Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blog is now on website!

These posts will remain accessible but my official blog is now on my website:

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Scotland Part I - Stirling

I had been hoping to post this blog about halfway through my journey through Scotland, but our B&B in Inverness didn't have working wifi and I was only in Edinburgh for two days.  So now I'm just home and posting for the first time, a bit weary with jet lag, having to immediately resume life as I know it and aching in my heart for a place I loved immediately. 

Our journey took us from Edinburgh to Stirling to Inverness back to Edinburgh.  A big loop of the Highlands.  I traveled with friends in a minivan of all things.  Those of you who know me know that I believe the minivan a foul work of Satan.  Despite the incredible leg room, my opinion has not changed.  Minivans still suck. 

But Scotland itself far from sucks.  In fact, I have felt so at home here and the people we have met are so nice and friendly.  The energy of the place is amazing.  I don’t know if it’s the history or the simple fact that Scotland is not an endless stream of strip malls and McMansion subdivisions, that people here take care of and value the land they live on, and are not on the constant quest for the almighty pound.  There’s a pride here that’s lacking in America. 

I arrived on Saturday morning after not sleeping at all on the plane.  It was just too damn uncomfortable, despite lucking out and having no one next to me.
Our first day was spent driving to Stirling, getting settled in our B&B and wandering around Stirling town centre.
And, of course, visiting the local pub.
Day Two, we first went up to the Wallace Monument, which was right down the road from our B&B.  A beautiful torch-like tower with over 200 steps up to the bloody top.  It is a lovely piece of architecture and had incredible views of the surrounding countryside.

The view from the top of the monument looks across the valley to Stirling Castle.

Then we visited the fabulous Doune Castle, home of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Jenna and I had a spanking good time running up little spiral stairs, visiting the medieval toilet and clacking around with coconuts like idiots.

After Doune was Stirling Castle, which is more like a museum than a castle per se.  It sits high on a cliff overlooking the valley below and was an extremely important fortress in Scotland’s history.  The Great Hall was enormous, the Fool looked like Eddie Izzard and the restored Queen’s chambers were pretty impressive.

Another visit to the pub was in order.  The William Wallace pub, of course, where a very drunk older gent was flirting with Jenna and I.  In front of Jenna’s parents.  We could hardly keep from laughing – as the other guys in the bar who knew this man were doing openly to his face. It was pretty damn funny.

Day Three took us on a trek up into Pictish territory.  The Picts were the original inhabitants of Scotland and no one knows much about them except that they consistently kicked the Roman ass.  We visited some of the carved Pictish stones by the side of a country road and visited Pictavia, a museum on the Picts, which basically said “we don’t know much about what these people were really like, but we’ll give it a good guess.”

After Pictavia, we journeyed to Stonehaven, where I had  two virgin firsts  - a bowl of cullen skink, which I mistakenly keep calling cullen skank, and an Irn Bru.  Cullen skink is definitely the better of the two.  It’s a fish chowder that is pretty damn delicious.  Irn Bru, which is advertised as being the best cure for a hangover, is an odd tasting orange soda that worked well clearing my sinuses for some reason.  Go figure.

We only had lunch in Stonehaven as it was getting late and we needed to go to the breathtaking Dunnottar Castle.  Holy shit.  That’s all I can say.  Seeing photos is one thing…being there, that’s something else.  And it’s huge.  Jenna, Bruce and I wandered around and there kept being more and more.  And the beaches down by the ocean were fabulous.  Surprisingly, the water was not really cold.

On a nearby hill, overlooking the harbor town of Stonehaven, is a war memorial.  We hiked up to it to have incredible views of the town and Dunnottar in the distance.  Just beautiful.

We took the coastal drive back to Stirling and discovered that Scotland shuts down like it’s under an air raid at 5 pm in most smaller towns and cities.  Our voices echoed in the streets and I expected a Walking Dead zombie to come staggering out from an alley.

And then, of course, there was the William Wallace pub.

Next will be on to Inverness!!  Looking forward to sharing my adventures there with you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dancing on the Head of a Pin

I've heard angels do that - dance on the heads of pins - but I have no idea what it really means except as an analogy for wasting time debating stupid questions.  But then I started thinking that angels don't occupy space and matter as we do (if you believe in their existence to begin with), so a kazillion angels could figuratively dance on a pinhead and I wouldn't know it unless I chose to see them.  So there.

I love the final monologue from the play Marisol by Jose RiveraIn this play, the lead character Marisol (imagine that!) gets blown away with an Uzi by The Woman in Furs (think Bernie Madoff in drag) and, after she drops dead, Marisol is magically standing in front of the audience describing what death is like. She then reveals that now, since she is dead, she can see the war that the angels have waged against an old senile God.  The descriptions are poetic beauty and move me to tears every time I speak the words.

My acting coach, Dr. Ruth Kulerman, is always going on and on about the words being the vehicle to ride into the world of performance from the world of preparation.  This is British acting training and, I must admit, after a lifetime of training in the reverse (emotions to words), I struggle mightily at times with allowing the words to speak through their sound and rhythm and music first.  I always jump to "how am I feeling?" and "what's my driving question?" and all that -- which are important things, don't get me wrong, but diving into all that is like eating the entire supermarket section of ice cream without paying attention to what flavor I'm shoveling into my mouth.  Yeah, ice cream is delicious, but it's heavenly in individual flavors, not as a conglomerate of ice cream in and of itself.

In August, I will start posting a monthly monologue or scene video to share and I want to share Marisol with you.  I think you'll have a better idea of what I'm talking about when you hear her words.

So how many angels dance on the head of my pin?  As many as I damn well want, thank you very much!

Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 Joshua Tree on the Mesa

Back from an amazing and challenging time at Ghost Ranch attending 2012 Joshua Tree on the Mesa with my shaman teacher, Lynn Andrews.

This year, I went to the event as a volunteer and got to contribute in a much different way, helping to create the space the event was held in.

Ghost Ranch in the morning light

Spider Woman Mountain in the near distance

Working on transforming a pretty bland space into beauty (w/Sonia)

This place is magical

Walking to dinner - the Ranch sits in a valley surrounded by orange, yellow and red mesas

On Wednesday, I had my "school day" where I first was shocked and elated I was awarded a $1000 scholarship for this year's tuition through the Councils of the Whistling Elk scholarship fund, along with my classmates, Jane and Dreanna, and Leota, who had won a scholarship through the LACSAT scholarship fund earlier in the month.  I didn't expect a scholarship this year and am so deeply grateful.  Then I got to spend the day with these incredible women I've been journeying through school with for 3 1/2 years and our rockstar mentors, Cheryl Downey and Dianne Riesen.

We held the chakra veils for the ordination of last year's class that evening and it was WONDERFUL!  As I didn't bring my camera like a dolt, I'm waiting for pics from others which I will plug in here.

So, instead, more Ghost Ranch!

Moon rise!!  The Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse was the following Monday and it is arising!

Lynn's speaking platform transformed

The ceiling is now a galaxy of Mayan gliphs, lights and sparkly fabrics

I felt great Wednesday night when I went to bed.  However, I woke up an hour or two later and was violently vomiting the rest of the night.  On Thursday, I was taken to a walk-in clinic about 30 miles away to get a shot of anti-nausea medication in my tookus and spent the rest of Thursday and Thursday night in the Dreamtime.  I am very grateful to our LACSAT nurses Fiona and Judy and the nurse from Ghost Ranch who took such good care of me!

So I missed not only the first day of the event, but also two very special tasks assigned to the 4th Year - setting up Sacred Space for meditation and holding the energy of the event and the Elk Pole ceremony, which opens the event.  My classmates did an AMAZING job with creating the Sacred Space and I was told that the Elk Pole ceremony was fabulous.  I was there in the Dreamtime.  When I would briefly wake up at times, I could feel the love and support around me like a cocoon.

Beautiful Sacred Space!  We all took shifts throughout each night of the event, along with graduates, to hold the energy of the teachings.  Thanks to Bevy for covering for me on Thursday night - I was able to take her spot on Saturday.

The Elk Pole, photo courtesy of Dreanna Bane.  At the start of each JT, each participant enters the medicine wheel created around the Elk Pole by the 4th Year apprentices, goes around to each direction and then ties a ribbon symbolizing her/his intent for the event.  There are 20 years of ribbons on the pole!

This year's event is about "riding the light waves of 2012" which is all about not getting drawn into the chaos of the great changes going on all around us, but instead taking personal responsibility for who I am, what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.  The meditations and talks were about how to let go of what I don't need or want in my life anymore and finding my personal power in a responsible and clear way.  Every participant drew a card from Lynn's Power Deck that symbolized our focus for the event.  I picked a card on Friday morning - Release - and about laughed my ass off.  Yup.  Already doing that!!

This message of Release followed me throughout the rest of the event and is still active right now at home.  It's time to let go of all the things that no longer serve me.  And they're putting up a fight!

A close up of Lynn's speaking platform with incredible crystals brought by Ramona from Arkansas and a luminary, which was our task this year to create using symbols we received in the various meditations and at the fire ceremony on Friday evening.

Suzanne and Chloe dancing at the Friday Fire Ceremony - it's an ORB STORM!  I have never seen a photograph like this in my life!  Photo taken by Anthony Pauly with Suzanne Hindson's camera.  AMAZING!

4th years also led our small groups, which was wonderful, aided by a graduate.  I had the lovely Radka to help me out.  We spent Saturday afternoon creating our luminarias.  Every one was so unique and beautiful!  After our group, I made my yearly pilgrimage to the labyrinth, stopping here at the Japanese garden to take a shot of the beautiful purple flowers there.

Preparing to walk the Labyrinth!  If you make it out to Ghost Ranch, make sure you take the time to experience the Labyrinth.  Magical!

The Crystal Fire being prepared for the evening's ceremony at the Agape Center chapel courtyard


2nd Year Drummers welcoming us to the evening session on Saturday night - I remember doing that!

The Elk Pole on our final night

Walking to ceremony, moon a-rising!

Procession to the Crystal Fire ceremony, carrying our luminarias.  I'm not sure who took this photo (probably Vicki Dobbs) but since I'm bringing up the rear of the group, I'm not in there.

The Fire Team holding the circle of the Crystal Fire

Lynn at Crystal Fire Ceremony (photo courtesy of Vicki Dobbs)

Crystal Fire under the (almost) full moon

The following are a series of photos of the Crystal Fire and close ups of the crystals - enjoy!!

My finished luminary with colored lights inside

Two wonderful people I love madly - Suzanne and Anthony

The World Altar.  Every year, participants bring prayer sticks for world and personal healing and place them into the World Altar along with prayer sticks from previous Joshua Tree events.  This year, the design was a spiral galaxy.

My favorite blue ladder is now a pretty shade of aqua

Gorgeous clouds above.  No rain though.  It smelled like rain for about 30 seconds, which was heavenly.

Rain in the sky, not on the ground

Lovely Suzanne at our staff party Sunday night

Full Moon rising over the mesa through the clouds

On Monday, I headed back to NYC, only to have an electrical fire on my plane about 10 minutes out of Albuquerque.  So it was back to Albuquerque to make an emergency landing, complete with fire trucks and emergency vehicles with light flashing to meet us on the runway.  But all was well. I ended up spending the night at the Sheraton courtesy of American Airlines and made it home safely on Tuesday.  Kitties are happy!

I count myself blessed to be a part of this amazing group of people and to have the ability to go to such a beautiful place to experience power and love.  And empowerment.  Ho!