It’s Saturday morning, I am up very early again. It’s cold. The fire is out in the little potbelly stove that is supposed to keep me warm. I have a headache. I get up slowly and restart the fire. I wish someone else was there to get the fire going. I don’t want to be touched by the cold. I crave warmth. Comfort. Another body to be wrapped up in. I gather the blankets around me and lay still until the fire warms the room again. I close my eyes and ask myself….
“After all the release, the softening, the letting go, what now?”
I lay quiet, still and let my soul speak to me,
“Be willing to feel your fears and let them go. Be gentle. Embody unconditional love. No strings attached.”
I think about the other little safe house in the woods. Where gentleness and spiritual truth lived. A place of beautiful and brutal lessons. The old must be released so that new can enter. Don’t be afraid of what seems to be loss or change. Embrace your deepest emotions. Let the past go. I say his name out loud. I think of my mom, my dad. All gone. I think of a moment right after my dad died and I’d gone to be held and wasn’t. Not getting what I needed and not asking for it, I turned to leave the place we’d exchanged passion, love, connection, solace and comfort and he said “You’re Alone” and it felt like he’d hit me with his words. Hard. In the back. I kept walking, right out the door, letting it slam. I do not want to be ALONE. That he could see it on me, scared me.
Laying here, these thoughts that effortlessly rise from deep inside of me begin to give me great hope that my heart will heal and I will begin to feel the letting go of the sadness, grief and loneliness I am carrying in my body, the feelings plaguing my heart. My parents are gone. He has turned his back to me. I have this issue cursing my family. I’ve chosen to be alone for a year. I don’t want a partnership/relationship that stems from the need to replace my father. Can I unload some of this grief here in the woods, this bewilderment, this loneliness, this feeling of not knowing who I am right now with my biggest definitions gone? No longer carrying the expectations of daughter, wife, partner or lover. Belonging to no one but myself and my children. How do I tap into what brings ME true joy? Deep peace? What brings MY bliss? What connects me intimately with my own heart? What makes me come alive? What do I believe? Need? Without all that used to define me, without any expectations that I behave, live, want, desire, feel, act, be a certain way? And how can I cut the thread of addiction running through our lives? End the chaos and pain for good. Create an environment where addiction is not welcome and recovery thrives.
I put on my boots, I go outside. I put in my headphones, turn up my weekend anthem and dance. Free. Unencumbered. Safe. Just me. I dance down the steps of the house, dance in the grass, under the tree, up the path and deeper into the woods, down the path and out in the open grass. When I see the sun rising I tear off to meet it.
I dance and I dance and I dance. Prior to this trip I have been dancing every morning for 13 days. Every single morning. Dance as part of my morning ritual, like prayer. I queue up that song and dance some more. This is my jam.
DANCE IS MY BLISS.
A little later, I walk down to the house to shower. I sing in the shower. “LA la la. La la la” from the anthem. Over and over. I listen to my voice. It feels so pleasing to hear my own voice. To feel it rise and make a beautiful noise. My heart already beginning to feel lighter. Something like joy rising. I believe in the good things coming.
Jen meets me on the steps of the Wren house. I am so happy to see her, her presence feels just as warm and filling as the heaping bowls of hot oatmeal loaded with apples and nuts she is carrying on the tray. As sweet as the bowl full of berries, as comforting and rich as the mug of coffee. She is keeping me well fed and deeply nourished here. She is holding this magical space like a nurturing, tender mother. Because of her I feel completely cared for and loved. I’ve been caring for others and myself for a very long time. I am a caregiver by nature, a characteristic well developed from living in an alcoholic environment, of living in addiction for my entire life. Others needs have always come before mine, to the point that I forgot somewhere along the line that I even had needs, was even allowed to have needs. To the point where I became NEEDLESS. To the point my body broke down and said enough giving. It’s time for people to take care of you for a little while. That is one of the things living in an addicted/alcoholic environment does to you. It’s one of the cardinal rules as a relative of someone with addiction. Your needs do not matter, you might as well forget about them.
Right now though, I feel supported, loved, nourished. I feel what I think it truly means to feel blessed, well taken care of. My needs are rising and being met at every turn by someone with an open, loving, generous, heart. Unconditionally, without judgement.
I also have a headache. A bad headache. A brutal headache. I can’t lay down, I can’t sit down. I can’t bend over. Nothing feels like relief. It’s sheer pain. I am worried about my next session with Connection, the handsome dark horse.
I know I will not be able to connect on an emotional level in this kind of pain. The biggest reason I want to be here in this tiny house in the woods off the coast of Seattle is for this experience with the horse.
I won’t be able to FEEL him if I am in pain. This is upsetting to me.
I have strong feelings against any kind of drugs because of addiction and the chronic gastro condition I bear doesn’t allow for certain types of over the counter meds, I rarely take anything these days, but today I have to, I am suffering too much. John brings pain reliever. I drink loads of water. I am determined to feel today. I surrender to western medicine and meditation.
Jen and I meditate on the floor of the cabin on the darling meditation pillow from Meryl.
Jen asks questions about my body.
“Besides your head what part of your body is speaking to you.”
There is a line/crease across my abdomen. I feel cut in half.
“What do you need right now?” she asks.
Stretching. I need to loosen.
“What action step does your body want to take?”
Stand up. (for yourself)
I drink more water. I stand up. I stretch.
Today I will spend time with Connection and Virginia again and then another somatic session with John.
By the time we walk down to the barn, my headache is gone. I am so relieved. We sit on the little milk stools that Virginia tells me they got in Bali. This makes me smile, a little synchronicity, I am going to Bali for two weeks next month with a friend of mine. A retreat we planned before I met Jen, before the magical mystery tour through my soul. An adventure, a journey to a faraway place, a spiritual place, on my own. For me.
Virginia checks in with me. “How are you?”
“I feel present. Here. Just me.” I say.
“What do you want in relationship with Connection today?” she asks.
“Sweetness, love, gentleness.” I respond.
Then I add, “Togetherness”
“What are you feeling right now?” she asks.
I feel a rising well of emotion. “Sad.” I say. Tears fill my eyes. There is a lonely feeling, a missing in my heart.
Connection reminds me of someone. Something in his eyes, his color and stature. The way he’s holding himself.
She shows me how to move around Connection. She gives me the XL horse safety talk. She asks me to sit on the little milk stool and turn my back to Connection, relax my body and do the breathing we did yesterday. The horsey kind, with the soft lips and generous push of air out of my mouth.
As I do the breathing, I can feel my heart expanding. Warmth spreading wide in my chest. I can feel a circle the size of quarter like a tattoo on my heart. Connection has been made with Connection’s heart.
I stand up and turn to approach the handsome, strong, powerful horse whose heart I can feel touching mine. Gently, slowly I put my soft fist out. “Let him meet your hand.” Whispers Virginia softly. He moves towards me putting his nose to my soft fist. We stand face to face breathing each other in.
When he moves away, I take my hand away. Horses sense neediness and will turn away if they feel your energy as “needy.” Too Expectant. He stays back. I feel my neediness for his presence in my body. I feel what “needy” feels like. Neediness feels like grasping, feels loaded with expectations that he come to me in certain way, be with me in certain way, give me his attention now.
I don’t need his presence, I desire it, not so I can take something from him, so we can exchange something with each other. I want to BE together. I want to communicate. I want him to feel how I feel for him. Feel my love. I want to know that I can be felt. What I am afraid of is rejection.
I have to tune out everything in my mind, in the barn, John filming, Jen watching, Virginia, everything and tune into my heart connection to Connection. I close my eyes and focus on the energy in my body. I feel my way to my heart. I feel the quarter sized, tattoo like, circle linking me to Connection.
I breathe the horse’s way, the big sighs, the blowing and fluttering of my lips, I relax every slightly tense place in my body, my face, my jaw, my eyelids, shoulders, belly, every single tense spot. I put out my hand, the soft fist way Virginia showed me and he comes to meet it. I move closer. I lay the back of my hand on his shoulder. I pet him. I stroke him with both of my hands slowly, gently. I feel Connection.
His head comes down, yawning and chewing he begins to process me, my heart, my energy. He lifts up his face to nuzzle mine. He touches his face to mine. Connection feels me.
He has chosen me.
I ask Virginia for permission to groom him, she is his, she is sharing him with me. She nods her yes. I put on the grooming gloves. Each time I brush he moves away. I take the glove off, put my hand out and he meets it.
I sense that he does not want the brush or the glove. He wants me to touch him with my bare hands, he wants to feel my touch.
He comes in closer, he nuzzles my face. I touch his face. I caress his velvety nose. I nuzzle him back.
We are nose to nose. He is snorting breath on my face. We stay that way for a long time. Nose to nose, feeling each other, connected.
“That is horse French kissing” whispers Virginia, “Do it back”
I snort my breath out my nose on his face. We are horse french kissing. Intimate connection.
KISSING IS BLISS.
He starts to get playful. He brushes my hair with his nose. Presses his nose into the soft place between my neck and shoulder. He is choosing my presence.
Tears are streaming, just streaming down my face. Unabashed tears.
I feel a glow rising from the inside. Heart swelling, I feel him. This feels like LOVE.
Suddenly he gives me a strong nudge with his nose. Then another.
“Ah” says Virginia, “He is testing your boundaries. This is the boundary game. You must show Connection that he is crossing the line by treating you this way, being pushy, not respecting your intimacy, being dominate, forceful.”
“You must establish a boundary and mean it.”
To do this I have to push him back. My whole being must say back up with my body, no words. I try. I motion with my hands for him to back away.
To say with my body, “THIS IS NOT OK.”
He doesn’t move. I try again, this time I first breath him all the way in, look him straight in the eyes and motion him back.
He takes big steps backwards away from me. Boundary established. XL presence that I love moved by my heart, by my body.
I hold out my soft fist to invite him back and he comes right back, sweetly, gently, intimately. We nuzzle and snort. Kissing each other’s face.
My heart feels completely connected to Connections heart.
I feel Together with him.
Sweet, gentle, love, playful, powerful.
“How do you feel?” asks Virginia.
“I feel TOGETHER.” I say.
We sit down to talk about my interaction with Connection. To connect our hearts I had to relax and follow my own intuition while everyone was watching me. I had to block out everything but body language and energy clues from Connection. I had to tune deep into my body and feel for tightness, constriction or closing. I had to open and melt, open and melt to keep the connection going. I had to welcome Connection with my heart, not my head, not my will, not my need to feel wanted or fear of rejection. As soon as I went to my head, or to wanting him too badly he’d turn away.
I could pull my heart energy back into place and he would come back French kissing my face, breathing me, me breathing him. We spoke to each other just being together.
“He will choose you because of your vibration. The power of your heart. The softness of your heart and your body. Your energy. Horses mirror us. What you felt with Connection is what is inside of you. That is YOU.” Virginia tells me.
After this deep work with Connection, I feel beautiful, loving, soft and connected to my own spirit.
I feel where I need clear boundaries. I know that I don’t speak up when I am being hurt by another’s actions. That I allow what I allow. I feel so intensely when I need to say, “this is not ok” or “that is hurting me, Stop,” but I instead of saying anything or using my power to establish a line, I am shutting off and letting it go in the name of keeping the peace. Feeling in my body that I can emote “back up” when my lines are crossed and mean it feels like tapping into a new source of power. A lack of personal boundaries is another attribute developed in the addicted/alcoholic environment or an emotionally unavailable environment. Keeping the peace by keeping quiet is one of the cardinal rules of addiction.
I also see how I allow my lines to be crossed for the sake of connection. Am I willing to hold that boundary in the name of deeper connection at the risk of losing all connection? That is something that will show up over and over now that this lesson has been revealed.
“What am I willing to sacrifice of myself, of my values, my needs, my personal desires for the sake of connection with another?”
Connection, the horse, let me see and feel inside of me. The me that is inside. Not anyone’s definitions of me, my true essence. A glimpse into the mirror of my soul.
That’s what true connection and togetherness does, mirrors you. This is how we are truly seen, heard, felt. When you lay the tension down, breath deep and connect with your heart you are felt, you feel. You become connection. This kind of connection is what heals every dark curse on the earth. This is love. Without pain, without tension, in connection with another or with yourself, this is how you feel your bliss.
What’s my Bliss?
Dancing, Kissing, Togetherness & Connection
Can you feel me?
I wake in the night and the fire is out. I am cold. I hold my throat. My neck is sore. My voice feels caught in my throat. I’ve been sleeping as if I am about to jump up with my head hovering just above the pillow. Ready to respond to danger, chaos, another episode. This is a how I sleep at home. This is how I’ve been sleeping for a long time. Scared. On high alert.
I breathe for a few moments and decide I am safe here in this little house in the woods. The demon can’t touch me here. The Mountain is far off in the distance. I can relax, rest. I am surrounded by nature, the Divine. God is here. I’m ok. I restart the fire and as the fire builds and the heat rises to encompass the room and I can feel the heat where I lay, I begin to feel safe, calm and warm again.
My mind and my heart go wandering to another little house in the woods where I once felt safe, loved, comforted and hidden. Where candles burned, music played all night and where love was made. I remember seeing the animals that lived there in the woods when I would visit. Coming out in the open early in the morning or just before the sun went down and the moon had risen. The deer, a hawk and raccoons. Gentleness, compassion, kindness and unconditional love is the spirit of deer. Loving the light and the dark to create gentleness and safety. Hawk is a messenger of the Gods. Asking that you seek the truth, notice the omens and signals from the universe and see the overall view. Raccoon is the generous protector and provider. The Robin Hood of the animals, that teaches us about generosity and caring for others. About watching out for the family, gathering what’s needed to feed and comfort your tribe. Raccoon speaks of helping those in need develop their own protector provider skills and to honor yourself and others equally. (Learn more about Native American Animal Medicine)
I remember how much I loved waking in that cozy little cottage nestled in the woods and looking out the window at the trees with the sunshine streaming through. I felt protected there, wrapped up at night in comfort and love and for a little while I could breathe deeply and let myself open, surrender, relax, feel. My fire burning, passionate and free. Even with my mountain in view and the darkness hovering very close by.
I remember how I loved waking at my friend’s lake house where my heart began to heal after the divorce. There was an eagle’s nest there. Eagle is the power of Great Spirit, the connection to the Divine. Eagle feathers are sacred healing tools. Eagle is the gift of freedom and following the joy your heart desires. My friends gentle loving care felt like that of the Great Mother, feeding us, comforting us with her warm heart and generous spirit. Her husband creating the space for us to unwind, laugh, play in the water and be surrounded by friendship and community when we were feeling terribly awkward and lonely.
I bring up my feelings of deep peace and calm waking at the beach in my friend’s house on the canal and spending mornings with the cranes, ducks and egrets. Watching jellyfish swim by while lingering, wondering and drinking coffee on the deck. I feel like I’ve been a little asleep to the power of nature and solitude in my life, always noticing nature but resisting its deep medicine. Not understanding solitude as soul medicine.
Last night Virginia shared the animals that had visited Frog Ranch just before my arrival, an Eagle, Deer, an Owl and Raccoons. Spirit Messengers. Blessings.
I’ve been blessed by the people in my life who share these healing and loving places with me.
I close my eyes and fall back to sleep feeling safe, warm and calm for the first time in a long time.
When I wake the fire has dwindled again.
“Fire’s need tending,” I think, “Especially soul fires.”
It is very early, the sky is still dark and it’s a bit cold so I snuggle deeper under the covers and just lay there gazing and breathing. This too is a gift.
When I choose to rise, I light the candles… one for God, one for each of my children, my parents, Jen, John and Virginia, the beloved, Release, Blocks, Pure love, truth, joy. Jen has given me an abundance of candles. I use them all to surround myself with fire and light.
Outside on the little deck is a camp stove and the makings for coffee. Jen knows my morning ritual includes prayer, fresh coffee and gratitude journaling. She’s made sure I have what I need to feed my soul this way. I set my mug on the little potbelly stove inside to warm while the coffee brews.
I create a cozy nest on the bed with my journal, coffee, blankets. I hear an Owl. Owl is the symbol of the feminine, trusting instincts, magic, prophesies and wisdom from higher enlightenment.
The birds are beginning to sing their songs. I give voice to the intentions I wrote when I started this journey on the path of devotion. I am here to catch my dreams, to let my spirit rise. God has brought me exceptional Guides.
The daily ritual of writing out my gratitude for the day before is a practice I began five years ago during the separation with my husband. Each day I begin my journaling with:
“I am grateful for….”
I read a little passage from A Course In Miracles. “There is no need to learn through pain and gentle lessons are acquired joyously and remembered gladly. What gives you happiness you want to learn and not forget. The light in one awakens it in all.” I hear, “This will not hurt you. I will be gentle. This is the path to happiness and light. Trust.”
Jen arrives during my morning practice and makes me a fresh egg on the camp stove. An egg she chose moments before from the chicken coop on Frog Ranch. She slices avocado and gives me the fresh fruit layered in one of the many colorful and delicious mason jars she has prepared for the weekend. She disappears and leaves me with my candles, prayers, and nourishment. Receiving this level of care and attention is not something I am accustomed to. I am a giver, a caretaker. I tend to over give and wear myself out. It’s an adjustment to be a receiver. I am conscious of this. It requires surrender, letting go, trust.
Today I will have meditation and inquiry with Jen, I will meet Connection and Virginia in the barn for our first Equine Therapy session and then a Somatic session with John. I am feeling giddy with what’s to come. I am so curious and a little high on expectation and wonder. There are some things I want to know. Some answers I am looking for. I am willing to ask the questions, do the soul study, uncover the stuff, face the barriers, so that I can move forward in life and love, strong in purpose, and feel the way I desire so deeply to feel in my life’s work and in all of my relationships. And there’s “the mountain” that must move. There’s that.
Meryl, Jen’s neighbor and the sweetheart who has welcomed me in to her home for the IChing readings with her husband Mark, has sent us meditations pillows. I am delighted! A meditation pillow is something I’ve been desiring. This is a wonderful gift. I’m excited to be an official meditator with my own pillow. I feel like a kid.
Meditation is new to me. I don’t even know if I am doing it right or what I am supposed to feel, or how its supposed to work, or if I look like a faker when I am doing it. I am willing to try though and keep trying because, I know that the limited meditation experiences I have had, both guided and in solitude, each brought moments of my own deep wisdom and affirmation. I felt the power of it. We sit on the pillows in silence and then in prayer, creating a sacred space in this tiny room of a house, in the massive woods, on the tiny island, on the massive earth.
I am seated at a desk, facing out the window at the tops of gigantic trees, there is a jar of scrolls with questions on them. Jen is quietly tending to the fire. She asks me to pull the slips of paper and follow the directions on each one. We are not going to talk. I am just going to read, follow the prompts and write about what rises up.
I pull the first slip:
Set the timer for 7 minutes. What do you hear?
I write all the sounds I notice. One lined stands out from the rest. It’s not a sound at all. It’s a statement. I circle it.
I’ve been contained.
I can hear the fire building.
I pull another slip.
What are you feeling in your heart?
Warmth, the presence of my heart.
A pull. A call. “I am being called. Not only can I hear it, I can feel it.”
A good feeling, not a painful one.
“the magical Path to my own heart.”
I tip the bottle and scatter a few slips on the table.
What is the cry of your heart? (Reading that activates my tears.)
Fill it with love. Intimate love, masculine love, your love.
What do you see that calls to you?
The fire. The flowers. The sky.
What does this moment ask of you?
Be FOR you.
What are your earliest memories of God?
Going to church with my mom. It was inconsistent and I don’t remember feeling a connection. We stopped when I was a teen. I didn’t have a relationship with God. It’s been a long silence.
What is LOVE asking you to believe?
Listen to the trees…..
Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas Movie comes to mind. (I think of her often.)
Start Dancing. And all will dance with you.
Sway. Move slowly, gently, animate.
What is this little house asking you to release, let go of?
Hiding out. Being little.
What is the one thing LOVE is asking you to let go of?
What are you feeling in your gut?
What’s the one thing the birds are asking you to leave behind?
Listen to your own voice. Leave behind the “chatter.”
This is experience is for you. Alone. Right now. Stay here. Present with yourself so that you may heal first then bring healing with you to those God brings to you.
This is your path to your heart. Yours alone.
I take a deep breath and close my journal.
This is really happening.
I take some time to let it all sink in.
Jen leaves me with this……..
How to Let Go.
I pull on my jeans, my boots and my jacket. I tie the belt tight around my waist and walk out the door of the little red house into the abundance of trees, green grass, lush moss, fresh air and down the wide path to meet Connection.
Sharing my heart with you, with enthusiasm and grace,
It’s March, 2015, I am headed for a solo retreat on an island, in a tiny house in the woods.
As the plane descends into Seattle, a place I have never been, I can see the Olympic Mountains from my window. The view is magnificent. Majestic. I think about my mom and how she would say with ferocity and enthusiasm, “Move that Mountain!” whenever anyone was facing something big like she did. Big like Cancer, Big like Addiction. “You tell God to move that mountain.” She would say often during the two years she was sober and deeply connecting with and helping people in the recovery community with her vibrant soul and finally free heart and mind, still fighting the other mountain with her fierce spirit and tiny cancer ridden body.
There is a mountain in my life. It’s been here for generations.
“Move that Mountain.” I hear.
“I am trying, Mom.” I whisper. “Never Give Up.” She whispers back. “You tell God to help you move that mountain.”
This is where I have to laugh because for heaven’s sake Mom, you’re right there with God, can’t you tell him/her for me? But I know deeply this is something I have to do with God myself and I need God’s people on earth, my angels, these experiences, to guide me, support me, illuminate the path, remove blocks and help me heal so that I can bring what it is I am meant to bring forward in the face of this mountain.
The plane touches down and I am feeling grateful for the row of seats I had to myself, for Jason the flight attendant who was so kind and attentive and made me the oatmeal that I brought with me, for these hours by myself to begin to contemplate what I truly, deeply desire for my life, for my family, for my community. Grateful for how I feel in this moment, for the grace I have been given to take this journey into my own heart and what it needs and for the view of the mountain to remind me that my mom and God believes I can take this mountain on.
I also feel a little giddy to be on my own with no one to care for, a little scared to see what’s underneath the next layer of my soul, and a little worried about what they will think of me. Will they like me? Will they see right through me to my insecurities as soon as they lay eyes on me? Do they have x ray vision like that? Will they think I am stupid or silly or not worthy of this time and this space?
Bumpity bump we hit the ground and all that disappears because now I have a whole open day before me and curiosity girl has risen up and told all that stuff to shut up and go explore.
I have seven hours in Seattle until I take the ferry to Whidbey Island. I’ve hired a driver, something I’ve never done before and feels indulgent but right, to pick me up and take me around to some of the places I’ve Googled. My own little day tour taste of Seattle. I’ve never travelled alone like this before. I’ve had to ask myself, “What would Shelly like to do? What would Shelly like to see?”
I am not a sightseer really. What I really enjoy is connecting with people, hear their stories, find out what the locals do, eat, experience in their own city. I want to feel the place, not just see the place. I suppose the right question is, “How would Shelly like to feel today?”
My driver for the day is Paul. He tells me his story as we make our way to the Pike Place Market downtown. He is from a war torn area in Germany. He moved his family, a wife and four children under the age of eight to America with only $200 and barely any English to save their lives. I admire this man and his strength, his tenacity, his courage, and his faith. He moved a mountain to save his family and give them a better life. His wife is battling cancer. I feel his worry. He is kind, gentle, well mannered and graceful.
The market bursts with colorful flowers, vegetables and people. All of my senses are activated. I am fully present to the smells, the sounds, the energy. I touch things, listen to the vendors and the customers as I wander up and down the aisles and into the tiny unique shops. I am overcome when a painting moves me to tears, a colorful woman emanating beauty, grace, peace. I ask the girl at the booth to tell me about the artist. There are two colorful paintings that have struck a chord in my soul. I choose the first one and buy two smaller ones for my daughters. The painting will be hung in the tiny house on Frog Ranch and then in my home, in that special place where I gather friends and family to connect.
I wander some more and a window display on tantric sex at the mystic shop catches my eye. I stop and think. “I want to learn that, that kind of depth of intimacy with my partner, when we are brought together.”
Deep soul connection. Divine union. I believe I will experience it. I know it in my bones.
I find myself in the Native American shop where there are little spirit animal carvings and rocks and feathers and two delightful young women willing to tell me the stories behind the artifacts. I’ve been studying spirit guides and Native American animal medicine. I buy a hummingbird for one daughter, a sand piper for the other, and a spider for myself. Spider is weaving, creativity, writing, expression. The girls in the shop send me to lunch at Plum Bistro.
I have a thing with food right now. I love food. I love to cook, to eat, to taste. It’s one of my love languages. A gift I’ve always shared with my family and friends. Right now my body is rejecting a lot of it. It’s disturbing. I’ve been given a list of foods that my body won’t reject. It’s a short list. I am safest at vegetarian places but I can still do some meat. Today, Plum is perfect.
I get to indulge in all the flavors without the gastrointestinal distress. I eat with relish, a gluten free hummus and veggie sandwich with avocado and carmelized onions and maybe the best slice of tomato I’ve ever had, a big pile of rosemary fries and the most divine lemon tart with coconut shortbread. The fact that I can eat the dessert makes my heart swoon. I am happily nourished. If you are ever in Seattle, I highly recommend it. It was nothing short of a foodgasm.
The next stop is the Elliot Bay Company bookstore. I adore bookstores. It is big and open and airy with wood beams and a hip vibe. I can immerse myself in bookstores for hours. I love the smell, the mystery, the covers, the titles, and the vast subject matter. I wander and read what the people who are working there recommend on the little note cards posted on the shelves. I buy three sweet little Thict Nact Hahn books, How to Love, How to Eat, How to Sit. And Paulo Coelho’s Book, Aleph to read on my upcoming trip to Bali. A 14 day retreat and adventure I am taking with a friend next month.
Paul takes me to The Asian Art Museum. “A must see” on the Googled Seattle list of things to see. I am not much of a museum dweller but I find this place very intriguing. There are only two installations in the building. One is of the aftermath of the Japanese Tsunami and the other is of the Darsana, which in Sanskrit means “to see.” The Tsumani exhibit is an enormous collage, pile, mess of materialism. An artistically created pile of trash really. Loads of it depicting what the land looked like once the wave went back out to sea. Mattresses, toys, televisions, paper, books, mass consumerism turned debris. The Darsana exhibit is simply sculpture. Elaborate carvings of spirituality. The contradictory theme of Materialism & Destruction vs Spiritual Enlightenment and its longevity despite time and disaster is not lost on me. It is stark contrast, beauty vs ugly. Stuff vs Spirit. I stand before the Ganeesh and notice he is holding a rosary. I take this as a sign that I am on the right path. Mother Mary has been one of my guiding sources for the past 3 years. I’ve adopted the rosary prayers into my life even though I am not a Catholic. The exhibit is a perfect example of the endurance of faith, of peace in chaos. It resonates deeply with me.
Paul then brings me to the ferry where I will cross the water to meet Jen. I go out on the deck and let the wind have its way with me, breathing in the fresh air, gazing at the horizon, feeling the moment. I cross with a sense of wonder and deep calm with a touch of anxious.
I am crossing a threshold. An opening in the Universe to a deeper part of me, a deeper experience of me. I barely know what to do what with myself. I try to remain calm by putting in my headphones and play The Weekend Anthem. I fully BELIEVE in the good things coming.
I also wonder….
“How did I get here?” as the ferry pulls into the dock and I make my way off the boat and set foot on Whidbey Island, an island of enchantment.
I am greeted on the other side with a big warm, loving welcome from Jen and one of the owners of Frog Ranch, John. We load my suitcase, my books and the lovely painting and drive to meet Virginia.
We gather for dinner in John & Virginia’s warm kitchen and start getting to know each other with the usual questions as they put the finishing touches on our meal. As we eat, I am captivated by their love story, their hospitality, their passion, and their work. I am again well-fed, seared dates, grilled filet and beets in coconut oil.
Soon after dinner, I am shown to the Wren house where I will spend the weekend.
Walking up the path and seeing the tiny house with the twinkling lights, smoke rising out of the chimney is a magical moment. I am the first person to have this experience in the Wren house at the Jempe Center, with John and Virginia and Connection. I feel lucky. I feel blessed. I feel something I cannot even name when Jen opens the door there are more twinkling lights, love notes, origami hearts, a warm fire burning, flickering candles, a blanket that Jen brought from her home that I’d wrapped around me that first weekend, and my beautiful, colorful painting that I fell for in the Pike Place Market hung over the bed to keep me company.
This is all happening and it’s just for me.
They have created this magical weekend just for me.
Just. For. Me.
“Who am I to deserve all of this?”
Jen and I kneel down, fold our hands and she says one of her voluminous prayers that I can never remember but can always touch back into how I felt while she was saying it. She prays for our time together, for blessing, for healing, for an opening, for what needs breaking, releasing, loving.
She leaves me alone, in the woods, in a one room little house, with a fire, some wood, a cooler of water, the makings for coffee, a jar of fruit, a campstove and candles and twinkle lights. I get comfortable. I poke at the fire. I take notice of ALL the sweet details and read the notes. I am alone but it doesn’t hurt. I feel safe, fed, cared for, loved, held in comfort and warmth. These people have taken great effort to please and delight me.
“Who am I to deserve all of this. This love, this care, this comfort, this experience?”.
Follow Jen and I on the next destination my Path of Devotion at Frog Ranch for the Spring Equinox and begin to reveal a woman’s deepest soul longing, heal my wounded spirit, uncover the desires of the heart and my biggest dreams begin to unfold.
With Love and Wonder,
Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.