I am ripping up the floorboards. Going deep. Clearing?out what no longer serves me. Keeping only what brings me joy. It started with the desire to lose the carpet, despite all the good times we’ve shared. Now almost everything I own is boxed in the garage awaiting sorting and my empty house feels as spacious as sky freshly painted. ?A stack of local tan oak?seasons in the living room. We’ll lay it down this weekend my brother and I. Its going to be beautiful and enduring when we’re done. ?It feels good to be both staying deeply put and starting over, all at once.

Year’s half way over people and it looks like I have not done shit when in fact its been 6 months of rich and challenging and beautiful and big love.? Here’s a quick one-shot rundown of some of the best moments:

Put my journal for the year together on a fun art night with Kyrrha and Lynn.

Updated my online profile with this photo Dona caught at Erin’s MFCC graduation.

Spent an awesome week with at the Low’s farm while Bonnie recouped from neck surgery and I taught her to knit so she wouldn’t go crazy sitting around.

Visited the largest herdshare in California in Cottonwood to pick up their bottles and drank delicious raw milk all week.

Hoed rows and fed farm animals and got a little love back in return.

Moved Natascha into her new place with Zachiah (which thank goodness is less than? half mile away). Our 8 years together were the longest she’d lived anywhere in her adult life and it felt like I’d lost a limb her moving out.

Tag teamed with my bros to support my mom through a surgery and rehab. She was a champ!

Hiked the Venatanas with Saskia as spring sprung.

Found a great new roomate Lynn and hung prayer flags with her outside my place.

and then proceeded to add two more roommates – rescued brother Mackerel tabbies Benny and Che.

Got invited to Assembly’s soft opening, rubbed shoulders with who’s whos and dined grandly with Jen.

Spent time with my boy Syd and the DeQuincy’s before my last tattoo appointments.

Sent my brother and his wife away for the weekend so me and the blondies could party down in the Cruz.

Got the Bean to myself a whole evening and took her out to sushi.

Meditated with Pema Chodron and the Sakyong in Richmond. Threw open wide the big doors? there so the year of the horse could come racing through.

Yoga meditated with Rosanne and Talya at Green Gulch Farm after a great dinner evening in SF with Tracy and Richard the night before.

Rocked out at the Shark Tank with pops, Kath, Jen, Dona and Gary in great seats at the Sting Paul Simon show.

First backpack trip of the year at the Point Reyes National Seashore with Saskia and Jen.

Camp Tequila Mockingbird alt-Strawberry Memorial Day at Camp Loma. Spent all night Sunday round the fire on the snare with the wire brushes singing my heart out.

Badminton, creek swimming and a visit from Lise and Natascha for our Italian potluck feast on our last night there.

What’s become a traditional New Year’s hike up Chalk Mountain reflecting on the blessings sent from Sarah and Ty Powers for the New Year for my heart and yours:

“Let’s invite in the potential to meet this mystery of life with aliveness, vowing to renew our courage and commitment to meet what is ours to meet, to give ourselves whole heartedly to this ephemeral life, to this day, to this moment.
We want to send you each our heart felt blessings and support, encouraging you to renew your connection to yourself by dedicating time each day for body/heart/mind practice. May we each recognize a soft-hearted lucid clarity of being and become of enormous benefit to each other and to all beings.”

Closing the year I wanted to do a quick shout out to some of the sweet amazingness of the past few months that I have not blogged on at all in these quieter times.

May 2014 bring me continued joy in my tribe and my place in the world.

Inspiring Naomi Shihab Nye poetry reading and delish Saturn Din with the ladies after

Lots of time outside in the scary dry but sweet warm weather

Hosted my first Thanksgiving at my mom’s new coastside clubhouse. Two turkeys came out perfect!

Ben’s birthday ride at Wilder to find “thousands of birds”. We did, and a fern grotto cave too.

Caught the last day of a historic whale watching season for our Monterey Bay. Felt their breath!

Flashmob meditation before Thay’s talk in Oakland.

\Lise’s new Ice Bat mobile took us for a ride.

Heather and I caught the Stockings Cabaret, my third year running.

Visited the blondies at their new old doublewide in Old San Benito (Paicines). Played on swings, monkeybars and ice.

Felt like a who’s-who getting invited to the Farmer’s Market end of year celebration with food by the Truck Stop, a bluegrass band, an altar room at the front of the Portuguese Hall and a full bar in back.? Good friends all around.

Epic California Honeydrops house concert at the Big Basin Vineyard estate on the eve of the eve

Last day of the year sunset from Crow’s Nest patio, New Year’s Eve

No pics from a sweet Christmas Eve at Don and Cindy’s and an equally sweet Christmas Day here with dad, Kath and the Blondies.? No pics showing that Natascha is moving out and I may be moving on from my condo.? More on that to come in 2014 I suppose. Until then, stay tuned.

Monday I become the sea anenome and everything I need floats right through my tentacles on the tide.

Later I become the Monarch that knows the way, never having flown the path before.

On the cushion I enter the space of the enso.

“The greatest of all yogas is letting go” ~ Tias Little

This shit takes courage.

This shit takes kindness; how tender the letting-go heart.

Today I was just me, unfolding right now.

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously, who we were born to be.” – Anne Lamott

November Prajna Yoga Intensive with Tias Little, Djuna Mascall and Brenda Proudfoot, Esalen, CA

Its all his fault. My work in October was exciting but intense.? Long hours researching the beginnings of Ecology Action’s philanthropy initiative and train rides to Sacramento to pitch the Green Business Program.? I landed at this retreat with Tias and dropped into rest and quiet and reflection and a deep internal release of tension I had not known I carried. Tears in meditation, and peace.? I came home and stopped training for my half marathon and started meditating every morning for a half hour.? I? stopped scheduling myself so much and started looking for a sangha to sit with. I stopped thinking so much and started feeling more. I stopped posting to my blog and got off Facebook and started paying more attention to my real daily life. Its been a profound change in the full sense of the word, as in a big change but the quiet deep waters kind Juan Ramon Jimenez talks about.*

Thank goodness.

For that and the deepened friendship with Talya and newfound dharma friends in Dawn, Erin, and Lorien I am ever so grateful.

* “I have a feeling that my boat has struck, down there in the depths, against a great thing. And nothing happens! .silence….waves….Nothing happens? Or has everything happened, and we are standing now, quietly, in the new life?” ~ Juan Ramon Jimenez

Peregrine and grouse at Precipice Lake and again, fast flier, over the Big Arroyo, wind from Little Five Lakes almost blowing me off the granite nose. Spiral cypress survivor bursting up into the cerulean sky out of a crack in the rock.

Lake jumps and river dunks and happy grownups at play in this wide precious wild world.

Nutcrackers, little yellow birds and the lark-y small ones so high up. Raven, paired, and mallard and chickadees teasing “cheese-burger” three days in.

Sage and twinberry and bigelow of course, nodding over the dippers working the river.

Juncos everywhere.

Long weightless cool of an afternoon swim at Morraine then the hot springs deep in the Kern River Gorge then the cool river again upcanyon.? After dark on the blocky granite perch breathing I’m alone in the wild warm wind watching Scorpio settle on the ridge, nothing but space all around.

Hawk again, almost a year later, over Big Sandy Meadow to greet me (my heart replies!) and a pair of nuthatch whirlygig amongst the foxtail to land chit chattering spiral chase up around a fat one.? Such sweetness in that meadow, the deep green rolling out toward the Kewehas on the horizon, again capped with cumuli promising a storm in the afternoon.

Then we are there, under Whitney, at Guitar Lake for a quick cold swim, a light dinner, and early to bed eying the impossible basin wall.

Up at 3 AM walking by 4, like some Everest movie, only the sound of our breathing and the small space of the headlamps. There were others up earlier, their passage marked by slow rising stars zig zagging up the mountain.

The lightest thing in the landscape at that hour are the lakes, something about the reflected starlight. At some point though, stopping to catch your breath in the thin air, you realize the lakes are suddenly the darkest thing, a flat slate.? In this way the coming day is invisible still but hinting at its arrival, graying up the landscape just so.? The color comes slowly after that, sepia and pastel, the shadow of the earth finally showing itself dusty periwinkle under the rose band of the first bend of light around the horizon.

We were up there in time, amongst the cockscomb peaks and notches, when the tangerine dawn burst all over us and the east faces of the highest southern sierra peaks. Breathless, and amazed.

I dedicated my ascent to Marla Reyes and Claudia Cook Boer. One recently victorious and the other just beginning the work to heal from cancer.? When I got tired or overwhelmed on the way up I just paused, thought of them, took a deep breath and the next step.? Their names are in the Whitney Register.

High Sierra Trail – 75 miles, 18,000′ elevation gain, 7 Days

Full pics here.

Itinerary (the most challenging hike I’d yet attempted):

Sunday Aug 11th
Drive to SEKI from Lone Pine approx hit trail time noon.
Wolverton trailhead to Nine Mile Creek, 8.5 miles 3,400 foot gain/3070 loss. Not the classic trailhead but much more scenic and less crowded. Likely to see bears on this stretch as well as in camp. Bear boxes at camp.

Monday Aug 12th
Nine Mile Creek to Precipice Lake,
8 miles 4,625 gain/2016 loss
One of the most gorgeous lakes in the Sierra? – the reason I came on this trip.

Tuesday Aug 13th
Precipice Lake to Moraine Lake
10.5 miles 2000 gain/2900 loss
Another good swimming lake, warm and glassy. Great sunrise and sunsets.

Wednesday Aug 14th
Moraine Lake to Kern Hot Springs
6.25 miles 216 gain/2668 loss
Camped short of hot springs on the Kern, avoided the crowds and mad a short trek to the spring to soak.

Thursday Aug 15th
Kern Hot Springs to cabin on Kern River 9 miles 2200 gain/153 loss
Cool old three sided cabin in camp along the Kern River

Friday Aug 16th
Cabin on Kern River to Guitar Lake
11 miles 4117 gain/1621 loss
Highest camp, amazing sunrise and sunsets again.

Saturday Aug 17th
Guitar Lake to Whitney Summit to Whitney Portal (beer and food!!!)
13 miles 5169 gain/8328 loss! Whew! 5 miles without a pack.

Stayed in Lone Pine at the Dow Villa again Sat night, filet mignon for dinner, drove to get cars Sunday morning the 18th and forever home.

Grateful to Paige for inviting me on her special birthday trip, to Rosanne for being my main hike buddy and my new friendships forged on this trip: Sarah, Todd, Michael, and Barbara (heart!)

Fleece, sweater, scarf mornings. Tank top rides home at dusk. Geese calling out overhead heard through the roof. Gaggle of fresh minted UCSC students meandering the river levee, excited, toward the sunset. Swimmers at the beach. Snow on the mountain. Dark morning runs, and, past the early dusk, candles.

Furlough day today. After yoga and a great real estate advisement lunch with Sid I rolled home excited to sun on the beach and swim, the weather so hot yesterday.? Turns out the warm had pulled the fog in so I met my girls instead at Pirate Ship (Twin Lakes) Park. A touch of sand and sheltered so better than the beach. We played on the slides and swings. We hung out with the official greeter park cat. We ran around the tennis courts giggling chasing tennis balls.

The Bean took one of the tennis balls and stood under the basket ball hoop craning her neck back to consider the hoop then looking back at us. I love it that that girl dreams big. I hope I can always help her reach those dreams as easily as I did today, lifting her up ever so close to the net.? When they left the cat and I stayed and sunned for hours; she napping, me reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior until the sun was too low in the sky to warm the skin.? Reluctantly I pulled myself up from my sarong on the lawn, donned my jean shorts and hat again, and rolled the block home. Happy. Warm. Rested. Smiling – the weekend still ahead – when I got home I pulled on a skirt and headed out into the heart of Friday night.

I had two love affairs last summer that were out of this world. Captured my heart like I’d never known. Got down deep under my skin.? Stayed there.? Broke me open and change me good.? The one I got to keep involved a piece of granite 400 miles long, 70 miles across and more than a few miles deep.? That one is luscious with only 6 feet of topsoil supporting life on it.? That one I got to revel in again this weekend.

What moved me most was the mind-stopping vast stillness of clouds parked at sunset over Potter Peak reflected in the Lyell Fork of the Tuolomne. Everything in my peripheral vision hummingly quietly alive.? So deeply still you can’t help but settle into your seat on the broad meadowed bank until you are just bones and breath.

Startled by an ear-flap-splash you spy an oh-so-new fawn swimming circles around mama as they make their way across the current to browse the sweet willows on the far bank. Pulls you back out of yourself and into the sky, growing dusk and sunset, bringing in the cool evening that pulls you back to camp, and the campfire, and the warmth for you there in the flames and the whiskey and the faces.

Up not-so-early for a stroll up the canyon and a 2,000 foot pull up toward Donahue Pass.? Hang a right turn off the JMT and slab and talus hop your way up to the unnamed lake the Lyell Peak baggers base camp at before tackling the mountain. The sky is collecting itself so you set up camp, but warm enough for a naked jump into what looks like a sky of a lake at 11,200 feet and coming up with a shout that echos off the basin walls.

Like clockwork at 3 PM the gods start their bowling match around the basin.? After an hour or so the Big Guy finally shows up and shit gets serious. The sky opens up and its all dump and instantaneous lighting/thunder right overhead.? The sound blossoms around, circling the rim of the canyon and out over the valley in broad sideways lightning arcs.? Hard rain turns to harder hail, over an inch of it coming down as we humble under the thin nylon shells of our tents.? Those without company wish we had some to share the excitement.? We poke our heads out as it quiets a few hours later and you asked Fred if he wants to borrow your pen.? When he looks perplexed, you say, “to cross that one off your bucket list” as he grins back.

Under the clearing evening skies you clamber over the shoulder to peer down into the McClure lakes basin and watch the last of the light dance through the valley, up along Kuna Crest, and lay itself all over Donahue. The moonlit cloudscape guides you back to sweet camp conversation and stars. Sleep comes easy lullabyed by waterfall in the bright basin.? Morning arrives all full of clean light and sees you all the way out, river swim snack breaks along the way.? You head downhill to home to watch the sun set at sea level, remembering watching it rise at heavenly heights just that morning, in this season of summer, with more Sierra love affair ahead.

Happy me (thanks Michael for the portraits).? Full set of pics here.

? ?The mountains provide a new solitude”, he wrote ” ? It wasn?t solitude for its own sake or in fearful withdrawal; it was solitude for the sake of more acutely perceiving ?the Real Thing” and to be real alongside it.”

– from Hammarskjold – A Life by Roger Lipsey, c. 2013

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can?t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

?Margaret Atwood (from Morning in the Burned House)

Thanks, as ever, to Luke Storms

(Photo: National Geographic pic of the famous Yosemite Firefall, 1958, off Glacier Point)

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