Tag Archives: New Orleans

Winter

20 Dec

Well, it seems that winter is here in the Black Forest in Southern Germany.  A nice surprise for me after spending many years in the mostly snow-free zone of New Orleans, Louisiana.  I woke up this morning, looked out the window to see the snow coming down, white powder collecting on the roof of Michael’s BMW Wagon.  A big smile crept up from within me… unexpected – a childlike delight at seeing the snow coming down.

It seems that the winter, the cold and the snow are calling for things to slow down a little bit.  The chill in the air and the holidays around the corner are setting the pace.  I am enjoying the simple things of spending time with Imke, Michael and their children.  And I have some time for a little peace and respite on my own in the privacy of their ground floor.  I am noticing little joys here like drinking Black Forest water… native to the area and distributed… free! at the local grocery stores.  When Michael and Imke return from the grocery store, Michael reminds me that it is at its natural temperature… cool and refreshing!  And recently to discover that the Black Forest Chocolate cake I have eaten since I was a kid… is in fact from this area in Germany… the Black Forest.  Of course!

Yesterday I took a nice walk not far from their home… just meters away, a long fresh walk surrounded by the Forest and the hills.  The walk was kind to my New Orleans flat land loving legs… some incline, but modest… yes… kind.  The path was dotted with sculptures… but to me the real beauty was the landscape.  Sometimes I feel like I just need to disappear into the outdoors for a bit… lose myself in something… greater than me.  Surrendering to the outdoors which somehow feels… limitless…

I continue to be of simple assistance here, a little vacuuming, cleaning up after lunch and dinner.  Sometimes at night I indulge myself in watching  videos of the television show House.  A little American escape.  Michael and Imke also watch the show, but when they watch House and his colleagues are speaking German.  Here in Germany most television shows and movies are from other places, with German voices dubbed in.  For the first time the other day, watching House, I had an experience, a thought of United States and American culture being something separate… something other from who I am and where I am… a piece of the puzzle, yes,  but not the whole pie… Previously after so many years of swimming in the big pond of the States, it has seemed like that’s all there was.

I will be here for just a few more days with definite plans of what’s next still to unfold.  I was reminded by my host, Imke, that Winter is a time of things being stagnant, dying off… and then in spring things begin to bloom again. Giving myself permission to surrender and enjoy the slow pace that is presenting itself.  In that spirit, she encouraged me to.. of course… go with the flow.

And in that spirit, I will enjoy my day in the Black Forest surrounded by a little white powder, cool fresh air outside, and a warm fire inside.  Just another day.  In winter in the Black Forest.

In the flow

15 Dec

Here I am… in the Black Forest… in the flow.  I will not be visiting here much longer… and some things are uncertain.  It seems I need to make some plans for what is next, but it also seems that life has a plan of its own.

Yesterday Imke gave me a Craniosacral treatment, a gentle but powerful form of body therapy.  She says that when you give Cranio, you may have a plan of what you might like to do… but the body has its own ideas where it will lead you. During the treatment, paying attention to the flow of my body,  Imke said, “your body is telling me that it has had enough…”  And so it was true.  Last night I found my body just wanting to give in and rest as the desire for sleep and relaxation overtook me.  This morning I woke up and just felt a little … better being me…. in distinct and noticable ways.

So for today, I am happy and content in the Black Forest with Imke and Michael and their children.  And what is next is still uncertain.  I have registered to participate in a ten-day Vipassana Retreat in the Netherlands over the holidays, but am on a waiting list.  Vipassana is a type of meditation.  The retreat is a silent one where you are taught and practice their style of meditation for ten days.  I have been in contact with them… and there is still a possibility that I might attend, there still may be an opening… but I will likely not know until next week.  I am so grateful for the possibility that I may get to go and still wondering, exploring and piecing together my plans.

The past few days in the Black Forest have been… pretty good.  Yes we have had our days of rain and weather, but still moments to sneak out and take in a little bit of the scenery.  A few days ago I headed out on a rainy afternoon, caught the train just steps from their door, and headed a little further into the Black Forest to a small town called Forbach.  With a chill in the air and the threat of rain, the sweet but quiet town was lovely… but beyond that … on this cold day it did not seem to have much to offer this Gypsy English-speaking traveler.  I stopped in a little bakery/coffee shop and grabbed a cup of tea.  I used my very small handful of German words and phrases and then resorted to my… “Do you speak English?”  Alas, here in this small town in the Black Forest… the answer was no.  So I enjoyed my tea.  Attempted to communicate a little using my hands and explanations… but just as I did not speak or understand Germany, they did not understand me.  So I thanked them and chose on the rainy afternoon to leave Forbach and explore a little further.

I went back to the train station and bought a ticket to go further still into a town I was advised to visit by Michael.  It is called Freudenstadt.  I was a bit hesitant of traveling to this destination as the wind and the rain picked up and the early evening sky was coming, but also wanting to get out and explore a little bit more.  So I endured the rain and carried on.  The train ride there is beautiful, even in the rain.  Michael said that this ride is known as on of the most beautiful train rides in Germany.  Surrounded by the hills, going through tunnels and valleys.  And just the feeling of being somewhere out, away from big cities in the open beauty of the Black Forest felt new… to me.

In about a half and hour or so I was in Freudenstadt.  There were three stops from the train that had Freudenstadt in their name… and I was unsure where to get off.  So I used my best judgement and got off at the main train station.  My first thought was, as it was almost 4pm, it was getting darker and the rain and the wind continued… I better figure when the train is returning.  Days earlier there had been a strike on the train line and I wanted to be clear and sure for myself that there was a way back.  I entered the train station and found the information center.  A friendly office with one person in line ahead of me.  Kindly, he offered for me to go ahead of him.  “I am an English speaker” I let him know in a friendly way.  Luckily he understood.  I let him know I was in no hurry and so he went ahead to get his questions answered.  As I was next in line, the employee at the train station asked him to stay and help… as my questions were in English and he did not speak good English…  I asked my basic question about return, was comforted about the availability and regularity of the train and headed out.

While leaving, I asked this friendly German, wearing a hat and bolo tie looking a  like a combination of Indian Jones and an Australian adventurer… of sorts… “If I was to walk around here for a little bit, what would be interesting to see?”…  “Nothing interesting here” he assured me.  He let me know that the next stop back, in the direction where I came from, was where I wanted to go.  He too was headed in that direction and offered to escort me.

Quickly the train arrived and we found our way to the next stop.  Despite the rain, and wind and darkness, the area still felt warm with life.  He pointed the direction to their large market and shopping, the largest in Germany, or… perhaps I would like to join him for a drink.  Hmmm… I thought… and then hesitantly said…” Well, I don’t really drink…”  And then, “sure… okay”.  I joined him just around the corner for a German beer and we talked a bit as he was a good communicator in English.  A little nervous sometimes around unknown men, I found my instinct and intuition assured me he was a nice guy.  After the drink we walked around the center of town lit up with Christmas lights and shopping.  It was beautiful and the coolness of the night air made it feel like Christmas to me.

Next we headed off to another little bar.  We arrived and found a spot at the end of the bar to sit.  After a few minutes of talking, someone said to me…”are you American?”  “Yes I am!”  I said.  “So am I!” she said as we laughed at the chance of meeting at a bar in Freudenstadt.  She was from Georgia. Her mother was German and they had moved to Germany together about 5 years ago.  Much immersed in the culture now with a new life and lips that easily spoke German, I could still feel the familiarity of the States in her presence.  I relaxed my more formal English and enjoyed a few moments of conversation with her.

Shortly after, we headed back to the train station.  My new friend had a 3am wake up call for work and I would return to my shelter in Hilpartsau.  It was great to spend a little time out and connect and receive the generosity and kindness of someone new in the Black Forest.  How interesting that sometimes life just flows you into someone else’s life to spend a little time.  A moment.  An hour or two.

And today, so far a quiet day in Hilpartsau.  A meal soon with Imke and the children.  A little babysitting for me this evening.  And an afternoon with what looks like… another rainy day.  But still,  so grateful for this time… with myself, being here in the Black Forest and the new connections I have made.  All in the flow.

River of the heart

13 Dec

It’s a cool rainy day in the village of Hilpartsau in the Black Forest of Germany.  Just days earlier we were driving up in the heights of the hills, covered with snow.  Now, snug back in the valley surrounded by the dampened green earth and the clouds hiding the winter sun.

Thanks to the generosity of my host, Michael, we took a small adventure or escapade in the hills of the Black Forest on Sunday.  I participate in the programs of a spiritual organization called The Art of Living.  Lead by Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living hosts a variety of classes designed to reduce stress and connect with our higher or greater self or spirit.  The organization came to New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina to be of assistance to those of us living there impacted by the stress and trauma of the storm and life after the Hurricane.  I found my way to one of their classes and learned a technique called the Sudharshan Kriya.  It is a practice I do on my own at home nearly daily and used to do in community in New Orleans. The Art of Living European Center is here in Germany in the Black Hills.  Less than an hour away from here.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop by for a visit.

So with Michael’s willingness and the children packed up in the car happily listening to an audio tape on the Ice age…we were off.  As we ascended the hills the landscape changed from the cool greens of winter in the valley, to hills of pines accented with white fluffy snow.  There were slopes for skiing and the occasional resort hotel.  As the journey continued the landscape became more and more remote.  Counting on the guidance of Michael’s GPS, it finally directed us to turn towards our destination – Bad Antogast.  The turn was likely about a 150 degrees angel and the road was snow-covered, towards the edge of a hill, with no guide rails going down.  Hmmm… unexpected to say the least.  Sensibly Michael chose not to take this route and the GPS adjusted our direction.  A few more turns… a bit more winding descending downhill this time and finally… our destination.  The remote location of Bad Antagast and the Art of Living European Center.

The center was quiet and we arrived just minutes before long Kriya was to begin.  I arrived thinking that perhaps  I could stay for a while and catch a ride home… but after trekking our way through the lonely roads it was apparent that I must stay close to Michael as I would need him to find my way back to Hilpartsau.  He was gracious enough to stay around with the kids for about an hour while I stayed and participated in long Kriya.

Long Kriya is the community version of the shorter Sudharshan Kriya I do everyday.  It is generally led by a teacher of the Art of Living courses.  I was graciously led to the room where it was held, found my place and waited to begin.  It has been probably about two years since I have done the long Kriya and I felt a little clumsy at first.  A series of breaths and hand placements, breathing, long and short, for about an hour and then finally… rest on the back at the end…feeling all the goodness and release of the breathing work completed.  A few minutes given to come back into “the world” and then people began to silently find their way out of the room.  I went back downstairs to find Michael and the kids by the fire seeming pretty happy.  We grabbed an apple to eat and then… we were off!  The quick but good adventure to Bad Antagast to visit the European Center.

At dinner the other night we chatted a little bit about Mardi Gras, in Germany called “Fasching”  After spending 13 years in New Orleans,  I was surprised and impressed to hear that Germany too has quite a big celebration as well…weeks of parades and large crowds in costume celebrating and partying.  Michael and Imke mentioned that Cologne’s celebration is a bit more of the extravagant party celebration.  But even here in the quiet village of Hilpartsau there are big celebrations to be seen with traditional wooden masks.  The legend here is that the carnival comes to blow the winter out of the black forest.  Crowds of as much as 100,000 people gather for the celebration… candy and treats being thrown from the floats.

And today, well the rain, wind have cold have suggested that I take it easy today.  I have spent some time reading from a book that Michael and Imke gifted me for St. Nicholas Day.  It is called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a true story by a man who committed armed robbery, escaped from a high security prison in Australia, and moved to Bombay a fugitive… on the run.  I read a part today that really moved me… and thought I would share… “…the river of the heart, and the hearts desire.  It’s the pure, essential truth of what each one of us is.. and can achieve.  All my life I’d been a fighter… I became the expression of that fight and my real nature was hidden behind a mask of menace and hostility. The message of my face and body movements was, like that of a lot of other hard men, Don’t fuck with me.  In the end, I became so good at expressing the sentiment that my whole life became the message.  It didn’t work in the village (in India). No-one could read my body language.  They took me as a peaceful man.  I was a joker, someone who worked hard, played the fool for the children, sang with them, danced with them and laughed with an open heart…. Prabaker’s (his friend and Indian guide) mother called a meeting of the women of the village.  She’d decided to give me a new name, a Maharashtrian name…and because they judged my nature to be blessed with peaceful happiness, the women agreed with her choice for my first name. It was Shantaram, which means man of peace or man of God’s peace.  I don’t know if they found that name in the heart of the man they believed me to be, or if they planted it there, like a wishing tree, to bloom and grow.  Whatever the case…the truth is that the man I am was born in those moments… Shantaram.  The better man that slowly, and much to late, I began to be….”

Ah so beautiful and powerful!  That is all for now from the Black Forest…Until next time!  Namaste.

Peace

5 Dec

I am sitting in my room with the afternoon sun shining on the tops of the hill just outside my window. The cool brisk air and the hills which, while daunting to the New Orleans flatlander in me, make me happy just the same.

The hills and I have been getting to know each other a little bit, a path unfolding not far outside the door of Imke and Michael’s house. Legs complaining, heart beating as I greet the incline.  Optimally, grateful for the pull and the movement and the way. Benches placed along the path.  “Oh, sure, I’ll take a little break” as I surrender to the rest and the view.  It seems that whoever placed that bench knew what they were doing.

I am on my own for a little bit today.  A welcome balance being here… helping a little with chores around the house and easily allowed and welcome to spend much of my day as I like.  Time with the children too.  It has been a while since I have spent much time around kids.  A little hesitant to surrender and play, but grateful just the same.  Yesterday Skadi, their 5-year-old daughter, and I spent fun time simply playing with a plastic tube, kind of like a shot, pretending to give each other shots… then obviously being impacted by such shots… with a little drama.  And next, she tried to take off my scarf, and we made a little game of it. Eventually I ended up running down the stairs to the shelter of my room, Skadi chasing me, and me laughing and screaming like a little girl.  It is good being around these little mischievous creatures known as children. I think I may still have one or still children living… in me…perhaps hiding silently off in the distance… still a little timid to show their faces in this grown up adult world.

Spending some of my time… simply making connections with my grateful companion in the internet.  An organization that I belong to and participate in back in the states, called the Art of Living, has their European center not far from here. Nestled among the black hills it is a destination I long to see.  I learned today that the local community meets there every Sunday at 11am to practice the Kriya together, the main tool in the Art of Living toolbox.  Hurray!  Looking forward to that connection!

So grateful for the capacity to keep it simple, but also the encouragement to… get out and explore.  Every day Imke asking me, what are you going to do today?  Get out little bird!  See new things, meet the people!  Friday night I was delivered to the near-by city, Karlsruhe.  About 300,000 people there is enough energy there that it is brimming with some interest. There were a few Christmas markets that night in town, the smell and feeling of Christmas sneaking into my being.  Lit up Christmas tree at the heart of town, a small ice-skating rink, and plenty of warm yummy spirits to drink.  I even treated myself to a few tasty  festival snacks, a crepe and a good slice of pizza!  It has been in mostly warm Christmases for the past 13 years living in the land of New Orleans and the bayous.  But being here hits a little place in my heart where I remember, just a bit, what it was like to be a kid and that excitement of a wintry Christmas.  Michael even bought me an advent calendar all my own so I can open the calendar paper doors, discover a treat and count down the days until Christmas.

And today, it is just an ordinary day.  But how wonderful and lovely to have an ordinary day, here, in the Black Forest in Germany… some time on my own and getting to know and being connected to Michael and Imke.  Being sampled little words of German to repeat, offering them to their son Svante feeling like I am delivering a cryptic message… but somehow, he understands.  And feeling a little spirit of the season.  You know, something like…peace.

Gratitude

2 Dec

Here I am.  In the little village of Hilpertsau.  Surrounded by friendly welcoming hills nestled in the valley. It is now December and I am reminded by Imke, my hostess here, that the temperature is happily 10 degrees warmer than is usual for this area.  It is a juicy morning and I am filled with gratitude for the hospitality and peace I feel in my new location.

I am in the home of Michael and Imke, with the young and warm spirits of their children Skadi, 5 and Svante, 8. Michael and Imke both speak very good English and Skadi and Svante have mastered the art of hello, thank you, good night with some extra words on the side. It is very sweet to hear them call my name, “Teresa, Teresa!” with their openness and enthusiasm.  Skadi and Svante have begun to be teachers to me, pointing to new things and saying it in German.  Correcting me when my pronunciation is a little bent to my American speaking ways. The other night, perhaps to put me at ease, Michael shared a quote that a clever man can learn English in one week, French in one month, and German… in one year.  Hmmm.  So for now, I wander a little aimlessly in this German world offering a word or two that I know as I can.  Still grateful for the English served up to me on a daily basis.

This village is quite beautiful.  Quiet and connected to surrounding areas, the “S” train just steps from their home. The other day I took a leisurely stroll to the neighborhood castle… about an hours walk from here offering some fresh air and a beautiful view of the area.  I am beginning to learn and feel my own rhythm in this new place folded into the lives of this family.

Michael and Imke are both easy, light people to be around.  They have interests in philosophy and alternative healing. They are very generous offering me their gracious hospitality with still much space and time for me to do, be, and see as I want in the area.  I have a nice private room in their ground floor and am content to have some privacy as well as some time connected to the family and the kids.

So far I do a little babysitting.  Watching the kids during runs to the store and the like.  The other night I babysat after the kids had gone to bed, Michael and Imke grabbing a meal and a little time.   They tucked in the kids, then fed the DVD player with the latest episodes of “House” and fed me with potato chips and cashews.  A grueling evening as you can imagine.  One little visit from Skadi, showing her face downstairs in typical 5-year old fashion… not wanting to be in bed.  We looked at each other and smiled and without language… I gently ushered her back into her bedroom.

I feel very welcome in this relaxed German home.  Already offered a traditional meal of sauerkraut and a promise for a ride on the Audubon in his speedy BMW, the company car.  I have learned little German expressions like “That is not my beer” instead of, that is not my cup of tea.  And of course, some earnest sharing in the area of the history of Nazi Germany, Michael sharing that at least for the next 200 years Germans will be compelled to be as kind and friendly to others as possible.

In the quiet, safe village of Hilpertsau it is taking me a little time to adjust to the idea that… there is no crime.  They leave their doors open and, according to Michael… there are no guns.  Well, perhaps he said some old rusty hunting gun owned by a grandpa down the street, long forgotten about.  My years of living in New Orleans at times hearing gun fire down the street, or hearing about  murder in my own neighborhood have put me a little on edge… a little walking through the world feeling protective.

Today the Black Forest awaits me.  Much to explore.  Waiting to see how the weather unfolds… perhaps a day for a hike.  But undoubtedly I am … grateful.  Grateful for some sweetness and kindness of a generous warm family, a softness and good spirit in the air, and…a little adventurous spirit in me!

Being at ease

30 Nov

Ah!  Well, I have arrived in a sweet new location.  Looking outside of the window seeing the rolling hills.  I am now in a small village called Hilpertsau in an area in Germany known as the Black Forest…greeted by the kindness and hospitality of Imke and Michael, a host family I connected with through a website for travelers called Helpx.net.  Feeling the freshness and softness of this new space in the wake of leaving the fullness and richness of my time and experience in Wettenbostel.

My last few days in Wettenbostel were a busy time for me. Deeply wrapped in the experience of a workshop at Wettenbostel this past weekend and then spending time with Jörn, my German friend and fellow resident at the Seminar Haus, before I left today.  Drinking up all of the experience that was there for me, appreciating it as much as I could before departing.

The workshop I participated in was…a totally new experience for me.  You can call it an experiment… of sorts.  It was no ordinary workshop.  It was…a tantric workshop.  What is tantra you say?  Even after the workshop I cannot say that I know for sure.  What I can share, most simply expressed, is that tantra is a spiritual path that connects the spiritual and the erotic through the connection of the heart. Hmmm… sound interesting?

I was first encouraged to attend the workshop by my friend and former Wettenbostel porch companion, Dan. And one of the leaders of the tantra workshop, Astrid, is a Reiki Master and friend of the Seminar Haus.  The seminar is open to singles and couples and for this weekend I learned they were in need of more women to participate and I was welcome to join them.  So there it was… a door opening… dare I walk through?  After a little guidance from a few trusted voices… I decided to go ahead and… participate.

The workshop began on a Friday night.  New faces and voices filling the halls of the Seminar Haus.   I was a little nervous to participate.  Well, that is putting it mildly. But the kindness and sweetness of Astrid and the assistants helped to comfort me. During registration I was told a few ground rules… most importantly to love and trust myself in this experience. And then I was told to wear nice underclothes for that evening.  Okay, I thought.  Here we go.

We met in the seminar room in the Big Dojo, the room transformed into a warm living temple.  The other leader, Lucian, arrived with big energy wearing a bright red suit. The workshop was led in German.  And although I don’t speak German, I saw and watched and listened and when needed a helpful, friendly neighbor or assistant would whisper an English translation in my ear.

The seminar was divided into sessions with long generous breaks, giving me time to drink it what was offered.  Morning began with yoga and most sessions started with music and dancing… letting go a little bit, connecting with the body and with others. Then a new ritual or exercise was introduced, many with a chosen partner.  A few of the exercises helped to let go of emotional pain blocking the expression of self and sexual energy.  And still others helped to open up the sexual energy and get more connected to being in the body and its joy and innocense.

As the weekend progressed, my nervousness decreased a little bit as I began to see that, while challenging, the work and the exercises were really helping me and opening me. The other participants there were kind, warm and welcoming.  And I got to see and experience in myself… glimpses of things… I hardly knew were there.  I began to feel a little more ease in myself through exploring this expression.  Letting go of some of my boundaries that… just didn’t work anymore.

In the end for me the workshop experience was challenging, but deeply opening.  I saw a tremendous amount of healing for myself and others around being comfortable with and expressing myself sexually and just being at ease with me.  I got more connected to my own power.

And for now, here I am… in a sweet new spot.  The beginning of another journey.  New people, new experiences, more learning and healing.  Just a wandering flower… growing in Europe and beginning to be… at ease.

Uncertainty

23 Nov

It is a brilliant cool evening in Wettenbostel.  After a busy seminar weekend, my hostess is away doing a little travel and my friend and regular resident of late, Jörn, is gathering himself for a few days in his apartment in nearby Lüneburg.  I am delighting in the juiciness of some time to myself.  I am warm, well-fed and listening to some music by German artist, Fjarill.  I don’t understand a word that she is singing, but her voice, the music and tone are satisfying.  It is truly dark outside except for the slightly distant light coming from the “Big Dojo” across the way still glowing with music and life as friend and  Seminar Haus electrician and general handyman is still at work.

It is already time to prepare for the next seminar.  A little different as with our hostess away I am tending to some new details in the rooms… placing towels, sheets and bedding.  I must say that when it comes to bedding at the Seminar Haus, my hostess here truly has it down to an art.  The colors and bright patterns of her bedding fill the rooms and it is always at least a little satisfying to leave a cleaned and prepared room… complete for whoever might be entering next. The other difference this time is that I will be attending the seminar this weekend.  So I am preparing space not only for our next guests, but ultimately for myself.

I am already getting ready a little bit for my upcoming departure from Wettenbostel.  I leave on a train Tuesday morning for a small town in an area in the South of Germany called the Black Forest.  It is known to be a beautiful area.  I connected with a family there through an on-line resource called helpx.  Helpx connects travelers with people in countries throughout the world interested in hosting travelers in exchange for a little work.  I will be staying with a family, parents about my age with two children for a month.  They have a beautiful home and from my connection to them already I feel they have warmth, experience and comfort to offer.  What comes next after that… is still to be determined.

I started getting myself a little organized, going through my purse throwing out all old train itineraries and tickets so that I can find what I need as I travel.  I had to laugh as when I was going through my wallet I found the American 20 dollar bill I stashed away as my emergency money for when I return to the States.  It was funny to me how foreign it seemed… like my connection to it is disappearing a little somehow… my wallet now filled with Euros… well, maybe not FILLED… but supplied nonetheless….

Things shifting and changing always tugs at something inside of me.  Uncertainty.  There is a beauty in it.  A richness that pulls me on to something… new.  Like a dance.  One of the requirements for dealing with uncertainty I find is exploring that balance of surrender and attending to what needs to be done.  In the midst of it find I am often compelled to reach for little pieces of certainty in the present moment.  Organizing my socks.  Sorting my clothes and putting them in nice little piles.  Sometimes getting lost in my mind as I find the things and ideas I may have been attached to.  Not wanting get lost in the space of uncertainty.  Thinking today about my little storage closet of personal belongings back in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans.  My current mailing address…a post office box at a New Orleans neighborhood store.

Tonight’s call for dealing with uncertainty… I think a hot bath is the ticket.  My body and my spirit want to rest.  Let it go!  Ah!

So all is well.  I am well fed tonight and grateful.  A yummy meal of some sautéed veggies and tofu with a little salad.  I am warm in my wool clothes and comforted by the light in my room and the light I feel brewing within me.  Another day.  Another night.  And some things are changing.  There is some… uncertainty…

Photo by Gypsy Woman.  A little color remains in the cold gardens at Wettenbostel.

Courage

21 Nov

Well, it is November 21… my birthday… even though there is a mix up on my birth certificate that says it’s November 22.  But my mother assures me that I was born on the 21st.  She says she knows…she was there.

This birth certificate thing was actually a little area of concern for me when getting my passport to begin this journey to Europe.  I was moving quickly, planning the trip and shifting my world with just a months time to prepare.  When I first went to get my passport… the birth certificate was not valid as it did not have the official state seal on it.  So with just weeks to go I had to order a new birth certificate.  After I ordered it, I thought… oh no!  it says my birthday is November 22… and my driver’s license says my birthday is November 21!  Is that okay? Now just weeks away, I could no longer get my passport through the expedited service… but luckily there was an express center in New Orleans where you could get passports in just a matter of days… immediately if needed.  The only hitch was that you could go there no sooner than 2 weeks before your travel.  So there I was, two weeks before my travel with my mismatched birth certificate and drivers license.  And alas… it all worked!  But, they did put the date that was on my birth certificate.  So according to my passport, my birthday is November 22!

The other day I was thinking about a situation in my life that has been a bit of a challenge for me.  And the image that popped into my mind’s eye was one that I saw on the desk where I was house sitting in Hamburg back in July.  It is a picture of a little kitty looking into a mirror… and the reflection in the mirror is a lion.  That image to me speaks to the idea of … courage.  Courage when I think or feel that I am just a little kitty to see the truth of myself… the strength of the lion that is really there…  And that being said, it also reminds me of the strength card in the Tarot.  It is a picture of a lion and a maiden… The meaning of strength in this card is a little different from how may typically think of it.  It is a strength that comes from a higher power… and strength that can come from softness and surrender… balanced with the power of the lion.

This weekend was experience and an experiment for me… in courage.  Working at the Seminar Haus this weekend… we hosted a group of 50 people in a space that is typically suited for about 20-25.  Much work was demanded… of everyone!  We all had to go all out and give everything that we had… and then a little more… to make this weekend work.  Our busy four-day weekend began for me with 6:30am wake up calls… me grabbing a little bit of chanting or Reiki before I went out into the world of the kitchen.  Set up for breakfast.  Sometimes fun… sometimes a little confusion… “where are the eggs… are we out of eggs?  no worries… we can just chop up some fruit instead…” and so it goes.  With so many guests the business of breakfast bled into lunch.  Our host and chef, cook and creative extraordinaire spun us around  chopping and stirring and mixing and serving.  Learning to pay attention to the little things of chopping and the larger things like… did you get that out of the oven?  We set up two dining rooms for serving instead of our typical one as there were more guests that usual.  After lunch, the endless dishes of clean up… and then… ah dinner and clean up again.  Plus a few other surprises along the way.  Somewhere in the spinning and mixing and serving and preparing at the Seminar Haus there is a creative energy that gets stirred up.  Bleeding from one experience to the next.

So wow!  We did it!  And I did it… beyond my comfort zone and typical experience.  And today, the morning after and birthday morn, I am soaking in the quiet and comfort of my bed and some tunes from New Orleans yoga teacher and musician, Sean Johnson.  My friend Jörn just stopped in offering birthday greetings and the good spirited intention of preparing for me a little birthday breakfast egg… but alas, the kitchen is stripped and we are out of eggs.  And my lovely hosts surprised me this morning knocking at my door with a lit candle and some wonderful gifts… constantly surprising me and touching me with their generosity!

So for now, enjoying a little relaxation and comfort and a luxurious long morning to enjoy all the little things I love.  And the beginning of a new year for me.  A time of change, new experiences… and… whew, courage!

Photograph of  tree blossoming in the frost in the gardens of Wettenbostel.

November frost

13 Nov

A frosty day in Wettenbostel!  I woke up this morning to find a thick coat of frost covering the grounds and cars of the Seminar Haus.  Almost looking like snow.  It reminds me of Christmas.   Having lived in New Orleans for the past 13 years, cold weather and frost is new and old to me….  new as it has been a while and old as it is reminiscent for me of growing up in St. Louis, Missouri with the cold and the frost.

I greeted the day to begin preparing breakfast for our seminar guests… this being Sunday, the last day of their visit and seminar with us.  Sunday is also waffle day.  A happy day for most.  My host and cook extraordinaire makes a healthy but delicious waffle batter and the waffle maker shapes them in a circling connection of six hearts, like a flower.  Served on top of the waffles… fresh fruit… this morning pineapples, bananas and oranges… Then fresh whipped whipping cream.  My host was “sweet” enough today to make a little whipping cream and waffles with no sugar…for me and his wife… The whipping cream instead of sugar had a little of vanilla in it.  Yummy and tasty!  And good for the heart… we all need a little something sweet every once in a while!  Food for the soul!…

I am still new to preparing breakfast on my own… as my former porch companion, Dan, currently in Switzerland, was the previous master of breakfast.  But I am under development.. in the process of mastering the art of breakfast.  Today was my first breakfast with waffles… a little more complex than the typical breakfast.  My timing was  a little slow and our hungry guests were chanting for us to bring out the fruit to go on top of the waffles… delayed a few minutes.  But still good spirits and good food all the same!

As I am out of practice with the cold, I have been “caught” a few times heating my room beyond the desired heating capacity…. heating it to a cozy womb-like temperature.  My host walked by the other day and asked if there was a fire in the fireplace… “no”  I say sheepishly… ” it’s just my room….” “What!” he says with a spark in his eye.  He jokes and says that the climate in my room would be good for his orchids.  In the meantime I am … adjusting and practicing… turning the nob down a notch or two on the heater in my room.

Wool is becoming my new companion.  A few new wool sweaters from the thrift store in Hamburg, wool hat, wool socks, and the latest addition… wool long underwear!  Apparently a fashion must in the cold country.  My hosts have been very loving about supporting me with wool… the other day I arrived at my room to find a pretty pair of new wool socks left at my door like the tooth fairy.

I took some pictures today.  What a treat to take a moment to do so.  There are still some flowers and hints of color “hanging in there” in the garden… newly decorated with icy crystals.  My host is a photographer and has a wonderful camera.  He is very friendly about sharing his toys and I happily used his camera to capture some of the last glimpses of color of the season.  He also pointed out today that one of the trees in the oriental garden is blossoming… among a few other trees scattering throughout the garden… the sweet simplicity of unexpected and unexplained blossoming in the midst of the oncoming winter.  A little odd in truth… but sweet just the same.

And now, just listening to a little Jack Johnson on my computer.  Such simple melodies pulling me into the coolness and softness of the night.  Most of the business of the day has drifted away, although there is still some shuffling about… beginning preparations for a unusually large group this coming weekend.  Just another night in Wettenbostel!

Photo by me… Nancie Teresa… from the frosty gardens of Wettenbostel

I Hang My Clothes to Dry

10 Nov

One of the many little changes in my life here in Germany.  It is a Thursday night and Jörn graciously just dropped off my wet clothes from out of the washing machine.  I just took a few moments to hang them on the drying rack set up in my room… what seems to be a standard item in the German homes I have been in so far.  Not quite the norm in my American dryer loving life… one of the many simple little shifts in my Wettenbostel world.

There is a little Reiki going on at the Seminar Haus right now… our host is teaching first degree Reiki to a friend here at the Seminar Haus.  They are completing the class in four evenings.  Tonight is the third night.  In first degree Reiki you receive a series of initiations that open you up to the Reiki energy and seal that connection open so that you will have access to it for the rest of your life.  Last night I was fortunate enough to receive a Reiki treatment from our host and student as a part of the class, the comfort of two sets of warm healing hands.  While our host had his hands on my head showing the proper positions of the hands, I layed there deeply relaxing as things were explained in German.  Not my typical Reiki experience!  But deeply healing!

Reiki finds its way in an out of our lives here at the Seminar Haus in a fairly regular way.  Sometimes we will use Reiki in the kitchen.. putting our hands over the food to add the energy to what we are preparing.  The other morning during a seminar I was preparing some green tea for some of our more particular customers.  I am not great at tea just yet and I thought I had better give it some Reiki just to be sure it tasted okay.  As it turns out, I actually used the wrong kind of tea to make it… but when our host was drinking it he kept saying… “ya know… this tea is really good!”  I laughed and told him that I Reikied it… I figured I could use all the help I could as I did not know what I was doing!… He then shared the story of when he and his former wife were at a restaurant and couldn’t get over how delicious the food was.  They talked to the chef and and it turned out the chef had second degree Reiki… The next day they went again since they enjoyed it so much… but this night the food was not good.  They were surprised, but then learned that there was another chef cooking that night… who did not have Reiki!….  Not long ago my host and I were Reikiing some chicken we were preparing for our guests… I was using the Reiki symbols I learned from second degree Reiki… my host in his typical fashion got inspired in a rush of energy and announced…”I just initiated all of my chickens!”… essentially, they all received first degree Reiki!  We joked how they were then giving each other Reiki in the oven! Life can be a little more fun with a some Reiki to see you through!

Tonight is a simple night on my own.  I cooked a little meal for everyone tonight and am now just relaxing.  I have found lately that I must be adapting to the cooler weather as I no longer walk around bent over shivering.  There has been a cooler bite in the air these past few days and tonight I actually walked out and thought… wow, feels good and fresh!  Hmmmm… that is something new… after thirteen years living in the humidity and heat of the bayou. A new group for a seminar is arriving tomorrow afternoon.  All the rooms are clean and ready to go.  The pace will pick up a bit tomorrow as they arrive and we begin preparing meals for them.

And that is the latest from Wettenbostel.  Clothes drying, Reiki in the air and chilling out listening to a little Nora Jones on the computer.

Photo from the Seminar Haus gardens by Michael Hartley

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