There is a wonderful rose garden near my office. I go there almost every day to see what has changed and to smell the flowers. My phone has many photos of roses which caught my eye on different days. This was yesterday’s rose. The beauty and the scent were unaffected, and perhaps even heightened because of how damaged it is. The gardeners tend lovingly to this area, but somehow this rose must have been particularly appealing to whatever is eating it alive. I think the holes are lovely though with their negative space framed by dark edges. I felt a kinship to this flower. Relationships and events in my life sometimes nibble little pieces of me away and though I am alive, I too am a damaged rose.
This is the very beginning of a story quilt about one of my demons. I have been meditating for around 50 days, exploring different types and surrendering to those that speak to me. One of the most intense has been “Feeding your Demons”. Llama Tsultrim Allione has made a Tibetan practice of getting to know and interact with the things that haunt and block us and changing them to be our allies accessible to Westerners. I have had several demon feeding sessions and one brought me to the realization that my need for external validation has become a monster, yet when if I shift my focus to providing it for myself it nourishes me and creates an abundance of love I can share with the world.
Right now, the quilt is waiting for the right fabric to make my demon out of. It will be inky and squid-like. The background and curled up silhouette are made from fabrics that I dyed myself with a combination of rust, plants from my yard, and chemical dye. The slow process of hand piecing the quilt top allows time for reflection and growth. I hope that the finished quilt will tell a story of healing and that this demon will be externalized for good.
Downieville is a magical little town with some pretty dark history, nestled in the pines. I haven’t been there for 2 years, but lately it has been on my mind…
Above the town, up a winding and particularly bumpy dirt road, where you reach an impassible point and have to walk the last bit, sits my favorite lookout. The views are spectacular…so vast that you can hardly comprehend the scale of what you see below you. The day in the photographs was exceptionally beautiful because the billowy clouds were moving quickly and their shadows on the ground below moved parallel in a fascinating dance of earth and sky…dark and light.
This place and the town below are calling to my soul and I must go.
We didn’t see the sign until we had ever so carefully climbed down the two flights, holding onto the rails and gingerly stepping on the rusty metal edges in case more of the wood gave way. Then at the bottom there it was, blown off to the side, saying: Danger! The stairs are closed…with little fluttering broken pieces of caution tape tied to the rails. Would it have made a difference if we had seen the sign beforehand? No, because we had hiked 2 miles of steep switch backs through loose gravel and granite and there was no way we would turn around without swimming in the glorious pool at the bottom.
Our intent had been to make it all they way to Curtain Falls (which you can see back in the following image) but it was a bit more treacherous than we were prepared for. Next time, we will pack twice the water and a waterproof bag to swim and scramble over boulders all the way to the waterfall.
The view of Bald Rock Dome, of the granite sides of the canyon, and the verdant forest are well worth the perilous hike and several days of ache that follow.
I recently attended a workshop on embracing change. One of the takeaways was focusing on gratitude as a way to bring yourself back to the present. There was a little treasure chest full of rocks passed around to the participants. Most of the rocks were polished semi-precious stones in lovely colors, but I found the one that was obviously picked up from the beach to be particularly captivating because of how it has been worn down by the elements. Each time I look at it I think of something I am grateful for: meditation is often the first thing that comes to mind these days. But I also think of how elements of our lives wear on us in intricate ways that we can choose to see as beautiful even if we are raw and unpolished.
In the last several years I got busy with life and stopped listening to myself, stopped creating almost entirely, and paused dreaming in order to get better at basic survival. I did this consciously…deleted all my blog posts, closed my Etsy shop, and unplugged from Facebook…essentially becoming invisible to the outside world as well. Recently I began to hear my tiny voice calling me to create, calling me to adventure.
I took a mental health day from work soon after my voice returned and went to this amazing secret swimming spot…far enough off the beaten trail that my heart beat ferociously wondering if my car would make it down and then back up the primitive road to the trail head. I was the only person there that day. It was easier to hear my voice and reconnect with my myself on the trail, and while dipping my toes into the icy water and feeling the sun kiss my shoulders.
As I spend more time listening, my voice is getting stronger and I am re-awakening the part of me that is an artist.