Dating God

Across a dimension, a sea, a space, to look into your own sweet face . . .

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Moving Shop . . .

I have moved my blog to the luscious, spacious skies of Typepad. I look forward to seeing you in my new homestead on the net frontier.

Click here to be transported to . .

posted by Katherine at 1/03/2004 11:17:00 AM

Friday, January 02, 2004


As much as I would love to sit here and spin some sort of silly yummy tale to make you giggle with fabulous, new 2004 mirth, what I am going to do instead is wish you well, and tell you some things I’ve been meaning to but haven’t and that I feel that is important for you to know, to remember . . .

It’s okay when you are tired or need a nap or say no or can’t hang out and chat because you need to take care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, it makes me feel good. Firstly, because it feels good to know that you are being taken care of, and secondly because watching you be good to yourself is deeply inspiring.

I admire you for the loop de loops you make in your living, how you move towards a hazy goal by taking steps around and about as you discover what it is you are doing, what it is that feels true and good to you, how you are driven forward by your willingness to continue to expand in your living and not get stuck in the flatness, the things that no longer work.

I love how you take care of the things that need to be taken care of in your life, really playing the balancing act of money and responsibilities and spontaneous acts of willful creative insanity, both the mundane and the glorious.

I appreciate it when you share sweet things with me, when you tell me something that you love about me or feed me or bring me a feather or a stone or a flower or an angel, when you smile and hold my hand when I’m upset over some thing that isn’t important in your world, but you get is important in mine.

I love how you dress . . . that style that is uniquely expressive of who you are, of what you like against your skin, the sense of fun and drama and silliness and depth that shows up in the little things that make how you look different from anyone else . . .

Just because some of your dreams haven’t made it out into the world fully formed doesn’t mean that they still don’t light you up from the inside. They fuel you, and they are still beautiful, and so are you. They visibly shape the contours of your living and I’m so grateful to watch them move across your face, peek through words and gestures, animate your hands and heart and breath . . .

Thank you for allowing me to know you . . . for allowing me those glimpses into your living, into your secrets and sweetnesses and funkinessess. You help me stay in this world that is so beautiful and terrible . . . you help me remember to laugh at the silliness of it all. . .

Thank you, thank you, thank you . . . .

posted by Katherine at 1/02/2004 01:56:00 PM

Friday, December 26, 2003

Party Vegetable

I first got drunk when I was fourteen. I was with my best friend and her father who told us that as long as we could keep our glasses vertical, he would keep pouring. Bourbon and coke it was. I still can’t stand the smell of it.

I first smoked pot and took speed soon after, and in the next few years I did coke, ecstasy, and acid. I did a fair amount, as much as I could get my hands on, really, and was lucky (unlucky?) enough to have friends who gave me drugs, bought me drinks, so I didn't fall into a life of crime or funky career choices in order to get myself high. I also wasn’t a wake and bake sort of person, was never big on drinking before sundown, but once night time came, the vampire demanded satiation, one way or another. And of course I smoked cigarettes, sometimes three or four packs a day, though usually just one or two. I didn't eat much, just drank a pot of coffee in the daytime and double cappuchinos in the evening. There was also advil, tylenol, theraflu, and robitussin, though always when I was ill or not feeling well, not for the recreation of it.

It all started to fall away about seven years ago.

First to go were the illegal drugs. It was partly because I was dating a NYC cop and didn’t want to put him in a weird situation – he took his job very seriously – but mostly it was because the party was genuinely over for me. The only thing that pot, X, and acid seemed to do for me anymore was turn me either pant-breathing paranoid or crazed with longing for the depth of expansion and lusciousness I used to feel when I first started doing them.

A few years after the illegal drugs vamoosed, booze began to lose its appeal. First, it was just the hard liquor that made me feel sick and unsettled, then beer, finally culminating in even the last two holdouts, red wine and Bailey’s with coffee, making my stomach roll a the simple act of lifting the glass to my lips. Within weeks of having no alcohol, cigarettes started feeling more and more poisonous until one day I just set them down with the knowledge: I don’t smoke anymore. Sure, I cried tears of rage and frustration for two solid weeks from the pain of the nicotine withdrawal, and hacked up scary things for several months more, but I was done with cigarettes, so I dosed myself with kava kava and valerian and let the detox run its course.

Next came over the counter medications. Advil and the like began to cause me to speed in a really awful, consciousness-stuttering way, my jaw locked and tight, my eyes bugged out from the energetic tension. Theraflu and other things with codeine caused skin rashes that lasted for days and a hazy sort of hangover that left me stupid and emotionally flat.

Then came the reactions to caffeine and sugar, both producing such intense anxiety that my heart would pound and I would feel like utter shit about my life, panicked that I wasn’t doing enough, freaked that what I was doing wasn’t what I should be doing. All of this subsided and then disappeared once I kicked my daily caffeine and sugar intake.

I also developed food allergies, first to wheat and tomatoes, followed within a few years by peanuts, strawberries, corn, chilis, and as of last year, soy. Food with chemicals, preservatives, processed sorts of junk, dulls me to the point where I’m sleepy, disinterested, and feel slimed with metallic toxicity. In the course of studying nutrition and diet, I discovered that food allergies and sensitivities cause something that is called the allergy/addiction response, which is the body’s attempt to reject a food/substance that is causing it harm, with the addiction response locking in the craving for the food as the withdrawal/detox kicks in. Back and forth a person goes until they bite the detox bullet and ride out the shitstorm that lasts for a week or two, but sends back reverb for a few months as the levels of detox move to deeper levels.

A teacher once told me that I should write about addiction, partly because of the process that I went through in letting go of the deluxe assortment of drugs that were such a part of my living for so long, but also because of how I choose to remain relaxed around these substances. Rather than seeing them as an evil, fixed source of horror, something that I am powerless around, I see them as things that make me feel like shit that I’d rather opt out of.

In the recent past I have been quick to judge my drug taking years, as well as the drugs themselves, and me when I was taking them. But the truth is that I loved taking drugs. I loved getting high. I loved watching my everyday existence peel back to reveal an amazing world that existed right behind the more mundane one. I loved getting high and making love, I loved dropping X with my friends and taking bubble baths, dancing with them naked in a room filled with candles and and music and other naked people. I loved getting high and hanging out with my friends, talking about what was occurring for us, watching the rest of the world go about their busyness, their 9 to 5s, their everdarkening greyness. I loved that the substances I did and the lifestyle that went along with it kept me from entering the world that seemed to suck people’s vibrancy and freedom and aliveness never to return. But at a certain point, I saw that a slave is a slave, whether it’s to a lifestyle of riding sidecar with the Joneses or with the Stoneses. I would be a female Keith Richards right now if something hadn’t made it finally impossible for me to continue on the way that I was.

What was that something? How did I do it? And was it hard?

It was really freaking hard. There was an initial level of effortless to it, as in I rarely had to force myself to take the first step to quit any of it, but each following step was usually like attempting to dig out a tumor without the benefit of anesthesia. There was a lot of crying, a lot of rage, a lot of days of: fuck this, followed by rounds of binging. I even picked up cigarettes again for a while two years ago in a desperate attempt to lose the fifty pounds I'd gained from mainlining doughnuts and french fries when I'd first kicked alcohol and cigarettes and over-the-counter stuff. I lost ten pounds in two weeks, but I felt utterly poisoned and lost my ability to be in a place of enough balance to be able to clearly do session and energy work on my clients. It took me two months to quit again.

How I did it was through awareness. It worked like this: I allowed myself to be as fully aware as I could of what I was doing, how I felt, what the whole experience was like. When I smoked, there was no giving myself grief for smoking, only the experience of smoking, the emotional relief and satisfaction - a feeling not unlike succeeding at something - at finally getting the cigarette to my lips and inhaling, how the cigarette felt in my hand – the hot, slight acrid burning of the skin of my fingers – how the smoke felt entering my lungs – like a chemical burn, with my lungs seizing up for a millisecond as the cilia were paralyzed from the toxins. The awareness also opened me enough to see that each drag presented a promise of feeling better, a deal it was never able to deliver on beyond a brief nicotine rush. And with more and more awareness, this rush turned from a feeling of lift and loft to something akin to a death rush where my body energetically, physically shuddered as the poisons hit the bloodstream.

After several months of watching all this, smoking simply became intolerable. And there was no going back. Once the illusion of fabulousness and coolness and comfort was broken, the only thing left was the nastiness, the smell, and the pain.

I went through a rough patch a while back and although I thought about going out and getting rat-assed drunk, and spent a fair amount of time picturing myself sliding off that cellophane wrapper and lighting up one of those white tubes, I didn’t do it. I wanted to, but I didn’t, and after some time passed, so did the urge.

Every few months or so, I’ll have a half glass (or on the occasion of this past Thanksgiving night six, seven, eight glasses - I lost count - of wine). And depending on what’s going on in my life, I’ll very occasionally take Advil, or have a coffee for a quick energy boost. The last two weeks before my move, my body and mind hurt so badly that nothing I did naturally could even touch it and I began popping Advil like tictacs. I was very grateful for them, as I was for the coffee that helped me stay awake for the six hour drive to Ohio after five hours of sleep the night before and a late start that didn’t get me to my friend’s til well after dark.

Sugar is the real bitch, but I’m down to having some small form of it once every week or two, though being snowed in and miles from the nearest Zippy Mart makes it a bit more challenging to go for an Almond Joy run, and I refuse to keep any of it in the house. I have even written at the top of my grocery lists: No Sweet Things, though when I returned from the health food store I was shocked to take a bottle of yini syrup out of the bag. Yini syrup is essentially sugar made from rice, and while it’s natural and endorsed by fans of macrobiotics the world over, it is still sugar and will kick my butt. I’m waiting for the courage to take it back to the store where I can trade it in for a half dozen ripe organic pears or some delicious mitsu apples.

And so it goes. And goes. And goes. . .

posted by Katherine at 12/26/2003 02:33:00 PM

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Mountain Life in Modern Times

One of the best parts of doing this mountain retreat thing is that I can connect to the outside world anytime that I want through the internet and my cell phone. It is really isolated here and if I don’t leave the property, if I get snowed in, I just don’t see other humans. Deer, I see. Crows, I see. Fat cats that hang out belly up by the woodstove, I see. Humans, not so much. So, I’ve been scooting around the net, looking at blogs, meeting and chatting with people. And I'm meeting some seriously interesting people . . . Lonely in the wilderness, I am not . . .

I finally went off the land a couple of days ago, after having been snowed in for days. I ran some errands, went into Blacksburg, (Virginia's version of New Paltz, NY) got a library card (must have a stack of books!), had lunch at Gillie’s, the local vegetarian restaurant, and then came on back home. Yesterday, I treated myself to a movie, Lord of the Rings, which was magnificent and uplifting and full of very cute men.

As for life here in the cabin, every morning I do my practices – about two hours worth of chi gong, meditation, yoga, spiritual inquiry into the workings of my personality via a workbook by Iyanla Vanzant that I can’t even believe I’m doing but which is actually quite fantastic. The I check e mail, do stuff around the house if I feel like it :) and then later on go for a hike, bring in wood from the shed for the daily feeding of the stove. I read, I write, I watch the deer through binoculars. It’s a nice rhythm and it’s good to do as I feel, do as I feel to be. . .

I was going to fast for ten days, really clean out my system. Then, I thought better of it and decided on five days. Then three days sounded good. Today was the start date, and when I woke up late morning after having been up late last night, I realized that the last thing that I want to do is feel like crud from all the detoxing for the next week. I realized that what I want is to keep eating really cleanly . . .

(M&Ms? What M&Ms? Oh, you mean the big honkin bag I sucked down with the jumbo box of popcorn and vat of diet coke at the movie theater that the clerk talked me into buying over the smaller size because it was less expensive? Okay, sure, it was only 50 cents but I didn’t know that when I agreed to it. Look, don’t even start with me, ‘cause my diet has been so clean that you could eat off it . . . )

. . . So, obviously, I won’t be fasting today.

I just made scrambled eggs with sauteed onions and kale and sharp cheddar and it was fabulous. I have a potato the size of a small chihuahau cooking in the woodstove and an hour and a half from now, when I remove its crunchy skinned goodness from the glowing coals I will smother it in salsa and cottage cheese and steamed broccoli and give thanks for the mighty beige tuber and how grateful I am to be consuming its yummy fabulousness instead of gagging down my third glass of Master Cleanse for the morning followed by a celery/kale/cucumber/beet/ginger juice fresh outta my Juiceman Juicer. Hey, you know what? I think I’ll have that celery/kale/cucumber/beet/ginger juice, for my afternoon snack . . . because I am all about health!

Today, it feels very good to be me . . . Wish you could be here . . . I’d throw another potato in and we could both be me for the day . . .

posted by Katherine at 12/24/2003 01:48:00 PM

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The Spiral of Waking Up

I noticed the other day that I’m finally beginning to let go. My breathing is a little easier. I’m not giving myself quite as much grief. I don’t feel as angry, pent up, frustrated, hopeless, useless, pointless, lazy, unintelligent as I did a week ago. In fact I feel quite relaxed.

I’ve been snowed in for days. I’m fine with that. I have no idea what my life is going to be like in two months or where I’ll be. That’s okay. I drive a nine year old car, I’m in the woods by myself, there was a mix up at the Chester post office and the box containing all of my household things like telephone with answering machine, gifts from friends and clients, and my gorgeous swirly teakettle has gone AWOL – all of this I’m surrendering to.

And it feels true, if not good. I’m beginning to get the picture that I can choose to accept my life as it is or not, because not accepting it means that I will be dragged kicking and screaming towards the truth of it anyway. I’m beginning to see that real courage is about accepting what Life has in store for me before it forces it on me. Acceptance is about willingly stepping up and facing the inevitable. It’s about graduating from the school of illusion, delusion, and fantasy and finally setting up a home in the world of fact, truth, and reality.

When I look back at the last year of my life, I see that all of the explosions were because I stayed too long at the party, even though I knew that it was long past time for me to leave. I stayed with a man who wasn’t kind or generous or able to admit his wrongdoings to me. I stayed in a job that I was miserable in and allowed my holistic work to become something that I used to make myself feel badly about, not good enough around. I continued to live in an apartment that was small and decrepit, dealing with a neighbor who was lost and mean and delusional. And the truth of it was that I stayed in those situations because I didn’t know what else to do. I stayed because I felt that I needed to wait it out until Life brought me something else. But what would have happened if I would have just accepted that what was occurring was indeed occurring? If I would have accepted things as they were instead of trying so hard to change things? Because that is where I let myself down: I tried to change myself to make the situation work, and in doing so I dishonored myself. How could I not have felt so bereft when I abandoned myself with such heartlessness?

Yeah, hindsight is the ultimate justification maker, but in the past few days I’ve been able to see how much easier I breathe when I let go, and I know that that’s a good indicator. And so I will continue to explore the nature of this new found acceptance, which is in fact just a deeper layer of the acceptance I found a couple of years ago. Once again, I will thank Life for bringing me the things which I may not currently understand but whose nature will most certainly be revealed in the unfolding of my living . . .

posted by Katherine at 12/20/2003 11:48:00 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Nerves Of Steel. Heart of Fire. Dinner Is Served.

A few snowflakes started drifting out of the sky and I thought: hmmmmmmm, what might this portend?

A few jumps later through informed me that yes, another storm was on its way. Low on potatos and potato fixin’s – the only vegetable that stands between me and an all out fast food/sugar/wheat orgy – I leapt into the valiant Saturn and navigated down the driveway with not too much slippage.

As I filled my cart with produce and cheese and salsa I formulated my plans . . .

(I thought you weren’t going to eat any more tomatoes? Or chilis? Or peppers?)

(Shut up)

. . . I planned my return to the driveway of ice:

So, if I take that first lip going pretty fast and steer like the badass I am and don’t hit the breaks – ever – and I slow down just a skoatch on those two crazy hairpin turns and hit the accelerater like a mutha right after and then gun the engine like a bastid for that last stretch then I’ll be fine. . .

And ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what I did.

I Am So Bad.

If I don’t make it as a professional Bangladesh Granola Head I’ve got a bright future in NASCAR On Ice.

posted by Katherine at 12/18/2003 01:32:00 PM

Have and Have Not

Things I’m Not Doing/Having/Eating Up Here In The Woods:
- Wheat
- Sugar
- Corn
- Soy
- Tomatoes
- Peanuts
- Chilis or peppers of any kind. (Sob!)
- Meat (except for two nights ago when I mistakenly hadn’t had enough protein in the past week and I thought my eyes were going to roll back in my head and I braved the icy driveway for a skid up to the local dinner dive in town. Bad move. On many, many levels.)
- Spelt bread
- Spelt crackers
- Anything baked
- Anything processed or containing chemicals
- Sex
- Parties
- Movies
- Beer
- Wine
- Very dirty dry martinis with extra olives
- Massages
- Lasagna (I don’t know why I put that. Somehow writing massages made me think of eating lasagna.)
- Any structure whatsoever. It’s a time-glut free-for-all.
- Sleeping through the night (all hail the mighty Ultimate Cleanse by Nature’s Secret!)
- Dancing at the Freestyle Frolics
- Television (oh Carnivale, Sex and The City, Six Feet Under, Alias, The Practice . . . !)

Things I Am Doing/Having/Eating
- Lots and lots and lots of veggies
- Bananas with maple yogurt
- Rice cakes with apple or almond butter
- Reading really good books like Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
- Reading about fellow bloggers having digital sex
- Going to bed by 9 p.m.
- Doing chi gong and meditating every morning
- Walking around the land and looking at all of the crazy animal tracks in the snow. (That’s one big-ass deer)
- Listening to things go EAOWAIYAIYAOYA and rustle-rustle-rustle in the night
- Dancing by the woodstove wearing tights, a camisole and lots of body glitter
- Showering, doing my hair, putting on nice clothes and mascara and perfume to go into Pulaski to go to my new post office box and the Dollar General store. (A day in the big city!)
- Understanding that there is a fine line between driving slow enough coming up the sheet of ice driveway so as not to take a flyer header over the embankment that lies two feet to the left of the drive and being fast enough so that there is enough speed gathered to actually make it to the top of the last 100 yards of driveway that stretches ever upward at a 20 degree angle. Sometimes it takes several attempts at backing down the icy driveway {even more fun than frontways!} and fishtailing forward at harrowing speeds. Sometimes, when even this isn’t enough there is getting out of the car in girl shoes and hacking at the driveway with an ice scraper, making a hundred or so sideways grooves in the ice down to the dirt underneath in hopes that the valiant Saturn can grab a little grass as traction.
- Realizing as I got to the top of the driveway, sweaty headed, heart pounding wildly, engine emitting a acrid burning smell, that I could have just left the car in the middle of the driveway overnight until someone could come and "scrape the driveway". But I feared that in the night, all the animals, (the ones I’d probably disturbed with my glittery very vocal dancing the night before) including that big-ass deer, would go wilding on my car and write things on it like "Go home, city slicker", and "Eat my pellets".
- Hours and hours spent reading blogs
- Hanging out in front the woodstove with The Hoon, both of us on our backs, limbs spread akimbo, warming our fur. (I’m on a Just Say No campaign against razors. Long story. Tell it another time.)
- Building theme altars (Luscious Is My Meme, Ontological Proof of Love) out of stones and bark and crystals and things people gave me
- Wondering in amazement that I have made such radical changes in the past month but am still just funky ol’ me

posted by Katherine at 12/18/2003 11:21:00 AM

Monday, December 15, 2003

Can I Get An Amen?

"The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become." -- Charles du Bois

courtesy of TheMightyJimbo over at DigitalCatharsis, home of extra, extra crunchy granola . . .

posted by Katherine at 12/15/2003 08:53:00 PM

Have Yourself An Edgy Little Christmas

Wanna read the real story behind Rudolph and that red nose of his? Go read: Kaya's post

posted by Katherine at 12/15/2003 02:11:00 PM

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Hurry Sickness

What exactly am I rushing for? As I pound down the halls of the cabin, cats scurrying for cover, where is it exactly I need to be so absolutely Now? As I rush about making dinner, who is it that is pushing me for it to be happening At This Second?

I know what it's from: years of tending bar and waiting tables, of rushing to and from classes and sessions, of hurrying to get things done on time, to be on time, to get to the next thing, years of too many things to do, or too much hanging out waiting til the last minute.

Every time I catch myself, I tell myself to stop, breathe, slow down, there's nowhere to be, nothing to do. I've been feeling the effects of this acquired illness inside of myself off and on for years, and have tried different things to cure myself, but Living always seems to jump in with all sorts of very valid excuses to rush. But for freak's sake, I'm on a mountain in the middle of Virginia and I have no appointments and nowhere to be and nothing to do. Literally. This is no longer a metaphysical exercise, this is my life. And still my mind looks for a way to grind my butt to the bone, to give me something to shove myself around for.

Today, at around noon, I just gave up and went to the couch, pulled on a blanket and a cat, and read until I fell asleep. And you want to hear how I justified it in my mind? I told myself: it's Sunday - everybody deserves rest on Sunday. It's actually bizarre how I spend time trying to distract myself so that I won't have to acknowledge that I really can just Let Go.

I have two more weeks of Nothing To Do . . . I bet I can get the hang of it by then . . . Tomorrow's Monday. Wonder how I'll relax into that . . . Hmmmm . . .

posted by Katherine at 12/14/2003 07:59:00 PM

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Farm Living: A Tale In Four Vignettes

After my first night here in the cabin, I found that deer had visited the yard and left a note: two piles of pellets strategically placed a few feet from the steps. I stood and contemplated their possible meanings:

"Howdy. Welcome to the neighborhood."

"Don’t cross this line or we’ll poop on your woodpile."

"We are the Three Wise Deer of Pulaski. We come bearing gifts. Got any cherry pale ale?"

I’m big on communicating with animals. I like to get down on the floor with my cats and do as they, roll on the floor, bite their heads, do this pretend "licking" thing with my chin, don’t make a lot of direct eye contact unless I’m challenging them or doing the slow-blink-sparkly-eyes thing, do all sorts of Alpha Cat things that I learned from reading books so that they understand who the boss is. And so I communicated with the deer in their language: I dropped trou and wee-wee-ed right next to their scat.

Later on, I began to think better of it and prepared something more in alignment with what I really felt: a bowl of dried cranberries, raisins, nuts, seeds, and an apple which I placed in a bowl and left beside our other mutual offerings. And when I awoke this morning, the bowl was empty, the apple gone, and a lone doe stood watching me from a tree twenty yards away.

Not sure which one worked. Glad I tried them both.

I may take up the luge. But I’ll have to change the rules a bit.

First, I’ll be doing it in my car. And I’ll do it in the three or four days I’ll have in between when it snows/ices/sleets and someone comes and "scrapes" the driveway so that I can venture forth into the land outside of this mountain refuge. Also, instead of luging for the Olympic Gold, I’ll be going for the kitty litter I forgot to buy, along with some fresh produce.

In preparation for the possibility of upcoming events, I have begun my training with the remnents of snow and ice left over form the last big storm. When I hear the starting gate gun go off, (which strangely enough sounds like a woodpecker) I throw my valiant Saturn into first gear, then approaching the lip of the driveway, ease it into second. As I begin the first 20 degree downward slope and slide around the first hairpin turn, I lightly tap the breaks, so as not to go careening into the ditch that lies mere inches on either side. Unlike the regular luge, my luge doesn’t have sides to it and you have to cling to the track with your buttcheeks. I do this inside of my car against the seat knowing that somehow this helps outside the car, as does calling out at the top of my lungs: Ahhheooowweooahhoohh! Rock On Mutha*%!$#*er!

Then comes the straightaway, as in it goes straightaways down before it hairpin turns again, goes over the fifteen foot wide rickety bridge (Rhumpathumpathumpathumpa go the wheels on the car. Rattlerattlerattle go the teeth in my head) before the 45 degree grade straight upward, and I’m spat out onto the state-plowed-road like a wad of ol’ chaw.

I am trying to honor the Be Naked edict put forth to me, along with Get a P.O. Box and Make Yourself At Home, by the owners of the house. Once a day I run around without clothes on (except for my fuzzy red slippers because the floor is a mite cold). I dash to the woodstove where I turn myself back and forth like a vertical pancake in an attempt to warm myself before I dash back and put back on the four layers of clothing it takes to keep me warm. Because I am a city slicker, my hide isn’t tanned quite enough yet. I’m contemplating a little Be Naked jaunt around the yard in an effort to toughen myself up. Or maybe not.

Getting a P.O. Box without having proof of a physical address is very difficult. I had to meet with the Postmaster General and tell him my whole story . . .

" The address on my driver’s license is different than my current mailing address . . . why? Oh, well, I moved but didn’t have an address yet . . . you see I’m sort of A Nomad right now . . . why? Oh . . . well . . . you see. . . (five minutes passes) . . . and then the police told me that the guy downstairs could *threaten* to 'stab me with a fork' but until he actually *did* there wasn’t anything they could do . . . (another five minutes) . . . and don't get me started on the guy who claimed to be the boyfriend all men should emulate . . . (another two or three minutes) . . . and six months later I decided to chuck it all and so I did . . . I stayed with my friends in Ohio for a few weeks and that’s where my mail is being sent now . . . I’m physically living in a sweet little cabin right off of Possum Hollow Road . . . it’s really quite nice . . . "

I pulled out all of the i.d. in my wallet. I showed him pictures of my cats. I did a little tapdancing routine I remembered from eleventh grade dance class. I recited a little Shakespeare: "He strode upon the world like a Colossus!"

And lo and behold I was granted that most cherished of honors: a post office box!

And so I am getting the hang of this country living thing. Next I tackle: What To Do With Garbage!!!

posted by Katherine at 12/13/2003 08:38:00 AM

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I Have Arrived

Yes . . . as I look out the window, what I see are the Blue Ridge Mountains . . . what I hear is the wind in the trees, the cawing of crow, the meow of kitties as they loll, belly up, in front of the woodstove . . . what I feel is quiet(er), calm(er). Sorry to qualify but its going to take a while to empty out all the noise in my head. . .

My morning: woke up at 7 and got the woodstove going again. Watched the sun flame up behind the mountain, watched the flames in the woodstove. Wrote down a dream that I had last night about a seriously cute guy. Read some spiritual stuff to get the mind/heart juices flowing. Did some chi gong. Ate some oatmeal. Read some blogs.

Yesterday I unpacked and organized my belongings here in my new home, smudged to clear out the energetic cobwebs, lit incense and placed my "altar" things around - rocks, crystals, candles, special doodads. It now feels like a place that I can be for a while . . . it feels like home.

Getting here was quite the ride. I was laying in bed last night and realized what occurred for me to be here. First, I had no place to go but kept packing anyway, knowing that Life would provide the place if I kept providing the trust. At some point in that time frame I remember having the thought: I'd really like a place with a bedroom and a separate office, and I'd like a woodstove, and could it be out in the country and by myself, and I'd really like it if I didn't have to pay rent. And that, my friends, is exactly what Life brought to me. Now to get to that place, I had to do a lot of accepting and letting go - such as getting over the heartache of losing my boyfriend, having my best friend move to another state, alienating my teacher and all but a few of my other friends, having my home turn into the theater of war known as My Neighbor Is Insane and No One Can Help, having most of my work and consequentially my money evaporate, and physically/emotionally/mentally feeling like kitty litter leavings. Sure, you too can have your wildest hearts desire . . . you just have to be willing to sacrifice most of what makes you feel safe, comfortable, confident . . .

And so, that took care of the place to go. Next came the getting there. The two days before the move were a tsunami of doing, and thank god I had help . . . people coming and going and calling and taking me to lunch and giving good luck gifts and wishes. Jackie came over the day before to help pack and paint and generally keep my head from leaving my body. Diane's husband, John, came over towards the end of the day for round two of moving my belongings into the attic of their home for safekeeping. Then the power went out. Of course I'd packed my flashlight and candles, so not being able to see to finish up, Jackie and I went out for a nice dinner at the Copper Bottom in Florida where the electricity was rolling and so was the dessert cart. We loaded up on cappuccinos and headed back to the house to get more done.

I had planned to leave early the next morning but because of the delay the night before I spent the morning finishing packing and cleaning and pulled out of the driveway at 1 in the afternoon. I had bought a super-sized carry case for Calhoon and Cass to fit in, butI figured Jacinta would just sort of hang out in the car. She's such a good natured, fearless sort of kitty that I thought she'd be happier up front with me. Of course the car was filled to the rafters, just enough space left so that I could see the mirrors and out the windows, but I'd created a little space for her out of pillows and blankets on the passenger seat . She was having none of it. All she wanted to do was howl and bury her head under my armpit, which although fine when we were sitting on a couch, was not so great when I was trying to shift gears. I turned the car around, drove back to the apartment and retrieved the small carry case that I'd left outback for my sweet neighbor who lived around back. Once I wrangled her in with a nice Katherine-scented towel (packing cats in their travelcases with items that smell like you helps them calm down - I used towels that I'd just showered with) she was good to go. She howled though, along with The Hoon, for the next two hours, during which I kept up a running commentary about what our lives had been like at the old place and how there was great possibility up ahead. They couldn't have given a flying furry freak, though they finally just passed out asleep, only waking up when I stopped for gas or coffee or a bathroom in which they would peer hopefully out from behind their little bars.

Once we arrived in Ohio, we were settled into the guest room and within days became part of the family. I pretty much ate my way through the next two weeks, and poor Calhoon, staying in one room and not getting any exercise, got even fatter, so fat that he made a sort of waddlethump noise as he jumped off the bed and made for the litterbox.

Thanksgiving was lovely. Sabine, Morton, and Sasha came up from New York and we cooked and ate and talked about politics and woodstoves and past lives. Sabine, Kelly, and I did about a half hour each of energywork and massage on one another - sounding and watching the images of temple times slide around in my mind's eye - and it was luscious as it always is with my sweet sisters.

Then they went back to NY and I taught four weight loss class trainings for fifteen clubs and tuckered myself out and made enough money to support me for a month of mountain living. Then it was time to hit the road for Virginia. As I was hugging Kelly goodbye she said "I'm jealous" and I knew that she meant the freedom and the solitude and the time to write and the possibilities hidden in the nothing left to lose and I said "I'm jealous, too" meaning her family and the warmth and the closeness and the needing and being needed and the structure and the sweet hunky husband and the luscious baby and the amazing son. And we smiled at one another and I got in the car and once again I got to experience the gloriousness of the wheel and how it does indeed roll . . .

Seven hours later I sat in my car at the bottom of the driveway to the cabin that was to be my home for the next few months, the driveway which was buried underneath a foot of snow and ice, the driveway that my dainty little Saturn was not going to be able to navigate no matter how weighty Calhoon was or how much the four cases of books were giving it a fat ass and therefor great back wheel traction.

I called A.E., the neighbor that Dory and Bob had said to call if there was a problem. I'd called him the night before while I was still in Ohio and he said that the driveway had been plowed, that all was well, and to come on down. I listened to him go back and forth with himself on the phone as he talked circles around himself - the good old boy shuffle that I quickly recalled from my days spent growing up in North Carolina. He finally convinced me to drive back to his house with him, but was unable to convince me to spend the night at his place, nor was his mother, even though she came out of the house in her housecoat and was very amiable.

After thanking them, I ambled on up the nearest motel, a Day’s Inn, where I holed up for the night with the television and junk food, a sort of last hoorah of worldly decadence before I settled in at the cabin. I spoke with AE the next morning and as he was still unable to find anyone interested in plowing (they call it "scraping the driveway down here :) the 20 degree angled driveway, he offered to drive me and mine up the back way, over the field, in his four-wheel drive. I accepted, loaded my stuff out of my car and into his while he leaned against a fence and told me stories about his teaching career at the local community college.

"What do you teach?" I asked huffing and puffing 28 pounds of cat into a Ford Explorer.

"Team building," he answered.

I nearly fell out laughing. "Team building?" I asked. "As in people getting together to successfully finish a project in a way that is more expeditious than one person working individually?"

He nodded, not getting the joke, and so I finished the repack, and after we made it up to the cabin, I brought everything inside as he walked around the property "making sure everything looked alright." As I was finishing up the last of it, he mentioned that he had serious health problems and we talked about it for a while and I realized it was probably why he hadn’t helped me carry in my fat cat and my four crates of books as well as my suitcase that is the size of a small cow. It was all just as well, though. It was just enough exercise to blow the motel vending machine junk food (rice crispie treats! Almond JOY! BBQ potato chips!) out of my lymphatic system . . .

And so here I sit, two days later, waiting on A.E. and some other guy to come and "scrape the driveway" and take me back to my car. After which I’ll run errands, go to the post office and pick up the boxes of clothes and things that I mailed to myself a few weeks ago general delivery. I’ll get a P.O. box for myself the next few months. Then I’m off to get supplies and get a feel for where things are around here. Pulaski is the nearest town, about twenty minutes down the mountain, but the nearest town with a health food store and other fun stuff is Floyd, about forty five minutes east.

I have internet connection. I have my cell phone. I have the kitties and food and music and a very detailed chi gong workout handout. I have books and my unfinished novel. I have three weeks before I have to start generating some income. I have my willingness to let go, and my belief that something larger than me is moving my life in a way that will allow me to be of service to the people, to mankind, to the flow that is Life. And I have my trust in my innate goodness, mostly hidden as its been by the boils of anger and fear and judgment that were lanced this year, those funky places that were inside of me and needed to be exposed, painful as its been.

Life is right. My job now is to find a way to align myself with that . . .

And I thank you for your well-wishes and god thoughts . . . I have felt them with me as I travelled west and then south and I feel them now as I sit on top of this mountain. And as I rediscover the quiet space inside of myself, I’ll keep the light on, so that you might better find your own way . . .

Big Hug!!!

posted by Katherine at 12/11/2003 09:28:00 AM

Friday, December 05, 2003

Wheel of Fortune

I just did something that was a lot of fun: I exercised in a way that actually produced something of worth beyond my own body. For about forty-five minutes, in the middle of our current snowstorm (six inches and counting), I pushed the wheelbarrow out to the woodshed, piled it high with firewood, and then wheeled it back to the house and then carried it three logs at a time down to the basement where it will be used to stoke the woodstove that is the main source of heat for the house. By the time I was done I was sweaty and dirty and feeling seriously vibrant and alive and giddy with endorphins. I brought in enough wood to last us through the weekend! Dang that feels good! So good in fact, that when I get to the cabin in Virginia I'm going to make a list of work projects that I can do each day.

So much more fun to actually accomplish things when I work out. So much more fun than doing the gym thing, which I seriously need a break from. I need Earth Gym for a while. I need Life Gym. I'll feel like doing doing the strength machines again, but the next couple of months are going to be about pulling away from all of the World stuff and focusing on the True stuff. Not really sure what that means exactly, but I know that it has to do with letting go of the hundreds of patterns and postures of being in the world that I've accumulated the past dozen years and getting to the essential being underneath all of those layers.

And its funny how comfortable I've gotten here at Casa Ferry. I have my own room and the kitties and I have settled into its clean, calm space. I have become Dishwalla, and I also help with errands and amuse baby Lila and help cook and do whatever else needs to be done. I am grateful to be staying here with my friends and love helping them out with whatever I can do, but I'm also enjoying being a part of their family for this little blip of time, allowing my own life to take on the shape of theirs, their rhythms and motions and needs and bumps, even as I attend to my own changes and risings and cleaning up of my past and creating the new pathways that lead to my future.

And as I acknowledge the rising level of my comfort here in the home of my friends, I also surrender into the fact that in three days I will be packing up my things yet again and heading out for the Blue Ridge Mountains and a new place with new patterns and ways of being. What will I learn on that mountain? What will I let go of? Who will I meet? Who will I become? What will I create?

If you would have asked me six months ago what my greatest fear was, I would have said: becoming homeless. But now that I am homeless, it isn't really all that scary. I don't feel Homeless. I feel like I am a Nomad, and that actually feels pretty cool.

I did a weight loss class training for a club in Kent the other day and was asked for an invoice and on the line marked "address" I realized that I don't have one anymore and it felt wonderful. I ended up putting my friends' address here in Ohio, but I got that any address that I write down in the foreseeable future is also just a temporary one, that I am going to be on the move for a while. And it is good.

I can't help but feel: All Hail The Wheel! Forever may it Roll!

posted by Katherine at 12/05/2003 03:51:00 PM

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Stuffed Turkey

I cannot believe how much I have eaten the past two weeks. Things I never or hardly ever touch have been flying down my gullet in a non-stop frenzy of ecstatic feasting. Murphy's stout, homemade rosemary bread, baked cheese squash casserol, stuffing, rice crispies treats, potato chips, pumpkin pie, coconut cream cake, popcorn with real butter (it says so on the package!) chocochip cookies, a frozen margarita, 9 glasses of wine over a six hour period (Drunk and giddy, I felt such love for everyone and the need to share it until I passed out at 2 a.m.), pizza with really really spicy sausage and pepperoni and onions and peppers, Taco Bell . . . the list is endless.

And considering the fact that I am allergic to wheat, corn, tomatos, and soy, it was not shocking when I arose from my bed this morning looking like The Poppin Fresh Dough Chick gone bad. And I have a week's worth of trainings to do coming up (weight loss class staff trainings!Bahahahahahaha!!!!) and then I am off to Virginia and solitude and a really long fast and lots of fresh air and I am really looking forward to it.

I probably won't post again til I get to the mountains. I have a lot to say but not the head space to sit down and put it into words. Mostly I'm just drifting. And doing lots of dishes and helping with housework and playing with the baby and enjoying the company of my friends.

Hope your Thanksgiving found you giving lots of thanks :)

posted by Katherine at 11/30/2003 01:22:00 PM

Monday, November 24, 2003

Hanging Around

The first two days of Life After Chester were mostly about sleeping, feeling freed, feeling the love at all of the fabulousness and at the focus of staying in motion with the actions required to pull off a big move. Then the anxieties started to sneak back in as even the simplest of tasks become insurmountable.

Pretty much everything that I knew has changed, and you'd be shocked to realize how much of a person's sense of well being is derived from the comfort of doing the same small routines, of having what you need be right where you left it, and of having getting what you need be easily achieved through repeating a well known series of small steps.

My mind is screaming right now, demanding that something be as it was, that just one thing stay unchanged. But that is way gone. Only thing to do now is to try to stay flexible, try to stay calm, and know that I can live with all of the change, that I will make it through, that I will be fine without the people that are gone, okay without my routines and ways of doing things.

But for now there is helping Kelly with the Thanksgiving preparations that are coming up, helping her get the house ready, and cleaning up a few loose ends of my own. And sleeping. I have been curling up with the kitties (who are certainly the same weaselly fuzzballs they have always been) and sleeping on the fabulous bed that is in the guest room I'm staying in. Ahhhh, sleep :)

posted by Katherine at 11/24/2003 09:58:00 AM

Monday, November 17, 2003

The Naked Truth

Wow. That is probably the most fitting thing that I can say about the winds whipping around me right now: Wowowowowowowow. I leave on Thursday morning and I'm ready to go . . .

I finally know where I'm going: about an hour outside of Floyd, Virginia. In a cabin. In the middle of the woods. Where the phrase Be Naked is supposedly emblazoned somewhere on a wall. So three weeks from now that's where you'll find me: naked in the woods in the middle of nowhere and dang happy to be there.

The house is almost packed up. The cats are semi-acclimated to hanging out in the car. I purchased a Hoon-sized carry case for his luciousness. (For those of you who haven't been fortunate enough to meet Calhoon, Slayer of All Things Small, he is my 28 pound fatboy feline god of love and he needs a lot of room to move all his luciousness about as we zoom our way to the next exit on the Road of Aliveness. Plus I had to get a carrycase not only big enough for The Hoon, but for Cassidy, his tiny little soulmate kitty that is always snuggled at his side. Jacinta, the weaselly punk of the bunch, will most likely spend the trip in the front seat beside me, hoping for an errant hand looking for a little fur to play with or a stray piece of cheese that happens to find its way to her little cheese-weaselly mouth.)

My friends and loved ones have hooked me up and down and sideways and all the way around. We're talking cash, cookies, angels, a shearling coat, hugs, love, massages, helping hands, and not one but two places for me and my fuzzy three to rest and recouperate and create and dance at.

An enormous part of my exhaustion has been around feeling as if I don't mean much somehow, in my life, in my work, as a woman, a friend, a practitioner, but the past two weeks have been about the people around me showing me in a hundred different ways that I must have scrambled brains to buy into that that black hole of loathing. Mostly I just keep watching in amazement that Life saw fit to surround me with so many sweet people, and I hope that in the next few months as I get my juices flowing again and start feeling my groove in my hips and my head and my heart, that I find a way to honor all the good lovin and all the good people.

And so the next time I post will be from Ohio . . . may this find you setting out on an adventure of your own . . . :)

posted by Katherine at 11/17/2003 09:35:00 PM

Monday, November 03, 2003

Happy Motoring

I still have no idea where I’m going to end up, but I continue to pack. I know that on the morning of the 20th I head out for Ohio to stay for a week or two with Kelly and her brood and then I’ll see from there. I’ve booked some work there for the beginning of December and if I can find a place to stay I may park there for a couple of months and see what happens. Or I may just get into my car and start driving and see where I end up.

I’ve received a lot of emails from my last post and my heart has been buzzing with how generous the people around me are – offers of places to stay, farewell lunches and brunches and teas, and so many encouraging words. And such sweet words! Oh my, how many times I’ve heard the word brave the past week . . . Is what I’m doing brave?

I did a feng shui consult yesterday and afterwards they had me stay for a lovely brunch they’d fixed for me and we talked about television and movies and politics and of course, living. And they seemed so delighted at my upcoming adventure. I do believe the "brave" word was used and I just had to say that what I’m doing feels true, as in staying just feels wrong. We talked about how so many people stay in jobs they hate, with people they no longer resonate with, and use substances, legal, non-legal, and often simple sheer denial in order to keep themselves from feeling the sharp shards of self-hatred it reveals. But to be present in living, to remain unmedicated and conscious and aware means that if the life isn’t working then the pain of that will propel movement. Sure, in focusing on what is no longer present and the pain I feel around that loss, and allowing it to move me, I run the risk of losing what I do have. But what do any of us really have anyway? And does it genuinely protect us from pain? Maybe that’s easier for me to say because I don’t have the larger, weightier things in a life -- mate, kids, mortgage, job with insurance and perks -- and so I have less to lose.

I don’t feel brave. I feel surrendered. I feel as if I am standing in a room that has slowly been emptied of furniture, people, light. There is writing on the wall and rather than running right out for a can of primer to paint over it, pretending its not there, I’m looking at it and nodding my head. Yes, I see you. Yes, I read what you say. You say: Hey, Twinkle-toes: Time To Motor. Unfortunately you don’t say to where, but you're cute, and I like you, so I gas up the car, divest myself of possessions (always good to travel light!), and know only that the next place I drive to is Ohio.

Wouldn’t that be funny if the most I’ll know is the next place to go? It would certainly keep me in the moment. And really, isn’t that all we need to know anyway? We really don’t need to know all of our future pit stops . . . just the next place . . .

posted by Katherine at 11/03/2003 09:18:00 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2003

I Am Not A Car

Sometimes Life gets tired of waiting around for a person to wake up and smell the chai tea and so it helpfully gives them a good hard shove. They find themselves thrashing around in the drink, in their pjs, trying to figure out what the heck happened. At this point, they can either fight like mad to crawl back up the embankment to the place they were before, or they can go with the current, giving themselves over to the velocity of the unknown as it carries them along to who knows where. My shove came a few weeks ago and I choose to surrender . . .

Following a ten-month battle with the police and the landlords over the psychotic downstairs neighbor I finally gave notice last month to leave the apartment I have lived in the past six years – the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. I didn’t actually have a place to go, but the general thinking was that giving notice was the only action left that I could take for my own sanity and well-being, and that somehow Life would recognize that I was making a gesture of good faith and would show me where to go next.

A few weeks later, all of the work that I had scheduled for the late fall cancelled. Five separate jobs, totalling several thousand dollars, just vamoosed. The economy? The emotional climate? Who knows . . . but moving was now out of the question as the tight, desperate rental climate of New York these days means that apartments are very expensive and landlords require first and last months rent and a security deposit.

For a while I’d been considering a bigger move – Lawrence, Kansas maybe – or perhaps Kent, Ohio or at least New Paltz or Woodstock or Ithaca. But now, the only choice that Life seemed to be giving me was: stay where I am (the landlords feel badly about the situation and would give me a break for a few months til I figured out what to do) or go someplace where I could live inexpensively (my mother lives on an island in North Carolina and has a guest room).

I spent a lot of time looking at both these options. I don’t have a bad life. I do work that I love and am fairly known and respected in the area for it. I have a support system, a network of people that I care about and who care about me. There is a man that I spend some time with here and there. I have an apartment that is affordable and cozy. But the truth is, it just doesn’t work, none of it. My life as it is doesn’t work.

My life is doing and doing and doing and doing. And I am not a car. I refuse to be driven. In spite of the sort of person I am and the sort of work that I do, I find that my life has turned into a never ending limping jog on the treadmill of existence. I don’t have a mortgage or a husband or kids or debt but my time and energy is consumed with surviving, staying afloat. I do love the work that I do but a lot of it is sort of like being a professional friend. It takes an incredible amount of outpouring of energy to sustain it, and I haven’t taken a vacation in seven years and I feel really, really tired. The reason that I haven’t taken a vacation in so long is that I just never seem to have the money for it. Although I have made a living doing holistic work, which is no small feat in the culture and economic climate we live in, the living has been a slim one, and full of few peaks and many valleys. My support system is lovely, full of genuinely wonderful people, but everyone seems to have such busy lives, and I spend way, way too much time alone. The on again, off again man is lovely, too, but his life is Mach 10 busy and he is even more used to being alone than I am and so often it just feels like we are only able to genuinely connect for the briefest of moments before we slide off back into our individual lives. And the apartment? The apartment is a tiny little space that, although it has served its purpose these past six years and I am grateful for it, is really just an awful, broken down top floor of a 1800’s farmhouse with no closet space and drafty old windows and stained, holey carpets and linoleum and a poor, crazy, deeply wounded man that lives below me who believes that I am out to get him and that vengeance is his.

And so I called my mother and told her I’d come stay with her for a while – she’s been begging me to leave the land of the Yankees and come home for years. When I told her she got so excited she started shouting into the phone. It turns out that just that morning my sister and brother had landed a big work contract and had decided to go into business together, and so my brother, his wife, and their year-old son were all moving back home, too. For the first time in twenty years, the whole family was going to be together in the same town. Everything was set. Then, a few nights ago, my mom called to say that I couldn’t stay with her unless I put my cats in a kennel, which if you know me at all, you know that it’s not even an option. My cats have been with me for eleven years, and I am as committed to caring for them as if they were my children. They wouldn’t survive a kennel experience and I certainly wouldn’t survive a stay with my family without them.

And so I now have no idea where to go, what to do, which instead of making me feel frightened, is actually making me feel strong, capable, connected to this fierce tide that is living. I do know that I have to leave where I’m at, that to stay where I am just isn’t bearable anymore. I’m looking into efficiency apartments on the small island where my mom lives, where there might possibly be vacation rentals at winter prices. I’m looking into studios in downtown Wilmington which is the town that I grew up in, and where my sister and some old friends live. I’m looking into furnished rooms in Kent, Ohio where my friend Kelly moved to in August with her man, son, and new baby.

The thing is, I really don’t care much where I move to, because I really get that the next few months of my life are going to be about emptying out the garbage that’s collected in my life, and seeing if I can recognize myself in the space that’s created. I have two book projects I’m working on, a novel and a non-fiction about holistic living, and I am way behind on my course work for my naturopathic medicine degree. As for money? I’ll probably get some sort of job waiting tables or working at a temp agency or helping my sister clean houses, and then as I feel up to it, I’ll scout around town and see what sort of holistic work I can scare up. And maybe, if my books don’t turn out to be total fiascos, I can actually find a publisher and take the whole writing/speaking/teaching thing even further. Who knows? All I know is that on November 20th I roll out of town, felines in tow, my worldly belongings either sold off or in storage.

Life often brings great opportunity in the disguise of great upheaval and madness, and if we are willing to give ourselves over to the momentum, it will take us wonderful places. Actually, I am a little scared, because I don’t know how wonderful the next place I go to will be, or how wonderful I will feel, but I know that even though I am scared, I am going to take a deep breath and I am going to walk through this doorway and trust that on the other side lies the place that Life wants me to be. And that, my friends, is enough for me . . .

posted by Katherine at 10/26/2003 10:34:00 AM

Friday, October 10, 2003

Fresh Water for the Soul

This morning I woke up to find this wondrously thick fog surrounding the house. I woke feeling calm and strong and quietly cheerful listening to the birds, feeling the warmth of kitties and blankets. After some quick morning practices and some oatmeal with sunflower seeds and stevia and yummy chai tea I jumped on the net and found something to extend this morning's groove when I went Here. And now I am off for a hike in the woods of Pennsylvania with the lovely Sabine . . . .

posted by Katherine at 10/10/2003 08:40:00 AM

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Hot Blog Alert!

Wanna find out what's so dang funny about leaving your glamorous job at Time magazine, your fabulous friends, your loving family, and moving to the wilds of Ohio with a new baby, an eleven-year old who has just discovered that girls are "hot", and a white-hot hunk of a boyfriend who just gave you a tractor as an engagement ring? Then go visit Kelly .

And if you would like to comment on anything you read here on Dating God, just click on the link below where it says "Comment" at the bottom of each posting . . .

posted by Katherine at 10/02/2003 02:10:00 PM

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Common Ordinary Goodness

I was driving home from teaching a class down in Mahwah a little bit ago and right outside of Suffern the traffic suddenly slowed and then stopped. Usually, a traffic jam has a sense of impatience to it - people honking or cutting in front of one another, a general sense of "this sucks" in the air. Tonight was different. There was something wondrous going on and I turned off the radio, rolled down the window to take it in.

As I got closer to where the traffic freed up again I could see cars pulled over to the side of the road, several people running across the road, a couple more directing traffic. I wondered if someone hadn't hit a deer or a dog and had pulled over to be with the animal, or was trying to save it. It didn't occur to me that a wreck had occurred until the overturned vehicle came into view.

It wasn't just upside down, it was practically inside out, and it couldn't have happened more than five or ten minutes prior. There were two people, one sitting, the other lying down, blood on a white sweatshirt, blood on faces, hands. There were another two people still in the wrecked vehicle. About a half dozen people attended to the people on the ground, to the ones still in the SUV.

The cars in front of me began to move a bit faster and my lane opened up, and I saw that a bunch of cars had pulled over to the side of the road. Literally dozen of cars, on both sides of the highway, had stopped. Were they calling the police? An ambulance? Surely they could see that with so many of them pulled over many people had already called for help?

A shiver of wonder hit me again, that feeling that something wondrous was occurring. Some of the people were getting out of their cars to run back to the accident, and as I drove past them as they ran in the opposite direction I could feel the source of the wonder: It was love.

I could feel the people pulled to the side of the road asking themselves: how can I help? I could feel the people running back to the accident gearing themselves up, focusing their energy outward, looking for where they could be of use, how they could help. I could feel my own energy, not as a gawking rubbernecker but as someone who in that second of recognition that love was very, very present felt my own energy expand and sweeten and flow back towards that vehicle, to the people who were in it, and the people who stopped to help. And I wasn't alone. I could feel the energy of the hundred or so of us all reaching back to lift, to comfort, to help.

And as I drove on, shivers of energy still moving up and down my body, I realized that there is so much love in the world, there is such goodness. The world is filled with horrors, both mundane and catastrophic, but there is also a balancing to that, a goodness, a sweetness that moves through the world, something inside of us that must reach out to help, that forgets about our own suffering and longs only to relieve the suffering of another.

And I remembered yesterday when I felt so torn apart, so bereft, and how my friend Kelly listened to me, and loved me, how she has listened to me and loved me again and again, no matter how broken I've been, how deep or dark the hole in which I sat. "There is such beauty inside of you," she said yesterday. "I wish you could see it." And I felt the reality of that, knowing that even as I couldn't feel my own beauty, Life allowed lovely Kelly to be my mirror so that I could see a different view of myself. Oh, thank god for Kelly . . .

And my friend Barbara's face came to mind, and I remembered how stealthily she takes care of me, with such elegant compassion that even as she is doing things for me, her help makes me feel strong, capable. And oh how we laugh, the top down on her convertible, disco blaring from the speakers, her ten year old son rolling his eyes as he shouts to us to please turn down the music . . . and we look at one another and laugh hysterically, feeling fabulous and alive and giddy and blessed . . .

And my friend Linda, who is a friend and a mentor and a piece of work and a never ending source of inspiration. We were in NYC a couple of weekends ago, walking up second avenue in the east village and she was trying to get me to see how my energy interacts with the energy of men and she has me doing these "exercises" where I ask men for directions to a restaurant and then she debriefs me and I'm getting all bent out of shape and not getting what she's trying to get me to see and then she turns to me and says: who's the bigger guy magnet, me or you? And without hesitation I say: you. (Because everywhere we go, men blow her kisses, allow her to pull out in traffic ahead of them, bow gallantly to let her pass, treat her with respect and care and adoration.) And she laughs and replies: I'm an overweight, middle-aged lady from Rockland County, so you tell me what the deal is with men. And I realize that it is her love of life, her love of men, her love of herself that radiates out into the world and these men can't help but radiate love back to her. And I realize what a gift it is to see her work her hysterical, funky, beautiful love on the world and how grateful I am to be reminded of where beauty lies . . .

And as I sit here writing this I see the faces of dozens more, people who say such wonderful things to me, who grace me with their trust, their time, their stories, their perceptions.

Yes, it is true that the world is filled with awful, awful things, that awful things happen, and that it often feels as if there is no way out. And it is true that every single one of us is alone. But when we are broken, there are always people to help, to be with us in our brokeness, our aloneness, we just have to be willing to reach out, to say, hey, I know you can't see the blood, the wreckage, but here's been a ten car pile up inside of me and I would really appreciate it if you would just hold my hand, just be with me til the bleeding slows down a little.

And as I write those words I see in my mind's eye the dozens and dozens of cars pulling to the side of the road, filled with friends running back to the scene of the accident asking themselves: how can I help? with nothing but love on their minds and in their hearts . . .

There is so much love in the world . . . we just have to be willing to let it in . . .

posted by Katherine at 10/01/2003 09:39:00 PM

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

What Is Up?

I started teaching a new class series a couple of weeks ago called Power Tools for Holistic Living. It’s a sort of holistic buffet, a way to learn a dozen basic skills for bringing holistic living into daily life. The first class covered some of the things that we’re going to be doing each week: exercises from chi gong, yoga, using the talking stick, smudging/saging, and meditation. This past week we made personal aromatherapy blends and put together individualized remedies using the Perelandra Rose/Nature/Garden/Soul Ray essences. And in the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at Feng Shui, energywork, developing intuition/psychic energies, herbs/food/fitness, and other tools to help establish a thorough and yet doable daily spiritual practice.

Teaching this class series is a big jump for me, not in terms of what I’m teaching but in terms of teaching it to others. For the past six years I’ve been running workshops and classes in feng shui, meditation, and holistic stress management, as well as the private sessions and consults with people. I’ve also been studying a lot of different things – herbs, nutrition, all sorts of aspects of holistic health and healing - as I work towards my degree in naturopathic medicine. And then there are the things that I do for my own health and well-being.

The Power Tools series is a combination of many of the things that I’ve incorporated into my own life, practical ways to keep the chaos of the world at bay and when that fails, to clean the chaos out of my body/mind/spirit. And teaching this class series means putting things in logical, understandable order, and creating handouts and exercises to teach them to others.

My favorite part of the class series are the attendees. I had assumed when I designed the class, that it would be filled by relative beginners to the holistic way of life, but instead, the group is actually well-informed and very knowledgable. They share the information that they have picked up and are also open to what I have discovered, and we all pass stuff around and we're all the better for it. Plus, we're laughing a lot, which I'm pretty sure is the most potent Holistic Power Tool of all . . .

And on the personal tools tip: one of my latest things is niacin flushes, which has a lot of mixed opinions, and depending on which book you read, is fabulous or not so fabulous. I've found it to be helpful, though in the moment it's pretty freaky. Large doses of niacin causes the body to "flush" which feels sort of like an intense internal sunburn. One of the things niacin does is improve circulation and evidence of this can be seen in the odd sunburny rash that covers my body for a half hour or so after taking it. I'm doing it as part of my ongoing detox, and has been helping. Last night, though, I had a dream where a woman walked up to me and said that I needed to stop taking it now, that it had served its purpose, and so I'll move on to the next thing. I think maca is next on the agenda, which is a Peruvian herb that helps balance the endocrine system and helps with PMS which has been kicking my butt again lately. I took it regularly a few years ago and my PMS completely disappeared, and so I'll give it another whirl . . .

Mostly, though, I continue to work with the abyss that opened up inside of me this past winter and continues to show me new aspects of itself on a pretty regular basis. I've been on intimate terms with this bottomless pit of ghosts for most of my life, but thought that I had made peace with my place in it, at least in a way that allowed me access to the sweetness, the love inside of me. But a series of things caused a huge shift where all sorts of illusions, things that I believed to be true, things that I counted on, to be revealed for the smoke and mirrors that they were.

I don't know why I'm reluctant to reveal what happened, or what has occurred because of that. It's probably fear of being judged. I know that who I was a year ago wouldn't understand what I am going through now and would most certainly judge it, and so I guess I assume that others will do the same. I also don't have a clear picture of what is going on with me, only that I face every day with this sense of everything being out of my control, of a knowing that no matter what I do, I can do nothing to change who I am, what I've become, who I'm becoming. And yet, I have so many tools that I know are true, and so every day I find a way to do something to use those tools: work out, do yoga, chi gong, meditate, write, read, go out into nature, take my herbs and vitamins, eat healthy food, get a massage. And some days ice cream and old Sex and The City reruns are the only tools I can remember how to use . . .

I am more alone than I have ever been in my life, and yet there is often a quietness to my living that is new. It isn't a peaceful quiet, or even a happy one, just a sense of silence. Considering how aggravating all the noise was, I would have thought silence would be lovely , but in reality it is just an absence of everything - nothing happening but the nothing. And it's actually pretty scary. You can’t imagine how dependant you’ve become on hearing things like: you’ll be okay, I love you, you are so beautiful – until the only thing you hear are the echos inside of your own head. That is really what the abyss is: the absense of everything solid so that the only thing you hear is the echo of your own perception of life, living, soul, meaning.

Whatever all this is, I'm pretty well locked into it. My friends and teachers are all on the outside looking in as if I were behind plexiglass. I can see their mouths moving but what they are saying makes no real sense to me. I am in this by myself.

I can still teach and do sessions, though this is more freaky too as its as if I were in front of the groups with no clothes on. Confidence, like many of my beliefs, have fallen away and I stand in front of clients not as the person of last year who knew what the heck was going on, how things worked, but as someone who is naked, human, frail.

People like their healers to be healed, but this is pure delusion. Our healers die of cancer, go bankrupt, get divorced, feel depressed, get the flu, display anger and sadness. And not knowing what to write next, I opened a book to a Rumi passage:

"You have a source inside you, a cool spring that sometimes
stops flowing, frozen

or clogged with silt. A voice says: Consider the situation
more deeply my friend.

Such advice is not idle. It is immediate companionship with
a soul artist like David,

who works iron until it melts and he can shape it. Spirit
is the art of making what's

blocked start moving again. When your body dies, give
it to the death angel,

Israfil. If your heart feels numb and metallic, walk out
into the sun, or whatever

the mystery is that makes *your* inner spring well up. There
was once a sage who felt

this flow moving inside him. As he walked the garden
that was being restored with

spring water, he gave names to aspects of the vital dance
he was doing: the animal's

hungry agility and the connoisseur's intelligent choice.
Blessings on Hakim

Sanai, who could put those two in one gesture!"

and as I read on:

"Prayer is an egg. Hatch out the total helplessness inside . . . "

And so as winter approaches I pray for thawing . . . and know it is better to give birth in the freezing cold than to not give birth at all . . .

I have spent the past twenty years training to attend my own birth and the tools of power that I wield are the tools of midwifery. How many times does a person have to be born before they get it right?

posted by Katherine at 9/30/2003 10:43:00 AM

Friday, September 12, 2003

What Does It Murmur?

Two weeks ago I found out that I have a heart murmur. It was during a routine visit for a gyn exam, and I was surprised when the nurse practitioner asked: so how long have you had a heart murmur?

Heart murmur? I asked. I don't have a heart murmur. I did have one when I was an infant. I was born two months premature and had to stay in an incubator for a couple of weeks, but it healed, my heart healed. Are you sure it's a heart murmur?

Yes. You have a heart murmur. It's very definite, very clear. You'll want to get it checked out, she said.

Well, I don't have insurance, and I'm willing to bet that a heart evaluation isn't going to be a $60 drop in visit at the local clinic.

Probably not, she said.

Hmmm. You're sure?

Yes, she answered.

What could have caused it? I asked her. I'm really fit, take good care of my body, work out, eat right, and I haven't noticed anything. How is it possible that I have a heart murmur and haven't known it? What is a heart murmur anyway? What does it mean?

It means that your heart won't close completely, she said.

And when she said that - your heart won't close completely - I felt for a moment that I might pass out, or fall back on the table and sob. My heart won't close completely. It won't. It won't close. I know it won't because I've tried.

After the exam I did a lot of thinking about my heart - what it feels like, what it sounds like from the inside of me, the lub dub shoosh that I've been hearing for months now, the lub dub dub and the little skip that follows where I feel like I am, for just a second, falling falling falling down deep inside of myself before it stops and I find myself still standing in my life, still upright, still here.

But mostly I thought about how broken my heart was.

And it is broken, my heart. Broken, broken, broken. And not in big chunky pieces that can be neatly super glued back together, but in countless shards, tiny, some dull, others like the splinters of a mirror, the mess of it cobbled together using god knows what, pieces missing, left god knows where with god knows who, pieces I gave away and never got back, pieces that were taken from me when I fell for the old bait and switch, pieces that flew off and away into the world when I mistook my heart for a catherine wheel when it was really a bouncing betty. My heart.

I met a man last Saturday night at The Freestyle Frolic. A beautiful man. In amazement in the presense of so many humans being. Looking for his place in all of it. A little lost in his own life. A little wounded. Trying to put himself back together again. Finding new ways to fly, new ways to land. I met him five minutes after running into my ex-boyfriend for the first time in six months.

Running into my ex wasn't as painful as I'd thought it would be, considering how we left it. How we left it was sloppy and sad, full of half-truths and blame, judgments and sharp edges. There were many things to sort out between us but neither of us could manage to find even a tiny patch of heart to stand in that hadn't been already trampled flat by the ones that had been there before us. And so how we left it was unfinished. But when I saw him on Saturday night, when he walked past me, his "hello" harsh and brief, his face like a storm front, I felt something in me finally let go. I didn't feel angry. I didn't feel hurt. I just said hello and smiled at him and went back to putting on my shoes so that I could walk with my friend up to the port-a-potty on the hill.

And while I was waiting for my friend to finish up, the beautiful man walked up and started talking to me. We ended up talking a lot that night. Personal things. Sacred things. Things that you generally wait a few dates to spill the beans about. At one point, this man that I didn't know reached over and brushed the hair out of my face and it was so tender and right and I felt that he'd always been with me. He said things to me about myself that were so intuitive, so true, that they took my breath away. How did he know that about me? I asked myself. How could this man that I don't know know me so well?

So now its Friday. We were supposed to go out tonight. Tonight was going to be our first date. We've talked on the phone every night this week, made plans to meet in the city, eat dinner together, watch a movie down at the handball courts in the village, go to a dance. He was supposed to call me and let me know the time, he wasn't sure what his work was going to be like today, wasn't sure where we should meet. I was supposed to leave by 3:30 this afternoon so that I could beat rush hour traffic. But he didn't call.

I guess I could have called him, called to say - hey, what's up? - but I'd had small warning signs during our conversations the past few days, little signal flares that lit up those dark alleyways that harboured the ghosts of boyfriends past. And at 3:45 p.m. when the phone had still not rung, I realised why he seemed so familiar to me: I may not have known him for long, but I had been dating him all my life.

I sat in my little apartment and asked myself: how many more times are you going to ignore the warnings? How many more times are you going to allow yourself to get involved with a man that you know won't love you the way that you want, the way that you need? When are you going to realise that seeing the potential of someone's heart doesn't mean that they do, and certainly doesn't mean that they'll share your vision of a heart as a holy grail? And when was I going to stop searching for the holy grail in the heart of another? When was I going to just let go? When was I going to truly, genuinely, finally just let it all go?

And so I left my apartment and I ran errands, and went rollerblading, and when I finally spoke with the beautiful man at 6 p.m. and he asked if I still wanted to come see him I said: I think I'll pass. And after a hot bath filled with the scent of jasmine and lavendar, I curled up on the couch with the kitties and some cheese and crackers and a movie and a luscious ripe peach.

I wonder if I'm not being harsh, if I'm not simply acting out of fear, out of protection, an attempt to salvage those last few pieces of my poor shattered heart that still can hold a little reflection of the good, of the wondrous. But my heart can’t take any more careless blows from wounded men. Enough, please, yes, enough.

And as I sit here, my heart goes lub dub dub dub, lub dub shooshhhhhhh and I know that it is struggling, because it won't close, because it stays open, even in hell, and I place my hand over it and listen to its broken rhythm and whisper sweet things to it, and know that tonight, at least, this time, at least, I have shown it mercy and lovingkindness, really swooped in and white-knighted it, and that for tonight, at least, the holy grail is in good hands . . .

posted by Katherine at 9/12/2003 09:50:00 PM

The Two Wolves

(From an e mail sent to me by my sister . . .)

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about
life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible
fight and it is between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion,
and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person,

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his
grandfather "Which wolf will win, grandfather?"

The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."

posted by Katherine at 9/12/2003 12:44:00 PM

Friday, August 29, 2003

A Quote

"Being nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight." e.e. cummings

posted by Katherine at 8/29/2003 12:05:00 PM

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Lalalala Life Goes On . . .

And so in a glorious funk I went over to have dinner at my friend Kelly's house. As evidenced from the last post, I was feeling a little depressed, a little hopeless/helpless, a little sad, and after I arrived I realized that I have also been in deep, deep denial over the fact that on Sunday morning Kelly moves to Ohio.

Kelly had a hard pregnancy, ending in a three week stay in the hospital followed by an emergency c-section. I spent several nights with her, spent many an hour helping her out around the house or running errands for her - really getting to know her on this very practical, simple, loving way of being of service to her, really getting to see that the friendship that we have is changing, has changed, and will continue to change as we grow older, as our lives shift.

Our dinner tonight fell into the familar groove that she and I have cultivated over the past six years. She is a marvelous cook and I have become adept as her sous chef, table setter, and dish washer. As she made this wonderful portabello mushroom, sausage, tomato sauce with wild rice, I made us a salad and we chatted and went back and forth to Lila, now almost six weeks old, who was hanging out in the bedroom alternately sleeping and making cooing/hooting/wailing noises.

Lila nursed a lot (Kelly and I laughed at how her breasts have become this commonplace thing that she whips out in the middle of a conversation) and then got progressively more fussy, so Kelly gave her a bath and I played assistant some more, just for the joy of watching that sweet baby trying to figure out of she *loved* the lavendar water or *hated* it. But mostly I just was quiet and watched this unfolding of quiet moments of mom and baby going through their nightly routine, of gingery almond oil being rubbed into little baby fat rolls and a dimply heiny, of a wash cloth being swished around as little baby wisps of hair curled and dampened, of seeing the looks of utter absorption in sweet love that radiated from my friend's face as she looked upon the face of her sweet girl.

I also got several lessons in life tonight. This world is truly a wild ride and it certainly is also a bumpy one, and no one escapes this. I watched as this pure little being had gas so intense and smelly that I vowed never again to judge myself for the foods that I eat. I watched as she struggled and cried simply from the discomfort of wanting to nurse but not wanting the milk, from wanting to sleep, but having her tummy hurt, from feeling too warm, then feeling chilled. On and on goes the suffering, and then it shifts and all is well, there is a breast or a warm hand rubbing her back, a soft voice cooing in her ear, a gentle furry kitty that snuggles up to her and purrs with total acceptance into her face.

Everything changes . . . life flows on . . . and the priviledge of spending time being sweet, and gentle, and easy with another somehow, at least for this moment, and then this moment, and then this one, makes it all okay . . . it doesn't take excitement, just the willingness to relax into the loveliness, the lusciousness of the ordinary . . .

posted by Katherine at 8/13/2003 09:24:00 PM

Earlier this afternoon: On and on and on and on and on . . .

I have to laugh when I look back twenty years ago at the reasons I started in on the whole holistic/spiritual/metaphysical trip. I thought that it would make me a better person, and that that would bring me more money, a better life, and a wonderful life partner. Little did I know that I would never reach the goal because even the mere concept of a journey was way off the mark . . .

A few months ago I went through a very painful breakup (is there any other kind?) and nearly lost my mind when I came to the realization that I haven't grown, that there is no "growth", only more awareness around who I am, how I behave, and on good days, more compassion around myself for it. I realized that I still live a variation on the same kind of life I always have, still choose the same sort of man, and probably always will. The only thing that seems to change is this continual letting go tiny bit by tiny bit of my dramatic reactions to their behavior and more and more forgiveness for how profoundly confused we all are.

Sound pessimistic? Perhaps. But its the only answer I can come up with for having worked so hard the past twenty years and still remaining my same old mixed up self. Sure, I don't drink any more, or drug, (unless you count my current addiction to spelt bread :) and I have amassed a tremendous amount of knowledge around tools for changing energy, mood, and supporting good health but am I more joyful in my life? For all of my knowledge and struggle, am I more at ease in my own skin? For all of the working out and meditation and herb taking and clean eating I do, am I healthier? I don't know how to answer that anymore. . . I only know that the good in life passes, but also that if I hang in there long enough, the bad passes on through, too. . .

posted by Katherine at 8/13/2003 04:51:00 PM

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Sweet Torture . . .

I've just commited myself to losing these dang fifteen pounds that are hanging out around my middle, my thighs, my upper arms, under my chin. I've lost close to fifty pounds of fat the past three years and that's great and all, but I still have more to go and it's going to take work.

My teaching schedule is going to be quiet over the next six weeks and so my job is going to be getting my body strongly on the road back into luscious, lean shape through nutrition and exercise. The plan of action:

* four days a week of strength/resistance training with 30-45 minutes of cardio afterwards
* two yoga classes a week
* three rollerblading sessions a week at 6 miles in a half hour.
* continue my practices of meditation and chi gong for an hour each morning
* do a five day fast to clean my body out and then move on to eating only clean, fresh, natural foods (nothing processed or with chemicals, only fish or organic poultry, eggs, or fresh goat cheese for animal protein) for at least two weeks afterwards.
* really take advantage of the expertise of my friends and colleagues by asking questions, getting support, bartering bodywork sessions, etc.
* make a lot of love :)

Sounds like a plan, huh? I'll keep you posted . . .

posted by Katherine at 7/23/2003 08:54:00 AM

Friday, July 11, 2003

Last Saturday I got lost in the woods. Not la-la-la-lost, but 10-hours in the wilderness, ran out of water, absolutely alone, no one knows where I am, don't even know where the freak I am lost.

It started out innocently enough. I decided I'd head up to Sam's Point and check out the ice caves and waterfall and perhaps do a few mile hike. I usually call Kelly to let her know where I'm going to be but I figured I'd only be gone for a few hours so I threw some food, water, and other last minute things into a backpack, tied my hair up in braids, and hit the road to Cragsmore.

Two hours later found me walking along what appeared to be an old carriage road. I'd picked up a map of the trail at the Visitor's Center and had decided to take the long way around - about 8 or 9 miles - and see the caves and waterfall at the end of a nice, brisk hike. I stopped and picked wild blueberries and hung out on a huge rock that overlooked Minnewaska State Park. I was about 6 miles in when I ran into trouble.

The trail had gotten progressively funkier and funkier until the only way I could follow the trail was to walk forward slowly and feel the slight tunnel in front of my feet in the tangle of dense shrub and brush that makes up what the map called "the dwarf pine barrens". Trees were about 4-6 feet tall and the rather than the fairly open space of a regular forest, the underbrush was about two feet tall and tightly packed. The trail often opened onto large stretches of rocks and the trail would be marked with a blue swatch where the rock ended and the "trail" through the brush began.

As the going got rougher I began to get lost more and more often. Sometimes fallen trees obscured the already sketchy trail and other times the markers just weren't there anymore. I thought about going back but didn't feel that I had the strength to backtrack the 6 miles I'd already put in and I was running out of water. I kept going. And kept getting lost, though each time I'd go over and over the area until I again found the way forward.

Then I made the classic mistake: I left the trail. I had spent close to an hour looking for the forward trail marker and in a flash of impatience and arrogance, I decided to just push ahead and trust that I would stumble upon the trail as I moved forward.

Two hours later, my legs bleeding and torn from the underbrush, my water supply gone, not a soul in sight, I reached an opening and looked out over acres and acres of utter wilderness, not a single manmade sign in sight. And in that moment I realized: I am seriously lost.

For a while I toyed with the idea that someone would come looking for me, that if I just held tight the police would send a helicopter (!), that I would run into someone, but not having seen anyone since the morning and not having anyone even knowing that I was gone and not being a rich heiress for whom a search by helicopter would be warranted I began to face the realization that I was on my own.

As I followed a dried up stream bed after having been lured down it by the antics of a bird (animal signs! I'd thought) I began to quietly see that what was occurring for me was a metaphor for my life. I've had a lot of things go awry the past few months, everything just sort of falling apart, not working out, changing, shifting, really feeling awful, with no sign of a way out. Feeling dehydration coming on, I walked along the the path created from what used to be a stream and I had this flash that if I wanted to survive both this day and my life I was going to have to try something really different, and I was going to have to ditch the metaphysical signs/feelings/premonitions/wonderings and turn inside of myself for clear, practical possibilities. So I turned around and began walking the other way on the old stream pathway.

Within a couple of miles I came upon a small pool of fairly clear water. For a moment I hesitated, thinking of all of the stories of poisonous microbes and bacteria. But the fact was that it was outrageously hot and humid on the mountain and I was going to be unable to think or walk much very soon if I didn't get water in me. A feeling of great practicality swept over me and without hesitation I stuck my head down and scooped in a few mouthfulls. It was delicious - even the little bits of twigs and funk floating around in it. I pulled out a zip lock bag from my backpack and created a funnel and filled my water bottle.

Next on the agenda were my poor legs. I had hit another dense patch of undergrowth and the pain became unbearable. As I crashed through the dwarf trees and vines and brush it hit me: what was I doing to myself? I stopped and this wave of compassion for myself replaced the driving aggression I'd been feeling (must get out, must get out, must save myself) and I sat down on a rock and took a towel out of my backpack and with the scissor attachment on my Swiss Army knife I made "pants" and tied them on with strips of towel. As I walked on with my legs all cozy and protected I laughed and annointed myself the Female McGuiver of The Dwarf Pine Barrens.

After another mile or so, the sun began to go down far enough for me to be able to see which way was clearly west and so I began to go in a southwesterly direction, hoping for some sort of clue, sign, trail marker. An hour or so after that I found a trail marker, but rather than celebrate, I had this feeling that the hard part was just begining and dug deep inside of me as I realized that I had re-entered the trail fairly close to where I'd left off which meant miles and miles of backtracking and countless round and round searches for trail markers.

I finally made it to the end of the difficult part of the trail and what lay ahead was a slight downslope but very wide, well-marked trail back to the parking lot - about four miles worth.

This was actually the hardest part. At this point my body began to totally give out. I hadn't rested much during the day - for some reason I felt that I had to go on and not stop too much, and the biting black flies and mosquitos encouraged me to do this as well. Now I felt that it was imperative that I press forward and so I did, in spite of all sorts of things that began screaming for stillness: blisters, muscle pulls, insect bites, sunburn, contact rashes from the backpack, aches, and the complaints from various other body parts that had been moved back and forth a few thousand times too many. And just to up the ante, my moon time had started a few miles into the hike with its accompanying cramps and energy whirls.

As I moved along, mile after mile, step, step, step, step, I realized that this is what refugees went through for weeks, months on end. I felt something in me expand, felt a kinship for people who at that very moment were doing the same thing as me. We were walking forward, because no one was going to come in and save us, there were no rescuers, only ourselves, and only forward motion.

As I walked the last quarter mile, I came upon a few boys heading back up the trail with a few six packs and a boom box. As I walked past them I smiled and they looked at me and looked away, then did double takes. I was a mess, and in more pain than I could remember experiencing in years. I asked them how much further to the parking lot and they said "less than 600 feet". Fifteen minutes after I reached my car, the sun went down.

It took me an hour to drive home and to keep myself focused I played the radio and sang along and watched my thoughts as I'd watched them during the day. I thought about how to organize myself so that when I got home I could do the things that I needed to do in order to take care of myself - take ibuprofin, take a bath with antiseptic and healing oils, feed the cats, eat something, cancel my client appointments for the next day, go to bed. I thought about my life here in Chester, and I realized that I have, as Joseph Campbell puts it, fallen off the beam and that it's time that I find that beam again, though I'm not sure where to look yet.

I spent the next couple of days in bed and am now almost totally healed. I feel different somehow, more surrendered to my life, and more grateful, but mostly I feel this quiet recognition that I lost something dense and heavy out there in the wilderness and that I regained some vital sense of aliveness that I lost over last fall.

I wish it weren't so, but Life uses crisis to move us, shift us, shake us out of that crusty, deadening thing we call normalcy. I realized out on that mountain that it isn't about dramatic signs or big awakenings or grand metaphysical metaphors. It's about practical action, and moving forward, and being kind to ourselves when we're in pain.

And so life boogies on and my story is for others just a tale of a chick who got lost while hiking while for me the layers of realization continue to unwind inside of me.

Thank you Life . . . thank you for my life . . . thank you for my life . . .


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