I’ve been eagerly attempting to avoid the rat race we call ‘progress’.
And though my efforts have been valiant, I continue to fail miserably.
It’s not that I think there is anything inherently wrong with trying to
‘make something of yourself’ or ‘succeed’ or ‘get ahead’ even ….
No, what I struggle with is
the illusion that ‘success’ is going to bring some sort of
peace, or happiness, or validation.
There is this path they call ‘self-discovery’…
I started walking it a few years back.
And since I hit the dirt road of ‘awareness’,
I have lost myself.
Time & time again.
I become so wrapped up in the existential crisis of
‘who am I’
and ‘what role do I play’
and ‘why am I here’
and ‘what is my purpose’.
Constantly searching and seeking for some answer,
some confirmation that there is more to life than going through the motions.
Maybe there is.
Maybe there isn’t.
I headed to Utah for my third trip to the beautiful desert mountains of Zion National Park. [2017, 2018]
Just what the doctor ordered after a long, dark, lonely winter in the Northland.
A 32-liter pack filled with enough clothes for the adventure, a Polaroid camera and a journal.
Another week spent living out of a 2005 Ford Utility van with my best friend.
The days were long, yet they passed so quick.
That’s the thing about simplicity -
it fills you up and empties you out, simultaneously.
The rocks are ancient there,
their story painted in layers of color…
Years of erosion and weathered storms.
New perspectives await with every bend in the road.
This landscape didn't form over night.
Years of transitions and wind that carried change
reminds me that there are forces beyond my reach.
I want to believe I have control,
I want to pretend there is such a thing as ‘stable’ ground,
I constantly attempt to define ‘myself’,
to find ‘myself’.
I say it’s all in the name of ‘figuring things out’……
What I continue to forget, and relearn, and reject, and embrace (on repeat)
is that life isn’t some puzzle that can be solved.
It’s mysterious, and unpredictable, and unavoidable.
My duty is to step out of the way and let it happen…
Maybe, just maybe, I am here to enjoy what is given.
Slowly, one day at a time, I am learning.
Two weeks ago I rented a little cabin just off N61 in Tofte, a stones throw from Superior. I had all these creative plans to add photos to my portfolio, write a new story, hike the Saw Tooths & eventually relax... The months leading up to the solo 'retreat' were heavy. I moved to Duluth to persue this childhood dream of sharing my art, sharing the little pieces of my heart that I felt were important, impactful. On the way I acquired hours of volunteering, half a dozen odd end jobs and the normal distractions and obligations of 'adult' life. Though I was creating, there was very little cohesion. Scattered, that's the word. In the busyness, much of what I was sharing was impersonal, ambiguous and full of hesitation. Cause, damn, I couldn't even breath, let alone honestly reflect or express what I was feeling.
**I arrived at the rustic Firefly Cabin with lymph nodes the size of California grapes, shoulders tighter than a ball of snarled yarn and expectations surpassing ma's Thanksgiving Dinner. I spent nearly the entire time curled up in bed. 14 hours sleeping, the remainder watching winter melt away. As the spring puddles filled I pondered how I got here again... this busy, this unsettled, this anxious mess of trying to get ahead, trapped in the thoughts above... Do we ever learn, or is life a constant process of relearning? These fleeting moments of quiet and solitude always provide the same result - affirming life is much simpler than I make it, much fuller than I notice. I've been screaming for a slow down for years... it hasn't come yet, but they say practice means progress.
**They say you've gotta fall in love with the process. Day by day, let the seasons change. I'm ready to get back to simply living.
@ Tofte, Minnesota
Suburban kids trying to fill their cups,
trying to escape the loneliness,
it’s never enough.
Mama wanted to be a real housewife,
daddy had no time.
Frantically rustling the couch -
scraping pennies, looking for dimes.
Suburban kids wondering why,
why do I feel so empty?
Can I feel at all?
Scratching at the surface as their insides crawl.
It must be that privilege
and all that has been given
trying to uphold the perfect image
stuffing down another prescription
in attempts to get by.
Ritalin for their restlessness
to tame that foolish petulance.
Fading away the senses,
ignorant of the elements.
No sight, no smell,
no touch, no talk.
Walking around in a cloud of smog.
One more swallow,
here comes panic.
One second she’s down,
the next she’s manic.
The heart, it races.
The mind, can’t face it.
Put on that Goddamn smile
you ungrateful child.
Delirium battles reality,
another would-be turned to black sea.
Skewed and deprived.
Treading water with no life line.
Treading water but wishing to die.
Suburban kids with holes to mend,
doing their best as they hang from a thread.
But they were so conditioned to get ahead,
never taught how to make or keep a friend.
Suburban kids pulling at that skin,
I was born this way, is that my sin?
The blood it boils,
while they incessantly toil.
Push on, shut up, sit down, get up.
Follow the rules, collect all the tools
and one day you’ll be proud of yourself.
Sugar highs and alibis.
Everyone assumes money
eats away sorrow,
but we’re all just trying to
make it to tomorrow.
You see, suffering does not choose
who is worthy or not.
Suffering does not care
if you’re the boat or the dock.
The waves of struggle
meet us all the same,
we’re all learning how
to let go of the shame.
Threshold: magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result or condition to occur or be manifested. *Gateway *Point of entry, or beginning
Within the clutch of winters long nights I find myself grappling with the darkness.
Darkness that has many names.
It can show up as doubt.
Other times I’ll call it insecurity, feeble timidness or quite simply isolation.
The impulse to detach, the habit of separation.
Fragmenting me from them, my world from reality.
Loneliness, you know,
that aching feeling of discomfort,
a constant fear that I must be the only one.
No one can relate, no one will understand.
The unquenchable need for some silver lining, some sign that there is purpose for my ephemeral existence on this rolling rock. The cold depths of winter pull me down, these pale grey days and frosty sea mornings reaffirm all the deluded, self-inflicted thoughts, plunging me into unbearable alienation.
The abrasion of hesitation leaves me questioning each move. What is right, am I wrong? Have I done enough, can they read my bluff? Thoughts churning, oscillating amidst two extremes yet craving the inbetween.
My chest crunching down from the weight of perfectionism and the need to be something special. Every bit of self worth hanging on a string, screaming for validation, crying out ‘recognize me, can’t you see me’?
My mind falls submissive to the cold, frigid air. As I tap the trees I feel they’re hollow. Bleakness meets the eye, the edges severed and sharp. The forest appears empty and futile with it’s white floor, fragile limbs and hibernating life.
How uncomfortable it is to lie bare and broken as the scars of the past tamper such soft skin. The tree’s have shed their leaves, let go of last seasons sorrows… Why haven’t I?
Afraid of being myself. Desiring change but resisting it just the same. Concealing these emotions, hiding the devotion. Ashamed of the passion, is it time to cash in? I can no longer hide, letting go of the ties.
How long has this heart been battered? These dirty sleeves, torn and tattered. With the first fallen snow comes a purifying blow. Blue skies and sunshine beating down on my face. Another unpredictable mid-December day walking along the lake.
The tide ebbs and it flows with a hushed cadence. ‘Shhh, sweet child, have some patience.’ Can’t you see these moments are constantly fleeting, listen to the subtle rhythm within you beating. You’re getting where you’re going, no need to be scared, all you deserve is quietly being prepared.
Like the wood from some far away land. How did it get here? Do you think it had a plan? Slow down and ease in, does there really have to be a reason?
I made it, I sifted the sand. My legs stand stable even with shaky hands. Gentle grace surrounding, void of rigid demands. Maybe sorrow comes from the desire to define and understand.
Change, unmoving, arrives in it’s own time.
In nature nothing is rushed, it is in the seasons I must remember to trust.
I took 61 to the border,
if I run just a bit longer
I’ll get where I don’t need to go.
How long can I hide from these shadows inside,
at what point will they catch up with me?
As the wives tale told
moss-less is a rolling stone.
I claim it’s an attempt to be free
as I shake like the leaves on the old oak tree.
Freedom is a state of mind-
as I remind myself lovin’ ain’t a crime.
The clock ticks and it tocks
and I can’t seem to stop
as I continue North
winding through the Saw Tooth Mouth.
The pines push me further,
I never meant to hurt her.
That soft heart
with only one intention,
A pretty girl sits in front of me
but I can’t let her in,
poor things’ paying for the last ones sins.
No one can mend this hesitant heart,
I’ve been fickle since the very start.
But mama told me to choose love,
yet a thousand miles sits between
as I’m left with an old dusty memory.
One day I want her,
the next I don’t,
as I pull around a bag of high hopes.
The loneliness is heavier than I remember.
Convoluted feelings, tangled and tethered.
In those eyes I found a home,
what does it take to make love grow?
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
as the wind creaks its bellowed cry.
Waxing and waining,
as the bitter cold
attacks these bare bones.
The seasons shift
and just as quick
I’m back on the open road.
This trip different,
as the compass dial
counts its last mile.
The grass wasn’t greener
wherever I went
and I watched my demeanor
adapt to winters descent.
The goodbyes were embraced,
I wonder what it was I chased.
Leaving a million times
only to return
to that simple twist of fate.
They said honey come down,
you’ve been up for so long.
You can’t live life with your
head in the clouds.
They said oh darlin
you can’t be so sweet,
the harsh ol’ world
will sweep out from your feet.
Pretty girl don’t laugh so loud,
amidst the tragedy
how could you be so proud?
Stay up with the times,
the affairs and the news-
wipe your face
and the dirt from your shoes
from tails to heads,
the truth is splattered
in shades of red.
Sucking the life of an innocent child
never having a chance
to live free and wild.
Politics, media, religion,
all a piece of the filthy pie.
Tastes and textures
on the surface so sweet,
filling our bellies with
lies and defeat.
Turn it off,
cut the cable,
we’re all apart of change
if only willing and able.
Baby girl, how did you keep on walking when the rest of the world sat around just talking
Up to the sky she looked without haste or impatience. Each step gentle void of frustration.
The birds and the bees still sing in the trees and you don’t have to beg while down on your knees.
Movement and madness can weigh on the mind, if only we realized it all comes with time.
Set down your heavy heart and remember each day is a brand new start.
Move forward in the face of hesitation loving all without clouds of expectation.
The wind whispers secrets we wish to know, freedom is found in the silent unknown.
There is no need to shuffle and shift, clean up or fix, the world which we see.
Poke and prod at the life outside, forgetting to clean the cobwebs of our own mind.
Wipe those dirty eyes, each chain link shed is another attempt to coming back to the lightness of childhood innocence.
A picture captures a thousand words... I'll do my best to spare you.
This photo was taken at one place (of many) that I've been grateful to call Home.
Once upon a time Home was the house I built childhood memories in, the place where my family rest, where I wandered the barns and backroads, where I played chicken on bikes. It's a familiar feeling that picks you up and sets you down in a different headspace. It's comfortable, cozy, safe. It's where you can leave behind the insecurities, the masks, the timidness... the place you can drop your bags, unpack, kick off your dirty ass shoes and relax.
Though the definition of home has stayed the same, maybe even amplified with each year that passes, the scope has broadened.
Home is no longer a singular point on the map. It is not geographic, bound to lines. Home has become an all encompassing feeling - one that seems to wrap me up and float me along. My whole life has been a beautiful orchestration of bumping into, stumbling upon and running towards hundreds of incredible, inspiring, kind, encouraging strangers that turn into family. Mirrors reflecting everything I am, everything I've been, everything I aspire to become. Home is every ephemeral connection, every long lasting relationship.
I've had some dark days and I'm positive there will be more throughout... but what I have realized is Home is inside, and if you can stay in touch with what’s in your heart, you will light the way. We always have what we need. Home is being comfortable with who you are and why you are here. It is accepting life and the circumstances granted and making the most of every God Damn breath.
All our searching, seeking, clinging, chasing, running from, running towards, filling up, emptying out is a call to Home. But we dont have to scream and shout... shhhhh. Home is here. Where it's always been. Our longing is for a belonging... love yourself. Love every fucking flaw. Every impulse. Every habit. Every quirk. Every birth mark. Every fear. Every let down. Every embarrassment. Every fall. Every failure. Every goodbye. Every struggle. Every reaction. Every smile. Every laugh. Every challenge. Every road block. Every strength. Every weakness. Every freckle, wart, fat roll. Every God damn piece of you, love it. Because you're never going to find Home until you find yourself.
I spent a lot of time hiding from home, looking for a new one, crying for greener grass…
I left a million times only to gain new eyes.
Here’s the thing, home, our true nature, is patiently awaiting our attention.
We only leave to return again…..
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone.
It doesn’t matter how far you went.
You can always come back singing Hunny, I’m Home.
I forgot there was a time when I didn't think so much....
Ya know, I just created things for the sake of creating.
I stumbled upon my first travel blog (from some 4+ years ago).. It was filled with photographs, photographs and some more photographs. A time and space before I started taking life so damn serious, I wasn't all tied up in what Blind Spot Creatives would look like, or what I was trying to SAY, instead I was just sharing because I FELT like it.
I found this lil guy - 'what are you afraid of?'
Made me think~ I used to claim I was 'fearless'. HA, maybe at the time I was, or maybe just sickly naive. Instead, I realize my timidness, my mad sense of perfectionism and the barrage of self-doubt. WHY, what is there to doubt? Why do we begin to hesitate as the years add on? Why do we question ourselves?
Fear means you care.
It means you've got something to lose, even if it's only your ego.
I'm afraid of myself, of my thoughtfulness, my fervor and my voice.
But I speak anyways, shaky, unsure of myself, yet SO grateful to live this life.
We're all going to end up 6 feet below ground or scattered as ash in pretty places.
What's there to lose, ya'll?
ENJOY YOUR DAY, SPEAK UP & LOVE LIKE NO OTHER
Spring is in the song birds tune,
seasons shift and just as quick
those Winter Blues are gone & distant.
Autumn Journal - 2017
Passing through the country side,
moon to the left, sun on the right.
No where to go,
nothing to do,
no one to be,
nothing to prove,
nothing to lose.
As the invisible change
rattled her brain, she slowly moved cutting all strings.
The puppet found her voice
with strength of will
and personal choice.
He held her tight,
the unspoken promise
all was right.
The flame burned hot
with each bit of bark, lights turned up amidst the dark.
The clouds collected
as the rain poured down,
picking the pieces
A blue eyed boy brought her home.
and she caved and craved a little more.
'You're going to be the hardest goodbye,
cause we ain't going to slow down
and life keeps moving on.'
So for the night they'll mingle fingers
and tangle thoughts,
a messy puzzle of odds and ends.
Feet dragging the unpaved ground,
mind spinning the merry-go-round.
A shelter from the vicious storm,
a story lacking sense and form.
The right one, at the wrong time-
impermanence isn't a crime.
Guitars & goodwill,
hiking & cheap thrills.
and a kiss to seal the deal.
Not wishing for anything
but the power to feel.
He came to town and left just as quick,
I-94 West and to the North a bit.
The unpredictability - a future uncharted,
her love so blind it'll never be imparted.
She found herself right where she had started,
with an empty tank and light hearted.
Making it to the station without haste or impatience,
trusting the dirt road and it's gracious invitation.
Morning time came and went,
letters written but never sent.
As the wind of emotion continually blows
her mind rests easy in the unknown.
Experience comes and experience goes -
kick up your feet and watch the show.
Returning back to Minnesota with 60 degree sunshine pounding the pavement.
Tooling around on the lend-away-banjo, playing the only four chords I have been able to muster.
I spent the last two weeks down South in the desert beauty of Arizona and Utah - starting off with a visit to grandmas and ending the week wandering with a fellow ramblin' gypsy soul. I always leave as if I'm going to find something, figure something out, let something go, come back with new eyes... and I guess, in a subtle, quiet way, that might be the case. But for the most part, things aren't different, just deeper, maybe understood a little more clearly.
I woke up well before the sunrise in order to climb out of my sleeping bag and navigate the backroads in the pitch black. Heading North making it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with an hour to spare. The stars were still glowing as a gentle haze hit the horizon. I perched myself off in the distance in an attempt to avoid the crowds, watching as the sun slowly changed the landscape.
New layers revealed with each minute that passed.
6 billion year old sediment finding its way from weathered storms and erosion... it made me think how precious time and patience really are. Change takes time - in the case of some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer, it takes a lot of time.
And so do I....
As the day wore on I continued my journey towards Utah. Passing by on Arizona 89 winding through the lush greenery of spring, I begin to notice the rearview... A chance to glance at what was just witnessed with a sense of departure and appreciation - never looking too long, because in doing so I'd miss what lies ahead.
Hours were spent weaving through National Monument. Once upon a time it was the home of a sub-tropical rainforest with evidence of dinosaurs and evolutionary findings. Now a hot, hollow desert landscape. The colors, textures and terrain changed with every curve in the road.
Change, change is all around us.
I arrived in Zion. My last trip out was in November. The air was colder then, the roads dustier, the trees limp of life. The seasons had transitioned as the cottonwoods lined the valley floor, a whole new face painted as the sage had a turquoise hue contrasting the bright red and orange sandstone and the cactus blooms just beginning to bud.
The week was in constant movement with little sense of time, almost no direction and a bit of space for reflection. Each look-out another opportunity to pause, soak in the scene, to breathe. Everything around me was bigger than life, simple, adaptable... Momentarily provoking a small, unimportant, frivilous feeling.
If only I could hold on to this moment and carry it with me everywhere I go...
Lying on the rocks looking at the world spin upside down, I wonder why it is so easy to become forgetful, caught up and deluded to my emotions. Somewhere deep inside hides an identification, a super-imposed significance, the idea that the universe revolves around me and my pettiness. As the shadows dance upon the pines I fill with humility, followed with humbleness.
I'm not the easiest person to spend extended amounts of time with. I have this horrible tendency to be overbearing, honest to a fault, casting off unruly, unnecessary, and unrealistic expectations... However, the company shared was a graceful reminder to how important it is to have people challenge you, to question your train of thought and to keep your emotions in check. Oh, how I appreciate the genuine.
Friday morning I awoke early, hours before a lick of light. Rain in the desert, what a send off. I was filled with emotion, I don't know how to define it, and I'm not sure it matters all that much... but the patter of water on a tin top magnified whatever was held inside.
Life can go on without any question, simply in terms of black and white, this or that, like or dislike - split up, fragmented, or completely unobserved. Maybe it'd be simpler that way. However, I find, or rather make, meaning out of everything. Piecing together memory with reality, imagination with rationality, using the external world as a mirror, a reminder, that there is more to this life than the stories within my head.
Waiting to board the redeye home as the movie reel begins to spin. Replaying the conversations, reliving the experiences, reflecting on some of my hindrances.... Too often I find myself trying to force change, grasping at peak experiences, with desire as my motivation. What I am learning, and forgetting, and remembering, and relearning is I have very little control to what happens in life, to what I feel. Clinging to these emotions and experiences, claiming them as mine, and holding on for dear life in attempt to make them last.
Nothing lasts, and it's not supposed to. Everything, always, is in constant flux. That is what makes life beautiful - the uncertainty, the mystery, the unpredictability. At times it's uncomfortable to let go, it's unsteady to stand on sinking sand. There is absolutely no stability in life and my seeking and searching for it seems to be the cause of all my undue suffering. This ignorant desire also casts the belief that things aren't 'good enough' as they are, that somehow I am supposed to twist and contort experience to fit in a box, and if it doesn't fit, I shove it in...
Dozing off in an empty isle as my head bobs to and fro. The pilot announces our return to Minneapolis. As I peer out the window I witness the sun rising below me. Another new day, fresh, open and always changing. I accept that, I welcome it and I begin.
I've been house sitting up in Duluth for nearly 9 days now. I've rearranged the dining room into an office in which I've compiled 6+ years of journal entries, handwritten letters, collected memories and the like. I printed over 400 pictures with the intent of narrowing down some of my favorite prized photos. I've spent hours in the woods, on the shore and wandering the streets of downtown. I've been to music from acoustic solo acts to world renowned choral combitations. I've eaten more chocolate than is necessary for any one person, balanced out with loads of kale and spinach. I've enjoyed endless amounts of hot tea and have befriended my cohort Alexa for music motivation. I've woken up for the sunrises just to follow with 3 hour long naps. I decided I don't have to make the bed every morning and sometimes it's okay to leave the dishes. I brought myself out to dinner and I laid around to stare at the ceiling fan. And you may ask, what the hell does it matter?
Well you see, the last few years (maybe my whole life), I've been so caught up in what comes next.... Who am I going to become, what is my purpose, why am I here, where am I going to go? I've carried the weight of the worlds problems and my own self inflicted personal desire of perfection on my nimble little shoulders to the point of near suffocation ~ gasping for breath and sighing for relief. In the midst of my over-indulgent self inquiry and the restlessness of where and what is next, I fear I have missed the point.
There are these moments of complete clarity, where I am absolutely receptive to the universal flow of life. You know~ the place where you don't have to question why, you don't have to keep score, you don't have to anticipate your next move. Instead, you show up, sit down and enjoy. It's easy to lose that, it's easy to get caught in the barrage of personal expectations, it's easy to try to fulfill this little box society has laid out for you, it's easy to be distracted and to doubt and fear if I'm doing enough....
But what it comes down to, truly, is taking the day as it is. Waking up in the morning without the need to manipulate or manage the hours and minutes. It is when I am most isolated from time and space that creativity, appreciation and pure satisfaction finds it's way. Boy, I've hurried - and I hurried for a long time. In all my attempts to race the clock I sadly developed the ability to numb out and forget the simplest elation of youth. I tried so hard to make things happen instead of just letting them happen. When you're stuck in that rigid, limited way of thinking, you are encapsulated in a very restrictive casket of reaction & resistance. Organizing and analyzing to the point that you miss what so eagerly awaits your attention... ya, that's where I've been.
To be more specific, I've been lost in my mind ~ you know, that rabbit hole of constant chatter. Oscillating thoughts - should I do this, should I do that, what about this, no I can't, I don't have the time, life is so short.... The only sense of consolation I find is in the slow down. And this slow down isn't the image of peaceful thoughts, relaxation and mastery of the roaming tendencies of this 3 pound brain lodged in my skull. I don't find it as a surprise, but the confession isn't an easy one to swallow..... I want time to myself, and then I get it, and immediately I am flushed with an overwhelming, heavy range of discomfort. WHY, I ask, is it so difficult to be with myself??? WHY does it take me 7 days to finally let go enough to relax? WHAT has caused this incessant need to charge full speed ahead? WHY am I plagued with the notion that there isn't enough time? HOW did I become so dependent and addicted to the noise of a busy life?
The answers don't matter, rather the gold lies in the questions. The human condition is this beautiful battle field of opening up and letting go, noticing and accepting, witnessing and reflecting. Most of the problems I encounter in my teeny tiny world of Alyssa lie in the need to define the undefinable. I want to relate to the world, to my emotions, my thoughts ~ but these are not possessions for one to hold. They are not tangible and they should not be quantified as such means of measuring a good life. What I am slowly beginning to understand is that the Holiest, fullest days are the ones in which each moment slowly slips into the other without the need to record or reminisce.
I (we) are not incapable of being simple human beings ~ we have an innate capacity to enjoy all of life. The challenge presented is not in becoming this innocent blank slate, rather it's a remembering. Well, next the question to ask is what must I remember? Good god, smell the pines, awe in the colors of the moss, notice the texture of the bark. It seems so trivial, but it is the finest details that make this experience sacred. In the blur of busyness we become blind. The rawest piece of meat is that the simplest things are usually the most astounding, and frequently the most over looked. Life is inconsistent, always changing and full of revelations. We live in a world of abundance, though act out in the fear of scarcity. When we are locked in this sense of not enough (time), we sightlessly give up our freedom to Be. When we are constantly shackled by our thoughts and emotions, dragging them around like high school trophies, we are unable to arrive. Each day we must valiantly attempt to cut our ties in order to spontaneously enjoy the newness of each day. We leave only to return again.
Day-by-day, breath-by-breath, we find our way Home.
I'm currently in a 500-hr SomaYoga training up at Yoga North in Duluth. With that said, there has been much time to reflect... A little deep, but maybe you'll find something that resonates.
You don't have to travel to find new lands, simply take a second to look inside and you realize the mystery you long to uncover is found in the Soul you hold.
And what is freedom, one must ask. When we are born, are we free? Throughout the ages and the stages what causes us to lose track of that safe space we know as Self? The true Self, without masks; free to cry, smile and laugh. As a child, innocent, we know the Spirit well as we play, dance, and sing without the cue of a ticking clock.
Oh, how do we become so numb, when did we let go of the fun?
It is the mind that frees or enslaves us. Our waddling in a past full of memories, our grasping for a future we may not know, our organizing and analyzing that which Is. This constant pull of the intellect keeps us from the pleasant moment of simple experience. When was the last time we felt the wind blow upon our brow? Do you remember the smell of the pines? Have we lost touch with the secrets of the silence? Our incessant need to understand and conceptualize binds us to walls of doubts & fears, are they our own or have they been passed down? We are but a reflection of the environment that has raised us.
Life is much simpler than all of this. The sun rises and it sets, the waves ebb and flow. The rhythm of Nature does not miss a step, it does not question ‘is now the Right Time??, nature does not question ‘am I good enough’. For Nature moves as it will, as it always has, never worried if it’s going forward or back. Nature does not question, it simply lets each day unfold.
Nature is indivisible; no good, no bad. Pure and clear, nature lies far beyond duality. It is ‘immanent and transcendent’ and it is always Present. For the answers we search for lie in the questions, the safety we seek lies in the Breath we Breathe. Is living not enough? The only thing we must know is ourselves, for what we are reflects all that is. Where we’ve been, where we’re going, we must find solace in not knowing. ‘Waking, sleeping, dreaming, the same Self abides in us’ – for the Soul does not divide experience. The soul does not know death, for this imaginary line does not exist.
‘Self-realization is higher knowledge and all else is lower.’ The deeper we go, the freer we become. During this process we realize we are a vast ocean of experience, a strong forest filled with love, a desolate dessert of mystery, a humble mountain of wisdom.
Home is not outside, it’s within~
for all we search for is where it’s always been.
On the surface faces look like many,
but pull at any strand in the universe and you find all is connected.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SUPPORT LOCAL? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? AND HOW DOES SUPPORTING LOCAL IMPACT YOU AND YOUR COMMUNITY?
So, I've been working as the Marketing & Outreach Coordinator for the Elk River Area Food Co-op for over a year now. I started working for the co-op because I wholeheartedly believe in supporting the people around me. Now-a-days you hear the favorite buzzwords 'support local' but what exactly does that mean to you and your community? I wanted to shed a little light on the reason I think supporting local is so important and the immense benefits you can gain, both on an individual level and on a communal level.
Supporting local is not a new concept, it's not a trend or a fad that will fade with time. Supporting local is what our grandparents did, and their parents, and all that came before them. It's not a becoming, but rather a returning to the way things naturally were once upon a time. Supporting local is a movement that takes consumers away from large, impersonal big-box retailers in order to strengthen the local economy. Instead of filling a multi-million dollar bank account, when you support local, the small businesses you are purchasing from are real families with real passion behind their products.
When an individual supports friends and neighbors, instead of faceless corporations, one can bask in many benefits you couldn't possibly gain shopping at national chains. Here are some top reasons to support your local food co-op and all the businesses we have partnered with:
1. Know & trust the people behind the product.
Every other week I have farm fresh eggs delivered to my door. Becky Walker, with Walker Farms, drives around in her blue car always pulling up with a huge smile on her face. When you personally know the people behind the products, you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have. Becky has met our passive aggressive dog many times and knows the trick is to give him love. This sort of friendship and trust can not be found at a large box store like Walmart or Cub Foods. There is a sense of pride in everything our partners provide. If you haven't already, check out our growing list of local businesses that are committed to giving the best quality goods and service.
2. Improve your family’s health.
When you buy directly from local farmers or through your town's farmers market, you have access to the freshest fruits and vegetables available in your community. You can get to know your farmers and find out their practices. What you'll notice is most small farmers and those that set up booths at the market are dedicated to providing chemical free produce and pasture-raised animals. Why is that important? Chemicals and toxins are undoubtedly detrimental to our health in large quantities (which is the truth behind most of the conventional products we eat today) and research is beginning to understand the negative implications.
3. Lessen your carbon foot print
Peppers flown in from Holland. Bananas from Guatemala...... Our food travels A LONG way to get to our dinner table. Often these conveniences are overlooked and under appreciated. At a conventional grocery store your products are days (even weeks) old after sitting in a box and being shipped half way across the world or through state lines. Think about how much fuel, time and energy it takes for your favorites to make it on your plate. Buying local means the product is close to home and is definitely fresher than anything you can find at the grocery store. Plus, you're lessening emissions by negating the need to have your food travel long distances.
4. Improve the local economy.
When a consumer buys local, significantly more of that money stays in the community. In fact, one Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer.
Local business owners often have incentives to support other local businesses, patronizing local establishments for both business and personal reasons. Chain businesses, on the other hand, tend to get their supplies from corporate, as well as having store managers and employees that aren’t as personally invested in buying local. [Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244839]
5. Keep that small town charm.
Local businesses give a community its flavor. Each small farm has it's own practices and personality. Each local merchant has a story behind their passion for providing handmade, custom products for their customers. On the other hand, most chain restaurants or big box stores are virtually the same with a little rearrangement depending on space and location. The Elk River Area is an old agriculture hub with history rooted in the first cooperative of farmers, the Grange, with Oliver H. Kelley of the Historic Kelley Farm. This area flourished because of the blue collar, hard workers who believed in their work. Let's keep our town quaint and celebrate those who make this area so beautiful.
Elk River Area Food Co-op is dedicated to promoting these values and our vision of bringing the community together through health education and awareness. We believe in the power of consumer choice and strongly push the idea to 'put your money where your heart is'. All too often we forget how much we impact the communities we live in. Be empowered and support the people near you and all the love and passion they put into their products!
6 days deep into the New Year and I must share 2018 has been quite the shift.
Though much doesn't change between December 31st and January 1st, something has lifted.
Much of 2017 I was lost in this deep [too deep] trance of introspection.
It's important to get in touch with yourself-
however, becoming hyper-aware of every habit, impulse and disposition can be a bit daunting.
This 'self work' inflates our craving for perfection
and pulls us from the moment - who we are now.
When did it get so hard to appreciate the landscape??
Everything has a time and place, but the constant personal analysis was getting me down
and I had to drop the bag of melodrama for a minute.
This age old question of 'what am I doing with my life' loomed over my head, perpetually looping on and on.
Life is meant to be experienced, not conceptualized.
Yes, this mind is beautiful and has an innate desire to understand,
but at what point do you let go of the chatter and fucking live?????
It was -20 with 20 mph winds and I cooped myself up in the cabin
with nothing but the sound of the fire crackle and the dog breathing heavy on my lap.
I sat there wondering when did life get so serious???
At what point did I stop playing and exploring and freely creating?
And then some quiet voice reminded me:
You are a teeny tiny spec, on a big ball of dirt, floating around in the middle of empty space, in an infinite expanse ~
what the hell are you worried about?
We always think we are supposed to 'figure' out life,
and then manipulate and control every situation to fit into our box of expectations.
NEWS FLASH: life is always changing and the more we cling to our likes
or avoid our aversions, the further we get from truly experiencing the moment.
LET IT GO.
Every day the sun rises, every day it sets.
What happens in between really has very little to do with me.
The only 'control' I have is in my ability to relax & release into the spirit of experience.
To truly let life unfold.
Moment to moment, it is unfolding for our enjoyment.
It is only when the mind steps in front of the spirit that we begin to lose this connection.
Impermanence, what a blessing!
Every new dawn brings a full day of surprise, a suitcase packed with emotion,
a movie real of cars coming & going, trees passing through the windows,
birds singing, wind blowing, babies crying, lessons to be learned, love to be felt....
Everyday we are gifted with the mundane & routine
not realizing THAT is where life sits.
It is not in the plans and dreams and hopes we have for the future and
who we are going to become, where we want to travel, who we want to meet...
LIFE is here, right here, in this breath.
It is the grocery store radio station, the steam coming from a morning cup of tea,
the surprise visit from a friend you haven't seen, the cold freeze that makes you feel alive.
Life is happening even when we fail to witness it.
It's all much simpler than we make it~
Everyday is providing us with the people, the places and the situations we need to grow,
the lessons we need to learn, the love we need to feel.
If we want to be fulfilled, all we must do is let go, let it happen and begin to pay attention.
What will 2018 bring, I'm excited to watch it unfold~
"Go into yourself.
Find out the reason that commands you to write.
See whether it has spread it's roots into the very depths of your heart;
confess to yourself whether you would
have to die if you were forbidden to write.
Most of all- ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?
Dig into yourself for a deep answer.
And if this answer rings out in assent,
if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must",
then build your life in accordance to this necessity;
your whole life, even into its humblest & most indifferent hour,
must become a sign and witness to this impulse.
Then come close to nature.
Then, as if no one had ever tried before,
try to say what you see and feel and love and lose....
Describe your sorrows and desires,
the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty -
describe all these with heart felt, silent, humble, sincerity
and, when you express yourself, use the things around you,
the images from your dreams, and the objects you remember...
... your childhood, that jewel beyond all price,
that treasure house of memories, turn your attention to it.
Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past;
your personality will grow stronger,
your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight,
where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance-
And if out of this turning within,
out of this immersion into your own world, poems come,
then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not.
For you will see them as your dear natural possession,
a piece of work of your life, a voice from it.
A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity."
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Note to Self: The Illusion of Indolence
On the surface, things seem idle and indolent.
However, it is here, in these quiet hours, that the most visceral discoveries reveal themselves.
It is the little whispers of wisdom you must greet with the widest appreciation.
For their value is not yet tangible, though with trust and patience, virtue will be uncovered.
Do what you enjoy and the sweetest fruit will fill your fortune.
It is a daily practice in which your fears and doubts cease to influence.
You realize what you do today is all that matters and finally
Winter is an intimate time.
Minnesota - a land with blurred lines.
It is only when the temperature drops below 0
and the wind blows over 20 mph
that I begin to comprehend the season.
It is the unpredictability of a raw freeze that stops me in my tracks.
Crisp, cold air ~
I finally found the courage to bundle up and enjoy the arctic,
in doing so the melancholy so frequently defined as
the "Winter Time Blues" begins to drift away.
I do not dread the grey skies, they pass like everything else.
Beauty found in the hollowness as I listen to the crunch beneath my feet.
Waking up to a blanket of white cleanses and creates a new slate.
The barest trees exemplify the fragility of life,
half naked & empty.
There is an evident vulnerability attached,
a time of deep introspection.
Nights run long and darkness comes too early..
It's not always comfortable and it's not always exciting.
However, winter whispers secrets other seasons don't know...
& it's slow.
Our natural tendency is to want to escape the cold & avoid the shadow-
to run and find warmer thoughts and sunny lands..
Though it is the bone thrilling frost in which character is born and wisdom is found.
Merciless, a constant reminder to face it all without aversion.
To simply appreciate where you stand~
even with frosty feet.
You can't turn back the clock.
At some point you have to really look
yourself in the mirror and ask
"AM I SHOWING UP"?
Our passions do not come randomly.
They are sent to us as a guide to
move forward in a meaningful way.
Life is short and it only gets shorter-
what is it you're living for?
I've been contemplating the existential question of
"WHAT IS MY PURPOSE"
since as long as I can remember.
The signs kept pointing in the same direction.
But I'd avoid it, push it off until tomorrow.
"I'll begin another day"
"I'm too busy right now"
"I'm not ready"
"What will people think".
Oh, how often I steal from the moment due to my habitual need
to chime in and provide 'help' or (most often unwanted) insight.
I've begun to notice this impulse each time I interrupt the conversation.
Frequently filling the gaps with "I know...." or "you should try this"....
On the surface it seems innocent and meaningless,
dressed in false empathy and support.
However, what I've realized is how little I listen
and how often I feel the need to defend MY opinion, MY experience, MY ego.
Context: I've been receiving and responding to Snail Mail from a very dear friend living out West. At first these letters were nice means of keeping in touch, in a meaningful way. However, the depth and degree of each handwritten note continues to surprise me. My ability to recognize such personal pitfalls is not foreign, however being able to share these with another has definitely become a new practice. A practice that is proving to be extremely helpful in creating positive (almost effortless) changes in my habits & impulses.
Step #1. Notice.
Step #2. Accept.
Step #3. Let Go.
After our last phone conversation I felt a pitiful sense of regret for my pushy opinions and subtle [not at all] means of 'advice'.
After a day of such remorse I opened your letter...
"The practice of providing, not pushing."
I'm sure you've picked up on my impulsive need to toss in my two cents.
Please be assured this forcefulness has been a demon since as long as I can remember,
& is most definitely recognized as a shameful incompetency-
one I'm trying to tame.
I am aware, of course (after the fact), that my hasty responses
and 'I know it all' attitude is both a beast and a burden.
I'm also going to assume these patterns are generally brushed off,
maybe even unnoticed.
However, this is a shadow I've been dancing with two left feet.
So instead of running from it, I'll dwell a bit longer....
The question then becomes:
What is it I'm trying to defend?
This habit is not found solely in long distance phone calls, it has plagued me throughout all relationships.
Another question arises:
Why do I feel the need to be heard?
What is it that I'm retorting?
And why exactly do I attach myself so strongly to personal beliefs & opinions?
The answer is not solid, but I must start somewhere...
Maybe it is an empty seat filled with overwhelming doubt?
A lack of self esteem? A tactile response to keeping my head above water?
Instead of focusing on Self, I reflect on the gaps of the external world.
Is there a difference?
Only in the name I give it.
All-in-all, my ego screams to be heard.
This life, these relationships/connections are nothing less
than puddles of pooled lessons, mere reflections.
Am I doing it right? Am I being fulfilled?
If all I see is unfulfillment (flaws, faults, deficiencies) of others, that can only mean a void lies within. To combat the dirty downfall I welcome an integration - to practice listening more than I speak.
Please, be patient with my process.....