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Copyright 2012 Mary Montanye All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On the Move

Here are today's August Break photos.

I have a 4-door Sedan and so much to take on my trip to my second home on the Oregon coast.

How will I get it all in????

I did it!!!  Now to fill my cooler with green smoothies for the road.  I'm ready and I'm excited.  Can't wait to see my beloved, my son, and the dogs.  They're waiting for me!

I am deeply in love with Colorado and Oregon.  I can't wait to share my discoveries with you as I explore the coast.  And even though we will be spending a great deal of time there, for now we still live in the mountains.  I'm looking forward to sharing both of my favorite places with you through photos and stories.  Join me on the adventure!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Conditions of Satisfaction

I learned about the conditions of "enoughness" from Jennifer Louden, and today they served me well.

I started Susannah Conway's August Break challenge on August 1st.  By August 3rd, a mere 2 days later, I'd already missed adding a photograph to my blog.  I'd taken one the night before, but forgot to post it.  It was a busy day of packing up to leave the retreat at the Loretto Center, say goodbye to my new friends, drive the two plus hours to Fort Collins, shop for groceries, drive up the canyon, unpack ... you know how it is.

But I declared myself satisfied with what I had accomplished yesterday as I blew off 3/4s of my "to do" list, eased into a hot bath and then took myself to bed much earlier than usual.

Today was another sluggish day (see my posts below about slugs!), but I did have some fun taking a photo of a shadow on a wall and a little watercolor my husband brought me back from Japan years ago.  I took the photo (which I love) and then played around with one of my ITouch  Apps -- Snapseed.  Lots of fun to see such a dramatic change with just a few clicks.  A few clicks was all I could handle today, and I declare myself satisfied.  Thanks Jen!

And, late but I think still beautiful, here is the photo I wanted to post last night but didn't.  Sunset over the mountains as seen from our meeting room at the Loretto Retreat Center.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rest and Renewal

I am renewing my spirit in this sacred place.  It will be difficult to return to my home tomorrow, because I still have traumatic memories from the recent fires.  But here, at the Loretto Retreat Center in Littleton, Colorado, and with this group of amazing women, I am reaffirming for myself that all places can be sacred depending on how we choose to be while in them.  If we enter a place with intention and a gentleness of heart and spirit; if we enter prayerfully in whatever way that means to us ... the place is then sacred.  I pray that you may also make your special places sacred and that your spirit will be continuously renewed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An August Challenge Begins

So much has happened since my last post.  Wildfires, evacuations, mudslides, road closures ... too much to go into here.  Over the next few months, I'll share what we've been through as residents in Colorado, a state that had ten active wildfires burning simultaneously this summer!

But today, I'm beginning something new and exciting and much more fun than all of the above.  It will be an enjoyable project to help me ease back into blogging.  I am participating in Susannah Conway's August Break.  It is a challenge to publish at least one new photo each day during the month of August.  Some days I'll add a few sentences to explain the photos.  Other busier days the photos will have to speak for themselves.

August begins with a retreat at the Loretto Center in Littleton, Colorado.  Although I've never attended before, this is an annual event put on by Kathleen Adams. This year, Dana Reynolds is co-facilitating with Kay.  After the summer I've had, the retreat is nourishing and enriching.  It is preparing me for our imminent move to the Oregon coast.

But more on that later!

What has YOUR summer been like?  Do you have links or photos to share?  Would love to know -- share below.  And see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weeds in the Grass

I'm in the throes of first love.

There are mole holes in the backyard and weeds in the grass.  Slugs crawl up the exterior walls of our house, leaving trails of a yellowish slime.

It has at least misted if not all out rained every day for a week.

And still ...

All I feel is love and impending sadness at the thought that we will be leaving here tomorrow.

I'll miss my son who now lives only a two-hour drive east of here.

I'll miss the quiet.  The lush green.  The rolling ocean waves seen faintly from our front windows if the fog hasn't moved in.

I'll miss the stands of alders and waist-high ferns on the hill behind the house.  And the creek so hidden by the overgrown foliage at the far edge of the yard that we only know its presence by the sound of it.

Perhaps especially I'll miss the me I am in this place:  calm, creative, content.

What do you most miss when you leave -- even for a little while -- the place you love?  Do you feel you are more yourself in some places than in others?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rainy Days and Slugs

Whenever I fall in love -- whether with a place, a person or a thing -- I tend to minimize the negatives.  Perhaps we all do this to some extent.  If we didn't we'd probably never fall in love at all.  And I've had enough experience now to believe that we don't love in spite of defects or foibles, but because of them.  That's what makes what we love human if they are, well, human.  And that's what makes them unique if what we love is a place or a thing.

I'm telling myself this as I get used to long, chilly rainy days here on the Oregon coast.  When my husband, George, and I arrived at the beginning of May our weather was glorious -- almost two solid weeks of temperatures in the mid to high sixties, deep blue skies, and not a drop of rain in this place where pretty much everyone told me to expect constant rain.

Still, it isn't the rain I'm afraid I won't learn to love.  After all, rain gives me the opportunity to cuddle up by a fire with a good book and drink lots of hot herbal tea.

I'm afraid I will never, ever get used to living in a place with slugs!  Slugs as, I kid you not, as big as cats.  Slugs everywhere: crawling up the outside walls, curling up under the ferns or the flowering rhododendrons, hanging out on the back patio.

No one told me about the slugs, only the weather.  When I look at them it's difficult not to recall the slimy leaches at the Wisconsin lake we went to every summer as kids.  They'd maneuver themselves from the bottom of our rowboat and onto our bare feet and calves when we weren't paying attention.  We wanted to boat, but we didn't like leaches.  I want to live at the coast, but I don't like slugs.  In fact I hate slugs.

I'm trying to remind myself when I see yet another slug, that no place or person we love is perfect.  It's usually the little things we dislike the most -- and I'm trying to categorize slugs as a little thing.  There's the proverbial raised toilet seat or the wrongly-squeezed toothbrush tube.  It might be beard clippings in the sink or the way he chews his food or loads the dishwasher.  You probably have a list of your own irritations.

I'm also remembering how once I was afraid of spiders and now I'm not; that I couldn't drink ice tea without sugar and now I can; how I was terrified to fly and now I don't mind it at all.  Perhaps I can learn to love slugs, or tolerate them a little, or love the Oregon coast despite the fact that I'm going to have to share it with these disgustingly oozy-looking, large things.  

When I learned about spiders and bats and how necessary and good they are for the environment, they stopped scaring me.  Sometimes all we need in order to change hate and fear into acceptance and even, perhaps, fondness and love, is knowledge.

I can put up with the rainy days because I know that without them we wouldn't have the lush, emerald beauty of the forest that edges the ocean here at the coast.  Without rainy days, there is an increased threat of wildfires as has been happening all over the American West these last few weeks.

So I'm wondering if perhaps I can learn exactly what it is slugs are good for and then like them a little.  I don't know.  But I'll do some research and get back to you on that.

Help me out here.  Do you know anything good about slugs?  Is there something you once hated and now you like?  Has learning about something changed fear or hate to respect or love for you?  If so, let me know in the comments.  I can use all the help I can get.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where is your creative place?

Crow Island Woods was an elongated, rounded at its edges, strip of land – a slight mound actually – behind the low-slung, single-storied, yellow-bricked, big-windowed elementary school I attended in the late 50s and early 60s.

The woods were farther out from the school even than the chain-link fenced-in playground with its wood-chipped surface, its canvas-seated swings, rings, and jungle gym. Crow Island Woods stood green and welcoming on the far side of the school’s playing field with its patches of grass and dirt and baseball diamonds. These woods were what Lesley, my best and only friend, and I considered our haven, a wooded sanctuary sacred as any church.

Every recess and lunch period we escaped to this tiny patch of forest from Mrs. Gellar’s third grade classroom. We didn’t like third grade much, because Mrs. Gellar often called on us to respond to questions we rarely had the answers for, and where bigger and more boisterous boys and girls teased us for our skinny legs and fat pigtails.

None of the other kids ever went into our woods, as we called them. They stayed on the playground and field to play games with their friends. Four to five times each day, if you counted before and after school, we were alone among the low hanging branches thick with leaf as spring reached into summer, or bare and crispy in midwinter.

Lesley and I sat ourselves on tree roots big as benches beneath our small bodies and worked on an ongoing saga – an epic tale based on the life we wished to be living in a time and place we would have much preferred to inhabit.

With our fat 3-ring, wide-ruled notebooks (red for me and blue for her) we made up our conception of an ideal society loosely based on the tribes of the American Indians that we were currently studying in school. We created our own secret language and drafted the laws of our world. Loud boys and stuck-up girls were refused entrance to our tribal lands. We stationed guards at all entry points.

The laughter and screams of our classmates in the field and playground beyond our sanctuary faded as we debated whether our society should have school teachers and priests, or if perhaps they too should be banned. As we focused on the details of our ongoing story and inhaled the heady fragrances of the cool mulch and sun-warmed leaves, we invariably missed the school bell calling us back to class. One of us would suddenly notice that the calls and laughter of the other children had stopped. Everything was silent except for the occasional chirp of a bird or the rustle of the breeze through the trees. Our classmates had returned to class and we were late again.

Crow Island Woods was not the first or only place I connected the outdoors with creativity. Nor was I the only child to do so. But because I had very few friends and was lonely much of the time, I retreated to the worlds of nature and fantasy perhaps more quickly and more often than most. Today I’m rarely if ever lonely and most of my solitude comes about by choice. Still, I find that love of a place – a special wood or field or beach – feeds my creative spirit like no building ever could.

Tell me, are you also fed by the natural world? Do you have a special place that feeds your creative spirit? If you've lost the connection you once had and are hungry to find it again or, perhaps, discover it for the first time, I'd love to know.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It Begins

I began this year determined to make it one of self-discovery and exploration.  I was going to focus on ME and what I wanted and needed.  It sounds a bit self-absorbed, I know, but I'd been living in a fog probably since my 60th birthday, two years before -- feeling like I was merely going through the motions of day to day living and had lost my joy, my sense of purpose and curiosity.  I needed something to shake up my world, but was afraid to hope for this something.  I was frightened that if I asked for more than I already had, I'd be given experiences too overwhelming or painful.

Still, nothing felt exciting.  Unusual for me, nothing piqued my interest.  I imagine this is what depression feels like and if so, I have even more empathy for those who suffer from it.  I couldn't seem to get myself excited or hopeful about anything.

I signed up for online programs like Cat Caracelo's Vision Quest and Tara Mohr's Playing Big.  I took Jen Louden's Shero's Journey and Teach Now.  I wanted something, anything to awaken me, to make me feel hopeful and positive again.  And I trust these wise women.  They've shaken me up before, awakened me through their teachings.  I knew if anyone could set me on fire with renewed passion and commitment, it would be them.

I also signed up for photography courses led online by Kat Sloma and Susannah Conway, yoga with Marianne Elliott and Anna Guest-Jelley.  I committed to A Year with Myself and did personal coaching with Melissa McCreery.  All helped, I think.  Every one of these courses and teachers helped me to understand that it isn't self-absorption to search for authentic dreams, discover them, go after them, and take good care of yourself on the way to achieving them.  I learned to look to myself for the answers for me, rather than to ask others for the answers.  I learned that friends and colleagues, mentors and teachers, can guide but never dictate what it is that I should be doing.

Oh, it is SO difficult for me to admit this.  I'm thinking now that YOU will all be thinking --it's taken her THIS long to figure it out?  But the truth of it is that it has taken me this long.  And perhaps my willingness to listen to the wisdom of others and to take the time and space needed to explore my creativity and inner longings is why what happened next, happened.

What happened is that in February -- only a month into my year of my very big challenge -- I fell in love.  My falling in love has set me on a new adventure.  It is why my life has turned upside down virtually overnight and everything feels chaotic and topsy-turvy and out of control.  Love can do that.  Love can make you want to change everything, give up long-held beliefs, toss out the tried and true for the unknown and the new.

What happened to me in February is that I fell deeply, drastically, abruptly in love with a place.  Many of us think of falling in love much too narrowly.  We think of it only as something we can do with another human being, a person usually of the opposite sex, or perhaps a pet or our newborn baby.  But love is so much richer and deeper than that.  It can be for non-human beings other than our pets, for plants, flowers, trees, and places. Places like the wild Oregon coast and a tiny coastal town with a funny name -- Yachats(Ya-Hots).  I fell in love the coast and with Yachats and because I did, my life, and my husband's life, changed virtually overnight.

I've fallen in love and everything has changed.  We bought a house in a week and returned home to Colorado to begin the process of closing down one phase of our lives and opening another.

And now it seems important to begin a new blog dedicated to this new love.  I want this blog to be a space to post photos and to write about the changes as they occur.  I want to share with you what I delightfully discover about this place as I get to know her better.  I want you to love her, too.  But more than that, I want to encourage you through my story to find your own magical place -- or animal or flower or tree or river or sea -- to love.  I want you to learn, too, that no matter what happens in your life with your human loves, you can choose to be in love anyway and always.  Perhaps we can have a conversation about it, and you can tell me of your loves with places of the earth -- places with trees you love to embrace, waters whose depths you want to explore, or mountains you long to scale.  Or you can talk to me of species different than our own that you deeply, passionately love and want to protect or even save.  In other words, I'll tell you about my love and you can tell me about yours.