07 July 2013

Sanctuary



Altar at Santa Rosa de Lima sacred site, near Abiquiu, NM, May 2013

A weekend away from home always spurs exploration, and if I'm lucky that fuels creativity. In May I traveled to Abiquiu, NM, for a workshop at Healing Through Horses, which was indeed incredibly healing, not to mention informative about equine-assisted psychotherapy, which I hope to start doing in a few years. On the long ride home I passed this site, the ruins of a church built in 1744 soon after the Spanish began settling in the Chama River valley. People in the area attended Santa Rosa de Lima until the 1930s, and clearly visitors - local and from far away - continue to worship here in some fashion. The weathered adobe, the relics and offerings, and the vistas of the Chama River and beyond make for an enchanting experience.



13 June 2013

Being With {sad/possibly triggering content warning}

Dying; bearing witness. Mustangs near Alamo, NM, May 2013
A short lunchtime drive north of where I work took me past a heartbreaking, remarkable scene: a mustang, near starvation, standing very close to the road and, even as I approached, steadfastly remaining by his dying companion. When the horse in front, likely downed forever, sensed my approach and began to struggle, the other horse stepped forward. We can project what we want onto this; to me, it embodies the extreme beauty of the one thing that makes life bearable: being with and bearing witness to our companions, no matter what, even in the face of death.

20 May 2013

Traveling Mercies

In memoriam, Valles Caldera/Jemez Mountains, NM., May 2013
Dinner on Friday night: a new friend's treat (along with wonderful company). Equine therapy workshop and overnight in a beautiful place: a little over $100. An enlightening, enlivening, healing weekend capped off with a rambling drive through one of my favorite beautiful places in New Mexico: priceless. I used to live off in the future: do this and I will get there; hold back now and I will get my reward someday, when I have earned and "deserve" it.

Someday is now. I am so grateful to be here to enjoy it.

Descanso del Valle Grande, Hwy 4, Jemez Mtns, May 2013

28 April 2013

Upward

Apple blossoms in morning light, Santa Fe, NM, April 2013
This weekend was about training - the last in my four-part course on infant mental health - but it was also about escape, taking stock, realigning priorities and energy, and recommitting to my core. It was about looking inward, past all the turbulence created by people and their drama these past few months, and clearing the path to my inner light so that no matter what is happening around me, I can keep my feet on the ground and stay true to my path. I did this earlier this month during my retreat, so despite an intense whirlwind these past weeks, that path is still well-marked and easy to retrace.

I will not stray from it again. (I hope.) And I will remember that when the path does blur or darkness obscures it, I never walk alone. Eventually, the sun will rise again and light the way - I just have to keep paying attention, and keep the path clear.

23 April 2013

Bridging

Play therapy, Carmel, Calfornia
"The cure for anything is salt water - tears, sweat, or the sea." (Isak Dinesen)

For a few days, when I retreated from my world, I was at peace. Centered, calm, connected with my innermost self, serene. That has slipped away as I have jumped back into "normal" life. Once again I find myself struggling with exhaustion, anxiety, self-doubt, and now a bad case of hives and heartache to boot. How do we bridge that chasm from retreat to reality? I guess the first step is even being able to see that chasm: to see that something is out of balance, that what I want and what I truly need aren't always compatible, and also that if I don't take time to play, I will lose myself - my beautiful, free inner self - altogether.

Life involves struggle. How much do we endure before we reclaim our right to play joyfully in the sea?

12 April 2013

Winding Road

Every day, a winding road (for a few days at least)
A lot can happen in 13 years, which is how long it took me to finally get back to the most beautiful place on earth (to me, anyway). Through all of it, I discovered how strong I am, and how to live the best life I can wherever I am, and how to wait for what I need and want, and how to hold onto hope and faith even through the worst of times. The best part of that learning, of course, is when the endurance and hard work bear fruit - my cup runneth over this year. Pausing last week to rest, take stock, and take a deep breath was a huge gift for me. Gazing upon this exquisite, inspiring view also helped me remember that no matter where the road leads, we can always find our way to beauty. And back.

11 April 2013

Tiny Blessings


Last week's mini-vacation was a huge blessing for so many reasons: beautiful surroundings, stillness, contemplative solitude, SLEEP, and repair of my 3-years-lost connection with my higher power. Every morning I sat on a little deck for breakfast and took time to notice every little joy around me. The tiny blossoms drifting down from a gnarled, aromatic tree growing right up through the deck. The hum of bees above me. The wind and sometimes a light mist on my skin. The birds calling and chattering, and sometimes pure silence, a hushed open space in which, a little more every day, I could actually hear the "still small voice within" that had been silent (or silenced?) for so long. So much beauty within and all around us, always there when we can take a moment to see and hear and feel it.

10 April 2013

Divine Inspiration

Lupines and grasses along the Central California coast
This picture perfectly sums up my retreat last week. How I've missed this, to me the most beautiful place on earth. I love New Mexico and am glad to call it home, but an ocean view is medicine for a tired, parched soul.

16 March 2013

Every day is a winding road

This commute is always inspiring. And most days the half hour each way is the only alone time I get all day. Great thinking time, my own soundtrack, no demands except to get myself home safely, and beautiful open skies. And with spring coming it just keeps getting better.

Alamo Road, heading southeast.

15 March 2013

Springing

I was finally able to prep some seed flats and get a first round of greens going. These babies are up after just 3 days, probably thanks to the heating mats I got this winter. Salad in a month or so, I hope.

08 March 2013

Nothing else matters

At the end of the day, we can choose to hold on to the drama, the petty ego injuries, the unfinished business, the resentments... Or we can let them all wash away as we immerse ourselves in each new moment. We always have this choice. Once in a while, I am wise enough to remember this.


02 February 2013

Focus on Life, Week 5: Capture Our Hearts

Festus, one of the many fine ARA steeds. San Acacia, NM, Feb. 2013
So the photo-a-day thing isn't happening; between my work schedule and essential family time I just can't squeeze out enough time for daily photo taking and processing. I'll try to make a weekly post at least, just to keep myself creating, and am happy to link up with other creative people at Studio Sublime... Yesterday gave me plenty of creative opportunities and inspiration: I took the kids and my dad for a ride with Acacia Riding Adventures (ARA), an outfit in San Acacia, NM, that specializes in horseback rides for all ages and experience levels. It was AWESOME. The kids and I were tired and edgy after a long week, me after 20 straight days of non-stop working and traveling with no downtime, but after a few hours of riding Ranger, Char, and Splendor through high-desert chaparral and Rio Grande woodlands we were revived, to say the least.

I felt almost born-again, in fact, and could feel my long-buried love for all things equine finally begin to come back to life. Why long-buried? When you have something and then can't have it anymore because life intervenes and makes it impractical or takes it out of reach, I think you sometimes have to wrap it in a thick shroud and bury it somewhere to dull the keening ache. (To put it dramatically, I guess.) As a child, I lived for horses. I mucked out stalls and cleaned tack and fed and watered horses at a local stable just to be near the horses and to earn riding time. When I was 15 or so, I got too busy, and money had to go elsewhere, and then... somehow 30 years went by during which I was able to ride maybe 3 or 4 times, and having a horse or even access to one was so far out of reach that I had to let go of the desire before it burned a hole in my heart.

Embers can hold heat for far longer than we might think, fading almost to black yet reviving brightly when finally reunited with air and fuel. We'll be riding again very soon, that much I can say for sure.

26 January 2013

26/365: To Market, To Market

Philbert the pig enjoys a backslapping good time with a new friend. Reading Terminal Market, Phila., PA
Yesterday I took time out to see family and spent much of the day with my beloved aunt Nancy and her husband, John. We ended up at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, which I first visited in 1984, and I am so happy to see that it is just as vibrant as ever. I went there almost weekly for the six years I lived in Philly and as often as I could after leaving for graduate school, and I visit every chance I get to return to the city. This market makes Whole Foods look like, well, the shamelessly overpriced, self-righteousness-inspiring, fake-green enterprise that it is... sorry to offend anyone who shops or works there, but seeing the Amish families bringing their foods to Reading Terminal for a quarter the price of Whole Foods, and knowing exactly where this food comes from and who raised it, affirms my belief in truly local markets run by the people who actually raise the foods they offer us.

That said, I will miss this place when I fly back to New Mexico today... and I will renew my commitment to buy locally wherever I am, whenever I can.

I'm linking up this week with The Studio Sublime's Focus on Life series; please visit the other participants' pages for some really beautiful art in various media.

25 January 2013

25/365: According to What?

Bowls of Pearls by Ai Weiwei, Hirshhorn Museum/Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
After training, a treat, a quick stop in Washington, DC, to see the sights (gently dusted with snow) and stop in two of the Smithsonian museums. This photo is from Ai Weiwei's exhibit at the Hirshhorn, "According to What?" If I get time later I'll put up more photos from the trip. I'll be so happy to get home, though I am also happy to have had some great experiences here.

24 January 2013

24/365: Repurposeful

Mural in paint and repurposed water bottles, Monarch Academy, Baltimore, MD
This week I've been learning about how to do education the way it should be done, if we really care about kids enough to understand how they learn and live best. All my training this month, in fact, has been about working most effectively with kids, which really means learning about how they experience the world and how we can help them make their way through the world. If this means setting aside the worksheets and charts and mastering paint and scissors and glue guns and glitter instead, I'm all in.

23 January 2013

23/365: Awaken


Out of bed, Baltimore, MD

Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection. (Lawrence Durrell)

22 January 2013

22/365: Sunrise, Again

Hotel window sunrise, Baltimore, MD
Sunrise, sunrise
Looks like morning in your eyes...
(Norah Jones)

The travel marathon continues; I'm now on the last, longest leg - for this month, at least. It's all been great so far, and staying at a real hotel always makes me feel rejuvenated... could have something to do with not having to worry about pesky things like dirty dishes and Riley's chewing sprees and keeping the pipes from freezing when the temperature falls below 10F. (Of course, New Mexico has warmed up, and the bitter cold followed me east...). Here, I wake up, get ready, go, come back, work out (yay for hotel fitness centers!), soak in the hot tub, and plant myself on the sofa or bed to... let's see... oh, catch up on processing my 365 project photos! And go to bed early to read and drift away... Next time I have to travel (next month, in fact) and start getting nervous, I'll remember this...

21 January 2013

21/365: Big Picture

Rocky Mountains from 35,000 feet or so, Colorado
Travel day, this time by air - I hate flying, except that I love being way up in the sky and seeing all those amazing patterns and formations and textures formed as earth, water, and air interact in geologic time. What looks rock-solid up close is revealed to be constantly shifting from afar, and immensity becomes pattern, and unscalable becomes comprehensible.

20 January 2013

20/365: A New View

View from a courtyard, Corrales, NM
This weekend's training in play therapy gave me excellent theoretical grounding and practical skills in what I consider the best and usually the only truly effective way to work therapeutically with kids. It also affirmed what I've been doing so far, mostly winging it with help from books, DVDs, and consultation with other play therapists. I was surprised to learn that most therapists and psychologists, when asked directly, say they don't really want to work with kids. I suspect it's because kids don't usually talk openly or logically or coherently, at least not to relative strangers peppering them with prying questions, leaving us left-brainer adults at a loss and, I'll admit to this if no one else will, feeling kind of dumb for not knowing what to say or what to do when faced with kids who can't or won't talk about what's going on with them.

The key: communicate with kids in their "language," whether verbal or nonverbal, and be open to viewing things from new, unexpected perspectives. Watch them play to learn their language. Accept them for who, what, and where they are - if they sense that, you already have a good connection to build on.

19 January 2013

19/365: Towards Daylight

Sunrise, Hwy 60 west of Socorro, NM
I've seen more sunrises in the past 4 months than I probably did in the previous 4 years, and they are indeed worth the early rising. This morning I awoke extra-early to get to Albuquerque in time for a weekend of play therapy training; I could have stayed up there overnight but wanted to be with the kids as long as possible before hitting the road. Even without the beautiful sunrise, that would have been worth the early rising. Of course, as the sun rose I had to play this song by my new favorite bluesman:

Driving towards the daylight
Running from the midnight
Trying to find my way home...
(Joe Bonamassa)

Sometimes, to find the way "home" we must first head out into the wilderness, imagined or real...

18 January 2013

18/365: Outside

Testing the ice, near Magdalena, NM
My travel schedule is harder on the kids than it is on me, so I took Friday off to spend the whole day with them before taking off for two more trainings, one over the weekend and one next week. With the weather finally warming up, a walk on the property got us all out of the house and into the fresh air again. Laz went straight for the pond to see if the ice was still there (it was), and Lucy seemed to watch him carefully and actually nudged him a few times when he got close to the pond's edge. Best. Dog. Ever. As you can see in the upper right side of the image, Riley wanted to play, too...

17 January 2013

17/365: Domestic New Year


Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a person can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of set rules and set tasks. (G. K. Chesterton)

15 January 2013

15/365: Interlude

Drago in the sun, near Magdalena, NM
I took the morning off to take the kids for flu shots, and since getting a shot always sucks I then took them to breakfast before dropping them off at school. Since I had an extra hour before having to head to work, I took a short walk on the property and soon had company, always welcome and especially if it's equine. Drago is one of my favorite of Doc's horses; I haven't ridden him, I just enjoy him walking beside me and occasionally nudging me for treats. This was such a welcome break from the week's busy routine that I might have to do it again soon, once the weather warms up a bit.

12 January 2013

12/365: Winding Road

Detail of patio at Southwestern College, Santa Fe, NM

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order... the continuous thread of revelation.” (Eudora Welty)