You Only Die Once, But You Live Every Day

Photo by Gaye Abbott, July 2021/Sunrise Blue Ridge Mountains NC

Elemental Musings” offers daily postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

We are composed of all elements that make up this amazing Universe. How can we ever think we are separate.

The early morning this photo was taken I was mesmerized by the ever changing colors in the sky, the shifting cloud formations, and the miracle that I was present in these very moments to be part of it. A dance of life!

Have you ever thought about quality of life moments versus years lived?

For some it is when death touches us that we allow ourselves to contemplate, and come closer to, the relationship with our own potential death and that of our loved ones. The unique choices we will make when embodied time is drawing to a close.

“Death is giving us a gift by teaching us to love in the moment.”

In these precious moments you are reading this post, and perhaps watching the beautiful video of this nurse who is at last exploring the territory of her feelings about fully living every day and embracing the wholeness of life and who she is.

A grand unique life dance that only we know the steps to.

Video by Green Renaissance,

Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/26/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you if you do!

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Elemental Musings

(N. Carolina UNC Botanical Gardens, Photo by Gaye Abbott)

Elemental Musings” offers daily postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

Sunday moments where a brilliant butterfly skims over the surface of the nearby creek where I am seated on a stone bench, whose cool surface permeates up through my body delivering stone energy that has been around much longer than I have.

Photo by Gaye Abbott, 5/2021

A light sweat brings moisture to all surfaces of my skin, most noticeable on face, neck and chest. No longer in California I celebrate the recent rains that have brought this about, rising from the Earth back into the air and nourishing all creatures in this lush temperate rain forest area of the U.S.

Taking a “wrong path” in the University of N. Carolina botanical gardens ending up at a “dead end”. Yet it seems there are no “wrong” paths, simply adventures in learning and being. There are no “dead ends” for one can always turn around and rediscover the path just taken with new awareness.

Pathway in UNC Botanical Gardens, Asheville, NC

Drinking in the calming sound of water flowing over rocks punctuated here and there by human voices and families. Young children in wonder running the earth paths for the pure joy of it while mom follows behind with back pack equipped with everything a filled with energy young child will need on this nature excursion. I wonder where adult wonder and awe have gone to these days. More is needed to steward this precious planet.

Reed Creek, UNC Botanical Gardens, N.C./Photo Gaye Abbott, 5/2021

Pink flowers everywhere. They beg you to come closer and introduce yourself, and when you do the sweetest smell permeates your senses into every nook and cranny of your being. I have forgotten my phone with camera and am aware that I long to take a picture of this beauty. But she will not reveal the secrets of the name humans have given her for there is so much more to explore than identification.

The moments of this day could have been used up with planning for the week to come or even studying for the written drivers license test I must take on Tuesday, but instead I have chosen to commune with the natural world, breathe in the sweet smells of flowers, and listen to the conversations of the native trees that have great wisdom to bring and sweet oxygen for us to breathe…..if we would only listen.

Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/25/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you if you do!

An Authentic Unsettled Life

Photo by Gaye Abbott, Weaverville, N. Carolina

The beautiful woman in the video below expresses a choice to live an unsettled yet very authentic life.

Exploring, questioning and never settling for status quo. Unstructured in a way that feels like a dance where the next steps won’t reveal themselves until your foot touches the earth. .

As a wildly free elder we learn to create a “living line” NOT a “dead line”. Or perhaps more appropriately a living spiral or Flower of Life as in sacred geometry, symbolizing creation and a reminder of the unity of everything.

We are constantly given opportunities to be lead by curiosity, take risks, and steward the emergence of our own unique expression, artistry and imagination.

The day I captured the perfect shadow mountain range (which only lasted for a few minutes) in the image of the Blue Ridge Mountains above it opened a doorway to my own unexpressed artistry that is quite often kept hidden in the shadows.

What if we brought that uniqueness, often not seen or expressed, out into the Light?

Video by Green Renaissance

Post by Gaye Abbott, July 2021, Wildly Free Elder

Coming To Ground

By Wendy Haynes

Bear with me while I tell you about tiredness.
It can creep up on you when you’re not watching
or hit you like falling off a cliff.

Let me tell you about the moment
that I lay on the ground
and completely let go to the earth beneath me.

I could walk no further.
It was softly raining
and I just lay down.

The wet grass on my face
The coldness of the ground
seeping through my wet weather gear.

How to get inside of it –
the depth of tiredness?
Lie down.

Simply rest
muscles relaxing
no holding on.

And cry, tears of letting go
The depth of sorrow
flowing like a river onto the earth.

The tickle of the grass
the rich smell of the earth
bringing me back to my senses.

Awakening to the beauty
The simplicity of surrender,
of resting.

Stopping and not going one more step
until I was ready.
Not for me.Not for you.

Lying here, rolling over onto my back
Gentle rain falling on my face.
Opening my mouth.


Feeling the cold seep into my bones
calling me to move
to stand up, to walk.

To follow the desire line
along the edge of the cliff
without falling.

The light shining
through the clouds
A lightness of being returns

There comes a moment
when one step more
is one too many

When here is the place to stop.
Lie down
and rest.

Allowing the earth,
the air and the rain
caress me into wellness.

Leaning into the tender light,
the warmth of joy
and lightness of being.

Feel free to share this beautiful writing by Wendy Haynes giving credit to her and to WildlyFreeElder. This piece emerged through a community Wild Writing experience with Laurie Wagner in May, 2021.


Welcome to Rachel McAlpine from New Zealand who can be found HERE

Changing Our Stories

Gratefully Reprinted from

When I talk with elation about my gratefulness, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that my life has been easy. I come to my place of gratefulness because I understand pain and loss.


What stories do we live with and by? Brought to us from our ancestors, the culture we live in, and the experiences we have had in our lives. This is something to deeply reflect on and examine for we are so much more than the stories that we have created and that often hold us in small defined roles and identifications within a fear filled demand for security and control.

The eloquent and transparent story that James tells of his growing awareness of interdependence, and how we interact with each other and the Universe we live within, is the healing that all of us are in at this time.

Take a look at the story you are presently immersed in and become aware of its impact on all life on Earth and in the Universe. Yes, it does have that much power…..

Does your story need to be revised?

In the summer of 2020, while all of us around the globe were isolated in some way from those we love, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez found a way for us to gather safely, outdoors, to listen closely to the stories of seven individuals for whom grateful living is a way of life. The result of Doug’s beautiful work is a new video series, Grateful VoicesIn the short film and narrative below James, who generously participated in the project, shares his story.


“I am Garifuna, from a region of the world that runs down the coast of Central America, now called  Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua — all the way down to Panama — since the Europeans came over and divided it all up. That is where my people come from. We were once called the “Black Caribs,” one of the Indigenous groups of this region. I am glad to be here, to be able to share how I and how my people live with gratitude, even with the understanding that our very existence has been threatened ever since the Europeans came to these shores.  

I’ve had to come to terms with how we must exist in a place and time where there’s a constant push and pull, challenging all of us to hold in the center, being safe, being loving, being kind, so that this energy can permeate throughout the universe. This is who I am. It doesn’t come from me, it comes from my people and the understanding that each of us is more than who and where we are in this moment of time and space. We have been here since the beginning of time. Not as humans, but as energy. That’s how my people know we are connected — no matter where we go. We are taught this from a very young age. 

I try to always remind myself and others around me how truly magnificent and connected we all are. There is a very personal reason I do this work. It’s because I remember what it was like to begin life without a mother or father.  And so I do this work of building connection with people and building a caring and nurturing community wherever I go.  

I believe it’s our human potential for connection, potential for love and respect, that can liberate us. But this will only fully manifest when we redefine success and power from how it is currently being defined — as competing and winning, as dominating others, and as acquiring wealth. When we begin to hold our markers for success in concepts like interconnectedness and kindness, when we place our highest value on each other, our children and our relationships, then our human spirits soar.”

Video Transcript

My being here at this moment in time in terms of gratitude begins with the possibility of the breath, understanding that through the breath coming in through my nostrils, feeding my body, my brain, my energy, and my spirit, it is what gives me the opportunity to make sense, especially with this thing called light. To be able to see and know that it’s reflecting off everything that I see and it’s with that kind of energy that I give thanks every moment because when we forget to pay attention to these simple things as air, light, sound, energy and vibration, we miss the connection to each other and the universe.

When I talk with elation about my gratefulness, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that my life has been easy. I come to my place of gratefulness because I understand pain and loss. So it’s in my understanding pain that I know that oh my God, things can get better or because of the pain and what is possible, that my being in peace right now, that it doesn’t have to be like this. That’s what helps me to hold on to my gratefulness, that people are listening and are remembering that we can build community no matter what we look like or where we come from. That’s my gratefulness, that a few people are being saved physically, mentally, spiritually.

Yeah, my gratefulness for my existence is in honoring everyone who came before me who struggle to breathe. And because of political, economic, racial terror, many of us don’t survive and it’s still happening to our humanness no matter where we are. I’m holding mine in terms of my coming from the Caribbean, but I’m saying even here in the United States, I am grateful and understand that there’s so many who are not surviving spiritually, physically, emotionally, and it’s all because of greed. It’s all because of disconnection. So I am grateful when I can see and hold on to our humanness. That reminds me this is temporary.

I grew up right on the ocean. And so our existence and survival begins with the elements of water, air, sun, and the vibration of the drum that holds our pulse, that gives us tenacity so that no matter what we encounter in this daily existence, that can be bountiful and can be meager, that the drum reminds us to keep on moving, moving, moving, because our destination is way ahead of us and we’re just part of that movement. So that I like to say my people, my culture reminds me that we are part of this and the only way to be is to continue to exist with gratitude and understanding how integral we are to the vastness of the universe, that we as humans, no matter where we come from, have a profound connection to the universe.

Thank you, Doug Menuez and team, including Executive Producer Pear Urushima, Director of Photography Luke Carquillat, and Sound Technician/Gaffer Dino Davaros, for the grace and heart you bring to your work in making it possible for the diverse stories of grateful living to be shared.

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Please feel free to share this post linking with the WildlyFreeElder community. Posted by Gaye Abbott, 6/9/21

I Sometimes Forget….

Botanical Gardens, University of N. Carolina, Asheville (Photo by Gaye Abbott)

I sometimes forget

that I am created for Joy.

My mind is too busy.

My heart is too heavy

for me to remember

that I have been

called to dance

the sacred dance of Life.

I was created to smile

To Love

To be lifted up

And to lift others up.

O’ Sacred One

Untangle my feet

from all that ensnares.

Free my soul

That we might


and that our dancing might be contagious.


Sometimes I forget… be authentic.

As I wandered the botanical gardens in Asheville a few days ago amidst the indigenous native trees and plant life alive with vibrancy and wild lushness, I went into contemplation about authenticity.

Most of us have seen invasive species brought here from other landscapes threatening the native plant life and other indigenous species, choking off the very nutrients that nourish and sustain. They take too much and give back too little.

This can also happen with humans as they take on inauthentic personas and strive to be something they are not, fueled by an endless striving to fit in or “belong”, or in frenzied seeking for more and more “money”.

Too much energy and focus on something that is not innate, grounded nor aligned with the heart and soul will eventually deaden the being we came in to be.

As we reach the elder stages of our embodied lives it seems more challenging to cover up who we are in our artistry and expression. At least that is my experience.

I liken this stage to embodying the fullness of our knowing, intuition and artistry. Embodied life is meant to lead us into this exploration of creative soul. Artistry that is wildly in alignment with our own unique version of the Sacred Dance of embodied life.

Trust that you know, and will know, how that feels. Taking action from this spaciousness of being that is never in a box, wrapped up in dogma, based on others expectations, or dictated to by the mainstream cultural narrative.

This is where you will find your aliveness and your joy….releasing others into their own soul freeing dance!

You are in alignment when you:

*Feel at peace with your choices and actions

*Are excited about and co-create possibilities to expand and grow

*Enhance emerging authentic and creative artistry by saying yes to it even when it feels scary

*Perceive the inevitable challenges of life as opportunities

*Are able to set boundaries and say no to something that is not in alignment

*Can identify and shed old patterns of thinking and being (i.e. identities)

*Trust the unfolding of life…..

This by no means is complete as each unique human will have a different experience of what it feels to be in alignment. Please feel free to share yours!

Freely share this post giving credit to Wildly Free Elder global community and Gaye Abbott, 5/2021

NEXT GLOBAL COMMUNITY ZOOM CALL: June 4, 2021/June 5 (Australia), 6-7:30pmEST (please convert for your time zone).
FACILITATOR: Wendy Haynes, Australia – Focus: “A mourning and celebration circle. A space where we get to lean into life as it is – in all its beauty, celebration, pain and suffering. As elders, it’s important to share this way of being in the world.”
If you would like to join us on this call and are not already a part of our community please connect with us here:

Being Simply Beautiful

The Cradle of Forest Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Over this last year of dramatic shifts and changes in our lives many of us have been drawn to reconsider and reflect on what we most value in life. I for one sold, gave away and donated almost all that I owned the first part of this year and experienced the reciprocal flow of a gift economy where everyone receives and gives. In turn I received the freedom of not being defined, or defining myself, by my possessions.

What if we as elders surrender enough to realize the potential of “being simply beautiful”. A space of being where we are not holding ourselves by what we have, but for how we are in any given moment. This does not mean you have to give everything away, but it does mean you live from a spaciousness of kindness and reciprocity.

This humble man in South Africa reminds us of the beauty in living from simplicity and the importance of being kind to others and connecting in transparent and supportive friendship with all living beings. As he says at the end of this video, in South Africa there is the philosophy of Umbutu – I am because we are.

Part of the wisdom we have as elders is to not only pass on this way of being by our example, but to embody it fully. This is where we may find ourselves wildly free….

If you wish to share this post please reference Wildly Free Elder website for the post and Green Renaissance for the video. Thank You!

Next global Wildly Free Elder community call is on June 4, 2021 with Wendy Haynes facilitating our focus on Grieving and Celebration.

Please contact us HERE if you wish to become a part of our community and join our monthly calls.

Elder – This Is Where Your Life Has Arrived

Spotlight Post by Wendy Haynes

There comes a time when all that has been lived, learned, loved and lost may need space for integration and to be honoured. A space to connect to that which has held you throughout all these adventures, struggles, challenges and … arriving home. A space to lean into the ‘quiet immensity of your own presence’. (John O’Donohue)

Many traditions offer time for an elder to be on retreat, to slow down and be supported – to engage in a time for reflection, for resting, for being nourished, for befriending this precious life lived so far. As people come to this transition in their lives, creating a ceremony that acknowledges the richness and challenges of ageing can bring support, consideration and offer respect and meaning to the ‘elder’.

The poet, John O’Donohue writes,

This is where your life has arrived
After all the years of effort and toil;
Look back with graciousness and thanks
On all your great and quiet achievements
You stand on the shore of a new invitation
To open your life to what is left undone;
Let your heart enjoy a different rhythm
When drawn to the wonder of other horizons.
Have the courage of a new approach to time;
Allow it to slow until you find freedom
To draw alongside the mystery you hold
And befriend the beauty of your own Soul
Now is the time to enjoy your hearts desire;
To live the dreams you’ve waited for
To awaken the depths beyond your work
And enter into your infinite source.
written by John O’Donohue

As I connect with this poem I feel the beauty of this elder time for awakening, presence, gratitude, spaciousness, and diving deep into the infinite source. A time for quiet mourning and celebration. For more information about the Ceremonies for Elders click here.

Copyright by Wendy Haynes, 5/1/21. If sharing this post please give credit to Wendy Haynes

NEXT UPCOMING Global Wildly Free Elders Community Zoom Call: 5/7/21 – “Wild Writing” with Laurie Wagner.

**If you would like to join us as a guest please go here to inquire for link information and also how to become a Spotlight:

Finding “Home”

French Broad River at Stackhouse Bend, N. Carolina

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

~ John O’Donohue

Have you ever found yourself wondering what “home” means to you personally? The mystics say it resides inside and I agree with this. Yet, there is much more to this journey to reflect upon, let go into and be present to. Perhaps this is a quest we are on our entire lives.

I love the term “wild divinity” in the excerpt below – “resting in the house of our own heart”. As we age this somehow becomes easier to do as the striving and outward focused actions fall away and the inner “home guidance system” takes precedence.

Each one of us is alone in the world. It takes great courage to meet the full force of your aloneness. Most of the activity in society is subconsciously designed to quell the voice crying in the wilderness within you.

The mystic Thomas a Kempis said that when you go out into the world, you return having lost some of yourself. Until you learn to inhabit your aloneness, the lonely distraction and noise of society will seduce you into false belonging, with which you will only become empty and weary.

When you face your aloneness, something begins to happen. Gradually, the sense of bleakness changes into a sense of true belonging. This is a slow and open-ended transition but it is utterly vital in order to come into rhythm with your own individuality.

In a sense this is the endless task of finding your true home within your life. It is not narcissistic, for as soon as you rest in the house of your own heart, doors and windows begin to open outwards to the world. No longer on the run from your aloneness, your connections with others become real and creative. You no longer need to covertly scrape affirmation from others or from projects outside yourself.

This is slow work; it takes years to bring your mind home.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher


“Your vision is your home and your home should have many mansions to shelter your wild divinity.”

~John O’Donohue

Crossing the threshold into this wild divinity of our own heart brings a “belonging” that never goes away. This is foundation – the bricks, mortar and rooted earth – that brings with it the freedom to surrender into the next relationship, artistry, move, endeavor, location….life moment.

Having just completed a 7th relocation two weeks ago to Asheville, N. Carolina area I am forced to re-calibrate and go deeper into unknown territory, using challenges as stepping stones for this next chapter of life, while at the same time trusting inner guidance even as ever present uncertainty attempts to take an upper hand. The ever constant details of it all – the “right” and “wrong” – threaten to take away inner knowing and trust and often serve as immense distractions.

On the outside it may look like I have been searching for a home and never quite getting there. This last time leaping from wildfires, air pollution, rolling blackouts and high daily living expense in California to a more elemental earth and water home sanctuary aligns with the “home” inside. Yet the loss of being close in distance to sons, grandchildren and friends is part of the letting go journey as well.

I find the wild beauty and grounding of the natural world always there, serving as guidance whispered into heart and soul as a reminder of building inner resilience, acceptance and trust. When “home” resides in the wild divinity of the heart each place you find yourself – whether staying in a community where you were born and have established community or exploring other cultures and landscapes – will serve as an awakening to life……

Great Smoky Mountains, N. Carolina

Conscious Embodied Relocation: I was not consciously aware of the principles involved in this type of embodied leave taking when I took that first leap over 30 years ago now, but over the last three decades the fine tuning became more apparent.

If you are thinking of finding a “home landscape” that supports your aliveness during this transformational elder time of life here are some keys for doing these leaps that I found integral to trusting the unfolding possibilities:

  • Explicitly trusting the unfolding of life – get out of your own way
  • Taking effective action on the possibilities that show up from that depth of surrender
  • Willingness to reinvent yourself (which is actually a great deal of creative fun!)
  • A sense of adventure (being willing to get out of your “comfort zones”)
  • Listening deeply to intuition and Source messages
  • Connecting transparently with others along the way.
  • Willingness to change your inner & outer conversations

Conscious Embodied Relocation

It’s not realistic to expect to always be thriving.  Life can be messy and we can’t separate the highs and lows or have one without the other.  But we can learn to accept the process, to understand that it’s part of the journey, and to build our own inner resilience.  It’s about  bouncing forward and using adversity as a catalyst to get better and become stronger.  

And we also need to remember that we are part of a community – that when we are vulnerable, we can lean on each other and lift each other up.  And together, we are so much more resilient than we know. ” ~ Green Renaissance 

“This work is not for yourselves – kill that spirit of ‘self’. If you can rise, bring someone with you” – Charlotte Maxeke.  

Filmed in Cape Town, South Africa.  

Featuring Mpumelelo Ncwadi.

Copyright by Gaye Abbott, Natural Passages Consulting, 4/2021

Become a Spotlight in our global community and join us for the NEXT WILDLY FREE ELDER GLOBAL ZOOM CALL: May 7, 2021 – Focus: “WILD WRITING” with Laurie Wagner
If you are interested in joining this 90 minute call please contact us from this link:

On BEing

Spotlight Blog Post By Gael McKenzie

For many years I remained focused on DOing. If I DO more, I will achieve more. It was a habit. I had grown up with parents who worked hard all their lives. Yet “abundance” (in the traditional sense) appeared to be something that other families had; not ours. We always “just got by”. But keep working hard, DO more! This attitude was confirmed by our community, the schools I went to, society at large.

Until I came across Ontology; the philosophy of BEing. About 10 years ago, already in my fifties, I started studying what it means to be human and the nature of human existence. How could I tap into my real potential –beyond just DOing more?

I learned that whatever age we are, language creates reality, whether that’s internal communication with self or vocally with others. What common beliefs about myself did I develop in childhood? What conversations did I have in my own mind, that led to this excessive DOing through most of my life?

I also discovered that my moods or emotions shape my perceptions and attitudes and can be signposts to serve a specific purpose and that the human body is an expression of who we think we are. I certainly didn’t grow up with a tool kit that taught me to “relate” with or to my emotions or body! In the words of Julio Olalla from the Newfield Network: “Body and emotions as domains of learning are largely ignored”.

So from that, I was able to deduce that the world showed up for me according to who I was BEing –and not purely from what I was DOing. My way of BEing was the underlying driver of my communication with the world. And what made even more of an impression was that my conversations, my emotions and my body could change–in any given moment. We are never too old to make these kind of changes!

There’s more than one reason, I believe, that our bodies request of us to slow down, by degrees, as we age: to embrace the essence of BEing that we have either embraced in our younger years or not. Which isn’t to say we stop DOing. Purely that in BEing we can start the process of acceptance and letting go into the precious and miraculous cycle of life and death.

Now, as a Personal Development Coach through my online business You Inside Out, I support others, of all ages 18 and beyond, from an ontological perspective. Clients develop a different way of BEing, achieving a future they desire for themselves, by noticing who they are showing up as in their own internal world -and how they then relate with the world around them. Rather than aiming to achieve one-off performance orientated goals, we can learn to become an observer of ourselves and make sustainable shifts by looking at what limits us and who we might BE and BEcome as we shapeshift on this extraordinary journey.

We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” ~Anais Nin

Copyright 3/2021 by Wildly Free Elder and Gael McKenzie