Archives for category: about wild woman project

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

My father was 48 years old when I was born.  He retired at 55.  He cradled more wisdom in his pinky nail than most other men in their whole lifetimes.

This was what he taught me as the route to happiness and contentment:

“Jen, all you need is a small piece of land with a fruit tree that will shade you in the heat of the day, under which you can sit and eat your one meal of the day.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received about happiness and contentment?

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I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

” I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.”

-Walt Whitman

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

I don’t think I am.  Not in the prevalent sense that has swept the nation in a misguided attempt at crunchy, glossed over religious tolerance.  I am not a spiritual being having a physical experience.  I am a physical being having a physical experience.  (Most of the time I’m a mental being having a mental breakdown.)

The Madonna of the Hairless

There is a cathedral here that I enjoy walking into once in while.  It is beautiful inside.  I really love beauty.  The rush we get when facing something beautiful, something terrible, something exquisite is mistaken for a spiritual experience.  When I say spiritual, I mean some sort of supernatural part of ourselves in touch with some other supernatural being or energy.  It is nice to be swept up in all of that.  It is nice that my body evolved in a way that all my neurotransmitters and hormones react in that way to make me want to be around things of exquisite beauty.  Most of the time, those things of exquisite beauty are unmolested chunks of the planet.  A mountain range jutting up to touch the cornflower blue sky, a dolphin playing in a wave, a sunset that sets the entire world on fire are some of the things that get my juices flowing.  There are other things, too, like the cathedral, like Van Gogh’s art, like a well choreographed ballet that work on me the same way.  These things are called “culture” and they really are just our species getting off on itself.  That’s fine by me.

There is so much that annoys me with the current religious climate.

1.  Apparently, the new mood is that it doesn’t matter which religion you practice because all paths lead to God.  If you believe that, then you don’t believe what you say you do.  Each religion exists only because it exerts its authority as the only way.  Only through the observation of its laws do you get the reward after you kick the bucket.  If you didn’t walk the path laid out by that religion, you lose the big one.

2.  It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.  I’ve heard Christianity dressed up in this plastic outfit since I was a little girl.  So, do I got to hell if I choose not to be involved in this relationship?  Yes.  Oh, okay, then it’s a religion.

3.  Religion is obsolete.  It is a male dominated, misogynist, hierarchical creation that no longer fits with our far more enlightened concepts of cooperation, equality, and science.

4. The New Age isn’t much better.  Living according to the vagaries of astrology, finding a guru, focusing on my higher self….I call bullshit.

I understand the perceived need for these things.  I really do.  I have people that I love dearly who still hold onto a lot of these superstitious beliefs.  Of course, I’m sure that they probably pray for me all the time and that’s okay.  No publicity is bad publicity.  It is such an honest wish that there is someone in the sky who is keeping tabs, who hears you crying out in the night and wants to dry your eyes.  It is such a temptation to move into a space where your meat and bones and sweat and shit is just some kind of beefy container for your pure self, your true self that is made up of rainbows and unicorn breath.  I GET THIS DESIRE!  We all have imaginations that can be put to use.  These are all different ways to comfort ourselves against the dark, against our inevitable fate as worm food.

Delusion is delusion is delusion.  When I let go of the very last shackle of my trained belief in the supernatural, I have to tell you that I felt a freedom that I had never known.  Yes, I am going to die and there will be no more me.  The mitochondria that ride along on my genes that have been there stretching back to the first mother live on through my son.  Unless I have a girl, they die with him.  It’s hard to accept our fragility.  Once it is accepted, once we understand how finite we are, that is when life becomes precious.  That is when each blade of grass sticks up like a green blade of exuberance.  That is when the taste of water clarifies as liquid life.  That is when every other person, dog, squirrel, horse, and lizard fully comes into focus with infinite value.  We are all the missing link from what has come to what will become after we are gone.  It’s not a lonely chain.  We are each unique and exactly the same.

So, no I’m not spiritual.  I’m psychological.  I’m emotional.  I’m physical.  I’m ecological.  I’m animal.

While everyone else is trying to cleanse themselves of their dirty humanity, you can find me outside making mud pies and peeing behind a bush.

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

It was 13 degrees up on my mountain this morning.  I LOVE it.  There is too much beauty in the weighted boughs of the trees, the whited out landscape.  It  soothes me.

When I was 10ish years old, my father built my sister and me our own rooms.  The house I grew up in was originally a vacation/hunting cabin.  It had been added on to but the two-room core of the house had 20 foot cathedral ceilings.  My sister and I shared one room, my parents had the other.

My dad split the room in two and built an upstairs loft for me.  The only request I had was an enormous window.  So, I had a room in the eaves with a wooden floor, one wall was just window (only wrought iron, no glass, no screen) with a window seat.  When I moved in, he hadn’t even put up the half wall of bookshelves that was to be the borders of the loft.  It was just a wooden floor that hung over a hallway that I looked down upon with a beating heart.  On one of the walls he had put up a muted paneling that showed a forest scene in the four different seasons.  It was the palest greens and creamiest whites.  All I had in that room was a twin mattress on the floor.  I would drag the mattress over to the window when it rained.  The breeze was always just enough to mist me with the rain and I would fall into the deepest sleeps on those nights.  (I was plagued by nightmares nearly every night but those, when I would fall asleep with rain on my face.)

The eaves of the ceiling were nearly a hundred years old and I studied their chipped paint, their scars with a growing devotion that could only be called love in retrospect.  The wooden floor, grooved together (male and female joints, my father explained with pride) was reclaimed wood and stretched away from my bed, dropping off as a horizon.  It took years of living up there before enough dust accumulated between those joints to not shower my sister’s room downstairs with a fine film every time I swept.

There it was, a white room, bare floor, large window, and a mattress.  It was my sanctuary.

Unlike most of the population, I find safety in no things.  I find expansion possible.  I find that there is room for my thoughts that can cramp me in when they have to bounce off “stuff”.  Like most of the population, I got lost for a while, believing the lie that the more stuff, the more you can forge an identity.  We live in a world of buying identity, buying self.  Where we know who we are, who someone else is by reading the labels they wear, drive, and eat.

Sleeping, free of nightmares, in an empty room, face tickled by the mist requires a quality that we lose in aging if we are not mindful: the fearless inhabitation of our true self.

i have no problems with mondays.  they’ve never stressed me out like they seem to other people.  sunday afternoons however?  stomach aches and migraines and near panic attacks.  weird, i know.  it was greatly eased by being on the receiving end of a thai massage.  kids, run, do not walk, to your nearest practitioner and GET one.

mondays are just like mini new year’s days to me.  a chance to start again, a little weekly rebirth.

everything is feeling like that lately.  we finally got a snow that stuck and the world is beautiful, blank, and fresh.

part of the wild woman project is living in a place that can truly support my re-wilding.  i could have moved to d.c. or savannah but that would have just made it so much more difficult.  instead, i’m renovating a barn on five acres of land nestled in the mountains with nothing but wild embracing me on every side.  i’ll be living here while i save up and look for my own land.  this man has inspired me enormously!  i’ve been trying to figure out how to be both a wild farmer AND a world traveler.  they seem to be opposing dreams, but, boom, just like that, he reminds me that it is a both/and universe.

right now, i’m still clearing out the barn.  i should be done with that by tomorrow or the next day.  it’s cold and probably not the best time of the year to be working outside but life that is convenient is kind of what i’m trying to get away from.

convenience comes with a very high price, sometimes obvious in the price tag, sometimes hidden only to make an abrupt appearance in the emergency room.

in related news, i hit my barefoot in the snow record today.  it was -2 when i made a mad dash for the car for something i forgot to bring in.

and, as far as habit #1 goes, i’m ROCKING that shit.  and loving it!  today was a green smoothie, yesterday was raw cheese, nuts, a persimmon(!), kimchi, and a kombucha.

i’m trying to get as much done as possible today so that i can hit the A.T. for a walk later.

this site is called the wild woman project.

it was for a reason that i chose that name.  however, i’m allowed things to derail me from the project.  really great, magical things: like africa.  my experiences there only reinforced my desire to really get going on this.

but, then, i was thinking i was going to move to d.c. i love visiting there, but i honestly couldn’t  live there.

people move at different rhythms and my rhythm?  s L o o o o o w.

now i don’t have to move.  and the project can begin FOR REAL.

i’m still fleshing out the details but i can not wait to finally live in a place that is the external mirror of my interior convictions.

even more, i’m going to get to learn so much. i get to live the dream!

i am always telling people to own their own lives, to do what their heart really wants, to ignore society’s mandates and to really craft a life of their own desire, because we only get one time around here.  we are the sole proprietors of our lives.  i tell them because this is the one thing that i cannot do.  not really.

but, it’s time that i do.  i own my life.

reminders come from the strangest places.  the one time i watched half an episode of sister wives (who knows where i was, i don’t have a t.v., so it was probably some hotel somewhere), the family was being interviewed by students at harvard or yale, something very “official”.  one of the lgbt students said to the family (and i’m paraphrasing), “you know, when you’re hetero, married, with 2.3 kids and live in the suburbs, you have a life.  if you are different from that in any way, you are living a lifestyle.  but, our lives are just our lives.”

i live differently than most people do.  and, i think i’m finally grown up enough to say that it is not because i have chosen a certain lifestyle, but this is just how i live.  this is my life.

so the first week of 2012 has gone by and so far so good.

there are several habits that i’m trying to instill this year.

i have a MAJOR crush on leo babauta‘s mind.  his advice to develop habits instead of create goals rubs me the very, very right way.  yep, right there.

one habit a month is what he recommends, and that is something i can handle.  i am a closet perfectionist and over achiever which i disguise quite well by appearing like a total slob and slack ass.  it will be good for me to only commit to one a month and actually doing it instead of doing them all at once and pulling my hair out.

here are the twelve habits i would like to create this year:

1. make the first meal of the day a raw one

i’ve started this one already and i love it.  i’ve been having a kombucha and some raw milk cheese most days.  i also really love green smoothies and raw egg and coconut milk smoothies.  yes, raw egg.  no, i’m not afraid of salmonella.  yes, i do fantasize about being as kick ass as rocky balboa…with cuter work out clothes.

2. wake before 7 without an alarm clock

for the past few years, getting up before 11 was a miracle.  the depression beast was largely to blame as well as a deep abiding apathy for the grinding monotony of daily life.  hmmm…maybe the apathy came from the depression, too.

anyhoo, since i’ve come back from africa, my body has reset itself so that i’m up before 8.  i want by the end of february to have trained myself to be up before 7ish without an alarm.  alarm clocks are the worst invention EVER.  EVER.  i hate them.  i hate the jarring, heart-racing terror that they cause on my fragile nervous system.  no, i’m not being melodramatic.

3. brush the dog

oh, my dog.  sweet, attached thing that he is.  he’s always at my feet in the best way.  he has the thickest coat and winter is just a smelly dog mess for it.  he deserves that i start brushing it for him once a day.  march will be the perfect time to start developing this habit.

4.save instead of spend

crap.  this is april’s habit.  april is my birthday month.  i just hope all the gift givers in my life don’t decide to start this habit that month.

5. eat something fermented every day

i LOVE fermented food so this one will really not be that hard.  but, it’ll be nice to take it from a once in a while treat to a daily indulgence.  kimchi, kombucha, cultured vegetables, yogurt,….yeah, baby!

6. read a real paper and ink book before bed

june will be the beginning of summer and later bedtimes.  this will be a good way to shift gears for bed.

i read a lot.  A LOT.  but, it’s mostly online and in my ipad.  how nice will it be to read from a BOOK again?  my childhood was formed by the books i read.  i’ve noticed my attention span has really shortened because of digital media.  i still read before bed,even, but it’s never with the gentle weight of a book on my chest and the almost sexual aroma of the paper filling my sleep space.  this habit excites me and i just may move it to a closer slot.

7. do yoga every day

it doesn’t have to an hour.  it can just be a sun-salutation.  and july will be the perfect time to bring some sun worship back into my life.

8. market myself

it’s time that all my skills and knowledge start getting more recognition….from me.

9. stretch professionally

i know this reads as if i want to become a professional stretcher, but i mean to move out of my comfort zones in the money making arenas of jobs and business.  this one will probably be the hardest one on this list.  i feel nauseous just thinking about it.

10. feed others

i love to cook and i love to ensure that people around me are well fed.  ideally, i’d love to have people over once a week to feed.  october is a good time to start this habit.  it’s getting colder and people are hungrier.  or that’s how i feel when this time of year rolls around.

11. fast once a week

today’s the first attempt at this, so i don’t know why i’ve even got this up here as a habit.  i’m starting this one today.  i’ll have to come up with another one for november.  any ideas?

edit jan 9: got it!

11. media, money, and manna fast once a week

how about taking a break from electronics, spending, AND eating once a week?  could there be a better way to really take a day off?  don’t think so.  since this is my november habit, i will not choose thursday as that day.  thanksgiving is the BEST and just look at who’s planning ahead!

12. sweat daily

hmmm….all the way in december is when i am going to instill this one?  i’ll probably be doing this by then, but daily?  probably not.  i don’t even want to workout daily as a habit.  i’d love to hit up an infrared sauna, a steam room and a hot sauna every week.  and sex works up a sweat, right?  anybody having it these days, please report.

this list will probably be amended as i go along, but it feels good right now.

i walk barefoot every day.  since i was a little girl, i’ve had claustrophobic feet.  as a dancer in my teens, i spent hours in toe shoes.  that seems incomprehensible to me now, but that is what passion does for a person.  of course, i still love (LOVE) to dance but i’m so glad that i didn’t go down the classical route and have to wear those things for twenty years.

where was i?

oh, yeah.  claustrophobic feet.  there was a spell when the only closed in shoes i wanted to wear were a lavender pair of kangaroos with velcro enclosure.  now, i wear my uggs because my toes can spread apart in the shearling and get winter boots 1/2 size larger than i safely should.  but, barefoot is my favorite.

there’s been the wave lately that endorses all the health benefits of “barefooting” but more and more, i feel that being natural in one’s skin, being as animal as possible is so common sense that the “health benefit discoveries” will just pile up.  i’m kicking myself because i don’t remember where i read this, but my favorite definition of discovery is a white guy finding something that was already there.

and, yes, even though it is 17 degrees fahrenheit/8 celsius, i get some outdoor barefoot time in.  invigorating?  understatement.

p.s. that's henna, not frostbite.

i am obsessed with sleep.  (OB. SESSED.)  its importance in my life is generally set up according to my sleep needs.  if i don’t get enough, everything gets ugly real fast.  because there is such a real need for quality sleep in my life, i have tended to overdo it.  at some point, the decision to get 9 hours a night was made and the rule is nearly ironclad.

part of being wild is not living by rules, others or one’s own.  (our own rules are usually the most insidious and the best ones to let go.)  the wisest thing to do is to listen to one’s body.  since being back in the western hemisphere, i’m been tired by 9 and wide awake between 4 and 6.  last night, i feel asleep at 10 and was wide awake at 5:30.

usually, i would just stay in bed and coax myself back into a disorienting sleep.  instead, i woke up, grabbed the dog and drove to the beach to watch the sunrise.

now, i’ve seen a lot of pictures of sunrises, but haven’t watched very many since high school.  i was the principal’s kid and had to be at school by 6:30.  (she was my ride.)  here’s the thing that i’ve forgotten.

pictures are not experiences.  there are some photos that are so beautiful, so raw, so eloquent that one can feel that they are having the experience pictured.  but, one is not.

as i walked, then ran, then stood on the sand the wind whipping through my hair, the dog tugging on my wrist and the cold seeping up through the soles of my shoes, the colors changed in the sky.  a few pelican flew fast and low over the water.  the tide foamed at the shore.  my fingertips gelled, my nose ran a little, my lungs felt purified by the fresh air.  there were stars in the sky, then there weren’t as the night was pushed out of the way by day.  and i was there.

of course, i took a picture.  i enjoy taking them, both as souvenirs and as proof to others that i’m having the life they’re not.  (let’s be honest.)

it was then that i realized that although i’d seen hundreds of pictures of sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls, cities, etc., this was the only one that was mine.

millions of us “love nature”.  we watch the discovery channel, animal planet, flip through nature picture books, read about people having grand adventures.  but, it’s all false.  we don’t know nature.  we aren’t experiencing it at all.  we are a population of spectators with no authentic experiences of our own.

imagine a person who is in love with and is having a relationship with someone they have never met but of whom they’ve seen plenty of pictures.  how seriously can you take that person and that relationship?  not very.

these thoughts cut through a lot of my own hypocrisy.  i claim to love the wild, love the outdoors, but if i’m only outside an hour a day, how can i take myself seriously?  how well do i know the object of my affection?

instead of living vicariously through photos of oceans, mountaintops, backyard hideaways, trees big enough to climb, rivers, grasslands or watching show after show documenting animal life, i need to get outside and live truthfully.