Waking up to a new landspace in your life 

Do you ever find you look back and think how did I get here?  I am 53 and just starting to pay attention to my body.  Just starting to honour myself.  Not putting everyone else first, and forgetting about myself.  Including myself on the list of things to care for, rather than leaving myself out.

Yesterday I was on top of a 14,000 ft mountain in Colorado.  I saw these beautiful mountain goats, way up high on the top of a pyramid of rocks looking down at us.    I followed a 10-year-old boy up the rocks, trying to keep up with his nibble hopping from rock to rock.   I asked the 10-year-old boy for his technique for climbing.  He said “hold onto the rocks with your hands, and don’t put much weight on your feet”.  What a difference that made, I climbed nimbly up the mountain and saw this mountain goat family at the top of the world.  Just me and the boy.  Everyone else was on the ground yelling cautions to us to “be safe”, or “watch out for the charging mother  with her babies”.

Later that night before we fell asleep in each others arms, my husband asked me what was the highlight of my day?  I said “being 53 and just starting to feel fit, and strong for the first time in my life”.  I was proud I was able to climb by myself.  I was nervous but I called on my ancestors, who have been climbing mountains for years.   I could almost see my grandfather shaking his fist in the air as if to say “we shall overcome”!

Having been physically ill for 8 years, I am just starting to feel strong and somewhat healthy.  I think this is partly because of a greater compassion for myself, and being more patient with myself, rather than punishing myself to change.   As Dr. Barbara D’Angelis says “loving myself forward instead”.

In spite of my imperfection I am shinning even at this late stage in my life……

It’s not over till it’s over.

The heart loves silence

Have you slowed down enough to listen?  Where can you slow down enough to make space for the silent whisper of your heart?

There is so much silence here in the mountains.  On our daily hikes we have found secret meadows for a picnic, and spots where we can dip our feet into the cold mountain streams.

I have taken to meditating by the mountain stream.  The rushing water creates a background of pink noise that you can zone out to.  I imagine sending my energy and stress down to the earth and into the stream.  I invite the pine tree energy and the cosmic sky above to flow universal energy in through the top of my head, and mingle with the earth energy.  I can smell the pine trees, I can hear the running water.  I am sitting on the moist earth after a night of rain.  Running these two energies through my body clears out any “cobwebs” or stuck energy that I have picked up thought the day.

My two dogs sit beside me, drawn by the energy.  What a privilege to be here in the mountains at this time, insulated from the chaos in the rest of the US.

You can always find stillness inside if you slow down enough to listen. I would love to hear what is your place that allows you to get to still inside?

Learning to Settle

After surviving the winter as a new immigrant.  Spring came then Summer, along with my work permit and my SSN.  All of a sudden I could open a bank account, get a driver’s license and access to money.

Finally I am here.  I shipped all of my sentimental belongings to Rick my new husband as “gifts” through UPS.  I have no belongings left in Canada.  No longer straddling two countries I finally feel like I have landed here.

I think back to my parents who emigrated to Canada from England at 42 with 3 kids. I remember my mother saying “it takes a year to stop hating a new country”.  I thought she was ridiculous  at the time.  Perhaps she was right.   I am two months away from my one year mark, and I am just finally settling in, realising I live here and that I am yes married.

We have taken to hiking in the mountains first thing in the morning.   At 2pm each day it rains for an hour and clears up in time for happy hour.  The climate is perfection, 75 degrees and with a soft wind.  Perfect for hiking into the mountain woods with our curious Husky and our little Eskimo/Papillon dog.

For a ski town, the tourists don’t stop in the summer. Farmers markets, craft shows, food and wine shows, paddleboards, tumble bubble,s and multiple hikes make this a summer play land.

I am starting to love hiking.  In my past I never had the fitness, or energy to hike the trails.  I have met many women on the trails with injuries who told me they are “trying to get their power back”.  Perhaps that is what I am doing in these mountains, learning to get my power back.  In the trauma of sudden loss I forgot who I was, each step I take I start to reclaim my energy, reclaim my joy, and reclaim my power.

 

domestic bliss

Today we drove to Silverthorne and went to look at BBQ’s for our mountain home.  Standing kissing in the seasonal section I said out loud “I feel so married”.  I ment this in a good way.  Here we were buying house hold items together.  We had moved passed the dating, to the going steady, to domestic bliss.  How did that happen so fast?  We also looked at deck chairs.  At first my fiance pulled out plastic Adirondack chairs.  I had to disclose that I hate plastic chairs as they always look cheap and dirty.  We settled on woven outdoor wide chairs and a side table.   We even bought potting soil!

Those of you who are in longterm relationships are used to this.  For me it has been a long long long time of being single and buying furniture for one.  Now we are a family with our two dogs.  I had a mixed feeling of bliss, excitement and relief!

It finally hit me, I was no longer alone, no longer solely responsible, we can share in everything and we can accomplish more together.

On our way back  to Breckenridge with our SUV full, we stopped for a romantic walk by Lake Dillon. The ice melting in the 60 degree sunlight-8,000 ft in the mountains we walked along the beach, stopping to kiss.  I love this area in Spring, a time of hope, a time of renewal, a time of new beginnings.

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?

Breathing at altitude

Coming out of surgery, the nurse shaking me awake to tell me to breathe, I guess I had stopped breathing. I have always been a shallow breather.  In the mountains there are quite a few cafe’s that offer beer, espresso and oxygen.  At the corner stores they sell Boost which is 150 puffs of oxygen in a can.  There is even an IV clinic that will hydrate you with a bag of fluids and oxygen at the same time.   My fiance is quite fit and has a huge lung capacity.  He has been quite an athlete in his life running triathlons and is an avid skier.

Here in the mountains he is struggling with breathing. He has decided to go to the IV clinic today called Vida-flo.  He was looked after by an emergency nurse, that also works at the IV hydration clinic.  She told him that altitude sickness only occurs above 8,600 ft. He got a bag of saline with B9, B12, B6, Zinc, Vit C, Zofran, famotidine, Glutathione, Vit D and Toradol for his headache.  All this was accompanied by oxygen for 45 minutes.  He says he feels great.  Only in America would they offer all your vitamins by IV for $50. If you went into an American emergency room for an IV and oxygen it would be hundreds of dollars. It makes me wonder how sir Edmond Hillary coped with the altitude when he climbed Everest?

I was interested in a more holistic approach to assist me in adjusting to the altitude.  We went to  a place called Viva Float which provides isolation float tanks filled with 1,000lbs of dissolved magnesium.  Floating weightless is supposed to do the following: Increases oxygen flow, Strengthens the immune system, Improves sleep, Eliminates fatigue and jet lag, Alleviates stress (mental and physical), and  alleviate problematic respiratory symptoms.  Sounds good. We arrived, got a tour and showered for 10 minutes with two cleansers before getting into the float tank.  You had a choice of red light, blue light, white light or blackout.

After floating in the dark for 60 minutes I felt completely relaxed, almost in a stoned state.  My skin felt buffed like I had ex-foliated everywhere.  I felt peaceful and content.  That night I slept for 12 hours, which I have not done in years and years.  My fiance struggled with the float tank, he had trouble breathing in the enclosed space and in the water.

I am surprised how well my body has adapted to altitude.  I have no trouble breathing perhaps because I am such a shallow breather that my body is used to less oxygen. Even as a baby I remember being in my mother’s womb and the doctors “turned me” because I was feet first.  We were living in Malaysia at the time, and health care was antiquated.  Now doctors never turn babies because of the health risks.   At the time of birth I had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck 5 times, because of being turned.  I was blue at the time of birth.  My father said he put his fingers under the cords so I could breathe.  I remember misinterpreting his actions-that he was trying to kill me.

I came into this world almost dead and breathless.   There are some theories that your breath represents your trust in life.  Those who are shallow breathers don’t have a full trust in life or the world.

In my 20’s I learned conscious connected breath work.  This is  a way to deepen your breath and unearth stress and patterns. Conscious connected breath works on the principle that there is a direct connection between mental and physical well-being and the openness of the breathing. Relaxing and releasing the breath dissolves tension in both the body and the mind. It was a profound experience being coached in breath work.  I had flashbacks to the womb and also before being born.  Flying over my mother as a spirit and choosing her because she would provide the most lessons to me, and that I could bring her love that she so desperately needed at the time.  I felt vibrated in as a soul to my mother.