This is one of my first posts on Mikell's Hidden Treasures, 4/17/2012,
after I shifted from my live journal blog to Weebly.
The concept of vulnerability seems to be recurring.
It's been almost a month since my last post.
I've been retreating, hiding in the home I carry on my back like a turtle since the flood, a year ago on April 16/17/2011. I have slowly pulled back into the illusion of safety in my shell..
I'm hearing the word 'vulnerable' in so many contexts recently. It was the title of our Easter Service at church - one of the best sermons I've heard. I've also read several references to being vulnerable this week, and it was the common thread in last week's tele-class.
After class I began to work on the Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron and found this quote.
"Loss is always a gain in disguise."
Julia elaborates, stating that when loss is excruciatingly painful, we need to turn to faith. "Loss puts us back in touch with our own spirit. It cracks our harder shell and exposes our vulnerability."
Years ago i found an acorn in the woods and carried it home, thinking about one of my favorite lessons from nature - "An acorn holds the promise of a thousand forests."
I took took the acorn inside and put it on the shelf in the living room, but as I turned to walk away it occurred to me that it would never fulfill it's promise isolated on a shelf in my cabin. It would never reach its full potential unless it's brittle outer shell was softened by nature and allowed to become vulnerable. I took the acorn back to the place I found it, confident that the forces of nature would work their magic.
Being isolated and safe is an illusion. When we try to protect ourselves from life, we lose the opportunity for growth, interaction and joy. Vulner - ability is a word I needed to hear. I'm leaving my hard shell and going back out into the world after a period of temporary retreat. Tonight's class made me realize that we are all fragile, yet in our vulnerability lies boundless strength.
It's only natural after living in a fishing cabin for over a decade that fish are on my mind in April. The Pumpkin Seed was my first painting on stone, inspired by the natural 'hook'. He was followed by one of each of the eight fish in the Yellow Breeches, many painted numerous times.
My former neighbors still have a complete set, given as gifts for special occasions over the years. I made them a calendar of photos of their fist as well as birds, insects, turtles, lizards, etc. for Christmas last year.Other stones were sold at shows and galleries,given as presents or displayed around the property. My neighbors waded into the creek after the flood waters settled and salvaged some that were washed into the creek.
Sundays in April remind me of trout season. My neighbors always had an opening day party and the creek was filled with canoes, kayaks and people wading and fishing.
I was blessed to have spent eleven years living next to the creek. Great blue herons frequently fished outside my window and kingfishers bulleted down the stream, always dead center and on a mission. Occasionally a beaver would swim by or a kestrel, eagle or wild turkey would visit. Hummingbirds sipped nectar from the bergamot every summer, and a flock of cedar waxwings made their annual visit. One year I got to see a robin teach her baby to fly!
Inspiration was abundant and the paint brush danced! Fish, insects, turtles, mallards, chipmunks . . .
Many of my paintings were done on stone, the perfect natural canvas for capturing my visitors.
At the beginning of the new year, and occasionally though out the year, I update my manifesto. This is a guideline based on my values that help keep me on track with the way I spend my time. This year I've included a poster with my manifesto. I suggest you take some time to consider your own personal values, create your own poster and post it where you can frequently be reminded of what you value and how you can most wisely spent your time.
1. Use my energy level as a barometer to gauge the value of my relationships. Nurture those who increase my energy, avoid those who drain it.
2. Enhance the quality of life by using creativity to have more FUN! Schedule fun and adventure!!!
3. Take the time to stay in tune with my spiritual self - journal, meditate, time in nature, yoga, sketching, painting, creating, gratitude lists.
4. Respect my health as a precious gift. Use exercise and nutrition to be healthy - not to look good. Have a health-based, not-ego based, life style.
5. Continue to spend time in, and learn lessons from, nature.
6. Embrace and actively commit to my education and learning - knowledge, skills and attitude.
7. Dharma - use my passion in all aspects of my life's work through paid and volunteer positions.
8. Keep clutter to a minimum. Give away one item for every new one that comes into the house.
9. Incorporate systems to simplify housework, business, finances, etc.
10. If it isn't good for my soul, I won't buy it, eat it, watch it, read it, spend time with it, wear it . . .
Late last night I took Zippy out following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. When I checked the mail, I was deeply touched to find a check from Pay it Forward Foundation to help me with the devastation from the loss of my home in the flood of 2011.
Lisa Bartoli, who attended an online class with me, and her daughter Shayla, opened an account for me through Pay it Forward, even though neither had met me at the time. (I've since met Lisa and so look forward to meeting Shayla!) Their kindness and generosity, culminating just as thousands of others are in need, seems God sent. I'm feeling guided to encourage others to follow their lead.
Many didn't have insurance, and even those who did will not be well covered. Flood insurance does not begin to restore living space as it was before the damage. At best, it is fractional. There is also no coverage for out of home living - hotel, meals, etc. Even if homes are not destroyed, there is often no electricity for months.
If you have escaped life altering damage from the Frankenstorm Sandy, please consider paying it forward. Reach out and make a phone call to let people know you care. A caring word from a friend can turn their day around. Send a cards - even if you don't know where they are, their mail will be forwarded. Cook extra food and take a meals to them. Many have no where to prepare meals and can't afford to eat at restaurants. If you know someone who needs their basement, yard or home cleaned, spend an hour or two helping. If you don't know anyone personally, find someone through your church, United Way or Red Cross. If you can give money, please do. Even $10, from thousands of people, can have a huge impact.
DO NOT call and ask what you can do to help. Just do it. During survival mode, it is difficult to know what you need next, and even more difficult to appear even more vulnerable and ask for help. Please, before you rest your head on you own pillow, in your own bed, in your own home tonight, first find a way to Pay if Forward.
On Monday I'm meeting with a realtor to sell my beloved property on the Yellow Breeches. I lived there from January 1, 2000 until April 2011. The night of April 17th, water rose into my first floor for the first time due to an unprecedented eight inches of rain over night. I left in waist high water with Zippy, my puggle and Rocky, my cat. For eleven years, when most properties in the area flooded, my property was unharmed.
I was blessed to have had over a decade of precious memories by the creek, but now it is time to move on. A series of glitches have cause me to believe that I am not meant to return. God obviously has different plans for me and I have finally accepted that it is time to relocate. I will miss my family, friends and community sorely.
Please send prayers that my land will sell to someone who will cherish it and find the peace and joy I've experienced there for over a decade. I truly believe it is a sacred space.
Thank you to all of you who have encouraged and supported me through this ordeal. My heart is over flowing with gratitude for the wonderful people I am leaving behind. Hopefully, Facebook will provide a way to continue to stay in touch after I leave the area.
"Every day is a winding road. I get a little bit closer." Sheryl Crowe
This morning I journaled about all of the places I've lived - a farm in Indiana, college town in West Virginia, suburbs in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a small village in Germany, then back to Pennsylvania. It's been a mix, but one thing I haven't tried is urban living in a high rise.
In April, Mycala asked me to join her to look at condos at the Penthouse Tower. She has decided to purchase one, and I joined her this week to see if moving there might feel right to me. She has been asking me to move to Baltimore for years.
The area was charming - a farmer's market right outside the door teeming with flowers, fruits and vegetables, a park near by, an historic church with a shop that reminded me of Styles Boutique, and a gypsy bus painted in glorious colors and filled with vintage clothing.
A shop filled with mermaids lured us in, Urban Outfitters was close by and there were restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world sprinkled through out the neighborhood. We ate at a divine Italian restaurant and had gazpacho and a fresh tuna and artichoke salad that took me back to Tuscany.
When I returned, I met friends for dinner to share my impressions and to see if moving to that area felt like the right thing to do. It does! But when they asked to see pictures, I realized that I hadn't taken one photograph of any part of the apartment building. Everything was the abundance of nature and beauty surrounding it. What a delight to find so much natural beauty and abundance in the heart of the city - the best of both worlds!
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!