August the First was also the full moon. I sat out on the step and looked up at her, that particular white light of the moon shining on my legs in the warm night air. It was a rare experience to be sitting so still at that hour because the last 6 weeks have been very, very busy and un-still. Even late at night.

My last blog entry (good heavens, as long ago as June 20!) focused on the refurbishing aspects of my life and work – theatre and horses. Well, the refurbishment was so all consuming that for 5 weeks I was completely engrossed to the exclusion of almost everything else! My little grey horse took a back room as the play with all its challenge, delight and anxiety as well as ultimate success, required literally all of me.

I then had to take conscious steps to unwind, come down off the mountaintop of energy and focus of the play, that creative and administrative endeavor. It has been hard to allow the time for just sitting. It has also meant that the rest of my life, with the financial, human and logistical needs, now stands before vividly me, the abandoned orphan of the last 6 weeks saying, ‘What about me?’

So, when I actually stopped, under the light of the moon, I remembered all the times I have sat with her before. The long period in my life when I never missed saying goodnight to her, when I always knew when the full moon was due, when I wrote my book, was regular with the blog. When I was very alone.

However, I was also in a kind of holding pattern. That was time for creating space, building the foundation, preparing to fly. Then suddenly, I did fly off and crashed in some sense of the metaphor, but rose again right into the power and joy of creative endeavor with others, having been so solitary.

No wonder I am a little dizzy! I am a pendulum that has been swinging from one extreme to the other, accidentally tossed by tornadoes or selectively riding biggest waves I can find. In between swings I am deposited, sometimes not so gently, on a rocky beach.

So, as I perch on my pebbles today? I note that I have been sitting more, jogging regularly again, riding more often and paying attention the messengers from nature I meet along the way.

There was the Falcon who dived out of a tree, about 10 feet to my left as I rode along the trail, and then back up into the next door tree, where it sat quietly amidst the tangled limbs of the juniper. Stopping my horse I knew, ‘see the big picture and when you act do so at the right time with full commitment. Otherwise sit and wait.’

One day, when walking, the Heron standing patiently and alone at the edge if the marsh reminded me to be steady, independent and balanced. Deer have been with me since I came back to Sedona. Riding or walking they appear glimpsed in the trees along the water edge, sometimes in small groups, most recently singly. Strong and springy in step they are gentle, delicate creatures.

The Bobcat just 4 days ago zigged across a little back road barely 10 feet in front of Mariah and I, and then zagged back even closer, before vanishing, just out of sight at the moment of truth, in the edge of the bushes. There was a high scream and silence. Until the birds launched into a rather hysterical, full-throated discussion on what had happened right underneath them.

She was beautiful that cat – fast and focused, graceful and shiny-coated. My horse just stood and watched. I was mesmerized and suddenly very grateful for some reason. Perhaps she had just re-affirmed my capacity to switch on and off the creative torrent, to keep the secrets and be alone when I need to.

The Rattlesnake who lay stretched out near the path I was walking, didn’t move at all. His presence quietly urged me to toward careful awareness, healing and to embrace the transitions. Always with me is the Raven. They come to where I am, wander about, talking and arguing, laughing and mocking, daring me to be bold and see humor in life.

Traveling with all these visitors, though, the most consistent animal in my life is Horse. Ever since I was born and always since, I have been in close relationship with horses. So much so I perhaps take that energy for granted. So, to my horse totem, today in material form as Mariah, I thank her for encouraging and feeding my sense of freedom and power.
I have been out of balance (gloriously so) and am now landing back into center again. This means allowing the wild, boisterous sweeps of energy and ‘doingness’ to subside into a rhythm that will be once again provide a place of peace and calm.

In the Personal Magic book I note that we need to cultivate time for just being, in order to connect to that power greater than ourselves.

‘Investigate and experience a range of opportunities to open up your heart, blend the intellect with intuition, create ritual and rhythm in your life. Ultimately, how that is for you, how that magic works for you, is yours. There is the power, arising within your Being, expressed in the world.’

Paying attention to the nonhuman living creatures we meet in our daily lives is one way to make that connection. So, who have you met the last week? month? year? And what did they have to show you?

(Many thanks to this wonderful website for insight into understanding the  animal messengers. Lins Domain )

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, the day before that my birthday and 3 weeks ago I was married. Members of my family from Australia came and stayed for a week or so, my daughter came in from Oregon, his daughter and her husband arrived from Georgia (the daughters had never met!) and we held a party here.

There had been a concentrated effort to prepare the house and garden, find places for everyone to stay, and ensure that even though there was a wedding, excellent sightseeing was also achieved! It all worked perfectly. The ceremony was out in the desert, at the very place on the earth where we had met. It was simple and with immediate family. A picnic lunch afterwards at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona allowed us all to wander to Buddha beach, cool our feet and bask in the beauty under and on the rocks.

The party for everyone two days later was relaxed, casual and blessed with prefect weather. The famous wind of my little town even stayed low for the occasion. An eclectic mix of people, from the overlapping circles in our lives, arrived bringing delight and joy into our world.

Over a two-week period of family here we managed to go the Grand Canyon, Jerome, Prescott to a play (I was in Seven), do kayaking and shopping, make numerous trips to the Phoenix airport and walk to the heights of Cathedral Rock and into the deep of Montezuma’s Well. Always, it seems, traveling in a flock and coordinating who was in what vehicle and where we’d meet.

Finally there was just the four of us again. The two little dogs and these two people. We nestled into the space and the place, strangely quiet after so much activity. We wrote thank you notes, put away gifts and did a mere 2-person/1vehicle excursion out, a hike near the Crown King area one afternoon.

I went into the office where I work (sporadically the best of times anyway), rode my wonderfully patient and remarkably well-behaved little Arab horse again and guest-taught a workshop for a theatre/social justice course.

This past weekend, David and I chose to go away overnight. Now we had our space back, we were ready to go away! We hiked up the startlingly beautiful and varied elevations of the Granite Mountain Trail, in the Granite Mountain Wilderness, just out of Prescott. My gluteus maximus knew it had been on journey, my entire body relaxed after the workout and my eyes and mind were filled with such breadth and distance as I had forgotten was out there.

My life over the 4 weeks since I last wrote my blog have been filled with opportunity for gratitude, love, wonder and encouragement. It is impossible to be surrounded with so much heartfelt love such as I feel from family, friends and David, and not notice it seek to pour, through me, out into the world beyond me. When such a richness of gifts arrive then by the sheer physics of balance some has to go back out.

Surrounded by the magnitude, power and beauty of this AZ landscape where I now live I am empowered from deep and high, ancient and present. The magnificence of the Grand Canyon, vibrationry power of Cathedral Rock, the ancient ways at Montezuma Well and the endless expanse visible after the stiff climb to the top of Granite Mountain all ground me solidly in the earth even as I am urged to fly.

So it is the slow return to the day to day of life that reconnects me to all that is going on outside my immediate and very intense life circle of the last 3 weeks.

In my little town it is the Vinnie St Paul, housed in a little mobile home, providing food for those in need that calls to me, reminding me that there are stories out there to be told.  It is the surprising number of children in the street when the buses have driven away by 3pm who suggest a summer theatre program at the community center. It is the students and  actors, writers and artists in Prescott with whom I have brushed space over the last few months and in particular this past week or so who invite me to join their world.

Beyond that, it is the march of change in the greater world beyond even AZ that penetrates my cocoon. The ongoing struggle of the so-called Arab Spring, where people are willing to die for perhaps obvious human rights that I take for granted – freedom to think, live, love, pray and speak –juxtaposed, awkwardly, with the deliberate killing of a terrorist.

The endless cycles of natural change forced upon a landscape and those who live there – tornadoes in Alabama, flooding in Tennessee and elsewhere along the mighty Mississippi – place me in my context as a fortunate being in my geographical location.

The many whose lives do not change, but seem to harden into a shell of hopelessness, fear and victimization, demand my awareness. Young girls who give up the struggle to be free from a life on the street, single-mother families in mind-numbing poverty, or communities who exist within the sounds of guns and the silent screams of those on the other end of that equally hopelessly, helplessly repetitive pattern of trying to stay alive, trying to be someone.

With all the gifts that I have – education, love and respect, encouragement and opportunity, joy and intelligence, support and safety in my environment, creativity in my deeper soul – what am I to do? Blessed as well with awareness and willingness to see what is out there, with imagination to feel beyond my immediate experience, and a recall capacity at depth-charge level enough to draw on the DNA that connects me to all people, the time is coming to truly join the world again.

Rejuvenated and empowered by personal events of the last few weeks, arriving at aged 54, with a book just about done and its story more and more pressingly useful it seems to me, my gratitude must translate into action. Time is speeding up for all of us. We are almost half way through 2011.

Placed by Spirit/Creator to be here, now, with the support system and knowledge that I have, it is time to step into the arena of real gift-giving. My gift is the gift of the story, of sharing mine, of revealing to you your power to share yours.

If you read this, feel free to remind me of my promise, encourage me to stay on the path. If I can facilitate you on your path, ask me that as well. The garden is prepared, the guests are at the door. It is time to share the gift. Ultimately, that gift is to lead you to open your door to the unique personal gift that is You.

It started to really rain last night and the temperature dropped and I had to pull up a blanket in the early morning just before the alarm went off, in the dark of the morning.

Fall, and that means end of summer and winter on the doorstep and Oh Lordy, how to make it through until the summer again?

(Find the beauty in it… breathe deeply.)

I draw so much from the sun – the feel of it on my skin, warm wind on my legs, and feet on hot rocks. The trickles of sweat finding their paths down my body.

Now here comes the confines of clothing, fingers I can’t feel, toes that vanish for entire days.

I feel the twilight rather than see it, coming earlier and earlier. All I want to do is sleep. For months.

(I think I know bears.)

Of course when I have made it through the dimming of the day (a song I know) then when the night comes it is like any other, except with blankets. And I do like the coziness of my apartment, better at warming up than cooling down.

And I love the lightening flashing all about me, the thunder like trucks crashing over-head. The wet that comes through on the air between the dust particles. The incredible sunsets.

It really rained today, the next season arriving, the next set of opportunities.
Curl in, honor promises made, introspect.
Cry more.
Feel more.
Dream and vision.

Less doing more being, maybe.

Why do they call it fall? I know, because the leaves fall, but what about people, the Summer people I mean? (For the Winter people it is a quite different time I am sure.)

Is it because we fall to earth after the flying in the summer sun? We nestle into the earth, the womb, and lie dormant.

At least that is what we want to do but we don’t, we cant. (After all we are not bears.)

There is much to do but it is all to do with surviving. Less playing. Even when you go snowskiing (I don’t do it) it is somehow bound up with clothing all over and gloves and boots, shielding you from the weather, not opening to it like a flower. It is about avoiding hypothermia, staying hydrated (you don’t know you are sweating), protecting your eyes and face from the sun glare and frost…. and staying upright against all odds (which are short, at least in my experience!)

(The same hill in the summer? take it all off and run on the earth. Yes, carry water and wear a hat and remember the sunscreen but oh glorious, the freedom of movement!)

In winter the saving grace is to find the hot spring which in the summer can be just a bit Too hot. Find that one and lie in it – skin in soft water, a little mud or gravel under my bottom, and only my face from the chin up and ears forward, peeping out.  Luxuriating in – well, the womb, that warm, wet place separating and protecting my body lying free in the liquid, from the cold, hard world.

This morning though, immediately after the dark of the rain, there was thin strip of blue that grew longer and wider until- yes, blue sky! I took the opening and advanced.

My rubber boots waited outside the door where I had simply abandoned them last spring. I shook them sternly hoping to dislodge any summer spiders, dragged them on and, pulling on an extra long-sleeved flannel shirt over the T, went out to the horses. The yards looked like they had looked in the middle of last December. Wet, thick, red mud and little balls of pooh floating on surprised puddles.

However everything was so clean, and the sharpness of all the smells (hay, horses, earth, trees, the creek, but not, oddly enough, the manure,) set free by the moisture, was intoxicating.

Later today I went out the storage unit and hunted about for the waterproof coats and jackets, after waiting in the car for a particularly serious deluge to slow down enough to insert the key and roll up the door without drowning myself. The day will come when barely-there summer clothes will go into the place where the coats were.

Drove back in a 6mile carwash.

This evening, the horses in the wild wind and rain, lit in the darkening skies by sharp wrinkles of lightning and assaulted by those ten-ton trucks crashing above, were suddenly new creatures. From the docile animals of polite interest waiting patiently by their feeder bins for the food they had become skipping, kicking, bouncing, rounded balls of muscle and legs. Their heads tucked in, trying to keep their tails to the wind and rain, they skittered on the mud from the shelters to the fence where the blue bins filled with water as I struggled with hay against the gale.

Carrying the bins crammed with now damp sticking alfalfa to the shelters, the hood of the most effective rain coat blown half over my face, I was uncomfortably aware of jumpy, large beasts just out of sight around me! One refused to go into his shelter and so I lugged the bin back to the fence. He resolutely bent his head into it, his ears back against the bits of rain blowing onto his head. Others stood in little shelters next to yard mates by whom they’d usually be no closer than 50 feet at feeding time!

They will adjust to this as soon as the first onslaught of winter is over and their coats catch up to the sudden turn of weather events. They will stand patiently again, albeit their rumps toward the prevailing weather.

Of course I know we will have more sunny days and even heat before it really arrives. But the screw is turning and the days are shorter. This is nature’s way of reminding us that nothing is ever the same for long and we mere human mortals have no choice but to adjust, like the horses do.

So, I will adjust – drink hot tea more often, wrap up in large sweaters and pull on socks to sit at the computer. I will make excursions to hot springs, to let my body be clear and free in nature, just not in the sun, but in the natural hot water that comes up from below.

I will take those (maybe daily) runs more easily, rather than squeezing them into the times between work and dark and when it is not too hot – at 5am and sometimes 7pm! (My long running pants are waiting for me, although for a while I can get by with shorts and a long sleeved top.) After the initial gasp of cold and baptism of water at the beginning of the run, it is pretty darned exhilarating!

It really did rain today. Living in the desert and blessed by many consecutive days of hot and dry it is a bit of a shock.  However, the beauty of the new season will assert itself and the opportunity it gives me for moving through the land and myself differently will be appreciated. But tonight I remember summer, and sigh with nostalgia for the one just over and the many before that.

And now, to put the kettle on.

Everyday after I have made the coffee, checked email, listened to the news on NPR, scanned the NYT, finished the coffee and made it outside, I wake up. A series of mostly gentle but persistent nudges and pokes pressing the buttons of each of my senses, brings me fully into the day.

Here it is in little snapshots.

1) walking from the apartment to the barn:
The sun is still soft and the cool rising from the pond the primary sensation on the air.
I can hear a dog barking, invisible birds seem to be everywhere noisily heralding my arrival. My hat is a little tight on my brow.

2) arriving at the barn:
Horses in their individual ways waiting patiently or im-. Banging their plastic bins, tapping the metal rails, walking briskly up and down or just standing, fixed on my every movement.
The hayshed smells a little mousy today but the alfalfa, when I break the flakes apart, is sweet.
Little prickles grab into my palms.
The hay-loaded cart is very heavy and bumps over the lip of the shed floor into the yard.

3) feeding:
The key sticks in the padlock, making the gate rattle.
The sun is warm on my neck.
The combination of horse feet and mine in the dry dirt kicks up dust which floats over me, resting on my face and lips. It is dry and surprisingly sweet.
There is a very visible crow sitting on top of a the highest rail, two yards down, mocking my work with, I think, more of a kindly than evil eye.
Run my eyes briefly over each horse as I toss the feed in the bin.
Stop, place my hands on them if there is something to explore, or a connection to make.

4) waters:
Dragging the hose with its many small leaks and sprays, tendency to hook on the tufts of weedy shrubs, and muddy splashings as it is dragged from water trough to water trough, brings me completely awake.
The invisible birds seem to be here now – still singing and chirruping. And every now and again I spot one on the power wire, or on the top of cat’s claw tree. (I stand still so that I really see those ones.)
Rinse muddy hands in a trough, wipe wet hands on a nearby horse or my jeans.

5) cleaning the yards:
Not a lot to add here except that the rake, the wheelbarrow, and the horse-poo together create their own assault on the senses. Smell the sourness, shake the dirt through the rake before I toss the poo in the barrow, heft the barrow when it is full, push against the weight, the rough wooden handles exactly the right size, try not to lick my lips. My hat is loose and wet on my brow. The sun is now barely filtered by the last of that beautiful morning air.

Ah, and an opportunity to practice meditation, staying in the moment. Focus on the task, all my senses fully engaged. Let thinking pass on, the stream of awareness keep moving. What is to be recalled will stay. Not always successful, but everyday time to practice.

6) back to the apartment:
Fully awake. No stiffness. The light is bright and strong. Seeing little lizards, smelling the mud on the edges of the pond, and hearing everything. Old coffee and new dust in my mouth. A tiny pebble in my shoe. The top of the canyon rim, permanent and forever,  stands way above this little finger of flatness. My place in the universe, another in a line of people who have walked along this creek beneath these ancient hills.

Yes, fully awake and fully present in this day.