One of my favorite things to do during my stay at the ashram was to wander through the forests.
On one of my adventures I came across an unusual looking butterfly. It had a decent wingspan of about 3 inches dark brown with yellow edges. There were big blue dots lining the outer expanse of the wings.
What stood out for me was the body. I took a photo and then brought the image up on the camera. I am always looking for faces or character images in things. This butterfly didn’t disappoint. It reminded me of a shaman surrounded by a cloak. His head was bent in prayer or sadness. The image is pretty clear on the face and body.
I have done some digital graphics with the photos I took that day and played around with the butterflies artistic potential. I was drawn to its vibe of reserve.
I came across an article on the Mourning Cloak and could understand a bit more why it caught my interest.
The butterfly, itself, lives longer than most butterflies. It can live up to 12 months, coming out of aestivation in summer and then hibernating again in the winter until early spring. When the weather turns cold it replaces some of the water stored in its body to anti-freeze-like chemicals such as glycols. It then rests under a cavity or tree camouflage until spring.
The name, Mourning Cloak Butterfly, is thought to symbolize someone who wears a cloak of mourning a loved one. The native symbolism believes that the dark colored wings represent death while the white spots on the tips of the wings represent hope and new beginnings. The Mourning Cloak is considered a spiritual creature who can guide you to safety or direct you home if you become lost. As a totem it is believed to teach you about the importance of griefing and recognition of loss.
On further exploration, I came across some information tied to the celtic goddess Brighid. She is the goddess of fire, healing and inspiration. It is believed that Brighid brings new life and hope and is often seen as the Mourning Cloak butterfly. I like that.
My name, Vanessa, means “a group of butterflies”. I am drawn often to insects as I hike or travel. The amazing designs of nature alway make for a fascinating muse.
I awoke yesterday morning to the doorbell ringing on the side door. I did come out of my coma in enough time to realize that someone was at my door. I sleep with earplugs that work exceptionally well and it takes me a bit of time to come fully awake.
I jumped out of bed, quickly put some clothes on and head to the door only to see a policeman walking away. I catch up with him as he comes around the block again.
The neighbour’s car has been stolen out of their backyard while they left it running to heat up for a few minutes. The police wonder if I noticed anything. I was oblivious unfortunately as I slept soundly.
As the day progresses I have the opportunity to speak with the neighbors and take a walk around my yard. I notice footprints to my front door, carport door, sidegate, garage and shed. There are more footprints by each of the vehicles parked outside our home.
It’s becoming very clear that someone wanted to pay me a visit as I slept. When this was unsuccessful they went to the neighbors house. The neighbors said that a woman came to their house in the early hours of the morning. They tried to gain access through their patio door in the back. The neighbor just happened to be up and asked them what they wanted. Boldly the woman said she had left her backpack in their basement and wanted to retrieve it. He didn’t let her inside. He noticed that she had a cab waiting in the front of his house. A cab? She had taken a cab to his house to try and rob him. The cab took off and left her there. She panicked and took off on foot. The neighbor thought that was the end of it and went back to bed.
Later, that morning, as they were getting ready for work the lady came back. She got in the vehicle that had been left running and attempted to drive away. She backed up into the alley and hit another neighbor’s cement block fence. She was able to drive away but one of the kids from the home got in his car and pursued her. He didn’t find her. After driving around a bit they did eventually find the stolen vehicle and reported its whereabouts to the police.
Why tell you all of this?
I have two more sessions of the Dream Yoga series left to attend. In the practice there is a method you can use that involves working with a “Waking Dream”. A Waking Dream is one that occurs live and in living color. An event that happens while you are fully conscious that you wish to explore for any insights it might have for you.
The first thing I noticed was the fact that I slept through the entire ordeal. The car crashing into the concrete fence happened less than 30 feet from my bedroom window. I heard nothing through my earplugs.
Someone was trying to get into my house throughout the night and morning. They were attempting to access my “safe space” when I was most vulnerable.
In my Dream Yoga session last night, I looked for parallel symbols between my Concrete Dream and the Waking Dream.
In the Concrete Dream, the little girl had told me that I didn’t know the dangers here.
Do you need to know all of the possible dangers in your environment?
When does fear of the unknown become overwhelming?
I have lived at this address for almost 40 years. We have seen many changes to the neighbourhood. My kids grew up here and I felt safe enough in the 1990’s to let them walk to school and play unattended. I never, until recently, felt fearful of hanging in my yard. When outside I am always aware of who is around. This is something I would not have considered twenty years ago. I can stay in my house and worry about who might be lurking around the corner of the garage or I can live my life.
I choose to live my life and use my yoga practices to calm any anxiety that might arise. It helps.
Every night before I go to sleep I repeat the Divine Light Mantra.
I am created by divine light
I am surrounded by divine light
I am protected by divine light
I am sustained by divine light
I am ever growing into divine light
It helps me to go to sleep.
The city of Lethbridge has grown and the population has diversified. There are good things coming to fruition and plenty of bad things going on like any other urban community. The homeless numbers have intensified and they seem to have become bolder. Across the street from my house many have hung out in the past and did drugs right out in the open with little consequence. Phoning the police usually doesn’t amount to anything. You have a drug service come and pick them up but they just come back.
Breaking through the concrete…
Concrete gives you a sense of solid security against danger. In the Concrete Dream, the little girl trusts her carefully crafted cement steps. She doesn’t have to guess where they lead because she already has explored the path many times. It’s a practical existence that is perceived as being safe and secure but with enough force, the mixture can crumble or crack and the sense of safety collapses.
Outside forces want in. They will try as many access points to gain entry as is needed.
What are you going to do about it?
We will beef up our security systems for sure but one thing I refuse to do is live in fear or move away from the home that my husband and I have created here. To sustain a healthy mind and spirit, you have to manage fear. It’s important to be aware of danger to a certain point but letting it control your life can become crippling.
The neighbor said later that day that the lady who stole the car was let go immediately with a notice to appear in court on a certain day. There really wasn’t any consequence to what had happened. That is another discussion that I am not going to embellish here.
It was Sharon’s birthday yesterday. Happy belated birthday my friend!
As I reflect on Sharon, I am drawn to her strength and bravado. She has had a lot to deal with over the years that I have known her. Instead of falling apart she stood her ground, defending her position and marched forward. Her head was held high and she moved with grace and determination like no one I have ever been friends with. We have both been through heartache, death, trying to raise balanced human beings and navigate all sorts of relationships with family, partners, work and friendships.
What has stayed firm is our friendship and I am grateful for that. I am a firm believer that people are placed in your life for a reason. You need only pay attention to reap the benefits of the interactions. I had no notion of Sharon when we first started working together. I knew nothing about her or her life. We seemed to be like Ying & Yang and yet through our differences we were curious about what made each who we are.
I am a couple of years older than Sharon but not by much! The more we explore our lives the abundance of nuggets meld into our pot of golden thoughts and threads.
As readers I recommend going back on some of the older blogs to get to know Sharon more if you haven’t already. She is candid and unfiltered in the story of her life so far. We have both decided that transparency is the best way to operate within this blog world.
Women supporting each other and listening with open hearts and minds.j
So here’s to you Sharon! Happy belated birthday and a heartfelt toast to your future and our continuing friendship.
There is something about a winter storm brewing outside that makes you want to snuggle up with a good read, a hot beverage and a warm blanket. It’s volunteer day for me at the food bank and I am contemplating how to get out of it. There is over a foot of fresh snow on the ground and the sidewalk has not been shovelled out yet. My car is buried in the white stuff and I haven’t been feeling very well.
Then it hits me. I think about the “NFA’s” (the food bank personnel call those with Not Fixed Address this acronym). It was a long weekend and it might be busy and part of me is curious as to who will show up today. My FOMO rears its head and I get my but outside to dig out my car.
It’s interesting to observe the NFA clientele. A guy came in with shorts and crocs today. On his way out he took off his shoes and walked out into the snow barefoot. You can tell that many are suffering from frostbite with their fingers all taped up or parts of their extremities purple or deep red. I help some of them open the plastic bags as they are impossible to get the two sides to separate. I am surprised at how many have reusable bags they carry with them.
Their modes of transportation vary and some of them are very inventive as to how they carry their things around with them. The hampers are presented in boxes but many take the food staples out of the boxes and stuff their backpacks, wagons, and collapsible containers to overflowing.
One of the men was greeted with big smiles as it was mentioned that they hadn’t seen him for over 3 months and was concerned that he wasn’t ok.
There was a dismal selection of extra staple items this week. The choices vary from day to day and you never know what shows up mid shift. You have to think all your selections through carefully when you don’t have access to things like a stove or even a can opener.
You would have to have a very strong desire to survive in my opinion if you lived on the streets in a place where it can drop to minus 35 in a single day.
The more hours I spend helping these souls pick what’s for dinner tonight the more curious I become about their stories.
I started volunteering at a local food bank a couple times a week. I chose to work in the front area where the hampers and other food related items are handed out.
I was curious as to who are the clientele for these organizations and what is involved to qualify for the support?
According to statistics, 1 in 7 people in Canada are food insecure. Out of that number 33% are children. On average there are 1.4 million visits to a local food bank in Canada every month.
As I toured the local food bank I was told that they supply lunch programs for children to most of the schools in the city now. On the day I visited they made 1500 sandwiches to bring distributes to elementary schools.
We all know that our dollar isn’t going as far these days. Whether you rent or own a home, once you get done paying all the bills and expenses not much is left over. It can be intimidating to go into a grocery store these days with the hopes of finding affordable food that is nutritious but doesn’t break your bank account.
Since when does lettuce cost $7.00 a head? It wasn’t long ago when you could buy a dozen eggs for less than a buck. Now you are lucky to find them for under $5.00.
As I stocked the shelves with donated items I was curious as to what people would choose as their two items from the dry/canned goods and condiment areas. They have a choice of one sweet or salty snack as well. The most popular is the bags of chips or if available, packages of big Costco muffins. I understand the concept of making it last.
I loaded a shelf with big containers of vinegar and thought that no one would want such a big bottle. I was wrong. As soon as the doors were opened the 8 bottles were gone. The more I think about it the more sense it makes. There is lots you can do with vinegar. You can clean with it, as a hair conditioner or use it in dressings and flavoring.
The foodbank I volunteer for has a big homeless population. I was surprised to see that it had all sorts of ethnic backgrounds. There was no one group that was over represented.
A Lot of people are very skinny and you have to feel for them. I admire how tough they are too. I noticed their hands. I have experienced frostbite and it isn’t pleasant. It can be quite painful. Long term exposure can cause permanent damage. I wish I had a box of mittens to hand out along with the muffins. The more practical side of me knows that they would probably just get abandoned somewhere or not used.
Humans are adaptable to their environments. As I get to know this curious group I am fascinated by their inventiveness.
What do you do with a jello package when you live on the streets? I asked someone the other day? I was informed you can put it in a bottle of water and make jello or just drink it. The same goes for cake mixes. You can add water and if you have access to a microwave you can cook it.
Buns are selected over sliced bread. White bread is chosen more than brown. Honey is available quite often and leads to the obvious question…”Do you have any peanut butter?”
I sigh as I am a big fan of peanut butter and honey. When peanut butter is available it goes in the hampers and is not usually available for people of no fixed address. I am tempted to go buy a few boxes of small jars of it to put under the counter and bring out when someone asks. The challenge is that once expectations are there it becomes hard to go back. The foodbank adheres to strict rules. They have to. Some days the food is plentiful and the selections are vast. Other days there isn’t enough to fill the shelves up completely so rationing is needed to make it last.
I have never known what it is like to go hungry and I don’t wish that feeling on anyone.
I look into the faces of the little kids that come in with their parents. I hug them in the light in my heart.
We have become a society of haves and have nots more than ever before seen. The gaps seem to be getting larger.
If you see that bin in the grocery store marked for the foodbank and you can afford a few dollars to donate I would encourage you to do it.
I have a new understanding of what it takes to feed a community and feel grateful for my lifestyle and new appreciation for peanut butter.
I am part of you and you are part of me. I have come to this realization slowly over the last four decades of being married to the same guy.
We have a common history where we shared a life. As traditional relationships go I would say that we were unconventional for the time. We learned about each other early that he was better at cooking and cleaning. He took the kids on a two week camping trip to Yellowstone Park when our daughter was just over a year old and our son was four. I got a call from the border patrol asking me if I knew that he had the kids and was planning on taking care of them without me? I laughed but the official didn’t think it was funny. The kids and him had a blast. He has always been one to jump in and change diapers. Have snacks ready when the kids come home from school as I was at work or traveling for work.
We have had our share of struggles. Times when we grew apart as well as times when we stood united.
When I think of romantic love I reflect on our journey together through this crazy world and life.
This summer I spent several weeks in the mountains in my van. One night around 10:30 pm I look out my window and my husband is standing there. It scared the crap out of me…lol. He comes in the van and gives me a big hug. I have missed you, he says.
The stars are out in full force and the night is calm and warm. We walk down the road a bit and lay down to look up at the sky. Our hands are connected. I know every bump, scar and tendon of these hands that are entwined with mine. He doesn’t understand why I like to go up into the mountains and stay for so long. He asked if I could maybe try going for a few days then coming home for a few days then going back instead of for such a long period of time at once. You would think that having been married for so many years that time spent apart would be a gift.
Apparently he doesn’t think so.
We don’t buy gifts for each other as we know that we have everything we want or need. He shows up with things at home that he thinks might benefit me the most. It has taken time for me to get used to his ideas of what I might need. He is always sorting through discount bins and buying things on sale. I remember he brought a feminine cup one time. I was horrified. He proceeded to explain to me what it was for and how to use it. Let’s just say I did try it and didn’t care for it.
Nothing is off the table or that private when you have been together for that long. It takes alot to surprise me where he is concerned.
We are a different kind of love. We have made our own rules and followed our own advice on what marriage should be for us. We have tossed traditional roles, stereotypes and obligations out the window.
We run naked in the forest every chance we get and make love on the back of skidoos and against palm trees on the beach. We spend time apart and we spend time together. I have been to 14 Kiss concerts just because he wanted to. Now that’s love…lol.
My work continues with the symbolism contained in the “Little Girl In The Concrete Stairwell” dream.
I have chosen to take a closer look within the red tube.
The dream sequence….
I find myself in a red tube that reminds me of a water slide. I lead and the little girl follows me. We are scootching along on our bums with our legs out before us. It’s awkward for me and I soon realize that I have to adjust to a crawling position. We have gone a ways before we encounter a bend in the tube that points upward. I navigate the rise only to come to another bend that is tighter and descends. I hear a sigh behind me. The little girl knows that we will have to backtrack out of the tube. I turn my head and notice there is a porthole. I can see that we are adjacent to the stairwell. Before I can get my bearings the little girl starts to make her way back through the tube. I resign to follow her.
As I worked with the meaning of the red tube this week it was pointed out to me that there is a lot of movement in the dream.
Do I ever sit still and just be with my surroundings? Do I have to keep moving in order to feel satisfied?
I have decided to go back into the red tube at the point where I get stuck and recreate the moment in meditation.
I am contemplating the red tube. Is it blocked? Have I blocked it? It feels like my heart or a piece of my heart ventricles. Why is there a window? A window in my heart? Do I have an open heart?
When it comes to matters of the heart, how’s it going for me?
If the red tube is my heart why isn’t there any fluid moving within it? It’s dry which makes it hard to push myself through the tunnel. Where is the lubrication that soothes the heart’s inner workings?
I am starting to see connections and associations with the symbols and colors in the dream sequence. Red blood cells come to mind, then white blood cells to blue blood. Blood is a life source in which we all rely on to exist.
I was born with a low white blood cell count and spent the first several years of my life indoors trying to staff off any infections or diseases. My immunity to such things was very low. Is the little girl all dressed in white with platinum hair related to my ability to fight off that which can harm me? She does tell me in the beginning of the dream that I don’t know the dangers here.
According to Google, white blood cells are at war constantly in your body. They move up and down through your entire system on guard for harmful bacteria or disease. They protect you against harm.
Red blood cells carry oxygen and help in ridding the body of toxins. Too many and they can thicken, clot and eventually block the flow.
When blood leaves the heart it is full of oxygen and is bright red but when returning to the heart it has less oxygen and turns a dark red or appears“blue”.
This is all fascinating but does it have to do with my dream?
The tube is red. If I follow the logic and trust my instincts my blockage is connected to when I have navigated away from my heart and I am trying to find my way back. I make it into the tube, I can see where I have been and how I got there. Where I get stuck is how to feed my heart to continue my journey. How do I keep the blood flowing?
Blue blood manifests when seen through light. It is on a journey back to the heart to be once again revived.
I am committed to getting comfortable in the red tube to see If I can open the window and let the breeze blow through. Maybe the little girl will stay with me there if I remain calm and at peace. I turn on a slow rhythmic beat in the background. It’s something new I am trying while meditating to incorporate vibrational sounds.
For now I am keeping myself still but not sure how long I can make it last.
Send me light if you have any to spare and together we can see our way to the blue chairs.
This week I have some dream work to do. Pick a symbol from my dream and incorporate it into a daily meditation or opportunity to use other yoga practices. I am still working with the little girl in the stadium stairwell. I have chosen to explore the adult who follows and then tries to lead the little girl away from the steps.
Here is a reminder of the scenes of the dream I am working with…
“I ask the girl if she is lost?” She replies that I don’t know the dangers here. I quickly retort that I am an adult and she can trust me as well as my ability to make judgment calls. I feel like I have to prove to her that “I know best”. She turns away from me and starts walking up the stairs.
Further on in the dream, after we have been walking for quite some time I see a red waterslide tube. I suggest we take it as I assume it will lead us out of the stadium faster. She reluctantly agrees to try the slide. I go first and she follows. The tube goes up and bends then slants downward. I get stuck trying to navigate the curve. I hear a sigh behind me and then the little girl starts to back up out of the tube. She doesn’t seem upset. In fact I feel she is resigned to the knowledge that I was unable to navigate beyond the tube. That I was bound to get stuck.Once back on the stairs I fall into line with the child and she starts to descend this time.
We don’t talk and with our heads bowed with trudge downward.
A landing appears and it gives us a view of the stage. There are big blue seats that are positioned to face the platform. Rows and rows of them are visible on the horizon. I get the impression that some of them have beings in them even though I can’t see any. The vantage point of sitting in the seats seems to appeal to the little girl. We don’t sit down though. I feel like I am not in a mind space to understand how to “take a seat”.
To give the dream context, I consider my conscious concerns. Why am I thinking about this dream now ( I had the dream three years ago)?
What is coming in my life right now that my inner guru believes I could benefit from revisiting this message?
I have been struggling with how to add value. I felt part of a community the last few years going to the ashram. I promised my husband I would stay home this year and help support him in his challenges. Be careful when you ask someone how they need you to show up for them. It seemed easy enough to say that I would stay home. Yet, here I am, getting very antsy to wander.
I have started winter hiking, even bought a pair of snowshoes. The van is back and I still have some repairs to do on it to get it ready for summer. I am almost set up to volunteer locally and still connect through Zoom classes with the ashram. Garden season is coming soon and I have started some of my seeds already.
The adult in me says that all of this should be enough to make my life rich and satiate my hunger for more.
The little girl keeps moving. She keeps searching for more.
I chose to work with the symbolism of the adult me that interacts with the little girl throughout her journey in the stairwell.
Today, through actively creating a “waking dream” I sit in one of the blue chairs. A waking dream involves creating visual images in your mind that can be run like a movie. In my visualization, the little girl is beside me in another chair. We are relaxed with our eyes loosely gazing around. I feel a sense of calmness. There is no hurry here. No need to make a quick judgment. I can be patient and let whatever comes reveal itself. I feel that the child is happy and content to bask in the comfort of the soft cushioned seat. We both seem to be very small and can curl up easily to lay down in the cushions. I feel like I am in a cocoon or hammock. The back of the seat is formed from flower petals. Giant lily shaped arms embrace us. I breathe in a citrusy wisp of bliss. I breathe out and absorb the light and wisdom freely given by the chairs’ enchantment. The chairs hold us in a gentle lullaby and whisper encouragement.
The child knows that the chairs are a place she can come and be held in divine light. She was created in the light. It sustains her. Protects her when she feels threatened. It surrounds her with soft warmness and unconditional love. She is growing into the light just those who occupy the seats that are connected by the community.
I am an adult here and yet I feel like an infant. A moment of revelation is upon me. My ego is still very strong and fighting for control. It is in pursuit of selfish service instead of selfless service. The need to be recognized and acknowledged feeds its sense of self worth and value. Why does it matter so much how I go about contributing to my community or the world as long as I act on it. As long as I contribute in some way that helps others it matters not what that ends up being.
You get ahead most times in the corporate world by being the aggressor. Appearing confident that you have all the answers and can lead others to success. It becomes vital to your very survival to continually show your worth to anyone who will pay attention to you.
You measure your self worth by the feedback you receive from others as to how worthy you are of positive affirmations.
Living a life full of distractions that involve how others think you should act, react and contribute can be tempting.
What if you sat in the “blue” chair with your sweet, innocent and pure childlike self beside you and contemplated life on your terms?
What does she want to experience?
How does she look at the world and her place in it?
If you let her lead, where would you go and what would you do differently?
I always get so much out of these classes from Yasodhara. If you are curious I recommend taking a look at their offerings or going to visit them.
The ashram is magical on a snowy winters night. I loved to roam all over the property at dusk and into the evening. Trying to capture just an ounce of the peace that embodies the entire grounds.
There is a song that is in the ashram songbook called Caravan Song by Alanda Greene. The song lyrics start out with “Wanderer”, “Worshipper” “lover of leaving” “Come join the caravan”. It suits the place and it suits me also.