home!

My family is home, with power on in both locations. Perhaps the worst is over–for us. It’s clear others are still at risk, and I pray for their safety and their animals as well. I am deeply thankful to the firefighters who risk their lives protecting ours and our property.

Remaining wholly in the present made it possible to move through this time without debilitating anxiety. I only suffered those first minutes after the evacuation order came, waking me from uneasy sleep. Then I pulled out my metaphorical toolbox and put it to use.

Concern, of course. Planning, of course. We need the mind to navigate life. Distress is different–it takes an already difficult situation and makes it unbearable. Anxiety of that kind haunted me for decades until this understanding took root: emotional suffering is optional. It is not necessary when we embody where to take our stand, as the pure awareness that we are.

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checking the news

Here’s a form of perseverating–I can’t stop the urge to check the news for fire and air quality updates. Even during retreat meetings I’m aware of the pull, which I resist. My phone is turned off during our gatherings.

Of course, when I do check at meal times, it’s frustrating because there is no new news, only rehashing what we already know, although air quality shifts rapidly when wind direction changes.

My job: remain centered here and now, notice when the mind wants to leap into a nonexistent future. There’s no way to know, and “what might happen” isn’t a healthy place for me to spend time.

I’m grateful to be with 170 like-hearted souls, exploring the margins of human understanding and noticing our direct experience.

 

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wildfire

4 a.m. I stand in our home, quivering, awakened from restless sleep. Nixle text: mandatory evacuation order. Power has been off for six hours. Our go-bags wait by the door, including the one for our dog, Bodhi.

Time to go. If we lose our home, what can I bring that fits in the car to help a new place feel familiar? I grab ten pieces of art from the walls–the gorgeous color-pencil drawings our friend Suzette did of our dogs, and two others. My laptop, so I can write. Coats. I check for device chargers.

This is the new reality. Brain adjusts, body resists, then gets in gear. Destination: friends in Petaluma, seventeen miles away. We take both vehicles and enter the parking lot of evacuees. An hour later, we’ve gone two miles.

Drivers are remarkably generous, letting others into the creeping auto stream from side roads. I see no road rage and am grateful. The updated Nixle notice comes in–my son, who doesn’t drive, must evacuate as well. My husband peels off to Santa Rosa to snag him and his go-bag.

It only takes me three hours to travel the seventeen miles. Charge the iPhone on the way. I’m welcomed with a sweet hug from our dear friend. Power has been cut to Petaluma as well, but the gas stove works. Warm tea! Five hours later, husband, son, and dog finally make it.

There is no complaining, only attention to what must be done–keep devices charged, eat food before it spoils, send love and best wishes for the well-being of people and creatures closer to the fire than we. Await Nixle updates. Breathe. Count blessings. Be present.

 

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moving pieces around

think outside the box quotes business concept

I spend hours imagining what might happen next in my novel. I live in two simultaneous worlds. There’s the outer: husband, son, friends, teaching, writing groups, spiritual community, and the inner: the life of my characters, their challenges, setbacks, and growth. Both are equally alive and real to me. The novel characters remain active in my mind as I walk, shop, and visit in my daily life.

I do not look to writing for my happiness–that kind of unshakable contentment is never found in something that comes and goes. Nonetheless, writing is a passion. It’s what I must do, and one way I give back.

Is my interest in these characters a waste of precious time? Does it undermine resting in and as awareness? What is creativity, anyway? These are the puzzle pieces I’m moving around today.

© Amrita Skye Blaine
photo from http://www.freepik.club

 

 

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enfolded once again

sleeping-bordeaux-puppy and kitten

Once again, I’m in retreat, enfolded in loving hearts, kind words, deep friendship, and expressions of truth.  This is a diverse group of people pulled together by common interest. We come from all over the world: Germany, Korea, Australia, Switzerland, Britain and, of course, the US, to name a few.

Here’s a fresh take on an old acronym: ADD, Awareness Deficit Disorder*. Chuckles erupted around the room.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2018
*quote from Rupert Spira

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we all need support

Someone valued this venerable, scarred tree and provided support for the trunk in its old age. In kind, it continues to shade the plants, yard,  and walkway beneath.

Each life situation is different: it may call for helping someone eat or walk; listening so they can unburden their mind; heart-tending, or spiritual counsel. We are wholly interdependent, one sacred body with many apparent parts.

Even the sentence “we all need support” is not the largest truth. Notice support is unending: the ground holds us up; gravity keeps us from flying off the planet; water, food, and air nourish us; hugs and a kind word mend our stricken hearts; a gentle nudge or lick from a four-legged companion soothes our spirit.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2017

 

 

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precious hearts

I am enfolded in the embrace of precious hearts now–some old friends, some I’m meeting for the first time. This is day one of my eleventh week-long retreat. Only once have I met a complaining, shut-down soul in this community. She frowned and fussed about the dinner which had been prepared for us with love and patience–including gluten-free choices for those with special dietary needs. I noticed her dedication to her special brand of misery and silently wished her well. I have not seen her since.

These friends have special qualities: curiosity, inclusive kindness, generosity, and open-heartedness; audacity to voice confusion in front of 135 people; willingness to drop beliefs that no longer serve, courage to sit in a state of not knowing. I would trust my life to any one of these folk. They are not related by blood, but they are my closest kin.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2017
the sunset heart photo can be freely shared

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