Louisiana Dreamer ~ Embodiment of Courageous Wild Creative Freedom

Musings and meanderings of writer/artist Linda Hubbard Lalande on art, culture, social media, spirituality, yoga, life

And Still WE RISE — Capturing the momentum of the Women’s March … Call to Action list included

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Like many, I am in turn inspired and paralyzed by what is happening in our world. Heartened by the upwelling of Spirit, Hope and Love in the face of the greatest challenge and darkest threat in my lifetime. And distressed by the potential of the destructive forces at play.

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Braving the bus to Women’s March downtown LA 1/21/17 

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, you can’t help but be affected. I practice letting go of judgement and LISTEN to HEAR what is being shown so dramatically from all quarters of humanity. My daily contemplative practice begins each morning with “I am safe. I am protected. I am guided. I act from heart not fear. I have a right to be here. I embrace the world and hold it in glittering light. I revel in that light. I forgive everyone for everything. I forgive myself for everything. I act with power from Sacred Spirit. Let me find balance and be a beacon of harmony, light and peace for others. Amen”

So here, I will share my images gathered from my own experience and the experience of the Incomparable Zoe Kosovic, in the city of Angels, as well as images from Sacramento shared by my daughter, Emily Lalande; from Austin by my friend Barbara Austin; from Washington D.C. from my friend’s daughter, Jasmine Mauss; and lastly from Boston from my friend Alicia Hart.

Call to Action: I will include a list of resources gathered from friends in-the-know about this complicated process of expressing our collected voices. Feel free to share and participate as you feel so moved.

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Here are a series of links for your reference. Special thanks to Anne Bell, Madeline Taylor and Pat Langlois for sharing these resources.

Articles of Interest:

  • From The Sun MagazineAmerican Winter by Krista Bremer
    “Once upon a time, before Donald Trump was elected president, there was a woman who lived on a cul-de-sac where an orange cone in the middle of the road reminded drivers to slow down because children played in the street. …”
  • The Music of Carolyn McDade

This life, in all
its ache and beauty,
is worthy, my friend, of living

(Through the Moons of Autumn)

Were I to say how much I love this earth. . .

…I often wonder what it would be like if we dared to love this life ~ the fragile and the vulnerable, the endangered, daring to be humble before the magnitude of our beginnings, daring to lean our species into a stubborn and pliant wonder, until reverence shines in all that we do ~ until we live an economics of reverence, a theology of reverence, a politics of reverence ~ until it permeates education, development, and health care, homes and relationships, arts and agriculture ~ a reverence for life, for planetary, social, and personal wholeness.

This is our purpose now. May we do it well, with thoroughness and love.

  • OnBeing.org with Krista Tippett
    • “I’m done drinking the draft of despair”   BY  (@JOHNMETTA)Until recently, my social media stream was primarily positive. My consumption of negativity was relatively small, and limited to normal bread-and-butter American racism and misogyny. That I can handle. Now things are different. Now the negativity I swallow includes the frontal assault on everything: woman’s rights, science, the media, the arts. The attack is against everyone who’s not a white nationalist Christian and everything else those who are squatting in Our People’s House want to destroy … Looking inward, I will be focusing on things that increase my energy and strength, rather than drain them…
    • Love in Action An interview with JOHN LEWIS

      We take in the extraordinary wisdom of Congressman John Lewis on what happened in Selma on Bloody Sunday and beyond — and how it might inform common life today. A rare look inside the civil rights leaders’ spiritual confrontation with themselves — and their intricate art of “love in action.”


  • How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World, Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post

    “….If we live in a perpetual state of outrage, Trump wins. Because when we become depleted and exhausted, and sapped of our energy, we’re not as resourceful, creative, or effective. The goal of any true resistance is to affect outcomes, not just to vent. And the only way to affect outcomes and thrive in our lives, is to find the eye in the hurricane, and act from that place of inner strength.”

     

  • How to Build an Autocracy  The Atlantic Magazine by David Frum

    The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

Events

  • March 15, 2017 (****POSTCARDS****) Ides of Trump –Each of us — every protester from every march, each congress calling citizen, every boycotter, volunteer, donor, and petition signer — if each of us writes even a single postcard and we put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, well: you do the math.
  • April 1-3 (****Conference/Lobby****) Sacramento ACLU California Conference & Lobby Day  Join hundreds of likeminded activists from across the state for a powerful weekend of civic engagement and advocacy at our state’s capital.   smedeiros@aclunc.org
  • April 15, 2017 (****RALLY****) Trump Tax Return Day March, Downtown Los Angeles, 10 AM – 4 PM, Pershing Square
    Huffington Post on the Tax March
    LA March Facebook page
    Los Angeles (and the rest of the country) will let the White House know that we want Trump to release his taxes. Join us in a march from Pershing Square to City Hall, and demand Trump release his returns.

Resources:

  • SheShouldRun.org Join She Should Run and step up to inspire more women and girls to consider a future run.
  • What to do about Trump? This site has one of the most comprehensive list of sites.
  • dailyaction.org – sign up for a daily action, such as calling your senator about a particular issue, and you will receive a text each day about what you can do.  You can also click on the link they send and they will dial your congressional leader for you.
  • indivisibleguide.com –  This is the ultimate manifesto  for getting involved and easy things to do to make a difference.  We can even get our own group started and register with them and then it will be available for others to join.  You can also find a local group to join.
  • womensmarch.org –  The womens march website has links to a lot of difference action groups.
  • Contact your Representatives https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/
  •  5 Calls (gives you five calls that you can make in five minutes. You can sign up within a minute. They send you one email a week) https://5calls.org/
  • The Resistance Manual  (is an open source guide to taking action on a range of issues, from incarceration to immigration) https://www.resistancemanual.org/Resistance_Manual_Home
  • Checklist for Americans of Conscience (this is the result of a woman, Jen Hofmann, who felt paralyzed by the happenings of the country’s situation. She created this weekly “To Do” list…you can click on the link below for this week’s and then subscribe yourself.) You’ve got lots of ways to use your voice this week, so click here to sign up to receive weekly messages and actions in your inbox.
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Boston’s message is LOUD and CLEAR!

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Jasmine Mauss happy to be in Washington D.C.

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The Day I Met Muhammad Ali

The day I met Muhammad Ali

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The Beatles era is when I met Ali — And Ali met the Beatles! http://ultimateclassicrock.com/beatles-cassius-clay/

The day I met Muhammad Ali he was still called Cassius Clay.
The day I met Muhammad Ali he stood on a stage with the Houston Astros and made those baseball players look small.
The day I met Muhammad Ali was in the early 60s when I was barely a teenager.
The day I met Muhammad Ali I was with my father who worked for NASA building test facilities to train the astronauts.
The day I met Muhammad Ali some details are in sharp relief, some cloudy …

The day I met Muhammad Ali he spoke against the Viet Nam War and opened my eyes and made me question our Almighty Government.
The day I met Muhammad Ali what remains clear is the power of his charisma, his indelible image, his unforgettable charm and boisterous confidence.
The day I met Muhammad Ali I remember his goofy, toothy grin and shining white teeth set against his handsome brown features.
The day I met Muhammad Ali I don’t remember how or why I got to be there to meet one of the most recognizable people in the world.
The day I met Muhammad Ali the other remarkable person in my life was Astronaut Ed Mitchell, my Youth Group Leader, who went on to walk on the moon on Apollo 14, had an ecstatic experience and started the Institute of Noetic Sciences – but that’s another story I’ll tell soon.

The day I met Muhammad Ali was it just me and my dad? or were my siblings or mother there?
The day I met Muhammad Ali he was dressed in a light blue suit that contrasted with his smooth dark skin, and made him stand out from all the dark suited men who accompanied him on that stage.
The day I met Muhammad Ali he made everyone laugh, talking about how pretty he is – float like a butterfly, sting like a bee …
The day I met Muhammad Ali he read a poem that blew my mind and confused me … what was a prize fighter doing writing poems???

The day I met Muhammad Ali he impressed my young mind, made me question what I thought I knew, made me really LOOK and LIStEN to him, made me want to understand.
The day I met Muhammad Ali he looked me in the eye and really saw me.
The day I met Muhammad Ali he shook my hand with both of his, made me feel strong, and special, made me feel I could do anything, because he believed he could do anything.
The day I met Muhammad Ali he made me feel he was genuinely glad to meet me.
The day I met Muhammad Ali he gave me a sense of a bigger world, better world, greater world than I knew the day before I met Cassius Clay.
The day I met Muhammad Ali I knew I was in the presence of greatness.

The day I met Muhammad Ali I will never forget though it has been at least 50 years – and I’m grateful to look back on the landscape of my life and wonder if I’ve made a difference as I witness the lives that have touched mine.

Muhammad Ali January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

 

Check out these fascinating articles:

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He looks like he’s a choir boy singing is beat poetry!

Muhammad’s poetry

He Took A Few Cups of Love
He took a few cups of love.
He took one tablespoon of patience,
One teaspoon of generosity,
One pint of kindness.
He took one quart of laughter,
One pinch of concern.
And then, he mixed willingness with happiness.
He added lots of faith,
And he stirred it up well.
Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime,
And he served it to each and every deserving person he met.

http://www.csnphilly.com/boxing/greatest-poet-look-muhammad-alis-verse
Muhammad Ali enlivened many of his news conference and training sessions with poems. They caused many people to laugh, some to cringe.
Ali could be Robert Frost in a robe; Maya Angelou with a championship belt, though his sometimes simplistic stanzas sometimes leaned more toward something out of a Dr. Seuss book. He was a true beat poet — as in, he loved having a rhyme to have a reason to thump his latest rival.
These helped make Ali one of the poet laureates of boxing.
——
“Everyone knew when I stepped in town,
I was the greatest fighter around.
A lot of people called me a clown,
But I am the one who called the round.
The people came to see a great fight,
But all I did was put out the light.
Never put your money against Cassius Clay,
For you will never have a lucky day.”

Written in 1962, when Ali was still Cassius Clay.


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The Sun Magazine luminaries dazzle at The Last Bookstore in the city of Angels

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Instragram from event: The Sun Magazine editor Sy Safransky with writer Frances Lefkowitz at The Last Bookstore Los Angeles

My adventure began with a 20 minute walk to the bus stop — a first for me. The bus I mean, not the walk. I was braving public transportation in this swarming metropolis to get downtown to attend a reading by illuminaties from my favorite publication, The Sun Magazine, at The Last Bookstore. It was going to be an journey. I was going to meet a friend of my daughter’s, Hunter, who would drive me back at the end of the night, so I wouldn’t be foolish enough to trek the 2 hours in the dark of night from downtown to the ‘burbs. Hunter armed me with an app called “Moovit” that tracked local transit, giving a blow by blow of where you are in the maze as you travel. Useful.

I left in plenty to time to catch the bus, but I didn’t know what the fare would be. As I was waiting, an Hispanic day worker joined me, and I politely asked if he knew the fare and if I needed exact change. Breaking any subconscious stereotype I might harbor, he generously and unhesitatingly handed me 75 cents – and would not accept my dollar bill. When I boarded and checked with the driver, she said, “Oh honey, it’s only a quarter for seniors!”  What was the give away? My silver hair?? I laughed and gave the nice man back his change.

My next realization was that though I thought I had followed Moovit’s suggestion, to catch the express, I had in fact taken the local, so 62 stops and 60 minutes later, I landed at my first exchange, at Universal City. I asked a stunning, tall brunette woman for directions and she promptly led me to the confusing station with the machines for creating a card that you wave magically in a mysterious direction to enter the turnstiles. *harry potter.. she sounded Brazilian maybe??

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Page from sketchbook done on LA Metro 4/1/16

I did manage to get onto the train, and sketched happily for the next 30 minutes of my ride. I gawked at the sheer size of the enormous silver hoop earrings one plumb Black woman unselfconsciously sported… and the men in hats reminded me of the 40s when felt chapeaus were all the rage.

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving the surface from at the underground, I felt a distinctly foreign feel — I no longer felt I was in Los Angeles – but had been transported to Greenwich Village. A bit seedy, gritty and smelly, the streets were filled with characters. You could tell the locals from those of us from the literary crowd who had braved the trip to downtown to hear The Sun writers read — we were better dressed, many silver haired, and a bit wary of our surroundings. Making my way to The Last Bookstore, I was immediately intrigued, and felt well rewarded for my efforts. Tunnel_6047

It looked like a Harry Potter set, with counters, shelves and tunnels made of old books … the old bank building had been transformed, with vaults dedicated to horror, torture and other apt subjects. the grand room was surrounded by an upstairs balcony, replete with art studios and quaint tiny shops.

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Art displayed in an atelier window of The Last Bookstore.

I trundled along the street seeking sustenance before the reading was to begin. I came upon a little alleyway filled with cafes, poetry readings, coffee, sausage stands and French pastry bars. The smell of handmade tortillas drew me in, and I found myself in line with a woman in town for a local literary convention, which is why The Sun was in town. The name escapes me of course, but it was for writing professors – those who teach writing in the universities, etc. We had a fascinating conversation – she was from Austin, professor at the University of Texas. We ate and wandered back to the bookstore, taking our seats as the crowd was assembling. My friend, Hunter, showed up and we commenced to have a good chat. I told him about the submission I had made to The Sun – my first – on the topic of Houses. My story was about the one that changed my life, where my siblings all gathered in this huge old farmhouse, and my father and sister in law became an item, resulting in 2 divorces, and the birth of 2 more children to my father and this young woman. Three women around me turned and said, “I want to come to YOUR reading!” And Hunter responded, “Yes you do! I’ve known her all my life, and she never ceases to amaze me.” (Hunter had grown up next door with my daughter, from ages 1 to 13…but that’s another story.)

 

 

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At The Last Bookstore with Hunter Orloff.

The readings were well done and well received. There was Howlie Boy a story of white boy growing up in Hawaii, who wanted to be a local, and another by woman who read an intriguing account of her life. My favorite was Fran Lefkowitz that I have featured below. I bought her memoir about growing up poor in San Francisco. I felt such resonance – she was at 18th street – I lived at 17th and Delores after grad school. So her reference points were so familiar. I love her direct style and perceptions are humorous, touching, spiritually enlightening. Her search for meaning parallels my own as I search for new employment in my 60s. I highly recommend it as a good read from many levels.

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Frances read the entire Epilogue from “To Have Not” a memoir. I have excerpted the first and last paragraph to give you a flavor. 

Epilogue, page 279  

Discover the Future of Your Past

“What do you need to sit fully into your seat?” the yoga teacher asks us in an earnest, probing voice. “To sit fully into your pose, into yourself, into your life?” she continues, as we sit on our mats and try to figure out what she’s talking about. Then she instructs us to bow and “dedicate the energy of your practice” to someone. I wonder: Is dedicating my practice to someone to same thing as praying for him? I wiggle my butt on the little round meditation pillow, trying to sit fully into it, and decide to dedicate my practice to my younger brother, who has just been “transitioned” out of his job.

Last paragraph … page 294

“Hey,” says my niece with the unsilent e, “the word eye is pronounced the same as the word I … but they don’t have any of the same letters.” She is delighted with her cleverness at having made this discovery, and with the cleverness of the English language, the way it doesn’t make sense but seems to make sense anyway. We are sitting at the kitchen table doing homework out of a purple folder. And though she is actually on her knees in the chair – her legs folded underneath her, the soles of her bare feet facing up, her bottom resting on her calves – she is sitting fully into her seat. Next to her, perched on the edge of my own chair, I try to figure out if my time has passed, if I have both absorbed and lost too much to ever get my body to unfurl like that again, or if I still might have a chance to settle into my own place in this world.

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Pilgrimage to Fowler Museum yields richness, inspiration, cultural understanding

World Art demonstrates sense of global unity in wake of Paris attacks

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“Disguise”poster for current exhibition at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

This is a kind of stream of consciousness post just pouring my heart out to whoever is out there listening to not give in to despair, to worry, to fear, to hopelessness when this darkness rears up and lashes out to destroy all in its path. Paris is the heart of artistic expression, freedom, liberty, risk. We’ve been hit in that vulnerable pulsing heart of creativity. And we there are many of us rising up in spirit, rallying against the knee-jerk response to more violence to find a different way, as my yoga teacher Diana Lang so aptly expressed in her recent blog post. 

So my response is this: 

Go outside and let nature heal you. Go inside yourself and feel your own goodness. Go inside places of solace — seek out art that feeds you – live music, dance, theater — museums, studios, galleries — filled to the brim with moments in time created by human beings channelling their highest selves.

 

 

Fowler at UCLA is treasure trove

A recent visit to UCLA’s campus drew me into the always intriguing Fowler Museum. The UCLA Dental School was my first destination (for reasons I would rather skip, as it involves barbaric medieval screws into jawbones, grafting and the like). My reward after having sharp objects poked into my gums, and having my head locked into a tube for 3D imaging of my cranium … was a visit to UCLA’s portal to another dimension.

The Fowler never disappoints. I always feel like I’ve been transported to another time space continuum. Now in the face of the Paris attacks, the global unity conveyed by the Fowler Museum‘s eclectic art collection is a welcome salve. I’m writing this to encourage people to time to wander through the multitude of galleries filled with evidence of courageous creativity. The work is often spiritual, shamanic, magical, imbued with healing intention. Look deeply at the natural world. Love that. Emulate that!

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The human spirit never ceases to amaze me. Visions of faith in that human spirit are captured here in colorful, vibrant images, shapes, textures, sounds. It seems no matter what country the artist comes from, there is a common thread of transformation. It also expresses unceasing human drive to make, give voice, give form, give life to objects, spaces and concepts beyond the mind.

Seeing the Zuni paintings of sacred spaces opened my eyes to the complexities of their cosmology and gladdened my heart that this legacy is being preserved.

The African regalia in the Disguise exhibition touched bone deep memories of the raw, raucous, mysterious Mardi Gras from a New Orleans childhood. The meditation sculptures resonated with my own 30 year dance of grace with Siddha Yoga, an esoteric mystical path that has enchanted, enlivened and blessed my life immeasurably.

Go out. Go in. Go see. Go to UCLA and take in the magic and mystery. It will do your heart good. 

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Sequoia beckons: Antidote to urban angst

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Teddy bear fur hills whiz by on Hwy 5, the jugular vein of Central California.

Being in nature offers an epic way to get out of this modern, urban world crowded by our own manic minds, the invasive psychic energies of others and the omnipresent information barrage from electronic communications …

Though we walk on the Earth we easily dismiss it … Like fish who don’t recognize water, we are immersed in a miraculous world that we barely see as we sleepwalk in overstimulated artificial environments.

In need of an antidote, I drive away from LA’s seemingly endless sprawl, with a deep sigh of relief. Though I’ve left mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, I find myself crawling through traffic thick with commuters. In a surrealistic slow motion parade, we funnel up Highway 5 on this ten-lane conveyor belt past Magic Mountain, the stronghold of crazy city dwellers out for a thrill.

Magic Mountain marks one edge of the sprawl. Once past this iconic playground, nature’s marvels unfold on the 5 corridor – a scenic passageway where Christo’s Yellow Umbrellas once unfolded, up through dramatic Gorman Pass winding into the magical azure blue Pyramid Lake, and the fertile Central Valley, food basket to America.

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Eventually the traffic thins and golden teddy bear fur hills softly fold away from my windshield. Musical interludes carry cosmic messages as this road trip unfolds. I will celebrate the milestone of 62 years with an open-ended solo camping trip to the mysterious Giant Sequoia forest where I anticipate a major shift in consciousness.

As my friend Karina so aptly wished me … May I find a way of inhabiting my body differently to explore a fresh perspective. The alchemy of sleeping on the earth will transmute my scattered urban consciousness into golden strands of ease, surrender, peace.

Arriving at Buckeye Flats just as a windy bluster begins climbing across the eastern sky, I rush to secure my tent. Just in time with the help of the bearded neighbors, the tent is staked and the clouds burst, sending campers into vehicles to wait out the storm. Steamy windows and pounding rain are strangely comforting. The weather settles down just in time to fix dinner in the fading twilight, and my first night begins. Seventeen days later, I will emerge, refreshed, carrying the canopy of the Sequoia sky as a protective cape back to the city. My musings capture snapshots of my magical sojourn.

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Celebrating my birthday at Buckeye Flats with drumming, campsite dinner, and a beautiful sunset.

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Enjoying a cool morning on day 2 of what became a 17-day trek.

IMG_0255Waking in the Sequoias to spiraling shooting stars, pulsing rocks, roaring rivers, treeing mountainsides, grazing golden bears, curious deer. Greening meadows dappled with bright pink yellow orange wild flowers, verdant ferns, exotic mosses satiate my hunger.

IMG_0234The natural world of wonder eternally unfolds in vast enveloping waves spreading out before beneath within me. Sun and rain drench every pore.

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Bobcat dashes though my campsite. Black bears amble through primeval forest. Lizards sun on ancient rocks, waterfalls mist each molecule. Rainbow light fills the sky, my heart, my eyes. Impossibly blue blue skys edge coarse granite-faced cliffs dramatically thrown up from the Earth’s surface. Evidence of glacial ice floes frozen in stone glitter in greens, golds, reds. whites, blacks, browns, greys. Sheer drops into infinity challenge climbers to seek dizzying heights. Up and Up and Up, breathing orgasmically deep with heart pounding in unison with all beings, animate and inanimate.

Time is measured here in millions of eons. Rocks capture passage of cataclysmic events. Days meted out in spectacular, subtle morning blossoms of light followed by sweltering heat bouncing of boulders, golden bear backs, shiny lizard creatures creeping out to absorb the warmth.

Afternoon storms roll in with dramatic gray cloud bursts saturating Giant Sequoia and Lodge Pole pine forests, feeding underground rivers in crystal caverns. In this 4-year drought, this blessed moisture is welcomed by humans, animals, plants, soil. Tribal boundaries open to embrace all that moves in this incandescent space.

Taking on my longest hike – 9 miles to Mist Falls at Roads End, Kings Canyon – I trip 30 miles in, on my own shoes. Lucky I only scrapped an arm, got a palm full of gravel cuts. Picked myself up, glad I had a first aid kit, cleaned up and determined to keep on. I look up, and there is a rainbow cloud, inspiring courage and resolve to reach deep inside and find strength. Well rewarded with awesome vistas in Muir’s Sierras.

Afternoon blaze dances into evening twilight. Inspired campers return from hikes, adventures into peaks and valleys of wonder, visions of mother nature filling their reservoirs.

Evening on edge of meadow, playing of resonant buffalo drum attracts mystical bats. Swooping down to me, I hear their primordial squeaks and swirls.

Camp fires blossom like fireflies. Air fills with smells of meat and vegetables, sounds of hushed voices slip into silvery night. Laughter echos with songs, whisperings, families bonding, animal and humans couple in coitus, creatures creeping quietly, insects buzzing, bats whirling and diving, life teems in half-light of moon mysteries.

Headlamps and flashlights twinkle under a vast canopy of stars. Animal eyes reflect phosphorescent green from dark forest paths. Sharp teeth with ancient tongues lick the smells of human presence into hungry nostrils.

The night descends as tents glow like candles among the ancient everlasting trees. Surrendering into the night and sleep, adventurers explore inner depths, anticipating the break of dawn that inevitability follows, no matter how deep the dark.

Eternal cycle continues. Be quiet. Listen and celebrate all that feeds us. Ragged soul, holy spirit and sacred body.

I’m finding a great reprieve in setting up a tent and simplifying life. For me, camping is a form of running a way from home, like this fellow blogger so aptly describes. http://thegription.com/bikepacking-is-running-away-from-home-for-grown-ups/

As a reward for my passion for nature, Spirit has gifted me with a new part time gig with outdoor adventure store, REI. They’ve opened a new place in my hometown, Woodland Hills, and welcomed me into the tribe as a Green Vested Inspired Guide. (Just like the one featured in A Walk In the Woods Robert Redford movie! Very funny! )  Grand opening is this weekend, Sept. 18 to 20, 2015. More to come on that front.

But I’ve reached the shore after a 3-year long hiatus. Thanks to Spirit, Goddess and Guardians. So many people responded to my solo adventures, asking me was I not afraid. Truthfully, I felt safer, more fully alive and IN my BODY than ever before. I will be planning more adventures, and bringing willing takers along with me when the time comes.


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Soul Journey photo essay — witness to spirit of play

Late July brought the Muses (Maureen Cox and Madame Chandrala) to Sycamore Canyon Beach for a Shamanic Soul Journey. Reflections and images shared below give a taste of our sojourn. If you are interested in joining us for a fall foray into the woods, get in touch and watch this space unfold. 
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Spirals and curves at Sycamore.

Spirals of ashe and sand.
Searching for sea glass
Roaming desert hills to
vistas broad above sea shore.
Tourquoise water with dolphins at play
Sunrise sunset glows
Dancing in waves of wind and water
Ocean’s power fills us
Women on the edge …
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Mother Ocean gives and receives blessings.

 
Medicine cards by fireside reveal playful otter, loyal dog, peaceful swan
while Resonant whale beats the drum
Beats the heart
Moves with tides inner and outer, calm and clashing.
Crashing waves undulate
Carrying deep messages
Into open spirits
Waiting in the dusk
Blossoming in the first light
Shamanic voices echo in Sycamore Canyon
Ah ho grateful graceful
We bow to Mother Earth
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Special thanks to Chris White and Anna Measures for their support and assistance on this Soul Journey campout. More stories of my solo journey into Sequoia are up next. Here’s a link to my previous post on the topic: Driven By Wonder and a Sense of Adventure, Solo Camping Draws Me In.

Here’s the flyer from this event.

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Driven By Wonder and a Sense of Adventure, Solo Camping Draws Me In

July 15, 2015: Starship Entry

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Kickin’ back in Buckeye Flats, Sequoia National Park, on my third solo trip.

A sojourn to see my daughter, Emily Lalande, complete her 2nd year in Waldorf teacher training to the San Francisco Bay Area started a continuing road trip odyssey. On the way up the main vein of the state, Hwy 5, I was drawn to the Owl Tree at San Luis Reservoir…. See that tale here.

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My daughter Emily Lalande (front center) performing Eurythmy at Waldorf Teacher Training presentation in San Francisco. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurythmy. (Far left) Emily preparing for recorder performance.

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Visiting Pt. Reyes Station and art studio of Patricia Thomas.

Views of Lake

Views of Lake Kaweah on the way from Exeter to Three Rivers entrance to Sequoia National Forest .

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Kicking’ in with Anna Measures at the Kaweah Motel in Exeter

On the return trip, I took a segway into the Sequoia forest, via Exeter and the illuminated manuscript of Lake Kaweah. I was captivated. After 2 nights at the Americana classic Kaweah Motel with fellow intrepid, Anna Measures, I fell under the spell of the Paradise River and Giant Sequoias. Anna and I had trekked into the park determined to see the General Sherman Sequoia Tree – The BIGGEST TREE ON EARTH by volume and despite rain, sleet and snowy conditions, we made it. Me in my socks and sandals and Anna’s jacket – I had left my hiking boots and jacket in my own car, so felt like the quintessential city slicker.

“It was curiosity that was driving drove us [Homo Sapiens – to explore] That’s the defining aspect of our species – we want to know what’s on the other side.” First Peoples, Asia, PBS 

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Anna and I treasure hunting at Under the Water Tower Antique Store, Exeter, California

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Relishing the abundance of California’s Central Valley orchards.

Mesmerized by the mystical eco-climate surrounding the outlandish red barked giants, we wandered around the grove trying to stay warm in the unexpected snowfall. We took in the majesty of the trees so big you can’t really believe what you are seeing. Among the few other visitors was an excited middle-aged couple that had just seen a bear in the trees toward the meadow. So we high-tailed it up the slippery path with great anticipation. I just knew I was going to see a bear on this visit. Anna was the first to spot the shiny black creature – it was hovering over a log at the edge of the trees, and looking our way. I sensed adolescent male, but who knows really. He was curious, and far enough away that I could get a good photo and video without feeling too cautious. He tore some bark off a fallen log, then straddled it and walked away, at one point turning his head in a gesture that spoke to me, “Come follow me”…. And so I did. We caught a second glimpse of him lumbering down the hill – the sun making his slick black fur shine and bristle with the moisture in the air. I felt blessed and happy that these powerful animals are still wandering free.

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I had to literally run and hobble back to the car, as my feet were frozen stiff in my wet socks and open sandals. But it was well worth the pain… We drove to the green greeeeeen GREEN verdant Crescent Meadow where I jumped out of the warm car and ran to the edge for a deep draft of air and visual reward. Our last stop was Hospital Rock marked by ancient pictographs, at the entrance road to Buckeye Flats campground. Seeing the incredible beauty of this rustic site, I determined to return. The next morning Anna returned to the city and I took off for a tour of Crystal Cave and to secure a site a Buck Eye Flats.Lalande_0106

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Lucky me! I pulled into Site #13 just above the Paradise River gorge and pitched my tent. It was a lovely site, with the water crashing noisily down the grey green slippery slopes of the canyon. A tree on my site looked like a captured soul – and we began a communication. I got that it was the spirit of a horse, left wounded and dying in the distant eons of time… and that there were others in the surrounding grove. I drummed and did ceremonial offerings, asking the spirits to be benign towards me, and prayed they would be released to rest in peace if they chose, or to experience joy in their tree homes.

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Paradise River

The Crystal Cave tour will be the subject of an upcoming blog, as it deserves singular attention. Suffice to say it is nothing short of miraculous and truly is shiny sparkly crystal passages with underground rivers of pure clear spring water.

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Wild flowers abound!

Hiking the Paradise River Trail treated me to 22 different wild flowers, a constant companion of rushing, powerful water that could be heard, felt and seen, and an enchanted forest walk. I was joined at the start by a couple from SF about my age – we walked till lunch time through incredibly beautiful waterfalls, bridges, trails and pools where we took off our hiking boots to cool our aching feet. The woman was from Tuscany, with beautiful silver hair and a lyrical Italian accent, reminding me of my dear Italian friend, Chiara Perin, and my time in the Argentario north of Rome. We had a lively exchange, sharing travel stories and camping escapades. The husband was a classical pianist in the city – we exchanged information, which I will hopefully recover somewhere in my camping miscellany.

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Moss magic creatures seem surprised I caught glimpse of them.

I pressed on another 2 hours, determined to reach what the map had said was the ‘high point’ only to discover in the fine print that ‘after the first mile, the trail becomes faint, so be prepared for off trail hiking.” So after 3 hours of pushing uphill, I turned back, satisfied with the terrific views of treed hillsides and verdant valleys falling below me. On the way back, of course I saw a whole new perspective. Deeply furred mossy sections of the trail revealed themselves – velvety Sargent green rocks spilled down cliff sides that I had not noticed before. I came around one ferny shaded passage way, and was stopped in my tracks by what looked like leprechauns and their furry friends caught just as they turned into moss creatures, “Quick – Human! Moss magic!” called over a shoulder, and they froze in their tracks. The photos show an alligator dragon figure along with two companions of magical shapes.Lalande_1154_2

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Rio Mortal signs warn of river currents.

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”

~ John Muir

I spent a peaceful night at my campfire, and decided the next morning to stay another night, shifting over a few sites to an open space, as lovely as the last, surrounding by arched trees filled with buckeye flowers. After a day in the caves, I returned to cook dinner and hunker down for what looked like a wild storm. As I lay in my cozy little tent, the sound of the downpour – so welcomed after the choking dryness of LA – made me feel as though I were inside a drum. Waking in the night – I was gripped by the primal fear of hearing what I thought were footsteps coming toward the tent – in the thunderstorm I could only imagine it was a beast not a human – and a large one – so bear loomed into my imagination. At 3 in the morning a tent is quite dark, so I fumbled for my flashlight to discover that the rain was dripping from above, and leaking in from below … and the sound was the tent flapping due to a weak pole that was letting the tent slack, allowing for rain puddles to form….. As the human is liable to do in the face of challenge, I found an ingenious solution using 2 long flash lights to push the tent side tight so the rain ran off, put a towel to good use, shifted away from the drip and used the adrenalin rush to repeat my mantra Om Namah Shivaya furiously and gratefully fell back to sleep.

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I pulled myself away and back to the urban insanity the next day, resolved to return as soon as possible.

June arrived, with the prospect of my 62nd birthday looming. I resolved NOT to depend on anyone else to remember or entertain me on what I was certain could be a deadly boring and angst filled interlude. I set out to find a camping site close to home, and scheduled two nights at Malibu Creek – but after an evening visit realized it was far too tame, and too close. So I continued my search and found out I could show up for 2 nights at Buckeye and take my chances as first comer to the other campgrounds. I switched Malibu to the beach in July, and set my sights on another Sequoia trip in June.

Thus my 3rd solo trip was born. And as my dear friend Karina D’Arcy expressed: “Today your tent has offered itself not as a home, not as an earth, but as a Perspective Hospitable to Experiments in Dwelling Differently in your Body upon the Earth.”

Excerpts from readings that influenced my travel.  Travel and my birthday always inspire contemplations on mortality and the deeper meanings of life. Over and over again people commented on how courageous I am to go solo into my wanderings, but solo is truly the only way to get at the heart of life. 

On Travel

“The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown, to bear witness to the consequences, tragic or comic, of people possessed by the narcissism of minor differences. Chekhov said, “If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.” I would say, if you’re afraid of loneliness, don’t travel. The literature of travel shows the effects of solitude, sometimes mournful, more often enriching, now and then unexpectedly spiritual.”
~ Paul Theroux, The Tao of Travel, Preface: The Importance of Elsewhere

On Nature:

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”

~ John Muir

On Death:

“Death doesn’t burden your life. It animates your life. The centrality of death gives you the chance to live, because it says, “Here’s the bad news: It’s not going to last.” …

The great torment of our times is that a lot of people are waking up to the fact that something is missing, but its actually not missing in the world. What’s missing is their ability to see the world. They’re not observing it with two functioning eyes. And its not that they can’t see an object in their field of vision; its that they can’t see the field. ….

People are steeped in doubt, and I’m offering wonder – the ability to be full of wonder in an environment that sucks it out of you. …

Everything born must die … once your realize this, your better self is born of GRIEF. Grief is the amniotic fluid for your humanity. That’s how it works. The guilt will pass, {the moment of blistering realization that your entire existence as a Westerner has been a massive assault on the natural order of things – that you’re on the take.} The guilt will pass but the grief will not, because its composted into something much more life-loving – but not human-hating. There’s no hating, no resigning, no withdrawing or running or transcending.

Stay here. Stay long enough that grief can have its way with you, and you begin to realize that this grief is a wisdom, a recognition that human being are maintained by the death of other living things.

Death – not a symbolic or hypothetical end, but real, kick-ass human death- can raise up into the light the fundamental realization of how much had to die to keep you alive over your lifetime. Can you add it up? Dare you? Could you bear it? Maybe not, but it’s good to think about.”

~ Stephen Jenkinson of Orphan Wisdom School: The Sun Magazine interview HowWe Deny Our Mortality in the article As We Lay Dying,

Interested in joining me for an adventure? By popular demand of friends and relations, I am hosting magical campouts, hikes, ceremonies, creative gatherings and more for the adventurous nature lovers. We are having a 2-day Soul Journey Campout and will be holding Wild Women Medicine ceremonies on July 22 and 23 at 6:30 pm at Sycamore Canyon Beach, Malibu. Click here for the latest events.