Monday, November 29, 2010

Mon, Nov 29, 2010: A Single Crane

Just now, I was cleaning off my desk and found a perfect square of origami paper left over from my senbazuru project. The 1,000 cranes are displayed prominently in my room, fanned out in groups across the ceiling like a massive flock in flight. This single piece of paper somehow never managed to make it into that flock.

I took the paper and turned it over... and over... in my fingers... and had no idea how to begin. As I sat, I felt more and more betrayed by my fingers, who ran along the paper uselessly despite having manipulated similar pieces so artfully so many times before. I ended up having to look up the directions online and was happy to feel my memory being triggered by the act of creating the crane. The memory of focusing my energy and creating those pieces of joy and beauty is still there, just under the surface, waiting to be tapped whenever I want it.
Has it really been a year and a half since I began folding the first cranes of this huge undertaking? I remember when creating them became my meditation, and their presence filled my days with color and beauty and joy.
When I think back to that time in my life, I am amazed that such an explosion of life and joy, such a statement of my being and my energy, burst forth at such a time. The little crane that I created tonight is sitting on my computer monitor and has renewed some of that joy of creation in me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fri, Nov 26, 2010: Florissant Fossil Beds

I have wanted to visit the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument since moving to Colorado, but for some reason just hadn't done it yet. B and I decided to change that up on Friday, and we headed down all bundled up and ready for a cold hike.

On the way to the park, we passed the Hornbek Homestead and turned in to take a look. Up on a hillside overlooking the buildings was this odd door, which I think might have been a root cellar (?).
View of the homestead from the random door on the hillside:
The first stumps that we saw near the Visitor's Center were massive and protected under metal structures. You can see that this one is banded together to keep it from falling apart.
Just outside of the Visitor's Center was a stump that had another tree growing out of it!
This tree survived a lightning strike and has the scar to prove it.
A sign pointed out that this rock is shale, which is peeled back to reveal fossils inside.
I love the twisty shape of these trees!
By this point, we hadn't seen any stumps aside from those just outside the Visitor's Center, and I started getting sad. Was that it? Where were all the stumps? One sign informed us that at one point in the forest's history, tourists used to flock there in order to cut up the stumps and bring a piece home. I wondered if there were any left, or if the monument still existed to remind people of the consequences of being foolish with natural treasures. While these thoughts were swimming in my head, we suddenly came upon the biggest stump in the park, named The Big Stump. Here is B next to it. The stump towered over his 6 1/2 foot frame.
We continued wandering through the park and I was happy to see in the field ahead of us some more fenced off stumps. PHEW! B decided to climb up a little hillside to get a better view while I was putting something away in my backpack. He called me up when I was finished and when I arrived, he pointed out a small hill in front of him. The small hill had pieces of petrified tree scattered around all over it, from tiny shards to pieces bigger than my head. B said he guessed the small hill was actually a stump that hadn't been excavated yet. This area ended up being the highlight of the trip for me, as I carefully made my way around and admired every ancient piece of tree with awe and wonder.
This piece was covered in lichens:
B was attempting to meditate and go to a spiritual place up on the hillside, but I kept calling him down. Didn't he realize that experiencing his discovery is in itself a spiritual experience? He said later that while he was sitting on the hillside, something kept disturbing his mind, as if the earth was poking him in the head and insisting that he pay attention to the amazingness that was right in front of him. It's the first time I know of that he has listened to his intuition since we've been dating, and it made me really happy. :)

Finally, after the earth and I proved that we would not give him peace in that moment, he came down and joined me. He found this sliver of wood which had actually crystallized at the tip:
We headed back onto the beaten path and admired the rest of the stumps in the field. One was so well preserved that you can actually see the growth rings.
I found it odd that the park allows plants to grow on the stumps in the fields, since this will eventually lead to the breakdown of the rock. The few remaining stumps seem like such a treasure, I can't imagine why some are so well preserved under roofs of metal and some are left to nature.
Looking back at our hiking trail, one would never suspect that a massive redwood forest once thrived here, or the number of stumps that once existed before collectors and tourists thinned them out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sat, Nov 20, 2010: The Gods Really Do Live Here

I found myself very much in need of a break from all of the chaos going on at the house (B is having a new kitchen installed), so escaped with my dog on Saturday to Garden of the Gods. Although I've been there twice now, the only time I ever got out and walked around took place shortly after I moved out here.

I stopped by the visitor's center first and was awed by the views. The first formation that drew my eyes was the Kissing Camels.
Pike's Peak is in the background.
Panorama from the visitor's center.
Denver was foggy and cold that morning, with the clouds so thick that I couldn't even see the buildings of the city as I drove south along the highway. I didn't mind that it faded into nothingness so quickly, as there was a sort of peace about the lack of looming buildings taking over the sky. The weather in Colorado Springs was sunny and fine, and my body was so happy to be comfortable with the air.
The colors, as with most colors in Colorado, were bright and beautiful.
It's funny, I've never noticed the number of planes that cross the sky near Colorado Springs, but today they left bold contrails to announce their presence.
The rock formations towered above the earth and above the people walking among them, reminding us of the powers of stone and time.
I walked Kaylee into a little field to get a better view of some of the formations, and found that I had stepped away from the gentle flow of people making their way around the park. It came to my attention that something had changed in my heart, in my skin, and in my face. I was smiling in blissful happiness, the first reflexive happiness that I have felt for a long time. It was so subtle and so slow that I didn't even notice as it crept into me, whispered into my thoughts, and slipped into my skin.
Kaylee, ever joyful and delighted to spend the day with me and among strangers who adored her.
All my life, I have worried about choosing the "right" path to walk, and have judged the rightness of that path by what I think I might find at the end of it: love, career, happiness. I think I often set my thoughts more on what I want to find at the end of my journey than I do looking around me and just enjoying my time on the path. Enjoying the path for the sake of itself is so easy for me to do in nature but so difficult to do in my life, and I find myself wishing that the destination of my life journey wasn't so important to me. I wish that I could judge what is "right" based on the present, not on what I think might be there in the future. I have a hard time trusting that life will bring me to where I want to be when I'm ready for it, and somehow feel that I'm powerful enough to force the hand of life into giving me what I want NOW, just because I want it.
Sometimes the rocks are so delicate, with slender fins rising up above the earth in groups and lines.
I love that this rock stretches toward the sun and sky without worrying about becoming detached.
I continue to feel that there is something very special about the energy in and around Colorado Springs. The city is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, nested up against Pike's Peak, with bluffs and rock formations running throughout.
This place reminded me what it feels like to be joyful just to breathe and feel the sun on my skin.
We headed back to the car and traveled to the Siamese Twins formation, further south in the park. On the way, I stopped in awe to take in this view.
The Siamese Twins framing Pike's Peak.
See the peak? :)
The mountain on the left is Cheyenne Mountain, where the government built a secret base decades ago.
We scrambled to the top of a hill near the Siamese Twins formation and were rewarded by a view back toward the northern end of the park.
And a beautiful view of the Twins as we climbed back down.
The road home took us past the main area of the park again, and I took one last moment to soak in its beauty.
I don't know what it was about the day that created such joy in me: the weather, Kaylee, being free, the excitement of traveling, being outside, a combination of all of these or something else entirely. All I know is that it really helped me to see how far away I am from the happiness that I used to feel all the time, and I feel more determined to manifest that once again in my life.

On the way home, I randomly thought of a comment that a friend made when I first moved out here. I'm paraphrasing, but the thing that stuck out to me is that he said everyone needs someone in their lives who looks forward to experiencing them deeply, emotionally, knowing their hurts and fears and their heights and joys. I am blessed to have several friends who experience me in that way on this blog. I have been blessed to have dated several men who have taken the time to wade through my words to catch glimpses of me within them. It's a profound feeling to know that someone cares enough to want to connect in such a deep way, and I felt deeply touched to know that what I want to find in a relationship, I already have in friendships. I feel honored to have my friends in my life. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weds, Nov 17, 2010: My Struggle to Overcome

Despite my recent trip across the country, I feel starved for exploration and adventure. My life has been a strange being lately, and I'm finding myself feeling sad, angry, and wistful more often than is my usual way of being. I feel lost and uninspired.

My good friend Becky told me a few weeks ago about a woman who channels a group of spirits named Abraham. (You can find pieces of this woman's seminars on YouTube if you look up "Abraham-Hicks"). The primary message that this woman works to spread is manifestation and the power of our thoughts.

I think that lately, my thoughts have mostly been centered around how unhappy I am. This is obviously not a good thing as I'm not interested in manifesting more unhappiness in my life, but I'm having a terribly difficult time breaking through these feelings with positive thoughts and affirmations. I feel disconnected from my soul and I know she's somewhere waiting with open arms for me to return to her. Finding time to take road trips and have adventures has been difficult, as I mentioned just a bit ago, and I struggle to have the kind of life that inspires me and lifts me up. I am working to find a balance between what makes me happy and what benefits B and our relationship. I find myself wishing with increasing frequency to find some wonderful middle ground between our opposite ends of the spectrum.

This is my struggle to overcome. All I know is that I need MORE life and living and alive to drive away the sads and the mads.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oct 29 to 30, 2010: Return to Colorado

Somehow the trip back to Colorado always takes less time than the trip to Connecticut, even when I figure in the time zone changes. I'm not sure why this is, but there is definitely something very freeing about driving West.

Rain poured throughout my journey across New York and Pennsylvania, but in Ohio I emerged once again into sunny farmlands and deep fall colors blazing in the tree tops. I said goodbye to the "eastern" looking land as I crossed the border between Indiana and Illinois, and gave myself over to the world as it began its transformation into the West.

I was given the gift, as I am most evenings I am in the prairie, of a breathtaking sunset in western Kansas. I still can't understand why people think that the prairie is boring and lacks beauty, because I feel like it's so profoundly and deeply beautiful that it makes me ache every time I am there. The clouds danced in technicolor waves across the sky as the sun descended into a brilliant orange blur below the horizon.
I pulled off the highway and onto a narrow dirt road where I parked my car and watched the spectacle with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.
Prairie, I love you.
The colors were so vibrant as they pulsed in the sky.
As I approached Denver from the East, I found myself having the experience of not recognizing where I was, despite the fact that I was less than 30 minutes from home, traveling roads that are very familiar to me. Even as I drove up to the house, I continued to have this strange feeling of non-recognition and detachment. My guess is that Connecticut just feels so much like home to me that it would feel strange to return anywhere after spending 4 days where I grew up. Despite being able to logic out the feeling, it's still an odd feeling that continues to cling to my experiences even after being home for 2 days.

Oct 25 to 28, 2010: Autumn in Connecticut, Part 2

The sun broke through the gloom with force, and I was able to revel in the sight of the backyard showing off its fall colors against a clear blue sky.
Wow... what a difference the sun makes! The trees, instead of showing their brilliance in spite of the fog, were set ablaze in the sunlight.
We decided to take advantage of the weather and went for a hike with Kaylee up to Heublein Tower, on top of Talcott Mountain. There were leaves all over the trail, and we crunched through them while Kaylee shuffled through piles of leaves that came up to her chest! She hiked with her nose down most of the time, taking in every little smell she could find.
The view from the ridge is amazing, and I was so happy to see all the fall colors spread out before me. I had been worried that my arrival in Connecticut was too late and that I'd miss the season entirely, but it seemed like I showed up just in time.
This panorama from the top of the ridge came out better than I'd hoped. It's kind of tiny online, but in real life the view was massive and overwhelming in its scope.
One area on the mountain boasted trees with pink leaves, and I kept feeling like I was seeing spring flowers through all the fall colors.
Heublein Tower:
The Farmington River was closeby, and I requested that we stop so I could see the Pinchot Sycamore and be near the water. The river was amazingly calm.
And the Pinchot Sycamore was sooooo huge! This is the biggest tree in Connecticut and I believe it's one of the biggest sycamores in the entire country. I can't even describe to you how grounding and awe-inspiring it was to be near such a massive, powerful, healthy tree after spending so much time surrounded by only aspens and pines in Colorado. How I have missed trees...!
To illustrate the tinyness of Kaylee and the enormity of the tree:
Another very large sycamore in the same park as the Pinchot Sycamore. Look at the colors on those leaves!
There was a bridge near the park that caught my eye, and I realized it stood out because we don't really have many bridges in Colorado, and those we do have are fairly plain. Connecticut has some really interesting bridges with all the water and uneven land there is to cross.
When we returned to the house, I decided to take Kaylee for a walk. This is the street I grew up on:
... and the stream just a short distance away from the house:
... and the farm in the backyard. Kaylee was fascinated by the cows, which I found funny since she is a cattle dog.
The colors by my old elementary school were brilliant, and I felt so strange seeing the trees I used to stare out at as a child.
Flora doesn't often have berries in Colorado, and it was strange seeing how many plants have berries in Connecticut.
The oaks ranged from yellow to orange to deep crimson and maroon.
The next day dawned sunny once again and I figured it would be a great time to visit the ocean and introduce Kaylee to her, since Kaylee has never seen a body of water larger than a puddle. The sun remained strong and steady in the sky until I reached the shore, and I found myself lost in a thick cloud of fog. I think it made the ocean that much more beautiful.
Kaylee was grinning and had sand all over her face, though she looks kind of emo in this picture.
Shortly after I took the above picture, I told Kaylee to "go get the ocean!" Not knowing what to do, she proceeded to bow her body and attempt to attack every grain of sand and every bubble of sea foam all at the same time. The ocean slipped away of course, and Kaylee looked confused that her prey managed to evade her.

The sun made several attempts to muscle its way through the fog, which gave the water a beautiful sparkling quality the likes of which I don't think I've ever experienced.
There is something about the ocean that always brings me home. I just need to touch it, to hear and smell it, just to remember that it still exists somewhere even though it has become so far removed from my daily experiences.
I miss the ocean like it's a piece of my body that's been taken away, like there is a hole in my soul that is never quite able to mend itself, and nothing else quite fits in that hole.