How is your perception blooming?

Satisfied is how i feel right now.

When i go a layer deeper than my mind’s quick assessment, I experience, here in my seat, a cell tingling, spacious fountain of life flowing, lingering zing of hummingbird in spirals of ears, fresh earth pushing up under nails, expanding feet serving squatting tail of kangaroo as I gaze at the freshly weeded garden and the growing green ones freed of buttercup’s gallant attempt to invade their growing space.

Two hours in the rain, removing the deeply rooted, tenacious species of buttercup from taking over Paradise, has delivered me into a satisfaction that is visceral, mindful and meaningful.

A young woman was staying with me in the fall, and after a day of harvesting apples and pears, while we shared dinner from the garden, she said “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so satisfied in my body.”  We both shared how earlier in our lives, either in school fitness class or gyms, and even in other wonderful and nourishing movement and embodied practices, this particular felt sense of satisfaction had alluded us.  Something about collaborating with the earth herself in co-creating nourishing food, and the physical experience of engaging the movement of life for this purpose, had delivered us into this deep felt sense of contentment and satisfaction.

Both of us meditators, also agreed that we experienced more ease in landing into our daily practice.  The mind satisfied through the embodiment of our time moving with the green ones offered us a solid place to land, without the usual fidgets of a body whose “need barrel” had gone untended in the minds increasing capacity to drag humans through a day without being engaged with the natural world in both receptively listening and tangibly creative ways.

Years ago, one of my teachers once encouraged me to take at least an hour outside in nature once a day to balance my work in the bookstore,  Yoga studio, and a generally inside orientation to my days.  If we don’t, she said, we cannot call ourselves “human.” Imagine!! Having to be told to expand my perceptions and include the natural world!

David Whyte, a wonderful poet says “we are the only part of creation that can refuse to be itself.”

Hmmmm, what are we becoming? (perhaps another card for a future deck of Question Everything II)

And, why would we refuse to be ourselves?

The buttercup today became the embodiment of the weeds of mind. Each plant has it’s own root set and then sends out shoots in every direction to create more of itself.  The web these “masters of disguise” create is massive and well, down right invasive to edible verdant ones. They often attempt to appear as hearty geraniums, but don’t be fooled!!!  I know I said they were “tenacious” earlier, which is how my friend Robin Wheeler liked to call “invasive plants,” however with buttercups I defer! Invasive, overbearing, intruding, aggressive little beings.  They do have flowers, which is in some way redeeming, however as I look out over the horse pasture and see how much room they take up, I am reminded of what some old gardeners called them – “the white man’s foot print.”

These buttercup roots are like the beliefs, perceptions and general tonal of an invasive culture that then sends out shoots into every aspect of life, kidnapping the young verdant ones, attempting to listen to and hearing a distant call to be beneficial, life supporting and a part of creation.

As I drove to town this afternoon the CBC had a woman on speaking about Partica- paction and how only 5% of our youth actually get the “recommended daily requirement of exercise.”

Perhaps we are inviting our young ones into engaging the movement of life in a very – shall i say “ass backwards” approach.  We tell them “it’s good for you” and give them artificial forms to follow, but do we give them a direct experience of this “goodness.”  We tell them they need to do it for their health, but do we give them a direct experience of feeling healthy as a result of their “exercise regime?”  We give them testing to determine their levels of fitness, but have we invited them into the sensual, living, changing organismically intelligent life of nature unfolding in each moment in what we call “body?”

In my experience, meaning follows experience.  In our culture we put the cart before the horse and give meaning without experience.

Joseph Campbell said it like this:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning to life…I think that what we’re really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

In creating Question Everything, a deck of inquiry, the process unfolded in just this way.  First the images came out of the young women’s inquiry to collage images of what was alluring or calling them at that moment in time – when they were 13 – 17 years of age.  The questions came after their first year of university, when I found the collages and we decided to create a deck of cards with them.  The questions came after sitting with the images and free associating together and then dream weaving a question we all could agree with.

The year between when we leave high school and enter the next phase of our journey can be a tumultuous one for sure!  Buttercup ideas abound!! Listening to what has heart and meaning for us over what our parents, the culture, or our peers are oriented towards is challenging.  To listen to our direct experience in all it’s facets – felt sense, thoughts, longings, interests, and unique callings is a learned experience. We need models – nature is the perfect one!

Being with the green ones offers a mirror of the dreaming earth in all her facets.  The diversity offers up endless possibilities for being.  We feel ourselves in the heart of something large, embraced in the web of a vast dreaming and immersed in the direct experience of belonging.

My morning movement practice has even moved outside the studio and into the heart of the verdant ones.  Welcome to my “gym.”

Green Gym

Green Gym

I vote for a year off in nature after high school to listen, move and breath in the central part of a giant leafy green shoot, more commonly known as earth.  What would we become with this kind of perceptual education??

Better still, let’s include the green ones in our “curriculum” from the day we arrive. Experience first.        Meaning?  –  well, in it’s own sweet time!

Satisfied with the simple embodied appreciation of inhabiting our place in the web of life, (not to be confused with the tangled web of buttercup thinking,) we are home, human and humble (from the word humus – of the earth.)

And for the coming days, one of my favorite collages, and a question to inquire into:

How is your perception blooming?

how.is.your.perception.blooming

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When did you stop singing?

As I walked in the garden this morning and witnessed the Star Magnolia’s in bloom i find this deeply grounded and at the same time highly operatic sound coming through my vibrating throat.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

sounding exultedly into the morning air.

– as if the blooming of the flowers themselves called the tissue of my vocal cords to vibrate in resonance with their song of spring.  That bursting pink blossoms could spontaneously ignite a flamboyant and exuberant song to spring from my being, was both surprising and sensual, challenging and exciting, mysterious and magical.  I didn’t even look to see if anyone was listening as this unrestrained ode to magnolia’s arrived from the sheer joy of beholding nature’s exuberance.  I smiled as I knew the inner song critic was no where to be found.

Magnolia's in bloom

Magnolia’s in bloom

My father used to yell “be quiet, and turn that thing off!” from the bedroom next door as I belted out some Helen Reddy song, singing “back up” with the clock radio when i was supposed to be courting dreamland. We lived on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario and through some miracle I could hear the radio station from across the river in some US city, through the fuzz and static of about five other local stations.  The station always seemed to play my favorite songs, so i would filter out the buzz and crackling, and focus my ear on the song i wanted to sing way off  in the background.  And then,           well  …..           I’d roar!

I know my father was not trying to squash my budding songstress, and more than likely   just wanted to get some sleep.  I did however, realize upon singing in the school chorus, that perhaps i was not suited for a professional career in this form of expression. I gradually let the singing part of me go dormant after high school.  Not consciously I’m sure, she just fell away in my attention to other details of life.  In my early twenties I realized I really didn’t sing at all anymore, not even to my favorite songs on the radio.

In my late twenties I picked up my inner songstress driving my stepson Sean to school in the morning.  He loved singing and it brought my dry, crackling vocal strings out to play.

My first Yoga teacher, Sandra Sammartino, used to say “your body loves the sound of your own voice.”  I was skeptical at first, but upon exploring sound I experienced the truth and medicine of her words. And now some twenty plus years later sounding is a daily inquiry I relish and revere.

In the Four Fold Way by Angeles Arrien, published in 1993, Angeles explores cross-cultural relations and how indigenous wisdoms are relevant to our families, professional lives, and our relationship with the Earth.  (www.angelesarrien.com)   Angeles tracks four archetypes which most shamanic traditions draw on in order to live in alignment with our environment and our inner nature.  Each archetype has a “healing salve” to tap into and receive the medicine of it’s power.  You guessed it – singing is one!!

(Check out her website and book to explore further! It has been almost twenty years since i discovered Angeles, and her work continues to inform me to this moment.)

“When did you stop singing?” is the question of inquiry for the Visionary archetype. Angeles reminds us “all cultures bring voice into the world through the healing salve of singing.”  and further, “Oceanic societies believe that if you want to know how to tell the truth, begin to sing.”    Perhaps our politicians should start a choir!! But I digress.

When did you stop singing?
We felt this question served one of the collages by Lydia Hol.

During her teen years Lydia secretly took singing lessons, not even telling her closest friends.  At the Teen Circles, I always encouraged the girls to share poetry and their creative gifts with us, however Lydia kept her secret quiet.  One day, when Lydia was just graduating high school she called and asked if she could come for dinner.  I had never really entertained the girls in my home, and was a bit startled by her request, but thought she was now an adult and perhaps it was important for her, and our changing relationship.

We enjoyed dinner and heard of Lydia’s plans for university.  After dinner, Lydia suddenly said “I know I didn’t bring flowers or wine, but I’m wondering if i could sing you a song?”  John and i looked at each other, and immediately nodded and said “yes, of course!” She went to her car and returned with a guitar case in hand.

The three of us moved into the living room, where John and I sat on the couch.  Lydia went to the other side of the room and then said “you can’t actually look at me while I’m singing, so would you please look somewhere else.”  We complied with her request and I remember gazing at a statue of a Balinese dakini carving we have, while Lydia began to strum her guitar and sing.

John and I were stunned by the beauty and unique quality of Lydia’s voice, and she agreed to sing another song while we continued to gaze at the Balinese dancer in the corner.

On reflection, Lydia says this was the first time outside her family she had felt there was a “safe space” to test the waters of her voice.  From our living room she went on to open mic nights at The Wired Monk on 4th Avenue in Vancouver.

Here, she says, she had the “worst night of her life.”  She invited only her brother and one other friend.  She signed up for the roster of singers and was the very last one to perform.  She said she sang a Carol King song with her djembe and that it was “so bad, so very awful in every way” that she cried for days after.  She remembers sweating and not being able catch a breath, but that somehow after a little time had passed and hearing that the most successful people are the people who keep getting back up after falling down, she tried again.

Last year Lydia launched her first CD entitled “Boats.”  Last month Lydia went “on tour” by train to the East Coast.  She discovered that musicians can travel for free by playing their music for passengers in the Social Bar of the train. From Montreal to Halifax Lydia sang without a mic, struggling to be heard over the sound of the train, but sing she did!!

On the east coast she found a receptive audience for her sea faring songs, as she sang in clubs and living rooms.  And, to quote from her website, “when performing her own material, the gifted raconteur likes to be at the very front of the stage, meeting her audience eye-to-eye. No boundaries, no barriers.”  A dakini in her own rite now, John and I loved her live launch of Boats, (all songs she wrote) where we got to both hear and see her.

Check out her music at lydiahol.com 

In the Four Fold Way, Angeles shares that “among indigenous cultures there is a belief that our favorite songs are our power songs.”  And further, “that the most powerful song is the one that you create with your own words and your own melody.”  I have created my own power songs for various times in my journey, as well as playlists of songs by various artists whose lyrics inspire me when the going gets rough.  For the first year I had Serendipity’s Backyard and I struggled to pay the bills and wondered what the heck i was doing anyway??? I played Ann Mortifee’s “Born to Live” until i wore the cassette tape out!  Sometimes when i need the alarm to awaken me at a set time,  I let Michael Franti singing “that’s the sound of sunshine coming down” invite me into the day.  What are your “power songs?”

Last month as i mailed off copies of Question Everything to folks who had ordered them by mail, I offered the women at the Post Office a Question Everything card from the pouch in my pocket.  One of the women pulled “When did you stop singing?”  She read it aloud and then looked off out the window in a moment of reflection.  Then, she looked me in the eye and said “I know exactly when i stopped singing!”

I stood silent waiting to see if she would continue.  “It was three years ago.” she said, and then, “thank you,” she said, “I know what I am going to do on the way home.” she laughed.

I invite you to tend the inquiry,

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop singing?

That’s Lydia in the bottom left hand corner with her djembe.!

And, don’t forget we will be at Banyen Books on Sunday, April 21st, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. for an experiential journey with Question Everything, a deck of inquiry.  Lydia will be there singing a song written by Jayne Anastacio, using the questions of the card deck.  We are hoping Jayne will join us too!!

Tell your friends, and join us in this journey of inquiry.

blessings of spring’s exuberance,

penny

penny allport - question everything

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What are you listening to?

I loved Alain’s comment regarding my last post.

Through my years of cooperation with Divine Mother Earth as a market gardener, i did not hear her cried once. Only a constant unmistakeable Will and deep desire to co-create with us toppled with a promise of deep satisfaction and being cared for at all levels.  Lets make a garden with the Earth!”

If you want to see co-creation at it’s best, Alain took a deforested lot, he called Promised Land Farm, and turned it into a food forest, sharing the harvest at farmer’s markets here on the Sunshine Coast and in Vancouver.  And yes, he even got nettles into larger retail stores, so we can all get stung by these spring green ones.  A formal wave of appreciation to you Alain for all the plants, advice and inspiration you have shared with this neophyte over the years at the markets!  Our gardens are beginning to feed us here in Paradise Found (or lost and found as I like to call it!) as we follow the call to “make a garden with the Earth.”

A while back I heard Poet, author, and activist Alice Walker on a New Dimensions radio program say,  “I get optimism from the earth itself. I feel that as long as the earth can make a spring every year, I can. As long as the earth can flower and produce nurturing fruit, I can, because I’m the earth. I won’t give up until the earth gives up.”

Indeed we are the earth.  The body, as garden has been a long journey of interest and inquiry for me.  This co-creative organism we call “body” moves and is moved as the elements of earth, air, fire, water and space dance through the blood, bone and sinew, and yet we have in many ways disregarded the voice of the body, for forms, ideas of right doing and wrong doing, and objectified ideas of what the body is, how “it” should be moved and an over orientation to “it’s” purpose being the will of our mind.

“Our first stage of development gives us our awareness of being physical creatures in physical bodies, and opens for us a wonderful physical world for exploration.” says Joseph Chilton Pearce in From Magical Child to Magical Teen

This “wonderful physical world for exploration” is kidnapped in many ways before we arrive into the world, in a culture that prefers to schedule, sanitize and medicalize (is that a word??) the birthing process.  Fortunately there are many who are making a BIG inquiry here and listening into this passage in more organismically intelligent ways.  Tending psyche and soma is no small act of inquiry.

What if the practice of  “awareness of being physical creatures in physical bodies” was of primary interest to parents, teachers and the culture at large from before the time we were born?
What if listening to and with the body were seeded early in our experience?

I had begun this blog when the attached came across my email. Perfect timing!! Do open and contribute to this movie, even just by passing it along to folks you know who may be interested. May The Moving Child be a resource and portal of inquiry for parents, educators and beings everywhere!  Go Anna Kemble and Jacki Huntington!!

www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-moving-child

And it’s never too late to become moving humans.  We must however listen less to experts perhaps and more to the living soma we call “body.”

Listening to the body is new for many folks, and can be confusing. I remember when my niece was young and my sister-in-law was trying to teach her a little about this.  My niece walked up to her mom one day with a candy bar and said, “Mommy I’m listening to my body and it wants this now!”

And just this week my mother, in sharing the news that my niece had a re-injury in a competition, said innocently  “her body let her down.”

I immediately was activated and said “perhaps we have let the body down?” through over- riding the body’s many signals to slow down, rest and listen, and by being hypnotized by a culture that encourages, applauds and awards our capacity to “push through” the signals, sounds and yes, cries of the earth body.

John and I went out for dinner one time many years ago with a client of his from out of town, who was training for a triathlon.  We couldn’t meet until 8 p.m. as the gentleman in question had to swim, cycle and then run, after his full day at work.  We sat down and before the cheeks of our butts had landed in the chair he had ravenously grabbed a piece of bread from the bread basket on the table and tore a chunk with his canines, chewing ferociously and talking with his mouth full of wheat, eggs and milk – “i don’t know if i run so i can eat, or i eat so i can run.” he laughed.

I sat listening most of the evening, to how his daughters had to run with him in the evenings if they “wanted time with their dad,”  narration of his training schedule and times of races in many places.  My grief grew as I held my lips and continued to listen. Near the end of the evening he suddenly turned to me and said “enough about me, what is it that you do?”  I shared with him the inquiry of Continuum Movement www.continuummovement.com and www.continuummontage.com  I was engaged in the early stages of – some seventeen years ago now, and an inquiry based Yoga practice that I shared with others.  He paused and looked off at the lights in the harbor of False Creek where we sat waiting for him to finish his dessert.

“Hmmm,” he finally said, putting his fork down for a moment “it sounds like we both care about the same thing,”

I almost lunged off the seat like a feral cat, claws engaged and teeth bared.  Instead I sat back into the chair, felt it’s embrace, soothed the wild animal gnashing her teeth with awareness of breath, and listened for him to continue….

“–that we both believe the body is capable of so much more”  he continued

I soothed the wild one with a sip of water, and continued to listen, “and my sense is that I am driving the body, and you are listening to it.” he finished as he put the last piece of cheese cake in his mouth.

Stunned to further silence I remained quiet.  John, being the balanced guy that he is, said “there’s room for both.”

We tend to listen to experts in the field of “sports and fitness” more to the sensations of the living body of creation we inhabit, which can quickly lead to competition and disembodiment as we strive, like many of us did in public school, in a “Fitness Test”to measure how many sit ups we can do in a minute, push ups and the 100 yard dash, as a measure of our “fitness level.”   These become the “markers” of physical health and well being, over an embodied experience of the “wonderful physical world for exploration” we have been delivered into as human beings. I hear this “military” test is still around in the schools and shudder as we continue to deliver this message to our young ones, without the balance of inquiry based practices.

May we question these old assumptions, which came through objectified models of relating to the body, movement and life. “After all the “fitness movement” actually came out of World War II training.

Essentially, the modern fitness movement evolved out of the influence of World War II and subsequent development of the Cold War.  The United States entered World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. With the declaration of war came the necessity to draft military personnel. However, as more men were drafted, it became embarrassingly clear that many of them were not fit for combat. When the war was over, it was reported that nearly half of all draftees needed to be rejected or were given non-combat positions (20). These disturbing statistics helped gain the attention of the country with regards to the importance of fitness. Taken from The History of FItness, Lance C. Dalleck, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.

The key three words in this quote for me are “fit for combat.”  When i listen into my living soma to these words, i feel my solar plexus tighten, and the urge to contract further as my feet curl in and the breath stops suddenly in my upper chest for a moment.  After all these years it seems we are still training the body for “combat.”  No wonder the wide spread interest in yoga and more embodied approaches to movement and embodied consciousness are growing as we QUESTION EVERYTHING about the objectification of the body, movement and life.

No, I’m not suggesting we abolish fitness programs and sports, however I am suggesting we begin to include the practices of awareness and deep listening that will allow us to be co-creative beings on the earth, in the earth and with the earth. Listening to the sensations of life emerging in the garden of the body, is truly the most profound and simple practice of being here now.  Sensations over wants, likes and dislikes.

The power of now is in the embodied now.

For just this moment as we together share a moment of awareness in the body, including the sensations of our butts on the chairs, feet meeting the floor, being breathed, receiving these words (thank you for having read this far~) what do you notice?

What are you listening to?

what.are.you.listening.to

May we bless the very flesh we have been gifted to experience this moment as a “physical creature in a physical body.” May we explore through the unfolding field of “somatic inquiry” seeds of the birthright of our human capacity to deeply “experience the wonderful physical world.” May we include the body in our practice of listening.

May we “make a garden with the Earth.”    Rumi said it like this:

“We began as mineral

We emerged into plant life and into the animal state,

then to being human

And always we have forgotten our former states,

except in early spring,

when we dimly recall being green again.”

~ Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

If you want to deepen this inquiry further you can join Amy Kiara Ruth and I on April 6 & 7th, 2013 in Paradise Found where we share an inquiry based practice of listening and reconnecting to our evolutionary movement lineage.  Who knows you may meet your own feral cat, waiting to be listened to!!

go to www. pennyallport.com for details.

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Seedy Saturday

Answering the call to blog and cup of tea in hand (thanks for your comments) I sit here with you after a day at Seedy Saturday, inspired by a new inquiry.  Read down for a new card and question to live and love in the coming days.

When I told my mother in Ontario on the phone last night I was going to “Seedy Saturday” today she inquired “what’s that?” with a strange disdain in her voice.

I realized that only a few years ago, I too, was ignorant of this day, now held by various grass-roots organizations world-wide (watch for one in your area soon!) I first heard of Seedy Saturday when a new friend here on the Sunshine Coast asked if I was going?  My first thought was what “underground, shady experience” is she inviting me to?   After all, she, a young woman in her seventies had only the week before, in response to my “what are you up to today?” answered “I’m in bed reading a dirty book.”           “Oh” I replied.

The book she was referring to was “Dirt, The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth” by William Bryant Logan, which she soon shared with me, and I too found myself under the covers devouring his poetic and prolific inquiry into the “most mysterious place on earth, right beneath our feet” and fingertips.

As my ongoing interest and inquiry in life is how can we deeply land into this precious experience of human life on planet earth for the short time we are here, the book offered food for my hungry mind. However nothing has quite served my embodiment like being earthed here on this acreage, horse shit to shovel and compost daily, wood to chop and carry, garden beds full of dirt to “raise” and recently – two colonies of bees to listen to and tend.

I sometimes say i am “stewarding land” however in truth the land is stewarding me. When we arrived here on this little bit of paradise, and unearthed eight raised garden beds from the grass and weeds that had overtaken them through years of neglect, john and I looked at each other blankly and said “whose going to use these?” Neither of us had a green thumb for food growing and no models in our lineage – at least on my part, to draw from. As we stared into the large waiting containers we had bumped into with the rented industrial weed eater I felt a cry from these beds to “be used.” Grow our own food?  I thought.  Couldn’t I just keep buying it at the farmer’s market or organic food store?

We had always cared about eating organic and live, nourishing food, however growing it was an entirely different animal? On a trip to the health food store I found a book screaming on the counter to be used.  Gardening for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler. On the wave of these cries I picked up a newsletter at the Gumboot Cafe by the One Straw Society. www.onestraw.ca  Then, this invitation to Seedy Saturday.  The earth was speaking loud and clear.

Seedy Saturday is a time when communities come together to share seeds, stories, garden talk and make sure we have all come out from under winter’s dark blanket in tact.  Eyes twinkle with the light of spring’s magic, and talk of the green ones we will plant and eat in the coming year fill the space with a buzz almost stronger than the bees in summer. Even if the sun isn’t shining, vitamin D is in the air.

Today, at the Robert’s Creek Hall, the center space dedicated to the exchange of seeds for folks who have some to share, and those who are looking for additions to their heritage seed collection, was alive with the anticipation of this part of the cycle of the year.  I had a flash of my first experience of Seedy Saturday, now eight years ago, and how alien I felt in the buzz of a foreign language and vibrant exchanges I heard taking place.  I remember standing beside a woman purchasing a huge bag of stinging nettles, ecstatic that they were ripe for the picking.  Stinging nettles?????  Isn’t that a weed, something you want to avoid? stay far away from?

Memories of the Ecuadorian rainforest and a medicine man brushing my entire body with the prickly green leaves sent a cringe through my skin. “Your going to eat them?” I asked her tentatively.  “Yes!” she exclaimed, “the best spring tonic there is.”  “Here is a recipe” the farmer offered me a sheet of paper with “Nettle Spring Tonic” typed on the top.

I was feeling listless, disoriented in my new surround, awkward among these green men and women, and her bright verdant eyes sparkled with some embodied wisdom I did not know.  I purchased a bag and returned home to stir fry them for dinner.  John was not impressed, but after tasting them smothered in garlic and butter and cooked long enough to deter the sting, he managed to agree they were “okay.”

I have been a “spring tonic” (see recipe below) junky for many years now and await the pulsing bright magical leaves of nettles to emerge from the patch I planted here some years ago. As the land stewards me, she calls me to plant more indigenous species, things that she knows in her belly grow easily and naturally here,  food and herbs that are medicines, green ones our bodies recognize and metabolize with ease.

The wild brightness is awakening behind my own eyes these days. I am remembering a poem I wrote after that first year of eating the “wild green shoots of spring” and other wild ones we now fondly call our “yard salads.”

Dare to eat

the wild green

shoots of spring

Nettles, chickweed, dandelions

and other eager volunteers.

Yes,

your hair

will grow long and knotty

every          where.

Yes,

inside you

the green ones

will

re-arrange

the

civil

eyes

and

ations

you have digested.

Yes,

the

wild        her       ness

will return

Well?

Do you dare?

Something wild and untamed continues to return in me as I eat of and  listen to this land. A “faint heart” grows stronger and the voice of the earth sings songs of longing and loss into my listening ears. My “civil eyes” are becoming uncivilized.

Many indigenous cultures believe that not only are we called to specific places by something within us longing for the particular medicine of that part of the earth, but that the land herself calls each of us to her where she wants us to listen and answer her cries, hear her songs and sing them.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s students once asked him “what do we most need to do at this time?”

to which he answered, “Hear within ourself the sound of the earth crying.”

As I continue to be stewarded here by this land answering her cries and singing her songs,  I wonder:

How are you answering the cries of the earth?

How are you answering the cries of the earth?

May this be an inquiry for you in the days to come.  I would love to hear of your own stories of answering her cries.

Spring Tonic Nettle Soup

3 tbsps butter or olive oil

2 leeks, cut into rounds

1/2 pound wild nettle tops

1 quart water

1 bouquet of any or all of bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and sage (all easy to grow – even by me!)

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup cream of half and half (organic of course!)

salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Saute leeks in butter or olive oil. Add water and bring to a boil.  Add the nettles and the herbs and cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until the nettles are very soft. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the cream or half and half.  Remove the herbs from the soup and puree using a food processor, blender or hand blender. Add salt and pepper.  Take a ladleful of soup and stir it into the egg mixture.  Return the egg nettle mixture to the soup and stir gently over very low heat (do not let it boil again). Add nutmeg and more salt till savoury.

May the wild her ness return!

living and loving the questions, penny

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A question to blog or not to blog!

Question everything indeed!!

“To blog or not to blog,” has been my question for some time???

As computer skills are not high on the list of my gifts and talents, and I am much more called to lavish in the song of the creek, call of the ravens and the embrace of the green ones as spring unfolds, i have enlisted Casey Moulton (one of the co-creators of Question Everything) to guide me in the background details of sharing the news of Question Everything, a deck of inquiry, in this online forum.

As I am a self confessed lover of being in the flesh with others, and in smaller and intimate settings, i find the process of blogging and writing into what feels like a vast open space a little daunting.  However, as i answer this call to be in inquiry with you as we meet these incredibly challenging and potently creative movements in the journey of earth and her beings, I am living the “to blog” question and dipping my big toe into the waters.

Listening, feeling and tending the ocean of relational space we share in this moment, as sun streams through the naked trees casting shadows of branching beings across the meadow, I am called into a deeper sense of landing here and finding my sea legs (and seat) as I ride the wave of this creation.  And so as I live the question “to blog or not to blog,” at this moment I am called to blog.  As for tomorrow, i cannot say, and thus these blogs will be in moments when the call arrives. There will be 49 in all, each one tending one of the cards and its question of inquiry.

The questions of Question Everything, a deck of inquiry certainly have a life of their own.  They are timeless, existential, essential and “not for the weak of heart” as one inquirer discovered and shared.

“Going through each one of the cards is not for the weak of heart. It has taken me a few days simply because every time I look at one, I ponder. Some have been happy, some curious, and some have been wells of deep honest and raw emotion.”

As the cards and questions find their way into the world through the great places that are carrying them (see: Where to find Question Everything) the process seems to continue to grow, unfold and evolve. What started as a simple creation to mark a time of inquiry for these young women and I, beginning over ten years ago now, is turning into a process of continuous discovery for all of us, and for everyone whose hands the cards fall into.

 In this blog I want to elaborate the piece in the story of the cards (see: About Question Everything, the story) where reference is made to Joseph Chilton Pearce, and what he names as an “ideal window created by nature” in our early teen years for a “shift of mind into higher consciousness” (or what might be called our “biological need for transcendence”).

At the same time these young people kept landing on my doorstep at the bookstore, Serendipity’s Backyard, Joseph Chilton Pearce’s book, From Magical Child to Magical Teen landed into my hands.  I inhaled the words in a few days, going back again and again to certain passages.

“Our first stage of development gives us our awareness of being physical creatures in physical bodies, and opens for us a wonderful physical world for exploration.”

and

“Something was supposed to happen but it didn’t.”

This “first stage of development” is the foundation for the “ideal window created by nature” in our teens to expand into a deeper experience and inquiry with and in life.

In simple terms, in our teens this “biological need for transcendence” (Websters definition of says “go beyond limit, surpass something, be independent of world”) requires that we have models of others who have and can experience the expansion of consciousness – and, further that these models are deeply embodied through experiencing the required preparation in the “first stage of development” Joseph speaks of.

Without going too far down the rabbit hole on this one, I realized, that my own window was not opened in it’s “ideal time,” for lack of models and mirrors in my life.  And further that my “first stage of development” was thwarted by a culture that, dare i say, has abhored the body and flesh for millenium.

No blame on parents or teachers, as the culture was moving in more and more objectified ways towards the body and life processes in those times.  Young women were falling into the large vats of potions, exercises and ideas that would serve the “body beautiful” the culture portrayed as a most important aspect of development and future hopes, be they maternal or material in nature. Of course, this continues on today and the embodiment we so deeply require to expand our inquiry of what it means to be human keeps alluding the culture at large.

As I was practicing Yoga at the time, and beginning to experience the slow and creeky opening of the shutters of my windows, these young ones were showing up like bees to an opening flower, answering this yet unnamed longing within them that the store and it’s offer of inquiry, as well as yoga and other classes invited.

The Teen Circles I offered one sunday a month, became a time of shared inquiry through embodied practices, moving dream imagery, writing, painting and exploring the many portals for the imagination to flourish, and support the call of nature’s longing for each of us as flourishing humans. These young ones called me into deeper inquiry and experiences through their questions and interests, and Joseph’s research offered new meaning to the call to create these gatherings for the young ones.

Little did i know at the time I was also creating these gatherings for the “young one” in me, longing to grow up and open the windows delayed through an over orientation to what the culture deemed important.  These young women were the initiators of a deeper call and responsibility for me to show up and tend the larger potential of being human.

When the student is ready, the teachers appear!

One of my mentors, Angeles Arrien (www.angelesarrien.com) said to me many times “whatever is showing up on your doorstep is your work.”

And so as you ride the waves of your life at this time, what is showing up on your doorstep, and further….

How are you answering the call?

how.are.you.answering.the.call

May this card serve as a seed of inquiry for you in the coming days. I would love to hear of your experiences.

Living and loving the questions,

penny

Visit Penny’s  website for other offerings and resources.

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