Today is a good day

I’m not Cherokee but I was reminded of the battle cry sentiment “today is a good day to die”/Yutta Hey. The words weren’t fatalistic but more the clear vision, the calm manner, and the open bravery with full honesty that if today is that day, we are ready. We have lived to be honorable, to help, to soothe, to protect, and if the wisdom is calling us home, we are too powerful not to accept her hand. It’s a reminder of how to live, and how to be.


In 1991–at the age of 23–I met my biological father’s family for the first time and they told me I/we have Micmac and Potowatomi ancestors. The fact of not knowing this wasn’t surprising—I didn’t know that the dad I’d actually grown up with wasn’t my birth dad until I was 13–and discovering this lineage made me proud.

For I’m not a religious person by either nature or nurture yet when I transferred to UC Davis in 1988 to complete my undergrad, I specifically chose Native American Studies classes because I resonated so deeply with their core values. The idea that a “faith” could coordinate the life of a human into the soul of their planet was so profound to me that even today I walk outside and am in the church of our earth. Where mountains rise like the walls of amphitheater’s, and trees— housing the chirp of winged creatures— sway in air that moves across the planet, touching human beings one after the other.

There’s 60,000 different species of trees on the planet. 400,000 different kinds of flowers. The other day near Alchemy Coffee I saw a tree at the northeast corner of 300 East and 1700 South that had peeling bark and I literally said “what the fuck is this?” It was so weird and pretty; kind of thick and reddish, and made me curious why it does the peeling. How is this stuff is out there managing itself, making its own little life, living out its DNA in the peace of managing within both life and death? What an icon. 🙂

The thing about nature and folks that abide Her is that it’s a way of life so much more advanced than any modern religion. For modern religion (etc) says things like “God is within you” or “peace is within you” or “love is within you”, or the “answers are within you”, etc. but those are just words and the barren landscape of thought. Those are stained glass windows and documentation, collating and clarifying, and correcting; they are “over there” and the implication of having to call them into awareness is that they’re separate from us and that it’s our intentional act of telling ourselves it’s not separate that’s what makes it not separate anymore. In other words, WE are the agent by which those ideas become real and important. But with nature, with the sun, with the rain, with the trees with the peeling bark,…it isn’t just words. Nature is what we are and how we live. It’s inside of us. We eat it. We exist from her water. It is “here”, and so close to us we assume a separation with her that doesn’t actually exist. Nature is that God, is that peace, is that love, and is that answer. If we are anything, Nature is that too. If God exists, Nature is its most loving creature.

And in pulling that deep inside, much can be healed and resolved, because in the end we are merely guests here being hosted by a greater wisdom. One in which we are so close, we hold her as separate and invent a God who manages her while she quietly and humbly shows us how to give, how to eat, how to help one another live and how to accept that we will die.

White Noise

This morning I felt it. As I sometimes do. I woke up early before the world to see the quiet, and the cool stillness.  Nature–the Great Mother–was baring herself to the unconditional acceptance of the sky and falling back into the wonder of itself. And I paused on my front porch while my soul connected to the place of it’s true home, devoid of the white noise of people and air conditioners and cars and flurry and chaos.  And as the sun rested in self-assured imminence behind mountains which stand guard like new parents, felt called into remembrance, that at every turn, nature—The Earth—will impassively stand in non-judgment of our human drama and flaws until we either save ourselves or perish.

And the indifference of it didn’t make me feel small; it made me feel reverent.

Continue reading “White Noise”

“Cat”

 

“I’m not what you think I am. You are what you think I am.”—Unknown.

I’ve been blessed and cursed with an overactive, curious mind, swaying from science towards philosophy then beyond to where Rumi lays in that grass and the world is too full to talk about, and always I come back to “I don’t really know.”

Because it’s the only place I’m truly comfortable.

The kitty above—one I sit for, and love—is part of the social experiment known as “humanity,” an experiment in which everything has been labeled—“cat”, “dog”, “love” etc.—by the subjects of the experiment themselves in a process of proving what exactly the experiment is even while we’re in the middle of living it. Meanwhile, 90% of the known universe is matter (“dark matter”; they posit now it’s a “fluid” of negative mass to where if we pushed on it, it would move towards us) that we can’t even experience with senses or instruments, and in the last 100 years, philosophy became science and just last month, an actual visible mini-moon was discovered that had been in earth’s orbit for three years completely undetected.

And for someone not prone to taking herself seriously anyways, to walk around like the big human expert on what anything is feels ridiculous and counterproductive.

For when even the most basic physical properties are 90% unknown, tossing labels and theories like darts are akin to hitting a “target” we can’t aim for or see and only designate as such after it exposes itself.

If humanity was the one that labeled this experiment, and there’s no objective template or guide outside of ourselves then “I don’t know” shouldn’t be shameful or fearful; it should be natural and lovely. Like accepting the complexity of the universe isn’t ours to maintain, rather it’s ours to experience as the joy of a connection. Where “I don’t know” comes to mean we breathe in a continuously-evolving state of unknowingness, and moments of leaning down to a “cat” becomes “Olivia” looking into our eyes with what looks like magic, and maybe even could be.

 

Buds

3:20 p.m.: I was just carded at Harmons in the self check out while buying two bottles of black cherry Redd’s, and when I looked at her all elated for wanting me to produce my ID—asking, “are you required to ask people for IDs, or Did you just feel you had to in this specific case?” and then fangirling at her response—I didn’t even worry she might think I was insane because that’s just where we are in America.

Of course I’m insane. This nation is going to batshit and I’m a fucking patriot.

6:06 p.m.: And later, when the high of getting carded wears off and it’s just me and the chill of a bare-faced reality, I’ll remember that today it was still light at 5:45 p.m., that the day began with seeing new buds on the trees, Mr. Baby doing his thang, and dame Miss Hiss hoarding the good bed while the Staff Cats she’s forced to share the residence with scurried around like maggots (her words).

For its soothing to remember that humans are flawed, vain, shortsighted, and filled with nationalized ego (at the expense of our planet) but that Mother Earth is powerful and giving and those of us who love her don’t have to worry for she’ll persevere even if buds now come in early February.

And to Love something this much means to join them on the path to their healing, willingly following into unknown realms, where you help her keep her promises to herself while wordlessly making our uncertain way together into the silence of sunsets so beautiful you can’t help but cry.

Fluttering

*This video is me yesterday, in one of the events that made the day so weird. I’m talking in my best Disney princess voice and yes, it’s embarrassing but this is what I am: an embarrassing mess who talks to birds in sing song through the open screen of her bedroom window. Coincidentally, a month before, another hummingbird had flown right up to me as I was on the porch of a sit house—no h. feeder nearby—and hovered, looking at me. I wasn’t sure what it was going to do and said something like “be careful” not wanting it to fly into my face or anything but then it just fluttered for another second and flew off.

Yesterday was a weird day.

One of those days when animals look you in the face, hold your gaze and you tingle because some “thing” speaks between you. The kind of day when as part of the wordless world of Nature, you become bonded to realms of the unspoken, handfasting to life givers that exhale our sustenance as a light that seems to freeze Time.

Because in silence there is love and acceptance; in silence there is Ginger the senior cat asking to be petted after a year of avoiding you; in silence, there is Delilah the dog staring at you with a joy that grabs your cells after you made time to rehab her wading pool. And that is a “thing”.

And it’s hard to understand from a human mind for we are taken with words and certainty. But in the zone of wordless experience these moments are like the universe is speaking to you.

For in the gift of silence, every “thing” is a voice, and in the quiet wondering during magic moments its as if we’re telling the universe “I’m awake, and I can hear everything” and the universe is responding with “I know.”

[8/2018]

Rustling

I’m hiking with Oscar and Pica—two dogs I sit for—up Emigration Canyon on a deserted trail I’ve never known.

And surrounding us is rustling from bushes and in my latent hesitation, the thoughts start whistling. Is the sound large or small? advancing or fleeing? Will this be that mountain lion up the canyon they warned about, or like that time I walked right past a coyote in a front yard and only saw it once I glanced back and it was silhouetted against the front porch light?

And ahead, a lone howl where there are no houses calls out the better of pushing through on this trail I don’t know, and as we walk out of desolation, in my mind is what I’d do if something (moose, cougar, coyote…) tried to hurt the dogs. I have the will to live, my daughters, pets, a life; yet as the sun becomes a predator, I already know what I’d do if something attacked the dogs. I’d do whatever it took to save them.

And it might seem a grand gesture hollowly-filled by hypotheticals but it eased my mind to push through acceptance of death in exchange for an honorable life.

And as we make our way down the trail back towards the road, Oscar looks back to make sure I’m okay like he’s already done a dozen times and in that one gesture suddenly I’m awake enough to realize that he’d actually do the same for me.

(7/2019)

Making space (for pollen and grifters)

Things to be grateful for today:

That my puffy eyes from allergies haven’t totally sealed themselves shut. I have the gift of sight.

That I caught the drip of watery-snot before it hit my mouth when I bent over to retrieve my sunglasses from the street.

That I didn’t step on said sunglasses and kill them like I did in January to my eyeglasses and that now I know I can go 5 months wearing lopsided, broken eyeglasses because Time is a meaningless invention most especially since each spring I become gainfully employed with “Impairment” and making an extra effort to tell everyone “it’s allergies” and that I’m not just stupid, high or hungover.

That it’s Sunday and parents can use me as a teaching moment for their kids because “the lady with the misshapen face can’t help it and Jesus wants you to be nice to things like her and whatever she is.”

That Mr Baby’s house is only my second pet sit of 19 today and I’m already so behind but that my exhaustion is actually impeding my ability to be stressed about it (or to remember my own name although honestly, I could make some good guesses plus it’s also on my drivers license so I’ll be okay)

That my hair is dirty because now my 50 psi eyes match my gnarly, filthy head. It’s a look now; I’m the total package.

And…

That the cat in the picture who was making a horrible racket in the bushes under Mr. Baby’s house wasn’t actually a homeless pregnant female in labor but rather a pissed off grifter locked out of his house working me over for treats.

That I was already planning how I’d fit it in my schedule to meet my girls back at Mr. Baby’s house to catch what I thought was a pregnant female and transport her to Best Friends for care and eventual spaying.

That I’m not too world-weary to fall for the feline grift. That I actually AM a nice “whatever it is.” That i can see the humor in puffy eyes. That life isn’t perfect so I don’t have to be either.

That I can walk, have a home, have food, can breathe air populated with oxygen courtesy of trees and their selfless offerings, that I have my life, abilities and opportunities, my girls, Ellen, a chance to bitch then to stfu and make my day be it’s own inspiration for perseverance.

Happy Sunday.

[4/29/2018]

[2/26/2019: I can already feel the allergies starting for this year. They truly are debilitating at times–even while on allergy meds–but the show must go on and when you feel about it, things could always be worse. Happy Tuesday]

Mama

[Quail mama and tribe, Taylorsville UT, 8/26/18. Look at that little ones legs flying back there. I didn’t get a pic of the ducks from this post because I was driving and kinda wanted to live].

On my way to a sit a few days ago, I was on the stretch of 700 East where it curves around and intersects with 900 East. It’s a wide road there–like 8 lanes I think–with a lot going on, stoplights, and turn lanes, cars barreling and others merging, and another stoplight up ahead synced up with the 9th East one, so that if the first light’s green, you don’t even have to think about stopping. You can just sit your ass in your lane and jet on through.

And it was late evening, but even through my speed and the curves, I could see something up ahead moving across the road from right to left, and it took me only just a sec to realize it wasn’t just one something: it was three “somethings”, a mama duck and her two babies, crossing this road, with cars easily going 55 to 60, mama in front and babies in back, in the hot dusk and barely visible, moving across the road at a pace suggesting they were well aware of the danger.

And relatively fresh in my mind was another sit I’d done at a complex with lots of ponds, when I’d seen this mama duck and her six or seven ducklings toddling around, and as I surveyed the scene of so many ducklings in my car, I had pulled up slowly and maybe because I’m a weirdo, rolled down my window to offer her my respect as one parent to another (’cause this shit’s hard, yo) and window rolled down, as her babies scurried close by, I was telling her what a good mom she was and enjoying the moment, before looking down and noticing that nearly right under my window was the completely flattened remains of a baby duck that’d been crushed by a car. The guts were relatively fresh, and it was literally so flat that while carefully driving up–with the remains smack in the middle of the road–I hadn’t even seen it.

So of course on that dusk-night, my mind went to “oh my god; they’re going to die,” because flattened ducks happen and sometimes happy endings appear so unlikely that it seems best not to hope.

I looked to my left at the big black SUV next to me–preparing to quickly look away from the carnage lest the driver not see the mama–but he saw them and slowed, and between the two of us, the little family got to the middle of the road where they then rushed into the lanes of the oncoming traffic and out of my view but, as I turned south onto 9th East, I just happened to look in my drivers side mirror at exactly the right time and saw that somehow the little duck family had also managed to safely cross the 4 lanes going the other direction and were now together and moving towards the brown grass of the far side of the road.  Out of immediate and imminent danger, hearts certainly racing, and marching forward, blessedly having edged out death so as to be graced with another day to live.

And, naturally, I was so relieved.

About a mile down the road as I relived the scene with a calmer mind, a powerful thought came through, so powerful I had to write it down. Because on that road–in a duck scene I’ve seen maybe dozens of times before–mama duck and her babies crossing in extreme danger, the road roaring with cars, feet propelling them desperately forward through what seemed like (and often is) certain death, I couldn’t get over something that I’d always before taken for granted.

For locked in my limited box of “human”, where I’m sealed into an experience and magnetically tied to the earth, I’d never before acknowledged what an improbable act of self-sacrifice it is that, in the midst of extreme danger and peril, the mother duck doesn’t just save herself and fly away.

And in opening my eyes wider, I let in an entire world.  For, in a life of psychological minefields, holding to hope seems foolish until you finally see the ever-present happy endings that you never even noticed.

And the bigger truth is that Life’s not just about flattened baby ducks. Life’s also about mama ducks who don’t fly away.

4:51

This morning I rose at 4:51 to a chorus of high-pitched mews from the foster kitten room (rough translation of which was: “get up! ‘the f-ck this door still closed for?”) and my own cats scrambled when I got up and let them out because the old batch of fosters had been trained to stay the hell clear but this new batch uses my cats’ litter box and scamper around like happy little assholes and it’s bullshit, and watching my cats bitchslap kittens makes me wonder what would happen if cats had access to low grade uranium and Internet forums.

And on their way out, the kittens summit the pile of laundry indelicately blocking the hallway and it’s Class A athlete stuff because the pile is enormous (to include all the clothes that need washing AND all the clothes I even own=I have no clean clothes) and the laundry room is downstairs which might as well be nirvana so it’s been growing in “complexity” (ripeness) but the kittens push forth through my shame and my cats find higher ground as they explode like shrapnel into the living room.

By neither nature nor profession am I a fancy person. Yesterday, I had six animals and two kindergarteners climb onto my lap; I scooped five litter boxes, walked three dogs; helped one girl with lice pull back her hair, reminded one boy to stop picking his nose, one not to hysterically laugh when he passed gas, and washed a thirds accidentally-flicked applesauce off my bottom lip with what (I’m hoping) was superhuman zeal; then today by 8:10 a.m., my Siberian cat rubbed against me with a suspiciously wet tail and I had to give two kittens a bath because they fell into the toilet. When I leave the house, I may or may not be covered in cat hair, toilet water, boogers, lice, or someone else’s crusty food, and there have been moments during my work days when I’ve said “oh my god! What’s that smell?!” and I wasn’t that surprised to find out that it was me.

And it used to bother me because the world likes to keep score, and I know that society values folded laundry, kittens who aren’t covered in toilet water and women wearing their most presentable self. But just past the pile of laundry, is the realm of personal pride in doing something meaningful and the self-love needed to accept that not everyone is here to be black and cream patent-leather Kate Spades, coiffed hair, tailored coat, beautiful to look at with an unmistakable air of frigidity.

And while I don’t always cheer to look down at myself and think “holy shit; wtf happened to me?” I have accepted that it is your heart that tells you what to value and if you don’t listen to her, you’ll one day end up pissed off because somehow you got stuck living a standard rather than your life.

So…I’m out of pants.

Yesterday I wore what amounts to a fashion “concoction”. Sweater over dress, dress over yoga pants with my Nepalese boots disguising the fact that I ran out of socks a full week ago, and, today, my pants are my “Velcro” pants, that are basically size 6 miracles capable of energetically-manifesting lint, fuzz, dirt and copious quantities of animal hair up and down their length even when no animals were even present which is not a joke and not at all funny because it’s like being a walking advertisement for witchcraft.

But whatever. It’s all good.

Live in your heart. Be real. Everyone has a place in this world.