You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Mary Oliver
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson
What is my life's greatest longing at this moment?
In class, we have been asking ourselves this question and outside of the classroom, we have been encouraged to tuck this question into our heart-minds as a living inquiry. Our aim is not so much about working the answer, but rather, to cultivate curiosity and openness to living the unfolding question.
To facilitate a courtship with our innate, inner life impulse, Toko-Pa Turner (author of Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home) suggests that we create a Longing or Dream Altar. Dedicate a space in your home for objects (found or created) that symbolize aspects of your life's longing. Even if you haven't found anything that symbolizes your longing, Toko-Pa recommends that you place a piece of cloth in a spot in your home to create space for the longing / dream to reveal itself.
Toko-Pa also believes that dreamwork offers a restorative path of true belonging to our lives and to the world. In class, we have been cultivating a "courting relationship" with our dreams, freeing ourselves from figuring out what the dreams mean, and instead, practicing being open to the mysterious and symbolic nature of dreams.
Dream recall & courtship tips:
- Remain still in bed upon waking and mentally rehearse the dream fragments before getting up.
- Journal the content and core feeling states of the dream.
- Take an integrative walk in the woods with your dream to practice remaining open to the wisdom and medicine offered in our symbolic sleeping life.
As the Salt Spring Island author Toko-Pa Turner writes in her profoundly beautiful book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home (2017) "The world has never been more connected, yet people are lonelier than ever. Whether we feel unworthy, alienated, or anxious about our place in the world - the absence of belonging is the great silent wound of our times."
Toko-Pa continues "Most people think of belonging as a mythical place, and they may spend a lifetime searching for it in vain. But what if belonging isn't a place at all? What if it's a skill...or a set of competencies that has been lost or forgotten?"
Inspired by Toko-Pa's writings and her online dreamwork courses, I will be sharing with you in the 2019 winter class season some of the competencies of belonging that can "heal our wounds and restore true belonging to our lives and to the world" (Toko-Pa Turner).
Friday, Dec 21st, 8 PM
Panorama Beach, Deep Cove
On this evening, we invite you to join a growing circle (and practice) of women, where we will celebrate our connection to each other, to the sacred feminine, and to Mother Nature in her seasonal, full moon, and ocean glory.
Beach sisters, dippers, and swimmers - all intentions welcomed!
Please bring a candle to light at the beach and a mug to be filled with hot apple cider (we will supply the cider, but if you’d like to bring a warm beverage to share, feel free).
Heather McCullough & Jill Maynard
Jill and I were thrilled to have 40 women gather together under the October full moon for a dip in the ocean! The community ripple effect has been so positive that we would like to host a lunar dip every month during this school year!
Here's the November dip details:
Thursday Nov 22
Panorama Beach, Deep Cove
Heather's tips: Neoprene booties and gloves are good! Wearing a bathrobe to and from the beach is bold and beautiful!
Please spread the invitation throughout your community of women.
Supportive beach sisters encouraged (you don't have to go in the water)!
Maidens, mothers, and women elders - all ages and intentions welcome!
In the world of self-care promotion, I often hear the metaphor "put the oxygen mask on yourself first" being utilized as a guiding principle. Although the metaphor makes logical sense, I have never found it to inspire nor feel in alignment with my self-care reality.
The metaphor conjures up a stressful predicament because it is being used in a dire straits situation; the plane is about to crash so now is the time to pop that oxygen mask on yourself so that you can be conscious enough to save those around you. Self-care only during emergencies and for the good of others.
Also, that word "first" in the metaphor "put the oxygen mask on yourself first" doesn't resonate. It suggests that self-care is a matter of hierarchy and performance. As in, there are going to be winners and losers at this game of self-care. So if I choose to act in a self-caring way, then I'm going to be leaving behind or neglecting others as I climb my way up the self-care ladder. The image of myself standing at the top of a ladder, with my tribe on lower rungs, feels lonely and isolating. Self-care has become confused with selfishness.
To disentangle the confusion, I suggest that a new paradigm take root. Stepping off the ladder, imagine yourself inside a circle with many concentric rings. Self-care becomes a movement towards the center. Life balance becomes a contextual, organic response to relationships as we move towards and away from our centers. No judgements; no pressure; no one left behind. Just the natural ebb and flow of life. The rise and glide of our life force. Centering as oppose to climbing.
Like a raindrop on the ocean's surface, we create a ripple effect from our centre.
In a centering circular model, self-care becomes an honouring of our authenticity and ultimately, serves as a wave like contribution towards greater consciousness.
The elder friends in my mother in-law's circle have been reading a tiny little book called
"The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter" by Margareta Magnusson.
In Sweden, there is a kind of decluttering called "death cleaning" that can be "undertaken at any age or life stage, but should be done sooner rather than later, before others have to do it for you." - Margareta Magnusson.
With Scandinavian humour and wisdom, the author instructs readers to "embrace minimalism" and "become more comfortable with the idea of letting go."
In classes this past week, we have practiced setting the internal conditions for "minimalism" and "letting go" to take root in our lives with greater ease.
"The cure for everything is salt water.
Sweat, tears, or the salt sea."
- Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa
Have you ever considered swimming in the ocean, year-round, like our Nordic friends practice?!
The book "The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu" by Katja Pantzar may inspire an adventure of cold water dippings!
My friend Jill Maynard introduced me to the world of open water swimming at the beginning of September, rocking me to my core that many people in the world actually enjoy and reap both physical and mental health benefits from swimming in cold water! Together with my water goddess at the helm, I have taken the plunge twice in the Pacific Ocean during the wee hours of the Fall morning! Elevated and empowered for days was my apes-swim experience.
Let me qualify the word "swim".
I breast stroked with my head out of the water (and gasped in disbelief when Jill dunked her whole head under water and re-emerged peacefully). It took about 2 minutes of being in the water, together with cueing from Jill to focus on my "yoga breathing", for my body-mind to release the cold water shock and re-establish an inner equilibrium. We breast-stroked for about 5-8 minutes. I wore my swimsuit plus kayaking booties and water gloves. And once we were out - we were home bound!
I have since discovered that I feel colder afterwards if I have a warm / hot bath or shower. Jill says its better to have a cool rinse, ending off with a gradual increase in water temperature.
Don't try this cold water swimming alone, friends!
If you'd like to experience open water swimming in the company of all-women (sorry guys - we'll ocean dip with you on another day), mark on your calendar the following date:
Women's Full Moon Ocean Swim
Wed Oct 24th
Deep Cove, Panorama Park
Spread the invitation!
Stand and behold from the beach. Dip. Or swim.
All intentions welcome!
Wear just a swim suit, add booties & gloves, or sport a full body wet suit - your choice!
Enter & swim in the water with the yogic calming & internally warming breath called Ujjayi Breath (or Ocean Breath).
Take a cool to warm shower or bath (but not hot)!
Sip warm to hot drinks!
Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC)