So. Some catching up to do.
It would be really great if this post had a soundtrack playing as you looked at these photos since the entire month of September was spent in Vermont with no wifi, no cell service. I dropped into a world of sound. Beyond the breeze in the trees, the insects, birds (and fucking shooting practice! from distant neighbors) there was a series of songs I played on repeat that are so embedded into that time for me, when I look at these snapshot I can hear them playing in my head.
At the end of August, my friend Anne-Marie sent me a playlist for my roadtrip north. Here are a few of the songs: Imidiwan Ma Tenam, Rebel Woman by Chiwoniso and Ben Ma Mi by Lena Timas from her cd Magia D’Morna — you will have to search out Lena’s song for yourself as I couldn’t find it except on Spotify.
I landed 57 miles south of the Canadian border– in a town called Waythehellupthere. The weather was glorious– wonderful for me, not so great for the trees and plants and earth as the lack of rain (in the thirty days I was there it only rained ONCE– the morning I left, for about two hours). You can see just how low water levels were in the photo of the pond below.
Yes! there was a pond— which was yet another gift since the only downside to my self-imposed exile was that for one small brown dog, he was away from ALL of his friends and social activity. This was a bit challenging, but walking out our door we could head off on super big hikes which is what we did. My goal to keep him so tired he wouldn’t be able to miss his buds.
It sort of worked. The pond, however, turned out to be the best thing for him since he could spend hours– hours!– circling and splashing trying to hunt frogs who indulged his efforts to be a fierce hunter though, of course, he never caught one.
But first– the arrival to a little cottage surrounded by perennial gardens. Oh, please.
I was dropped into straight up beauty. I mean, even where I parked my car was a freaking work of creative expression.
I am no stranger to isolation or rural living, but in the first days, I did want to do a check on whether or not I was accurately following guidance or just whacked. Drew the three cards below from the Inner Compass deck that Autumn gifted to me and come on!! You don’t even have to read the book to get the resounding YES from this spread: Stillness :: The Self :: Harvest. Boom.
Above is my little space where you might think I did all the writing, but no. As I learned from Stories for My Sister, I love writing in bed!! And so this little table is where I began each morning with coffee, journaling, gratitude, burning incense, etc.
Remy, as mentioned above, did do some pining out the window, but learned to adjust and became a fierce frog hunter.
Whenever possible, I worked outside because it felt sacrilegious to be indoors.
Sometimes, I felt like I was walking along at the top of the world. This sensation was nurtured by the incredible prayer flags of leaves.
On the very last day, I had all my bits packed up. The day was beyond glory— We stayed outside the entire day. There was a fire pit and a full moon on the rise, so I lit a small bonfire in the middle of the day and proceeded to release and burn all the personal and paper scraps from a month of writing and diving deep.
And then? After a quick overnight in Providence to drop items I would not be needing for the second month of sequestering– we headed down to Terra to Mind— the sanctuary my friend Terri is creating. For those of you who have been lucky enough to experience Terri’s New Hampshire studio extravaganza during Squam workshops— you will be happy to know, a couple years ago, she moved the show to her childhood home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
I know I have been accused of living a charmed life– and it’s entirely true– but you must believe me when I tell you I am the one most amazed each moment of each day none the more dazzling when I woke up in my room at Terri’s and looked out the window to see a cinderella pumpkin. My photos cannot convey the SIZE, majesty, beauty and magic of this gourd. What I can tell you, is that it was like another sign from the universe that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, focusing my life energies with purpose and meaning.
Which, I don’t have to tell you, during these days of extraordinary transformation that we are all living through which are painful, hard, searing, devastating– I had to deal with the constant voice on my shoulder that said, “writing this book is not important– this is not what the world needs– you should be showing up in a different way.” The pumpkin grounded me in truth.
Maybe I am completely mistaken, but I root into what is around me and listen closely and follow the prompts I receive.
Remy was quite thrilled by our new digs. Not only because a brand-new toy was waiting for him on his bed when we arrived, but because the back yard is fully fenced so he could roam and watch “deer tv” 24/7.
And, of course, because he was reunited with his beloved animal whisperer, Terri. And her lovebug, Chancho. (Terri and Chancho pictured above) But the day came when all the days allotted for my immersion into nothing but writing came to an end and we headed home to Providence.
The first order of business here — after shoveling SNOW off the back deck (the hell?) — was to make a new gratitude journal. As life would have it, I had started this last one on November 1, 2019 and so it ended on October 31, 2020. Crazy timing, right?
Seriously, I couldn’t have planned that if I tried. I searched around my studio for another Amy Gretchen gratitude journal which is what I have used for the past 10+ years– but had used up the last one I had *sad face*– so, I made my own.
Below: before, in process, front, back.
Also, sharing a shot of the cover of my daily journal that I made while I was in Vermont– simple, but it is one of my most favorite ever; it captures a spirit that resonates directly with my core self.
In the past six days, we have puttered about settling in, carrying forward the new habits we formed while we were away, plus rediscovering old ways of being that make being here, returning home.
Many things came out of my time away. Ahead for me, will be a shift off of social media and a return to sharing here on this blog for personal and in a bi-weekly newsletter for Squam. Yes, there are plans underway to have some offerings in 2021— in the event it is possible and safe for us to gather.
More about all of that in future posts. For now, know that you are loved, that chaos and destruction precedes great change — just like lightning before thunder– but always, the clearing, the healing, after the storm. We are living through a growth surge in human consciousness. It is painful, ugly, at times terrifying— but like everything in nature, it is also magnificent, beautiful and filled with grace.
My focus has been and continues to be active engagement with and nurturance of community. Yes, we must always begin within– ground deeply into our heart– but from that place, we join together so that we can listen and learn more deeply what it means to be human. This circle of connection is part of the greater spiral into the unknown and, although the unknown can spark fear, we have the power to intend a letting go into the intoxication of mystery– whatever it is, I am all in.