Saturday, October 31, 2015

Birthday Reflections

29 years old and a half an hour. Today I thought: I am exactly the person that I want to be. I imagined myself as a seed, gone back into its singularity to sprout into an new level of terrain. I’m pleased with my life and living situation, I am gainfully employed, I have a community of support that shines back at me. I went to a SplendorAllAround show today, and found myself amidst familiar earth, familiar people, familiar music. The consistency of growing roots has me feeling centered, content, and invigorated.

I’ve received gifts from my family in Michigan. They love me lots. I miss them—especially in the fall. Pumpkin pie reminds me of my grandma, and cookies of my grandpa. Fallen leaves crinkling underfoot has my dad’s voice echoing in my ears. The wonder of a new package in the mail makes me think of my mom, and the inspiring art around me, spilling out of my friends always makes me think of my sister.

I worked two jobs today, the day before my birthday. I am growing and learning a lot by paying more and more careful attention. This awareness brings a crispness to my lived experience, and a clarity to my vision, and not just in my employment. My work with my hands teaches me enriching things every day, and the human body’s complexities keep me in wonder.

I’m feeling really free. Levity is the word. Good thing I’m so grounded, or I’d float away in bliss. 

Monday, June 22, 2015


After gathering wood, fetching water, and building a fire, there's a moment of pause while the water comes to a boil. Breathing in the scene, the old master must have noticed the camellia bush above, leaves waving gently. Familiar with hundreds of plants at hand, it's a surprise this herbal doctor hadn't known this one for its benefits. That is, until fate would have a single leaf, brimming with rejuvenating essence, tumbling into the master's pot, now at a boil after the long pause. Maybe it was sheer luck that he recognized the botanical acquaintance, saw that fateful plunge, and payed attention as the infusion lifted his spirits and focused his mind. But luck doesn't have work so well without taking the time to breathe, to notice.

That's the story at least. I guess the sage's name was Shen Nong. He's China's original tea drinker. Other cultures will tell you it's the Buddha's eyelashes, magically turned into tea seeds. Maybe it's none of these, but rather a long and subtle history from way back, humans munching on leaves since the stone age. I think the above story about Shen Nong gives a great insight into tea culture, though. Awareness is the human movement most associated with tea. It is, after all, contemplative act, sipping a hot beverage.

Hope you find a time to slow down and notice something that luck is showing  you today. If you're really lucky, it'll be over a warm drink.

Long Hand Haiku

She really even blossoms further
after midnight (and you
thought her beauty ended
in that dress), when
beyond her radiance,
she shines more so at night,
awash in dark and silver
beams that make-glow
dresses, crumpled on the floor,
and her, now
dressed in gilded
baptized in solitude.
And the moon.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Coast Goats!

I'm off my gotta-show-up-for-work job until January 2, so I had a chance to get away for an overnight in a peaceful spot. A friend I met through Whitney who works on a farm where he takes care of goats. I had been curious to meet and milk his critters, and I got the chance.

Slide Ranch is on the coast, surround by Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Seems like if the earth shook just right, the whole operation would slide into the ocean.

Luckily, the land there is so peaceful. Round twenty people keep the place running as a venue for outdoor education. Informative signs point out where bee hives are and why they're important. There's a yurt overlooking an endless pacific horizon, just asking for a class on native birds, and another gazebo to show how weaving works.

There is a garden that points out how important Comfrey is as an herb, as well as a beach made of plum sized stones worn by the salty waves.

After spending the night there, we met up with some other friends just a bit further up the coast. You remember that Splendor All Around show on the big blue school bus? Some of those musicians were practicing to record some songs.

I'm back home in the East Bay now, belly full and scheming about how to be productive in the next few restful days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter's Closing In

It's all sorts of rain in California these days. After a heavy drought for the last several years, the ground is finally drinking deep. Feathery green wood sorrel has sprouted in every spare inch of exposed soil, and is flavoring my morning smoothies. The sun, still waning until the solstice on the 21st, is encouraging me to go to bed early, cook hearty meals, and generally follow my trend of self-care. I'm simmering soup broth, munching on not-from-a-can tuna salad (with fennel!), and working from home on a project for Far Leaves Tea. I'm picking up hours there in a wholesale sales position, and weaning myself off the Bakery job, fitting with my exceeding passion for tea, and diminishing interest in baked goods. All this rest has me feeling antsy at times, but I'm learning lessons about stillness and transmuting my boredom into productivity. I'm also more and more looking forward to the solstice and longer days.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Granite Gratitude & Turkey Scrambling

I was disappointed, albeit hypocritically, that my dad's side of the family didn't have a big Thanksgiving shin-dig this year. Having just visited, though, my guilt on the subject is assuaged. This year, I spent the holiday with my main-squeeze, Whitney, and his family. We drove together down to Santa Barbara, a 5.5 hour trip, where I got to hang out with his mom, dad, and two brothers. Arrived just in time to help make some food for the spread, had an easy-going and filling meal, and walked the beautiful beaches before sleeping off the drive. Next day, we went hiking in the Santa Barbara foothills. Whitney had told me his parents were avid and active outdoors-people, but I had not anticipated rock-scrambling along a couple ridges overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific beyond. We peaked out at Cathedral Peak, and scrambled down the other side of the ridge. I felt beat after that, so here's a pic of me on the way up.

It was a good thing that we had that warm up lap, cause the next day, we hit the road again for another long drive inland to Joshua Tree National Park, where we arrived around 3 am and flopped off the road a long enough hike not to be bugged by rangers in the morning. I woke up to sunrise over an alien landscape with crazy looking plants and boulders stacked as though by titans.

The next two days, we did a lot more rock scrambling, this time, on much more vertically inclined rocks. I was the wimpy kid next to Whitney and his brother leading the way. They had grown up rock climbing and seemed to have no fear. I followed them as far as I felt comfortable, and then even a little more, seriously testing my fear of heights.

I look wiley in the above picture, but this was just before I was holding on for my life in a probably-perfectly-safe, but still scary-as-shit climb with a dangerous-ish drop behind me. (Maybe I should have put on the climbing shoes attached to my belt loop?)

I did find plenty of time to sip on some delicious tea that Whitney's dad had recieved from students he taught in China, and kept the Thanksgiving theme going with heartily earned meals to recharge at the end of the day.

I can't emphasis enough how wonderful it was to just be in the desert there. The air was dry and cool, and the sun was encouraging in the winter. Saw a lot of extremely awesome rock climbing, and was thankful that I had great people to be patient with my beginner status on the way up. I'm encouraged by the feeling of tiredness I had after keeping moving all day for the last few days (excepting the longish travel days) and hope to keep up the exercise. Strengthening my shoulder joints by gently pursuing climbing activities may be a great way to rehabilitate my loose left shoulder, as well.

Flew home this afternoon and back to the grindstone tomorrow. For now, though, it's time for a nice long soak in the bath, and fantasize about the next trip into a national park out here; I'm falling in love with the West.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Easy

I'm just back from a really swell trip to Yosemite with my friends. SK, Kevin and I got to hang out among granite cliffs and the trees that reach up and up toward their heights. We feared for bears because we ate so well. We walked well-worn paths, and took it easy.

The whole time I was there, I was thinking of how easy life can be. I had been stressed about going on vacation. I had felt a little frazzled after a trip to Michigan. I tarried in Chicago on the way back from Michigan and had a bit too much fun in that fair city. I needed some rest. And, maybe for the first time, I recognized that I needed to rest, and took the time to be nice to myself. I stretched, rubbed my bike-crash wounds with salve, and went to bed early. I felt right and sustained. And when I had whipped myself into unnecessary nerves about going out of town,

I caught myself; I had wonderful family behind me, and a family of friends ahead of me. I breathed, and I had a great time.

I'm happily stuck with this song in my head that I heard on that school bus. I didn't tell you that I went to another Splendor All Around show, and got cozy with strangers, again, in the name of folk music. For the second time, I heard this song (follow link, song starts 1 minute into the track) and it really affected me. The song is about loving yourself enough to not grow skinny in solitude, but to "swell in your loneliness; love yourself enough to rest."