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Author: laviniachristine

Benton Hot Springs

Benton Hot Springs

 

The Wind Speaks

Crickets sing as the veil of darkness descends

Sun and moon dance together, with no need to defend

Silence surrenders as the silhouette of a moon remains

Softy the wind speaks, all else abstains.

-Lavinia Busch, 2018

 

 

I can breathe once again. My soul feels the weight of all that is heavy being lifted and my heart sings with joy. It is one thing to proclaim a letting go of unnecessary obligations, yet quite another in practice. The logistics of this transformation have been suffocating and at times so confounding I thought myself crazy.

 

Now, a few days after setting down the road of the new, I sit here typing in a place of arrested beauty rather than decay. Nestled between Mono Valley and the vast emptiness of Western Nevada is a place that has ushered in a serenity long in the making. In what can only be labeled an old dilapidated ghost town resides nourishing hot springs for weary souls. The geothermal activity that fuels these deep wells results in a healing tonic of mineral water, fresh air, open valleys, mountain views and a quiet reserved only for the most spiritual of places.

 

As the sun set in the evening, the heat of the road and the long day of travel melted away.  Hypnotized by a crackling fire and a chorus of crickets, the warm water lapped against my skin with a smooth touch. Clothing is optional in this place and as one might expect, I have not been fully dressed since I arrived. The weight of conforming has been lifted and my skin is breathing a deep sigh of relief.

 

“I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars …. I awaken everything to life.”
~Hildergard of Bingen. (11th century)

 

Absolutely nothing brings one closer to self than communing with the natural world on its own terms.  This place has settled my anxious mind and soothed my restless heart. Quite a feat given the preoccupations of late. I hear the wind speaking to me as if to say, “Breathe in, breathe out…you belong here.” The trees seem to hug me as they gently sway in the softness of this system.

 

After a restful night, I begin the morning by floating in the hot tub listening to the rustling leaves as the sun stretched its rays between the branches. The most glorious natural piece of art appears as the light dances among all else, a symphony of spectacular beauty. I could stay in this place forever, if only the world could stop the constant beckoning of the busy. The hot springs have been rejuvenating in reminding me of this connection. The trees do not compete to see who has the strongest and best-looking branches…they just grow. I too must remember, I am enough simply because I exist. My life has no binding rules, expectations or constraints unless I allow them.

 

Just as in the natural world, I must continue to forge a balance between obstacles and my true self. The trees are confronted by all types of elements, yet they continue to thrive by stretching their limbs to an ever-clear blue sky. Each one is beautifully unique and impressively resilient. I leave this place knowing how important resilience will be moving forward. Let the trees be my inspiration and my salvation. Listening to the wind speak among a gallery of natural wonders, the message is clear. Breathe…just breathe.

 

Becoming

Becoming

Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Forest ©Dylan Mattina, 2018

 

Becoming

Every second, minute, hour and day

Stretching of skin, silent and frayed

Lightness reflects, unfolding of limbs

Becoming undone, staring over a rim

 

Overwhelming confusion but craving more

Fear as companion, leaning into the shore

Sprays of water quenching the greatest of thirsts

A soul in need of water most certainly bursts

 

Water as salvation, washing away

Fear, frustration, apathy and malaise

Resistance is futile, this much is true

Disruptive discovery, wading deeper in blue

 

A blossom becoming, a flower is born

One petal at a time as if adorned

Beauty is never the goal in the end

Purity, kindness and grace will mend

 

Slowly, effortlessly, light becomes free

Unlocking the door, holding the key

Deeper and deeper reaching far and between

Sewing together, becoming the seam

-Lavinia Busch

Find Your Magic

Find Your Magic

 

 

The Day Sky

 

Let us be like

Two falling stars in the day sky.

 

Let no one know of our sublime beauty

As we hold hands with God

And burn

 

Into a sacred existence that defies –

That surpasses

 

Every description of ecstasy

And love.

 

Hafiz

 

Life is funny. Everyone hopes to be seen in some small way. Moving through life feeling invisible is such a state of separateness, debilitating to both heart and soul. The dichotomy being we are all “seen” each and every day just by being ourselves. Lest we forget when dwelling in the space of obscurity, being here right now is profound and creates a spectacular energy. We are all a bit of magic, pixie dust, elemental and soulful. Our desire to be “seen” has already come to pass simply by being in this moment. There is nothing left to be gained, we are given all we need and will ever need.

 

It is so very easy to forget what a miracle it is to live this very human experience.  How fortunate that yet another day of a messy and unpredictable life is upon us. Many leave this world far too early, a sober reminder of the value of life despite the many peculiar and sometimes unforgiving detours it may take.  

 

 

“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.”

― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

 

How do we best live with this knowing? I believe the only way to honor this universal connectivity is to be true to self and share this truth with a loving heart. Living in a modern and fast paced world, the simplicity of this becomes blurred in the busyness of a task-oriented lifestyle.  The ease in which we forget our magic is astonishing. As in the zombie movie trend of late, we are all the walking dead unless we stop to really “see” those around us.

 

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara:

 

How do we see others? Stop this culture of busyness and breathe into your life. We are all wonderfully unique and a rainbow of precious personalities. I simply adore the weirdness, quirkiness and uniqueness of everyone I meet. As a subject of the human condition, it is perennially fascinating to hear stories, observe interactions and get a sense of another. Each time I do so, I learn more about myself in the process.

 

You see, in this magical tapestry, threads of myself are intrinsically woven within the seams of all else. I cannot help but marvel at the complexity of these interconnections. Be it the way someone catches my eye, speaks to a friend, walks to the store or holds a child close. Both the light and darkness of another have gifts of self-discovery if I choose to look closely.

 

Take a moment and look for the beauty in others. See the rainbows of colorful energy and honor what you see reflected back at you. Just as a mirror gives face to name, so too does the act of “seeing” another as part of self. Look for what is familiar and what is not. Remind yourself how absolutely special you are in your very own configuration. Don’t let anyone take ownership, criticize, assign blame or look down upon you as you are meant to be. Find your magic and carry it with you always. Shine brightly.

 

Solitude

Solitude

Field by the Trail of 100 Giants ©Dylan Mattina, 2018

 

Full moons can be intense experiences for me. I feel everything ten fold and usually end up diving deep for a few days. Afterwards, I am often surprised by what I have written.

This poem reflects back on some challenging times when disappointment was a constant companion. Bringing people close calls for vulnerability. It is sometimes easier to stay somewhat isolated even though this leads to an unwelcome loneliness. My proclivity is to go to a place of solitude when in need. It was and is my sanctuary. A space in which I can process all the emotion and information being receiving, then let it go.

 

Solitude

Here I go, watch me say goodbye

Too a place of quiet behind my third eye

Try to catch me, don’t even blink

The tide has turned and in the depths I sink

 

You wouldn’t find me here, I choose to be alone

No friends, no interruptions, no telephone

Only with stillness will I be

Swimming in the darkness of a tumultuous sea

 

Whisper in my ear if you need to say

All that was misunderstood and thought okay

Words left unsaid cut like a knife

The blade is dull but heavy with strife

 

Never one to linger when falseness abounds

Uncovering truths as a gasp resounds

Seeing all written in the ink of prelude

I choose instead, solitude

– Lavinia Busch

The Full Moon Is Calling

The Full Moon Is Calling

Trona Pinnacles on a Full Moon. © Dylan Mattina 2018

 

The full moon is calling and I must go

Dancing in the path of a most glorious glow

Adventures await for those brave enough to dive

Into the depths I must go to arrive

Dreaming My Way into the Next

Dreaming My Way into the Next

 

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

 

It is often in the most heated of summer days that one feels the need for utter surrender to all that is being held back. Emotions simmer as the final days of summer vacations, pools and adventure draw to a close. Being on creative leave from work,  I find myself vacillating between an uneasy anxiousness and a building excitement of the unplanned. Gently, I remind myself this time has been granted so I may let go of the burdens of the typical and allow creative forces to guide me to the unexpected, a logistics free zone if you will.

 

The difficult aspect of this place is that my thoughts, the constant narrative in my mind, continue to barrel towards the typical. The tug of all sorts of responsibility is ever present and it takes “work” to let go. It is only in the dark of night and in my deepest of dreams where a momentary respite is found. As one that has always dreamed, I find that the messages of purpose and direction are flooding my sleep as if a tsunami of suggestion. Avoidance of such messages is always attempted, but alas I am unable to resist the call of my intuition.

 

Dreaming is never just a downloading of useless information, but rather a convoluted storyboard containing information my psyche is begging me to hear. Dreams can contain morsels of suggestion that are meant to be heeded and applied in daily life. Sadly, I often reject what I have seen. I am one that has learned many lessons the hard way and have paid the price for my refusal to listen to spirit.

 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Paulo Coelho

 

 

In the heat of a summer night, with the new moon and Venus caressing one another, I sense a quantum shift has begun and feel a bit helpless in the midst of such tumultuous celestial activity. This shift has been in the making for some time with many experiencing great change in all aspects of life. This is no easy transformation, on the contrary it has been quite painful at times. Having deep wells of emotion bubbling under the surface, I find myself teary and completely overcome by the onslaught of this atypical energy.

 

I have no shame in stating my current emotional temperature. What troubles me is the persistent awareness of things looming yet not discovered. This foreshadowing has built to a spectacular crescendo and all I can think of is when will it be over. Yes, I have many dreams, hopes and aspirations; some of which I tremble to say out loud. I dream of writing. I dream of finding others who are moved by my ideas and I dream of wide open spaces, nature and solitude.

 

I understand that by speaking my dreams out loud, I must make a choice to move in their direction or stay frozen in a sea of contradiction and worries. The simple act of speaking my truth somehow provides strength and hope in making decisions that are otherwise uncomfortable. Along with these truths, I would be reticent to ignore the other elephant in the room, my self-confidence. By stating my dreams and listening to my intuition, I honor the Divine within me. This builds layer upon layer of confidence over the heaps of “not good enough”  that have littered my subconscious for years. It is exceptionally difficult to move past the stories we tell ourselves. If not careful, I easily fall back into untruths that subtly smoother me in thinking I am less than. It is only in my deepest of dreams that relief is found, if only I pay attention.

 

In the approaching dog days of summer, I commit to making every effort to listen for the messages meant for me. I promise to believe in myself and dream BIG! Nothing is ever achieved in the status quo.  I allow myself to bloom by being beautifully different, embracing all that is unique about myself, while forgiving missteps along the way. No one is perfect, but the critic speaks from a position of judgment and it is a choice to silence that beast. Lastly, I chose to swim freely in the depths of my dream world and explore all that resides within. The shift beckons and I will follow.

 

Limbo: Laundromats, Outdoor Showers and Bonfires

Limbo: Laundromats, Outdoor Showers and Bonfires

 

“It could be a meeting on the street, or a party or a lecture, or just a simple, banal introduction, then suddenly there is a flash of recognition and the embers of kinship glow. There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Sitting at the iWash Laundromat, I watch my clothes swishing around in an industrial size washer and am struck by the simple act of water washing away the dirt and grime of this place. Feeling the heat of the day sticking to me like a wet coat, I let out an audible sigh wishing I too could be washed clean. One must always respect the sweltering heat of a desert summer day, if not the heat can cripple even the toughest of souls.

 

The anticipation has been mounting and I wake up each morning wishing I was anywhere else but here, as if my life is a movie set on pause. Knowing that my travels begins in August, I try to fill my days with the tasks at hand. Planning has always been a strength of mine, to the point of distraction. Now I focus on letting go of all the material things that weigh me down. Everything must go, it is all just so heavy both physically and spiritually.

 

Only three weeks until I leave for Harvard, my last academic obligation before beginning creative leave in earnest. It is a limbo of the worst sort. My mind is longing for the tranquility of nature and immersion into deeper ideas and I struggle to redirect in doing homework for the course I will be attending. The banality of academic dialogue is more pronounced in this limbo, a bad song playing on repeat over and over. The only true music calling me is aesthetically soothing and filled with the mysteries of the universe.

 

Watching the clothes spin in the machine, I ponder this place and all that it represents. The dust of the desert is unrelenting, a veritable Grapes of Wrath scenario. I find it in my shoes, my hair and even in bed. I glance up and notice a young couple stopping in with their week of dirty laundry. They too need water to wash the desert out. Even though the heat is oppressive, they smile at one another, make small talk and even seem to enjoy the ritual of the laundromat.

 

“Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Expanding my perspective, I see an elderly man with skin worn deeply by the heat and poverty of this place. He sits quietly on a bench enjoying the air-conditioned respite before he too must go out once again facing the wall of 1000 suns. The woman behind the counter has a look of resignation, as if to say “Yes, I work at a small-town laundromat and life is not how I expected it to be.” She too has the look of wear and tear with deep wrinkles on her face from years of smoking and a raspy voice to boot. “Can I help you darling?” she asks. “No thank you”, I say wanting to be left alone in my thoughts for at least the spin cycle.

 

Finishing up my clothes, I load them into my dust covered car and head back to the RV, my temporary sanctuary, parked on my boyfriend’s lot until our voyage commences. The heat is stifling, and the RV air conditioner simply cannot keep up.  Spontaneously, I take off my sweaty clothes and decide to use the outside shower to cool down. The heat has a way of letting all inhibitions go and before I even have a chance to think about it, I am outside, stark naked, letting the cool streams of water wash over me. I think about the iWash washing off the desert and feel as if I am in my own laundromat begging to be purified.  The water pours over me and a desert breeze gently brushes my skin. In an instant spirit is here, yet another moment of discomfort in which spirit reminds me I am never alone. The breeze dances across me as if to say, “Let it go Lavinia, let it all go. I am with you.”  As I finish my shower and wrap myself in large beach towel, I feel a freshness that permeates my very being. Taking a deep breathe, I pause to look up at the sun acknowledging the symbiotic relationship of heat to water. Nature is truly amazing.

 

Later, my boyfriend lights a bonfire in front of his house. This is something that people do out here in the desert, especially when the coolness of night settles in. Once again, I am struck by the dichotomy of this place. The heat of the day is as repellent as a bad cold, but in the coolness of a desert night, the heat is a welcome visitor warming my legs as I sit mesmerized by the dancing flames. I lean my head back and look at the night sky. The stars flicker like thousands of jewels lighting up the darkness. I catch my breath for a moment stunned by the beauty of this desolate place.

 

Even in the harshest of environments beauty can be found. I may be riddled with anticipation but must not ignore moments of serenity as they present: the iWash with its plethora of interesting people, the absolute freedom of an outside shower as a breeze dances across my skin and the majesty of a desert night sky canvasing the glowing flames of a bonfire. These all offer moments of serenity in which spirit reminds of the connection to all others in the most beautiful of ways. Limbo will pass, and I will soon be on my way. The desert will stay with me, yet another piece to the universal puzzle of this world. Blessings to this place, the people and even the dirt. You all have been my teacher in the most harmonious and unexpected of ways.

 

 

 

 

The Intersection of Doubt and Decision

The Intersection of Doubt and Decision

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

― John Muir

 

Here it begins, the process of letting go and there is no turning back. Fear is a shadowy figure that lingers and finds me in my dreams each night. It is but one thing to repeat affirmations promising to relinquish all that constricts. It is yet an entirely different beast to make these same affirmations a reality. The bridge between the two is great and one can easily get trapped in a limbo of uncertainty.

 

For me, this intersection of doubt and decision was marred by a trail of anxiety, tears and what can only be described as a complete breakdown.  I sobbed for what I thought my life should be and knew that in my tears, lie all of the regret and fear resulting from this false sense of security. Material things have energy and at times this energy can be misconstrued as comfort. Why I ever thought an old Christmas decoration, coffee table or blanket equaled love I will never know. What is clear is that extracting myself from accumulation has been the most difficult thing I have ventured to do second only to my divorce.

 

Calling my sister, after saying goodbye to the place I have called HOME for the last three years, I choked back tears trying to sound strong when in fact I was completely crushed. She tried to comfort me and offer reassurance to no avail. In the midst of our conversation, a giant hawk flew over her car, nearly landing on the hood. In this moment of complete exasperation, an angel had let it be known that my sister and I were well taken care of.  Speechless for a moment, my sister finally managed to say “Just let go, Vin. It is time for you to fly.”

 

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

― John Muir

 

The rest of the trip to the city in which my RV is currently parked was a blur. I remember crying out loud and thanking a legion of angels for providing some comfort during a most difficult transformation. I remember telling myself to just let go and I clearly remember the moment when my heart finally heard the message and doubt became decision, fear became motivation.

 

That same day, my boyfriend had his own experience of Divine intervention. As he struggled with the feelings of separation from the home that he has lovingly nurtured for the past decade, a crow flew right above, circled and dropped a feather at his feet. Take this for what you will, but the message for me could not have been more clear. We are meant to take flight  in this moment even if it means flying blindly into the storm of the unknown. It is time.

 

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

Next week, a yard sale has been scheduled at which I will sell everything that remains save some clothes, dishes, and personal belongings. This final release from the cords of connection is necessary in order to make space for the next. It is in this space that my adventure begins. The intersection has been breached and the decision has been made. There is no looking back, only forward.

 

Feeling the weightlessness of this release, a sense of anxious relief permeates the air. No longer having to shoulder the burden of material things that provide nothing beyond utilitarian need, my time to walk with nature has arrived. This vagabond with gypsy blood is now a mystic wanderer searching for words unspoken, yet only experienced. Understanding that nothing can provide what I already hold within, I have released all expectations and joyfully complete the purge of the material for the fullness of all else.  Now it begins.

 

 

The Full Moon Speaks and I Listen

The Full Moon Speaks and I Listen

Art- Jonathan Solter

 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill

Where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

-Rumi

 

Looking out the window, all I see is goodbyes. A sense of lingering lasts being rustled away by uncertain firsts. Being well familiar with long goodbyes, the feeling is still unwelcome. The winds of change have been a constant, yet more like turbulent storms instead of gentle breezes. Reinvention is a dear friend; the kind you wish would not stop by unannounced. It is terribly difficult to only see unknowns, a blank canvas.

 

On the eve of yet another full moon, I have agreed to step out of the life I know and into the unknown. Never one to do things small, the looming storm clouds of change are rumbling above. As with any electrically charged storm, I feel the hair standing up on my arm alerting me to pay attention. “Listen to the moon speak”, it says.

 

My work life is shifting with a six month creative leave. What a blessing it is to be able to move at my own speed, no rushing from one fire to the next. Stepping onto this blank canvas requires letting go of everything I know and facing the storm head on. I must leave my overpriced townhome, pack up my belongings and live like a nomad for a while. As a Cancer and homebody, this is excruciating. My home is my sanctuary and I cling to it always. It is no mystery that this move is taking place on a full moon, in the month of July and with a bevy of celestial shenanigans happening at the moment.

 

Dwell as near as possible to the channel

in which your life flows.

Henry David Thoreau

 

This shift also calls for faith. Financial security, while a falsehood, has always been something I struggle with. Living in relative poverty for so long, it is difficult to let go of an imagined security blanket. Frightfulness is the only word that comes to mind. Once again, the full moon is speaking. A profound letting go is required with the belief that all will be well. This is not just a letting go of material items, but emotional wounds, fears and insecurities. All WILL be well. It will be stormy for a while, but the sun will shine again.

 

My children are also on the move with my daughter moving with her long term boyfriend and my son in a beautiful relationship and moving forward with his life goals. Once again the full moon speaks. No matter where I travel, I carry them in my heart. Love does not require being in close proximity, love is universal and boundless. I am so very proud of how they have grown into such beautiful souls. It is time to let go of the need to “be close by” and fly.

 

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Begin it now.

—Goethe

 

Finally, Dylan and I have agreed to take this journey together. An unsigned contract with two souls entwined. We offer support for one another and are willing to stand in the middle of the storm, holding each other tightly. Each with our own scars, our own work to do; but together we are stronger. As Goethe writes, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Dylan, we must be bold now. We must face everything with an open heart and mind and be gentle with each other’s wounds. We must listen to the full moon speak and keep stepping out into the stormy winds of change. It is only when facing the storm that one is blessed with the rays of light shining through the clouds. We have many sunrises in our future and that is something beautiful to look forward too.

 

Let your full moon speak and choose to listen. The moon is wise, intuitive and ethereal. Bath in the light and be quite. What does it call you to do? Is it time to take that leap of faith?  Listen and believe all will be well. Face the winds of change with a brave heart and a calm mind. 

 

Lost in the Middle of Everything

Lost in the Middle of Everything

 

I stand in the fray, noticing the dancing light on the coming horizon.

Alone in this abyss, I gently sway to the vibrations of others as they pass.

My feet are firm with restlessness, my heart is resolute with hesitation.

Everything moves at breakneck speed as the flickering light teases my senses.

Confusion is the emotion of the day, lost in the middle of everything.

 

Air tightens its grip, as if a noose of suggestion.

Moving nothing, the light playfully dances on my skin.

This echo chamber is deafening, my silence, the others noise.

The traffic is unbearable. It is oppressive. Hiding the why, the how – everything.

Peering into the cosmos of questions, lost in the middle of everything.

 

People move with such speed, blurring the lines of truth.

Everyone in a hurry to get nowhere, stalled in the rush to nothing.

Refusing to be stuck in reverse, I lean into the dancing light.

From my vantage point I see everything that was and every possibility.

Yet still here remains, a soul lost in the middle of everything.

-Lavinia Busch