Thursday, November 12


As I sit here and look out over the river, the leaves, confetti-like in their enthusiasm to jump from the trees, fall to the ground to their final sleep. Like faithful followers drinking the poison punch, leaf after leaf falls with the turning of the wind. Soon the trees will stand naked, sleeping too, in a temporary sort of daze until the warm winds come again, next year.

Winter - the "thinning of the veil," a time when nature perfects the concept of minimalism. In the winter there is nothing blatantly grabbing your attention with a myriad of colors and wings like the flowers and insects of the other months. In the winter you have to look for it, search it out. The stillness becomes much more magnified in the winter. It magnifies and stretches and yells and screams beyond our wildest imagination -- if we can hear it. We can hear it. With the passing of every age the veil grows thinner.

My grandmother carried herself with passion, determination and an acidic bitterness for life that compares to meeting a rattlesnake face to face in the mid-day heat of a Texas August afternoon. As her memory slipped away she became more complacent, happier in her daily life,if only because she could no longer remember the travails of those who trespassed against her.

The veil had thinned. As she grew closer to the end of her life, memory or no memory, worldly importances faded and she delighted more in abstract joy without the need to magnify the darknesses she perceived around her. As the veil thinned she let more light into her life. Just as the leaves jump from the trees, thus allowing more light between the branches - thinning the veil, and thinning and thinning until it is no more.

Wednesday, September 23

Cleanse Day #7

Eating kitcherie and drinking lots of water. Meditated today at 2:45 before picking Ruby up from school. These little things are making a huge difference. It really works! Going to try to be in bed by 9PM. I'm off.

Tuesday, September 22

Cleanse Day #6

Dr. Gregg sent me an updated version of the TLC smoothie for this time of year.  He suggests one in the morning and another in the afternoon if you need an afternoon snack.
The recipe for the Late Summer Green Drink that reflects some of these Seasonal modifications is:

1-2 scoops Hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon plain kefir
1-2 cups soy or rice milk ( naturally sweetened ) 
1 teaspoon of Udo's choice or other balanced 3-6-9 omega oil
1 tablespoon green powder
1 teaspoon chavanprash powder or jam
1/4 cup blueberries and or 1/2 ripened banana 
1 cup of pomegranate , pear or plain water 
jane b

Monday, September 21

Cleanse Day #5

  In Ayurvedic medicine the digestive tract is the heart of the physical body.  Everything is digested -- what we read, eat, smell, feel, see -- everything that our senses deal with.  Food is fuel. Food from groceries, and also what we bring into all of our senses, including the sixth sense -- the mind.  There is a lot here to digest (no pun intended). After three days of green smoothies and falling off the food wagon only to finish the evening off with a cup of miso soup, I had to get something substantial in my belly. In Ayurveda, as in Spain, France, Italy and so on, the noon meal is the most important event of the day. It should be big and there should be rest afterward.

So, today I got into the real meat (in a vegetarian sense of the word) of the Ayurvedic cleanse -- kitcherie. I'm not sure what the real definition of kitcherie is but I can describe it and you can go from there.  Kitcherie involves boiling some variety of mung dal (bean), steaming some rice, sauteing some veggies in ghee (clarified butter) and making a chaunce of herbs (sauteing herbs in ghee to open the flavors -- it's like an herb sauce - fabulous!)

I boiled some small little round green mung beans. I've never made them before, I usually use the red lintels (they are actually yellow). They have the best flavor to me. I also steamed some rice in the steamer and added a tablespoon of ghee and lots of shakes of tumeric.  I love, love, love tumeric rice.  When the beans were done in about an hour- fifteen I added the steamed rice and mixed them together like rice and beans.

I sauteed yellow squash, carrots, collard greens, and added some of the butternut squash I baked the night before.  I did not cook them very long.  While they were sauteing I made a chaunce of black mustard seeds, dried cilantro, and fresh ground corriander with a dash of Celtic sea salt. To make a chaunce let the ghee heat and then add the spices. Very quickly you will smell them, that is their flavors opening up. Then you can pour this into the veggies.

I served the veggies on a bed of the mung dal and tumeric rice. I may have added a little chicken broth to the veggies to help them steam. I'm not a vegetarian, I just eat like one.  I topped it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a touch of the crunchy sea salt. Viola! Se magnifique!

Words cannot describe how good this food makes me feel. It is the ultimate comfort food, better than mashers and gravy -- even Granny Pearl's gravy.

Sunday, September 20

Cleanse Day #4

A few weeks ago Miki Gabbard and I agreed to meet here at the ranch at noon to discuss and sample some of her delicious breakfast items that will soon be on our breakfast menu. We scheduled this meeting before I committed to the cleanse and at the time had no consideration of any kind of cleanse. My only consideration was for our overnight guests here at the ranch to have a tasty  breakfast. So much for discipline.

(starting October 10th)

Breakfast Nacho - a pastry, much like a danish pastry, one is topped with goat cheese and herbs the other with jarlsberg and green chilis.

Breakfast Empanada - An empanada stuffed with egg and cheese, served with creme fraiche

Breakfast Tamale Tart - A tamale tart with chicken and corn served with salsa

Morning Glory Muffins and honey butter with pecans

Homemade Gluten Free Granola Bars

To make up for my delicious lunch of these savory treats, I finished the night off with big bowl of miso soup stocked with collard greens (wakame substitute in the country), tofu (yes, they have tofu at Wal-Mart here now), and carrots.  I will also take a handful of probiotics and a couple of triphala to keep my digestion in tact and have a nightcap of ginger tea.

Saturday, September 19

Cleanse Day #3

Routine is something that I always shunned until Ruby Jane came along.  Routine, how boring, how predictable.  Yet I've learned that there is also something very primal about routine.  Circadian rhythms are real, not just poetry in an R.E.M. song.  There is a very real connection between the moon and tides and a woman's cycle. As there is about the changing seasons.

So it is in this cleanse that the morning routine is both comforting and very powerful in a supporting the body kind of way.  The first thing I do before I get out of bed is an exercise called the 5 pranas meditation and then alternate nostril breathing.  Then I get out of bed and do the Five Tibetan Rights.  The exercises is one area where a weekend retreat to kick off the cleanse comes in handy because these exercises are very detailed but when practiced just a few times are very easy to pick up.

A cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice right of the bat in the morning is one of the best things for me, setting the tone for my day.  It gets the whole body moving - quick. It's better than coffee to get things going. Seriously. It sounds very simple and sometimes its the simplest things that make the biggest difference.  After that there is 2-4 cups of distilled water, distilled water flushes out the toxins that have gathered in the night. There is also tounge scraping, neti pot, dry brushing, and abayanga or annointing the body with oil. 

 With the distilled water I take 4 probiotics and 2 triphala (an ayurvedic herb for digestion). Then I make a smoothing of kefir, udo's oil, blueberries or strawberries that I bought fresh recently and froze them, some acai juice, unfiltered apple juice, hemp protein, and greens powder. That's breakfast. Yum. I'm set for the day.

Friday, September 18

Cleanse Day #2

Okay! I admit it. Day #2 and I fell off the wagon, well, my pinkie toe and maybe a couple of other toes fell off. I took Ruby Jane to a birthday party and that greasy pizza looked so good. I resisted the bread, the cheese and the sauce and then popped the pepperoni's in my mouth without a care in the world. I reasoned that Ruby was not going to eat them (she only likes cheese on her pizza) and coming from the Depression, or at least the Depression mentality passed down through our generations, I cannot imagine throwing away perfectly good pepperoni.

Later on in the kitchen after being offered pizza, cupcakes, wine, and beer - which I all turned down (insert clapping and back patting here) I partook in two buffalo wings -- minus the sauce -- I turned down ranch, blue cheese, AND the butter Tabasco hot wings sauce.

Restaurant food is not on the cleanse, a light dinner with protein is. I figured the two balanced each other out so I ate guilt free. Speaking of guilt, eating in a state of guilt or any other emotion besides pure joy is much more harmful to you than eating the greasiest food or the sugariest.

On the way home from the birthday party we stopped off at a friend's house. Dave, a traditionalist when it comes to after work cocktails, made his best offer, "Can I make you a martini?" he said.  I told him about the cleanse. "You're always on a cleanse," he said, "you just need to live a little, you're body's too sensitive. Have a drink already."

"I'd love some water," I told him.

Dave's wife Allison and I drank water as Dave sipped his martini. We finished out the evening  listening to old vinyl -- The Police's first album, Outlandos de Amour, both sides, and then The Pretenders first album, one of the best debut albums ever - a scratchy, crunchy ode to British punk. The music cleansed my soul.

Thursday, September 17

Cleanse Day #1

With all this media hoopla about obesity and diabetes, it's pretty amazing what one full day of eating grains and vegetables can do to the body.  I can see how people would think, "I get sick when I eat lots of veggies." My response is..."of course you do." When you've been eating out a lot and eating lots of food with preservatives and very little greens or veggies, there is going to be a period of 1 to 5 days depending on the situation in your own digestive tract that is going to seem like it's the food that is making you sick.
It's exactly like a drug user coming off the drugs. There is stuff in the preservative food -- they're called preservatives -- that have to come out and they are not going to go lightly, if you know what I mean.  There will be many trips and sometimes uncomfortable trips to the loo.
I'm not saying this is happening to me now, but I'm not saying it hasn't happened in the past.  I can definitely say I have seen an improvement in my overall physical, mental, and digestive bodies since I began these cleanses -- emotional and spiritual too.

There are a series of morning, afternoon, and evening rituals. This cleanse is very detail oriented. The thing I like is that Dr. Gregg says, "If you are the type of person that has to do 100% of everything, then only do 75% of the daily routine. If you are someone that only gives 50% then bump it up a little." This cleanse is all about getting out of your comfort zone, changing the way you feel.  I'll go over the daily ritual tomorrow.
Namaste Ya'll

Wednesday, September 16

Total Life Cleanse

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Total Life Cleanse

One thing that is missing from my fall line up is Ayurvedic doctor, Kevin Gregg's, Total Life Cleanse (TLC). It's a cleanse created by Dr. Gregg and one of his collegues, Dr. Jonathan Glass when they worked together a few years ago in Boston. It's not a cleanse in a box, it is exactly what it says - total life. It starts with the premise that, "nothing new can come into existence until space is created for it." This fall, starting today, I am embarking on a solo journey into this intricately detailed yet truly life changing experience.

The basis of the cleanse is the cultivation of prana or qi, life force energy. Every part of this cleanse from the food, to the exercises, to the media cleanse is designed to create space for more prana and more instances of bringing prana consciously into your own body. The media cleanse is one of the more powerful parts of the cleanse. To be mindful of every nano piece of information and emotion you allow into your body was very hard for me at first. I don't care for coffee in the morning (not on the cleanse), but I love me some NPR when I drive home from taking Ruby to school. That one week a year ago made quite an impact on me. It's taken a whole year to sink in yet I remember it now in the mornings that school is back in session. Sometimes I choose another station and other times I play no music at all, only the silence or the occasional window down with the morning air/prana/wind blowing through the car. Last year's media cleanse planted the seeds that created the space for me to have another experience in the mornings besides NPR. This is just one example of how TLC has changed my life.

For the next two weeks I will blog everyday about the TLC and my experiences doing the cleanse by myself, which I have never done before. I plan on hosting a TLC for the spring and getting Dr. Gregg out here to the ranch for private sessions with people and to teach the Ayurvedic basis of the cleanse.

Monday, August 31

Holy Basil!

Green! Green is the word this August. I have never seen my garden so green this time of year. I took pictures this morning in a cool 68 degree breeze. Most of what you see in this photo is Tulsi Holy Basil. I love the Tulsi. It is my tea of choice in the fall, so many powerful antioxidants, lots of love. It is the holy basil, after all.

I bought ONE holy basil from Boudreau's Herb Farm last summer. I never planted it proper. I left it in a plastic pot and looked at it with guilt every time it seeded or I was in the garden in a hurry, too much of a hurry to pluck a few fresh leaves off and brew them up. Then it died. It was the end of the summer or sometime in the fall. I had given up on it, the guilt of it consumed me until I quit watering it so I could forget about it.

As spring awakened I realized nothing had changed between me and that pot. The pot still held a skelton of holy basil twigs and I still felt guilt. So I started watering it and talking to it, telling it how much I loved to drink Holy Basil tea and that if it bloomed I'd even try it chilled rather than the traditional hot tea. I told it how I'd make tea every day if I needed to and I'd keep a pitcher in the refridgerator for Jimmy and Ruby Jane. I told it how I'd add some agave nectar and how good it would taste ice cold with agave nectar. I had a whole monologue for this potted planter full of dirt and dead twigs.

I visited my parents in June. Mom had a beautiful holy basil in her garden. She gave it to without me asking. I drove it home the six hours from Galveston, watching it wilt the whole way. I talked to it, told it how beautiful it was there in the passengers seat, gave it water and air conditioning. I even put the front seat belt on it. By the time I got it in the ground I was not sure if it would make it.

By mid summer, no holy basil. I asked Joanne Boudreau one day how holy basil was doing this season, maybe it was a bad season for the plant and I had not heard that yet. She told me it was coming in late this year and not to worry, it would make a grand entrance into my garden.

By the end of July the plastic pot had not sprouted one plant but many. Weeding the dirt one day I realized I was pulling up Holy Basil!
"Holy &*^*&^" I said. "It's holy basil!"

I am abundant in the Holy Basil and will begin harvesting soon for tea, giving the seeds away to anyone who wants to grow this wonderful plant.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 13

Moving Mountains #60

What is faith? What does it look like, smell like, and feel like? These were the questions I asked sixty days ago as I set out with my archaeology cap to excavate faith.

So what is it? To me, faith is trust in my inner compass. I think of nature, full of life and vibrant energy. There's no pontificating, no didactic cynicism in the natural world. There is only instinct man! Pure, wild, split-second instinct is the key to survival. That is the realm of faith.

My MO for years was to think it through. Whatever it was, I was going to think it through until I had talked myself out of it. There was very little action and the things I did accomplish were done in a sticky, gooey feeling - almost as if I was stuck in taffy. Nothing came easy, every job, every duty was a passionless chore. I had no faith and trusted my mind and my book knowledge to lead me.

The birds, the hawks, the dogs, the horses, the garden, the river - these are my daily reminders easier to let go of the intellect, to stop comparing what happened in the past to what might happen in the future. To not listen to my mind that tells me that if I don't constantly weigh my past and future then I am somehow unsafe.

My plan is to keep on with my plan, to trust my intuition and let faith and grace manifest spontaneously, which it will, through my trust in the process.

Wednesday, August 12

Moving Mountains #59

“Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a confession of failures”

Oscar Wilde

This quote reminds me of that Paul McCartney quote:
"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." In the end the faith you take is equal to the faith you make. In the end the consistency you take is equal to the consistency you take. I think Wilde was right, our connection to our faith has a big play on our emotions, where we place our faith, our support - in ourselves or in others, inside our self with our own spirit or outside ourselves with an omniscient God.

I looked for a quote that spoke of both faith and consistency as these have been my topics for the last 60 days. This quote bespeaks the humanness of us as a species, despite our natural perfection and its accompanying amnesia. It also speaks of the drill sergeant in my head who aims at some sort of robotic perfection "I will have big faith and be forever consistent never swaying from my goal." The sergeants stern manner and inability to apply the Buddhist principles of abandoning suffering fulfills Wilde's prediciton.

Anyone who knows me knows that I grappled with faith for years and now spend more time grappling with the latter. Overall, I like what Wilde says but I'm not crazy about the word failure, it's so 19th century. I prefer to think of it as a "confession of egos" or a "confession of humanness." Still, it's a beautiful quote. And that's coming from someone who until recently could not stand to make mistakes.

Tuesday, August 11

Moving Mountains #58

It's been raining a lot this August, more than I remember in a while. The garden, such a great metaphor for the f word, faith, that I'm wrapping up on blogging about. I always thought that nothing grew in Texas in August, yet this summer my garden is green and tall. Sure, a few things have died off, the giant leaves of the zucchini have shriveled and gone on. The cantaloupe bore two delicious fruits and faded, the arugula - once wild and free has passed on. The tomatoes, peppers, and basil still thrill.

So, water. Water. Water. Water. It helps when it's coming from the sky and not the faucet. Also, I've worked to temper the slope in my garden to help the water go down instead of out. I will continue to do that next year and it will help the garden to grow stronger. The other, very important aspect that I always underestimated is the soil. Every year I see my plants grow stronger as I improve the soil, till it, move it, add stuff to it. All of these garden factors are only worth their weight until you add love. It is the affection and attention to the soil, the exchange with my garden that brings me joy and that reflects in the growth of the plants. What a lesson my third year of gardening has been. It gets better and stronger every year, just like me.

Monday, August 10

Moving Mountains #57

Corn! The corn is high in the garden. This is my proof of faith for the day.

I never realized how tall corn is, I've only seen it from my car window or at the least 10 feet away. To stand in front of a corn stalk is pretty wonderful. Some are 6 feet tall. The have sprouted at the top and a few are flowering corn out of their sides. It feels like such a feat. To think that a couple of months ago I stuck some corn kernels in the ground and now they've made numerous corn kernels. It's abundance in action.

Most of the corn I planted came from some of that beautiful decorative corn that you buy at harvest to look festive during the fall. It came in many colors, some black kernels, some a deep crimson red, and others were a marble of red, black and yellow. The fun is going to be opening each husk and finding out what's inside.I wait like a kid at Christmas, outside my garden door. Yet I have patience. I know they are not ready and I want them to be gorgeous at harvest. Indeed, the concept of harvest is becoming more than the title of a classic, rooted, and much enjoyed album.

Sunday, August 9

Moving Mountains #56

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, August 8

Moving Mountains #55


Exchange is something we practice everyday, whether it's exchanging money at a store for good, exchanging hugs and kisses with the ones we love, exchanging phone numbers with old and new friends. What is behind that exchange? Is it pure love, maybe sometimes dread, hope, or faith. The only way to expand into our greatest vision of ourselves and open our hearts to the abundance of love available to us is through relationship with others, we are not islands, we can not do it alone, we must practice through our relationships.

A few months ago I began blessing every monetary exchange - every check, every dollar, every credit transaction - before I handed it over or mailed it out. I allowed my heart to well up with joy and gratitude, thankful for having the money to spend and grateful to whomever the money was going to for the blessings their service provided whether they were bills, incidentals, or charitable. I didn't realize until I started doing this how different it felt to practice grateful exchange from how I had done it in the past. Most of my spending was done in a state of dread which cultivated and expanded an already present fear around not having enough. That's when retail therapy would set in, I "owed it to myself," to spend some money on things I wanted. It was my moment of permission, not gratitude, but a self-indulgent fleeting pleasure to spend. That's when I would tell myself, "see you do have enough!" Yet when the bills arrived the guilt set in.

Practicing grateful exchange with money helped me off the fear/guilt merry-go-round. Exchange can be applied to everything. How do you think Jesus turned the water into wine? I one particular study, there's a book but I can't remember the author's name. He blessed water and looked at it under a microscope, then he cursed it and looked again, he also said different words like "dragonfly" and "peace." The results are stunning. He has a book with all the pictures. If anyone can remember his name please let me know. It also works on food (say your grace!) and plants (they love classical music, remember this from the 1970's?)

Friday, August 7

Moving Mountains #54

Faith is an oasis in the heart
which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking.

~ Kahlil Gibran ~

Thursday, August 6

Moving Mountains #53

When you come to the edge of all the light you have,
and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,
faith is knowing one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid to stand on,
or you will be taught how to fly.

~ Patrick Overton ~

Like an anchor securing its ship to the bottom of the ocean, I felt it. Like jumping into a swimming pool and just letting my body sink to the bottom, knowing I'm not going to drown. The feeling that I have a universal guide and am "employed by the universal bank," as David Elliott says, grows every day. The more I write, the more I practice my faith, a faith that has nothing to do with religion, the more I hold space for others to breathe the active meditation, the stronger my faith grows. I am learning to trust the process. I am having fun with it. All of it. And I am flying.

Wednesday, August 5

Moving Moutains #52

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't. ~Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, August 4

Moving Mountains #51

Faith and doubt both are needed - not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve. ~Lillian Smith

This is the first instance that I have ever seen where doubt is not considered a negative. I love this. I can now embrace doubt as a positive, as long as I keep in check and balanced with faith.

Monday, August 3

Moving Mountains #50

Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch. ~Ramona C. Carroll

I love this quote because it derives from one of those old adages that we are told as kids that turns out to not be true - in fact, it's the exact opposite of what we are told. DO put all your eggs in one basket, just not YOUR basket. I'm still working on the count them before they hatch thing...that's the REAL work. It's in trusting.

Sunday, August 2

Moving Mountains #49

This is my first Jewish wedding. I am overcome by the depth of the tradition, the strength of families and friends that share the tight bond of their faith. Christians do not have the same experience, there are so many different kinds of Christians, sure there are different groups of Jews, but at the heart, so many of their rituals are the same. It was a beautiful and beloved service of two wonderful people who found each other after their children have flown the nest. Weddings are such wonderful statements of the endurance of love, friendship, and family.

Saturday, August 1

Moving Mountains #48

Faith is a passionate intuition. ~William Wordsworth

We're in Denver for a wedding. Weddings are so wonderful, such a great time of joy and faith. I love this quote by Wordsworth - passionate intuition - unyielding, unquestioning intuition. Faith is all action, there is no wiggle room.

Friday, July 31

Moving Mountains #47

Faith is spiritualized imagination. ~Henry Ward Beecher

This is one of my favorite quotes. I'm amazed when four little words can come together so succinctly and bam! This one says it all. I'm off to Denver for the weekend.

Thursday, July 30

Moving Mountains # 46

“I no longer seek any perfection from my own efforts…but only the perfection that comes from faith and is from God…We who are called perfect must all think in this way” (Philippians 3:9,15).

This is one of those quotes that makes me go, "Oh yeah! I forgot again. Thanks for the reminder." One of my teachers Tashi Nyima says, "Relax into your natural perfection." He says it in a baritone voice with a Puerto Rican accent and tinge of South India as he spent many years there. It is one of the most beautiful and relaxing voices I have ever heard. "Clear the windshield of your mind and relax into your natural perfection."

Natural perfection, faith, means we don't have to do anything. Like telling the fastidious housewife to put down her dishtowel, that she has the day off, that she must trust that the work will get done or at least will still be there when she gets back. Because natural perfection is about being at peace in every moment, releasing attachment from feeling like, "I have to get this done now!" This is one of the hardest areas for me. It's an old pattern, it jolts me back into the victim mentality of, "if I don't do this who will?"

Success for me when I am in a moment where I forget my natural perfection, is when I do break the chains of my own making and put the proverbial dish towel. If I can release from the grip of the victim, lie down on the floor for 5 minutes and breathe, then I can remember my natural perfection. For me, most of the time, it's about finding humor in whatever I thought was so serious a few moments ago. That's where keeping the faith is for me. It's in the recharge.

Wednesday, July 29

Moving Mountains #45

Walking from my house to the ranch house the other day I almost tripped over a snake on the sidewalk in front of me. I never realized before how I walk looking straight down. I'm not sure if I do it all the time. I don't think I do it when I walk in the city. Here, though, I look straight down.

He was big, about four feet long, four and half, and thick, round. Jimmy and Ruby were there too. It was a water moccasin, a pit viper, a fat, lethargic (thank God) pit viper. Jimmy sent him back to his maker after saying a prayer over him. I covered Ruby's eyes. Such is the life of a farm girl.

What the snake taught me in the days since, is to keep my head up, to look out over the yard, the grass, past the trees. To not be so myopic, to see the bigger picture, to soak it all in.

Thank you scary snake.

I noticed that when my blinders are on and my vision is as small as a pea, I have a hard time mustering anything of myself for faith, there is just not enough room in my brain, my body does not have enough energy to support it. Yet, when I have the big view, it come in naturally. The big view welcomes faith automatically. I am very grateful to the snake for this lovely reminder.

Tuesday, July 28

Moving Mountains #44

Did I say spa day? It's spa week. Women are coming in for the rest of the week for these wonderful treatments. Tonight Dr. Gonzales gave a talk on all of the clinical aromatherapy products she makes. She explained a little bit about the autonomic nervous system. It has two parts: the sympathetic nervous system which operates on "fight or flight" it's what we use during the day to make decisions and live in our busy lives. After work, though, when the day is done, it is our parasympathetic nervous system that needs to take over. The parasympathetic systems job is, "rest and digest." So often we don't shift into rest and digest after work and then we just lie there in bed staring up at the ceiling and wondering why we have insomnia.

The clinical aromatherapy products are oils gathered from the first pressing of the flower. You only need one drop of oil - to smell it and then put it on your body - adrenal oil over your kidneys, immune oil on your throat and so on. These oils are different from the tinctures you buy at the grocery store which smell good but are the second or third pressing and do not have the medicinal qualities. I have been using her regime of flower oil blends for a couple of years now through Barbara the facialist, even though I just met Maria. Since I started my routine two years ago with the oils I have not gotten a sinus infection. I used to get them at the start of every season and then usually in the middle of the season too.

These oils address the parasympathetic nervous system, sending little messages to our bodies that they are supported, that they can rest and be ready and rejuvenated for tomorrow. That it can have faith in us, that we will take care of it, that when we push it into overdrive during the day, we will bring it back in the evening and tuck it in tight and kiss it goodnight.

Monday, July 27

Moving Mountains #43

It's spa day at the ranch. My dream of having facials and bodywork here on a consistent basis is coming to fruition. Barbara gives amazing clinical grade aromatherapy facials. Dr. Gonzales is here too. She makes all the products that Barbara uses in her facials so they are fresh and seasonal. Dr. Gonzales also does an energetic chiropractic adjustment that releases stuck emotions in the body. I'm receiving this treatment in less than an hour so I'll report back. It's all coming to fruition. My faith in myself, in the ranch, and in our dream grows stronger every day. Now, off to the spa!

Sunday, July 26

Moving Mountains #42

Prana is the life force that moves through the body on the breath. Prana literally means, first movement. It is the most subtle form of movement. Love is the first form. Thus, prana is the physical movement of love in the body. That's right! Love moves on prana.

Prana moves into the heart carrying love on its breath. It then distributes love to the rest of the cells in the body. When we are breathing smoothly without constriction the power of love is feeding every cell of our being.

It's just another beautiful example of faith at work every day.

Saturday, July 25

Moving Mountains #41

Prana Karma is one of the most beautiful rituals I have ever experienced. I spent the whole day in a group with my Suddha Ayurveda teacher Tashi Nymai. We learned to perform this beautiful meditation on ourselves and to offer it to others. It reminded me that many times when we get too IN this world, rather than OF it, we get constricted. This is when doubt sets in, when faith is difficult to grasp.

Prana Karma restores the prana of one's body into balance. In the session that was performed on me I fell down the rabbit hole into a deep delta-level sleep for 10 minutes and woke up completely rejuvenated. It's not much different than a pranayama breathing session in that they both create openings in the nadis or energy points in the body. Both are prana regulating therapies (I do not like to use the word therapies but will use it just this once as it is late and I am sleepy.) So if anyone out there has a better word than therapy please let me know. The word is old and outdated. I no longer desire to use the term "yoga therapist," or "healing therapies." There must be some other word to describe it.

Friday, July 24

Moving Mountains #40

Bumblebees remind me that all it ever takes is faith. I found a big fat bumblebee on my doorstep (no longer moving). She had the portliest body and the most gossamer wings - a true miracle of aerospace engineering.

Thursday, July 23

Moving Mountains #39

I'm holding on. My body's doing a really good job of holding on to some old, old, memories and resentments. Forgiveness takes patience in my case. I'm holding on to my faith today but must sit in this human skin that still desires to feel pain and suffering for another day until I get the relief I seek.

Wednesday, July 22

Moving Mountains #38

There was a time when faith conjured up for me a shot of hope followed by a swill of anticipated dread and despair. The hope was an attempt to grasp the present moment. The dread and despair byproducts of grasping the negative memories of the past and projecting them into the future. As a result my mind often disconnected from my body. I eventually identified the feeling -- it was like a balloon that has been let go and was floating away into space.

Faith can still be illusive. In those moments of feeling overwhelmed I fall into old patterns of being the victim and not being good enough. A foggy haze creeps around my head and body, intoxicating that part of me that longs for the familiar, no matter how painful.

That's where grounding becomes so important. There are healthy, conscious ways of grounding. Many of them can also become comforting to the point of addiction. Food can be very grounding, a bath, sex, a massage, exercise, yoga -- anything that plugs you into your "real world", the one that you are consciously making for yourself that is comforting and supportive of your freedom. Just remember the golden rule -- Everything in moderation...including moderation.

I left Mineral Wells last Friday with a sore throat. While in Austin, most of my time was spent in my pj's laying around -- when I was not in circle with the breath. It was one of the most relaxing weekends in a while -- not my normal way of being. I usually have the mind set of, "it's summer, shouldn't we be outside!" Just because it's 100 degrees outside does not mean I need to go outside, to go swimming. With the sore throat I opted out of all outside activity. Staying inside gave me a different perspective and brought me back into a more relaxed and refreshed place. It was a very grounding weekend and it made me more present with my faith around many aspects of my life.

Find the activities that ground you, that give you comfort, that feed your soul. Use them wisely and they will reward you with a strong sense of security and well being.

Tuesday, July 21

Moving Moutains #37

Here's an excerpt from The Reluctant Healer on faith:

"Faith comes from a support system of prior action and results, and it can be a recognition that the moment of change is upon you and you have the fortitude to take the leap. I believe in '20/20 vision' faith, rather than in blind faith. If you do the work, faith will not only follow, but it will lead you and be rock solid."
David Elliott

Monday, July 20

Moving Mountains #36

What does reality mean for you? Does your idea of reality support your faith?

When you say, "Well, back to reality!" Does that mean you are turning off your computer and setting up your meditation space for some down time? Does it mean you are telling the person you are on the phone with that it's your scheduled daily time for painting or water coloring?

I can still get stuck in my made-up world of being a mom, a wife, a business owner, a healer, and all those other labels that define me to others. It's a great life, one I created through the choices I made one brick at a time. The deal with it, though, is that it is transient and telling myself that this is my reality is looking at my life with tunnel vision.

The real world is that one that is never changing. It's the well I must go to for source, for rejuvenation. It is the moments in-between, when my mind is in neutral and my breath is feeding my soul. This is the power of meditation.

Whether God is your co-pilot or Dog is your co-pilot, what does your reality look like? Is it in the world that is of your making, your choices, the ever-changing daily routine, chores, and todos? If so, can you see a relationship between the ever changing nature of this world and any feelings of being overwhelmed that you have or any chaotic energies that you may be unconsciously taking on?

So the next time you say, "back to the real world," and you say it in a tone that automatically has the word "damnit" at the end without even saying it, quickly switch your image of "real world," to something you enjoy -- and then have a big old laugh at yourself for being so serious and pretending to have so little faith.

Sunday, July 19

Moving Mountains #35

Easing into Sunday.
Here's a beautiful quote for the day:

Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them. BLAISE PASCAL

Saturday, July 18

Moving Mountains #34

Is there a place within you that could use a little faith today?

Why is faith so hard to grasp?
Faith takes imagination. Expanding into that playful place within us that dares to dream big. Ruby's five-year-old imagination sings with the wind and dreams with the whales. As she sheds her early childhood years and gains language skills, I can see her mind grasping more and more concepts as concrete. As this happens I watch little Ruby morph into a whole new girl with a whole new sense of imagination and I pray she holds on to it.

For any kid, socialization through school also plays a big role in detachment from childhood imagination. As this happens it's easy for children who later become adults to poo-poo imagination for "reality." Thus, cultivating imagination can be a delicate balance with a five or six year old.

Trusting our imagination as adults is hard at first. For many of us, it seems so childish to let our mind wander and roam. Yet wandering and roaming are key elements in becoming stress free. When our mind relaxes our bodies relax. Give yourself five minutes with your imagination today and see where it takes you.

Friday, July 17

Moving Mountains #33

Here's a short and sweet mnemonic for faith on this lovely Friday night. This poem by Emily Dickinson sums up volumes written on the subject. Enjoy!

Faith -- is the Pierless Bridge
Supporting what We see
Unto the Scene that We do not --
Too slender for the eye

It bears the Soul as bold
As it were rocked in Steel
With Arms of Steel at either side --
It joins -- behind the Veil

To what, could We presume
The Bridge would cease to be
To Our far, vacillating Feet
A first Necessity.

Thursday, July 16

Moving Mountains #32

One of my favorite things about living in a small town is live music in the garden. Everybody comes out for it. It's the one time in the summer where you can catch up with other small town denizens - who's been to Disneyland, who's been to Colorado, who's on leave, who's going on a cruise - the outdoor live music venue, be it the Famous Water Company like tonight or Clark Gardens Botanical Park earlier in the summer, is the heartbeat of our small town.

Where Clark Gardens has their snow cones, the Famous Water Company has its ice cream. Mint chocolate chip in a cup is the first thing Ruby asked for when we got there. She finished it before we got outside and claimed our table and chairs on the patio lit by strands of white light.

About an hour and a cold beer into the music Ruby came up to me and said, "I just saw the most awesome thing ever! It was a cone with one scoop of mint chocolate chip and ANOTHER scoop of chocolate, one the same cone! Can I have one please?" She said as she looked sideways and batted her eyelashes.

I didn't say yes, and I didn't say no. I told her to go inside and ask if she could have a sample, a taste, of it. "Describe it to them exactly as you did to me," I told her. I was pretty confident she would not get it because she had no money. Mother's can be so naive.

Five year-olds can be extremely persuasive as evidenced by my next sight. She walked out the door with a full two scoops, the biggest ice cream that I've ever seen her with, and she even shared it.

The point is that she knew all along she was going to get it. She had that air about her. She knew what she wanted, she visualized it, then she materialized it. The whole scene was a beautiful example of faith and the confidence of inner knowing. Because when it comes to ice cream and children we're talking about two things that seem meant for each other.

Wednesday, July 15

Moving Mountains #31

Recent medical research has shown that believing in a cure leads to real bodily changes. When the body is given a placebo the brain opens opiate receptors and releases pain-reducing chemicals. Thus, it is the act of believing, not what you believe that puts the wheels in motion for you affecting your own change. All you have to do is believe.

For years I refused to believe. It sounded so sappy and unreal. What was I believing in? A white-robed man in the sky? Believing in good over bad just out of sheer hope that it was true? Believing in happily ever after? I felt I had to protect my heart by not believing.

Through the breathing meditation I have shed much armor from my heart, it continues to shed, though I never know exactly when that is going to happen. I just keep breathing and opening to my abundance, to the gratitude I have in my life for my family and my gifts and experiences. I hold space for my body so that when it is ready to release old memories and emotions I am there to assist in its moving. As I clear space in my mind through the meditation and weed out the untruths, there is more space for believing, for faith.

The more I practice believing from the inside out -- in myself, and also in Christ, Mary, the angels, saints, and a myriad of other healers -- believing in them working through me, the stronger my immune system becomes, the stronger my faith becomes.

Tuesday, July 14

Moving Mountains #30

Today is day 30 of my 60 Days of Faith. Yay! I made it to the half way mark. Consistency feels good. The value in doing this every day is that I'm to the point when I sit down that I think, "I've done this every day, what else could I possibly have to say about it?" Then, just like when I set out on a long walk, the steps get easier and my heart speaks out as I deepen into it.

This summer I am watching my work with the breathing circles unfold. Every time I put effort into stepping more into my faith and my passion -- and I love the breathing circles -- my faith expands and my work expands. It's not only about teaching others the work with the breath and with moving energy through their bodies. It is also about understanding my own, about recognizing negative and positive energies in my body, understanding what reactions cause them, and choosing which reactions to engage with. Understanding these subtleties leads to a better understanding of how different actions and reactions (a.k.a. karma) are going to make me feel. I like feeling good, joyful, powerful, and worthy so I'm training myself to listen to my body first instead of my mind. My mind will say, "your body's fine, it's just being a little lazy today." While my body is saying, "I need rest. I'm filled with stress and anxiety. I need some down time."

It's a tall order. Understanding this process a little bit every day is what I love. The fact that all of this information begins with the seed of feeling my own breath in my body through a simple breathing meditation is the beauty.

Faith is very much a part of this as we are conditioned to feel fear and anxiety and to expect the worst. Faith has us do just the opposite. It's not about being shiny happy people all the time, it's about seeing the darkness as a temporary state and moving beyond least today.

Monday, July 13

Moving Mountains #29

What is it about getting cancer or some other potentially fatal illness that causes us to invest more in our faith?

Is it fear of death? Or a primal desire to believe in something greater than ourselves?

Cancer, over 10 years ago, gave me permission to try something different, to explore the possibilities that this life has to offer. In the faith department, the seed of my change was to see cancer as my gift. Then I took the steps to build it as such.

If cancer was my gift, my healing would show me my faith. I took up yoga, took steps to make healthy boundaries with the people around me, started breathing with David Elliott, took steps to improve my view of myself, and began the arduous task of not trying to do everything and asking others for help.

All of these elements can be found in the tiny seed of my faith. I wanted to believe in something greater than myself but I wanted empirical evidence of God. Yet I believed in anger, jealousy, anxiety, and a myriad of other unhealthy emotions that get stuck in the body and cause stasis and illness - I can't see them either.

It all started with changing my perspective. With seeing a gift where there was once only illness.

Sunday, July 12

Moving Mountains #28

Sunday morning! It's still early enough to feel a light breeze, the sun has not even popped fully over the west side of the hacienda into my window. I love the morning, it's newness and hope for the day, the busy birds, the plants getting ready for the throng of heat on its way.

Sundays have a special lilt, a sobering, grounding feel of peace and rest. I'm thinking about the garden. To be there now, with maybe a little dew drop or two left on the tomato plant, a ripe yellow pear tomato ready to pop into my mouth.

Faith is cultivated here. In the spaces in between the busy part of the day. In the work of keeping the soil moist and the plants happy. And it's so much easier now at this time of morning than when the sun is higher in the sky.

Saturday, July 11

Moving Mountains #27

I'm sitting here watching a myriad of birds outside my window. Hummingbirds fighting over the nectar, buzzing each other at the speed of light. The medium-sized birds eating seeds from the feeder. I can only identify a few, the painted bunting, the male and female cardinals. They pop on and off the feeder as if through a revolving door at a lunchtime bistro. Off the cliff there have been many hawks circling today and soaring buzzards. I am amazed at how they can get such traction off the air with so little wind.

I am an earthbound human. I love the ground and the dirt. I have no desire to jump out of plane or reach outer space in a ship. Cyber space is good enough for me. Yet these birds call out to a space deep within me to trust in an unseen rhythm of nature and to make that the focal point of relationship with nature. Thus, instead of focusing on the scary things that I know about that bring up my fears -- the snakes, little fish that nibble the skin, ants, wasps, bees, other insects and spiders -- to focus on my reaction to these things as something that keeps me in a state of tension and fear.

Birds. Yes, birds. Their freedom and their connection to the wind and the life force of nature are an understated inspiration to behold.

Friday, July 10

Moving Mountains #26

I went swimming in the river this afternoon.
It's easy to get overcome with fears, especially with
things like water moccasins, stickers, heat stroke, and dehydration looming in the analytical and logical part of the mind.
The hurdles to having a good time in the water -- to just letting go and
swimming a few laps with abandon -- are many and they are tall. The hurdles fall away, though, when the heated temperature outside gives way to the refreshing river water, even if the water is the temperature of a tepid bath.

I've been practicing in the river and will continue this summer to use the river as a tool to connecting to my faith. I have very rarely seen snakes on the river. When I do is it a coincidence or a message, even and omen? What about with stickers? Heat stroke? and dehydration?

It is true that certain precautions must be taken. For the snakes I take my 75 pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Jack, who swims along the edge of the water. He's not only a water dog, he also loves to chase down snakes so I feel very safe with him there. The same goes with stickers. I always wear shoes. Still one may grab hold of a shoe or a piece of clothing so I'm not completely immune. Even still, shoes are a good buffer and decrease my chances of the pain of those little seed balls with spikes. For heat stroke and dehydration I always take a small cooler with ice water.

As much as I prepare myself before I get in the wilds of the river there is still a piece of me that feels like I am supposed to be scared, that I am supposed to fear the part of the river I can't see, the part of nature I don't understand. This is the point where it is important for me to connect to my inner wisdom, the place that senses or even smells the snake before it gets close enough to bite me. It's the same inner wisdom that says, "sticker next to left foot," and I hear it if I'm not engrossed in senseless mind chatter that's pulling me out of the present moment.

For the rest of the summer, when I swim in the river, I am going to challenge my current levels of fear and faith and open to new possibilities of discovery in nature, it's beauty and it's unknown.

Thursday, July 9

Moving Mountains #25

Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago before I ever knew I would blog about faith.
I found it today going through an old file.


A sock with divine purpose
To warm the frozen foot?

A watch that reminds the masses
It's time to zip their boot?

A mosquito stuck in amber
That holds clues to early life?

A blanket statement rendered true
By a believer of only lies?

A hawk
An owl
An eagle
The soaring portly bumble bee

My faith can show you nothing more
Than my belief in me

Wednesday, July 8

Moving Mountains #24

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)

I love this quote. It is such a simple reminder of all the support we have for our growth. I'm going to sit with this one a while and see what I can visualize for myself with this poem as a template and see what comes up. Please feel free to do the same. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7

Moving Mountains #23

There here! They finally made it through the dirt. My mind has been occupied with Tulsi Holy Basil. Yes. I'm a total dirt geek at heart coming into my own greenthumbness. I've been waiting and praying for the Holy Basil to rise up after feeling so guilty for letting it die last year without making one glass of tea, drying one leaf for tea, or planting one seed for the next year. Today I was reminded that its not about me. That the seed will rise again.

Last year I bought a Tulsi Holy Basil plant with great dreams of making my own tea and cultivating my own plants. I kept it in a large pot and watered it a few times a week. I always remembered I was going to make tea out of my plants in the garden at the precise moment I was drinking the healing Tulsi Basil Tea from a box I bought at the store. So I've carried this guilt since last September when the potted plant finally DIED (I thought). In fact it had gone to seed.

I'm still learning the flow of the seasons. I'm still learning the rhythm of the bursting life the spring, the seed pods that grow in the summer, the abundant harvest of the fall and the silent restful time of nature in winter. This rhythmic flow never stops, like a carousel without a timer. My job is to jump on and enjoy.

So when the Tulsi Holy Basil popped up in my garden in droves this week, I didn't believe it at first. I thought all those little plants were weeds. I picked them all and headed for the trashcan until I smelled that familiar intoxicating smell of the healing basil that is called Holy Basil. My faith was restored when I was reminded of nature's transcendent rhythm.

Monday, July 6

Moving Mountains #22

Walked outside today expecting the usual heat wave and instead experienced an almost cool breeze. For a moment I thought I was in New Mexico -- crisp breeze, very dry, the earth felt like it had expanded, taken a deep full breath.

Lately I've cooled off too. The struggle has always been so easy, feeling like I am alone and I have to get that almighty EVERYTHING done all by myself. That addiction is really all about control. We have been conditioned that if it's not hard it's not worth doing. As the ranch has been getting more publicity I fell into an old pattern - thinking that my work - the healing work - needed to take a backseat to "getting the ranch going."

As I let go of the reigns and look around me, I see that most of my needs that I struggle so hard to achieve are already taken care of. Take food for example. I'll struggle with the fact that I don't want to go to our only grocery store in town, Wal-Mart. Then someone from afar shows up with a bounty from Whole Foods or Central Market ready to share. And these days there is always something to eat from the garden. I'm still getting used to the miracle that food comes out of the ground if you water and care for it. Also,I've got two wonderful women who take care of the daily chores - and for these things among the many others I am so grateful.

Yet I still have an underlying feeling that I am not doing enough, that I need to work harder, send one more email. That feeling is the one that I am talking about that is the seed of the addiction, the seed that causes the reaction of STRUGGLE.

With Ruby home for the summer, I have a wonderful 5 year old that reminds me to step away from my computer and my list making and just play. It always takes me about 10 minutes...about as long as with the disengage from the commander mind and enjoy my surroundings. This is what I'm talking about when I say I've "cooled off" and "let go of the reigns." Spending more time enjoying life - the blessings of a 5 year old...and a cool morning breeze in the middle of summer.

Sunday, July 5

Moving Mountains #21

It's been a great day to begin my new perspective with faith - to trust that I am guided by a force much greater than me. We know it's true for plants. In the way the sun guides each plant to defy gravity and move to greater heights. In the way the water gives nourishment and the clouds that bring it feel like a blanket of serenity.

For many days the sun has burned down on the garden. Watering twice a day has done little to assuage the dryness and brittleness, the burn on the leaves. I awoke with a smile on my face at 2am. and listened to the rain for a few minutes before drifting back to sleep. The rain continued for hours, until mid-morning.

Today with the deep grey clouds and light drizzle the plants seemed to enjoy the respite of the pounding sun. Their leaves appeared relaxed, not shriveled in the afternoon as on days of intense heat. Late afternoon the humidity gave way to an easy breeze, bringing lesser temperatures that we have not felt in weeks.

I too have felt relaxed -- lazing about around the house most of the day and enjoying the overcast shade while cleaning the dead leaves off the parsley in the garden. Feeling supported by an unseen force that has an investment in me.

Saturday, July 4

Moving Mountains #20


My ideas about faith have changed in the last twenty days. I started this blog to report on every day instances of faith as proof that it exists. Well, it does exist. I got that part. Let's move on.

At the beginning of my 60 days I said that I would be relying on my own accounts of faith and not use anyone's quotes or ideas about it. Then I read M. Gandhi's quote, "Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into." This quote broadened my view of it as more than something to trust when I'm feeling needy or wanting. This quote raises the bar on my faith.

Faith, like merit, is collected over time. My little instances of faith add up and connect to each other. They have been magnetizing over time. The more I focus on where it is in my life the stronger the feeling I have that I am supported by faith. It's a little picture vs. big picture thing and I'm beginning to see the big picture.

Friday, July 3

Moving Mountains Day #19

Faith is a lot like water. Consider all the metaphors that have to do with water that can also be said about faith and let that seep into the sponge of your mind.

Here's an example:
I'm in my third year of gardening. Each season I feel more connected to the process. This year it's been about the water. Standing outside my garden in March I noticed for the first time the garden's steep gradient and how it sloped in one direction. My veggies were in raised boxes. It looked like the boxes had been set on a steep slope. At that point I understood why miniature carrots and beets had not grown to full size. The water did not go DOWN into the soil but rather splashed over the veggies as it rushed down-slope.

This year's garden has been all about working with the water. It's not a coincidence that as I cultivate my ojas -- or the nurturing water element of my body from yesterday's blog -- I'm also learning how to cultivate the water in my garden. Indeed, it's all connected.

This morning I noticed that in the plants that I planted earlier in the spring season the water wets the surface soil and then flows away from the plant. Many of these plants are struggling with shallow roots and light-colored leaves. Later in the season, I spent more time working with the soil to help it hold more water and send it downward. These plants seem to be thriving better in the extreme heat of the summer. Just as the plants need a slow and steady stream of water to go deep into it's roots to bear fruit in the summer, a steady stream of faith deepens our roots and helps us to thrive.

Thursday, July 2

Moving Mountains #18

Today faith is telling me to SLOW DOWN.

There's this familiar little, old tick somewhere deep inside that's telling me I have to have EVERYTHING done before the holiday. What is everything? When I ask, it disappears. Like a trickster, the phantom of the mind seduces me into believing I need to be in a frenzy about all the things on my to do list.

I know that it's faith telling me to slow down because listening to it requires that I trust it. The more I trust it I notice that the trusting is not the hard part. The hard part is my addiction to the feeling that I have to get such and such done, get as many suches and suches done as I can possibly fit into today.

Well guess what? Faith is telling me to slow down, my body is craving a breathing meditation session with the accoutrement of all the aromatherapy oils, set to music with lots of ocean sounds. My craving today is not for the feeling of completing tasks but of the healing nature of self-nurture - a swim in the depths of an ice blue surf on an extremely hot day.

Wednesday, July 1

Moving Mountains Day #17

Have you ever stopped to think about the saying, "Hit the ground running"?
It used to be a big favorite of mine. The saying itself suggests, "Right now, I'm not at full throttle but get ready because I'm about to really go at it without any brakes."

We are not machines. When we live in the mindset that we must be on full-charge at all times our bodies wear down, our parasympathetic nervous system stays on constant guard - ready to react and perform, we drain the juice from our bodies and offer very little means of recharge. Then we wonder why we cannot sleep at night. We cannot expect our bodies to go like clockwork -from "hit the ground running," into a delta state of sleep -- unless we offer it some recharge. Cat naps, meditation, and breathing practices are just some of the ways to recharge. When recharge becomes routine, "hitting the ground running," becomes less important.

There is a concept in Ayurveda called ojas. Ojas is the water, the juice of our bodies that exists in a metaphorical well. Recharge and self care practices help keep the well full. Thus when we have a stressful day we can draw nourishment and healing from it.

Even though it is metaphorical, the idea of the well has saved my life. Before I knew about the well I was always sick with sinus infections and other minor illnesses that forced me to STOP running when I had hit the ground one too many times. Indeed, my well had dried up. When I began to picture the well inside me, I wanted to fill it. Yoga and breathing practices came easier. Also, I began an evening bedtime routine of oils and aromatherapy on my face and body which improved my sleeping and my overall well being.

Trusting faith is a very important aspect of ojas -- as the depth of ones faith effects the quality of ones well. Choosing to align with faith in any process or predicament reminds me that I am not alone, that I am supported. Faith reminds me that I no longer have to hit the ground running, that is the old way of being - survival mode. When I allow for recharge, the well is full, and I am thriving.

Tuesday, June 30

Moving Mountains Day #16

Earlier today as Ruby and I left the office to go downstairs, I closed the door quickly behind me so as not to let out too much of the A/C. Nigel, the Yorkie -- who is never far behind me -- opted to stay in the office rather than risk being caught by a swiftly moving door.

Ruby said, "Mom, you cut the cord with Nigel!"

Knowing the clairvoyance of a 5 year old child, I looked at her and said, "What!?"

She explained, "When you closed the door you cut the cord with Nigel."

I asked, "Well, it can go back together, right?"

"Yep!" She said, "Just like a magnet."

"Can you see it?" I asked.

"No," she said, "It's like a computer."

I knew what she meant, the connections between us are like a computer, we cannot see the information travel but we know what it is when it gets there.

Then I thought to myself, "Oh, just like faith!"

Monday, June 29

Moving Mountains Day #15

Faith is not something to grasp, it's a state to grow into.
--- M. Gandhi

And on the 15th day...I stopped trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip...trying to fit a square peg into a round hole...I remembered the part about the journey being the reward.

I recently saw the movie Enlighten Up! The guy, Nick, in the documentary was supposed to immerse himself in yoga and find enlightenment in the 6 month or so duration of the filming. He met with many of the top gurus, yogis and yoginis from here to Rishikesh asking them many questions. The answers seemed to make him more skeptical and more loathsome as the movie progressed. My favorite scene was when one of the yogis said to him--and I can't remember the context of the comment -- "Nick, go fuck your self!" Then he just cracked up, he started laughing and knee-slapping, "Go fuck your self. Hahahaha!" He said again. I could tell Nick was surprised to hear the word "fuck," jump out of his mouth. It definitely added a lightness (en-lightness?) to the room as it made Nick laugh too, even though he did look a bit confused.

I bring up this movie because the quick fix is what I as a human crave. These were my thoughts a few days before decided to blog for 60 days on faith..."I'm going to blog on faith for 60 days and at the end of 60 days I'm going to know exactly what faith means to me!"

That idea would work very well if we lived a static existence. Truth is, existence by nature is exactly the opposite of static. The faith that worked for me 10 seconds ago might not work for me right now. In my understanding of Gandhi's quote I can look back on experiences from the past where I did trust faith -- like this past weekend in Austin (see yesterday's blog) -- and link all of these experiences together to create a strong force for trusting and believing.

In what am I trusting and believing? Well, ultimately it's my self. It is the universal self as opposed to the self you tell your self to go fuck when you are filled with doubt, fear, confusion, and all those things we crave that isolate us and make us feel separate or other than.

Too existential? Then try it. Tell yourself to "go fuck your self." The part that thinks it's funny is your universal self. The part that takes it seriously or acts like it's confused by the comment is your ego. The "go fuck your self," quote is a real ego burner...and it makes me laugh. It's my new mantra when fear starts to fog up the windshield.

Sunday, June 28

Moving Mountains Day #14

FAITH. I'm drawing a complete blank today.
I milked my, "faith that the heat won't last forever," blog yesterday.

Just drove home from Austin, a three and a half hour drive. I am en route to Jimmy's show this afternoon at Clark Gardens -- yes, an outside concert at around 4PM -- it's sure to be a scorcher. Perhaps the powers that be will be open to having the concert series happen a little earlier in the season, like May...even April! I must see about this. (Yes! Carol M. We must lunch soon and discuss this important matter...for our future...the future of Mineral Wells! For the sake of those beautiful nights and the magic of Clark Gardens.)

FAITH. Oh yes! Faith! My weekend in Austin was a huge leap of faith for me. I guess it's the elephant in the room. I'd rather blab on about the weather.

This past weekend I rented out space in two studios in Austin across town from each other on a wing and a prayer. I sent out flyers to people I know, the studios advertised with their people. My flyer title was, "Healing Breath Circle," a very ephemeral title in a world such as ours where logic and understanding play an overactive role.

For my Friday night breathing circle, I was aware of what my ego wanted - a room full of eager people waiting for me to guide them through the experience of their life! Beyond the desires of my ego I decided to be open to whatever experience presented itself. I chose to rely on faith -- that the universe is totally invested in me -- and just see what would happen. I had to do it...if only to report back on the blog.

To say that no one showed up would be the "glass half empty" experience. Indeed, Laura, the owner of Soma Vida, had invited a group of 17 women to her studio after their all-day training session in Somatic Experience. When no one showed up at 6 PM to my breathing circle, my very first instinct was flight. "I can just sneak out the back door and not talk to anyone, no one will miss me." Then I just laughed at that old familiar victim voice and went to find Laura. I offered Laura a session of the breath work so that she would know about it and then could share her experience with others. I realized that offering this would only enhance my visibility in the studio, even when I wasn't in Austin, as she could share her experience with friends and clients that she felt would benefit from the work.

Her response confirmed my ideas. She could not have a session in that exact moment as she was getting ready for her guests. However, Laura offered to make a space in their evening for me to share my work with the group. When the guests arrived, Laura showed them around the studio, open-house style. In one of the rooms she told the story about how the old house was built during the second world war for African American widows. She explained that the house was built as a healing center and continues to be a healing center. At that moment a wave came over me and I knew that I was in the right place at the right time. After she talked she gave the floor over to me and let me explain my work. It was a room full of women with a world full of gratitude to ourselves and each other that we have come together as healers, as midwife's of the awareness that is spreading over all the lands. I did not lead a breathing circle that night. Instead, seeds were planted by me, around me, and through me. Faith prevailed victorious.

Saturday, June 27

Moving Vountains #13

Today faith is...

Knowing that sunset is coming at some point later today. Faith is believing in the lightness that comes with sunset as the temp drops a few degrees...maybe a slight breeze sets in...a pink sky brightens upstream as the South Congress bats leave the bridge and head out to dinner.

Sure. All of the previous statements are somewhat quantifiable because they are predictable. It is the feeling of hope that they give me, hope in the change -- that it's not going to be 114 degrees non-stop for the next two months -- that all is in motion, everchanging. There will be the occasional reprieve of temperature and that usually happens with the absence of the sun. If we are to generate feelings within ourselves rather than relying on our experiences to generate the feelings we feel then we must start with something we know.

Today I am starting with my trust in the circadian rhythms that will bring a cooling off period after sunset.

Are you able to discern all that is everchanging outside of you from that timeless rhythm deep inside of you that never changes? What is that thing that never changes? Is that faith? Is that where faith lives in you? Or is the seat of fear? What do you need to do to strengthen your faith? We could all use a little faith strengthening.

Can you persuade the perfectionist in you that all is as it should be and if you could make it any different you'd be playing God?

On may days, and today is no different, I want to be perfect. I want to have a perfect day. Then, something happens to remind me that I am not in charge here, I am an observer, a temporary resident in a human suit. That always makes me laugh. I laugh and remember, "I AM having a perfect day!" It might not meet my expectations though when I realign with the beauty and the humor in the everchanging motion that is life, it's like an ice cold glass of water.

Friday, June 26

Moving Mountains #12

Wow! Michael Jackson, How lucky! He made millions upon millions of records and dollars. Even though when he left the planet he owed reportedly $400 million to debtors, he was Michael Jackson, easy come easy go. What would that feel like? What would it feel like to not have to worry? To know that even if you are deep in debt you are worth so much? One world tour, one big comeback and you're be back on top!

These were the thoughts running through my head as I chowed on pizza with my daughter Ruby last night at Homeslice Pizza in Austin. With each MJ song I heard I sank deeper and deeper into a loathesome funk of my smallness. Ruby danced around the tables and I carried my funk even deeper as I thought about how she has the opportunity to feel that same worth and be just as lucky because she has youth on her side.

Then that little voice inside my head said sarcastically, "oh yeah, she's soooo much worth it than you, so was MJ!" My little inside voice is a sexy Catherine Keener that gets to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. It seems her main job is keeping me in line through humor and sarcasm.

"Michael Jackson was worth so much," I thought about those words again and the 3D picture inside of my brain came into focus.
Worth starts with a feeling, not the other way around. My evidence for that is the fact that no amount of money in the world could keep MJ out of debt. Sitting right there in that pizza joint watching my daughter moving the crowd with her sweet joy I opened to the feeling of worth. Worth, along with faith had been right there all the time, waiting for me to open to them...just like MJ's music had been in a loop, waiting for me to dance.

Thursday, June 25

Moving Mountains Day #11

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Saint Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274

Wednesday, June 24

Moving Mountains Day #10

Day 10! Yay!

How is faith showing up in my life today?

I've had such wonderful outpourings of feedback and comments since I began this blog ten days ago. Many thanks and gratitude for all of your responses.

When others share their faith with me, it expands the web of faith to feel much bigger, exponentially bigger, as if it is opening to an ever-growing spiral leading up and up and up.

Also as part of this connection with others is that the connection itself is evidence that we are all one, greater than the sum of our parts. Thus it is the connection with others which helps in a big way, to break the vice grip of the illusion that we are separate.

Pranasalara, the name of my company, means - Breathe through Illusions to Spirit. It is the illusion that even as I write this blog a trickle of the voice of doubt tells me that I am going to be alone the more I write this rubbish, that no one really believes this crap, that I'm fooling myself, and buying into the billion dollar spiritual industry just by using the word faith. I could go on and on with this voice of doubt, the voice that is the opposite of faith. The more I write about doubt the dizzier I get so I will stop now.

I began working with the ideas of Pranasalara with the commitment to breaking the spell of illusion and also to remind myself every day to practice breaking that cycle.

It is the people, the community that believes there is another way, a way other than doubt, one of faith, expansion,love, and endless possibilities that I link to in the ever-growing web of support. That expansion and oneness is at the heart of faith.

Tuesday, June 23

Moving Mountains Day #9

Where is my faith today?

My faith is in trusting my work today as I step more and more into my power and my truth. Having been drawn to this work by a once-self-professed skeptic of things unseen - David Elliott, the reluctant healer -- I am in the space now of myself being reluctant. I am not so much reluctant in my call to this work -- the more I do it, the more my faith is confirmed in its healing power. My reluctance is in calling myself a healer.

Recently I heard Obama say to a group of doctors, "You are not bean counters, you are healers!" I think it's pretty revolutionary for a world leader, much less after the last eight years, OUR world leader offering such a grounding message. Hearing Obama say, "You are healers," I felt a wave of joy and awareness as I imagined him speaking to all of us.

The word healer has had so many negative connotations for me in the past. I spent many years shunning people who call themselves healers. I associated a healer as one who GIVES their energy to you. I wanted nothing to do with that! That is the part I am reluctant about, that by calling myself a healer I am perceived as one who uses my ego to make people feel better. And there goes my ego right there worrying about perceptions of myself. It is common for people to use their energy to help others heal, it is a very draining practice for the healer, a practice that leads to burn out or even worse, a loss of faith. By using their own energy these healers also become invested in the outcome of their clients, the healer's ego wants their clients to rely on them, they want their client's situations to improve at the risk of their own health and boundaries.

I ascribe to David's use of the word "reluctance," as it is his initial reluctance that taught him to beware of getting too invested in the outcome of his client's own healing. That is in turn what David teaches: staying neutral with clients, in not being invested in their outcome. That concept is different from having compassion for other's situations. Neutrality requires humility, the healer must become the keen observer of what's going on, of the energy -- of it's swirling in a room full of partiers, or it's stillness in a sea of mediators. Compassion for another's healing allows the healer to hold the space for other people to experience their own path and their own healing. Compassion for others allows for patience, faith and a whole barrage of positive affects to come into play. The healer's job is not to CHANGE the energy. It is to shine some light on the darkness, to call it out of the shadows. From my perspective the healer's job is to be a teacher, to lead by example, to question what is considered real.

Jesus was this healer, sui generis. We are all very clear that his ability came THROUGH him from his father. He did say in the scriptures that we are capable of the same ability.

And don't even go there with the phrase "faith healer," that just opens a whole can of worms. I'm visualizing snakes biting people and trances, lots of fear mixed with seduction of power.

So back to the question, Am I a healer? Yes. I am. I have faith that God/Source Energy/Universal energy works THROUGH me. I still have to remind myself of the oneness of "I am that source and that source is me." Do I feel comfortable calling myself a healer? Not yet. When I don't have to remind myself of my oneness with source anymore, when I can remember what Jesus said about me being a child of God just like him, when I identify less with my ego about who I am, when I can tell you "I am a healer,"and see myself in you - then and only then will I be able to call myself a healer.

Monday, June 22

Moving Mountains Day #8

Faith just is. Faith is neutral.

With the chaos in the banking system and all the greed involved, I realized that these people had faith too. They had faith in their ability to make money, even at the expense of others. Faith did not step in and say, "I am holy, you cannot invest in me that way!"

That's where karma comes into play. The actions that you take DO have consequential action and WILL catch up to you. There is no bad or good, life is action and reaction. Whatever wave or vibration your action is on, it will come back to you in the same vibrational plane - boomerang!

The word con-man derived from the word, confidential. It is shortened from the word confidential-man. Confidential as a verb relates to giving someone your confidence and being deceived by them. I have been focusing on consistency as a way to experience confidence and was surprised at it's secondary meaning.

Faith is neutral. You do not have to be enlightened or holy or trying to achieve holiness by having faith. Faith just is. It is there to be activated at your asking, no matter how you choose to use it. The choice is yours. Karma is the outer reflection of that choice.

Sunday, June 21

Moving Mountains Day #7

Father's Day Reflection

I have a wonderful father. He is an amazing man. He's soft of voice and firm with conviction about his beliefs - they are not religious beliefs, they are universal beliefs about love, kindness, and patience. He was not the kind of father that pontificated about his beliefs over Sunday supper. He led and still leads by example, by showing kindness and equality to all people. He doesn't gossip or stir the stew by talking down about others. He works hard, he fishes, watches baseball, and reads voraciously. His simplicity has been a beacon to me throughout my life.

Ruby's father, my beautiful husband Jimmy, is also a wonderful dad. He's much more extroverted than my dad and they share similar gifts the revolve around having a generous and open heart. Jimmy and Ruby share the gusto of having enormous right brains that explode with ideas and possibilities. I'll leave these two in a room together for a couple of hours and they will have improved the space with superb art direction, songs, art work, and lots of laughter and joy.

Before I met Jimmy I had very little faith that there was a man out there that was single, not gay, and as sweet and gentle as my father. I did not let myself for one moment imagine that I could find those qualities in a man that would also be a good father. It was my mother whose faith held the space for that person to come into my life. I laughed her off, "maybe that happened to you," I would say to her, "times are different now, that just doesn't happen anymore."

I thought I was safer if I closed my heart off from disappointment. I told my mom, "It's okay if I find a man that I'm not in love with. As long as he's good with kids."

Mom told me, "You don't want to do that because your kids are only with you for a short time. if you did that you'd be left with a bunch of hollow memories because there was no love at the core."

About two months later I met Jimmy. Was it love at first sight? Yes. Could I dare admit the enormous explosion in my heart? No. The first time I saw him I felt like I'd been struck with a bolt of lightening. It still took us a year and a half to admit to each other that we were in love with each other and even longer to prepare ourselves for the awesome experience of having a child.

My point is that faith was always there. When I could not hold faith in my vision, my mom did. I knew in my heart, even when my mind blocked me from admitting it, that I desired to find someone who gave me the same sense of security and home that my father gave to me. The last thirteen years has been a consistent opening to the faith and trust of a lifelong relationship. The last five years, through Ruby, has been a constant flow of patience and learning, with the payoff of love and light and pure energy -- a heart-opening experience made even stronger when I watch Ruby and Jimmy dancing their father/daughter dance.

Saturday, June 20

Trusting Intuition Workshop

We had a wonderful day at the ranch.
Yoga, intuition strengthening, and breathing.
Very restorative and great to be with a strong and powerful group of women. Thanks to you all.

Moving Mountains Day #6

It worked! I intuited and rejuvenated myself after a long day yesterday.
Here's how I did it:

When I went to bed at mid-night I said, "Six hours is all I need. I'm going to wake up at 6:25 AM and be ready for my day. I went through every step of my morning and planned out what I would need to do to be ready for my workshop today which started at 10:00 AM. The more details I included in my plan, the more precise I focused my energy, the more precise was the outcome. I felt aware, focused, and energized throughout the day.

Conclusion, having faith requires an investment. The more I opened to and believed in my power of rejuvenation, the more rejuvenated I felt. The more I focused on the details of the workshop, the more smoothly it ran. Awareness, just bringing your awareness to it is all it takes to make it happen. And then to ask. Ask for rejuvenation. That is enough to make it happen. Ask a tree, ask a star, it doesn't matter. Deep down in the heart of it all - a tree, a star, us -- it's all the same.

Focus, discipline, and awareness put the wheels of faith in motion for me this weekend. Discipline has always been such a bad word to me. Right along with the "C" word - consistency. Consistency and discipline are my new friends in the playground of life. With them I am gaining a stronger sense of self and greater confidence in my abilities and possibilities.

Friday, June 19

Moving Mountains Day #5

Faith is...Trusting in my body's own intuitive and rejuvenative power. (I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow)

Thursday, June 18

Moving Mountains Day #4

"If I am looking at how I am going to get something done I am failing. I am not walking in faith."
Robert Tennyson Stevens, Conscious Prosperity

I have to give a little shout out to R.T.S. in the quote above. I spent last evening in a very hot, small conference room at a Hyatt at the intersection of LBJ Freeway and Central Expressway in Dallas last night to see what he had to say on prosperity. I am blogging 60 days of faith this summer, I am also researching prosperity so when I heard of a seminar on Conscious Prosperity promptly signed up.

The Conscious Language work of R.T.S. brings language into the now...I am, I have, I imagine, I love, I acquire, I foresee...

The phrases "I want," "I need," among other overused terms in our vernacular - in Conscious language -- suggest lack by their very definition; they are things you don't have now that you plan on or might get in the future. Not only that, to get them you must rely on something outside of you to bring them or draw them to you. R.T.S. suggests that whichever words evoke passion and emotion in YOU, those are the words that will draw your desires to you.

Three hours of hearing and speaking from the heart charged the room with strong currents of electricity. Chakras were spinning, possibilities were imagined, and miracles foreseen. These ingredients are the seeds of action, of fruition - the faith of the mustard seed - when trusted they are abundant and infinite.

Moving Mountains Day #3

There is a meditation that I do as part of my morning series. It is called, "Releasing the 3 Poisons." They are attachment, aversion, and indifference. Today as I did this exercise I reflected on the relationship between faith and the three poisons. What I found is that when the three poisons are released it creates a space, a big space, for faith. Here are the instructions if you'd like to try it for yourself:

1. Close your mouth and breathe through your nose with the tip of your tongue at the place where the palate meet the teeth. Inhale.
2. Imagine thick black smoke leaving your body as you exhale through your nose. When the thick blackness leaves your body it dissipates into the air and you cannot see it.
3. Inhale. On the next exhale say to yourself, "I release all attachment" (anything that causes pleasure). As you say this to yourself imagine the thick black smoke leaving your body. Repeat three times.
4. Inhale. On the next exhale say to yourself, "I release all aversion" (anything that causes suffering). As you say this to yourself imagine the thick black smoke releasing from your body. Repeat three times.
5. Inhale. On the next exhale say to yourself, "I release all indifference" (anything that causes neither pleasure nor suffering). As you say this to yourself imagine the thick black smoke releasing from your body. Repeat three times.

When you are finished releasing the three poisons from your body and your mind invite in faith into your consciousness. For me its as if a barrage of kids being let out of school for the summer are charging toward me. Faith brings with her many happy faces -- abundance, joy, oneness, love, trust, intuition, and freedom. And with my house clean of all that black smoke there's room for everyone.

Tuesday, June 16

Moving Mountains Day #2

Two weeks ago a group of artists and writers arrived for their annual creative respite and social gathering here at the ranch. It's an event we have come to look forward to, people making time to enjoy and celebrate each other and their work. This year, Grayson (not her real name), a wonderful screen writer, arrived early. She looked thinner than last year - even a little bluish in the extremities and around the lips. Her husband rolled a large machine into the great room and set it next to a lounge chair.

Grayson plopped down in the chair and breathed many oxygen treatments each day. This year, she said, her trip was more about resting than writing her latest screen play. The time away from her busy schedule running a non-profit for disenfranchised women made her realize that she needed rest.

We talked of the healing power of the body. She was very interested in doing sessions of the healing breath meditation I teach. I led her in private sessions and in group sessions with the other artists throughout the week. Grayson had been born with a hole in her heart and had been in and out of hospitals her whole life to repair it. In the breathing meditation sessions she became aware of the chronic fear she held in her body from a lifetime of illness and was able to release some of it.

Before she left the ranch, Grayson felt revived. She made plans to come back next month and write for a few days and do some more of the healing breath meditation. In 1986 the doctors had given her a few months to live and she made it another twenty something years before leaving this earth last Friday, a week after she left the Ranch.

Last year another artist in the group began a painting on a 2'x20' canvass. This year the canvass came alive as she added familiar faces from the group. Grayson's right-side Florentine profile rests in the center at the bottom -- a fulcrum between the elderly intellectual gentleman on the left side of the painting and the younger middle-aged novelist on the right. The head of a horse is tatooed on Grayson's right shoulder. I remember having a conversation about what that was, why the horse? She told me it was from her loving husband's family crest. We laughed about having your man's tatoo on your arm. (I have six male dogs here at the ranch who are always marking their territory so the idea of your man's mark on your arm is especially funny to me.)

That memory of our conversation brought me back to the question of what's it all for? Things we talked about, like when Grayson spent 45 minutes telling me the story of her screen play which now will forever remain an ephemeral memory. A life, in her 40's, gone.

Experiencing faith is like putting on 3-D glasses - you have to change perspective. Faith is found in the spaces in between, we laughed at being tatooed with a man's mark while at the same time we had so much gratitude for our the love of our husbands. Those are the ingredients of faith -- laughter, gratitude, love, and perspective. Grayson's defiance of the doctors' 1986 diagnosis gave others faith as we watched her persist against the odds. By the sheer act of being alive she gave those around her faith to overcome everyday obstacles.

Monday, June 15

Moving Mountains Day #1

What is faith? What does it look like, smell like, FEEL like? These are among the questions I will be exploring as I, Jungle Jane, slide out of repose for a time and put my archaeology hat on to excavate the concept of faith.

Everyday faith presents herself to me as an opportunity to trust in a higher guidance. For sixty days I will report on instances of trusting faith and the miracles that ensued. These stories may be about a direct experience I have. They also can be instances of the faith of others that affected me in a way that strengthened my faith. These stories will weave together on my journey and I have faith that they will strengthen my picture of what faith means to me. Also, doing something for 60 days in a row will be a challenge to my consistency and my self confidence.

When considering my faith there are three distinct periods of my life. The first one began at birth and ended around the time I was five years old. I have faint remembrances of seeing light and energy around people, maybe their auras. I had heightened senses of smell and taste. I had a strong sense of intuition and acted on it immediately without forethought. The second period, before cancer (BC), lasted from six years old to age twenty eight when I got cancer. From six years into my twenties, I grew increasingly skeptical, fearful, and insecure until it culminated in the biggest fear of all, getting cancer. The seeds of change occurred at age twenty six, when I met Jimmy and had to face the truth about love -- that it existed, that it could happen to total strangers, and that I desired to experience the feeling of open-hearted love for the rest of my life. After cancer, I began to search for a deeper meaning in my life, to question my own skepticism. I knew deep down -- even though I was not yet aware of it in my consciousness -- that my battle was not with cancer but with the incipient fear and lack of faith with which I carried myself.

My report about faith on this day, DAY #1 of my journey, is in my prayers the night I found out I had cancer. I have never felt so scared and isolated as that first night I lay in bed in complete darkness knowing that cancerous cells inside my body were replicating themselves. I became very aware that I could not blame anyone for my cancer. If it had been a car wreck I could blame the other driver, a broken ankle I could blame the uneven pavement. I had no one to blame. I felt empty. I could hear my mother's voice saying to me as an angry teenager, "Oh ye of little faith."

I didn't believe that the HPV virus caused my cancer either. That logic did not hold up for me because there were so many people with HPV that did not get cervical cancer, that had unprotected sex and went on to carry healthy babies to term. During this time I focused particularly on Courtney Love. She was the premier voice of the loud mouthed bitchy sexually promiscuous drug addict yet she did not get cancer AND she had a child. If logistical research was behind who got cancer and who didn't, I reasoned, she would get it and not me.

That night I prayed to overcome the fear that swelled in my body. If it was my time to die, I prayed, to make peace with that. If it was my time to live I prayed for a way to strengthen my belief in a higher source of power. Praying felt silly, it felt forced and self-conscious. It also felt empowering, as if my prayers weaved a blanket that swaddled me to sleep.

Eleven years later my faith has brought me to a place where I have enough perspective on my fears and skepticisms to write about them and share them with others. In archaeology, excavation requires endless hours digging and screening the dirt, and filling out paper work. There are tools -- shovels, trowels, dental picks, maps, and compasses. The more I think about it, yes, archeology is about faith. Moving mountains -- whether dirt, doubt, or fear, happens one shovel load at a time.

Thursday, June 11

Grains of Sand

There's a feeling of consistency and security here. The Texas beach at Matagorda is my oldest home. It's the one place, this same spot on the beach, I've been coming my whole life, from a time I was younger than Ruby Jane at 5 years old, is now. Before my grandfather built this beach house, we stayed at the octagon 1970s condos next door. Before that we stayed in the town 30 minutes away at a Best Western and drove my grandparent's Suburban to the beach every morning and stayed all day. They parked at a spot that is directly over the dunes in front of the place where our house sits now.

Memories, wonderful memories, come to shore with the waves. Memories of playing in the surf all day, of building sand castles and picking up a never-ending abundance of shells. Memories of a time before I knew the clock.

Today numerous pelicans and roseate spoonbills grace the flightpath over the dunes. I make sand castles with my daughter who is just now beginning to have a concept of time. The beauty of nature unfolds around us in a clear and simple way.

There is one thing about Texas beaches that continues to baffle me, it is that cars and trucks drive on the beach. A couple of years ago the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) built a welcome center for the birders that come here. Matagorda Island is known for its birding. The LCRA partook in a little community planning, reconfiguring the roads around our small subdivision of 7 or so beach houses. Their original intention was to close a small portion of the beach to drivers and create a car-free zone for birders. This lovely idea never happened so the cars continue to cruise the entire beach. In Texas it seems that the right to drive on the beach is right up there with a right to bear arms, so I wrote a little poem last year that I will now share:

Rubber tires were not meant for this
Four round black weapons
At the base of two tons of steel
Breaking the fine bones
Of mollusks and crustaceans
Assaulting tiny grains of sand
As they tread

Trash piles up
Outside my house
Despite the signs, the
Litter recepticals
Empy bottles
A half eaten flip flop
Cigarette butts
Aerosol Cans
A Can of Spam

Hot sticky
Sun marries water
At high noon
Sticky hot
In a diaphanous cloud
Of humidity and humility

Overdubs seventies rock
And I watch
Shaded by the leaf of
A giant