A Spark of Life

A Spark of Life
Inside Sequoia Girl


Welcome to A Spark Of Life Transformations. I've created this blog to share some of the spiritual insights and effective methods for purposeful transformation that I've gleaned over the years. Also included are some bits and pieces of my own experiences and musings. I want to know about your experiences as well. What worked for you -- and what didn't. Ask a question. Make a statement. Share your heart. I only ask that you be respectful in your posts. I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 6 & 7 - Soul Coaching 28 day program

Two nights ago I had a vivid dream. My most recent significant other (SO) and my sister were both in it. In the dream, and not too unlike their current situations, they were each going on a long trip that would take them far away from me. In the dream I was helping them pack and crying at the thought of how much I would miss them both. I awoke with a start and realized this was connected to the deep loneliness I had been feeling.

So, I continued in my intention to be The Observer in this.  I decided to go spend the night with my sister, who lives about an hour away. While our relationship has had it's up and downs, she has been the family member I have remained the closest to in my adult life. She was having a porch sale to lighten her load of material possessions and to help raise money for her move to south Florida. I brought my computer and showed her the pictures from my trip to California and my experiences at Summerhill and Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and she showed me her pictures of her adventure sailing around the peninsula of Florida from Destin ending in Jacksonville where she had an accident on the boat and dislocated her shoulder. She had remained unable to work for the last two months. We had a great dinner, some home brewed beer and shared a few laughs.
In the morning I helped her with her porch sale for a while and bought a number of things for myself. I noticed that, while previously I might have felt sad for her, and she might have felt sorry for herself, and victimized by life's circumstances, neither of those things were happening. She seemed genuinely at peace with her decisions and ready to move into the next phase of her life, as uncertain as that might be. It was really good to see her in such a good frame of mind as she has struggled for years, carrying the weights and worries of life heavily upon her shoulder. I left her to finish with her sale, good-naturedly bargaining with prospective customers with the objects she had surrounded herself with in her life. On the drive home I felt grateful to have spent that time with her and reconnected in a way that perhaps was deeper and more pure than before.

At home, I still felt this nagging heaviness that I had attributed to the loneliness and started to cry as I unpacked some of the things I had purchased from my sister. Realizing that I had entered a grieving process for the two most significant relationships I'd had in the past 10 years. My inclination was to crawl into the cocoon of my home and isolate myself there until it passed, or I had to go to work. But, since decluttering your life is the theme for the 28-day process, I decided to honor a commitment I made at Summerhill and go out into nature at least once a week.

So, I packed up a small back pack and started off on a trail my SO and I had made that started at the back of his property and led to the Eglin Air Force Base reservation. Eglin owns the better part of three counties here in the Florida panhandle and has allowed people to camp, hike, hunt and fish on many areas, with the proper permits, of course. Most of the reservation is wilderness area, criss-crossed with forest roads, a few primitive campsites, numerous wildlife trails and the Florida Trail, part of the National Scenic trail, and a maintained hiking trail that starts at Big Cypress in south Florida and travels north, nearly to Jacksonville and then west to Pensacola. It come to within 10 miles of where we live and we have spent countless enjoyable hours hiking and camping along it's length.

While I love being outdoors and in nature, I am not a big fan of going out alone, but I made all the necessary preparations and pushed myself out the door in the very warm noon day sun. While in Yosemite and Sequoia, I had visited often by crows. It seemed no matter where I went, within a few minutes a crow or two would come and circle over my head then fly away. I looked up Crow in the Animal Totem book when I got home and crows represent change and are symbolic of the Shapeshifter, an archetype I identify strongly with. And there certainly has been a lot of change in my life in the past year, or twenty.

I thought of this change as I made my way through the narrow trail. We had considered this trail to be "our" trail as we had painstakingly cut it through and around long leaf pines, titi trees, sensitive ferns and hypericum that all grow wild in this area. Several downed titi trees hung low over the path and I noted that they would have to cleared. I tried to think now in terms of not "our" trail, but "the" trail, but the idea seemed foreign and awkward. The plan was to walk back to the East Bay river that runs about a mile and a half in and sit by the bank and journal.

I soon broke out of the titi thicket and into a more open pine woods area. I realized why I had been reluctant to make this trek. Every thing, every plant, every turn in the trail reminded me of our relationship and the happy hours we had spent together in nature. I walked past the still green woolly huckleberries we were fond of picking in the late summer when they turned black. Past the the Carolina Meadow Beauty, whose buds were beginning to form into what would be blossoms so shocking a pink that never failed to delight me. Past the fresh, lemony-scented false rosemary that I had used to season our Thanksgiving turkey and had a beautiful violet bloom in early spring that never failed to inspire a photo. Past the twisty blades of the yellow-eyed grass and through a carpet of dwarf live oak, whose plant stand barely a foot high, but whose underground root system is hundreds of years old.

I cut through to the wildlife trail that ran along the front side of a thicket, picking my way through the clumps of wiregrass and sweet gallberry that was now in bloom. Past the yaupon holly, ilex vomitoria name for it's purgative qualities. The native indians would use a tea made from the leaves, "white drink", as a cleanse before a big hunt, but the early settlers learned to toast the leaves to make "black drink" which contains caffeine. Their brilliant orange-red berries will often brighten my day in the drab winter months.

I came to the forest road that runs past an collection of AFB buildings, encircled by a tall chain link fence. The equipment it housed emitting a electrical hum that could be heard from my house on a quiet night. Past the spot where we had come upon a beautiful florida black bear in the morning mist that had stared at us for a brief moment before running into the woods. Past the tracks of coyote and raccoon and what looked to be a yearling bear cub embedded in the sand of the road. Tracks we had studied and identified countless times.

Past dewberries, whose juicy black berries grew on vines that run along the ground and a taste that rivals blackberries, in my opinion. Berries that we had picked to make jellies and cobblers and pies and to add to home made wines. Past redbay and wax mrytle and sweet bay magnolias, whose leaves we had crushed on countless walks to release their amazing scents.

I began to cry for all the things our relationship was and is and could not be. I wanted to be with him and to move on. I wanted to say, "Let's try again. There is so much good in what we had." but realized the differences, though few, represented places we could not go together. Places I must now go. I walked past the place where he spotted a bear, deep within a thicket, thrashing about, and took a short movie of it that he showed me at home later. Past the dozens of tire track we had become more dismayed to find on these roads which had been all but abandoned when we first started walking here years ago. We lamented about the destruction of the habitat and discarded trash we would find.

As I came to the clearing where the road ended at the edge of the river, I was disappointed to find a pickup parked there. Probably destroying some white top pitcher plants or any number of endangered plants that grew in abundance in this particular section, I thought with contempt. I'm not too tolerant of the needless destruction of wildlife, as you can see. I approached the river cautiously, stopping frequently to listen for talking or anything that would indicate another's presence. I heard nothing and stopped momentarily to wet the back of my neck. It would have been nice to take off my boots and wade int the cool water before sitting down to journal for a bit, but I did not want to be interrupted or even seen, for that matter so I made my way back along the road and cut across the the place where my SO had witnessed the bear.

He had taken me over to it last year and we were delighted to discover three different varieties of wild pink orchids growing around the perimeter of the area. I picked my way through the snarls of smilax vines, who we had affectionately referred to as "thorny flesh-eating vines". We'd borne many a scratches due to these vigorous and prolific vines, but had also learned that their tender tips tasted remarkably like fresh wild asparagus and were a favorite of deer. Now they were blooming, their tiny, nondescript green flowers exuding the sweetest perfume.

Past huge swatches of the carnivorous white topped pitcher plants, mouths open to catch unsuspecting insects, their blooms have an other-worldly look.

Last year was the first time in all of my hiking in north Florida that I had actually seen wild orchids. It had been an exciting find. This year, however, I found only two small orchids and wondered if I was too early or too late, or perhaps this just wasn't a good year for them.  I moved on and cut cross-country, heading south and a little east where I would join up with another series of forest roads that would take me to a large patch of blueberries, nestled amongst the long leaf pines that we had discovered on a hike one day. The sun was hot and my arms glistened with sweat that had mingled with sunscreen and insect repellent. I came to a place in the road that filled with water and formed a small temporary pond when it was wet. Last year, we had seen millions of tiny tadpoles wiggling about and surprised a water moccasin sunning himself at the edge of the warm water.

I crossed a narrow spot in the water and continued along the road past blooming green eyes and the pretty white flowers of the stinging nettled that would leave ferociously itchy welts that would last for hours, if accidentally brushed against your skin. Past more animal tracks around the corner to join yet another road and past another small pool of water. Suddenly a white feather laying in the road caught my eye. I picked it up amazed. We didn't have many white birds in this area, maybe on occasional egret, but I'd never seen one back here. I remembered reading in my Soul Coaching book to look for signs from the universe and that Denise talked about a white feather  while we were at Summerhill. I made a mental note to look up it's significance when I got home.

 and then into a dense, brushy road that looked like it had been cleared out recently by people who like to ride their four-wheelers back along the trails. We hadn't been too happy about this development as we liked to think of the blueberry patch as our little secret. But, perhaps they'd be too busy whizzing past on their machines to notice the deep blue-black gems that tasted like all the sweetness of sun and the rain had pressed itself against your taste buds.
The brush opened up after a short while to the pine woods and I saw that there would be an abundance of berries for picking later in the summer. Last year we had only picked a few berries as Eglin AFB had done a prescribed burn in this area the previous winter, much to our dismay, but the blueberries had come back, as full as ever. I sat for a moment on a log that had fallen across the road and enjoyed the sounds of the dozens of birds that would eat a large share of these berries, when ripe. We'd also be competing with the bears who were fond of sitting down on the middle of the bushes and eating to their heart's content.

When I had first hiked in this area, I had yet to come to appreciate the beauty and abundance of wildlife that inhabited the thickets and swamps. However, each time we had hiked here, we had discovered something new and beautiful and came to have a deep love for this unique habitat. I got up to go, giving thanks to the Creator for such a wonderful symbol of abundance and made my way back along the forest roads. Past the young live oak where we had stopped to rest and cool off after a long day of picking blueberries. I was so tired I forgot to apply a fresh layer of insect repellent and afterward spent some long days furiously scratching chigger bites. Past the small ponds again and another small live oak where we had once crawled into the shade to rest on a blistering hot day. We had gotten up to leave after a few minutes, but Dallas, our border collie had refused to leave the cool shade and stared at us with a look that said, "crazy humans". She came trotting home later, when the day was cooler, like any sensible animal would.

I came upon some prickly pear cactus in full bloom. I never failed to marvel how their brilliant and delicate yellow blooms contrasted with their thorny pads and how they withstood the harshest of conditions. We had braved their tiny bristles that would become embedded in our fingers as we harvested the brilliant deep pink fruits.

I continued along the roads this time, instead of cutting through the wildlife trail and along the firebreak. A large swath of vegetation that had been cut to the ground and ran behind the homes at the edge of the AFB boundary. Past the masses of wild fox grape wines that we had spent hours and hours picking for eating, making jellies and including in some of our favorite wines. Past the beginning of wildflowers; swamp sunflowers, rayless sunflowers, liatrus, polygonella and dozens of others that would begin blooming in June and go through late October.

Back through the short trail that led into the back yard of the property that I used to live on and care for. The property that is now only occupied by my former SO, now dear friend. The two and a half hour journey had been a sort of wonderful funeral of sorts. I felt much clearer, but spent and eager to take a long, cool shower and rest. My heart will always treasure these experiences, even as it moves toward a new creation. There is much to be thankful for.

Blessings, Melody

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