Young Jedi

From Nedhardy.com and the National Geographic Photography contest

From Nedhardy.com and the National Geographic Photography contest

I haven’t been posting much lately, as a quiet has permeated my mind that is difficult to describe. I am not without thought, but rather a tension I hadn’t noticed was consistently there until now gone. I find myself suspended a bit, as if my thoughts have slowed enough for me to lift a few inches off the ground. I laugh to hear Obi Wan in my head. “There is no disturbance in your force, young Jedi.”

I think about this objectively, as if examining an exotic beetle. Iridescent blues, pinks and greens of the scarab float as a mist about my mind. It’s a little “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” inside of me these days, but without the psychedelics. I am not in nirvana nor have I become some Bodhisattva. There’s still a good bit of funky shit in this old noggin. It seems, at least for the present moment, I’ve lost interest in the inner drama. It begins it’s crawl across my mental windowsills, as I have allowed it to do for decades, but find myself either completely disinterested or curious that such a creature should have found its way into my home.

There doesn’t seem to be a point in wondering where it all came from. I’m fifty-two years old. Like most people I’ve been a hoarder of life experiences and reactions and reflexive memories since I hit terra firma. I’ve been storing a lot of stuff for a very long time. Cement boots sit next to a Mad Hatter’s hat, teetering on top of ballet shoes, dangling from a business suit as worn as all the other items inside my mind. They all have the same value to me now. The reasons for all of my previous costumes and acting parts just doesn’t seem all that important.

I move about the attic looking at it all. There was a time the sheer volume of internal debris and boxed up crap would’ve overwhelmed me. Now I look at it all, as if from a great distance, and watch the decay. A millennium’s impact on a human life leaves nothing in its wake. Everything in the end returns to the earth or to the Force, as Yoda would say. I feel no need to wait the time out. I imagine it is already decaying, evaporating and blowing out into a strong, celestial wind. This young Jedi has other things to do.

From Lady-Laerwen.tumblr.com

From Lady-Laerwen.tumblr.com

Freshness

From Pinterest and Enchanted Nature's Facebook page.

From Pinterest and Enchanted Nature’s Facebook page.


I am uncommonly joyful these days. There’s always more to evolve and grow, places to be challenged and changed, but I seem to have found a sort of sweet spot. I note areas for this same growth, yet feel little struggle at the discoveries that are causing me to let go of old ways. My heart pumps steadily and even my breathing seems the easiest it has ever been. I have engaged many new strategies for living lately that I can clearly see are working. On a broader level, I can see it is not just these few things, but an odyssey I’ve been on to let go of old versions of myself that no longer serve. I look back and see I’ve been opening up windows drawing in the freshest air for now on seven years. My latest mantra that simply rose up in my mind now makes sense to me.

“I am open to fresh ideas, fresh thinking and all manner of newness to my soul. Show me, Source Energy, what I have never seen in this world or in myself before.”

Freshness as a quality, a way, a manner of looking at things seems to have pervaded every corner of my life. I take clothes from the closet and put them in new combinations I have never worn before and suddenly feel I have a new wardrobe. I take off down side streets not caring the way home will be longer, as I feel an eagerness to see new paths to the same place. I walk into work and feel the lightness of my step. The day cannot be the same as it has always been, because I am not the same as I have always been. I cut open a tomato and really look at it. The pulp, flesh and seed. What an amazing miracle something so common really is. The cat meows hello for the millionth time and I am completely taken with the look of love on her face, as if she had never spoken once before.

Even as I laugh more I grow more quiet within. The chatter of my mind seems at an all time low. I am certain something will arise to get it clambering again, but for now I relish its gentle murmur. I realize I am no longer afraid. Afraid of life, other’s thinking, myself, the future, the past. I am no longer afraid. I could write that sentence a thousand times and it would be no less wondrous to me. I am no longer afraid is as fresh an idea as cut lemons and spring rain.

Fresh. New. What I have never seen before.

Now to milk this moment for all that it is worth. Really indulge in the joy and the peace, as a child would a huge, autumn leaf pile. Isn’t that the true glory? The moment you feel free enough from yourself to actually enjoy the present moment meeting yourself, as if it were the first time.

In-Between

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Seed: Photo by Noelle

As the night’s cool, even if the days have not, my mind ponders the autumn. A sacredness for transition points has settled into my soul of late. The awareness that one thing is ending and something else has not yet bloomed. I feel that inner toggle switch laying idle in my hand, as there is no clear direction yet to take. One season eases out slowly in the daylight hours, while another is tiptoeing in at night. I find myself embracing, more and more, in-between spaces and allowing the peace it brings to sink deeply into me. Intuitively, I see the power in their lack of direction or action.

There was a time when everything in my life had to have some clear direction. Some plan, clear outcome, a certainty provided on the front end that all would be well. I realize our entire culture has built this need for safeguards and assurances in. We have insurance polices for every possible eventuality. Contracts to ensure everything goes according to plan or someone else will be at fault if it doesn’t. We have schedules and calendars and smartphones that offer alerts so nothing can be forgotten. We are all so afraid of the unknown, the unexpected, the misdirection, which, in the end is never a misdirection. Spiritually speaking, we are always going in the right direction. It can only be the wrong direction by our reaction and resistance to where we are.

I’ve come to understand the weakness in the constant hunger to know where things are going. A hunger that is always driven by fear. Given how little we can predict ahead, I was surprised when it dawned on me how much of my life I’d lived with a low-grade anxiety. Constantly seeking ways to know the future or like some boy scout, be prepared for every possibility. For a woman who would never describe herself as anxious, it was a revelation.

Now I watch the leaves turn as a summer wind lifts the edges of my skirt. I sense myself leaving a number of things, but also feel no clear planting of my feet into something else. An older version of me wants to pull out the notepad and make lists so something can be accomplished to get it all moving to somewhere. I smile and breathe down her fear. She’s worried nothing will get done. She’ll end up wallowing in no man’s land without a life. She’ll miss the boat, she’ll be left behind. Oh, the calamity of no plan!

Today, I’ll just enjoy being nowhere. The sun is up and there are hours left to play. As a destination, nowhere is a grossly underrated place to be. If I possess any doubt about this all I need do is stop and listen. Ah, see, starlings have filled the cattail beds.

On Fire

Spider and web at Polly A Dean Reservoir: Photo by Noelle

Spider and web at Polly A Dean Resevoir: Photo by Noelle

In the lesson section of “A Course in Miracles” comes the lesson, “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts”. We see only the world created by our past thoughts that we then project into our current now. Just like a projector projects a movie onto a screen, we use all that we’ve previous learned to formulate what we believe is happening right now. This has been complicated for me to grasp, yet somewhere in my brain I knew this to be true.

Recently, I attended a workshop on neuro-sculpting, the art of using meditation techniques to sculpt both the left and right side of your brain. One of the very cool and salient points relates to how the brain creates memories. We think of our brain like a big file folder. Christmas 1969 is in one folder, car accident 1991 in another and so on. When we recall something we think of it like opening up a cabinet and pulling that moment out and recalling it, as it happened.

Milk weed and grasses at Polly A Dean Reservoir: Photo by Noelle

Milk weed and grasses at Polly A Dean Reservoir: Photo by Noelle

Actually, the brain is a mega-processor that stores sensory information in a multitude of sites. When we recall a memory the brain actually has to put it together. It pulls information related to that moment in time from a variety of sources and re-constitutes it, so to speak as a memory. So in essence what we think of as a snapshot or a true to life, short film, is actually a manufactured story. To no surprise we manufacture our histories in various ways depending on why we wanted to recall it. Thus, nothing we are remembering can wholly be said to be exactly true. It is true to the point of view we currently possess and through that filter we formulate what we remember.

Tree reflection in a sewer, Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

Tree reflection in a sewer, Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

How does this apply to a preoccupation with the past? Everything we perceive now we perceive only from the point of view of previous experience and knowledge. When I approach a road rotary I drive through it not as a new experience, but from all of my knowledge from past driving on how to drive through one. If my boss calls me into her office, my thoughts on my way there are tainted with every past experience I’ve ever had about going to an authority figure’s office. All those thoughts feel like they are related to what is happening now, but what I’m really experiencing as I walk to her office or enter that road rotary is every experience I’ve previous had on this subject.

Waking up is about focusing all of our energy off the film and into this now moment. Forsaking the illusions we, ourselves, have created over time and space from what we have learned, come to believe or acquired through life experience. So what does this really look like? I mean, if we aren’t who we think we are right now, with this massive machine of past-ness, then what is really happening now?

This becomes my consuming thought as I drive into work this morning. What is really happening now and how does this impact who I think I am?

Two small green bugs are clinging to my windshield. They have likely been there for some time, probably since the house, but until the sun’s rays hit the windshield I hadn’t seen them. Sunrise lights up the hairs on their legs and they appear on fire. The streetlight turns green, but it is very difficult to look away from them. One walks slowly toward the other and their antenna touch. I can’t help feeling I am witnessing the greeting of the Universe with itself. “Oh… there you are.” I open myself to feel the beauty of this. Not superficially, like someone reading a novel, but really open myself to their antenna touching. I am not thinking of previous bugs or drives to work or other sunrises. I am in my car, at the light, unfettered by other thinking, gazing upon two green bugs on my windshield. In this moment, I am wholly free of past or future. It’s just me, the bugs, the sun and the divine. I focus on breathing their fiery bodies in. The moment lasts what seems a very long time.

Tall grass at South Valley Park, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle

Tall grass at South Valley Park, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle

A horn blares and I start moving. I realize to hold onto the moment of fire with my friends is again to hold onto the past when something else is already in play. Each now is delivering something potent. I open the window and can smell exhaust immediately, but as I drive I can also smell the sweet scent of summer grasses, now drying, in the fields that I pass. They sway with the whoosh of passing cars. The sun now up, hits the glass of an office building and I am briefly blinded. I feel the cones in my eyes constrict like a cat against the intrusion of light. I relax and let my peripheral vision take over. A swallow, up way too early, dashes past my windshield, barely seen out of the corner of my eye. The car hums beneath my seat and I note the satisfied feeling of a belly full with breakfast.

Can anyone hold this level of exquisite detail all day? What happens when you relinquish every story you are in the habit of telling yourself all day about what you ‘think’ is happening and immerse yourself solely in the details of what is happening in just this split second? Can I be that aware, I wonder, as the smell of someone’s cigarette drifts in my car window? Do people really accomplish their jobs this way? It all seems unlikely and yet I instinctively know this must be the path.

Ridge tree, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle

Ridge tree, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle

For now, work is in my future. The bed I came from already my past. What will happen to me today, if I hang in this ever rolling moment? I feel the importance of that intention swirl around my heart. As I touch the coconut oil lip balm to my dry lips and feel it’s smoothness nourish my skin I realize it is me that is now on fire?

Light Skater

Bing Celestial Bodies Photo Search

Bing Celestial Bodies Image Search

Exceptional is this moment where everything in me explodes into light.

Light so vibrant you can barely lay eyes upon it.

I am fierce and wild and full of the power of God.

Light oozes from my skin breaking the boundaries of man-made laws and material manifestations.

I am starlight condensed into diamond cells.

Each possessing the story of a thousand lifetimes.

Stories that define me or I discard, if I choose.

No limits.

A falcon whose vision expands a million plains.

No past or future, only now.

A celestial body that rips through the atmosphere brilliant, captivating and free.

Look closely at me.

I am you.

You are me.

Follow

Follow me now!

We are light skating across the firmament

Bing Celestial Body Image Search

Bing Celestial Bodies Image Search

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Noelle Vignola 9/8/2015

 

Already Here

Mohegan's Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Mohegan’s Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Allow yourself to think today as if your life is already what you want it to be. Watch what happens when you do not succumb to your own stories of limitation.

Namaste and Happy Thursday, Noelle

Apex

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Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

This is how magic happens.

I had signed up for a night hike with the Sierra Club at Apex with a friend. At the last minute the friend couldn’t come, but I decided to still go. I checked my info and arrived at the Heritage Club parking lot at 6:15 and then waited. When no one appeared I realized something was wrong. I went back to the Sierra site which confirmed date and time, but when I called the organizer she said it had been arranged through meetup.com and they’d changed the time to Sunday night. I never got the notice. So there I was with my nifty head lamp, hiking boots with duct tape on my heels and nothing else to do on a Saturday night. I decided to be bold and go on the hike anyway.

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Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

All my previous night adventures had been in open space and parks near or in town. Wildlife would certainly be present, but lions and bears much less likely. Apex would most definitely afford the possibilities of such encounters and the prospects left me terrified and exhilarated at the same time. I stood at the entrance for a minute assuring myself I was ready for this and headed off.

I passed the last stragglers coming down from earlier hikes leaving the trails mostly empty, except for a single trio. Clearly they’d been smoking weed and laughing like that caterpillar was the coolest thing they’d ever seen. None had proper gear on and they all reminded me of my former self. They became confused as which side of the trail to stand on to allow me to pass, so they kept darting from one side to the other trying to get all three to one side, which lit their laughter up like a Christmas tree. I laughed with them. Who needs weed? You just need three young weed smokers, the memory of your former ridiculous self and it all becomes a wondrous joke.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

With so few hikers or bikers the thickets were alive with movement. Rabbits, moles, voles and mice scurried beneath the foliage as I approached. The sky above my head was thriving with dragonflies dashing about catching bugs, riding the warm gusts traveling up the valley from town. As sunset moved into night, wildflowers that I thought were gone this late in the summer were fully open all over the hillsides. The cooler night temps seduced them out of hiding and graced my view with lavenders, fresh whites and rich yellows.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

I have hiked Apex before so knew the trail. Up the valley, through the forest, over the high glens and back down the other side of the valley to connect with the lower trail to the lot. I came upon several bridges that crossed streams and waterfalls I’ve crossed before, but in the dark they got me thinking of the old children’s story, “Billy Goat’s Gruff”. I pondered the trolls gnashing their teeth hoping for dinner. Though the sky was light, the creek beds had now fallen more into dark and the prospects of a snotty-nosed creature underneath suddenly seemed very real.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

I passed out of the valley into the Enchanted Forest that was anything but Enchanted in the dark. Weird screeches from birds I’d not heard before assaulted me once beneath the canopy. Several wails of animals whose lives were cut short pierced the darkness, startling my step. A pale sky could only be seen in rare patches, but instead of offering comfort, they seemed apparitions of ghosts floating above me. Water trickling came as a sick seeping to my ears rather than the lovely babble of daylight hours. The cute scurries of furry beasts in the thickets now set my nerves on edge. Hansel and Gretel came to mind only to be replaced quickly by the Blair Witch Project and I wondered often about turning back. In the dark a bear could be in front of me and I would hardly see it. Turning on my headlamp felt like a beacon to the nefarious and so I trudged on in the dark. Often I looked back along the trail, fearful of something following me only to have my eyes trick me on what was there. Clearly, I was spooking myself in the worst way. My step picked up faster and faster as I climbed quickly to the open, high glens.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

At the far end as the wood gave way I found myself furtively casting about for large game. The forest had left me edgy and my luck didn’t feel quite so true. My bold steps of earlier were now constantly shifting to look about me.  All I saw were deer who were as surprised to see me, as if I’d just walked into my neighbor’s living room. The deer eating so casually encouraged me that no larger beasts were about and I stopped to drink, orient myself and draw my courage back out of my belly where it appeared to be hiding under my liver.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

It was then I came upon the most spectacular patch of yellow wild flowers. I stopped to gaze on them and take some photos. When I looked up the sky had grown much darker it seemed. It was as if the light of the flowers had sucked out the rest of the day into their bloom. Even my eyes could see little after gazing upon them. I wondered at their magic and though the night seemed darker by their brilliance, I felt lighter and safer as I turned for home.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

The trail headed now due east and with a more steadfast step I began my decent. Having survived my own fears in the forest I once again felt bold and outrageous to be out on the hillside in the dark. I turned on my new and nifty headlamp, but this obliterated any view outside the scope of the light. Though likely foolish I turned it off. A twisted ankle would’ve been fateful for sure, but I felt more a raccoon with eyes meant for the night and trusted my feet to find their way. There may be a fool’s power in that happy, downward step when one feels they’ve escaped greater mishap, but I was seized by it all the same. I’d made it through the forest and crossed the fields without trouble. The golden wildflowers assured me my way home would be clear.

The moon rose over Green Mountain as I came close to the end. I watched the city sparkle and felt the cool mountain air at my back. I find I feel the adventurer again, courageous and true. All weakness and fear now left in the dust. The golden flowers must have sucked it all up with the light.

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park: Photo by Noelle