Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow on the Mountain!

Brrrrr! If I was really adventurous, I would have hiked to the top of the ridge and jumped in the snow drifts there this weekend.

However, I have a life-long dread of snow. Which I think may be hereditary (my mother left Minnesota for the same reason that Sam McGee longed to go home to Tennessee). She taught me the Cremation of Sam McGee (a ballad her father used to recite as well) and told me to buck up on cold California mornings on my way to school: ("It's nothing like Bemidji, darling," she'd laugh.)

So, snow is very exotic in my world. I've never skied (well, cross country once, in high desert, not especially alpine snow near the Grand Canyon) and now that I'm edging closer to the age of well, let's just say it, frailer bones, I'm not interested risking it. Give me a cute outfit though, and I can do the apr├ęs ski thing fine.

It was 30 degrees on Partington Ridge most of the weekend, and I enjoyed tending the home fires, doing yoga, reading the New Yorker and assorted creation myths I've just discovered in one of the many, many books I own that I have yet to read. A true bookworm party-girl of the old school, I enjoyed a glass of champagne while taking a very HOT shower Sunday afternoon, opening the window to yell at the cats who were circling the bird feeder hanging from the olive tree. Yep, I'd say that's eccentricity!
photos by Linda Sonrisa

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coming home

Something we quietly acknowledge about living here in Big Sur, our sweet little secret is this: it's GREAT to come home, from anywhere. Whether from a day trip to Salinas or a month in Bali, as we drive back down Highway One we feel the magic.

We have our special rituals, places where we stop, get out of the car, take great gulps of fresh air, reach up our arms and smile. Looking down that coast at cliffs, ocean, clouds, perhaps a condor or two, we experience the involuntary ahhhh of the exhale and mmmmmm of the inhale. If we're returning at night, there's nothing like that moment of looking up, throat open, wonder streaming down, as we gaze at the abundance of twinkling stars in the heavens welcoming us home.

Right now I feel like I'm in a state of grace. So this is what a week-long yoga retreat (in the jungles of Mexico) does to the soul. Four hours per day of yoga and meditation. Further enriched by connecting with our amazing teachers and with all of the wise and funny students, while enjoying delicious vegetarian meals. Now back home, all I really want to do is curl up in the sun, like one of my cats, and breathe.

From time to time I'll gaze out at the world from behind my fur, in great peace. I want to lazily watch the hummingbirds while listening to the breezes in the trees. Life has become one long shivasana (resting pose) interrupted by all the running around (work-errands-classes-relationships) that I have to do to keep it going.

One of the great gifts that guided introspection in a formal setting brings is the undeniable, undiluted fact that the answers to your life's questions can be found inside you. This is both blessing (ah, so simple!) and curse (good lord, look how I'm everywhere but there!) Yoga and meditation are tools for listening to one's higher self. Living in natural beauty (or consciously appreciating it wherever you are) helps, too. Breath, movement and nature are all teachers, it's just that really showing up for class is still hard.

Last night I admired the constellations of Sirius and Orion chasing the moon in the western sky. A silver column of moonlight stretched across the sea to the bathtub in my garden, and I thought, well, here I am. Perhaps all my questions, worries, regrets, even my great joys, don't really matter. Maybe even the "answers" aren't so important. What matters is having a life. And for me I'd add this to the recipe: sharing this journey with my fellow spiritual travelers.

Shivasana on the mountain, anyone?

Photos by Linda Sonrisa