The last frontiers: Alaska, menopause and ascension.

I’ve been shifting – transforming. I’ve known some process was at hand, but I didn’t know what I was shifting into. And I might still not know, but I will write about it anyway.

I came to Alaska because the thought of doing so caused me such joy that I knew it was right. It was a case of ultimate follow-your-bliss, with a potency similar to what propelled me to walk the PCT or write Crazy Free. Pure must-do.

I came, and now I am leaving again, with no regrets. The long meditative miles, the physical work at the ranch and the Alaska environment precipitated the shift. Or maybe the time simply had come. I’ve been told that, from the outside, my life looks like constant uprooting. It seems chaotic, unsettled, maybe even pointless. Am I lost? Looking for something? Drifting aimlessly from place to place?

“You drove all the way to Alaska, only to turn around. That makes no sense.”
Sense is not something I concern myself with. Only growth interests me.

This is really 3 posts in one, but I view them as inseparable. As within, so without. Alaska was a perfect backdrop for the life metamorphosis I have embarked upon, which is a stepping stone experience in my greater quest for higher consciousness.

Alaska

alaska1My two favorite things about Alaska are the trees and the people, for opposite reasons.

The trees here carry some of the gentlest energy of any forest I have been lucky to meet. I mistakenly interpreted their short stature as the result of logging when I first arrived. But the land is so vast, it was unlikely that all of it could have been logged. Then I learned of the growth limit imposed on their roots by the frozen ground of intense winters. Trees can only grow as tall as their roots will support – the same is true for humans. Such gentle trees adapted to such harsh conditions. I have enjoyed their company and learning about the medicine they offer, and I will miss them when I leave.

The people here are some of the hardiest I’ve met. If it’s needed, it must be designed, built, foraged, trapped, hunted, raised, grown or self-created somehow. Summer lasts three months. The rest of the year is a dark and cold game of survival in which humans and Nature are on equal footing. This common vulnerability breeds strength, community, respect and humility. When I first arrived, I saw a world of diesel fumes, barb wires, guns and dead beasts’ skins. But it only took meeting a few locals to realize my preconception-perception goggles were distorted.  The cycle of life is simply streamlined from birth to table, and it is entirely in plain view. There are no hidden massive production, transportation, packaging, marketing, shelving. There is also little waste. Resources are too scarce to waste. When a beast is killed, necessary food is provided. When trees are cut, a cabin is built. When a cabin is dismantled, all pieces are saved for the next project.

When I said hardy, I did not mean harsh. As anyone knows who has lived off-the-grid, the smaller the community, the tighter the bond. The size of Alaskans’ hearts are a match for the land. The mountains, tundra and all of wild Alaska are breath-taking. But the real gold here, I found, is the people. I learned a lot here, especially from Goose and Pinky, the caretakers at the ranch, and masters at dancing the fine line between adventure and homesteading. I will see them again. Alaska is only a few gorgeous thousand miles away. My little trail brother, Kristo the Lion, has found home here and will be staying. Another reason to come back and visit some day.

I always wanted to come to Alaska, and now I have. If I had landed here when I was 25 years old, I probably would have stayed. But my days of needing to prove myself have passed. I just know I could thrive here, and therefore I don’t need to choose to experience it, not even for one summer. There is only so much lifetime left and priorities of experiences must be made. Which brings me to the next topic …

Menopause

Woman-Goddess-Nut-by-Maya-CointreauI think it is reasonable to assume that I can and will live to 94 years old. Which makes this year, 2017, the exact middle of my life. When I look back at everything I have created so far for myself, I get stupidly teary-eyed with gratitude. But just when I thought I had finally reached my cruising speed and altitude, comfortable in my own skin and living my dream of a nomadic off-the-grid life, metamorphosis began again.

My favorite thing about menopause so far are the hot flashes. Seriously. The sensation is similar to drinking a good whiskey, except instead of a traceable warmth down the throat and into the belly, the heat radiates from any starting location in the body and expands until it fills it fully. I love to watch it spread, like the flow of a private inner hot spring. The covers fly off. And 5 minutes later, I’m scrambling to gather them back. Hot flashes make me giggle.

The other physical symptoms, I love less. I traded periods for monthly migraines, which prompted me to research natural medicine with a greater sense of urgency. My eye-sight acuity is now inconsistent, but my sense of smell is keener, which makes working on a hog ranch a real challenge. My brain gets cloudy. Some days, I’m just plain dumb. Functionally dumb – I can still read about and understand the intricacies of quantum physics, but I just can’t fathom how to put that pin in that hole that ties the whatchamacallit to the tractor, or remember where I put my glasses. My physical strength so far seems unaffected. “The old that is strong does not wither” (Bilbo Baggins). She might not wither, but neither is she thinner. I can walk, shovel or dig all day until my muscles are pumped and my core is solid. And still, the good bits sag and the middle thickens.

The greatest ride of this metamorphosis, however, is in my mind. All the moody moons of the past decades culminate now. And I cannot falter in my self-awareness or the thoughts take over and drive me nuts. All the stored repressed feelings, fear, guilt, shame, etc. are coming up, amplified. Menopause – isn’t that what happens to old people? Should I prepare myself for the crone stage of life? I’m probably too fat to be loved anyway. I should just be a spinster with a bun on my head and a cat on my lap in a rocking chair. I watch thoughts and feelings arise, and breathe through them until they move on. It helps me to think of it as a detoxification process. Whatever I see is no longer hidden. Like with a thru-hike pack shakedown, I get a chance to decide what I want to carry for the next leg of the journey, or not. It took 47 years to acquire and store all these internal dramas, so I expect the process might take a little while. But I’m on it – like a hawk.

I created most of the experiences of the first half of my life unconsciously. Given the same number of years forward, and now in full awareness, if I do this transition right, the second half of my life should be spectacular.

Ascension

Accessing_Higher_Levels_of_Consciousness__WOUNDS_David_Icke__GrEENZILLA__158215Ascension is a funny term with unfortunate religious connotations. I’m not physically ascending anywhere or leaving my physical body to become a “light being”. Like the trees, I am growing deeper roots so my canopy can reach higher. Higher what? Higher vibrational frequencies, higher levels of self-awareness, higher consciousness and clearer perception of how and why I create what I perceive to be reality.

It’s an ongoing growth journey. And each stage (an arbitrary division on a continuum) seems like an achievement. But I have long understood that enlightenment is a verb, not a destination. And anything I think, say or write, could be revealed as over-simplistic or inaccurate at the next stage. The climb itself is the sought-after experience, not the standing at the summit. Which is why I still use the term “ascension”.

While my body was exploring the rawness of Alaska, and my mind releasing the densest stored energies about and within me, a new knowing entered my consciousness. I felt it coming for a while. I’ve been feeling restless and unsettled. Then one morning, at 4 am, it revealed itself – “The mind that sees all paths, sees the map, and therefore no longer needs to choose a path.”

The understanding that came with it was visceral and wordless with ramifications extending to all experiences and connections past, present and future. The vantage point extended beyond (and including) the body, the self, the higher self to Source itself.  The timeless blue-print behind the script of reality and the scaffolding of beliefs through which stories are told about the script, are in my own handwriting. Like a beating heart, consciousness expands and contracts from self to Source and back again. Because it is more exciting “down here” and less chaotic “up there”. On the screen of my mind, the world is a perfect reflection of everything I am -everything that composes “me”- and vice versa – “my” experiences and “my” self (the experiencing part of consciousness) are locked in a chicken-and-egg dance, an Ouroboros meal. Why create reality? Absolutely everything is a choice of an experience, a keystone detail, the most important thing ever to exist. That’s why.

And, simultaneously, none of it matters … including this so-called ascension process. All of it is make-pretend. How awesome and freeing is that? No need to work so hard to manifest/create something better. It’s already perfect and inconsequential. “There is nowhere to go, nothing to see, no one to meet, nothing to read.” (Christopher Loren)

So, let’s just have fun with it. I get to be a middle-aged goddess. And I get to live in Alaska for another day or so, before the truck and I point south again, to Nelson, British Columbia, for the next adventure.

Some people take drugs for insights … I drive 3000 miles every month 🙂

May all your creating be delicious.
Thank you for sharing this experience with me.

XOX

Roaming Bobcat.

I think I just panicked … as told to my Dad.

Here’s (slightly edited) bits from my correspondence with my Dad about what went down since I last posted here:

[…] Sorry it took me so long to answer. The past month has been a little rocky. But it was all me that rocked the boat. Jim flows on life calmly, unless he gets excited about an adventure or an opportunity to build something.

This one didn’t start like my other relationships. My other relationships started in flurries of lust and googoo-love-eyes. This one was easy, familiar, natural. It felt like a long-term relationship that accidentally started in the middle of a happily-ever-after story. I settled in the feeling that I had found “my one”. And of course, I wasn’t going to leave without “my one”, so we agreed that when the wind of migration called me south for the winter, he would make the journey with me.

We drew plans to modify the truck to accommodate two people, and I contacted Benny of Earth Tours in Sedona to see if he’d have work for me. He did. Benny had just acquired a 15-passenger van for the Grand Canyon trips. Not only I could guide, I would also train the other guides about the geology of Grand Canyon. Everything looked good ahead, so Jim grabbed a few thick boards and within two hours had completely transformed my back-of-the-truck home.

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The modifications were a work of art, but the reality that I was about to share my 32 square-foot home with another suddenly hit. I think I just panicked. You know I love and I need my personal space. That’s why I’ve been living alone in the desert all this time. Suddenly, everything about Jim was wrong. I turned into a chronic complainer. He listened and tried to help, but *everything* about him was suddenly unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the country was voting for Trump and everybody else was going crazy too. People’s fear came to the surface, people’s hatred came to the surface. It’s still going on now, but I think people are calming down a little bit, now that the first shock and disbelief has passed. In the end, what doesn’t break us, makes us stronger. I see people being now more committed to peace and loving and accepting each other than before. I don’t know what will happen with this country, but I think we will stand tall in our integrity. If people are racists and have nazy-tendencies, I would rather know about them than have it hidden.

So, the same process went on for me, internally. If I have fears about intimacy, about sharing my space, about my needs being not met, I want to know about it. Once I realized all the fears that were coming up were just that, fears – not reality – Jim and I sat down and discussed how we each felt about this journey. I believe he will honor my need for space, but for him, this is the trip of a lifetime. He has never been anywhere. He’s always wanted to see oceans, volcanoes, caves, deserts, but by the draw of life, was not able to. And here I show up, ready to take him away. It almost feels like fate or destiny – but I believe in neither fate nor destiny. I believe in choosing our path and knowing you can’t go wrong, because regardless, you’ll have an adventure, and you’ll learn things. If I go back to the desert alone, it’s the same thing I’ve done for the past 4 years. If I go with Jim … I get to learn something and grow.

So, we leave right after thanksgiving together. I hope to have a lot of guiding work from January to June. Jim is a carpenter and a master builder – he creates homes with natural material, like traditional log cabins or hand-made brick houses. I’m not worried about him. He’ll find himself a project. My only lingering concern is that we’ll have one vehicle for two people, only one of whom knows how to drive a manual, so far. But I can let the Little Crazy in my head continue to rock the boat with its fear-mongering or I can choose to trust and love instead, and just go for it.

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“Shadows coming forward and forefront to be experienced and released is an integral part of the evolution process. Love will prevail. There is no other long term choice. So feel your fears and honor them. Fears will lock into your survival mechanism. It’s just how they operate. But we are not dying. We are not even doomed. We are growing, clarifying, self-defining in contrast. In fact, we might just have been gifted an exceptionally potent catalyst. We’ve chosen a shortcut, a kick in the pants of status-quo comfort. Strap on your seatbelt. Fast growth could be a hell of a ride. It’ll be worth it. Mark my words.” 

Written on the morning after the election, in my journal, to myself on the topic of my relationship. Then I heard the global news. As inside so without. 

My first and likely only political post

[Originally written as a Facebook post]

I don’t engage in political debates, and for that I’ve been misjudged uncaring.  I don’t listen to the news. That doesn’t make me ignorant.

A madman walked into a gay bar in Orlando and killed innocent people, igniting a spark in a barrel of dynamite-loaded opinions. Whichever fears one already subscribed to were suddenly further justified by the senselessness of the act. The madman had a gun, let’s ban guns. The madman had Afghani parents, let’s exile all Muslims, and while we’re at it, all foreign-born immigrants.  The victims were gay, let’s point the finger to homophobia. Let’s point, let’s point … to something, to someone outside of ourselves. Let’s reduce our tribe, our family to that which was hurt, so that we can exclude that which did the hurting. We do this to feel safer. If we were to admit that a random madman walked into a bar and killed innocent people, then we’d have to accept that this could happen again, anywhere, anytime, placing us and our loved one in constant potential danger. But if there’s a greater cause, purpose or scheme, then the likelihood of it hitting home is perceived as less. A conspiracy theory is much more reassuring than an isolated insane act to the human brain.

Einstein said that a problem cannot be solved from the level at which it was created. Fear-based dividing and hierarchical categorization of the human tribe doesn’t foster peace, it starts wars. Review your history books, if you don’t believe me.

So, we must rise above and look from a greater perspective. Let’s say the whole world is our tribe, then the madman is our brother. Now it’s an inside job. It’s a family problem, a whole world problem. And I don’t claim to know anything, but from my perspective, it seems that fear is not born because there’s a problem, there’s a problem because we live in fear. It’s not healthy. It’s bound to crack.

“They” say I’m ignorant of the “facts” because I don’t watch the news, that I live a selfish life in Lalaland with my head in the clouds or in an opaque paper bag, that I’m heartless for posting happy posts in the face of tragedy, that I’m blindly delusional for going on long walks when America is on the brink of war. And I ask, how does my spending hours feeding my mind with the horrors of the world help anyone? Who benefits from my fear? (And yes, I could follow this question straight up the conspiracy ladder, but again that’d only redirect the fear-based finger pointing). Shouldn’t *somebody* hold this space here – where it is remembered that the world is a magical, beautiful place – for balance? And what if more of us turned off their TV and concentrated instead on finding and sharing beauty and love in the Right Here and the Right Now? What if our madman brother had grown-up in a world where the majority chose to keep their eyes open in the sunlight instead of staring at the darkness? Even if our brother was Muslim and had a gun, don’t you think the story would have had a different ending?

I value your diverse opinions. I welcome the whole spectrum on my FB feed and in my life. But do not measure my actions by the yardstick of your assumptions.

Not all bliss is born of ignorance.

Coyote – a story of Life and Death in the Sedona desert

I was once straight Bobcat. A totem animal master of solitude, stealth and curious navigation of higher realms of consciousness. Until a year ago ..

A year ago today, I woke up in my beloved desert to a glorious sunrise over red rocks. It was too hot to sleep past sunrise, and I had a tour that day anyway – 8 am pickup, just one client for a Sedona hike. I hula hooped to a few songs, read emails in the shade of my shell and ate breakfast with my feet dangling off the tailgate. Just another happy perfect day in the life of The Bobcat. When it was time, I packed the truck and drove down my dirt road.

Less than a hundred feet from my camp-home, an orange flatbed pickup truck and two young bearded men were parked near the water hole. I looked with interest – I rarely see people in my corner of the desert. I drove around the thorn thicket, over the cattle guard and into plain view of their truck. Suddenly, time slowed down to a trickle. In that trickle, I saw blood on the bed of the truck, a grey mass at the end of the blood, a gun in one hand, a look of surprise on a bearded face. In one swift move, the hand that didn’t have the gun grabbed the grey mass and tossed it in the thorn thicket. It was a coyote. Without a tail. Time resumed its normal speed. Both men stood by the truck and waved a friendly “hello”. I waved back and said “hello” – my brain hadn’t processed what had just entered it yet. The larger of the two men climbed in the truck and said to the other, “The fucker put blood all over the truck. Let’s get outta here.”

My brain caught up. The human “fuckers” had killed one of my coyotes and taken its tail – for a trophy, I suppose. My blood flash-boiled with anger. If I had a gun, I’d have shot the fuckers – shot them dead and taken their shoes. Oh, I was seething. And simultaneously fascinated. So, that’s how it felt. That’s how men kill men, families kill families (by whichever large definition), wars are started and massacres feel righteous and justified. Through the anger, I became aware of a new level of appreciation for the warriors of the world. As a self-proclaimed Buddhist Anarchist (one who aims to dismantle the System without harm to anything), I had never before understood the act of killing, except in respect for the purpose of feeding oneself. But I did that day. My heart screamed “Revenge!”, and yet, I drove on. It was 7 am in the desert, miles from any help, I was an unarmed woman alone, and these two had just shot a coyote for a trophy tail. Self-preservation prevailed over retribution.

My client that day was a woman about my age. She lived in Manhattan, New York, had manicured nails and had never been on a dirt road before. When she climbed into the truck, I realized I was unlikely to hold my tears for the entire tour, so I preempted with “Before we go anywhere, in case I cry, this is what just happened …” She had recently seen two black men gunned down in the subway. In spite of our completely opposite lifestyles, we understood each other perfectly. I did not lead a fluffy tour that day. We discussed heavy subjects – senseless killing, protecting one’s own and other plagues of humankind – as we hiked through beautiful canyons. She was a soulfriend, not a client, for a day. We must have both needed it. She later told the concierge at the resort that my tour had been the highlight of her trip.

After the tour. I called the BLM. Killing coyotes, it turns out, is legal, but with a permit. No permit had been purchased. If I had noted the truck’s license plate, they could have issued a violation and charged the hunters a fine. Fat lot of good that would have done the coyotes.

The sun was just setting when I returned to the desert, straight to the dead coyotes’s bed under the thicket. I thought the hunter might remove the evidence, but they had not even bothered. There were actually two coyotes, one slightly larger than the other. If it weren’t for the missing tails, I would have thought they were peacefully napping in the shade. My anger was instantly replaced by sadness. I kneeled at the foot of the larger one and cried. I cried for myself, not for them. They were long gone – I could tell. No lingering coyote in those bodies. I cried in frustration for my inability to protect my desert kin, for my cowardice cloaked in self-preservation, and for the loss of their voices in my nightly serenade.

Because of my upbringing, it felt disrespectful to me to just leave them there. I thought I should bury them and bless their place of rest with a cross or some other symbol. But the Sedona desert is packed hard and impenetrable. Digging a hole large enough for two coyotes would have taken several hours, but I would have done it.
Luckily, Benny, the man whom I called to borrow a shovel, is part Hopi.
“You don’t want to bury them.” He said. “If you leave them out, the desert can make use of their death. If you bury them, then their death is useless. Say a prayer to wish them well on their way, if it helps you, and know that nothing is in vain. We just don’t always understand Spirit’s greater plan.”

I spoke a prayer of gratitude over the coyotes’s empty shells. I had hoped to feel their presence as I thanked them for their company and their songs. Just a small sign of acknowledgement that I mattered to them as much as they had mattered to me, a sign of forgiveness for my wrongdoings – not protecting them – or at least a confirmation of a bond between us – any bond. They gave me nothing. There were no songs in the desert that night.

I stayed with the coyotes throughout the entire decomposition process. Not out of morbid curiosity, but because at the age of 44, I had never really been around death. I buried small dead animals I found in the woods out of view, and to this day, have still not seen a dead human body. I didn’t fear death, but neither did I understand it. This was part of the gift of the coyotes’s death. I got to learn. Every day, I said hello as I drove by, sent them loving thoughts, wherever they were, and sometimes I stopped to check. They never smelled, but gradually sunk flatter, as though they were relaxing more fully into the earth.

I left Sedona in mid-July on a book tour up the West Coast and didn’t return until September. The coyotes were my first stop back in town. I couldn’t believe how much the bodies had changed. Nothing left but two flat carpets, empty skins draped over a few bones, and everything else recycled. I continued to say hello daily and check occasionally. The October rains further flattened the remnants. Holes appeared in the coyote carpets, particularly over the bones and at the edges. Then it snowed, and I left again. I left January 1st, off on adventures for 3 months. When I returned, in mid-march, even the skins had been reabsorbed by the desert. The skulls and large bones were gone, but most of the vertebrae were left- beautiful little pieces of bone jewelry. I extended my hand to pick one up. I meant to keep one to honor their memory wherever I may roam, away from Sedona. But before my fingers could touch the bone, I heard a loud clear “NO!” in my head.

“What do you know about Coyote medicine?” I asked my friend Mikhael, who is part Choktaw and my go-to source for spirit animals questions.
“You do NOT want to invite Coyote medicine in your life.” She said. “Coyote is the Trickster. It will put your life upside-down, shake things up, and rattle your peace. Unless you’re ready for a wild ride, I’d leave these bones be, if I were you.”

So, I did let them be … but Coyote found me anyway.

About a month ago, I turned at the thorn thicket and over the cattle guard just in time to see a handsome male cross the dirt road toward the water hole. I was struck with excitement. He still had his thick winter coat, a healthy mix of brown and grey fur. He stopped to look at the truck, then continued, unperturbed. He paralleled the road leisurely for a while, so that I could keep my eyes on him while the truck handled the 4X4 terrain.
“Hello Coyote. You are BEAUTIFUL.” He paused and looked at me for just a moment, and that made my day. I giggled as I sped up to pick up a family for a Grand Canyon tour. Coyote energy was mine all day. Coyote energy – as in … my sandwich was lost, my keys disappeared three times, food spilled on my clean shirt, and so forth … I explained to my clients that this coyote energy was mine alone and that they were in no danger of contagion. We laughed at each incident, and the Trickster’s tricks became part of the tour.

Coyote energy lingered for days, backed by Murphy. Anything that could go wrong didn’t go completely wrong, but got just a little skewed, enough for a giggle and a sigh of inconvenience: “Oh! Coyote!”

Coyote even occupied my nights – not every dream, but at least one per night. In one of them, I was adopted by a pack of coyotes. They protected me from an evil javelina, and I helped raised some of their youngs. In another dream, one of these youngs had grown to maturity. We found each other again after years of separation and danced and yapped in joy. I then realized he was hurt. I held him in my arms against my heart and gently rocked him, asking “Please don’t die.” My friend Miles walked through my dream just then and scoped out the situation. “Maybe he didn’t come to die.” he said. “Maybe he came to heal.” I woke up crying in spite of Miles’ reassuring words.

Benny and I took a group of 17 people on a Sacred Places tour that day. It was just what I needed. As we stood in a circle under the towering walls of Cathedral rock, one by one we chose a spirit animal, and Benny described the gifts of each. When my turn came to speak, I chose, “I am Bobcat, but today, I carry Coyote.”
“Coyote. Wonderful medicine! Coyote teaches us the balance between wisdom and playfulness. It reminds us to not take things too seriously, to lighten up. Coyote is nimble, adaptable and resourceful. Coyote plays by its own rules. It is not concerned about the risk of falling down or getting ridiculed. It walks the land confidently and trusts in the magic in all situations. In some myths, coyote sang the people into creation. It takes care of its pack, of its youngs. And also, coyote mates for life.”

Today is the anniversary of the death of two friends who didn’t even know they were friends. I thought about them when I woke up. I was actually woken up by an unusually loud buzzing of bees. This is the first time in all three months of May that I spent in Sedona that the cat claw shrub next to the truck is in full bloom and the bees were AT IT! I sat on a wood log right next to the cat claw to photograph the bees, but it took an hour just to get one fairly decent shot. Last year, two coyotes died. This year, the bees get fed. Is that what reincarnation actually means?

I am Bobcat and I carry Coyote –  One bone jewelry piece from each of the pair, so as to keep them together still, picked up this morning, not to honor their memory – because let’s face it, they don’t care – but because I’m ready for it.

______________________________________________

One of my bees, busy busy this morning.
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Sitting on a log, trying to catch a bee, but taking a selfie instead. I sat there until it was too hot to pollinate and they went home. The scarf was to make a hood shade over the phone, so that I could see the screen.
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One of my coyotes’ vertebrae.
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All that is left under the thicket.
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The water hole nearby, where desert creatures gather when I’m not around. 20160529_091638a

Slapped with blessings

My friend Peter always says “Whenever I complain, the Universe slaps me with a blessing.”
The same is true for me.

Just a few days ago, I posted a rant called “A day late and a few grands short.” I have since deleted it. It was too out of character. I mean, I do come with a full range of emotions. I’m not always happy, contrarily to what some of you seem to believe. But still, I felt that post didn’t represent the majority of how I feel or how I interact with the world, and most certainly it didn’t reflect my reality. I’ve included the original post below (Click here to skip to it), if nothing else, for the pleasure of having that flippant Bobcat walking away photo somewhere on this blog.

Here is the post where I set the record straight.

“How come I don’t get any financial abundance?” I whined.

Alright. Let’s look at this (in somewhat reverse chronological order). There was the time when …

  1. I had less than $100 to my name, when I met a Viking who offered to front me the cash to travel with him to Cuba. Work was waiting for me when we finally parted ways after adventuring for two months straight, to two countries and across the USA. Thank you Miles, my knight-viking in shining armor (or hiking skirt, depending on the occasion).
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  2. I returned to Sedona from a west coast book tour at 4 am, and with only $80. At 8 am – 4 hours later – I was woken up by a text from Benny of Earth tours saying that he hoped I was in town because he needed help for a special retreat with 4 Russian billionaires. The pay was good. The work was fun. The Russians tipped me $1000 for a day and a half of work.I didn’t need to work for the rest of that year. Thank you blood moon of 2015!
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  3. I left for a west coast book tour with less than $40. It wasn’t even enough to make it past Flagstaff, but I felt called to go anyway. I sold enough books in Flagstaff to get to South Lake Tahoe, sold enough books in South Lake Tahoe to drive to Ashland, sold enough books in Ashland to … and so forth. 6,000 miles later, I returned to Sedona with $80, having traveled to Canada, Burning Man, worked on a farm, kayaked, hiked, climbed, etc. (See the green loop on the roaming map) I never lacked for food or fuel. I even manifested some amazing free yoga pants along the way. Thank you, dozens of angels along the way.
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  4. After a few months in the Sedona desert, I was trying to finish the editing of my book, and was running really really thin on cash. I went to my storage unit to see if I had anything to sell, when a business card fell out of a box I was moving and landed at my feet. It was for Danita Delimont, an agent with whom I worked back when I was a photographer, almost ten years prior. I called on a whim, and she said “Melissa! Where have you been? We’ve had this royalty check here for you for years, but we didn’t know where to send it.” She Paypaled me the money within half an hour. Thanks Danita. Thanks business card for falling out.
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  5. One morning I woke up with $4, an empty fuel tank and an empty food box. I had $14 the night before, but went to a Ryan Montbleau show in Phoenix. It was worth it. I woke up thinking “Mmmh. I’m out again. Today should be interesting.” A few hours later, I met Benny, of Earth Tours, at a coffee shop. He had never successfully worked with an assistant, but he hired me on the spot and paid me a tour in advance. Boom! Money and a job, and a coworker better than any I could have dreamt. Benny has been part of much financial magic in my life since I met him. Thanks Benny! (and Thanks Ryan Montbleau for an awesome show).
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  6. I was in the negative in New Hampshire, worried about the approaching winter, when one of my yoga students introduced me to a rich lady with a 17.5 year old dog. The lady needed to travel to France but couldn’t leave the dog behind. I dog-sat that dog and lived in a small palace overlooking fields and the White Mountains for 7 weeks. She paid me well, and suddenly I had enough to drive back out west. I still stayed for another month in NH to finish my book, in the spare bedroom of an incredibly bright and loving Mother Goddess. She asked for nothing in return. She even gave me a private office to finish writing my book. Thank you Dawa (the dog) and Leah (the Goddess)!
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  7. I had $2.62 left (I took a picture of my statement) in New Hampshire, because I had just quit a job at a gear shop I didn’t resonate with and didn’t make enough from teaching yoga to cover my expenses, when out of nowhere a man I had met briefly at the gear shop but had never actually spent time with offered me $40/hr to help him clean windows of rich people’s homes on Nantucket island. I worked on Nantucket for two weeks, lived with Rich, and was spoiled with fresh seafood and friendship. When I returned to North Conway, I discovered that my tires were delaminating. I was able to buy a very nice set of offroad tires for exactly the amount I had made. It was like the Universe gave me the gift of new tires in a roundabout way. Thanks Rich!
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  8. Looking further back, there was the time when I found $184 in the trash can of a hotel in Big Bear City. Sorry thru-hiker who lost $184 while cleaning your gear. I made good use of it. Passed it on as magic to other hikers for the rest of the day, and only kept a $17 fee for myself. It seemed fair.
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  9. There was the time a hot air balloon landed on my truck in the middle of the desert and offered me a job. Say what? Yep. Thank you!
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  10. There was the time I walked the PCT on a credit card, and upon my return discovered the National Science Foundation had never reclaimed the $10,000 tuition funds deposited directly in my account. I also paid for my trip to India with that money. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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And that’s not even the beginning of it. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I mean read the book … sometimes, it’s just ridiculous.

My friend Carrot Quinn said that she feels the Universe is on a matching program. Whatever effort you put in, you will be met with magic of the same amount. I definitely get more than I put in.

So, now the record is straight. I have nothing to whine about. At all! I am, actually, exactly where I need to be. If I had been more successful financially earlier, I’d have missed out on all these juicy last-minute rescues, the dozens of odd jobs, the gifts, miracles and serendipities. I wouldn’t have been flooded with gratitude as I have been. Gifts are always more potent when contrasted to a stark background.

I just got a job offer last night. I’ll be taking off for Colorado in a few weeks. So, my “spot” in the desert is vacant and up for grabs. And my Appalachian Trail walk is funded (with potential surprises and detours along the way). All is well. As always.

XOXO
Roaming Bobcat.

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The original post:

A day late and a few grands short …

by the Roaming Bobcat

Here’s something out of character. I’m going to vent. I want to vent.

Let me back up, before I start … so, a few nights ago, I went back to the desert a little later than I usually do. It was already dark. When I got to “my spot” there was a van parked there. A man was tending to the fire, a woman was playing with a dog. It happens. Sometimes, I get home and I find someone in my living room. Usually, I don’t mind. Usually, I understand that the views from my living room are exceptional, that it is the only place on the whole hill with 3G, full bar cell-phone reception, and that the fire ring has some wood already stacked. The place just screams “perfect camp. Welcome!” Usually, the campers are weekenders. I turn around right at the spot – sometimes gracefully, sometimes less – and camp somewhere else. The next day, they go home, and I get my home back.

But this time was different. I knew that van. I had seen it in town on and off since last year. It had a big logo on the side: “Where’s my office now”. These were desert dwellers like myself, living out on the land, and they had just found my perfect camp. I turned around in front of their van with a sinking feeling. I parked just down the road a bit, because I wanted to stay close to see what their patterns were. You know, us, big cats, that’s what we do. We don’t pounce right away … we study patterns, and when we have established a fail-proof plan of attack we go for it. I wanted to see when they arrive, when they leave, and such, to be sure I can get there before they do.

Well, that backfired. For the first time in all the years I’ve slept in the truck, a mouse crawled in … I don’t even know through where … and landed between the truck bed liner and the truck bed. I could hear it. Poor thing was panicking. I was not much calmer. The only way I knew out of there was through the hole where the clamp to hold the shell is. I shone my light on the hole and waited. I even set up a small tub of strawberry jam to entice it out. FINALLY, after hours of waiting, I saw its whiskers. It saw me, got scared and turned around, pointing its tail out of the hole. All I had to do was grab its tail and set it free. But, well, it was a mouse. I stared at it. Didn’t move. It went back in. By then it was past midnight. I plugged the clamp hole and tried to sleep. I don’t know how the mouse got back out – presumably through the hole it used to crawl in. Bottom line was, I had an epic night and was exhausted the next day. I left the desert before the van did. No patterns learned.

The next day, I went to the desert by mid-afternoon. I was first in the spot. The van showed up at sunset, and with it another van. Great! Now they were inviting friends.

The next day, I went to the desert even earlier. I wrote the van-dwellers a note I planned on leaving, in case I couldn’t “beat them to it” the next day. The note said “You are welcome to stay here, but please don’t spit toothpaste on the ground, don’t walk on the flowers, don’t …” Once the note was written, I had to be honest with myself. I wasn’t welcoming them at all. It was a passive-aggressive note thinly disguised as a leave-no-trace reminder. They never drove by that night. I thought, “Good, maybe they’ve driven their office elsewhere.”

But as the next day progressed, I noticed an oppressing feeling on my chest. I was actually having anxiety about this. What if I couldn’t camp in my spot? So much for non-attachment! Luckily, that night – last night – I was first there again. The van drove by in the dark. I didn’t move, but I felt that anxiety again. So, I did what I do. I explored the anxiety. Since that’s what was up, I figured I might as well learn from it. What did anxiety feel like in my body? I didn’t try to intellectualize the whys or hows, I just observed it. I fell asleep holding sweet little Anxiety in my arms.

And here my post actually starts.

This morning, a lovely brunette – the woman from the van – came running by my truck. I jumped on the occasion to solve my quandary. If I couldn’t make them go home, I might as well befriend them. Of course, she was genuine, fun, friendly, and had all the qualities you’d expect in a van-dweller. She and her partner have been living in the van since 2013, she told me, embracing a nomadic life. How do they survive? They have thousands of followers on Instagram, and therefore are attracting sponsors. Wait. What? So, you post pictures of you living in your van, and people pay to see the photos of you living in your van? Yep. That’s correct.

WT .. I’ve been living in my truck since 2011 (with time off to walk long trails and travel, a few months indoors when I met Chris, and another few months indoors in winter in New Hampshire). It would have never dawned on me that people would care. I mean, aside from my friends. Would you take pictures of your bedroom and post them? No, well, me neither.

This got me thinking. About 5 months ago, I met another lovely, incredibly badass lady. That lady published a book exactly a month before I published mine. Her book is great, but so is mine. She is making a living from Kindle dividends now, and getting sponsors to hike long trails. Am I? Hell no! Not by a long shot. What’s the difference? She has 5000 followers on her blog. How did she do that? She just posts about her life on the trail, every day. Again, that would have never dawned on me. I just wouldn’t feel like I have anything that interesting to say every day.

“Dude! Just this year, you flew one-way to Cuba, hitchhiked back on a boat to Florida, hitched cross-country on I10, you live in the desert, and you’re about to go hike the AT on no money at all. And you don’t think your life is interesting?” my friend said.
My life is my life. It’s normal to me. I guess.

Instead of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – I’m having FOHMO – Fear of having missed out. What if I had kept a blog back when I walked the PCT? Oh, wait, I did. I lost my audience when I started posting spiritual posts. What if I had actually written about Cuba when I was there? Nah, I was too busy living that adventure. It required all my attention. What if I had Instagrammed my way across the country? What if I had learned about hashtags sooner? What if my book came out 5 months earlier, right when the wave of Cheryl Strayed Wild was still hot? What if …

There are people out there doing exactly what I’m doing, and making a living from it. WTF.

Yes, I could copy them … and I am. I’m Kindling like the badass lady with the blog, and I’m hashtagging like the lovely lady in the van. And I feel like a side character, the #2, not the Captain – almost as good. This is the movie of my own life. Why aren’t I the friggin’ leading lady? With the wild imagination I have been accused of having, couldn’t I be my own creative genius. Couldn’t I hit that secret jackpot that lets me be exactly who I am, and poof! abundance flows in because of it.

Or do I think too highly of myself? Humility – is that what I’m missing? Should I feel gratified to know that the Universe is placing people in my path to show me what is possible. And isn’t it my own blindness that instead sees in them lack by contract?

I know others in that boat. I know incredibly talented individuals who have dedicated months to years to building a social media dream, only to be ignored at best and poopooed at worse. What’s the difference? Intent? Am I going to have to fall back on spirituality for this one? Is this one of those … to every monk there is a path, and for some reason, you have chosen to explore living in misery, but it’s all for the Greater Good. Or worse … did you just see the sentence I wrote? These bad thoughts I’m having are creating the blockages that impede the oncoming flow of abundance that’s waiting right around the corner, and man, when that dam breaks, I will be flooded. Yes, I am rolling my eyes … more body language blockages.

Sigh … Hello Frustration. Hello Confusion. Hi Tinge of Anger. Welcome aboard. I shall be your bodily vehicle for the moment. Please be sure to express yourself fully, keep all hands and feet inside at all times, so as to not spill over onto my social media life. I have a reputation to uphold. I am the Roaming Bobcat.  #ilovemylife #asitshouldbe #abundance #iamenough #yadeyaah #whatever.

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Freedom, according to the Bobcat

Freedom

Freedom just is
It doesn’t ponder, wonder or agonize over its own existence
It doesn’t care if you believe in it or not
It has no preference about what color you paint it, what attire you make it wear, or what box you cram it in
Freedom just is

But, if you choose to adopt it
Then it becomes your responsibility
To protect it with all your might
From rampant fears
Entrapment, stagnation and mundanity
To feed it clean air, fresh water and wide open spaces
To write songs, stories and poetry
To incite others
To adopt it as well

And so forth
Until the world is taken over

from Lake of Dreams

Namaste

One of my favorite parts of teaching yoga happens right after Savasana.
Students are just coming out of complete release, complete dissolution of mind and body, and slowly getting ready to reintegrate the rest of the day and of their life – hopefully changed.
This is the part where whatever gift they have acquired as a result of their practice in my class can be pocketed for later use, or to be regifted – even better.
My task, as teacher, is to help them fit it in their pocket, and I have a little litany to help with that. I have observed my little litany evolve over the past ten months of its own accord.
I am very fond of its current version, so I will share it with you here.

Bring your hands together in front of your heart
Deep breath in
and out slowly

Inhale, place your hands on your brow, your third eye area
We give gratitude for clarity of sight
knowing what our path is
And walking it confidently
Even, if it is just one step at a time. 

Exhale, place your hands to your throat area
We give gratitude for clarity of expression
Knowing our authentic self
And being that person in the world
Recognized, and celebrated as such

Inhale, place your hands back to your heart
Find your own, individual gratitude,
Whatever YOU have to be so amazingly grateful for
Bring an image into your mind if it helps

Exhale, slowly let go of the image
but keep the feeling in your heart

I am grateful for you today
Thank you for coming to class
Namaste

That’s it. Though, sometimes, instead, I recite the first several paragraphs of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”, and I feel that my students leave with even more wisdom in their pocket.

XO – I am grateful for you, thank you for reading. Namaste.

A dream: Out of body inceptions

Around 6 am this morning, Minou – the cat of the house – came back from his hunt to finish the night with me. He jumped on the bed, stepped across my body and curled up in the space between my arm and my ribs. He then started kneeding me, with claws. I meant to move my arm to either get myself out of arm’s way or to make the cat go away, but realized I could not move my physical body at all. “I’m having Rigor Mortis – I actually meant Sleep Paralysis – that’s the first step in out of body experiences. I wonder if I’ll hear the buzzing too.” Sure enough, buzzing in my ears, almost immediately.

Then I was in an hotel room, laying on the bed in the same position except the cat was my friend Alan sitting at the foot of the bed. I sat up and we moved to the kitchen. His body was very old, but his spirit inside was still the 37 year old I know. I petted his head as though he were the cat. His skull was covered in aging spots and his hair was falling off in patches. I was still very fond of him. And I was also still very tired. I curled up on his knee and fell asleep, and he began petting my head. I was aware in my sleep (level 2) that something was not quite right, so I tried to wake myself out of it by modifying my breathing – I do that sometimes when I want to wake up; it usually works – but I couldn’t wake up and I still couldn’t move. I was paralyzed in level 2 as well.

Then I was in the same hotel room, except everything was very white and bright. The walls, ceiling and all the furniture in the room were white. Alan and I were dressed in white. But, still I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right – in fact, it was very wrong and my intuition told me I needed to get out of there, now! I once again modified my breathing to wake up out of level 3, and I almost succeeded. I was aware in level 3 of the hotel room in level 2, where Alan was still petting my head, but I couldn’t break back through all the way.

“Looks like we’re stuck here for a while, but we need to get out of this room.” I told Alan in the white room. I said “Come on” and ran to the door, then through the door.

Alan and I were standing in the corridor and I was shocked. “I’m not physical! I can walk through matter here!!” I looked at my hands. “Look!” I swiped my hand through the wall and the door, and felt nothing. I turned to look around. The corridor was about a hundred feet long, ten feet wide and thirty feet high, completely white as well. White doors lined one side all the way to the end, where a white door closed off the corridor. The other side was all large glass windows. I figured we must have been pretty high up because all I could see was blue sky out of the window. There were massive elaborate chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, like mobiles made from thousands of suspended pieces of mirror about a square inch each. But, still, I felt something very wrong was going on. I was in danger. This was not a hotel, it was an institution and I was there against my will.

Then something moved behind the door at the end of the corridor, and I made a run for it to save myself. I ran straight at the window, but as I got closer time slowed down. I was running in slow motion and I could see Alan was as well. I jumped up into and across one of the chandeliers. Time slowed so much that I had time to think “I wonder if the windows are especially designed to contain non-physical entities? I wonder if I’ll crash against the window or simply pass through it? And if I pass through it, I wonder how high up I’ll be? And will I be able to fly? And what is below?” My shoulder finally reached the glass, which shattered in a million fragments. The action stopped. I was suspended in the blue sky surrounded by a million pieces of broken glass mixed in with the mirrors from the chandelier, all glittering in the sunlight. I had no thought, no sensation, no breath.

Then the action reengaged to full normal speed and I landed on my feet in a garden. The garden was at the foot of a massive square white building with two shattered windows far, far up. I knew Alan had made it to the garden, but I couldn’t see him yet.

The garden was a large field. In a rough oval shape were tiny plots of fenced land – about 6 by 3 feet in size – every ten feet of so. To each garden was a guardian. The guardians were slaves, tied to each plot and forced to grow food for the inmates of the hotel/institution. They could never leave. They slept in tiny shacks on the back side of each plot, too small to actually fit a human body at rest. Their cheeks were sunken; their clothes were tattered. Some were raising chickens, but most were responsible for a single crop of vegetables. I decided to visit each one in turn to see if I could figure out where I was and what was going on.

I knew I didn’t need to walk because I was not physical, so I could think myself in a different location and instantly be there. But, because I didn’t want to be caught, I thought myself a chicken in a different location, then I was a chicken in that location. The only problem was that I still had my PCT cape on, and I couldn’t think myself without it, so I appeared by each plot as a chicken with a cape – which was just as conspicuous as if I were to walk around as myself.

The main attendant was coming and suddenly all the gardeners had a flurry of activity. He walked over to the chicken plot for an inspection, so I thought myself in a place where I would be out of his sight, but could see him. I knew him. He was one of my former bosses, and not an easy one to work for. I could also see that Alan was walking straight towards him. Bad news.

I thought myself across the field, grabbed Alan’s hand and thought us both by the door of the building, then immediately in the reception hall, in front of the concierge’s desk. “Hi, we’d like a room please?” The concierge turned to grab one of the keys on the wall behind him. He seemed haughty and European. The entire hall had that feel, with big leather sofas under draped burgundy throws, a thick hunter green carpet and lingering smell of expensive cigars. I had no desire to stay there. I felt it was urgent and imperative that we hide in our room. I thought ourselves in the stairs of the hotel, and we were instantly there – a high floor.

Then it dawned on me that this is how I had gotten there in the first place. This was the beginning of the dream in level 2 I was living. I just had started out of sequence. But I knew we’d get into that hotel room, and I’d pet his head, and I’d fall asleep on his lap, and then the loop would start again. Unless I could get out. Right then, Minou, the cat in level 1 decided to leave my arm, walk across my leg and land on my foot. I tried to move to either make room for him or kick him off the bed – because I felt he might have been facilitating what was going on -, but still I couldn’t move. This time, I didn’t fight it, I went back in, and all was dark, and I was asleep.

white-corridor

————–

That’s what happened.
Maybe I’ll write down the one from the night before when I have a chance. Much shorter, just as loopy!
No, I don’t do drugs.

How did you get so happy?

A few days ago, a dear friend of mine, who is going through some “stuff”, asked me how I got myself out of unhappiness. It’s hard to remember unhappiness when you are firmly grounded in happiness. I mean, true happiness, the one that lives inside and is not subject to circumstances. I sat on her question for a bit and tried to recall the exact steps that first led me to where I am. There is a myriad of small changes that happens when switching from unhappy-world-view to happy-world-view – entire libraries worth- but these were my first steps, in order:

0. Be miserable

I think that was my true first step. As long as life was hum-drum, comfortable or pleasant, I had no impetus for change. Because I had the strange ability to pep-talk myself with positive affirmations, I had to get pretty damn unhappy before real alchemy could occur. But, I did get there. A set of events and a relationship knocked me off my comfy ways. In the throes of a self-inflicted tragedy, I realized that the only element in the situation I could change was me. I then had to admit that I had no clue how. Smarts, strength or will power cannot clear misery. I had to become vulnerable and surrender to the misery rather then fight it with gimmicks, distractions or “composure”. I let my known world crumble away. Tabula raza. Back to knowing nothing. That’s where true change started. That part was the worst, and it felt endless, even though it really only lasted a few months.

1. Spy the monkey brain

Next, I identified the source of my misery. It wasn’t any situation or person or lacking in anything. No, it was my own thoughts. We have what Buddhists call a “monkey brain”: Incessant thoughts run through our minds every waking moment of the day, and with each an associated set of emotions. My next step was to notice my monkey brain. If I could notice it from an observer perspective, then clearly “I” was an entity outside of those thoughts. For a while, I just practiced watching my thoughts and the emotional reactions they triggered. I still felt victimized, miserable, sad, angry, outraged, etc. but I also saw the direct correlation between my thoughts and my emotions. If somebody did something “to me” when I was 7 and I was still feeling anger, resentment or hurt, the source of the pain I felt as a grown woman must have been in me, because that person, event and situation were since long gone.  Realizing it’s all an inside job helped me stay focused on myself rather than dissipate my energy in pointless blaming.

2. Drop the baggage, it’s not yours

The more I observed my thoughts, the more I began questioning them. “You’re difficult.”, “You don’t deserve it.”, “You can’t.”, “Your nose is too long.”, “You have to work hard to pay your bills.” Who was saying all this in my head??? What voice did those thoughts have? Where had I heard them before? As an observer, I discovered that most of my thoughts were actually not mine. They were thoughts I had borrowed from others – usually influential people like parents, teachers, partners, friends. Some were “common knowledge” in the society in which I grew up. This wasn’t about blaming others for my thoughts, but simply realizing they were not mine, and dropping them. This was a very unsettling part of the process for me. If I couldn’t trust anything in my own head, what could I trust? I was in limbo between worlds for a few months. But, whenever I wasn’t freaking  out with thoughts that I couldn’t trust my thoughts, I actually began to feel lighter.

3. Catch snowballs

Once I had my monkey brain under scrutiny for a while, I was able to zoom out from the individual internal dialogues/thoughts to the overarching themes/stories of my life. There are recurring themes in our thoughts. Any thought that start with “I am …”, ” I always …”, “I never …” are keys to the story we believe and tell about ourselves. I realized the story was composed of thoughts, and the thoughts were not to be trusted, so the story was just that – a story, not reality. The tricky part – and I learned this later, not when I was in the midst of getting my world dismantled – is that life has a feedback mechanism built in that validates whatever story we believe about ourselves, thereby making it look like reality. If I say “I always have bad luck.”, whether through selective perception, the law of attraction, manifestation or the will of a higher-power(the mechanism is the same regardless of our story for it) I will have bad luck, and therefore continue saying I have bad luck, which will bring more bad luck. So the trick is to see the snowball effect and stop feeding it.

4. Write your own definition

Getting out of my old story felt very freeing. I didn’t have to be any way I thought I was anymore, which really opened up opportunities. But, although I felt happier, I also felt rudderless. After everything I knew had been dismantled, I had no idea who I was, what I was doing, or if there was any point to anything. Rather than panicking, I wrote a new definition for myself. At the time, I was nowhere near feeling like I was that person, but that is who I really wished I could be. This is what I wrote:

I am grateful to have chosen to be a free-spirited woman,
a whole, complex, beautiful free-spirited woman,
driven by passions,
grounded in self-awareness and love of the Earth,
committed to the protection of said Earth,
its systems and wild places and creatures.

That’s it. I wrote it carefully, but I wrote it only once. I didn’t have to repeat it everyday like a positive affirmation. I just planted the seed and continued observing and questioning my thoughts, like pulling weeds in a garden.

Another aspect of scripting my own story was how I related to events in my life. I realized that events are just events. They are never personal. We weave stories and attach emotions to them. I began scripting stories with positive or at least compassionate twists for events in my daily life. In painful interpersonal interactions, I tried to imagine the other party’s story. It didn’t matter if their story didn’t match mine. Their reality was as real to them as mine was to me. If somebody was mean, I’d see their pain. If events were happy, I harnessed gratitude. If they weren’t, I still harnessed gratitude for the lessons given and the opportunity to grow.

This part of the process required a lot of mental discipline, and I remember being exhausted all the time. I felt there was no way I could keep it up indefinitely. But, eventually, it became second nature. Now I find silver linings before the negative emotions kick in, or very shortly after.

5. Keep at it

At some point, I realized that there was no end to this process. When I started, I figured I was “going through something”. I figured once I reached happiness on the other side, I’d be home free. And in a way, I am: I am free to continue growing. Whenever I feel like I’ve reached that buzz of happiness and all is well in the world, I find a way to trip myself and uncover a whole new layer of the growth onion. At first I was frustrated by this – I created stories about how I had come so far and learned so much and yet still wallowed in the same old painful places. Then I started over. I watched the thoughts, I found he source, I saw the story, I changed the story.

And so forth …

I’ve been at it for four years now, and it really only gets more fascinating with time. Now, I’m almost more interested in the process itself than in using the process to get out of sad/depressed/angry feelings. I understand that happiness IS our natural state. The goal is not to acquire happiness, but to clear the mud that hides it. Then eventually, the goal is not to clear the mud, but enjoy it for the experience it is, knowing that the happiness is still there, at the core, forever.

So, that’s how I started. I had lots of help on the way. I met teachers when I needed them, read books that influenced my thoughts (for the better), met others on similar paths. I pondered and questioned until my head hurt. I started down paths that just died out. I had to simplify my life, sort out friends, learn to trust my heart, follow my joy, surrender my fears, etc. Although on the outside it might seem that I have been traveling, playing, working and writing. The adventure of awakening/growing has actually been my primary activity since the first step. Everything else has been accessory –  like the stage for the play, not the play itself.

I am sure there are as many paths as there are people. I really enjoy mine, but I don’t claim it is better in any way. I can only tell my own story. If it helps others, that’s wonderful; If it doesn’t, well, I still like it.

May you find your own happiness.
XO – Roaming Bobcat.

P.S: There is a good book coming out soon on the topic. You should read it: Crazyfreebook.com 🙂

Path to happiness

 

 

 

Life without money – Lessons from the early days

… Previously, on the Roaming Bobcat:
The Bobcat, in a daring move of blind faith quits her job at Ragged Mountain. It is down to 4 yoga classes a week (averaging less than $10 a class) and one occasional nude modeling job ($50 for two hours, once a week, when available). The motivating ideas were that all needs are always covered by the Universe and that all one has to do to receive Its bountiful abundance is to follow the path of highest joy and greatest excitement.

Yep! The first week was rough, and the only real bounty was in the abundance of lessons.

First, I had to learn to watch my language. 

“I’ve quit my job so I’m pretty broke right now.” “I can’t afford it.” even “I’m broke now but I’m sure it’ll get better.” or “I’m waiting for opportunities with an open mind.” are dangerous statements.
The Universe only knows “yes”, so when I tell the story of my life this way, I’m creating more being broke, not-being-able-to-afford-it and waiting situations.

Once I realized I was attracting the wrong kind of story to myself, I switched to facts “I have left Ragged Mountain, and I currently have $26 in my account.” That’s a fact, a platonic observation; it creates nothing but more observation of a changing reality.

Even more efficient is this: “I love teaching yoga in this room. The people at the Local Grocer next door spoil me with free juices and day old scones. I love where I live and have the most awesome roommates.” All facts, but these are facts that fill my heart with gratitude, and therefore  attract more gratitude-inducing situations.

You may or may not believe in the law of attraction in the spiritual sense. But, I think you’ll agree that looking at silver linings does bring more light into one’s life than staring at the dark clouds.

Next, I learned about ego sabotage.

Our creative self (that part I call the Higher Self) is intrinsically fearless. It knows that all is well, always, exactly as it is, because everything that happens is for our greatest growth which is for the greatest good. But our experiential self (that part I call the ego), is a little bit blind down here in the earth trenches. In the Power of Now, Eckart Tolle describes the ego as a part of ourselves we need to transcend to truly live in the present now, which is the only space-time that actually exists. He’s probably right, but the trenches is where stories are born, and I loooove the stories. I don’t want to transcend my ego, she/he’s the part of me that gets to play and try and fall and learn. If I don’t transcend it, however, I have to appease it. The ego will sabotage a plan for which he/she was not consulted and with which he/she is not comfortable. She/he needs to be tamed and pacified. A business deal needs to be agreed upon.

“Look, I am going to quit my job, but don’t be scared, I have a backup plan.”
“What’s the plan?”
“I’ll borrow money from Shannon if my situation gets too dire.”
“You’ve got $26 left and your rent of $250 is due in a week. It’s dire now.”
“But, in a week I have time to earn/manifest the rest.”
“With what? Yoga? Modeling? Looking through trash cans?”
I had no answer, so I just shrugged and figured I’d show him/her that all is well, eventually.

The very next day, my truck shell was leaking so badly that I had to call someone about it. $100 for the repair, and if we pulled the bed liner out, then it’d be more. Well, I still had my last paycheck from Ragged Mountain to deposit for $119. When I got to the bank, I discovered I was not at $26, but red and under. A charge of $99 from Amazon Prime for an annual fee I knew nothing about, had no recollection of ever signing up for, and most certainly couldn’t afford had been charged, causing $60 in overdraft fees. Ego Sabotage! I had unconsciously created a reality to smack me back to “reason”.

Then, I relearned to believe in magic – again!

I left the bank with my mind in a swirl. I observed panic setting it. I had failed again. I couldn’t quit my job and simply follow my heart, see? There were consequences! Whether through what people call “real life events” or ego sabotage, I was down, smacked and under.
I drove home wide-eyed. Was I to find another job I didn’t love? Was I to hold my stance and say, “no, I will only follow my heart, damn it. I don’t care if I go broke!” Oh, but I did care. I had rent to pay, food to buy, and to add insult to injury, my fuel light came on right then.

Yes, I did notice that my odometer read 198,944 just then, and that the license plate in front of me read something-444 and that that morning I had woken up randomly at 4:44 am. I had seen so many in the past few days that I looked it up. “444 – Angels are all around you. Just ask and you shall receive.” “Where?” I said! “Where are these angels and how can they help? There is no money in angelic realm. They don’t pay rent. They don’t need food!”

I hereby raise my right hand and swear that the events I’m about to relate are true and non-exaggerated through the filter of grandiose storytelling:
I was still upset when I reached home. I immediately called the  Amazon Prime customer service number.
“Hi, my name is Angel. How can I help you today?”
“Your name is Angel!?”
“Yes, M’am, it is.”
I started crying “I need to speak with an Angel! I lost my job (okay, I lied to the angel), I had $26 left in my account (that was true), and this charge came in for $99 I don’t know for what and I was charged $60 in overdraft fees because of it and I don’t know how I am going to pay rent or buy groceries and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do! (all true, though I sounded pretty dramatic about it all – probably more than the situation warranted).
“It’s alright, don’t worry.” The Angel said gently, “I can reverse the charge. In fact I’ll do it right now … There, it’s all back in your account. You might have signed up for it on accident, but our system is not set up yet to send reminder warnings about the upcoming charge. I’m happy to reverse the charge for you. Does that help?”
“Yes, a little bit. But what about the overdraft fees?”
“I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do about those, unfortunately. You will have to speak to the bank about those, but I’m sure it will all work out.”
She really did sound like an angel. I thanked her for her kindness and patience and called the bank.
“Hi, this is Angela, how may I help you?” – seriously!!

Because I was in good standing, the overdraft fee could be canceled, but only partially. I took the part that could not be canceled as the fee for that lesson.
So, that brought my account to $6.00. At least, I was out of the red.

Then, I had to learn to receive gracefully.

Oh, this one was a potent, important lesson. I have been on the giving end so often that I had taken it for granted that this was my position in life. I had never considered how difficult it would be on the other end. I call the other end “receiving” now because I have grown, but a few weeks ago, I called it “taking”.

“You are okay taking money from people!!?” one of my ex-coworker said disapprovingly when I shared that my backup plan was to borrow money from a friend.

Society conditions us to believe that it is morally wrong to accept help. If you are not self-sufficient, you are a mooch, a burden, a lesser-being.

Even worse, if you are a happy person following your heart – i.e. having fun with life – then you are not deserving of help. We are raised with stories like the Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper.

IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

  “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

“IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”

Well, I say, Grasshoppers unite!! What kind of society only values toiling and moiling? Is there no benefit to the community in the songs and joy of a grasshopper?  I say toiling and moiling is the easy way out, but it takes guts to choose the path of joy.

Luckily, Shannon agreed with my views. Just when I was down and under, sunk by the self-sabotage of my frazzled ego, $300 magically appeared in my bank account. That sum came with a lecture, but the lecture was nothing like that of the ant or other real people I have known. Shannon’s lecture spoke of friendship, true friendship, the kind that picks you up when you are down and applauds your flight when you are up. “You can’t always be on the giving end.” She said, “If you want abundance to flow, you have to be able to receive gracefully, and give others the opportunity to experience giving.”

The next day, I found a man who could fix the leak in my shell for $30 – In fact he fixed my entire shell, windows, outside seals and rusted locks for $60. A friend gave me gas money in exchange for a ride. I gathered enough fresh organic veggies to last the week by working on a farm. Two of my yoga students tipped me in addition to the regular fees, and today, I won a whole stack of superfood powders with a raffle ticket (which I got for free). The more I receive gracefully, the more magic comes my way.

What an exciting incarnation! So much to learn down here in the delicious earth trenches. I leave you here, before this story gets too long. Next week, if I have time to write, I’ll tell you about abundance, and how I learned that it has nothing to do with money.

 

cornucopia thanksgiving cornu copiae or horn of plenty is a symbol of abundance

 

XO – Mel.
Thank you for visiting. 🙂