The Santa Ines Mission was stunning and I dubbed her 'formal' as thus far it was the most formal mission I had visited.
(polaroid sx-70 / tz artistic film)
Gosh, it seems like a lifetime ago now since I was in California back in March but I really want to get up all the photos I took from that trip. I am having a little staycation this week and one of the things I would like to accomplish is to document my California trip.
I have taken down all my archives for public consumption for the moment while I sort out in my head what exactly I am doing with this blog. I have been feeling weighed down by it for some time now but I have almost a decade's worth of posts, photographs, poetry, lists, thoughts and memories amassed here and it has become a sort of digital album for me so I don't know that I want to annhilate it. I also don't know if I want a record of my life out there in the public sphere because it feels weird to me suddenly. The shifts that have been happening this year, 2011 have been huge and I need to sort it out in the immediate real of my life so in the mean time I am trying this little experiment for myself. Every time I post a new blogpost, I am archiving the old one so that I only ever have one post up at a time. I am giving myself until September 30 to see how this works for me in this space in time. I suppose I am feeling out whether I want to even continue blogging, to continue even having a presence online. I don't have any answers right now, am just exploring.
love and peace.
this post will self-destruct in hours, days or weeks. i have no idea.
Feb 29, 2012 update. i have sorted it all out for now and in the process have moved everything to wordpress and am slowly incorporating all the blog incarnations i have had since 2003. i have realized that my blog doesn't define me which is nice and that living more and more in the world is also nice. i have also realized that i like the idea of having it all together in one place, this space that changes and grows and is an archive of what i have chosen to share over the years and consequently, i reminder of how i have traveled.
While on vacation, my husband and I spent a few days with the bohos. I don't even know how to describe how incredibly healing it was for us to be around them, for us to be with cedar. We had more than one moment where our eyes filled up with soft tears and our hearts filled up with love.
I have been holding on to grief for a long time and I am never quite sure how I will be in the presence of children, especially small children. This trip really showed me how far I have come in my journey and how a beautiful open family and a fairy child can wind their way into my heart and touch those tender bits and kiss them stronger.
I learn so much about myself when I travel. In the weeks that I have been home, I have started really noticing the shifts and how they are playing out in my life, in my living. The changes that are manifesting in my body, in the way that I am eating and playing and in the way that I am spending my time. I laugh easier and I smile more often. I can feel myself shedding the final softness of grief, the final bits of anger.
I am still processing it all. but i know this. I love that family with every ounce of my being and they really do live in paradise, it envelops them even as their light touches every thing around them.
(featuring these beautiful, smart, talented, soul and heart filled women: Sophia, Melissa, Emily, Rebecca, Sarah, Elizabeth, Celina and Meghan)I just want to say that I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to have been given the opportunity to fall in love with each of these women over the course of four days. I had no idea when I said yes, that I would be saying yes to something that would so deeply affect me.
I have been pretty quiet over the past six to eight months and yet I find myself here in this space actually wanting to write. I find myself behind the camera again actually wanting to take photos. I find myself feeling optimistic and joyous in a deeply rooted way. I have remembered that having a blog has brought so much beauty into my life and it is possible to balance what is in front of me with the world expansive beyond my front door. Necessary even.
This life journey, it is long and sometimes fraught with all sorts of insecurities and feelings of not belonging. I am so sensitive to even writing about my time away on a stretch of beach bonding with these incredibly giving women. I am sensitive to it because I have read such accounts in the past and have felt that sting, that pang of longing that I didn't even know that I had. It is not always easy to feel happy for others when you also have a great longing for connection. Connection. It is not always easy. And trust me when I say I know this feeling well, this feeling of not being connected.
I wrote about a lot in the hidden archives of my blog. When my twins died five years ago. I found myself incredibly alone. painfully alone. Death changed me so much and not everyone is open to that sort of change and not everyone can deal with the kind of pain I was going through on the heels of losing my sister. It was a lot so I get it when people exited stage left out of my life but it still hurt deeply, the pain of knowing I was essentially alone in it. And so I reached out in my blog, I wrote it out and I talked about it all. All of it. I read about women getting together and I thought that would never be me. I was the person who walked into a coffeeshop and saw a group of grey haired women together laughing and talking and tears would come to my eyes because I just knew they had a deep history and I would never have that. Not true. So not true. Never have I felt so grateful to be so wrong.
In the past five years I have been so blessed in the women that have come into my life, in the connections that I have made, in the journeys I have been on. I have been building history with so many amazing women and I no longer tear up in the same longing sad way when I read about connections. I no longer feel the pain in my heart when I see a bevy of laughing white haired ladies because I actually believe I will have that in various forms. I write this because if you are reading my words and watching the beauty that I attempted to capture in the video/slideshow above and you long for something similar, I want you to know that I understand and I also know you can find it. I know this with every ounce of my being.
It takes courage, I think, to put yourself out there, to ask someone for a phone or skype date, to send an email asking people to join you in a retreat adventure. It also takes courage to say yes. It is not always going to work out and like anything, it is not going to perfect because life is not perfect. But beauty, oh yes ... there will always be beauty if you are open to allowing that in, if you are open to just showing up vulnerable and real in who you are.
And sometimes just by showing up, you get lucky. Really lucky. I got really lucky in a bright open beach house in Manzanita, Oregon. Blessed even.
Recently I was posed the question. You know the question or a variation of the question. Tell my about your dreams for yourself. What would you do if you weren't held back by money, by time, by fear. What would you do if you didn't have to balance work, motherhood and all the spaces in between. Tell me, whisper in my ear ... what are your wildest dreams and goals?
At the time, THE question sort of sent me down a road in my head that wound around in circles and back again. I am embarrassed to say that I came up empty. Completely empty.
I had this idea that so many of my big dreams have come true in the past but a) they came with a huge unexpected price; or b) they followed a great loss; or c) they were not at all what i wanted once they were realized. It sort of made me wonder about everything. And perhaps it wasn't about dreaming anymore but about just finding the beauty in exactly where I am, in the groundedness of what is around me.
But still I grappled because since I was wee tiny, I have always thundered with dreams, beating out at my chest. I wanted so much that I could feel the energy crackling outwards. My dreams were my escape from a life I didn't want. My dreams were what have carried me to this life which is so different than the life path that had been laid out before me. I think I found myself in an awkward place of ... not knowing.
That was exactly the place I was in when I received an email from Meghan which included an invitation to a retreat with a group of women that were strangers to me. She was inspired by a group of creative lovely women who call themselves the lovebombers. I was in a place of pulling back from the internet, commitments, dreams and yes even friends because I was intent on doing the hard work that I had been running from, the work that included being fully present in the now, in my life, in pulling the focus towards what was in front of me. I was leaning fully into practicing integrity and sorting out what was important to me and my life. So no one was more surprised than myself that I immediately responded back with a YES! And when I say immediately, I am not even exaggerating. I think I mulled it over for an hour or so but the pull of my heart was so strong that even writing this now sparks tears behind my eyes.
Intuition? Longing? An unnamed dream? I don't really know. What I do know is that within hours of being in the presence of these women, it felt like I had known them forever in that deep trusting heart filled way.
I am in the process of putting together a little photoshow which I will share in the coming days because I feel like the photos convey it all so much better than I can in these early days of being back home. But I will say that I felt understood and witnessed and I felt comfortable and awed and filled with so much expansive emotion and understanding. In this moment. Grateful.
Last night in the drowsy state of the moon's descention, I had a realization. My dreams have always been fueled by the need to escape. They have been beautiful dreams that were planted and rooted in the soil created by fear. I am in transition made stronger by all those dreams realized. I am stronger and more powerful because of them. Laying in a soft bed with the open windowed breeze of the pounding surf pouring through my body, I found the sliver of a dream growing upwards through the open air planted in the expansive nature of my joy. I can grow my dreams both new and ancient forgotten sighs but they don't need to be planted in that same stale soil. As I have pushed the dirt and into the sunshine so too have my dreams and now they are free to not only grow upwards but also through the expansive air of the world.
The La Purisima Mission immediately spoke to me, even before I really walked through it. It was Pastoral. Beautifully pastoral. The herb garden captured my imagination and the wind in the willows spoke secrets to my soul as a tiny lizard danced at my feet.
It was also here that a lesson was reinforced as I was reminded that first impressions can be misleading and it is always worth digging deep inside to see all the richness that waits to be discovered. And so, it was in La Purisima that I started shooting my one polaroid after I had completely explored and thus began my tradition of shooting off a polaroid from the back of the mission instead of the front.
(polaroid sx-70 / tz artistic film)
*thanks to the lovely kristen for letting me tag along for her inspired project to shoot all the california missions.
The word that most summed up the San Luis Obispo Mission for me was Religious. Of all the missions I visited, overall, it had the most religious overtones. It was also situated right in the heart of the city and was really quite lovely.
I have searched through all my polaroids looking for the San Luis Obispo and it seems to have been misplaced. Perhaps I will find it eventually tucked in between the pages of my notebook, buried deep in the pages washed out in chemicals with bits of words scraped together and lost in indentation. But in this moment, it is gone.
Perhaps I didn't take one. My mind is foggy on this point because I was sure that I had taken one. I did, however, take a polaroid in the city of San Obispo just a couple of blocks from the Mission and I am a bit in love with it and I really love that the theatre was playing The Big Lebowski, one of my favourite films of all time. Perhaps, this was the photo I choose to take rather than use a polaroid at the Mission ... I can no longer remember my thoughts around this but I think it was a good choice nonetheless.
(polaroid sx-70 / tz artistic film)
And, of course, a little video because I did little moving picture videos at all the missions we visited.
*thanks to the lovely kristen for letting me tag along for her inspired project to shoot all the california missions.
when i dreamed of going to california and trust me when i say i dreamed of going to california A LOT ... there was always a road trip involved and girlfriends and laughter and sunshine. i love it when dreams come true and they are even better than you think they will be.
Like I said on my last post, I was completely on board for her mission project.
But when we came to the gates of the military base training facility, I have to admit that I was suddenly a bit freaked out. There was a big sign that stated that they could search you if you entered through the gate and it was so in the middle of nowhere, so quiet and still that all I could think of was the x-files and alien invasions and hey man, look at this hippy girl from canada, she must be packing dope and I would be anal probed and who the hell wants to be anal probed. I broke out into a sweat and reached for my passport. Okay, clearly I watch far too much sci fi and I needed to get a grip on reality. In hindsight, I am sure that they were listening to us because they can do that sort of thing can't they? Whoever they are ... I am sure they were laughing their asses off at me. I know I would have been.
But then we came upon the mission. And suddenly the silence felt incredible. Powerful. Beautiful.
Sacred. It felt sacred to me immediately and that was the name I carefully wrote in my notebook to describe this mission. I ended up writing descripter names for all the missions we visited.
We arrived late in the day, as the mission was closing so we didn't actually get to spend a lot of time there but I was immediately drawn to sit down on the platform and I asked Kristen to please take a photo of me because intuitively I was drawn to having something tangible to remind me of the way this place made me feel. Almost as soon as I sat down, this beautiful black cat ran seemingly out of nowwhere and gazed at me. We stared at each other for what seemed like forever as I lost myself in the beauty of her yellow green eyes. They were so big and wide and I was drowning in the best possible way. There was a hush and then Kristen brought me over my camera and this beautiful creature crawled up onto me and bared some pretty serious looking claws as she tippy tappied her paws into my stomach, gently but firmly and then curled up and purred away.
Kristen went off shooting and there I stayed happily pinned down. She returned and was surprised to find the cat still there and made a comment about the poor one-eyed cat. I laughed and said, no she has the most beautiful eyes and there are two of them so Kristen crouched down on one side of me to see and Rosario turned her head to the other side so Kristen walked around me and again Rosario turned her head away from her. It was the strangest thing. Even stranger was the fact when the lovely lady from the mission came out, Rosario immediately jumped off my lap and disappeared. That is when we learned that the beautiful black cat was named Rosario and that the mission had two cats.
I believe in magic. And I believe that Rosario gave me a gift that day, she visited me for a reason. Black cats are associated with witches, intuitive dreams and magick. In general,"the cat lives totally in the moment with a deep sychic and spiritual awareness. As the cat's energy field flows opposite that of humans, it has the healing ability to neutralize your negative energies. The healing energy cannot be taken from the cat, it is only given as a gift. The cat teaches that the physical and spiritual worlds are not separate, but one" (from spiritwalkministry). I think I needed to meet Rosario so I could fully be open to what I was experiencing on this journey, my first journey to California and to myself.
I am in love with this photo taken by my quite madly brilliant friend. When she asked me about stopping at The Missions, I was immediately taken with the idea. I'd never been to California before and had never seen a mission but they sounded romantic and adventurous and so I was in. So in.
I love a good road trip, there is something incredibly healing about it, something amazing in the new perspective, the movement that forces you to still in yourself. Of course I had just come from the most incredible experience (this sweetness) I could have imagined, so incredible I have no words but I came away with my molecules rearranged in the best most beautiful possible way.
I am going to be honest here and say that I am finding re-entry into my so called life a bit difficult. Not my home life, my home life is perfectly wonderfully lovely but the other stuff, the everyday traffic snarl of a commute and the societal barriers that force us to wear a mask or in my case a mona lisa smile. I am feeling frustrated with work and I have been spending a lot of nights crying. I realize that of course, it is THAT time of year. The year when I honour the dead that have lived in my arms, the year I honour that I know exactly what it is to hold death close to my chest, in frail arms, bones beat up and threaded with loss. It is all part of the same, life and death and leaning into the fear that continues to propel me forward holding gently to the vulnerable bits of my soaring soul.
And so ... I love that photo of me and rosario, the cat that took me into her arms and looked deep into my soul and gave me the gift of release. She took all of the energy I had been holding and allowed me the freedom to just be me. This is a story in and of itself but for tonight, I just want to share this photo of me taken by a friend who gifted me with sharing her journey to the missions, number 22 of her 101 things in 1001 days, Visit and Shoot all the Californian State Missions. This was our first mission and my personal favourite for many many reasons.
I got off the plane, ears plugged as always and feeling happy if a little disoriented. It is strange wake up in the morning to swirling snow, white landscape and frigid temperatures only to find yourself a few hours later with the warm sun on your back and the smell of greenery. I was a little bit giddy. I had been advised to hop on the BART and make my way to West Oakland, where the lovely Kate would pick me up.
I can sometimes feel a bit like a fish out of water when I travel but I was feeling happy and confident. When I say that this winter broke me, I mean it. It beat me up and I was walking around hunched over with too much joint pain (damn you aging) and the lost feeling that green sunshine no longer existed. So the very air of San Francisco perked me right up like a plant that had been kept in a dark closet suddenly exposed to the sunlight. I bought the appropriate ticket, hopped on the BART and tried to figure out where I needed to get off. I talked with a lovely man who assured me I was on the right train and that he was getting off 3 stops before me so he would give me a nod when he got off so that I knew how many more before I got off. So nice!!
I settled in. watched the green sunshine melt around me through the windows of the train and I am sure my smile got brighter and brighter the further we traveled. The train got busier and busier until it was standing room only, it was about 4:30 pm so that made sense to me. The nice man gave me a nod and smile as he departed and I knew I would be leaving the train soon for the warm air outside. Positively excited. I texted my husband and my friends to let them know I had arrived. I was giddy. Absolutely giddy.
I let the lovely woman sitting beside me who had complimented me on my purse/camera bag know that I was getting off next as she would have to stand to let me through and the train was crowded so I wanted to get a head start on making my way to the door. She wished me good luck which made me smile because I have made my way through trains more crowded then this during commuter times at home. Then her friend yelled out to the entire car that I was getting off at the next stop. Nice but sort of embarrassing. Did I look like I needed help? So strange. As I made my way through the car, more people wished me good luck. This lovely tall man with beautiful dreadlocks squeezed my shoulder and said quietly, "good luck dear". At this point, I was starting to feel weird, it really didn't seem like a big deal to get to the door so I quipped, "It's okay. I'm from Canada Yo." I finally made it to the door just as it opened and as I was getting out, a girl by the door also wished me good luck. Um. Okay. Clearly all those "good luck's" weren't about getting through the train before it stopped.
I made my way down the stairs and there was a police car sitting on the sidewalk, lights flashing. People milled about and suddenly I got it. The fact that I was the only person getting off at this station should have been an indicator. They were wishing me 'good luck' because I was getting off at a sketchy station. Apparently. But dude, I'm from Canada Yo. And was reminded of a funny incident that happened a week prior.
A work friend of mine is from one of the outlying neighbouring cities that is in super close proximity to the city in which I live. She had to take the train to my neighbourhood to get a massage and she was telling both myself and another friend of mine who also lives in my neighbourhood about how scary it was. I should point out that I live in a lovely neighbourhood that is tucked in between a couple of sketchier neighbourhoods. She was retelling the story about how she got off at the station and she was scared she was going to be mugged (even though it was only about 4:30 pm). She described these 3 guys, one who was dancing about, one with a black hat in his hands and how creepy they were and how she held her purse close to her as she hurried to catch the bus that would take her to the massage place. She went on and on and on about it. Finally, I quipped ... one of those boys could be my son. We all laughed and she said, no way ... these boys were scary and not saxophone wielding honour students.
Later that day, my son came by and we were heading for coffee when I ran into this friend who had been so freaked out by her train/bus experiences. For a laugh, I had her tell my son all about it ... as she started telling him the story, it quickly became apparent that he was indeed the boy carrying the black hat. We have dubbed him 'slade'. In my best street voice, yo ... "Yo Slade, when I come to your hood, I'll call on you to protect me and my designer purse".
As I waited for Kate to pick me up, I looked around and it didn't seem so bad. Hell, one of those kids could be my son ...
... and soon enough, I was tucked away in a beautiful little house that reminded me of my own, sitting outside smelling the green breeze smile of happiness,
*note, I wouldn't feel safe or likely be safe in the sketchier neighbourhoods in my city at night and I am assuming that would be the case for sketchier neighbourhoods in any city. I am not a pollyanna about these things and I practice safe protocols. I am sure the West Oakland station is on the sketchy side at night and so when I headed off to Jenn Lee's book signing later that evening, I decided to take a cab rather than find my way to the station.
Next up: A Q&A with Jenn Lee and some notes on attending her book signing
All good stories start out at an airport don't they. Maybe they don't but perhaps they should. I used to have to travel a lot with work and learned pretty early on that airports were not my friend and packing makes me crazy. CRAZY.
There is some sort of strange thing that happens to my normally sane (well sort of sane) common sense when faced with the reality of traveling and throw in that you will be meeting other cute girl bloggers and well the crazy can really kick in. I have even been known to race out to the department stores to buy myself a whole new travel me because the regular me and my regular clothes (even the ones that I bought for that last trip for a whole new me) just are not good enough.
On March 3rd, I would be flying to San Francisco where I would start my travels for the next 10 days. I decided to do something radical for me. I decided to travel with a small backpack and my jo's totes camera bag. Seriously insane. And I didn't buy one new piece of clothing other than a rain coat and only because I don't own one because seriously, we don't get enough rain to really warrant it and I make do with an umbrella.
Customs was a breeze. It was lovely hanging out at the airport, flirting with babies across from me and drinking water. It was lovely because I had everything I needed with me and I wasn't worried about my checked bags and I didn't really feel weighed down because I wasn't carrying any more than I used to carry to university on a good day.
Don't I look relaxed? I was. Completely and utterly. And I learned a lot about what I really needed for a trip and what I didn't. I realized that I still had packed more than I needed and have learned where I can downsize because I fully intend on doing a lot more traveling as time goes by. By the time I actually leave this continent, I will be traveling with even less stuff I think.
I packed a lot of thin layers because I was going to a couple of different climates. I kept my colours to blues and greys and made sure I had one nice wrap dress because a good wrap dress travels well. I packed way to much make-up considering I only actually put some on once, one day and one day only. Next time I will only take some burt's bee's lip shimmer (i like fig), a small mineral powder and an eyelash curler. I also went a little overboard on the jewelry so would eliminate a good half of what I ended up taking ensuring I had colourful bold pieces to go with the monochrome colour. Also, a brightly coloured purse I think because while its easier to travel with subdued clothing colours, accessories need to brighten that up. Even with the purchases I picked up along the way, I was able to travel home with carry on only which really is fantastic.
I honestly think that is why my heart felt so light and open and even though I and everyone else waiting for the plane to show up were feeling broken by a winter that just wouldn't quit (I mean I still have a good four feet of snow in my back yard!), I felt happy to be starting my adventure. I met so many nice people at the airport, people on their way out of Canada, heading to beaches and sunshine, people who were so friendly and talkative and kind and that spilled over into my plane ride. I spent my entire flight talking to a wonderful retired teacher who was on his way to Honolulu and it was one of those conversations that was filled with wonderful sharing, a few tears and a lot of laughter. It was the perfect way to start my adventure.
Another important lesson I learned that I truly believe came from the desire to travel light and not indulge in the kind of crazy I have displayed prior to previous trips: Showing up as me, just me is the best way to show up. Always. I think this was the first trip I have done where I was able to stay grounded and true to me and I had a beautiful trip because of it. I also came home feeling light, filled with love and with no regrets.
It has been a month since I last posted here. Seriously, an entire month has gone by and in that time I have accepted my life, rejected my life, found myself, lost myself and found myself again. I have traveled by plane, train and automobile, led my first workshop, embraced my soul sisters and laughed harder than I can remember ever laughing and cried longer than i could have imagined crying.
I have so many stories bundled up in my heart and have a good 28 GB worth of photos waiting to be downloaded and shared. I have kissed the lips of fairies and found my soul in the flight of a turkey vulture.
I returned home this weekend after spending 10 days in oh so sunny California and I am exhausted and finding the re-entry into my life difficult. I am practicing acceptance, stillness and keeping my heart open to possibility but the truth is what I really want is to curl up and sleep for a good 24 hours instead of dealing with the bombardment of too much work and an instant infusion of stress. I will readjust to the busy of my day to day life but am looking forward to a three day weekend to breath some relax back into my life.
I feel scattered, my thoughts floating down like fresh magnolia blossoms and I wonder why I didn't pick one up and press it into my journal. I had the most amazing journey, I met the most amazing women and I long for another day of walking barefoot on warm concrete, sand dripping from my fingertips as my legs caught the never ending surf of a wave. but I am here instead, looking out at the snowy landscape feeling beaten down by a monday morning but remembering it all and feeling the hope of a tulip pushing her head up through the cold.
Seriously. It has been a month since I last posted here. A month is too long. I am reminded at how much I need this space, to take a few minutes every day to breath into myself, share my stories and remember that my life is beautiful even when it all feels impossible.
We had such a wonderful time staying with maddie last week. She truly does live in paradise and she creates a beautiful energy of magic with every little movement. There were walks on the beach with pockets weighed down with green seaglass and sea worn shells like bone china. Thrift shop scores and long discussions about film and art while laughter filled every sunshine corner of twinkle light winks.
she is beautiful and her poetic ways suit the poetry of polaroid in a way that always makes me smile,
(pretty in pink found in old montreal during a february mini vacation with my love)
i like mini vacations and i love traveling somewhere in february. its an odd time to travel especially since i never actually leave this big ol' country of mine to venture someplace tropical but this year as with last year, i am heading to the closest thing to tropical we have in this frozen iceberg of country, the vancouver coastline.
this year, i will be staying with my beautiful friend, maddie and that is a whole lot of sunshine even if its slated to rain the entire week i will be there. rain is better than snow about now and i hear that spring is starting to show her pretty face in the vancouver area with new buds and trees blossoming. spring doesn't really even start to flirt with us over in this part of the country until the later part of april and doesn't really get down to business until may.
i am planning on packing my pretty purple rainboots and my pretty pink umbrella,
(polaroid sx-70 / expired 600 film)
also my sketchbooks, some art supplies and a few cameras. but. mostly. i am going to soak up the salty air, walk on the beach, dream, laugh, twirl in the rain and just be. i really can't wait.
am also super excited to see my sister's new painted digs ... her home always makes me feel relaxed and being with her reminds me life is filled with possibility.
i am in desperate need of a vacation and now that its friday and i have survived a crazy work week, i am again feeling pretty grateful for my life and the fact that i am about to have a proper much needed vacation.
pink is sort of peaceful i think,
(slave lake is not the ocean but it is the body of water that holds my heart)