Guest Blog Post by Wendy Haynes
“When your stress levels rise and life feels too much, the body can go into shutdown, the mind can run wild and the emotions overwhelm any sense of safety, connection or ability to think. The fight, flight, freeze may go into overdrive as the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. For some, this is a regular pattern, and the sympathetic nervous system may stay in overdrive. One of the ways that support the regulation of the nervous system, especially if you are in shock or have a history of trauma, is to connect with the body, the container of this life force.
Stress is an inevitable part of living. How we respond to stress and challenges impacts our level of suffering. These are some of the tips for Taking Care that I mention in the role play online funeral ceremony and in many of the mindfulness practices I offer. Depending upon your life circumstances some will support you more than others. Find the practices that work for you so that when you need it, you can utilise this self resource under pressure.
These strategies, practiced regularly, can support us to ‘befriend’ ourselves and lean into the ever present quiet presence.”
Copyright 12/12/2020 by Wendy Haynes
This last year we have faced our own mortality and that of our loved ones like never before. It is always there in the next moment, the next hour, day, month or year(s) no matter our age. But we had forgotten.
Confronted with impermanence and vulnerability in every single aspect of our lives is an innate part of being alive. Choosing to live gratefully in the moments we are given is a choice we make.
To passionately see, feel, taste, touch, hear and dance the unfathomable beauty, heartbreak and joy of what it is to be embodied at this time, in this place – NOW – takes consciousness, courage and a grounded sense of the inevitable change that continually colors life on Earth with a vibrancy we often miss.
We are being called out into transparency. To no longer hide in our “I’m good” or “I’m fine” when asked how we are doing. Life as we have known it has been stripped away laying bare the reality of who we are. Enough. Now. In this moment, and the next….
Enough, to show up with both feet on the ground no matter the challenges before us. To show that transparent and vulnerable self in relationship with others and the world. To heal the wounds that have caused us to hide from each other in our “I’m fines”. To be real and show up as we are in any given moment. .
Scary? Of course it can be, but more frightening is living in a world with invisible masks on locked in superficial personas and identities that scream fake and forsake wholeness.
In the next interaction you have with someone, or yourself, when you hear “I am fine or good” allow a pause, and then ask “How is it really with you today?….and then give time to simply be present to what unfolds.
“You must cry because that is good for the eyes and the soul.”
Gratitude to Green Renaissance for your on going powerful film making in sharing ideas, inspiring change!!
Appreciation and gratitude to Ramona Oliver for connecting me with Lee, who is included in Ramona’s book “Inclined Elders“!
Let us walk
Let us walk into the uncharted pathways of this New Year
Let us fall in love again with the living body of our lives
Making love to the simple joys we hold in our care.
Let us rise to meet the challenges with gentle fiery compassion
Letting our fears for the world
Light the pathway home when the darkness comes
And it will come.
Let it draw us into the deep soils of our shared humanity
That we become rooted in a field of loving presence
And untouchable grace
Weaving a network of support for our family and friends.
Let us stop
Let us stop often to light a fire of gratitude and
Listen to the ancient prayer
That breathe in the wild forest of our hearts.
Let us paint the earth with our songs, stories and art
Let us dance wildly as the ancient heart
Calls us into her circle of belonging.
Let us offer a helping hand to those who fall along the way and
Let’s stop to give voice to those who may not have one
Let us come together.
Let us come together
And open the door
To the path that calls us
And reaches in like a breath of fresh air.
Let us rise
Let us begin
Let us walk…..
By Benjamin Van Haeff, Copyright 1/1/21
**Standing Ovation for being accepted into HerStory at Manhattan Arts International
https://manhattanarts.com/herstory-exhibition-2020-2021-page-2/ (Scroll down to the 9th artist, Jennifer Rugge)
Humble Flute Player with Joy and Grace, gold-leaf, mineral paints mixed with walnut oil and beeswax on wood, 24″ x 24″
Yesterday I was contemplating on this time of the year and noticing how differently I feel these days. I know the events of 2020 have been sobering….but I think its more the result of the work I have been doing with you in Wildly Free Elder, with Andy and our Life Lessence, and especially with Wendy in our 6 month Death and Dying course (presently in our 5th month).
I find myself in a much more peaceful place of being happy with what is, moment to moment….and I believe this is greatly the result of having walked through and embraced my fears of ageing and dying.
How paradoxical…hey !
To die well is to live well, each precious moment we are gifted.
In times gone by, so much pressure ’to get somewhere”… to achieve, and the ultimate fear of ‘falling off the cliff’ before I had completed my purpose!
But what pray is that purpose?!
To awake each morning, as if it is the first day of a New Year, the first day of a new Life, a totally clean slate, fresh and new – with all possibilities available in my mindfulness. Expansive.
To Celebrate each day, each moment – not just at Christmas – as the miracle and gift of actually being alive, here on this beautiful planet.
It is all such a mystery…. as I surrender my life long habit of attempting to control life (what arrogance!), with the flip (and down) side of that ‘feeling responsible for it all’!…… never being able to rest completely, to sink into trust and being here Now fully.
Then there shall be no rejection of what is, or expectation for things to be different, anxiety about the future, fear of the ultimate, for this is It.
Right here, right now, each precious moment. And that is Eternity.
Then, if I can ‘achieve’ this state of presence, how could there be any doubt that ‘each day suffices unto itself’ – that my life is enough, that it has always been enough….
Appreciation and gratitude to Ankya Klay for saying yes to publishing her transparent New Year musings.
We sometimes forget that we are an integral part of the cycles, flow and rhythms of life. As this very challenging year for so many comes to a close, remember how precious the moments you have been given ……and that still remain.
This short 7-minute video below speaks for itself. A perfect reminder that without a doubt, life is a gift. See and feel through the eyes of a child and the father that loves him.
Standing on the edge looking down and across the Grand Canyon there were tears streaming down my face. An overwhelming sense and energy of sacred landscape permeated every part of my being. This will always be an important place for me, though the time spent there only a few hours in a single day.
We all have important landscapes that imprint deeply within us. Our embodiment of the elements – earth, water, fire and air – draws us into communion with the natural world weaving into inward and outward explorations, adventures, vision quests, and sanctuary.
Now travel on this longer journey with adult son and elder father as they rediscover an important pivotal landscape they share and relive together A beautiful exploration of aliveness, stages of life, and father-son discovery.
“Short film about the connection between a father and son, and the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The film explores the growth of these two men, through different stages of their lives, and how the thread woven between them, the Colorado River, brought them back to the most important place of all.”
“This is really what grateful living is: returning to the noticing of all that is sufficient. All that is extraordinary. All that already is in our lives – enough to take our breaths away – and using that to help us get through life in a way, through difficulty, through challenge… uplifted, enamored.”Kristi Nelson, Director of A Network For Grateful Living
Kristi Nelson was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer when she was 33 years old. In the 27 years since, she has lived into all that is possible when we take nothing for granted. In this beautiful short film by award-winning photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez, Kristi shares her personal story of grateful living – a moving account of what she offers in more detail in her new book Wake Up Grateful.
Image Location: Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley, CA
Have you been in a situation where you listened to your intuition and followed internal guidance over a commitment you had made? It takes a certain measurement of surrender to do so and a huge heaping of trust and transparency.
Waking up last Sunday morning I was overtaken by strong guidance to take myself out into nature for the day, walk some trails in a nearby State Park, and be in silence. The only challenge was that I was to be on an international Zoom call, the last of 3 sessions, with some members of the Wildly Free Elder community that afternoon.
Like everyone else in California I was feeling the isolation, lack of human touch, and in person human presence in yet another lock down due to the on going pandemic. A holiday family gathering in jeopardy of being cancelled which meant not being able to see grandkids and sons.
Though immensely fortunate and blessed over so many going through these challenging times, the realization of a need to simply breathe in the wooded air in a forest and commune with Nature Spirits won out over being on a computer for a Zoom call where I knew I could not be fully present to others in the group.
Little did I know that magic would happen on this walk through the park. Very soon after walking up the trail Martha, Wild Elder Elf, appeared sitting on a tree stump with her holiday adorned dog Peanut throwing out candy canes to those that passed by with a HUGE smile and the essence of joy emanating from her being.
At first I couldn’t believe my eyes, but her presence was so wildly free filled with holiday cheer that I stopped for a bit to engage and willingly broke my vow of silence for the day. She drew out a candy cane from the stocking and offered it with the most enduring and brilliant smile telling me of the group of family she was out with that day, who had left her for a bit to walk a little faster than she could go. (but would be back to get her).
To say she lit up those precious moments at the beginning of my walk is an understatement! Little did i know that the magic would not stop, but would continue on as I passed my favorite grandmother hugging tree where I exchanged energy and then traveled up the path past others walking their dogs or simply communing with each other out in nature in friend or family pods.
Right after I reached the mid-point of my hike another magic moment opened up. Two beautiful women on horseback came toward me with majestic elder horses all decked out in their holiday finest. And they were passing out candy canes too! Was this a coincidence?
Yes, I broke my silence again and engaged with them, ending up telling them about my wild elder elf down the trail, and learned they were part of her group that had gone out that day in the spirit of the holidays to bring joy and cheer (and candy canes) to those in the community walking the trails. Something we all need right now – a reminder to live gratefully!
As I learned about their horses, ages 17 and 16, and a little about them, we shared what a truly amazing time of life it is to have entered this stage of life, being able to freely share through our actions, thinking and relationships how precious life is even with all the challenges we now face. They were so excited that Wild Elder Elf Martha would be on this website that they asked for a website card and shared their ages with me (65 and 60) and their joy at this time of life.
Though it had been challenging for me to not be on the international call, this magic confirmed one thing. Listening to and trusting our inner guidance can bring untold magic, opportunities and possibility into our lives that would never have presented if we chose not to follow it.
Let the magic unfold! Thank you Wild Elder Elf Martha and Peanut for opening that container for us!
A friend in Scotland and I ended up talking yesterday about vision quests and being in spaces of transition as we grow older. Where identities are stripped and new pathways and expanded awareness can emerge.
Where we die to what has been and wake up to something that has been calling to us for a long time – but we were too busy or scared to listen.
We used to pay attention to an innate embodied inner guidance system that was deeply embedded in our intimate relationship with nature, in the rhythms and cycles of life and death, within our inhale and exhale.
But then we forgot, buried deep within our psyches, as we lost our on going conversation with the very heart of our deepest yearnings and knowing.
Each one of us has some artistry or way of being to bring in our lifetime that is unique only to us. Something that perhaps no one else will understand, grasp or appreciate.
It is up to us to recognize what that is. Not from someone’s or cultures expectations, direction or even encouragement. But from this embodied innate guidance system where our heart ignites.
It is in these wild and untamed moments that it emerges. Quietly taking over before we can put up protective walls.
Will we pay attention? I am still finding my way there….
Our Wildly Free Elder global community is continually exploring the many facets of life, not only in the aging process, but from curiosity, transparency, vulnerability and celebration.
A recent addition of a Wild Elder Poetry page is devoted to the writing that emerges from our every day, moment to moment experience of embodied life, as well as what is stirred through our connection with each other – the “WE” space.
If you would like to contribute a poem, a Guest Blog Post, or join our community by becoming a Spotlight, please let us know.