Come Home to Nature

This art + poetry speaks to my heart. The forest is magic and full of sparkles.

Come home to the forest
Where time goes slow
and the breath is mellow
Where thoughts find rest
and calm comes to nest .
Come home to the woods
to be friends with trees
and listen to the breeze
to wander through trails
and mend your sails .
Come home to nature
when your heart is hurting
or your soul needs healing .
When something feels wrong
or you just need a place to belong .
The forest awaits
Come home, be healed …

-Bidushee Phukan-

Art by Elaine Bayley. Curated from Coyote Watch Canada

First Full Moon of 2023 and BIG Surf!

Tonight, this full wolf moon occurs with the sun in Capricorn opposite the moon in Cancer. The full moon is a time of culmination and the promise of fulfilling intentions set during the new moon.

The Pineapple Express, atmospheric river rain event here in California is over for now, although more wet weather is forecasted for next week.

There was talk of waves of up to sixteen feet for today, so I went down to the beach but here in Carlsbad, they were only about six to eight feet.

This morning:

A lifeguard told me there had been no rescues here, but further south in Cardiff, waves were definitely in the twelve foot range, with high surf expected again next week with the next storm.

It was super crowded; lots of people not only with cameras for pics and video, but to take advantage of the healing power of a little vitamin sea and abundant sunshine!

A Royal High Tide

Last week’s King Tides created the unusual sight of flooded marsh and wetlands.

Here at Agua Hedionda, freshwater creeks drain into a low-lying area meeting the sea. The ocean pushes tides and sands against the land as the creek drains its fresh water and sediment into the sea. This mix of fresh and salt water forms a brackish environment. The salinity varies with the seasonal influence of rain and storms.

Sometimes the tide is so low, we can walk all the way around to the south side where there’s a sweet little beach, but not that day!

With all of this recent rain we’ve had (and more on the way), freshwater basins appear and fill the normally dry land surrounding the lagoon.

After all these years, this is still one of my favorite views. We see the lagoon, freeway, train tracks, and Pacific ocean.

A Stormy Start to 2023

SoCal didn’t receive as much rain as they did up north, but we still had an impressive amount of sky water during our recent storm.

Northern California saw a historic nearly six inches of rain while we had two inches over the weekend with more forecasted this week. That’s a LOT in a short period of time, due to a phenomenon called an atmospheric river.

An atmospheric river is a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. Other names for this phenomenon are tropical plume, tropical connection, moisture plume, water vapor surge, and cloud band. Wikipedia

During a brief dry period, we checked out the big windy waves. Fresh air feels so purifying and cleansing. A walk on the beach is a great way to start a new year!

Sand, sun, clouds, waves, even some blue sky.

And just like that, it began to rain again.

Check out this video…it was super windy, too!

2023 : Thoughts, Inspiration, and a Mantra

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

As 2022 winds down, I started to think about what a strange year it was.

For me at least. it seemed like I was enveloped in a mantle of fog. On a fundamental level, I acknowledge the passage of time and seasons, but I’m not exactly sure how January 2022 metamorphosed into where we are now, at the end of another year. Sometimes time moved too swiftly, other times it seems as if the tick of the clock too slowly moved to the next minute.

I’m not smart enough to explain all of that, but I’ve learned to radically accept things as they are. At the end of the day, at the end of this odd year, the only constant is love; to love and be loved. Despite the inexorable and merciless movement of time, I’m bound by that belief.

Do you make resolutions? I don’t — too much pressure — instead I like the idea of manifesting a happy and healthy new year.

You have to breathe through the heart. And once you’re in that space – and it’s a very big space – once you’re in there, you’re in a completely different space. You’re in the space that can heal anything.” Dolores Cannon

Dalai Lama

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama (whom I had the incredible honor of meeting and speaking with a couple years ago…)

As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.”

In my opinion, this is still the best and most relevant mantra, again from the Dalai Lama:
Om Mani Padme Hum

He says this mantra has the power to…“transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech and mind of a Buddha.”

Tibetan culture tells us that to deeply know this phrase — to bring it into the very depths of one’s being — is to attain enlightenment.

Here’s what each syllable means:

Om

The first, Om is composed of three letters. A, U, and M. These symbolize the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.

All Buddhas are cases of beings who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path became enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who from the beginning is free from faults and possesses all good qualities. The development of pure body, speech, and mind comes from gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into the pure.

Mani

Mani, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method—the altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.

Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty, or difficulties, of cyclic existence and of solitary peace.

Similarly, just as a jewel fulfills the wishes of sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to become enlightened fulfills the wishes of sentient beings.

Padme

The two syllables, padme, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom, just as a lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-contradiction whereas there would be contradiction if you did not have wisdom.

There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing that persons are empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existent, wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality—that is to say, of difference of entity between subject an object—and wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence.

Though there are many different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom realizing emptiness.

Hum

Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of method and wisdom refers to wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom.

In the mantra or tantric, vehicle, it refers to one consciousness in which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one undifferentiable entity.

In terms of the seed syllables of the five Conqueror Buddhas, hum is the seed syllable of Akshobhya—the immovable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by anything.

The six syllables, om mani padme hum mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is considered the foremost Buddhist leader of our time. The exiled spiritual head of the Tibetan people, a Nobel Peace Laureate, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a remarkable teacher and scholar who has authored over one hundred books. https://www.shambhala.com/snowlion_articles/om-mani-padme-hum-dalai-lama/

Peace, Serenity, and Joy

That’s the feeling I get from an afternoon walk around Agua Hedionda Lagoon. It’s the kind of holiday celebration I love.

This is the perfect spot to breathe and contemplate centuries of Native American history.

For ten thousand years, these rolling hills and canyons surrounding the lagoon provided shelter and food with an abundance of native plants and trees.

Indigenous peoples spent their winters making salt and gathering shellfish for food, jewelry, tools, and trade.

To the Luiseño, this area was Palmai, or “place of big water.” The Luiseño culture is noted for its mysticism and religious practices.

From “Seekers of the Spring – A History of Carlsbad” by Marje Howard-Jones:
“It was a hot and dusty afternoon when Don Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi called a halt by the banks of a tidal lagoon. According to the padre’s journal for Monday, July 17, 1769, the party had left San Alejo to the south at three in the afternoon. They had traveled one league before descending into a valley where alders sheltered a deserted Indian village. ‘We named this valley San Simon Lipnica’, he wrote. Taking special exception to the scent of decaying fish and other debris, it was the soldiers who unwittingly christened the lagoon for posterity: ‘Agua Hedionda,” the ‘stinking waters’.”

The Native American peaceful coexistence with nature created a culture whose openness and adaptability left them vulnerable to aggressive invaders, another tragic story of desecration, destruction, and appropriation.

Battered, Bruised, and Beautiful

While other parts of the country feel the effects of a brutal winter storm, it’s sunny and relatively warm in SoCal.

Relatively, because I’m freezing even though it was in the mid-sixties today. I’m in a coat, scarf, and beanie. As much as I love to be outside, I HATE to feel cold.

This courageous Mourning Cloak butterfly savors the rays of the afternoon sun on a random soccer ball just before the coastal fog rolled in.

Mourning Cloaks live longer than most butterflies—ten months or more— so I hope this one finds a sheltered spot during next week’s forecasted rainy weather.

Battered, bruised, but still beautiful, and glorious to behold as she warms her wings.

Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

When the sun aligns through this gap in the stones it can only mean one thing… we’re close to the Winter Solstice.

Photo by Nick Bull https://twitter.com/EH_Stonehenge

Stonehenge was built to frame this annual solar event, so the monument has been silently marking the Solstice for thousands of years.

This shortest day of the year marks the official beginning of astronomical winter, as opposed to meteorological winter, which starts about three weeks prior to the solstice, according to almanac.com/content/first-day-winter-winter-solstice

To celebrate, try going on a nature walk, create a Yule log, set out seed for birds, light a candle, or build an indoor or outdoor fire.

What will you choose to do to celebrate the solstice tradition?

***

I found this lovely poem by British writer Susan Cooper

THE SHORTEST DAY

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen,
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them|
Echoing, behind us — listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight
This shortest day
As promise wakens in the sleeping land.
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year, and every year.
Welcome Yule!

What’s Hanukkah All About?

Chag Sameach!

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Mostly for me Hanukkah was all about getting presents for eight days, haha, but I know there’s another meaning, because I went to Sunday school and even Hebrew school for a while, which was kind of expected considering my grandfather was a rabbi.

Our Jewish Festival of Lights lasts for eight days and nights in honor of a 2,000-year-old miracle in which light won out over darkness.

This year Hanukkah started yesterday at sundown, and ends Monday, December 26. 

Hanukkah commemorates the dedication of the second temple in Jerusalem. In 164 BCE, the Jewish people revolted against the Greeks in the Maccabean War. After their victory they cleansed the temple and re-dedicated it.

There was an oil lamp there that only had one day of oil, but the lamp burned for eight days. This is called the miracle of the oil and is where the eight days of celebration comes from.

Like most of our holidays, food is key. Traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes and doughnuts fried in olive oil to represent the miracle of the burning oil lamp.

A bygone tradition was to give gold coins called gelt but today children are often given chocolate coins in a gold wrapping to make them look like gelt.

Besides receiving gifts, the star of the show is the menorah.

Menorah candles are to burn for at least half an hour after the sun sets.The menorah is a special candelabra with nine candles. Each day an additional candle is lit. The ninth candle is called a shamash. This candle is usually in the middle and set higher from the other eight candles to separate it from the rest. It’s the only candle that is supposed to be used for lighting the others.

Since this country seems to be in the middle of a disgusting new dark age of anti-Semitism and racism, it’s even more imperative that we stand up and speak out against prejudice and discrimination, once again bringing light into darkness.

There’s a lot of abhorrent history in this powerful image from Germany…

No photo description available.

During Hanukkah 1931, Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, took this photo of the family Hanukkah menorah from the window ledge of the family home looking out on to the building across the road decorated with Nazi flags.

Shine the light.

Concealed | Revealed

This is a strange story.

I lost (or misplaced) three valuable (only to me) items a couple weeks ago.

I couldn’t locate my pointe shoes and it was driving me CRAZY. I literally turned the house upside down because NEVER in a million years would I even accidentally toss them out. I had stowed them in a safe place because I planned to wear them for the littlest ballerina.

I could see them in my MIND, folded properly as I had been taught, in a gray toe shoe bag along with my soft ballet shoes, hung up SOMEWHERE.

But where?

Nowhere that I could suss out, that’s for sure. After three exhaustive and anxious searches of the entire house, I had to radically accept the fact that actively hunting for them wasn’t going to work. I had to eradicate their potential loss out of my mind because I was becoming too stressed.

At the same time I couldn’t find one of my favorite scarfs that was a gift from my Angel Boy, along with a logo hat from the university where he teaches.

The reality is that I don’t often LOSE or misplace anything. Even with my admitted mild hoarding issues, I’m extremely organized. I have more than a thousand seashells and they all have a home, and they are all loved.

When I was younger and couldn’t find something, my mom and I would call out to each other, “the Borrowers took it”, referring to that adorable series of books by Mary Norton. This time, I whispered it to myself, shaking my head at the strange coincidence of multiple unaccounted for losses.

Cut to early Sunday morning…

How crazy is it that just now I found ALL THREE previously nowhere-to-be-found treasures within minutes of each other!

It’s true.

As I hung up a couple of freshly laundered hoodies on the pretty little jewel shaped over-the-door hooks on my bedroom door, for some reason I looked down at the inside doorknob and…obscured under a Yale backpack, I saw that little gray bag containing my pointe shoes. I was gobsmacked (to borrow a Brit term). Although I had absolutely given the door a cursory examination, I never physically searched more thoroughly.

But there they were. UNREAL.

Full of memories

Even more strange is that within the next couple of minutes, I also found the scarf and hat tucked away in plain sight on the sofa — WHERE I HAD LOOKED SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE.

Were those things there the whole time I was looking, or did they magically appear? So many questions are swirling around my brain. Were they really lost at all? How could I not see what was unquestionably right in front of me?

I can’t explain why or how but I’ll share that I felt a huge weight lifted off of me, like I was being held aloft by a joyous balloon. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true.

Was it some sort of planetary influence that kept my beloved treasures concealed from me? Did a portal spontaneously open? Did these three things–pointe shoes, a scarf, and a hat –become transported and spiral into another dimension; an alternate universe? Am I living inside an episode of the Twilight Zone?

l have no idea, but whatever the reason, I’m now free of the uncertain torment that had plagued me for a couple of weeks.

That feeling of loss negatively disrupted my normal sense of control. When we lose something valuable, our ability to consciously control is triggered. I felt helpless, that’s for sure, The truth is that losing things can have a devastating effect on our emotional wellbeing. Yup.

And now I’m happy, so it all makes sense. Sort of. I’m still shaking my head.

What does it all mean?