Unsettled

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Stress, according to some, is created when reality doesn’t match our expectations. Change your expectations, the theory might go, and voila!, stress evaporates. Expectations, it turns out, are complicated layers of thoughts and feelings that don’t always behave, well,  as expected.

I knew that getting home to San Francisco wouldn’t really mean being home. Our condo would have no functioning plumbing, and we were still waiting for both repair and restoration bids to come in before work could even begin. Really, I did know, I swear it. As we made our way south from British Columbia, visiting friends and relatives and relocating every few days, I yearned to be in one place, our place, while I also tried to keep very clear on the notion that we likely wouldn’t be living in our place for more than a month after our return.

We arrived back in San Francisco last Thursday evening, and have been staying in a sweet in-law type apartment via Airbnb not far from our old neighborhood in Noe Valley. We will move tomorrow to another Airbnb for the whole month of April. The place is closer to our condo so we can visit the cats, and oversee construction and repairs, among other things. We know and like our host “Cat”, and the place is sunny and spacious, so staying there is an attractive arrangement in an unattractive situation.

As I knew, the plumbing repair has yet to begin, and is estimated to take 2-3 weeks, minimum. So we will continue to live out of suitcases, and commuting to see and feed the cats, for the next month at least. David jokes and says that I am now both unemployed and homeless…

We do realize this is all first world drama, and that we are incredibly lucky with our lives. I keep looking for bright sides: we will get new wood flooring for our entire second floor (kitchen, living room and dining room) and for the entry and office on the first floor. We will get new paint in most of rooms on the 1st and 2nd floors, something we had wanted to do last fall, but simply couldn’t handle one more project before leaving for British Columbia. And we have a lovely, warm group of friends who have excitedly welcomed us back no matter where we live.

For my part, I’m not sure which part of me should or will show up at any given time. There’s the fire-breathing-mad me that is angry about a few things even though I recognize how easy it is to source outrage. There’s the me that has a lot of professional experience, handling challenges, being resilient, and managing processes, projects and people to good ends. There is the me that is looking forward into this adventure of a year, and is a committed optimist. And then there’s the me that wants to take the first available ride back up to British Columbia to peace and beauty. And these selves bubble up seemingly at random, which only further confuses me. I do recognize that I can bring a firm but diplomatic style to our situation, and to our engagement with the management company and vendors overseeing our plumbing repair and restoration. My competent diplomat self needs to talk my fire-breathing self, not to mention David’s, into staying away when we deal with problems.

This has led me to ponder what I believe about people. Are people basically well-intentioned, but occasionally make mistakes? Or are they driven by fear, ignorance or the desire for power?  These are obviously questions at the two ends of a spectrum, and I know that people behave across a range of shades of gray. Watching my different selves show up during this time, and navigating a variety of feelings, including some that I’m not proud of, has me thinking deeply about what I expect of myself and others, and my what basic operating assumptions are.

What I do know is that I want to limit the amount of vitriol in my life. This year’s political season has me dispirited and pained, and frankly, feeling a little hopeless. I don’t want to be near or with people who spew mean (or racist or misogynist or bigoted) thoughts, let alone be that person. For example, driving in the city is stressful, but more so if we assume and act like every other driver is an idiot.  Right now, life in this world feels hard enough, and probably is for many people on the receiving end of the meanness.

All this to paint the picture of how unsettled I feel, and how cranky this sort of stress makes me. No doubt I am also underestimating the basic shock of returning to urban life after two months on a very quiet and beautiful island. While I think I have managed my expectations, my stress and confusion say otherwise!

So: I am starting to bring my focus to what moves me forward, setting good things in motion, continuing my meditation practice and daily writing. This week I started a Whole30 food ‘cleanse’, which I’ve done before and have found really useful to help me remember over the next 30 days what clean and healthy eating feels like. Next week I’ll return to my early morning bootcamp routine, which I know will be a significant challenge. I’ll also try to keep my fire-breathing self from taking the lead in any situation. Mostly, I’ll practice looking for the gifts in this disruption and believing that it will abate. We’ll be home soon, this time for real. Well, at least until the next adventure begins.

Love,
Susan

PS. Now that I’m back in the Bay Area, I’ve decided to experiment with a weekly posting schedule. Until further notice, Wednesdays will be the day!

PPS. For the curious, our homeowners’ insurance covers our relocation costs– we have great insurance: Liberty Mutual, check them out.

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Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

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Wildflowers on the Trail

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Red Osier Dogwoods on Cowiche Creek

On Friday, our last day in the Seattle area, we drove with our friends Richard, Jana, and their yellow Labrador Lilly, out to Cowiche Canyon in Central Washington, a land conservancy in the high desert. We’d had a fair amount of rain and wind, but the end of the week had been clear and beautiful. We went specifically to see wildflowers, which bloom for a short window in spring.

We started our hike high on the plateau, meandering over a trail through the tall sage brushes and finding pockets of different flowers: desert violets, grass widows, fritillaria, gold stars, allium, and the common buttercup, to name just a few. Many were very small, and bloomed in small cracks between rocks. The violets in particular seem to relish leaning against warm, lichen covered rocks. The bright colors of the flowers popped against the dirt, the rocks and the gray/green sage bushes.

We laughed as we walked, Richard observing that Jana always needed to see what was around the next corner or over the next hill, Jana observing that Richard needed to follow every trail known to man to its conclusion, and me remarking that David had to go off trail where no one had ever gone before whenever possible. And so while it was hard to get lost in the area, we found ourselves off the main trail: we had to look over the next hill, then follow the trail… With a steep decline to the creek, we had decisions to make: Richard and Jana walked cross-country to a larger, more maintained trail; David and I followed the hill down, where perhaps someone, but not very many someones at all, had gone before.

The flowers on the plateau were a marvel, but my favorite sight of the day was the dogwood trees that lined Cowiche Creek at the bottom of the canyon. The red osier dogwood, implied by its name, has a bright red bark, and grows reed-like in great profusion along the banks of the creek. The Canyon is steeply lined with Columbia River Basalt and other rock forms, and the colors of the rock and earth and plants are muted. The red osier announces in color the creek and its meanderings.

We met up at the creek and found some rock fall on which to sit and enjoy lunch in the sun. Richard had made us chicken breast sandwiches on whole wheat bread, punctuated with just a few rings of red onion. Like almost any food I’ve ever consumed on the trail or after hiking, it was probably the best sandwich I’ve ever had! Lilly helped clean up any crumbs or ‘accidentally’ dropped Manchego cheese pieces.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move on the canyon wall, a long furry something, scurrying from rock to rock. As soon as I was able to describe where it was on the hill so others could see it too, Richard said: “I know what it is, and – I kid you not – it is a yellow-bellied marmot.” We laughed about all the movies and cartoons where someone is called a “yellow-bellied varmit,” and figured there was some cowboy-speak word morphing going on.  Once the critter was lost from view, and after a short break, we made our way back up the canyon walls to the plateau and our car, and the drive back to Seattle.

We left Saturday morning for Battle Ground, Washington, just north of Portland, Oregon. We have been staying with friends from David’s Los Angeles years, visiting with them and their adult kids, David’s godchildren. We had to postpone a visit to Bend to see a college friend of mine but will see her on another trip north from the Bay Area. We leave tomorrow morning for the long trek to Lakeview, Oregon, where we’ll stay a few days with more friends before heading back to San Francisco. We’ve seen many friends and relatives – and slept in a lot of beds – on our way south. It has been a wonderful trip. …And, I’m very ready to be home.

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Two notes:
First, for those of you following #dceaglecam (deceaglecam.eagles.org), you know that the pair of nesting Bald eagles in DC, Mr. President and The First Lady, are now tending two eaglets in their nest. The tiny little gray fuzzballs are visible for feedings, and TFL and MP share in providing fish or squirrel parts to their little ones. Then one of them, usually TFL, will settle back down on top of them for a while, while MP goes hunting again. (I can only imagine how nasty the edge of the nest is getting, what with all that food laying around…) I have loved watching them roost and hatch and now tend to their offspring.

Second, this will be my last post from the trail as we’ll arrive back in San Francisco on Thursday evening, my usual posting day. I’ve been asked whether I will continue to post, and while I wonder if a twice weekly posting schedule will continue to make sense, the answer is a definitive ‘yes!’ My plan has always been to blog for the gap year, and to see where writing, photography and blogging might lead me. I’ve been surprised and delighted by how much fun writing has been, and I’ve had great support from followers and random readers alike. So, thank you for coming along on this journey with me, and please stay tuned for more.

Love,
Susan

Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

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Nesting

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Mt. Ranier ~ Mt. Tahoma

Over the last few days, I have been obsessed with following, via live video cam, a pair of Bald eagles nesting in the National Arboretum in the District of Columbia. Check them out here: http://dceaglecam.eagles.org/. The pair, named Mr. President and The First Lady, are nesting on two eggs, one of which has been pipping (breaking out of its shell) since yesterday evening.

The eagle cam, brought to us by the American Eagle Foundation, is remarkable: high definition video captures the birds in the nest from two angles, and infrared light ensures we can watch at all hours. Of course it is the birds that are most remarkable. Two Bald eagles are nesting together for the second time in the same very large nest. The female has had primary responsibility for roosting on the eggs. This afternoon, the male joined her in at the edge of the nest: he brought a fish for her consumption. She pecked at it a bit. The camera zoomed in on the eggs, focusing on the one that had begun to pip. Then the male flew away, and the female settled back on the eggs. Later, she stood up, and took to eating the fish with great commitment. The eggs, again, came into view: a small beak was visible in the opening in the eggshell.

I’m not working right now, and I rarely have more than one firm time commitment per day as David and I visit with friends and relatives on our travel back to San Francisco. But some days still feel full and a little compressed. Today, I woke up late to a bright and clear morning, wrote my morning pages, and realized that I had the expanse of the day to myself. I find myself wanting to hold on to that feeling: the spaciousness and sense of possibility. It is a wide open feeling that, ironically, I want to contain, to cherish, and to relish. I’d like to settle in to the feeling, nest with it and keep it at the ready for whenever I need it. It is, however, like time, best when used with intention.

We are staying in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle, and within a few blocks east of the house there are incredible views and a path down to Lake Washington. I wanted to be out in the cool sunny day, and to move my body, so I walked down to the lakefront, reluctantly leaving the eagle cam. As I had a few days before when I joined our friend Jana for Zumba, I felt my energy rise as I moved, relishing the energy and the movement of my body. I listened to James Taylor (Beyond This World) and sang along, smiled at other walkers, and flirted with dogs as I passed. As I walked the lakefront, I enjoyed a 180 degree view across the lake to the snow covered mountains: Mt. Baker to the north, east to Bellevue and beyond, and Mt. Ranier (aka Mt. Tahoma) to the south.

I returned home a little sweaty and happy, and immediately began watching the Bald eagles again. I am surprised by what makes me feel at home and grounded, and expansive and elated at the same time. Today was a day I felt completely at ease and energetic, engaged in watching the nesting Bald eagles while feeling buoyed and enticed by the spring air and open sky.

Love,
Susan

Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

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Crafting Joy

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We made the first of our numerous stops on our archipelago of friends in the Pacific Northwest, stretching southward to home in San Francisco. It began with a great visit with our friend Elizabeth in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. One of the highlights was a hike on Friday morning around Fort Casey, a battlement that was built after World War I and used for training through WWII, and is now a state park. Fort Casey is on a point of land that looks out across Admiralty Inlet, just south of the Juan de Fuca Strait, to Port Townsend. The point is wrapped by fast and unusual currents that bring enormous amounts of driftwood to its shores, making for a fun beachcombing adventure.

On Saturday, we wandered through Musselfest, the annual celebration of Penn Cove mussels in Coupeville. We were too late to get tasting tickets, which would have allowed us a small cup of mussel chowder at the many vendors in town, as well as a vote for the best chowder of 2016. For a consolation prize, we settled for some mussel chowder, mussels in saffron cream, and wine. Later that afternoon, we took a boat tour of the mussel farm in Penn Cove, complete with “aqua-cam” and learned the farm is one of the first and most successful aquaculture ventures in the US. The business was begun in 1975 by a retired serviceman after witnessing similar ventures in Asia. It has grown to include oyster and clam farming and remains a sustainable, environmentally sound industry. Those Penn Cove mussels are also delicious!

Our adventures on Whidbey were fun, but the best part was spending time with our friend. We felt welcome, at home, and much loved. We left the Island early on Sunday morning, headed for our next destination, Seattle. I felt tired from the loss of the hour with daylight savings time, a little sad at another farewell, and somewhat dislocated by our travel and frequent moves. And yet: the purpose of our travels after leaving God’s Pocket was to see many of our friends in the Pacific Northwest, always a reason for joy.

We were headed to Seattle to stay with our friends Richard and Jana, with whom we SCUBA dive with every other year in September at God’s Pocket Resort off Vancouver Island, and with whom we enjoy good food and wine whenever possible. Two years ago we added a week of salmon fishing in advance of the diving, and will do so again this year. Richard was one of David’s roommates at MIT, so their history is a long one.

Jana graciously invited me to join her friends at a monthly gathering she calls “Crafternoon” – a three-hour block of time for a group of people to focus on an artistic or craft project – and I was both intrigued and anxious about saying yes. Jana is a graphic designer and artist, and her friends all have art-related jobs or passion projects. I worried about fitting in, being a stranger to the group of long-term friends, and of not being artistic enough. I kept these worries to myself, and realized that the universe was giving me an opportunity to do what I had explicitly intended for this year: to explore and deepen my creativity.

So, I did say ‘yes’ and expressed my enthusiasm, feeling it override any residual anxiety. When we all sat around the table, each working on something creative, I enjoyed listening to the chat, sometimes adding a thought or comment. One of the women had also been at Musselfest, and I had seen her Art Car on display. Mostly I just focused on being present, appreciating the ideas and craft at the table, and feeling comfortable with the process of being in this creative group. (I worked on a beading project I had taken to Canada but hadn’t worked on at all.) I look forward to implementing ‘crafternoon’ with my friends in the Bay Area.

That evening, Jana and I met up with David and Richard for drinks and dinner at a wonderful small plate restaurant, Manolin, in the Fremont area of Seattle. The meal was a perfect cap to a day of creativity, learning, and friendship. Each dish was multi-layered and full of flavor, and we had fun guessing at some of the ingredients, remarking on the ingenuity of putting them together in the same dish.

I delighted in being with David and our friends, chatting and enjoying a fine meal and a great wine. I thought about my sadness from the morning, and my trepidation at doing something new with a group of strangers. I had found a small thread of enthusiasm and tied myself to it, releasing fear and disappointment and replacing it with joy and fellowship. I had allowed all that was good in the day to surround me. And indeed, it was a very good day.

Love,
Susan

Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

Follow me on Instagram (dancingonthewayhome), where I post whatever catches my eye, in addition to a shot of our “front yard” every day at or after 5pm. Leave a comment or send me an email at DancingOnTheWayHome AT gmail dot com; I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

From Canadia to the US… Re-Entry

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Salmon at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia – Vancouver

When we picked up the car in Port Hardy on Monday, the brake pads had rusted to the disks and prevented the car from moving. After nearly two months idle in wet weather and cold, some forward and reverse with the transmission was required to break the brakes free and after that, riding the brakes was necessary to wear off their rust barnacles. So it was for me too, driving and reacquainting myself with cars, traffic and people, and with the notion of leaving our nest on God’s Pocket.

Our trip down the island was uneventful. There’s a long stretch from Port Hardy to Campbell River, our intended overnight destination, where the road curves tightly through the mountains, rain comes and goes, and there’s no cellular service. It was peaceful, and David and I talked about our time in God’s Pocket, and how much we’d miss our hosts, Bill and Annie, and Gem, the chef. We day dreamed about care taking again next winter. We also discussed signing on as staff for the season: together we could be their 5th staff person, overseeing the shore-based operations. Plenty of time to consider the option, we said, thinking that it might be our version of running away to join the circus.

When we got to Campbell River, the hotel we had hoped to stay at had no vacancies, much to our surprise. We had other options in town, but decided to go about an hour south to the Courtenay-Comox area. There was a K’omoks First Nation art gallery that I wanted to visit in the morning, foregoing another gallery in Campbell River since there was no available lodging. We considered and found gifts for our friends in San Francisco who had been so helpful to us with house-sitting, cat care, and the flooded condo; and we found a beautiful carved wood salmon that we wanted for our home.

Later that afternoon, after crossing to the mainland on the BC Ferries, we stayed in a charming in-law suite (via Airbnb) complete with chickens in the Strathcona neighborhood of Vancouver, a gentrifying area east of Chinatown. Vancouver reminds me of San Francisco in many ways: it is physically reminiscent, with distinct neighborhoods, hills and water views, and is also expensive and undergoing a building boom. The population seems more diverse than San Francisco’s at this time, but that’s hard to tell just by walking the streets or looking out the car window. When we met people, we universally exchanged views that SF and Vancouver are so much alike that it is inevitable that each loves the other.

We spent a wonderful, engaging morning yesterday at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia. The University is on the far west side of Vancouver and overlooks the Fraser River Delta; a land grant university in a dramatic location. The MOA is a remarkable institution, reflecting and exhibiting First Nation art, artifacts and totems. We learned about the outlawing of potlatches, the community, cultural and spiritual gatherings of first nations tribes, until the 1950s. “The potlatch refers to the ceremony where families gather and names are given, births are announced, marriages are conducted, and where families mourn the loss of a loved one. The potlatch is also the ceremony where a chief will pass on his rights and privileges to his eldest son.” We also learned about the devastation by smallpox of the coastal tribes of British Columbia: in the 1880s the Haida tribe numbered 10,000; by the early 1900s less than 500 people remained.

The art at the MOA, so important to family and cultural life, is beautifully explained and displayed with permission from First Nations peoples to ensure understanding, appreciation and perpetuity. And because the MOA is a research museum, one of the exhibits has drawer upon drawer of artifacts, each more unique and remarkable than the next, a reflection of the time and care brought by each craftsperson to his or her work.

This morning, we left Vancouver to drive south into the US, and are visiting with a friend on Whidbey Island. Ironically, there is currently no power here: a tree fell across the wires just 20 yards up the road during a wind storm the previous evening. We have no power just a stone’s throw from metropolitan Seattle, far less than we did on self-powered Hurst Island, 500 miles to the north. We are currently sharing conversation, having some wine, all with a fire in the fireplace keeping us warm and candles lit as the sun drifts lower in the western sky. Our re-entry requires some back and forth to get us moving forward again, and the lack of electric power is most helpful to that end.

Love,
Susan

Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

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Reflections

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Yesterday was our last full day in God’s Pocket, and we’ll be in transit later today. My energy has shifted forward now that we are packed and ready to leave for Port Hardy. As with my most recent post, I am thoughtful and reflective about our time here.

These are some of the experiences and images that have punctuated these two months in this beautiful place:

⊕ Meeting Annie and Bill, co-owners of God’s Pocket Resort and our hosts, at the dock in Port Hardy on January 13, and excitedly chatting away through the crossing to God’s Pocket, and then through dinner, wine and bourbons. Getting a walk-around and instructions for caretaking the resort. Waving at Bill and Annie the next day as they left us alone on the island.

⊕ Waking up with daylight, around 8:30 am up here, in the bedroom in the main house, over the kitchen and living room, and saying good morning to David through the floor, knowing he had been up for hours, stoked the wood stove and made us coffee.

⊕ Rounding into Harlequin Bay in the skiff and seeing two sea wolves on the rocks. That sight, and all that I learned about wolves in this part of the world after seeing them, has to be one of my most exciting experiences. And then, more recently, seeing wolf prints on the trails to Duck Bay as well as to Harlequin Bays on hikes with Annie and Gem, the chef.

⊕ Pulling up the crab pots in Harlequin Bay and finally having male Dungeness crabs large enough to harvest, and enjoying wonderful meals with our catch: tomato bisque with crab, Asian-fusion crab in coconut milk, and crab cakes.

⊕ The dynamic mash-up of sights and sounds during storms: waves crashing on the rocks under the house and then gurgling back out to the bay, the rain hammering the roof, and the wind dancing with the trees. Looking out the bay across to Christie Pass, ribbed with white water, and seeing the spray of the waves on the shores of Balaklava Island.

⊕ Looking for Blue, the great blue heron that frequents the bay, every morning when I first got up, wondering where he’d be during the day and how often he’d fly to another spot as we got too close for his comfort. With more people here and an active dive boat, he just can’t find peace!

⊕ David rubbing and roasting a pork loin in small pot on the wood stove for pulled pork, and then using the rendered fat to make a candle. It only smelled porky when it wasn’t lit!

⊕ The handful of nights when the sky was clear enough to see stars, so many that even the most well-known constellations were hard to make out in the crowd. And waking up in the night to see Ursa Major out the bedroom window in the western sky.

⊕ Bill’s fresh-made, two kinds of ceviche: one made with rockfish, the other with pile perch, both caught from the skiff within the hour.

⊕ Helping Gem with food prep in the kitchen, laughing at our poor Canadian to American language and cultural translations. She asked me to slice pickles: I asked whether she wanted spears or rounds, she showed me slicing. I gave her rounds, since most Americans put rounds on their burgers; she wanted slices along the length of the pickle, but NOT spears! In spite of getting it wrong with the pickles, when I offered to help the next day she invited me back as sous chef.

⊕ Watching an adult and a juvenile bald eagle fly most days from the northwestern side of the bay towards the buildings, and then east over the trees, sometimes together, sometimes alone.

⊕ The crossing to Port Hardy in a gale to take the dive scouts, Tiare and Colten, to town. The wind and waves caused us to turn around and wait back at God’s Pocket for an hour or so. Then Bill navigated the Hurst Isle close to the shores of a string of south-pointing islands, before pushing the boat throttle forward to maximum and powering diagonally across the waves and the channel toward the shores of Vancouver Island. We couldn’t stop singing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and Tiare and Colten told stories of barely staying on the deck of their halibut fishing boats during storms. I held David’s hand the whole way, and everyone lived to laugh at my blatant fear during the experience.

⊕ Noticing how many of the local birds have “stego hair” and look like tiny distant cousins of the stegosaurus: the common mergansers with auburn spiked feathers on their heads, who put their beaks and eyes in the water as if they were wearing a mask and snorkeling; the belted kingfishers, with their ragged crest of grey, who perch carefully before dive-bombing their prey in the bay.

⊕ Counting all the otter on the North shore of the island on our way to and from Harlequin Bay in the skiff, and seeing two large otter rafts on the way back.

⊕ Capturing another drift log, a cedar this time, from the skiff in the mouth of the bay, and then chainsawing it into firewood.

It has been raining for four days; we experienced the end of the last of three big storms yesterday, this one the fiercest. The rain had been relentless, and is also a godsend for God’s Pocket, filling the water reservoirs for what may be another dry summer here. Today the sky is clear and there is a break in the weather that should make for a good crossing this afternoon. I leave here with feelings of profound gratitude and deep friendship: I am enriched beyond words by my time on Hurst Island.

Love,
Susan

Get regular updates via email from DancingOnTheWayHome by clicking the “follow” button (on your tablet or pc screen – the mobile screens somehow don’t show it!). And thanks for reading!

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Intentions and Learnings

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I’ve heard that writing down one’s intentions and goals reaffirms them and supports their achievement. In mid-2014, I started to think constructively – that is both strategically and tactically –  about leaving my job in January 2016. With the help of my professional coach and the awareness that time is finite, I built an 18-month transition plan that focused on my priorities for work and my personal life. It was a living plan, and I revised it occasionally. When I reviewed my progress against the plan at the end of 2015, I was delighted, and frankly a little surprised, that I had accomplished most of the many of things I had wanted to. That experience is a remarkable lesson to me on focus and priorities, on humility about time and limits, and ultimately, about my values.

I didn’t make a comparable plan for our time here at God’s Pocket, or for my gap year as a whole. But I did come with intentions, wishes and hopes for these two months. As we now begin to shift our view toward leaving here and to what comes next, I realized that some assessment of this time is important and useful to me. I also recognize that I want to have a better grasp of my intentions going forward, while leaving space for the unanticipated, the as-yet-imagined possibilities. Otherwise, how can I best balance being mindfully present in the here and now – where and whatever that is – while seeing my thoughtful, authentic intentions turn into dreams fulfilled? If I want to be more creative, or healthy, or adventurous during this year, how will any of that happen if I am not mindful about making time and space for those things to be? Time is, after all, limited.

Here’s what I hoped and thought these two months would be about:
• Sleep and rest and spaciousness and no schedule
• Reading and reflection
• Time with David, and fun
• Clean eating and self-care; specifically establishing a morning routine
• Regular exercise of some form: yoga, bootcamp routines, and hikes
• Creativity: writing, drawing, and imagining; specifically starting my blog
• Adventure and exploration of the island

While the list is long-ish, most of it consists of “activities” that are not very visible or even quantifiable. That’s fine with me: part of the pleasure of leaving the corporate world is relinquishing the need to quantify everything so as to determine its value. So how do I assess my experience with these intentions? I’m satisfied and happy with my time here, and with what I was able to experience and do. Sometimes I just did very little, and that’s fine too.

I got a lot of sleep and enjoyed not having a schedule to hew to. I read a great deal, including The Artist’s Way, which caused me to add morning pages (three handwritten pages of stream of consciousness writing) to my daily routine. My morning routine has been tightened a bit over the last few weeks, although I haven’t yet linked in a meditation practice. We ate clean and limited our sugar and alcohol during our time alone. (Then we got resupplied and had company and a chef, and we’ve not been as healthy or disciplined since!) We had mixed results with exercise: we did a few bootcamp routines, but were never consistent; we had much better results doing a yoga DVD almost every day.

I have written every day, taken lots of photographs, spent time drawing and coloring, and most importantly, began this twice-weekly blog. Obviously, I spent a great deal of time with David, and we had fun and adventures together. We explored the island to some degree, enough to have seen wolves and harvest Dungeness crab at Harlequin Bay, wolf tracks at Duck Bay, and a large otter population on the north side of the island.

What I’ve learned is that while a plan might be useful, a general sense of direction is essential: without it there is little context, shape, and perhaps meaning, to my experiences. I’ve learned that a morning routine and practice are grounding for me, and create a solid base that opens the day to its many possibilities. I know that intentions can be refreshed every day, but they disappoint unless they are given a chance to take root in action. I know that I’ll learn these lessons again and again, just as I will forget them from time to time. With intention, they will always be there for me to learn again.

Love,
Susan

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