Winter Is Coming

Quote

A quiet house on a cold and blustery morning,
Cup of coffee in my hand.
I sit by the window and look out at the rising sun —
No urban wildlife in sight, not even people.
Instead, I watch
Fallen leaves dance up the street.
The autumn wind leading in a polka swirl,
Trees swaying against a metal gray sky.
And I think,
“Winter is surely coming.”

Reinventing Worship

Question from The God Article on FB:

If you were to (or do) worship in a church, what would the perfect worship service look like?

(What would it include? What would the setting be? Would there be liturgy? What kind? Music? What kind? Sermon? What would it be like? Who would do it?)

I like this question, mostly because it is the type of thing I would wonder about anyway. You see, I miss my “home church.” Yup. That’s what we called it. When you have a church you attend where the people that attend it are as close or closer than family and you feel connected to its lifeblood and it sustains you, it is your home church. Mine was back in New Hampshire. Since the time I attended there, more than the miles have grown to separate me from that sanctuary. I have always questioned dogma and that was what I liked about the church I attended. I remember that the minister told me once that “Methodists didn’t have to leave their brain at the door.” I took that statement very much to heart, and followed the still, small voice even when it led me to go contrary to church dogma and policy. He always supported me in my questionings, and for that I will always be grateful.

When I moved away, I tried attending several churches in my new home city. I never did find a place that could both accommodate the turns that my personal evolution of faith was taking, and give me the sense that I was part of something greater than myself. That hasn’t stopped me from hoping that someday, I might find a community of people that will allow me to connect and grow in a way similar to the Methodist church I knew when I was younger. I sometimes imagine what that might entail. So, the question becomes: What would I want now?

My mom used to remind me that a church was the people and not the building. While there is truth in that statement, I recognize that buildings and sites that inspire awe have always been included in worship for a reason. To me, sites for worship would have to include the out of doors, or places with access to nature. However, I don’t like the restriction of “church” on any specific day of the week. I really have a distaste for separating my life out that way. In my dream church, services wouldn’t be necessarily be on Sunday or Saturday, either. My faith is part of my every day life and I would want worship to be similar. I love the idea of including the cycle of the seasons and the turning of the sun and the moon in my worship. I do this already on a personal level, but I would love to have a community that thinks similarly!

I would want to include music for sure. I love hymns, chants and spiritually expressive songs. I don’t know if I believe in having a minister (I may be too gnostic for that!), but I would love having some type of “sermon” or insight sharing, perhaps from multiple people. I would want to honor divergent paths like the Unitarians do. I would want to talk about things such as how to live a connected life, how to raise one’s vibration, how to live from the heart, how to “ascend” or become “enlightened.” I would love to talk about Unity Consciousness and how to live a life with integrity and impeccability. I want a place where the feminine face of the Divine is just as honored as the male aspect. I would want to learn from the teachings of Jesus, of Buddha, and of Guru Nanak and others. Sharing, studying, supporting and building community would all be vital parts of the group dynamic. Group meditations are something I enjoy, so I would love it if that were included too.

Too, no book would be an ultimate authority. You see, I believe the concept that words are pointers and one should never confuse the pointers with what they are pointing at. So, any book could be a jumping off point for discussion and insight. It doesn’t have to be anything like the Bible or the Quran. It doesn’t even have to be non-fiction to be speaking a truth, in my opinion. However, wariness should always be present whenever an absolute is stated (yes, I see the irony in that statement!).

I have been to a few Unitarian services that were close, but I never felt connected for some reason.

I have often been inspired by this quote by Einstein: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.” Frankly, this may be as close to my personal faith as words can come.

Stone Light Retreat

Crystal Cabin Guardian

When I finished my last day as a Network Systems Administrator, and stepped off the cliff into creating my own business, I knew that the change was huge. I have always believed that 80% of just about everything in life is mental, so I knew I needed to shift my mindset before I dug into the business, in order to give it the best possible chance of succeeding. The method I chose for doing this was to go on a three day retreat in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

Viroqua is in what is termed The Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Technically, the driftless region is defined by the fact that glaciers did not leave any of their mess behind. Boulders, silt and sand are called “drift,” and so none of this was left decorating the region when the glaciers last melted. Practically, it encompasses a region with gorgeous landscape, deep river valleys, and amazingly uplifting natural aesthetic influences.

The natural beauty makes this a perfect place for a retreat. Lucky for me, I already knew of a place that would fit my list of requirements: Moderately isolated, “off the grid,” and preferably friendly to my spiritual path. Stone Light is a place I found a few years ago. I have hiked its paths before, and recommended it to many a friend, but this was my first opportunity to take up residence there, myself!

Stone Light is not huge, but don’t be fooled by its size. Steve, the owner, has gone through a lot of effort to create paths and features to draw you into the natural setting. We are not talking untouched wilderness here, but a natural beauty enhanced with a blessing here and there. You might be walking through the woods and come across a bowl on a tree stump that is lined with 100 or more small crystals. There are rocks placed near the path that look like nature carved them into shapes such as a person praying. There is a labyrinth, an outdoor altar space, and so much more. What there isn’t is electricity and the electro-magnetic interference that goes with it. Nor will you find running water in the cabins. Instead, the Amish-built cabins are accompanied by a nearby outhouse. Steve opens a portion of his home to the retreaters so that a shower can be had the morning after hiking in the woods all day. It was very appreciated!

I arrived on Monday and explored the town a bit before heading up to the retreat. There is a food co-op, a rock shop and a few restaurants to enjoy. I hit the co-op and picked up a few things to take to the cabin with me. Nothing that needed refrigeration, of course. I was going off the grid and excited to be doing so!

I had brought a bunch of crystals to enhance the goal of my retreat, which was releasing the past and being open to the new life I wanted to lead. The cabin had a few crystals of its own, so I was able to use them to set up a wonderful grid after calling in the directions and creating my sacred space. I felt very comfortable and “at home” in the space. This allowed me to do the rituals and practices I needed over the course of the three days I was there.

I read. I journaled. I did lots and lots of meditating, especially outside. Initially, I focused on release, but by the end, I was opening myself up to the world around me and pulling energy from the Earth. The last night I was there I did a wonderful Listening Meditation, where I sat outside for about an hour or so and simply listened to all the noises around me and documented them in my journal as I did so. That was actually a wonderfully opening meditation.

This retreat was everything that I had wanted it to be. It was both exhausting and rejuvenating, healing and cathartic, cleansing and enlightening. I came home on Thursday afternoon feeling like I had been scrubbed clean inside and I knew I was ready to face the new life I planned on creating. If you have never taken time to be totally alone with yourself – no tv, no phone, no internet – I highly recommend it. Facing yourself without distraction can be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding!

So, here we are a week and a half later, and I can still say that the retreat did what I needed it to do. I won’t say that I feel ready to conquer the world every day, but I keep working to find the steps to create this life I want so much. Every day, I am wake up and feel like it is going to be even better than the day before. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

I am so glad that I went to Stone Light. I am also glad I went for three nights, instead of the two I had originally planned (thanks for the nudge, Ann Marie!). The only downside was realizing at one point that no electricity meant no fan to give any relief to the stifling heat that sauntered in on my second night there. (edit: Please note that the heat was part of a record-breaking heat wave socking the Midwest at the time, and not reflective of normal weather in the area! ~RnT) But then the rain came and all was well again. The energy at Stone Light is amazing. Steve goes to great lengths to enhance the healing energy of the land with judicious placement of crystals. The cabin came with its own sage stick (good thing, as I had forgotten mine!) and the book selection in the cabin gave me much food for thought. He has a variety that rotates through all the cabins and the books encompass many different faiths and approaches to spirituality. In other words, there is a little bit for almost everyone. I will definitely be going again, and hope to make this a regular ritual.

Stone Light Retreat

Click above for slide show images of my retreat

Thunder Moon

Tonight rises the thunder moon
But there is no rain in sight
No lightning
No thunder
Instead
I look at the parking lot and see
Heat rising in waves
Blurring the ordinary reality
Giving a glimpse of the non-ordinary
I think of the thermal drafts
That turkey vultures use
To ease their flight up and away
My spirit longs to join them
Rising up with the heat
Away from the confines of brick and mortar,
Workday tasks and project milestones –
Over fields and woods and streams
Toward the setting sun
And the rise of the thunder moon

Seasons of Sumac and Larimar

Before you can really take on something new, you have to let go of the old stuff that isn’t serving you anymore. It’s kind of like cleaning out your closet before you go shopping. Every life is like that. There is only so much we can fit in to our days, and every thing we are willing to release makes room for something new to fill that space. As a general principle, I have been aware of this for years.

Recently, I was meditating on the question of what I needed to do to position myself for success with a new business venture that I will be launching (more posts on that soon!). The image that came to mind was that of our lovely sumac bush. I saw it dropping its branches in the fall and pushing out new, larger branches in the spring. It was crystal clear to me that I needed to be willing to release my past or it would slow down the success in my future!

How to let go? Releasing and letting go are largely psychological activities. Physical objects and situations disappear when the psychological ties to them are gone. I know this, so I realize that this release is largely in my head. I was gifted with the image of the sumac, so that gave me a visualization to tie to my letting go process. I am visual in my deepest channel, so I really think that the image of the sumac dropping its branches and growing new is the absolute perfect movie to replay in my head during meditation sessions.

Loving trees AND rocks, I went to a local rock shop and spoke with the very knowledgeable owner about what was going on in my life. She suggested that I spend some time with larimar, as that helps connect to divinely feminine energies and it assists in letting go of those things that don’t serve anymore. Sounds perfect, and it ties in wonderfully with the visual meditation I have taken on. I love when synchronicity puts a bow on the gift!

So, I now take time to meditate regularly next to a lovely sumac in full summertime bushiness, with my beautiful rock, set in a pendant, lying against my skin. I imagine letting go of who I have been as I get ready to embrace the woman I am becoming. I feel a lightness of being infuse my spirit and even my daughter has noted how much more joyful I am becoming. I am smiling again and laughing at little things. I am finding energy to do the things that need doing and that will surely help pave the way for success!

Rocks and Trees for Releasing

Level Up

A little over a week ago, I was driving into work and saw two unusual (for me) sightings. First, a coyote crossed the road in front of me, pausing at the halfway point to look right at me on his way to the farmer’s field on the other side of the road. It had been years since I had seen a coyote, and with the shamanic training I have been doing, I was pretty confident that this did not bode well for the day. The energy of Coyote is that of the trickster. He always works for the highest good, but it is almost never pleasant. He pokes and pricks the ego, forcing us to deal with uncomfortable situations or feelings, or even putting us in a position where we have to move forward on something we’d rather avoid. Definitely not fun!

I was feeling all angsty as I thought about this, when I looked up and saw a hawk flying in my general direction. I see hawks a lot more often than coyotes, but this one landed on a telephone pole next to the road. I slowed way down and watched him watch me as I drove past. Once I was beyond the pole, he took off in the same general direction as the coyote. My immediate reaction was that this was a followup message to the warning from Coyote. Hawk was reminding me that I could get through what was coming my way. I just needed to remember to trust in the bigger picture.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable by the time I arrived at work. I spent a few minutes in my car, meditating and listening to the birds in the nearby prairie, settling into my center before I went into the building. Within two hours of seeing coyote, I was called into a meeting with my boss where he let me know that, as the Brits would say, I was being made redundant. I like the sound of that so much better than saying that I was being laid off, and in this case, it was also more accurate. I am being replaced, and so I truly am being made redundant. Although we had agreed a while back that I would be leaving, no date was set and I guess I thought I would have more time to find the next step on my journey. This was my notice that the time was now.

The details of this are mostly irrelevant. However, I feel this whole period in my life is a part of a transitional time for me. A frequent sign of the shift is supposedly leaving behind jobs, people and situations that no longer serve your highest good. I have been lagging my feet in this regard, in spite of mostly embracing change. I guess I wanted to grow, but didn’t want to be too uncomfortable in the process! Silly me. I should have remembered a favorite quote from George Sand (from the novel, Mauprat), when she reminds us all that “No change, even from bad to good, can be accomplished without pain.” You get to a point in the transition process when you simply have to let go of what was, even if you kick and scream while doing so. I know this intellectually, so why is it so darned hard sometimes to live from this truth?

I have been chewing on this ever since I was given a transition date (yes, that is the phrase he used), and I think the Divine is trying to answer me, if I will only listen. I want so much to understand what is going on, to retain a little speck of control in this otherwise chaotic time in my life, even if I know that control is illusory. That yearning for understanding may or may not help get me through the rough bits, but it is my nature to try to make sense of all that I see and to pass on any understanding I gain in whatever way I feel drawn to share.  So, when repetitive information starts popping up, I see it as a sign from the Universe that the conversation is not one-sided, and we are indeed in a dialogue; In the last several days, I have been surrounded with messages about change and transcendence.

The most mundane example of these messages is related to a conversation I had with my adult daughter about how I feel I normally deal pretty well with whatever life sends my way, but that I am feeling a bit out of my depth at the moment. We both love gaming, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that we simultaneously used the phrase “level up.” In gamespeak, this is when your character gets enough points and experience to get bumped up to the next level in the game. The beginning of any level always seems more challenging until you get the knack of it. Since my life has suddenly taken a sharp turn for “more challenging,” we decided that I must have leveled up. I simply need to get used to what the new level requires and I’ll be fine. I admit that the metaphor makes me smile.

Ironically, this morning, the same daughter shared a post with me on Facebook. It was a picture from a page she follows with the phrase “When life gets harder, you must have just leveled up.” She found it last night and thought the timing was perfect, so she had to tag me. It felt like a gentle reminder that this really is what is going on.

To complement this, just a few moments later, I saw a page I follow had posted about the symptoms of transmutation and ascension (How to Raise Your Vibration, by Sabrina Reber). The theory is that transition times are not comfortable. As we change, we go through a period of confusion, overwhelm, detoxification and anxiety. The author assures us that this is normal, even to be expected. It is simply manifestations of an adjustment period to the additional energies flowing into our lives. Needless to say, there is no set time frame for how long these periods might last, only the dubious comfort that they are temporary. According to Ms Reber, we can speed them up by embracing them instead of fighting them. Doing so will make the transition period more intense, but of shorter duration. Reiki, meditation and intention all play a role in escalating the process. This makes sense to me, and since I have almost always been one to embrace intensity, I actually find embracing the transition to be desirable. The discomfort is a price I am willing to pay in order to become more authentically me.

So, this last week or two has been a rough one for me emotionally, and explains my absence on the blogosphere. However, I do think that good things will come of it in the long run. After all, summer is upon us and that is my favorite season. Who knows? I may even get to enjoy this one! As an IT worker, it has been a very long time since I truly enjoyed summer, as that is when many projects are scheduled, in order to take advantage of the end user vacation absences. I have also come to accept that I need to reinvent myself to be happier on this turn of the wheel. “Reinventing” can be much more drastic than simply changing jobs, and it has taken me some time to find an emotional comfort level with that idea. I hadn’t realized it, but I had placed limits on what the next step could be for me, and that was leaving me feeling trapped. Now that I am consciously letting go of the limits I placed on myself, I am feeling a renewed commitment to be open to change and to embrace my most authentic self.

It is freeing, really. Scary, too. And exciting. Lots of conflicting emotions keep bubbling up, which is yet another symptom of transmutation. Go figure!

Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot

A friend informed me today that today is Tu Bishvat on the Jewish calendar, otherwise known as Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot, “The New Year of Trees.” What a cool idea. I had no idea that any such thing existed. As a lover of trees, I think it is very fitting and appropriate to have a holy day that is dedicated to them.

Traditionally, this day is celebrated with a special meal, similar to the Passover seder, but including many fruits and nuts of trees (click here for source), and the sharing of stories about trees and fruit from various works of Jewish literature. The categories are appealing too, making sure that all types of trees and fruits are remembered and included.

I love this idea and wish this celebration, or something like it, were more widespread! I don’t want to appropriate anyone else’s holiday, but some ideas are just too wonderful not to be respected and honored. Whether it be this date or another, I would have a holy day in my own calendar that is set aside specifically to honor the trees that have touched my life.

I would have a special moment of memory for the hackberry tree that used to be my favorite spot for reading outdoors as a child, and another for the fir that was planted by my dad in my name many years past, and one more for the maple he later planted for my daughter. I would honor the burr oaks I have come to love in my transplanted home of Wisconsin, and the beautiful catalpa trees whose leaves cause me such a severe allergic reaction in the fall. I would reminisce about all these trees, and I would consider the myths of a tree of life. Stories of Eden and of Yggdrasil and perhaps magical Rowan trees would be part of my ceremony, and I would dream of a pilgrimage to the Redwood forest or the Aspen Grove. I would read The Island by Elizabeth Barret Browning and recite Joyce Kilmer’s Trees. The more I think on this idea, the more I think it should come into being. It sounds so right!

For the Jewish people, this day marks the beginning of spring in Israel. I personally think of spring with the equinox, so I may have found a way to develop my own ritual for March 20th. Does anyone else know of holidays from any faith that are dedicated specifically to trees? I know that we have Arbor Day, but that is more of a secular tradition, and I am most curious about celebrations that include a role for spirit. As a matter of fact, if you have time set aside specifically to honor the Standing People, I would appreciate it if you would share a little of what you do. What rituals, traditions or ceremonies do you use? I would love to hear more!

In the yard there grows a Rowan.
Thou with reverent care should’st tend it.
Holy is the tree there growing.
Holy likewise are it’s branches.
On it’s boughs the leaves are holy.
And it’s berries yet more holy.

 Excerpted from The Kalevala, seen on The Rowan Tree site

 

Stones, Rocks, Crystals … Friends

I have an affinity for stones in general. I remember, as a child, bringing stones into my bedroom and decorating the window sills, my dresser, desk, the top of the tv (<smile>) with them. My mother would complain that I was bringing the outdoors in, and after a day when she brought my collection back out to the yard from which I had found most of them, I decided to keep my favorite stones under my pillow. I find it interesting that just a few months ago, we were talking about my childhood and she asked me if I still kept rocks under my pillow. I didn’t even realize she knew! I guess she decided that, if I wanted them that much, she would leave them be.

Rocks still find their way under my pillow, near my bed and on the shelves around the house. A friend once told me that rocks and twigs are pagan souvenirs. In that sense, I suppose I am truly pagan in spirit. I love the stones that decorate my home, and I love learning about them, spending time holding them, meditating with them. They don’t have to be carved into any shape, though I have some beautiful fetishes and carvings. They don’t even have to be tumbled or finished. I love raw stones too. A raw stone feels different, and like an untamed animal, it seems more full of surprises!

Over the years, I have learned a lot by sitting with my stones. One thing is that listening inside to that deep still space when I am with them, they each have a “voice.” The type of stone (aventurine, lepidolite, onyx, etc) is almost like a culture among people. Most stones of a specific type have similar voices, certain traits in common – but that doesn’t mean that an individual stone might not have something very unusual to share.

I believe that everything in this world has a vibration, or energy signature. These may be very loud as with animals, insects, trees and what we commonly consider “living” things, or it can be very subtle as with objects made from wood or stone. Even human created items (polyester, plastic, etc) have an energy signature, even if many energy sensitives find it either unappealing or almost non-existant. When we look for that energy signature, we try to find those items whose signatures resonate with us, and make us feel whole or healthy. The items with these qualities tend to be from nature. I suspect this is why many of the older cultures on earth have a special reverence for the pieces of nature that surround them.

Many people collect stones for their energetic influences, otherwise known as metaphysical properties. People learn what a stone “means” from a book or on the internet and then determine with which ones they would like to connect. What I have learned is that you can’t always go by that, except in a very general sense. Just like the members of a family have a tendancy to be alike, you can still find the odd one out! When you see the energy of the stone as a friend, teacher or guide, you realize how challenging it is to accept a stone sight unseen. The fit has to be right!

For example, one of my favorite stones is lepidolite. I have a beautiful piece that I keep near my bed, and often under my pillow. It is a lovely stone and is a reminder of the dream world I love so much to explore. It is said that each piece of lepidolite has a guardian spirit, and that the stone chooses its keeper. There are other stones like that, too. Stones that choose who they want to be near. If you try to establish a connection to one of these stones without its approval, you will likely lose it. It will disappear one fine day and you simply won’t be able to find it. It may have dropped out of your pocket, fell out of its setting, or something similar. It seems this is also true when a stone you have had for a while decides it is time to move on. When that happens, you can search high and low with no luck.

Whether you like knowing the metaphysical properties of stones or not, it is likely that you have certain stones, perhaps as jewelry, that you tend to find appealing. Sapphires, diamonds, rubies … they are still stones and have energetic signatures that I believe we “hear,” whether it be consciously or not. Many people feel that crystals are an advanced energy form, or at least the symbol of enlightenment. I remember reading A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, where he explains it this way:

What could be heavier and more impenetrable than a rock, the densest of all forms? And yet some rocks undergo a change in their molecular structure, turn into crystals, and so become transparent to the light. Some carbons, under inconceivable heat and pressure, turn into diamonds, and some heavy minerals into other precious stones. [….] Since time immemorial, flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds have held special significance for the human spirit.

What if meditating on this concept might help us reach our own enlightenment? Just as an experiment, why not try meditating with one of your favorite stones, or jewelry pieces? Remember that jewelry generally has metal too, and that has a signature as well. So, as a piece of jewelry, you may get a very different kind of answer than you would with the stone by itself. Your answer is likely to be no less valid for that. After all, you wear it as a whole piece.

Whenever meditating, I always recommend engulfing yourself in light, calling in the quarters, or creating some other form of sacred space before you begin. As you go into trance, seek the spirit of the stone. Ask it what it is bringing to your life right now. I really suggest you try this without looking up the meaning of the stone, metal or other setting. That isn’t any kind of rule, though, so go ahead and check yourself if you want. Just remember that what you get from this meditation – what the stone brings you – may or may not be part of its commonly known metaphysical properties.

Some people see this kind of meditation as an of oracle for their life questions. Others see it as representative of Jungian archetypes, and therefore a clue into their inner psyche. Still others see this meditative connection as establishing a bond with energetic entities who may be teachers, guides or friends. No matter how you rationalize it with words, I believe that you can gain insight, strength and sometimes even healing from spending quiet time with rocks. At a bare minimum, even if you find you can’t let your imagination go in this direction, you can still benefit from the quiet time in your head!

New Year Thoughts

Beginnings are great times for thinking about what is coming into being, and what we have to release to make that happen.  As 2011 ends and 2012 begins, it seemed a perfect opportunity to sit and think about where I am in life and where I want to be. I don’t know that I have ever really taken stock of my life in this way before, at least not so consciously.

I turn 50 this year, and that is a milestone of sorts. It is yet one more reason for me to turn introspective, I suppose. When I look back over 2011, I can see the thread of transition that wove itself through my days. I started this blog, deepened my spiritual practice by re-establishing space and time for a daily meditation ritual, returned to my journaling more consistently and reconnected to the outdoors through a nature journal and the barefoot breathing e-course. Various practices from different times in my past came together in a way that felt like I was pulling myself into wholeness.

As I look forward to 2012, I am wanting to bring a few more pieces into the mix, round it out even more. I have done quite a bit of research in recent months, and one of the things I learned is that when I was a vegetarian in college, I didn’t really know what I was doing. That may be why it didn’t stick, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time for me to make that kind of change. I don’t know. I do know that I used to think that being a vegetarian was simply about not eating meat. Instead, I should have been focusing on what I needed to bring into my diet to be healthy. I didn’t really think about how leaving out meat opens the door for other foods to be eaten regularly – like healthier proteins in the forms of grains, nuts and seeds. Adding in a lot of greens, vegetables and fruit would have been a much healthier approach than eating the same junky, highly refined, commercialy processed food I had eaten previously, only without meat.

I am finally seeing the food I eat as being part of my spiritual practice. It is a new layer I am adding into my spiritual life. The food choices I make impact my mood, my energy level and the clarity of my thoughts. These are each key variables defining how I approach life in general, so it seems clear that learning to eat well is a part of the spiritual path I am walking.

If food is part of it, then becoming more fit has to be in there as well. I am not into exercising for the sake of exercise. I am starting to see my physical fitness as a way to honor the life I have been given. I don’t have to be a tri-athlete to appreciate the spiritual aspect of being fit enough to explore a mountain trail or walk for hours on the hiking trails in my local arboretum. That’s all I want. Nothing extreme.

Even so, these are big changes I am talking about. Changing my diet and my exercise patterns are things people always put in their “resolutions” list. These are perennial items because people don’t stick with them and so they resolve the next year to try again. I don’t want that to be me, so I am not resolving anything other than to take the knowledge I am gaining about health and nutrition, about health and fitness, and try to make decisions that will be consistent with what I am learning. I don’t expect to flip a switch and be a perfect vegan who trains for marathons in my spare time. I do expect to make my life healthier every day, by making the best choices I can, one day at a time.

I have also decided to dig a bit more into my writing, since that is one of the things I enjoy most doing. Julie Tallard Johnson (an author of 9 books, including The Wheel of Initiation: Practices for Releasing Your Inner Light and Spiritual Journaling: Writing Your Way to Independance) has put together a writer’s retreat to help aspiring writers go a bit deeper. I have signed up and I admit to being quite excited about it. Look for a post about my take on the seminar / retreat in February.

In 2012, I will be feeding my body with food and exercise, my spirit with meditation, prayer and continuing to help teach shamanism with my mentor. I will also be feeding my mind with writing and researching. It has a well-rounded feel to it all. I think I am off to a good start.

Here’s to your 2012 and I hope that the path you are exploring makes you feel as passionate and joyful as mine does!