Life can be difficult to navigate. 

Are you looking for a way to make it through the day less stressed?          Find the tools you need here.

Is the well you draw from empty?                                                           Find ways to fill your cup here.

Ready to throw in the towel and give up on your goals?                           Find a fresh perspective here.

 

Friday
Sep092016

Whatever comes my way...

 "What are you fishing for?"

I had asked this of a young man, with his fishing gear in hand. I was hoping the answer would be Barracuda. That was the fish my son, Matthew, was seeking on the Island of Kauai.  He had done his research over the past two days searching various web sites and YouTube videos, talking to locals at every small town market and roadside angler we came across.  

We had already been to two other gorgeous river inlets. There are 8 places where the rivers of Kauai make their way to the Ocean from atop Mount Kawaikini the highest point on the island. We had even retrieved our live bait for the occasion from a local tide pool.

It was at dinner the night before that Matt became convinced this beautiful lighthouse setting was the perfect place to cast his line. Our waiter's excitement was evident as he shared with us the story of his own Barracuda catch, pole set up, location and even time of day.  "Early while the sun is still low and the shadow around the cliff keeps the fish from seeing you there."  

The next day, at Ninini Point Lighthouse, we crossed paths with another young man. I had asked him what he was fishing for.  He gave me an unexpected answer...

"Whatever comes my way."  

For over 15 years our family has made the trip across the Pacific to the peace and tranquility of Kauai's paradise. The locals who might otherwise avoid tourist's conversation, ( I don't feel like a tourist anymore), are happy to share their love of the sea and fishing for it's bounties. We were not the only ones carrying fishing poles everywhere we went.  In fact, if you pay attention to the details, you will notice a pole sticking out of the window or the back end of most cars and trucks without a rental car tag.  Men, women, and children are everywhere on the Island throughout the day casting a line into the sea. 

Perhaps, the joy they find in this daily routine comes from the answer I was given that morning.  They accept each day from the sea "whatever comes their way."

We each cast our lines into the sea of life daily. Is the joy, the peace, the satisfaction with that "life line" found in our ability to accept whatever comes our way? I believe it is. Below the surface, just out of our view, the sea of life actually carries within it's current greater abundance than we could possibly estimate.

We plan, we prepare, map out the perfect time and location, then cast into life our efforts. Looking forward to a specific return on our baited hook, the reeling in is thrilling, though almost always more work than we anticipated. To what end? Exactly what you planned for? Did you catch what you were expecting? something better and bigger perhaps? Or, more likely, did you catch a snag and an emptyhook?  Is it "the one that got away?"  Will you accept a catch that is completely unexpected today?  Is it a keeper or will you toss it back into the sea?  Will it feed your family today and require the same effort again tomorrow?

So much effort for the unknown.  

At this lighthouse fishing spot in Kauai, as well as many others, there are anchors in the rock cliff that the lighthouse sits upon.  Fisherman tie a bell onto their poles and then anchor the pole to the rock.  They then wait at a distance, close to the lighthouse, so as not to be swept away by the temptest waves on stormy days.  Waitng for the faint tinkling of a small bell to signal that their cast for the day, even in the storm, has granted unto them a gift from the sea.

When taking fishing into consideration, "Let go and let God," has a whole new meaning. The visual of letting go of the line and watching it fly across the sea is powerful.  We can only control what happens on the shore before the cast. The location, the bait, our patience with the bite, even our willingness to accept the days catch.  Peace whispers that the fisherman's work (our work) will, in time, bring forth the bounty we seek. And so, we cast out our line again with a prayer... "Make me strong enough to reel today."  "Give me courage to face an empty hook...again."  "The beauty of the sea today Lord was enough." 

With the permission of my daughter, Colby, I share a piece of her life.  She is the oldest of my four daughters and has been a constant light in my life.  Her enthusiasm for and joy in "fishing life's sea" in spite of the unexpected each day is amazing!  She married her husband Al, at the age of 21.  Their daughter Brooke was born a year later.  Just over a year after that their son Kaden blessed their lives.  Good jobs, sweet family...perfect, exactly as they had planned. 

One year later, Kaden was diagnosed with Autism. Not exactly what they had been expecting. The emotions they experience and the challenges they face together often seem unsurmountable to others. Yet, on a daily basis, they accept whatever comes their way.  In Colby's own words, "We appreciate so much more and find joy from so many new things with Kaden than I ever thought possible.  Brooke is a better sister because of him. It's perfect for us!"  An unexpected snuggle, a joyful laugh, a successful family hike, a full night of sleep...each worth the days work of reeling for the catch. So much joy in the unexpected gifts from the Sea.

Kaden is four now.  He is amazing!  Brooke is a first grader...such a big girl! And, this year baby Blakely is a new addition to their family. Kaden is still non-verbal but he does not needs words to show his love for his baby sister! Their life is lived unconventionally.  They cast into life's currents with the same consideration for the details as any good fisherman would.  There are evenings when I talk on the phone with my daughter and I can feel her tired bones through the phone line.  I know her husband feels the same exhaustion from the days labor.  Yet, there is always gratitude for the ability to make the cast regardless of the catch that day. 

Colby, has a tatoo on her left shoulder that reads "find joy in the ordinary."  If you ask her, she will tell you that I thought she was crazy to get words permenantly engraved on her body. (I would never have that same confidence!) What I really think is that they are perfect for her...an acknowlement of how extrodinary the ordinary can become.

Most days in our lives are "ordinary."  We cast our line and reel it in, with little grand reward, at times we are left completely empty handed. I have had days when I have left my fishing pole on the shore...it just didn't seem worth the effort.

It is our willingness to bait hook and cast into the currents, despite our discouragments and sore reeling arms, that allows the opportunity for the extordinary to find it's way to our nearly invisible line and tiny hook in the great sea of life. 

Finding joy in the "ordinary" of each day makes the fishing trip grand!

My son did not catch a Barracuda that year on the Island.  I am certain he will cast again another day...

Sunday
Mar062016

"You gotta love the Victory Vomit" and other lessons learned in Sedona...

Victory vomit.

My son sent me a picture of it after his ascent to the top of a ancient volcano vent just outside of Sedona Arizona.  I seriously considered posting it. Instead you see the other photo of the magnificent view from the top which followed. 

His journey began while we were returning home from a glorious day in Sedona.  We were sharing stories with our nephew and his wife.  One of which recounted a road trip wherein our son, Matthew, had spent much of his time trying to get us all to guess how long it would take him to ascend nearby yet distant hills.  The usual sibling response was 30 or 45 minutes.  His response to that would always be "No, I could do it in 20 minutes easy, maybe 10."  This would be followed by an argument with his siblings until the next rise when it would start over. 

We were all laughing at Matthew's childhood naivete when he boldly stated, "You know what...I still believe I could have made it in 20 minutes.  In fact, see that volcano vent over there?  I believe I can make it to the top of that in 20 minutes...even 15 minutes."  To that his dad pulled over and said "Go for it." 

This was a ridiculous notion.  None of us could believe it when he jumped out and started across the desert.  His first obstacle was a large barbed fence he would need to climb in shorts and tennis shoes.  (I should mention here that it was this very same type of obstacle where he gave up five years ago along side the highway when his dad pulled over and ended the kids arguments in a similar manner.)  This time however, Matt was not to be deterred.  He made it over the fence and was off.  By now I had rolled down the window and was yelling for him to return to the car. I assured him that I loved him and that there was no need for him to prove anything. (Good "mom words"...)

Had it been any later in the year I would have insisted he return for fear of rattle snakes.  Today there was nothing to fear but a bruised ego and perhaps at worst a broken bone if he failed to navigate the last few vertical feet of the vent properly.  We waited. We watched. 

With only one short break as he assessed the last 50 feet or so which would include some more difficult climbing, 13 minutes later he was at the top.  It was a grueling 13 minutes.  It was so physically taxing that he literally vomited when he finally stopped.  He raised his hands above his head in victory and yelled out to the desert below.  It was a shout of triumph which would be carried away by the wind.  That was o.k.  (After all, he had just sent mom the victory vomit photo as proof)

Can you see him there?

  He looks so small  compared to his surroundings in the photo.   No one would notice him there.  This climb meant nothing really.  No one else cared at all. (Well, one pickup truck did pull over across from us out of curiosity.  I would like to think they were asking themselves, "Who is that courageous young man?" More likely they were trying to figure out what we were watching and when they realized it was just some "crazy kid" they moved on.)

 Contrast his perspective...

The view is grand.  The world literally lay now at his feet.  No longer was his vision obscured by the tall desert shrubs which had previously been an painful challenge to his ascent. He could now clearly see the surrounding landscape.

At some point, when he was about half way up the hill, we all started rooting for him to make it.  He later shared that it was at about this same point he had started to realize his goal was much further away than he had anticipated.  It was shear determination to prove himself the victor that pushed him on. 

It was a severe case of "I'll show you!" that preceded the victory vomit -- not the Prickly Pear Fries he had for lunch. 

When you are the youngest in a family with six children this ailment often compels you forward.  Taking you out of your comfort zone, through your apprehensions, to "What the hell was I thinking?" and then on towards "I'm not turning back now...I can do this."

I have been at the base of my own volcano vent for what has been very near a year now.  A lack of posts on this very site attest to my loss of words.  They were here swirling around in my head.  I simply could not formulate them into action.  In the past week two people I love called me out on this fact.  Noting "Why haven't you written anything since your mother died?"  I did not have an answer.  

With so many words rolling around in my head I needed something to pull the answer out of the whirlwnd.

While in Sedona that day, I was introduced to the infamous Sedona Vortexes.  These beautiful Vortex locations were pointed out to us by the driver of our Jeep 4X4 Adventure.  He was quite the character, "Max from Estonia."  Far from home, familiar with hard work, the taste of rat, and one who believed in the Vortexes ability to help people heal.  His jokes made us laugh as we all enjoyed our attempts to sort truth from fiction in his stories. 

This is Max:                                                  

 

This is us...feeling the Vortex??

Simple Definition of vortex

  • : a mass of spinning air, liquid, etc., that pulls things into its center (Think toilent bowl or dust whirlwind.)

A Sedona Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy.  The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to it’s center everything that surrounds it like a tornado.  It is said that at these beautiful sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex. 

My photo evidence:

Are these Vortexes real?  I have no idea. 

Do I believe that the beauty of our world, the energy of good company, sunshine, and a loving "prod" brought about through connection can release you from a life Vortex? 

Absolutely.  

Do I believe that people have been drawn to various places around the world for thousands and thousands of years for spiritual refueling?

Absolutely I do. 

I have posted my own experiences with a few I have been privileged to visit myself.  Medicine Wheel in the Big Horn Mountains, the Valley of Fire in Nevada, an ancient Buddhist pilgrimage destination and a cliff where the ancient art of Hula is still taught on the Island of Kauai. And, of course now...Sedona.

There are also my personal spiritual "Vortex" locations:  the front porch of my cabin in the Cascade Mountains, in my kayak, at the family dinner table when we gather any given Sunday, my daily walks with the dog, a road trip anywhere, and always when I choose to really connect through conversation with those I come in contact with. (A shout out to all those who were willing to engage in great conversation that Sedona day.)

When I made the decision to begin this writing endeavor "Pursuing Peace" I knew it would require self examination and a determination to keep at the pursuit myself.  What was I afraid of? What would I write if I had no fear?  Enough words...how about I just push open that scary door and face the monster?

Matt's call to my cell phone that late afternoon in Sedona opened the door for me. It was a brief communication,  "I made it.  13 minutes.  I'm going to throw up now."

I am just about to complete a three-daughter's-married-in-twelve-months year. My mom, their grandma, will not have been here for any of these beautiful events as her funeral fell in the same twelve months. I am also in the process of downsizing and selling our family home of 20 years.  All of these are good things.  Each has been a beautiful experience.   Even through the loss of my mom I often found Peace unexpectedly along the way.  However, I can see that the resulting emotional debris created a "life vortex" swirling a bit too close for comfort. Pulling myself away from it's force would require real effort.  Besides, those were my emotions, I wasn't sure I wanted them carried away...yet.

Matt was kind enough to send me a picture of the dreaded monster.  Yep.  The victory vomit.

Emotional climbs are a lot of work. You have to be willing to put in the equivalent of victory vomit effort. All the while knowing that the people around you, even people you love, don't get it.  Your goal is unappreciated.  This is your case of "I'll show you" and the you... is you

Making my way past "What the hell was I thinking?" and on to "I'm not turning back now...I can do this"  I know I heard the encouraging voice of Peace whisper"You can do this." (Had my son also recognized Peace cheering him on from amongst the cacti?)  I arrived at the point where the ascent was difficult but relatively quick (my 13 minutes).  The view from the top? I can see the whirlwind of my emotional debris traveling it's course and dissipating back into the landscape of my life. I am ready to make a triumphant shout to be carried away by the wind. (Perhaps while kayaking...that's peaceful.)

Can you see the dust swirling behind me? 

Perhaps it's a Sedona Vortex...

Is it time to create one of your own?