Maren

Back to Portland, after a lovely California refresher

1/28/23

I looked down from my airplane window this afternoon—I was lucky to have a window seat, with an empty middle seat next to me, on an otherwise almost full flight—to see what I’m nearly certain was Crater Lake below. I had never seen Crater Lake before, except in photos, and it was so beautiful to witness from above, especially ringed as it was by snow.

This was an apt visual metaphor for my transition back to the cold here in Portland after temps in the high 60s this past week in the Los Angeles area.

I’m so glad I took this little trip. I got to connect with my cousin Nathalie (the last time I saw her was more than a year ago, as I was just embarking on my travels) and a dear friend and his wife in Pomona, and I also met many new friends in the Santa Monica area.

I also connected with several cute kitties and doggies, and got my fill of sunshine and ocean views.

This was the reset I was needing.

For the month of February, I’ve got four cat sits lined up here in the Portland area, all seamlessly linked, so I’m excited to experience some adorable and snuggly kitties (two of whom are toilet trained!) and some new-to-me living spaces.

I’ll also be continuing to flesh out my new travel dream, from this coming May to the following May, hopefully around most of the US and a bit of Canada, plus a big chunk of Europe!

I’ll also be dreaming into how to manifest the financial and logistical means to do this. I’ve been thinking a lot of about living my life from mamnoon energy, and will probably write more about that soon.

For now, I’m basking in the afterglow of my California days, and looking forward to these next few months here in Oregon. I’m also energized, as always, to support anyone who may feel drawn to connecting for an hour by phone or video chat, to explore your dreams and/or challenges. I do this for free these days, as my primary contribution to life, and always enjoy supporting people in their thriving. If you or someone you know might like an hour of this supportive energy, feel free to drop me a line!

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Arriving in California

1/21/23

I made it!

I’m in Santa Monica, sitting on the couch next to a beautiful big kitty girl named Fiona.

It has been quite a roller coaster to get here.

I initially dreamed up the idea to come to LA a little more than a month ago, when I received an email from Amtrak telling me that I was just a few hundred points shy of the 10,000 points needed to reach Select Plus status for 2023. I had been at Select status for the past five years (5,000 points) but never made it to this next tier. (All three tiers—Executive being the highest of the three—are based on miles traveled, and cannot be reached by simply using the Amtrak Mastercard for other purchases, although doing so still accrues points to be used for future travel.)

I knew I’d probably never be able to get as close to Select Plus as this, since I had spent so much of 2022 taking long train segments between cities.

So, I began to dream up a trip to LA to give myself just the right number of points. Select Plus would mean a variety of perks, including a 50% point bonus on travel taken in 2023.

I’ll spare you all the back-and-forth, but I planned many different versions of this journey, and worked hard to manifest $600 to pay for the one-way trip with a sleeper car. (Some of you reading this contributed some of that money; thank you again!) I would use almost all my 15,000 saved-up points to pay for the return trip.

But the relentless rain north of Sacramento made the tracks impassable for some weeks, so my trip on the 10th was canceled. I rescheduled for the 16th. That was canceled too.

Meanwhile, I had committed to this cat sit. (The cat’s person—who, in another small-world twist, happens to hail from Virginia near my hometown—told me she was very glad to secure my commitment, because her previously scheduled sitter had just canceled, leaving her in the lurch and stressing her out. I didn’t want to put her in that position again, especially since her ski trip in the Rockies was fast approaching.)

So, despite my strong distaste for both the environmental impact and physical discomfort and boredom of flying, I went ahead and booked a flight.

All went smoothly with the flight, and two days ago I arrived here with Fiona.

The first night, I had dinner with some Portland friends who coincidentally were in Venice for a few days. (They had been among the contributors to my “California fund,” so it was extra poignant and fun to have dinner with them, at a vegan Thai restaurant a few blocks away from this condo.)

The condo, by the way, is about two blocks away from the beach. The actual, Pacific Ocean beach! It’s so cool to be here.

The next day, yesterday, I met Karen, the new friend of my awesome Berkeley friend Mimi who always introduces me to wonderful people. Those two had just enjoyed a vegan safari in Botswana, which has inspired Mimi to help a local man in Botswana—one of their tour guides—to start up a nonprofit to help local people there to have access to solar electricity. (Many homes in that area have no electricity at all, nor even access to clean drinking water.)

Karen and I enjoyed some coffee drinks and pastries at a local Venice vegan shop and café.

Afterward, we walked the nearby canals of Venice. (Yesterday I learned that Venice, California was named after the Italian city, because of these canals!)

What should we encounter along the canal walkway but a string of Christmas lights almost identical to those I wrote about in my vulnerable post a few days ago. What a synchronicity.

Yesterday evening, I took the bus to the Co-opportunity Market, about two miles away here in Santa Monica, where I stocked up on fresh produce and beans to make my own meals while I’m here with Fiona.

This afternoon, I headed out to the walking path along the beach, where I strolled north to the Santa Monica Pier, then a few blocks south, before turning back to get inside before dark.

I savored the setting sun through the trees.

Tomorrow, I’m doing a session with a friend in the southern hemisphere, then meeting a new local friend to attend a musical theater production about the life of Doris Day. I will probably cap off the day by meeting another local friend to attend a screening of the new documentary about Moby, the vegan electronic musician who owns a restaurant here in LA.

I’m so glad I’m here. I needed this.

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The rainbow network

Photo credit Alexander Grey

1/18/23

I think it may finally be time to write publicly about a profound experience I had a few years ago. This experience added clarity to my life. I have had a few related experiences since then, and I feel they are all building the narrative of my life going forward. I may share others later.

I have told certain close friends and like-minded folks about this experience, but I have never had t the courage—nor felt the calling—to share it more widely, until now. It feels edgy to me, in a variety of ways, to do so. Various people I know might not feel comfortable or supportive about various parts of the story. And I do value community support, and I sometimes struggle with conflict, or having people disagree with me, so writing and sharing this is edgy for me.

But… I’ve been having a very quiet and plain time in my life for the past couple of months, since I re-settled into Portland for the winter, and especially since I fractured my foot, while the weather has also been mostly inhospitable for outdoor activity. (The good news: the fracture seems to have healed well, and I’m on my way to sunny California for a week tomorrow!) My year of travels was fairly bursting every day with joy and/or good-story-making challenges. I haven’t had much to share lately. I would like to share more.

At this new quiet, slow point of my life, I am choosing to trust that I am continually deepening my connection to my life’s calling. And I now believe that part of that includes stepping more fully and visibly into my truth.

So… here is the story.

About four or five years ago, I was taking my annual winter mini-vacation in San Diego, to exchange the Portland rain and cold for some warmth and sunshine. For about ten years, I did some version of this three- or four-day trip, sometimes taking the train one way and flying back, other times maximizing my “away time” by flying both ways, despite my dislike of flying on multiple levels.

Often, when I would travel there, I would instantly arrive in “vacation mode,” loving the weather and surroundings, meeting up with friends, enjoying Balboa Park and vegan restaurants, and maybe spending some time enjoying the Pacific out at Ocean Beach or Encinitas.

Part of this vacation mode often included jumping onto Tinder, because the idea of a winter SoCal fling always felt exciting, like it would just kick the whole vacation up another notch.

However, for the previous few years when I had tried that in San Diego, I had never found any Tinder matches. I always felt a bit disappointed about that.

In this particular case, I was staying in a room at an Airbnb in a woman’s house. The woman had a housemate, and we had all three had some nice chats.

I wanted to get on Tinder again. Could this be the year when I would finally find someone to have some fun with?

I fired up the app and started swiping.

Nope, nope, nope, nope… I started to feel the familiar “Tinder malaise.” The feeling of, Ugh, who are these people?

No one stood out to me.

Then I kind of caught myself, and had a sudden epiphany.

Something felt wrong about my own energy. My own approach to this “mission.”

I wasn’t being present enough. I wasn’t holding a vision of what I actually was seeking, but rather just mindlessly swiping. I suddenly felt myself giving myself some direction:

“Maren, what you need to do is put down the phone for a few minutes. Really think about what you’re seeking here. Visualize a face—and an energy—that is what you would really, optimally like to find to connect with. Swipe through the faces more consciously. And only swipe right if you see one that feels right like that.”

I was struck by my own wisdom. (Was it even my own, or was I tapping into something larger?) This seemed like good advice. I followed it. I spent about five or ten minutes with the phone down, and my eyes closed, feeling into the sort of face and energy I was looking for, to have a satisfying connection with, if only briefly.

After this, I felt at peace, but also energized. I was ready to pick up the phone again.

When I reopened Tinder, I swiped more intentionally through the first few faces I saw. And lo and behold! It was only the third or fourth of the men I saw who struck me as a match with what I had envisioned.

I swiped right.

And he matched with me!

This was rather unusual. Normally on dating apps, I had found very few I was willing to swipe right on. And when I did, probably only half of them swiped right on me.

But here was this match.

I messaged him immediately, and he messaged me right back. We seemed a very good energetic fit.

Awesome!

Was he available right now? Sadly, no, he had plans that evening. But the next night was open for both of us.

The next day I looked forward to the date all day. We met for a drink after dinner, at a cool tiki dive bar in the neighborhood that he suggested. We sank into a huge booth in a dark corner, and each ordered a drink, which we proceeded to nurse for the next two to three hours.

Our conversation was wonderful! The chemistry seemed to be flowing, as we flirted and talked about sexuality, but also about spirituality, some paranormal experiences he had had, music, art, and a variety of other topics.

We were clearly vibing. This was exactly what I had set out to manifest.

Awesome!

We decided to leave the bar and head out into the warm night. We were near Balboa Park, and we walked toward it for a few blocks, arriving under some trees in the lamplight.

This turned into an awkward moment, as we kissed, and then discovered that neither of us had a private residence to invite the other back to. Each of us had assumed the other did.

Doh!

We couldn’t waste this vibe, though, could we?

After a moment, he smirked and said, “Well… I’ve got my car…”

I laughed, and then decided, Why not? I never really had a misspent youth with “car experiences,” so why not try it now, in my late 40s?

I’ll spare you the details, but we had a kind-of-fun, also-rather-awkward caper in his car on a quiet street.

Afterward, we felt like talking, so after he drove me back to my Airbnb, we stayed in the car and chatted for another half hour or so.

We said goodnight and he drove off, and I returned indoors, giddy from the evening’s unfoldings. This is what I had been wanting every year! I felt so grateful to have had the wonderful conversation and connection, and to believe that my own new, energetically guided and focused approach, had led me to this.

Surely I could apply this approach to various other aspects of my life as well…

The next morning, I was set to meet up with a friend who lived north of town, who would drive down to meet me at the Hillcrest Farmers Market. We would shop a bit there—she was vegan too, and I understood there were various vegan stalls at the market—and then we would go to a new vegan brunch spot nearby to check it out.

I was excited to see her, and especially to share the exciting story of my previous night! I knew she would appreciate the story.

I set out on foot for the farmers market, but sadly it was raining, which was really annoying to me since I had explicitly planned this trip to escape Portland’s rain.

At least I had a rain jacket, though, and the temperature was mild.

But before I reached the market, I got a text from her saying that traffic on the freeway would delay her by about half an hour.

Argh!!

I felt my emotions instantly doing a 180, changing my excitement and anticipation into anger and frustration. Why was traffic ruining our plan?? I had timed everything out to work just right!

Ugh!!

I noticed what was happening to me, though, and tried to reframe it:

“Maren, take a deep breath. She’s still coming. You’ll still have brunch. You’re on vacation, you’re not at work… just go with the flow! You know what you love? Parks! Why don’t you look at the map on your phone and see if there is a nearby neighborhood park?”

Dutifully, I whipped out Google Maps.

And what should I discover, much to my surprise, but that there was a little “spur” of Balboa Park within a five-minute walk.

I love that park. It’s one of my favorite city parks. The cactus garden, in particular, is a special spiritual place for me. Every time I visit San Diego, I make a point to go and sit there for a spell, to meditate on my life, where I am, where I want to go, etc.

I had done so, just a day or two before.

But this was a whole other section of the park. I had looked at the map of the park many times over the years, noticing its large square shape, but often overlooking this small spur on the northwestern corner.

But here it was, calling to me. I could go over there right now.

When I arrived, I found this section to be unlike most other sections of the (admittedly quite varied) park. It was rather hilly/canyon-like, and looked a bit messy in the mud from the rain. It was forested, with eucalyptus and other trees, and a muddy pathway along the side of a hill. The topography, mud, and cloudy skies lent the whole place a vaguely otherworldly air, as did its desolation: aside from one couple I saw briefly walking through, I had this section of the natural area all to myself.

I began walking the path, enjoying the feel of the place, and reminiscing about the powerful and inspiring conversation from my date the previous night. One of the things we had talked about was my sexuality, and how I feel it is an important part of my power in the world, even though it’s not always clear—to me or others—exactly how. But it felt like an important realization to speak and be witnessed about.

I thought about this again as I walked the path, and it felt profound.

As I continued along the hillside, I suddenly had a vision that stopped me in my tracks. The vision was unrelated to my sexuality, but felt equally profound.

I had been thinking about politics, and social media, and the polarization of cultural dialogue. It was—and remains—a painful topic for me. I have always believed in standing up for one’s beliefs, and for what is “right” and just in various ways. At the same time, I have always recoiled from conflict. This growing cultural zeitgeist of fighting on social media about political and cultural issues had been gnawing and tearing at me for some months and years.

As I stood there on the path, I suddenly got a visual, of myself as a Christmas light bulb. Like the traditional-shaped ones from my ‘70s and ‘80s childhood. Specifically, a dark green one.

I visualized my heart, and also my entire energetic being, as a slowly, softly glowing green Christmas light bulb. Radiating light and love. Not fighting.

I felt some tears beginning to well up. This felt really powerful. I felt that my role in life was to glow softly but powerfully as a Christmas light bulb. To lead with my heart. To lead with love. To care about and speak in favor of justice, yes, but to mainly—for my own part—glow my love and light.

I sensed/reflected that people are all different. Perhaps archetypes are a good way to describe it. Some people live as warriors. Their highest and best calling includes openly, and frequently, fighting for their beliefs. This is necessary in a society, a culture. These folks are an essential part of the ecosystem.

And… in that moment, I grokked and accepted that I am not a warrior, and that I should not allow myself to be shamed—internally nor externally—into believing that living as a warrior was the only righteous path, nor that it was the optimal path for me.

Mine was to shine and glow, as a being of light and love, and a beacon of such for others.

The tears started falling.

I soaked all this in.

I could feel how deeply powerful this message was for me. I made a point to stand still in that spot, taking it in for as long as I thought I needed for it to stick.

After a few moments, I felt ready to walk on. I basked in this glowing-light visual as I continued along the path.

And when I rounded the next bend—and found myself on the other edge of the spur, and recognized this edge as one I actually had walked a few times over the years—another, equally powerful, visual struck me.

Have you seen those Christmas-light nets that you stretch over a bush, so that it kind of makes the bush appear to glow? I have seen them over the years, mostly with the small, more modern white lights that are more common these days.

The first time I had ever seen a net like this, though, was in December of 1995. I was visiting Salt Lake City for my first—and as of this writing, only—time. It was the Christmas season, of course, and one night I found myself walking within visual range of the Mormon tabernacle at the center of town.

The Christmas lights in the garden grounds around the temple mesmerized me. At the time, I had never seen anything like them; as of 1995, I think most Christmas displays around the US were more modest. Or if not modest, more gaudy than this. These garden lights were multicolored, and at once staggeringly lavish yet somehow subtle. I don’t know how well I can trust my memory, but my sense is that I saw several bushes fairly shimmering and glowing purple.

The scene was breathtaking.

Flash forward to Balboa Park again.

I stood there, frozen in my path again from this new vantage, with a new visual taking shape in my mind: A glowing network of multicolored Christmas lights forming a net around the orb that is Planet Earth.

Where were these lights? How far up, off the ground?

I struggled to recall my high school science to find the right descriptive terminology.

Was it the troposphere? The place where weather is formed?

That felt right somehow…

I visualized that this rainbow network encircled the earth somewhere around the troposphere.

Of course it wasn’t anything measurable by human instruments.

It was energetic.

Yet somehow deeply real.

I was one of these lights.

And there were many more of them.

Each light represented someone living on the earth who had the capacity to turn into one of these colorful lights.

But none of us were necessarily already doing so.

We were going about our dreary, earthly lives, doing mostly boring and non-meaningful activities. We were failing to use our precious, limited time and energy for its highest purpose.

I further felt a message come to me that I was to activate my own Christmas light. This was an important part of my life’s purpose.

The other part of my purpose was to identify other not-yet-lit Christmas lights from among the human population, and network with them. Help them to ignite their own glowing lights of love and hope, and help to hook us all up together into a network, all around and above the surface of the earth, which would then glow in a way it hasn’t been able to glow yet.

When a certain critical mass of glowing lights joined the network, the whole thing would glow, in a way that was energetically greater than the sum of its parts. This glow would be powerful enough to bring about some sort of non-linear and profound healing of humanity, and the earth and all its inhabitants.

Whoa.

This felt so real, and so powerful to me in the moment, that again I forced myself to stand still for about ten minutes while I visualized and felt the whole thing strongly enough that it would seep into my mind completely enough that I wouldn’t forget it.

I thought of how I might go about meeting these other light-bulb folks, and making connections with them and among them.

I thought of things like my sexuality—meeting aligned people on Tinder or in other ways, similarly to how I had done it the previous night—as well as other, seemingly very mundane ways, such as talking to people at bus stops or on public transit, whether city buses or long-distance trains. I also thought about various events I had organized over the years, such as gatherings I had hosted called MindTrust meetings, or later, Dream Into Change Salons. The purpose of these gatherings had been to pull people together to talk about their dreams and projects for making the world a better place, with the understanding that when people talk about such ideas in a small, supportive group, everyone benefits, and each idea or project gets amplified and more likely to come to fruition.

I was sure there were more ways of meeting and connecting these folks, too; these were just some initial thoughts.

What was clear to me was that this was my life’s purpose.

I didn’t have to understand it. I didn’t have to explain or justify it to anyone else.

It was just my “assignment.” It was what I was to do with my life energy.

So I’ve been doing this, as much as I have been able, ever since.

When I have talked or written about wanting to meet “magical people,” that can have various flavors of meaning, but mostly it means meeting people who feel aligned with this vision in some way. Fellow members of the rainbow network. I can usually feel it when I meet them.

A big part of my vision for my yearlong counterclockwise loop around the US was based on this vision as well.

So have been the “magical meetings” I have held with many people—all around the world—by phone or video chat.

I have spoken and written somewhat openly about these desires in the past few years, but I have kept the underlying structure relatively quiet until now.

It sounds kinda crazy. Very woo-woo. Perhaps, to some people, laughable.

I didn’t want any sort of negative feedback to flow back to me, possibly causing me to doubt myself or my vision. I know that for much of my life I have been very sensitive to others’ perceptions of me, and that can hold me back.

But now, it seems ever more important to me to keep moving powerfully into this mission. And I think an important part of that is to strengthen my own core and sense of self by allowing myself to be more visible about it.

I want to share more openly what it is that I am doing with my life.

This is it.

I expect I will share more later, as more unfolds.

But for now, thank you for reading this, and for witnessing me and my vision.

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Living a fulfilling life: my piece in an UpJourney article

1/6/23

I’m pleased to announce that my writing has been featured in this UpJourney article as one of several experts on the topic of how to live a fulfilling life. You have to scroll down a ways to get to my segment, but the advice from those above (and below) me is very inspiring and helpful as well; if you need a boost today, take a few moments to browse the article!

In any case, I hope you’re all leading fulfilling lives at this moment in time. All the best to you in the new year!

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Celebrating life’s twists and turns in a new year

How is life treating you all? I hope you are doing great.

I’m pretty much living the life of my dreams right now, and learning more and more to be willing and able to go with the flow.

The most recent example? I’ve been getting more and more excited about my California rail adventure, which is scheduled for January 10th through the 30th. So many people to see, beaches to enjoy, a cute cat to care for, and more time riding my beloved rails…!

And yet this morning, I read that heavy rains in California have canceled tomorrow’s run of the Coast Starlight—the train I’m planning to board next Tuesday. Apparently, the rain has rendered at least one section of track impassable.

I had been carefully noting all the rain in the LA area, hoping that it would be dried up by the time I arrived, so that I could enjoy sunny skies and easy bicycling. The forecast was leading me to feel cautiously optimistic about that.

I hadn’t considered the effects of the rain on rail infrastructure, though.

Oof.

I’m still really hoping that in these next five days, conditions will make it possible for me to take the trip as planned.

Because if not, I think I’ll need to make some major adjustments.

I really don’t want to fly, for multiple reasons. Adjusting to a future southbound train probably wouldn’t be possible; sleeper cars are sold out for the next little while.

So… if my train is canceled, I will sadly quite possibly scrap the whole trip.

This would be very sad… but at the same time, if that is what unfolds, then it’s what unfolds. I’ve actually been dreaming up a very ambitious future journey, and was wondering how I might be able to afford the train portion of it. (Well, actually, how I might afford any of it, but I’m trusting in the magic, once again!)

If this California trip were to be canceled, I would get a refund or credit from Amtrak for the cash I paid for the southbound leg, and presumably I could also get a credit for the miles I redeemed for the northbound return leg. That would set me much closer to my goal for this potential trip I’m dreaming up…

Which is as follows!

Take the train from Portland to Montreal in May, and see my favorite band Marillion again in one of their last remaining 3-day Marillion weekends.

Possibly stay in that area another week or two to quarantine—since I caught COVID at this past summer’s Montreal weekend, and could unfortunately do so again—and then hop a flight to London! (Yes, I prefer to avoid flying, but when crossing oceans it’s much harder to avoid.) I would love to spend June and July in the UK, then maybe a week or two in Ireland, then some time in the Netherlands, then maybe Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague… probably a few more places in Europe, TBD… then a city or two in Spain, then maybe Portugal for my birthday in November? Then return to the US, possibly even by container ship! I see there is one that arrives in North Carolina…

I could possibly spend time with family and friends in NC around Thanksgiving, and then who knows? Maybe take the train to Florida, then back through the South and Southwest, then up the west coast to Portland again in late spring or so?

Totally just brainstorming/dreaming here… but how cool would that be??

Before I dreamed up last year’s bike and train loop around North America, I had dreamed of spending the summer before my 50th birthday in Europe. Maybe I could just do it one year later?

We’ll see… but dreaming up this new plan has me feeling a little better about possibly missing out on California. (But I still hope I won’t—I do want to go there too!)

Meanwhile, I’ve really been settling into the groove of a Portland winter, and realizing that although the weather isn’t my favorite here this time of year, it is dramatically more bearable when one doesn’t have to commute by bicycle every day in it.

I’ve been staying mostly indoors, warm and cozy with friends and various furry creatures I’ve been caring for. 

I’m really enjoying continuing to live a nomadic lifestyle, even just here within Portland. I get to check out new neighborhoods, and revisit old ones.

I’m living much more frugally than during my travels, and mostly cooking my own meals now.

However, I do splurge on restaurant meals occasionally, as I find myself near different places in different neighborhoods. For example, I recently made it (finally!) to Ben & Esther’s, the vegan Jewish deli that opened here in Portland a few years ago, and now also has locations in Seattle and San Diego. 

My cream-cheese-and-carrot-lox bagel was scrumptious.

I’ve been working on editing my book, and also continuing to have magical meetings with people around the US and the world via video chats. I’m looking forward to manifesting more such meetings. (Anyone magical you think I should talk with? Feel free to make an introduction!)

Speaking of manifestation, I’ve been working on bringing about the perfect tenant for my furnished condo in SE Portland. The property has been sitting vacant since the last tenant moved out at the end of October, and I would love to get someone in there during January. I’ll share the listing here, in case you might know of an individual or couple who would appreciate a cozy furnished one-bedroom condo with central heat and internet included. (No pets allowed at this time—I’m preserving the beautiful and expensive couch the insurance money helped me to purchase after my flood!) But the place is perfect for a quiet individual or couple, and the lease could be as short as two months or as long as six months or possibly more. The building, neighbors, and neighborhood are great. Please help me to hold a vision that the perfect tenant(s) will arrive shortly.

And, if you’d like any help holding visions for yourself, please feel free to contact me for a totally free/no-strings one-hour video or phone chat. I love to help people dream big, and then bring the dreams to fruition!

All the best to you all in this new year!

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Winter solstice + some updates + offerings

12/20/22

Wow, has it really been nearly a month since I have written to you all? I apologize for my absence. The feeling of blogging after a day of travel, vs. blogging after a day with no travel, is more starkly different for me than you might imagine. I don’t have obvious “happenings” to report (and, especially, the photos to illustrate them) these days like I did when I was on the road.

My life has been much quieter since I landed back in Portland… and then fall weather set in… and then I fractured my foot. Perhaps this season has been an energetic reset that my psyche needs after my full-to-the-brim year of travel.

I want to acknowledge the solstice, though, and I’d like to share a bit about what my life has been like this past month.

I’ve been allowing myself to sink into the dwindling light and encroaching chill. Sometimes we can’t be in warm weather and brightly lit skies. Although I wish to maximize those in my life to the best of my ability, the slower and darker times are a natural part of life, so I’ve been choosing to embrace them this autumn.

I’ve been alternating between longer-term stays with several friends—roughly two weeks at a stretch—and short- to longer-term cat sits. Right now I’m in a two-week cat sit with an elderly glamour puss named Tess.

I’ve also been able to visit my former partner, now close friend, Johnny, in the prison in Salem several times now. I’ll be going again on Christmas Day. Sadly, his clemency application (begun two and a half years ago) was recently denied by outgoing governor Kate Brown, but he continues to find opportunities for meaningful work where he is. Building on the success of the incredible Japanese healing garden he spent five years bringing about, he is now working in the prison infirmary, to bring better healthcare and more contact with nature and plants to the patients—including several hospice patients—who spend time there.

My mind and heart have been full of two main themes this past season: mild fear of my financial situation, since I’m not conventionally “working” these days and my savings are diminishing… juxtaposed with a very powerful spiritual trust that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. Mostly I’m still not ready to speak openly about the details of this—“waiting is not yet filled,” as Robert Heinlein’s Martian character Smith so eloquently spoke in the sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land—but essentially, I feel I am to connect with people to support them and link them up together, around the world, for a larger purpose. “Getting a new job” holds less than zero interest for me in contrast to this life’s work. So, I am doing everything I can to make these human connections—and I’m averaging about one per day at this point, and could probably energetically handle two—and doing what I can to offer value to the human collective in the ways that feel most powerful to me… and trusting that the money will follow in various, possibly strange and unexpected ways. (One such way that has already happened: I worked hard to win a travel prize valued at over $1000 in a raffle, participating as much as I could in the group since participation increased the odds of winning… but I didn’t win the raffle. BUT, then the winner of the prize decided to give it to me (without my having said anything to him about it)! I consider this a form of fairy godfunding, and I continue to believe that more of it is coming my way, as I stay strong on this path for myself.

I have added one new professional offering, though: travel consulting! After being approached by a few friends and clients for advice about Amtrak travels, I thought it would be a great fit to offer both nuts-and-bolts help with navigating Amtrak’s routes and website, but also advice about bicycle or multimodal travel; how to find hosts to make it more personal; and also the “service” of simply holding encouraging space for people to dream up meaningful journeys for themselves. I’ve had one really fun and productive session so far, and I look forward to more! If you know anyone who might be interested in dreaming up or executing such a journey, feel free to send them my way.

And… I’m giving myself some warmth and sunshine soon, too! When Amtrak Guest Rewards contacted me recently to let me know I was only 618 Tier Qualifying Points shy of Select Plus status (which requires 10,000 TQPs—I’ve never reached this status before, but the past year’s travels brought me this close) I decided to splurge and get a ticket to Los Angeles in January. I plan to stay four nights each with my cousin and a new friend, and then four nights caring for a cat in Santa Monica, which is one of my favorite parts of LA.

I’ll return to Portland in late January, in time for some medical appointments in February.

Before I sign off here, I’d like to share another offering (and this one is totally free!) that I’m doing again this year: an hour-long video or phone call to hold space for people to reflect on this past year, and/or set intentions for the coming year. I am offering twelve of these, and have several left, so if this appeals to you, I would be honored to do one with you! Feel free to message me to schedule.

Meanwhile, I wish you all the happiest of holidays!

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New Patreon perk!

11/30/22

It’s been a while! I’ve been mostly taking it easy here in Portland, while my foot heals. I do plan to write more soon about some of my internal processes, but I’m not quite ready yet.

Meanwhile, though, it’s almost the end of the month, so I think this is a good time to mention (remind?) that I have a Patreon! It’s one part of the puzzle I’m piecing together to have some income while offering the healing and inspiration gifts I enjoy sharing with the world. And I’ve just added a new perk! At the $20/month level, patrons can receive up to four one-hour sessions per year of confidential empathetic listening, on any topic. (Maybe a check-in near each solstice and equinox, to reflect and set some new intentions in the presence of a supportive witness?) If this appeals to you, you can sign up—or update your existing pledge—here!)

For the past year, I was using the Patreon as an alternate platform to share my travel blog posts, and to make it easy for people who would like to support my journey financially with $5 or $10 per month, or whatever worked for them. (Thanks again to any of my patrons who may be reading this! You rock, and I appreciate you!)

This next phase of my life’s journey is a bit less clear: I’m physically grounded here in Portland for a while—possibly the whole winter—while I tend to some medical issues and do what I can to build up some income. So the photo-heavy, travelogue style of blogging isn’t as doable. But my life dream/purpose remains: to be someone who travels both physically and metaphysically/technologically, to experience and share beauty, and to offer a healing and inspiring presence to those I encounter.

As I have expressed before, the pay-for-service model for healing has never really resonated with me. I prefer the idea of offering my gifts as freely as I can, while accepting donations from anyone who supports what I do. This helps to decouple the support I offer from the support I receive; it feels more organic and heart-centered to me. (It’s not easy under our current capitalistic system, so what I’m about to share is necessarily imperfect. I’m sure I will continue to explore win-win ways of tweaking things.)

I’m not sure exactly what I will be offering on the Patreon in the next few months, in terms of writing or photography. I may lean into writing more introspective, deep-thoughts kinda stuff, about grappling with life. (I’m doing a lot of that these days, and I know others are too, and perhaps I could help by doing some of mine “out loud.”) But, I am excited to implement this one change right now, of four one-hour sessions per year of supportive and/or inspirational listening and empathy for those at the $20/month level.

I’m happy to offer one free session to pretty much anyone at any time, as a matter of principle and because I enjoy doing it. But financially, at this point I don’t think I can generally afford to offer more than one per person. I do maintain published rates on my Happy to Listen and Dream Into Change websites for those who prefer a more traditional, transactional model and would like ongoing sessions. But this new idea I have for the Patreon is that it would be kind of a “retainer” model, like you give a relatively small amount per month, and then receive sessions whenever it might work for you, during the year. Four sessions per year/$20 per month works out to a savings from my published rates, and I hope it would be a win-win for those who might like to support my vision while gaining something tangible in return. (I’m thinking it might be cool for some folks to do a session once per season, maybe around the solstices and equinoxes? Kind of like a personal reset, maybe some witnessed intention-setting.)

I’m not setting up an official Patreon “tier” for this, because I believe that would make things messy for existing patrons as well as anyone new who might like to support me monthly, but at a lower rate than $20/month. But please trust that I will honor this offer to anyone who does sign up at the $20 or greater level. (And the sessions can happen at any time; you don’t have to wait to “accrue” them. It’s all in good faith!)

I’m excited but scared to do what I can to live the life that feels most nourishing to me and to others. I want to continue to do this meaningful work, rather than getting another “day job,” as my savings dwindle.

Thanks to all who have supported me so far, and thanks to anyone who may want to support my Patreon now, at the new level or any level! If you’re interested, you can sign up or adjust your monthly pledge here.

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Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

A milestone birthday

11/11/22

It’s been another week since I’ve written, so I thought I’d check in. Ever since I learned that I had fractured my foot, my days have been very quiet, so there hasn’t been much to report. Under the surface, though, I’m feeling powerful, positive changes in my life.

For one, I’ve decided to quit resisting the fact that I seem to be “stuck” in Portland for a while. Do I like the weather here this time of year? As I’m sure you all know by now, the answer is no. In the past week, we have had heavy rains, as well as sunny days with highs in the 40s and overnight lows near freezing.

But this is how my life is unfolding right now, and I’m now choosing to sink into it, rather than fighting it.

I’m staying in the home of my friend Jill, on the eastern edge of Portland (not far from Debbie’s place, actually) while Jill is dog sitting for her cousin in the Seattle area. For this week—at least, and possibly longer—I have no real household responsibilities such as pet or plant care, so I am treating this place as a healing oasis, and very much appreciating it.

I have been sitting on the couch, grateful for the warmth and dryness as I watch the weather out the windows. I have been working on my book. I have been making phone calls about health insurance and various medical and dental issues. (Good news on that front—I got my permanent denture on Monday the 7th, and it fits great!) I am working on getting a primary care physician set up, although the first available appointment is February 13th. Eek! Will I still be in Portland then? Will I return here for it? Will I end up rescheduling it so that I can avoid being here then? Time will tell.

I’ve been doing Zooms with friends old and new, including talking to someone who I might end up cat sitting for in an incredible forest oasis of a home in southern Oregon, just after Thanksgiving. I’ll have to see how my foot is doing at that point, but Jane and I are both setting the intention that it will work out.

Meanwhile, on November 8th (yes, Election Day) I turned 50!

I managed to hobble out of the house and onto my bike (pedaling with my right heel, just for the five minutes of the ride) to a nearby spa for a birthday massage. I used a Groupon credit I had “earned” in Tempe, Arizona, back in February, when I tried and failed to get a massage at that time. (I then tried and failed to use the credit twice more, first in Austin and later in Ann Arbor, so it felt especially poignant to finally gift it to myself on my special day.)

As I alluded a few posts ago, my main gift to myself for this milestone birthday was a forest-goddess-themed photo shoot, outside of Eugene, with my photographer friend Marcella Dean. I was wanting to visually capture the inner transformation I’ve been feeling for the past few months (years? It’s hard for me to remember how long this has been growing.)

We did the shoot a few weeks ago—and I’m so grateful for that timing, before the rain, before the daylight-time change, and before the fractured metatarsal—and she finished the edits on the 7th, the day before my birthday, so it worked out perfectly.

I love spending time in the forest, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to do so as much as I have this past year, all around the continent in a variety of climates. And, as I turn 50, I begin to enter the “crone” phase of my life. Rather than mourning the loss of my youth, I’m enjoying choosing to embrace the beauty and strength of the wisdom that only time can grant.

I wanted to share some of the photos here. Looking at them helps me to continue feeling inspired, despite my temporary setbacks on this journey.

Thank you, as always, for following along.

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Plot twist

11/4/22

Boy, is it rainy here in Portland. It is November as all get out around here. I have been pining every day for sunshine and warmth.

My dental work has been coming along steadily, with appointments every one to two weeks. I finally got the new denture today. It fits OK, but unfortunately I can tell I will need an adjustment in the next couple of days. I was hoping to have that all wrapped up, so that I could finally get out of this rain and gloom, by the 16th. It seemed that I was on track to do so.

But now I’ve broken my foot.

It’s not a major break; just a stress fracture, as best today’s nurse practitioner could glean from the X-ray.

I’ll back up a bit.

I had been having a cozy, very relaxing time for the past week here with my Servas friend Debbie, in outer NE Portland on the edge of Gresham. I really hadn’t been out much, because the weather has been so dismal. But last weekend, during a brief sun break, I took the bus to the grocery store to stock up on some provisions. The bus stop is about ten blocks from the house, and then I visited two grocery stores, about ten blocks apart from each other. So by the time I got home, I had walked a total of about thirty minutes. I began noticing that my right foot was hurting with each step. I thought it was odd, and couldn’t understand why that might be the case. I briefly considered that it might be broken, but concluded that must be absurd, because nothing had happened to the foot. Maybe it was gout? Or some sort of weird arthritis?

I didn’t know, so I just took it extra easy for about four or five days, barely even rising from the couch.

But today I decided to get it looked at. I went to the immediate-care place near my condo—I had been visiting my friend Greg in that neighborhood for a couple of days, so it was convenient—and after examining the foot, asking questions, and reviewing the X-rays she ordered, the nurse practitioner told me she was pretty sure it was a stress fracture. Apparently it is relatively common for such a thing to happen in circumstances like mine, without an obvious “breaking point.”

Needless to say, this is a setback. I am not happy about it.

I will need to stay in town at least another four weeks (possibly up to eight—oof!) to let it heal and get another X-ray to confirm that I’m good to go.

So, it looks like I’ll be here through the end of the month, anyway.

Argh.

I guess I’ll have plenty of time to get comfy with the new teeth…

But I’ll leave you with some beauty here. The other day—before I realized the foot pain was serious—I carried my bike on the bus into Portland, and visited Laurelhurst Park. I had intended to visit this beautiful pocket of the city last month, when the weather and trees were still summery, but I ran out of time. It’s just as well, because in the aftermath of the early fall rains, the place is now spectacular.

Please enjoy.

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Sunshine, a beautiful space, and warm human connections

10/27/22

Today we hit a high temperature of 60, with no rain! That is quite an anomaly in this season’s forecast, so I took full advantage.

I visited an incredible “secret garden” that I first learned about probably twenty years ago now: the Elk Rock Garden of the Bishops Close. This place was recommended to me by a man I was dating at the time, who sadly passed away a few years later… on October 27th, in fact, which I didn’t remember until after I had returned from the gardens. This added a layer of poignancy to my visit.

It wasn’t my first time there, but I had visited only twice before, both times in 2020, many years after I had first heard about it and put it on my “to visit someday” list.

This place is privately owned, by the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, but they kindly make it available to the public during daylight hours on weekdays. It is a sacred space (with a cool history) with no amenities such as restrooms. Picnicking and professional/portrait photography are not allowed. It is simply a place to visit and walk through and experience the magic. It reminds me of the Portland Japanese Garden, in the sense that every few steps one is greeted with a new and different breathtaking view.

If you live in the Portland area—or even if you visit—I recommend seeing this place.

In other news, I stopped by my old workplace again today, and finally got to visit with my previous coworker/assistant—now successor—Keith, as well as my old boss, Steve, who was visiting Portland for the Halloween season at the store. It was great to see the two of them, after more than a year, and to catch up on our lives.

And, today I completed my Trusted Housesitters profile (with help from three friends who reviewed my recent cat sits with their furry friends) so I’m excited to see what kinds of house and cat sits this might lead to, in my continued travels.

Tonight I had dinner with my wonderful friends/hosts Meghan and Doug, and tomorrow I’ll be bicycling eight miles (hopefully not in a soaking rain, but it’s entirely possible) to outer NE Portland, to stay a while with my new Servas friend Debbie.

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