Finding Your New Normal

20 Apr

Hey there! How is everyone doing out there? Here I am, in many ways I imagine, just like you doing my best to hunker down, lay low, play it safe and stay sane. I imagine also like you, my life has been rearranged in ways I wasn’t expecting. My living circumstances and location have changed. My surroundings have changed. My lifestyle has changed. And some days this is all okay. And other days it feels like everything just might come crumbling down. I have had my good days and I’ve had my bad moments and days.

As I was wading through some really intense emotions that I just didn’t know what to do with, I had a bit of a breakthrough. I needed to let it out. I got out my journal which had been neglected for nearly a year and wrote… and wrote and wrote. And I got out my drawing journal where I occasionally do a bit of colorful abstract meanderings, sharpened my colored pencils and just sort of went at it and… I feel a bit better. In the midst of all of this, I feel I’ve “figured out” a few things… so this is how it all looks to me.

Our lives have all wreaked havoc and our external “normal” has been stripped away. While this is uncomfortable and challenging, the opportunity here isn’t to get back to “normal” but to shift from within to a new normal. Let’s face it, our “normal” lives, while we were used to them and their familiarity, didn’t always work and left certain essential aspects of ourselves out in the cold. With our normal stripped away, it actually grants us an opportunity to disentangle from the trappings of that pattern that weren’t serving us and reconnect within to some of our inner lights that have been disconnected, forgotten, neglected or cast aside. I saw in myself all the large and small ways I had kicked important elements of myself “off the boat” for a variety of reasons – I didn’t have time, I felt I wasn’t good enough, I was more worried about making money. I was even ashamed of certain aspects of myself or too worried about what other people thought, so I ignored them or tossed them aside.

But here’s the deal, when we’re not being ourselves our lives don’t fully work. And while sometimes this may present a challenge as we feel people in our lives or society at large demand that we be a certain way, it truly is our life’s journey to become more aligned with who we really are. So as our normal is stripped away, it’s an opportunity to connect within to what feels true, soft, real for each of us personally and allow it – give it just a little breathing room to be. Through this experience we can transform from the inside out into a new normal.

Some of us may be feeling trapped, but perhaps the real trap is the myriad of ways we have cut ourselves off from our authentic selves. Access to freedom comes in reconnecting to ourselves and what is true for us if even in small ways.

So how do we do this?  I imagine this is a distinct journey for each of us, but here are few of my thoughts…

  1. Do something you love just for the joy of it. Not because it will get you something (recognition, approval, money, success) or that it is expected of you but simply because it’s a joy for you to do it. Let that be enough.
  2. Start a daily journal. It doesn’t have to be anything prolific or fancy but just a place where you can come daily to write down what’s so for you on this day. And if it inspires you, get yourself something cool, beautiful or fancy to write in.
    • Here’s a link to a pretty spiral bound notebook for journaling.
    • Here’s a great journal to revisit and chronicle your life called This Life of Mine by Anne Phyfe Palmer.
  3. Explore keeping a visual journal. This doesn’t have to be much, you can get a spiral bound blank sheet notebook and some colored pencils without much expense. Then just show up at the page daily or from time to time without judgement and just let it out.
  4. Support your journey with Young Living Essential Oils. I have to tell you, these oils have been a life saver in assisting me with moving through and transforming the emotional challenges and rocky roads that have come up recently along the journey. Favorites include Young Living Stress Away, Lavendar and Valor.  If you’re curious about these you can read more here and feel free to reach out.

One additional note of something I recognized in myself… it’s easy to blame those around us for any challenges or for feelings trapped. We’re all human – I know I am!  And truly some circumstances may work better than others or not be a fit for us. But as a starting point, I am seeing my own access to greater freedom comes from not looking outside but instead looking inside myself and beginning, one day at a time, to continue the journey of setting myself free as a launching point to a better “reality.”

Those are my musings for now from my temporary respite in the midwest. Wishing all of you the best in your own journey of excavation and finding your new normal!

Trust Reiki

18 Apr

I started practicing the Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition of Reiki more than 15 years ago now. I was introduced to Reiki in a synchronistic passing with a neighbor on Carrollton Ave in New Orleans, LA.  “You should try Reiki” he suggested and it was as if a little bell rang in my ear. “Yes I should!” I thought.  A few weeks later I saw a Reiki flyer at the local yoga studio which connected me with a class by Reiki Master Elizabeth Ohmer Pellgrin.  And so my Reiki journey began.

I’ll be honest with you, my beginnings with Reiki started off a bit choppy. My body was so wracked with the depth of recent challenges and a lifetime of “holding on tight” in the midst of traumatic circumstances that when I gave myself Reiki my body practically convulsed and the energy was met with my own habitual resistance.  “Trust Reiki” Elizabeth encouraged and I did, continuing with my daily practice. “I am turning into a gloworm” I joked as I noticed a palpable shift in my body and being with regular self Reiki treatments.

I was fortunate to become part of a vibrant Reiki community. We met regularly for group treatments in various circles all over town. I made new friends and connections and Elizabeth was a steadfast support in my journey. I felt swept up and supported in a whole new way that formed the beginning of a new foundation.

A few years later when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and we were dispersed everywhere, Reiki was there. I met up with Elizabeth in Austin, TX  for a private second degree class. I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table in my temporary Austin abode excited and enchanted by the new leg of my journey.

Elizabeth shared the story of asking her first Reiki teacher, Ken Bower, the difference between first and second degree. He said, “Honey, first degree is like driving a Volkswagen. Second degree is like driving a Lamborghini.” Elizabeth said “Ken, how can you compare something as spiritual as Reiki to cars?”  He smiled and said, “You’ll see!” About two minutes later he pointed to a fancy car Elizabeth had never seen before. She raised her eyebrows and said “What?” He smiled and said “THAT’S a Lamborghini” as it sped off like a jet!

With second degree I began to support myself and others in new ways. A few years later when I took a leap and left the United States and began an unexpected international adventure, Reiki was there.  As someone who was very sensitive and still challenged by simple and day to day things, Elizabeth encouraged me to send Reiki to those in our community not only to support them, but to support me. Amazingly, as I began to devote more time daily to the practice of sending Reiki to others, my own challenges and discomforts lessened.  It felt like through sending I was becoming aligned with that energy and the more I stayed there, the better I felt.

I had the opportunity one year to attend the Northwest Reiki gathering at Breitenbush in Oregon.  I loved not only meeting and connecting with other Reiki practitioners and learning from the wisdom of the Masters, but also soaking in that energy for a weekend. I was at a crossroads in my work life at the time and I’ll never forget, after bathing in Reiki all weekend I just KNEW what I needed to do. In my “ordinary life” the choice that it supported may have seemed like a risk, but after a weekend of Reiki it felt like walking on solid ground.

As the years have gone by, Reiki has been my refuge, as I lean thickly and heavily on my daily self hands-on practice and hearty distant practice. As my New Orleans community has dispersed and grown, we still stay connected via a second degree Facebook group.  In this group we share our own Reiki requests and those in our community and send Reiki regularly. This daily devotion has become one of the pillars in my life and where I turn to provide a foundation for myself in the midst of ordinary life as well as crisis and challenges.

I am someone who has experienced a lot of upheaval and challenge. This includes physical and mental health challenges and challenges from the past. I had my apartment and all my belongings destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and then once again all my belongings were destroyed a few years later in a leaky storage unit in the hot humid city.  This launched me on an unexpected five year extravaganza abroad filled with interesting but also challenging twists and turns living in Europe and Asia. And in the past few years, my North Carolina apartment flooded, which began my house and pet sitting tour of the United States which has lasted over a year now. Through it all, Reiki was and continues to be there. My steady practice lays the stones that one by one support the building of an unshakable home no matter what is happening in my life or where I am.

In the midst of new challenges and in the wake of my journey and experiences, I hear the words of my teacher and the many teachers among her and before her. Trust Reiki.

Refuge

21 Mar

For over a year now I have been on the move, roaming about the country as a full-time house and pet sitter. Honestly, it’s been a time of uncertainty for me and the flexibility and change has been a way for me to stay in the flow as I continue to explore… what now and what next. I’ve been hanging out in the Austin, TX area for the past six months or so fortunate that the sits in the area have kept coming. It started with a few months in a community just outside Austin and then extended to a wonderful respite caring for two kitties on a beautiful stretch of land on a creek on the outskirts of the city limits.

More recently, I was settled for a bit in a suburban South Austin neighborhood until… you guessed it… coronavirus. Not a good time to be a housesitter. My clients were on an extended trip abroad in Southeast Asia and, as can be expected, they made a decision to come home early. Because of their travels and the risky airports they had to fly through on their way home, they were understandably asked to quarantine for fourteen days and so I had a quick window to pack up myself, prepare their home, and redirect my life for the short term.

As I am sure you can imagine, the housesitting world is quite shut down right now. My standard housesitting websites that are regularly a bounty of options if not in the neighborhood at least in the region are simply not available. I am fortunate that my mom offered for me to stay with her and so earlier this week I once again packed up the SUV and trekked from Austin to the midwest.

So here I am hunkered down in my mom’s guest bedroom surfing through some of my regular life of tending to my remote work. And like the rest of us, doing my best to stay informed while keeping that balance of not “too much.”  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t taking a toll on me. Like I am sure many of you out there, I feel anxious, nervous and overwhelmed while also simply doing my best to stay centered and at ease.

As a full-time solo traveler for much of this decade and a remote worker these past years, it would be fair to say that I have some experience with isolation. At times it can be joyful and satisfying. At other times a bit trying and maddening. Over the years I’ve done my best to appreciate the opportunity in it, seek the joy in it. That said, I can’t deny that yes, while our current circumstances are temporary, there is an unmistakable ring of confusion and anxiety in the air that makes it challenging for me to just sink in and enjoy the time.

That said, here are some of the things that I regularly lean on when the world around me feels confusing or I feel disconnected or off-kilter.

1. Reiki.  Ah Reiki. I have been practicing Reiki for nearly 15 years now. It’s a regular part of me and my life and its flow through my world is akin to breathing now. With my years of travel and someone who lives with and is healing from at times paralyzing anxiety, it has been a necessary and extraordinarily useful ingredient in making my way from point A to point B in the world and overcoming challenges and moments day to day that have me at times feeling stuck, overloaded and stopped. Regular doses of Reiki for myself and others are an important fuel that forms the basis of my daily life.

Would you like to try Reiki?  Reiki is something that can be done from a distance. Just for fun, for this coming week, I will offer four 15-minute distant Reiki treatments for free. Would you like to be one of them? Simply contact me in the next couple of days and lets set that up. If you’d like to learn more about Reiki, visit my page on Reiki.

2.  Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I have been chanting this almost daily for nearly a decade now. It’s so simple. I keep doing it because I can’t deny that when I chant things shift and I feel better. Have a little time on your hands? Try chanting for ten minutes. Here is a link to a video to show you how.

3.  Young Living Essential Oils. I have been using Young Living Essential Oils for over a year now. I love how they can shift my mood, support my health and deepen my spiritual practices. I am leaning heavily on Thieves oil at this time. The history of this oil goes back to the plague when thieves used this combination of oils to protect them from illness. I’ve had some amazing experiences with Young Living Thieves oil myself including stopping a severe reaction to mold in its tracks. Follow the link if you’d like to learn more. And feel free to reach out with questions.

4. Ho’oponopono. My trusted Reiki teacher just reminded me today of this prayer and Hawaiin practice. It can be used for others, for ourselves, current circumstances and those from the past. Surely we can all use a little forgiveness at this time for ourselves and others.  I know I can. It goes like this: I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

Well, that’s all for now from coronavirus in the heartland. My life once again recently rearranged.  I’m in it with all of you… laying low, watching some movies and doing my best to stay centered and connected with powerful tools and practices.

Back in Texas

10 Oct

I’ve been in the Austin, Texas area for about a month now. I have to admit that my landing has been a little less than elegant. A series of car issues and just a feeling of “adjustment” have had me feeling not quite on my feet.

I lived in the Austin area for a few years in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Known as an “evacuee” at the time, it was a powerful and transformational period for me. Returning almost 15 years later is quite a trip. Austin has, shall we say, exploded! Honestly, it was a bit of a jolt to see the maze of new highways, strip malls, building and shopping developments in the town I lived in and called home for a bit. As I’ve been here a while longer I have had glimpses of the town that I loved and the place that for a little while felt like “home.”

One of my favorite places to return to has been Unity Church of the Hills. This church was a bit of a refuge for me when I lived here post-Katrina. It’s where I first heard Gary Renard speak (author of Disappearance of the Universe) which had a major impact on my spiritual thinking. It’s where I went to a sound healing session and got my first truly deep restful nights sleep in the wake of the upheaval of hurricane Katrina. Years later, with new ministers at the helm, the church is as dynamic and alive as ever. Their message is so gentle, powerful and loving. It is a great community to take a dip in while I am here.

Black Tourmaline

After a year of traveling and house and pet sitting in the US, while in many ways I am so grateful for the diversion and new scenery (and still want more of it!), I am also a bit exhausted from the constant change and travel. More recently here in Austin I have found myself in need of a bit of an “attitude adjustment.” Stumbling upon a few friendly reminders like “laughter yoga” and the importance of laughter for health and even a “chance encounter” with a powerful healing stone, black tourmaline, to lift off some of the negativity (in myself and the world at large) have made a difference.

Some of the people I turn to for wisdom and advice talk about this time in general as one of great change and spiritual shift. Perhaps even an inner revolution of sorts. Can you feel it? I know I feel that myself, my world and the world are being rocked in a deep way.

When “the going gets rough” I turn to my favorite trusted resources to help smooth out the ride.

Young Living Oils Lavender and Valor

  • Young Living Essential Oils  These oils are my constant companion, especially when things feel a bit rough. Valor and Lavender (among many others) are a few big hitters that bring some groundedness, soften some of the anxiety, and restore a bit of equilibrium to my mind, body and being. Would you like to learn more?
  • Healthy eating.  Wow, it really makes a difference. I have to be honest, when I am stressed or feeling a lot of emotional intensity I want to run for comfort food. But I do my best to make good choices in times of stress. Eating a healthy base makes such a big difference in my body, mind and mood. It’s critical. Recently I’ve been revisiting the site of Kris Carr (https://kriscarr.com/), cancer survivor and wellness guru. I’ve especially loved reading about her meal planning tips (https://kriscarr.com/blog/kris-carr-crazy-sexy-meal-plan/) and exploring some of her recipes!
  • Spiritual Nourishment. I have to say, I love God. And for me spiritual nourishment, connection comes in many forms. My daily reiki practice. My buddhist chanting practice of Nam-myoho renge kyo. Time in nature. Being inspired by the beautiful music of “Celebration” at Unity Church of the Hills. It’s all good. And for me, it’s all needed, helpful, useful and inspiring. What do you turn to for your spiritual nourishment?

When I feel like I am in the dark, I also appreciate pulling a few cards. Sometimes this means a tarot reading from my own deck or a professional reading. I also enjoy getting a quick burst of insight from Collette Barron Reid’s online card ap (https://www.colettebaronreid.com/). I am amazed at how often her cards deliver a morsel of wisdom that helps me refocus, regroup, realign in way that is meaningful and helpful.

Here’s wishing you a little peace, wisdom and laughter wherever you are in the world, whatever your journey!

Landed

10 Jun

My world has been in motion! Since my apartment flooded in October 2018 and I loaded up my car and flew the coop I have been in Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts and Michigan. My recent series of house and pet sitting appointments have served me well – some downtime, new scenery, BIG personal growth, old & new connections. Each location has been a burst of fresh air in its own right (and at times a burst of cold air… brrr… with chilly spring temperatures up north) plus appreciated doses of natural beauty.  

My most recent trek found me leaving Ann Arbor, Michigan and on to my current nesting spot where, happily, I will be for the summer. I have landed in a charming college town in the heartland, not far from family. My last few days I have been busily undoing a bit of my travel-self tucked up in my SUV and settling in… just a bit more with the luxury of a little stretch of time.

I am pet and house sitting for a senior woman off for the summer in her rented cottage in France while I happily stay here with her kitty and tend to the modest needs of her home. My mind and body relax just a little as I hurriedly rush around unpacking but then – catch a glimpse of the trees, hills, open blue sky and lush green land leaping inside from the window.

I have just dipped my toe in the new scene of my summer abode. You know the standards… a visit to the local farmers market and neighborhood food coop – both lovely and satisfying with high quality and a friendly easy atmosphere.

My mind and body are still somewhat on the go as I do my best to coax them into a little stillness. Tending to a little old business, a little new business and a new furry companion who is friendly, but definitely still keeping an eye on me to see if I meet with her approval. There is a downstairs room filled with a Steinway grand piano where I try to coax out a few songs from the memory of my childhood hands that so loved to play.

And so the journey continues. Landed for now in a soft and sweet spot. Here comes summer!

The Adventure Continues

22 May

I am cuddled up in my quiet new digs in the latest stop on my house and pet sitting adventure. This new journey that launched me from Dallas, Texas has taken me to the coast of Wilmington, NC and the busy Virginia “suburbs” of DC. Next, I landed in the Boston, MA area where I happened upon a series of pet sitting opportunities which kept me in the beautiful but “a bit too chilly” Northeast for over month. I departed just recently and am now happily resting in Michigan for a few weeks caring for a fluffy friendly kitty and an enthusiastic assembly of hens.

In my travels and meeting people who travel, I was always curious about exploring house and pet sitting. When I landed in Asheville, NC for a few years, as I got a little restless, it was steadily on my mind. So when it was time to leave my temporary abode in Dallas it seemed only natural to throw my hat into the house and pet sitting ring. It started with securing one gig… then another and another.

So far, my traveling times as a pet and house sitter have been of the satisfying mellow variety. I’ve enjoyed the simple happiness of residing in “four new walls,” the steadfast company of some friendly furry creatures, and the leisurely exploration of my new scenery and surroundings. In a lot of ways, it’s been and continues to be an important time to regroup – lean on the spiritual practices I love including Reiki, get rest and nurture myself, and continue to tend to the fires, challenges and interests of my “inner world.” Along the way, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with a few welcome faces from the past.

It’s been fun from time to time to take a little outing, a trek to someplace new in my latest temporary hood.  Whether it’s connecting with a local Art of Living group for long Kriya, taking in a little jazz at the local piano summit, or diving into the beauty of nature… “getting out” and “getting away” in an easy, “no-stress” way is an important part of the journey.

As always, the rhythm of my life and journey is met with my own challenges with overwhelm, anxiety and fatigue. Being a steadfast caretaker of my health in ways that feel natural, supportive and healthy to me are a big part of my daily way. No matter where I go, I rely on the simple things like my joyful geekiness in seeking out the local natural and organic stores (there are about FIVE or SIX DIFFERENT ones in my latest location!!).

More recently, in the past year or so, I have added Young Living Essential Oils to my daily natural health dance. It is a true joy to be so gentle with myself using and experimenting with the oils to soften the constant nervous tensions often locked in my body. Recently I made an essential oil spray from Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, Panaway and Copaiba Young Living essential oils combined with a natural fractionated coconut carrier oil. It makes such a difference to start and end the day with them. Since adding this practice I have days and moments when I am just so aware and appreciate the ease present in my body that simply wasn’t available or accessible to me before.

It’s a mostly rainy day today in my latest abode. There’s been a lot of rain lately. I am using it as an excuse to take it slow and am fortunate to be sitting in the midst of a beautiful glass sunroom as I peck away at my computer.

So long for now from the “it’s a little too chilly for Spring” land in the Northern US.

New Territory

1 Mar

I pulled a few cards this morning, as I sometimes do, from a guidance deck (www.colettebaronreid.com). The first card was “Compass” with the message saying that I am in unchartered territory and the importance of staying pointed to True North (God, Spirit, Buddha Nature). Plus a reminder that those other things – money, property, prestige, romance – can’t help you find your true path. They are just things you may experience along the journey. All helpful reminders.

So here I am in unchartered territory, the coast of North Carolina to be more precise. As my temporary Dallas abode quickly wrapped up, I was fortunate to get a brief housesitting opportunity in a North Carolina coastal town. So I went through the familiar but not quite fun process of undoing the little life I had set up in Dallas, shrunk my belongings back to car-size, neatly packed up my vehicle and was on my way.

Transitions are never easy for me. During uncertain times there is one thing I can be certain of – that I will need to lean heavily on my collection of spiritual resources to make it through. My favorites include my practice of Reiki, my chanting practice with SGI and the delightful and supportive aromatherapy of Young Living products.

The bright side, of course, is that in this space of great change and uncertainty my mind, body, soul and being don’t have to stay in a rut. While my travel wheels feel a bit rusty after being mostly still for a few years in the Asheville area, it undoubtedly does me some good to let go a little bit, move out and about and shift.

For now, I am in a comfortable bed in a house on a quiet tree-lined street with the companionship of a sweet black fluffy dog equally grateful for my company. I am here just for the short term. Enough time for a few good walks on the beach, the smell of the fresh sea air. And then, on to more house sitting!

Where it will go from here is still quite a mystery to me!  Sometimes this uncertainty bothers me and… sometimes I find myself just more comfortable with it all. As my dedicated Reiki teacher always reminds me, allow things to unfold. When we try to plan, project and figure it all out mostly we end up with a ball of stress, but likely not any creative solutions. So I plan some. I tend to the practicalities that are needed. I seek and explore. And yes, I sometimes end up in a ball of stress! But then I do my best to put those things aside and lean on the things I know I can count on – the sound of “nam myoho renge kyo” reverberating through my body, the comfort of Reiki energy bringing back a renewed sense of equilibrium.

For today, it looks like rain. From the looks of things so far, the intense lounging of the dog by my side and my own casual feel, I think it will be a quiet day for us both today. A little work. A little tending to things and exploration.

How about you? Any new territory being explored in your life?  How do you nurture yourself during times of great change and uncertainty?

Bye for now from my unchartered territory on the coast of North Carolina.

Going with the Flow in the New Year

5 Jan

It’s the New Year and I find myself in unexpected territory. I am curled up in my bed indulging in an extended Saturday morning. But there are no mountains outside my window. No cold North Carolina winter breeze barking through my door. I am, of all places, in Texas.

Why am I in Texas you may ask? Well, as things tend to go with my life I was, let’s just say… redirected. As you may know I was living in the Asheville, NC area, Hendersonville to be exact, in a simple ground floor apartment. One particularly rainy wet morning I got up to what I assumed would be an ordinary day and instead was greeted by a pool of water in my kitchen. A good size puddle. I soon discovered that this watery invasion was not just in the kitchen but throughout the apartment… in the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom. I called my landlord who lived upstairs in the home above me and she scurried down to clean up the water and I began to pack my things. As the rain continued to come down and we were more than saturated in recent years with rain, we weren’t sure what might unfold.

In the end, it wasn’t much. But it was enough… to wreck the apartment and require my landlord discern how and if she would move forward with repairs. As I could no longer live there, we parted amicably and I hit the road.

All my things fit in my SUV. Thankfully I was still sort of living my gypsy ways. Hesitant to buy things. Not liking to have “too much” or burden myself with belongings. The apartment came furnished, so with just a moderate amount of discomfort and unexpected effort on an early rainy morning, I was packed up and out the door.

I spent a few days at a friend’s home in Asheville then headed to the midwest to visit family and stayed with my mom for a few weeks. I returned to Asheville for a business meeting and then… I went to Texas. Texas wasn’t exactly part of the “plan.” But it was a generous offer from a friend in my Reiki community for an available and safe place to land. With a bit of exhaustion but fair degree of willingness, I made my way.

The backside of this story is the idea of change was in the air. I hadn’t traveled in the two years I had been in Asheville and was hungry for some new scenery. I had been feeling stuck and in a rut, yet wasn’t sure what to do about it. In comes a solution, as unexpected and inconvenient as it may be.

I’ve been here a few months now. This diversion has offered a taste of freshness and newness I was needing. But it has also been a big adjustment. Instead of hearing the sounds of nature, I hear the buzz of the busy road nearby. In my first week I managed to accidentally drive on two toll roads and run a red light that had a traffic camera on it. One day for reasons beyond my understanding, my GPS started speaking Spanish.

So here I am, tucked in my temporary Texas abode. There’s a fire in the fireplace and the roar of local traffic outside my window. As I awaken into 2019, I am on a detour of sorts and not quite sure where the road is going. With much gratitude and some anxiety along the way, I am doing my best to go with the flow in the New Year.

Day Trippin’

26 Aug

As I haven’t had any international escapades in some time, or much wandering of any kind really… it’s time for this gypsy soul to have a little movement. No big agenda, no big plans. But for now – a little day-tripping. You know how it goes… getting out of the familiar, if even just an hour or so away, and exploring some new territory.

How lucky am I that my current abode is seated right in the heart of some astounding natural beauty. So off I’ve been exploring some of the area… not too far away, but still getting out of town!

Caesars Head State Park

Just a 45 minute drive and I found myself in South Carolina at Caesars Head State Park. A gentle mostly scenic journey, I easily made my way to the visitor’s center and checked things out.  The park staff directed me up the road to the top attraction, the view. While my glimpse at the scenic overlook was shall we say… a bit foggy ( it was like staring out into a white abyss…)… thankfully, after a brief hiking excursion when I returned I had a better view. It was something like this.

View Caesars Head State Park
Triple Falls

DuPont State Forest

This well traveled North Carolina Park packs a powerful waterfall punch! Strung together by a series of mild to moderate (at times somewhat steep!) trails, this friendly well marked park is a breeze for getting out into nature and taking in some breathtaking scenery. How fortunate to have such amazing blasts of nature not too far down the road.

The waterfalls of DuPont State Forest include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. My favorite was High Falls. I also loved the base of Triple Falls. There I climbed the somewhat extensive series of steps to find my way to the base. How satisfying it was just to be in its presence and to take in not only the beauty but the feel of the falls.

High Falls

Swamp Rabbit Trail

Swamp Rabbit Trail Travelers Rest

This 22 mile rails-to-trails greenway runs from Greenville, SC to just beyond Travelers Rest, SC. Greenville is about 50 minutes south of me so I made an afternoon of it and checked out the area a bit.

As my ankle never fully recovered from a tumble down some stairs in France, I am always on the lookout for new flat places to walk – kind of a odd exploration when you live in the mountains!  Nonetheless, I continue my quest!

I started in Travelers Rest, the trail end closest to me. I parked my car near the heart of downtown and took in the scenery. The trail was easy to find – friends and families out on a Sunday afternoon mostly pedalling and some walkers on the trail alongside the road. I checked out the small collection of restaurants and shops blossoming near the trail. And when my curiosity was satisfied, I headed for the trail myself.

Swamp Rabbit Trail Greenville

True confession – I perhaps “cheated” just a bit in my first Swamp Rabbit excursion. As I was on foot, I quickly decided this portion of the trail is perhaps best suited for cyclers. I walked for …just a bit… in Travelers Rest as bicyclers buzzed by and not too much scenery to take in for the “slow travelers.”  I soon decided to return to my car, drive to Greenville and check out the other end of the trail. Kind of like reading the first page of a book and then skipping to the ending…

I caught the trail again in Greenville at Falls Park in the heart of the city. A tiny little green refuge in the midst of Greenville’s small but notable city bustle, the park features a man-made waterfall and hooks you right up with the Swamp River trail.

Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville

Paris Mountain State Park

Lake Placid Loop Trail

Just outside of Greenville, I found my way to this park as part of a little shopping excursion. Always great to get back to nature when out and about! While this park doesn’t offer the “blow you away” kind of nature, it was still a satisfying immersion and connection with some trees, earth and water – ah, something that always soothes the soul! A gentle loop trail around the lake (helpful for those of us with a history of getting… shall we say… misdirected out in nature) this simple diversion was a welcome and restoring break!

Dam at Lake Placid

How about you? Have you done any day trippin’ lately? What a way to go when you just need to get away, take a break and change the scenery a bit!

Turning Poison Into Medicine

20 Jul

It’s been a bit of an odd day. I have worn myself out with my share of emotional excavation. I am tired.

This time in my life partnered with a few situations that have me feeling all twisty inside is moving around my emotional furniture – and you know what a pain remodeling and redecorating can be. At times, it’s been an overwhelming day with situations that have me feeling bent for reasons I do not fully understand. But then while chanting today I remembered an important element of my Buddhist practice – turning poison into medicine.

I had almost forgotten about it. But as I sat chanting in front of my Gohonzon it came to mind. The idea behind turning poison into medicine is that any situation, no matter how painful, can be transformed into something that can be of use -helpful even. Remembering this set me free just a bit because it’s a reminder that in circumstances that are troubling to me I don’t have to be a victim. I can choose to transform it to something that will truly serve me and my life.

I appreciate bringing my challenges to the Gohonzon and being able to place all of it there. I don’t have to hold back or be embarrassed. I can bring all my troubles there no matter what they are. And I can begin to transform them.

In SGI Buddhism the way to change poison into medicine is by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I also chant chapters from the Lotus Sutra. How grateful I am to have a practice that opens a door to a little bit of freedom instead of feeling trapped in my circumstances. It’s like a powerful lantern when I feel I need to find my way out of the dark.

So just appreciating this access. It’s sort of like a trap door when you’re not sure how to get out. Turning poison into medicine gives us power in the big and small challenges of life’s journey.

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