Monday, September 24, 2012

Sacred Space

This past spring, I had the chance to spend some time in Mexico, visit Chichen Itza and Isla Mujeres. This place was incredibly magical, and I came across a poem I'd written there. This photo is taken on the end of the island, near the shrine to the goddess Ixchel. There was something about that exact space, there on the cliff, that made me feel like I was in the womb of the world.


Breathe the ebb
and dance the flow

Prostrate to the sea
- the know

The pregnant cove
its jagged back

The sitting sun
-horizon cracks

The yolk of pink
against the day
the busty sea
that lulls the beach
with salty fingers
-secrets reach

The moon that reigns
the sacred rites
of hips and feet
and breasts and light

Cliffs of souls
their edges lick
the ancient rocks
 with magic thick

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today, I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots for 

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y 
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 

This week I am grateful for

- Homemade pumpkin muffins on a custom autumn plate and a get well card brought to me by the 6 year old boy I nanny for, when I was under the weather.

- For the first time, being able to celebrate the Equinox with a large group of people, who offered food, song, and poetry throughout the night. (Usually I celebrate it by myself, or with only a few others.)

- Being able to touch compassion in moments that are very difficult and driven by ego.

- Cooler weather at night, and a pair of wool socks to keep my toes warm.

- A homemade Bangladeshi comfort food meal- sooooo soothing to my soul, and shared amongst dear people.

- Waking up earlier than usual, and having more space in my day because of it.

- Some words from a friend that reminded me of my own strength. We all need to be reminded of that sometimes.

- A yoga practice that allowed me to let go of some things I was holding very tightly to.
What are you grateful for?

Gratitude Sunday


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Equinox

Every year, as September nears its end, my soul exhales. And earth, it seems, becomes the great inhale. Of all the shifts in the wheel of the year, this one is my favorite. Slower than the others, and more spacious. Summer into autumn. One day you feel it- that crispness on the breeze that wasn't there the day before. And each day it becomes a little more noticeable. And then you catch the smell. The smell of autumn- that I have no idea how to describe. But it's there, and it feels like home.

There are those days where nothing seems to make sense because it's still so hot and sunny in the afternoon, and you're sweating just as much as you did all summer. But evening comes, and perhaps there's that first night you wear your wool socks. And it's back and forth like this, until the coolness creeps farther into the day, lingers a little longer. Equinox comes, and to me that means that soon enough I will be eating butternut squash soup and making pumpkin butter. The kitchen will smell like cinnamon and nutmeg, and warm mugs of tea will have a different significance.

This is also a time of reflection for me. My soul feels more solitude in autumn. Death a little closer. There's more space for me to exist. And more for me to let go. The leaves inspire me. The way they don't fight it. I can savor the transient nature of every moment- of my life. That nothing stays the same is more tangible this time of year. We know the trees will soon be bare. Somehow, my soul finds its way to bare as well.

On the way there, though, is the space of harvest and gratitude. The abundance of life that is the karma of spring and summer. We reap the fruits now. We see how far we've come, assess what we've learned. Find the gratitude there. Celebrate. Celebrate ourselves and our lives and each other.

I've written several dozen poems about autumn over the years. Tonight I'll be reading one at a harvest celebration. I thought I'd share a couple of them here.
The first, from years ago. The second, what I'll read tonight. Blessed equinox everyone.

Autumn flares inside me
like the elegance of death-
a cold and sunny burning,
bringing passion back to breath.
The crispness of crescendo
in the auburn flooded trees
is a pain that dances always
on the flavor of the breeze.
If music had a color,
then autumn it would be.
If sunlight has a lover,
it's the fire in the trees.
The loneliness of falling
is the sharp of autumn air,
and the vibrancy of changing
is the beauty that it bares.
The air turns-
the sun suddenly crisp
with ripening.

We move quietly
to pluck a moment from a branch.

The earth inhales,
and cloaks herself in autumn.

Life is closer to empty
now that the fields are bare-
the fruit preserved.

The leaves surrender
to time
with such colorful grace,

and green steps tenderly
aside to make room
for gray.

The birds fly south
so winter can have its silence.

There's a blossoming
in death,
not downward
or upward,

but opening

and space.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Temples of Nature

"It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter." John Muir, on Yosemite National Park

rainbow under Vernal Falls

view on the hike up to Glacier Point

hiking up to 8000 ft, some scary drops

Amazing rock formations

View of Half Dome from Glacier Point

View of Nevada Fall (top) and Vernal Fall from Glacier Point

View of Illilouette Fall through the trees

At the midpoint, waterfall pools, perfect swimming

View of Half Dome from the other side

At the top of Nevada Falls- so scary

Nevada Falls

I have been lucky enough to spend the past four days soaking up the wonders of Yosemite. A magical place, without doubt, and a place I've wanted to visit for years and years. I think of cartoons I watched as a kid that depicted Yosemite. And now I live only 3 hours away! 

We planned the trip last minute, and so chanced the lack of reservations. I think it worked out perfectly. At first, we stayed in White Wolf, a first-come campground north of the valley, and much higher in elevation. There were plenty of spots, but it was very cold at night. Then we went down to the valley and were able to snag the spots that people canceled for the rest of the time. We were pretty lucky because there were only 5 open spots one of those nights, and we still got one. The spots in the valley though are much more crowded and noisy. We had a very, very inconsiderate group next to us the last night, so I was a little grouchy the next morning.

We spent time wandering around, and driving through the park (it's an hour from White Wolf to the valley, and from the valley to Mariposa (the sequoia grove). And the speed limit in the park is 25 or 35- plenty of time to see the beauty.

The best part of the trip, besides the campfires and brilliant night skies and wildlife and fresh air and great food, was the epic hike we took on Monday. We originally decided to do the 4 mile trail, which is actually 4.8 miles up to Glacier Point... a 4000 ft elevation gain. We did this, and it was breathtaking, literally. The higher up we got, the more my fear of heights kicked in. In some spots, straying off the trail is a straight shot down-- so far down. But it was beautiful beyond measure. When we got to the top, it was a bit disappointing because you can also drive up to the point. So it was full of tourists in REI gear eating ice cream on the way from their cars to the viewpoint. I had to wait my turn to even get a picture. Blah. We talked to a man who said he'd met another man who made it up in 3 hours and so decided to take the Panorama Trail back down to the valley. We looked at eachother, realized we'd made it up in less than 3 hours, and decided to take that trail as well. Sure beat heading straight back down. From Glacier Point it's 8.5 miles back around to the other side and down to the valley, but you get views of 3 more falls and the entire valley. So we started down, down, down. We passed Illilouette Falls, and then found the most magical place in the states, yet. It's a series of pools and little falls, cascading down the mountain into the valley. The water in the pools has no current, so it's not like swimming near a waterfall. The pools are surrounded by granite, and the views are incredible. The water was brisk and fresh, and we took a little swim. So refreshing. This was the perfect thing to get us going again. We soon came to the top of Nevada Falls, which is one of the scarier spots I've been. You can look straight over the top of the falls, and if you walk down to the rocks beside, there are rails, and if you look out over the rail, you are so close to the rapidly falling water, and you can watch it hit the rocks straight down. Ugh. Awe inducing. Hiking from there to Vernal Falls below was the most difficult part of the day for me. The trail was pure rock covered in dirt, and my shoes are wearing out so they were not gripping. It was slippery and steep and there was not much room for error. Luckily I had a stick, and I just took it super slow. I need some better shoes. It was worth it, though. We made it back down to the valley around 7 pm, after starting at 10 am. It was the perfect day, with epic views.

Before leaving, we drove to the south side of the park to check out the giant sequoias at Mariposa grove. You had to take a shuttle to the grove and deal with hordes of tourists aimlessly wandering through the area. More ice cream there, too. (What's up with all the ice cream in Yosemite?) It was difficult for me to appreciate fully the beauty of those trees because of all the people around. I guess after a day of being away from all the people, that kind of energy is more intrusive. Some of the trees there are 2000 years old. Blows my mind. But they didn't seem so large. I may be spoiled by all the redwoods. 

This place, overall, is indescribable. What a wonderful getaway into nature. I really miss going on hikes regularly, and getting out into the wilderness. The Bay Area is so crowded- it seems impossible to really get out there.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

I'm joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 

What I've been grateful for this week:

- Spending time with children who are getting so excited about the coming of autumn. We even made caramel apples with the first apples that are ready out here.
- A soak in an epsom salt bath, with a cup of holy basil tea, when my body was aching and sore from yoga.
- The smiling faces of people- strangers and friends- which brighten my day.
- An inspiring day spent with people who are actively trying to create enlightened society.
- A card from my grandmother.
- Leaves beginning to crunch underfoot.
- A bouquet of flowers from a beloved little boy.
- Playlists that match my mood and the weather on bike rides to work.

- A moment of space, sitting with my back against a gingko tree, just breathing.

What are you thankful for?

Gratitude Sunday