Archives for category: wild

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?

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 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.

there’s a lot of doubt right now floating around.

i have my last semester of college coming up.  i’m paying a lot of money that i don’t really want to spend right now to write a thesis that i feel lukewarm about to get someone’s approval somewhere and boom, i’ll be deemed educated.  even though, i’m one of the more educated people that i know.

i’m moving from vermont to the washington d.c. area in the next couple months.  even though i love vermont.  a lot.

i’ll probably be enrolling my son into formal education for his last two years of high school.  even though i have no faith in the system and even though he has not been formally educated for the past couple years, he’s better equipped for life than 90% of people his age that i know. (and at least 75% of people older than him.)

but, it’s all okay that my convictions are being challenged.  i was wrong that one time.

doubt is uncomfortable, though.  doubt makes me feel too big for the events surrounding me, kind of what i imagine a snake about to molt its skin feels.  it’s not really a pleasant feeling when one’s skin pinches and needs to split open.

the “i don’t knows” of life do make me squirm.  and, kids, i’m squirming right now.

so, to temper the rising panic that comes with feeling way out of control i am remembering a couple things that are very important and true to me.

1. the only people that really frighten me are those who “know for sure”.  where’s their respect for mystery?  where’s their humility before the power of nature?

2. there are only two decisions that cannot be undone.  one is to give birth, the other is to kill.  so, bringing forth a life and taking one away are the only things that can truly not be taken back.

3. once a snake molts, it goes through a time of complete vulnerability only to be followed by being stronger and bigger than it was before.

 

because i’m completely narcissistic, my new year doesn’t begin until my birthday.  that’s when i do all that self-reflective inner work that leads somewhere:  that somewhere being a list of ways to ‘improve’ myself.

i think that that list is going to be pretty slim this year because i’m sick of the whole concept.  if i was an arsonist and a good enough one to not be caught, the self-improvement aisles of bookstores and libraries would be my signature target.  i might even become a house visiting arsonist and leave little blackened ash piles in people’s homes.  who doesn’t have a couple self-improvement books?  i just have to figure out a way to make money out of this victimless crime and i would be set for life.  a nickel per burnt self-improvement book seems about right.

resolutions tend to fall in the same bucket as self-improvement books.  generally, because people make lists of ways to go back to being something that they never were.  they are also setting themselves up for failure because they want to conquer things over which they have no control.

for example: i will lose 35 pounds this year.

will you?  you might.  you probably could.  but, that’s completely out of your control.  your body may completely disagree with you.

instead, try this: i will build the habit to eat like i’m meant to and move like i’m meant to.

this is something over which you have control.  you’re not trying to do something unnatural like “loving those who hurt you” or going down a fruitless path by “becoming a money making machine”.  it’s even better than “controlling’ anything.  it’s what your body wants to do.

so instead of overcoming your nature and trying to improve yourself, just allow that nature to develop.  it’s easier and loads more fun and i don’t have to come to your house to set fire to anything.

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.

 

on the other side of the globe, people are warming up their ovens, stuffing a large bird’s privates with bread mixtures, pulling on their elasticized pants, and getting together for family drama.

i love a day dedicated to eating and being thankful.  i am among the very, very, very lucky few that get to eat daily and have mountains of things for which to be grateful, also on a daily basis.

the past couple of days have been very tourist-y.  we took a bus tour of the city.  it hit the major highlights and although it has an on/off option, we only got off at a couple places.  it still took all day.  this city is fascinating.  my hosting friend has been talking a lot about how the past and present coexist so peacefully here.  after the bus tour, we went to smoke (take a guess?) at the hookah bar.  at the next table over was a woman sitting cross-legged on the cushions in full abaya puffing on the hookah sipping a coke and texting on her phone.

one of the places we got off the bus was the iranian souk.  it is located down at the port. on one side are the old wooden dhows and the other are the freight ships.  the souk is just 30 or so stalls jammed together with stuff flowing out of their doors-a cornucopia of goods.  since it is right on the port, the pottery, buckets, pots, pans, tapestries, plants, incense burners, etc., go straight from the ships onto the shelves.  my favorite little corner was stretched to its seams with canvas bags full of spices.

we also switched buses at the abu dhabi mall to grab a shuttle to yas island.  on the island is an amusement park with the world’s fastest roller coaster, a formula one race track with it’s own little harbor of yacht berths, and an ikea.  the amusement park is aptly titled ferrari world and it is dedicated to speed.  one of the attractions that i need to come back for is a racing car simulation.

yesterday, we headed out to the western region to pick out my hosting friend (okay, i’m just as annoyed typing that out as i’m sure you are reading it.  she will be known henceforth as K.) ‘s apartment.  ladies and gentlemen, when they say desert, they aren’t kidding.  immediately outside the city is an ocean of sand and a very straight road running through it.  the dunes are enormous.  along the crests, the sand twirls up in a wind choreographed ballet.  off in the distance we saw three camels walking.  then, we saw a superiority of them in green blankets being herded by a bedouin man.  then, there was another line of them, barebacked and free walking along the road.  in that group was a juvenile who broke into a run to keep up.  there aren’t many things that are equal parts amusing and heart-melting as watching a baby camel run.  then there were hundreds of them.  some were nearly white and others were almost black, but most were the same color as the sand, creamy with a tinge of orange.  then, there was nothing but sand.  as we drove, we saw an island of green way off in the distance.  it was an oasis.  then, an hour later, great swathes of date palms cut through.  then, nothing but sand.

the town that K will be in is another island of green in the vast stretches of cream tinged with orange.  there is a mall with all the personality of a cardboard box and a co-op that looked far more interesting.  as we drove around the town, we counted three women.  all the activity was men.  i’m sure that the women were home cooking and caring for the children…or working inside running the place?

on the way back, there was nothing to see but sand, until suddenly there was a small grove of trees.  nibbling at the rare greenery was a herd of Arabian oryx.  it was so special to me as they have just been currently been re-introduced to the wild after near extinction.  i didn’t see a male with its fierce, splendid horns, but it was really good to see them anyway.

now it is thursday morning, thanksgiving day.  i feel so fortunate that my life is being crafted into something of such bounty that every single day is beautiful and full with things for which to be thankful.  enjoy your meals and your lives.  make it awesome.

so, this past weekend, i was in toronto.  (o, canada!)  the kid and i drove eight long hours so that he could stay in the hotel room and binge on bad t.v. while i was receiving my training as a holistic lifestyle coach (level 1, kids, gotta start somewhere) with the CHEK institute.  it’s been a couple years since i’ve been in a classroom environment and i really enjoyed it.  but, it was clear to me how far i’ve come.  although i had facts to share on every topic (i am mister nigel-murray with girl parts.), i realized how little actual practical application i have in my life.  i’m one of those people who finds great safety in thoughts, safety in the processes of my brain.  facts.  i have a body in theory.

being a wild woman is about having a body in practice, in every moment.

i’ve been getting this message from so many different sources.  somebody told me the other day that our brains can time travel, they can be anywhere: regretting the past, reliving the past, wishing for something that isn’t in the present, yearning for something in the future, worrying about all sorts of different possibilities.  the body is absolutely chained to the moment.  it can’t be anywhere but right now.  and right now is, 98% of the time, just fine, if not better.

if you’re anything like me (and i’m willing to bet good money that if you were born in the past 100 years, you are) you tend to live in your mind, too.

so, how does one get wild with it?

1. be sensually aware

we have five senses. use them.  start with jut two minutes every hour and ask yourself these five questions: what do i smell right now?  what do i see right now?  what do i hear right now?  what do i taste right now?  what textures do i feel right now?

2.  play with dimension

most things that we interact with these days are two dimensional.  the computer screen, the t.v., concepts….but, the body is three dimensional.  move your hips in as many dimensions as you can discover, swing your arms through all the planes they can find, look around and see how many different perspectives you can create.

3. listen

your body is constantly (constantly, kids) talking to you.  100% of truth is found in the messages of the body.  your body wants you to be present with it.  when you don’t listen to it, it will start getting louder and louder until it’s screaming at you and then, if ignored long enough, it goes numb.  if you’ve gotten to a place where your body is numb, it’s really just pissed off at you.  it is giving you the cold shoulder because you’ve taught it that is can’t trust you.  that’s when it’s time to be patient and gentle.  start with little things.  feel the fatigue and go to sleep.  allow yourself to feel the hunger and feed your body.  listen to the fullness and stop eating.  hear the desire to move and let your muscles sing.

I have had a transformational weekend and from that I wanted to share some questions that are coming up for me.

What if I were KIND to myself?

What if  I treated myself as I wished others would treat me?

What if I allowed my “inner child” her tantrums and her tears and her playfulness knowing that my adult self will buy her the best things to eat, pay for dance lessons, drive her to the beach, and keep the house clean with flowers always in a vase?

What if I gave notice to my brain and moved into my body with an open-ended lease with option to buy?

What if I acknowledged that I’m free from my past and that all the associated suffering is a trick of my mind?

What if I set judgement down in a corner for a while?

What if I looked at myself with eyes of gentleness and understanding for all I’ve endured?

I’m really the only one that’s been with me the whole time.  No one else knows what life is really like experienced through my self.  The expectation that someone else will really get me and provide the things I need is bound to be unmet.  No one else really knows what hurts my feelings or makes me giggle so hard that I need to pee.  No one else has to put up with the abuse I often dole out onto my mind and body.  No one else is in my skin.  No one else has my bones and muscles and toes.  I am the only one of me there will ever be.  That’s some really special shit.

i hate the wave of spirituality, or whatever you wanna call it, that is all about ‘killing the ego’.  of course, to be clear, i hate most waves of spirituality.  on some level, they are all different forms of escapism from the messiness of life.

the ego is the bad guy i a lot of movements, i know.  i may even be attacking the golden cow of buddhism, which people tend to let squeak by as “philosophy” and not “religion”.  but, i’ve spent the last three days in bed, unable to even read because my fever was so ridiculous, and i’m feelin’ cranky, so even, you buddhism, are going down!

let’s go back to psych 101.  there’s none of my love wasted on freud, but he created the idea of the ego, the id, and the super-ego that we’ve all agreed to run with.  the id is our wildest, most “primitive” self (a wild child), the super-ego is the rule follower (it absorbs all the stories we’re told by our parents and society and sees them as law), and in between, is our ego.  our ego is what tries to negotiate between them.  our ego is our own self-identification between our primitive self and our societal self.  it is the voice that says:  this is what “I” think.

i’m not clear on how he got to be such a bad guy.  maybe it’s because neither society nor spirituality wants us to be able to say: this is what “I” think.

of course, the super-ego, the dogmatic follower of doctrine, is in all sorts of trouble from the get-go.  not because the super-ego is bad (seriously, do we still have to deal with good/bad, evil/holy?  things just ARE.), but because the stories it has to absorb from our parents and from society are, in a word, fucked.

i feel bad for my poor ego.  how does it reconcile the bullshit patriarchal paradigm and the wild child within?  it’s an enormous task.  the last thing i want to do is kill it.

looking into the world, i don’t see a problem with people’s inflated sense of self.  in general, the problem seems to be that people’s sense of self is incredibly fragile, brittle.  the ego can be a malleable, bendable thing so that it doesn’t shatter, but doing away with it completely is tragic.

it is hard for the ego to develop healthily in an environment that: 1. doesn’t want it.  and 2. lies.  the self has to incorporate a mountain of lies from society and then apologize for its own existence.

don’t kill your ego.  tell it the truth.  let it know that it doesn’t have to be rigid.  only imbeciles don’t change their mind, but your sense of self can remain intact.