Monday, July 27, 2015

Building Healthy Relationships

All of our relationships are a powerful motivators for growth. When we know and love ourselves, this awareness is reflected in our personal relationships.  Please enjoy this short video on how our relationships center us in our lives.

© Josephine Laing, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Yeah!! The Rain!

In 1991 Ian McMillan passed away.  He had lived here, in our local San Luis Obispo area, and worked tirelessly to protect the splendors of nature.  At the time of his death, we had been experiencing a profound drought and our rainy months of November, December, January and February passed with barely a drop.  But then, Ian died and we had what came to be known as the "The Miracle March."  It rained.  It poured.  We had gentle soaking rains that opened the soil so it could hold the water.  And then we had thundering down pours that fill our reservoirs.  And, not only that, we had rain every month for the rest of that year.  It was great.  And what people had said would take us twelve years to accomplish, water-wise, happened in just one.

Last month, our friend Allyson Nakasone passed away.  She was another wonderful local environmentalist, having been the executive director of our ECOSLO, Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, for a time.  And she did a great job there.  As her successor, Pam Harrington noted, "Give Allyson two beers and she could get anything done."

So now, here we are in the worst drought our state has seen in all of it's recorded history.  This drought even tops the one John Steinbeck famously wrote about in my favorite of his novels, To A God Unknown, which describes how the great drought of the late 1800's affected the lives of Californians.  As happened then, even the oak trees are suffering.  As I look out over the groves of oaks that so picturesquely grace the flowing hills that skirt our beautiful "Seven Sisters" Volcanic peaks, I see some that are turning grey from having dropped their leaves.

These magnificent trees often live 350 years.  So, the maturest among them were youngsters during that former California drought.  The oaks are our primary native food plant in this area.  They are why the first nations peoples, the Chumash, were comparatively so wealthy.  With the abundant acorns as their staple food, they didn't have to work so hard to survive and had more time for art, trading, leisure and ceremony.

As our drought has settled in and especially as this winter and spring came and went with barely any rain, I've been speaking with our trees and suggesting that they do as Michael Roads advised during the recent great Australian drought where they went for seven years with out a drop of rain.  He told the Australian evergreens in his area to drop their leaves and save their vitality in their trunks and branches like deciduous trees do in winter's cold.  They did and it worked.  When the drought was finally broken, his trees leafed out and their lives were spared, whereas most of Australia's native forests died for the lack of rain.

Our weather here in San Luis Obispo is beautiful.  We joke about the weather report because with such consistent repetition  a report seems silly.  It is always sonny and warm, but not too hot.  Sometimes we have fog in the mornings and it is often breezy in the afternoons.  So, as we were heading out for Allyson's memorial, the day before yesterday, I was delighted to see some clouds gathering end even better yet, coming from the south.  So, I said to Frank, "Hey look, maybe Allyson is going to bring us some rain."  It was nice and sunny for her memorial the the Botanical garden and even the same for another friends 98th birthday party which we also attended later that day.

As I lay in bed that night, dozing, I kept being woken by what I thought might have been the flash photography of some late night revelers in the neighborhood.  But then, as it persisted, I went out into the night to see.  I was thrilled to find that it was lightening, no thunder, as it was too distant, but frequent flashes and some very soft occasional rumbles.  By the wee hours of first light, the rain was coming down, gentle at first, then really falling in sheets.  I slipped out to the patio in my bare feet and turned my face to the sky.  The drops fell with ever surprising little pats on my skin, soaking into my hair, until I was slick and dripping and dancing and twirling with delight.  Wet and elated I snuck back indoors, leaving little pools and puddles on the floor.  I dried myself off and slipped with wet hair back into the bed and whispered, "Thank you Allyson for the lovely rain."

© Josephine Laing, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Finding Our Way Into the World of Fairies

Just as we have spirit guides who look over us and help us, so does nature.  These elusive beings exist and sometimes show themselves.  Enjoy this short video, that I made with my friend Einar Berg, for a peek into the world of nature spirits and fairies.

© Josephine Laing, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Purpose and Joy

Our true purpose in life is not a chore, it is our greatest joy.  It can also be the one thing that we hold dearest in our hearts and it might just be our greatest challenge as well.  If we don't do it, our lives feel lost.  If we do, it brings to us our heart's desire.   Joseph Campbell said we must, "Follow our bliss." And Peace Pilgrim said that we must each, "Find our calling." 

Peace further advised that if we don't already know our calling, we can seek it in reflective silence.  She said we need to, "Do all of the good things that you are motivated to do, even if they are only little good things, and to give these first priority in our day over all of the ordinary and mundane things that customarily clutter our human lives."  And it's true, so often we give all of our good energy of the day to the things that matter very little in the long run, saving what little is left at the end of the day, for our inspirations, when we are dog tired and ready for bed. 

Bronnie Ware, an Australian Nurse who worked in palliative care with the dying found that among her patients the number one death bed regret was, "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, rather than the life that others expected of me."   Our loved ones care for us; they love us; they want to keep us around and keep us safe.  Though well intentioned, they don't want us to take risks and they speak up if we do.  Ram Dass tells a funny story about his parents.  He said they made it very clear to him that he should: achieve, be responsible, be successful, bring pride to them, stay healthy, and if he accomplished all of that, then he should be happy as well.  But this is not a recipe for an authentic life.  This is a recipe for a life lived according to the plans of others.

Howard Thurman said, “Don't ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  And when we ask, we engage the great spiritual law of asking and receiving.  This will then guide us into our truest life well lived. 

Following our heart's desire is like a love letter of gratitude to the Universe for our lives.  I've heard it said that the foundation of our spirituality is to be appreciative of the gift of life.  To have fun.  To play.  To laugh.  To see our lives as a piece of God."  So, I like to say, "Stay in your joy!"  It is the surest compass there is for a life well lived.

© Josephine Laing, 2015