Tuesday, April 26, 2016

sneaky bastard

sneaky bastard

Hovering inside the "personal space" of a Kamikaze Conversation is the ambulance chaser of metaphysical thought and a hell 'ovah sneaky bastard - The Spiritual Override

When pushed to the edge and faced with dastardly and uncomfortable emotions a spiritual override (S.O.) comes in for the sanctimonious and righteous swoop to save me from feeling my own hot mess. The S.O. to the rescue again. Great, right?

Think again.

As I learned, a S. O. happens the moment you quietly capitulate to a course of events that goes against your gut in order to conceal your vulnerability and truth. I, myself, had gotten so proficient at the S.O. that I thought myself invincible. So good, in fact that I contemplated dawning my own super hero cape. 


Image result for images of cartoon superheroes

Until that day fateful day when a modern-day mystic called my bluff.


upside down  

My world was turned upside down within the first five minutes of our appointment. No holds barred - she made the blunt observation, "You have no roots."

Aghast and disheartened...How dare she tell me that I am anything but and enlightened channel to the heavens? Did she have any idea how much work I had put into preparing for this session? Fasting, hours of meditating, seven days of organic green smoothies...

I sat there slack jawed and confused beyond belief. I had worked so hard up until this moment to be the best, most complete version of myself I knew how. Endlessly reading, meditating, yogaing.

Just when I thought that I closed all the exits and stood my ground with unerring conviction! I was alcohol, gluten, smutty tabloid and reality show free. I had broken up with T.J. Maxx and closed every possible exit I knew of to remove distractions leading me asunder. 

Yet, somehow, I knew she was absolutely right. 

Concealing my truth, not enforcing my boundaries or voicing my preferences and opinions had prevented my proverbial "roots" from growing deep. I was, essentially, a tree just waiting to be blown over by a five knot breeze - which happened a lot. And as long as I remained a whore to the good opinions of others my roots would remain stunted.

This was the first time in my life that I had EVER heard that overriding my own emotions to maintain status quo was wrong. I had been conditioned to obey my parents and dutifully behaving in order to stay within the margins of social mores and rules. I had become the extension of my parent's wishes and rarely contemplated exerting my own will for fear of their disappointment or causing any additional friction. 

During this session, I felt the panic and disorientation as though I was in the undertow of a massive wave. And then, finally catching my breath, it became clear for the first time in my life, I had to wrangle with the intimidating gauntlet of how to register, feel, defend and articulate my own emotions. 

At that moment, a big part of me would have preferred to die in that wave. 

the characteristics
The typical characteristic of a skilled spiritual-overrider is that of a a phenom rationalizer. They can rationalize their whole soul (and health) away if given the chance for fear of disappointing anyone. Internal preludes to soul sucking rationalizations reek of resigned obligation and silent martyrdom mixed with mellow trance-like surrender. The external affects may be laced with a form of peppy, frenetic, glassy eyed pseudo-willingness. Their eyes may dart uncontrollably around the room for fear of exposing their truth and compromised integrity. And lastly, they insist that "It's all good..." sheerly out of desperation to hear their own reassurance.  


A generic S.O. might sound something like this: "It's OK that Perpa Trata continues to park in my spot. Clearly, The Universe wants me to learn how to be flexible." or "Even though Chatty Chattanooga talks incessantly about herself, I really don't mind going out to lunch with her. I must have talked a lot in my past life. There must be something The Universe wants me to learn."

The one common trait in these interactions, and the tell tale sign that you have just committed a S.O., is the feeling of dread that lingers even after you've forked over your parking space in perpetuity to Perpa or dined the ding-dong day away on Chimichangas with Chatty. It's that feeling like you have let your soul down and you are faced with a lifetime of being relegated to alternate side of the street parking regulations punctuated by coma inducing lunches. It's as though your spirit says to you, "Well, Hon. Now there's ninety bazillion minutes of your precious life - gone." Gone. Poof. Bummer. If you find yourself saying those three words you've committed a bonafide S.O..

In truth, you would have rather be cleaning your fridge than going out to lunch with CC. In fact, your 100% would have referred her to a therapist while you lined your veggie drawers with Bounty followed by a decidedly torturous yoga class feeling great while drowning in your own Bikram sweat.

the internal tantrum
Instead of acting towards your integrity by hosting a Kamikaze Conversation, you opted for the over-rationalized S. O. The only advantage being that short term discomfort of speaking your truth was avoided, allowing long term suffering to linger indefinitely. 

The thing is, after a spiritual override has been committed, physiologically, your body throws a full-on, silent-but-deadly internal tantrum. The stress that is incurred from the combination of closed-circuited, defeating actions in contrast with equal and opposite desires is the energetic equivalent of driving a car with one foot on the break and one foot on the gas. Internal havoc then etches itself in one of the seven main human consciousness centers (chakras). If held long enough, the corresponding organ of the host registers that dis-ease as a formal, bonafide, doctor-certified disease with a capital F. 

As a brief example, since childhood my fear surrounding verbal self-expression made for a meek human in body, mind and spirit. My inherited low self esteem and difficulty expressing myself created a blocked throat chakra resulting in a chronically stiff neck, halting speech and the inability to summon words resulting, eventually, in thyroid disease. 




Each one of the chakras or human consciousness centers holds valuable information for each one of us to use as our internal radar. The moment there is emotional, mental or physical conflict it generates a warning signal that if not heeded will get louder and louder offering greater discomfort until it is acknowledged and processed properly. 

but how, you ask? 
Each and every time there is a situation that pinches you into a corner, take a moment to step back and observe your emotions. For example, let's say you've let Chatty's call go to voice mail for the third time. Clearly, you don't want to talk to her - let alone get roped into another lunch date. Weigh it out on both hands - your left hand you answer the call, your right hand you let it go to voice mail for the fourth time. Which feels better? Although laced with a little guilt probably the right hand, right? 

Bring it one step further. On your left hand, letting the call go to voice mail or on your right hand admitting to yourself that you can't show up for her as a friend in the way she needs? My guess is that you're willing to admit to the right hand, right? After you have processed this through your kind, heart-centered filter (i.e. "what would LOVE do and say?"), follow through with a Kamikaze Conversation. By showing up with your truth and setting your boundaries Chatty has been compassionately and humanely informed. As opposed to prolonging the destabilizing and confounding silence as to why you don't answer her calls this process shows her you care enough about her than to perpetuate her already low sense of self-worth. Simply stated, treat Chatty the way you would like to be treated. And in this moment, each of you share an incredibly powerful opportunity to heal wounds that linger in your respective throat chakras.   

superhero powers ACTIVATE
Here's your charge my fine and fabulous ones... 

Activate your superhero eviction powers and kick the sneaky S. O. bastard to the curb. Start taking care of your inner landscape and speaking your truth like your life depended on it, because it does. 

Become emotionally fluent with the range, texture, dimension and magnitude of how our human emotions are meant to facilitate for us - not against us.  Brush up on the internal (emotional) clutter clearing adventures you are about to undertake. Don your cave spelunking head lamp and start digging yourself out of the murky depths of questionable integrity - one, kind Kamikaze Conversation at a time. 

Most importantly, hold space for your own vulnerability. Because to be truly alive, healthy and vibrant you must reveal your truth. You have the power to transmute this vulnerability into a wise and courageous engine. You'll find that once you rid yourself of the interlopers and get the hang of speaking and acting with integrity - then and only then will you end your dysfunctional dance with suffering and open up a whole new world of peace, clarity and purpose. 


Julie Bowes - soul & silversmith
P.O. Box 82
Sherman, CT 06784
203.240.4397 






Saturday, October 10, 2015

kamikaze conversation

Have you ever avoided someone for fear of confrontation? Do you opt for a juicy argument over telling the truth to protect your vulnerability? Would you rather die than have a difficult conversation? If you relate to any of these communication strategies then you've stumbled in at the right time.

It has taken me a full decade to investigate, decode and revamp my communication skills in order to usher myself back to sanity. A big part of this hinged the remedial work of becoming emotionally fluent. What I had thought to be complicated and optional is in fact so much more simple, critical and mandatory.

In the following blog I'd like to offer you a method to implement that will improve the relationships you hold with yourself, your family, your coworkers, neighbors and the world at large while simultaneously shedding any form of dysfunctional communication that threatens your overall health.

bickersation

Bickersation was the model of dialogue with which I grew up. At it's best it was unpleasant. At it's worst it was traumatizing - imprinting vast confrontational, conversational, social and emotional deficits that lasted decades. I blame no one but my lineage of cave dwelling bickerers.

From generation to generation this style of communication evolved from grunts straight to a full fledged and perpetual nagfest. And because this is the model in which I grew up (as many of us did), I attracted a similar relationship (as many of us do) and leapt in due to its dysfunctionally comforting similarities.

In this lifetime however, I felt compelled to end this closed-circuited loop and rectify my own skills in hopes to present my children with a healthy, authentic and self-possessed model of communication. In doing so, we are learning how emotions are a valuable resource and ally that shed light on myriads of guidance markers leading to incredible authenticity.

When emotional fluency is taught at an early age children grow up as responsible and contributing members of society. When emotional fluency is under developed or misguided it results in an overcompensation of extrinsic coping methods leading to addictions on any level.

Adopting this strategy, not only will you develop a healthier relationship with yourself, you will also begin the process of  relinquishing your patterns of addiction that are holding back from true joy, abundance and well-being.

getting real

In the following blog I will delineate a no bullshit approach to what it will take for you to dismount your old, outmoded stories and get real with the time you have left on this planet to straighten out your affairs. What you don't do in this lifetime you'll have to address in the next...so get over yourself and start shoveling. Yes, you've gone astray. Own it. Commit to the process of coming home to yourself no matter what.

D.I.S.C.

Your first course of action is to prepare mentally for this work. Think of the word DISC which stands for Determination, Intention, Surrender, Courage. DISC will become your super mantra if you are to succeed with your plan.  The super computer you are I urge you to install this DISC onto your hard drive to implement as your new operating system. Repeat it every time you find yourself beginning to mull over a potential conversation in your head.

Determination to put the equal but opposite forces to work. As much effort as you exert on trying to neutralize the subconscious maelstrom, divert this course of energy instead to getting clear about what issues are at the core of your unrest. Suit up with determination to rid yourself from the static that is impeding your peace and joy.

Intend to become emotionally fluent (Hot tip: The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McKlaren.) and get clear. Write down what it will feel like to be back on your true path.

Surrender yourself to the point where you feel pushed to the edge of a Samurai warrior by inhabiting complete self loyalty and honor until death. Old parts of you will die and new parts will emerge for you and everyone else involved. You set in motion a swift recalibration for yourself and require/inspire others to do the same.

Courage to speak and act your truth from a place of heart-centered integrity.

kamikaze + conversations

Imagine how the Kamikaze Pilots must have felt prior to suiting up for their mission. In World War II, 3860 pilots died with 19% hitting their targets actively disabling the enemy ship. The tradition of death as opposed to capture, defeat, and perceived shame was deeply embedded in Japanese military culture. Loyalty and honor was one of the primary traditions in the samurai life. A Kamikaze pilot's surrender in the act of a strategic military maneuver was seen as the ultimate sacrifice and was an overall marker of success in one's lifetime.




As with Kamikaze pilots approaching their target, in approaching challenging and potentially life changing conversations there will be an undeniable element of that which feels like facing death. Yes, parts of you will die; These are the aspects that prevent true and clean joy from becoming your default. Transforming your mind into a Kamikaseyou set the stage - not for recklessness - but instead for reclaiming your honor and integrity. 

what is a kamikaze conversation?

A Kamikaze Conversation (KC) is a conversation you initiate where you'd rather die than speak your truth. It is a three sentence formula that hinges on emotional fluency, personal integrity, truth and vulnerability while effectively deactivating the participant's defensiveness and resistance. A successful KC mission is when you witness the death of your outmoded patterns. In it's place, a sense of clean relief is felt almost instantaneously.

I offer you the following as guideline and the way I am teaching myself and my children to communicate. Its simplified and standardized protocol lends determination, intention, surrender and courage (DISC) in the quest of 100% self-possession.

how to recognize the need for a kamikaze conversation

If you find yourself:


  • Avoiding someone to shield yourself from feeling the depths of your emotions
  • Continually coming back to an unpleasant memory that alters your mood for the worse
  • Reaching for your addiction of choice (i.e. food, sweets, alcohol or drugs, sex) to preoccupy, distract and numb yourself for temporary relief
  • Becoming a workaholic to distract you from an unpleasant situation at home
  • Becoming an over exerciser to give yourself the illusion that you are in control
  • Developing an eating disorder to self medicate or self sabotage
  • Repeatedly calling in sick to school or work
  • Repeating the same victimized stories over and over

... it's time for a Kamikaze Conversation.

taking inventory of your kamikaze conversation cargo

We all have conversation clutter that we carry around with us. Some topics weigh more heavily than others. Some are held in iron-barred crates tethered down to the airplane's floor restraining a seething, slobbery and gruesome topic. Some are held tidily in lockers, some just annoyingly roll around clanging the sides of the fuselage. 

Start noticing the issues that persistently arise for you that cause immeasurable sadness, anger, guilt, fear, remorse, anxiety or shame. Each time you feel one of these float through your KC Cargo bin take a moment to write it in an email to yourself or on a designated Note page on your phone. As this list begins to populate, mull over the instances and the people/relationships/consequent behavior that was affected. Pledge to yourself that you will address each and everyone of these issues after their prioritization.

acknowledging the passenger manifest of a kamikaze conversation

Shana Shame, Guy Guilt, Fiona Fear, Don Denial, Auggie Anger and Annie Anxious, have reserved their seats months in advance when the tickets were cheap. So cheap in fact, all of them are basically stowaways. So cheap that they were told to bring their own seat belts and salted pretzels. Each of them ooze over the size restriction and bulge into each others space, their muffintops mingling between the armrests.

Super charged with friction, in one fell stroke of insanity, Pilot YOU decides to put the plane on autopilot and take a nap. I'm talking a Rip van Winkle, addiction induced type of nap where when "wakeing" from this snooze you hope it will have all miraculously disappeared.

But it doesn't.


All the nit-noid, life-gone-awry, auto-pilot suckiness - years and years of bullshit accumulation is still staring you down with the weight of a sumo wrestler. In fact, there's such a pile it seems as though there is no hope in even trying to make even one thing right. Until, that is, the day comes where one of two things happen.

1.) You are ready to look Shana, Guy, Fiona, Don, Auggie and Annie square in the face to take inventory of how much they are throwing off your weights and balances.

OR

2.) Time and time again you continue to sleep until Shana, Guy, Fiona, Don, Auggie and Annie decide to storm the cockpit and plunge the plane deep into the figuratively murky depths.

Those choosing option 1 please read on. Those choosing option 2 - you are hereby excused.

preliminary preparation for a kamikaze conversation

Keep in mind that rectifying a lifetime of built up debris will take more than just reading a 20 minute blog. For this reason, prior to tackling any KC,  I highly recommend investing 30 days of your time brushing up and fleshing out your emotional lexicon by reading The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McKlaren.

Once you have embraced the universal truths of these emotions I would recommend the following steps:
(Take your prioritized issues and work through the following guidelines one by one.)

1.) In one word, get clear about how you feel.
2.) In one sentence, describe why you feel this way?
3.) Request a time that works well for both you and your co-Kamikaze Conversationalist.
4.) Before the designated time go through the D.I.S.C. checklist.
5.) Thoughtfully close the exits to veer towards your addiction even if it's a spiritual override and deploy your DISC landing gear.
6.) At the designated time when you know you will not be disturbed, make sure you have a neutral, safe and quiet location with comfortable seating facing one another.
7.) Deep breath x3


how to start a kamikaze conversation

Initiate:"Thank you for making time for me. I have a Kamikaze Conversation that I'd like to talk with you about. This is very difficult for me and I really appreciate you being receptive to this. (Deep Breath x3).

KC Sentence one:
I am feeling ___________________. (one word)

KC Sentence two:
I am feeling (one word used above) because ___________________________________________.

KC Sentence three: (use only one starter option or customize your own):
It's important for me to have this conversation with you because...

  • I am curious about ...
  • I love you...
  • I recognize that...
  • I 'd like to apologize...
  • my expectations were ...
  • I forgive you for...


After a total of three or four sentences, stop. Allow your co-Kamikaze Conversationalist time to reflect and respond.

By giving yourself permission to show up with integrity, your co-Kamikaze Conversationalist will ideally feel energized to respond in kind. (Hot Tip: In order to compare apples to apples it works best if your co-Kamikaze Conversationalist would be willing to follow the same formula during which time each of you Hold Space for one another.)


can a kamikaze conversation be held over the phone? 

Ideally, no. Ironically, the more uncomfortable you can make this for yourself the more accountable you become for preventing future infractions. Do it in person and you will cauterize the old outmoded neural pathways from continuing this unhealthy, closed-circuited behavior.

can a kamikaze conversation be texted?

Um. Totally NO.

Fuel Efficiency

Each and every one of your KC topics, when systematically processed in the order you deem necessary, lightens your burden dramatically. With each KC you have the potential to increase your mile per gallon consumption from that of a Cargo Jet to that of a glider soaring on the thermals of joy. It makes you actually feel lighter and can become an all-natural high, non-caloric, enlivening alternative to over indulgence in food, sweets, alcohol, drugs or any addiction you used to distract and cope.

Along with this process you are assured renewed creativity and inspiration as well as the permanent strategy for sound dispersal of  fear, guilt, shame, anger and anxiety. With continued implementation you will also begin to recognize more quickly when you've taken on a interloping, emotional-bandwidth-munching stowaway. Your heightened and clean awareness delivers you into emotional fluency and integrity.

KC's have the capacity to heal and restore your health and well-being as they bring you back into alignment with your entitled state of joy. I promise.


Ask Yourself:

Who's the pilot here, anyway?

Julie Bowes - Metalsmith/Spiritual Facilitator/Mindful Movement Exec. Producer
P.O. Box 82
Sherman, CT 06784
203.240.4397 




Saturday, January 17, 2015

meeting martha

Meeting Martha Beck was an accident - a glorious freaking accident to which give my sister all the credit.

Two years ago in April 2013 I had the incredible privilege to attend a Wayfinder's Workshop in San Luis Obispo, California that was to be formatted on Martha's book entitled "Finding You Way In A Wild New World". It was the first book I had ever read cover to cover - back to back; The first time my eyes gobbled as if at a Renaissance feast of turkey drumsticks and massive steins of mead, the second time through (dashing Kola's hopes for some frisbee time), way more discerningly,  my inner geek may or may not have adorned the entire book with color coded post-it notes.



expensive & non-refundable
So, it made sense that I suggest this workshop to my sister as a trip we might want to consider to which she agreed with surprising swiftness. I didn't say, "Reallllly?" or "WOW" or "Are you SURE?". To offer even a whiff of doubt would have tipped the scales towards sanity and practical and logic and boring and safe. 

In the process, what I have learned about expensive AND non-refundable workshops is that they have a decisively acute ability to:

1. Sift the wheat from the chaff. 
2. Expedite brief, sharp yet temporary twinges of buyers remorse mainly occurring at 2 a.m.while staring at the shadows on the popcorn ceiling.
3. Make one muster the courage to go it alone after sister calls back to say, "What? It's $umpty ump PER PERSON? 

And...you know what? That was a great thing mostly because if we had gone together the insular quality that is borne in traveling with a friend prevents the courage that must be summoned to step into the great unknown. 

That and I know they would have all liked her better. 

asking for signs
The day after I booked my space, even though it was a non-refundable workshop, I was still desperately looking for clues to determine if I was the wheat. Certainly, there must have been sooommme way that I could have found a replacement? So what else to do than ask the Universe for a sign. 

"Throw me a bone. " I issued. "Should I go?"

I trundled off on my early February morning walking of the dog. A grey and bleak Wednesday morning that leaves nothing up for surprises as the landscape falls flat around every corner. Not more than half way down the hill, only 5 minutes into my walk, there on the side of the road was the jaw bone of a deer. "Oh, that's too easy. Gimme something better Universe!", I brazenly requested.  

As we continued on our way to the bottom of the hill Peder, the domestic refuse god, roared around the bend in his massive white chariot and came to a an abrupt halt before us. He leaned out his window and with his long grey hair pulled neatly back into a pony tail and his pearly white, omniscient smile - just like that - he handed me - or more precisely, handed me to hand to Kola, a shimmering, gravy glazed dog bone - which effectively rendered me as wheat. "I'm going." I whispered to myself and immediately began to giggle and fret.

my bad-ass self
In my former life before children, I used to wear a knife and marlin spike on my belt. I look back on my days as a cook and first mate on board the schooners off the coast of Maine and reminisce about the bad-ass self, lost now in the needs that are conjured within the confines of four walls and a roof.  I used to sculpt in limestone quarries in the South of France and make a point of enrolling abroad for junior year in schools where I'd be a solo agent. I'd travel with a backpack across Europe and sleep in train stations in Budapest. I worked at the Wren Cafe in London, as an Au Pair in Germany and sailed from Maine to South America in open ocean and back. 

Barefoot.

But for the past 15 years I have ridden in the passenger seat eclipsed by my husband's stories of death defying heroism flying through turbulence, wind shear and unruly passengers. Acquaintances sit captivated even at the experiences of  him waiting for late shuttle buses back to the employee parking lot. 

Why doesn't anyone want to hear about the story of how I finally got that stubborn stain out with Oxy-Clean? Or the time I had to MacGuyver school lunches from Mother Hubbard's cupboard with a Swiss Army Knife and a piece of string?

I'll tell you why not. 

Because laundry and school lunches can tame anyone into a corpse.

coming back to life
When one finds themselves nearly dead, I recommend traveling solo to anywhere that offers in-flight snacks. Hence, my strategy to travel to California involved a great deal of holding my breath and peaking periodically through my fingers. 

Not prone to stuttering prior to this adventure, there I stood as any corpse attempting to come back to life would do, trying to speak it messy fits and spurts as though at some point I may have survived blunt trauma to the head. The Delta host stood there motionless as his eyes widened, baffled with amazement and concern. Clarence took one look at my olive green with black monogram L.L. Bean  bag, large enough to carry two, child-sized stow-away's and pointed me towards the line two feet to my left. 

Once airborne I was forced to interact again with a flight attendant who had a similar response as that of Clarence. But to my defense, because corpses don't have great facial muscle control meant that my drink request sounded more like the grunt from a cave dwelling soccer mom. She looked at me and I looked at her and from her tray of assorted snacks she pointed two inches to her right, I nodded and she handed me the peanuts. 

I'm certain that the whole travel aspect may have been part of Martha's diabolical plot to destabilize all the participants.  So, even if I had in fact been selected by the accident-gods as an initiate wheat, the chances that I may die of hyperventilation before I actually arrived were likely. Honestly, this type of  Hero's Journey should have it's own Facebook and Instagram account.

wtf?
Fast forward past car rental and three hours on the I-5 from San Fran to SLO and I skittered into my hotel room to bust a move towards the remedy I knew as the only portable tonic and full facet repair kit. I dug out my yoga mat for a fix of Mindful Movement and all was (nearly) well with the world. 

Afterwards, the out-loud conversation I had with myself went something like this, "WTF Julie? You had better get your shit together or you are going to miss out on the immensity of this expensive and non-refundable workshop!"  

And then the most surprising thing happened. A whisper of a question materialized that sounded gentle and concise. "Why are you here?" And my response was equally clear as though I had been put under a hypnotic trance, "I'm here to learn how to channel my energy in order to silently communicate with horses and therefore improve my non-verbal communication skills with people." It quickly dawned on me that unless I harnessed this energy I might very likely trample everyone right out of the gate

The next question that came across with the same clarity was, "If you were a horse, how would you like to be approached?", and this was my very own imaginary bridle and tether with which I was able to regain my bad-ass composure and join the workshop, confident that I wasn't going to betray myself with an egregious load of of irresponsible energy. 

meeting martha
At 4 p.m. the next day 24 other 2 a.m.ceiling-staring Wheats and I sat mesmerized with the opening sequence of  Martha Beck and her CEO Bridgette Boudreau. Just for the record, Martha was much taller than I had envisioned. She kept a calm, intelligent somewhat aloof demeanor that required her new initiate Wayfinders to join up to the flow of content she began to convey. 

I venture to guess that, similar to myself, prior to the workshop initiation, they had done a little energy grooming themselves. What I noticed was that they were decidedly, almost incongruently, nonchalant - the same way my daughter's soccer coach instructs the offense to swallow the exuberance of making the goal as though they had been there before.  And then I realized, in order to make their energies smaller they were wearing their bridles and tethers too the same way that a comedian restrains her energy in delivering a joke; the ultimate gracious and challenging gesture, to allow her audience get 100% of the benefit.

"Heavy as a stone sweaty armpit, light as a feather..."
Right out of the gate Martha's deft observation skills and finely tuned energy perception was in rapid collation mode. As the workshop progressed she taught while also silently compiling information on each one of us, inadvertently inputting data on my ferociously sweaty pits. 

As it so happened, Martha volunteered me to participate in a demonstration to delineate the power of the mind. There I sat in a folding chair surrounded by three other standing Wayfinders with Martha to my left. Two participants placed two fingers under each of my bent knees, Martha and Koelle under each of my sweaty armpits (unprecedented mortification). She then requested that I direct my mind towards joyous experiences. (Oh. MY. God. Really?) Yet, once fully immersed in this head space, the next thing you know, I was raised high above their heads -  my nose nearly embedded in the acoustic tiles above. 

This was the first indication of how meeting Martha was facilitating the meeting of  myself

the big picture
Later the next day at Martha's North Star Ranch, with two days of journaling and building our Wayfinderesque knowledge base, we tried out some of our new "technologies of magic" with the horses. Some with terrific success and some without.

I happened to be without.

After lunch all of us congregated at the big arena to join up with The Big Picture; That of silently communicating with each other, humans and horses alike,  in order to accomplish the task of getting three horses into a central pen. The trained Equus coaches made this look like a piece of cake and so I thought to myself, based on the previous day's success - we got this

After a brief explanation Abby, Kerry, Lisa and myself stood up to claim our stand and stepped forth into the arena of crazy ass horses.


I used this action as personal symbolism to claim my power and to step into the unfamiliar with courage and conviction. However, within the first 15 minutes I  inadvertently cornered a black stallion to the point that the whites of he and Clarence's souls met; The only place the horse wanted to go was up and OUT. 

Unaccustomed to the ways of all things horse, I was not fluent in reading their body language. After I backed off and gave him space the black stallion made a couple more laps around the arena. Our multiple failed attempts to coral these horses yielded only increased frustration and ineffectiveness. The harder we tried the harder we failed. The harder we failed and more frustrated we became the more the horses stopped listening and went on their merry, wild way, the black stallion rapturously barreling down in my direction. 

My near-trampling was averted by following my inclination to move out of his way but, judging by the gasps from the gallery, my 50/50 choice to move over to the boards of the arena, was not the the correct one. My decision to have moved so close to the boards in connection with the velocity at which the horse was galloping had brought me closer into harms way than I had understood. Only with ensuing explanation were we all made aware how to learn from this mistake.  Little did I know my life flashed before everyone else's eyes as I just stood there and held my breath. 

We eventually achieved moderate success but my individual performance left a lot to be desired. The four of us joined in the center of the arena and embraced more out of bonding through shared adversity than of celebration. 

And once we exited the arena physically unscathed, two of us were given a talkin' to. The big picture was illuminated by Bridgette and Diane Hunter as they explained that with horses, as with people, it's essential to harness your energy and always maintain a loving connection with your heart. If that connection is lost, everything is lost. Horses and people simply don't maintain the silent link of captivation and cooperation once the heart centered space gets consumed by fear, doubt and frustration. But the real issue remained with my big energy and that of another woman in the ring. Our two flustered and frustrated energies, feeding off one another and the horses, rendered the group's energy ineffective. Because our yang energy was so prevalent, horses in the next field responded,(ego smack down), by running away.  It was a prompt delivery of the foreshadowed, otherworldly conversation in my hotel room the first night in SLO; You must be responsible for your energy Julie or you might trample everyone out of the gate. The black stallion and neighboring horses mimicked my exact words of two days prior.

taming or developing the flame?
Just like Vegemite, yang energy is best in infinitesimally small doses. "A little goes a long way." Bridgette explained. Which is kinda like asking a Tsunami if it might want to consider delivering it's intended volume of water in liter sized bottles - desalinated with a twist of lemon, please. This experience was an amazing illustration to hold myself responsible for maintaining a constant connection to my heart-centered space in conjunction with taming my flame. 

In order to be effective personally and professionally making sure to wear my figurative bridle and harness will be essential.  My yang tendencies have the capacity to create tremendous change if I can harness myself in mind, heart, body, voice and soul. Where as for a more yin type personality the challenge is to muster enough fire to build up enough steam to let the surplus energy drive one forward. It's equally challenging to tame or develop the flame but requires different tools and knowledge customized to your default projection.

Adam the grounding wire
Before leaving the ranch Martha shared with us that this was the very first time that her son with Down's Syndrome, Adam, requested to sit among us. Having been born into self-mastery of his own energy his presence in stillness and silence ebbed and flowed between all of us like threads woven in a loom.  As we said our goodbyes that day on the ranch, Martha oversaw the inroads her son had made and the Rock Star status he had achieved. Reflecting on that hug we exchanged reunited me then and continues to even now with that high-heart centered space that only one who is a true grounding wire can facilitate. Adam looked at each one of us with these illuminated eyes as though he was seeing through the lens of God. After that embrace I just wanted one more chance to leap back into that ring to demonstrate the connection I now completely understood. 



the last day
On the last day of the workshop, before I took the red eye back to the dregs of the east coast, we spent a few hours reviewing our intentions that we had set on the first day. What each of us had learned individually and as a group where immeasurable. Martha reflected with concise and constructive feedback tailored for each and every one of us. What she told me I will never forget and am only now, 21 months later, ready to implement. Suffice to say that this year's word, ADVENTURE, will bring me closer to a bigger life than I ever knew I'd wanted.

At the conclusion I collected my belongings, found my book for Martha to sign was getting ready to stand in line when I felt a decisive tap on my right shoulder. 

Martha had made her way to me

Trying to keep my cool and harness my emotion, I whipped out a necklace that I had made for her and proceeded to explain the impact of one of her quotes has had on my life. It was this quote that indirectly brought the JewelTree Chakra Series into manifestation.

"Whenever life brings you to a crossroads from the tiniest to the most immense
go towards love and not away from fear."

Without hesitation she fastened her new heart chakra necklace around her neck, signed my book and I floated home feeling complete, adventurous and seen in a way I never have been seen before.  My bad-ass self was back and infused with memories and lessons to last a lifetime.

By meeting Martha I met the best version of myself.



Ask Yourself: 

How can I best harness my energy to be of greater service to the whole?


Julie Bowes - Metalsmith/Spiritual Facilitator/Indentured Hash Slinger
P.O. Box 82
Sherman, CT 06784
203.240.4397 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dalai Lama rehab

It's been over two years since that day I sat in the presence of greatness. And when I say greatness, I mean GREATNESS. It has taken me so long to write about it because I've needed this time to let the experience mellow. That and, for the sheer practical reason being, I couldn't see the screen beyond my tears of immensity and joy. My soul had yet to register it's own worth and being in the presence of greatness seemed to require a vast amount of time to adjust my own groove before I could fathom it's explanation.

to wish or not to wish - that is the question
You see, prior to this experience, there was nothing that I needed or desired except perhaps for a roof that didn't leak. I have abstained from writing wish lists for a while due to their unique position on the horizon as a veritable thorn in my side. I composed my last bucket list as I waited for my sister and her girlfriend to arrive in their private jet at the Danbury Airport. Bathed in jet exhaust, feeling meager and incomplete on the tarmac,  I decided what I needed to fill my bucket of low self esteem were three simple items. Over the course of  a couple years, I had purchased my killer pair of black Lucchese, scalloped edged, angled heel boots, bought myself an epic Canon Rebel gazillion pixel-just-shy-of-an-XRAY camera and decided to dismount the third thing on my list; A classic Mercedes wagon, silver with tan interior,  a sun roof and a dog barrier in the back. Once it became clear that my inner stats would not be elevated with this purchase (and that I'd have to clean the garage),  I opted instead for the hippie chic and understated fully-loaded Suburban Outback.

My bucket list was comprised of stuff that, in the end, held very little weight - easily discarded or dinged to the next bit of stuff that flashes across the dashboard of trends, harbored insufficiency and insatiable ego. The mere thought of a wish list infers a lack-mentality.

subconscious at work
But there my subconscious was, hard at work rummaging through my hard drive and devising invisible flow charts, detours and byways to creating an experience I never even knew I wanted. Never had it occurred to me to dream big. BIG I say. Dare I even put a parameter that might even pair BIG and CONVENIENT in one sentence? Heavens no.

There is a great quote that I keep in my email inbox.  I forwarded it to myself with a different subject heading so that it wouldn't be inadvertently discarded. The note I wrote to myself was, "Read EVERY Day." and it goes like this:

Someone has said, "the Universe has imagined it even better than you have." And we like to add to that: The Universe got all of its information about what you like from you, and it has remembered every piece of it and has put it together in perfect formation. And so, the things that are on their way to you are so much better than you even know that you want. And as you allow them, the essence all of these things that the Universe knows that you are wanting make their way to you and appear in perfect timing for you.                                                                                                                                                --Abraham

The way I know the immensity of this quote's truth because I've lived it. My subconscious delivered my ultimate experience without me even having to ask.

living under a rock
Let me preface by saying I live under a rock (almost). Since we moved into our current home ten years ago we haven't had cable TV. I don't watch the news, read the papers or nor follow any reality crack shows. I figure that if there is important news that I am supposed to know about it will find me. And this is how being in the presence of GREATNESS happened.

in the presence of greatness
It was August when the news found me that the Dalai Lama was scheduled to speak (big) 30 minutes away (convenient) at Western Connecticut State University in October. The tickets were being offered by lottery only. So,  I submitted my name with gusto and waited. Three hundred-twenty seven hours, sixteen minutes and seven seconds after the lottery opened - the day my name was chosen, every particulate in my vicinity localized in extreme focus and clarity with the wattage of a beam of light shooting towards the moon. How could something so epic have also heard my meek necessity for convenience? My humble self, trudging along in the ruts of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, dirty laundry & dust bunnies heard over the din of dinner dishes and sibling rivalry, heard over my own inner dialogue of oppression and obligation (worlds tiniest violin). Never in a million freaking years would I ever have put this type of greatness on a bucket list, let alone have the audacity to write his name on a piece of my recycled scrap paper. Yet my wishes were heard even before I could hear them for myself.

So I went.


All's I can say is thank God my husband went with me. Actually it is more like my husband took me. I was a raw bundle of emotion sobbing in the passenger seat. It required the same amount of energy as what I experienced being driven down to the hospital to deliver my babies. The same amount of energy to focus the contractions as it was to stay solvent and not totally disintegrate into a puddle. There was absolutely nothing that could stop my tears; The closest experience I have ever had to truly coming home - feeling so totally supported that this experience had been provided to me. The combination of gratitude, faith, incredulity, self-worth all grafted together to form a matrix of otherworldly proportions orchestrating this vast symphony in which I was called upon to take part.

As if the greatness couldn't get any better, I sat there in the bleachers all red eyed, clutching my Nana's heirloom hanky, nearly hiccuping for breath when along comes Richard Gere. My hand slithered into my coat pocket in search of  lip gloss. My husband's suggestion to breath into a paper bag circumnavigated by the mere sighting of  R i c h a r d  who was making the introduction for the the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

We sat on the right side of the stage, mid way up on the bleachers listening to the voice of this amazing man. He tugged continuously on his honorary scholar vestments that indicated a type of restraint that I would have been hard pressed to ignore. Just in the way he exhibited his patience with these superfluous additions to the perfect simplicity of his saffron robes gave me pause for admiration the same way I am in awe of  women in labor who don't rip off their own hospital gown at eight centimeters. Yet, despite this wardrobe malfunction, his message of kindness and compassion, periodically facilitated by his translator, were punctuated with riffs of laughter and joviality that elevated the audience into a gleeful hum.

rushing the stage
As the event came to a close the body guards ushered the Dalai Lama to the right of the stage and down behind the royal blue curtains. This was my husband's call to action. Primed and ready, Jeff pierced through the crowd improving on his personal record from seat to stage in 5.7 seconds flat. Jeff's Grateful Dead, special ops, stage rush training - minus the opposition - brought him face to face with the Dalai Lama faster than running on the human conveyor belts in the airport. But when he turned around expecting me to be right by his side, instead he saw me still up in the bleachers stuck behind a granny and her retractable, metal cane.

Jeff had rushed the stage for me and was poised to make introductions by expounding on my countless hours of inconceivable silent sitting, (as if that should be merit in and of itself) and prayer flags that flutter in the wind suspended by the trees in our front lawn and maybe, just maybe ask him if he wants to come over to watch the Bruins and have some pizza.

But I was stuck, and mortified, and too emotionally wobbly to approach at any faster a speed for fear that this affliction of tearful dissolution might just actually happen and I'd collapse into the Dalai Lama's arms, breathing into a paper bag and a medic hauling me into the back of an ambulance or a straight jacket with intentions to never ever shower again. But, I just couldn't be a good wing girl and suffer the humiliation of of what it would look like in public to love someone so much that it hurt to be near him.

Dalai Lama rehab
My overwhelming emotions became such an issue that in order to desensitize myself from the mere thought of him I had to devise some Dalai Lama rehab. The only way I knew how to do this was to print up a gorgeous black and white picture and hung it at the window alcove by my kitchen sink. From there he could (and still can) oversee the Sunday through Thursday peanut butter and jelly production line, dirty dishes and watch the kids jump on the trampoline outside with the same joy his spirit possesses.


hot mess
After six months of Dalai Lama picture therapy I progressed to being able to look at his image without shedding a tear. However, in April on a four-day retreat in San Luis Obispo, I inadvertently revealed my hot mess to a table of eight strangers, one of whom was Martha Beck's CEO, Bridgette Boudreau. The exercise she gave us that expedited this unraveling was the requirement to write two letters; A letter to a person we loved (see picture above) and a letter to a person we despised. (Despised is such a treacherous word I could find no one that I held with that much venom.) Afterwards, we were then instructed to change the name of the person to whom the letter was addressed to the word "I".

Well Just Crap. I might as well deliver a third baby in the back of a taxi.

Because I had been unable to find a nice tidy exit strategy for these unexpressed feelings of my experience with the Dalai Lama I had to endure the vulnerability and extraordinary humiliation of being totally exposed amidst a group strangers as I diverted my love for the Dalai Lama back to myself. It was an effective bait and switch strategy that illuminated our tendencies in general to witness in others exactly the issues prevalent at the forefront of our own consciousness. I was surrounded by eight highly sensitive and compassionate women strangers and as they sat there somewhat wide-eyed while I blithered along in over-sharing laboresque convulsions, I can now fully endorse them as some of highest caliber friends I have had the pleasure of sobbing before, leaving me with the thought that there is something peculiarly refreshing, authentic and terrifying about the experience of vulnerability in general.

progress?
Now, over two years later, I am happy to report that my Dalai Lama rehab is progressing steadily. I can say his name out loud. I can look at his picture for hours and I can write this post which only made me weep once. I can watch videos of him giving talks similar to the one I attended that October, 2012. Yet, just a week ago my husband commanded that I come downstairs and interrupt my bedtime ritual to watch something on the computer. As I harumphed and stomped my way down to the kitchen, toothbrush busy on my lower left molars, I came around the corner to a vision of the Dalai Lama wearing a Boston Bruins hat and shuffling his way through the arena before he made his way to his next speaking engagement. Apparently, I'm not completely cured. In the clip I watched he didn't even say a word and I got all weepy and toothpasty. This is going to be a problem if I am ever asked to be his adviser.


Ask Yourself: 
What rehab will it take to own my own GREATNESS?


Julie Bowes - Metalsmith/Spiritual Facilitator/Indentured Hash Slinger
P.O. Box 82
Sherman, CT 06784
203.240.4397 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

loose ends

Because I know that you are all sitting on the edge of your seats and wondering how my summer was (too short), if I ever got around to planting my garden (no) and how much $750 worth of dog kibble weighs (800 lbs),  I thought I should tie up some loose ends of my previous blog; bringing conclusion to those small little details that have been keep you awake at night.

The last I mentioned, I had set forth the decree that my daughter had to ante up for her Clash of Clan indiscretion and I, in the same breath, would do the same...both of which involved chests of gems. The rules of engagement where that Tatum could choose the charity of her choice and I had to replace stolen goods with the grown up bling. Both of us shoveled a hefty measure of humility and mortification along this path and were mercifully met with appreciation.

Tethered together, Tatum's misadventures led us to the bank where she could see, touch and smell  $750 worth of hard-earned allowance money destined for a strong armed tithing to the charity of her choice. This was money that she had been saving for over five years...


Next came the family road trip to Costco.

Like Tatum in a public stockade, we brought Tatums' older brother, Trevor, on this pilgrimage as a cautionary tale lest his future decision making skills become wobbly.


Apparently $750 worth of kibble can bring a Suburban to it's knees.


Driving low and slow we made it to Tatum's charity of choice, The New Milford Animal Shelter, with the rear axle intact.

Once all the kibble made it behind closed doors the shelter volunteers were a rapt and grateful audience listening as Tatum recounted the circumstances behind her apparent generosity; Her mortifying penance diminishing with every repeated confession.

For the next two months Tatum spent her time reading, crafting and spending her time like a Amish child. The value of money, as was measured by weight in Kibble, could have been easily measured by how many Indian children's eyesight could have been restored through a simple $300 operation or the number of wells that could have been dug for clean drinking water in Africa or the number meals that could have been provided by a local food pantry, was an eye opener for Tatum as was the experience for me.

If you might remember from my previous blog, busted, I too was a benefactor of Tatum's misdemeanor as it forced me to look more deeply into my own shadows to uncover a piece of gnarly truth in my wayward youth.

The gracious recipient of my recompense from days as a petty thief was eventually tracked down in Arizona. The letter she sent to me in return admitted to her never even remembering the ring. Truly, had this nugget of gold-filled base metal, colored glass & rhinestones not wedged itself so deeply into my soul, I could have established myself in a life of crime. Kim, in her hesitance to accept the replacement ring of such stature, understood the importance of my gesture. As a mother of a five year old, she knew the importance of teaching through example in order to raise children of character.  "I have nothing except fond memories of you as a child and now this just adds to it. Your example of honesty and humility is to be admired.", she wrote. And I sobbed, 38 years of self imposed tears; The loose-ended suffering finally tided up in a pretty bow of silken exoneration.

As we come upon the close of a year I bring to the table the gratitude of my foray with vulnerability. The humility that Tatum and I experienced in righting our wrongs feels as though my roots are growing deeper and allowing me to stand taller/stronger, speak with more confidence and recognize the wisdom hiding behind shame and guilt. I am curious now - the other vestiges of darkness that loom within me, in all of us...how they wait to be implemented and transformed in us all. Sometimes they wait. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes you can choose their neat and tidy exit path. Sometimes it's a complete conflagration. And, rest assured, whichever way you are drawing your circumstances to you is the perfect way in which your soul  is choosing to have this lesson administered. Because no matter how bad the conditions you find yourself in, when you make it through the ring of fire and rise from the pit of despair the most unlikely miracle of gratitude surfaces in ways your imagination cannot begin to comprehend.

Ask Yourself: 
What are my loose end(s) requiring a silken bow? 


Julie Bowes - Metalsmith/Spiritual Facilitator/Indentured Hash Slinger
P.O. Box 82
Sherman, CT 06784
203.240.4397 








Saturday, June 7, 2014

coon man

Through leafless and frosty airwaves, 9 p.m. howls of impending satisfaction whistle and glide effortlessly over the smooth drifts of snow. Now, as the forests, hay fields and manicured specimen trees waken from their winter slumber, the cacophony has dampened. From way up in them, thar hills exists an anomaly of canine festivities reminiscent of  a frat party gone wild; Mayhem of multiple dogs, frolic in anticipation of their meal.

I am happy I don't live closer.

But the curious sort I am I do set my mind to wondering about, exactly, how many dogs constitutes the word "multiple" and how the owner of these dogs must love dogs perhaps more so than loves people. Someday, I say, I'd like to find out.

"That Day" just happened.

on-duty
At five a.m. on Sunday, the day I had set up for a 7am- slam-dunk-sleep-in, I was awakened by the sentence, "Mom! There are dogs running all over our lawn and they're chasing a fox." My minds' eye furrowed in confusion beneath my cozy eye mask. Barking, barking, barking with delight,  I laid there and listened, hopefully, for the sound of a huntsman's horn signaling the end of the chase. A minute passed and, like a news-breaking story, the details began to usher in with unbridled speed.

It was Sunday.
It was 5a.m.
All the weekend homes were occupied by upper east side doctors and lawyers.
My husband wasn't home. Such a shame, really. He lives for these types of calls to action, like cleaning the gutters in torrential lightning & thunderstorms.

Alas, I was ON DUTY.

I rolled facing the south windows overlooking my lawn and peeked out from beneath my darkened cave in confirmation. Adjusting  from my sleepy dream to refocus on purported dogs and foxes I was launched like a flaming pillow by a trebuchet. Ass over teakettle I jettisoned out of bed and stumbled my way to the most logical priorities one would need to anticipate in the event of finding ones' self at the end of a fox hunt or being joined by my weekend, NYC nephrologist neighbor who has his lawn mowed twice a week.

The pair of six day old pants that were heaped on the floor seemingly rose to action. I brushed my hair. I covered up with a magenta fleece and stuffed my bare feet into my Rescue Hero boots racing to ground zero to lessen the impact of bluster imparted by the incessant hound "speak".

"foxy" 
The fox that was spotted happened to be my grossly overweight orange tabby cat. It was Apricots' first day outside since November. Her station beneath the futon in the basement is where she stays warm and safely nestled far, far away from our chocolate lab, Kola. A luscious spring evening laden heavily with lilac and lightning bugs was her migration call. The warm gentle breeze coaxed she and her sister, Dot, outside. Under the cover of darkness, like two teenage girls looking to sneak a smoke, they disappeared.

On the "fluffy" side, how Apricot tore her way up the closest, gnarly tree was nothing short of a miracle. The dogs where pleased to settle for this full-figured, 15 pound, "foxy" girl.  Bouncing and "speaking" at the base of the tree in gleeful staccato,  Apricot clamped herself onto the limb like a sailor lashed to the mast in a hurricane. Her ears tucked firmly and flush to the side of her head indicated that this was WAY more than she bargained for.

From the deck, Tatum wailed with worry. Her fear for my safety amplified my desire for prompt resolution before the sirens were called in as a third string backup. Praising the dogs for a job well done I approached these smiling faces without concern. They were doing their job and doing it well with the same abandon that Tatum dances or the way I can't help but cry with joy skiing the Skyline Trail overlooking Lake Tahoe. Pure rapture in each of these moments delivered in radically different ways.

I corralled these hounds into my garage.



the plea
The plea for help landed with a 5:45 a.m. email to the one and only woman in Northern Sherman who has her ear to the rail. Marianne knows when something has happened three minutes before hand. She was the line of first responders that came to mind to assist in finding the dogs rightful owner. Had I remembered to take my phone off off vibe I would have checked the chime that delivered her prompt response stating CODE RED. I repeat. CODE RED. Do NOT proceed.

But I'll get back to that.

restoring eden
Restoring Eden would have been rather easy had I been able to simply coax Apricot down from the tree, nudge her inside, and set the dogs on their merry way. However, experienced in the art of feline rescue, I realized that this was going to have to wait. That, and the Universe wasn't finished with me yet.

This was just the beginning.

the wild frontier
Just at that moment as a hush fell over the land. From up yonder wafted the distant howls of canine brethren.
Like a pig on the hot scent of a truffle, this was my call to action.

I mounted my Suburban steed with hounds in my panniers and my daughter still in her fleece, heart-print pajamas, counting ticks in the way, way back. This wasn't a time that warranted seat belts, nor bras. We were heading into: the wild frontier of Sherman.

The wind blew through our hair as we drove the neighborhood loop. At the bottom of the Smoke Ridge cul-de-sac we turned off the ignition to track echo-locate our target. Referencing my winter walks from months prior, I was a few degrees off of my auditory plotting sensors and readjusted the course to head, point five degrees north. We swooped down Anderson's mammoth hill and headed right, eastbound to Rte 55. Just when my psychic radar had lost the scent was precisely when I entered the eye of the storm. There on the side of the road; Sunday morning's epic geocache...a handmade wooden sign that read:

FOR SALE 
Puppies, Hounds, Beagles 

"Are you missing a couple of dogs?", I queried, pleased as punch that someone answered the number posted on the bottom of the sign. 

"Well, I ain't missing them, but they're probably missing me.", he warbled.

"Well, I'm sitting at the base of your driveway with your dogs in the back of my Suburban. May I approach your home?, " I ventured.

"I'm wearing nothin' but my boots, " he cautioned. "Give me a couple minutes and then come on up. Do you have four wheel drive?"

"I sure do!" My eyes wild with adventure I gripped the steering wheel like a game controller and engaged the L1 axle button, bound for the unknown. The deep ruts in the dirt driveway held me close to the mountain as we maneuvered our first switchback. Tires gripped tight like the sticky pads of tree frogs, we cleared the swath past the storage container to the next switchback. Climbing and climbing like Jack in the Beanstalk my mind wandered to the experience that awaited. 

the call
With each turn, the volume of hounds increased. On the final stretch of incline, littered with roadside treasures,  rang the phone. It was Marianne. 

"I'm not sure you want to be going up there by yourself, Julie. This man just had multiple firearms removed from his property and..." The list went on until she began to hear the imminent approach of dogs through the earpiece of her phone. "...Oh...I'm guessing I've called just a little too late?"

"Yep. I'm committed Marianne. I appreciate the wrap sheet and I am sincerely thankful to know what I am about to get myself into but there's no turning back now. If I don't call you back in 30 minutes, send in backup." I smiled

There I was 15 feet from a log cabin. Dogs tied to trees. Dogs tied to dormant generators. Dogs free roaming and eager to greet the new arrivals.

I was in heaven. I had dogs in my car and dogs in every direction my eyes could see. 

Despite the list of violations Marianne relayed I couldn't help myself. There I was behind the wheel of my Suburban, NOT making school lunches, NOT folding laundry, NOT taking out the trash, NOT sweeping the kitchen floor or wiping the kitchen counters of debris. There was something so unique and authentic about this present moment in time.

I was So. Crazy. Happy.  

coon man
Off the front porch stepped a person in his late 60's. A solid-footed & sinewy sprite of a man, he put himself together with an air of a long-term bachelor living solely on rib-eyes and baked potatoes. He wore a black, long sleeve t-shirt and blue dungarees with suspenders, his silver belt buckle captured a dull glint in the morning sunshine. It was the very first time my eyes had met a man that wore his beard in a pony tail. His thinning gray hair was tidy, braided and just tickled the collar of his shirt. His teeth were the color of driftwood and his hands conveyed knowledge beyond my life's experience. 

With his presence I was assured safe passage among his dogs and exited my car; My heart and smile were ablaze with joy. We shook hands and made cursory introductions as the hounds leaped from the back tailgate. And then,  he took a step back as though he had experienced the fringe of a lightning strike.

"You own horses don't you." Bent at the elbows, he held his arm in front of him, fingers straight. "My hands and forearms are tingling. Oh my.This is something else! You are surrounded by the energy of horses." Not a stranger to this description, his energetic assessment of horses was comforting in its familiarity and revealed to me his status as a back-woods, evangelical shaman of sorts. "This is going to be a special meeting.  It's Sunday morning and the good Lord has brought us together.This is Faith."

I restrained my inner schoolmarm and refrained from correcting his choice of words from Faith to Fate. 

backwoods bling
Naturally, captivated by jewelry and it's symbolism, I was drawn by his backwoods bling. A thick, black leather cord hung loosely around his neck. At the valley hung the tip of a deer antler. Symmetrically to either side, wrapped in coils of copper, were two curved three inch bones... and one tie clip. 
"Ohhhh, what are these bones?" I inquired. He motioned me, unsuccessfully, out of earshot of my equally curious daughter and slowly explained, "These are ribs of a raccoon. And look at this!" And in a hushed drawl of reverence, "Now THIS (as he held the tie clip), THIS is real silver!" There between the antler and one of the coon bones was a silver tie clip. "And lookie here on this side. This here?" And he pointed with his wise hands, "THIS is real onyx. I found it in the parking lot of my favorite restaurant." 

Coon Man gave me a short tour of the area within a 20 foot radius of my get-away vehicle. My mind ebbed and flowed back to Marianne's warning and plea to abort. Coon Man shared the best restaurant to buy a steak, the bargain of his new Cutlass Supreme with only 32K miles (how in the heck did he get it up his driveway?) and how they tried to burn him out in 2002 (WHAT?!). He told me of issues with the law and of the toughness of beef that never has a chance to age.  As my daughter recounted later, he was a talker. 

persecuted 
Coon Man recounted stories of ongoing persecution, protecting what he knows as his true and authentic way of life, and thus results in push back from both directions. The neighbors feel threatened and impinged upon by stray dogs and the safety of their house cat out on the midnight beat. Coon Man feels pinched and caged like...um....a wild raccoon. For what one registers as a high degree of "authenticity" registers for others as an personal affront. It's all relative to proximity.

perspective
There isn't a lot of control I have over my day, but the one thing I do have is the ability to choose how I perceive the conditions that surround me. Committing to a positive perspective is a conscious choice based in gratitude for what each new day brings. By sheer surrender to faith in the common good I accepted my fate of this one special morning and how it taught me the beauty of acceptance, the importance of compassion and committing to the call of adventure with an open loving heart. So, from my comfortable distance, I claim my appreciation for Coon Man and the opportunity he presented me to step into adventure.

I committed to this adventure to matriculate into an independent, confident and empowered woman; To know my boundaries, know the full capacity of my heart and be able to share and instill a sense of belonging and compassion to this unique soul others would have deemed a misfit.  Coon Man was correct in his issuance of "Faith". A connection and commitment to a higher source was the orchestrating force behind this experience. Choosing to join up with that full tilt adventure gave my heart something to chew on and Faith is exactly what brought us together; To give me the chance to commit to a deeper sense of purpose, self-reliance and adventure. And for Coon Man to feel, if just for a moment, that he belongs.

Ask yourself:
"When adventure knocks how will I choose to respond?"


Julie Bowes - Metalsmith/Spiritual Facilitator/Indentured Hash Slinger
P.O. Box 82
Sherman, CT 06784
203.240.4397