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Archive for the ‘relaxation’ Category

Moonbathing

It’s pretty evident I love the moon; the name of my blog pretty much says it all. The latest full moon came into being a couple nights ago, and is slowly starting to wane. But its luminosity is still brilliant, as the moonlight gently streams through my skylight and into my home. I woke to this lovely energy at 2 a.m., as the shaft of a moonbeam settled upon my rocking chair. I graciously accepted the invitation to do a bit of moonbathing.  Slowly climbing out of bed, I nestled into my chair, allowing my body to rest in the glow of the moon. It is said that the moon is a feminine energy, and I felt motherly love and comfort as I let the sweet moonlight rock me in its cradle.

I sit in the chair

Moonbeam wrapped all around me

Bathed in lunar love

 

Time to explore, once more

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a travel adventure; I would say the last place I really traveled to was Portland, last year when I moved here. And now I am happily settled in as a Portlander, and I have had adventures and explorations around my pretty city. But I could feel my soul, nudging me on a bit as I hemmed and hawed about attending an event in Seattle, about angels and the afterlife. Oh my, two topics so near and dear to my soul, and a chance to go on an out of town adventure – well, why not? So I purchased a ticket to the event itself, a round trip train ticket from Portland to Seattle, and made reservations at a hostel for two nights – that in itself would be a whole new experience! But after finding hotels in downtown Seattle averaging around $200 a night, I took a leap of faith in the $69 a night hostel experience – after all, I am an adventuress!

The four hour train ride to Seattle was very pleasant, and after sinking into a good book I brought with, I was there before I knew it. I love traveling by train, and Amtrak once again proved to be a mode of travel I am very comfortable with. My skills in acting as my own travel agent proved to be quite proficient, as I found myself situated only five blocks from the hostel I had found, and less than five minutes by city bus to the convention center where the angels & afterlife event was being held. I had to pat myself on the back for that bit of perfect planning!

I do have to admit though, that as I walked through the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown to get to my hostel, I was a bit nervous. There is a Chinatown in Portland that I have walked through many times, and it just doesn’t seem quite as “gritty” as the Chinatown in Seattle. But I do have street smarts, that tell me to be back at the hostel before dark, and to try and not look like a tourist – in other words, only look at the big bright fold-out map of Seattle before heading into a “questionable” area. The hostel itself was warm and welcoming, and the staff very friendly and helpful. I had to laugh though when I saw my room. I don’t think I quite understood the whole hostel experience, as I just thought it would be like having a very basic hotel room. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to my room (and I had booked a private room) and saw basically, a college dorm room – a metal frame bunk bed, a sink, and a tiny wooden table in the corner. But you know what, it was all I needed, and the whole time I was there I felt completely safe and comfortable. What a deal for only $69 a night – and I got breakfast to boot!

My room at the hostel

Time to explore Seattle! I didn’t plan on going too far, but I had enough time to make my way to the waterfront and to a place called Pike Place Market. The waterfront area was pretty, looking out over an expanse of water called Elliott Bay. I spotted the huge Ferris Wheel from a ways back, so tempted to take a ride and see everything from high in the sky. But when I found out it would cost $15, my budget minded self thought it may be better spent elsewhere, like on food. And Pike Place Market had plenty of that – from fruits and vegetables, to chocolate and cheese, and of course the amazing array of seafood that Seattle is so known for. The fish vendors are half the fun in the marketplace, as they toss fish back and forth, making up crazy rhymes and chants as they go along. I settled on some great bread and delectable cheese, going a bit European, with a cheesecake truffle for dessert – perfect!

Elliott Bay

The Ferris Wheel that I didn’t ride

Fish stall at Pike Place Market

More food at Pike Place Market

The next day was my biggest concern, as I needed to navigate the free downtown bus system to get me to the convention center. This free bus ride takes place in what is called the “bus tunnel”, and it is just that – a tunnel, much like a subway, that has both buses and transit trains running through it. But thanks to a helpful employee I found in Union Station, I was able to get on the right bus and get there easily, as well as getting back – phew! That was honestly my biggest concern about the whole weekend, and I conquered it.

The event itself, the catalyst for getting me to visit Seattle in the first place, was very nice. The speakers were John Holland, a well known medium/psychic, and Doreen Virtue, a woman who connects with the angelic realm and is equally well known in the metaphysical world. I didn’t really come away with anything I hadn’t already heard or knew, but the energy was lovely, and the speakers were very interesting. I was able to walk around the downtown proper during the lunch break, and it seemed very nice – but not as nice as Portland!

When I got back to the hostel, I found a celebration going on in Chinatown – the Moon Festival. What luck for me to be staying in that part of the city during this festival, and I was able to satisfy my craving I had for weeks for sweet and sour chicken – it was delicious! I watched some displays of martial arts, as well as dancing and drumming in the Chinese way. Then I saw something called a mooncake, and just the name alone enticed me. It is a decorative pastry, filled with sweet lotus paste – but the duck egg in the middle was too much for my uncourageous taste buds, and I had to just say no when I got to that part!

Martial arts at the Moon Festival

Drumming at the Moon Festival

A mooncake

All in all, I had a delightful time in Seattle, happy to be able to visit this city that is really so close to me. But honestly, when the announcement on the train came, “Next stop, Portland”, I had my bags gathered up and I couldn’t wait for my feet to touch the streets of the city I have come to love the best, my beautiful Portland.

Discovering mindfulness in a game of Scrabble

A friend and I spent the better part of a morning recently at Starbucks, having coffee and playing Scrabble, a game that I have to believe every writer enjoys – it is all about words! What could be better than that? And the best part was that my dear friend gave me the lovely red vintage box containing the retro Scrabble board and those beautiful wooden tiles of letters – the only things missing were the bag to hold the tiles and one of the wooden tile holders. She uncovered this treasure at Goodwill for only $2.00, but soon found that her family does not share her love of the game like she does. So in a lovely gesture of friendship, she gave it to me, after learning about my love of what has to be the greatest game ever. I used to have my own Scrabble set, but it was grudgingly sacrificed in the move to Portland, as I pared down to the bare necessities. So many memories attached to that game, as I would always make my children play Scrabble with me at Thanksgiving and Christmas – and surprisingly, I never won! But fear not, I made sure that my daughter bought a brand new Scrabble set, so we could play last Christmas when I went back to visit – and as always, I lost once more!

But today my brain must have been firing on all its cylinders, or maybe it was the coffee buzz that spurred me on to an amazing score of 283 – my all time Scrabble high! I was unstoppable, as I gathered up 48 points alone for the word “quirk” – what a quirk it was to be able to even spell that word out on the board. I gathered up a slew of points with silly little words like “gem” and “zoo”, using a strategic mind I didn’t even know I possessed, scoping out places where I could rake in triple letter scores with those crazy eight or ten point letters like “z” or “q”. I challenged my friend on a word or two, and she in turn informed me of an illegal Scrabble move that I was unaware of, all the while thoroughly enjoying ourselves with some friendly competition.

And as we pondered our brains for words, and laughed at the silliness of words we thought we could use, like “yo”, as in yo-yo or Yo!, a favorite rap phrase, time just seemed to slip away. We forgot to talk about all the things going on in our lives, the things that are of a more dramatic nature than trying to figure out how to use up the last letters you are holding of c, j, l, and r, so you don’t have to subtract them from your score. It felt good to get lost in something so innocent for a time, not thinking about why I haven’t heard back about the job I recently interviewed for, or getting caught up in any worrisome fears about the future. It felt good to escape for a time in something I love, the words; and I was reminded of the healing nature of mindfulness.

Better than a glass of warm milk

I don’t know what the problem was the other night; too much ice cream, the overly dramatic book I was reading or maybe the Mercury Retrograde has seeped its way into my system. At any rate, sleep just would not pay me a visit. I lay in bed for what seemed like hours; tossing, turning, staring at the night sky through my skylight and counting the few stars I could see in the bright city sky. Nothing seemed to help, nothing relaxed me enough to drift off into my usual land of crazy dreams (I tend to have very vivid dreams that last all night long, like some kind of science fiction movie marathon). So I turned to the one thing that can relax me like nothing else – the sweet sound of music. I wanted something mellow of course; The White Stripes seemed like a poor choice in my efforts to turn off the monkey mind in my head. I found myself drawn to the one artist who can calm me like no one else – Elliott Smith.  His album New Moon was the perfect choice to me; full of his gentler acoustic songs, sung in the soft vocals that he is known for. And lo and behold, I must have drifted off like a baby listening to a lullaby. I woke up with my headphones on and the cd no longer playing. After that it was nighty night! I thought about how the music was like a lullaby, and how sweet it would be to have one lover singing the other to sleep in this way – so romantic! To fall asleep in this way would be pure bliss…

Lullaby

My heart is cradled in your music

Sweet high notes that gently rock me

To and fro on your rhythm of love

Tender melodies that caress me

Whispered words in a sea of calm

My soul slips into a dream

Of a love so gentle, so soothing

Lulling all my cares away

And my heartbeat sings a song to you

“I love you, oh so true”

A lullaby of love

A morning walk

I try to get out and walk every day, which is usually sometime after lunch. In the mornings I have my routine of prayer and meditation, followed by coffee or tea while I journal or read something spiritually uplifting. This little routine I have can sometimes go on for three to four hours, so there goes the morning most days! But I do find it a lovely way to start my day. The other morning though, something in me whispered, “Let’s go for a walk, before the day becomes warm and full of people.” So at 7 a.m. (gasp!) I was up and out of bed, and headed up the steep climb to Washington Park, which is the home of the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland. What a wonderful treat it turned out to be, as I cleared the morning cobwebs from my head and took in the beauty of a place that is so deliciously close to my home, available to me at any time. And the writer in me found inspiration in a few words I journaled about my experience, how it just felt so good – and the words come out in a poem.

It Felt So Good

 

At the top of the hill I stopped

And looked out over the city draped in haze

Sitting on the soft green grass I rested

In a meditative pose

I opened to all the earth’s gentle energies

It felt so good!

Walking through the playground I stopped

To sit on the swing

Slowly moving, to and fro

I gathered my strength and flew above the earth

Gliding through the cool morning air

It felt so good!

Meandering onward I came to the singing fountain

I stopped to sit on the stony edge

And listen to the lovely melodies

Of the water chime as it played on metal

Tantalizing my sense of sound

It felt so good!

I walked along until I spied the splash of colors

Roses in full bloom, roses in the fullness of being

I noticed the brilliant shades and hues

I breathed in the familiar fragrance

I brushed the soft silk of a petal against my skin

It felt so good!

I turned to go home

Along the shaded dirt path

My body swinging with the rhythm of life

My heart open wide like the roses

My soul singing like the fountain

And it felt so good

Not as in shape as I thought I was

Shortly after I moved to Portland I realized I really didn’t need a car here, and so off it went, back to Minnesota; the daughter of a friend of mine desperately needed a car at the time, and she was more than happy to buy my very reliable Honda Civic. That left me using public transportation, which is abundant here, or else walking my way around town. After a few months of walking so much, I noticed my clothes fitting a little better (not so snug), and I could walk the four flights up to my apartment without feeling as if I needed oxygen. So when the new meet-up group I found recently posted an evening walk in my neighborhood, I signed up, even though the distance was listed as six miles. Piece of cake I thought – I walk that and more on a day of exploring or running errands or sometimes both. What I didn’t take into account was the uphill direction we would be going on our route, exploring Washington Park and the very hilly Southwest area of Portland. How bad could it be? Pretty bad, as I soon found that my leg muscles were really as weak as noodles. But then I had a second wind – yes, I thought, I just had to get into my stride and I’ll be just fine as we said goodbye to two members who (very wisely and I should have joined them) decided to stop halfway and take the train back to our starting point. Not me though, no I was going to finish this walk if it killed me. And as we started to climb and climb our way through Washington Park, I thought at one point that I could very well die this way – a heart attack would have been a sweet release at that point as my poor heart and lungs worked overtime to keep me going. I started lagging far behind the others, but a very nice and concerned couple took me under their wing, walking a bit slower so they could keep an eye on me. My thoughts of a pleasant and scenic evening walk were shattered with every step I took now; my mantra becoming “one more step” instead of enjoying the beauty of the park. But finally, just when I felt like I could lay down and die, we reached the summit of Council Crest. And I have to say, the pain was worth the gain – we were treated to a spectacular view of the city lights from what felt like a heavenly vantage point – my ears actually started to pop on the walk down. As we began the big sigh of relief walk downhill, I found myself muttering, “Are we there yet?” like an impatient child. All I wanted to do was get home and stop walking! And I finally made it home, where I shoved aside my obsessive neatness tendencies and threw my clothes on the floor, appreciating the comfort of my bed like never before.

Messages from nature

So much of our existence here is spent interacting and sharing with other people, that we oftentimes fail to catch a glimpse of the messages of nature. Nature is wise, and calls to us. Once we can slow down enough to connect in that realm, and bask in the quiet required to go beyond our physical senses, there is much we can learn as we find ourselves able to translate nature’s language.

Living For the Moment

 

My flowers live in each moment

They don’t reminisce

About time spent as a seed

Or worry about the past

Did I grow enough?

Did I take too much water for myself?

Did I not bathe in the sunlight long enough?

They learn to grow and move on

To blossom and show their beauty

Not steeping themselves in what has passed

Otherwise, we could never delight

In the beautiful blooms that they become

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