Saturday, June 27, 2015

Finally Friday Week 21: Purging in Paradise

There's something I didn't mention. I came down with a pretty bad cold. The kind that keeps you in bed with a stack of Kleenex on your belly, a good book, cough drops—the works! Yes, you can get sick in paradise. I am :)

But the interesting thing is, I'm still enjoying my time here. Sure, night time is a bit rough with the coughing and such, but I usually feel a bit better during the daytime and have enough energy to go on one adventure. Luckily, I think the cold is on its final stretch to the finish line, thank goodness.

We are in the most gorgeous setting, so it's actually rather healing. We are way up in the hills of Kula at the base of the Mt. Haleakala farm sitting for friends. Yoon says my body is purging out all the impurities in this high vortex place. I'd like to look at it that way. It's given me an opportunity to slow down. In fact, whether I have a cold or not, this place makes you move very slow. It's not the kind of place where you are surrounded by tourists and you feel the need to check activities off a list.

Here, we feel we are not tourists. We are locals. I even went to the clinic here and Yoon drives a big truck that says Practice Aloha on the bumper. I have a CVS card and everyone thinks we are local.

This place calls us not to go out, but to sink in. It sings and vibrates and moves. A whirl of energy mixed with the fragrance of flowers, fluttering birds, trade winds from the coast, plants, vegetables, sun and light. It's really all about the light and the air and the stars. They make you stand still. You can't move. You don't remember what you planned to do, because you are just right here.

I'm right here.

No agenda.

Just wake up and see what happens.

And peacocks happened actually. We were up on the Hana Highway where we decided to stop off at Garden of Eden. We couldn't resist the name. Wow, what a gem of a place! The first thing I saw as we entered was a large male peacock. Peacocks have been on my mind for months now lately. The peacock began to follow me. Later we found a female and her baby and then the same thing happened. Around and around we went together near a picnic bench. I would think she'd want to protect her baby, but she wanted to scope me out. Maybe she was looking for food? I decided it was a sign. I needed a sign anyway. I decided that peacocks are my "spirit animal".

I looked it up online and it said that peacocks represent immortality and rebirth. They also represent royalty and prosperity. On a website called I read this quote: "With a peacock as your animal guide, he will tell you the power of believing that all things come in perfect timing, just trust the process and allow the Universe to do it's magic working on your behalf."

So with all this purging in paradise, perhaps I'm going through a kind of transformation. Maybe I'm becoming a peacock? No, in all seriousness, I do feel like something wants to work itself out of me. It could be just the cold, but I feel like it's a bit more than that. I feel I have been becoming a different person for a very long time, but I'm still holding on to old patterns and beliefs. These pull me down, really. So this purging, if I were to look at it metaphorically, really is a pulling out of who I used to be. It's not always easy to let that go. There's lots of fear in letting go of the identities we create.

I'm going to "trust the process," as the quote says. At times, up here, it feels like nothing is happening, but I know so much is going on. More than I can even comprehend.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Finally Friday Week 20: Living Wild in Maui

A rainbow on our journey up to the farm

"Nana ka maka;
ho`olohe ka pepeiao;
pa`a ka waha."

"Observe with the eyes;
listen with the ears;
shut the mouth."

Hawaiian Proverb

We are tending to a friend's farm for several weeks out here in the wilds of Maui, Hawaii. It's an outdoor living style. The kitchen is outside and we sleep in a geodesic dome and use the outside shower. We are taking care of two cute pups, 6 chickens, an amazing garden.

Life moves at a slower pace here. I'm sitting in the open air kitchen sipping Hawaiian ginger tea with fresh picked limes from the lime tree. Every now and then a hen comes along and plops down in front of me and then gets up, cackles and pecks at something in the rocks, and then wanders off. We don't feel the need to do too much out here except tend to our farming duties. We aren't farmers at home, except for the little garden we have in the front yard that a dear friend is watering while we are away.

The kale and Swiss chard here put my kale and Swiss chard to shame. These are not plants, these are TREES. I've never seen a kale tree grow anywhere else, so my husband and I figure it must be all the Aloha out here on this island in the middle of the Pacific. Here's what they look like:

Besides gathering eggs from the hens everyday, there are plenty of fruit trees bearing lots of fruit right now. The avacados are humungous and delicious and there are also bananas, mangoes, limes, tangerines and peaches all growing right above our heads!

And the flowers...well, there's nothing like the flowers on Hawaii: hibiscus, bird of paradise and, my favorite, plumeria.

The tropical rains have moved in, so I've moved the pups inside the dome where we are hiding out until it passes. Rains last a very short time here. The big chimes are blowing gently in the wind and birds of all varieties are singing their songs. Out in the pasture beyond, past the goats that graze in the gulch, I saw a pair of spotted dear. The male had huge antlers. And a few days ago a bright orange cardinal flew into the open air kitchen and kept trying to fly out the window rather than out the other side which was open to the outdoors. Yoon had to catch him and set him free. 

We feel so fortunate that our friends are willing to share their piece of paradise with us and we are tempted to live out in the wilds of Hawaii too someday. There must be a reason why we keep coming back to these islands every year. When you get away from all the tourists and the hoopla and really sink into Aloha, let it enter you and feed your soul, things really start to shift. They say the islands magnify everything and change happens super fast. It you set an intention here, it's bound to take hold much faster than it normally would. I think I believe that.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Finally Friday Week 19: Symbols in Dreams and Waking Life

"Dreams are more real than reality itself, they're closer to the self."— Gao Xingjian

I was on a train. I was with Yoon, my husband. The train was suspended above the city, like a train from the future. It was a crowded, bustling city on the coast and it appeared to be in Korea. We thought we were headed towards Seoul, but found out that the train was going the opposite direction. Somehow the train stopped and I could not find Yoon to know if we should get off. Everyone was filing out the doors. I stood up and looked in front of me and behind, but Yoon was nowhere to be seen. I followed everyone off the train and to a bus. I thought the bus was headed to Seoul and that I'd find Yoon eventually. The bus drove on a road that hugged the coastline. There was a blanket of snow on the beach and white caps out on the ocean that seemed to be getting bigger by the minute. The water swirled up in a giant tsunami wave over our bus and then receded with the same forcefulness with which it rose. I was a little frightened. We seemed to be headed further and further out to the countryside and I had a sinking feeling I was once again going the wrong direction. I stood up and asked the bus driver in broken Korean if we were headed to Seoul. He stopped the bus and pointed to a tiny bus station where I could get a refund for my bus ticket and a bus to Seoul. Eventually, after many hours, I arrived in Seoul to my house there. I waited and waited for Yoon. A co-worker from my current job walked in. I said, "What are you doing here?" She let me know that she lived there. "Do you know where Yoon is?" And right as I said it, he walked in wearing yoga clothes and plopped down on the sofa as if it were no big deal that we had lost each other on the train.

And then last night, I had a similar dream. I lost my suitcase on a tour we were on. They were loading suitcases onto the roof of a bus and I had a sinking feeling that mine did not get loaded on. Sure enough, it hadn't. And then I had also misplaced my glasses and a favorite shirt from India in the hotel where we were staying with our group. I lamented about this to Yoon who believed the suitcase would show up and the glasses/shirt could be replaced. He ran off to chat with someone in our group who, coincidentally, had an Indian shirt just like the one I had bought years ago in India. She gave it to him to give to me. He said, "I found your shirt!" I was elated, but after I put it on, I knew it wasn't mine. I said, "This is not my shirt, where did you get it?" He let me know that he got it from someone in our group who had one just like mine. She did not seem to mind parting with it. I didn't feel right about it and gave it back. I felt a bit deflated about the loss of these material things because some of them had meaning to me, even though they were just things.

So I had two dreams about losing something two nights in a row: losing my husband in a crowd and losing my possessions. It could be a coincidence, but I like to look at these things. Sometimes these images and signs can show up in waking life too. I have many memories of losing my keys or losing my sunglasses. For this reason, I purposely buy cheap sunglasses. I also have memories of losing Yoon in a crowd. I once lost him on a ferry boat. We were disembarking and he was nowhere to be found and he couldn't remember where the car was parked, so he stood near the ramp where the cars were disembarking, waiting until he could identify my car and quickly jumped in.

Life is full of loss, but no one likes to lose anything. Eventually we will all have to let go at some point. I think these are signs that I've been afraid to let go of....what? I'm not really sure.

 Yoon and I have carved out quite a comfortable life and community here in Seattle and we really enjoy ourselves here. We travel, we lead retreats, I teach at a local college, he teaches yoga all around Seattle. We enjoy the beaches and walks all over this amazing city. So what's the problem? Why all the dreams about losing something? Do these dreams mean anything? Should I pay attention to them? Do they have to make any sense or can I just leave them for what they are?

Today, while walking on one of those amazing beach-forest walks, I felt the joy of eating my first thimble berry of the season and could almost feel the chill myself as I watched my husband strip down to his underwear and plunge into Puget Sound and then run over to the log where I was seated so that he could dry off. We sunk are bodies down into the warm sand, letting it sift between our toes and  fingers. We closed our eyes and held hands and eventually Yoon fell asleep and I could hear a faint snore. It was a blissful afternoon and we've been having lots of those lately. 

But, on the way back, I could feel my body wanting to stride ahead through the forest. Yoon got stuck behind some slow hikers and I was in the clear. It felt good to hear my heart beat, be silent, smell the sweet fragrance of the pine needles under my sneakers and look up to the canopy of maples, cedar and pine above me, creating the perfect shade to a gorgeous day in Seattle. As I walked on the path alone, I felt the future fold in on me. I saw a friend on my path, in my mind's eye. I saw myself in another terrain doing very different things. I saw that I was part of a community. That I lived in nature with other like-minded people. It felt like it was Hawaii. I felt like I had come home. I stopped on the path and hugged a pine tree—touched my forehead to its thick bark skin. Yoon caught up with me and we happily continued on our way to the car.

I looked online about what the word "lose" or "lost" means in dreams. It's pretty predictable to guess the meaning. I believe I've gotten quite comfortable with my life. I'm not being challenged or feeling challenged. I've become a bit lethargic and I procrastinate quite a bit. I don't feel a clear direction and I know I'm not using all of my gifts. I know I have much more to do here on the planet and I have much more to offer. I've sunken into the habitual and the tried and true, but it's time to step out into that great, scary, undefined abyss again. The one that takes you places you never dreamed you'd go. I've taken this leap so many times before, but oddly it seems scarier this time. Before, I took the leap because I was not comfortable where I was. Now I am completely comfortable, but feeling called to step out again.

Do you pay attention to symbols and signs in your dreams and waking life?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Finally Friday Week 18: The Fine Art of Floating

It's 81 degrees in Washington State and it's 8:30pm. I know that might not seem like much, but it is for these parts.

As soon as we heard it was going to be this warm, Yoon and I made plans to pack up and head to our family lake house. We wanted to be near water.

Speaking of water, I was instructed by several doctors NOT to swim, but I'm a rebel. When someone tells me not to do things, that's a license to try it. As long as I'm not hurting anyone, including myself, I'm all game.

Since I ruptured my eardrum back in March, I knew that lake water in my ear is a very big no-no. An infection much worse than the one that blew my eardrum could happen very easily if ANY water gets in it, but particularly lake or ocean water.

But, hello, it's 81 degrees and expected to be warm all summer. I can't let a hole in my ear stop me. So the doctor recommended Mack's silicone earplugs and keeping my head out of the water. And that's what I did today! It felt liberating to be in the crystal clear lake swimming around. A part of me thought I wouldn't be able to do that until I got my ear repaired. I was very careful to keep my head out and the smooth lake (not a ripple in it) made it easy to do so.

I went in and out of the lake all day. Just as soon as I dried off, I wanted back in. I floated and floated and floated for hours. Sometimes I used a noodle to float and other times I floated in a lounger. It was so liberating to close my eyes and gently drift on this glassy surface, untethered to anything. I think I was having my own private celebration. I felt like I had succeeded in doing something I thought was ruled out for me. It was a little victory and I enjoyed every minute of it today.

I know that goals are important and I've been thinking a lot about some of things I'd like to do before I turn a big number in 5 years. I've got ideas and plans and schemes. I'm working towards those and I'm a person that has quite a bit of determination. Once I put my mind to something, I tend to do it.

But today I practiced the art of floating. I was in the now. The dark water made it feel like I was tumbling through space. Sparkles on the water were thousands of stars. I've come to realize that things will work out for the best. That life is a dance between me and something much bigger. You can call it God or the Universe or whatever you want. The Universe seems to work for me right now. I am finding that it is important to be both grounded and to let go. This is the fine art of floating. I know who I am and I know the things that are important to me, but, as John Lennon once said so eloquently, "Life happens when we are busy making other plans." I don't want to let one moment of this life pass me by. Our time here happens in a blink of an eye. So yes, I have dreams and goals and I know that some will play out in my life like they have before, but I'm not hanging on to some idea or dream of the future. I'm floating with now. It's all we've really got.

Do you make your moments count, or are you holding out for something better?