05 February 2012

A Midweek Walk (May 2011)

“When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim, ‘Ah,’ you are participating in divinity.” -- Joseph Campbell

Thursday morning found me out near Whitethorn, a rural area in southwestern Humboldt County, with a few extra hours on my hands. I decided to explore a bit, see where the road went. After navigating my way to the end of the paved country highway and down a few miles of rutted dirt road, I found myself at Needle Rock, part of the Sinkyone Wilderness, where I parked the car and started walking north along the narrow trail. Oh my God – what beauty! The ocean was to my leftt. Conifer-covered hills were to my right. In front and all around me were rolling, verdant pastures studded with clumps of wild iris. There wasn’t another soul in sight. I was in heaven.

In contrast, I remember the last job I had when I lived in Oakland, 18 years ago. I was the office manager for a chiropractor, working in a building – like so many buildings in Oakland – that had bars on the windows. Spring would come and I’d be aching to be outdoors. Instead I was behind bars, feeling chained to the desk and phone. Short of playing hooky, there was no way I could be out in God’s country on a Thursday morning.

Around that time, I went to hear Vicki Robbins speak about her book (with Joe Dominguez), Your Money Or Your Life, and learned about Voluntary Simplicity and living an authentic life. Over the ensuing years, I endeavored to create a life that allowed me to live in synch with my values, a life that gave me ample time to be of service and connect with Mama Earth.

I have created that life. How did I get here? Mostly by living simply, not buying or owning too many things and thereby not needing to work full time to support the typical American pattern of conspicuous consumption. But also by staying aware and making conscious choices based on my values. So now I can spend a weekday hiking through some of the most beautiful scenery on earth instead of being (energetically) chained to a desk.

And if I can do it, so can you, if you decide you truly want to. Of course, my version of the simple life will look different from yours. Not everyone wants to raise chickens and vegetables and bake her own bread, or live in the country with a sky full of stars at night and deer out the kitchen window in the morning. This is my version of the good life. I encourage you to envision yours, and then begin making it real.

Tip of the Month
Make a mind map of your perfect life. What does it look like? Feel like? Smell like? What time of day do you get up and go to bed? Who shares your daily life with you? What activities are you doing? What skills are you using? What are your motivating values? Fill in as many details as you can think of, and then ask more questions of yourself and fill in even more details! And then, if you’re willing, share your thoughts and vision with me. I’d love to see your dreams and support you in making them come true.

Quotes of the Month
…simple living is living in balance between poverty and excess, in a way that supports rather than entangles our existence as whole human beings. It requires learning the difference between our needs and wants, the necessary and the superfluous, the useful and the wasteful; it requires preserving what is vital and eliminating the extra – considering what is good for the rest of humanity and the Earth as well as what is good for ourselves. When we identify what our true needs are and how we can satisfy those needs, we can begin to pare away the excess.” -- Debra Lynn Dadd

In the rush of modern industrial society and in the attempt to maintain our image as successful persons, we feel that we have lost touch with a deeper, more profound part of our being. Yet we feel that we have little time, energy, or cultural support to pursue those areas of life that we know are important. We long for a simpler way of life that allows us to restore some balance to our lives.” -- Ram Dass

Recipe of the Month

Cream Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Grease an 8-inch square Pyrex

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup cream
1 large egg

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Top with fresh sliced strawberries (sweetened if desired).

If you’re feeling really decadent, whip up some fresh cream, too!

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