked the front man in the band, who is pictured above about the origins of the band name.  He told me about this series of lagoons and inlets in North Carolina.  One of them is called Pamlico sound.  He spent his summers there as a kid on the shore of the outer banks of this barrier island in North Carolina.  Across the water was a live band venue that had bands that played funk and the sound floated through his cottage window into his bed as a child. He said he was forever affected by the funk sound.  He told me “he was baptized in the sound of funk”.

You never know what you will get in life, but for us it was a perfect evening, great food, great music, and turn down service with an organic chocolate on our pillow.

What more could you ask from a day?

Adapting to each others rhythms

Adapting to each others rhythms takes courage after 7 years of living alone.  It seems this morning I stole my fiance’s pillow, and would not give it back in my sleep.  I talk in my sleep – last night I was mumbling about aircraft hangers. I have been told I sometimes sleep with my legs bent up in the air, on my back. Combine that with nightly gratitude lists said out loud before sleep, and prayers before bed, no wonder my previous husband had his own room.

My fiance naturally wakes up at 6am, I wake up at 9am, especially when I don’t have to work.   He is in bed by 9:30pm and I cannot sleep till midnight.  Over the past three months I have spent the evenings watching movies, TV, snacking and drinking beer to pass the time.

I read a quote recently “your destiny is the consequence of your daily actions”. What kind of destiny am I creating by just passing time until my work visa comes through?

I had a friend read my Akashic records.  The Akashic Records are an energetic imprint of every thought, action, emotion, and experience that has ever occurred in time and space. The Akashic Records can also be understood as the imprint of all experiences of all lifetime in all realities.  Right in the middle of my reading she asked me what a spiritual leader would do in my situation?   I can’t imagine the Dali Lama sitting around killing time, untill he is given permission to do his spiritual work by the state.

A spiritual leader would adapt to the situation and not take the obvious detour (TV and beer).  A spiritual leader would find a way to continue to discover their spirit, to be grateful, to be creative, to be on purpose.  Rather than just pass the time.

You’re scared, I’m nervous / I guess that we did it on purpose, on purpose, on purpose / Baby, I know it’s weird, but it’s worth it / ‘Cause I guess that we did it on purpose, on purpose, on purpose.. (Song by Sabrina Carpenter)

Living on purpose.

I want to live on purpose.

So much of my life up to now has not been on purpose.  I swing from being very self-aware; exercising, meditating, reading, or completely unconscious; watching trash tv, eating crap and drinking beer.  Enough is enough  I want to be on purpose all the time.

What would living on purpose mean for you?

Words like intention, and deliberate, come to mind.

What are your words for living on purpose?

Cuba or Iceland?

 

Last night I went for a pint at Murphy’s Irish Pub.  They have a beautiful open fire on their deck that overlooks the mountains.   I went outside to look at the lights on the mountain and be close to the fire.  A real treat on a warm winter night.  Around the fire were a group of four women in their 20’s who were on vacation.  They were drinking “mind errasers” handed out free from the Kahlua girls that were dressed in pink and white snow pants, with Kahlua printed their hats.  I had a conversation with one of them.  They said their job is to go to happy hours and promote the new “mind eraser “drink.  I asked her what was in them she said Absolute Vodka, Kahlua and club soda, and it is ment to be sucked fast through the thick red and white straw.

I told her in Canada that this kind of promotion would not be allowed, also that we have no happy hour.  Her jaw dropped, she had a hard time believing me.  She asked if it was because of our health care?

Back to the fire the four young women were planning their next vacation while on their current vacation, here in Breckenridge.

Cuba or Iceland?  was the discussion of where to go to next.  One guy chimed in that Iceland is amazing and remote and really beautiful.

I said “go to Cuba!” They all stopped and looked at me.  You have been there?  I said “yes I am Canadian, I have been going there for 20 years.  I said go now before it is ruined by Americans taking over”.

It struck me as odd that young travelers are debating Cuba or Iceland.

What happened to getting into the back of a van with your dog and driving across your own country?

Breckenridge does attract all kinds of people, from average to over the top wealthy people who have “the aspen walk”.  The aspen walk describes well healed women and men in their 5,000 dollar furs and high heels that tiptoe delicately along the heated sidewalks.

The beauty of this town is that all walks of life are here.  Young people working and living in their car as there is no housing, ragged mountain characters who have been here for 40 years, europeans, and the nouveau rich from Texas.

Where else can you and have a pint across the street from your house, stand by an open fire, look out at the lights on the mountains, talk to travelers from all over the globe, and then trot off home across the street to your cozy bed.

Making space for fear

I spend days feeling fear.  Today I decided to make a big list of all my fears and burn them.  Byron Katie  author of Do the Work says to write your fears as if they are happening now in order to release them.  Ok here goes.

I am afraid I am running out of money not working in the USA.

I am afraid that I am bored and isolated here in the mountains.

I am afraid that I am a sloth, that sleeps and eats, and lays around just passing time.

I am afraid that I am not enough for my partner.

I am afraid  I have nothing to say, nothing to contribute.

I am afraid I am wasting my life in Colorado.

I am afraid that I have no friends here.

I am afraid we are driving each other crazy in this gorgeous house.

I am afraid to have sex on the new 750 thread count sheets.

I am afraid of losing myself.

I am afraid I am becoming someone else for my partner.

“We have to be careful of how we handle our fear-because I’ve noticed that when people try to kill off their fear, they often end up inadvertently murdering their creativity in the process.  So I don’t try to kill off my fear.  I don’t go to war against it.  Instead, I make all that space for it.  Heaps of space.  Every single day I’m making space for fear right this moment.  I allow my fear to live and breathe and stretch out its legs comfortably.  It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back.  If I can relax, fear relaxes too.  In fact, I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go.” Elizabeth Gilbert Big Magic

“The professional tackles the  project that will make him stretch.  He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.  Is he scared? Hell, yes.  He’s petrified.  So if you are paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign.  Steven Pressfield The War of Art

So feeling my fear is a good thing.  It means I am onto something big, meaningful, important.  It is the opposite of what my ego tells me, that fear is a warning sign.  Henry Fonda, the famous actor, used to throw up before each performance out of fear.   But he still went on the stage.  He did not stay in the wings and let his fear rule him.   Many people who don’t know me well have said “you are so courageous”.  Perhaps that is true. I am not sure there is such a thing as a fearless person.  It is a matter of making space for my fear, but not letting it rule the action.

As  the author Elizabeth Gilbert says, she takes her fear along for the ride as a passenger, but she does not let her fear drive the car, touch the maps, or even change the radio station.  Fear sits in the back seat, and looks out the window.

Fear does not drive my car.

 

 

 

awe ô/ noun

How Awe Makes Us Generous

 

awe  noun

A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder., wonderment; admiration, reverence, respect, esteem;
“we watched in awe”
“capacity to inspire awe.”

I am so intrigued by the role of awe in our lives.   It is not something I have generally thought about.  I think about eating right.  I think about exercising. How often do we think about getting a few minutes of awe each day.

I have been thinking about the benefits of activly seeking  daily awe.

I believe it is an essential key for inner happiness.

Consciously seeking awe in nature fills up my soul in a way that exercise never could. Stopping and noticing nature once per day is a conscious act.

“What we’re finding is that brief doses of awe move us from a model of self-interest to really being engaged in the interests of others. The preliminary data are showing that it starts to break down this us-versus-them thinking.”  A new study by Adam Hoffman at Berkely, finds that feeling awe in nature makes us more generous to other humans.

For me, awe creates a momentary sense of peace.  Within me, for me.  It is the act of opening and making space for awe that is miraculous. Researchers suggest that experiencing awe moves us from the “I” identity to the “we” identity.

Awe can change us as people, it can rewire us to feel something beyond ourselves.   The only other thing that can shift us into “we consciousness” is being in love.  Love opens us up to a flow.  We feel more relaxed and content when we are in love.   Awe experiences travel along similar pathways as love does in our brain.

The awe practice:  Seek out nature in all its forms, even if it is just an aspen tree rocking in the winter breeze. Stare up at it for 3 minutes, feel the awe, feel the inner happiness.

______________________________

Manchester by the sea

We just saw the film “Manchester by the Sea”.  What a deeply moving movie.

It’s a story of a young man who just can’t forgive himself.  My heart broke for him.  He was on strike with life.  Leaving a place where everyone knew him at his home by the sea, to go live in a one room basement in a big city away from his past pain.  Every time he went home he was reminded of his past, reminded of his pain and his heartache.

How often have I run away from pain, changed locations and thought that I was leaving my pain behind.

The irony is that we take the pain with us, inside us no, matter where we are physically.  We can change locations and get new partners. But still the heartache is kept alive inside us.

As I watched that movie my heart ached for the character played by Casey Affleck.  When he meets his ex-wife in the street, she wants to forgive him, and love him, but he could not receive the love, as he could not forgive and love himself.

This movie was a moving portrayal of an extreme circumstance of loss.  How often have I played out situations or circumstances where I don’t forgive myself. My unforgiveness is being on strike with life and it becomes a habit or a stance.

Is there anything you have been stubbornly hanging onto from the past, that you are  in unforgiveness around?

There are many benefits in not forgiving ourselves.We get to continue to punish ourselves and play the victim in life. We get others to feel sorry for us and justify our backdoor behaviours, like being cruel and impatient with ourself and others.

Right now as I wait for 90 days for my immigration permit I tell myself that I am “trapped”, that I don’t have choices.   I feel frustrated and impatient, as if that official piece of paper will give me permission to shine.   Someone asked me what would a spiritual leader do in this situation?  A spiritual leader would be disciplined and use this time to expand, write, meditate and create.   Time is something that people crave and associate with abundance.  Rather than see myself as being punished I can see myself in abundance, in a time to be me, to flow to shine, to listen to my spirit.

 

 

Flashbulb memories

“Flashbulb memories are nearly photographic recall of paticularly shocking events. The specifics of flashbulb events can change in our minds, but what is nearly impossible to erase is their emotional impact”   Michael d. Lemonick- The Wall Street Journal.

For me being in a new relationship I have constant flashbulb memories of moments in my past marriage.  When someone dies it is not the big romantic moments you remember, it is the small silly details.  This morning my new partner who I am living in the mountains with went to the fridge, and grabbed a slice of baloney.  He smeared it with mayonnaise.  I sat there entranced watching him roll it up, and pop it into his mouth with such glee.

I was in a complete flashback to my previous husband who loved baloney, he used to make bread, butter and baloney sandwiches and freeze them.  He would take a stack of them to work.

When his doctor told him to cut back on fat due to high cholesterol, I nagged him about his baloney habit.   Flash forward to now, watching my fiance, pop baloney into his mouth made me feel warm and sad, there was a bittersweetness to the memory.

Memory is an interesting thing.  I was thinking about what causes us suffering in life, and I believe a lot of it has to do with hanging onto memories.  Hanging onto the past, investing life force energy in past experiences.

Recently we went to see my finance’s mother who has alzheimers, she was joyful, happy, living right in each moment because that is all she has left.  Is this not what we strive for in enlightenment?  To live in the moment?

What is the purpose of our memory?

Researchers tell us that our memory is designed to help us accumulate knowledge to make sense of the world and to navigate it better.

I know my memories are not exact, they are my interpretation, and from my perspective, and speak to the emotional impact the experience had on me at the time.

How often do we have “relationship flashbacks”?  Where we notice something our new partner does, and it triggers a past memory postive or negative from a previous relationship?

Northern exposure

Near our mountain home there is a redtail fox.  He comes to our door and glares at us.

One day he came upon my fiance who left a bag of dog poo near our back door, left over from the dog park.  The fox glared at him, picked up the dog poo in his mouth and dragged it 3 feet away and peed on it as if to say “you are on my territory”.  We told this story to a shop owner in town.  She said the red tail fox  in her neighbourhood steals her New York Times.  She said one time she found the fox sitting in the middle of the road sitting on two Denver papers and a New York Times.

I asked around to see if other residents had experiences with the red tail fox.  I heard all sorts of wild experiences.   From foxes stealing shoes from a guys feet while camping in the mountains to a fox that would come in the house and let the occupants pet him. It seems they are used to humans in this town.   One woman told me she heard a noise on her balcony which faced Main street and went out to find 2 foxes mating. It appears she startled them. They just moved over to the other side of the balcony and continued their business. One local told me he trained a fox to ride the chairlift with him…

According to Ted Andrews the “Fox teaches us how to remain unnoticed in crowds, to come and go without being remarked upon. A person can learn much by just standing in the shadows and listening. Invisibility is a powerful medicine to cultivate in life. The Fox has very acute senses of smell, vision and hearing. Smell symbolizes the power of discrimination; so fox medicine offers us the power of clear thinking and decision making to keep us safe, healthy, and prosperous”.

The fox reminds me to stay alert and not get too used to my surroundings. When we visit a town as a tourist, everything is new and exciting.  After living here for 3 months I can see how easy it is to get used to the town, to stop going into the cute stores, to see the hordes of tourist as a burden.  The fox also reminds me to get clear about who I want to be in this place.  Do I let time just pass by while I wait for immigration or do I capitalize on this time to get clear about what I want for my life.  Do I continue to allow myself to enjoy this place, to experience daily awe, or do I take it for granted?

Having these foxes around are a good reminder to observe, discriminate, get clear about what I want.

Last night we saw a 2,000 lb male moose standing on our neighbours driveway grazing on something in the snowbank.

I went out on the deck and called to it.  It was not fazed.  Then the police pulled up and put bright lights on the moose.  He just stood there.  I was shocked at seeing this moose in town, and amazed he was not concerned about humans or bright lights

This reminded me of the tv show I used to watch in my 20’s called Northern Exposure.

At the time I was living in the city of Toronto, Canada with 4 roomates; one an actor, another a corporate executive, a community worker and myself.   We used to order chinese takeout and watch Northern Exposure.  We loved the wacky characters and the wildlife.  I remember one episode where the towns folk built a catapult to fling a piano just for fun.  Now I feel like I am living the experience rather than watching it.

How often in our life do we view experiences like a tv show, where we watch all the stories and sit back as a passive viewers of life rather than engaging in it.

Is it time to get off the couch of life?

Viking energy at ULLR festival

Getting from the Denver airport to Breckenridge at an altitude of 9,600 ft  in the mountains has been a real challenge.  The highway was shut down going down the mountain, and closed returning from the airport.

There was no snow in Denver, but the highway up the mountain was closed due to an avalanche.

My fiancé was determined not to spend yet another night at the Econolodge by the airport, so we braved the back roads returning from the airport along with all the other locals.  A two hour drive turned into four hours with speeds of 40 mph.

We followed a mountain shuttle driver who picks people up at the airport.  Thank god we were able to follow his lights in the driving snow.  It was the kind of snow that hypnotizes you over long periods of driving.

When we arrived home our cars were buried by 2 feet of snow. Our  plough driver said he needs to bring in a front loader to remove the snow, as there is too much to just plough.

They closed the ski area at “A Basin” because there was TOO Much snow.  Who ever heard of that happening?  The local radio tells us there has not been this amount of snow since 1917, over a hundred years ago.

I started to wonder how men and women survived 100 years ago in this snow.  We had ordered home-chef delivery and our box was somehow at our door buried in snow.  It reminded me of the miners who had groceries delivered by mule train once a month, and often found boxes of frozen food in the snow bank in spring – and the food was still frozen.

My fiancé shovelled for 2 days straight and we are expecting another storm this weekend.

Now we find ourselves saying “what have we done moving here”?

We arrived and stopped at the store for eggs. Inside there were 5 or 10 people wearing viking helmets.

They told me today is the start of ULLR festival.  ULLR is the god of snow.

We were told to go into town and get our viking helmets for the parade.

My fiance ran to town and came back with two viking helmets covered in jewels and fur, with only 5 minutes to spare before the festival began.

We put our helmets on, grabbed our dogs and headed down to the main street.  There were 1,000 people lined up to do “shotski”.  That is a series of skis bolted together the length of the town, with 3 shot glasses per ski velcrod to the ski.  Everyone had viking helmets on.  There was a master of ceremonies counting down.  Everyone took their shot of whisky off the ski at the same time.

This was followed by a viking parade, where they chanted “ULLR, ULLR, ULLR”

Then there was a huge town bonfire where they burned all the old christmas trees.

It was great to return to this crazy energy.  We went to the irish pub and had fishbites and listened to live music and danced in our viking helmets.  Where else could you do this?

This gold rush town is true to its roots of wildness and self-expression.

My fiance said this is a town where you can be yourself.  I reflected upon the accounts of women in the 1800’s who said that they were able to be themselves, no longer confined by society’s expectations.

This bubble  in the mountains called Breckenridge is a unique town, with unique energy.  It just makes you want to stay up here in the mountains until spring. Who knows what summer will bring.

What a crazy adventure this is!

The benefit of daily awe

I was reading the Saturday Wall Street Journal, and saw an article which told me that if  I experience one minute of awe in nature each day, it will make me happier, kinder and more compassionate**.

Today, as we drove down the mountain, we saw people ice climbing.  I screamed out loud “holy mother of god, pull over”.  I have never seen a person climbing up a frozen waterfall on the side of a mountain.  I asked my fiancé, “Why would they want to climb frozen water or ice- it could break off any minute.”  He said, “because they can”.…talk about awe!  I stood there and watched them repel down a frozen waterfall with such ease and grace. At any moment a piece could break off and they could slide down.  I looked up to see where they had tied off the rope, it was to a small aspen tree at the top that was leaning over with the tension of the rope.

Risks.  Something we crave,  something we avoid, something we assess in life.

Some people believe that we have acceptable time periods of our life to take risks.  It is o.k. to take risks in your teens, or your 20’s because that is what youth is for. We tell ourselves later in life that we have done all our crazy stuff, now we have it all together.  The truth is that risk is always something that is present at any age.

In my 30’s and 40’s I had everything.  I had a great career, a wonderful lake front home, a great couch that you could sink into and disappear.  I would read the Saturday paper for 3 hours.  It was a high back tufted couch which I had yearned for 3 years and it cost $6,000.

For years in Toronto, Canada I had dreampt of owning a lake front home and having a great career.  We moved out to Scugog lake area and bought a cottage that was “lifted up” so it could be a home.

I was a driven professional, ambitious.  Then my husband died at 44 years old— and everything was meaningless.   Suddenly the couch was meaningless, the panoramic view of the lake was meaningless.

Eight years later I have found more meaning, but the couch is long gone, sold to a single mother for $100 who left her abusive husband.  She deserved to have time reading the paper against the high back tufted curve of my designer couch.

Now I live in the mountains and have very few belongings…. but I have love, and great dogs.  It feels like family.

Life is full of risks and the p0tential for awe at any age.

** In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that after gazing up at tall trees for just one minute participants in Berkeley California behaved more helpfully to others than people who looked at an unremarkable building.   The reason,  Momentary awe it suggests. The University of California Irvine psychologist Paul Piff, who co-authored the study  says “I think we can say pretty certainly that having a little bit of awe everyday in your life would make you happier, kinder and more compassionate”.