April 21, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
Walk In Beauty
I choose to walk in beauty today
To negate the voices of worry and crisis
And instead embrace the earth
And all the wonders she has to offer
I will be still today and listen closely
To the song of the lark
And the whisper of the wind
As it makes its ways through the canyons
And I will be sure to go walking
So that it can greet me.
I will walk in beauty in all of my actions
Starting with my morning prayers
My arms upraised to the rising sun
And embracing all the glory
Of the new and waking day
For this is as it is meant to be
This is all that is offered to us
And this is the way I choose
To live this blessed life.
I slept late his morning, unwilling to break the stillness. I lay still in that half waking state and all the peacefulness and beauty of the new day surrounded me. I focused my thoughts and took in the beauty before I even opened my eyes and then, fully awake, was able to take that with me. I am good at such things, if I allow them their chance, but can just as easily forget them. Today I succeeded in all I aspired to, allowing my thoughts to focus on all of the blessings I am surrounded with and letting everything else fall in its own place. I have no control over what goes on outside my door, only over what I choose to allow to fill my mind, and sometimes not even that. I will take today for its full value, and do my best to affirm it. There have been too many difficult days of late and I am ready to move forward again.
There is some irony here. All of this clarity came to me before I even fully wakened, and yet it was already predestined to do so. I wrote of this very same thing two years ago, but I didn’t know that until I sat to write. For me this is both an affirmation and a message. I have been on this path before and it always parallels my travels when I am not. I drift into other things, other thought patterns, different priorities. I also always find my way back to where I was before because it has always been the path I have sought. I have found it once again after far too many days and weeks of struggle. I have perceived this forced confinement in so many ways and have again returned to the conclusion that this time is mine to fill in any way that I choose, and that I should choose for it to be productive.
I have tried to be productive from the start and began on the right foot. I cleaned my living room completely in anticipation of a lengthy stay at home. I was rewarded fully for that effort as my space is more open and useful than it has ever been. Where there were old couches I now have a day bed/couch and an art table for my work. I then cleaned the sheds and organized the yard which have also brought me good returns, and then turned to the porch. The porch, as with the house, yard and sheds, has been a catch all of sorts over these last many years. I have come and gone but rarely stayed for more than a few months at a time before I traveled on to elsewhere. I have added more to my stores than I have taken away and I am now ready for the final purge. The porch was probably the worst of it but now it is cleared also, and I have a work place there as well. In the weeks to come I hope to even build a new roof and a cold frame for some plants. I have already set a garden but the rats and mice are enjoying it far more than I have been able to. Better to have a greenhouse in this arid clime.
So it is that I have added to the beauty of my surroundings. I have garlic growing well as nothing wants to eat that, and there are seeds sprouting each day. I now have some raised containers and the garden effort will prosper. My purple iris are in full bloom and the white ones will soon follow. The peach trees survived the last freeze and there is plenty of fruit on their limbs. Even the golden hillside is trying to green and I will pray for more rain. It would be so wonderful to have a good summer this year. My wood pile is even growing, though it will be through my efforts only that that effort will prosper. It is always best to prepare for winter well ahead of its onslaught and if I did well enough last year it is time to go after it again. The comfort of a good supply warms me year round and the time I spend running the saw and gathering wood is always a pleasure. Driving back home at sunset with a load of wood is a good ending for the day. Stacking the wood is an affirmation of wellness in every sense of the word.
I will go walk again today, and every day going forward that I have the chance to. I don’t wander as far as I used to as my knee won’t allow that, but I walk until I am satisfied with the distance I have covered. I have my familiar trails but there is so much country I have yet to explore, and I am seeking it out now. I keep reminding myself in the process of how fortunate I am to have this alternative. The need for social distancing has been difficult for me, in spite of my chosen solitude. I need some interaction and have always been able to go find it when I chose to. Now, not so much, but I still have the broad expanses of country to explore and the beauty therein embraces me in the same manner a friend would hold and hug me. It is all I really need for the moment and it has always been a good substitute in the past. Rather than focusing on the limitations of the moment it is so better to embrace the opportunities instead. Without the usual demands of a daily routine there is so much time for other things. Why not use it well.
As if the freedom of my solitude were not enough I can reflect on the alternatives. What if I were confined to an apartment in the city where even the public parks are closed? What if there were no mountain trail to explore and not even a walking path to wander? What if this pressing concern was at my doorstep rather than one hundred miles away as we have been spared from the worst of this by leaps and bounds? If I am still struggling with the limitations and implications of this entire pandemic event I am by no means confined to those, or anything else in my immediate environment. I need but to look out the window or walk out the door and I am surrounded by endless beauty such as some people never experience in their lifetime. Who am I to complain? If others are limited in so many ways to a narrow window of freedom and opportunity I am only bound by my own imagination. Today, and every day going forward I will instead choose to walk in beauty. Everything else will simply have to wait.
April 13, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
I needed this
Wind, snow, storm
A stark change of weather
Cold night, cold dawn
All the fears of yesterday
This is life
This is nature
All at their best
Not soon to be forgotten
We all needed
A late storm
I am revitalized this morning. I slept well, huddled deep beneath an extra layer of blankets and with a good log in the stove. I lay still upon waking, savoring the comfort of doing so. Rising I stirred the coals in the woodstove and nudged the remains of the log into their shimmering bed. The fire started immediately. I raised the shades and looking outside the ground was white with snow and hail. The mountains were shrouded with clouds. I love such mornings and my heart rejoiced with the greeting. The storms are so few and far between that they always bring a thrill. This time it was so timely and I was refreshed at the deepest level of my spirit. I needed this!
The sun breaks through the clouds, and then slips back again. The day will be ever changing today and I will be in and out of the door to welcome it. I didn’t even feel the cold when I said my morning prayer, I was too thrilled for that. The wind lifted my hair as I spoke my words of thanks and it was so easy to find the words I wanted to say. The clouds swirled about the mountain peaks as I spoke. Even now the hail melts off the roof and the clear droplets of water fall from the eves. It is as if all of life has been restored and a breath of wellness has swept the earth. I shall not be the one to break the spell but instead honor it with my joyfulness. All is well today! There is so very much to be thankful for.
April 12, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
Beyond My Control
It took talking to a friend yesterday to finally realize what is bothering me the most. Having been confined to a narrow scope of activity due to ‘governmental restrictions’ and the Covid-19 pandemic I have been less than myself. It has been easy to blame that on so many things, too much time on social media and news, confinement, solitude, the list goes on. My creativity is stilled, my ambition quelled, my spirit languishing. If I blasted through the house and porch for a couple of days, cleaning the living room, building a table, even clearing the porch, I stalled. I lost a week of my life to inertia and have only rallied gradually since. All this from a woman who lives alone and revels in her solitude! I have only me to blame, but there are readily available excuses.
What have I accomplished? My old couches are out the door. I have not one but two work tables, one for art and the other for woodwork. My house is in order, the yard is clean and the garden is planted. There is leatherwork in the process and I am building a new store of inventory. I have established an exercise routine which I follow daily. I have lost eight or nine pounds to date and I am as fit as I have been in a long time. I have added a row of wood to the woodpile and will continue add more. I have also, gradually, figured out how to adjust to this new normal for however long it lasts. Of all the things I have done this has been the most challenging, and will likely continue to be so.
Why the challenge? I am so very blessed, as most of us here in New Mexico are. I live a good distance from my nearest neighbor and am as unconfined as anyone could ask for. There are mountains and open plain in every direction from my house. The views are spectacular and I am free to wander wherever I wish. I enjoy my solitude and make good use of it. There are ample projects and materials to keep my mind and my hands busy and I can always go cut wood if I want to. I have a sister in New York who for the moment would give up her comforts just to be here, even without the usual amenities. My initial complaint has been that even though I stay home a lot the restrictions on my leaving make it less of a thrill. If my social forays are few they are mine when I wish for them, until now. In conversation with my friend and editor Charlie whose opinions I so value I found she shared that sentiment. She as I does well enough alone and she is busy, but she is feeling it also.
It wasn’t really until today that I put my finger on the issue. It is a shared challenge and all of us are feeling it no matter how comfortable, or uncomfortable we are at this moment. It is the sense of things being so beyond our control that has so thrown us off our balance. Our routines have been shattered, our usual freedoms limited and we have been inundated with a sense of complete uncertainty. What is this virus, how serous is it, will we or our family get ill, where did I come from, when will it end, will it end, etc. What will things be like when this is over? Will the entire economy crater? Will the world crater? Will there ever be toilet paper on the shelves where we can buy two rolls instead of one?
With everything out of control I have taken charge of the things I can manage. If my creativity seems to have stumbled around blindly until recently there are things I took charge of, as I have done in the past. Routine is essential to me, and in times of challenge I can also apply greater focus to my wellbeing. If I can’t force creativity I can force activity. Working out keeps me focused, eating well is a discipline, walking a pure joy and a good activity. Give me the mountain, I can conquer that! Hand me the chainsaw and I can busy myself and bring wood as well. Having come to that conclusion I can also focus my thoughts and it has put me on the path to healing. Julie Carter deserves credit for that because she has been writing and posting her thoughts through all of this. I have not. In keeping with my beliefs I think it is essential for us who have the ability to share our thoughts and experiences to do so. Now more than ever is the time to do so. Julie’s reflections helped me a lot and I hope that I can do the same for someone else. I am also helping myself.
There are things that are beyond my control. There have always been things beyond my control, and there always will be. There are other things that I have full control of, or at least some! I can control what I do over the course of my day. I can pray and say thanks for all the blessings in my life and affirm the fact that I am quite blessed. I can focus my attention and energy on the things which bring me the greatest happiness, even within the present limits on my activities. I can seek and find all the good things in my life and do my best to enhance them. That should be so easy to do from my present perch, but it isn’t always so. I need not look far to remind myself of how fortunate I am, and that helps. I am also praying deeply for the protection and the wellness of my family, friends and every person who dwells on this planet earth we call home. There are so many things out of our control right now, but there are some that are within it. We should all make the best of that and I am trying to make good on that promise! I have control over that.
April 1, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
Our view of life is all about perception and that concept has never been as clear as it is in this instant. Perception, that there is some lethal virus circulating the earth right now and none of us are immune to it. This concept is literal and figurative. The only immunity is ignorance, in the lack of knowledge, understanding, or acceptance. We are all being affected by this unless we are so completely isolated in the physical or the intellectual sense that it cannot reach us. There are people who do not know, or do not care, but they are few and far between. This brings to light a quote a friend of mine penned many years ago. He said, “Who is to say that the people we think are insane are not in fact the sane ones? They know they cannot cope”. I think we are all exercising our coping mechanisms right now, even if we are simply in denial of doing so. To disregard this threat we are facing is to negate it only in our minds as it is as abrupt a reality as many of us have ever faced. I only know of one person I am associated with who has had the illness but I know it is out there, in plethora for the moment. I also know it is not going to go away, even if the spread lessens with time. This is the new normal.
My perspective is an interesting one. I am isolated by nature and by my own design. I am safe in ways that many people are not. If I don’t leave my house I am assured to not be exposed and even when I go to the grocery store or the post office, my two essential stops when I go out, I am still reasonably safe. There are no cases here in Lincoln County, New Mexico as of yet and if not for the travelers we could well escape any exposure. Sadly, there are travelers and they are likely fleeing the places where this pandemic is raging the worst. I do wish they would stay home, or away at least, but I sympathize with them also. My home is presently safe and theirs apparently is not. Ironically the greatest challenge I am facing is a blend of isolation and a break in my routine. If I am a solitary person I still find some measure of interaction in my day to day life, at least until now. I have made an effort to socialize over this past year because I do not want to recluse, and now I am doing just that because I have to. I find it somewhat unsettling but my coping mechanism is good. I am also building a new routine, though I was really looking forward to the gallery I just started. It will have to wait! If I prefer to avoid the digital means of exchange I am going to have to adjust to that.
There is another challenge that I have been faced with that I am just now learning how to deal with. I have tracked this outbreak through the news on my phone from its beginning. I recognized early on that this was serious, and payed heed to the same. I bought a bottle of hand sanitizer in the beginning of January, and a box of surgical masks, just as they were starting to fly off the shelves. My justification for the masks was that I do wood work and could use them for that if I didn’t need them for protection. I also ordered two cloth ones, though I could have made them myself. Since then I have followed the progression of this pandemic as it ravaged China, and then began its outward spread. In the end of January I proctored a Utility Operator Certification exam in Las Cruces, in spite of being nervous. We packed two hundred people into a crowded room including a few recent travelers and we were all a little nervous when they coughed. Soon thereafter I cancelled an opportunity to go to Phoenix, Arizona in spite of my eagerness to attend. I promised myself I wasn’t going to travel at all until this was over and then reneged to help a friend move home to northern California in the end of February. I flew back from San Jose Airport on March 4 with the headlines already screaming of cases in the Bay Area. I wore a mask on the plane even though no one else did. I was concerned where they apparently were not. When I got home I distanced myself and worried for the next two weeks in spite of all my precautions. I could have been patient zero for New Mexico, but I wasn’t.
The point I am trying to make is that I have been on high alert for weeks, months even and it finally got to me a couple of days ago. For a moment I plunged into that dark place where I rarely go and I had to climb back out rapidly, which I did. I lay down my phone yesterday and tuned out for a moment. I wrote a poem reflecting my sentiments.
I want to put the world
On pause today
Cancel out the news
And the worries of the day.
I wish for the winds
To lie still and silent.
That the song of the meadowlark
Reverberate in the air
Whilst I pray for the salvation
Of a disease ravaged world.
I will for this long moment
Revel in the peacefulness
Of my own solitary perch
And thank God for his protection.
I learned something yesterday, and I hope that I can carry that with me as I go forward from here. I need to maintain my perspective. While it needs to be realistic, and I should remain attuned to the events as they unfold, which I will, I also need to stay well. If I deal well with some degree of stress I cannot handle it in excess and I am well aware of that. My immune system cratered in December. I cannot afford to repeat that now as I am vulnerable enough as it is. I am on the low end of the high risk population, and I want to remain there. I have no control of what is happening around me, only of what I choose to do to cope with it. I will cope as well as I can and maintaining a clear view of my surroundings is my best mechanism. I am surrounded by beauty, and opportunity, and I will put them to good use. Whatever the future brings, I will do my best to be prepared. I am so very prepared!
Unlike so many people I have chosen a very base existence. If I have done so deliberately in order to keep myself grounded and sane it has paid off in ways I never really anticipated. I revel in simplicity in response to a complicated world. I live a borderline existence because it keeps me connected to the earth and the simple elements of survival. By doing so it has allowed me to satisfy my most basic requirements in the physical and the spiritual sense of things. It has also, inevitably, prepared me for the worst. I am as isolated as I could hope to be, whilst still in view of humanity. I have a highway and a neighbor to remind me that the world outside is still in motion. I have all of my essentials in easy reach, though I wish that my water well was functional. I do have to haul water but it is within easy enough reach, and I am increasing my storage as well. I need gutters and rain catchment to improve on that, and I will address that. I have wood heat and can cook with the same if need be, though I also have propane. My lights run off of solar. If not for my debts I would need so little income, but at least my expenses are few. Aside from some extra interest I have no great financial hardship, and for that I am as grateful as I am for everything else. I can put my life on pause, and in so many ways I have. I feel for those people who cannot!
Now is a time to mend our perspective so we can cope as best that we can. We here in New Mexico, in the rural areas in particular, are so very fortunate to be where we are. If everything is in crisis right now our lives are not in immediate danger, at least as of yet. Some of us are more vulnerable than others and I extend my gratitude to everyone who is still out there working to assure we all have the necessities to survive and go on with our lives. My needs are few but they make all the difference in my day to day comforts. I am fortunate that I can stay behind my gate for weeks and not do without very much, but I prefer to not have to. From that perspective I have everything to be thankful for right now, and no reason for complaint. I will check the news each day as I should but I will not immerse myself in it, or allow myself to be distracted. Instead I will focus on the things that are essential to my survival, in mind, body and spirit, and hope to emerge from this crisis with a clearer path forward. I will be more prepared than I have ever been for whatever it is to come, and more appreciative of all the elements that make that possible. I will be humbled as well.
No matter where or how this started, or even how it all ends we have to remember that God has his hands in this. The earth could not have been ravaged by such sickness if it were not already ill and overcrowded. We have created a scenario where this is possible by circulating ourselves all over the planet for reasons so beyond any measure of necessity. Certainly we have carried luxuries and even necessities to great lengths for time immemorial but I don’t think that nature ever intended for us to take this so far. We are now paying for that trespass. There is no way to undo that at this point but this pandemic is an undoing in itself. The herd is being thinned, unmercifully and with no consideration for the actions of those affected but instead preying on the most vulnerable of our population, and some who are not. The outcome, at least for me, is to make our lives all that more precious and appreciated because at any given moment, in a way we have never really had to consider, it could be ended so quickly. It is from that perspective we will all go forward, and hopefully with a greater reverence for the powers and energies which have made that possible. I for one am so very grateful for each and every breath and for this precious moment my lungs are still clear!