ENVIRONMENT

Facing Fear

I like this acronym for FEAR: Fantasy Experienced as Reality. I relate to it. I've always had an 'overactive imagination'. It can be ridiculous at times. I am able to leap from an unanswered text to imagining my son has fallen on the icy stairs that lead from his third floor living space to the street and is freezing to death. (I've been called paranoid but I think that is harsh.)

 Photo credit: Scott Goodwill

Photo credit: Scott Goodwill

I'm officially on the count down to facing one of my big fears - going four days without a shower or make up. Actually, I am kidding. I've got over that fear since I started the Wild Deer Program through The P.I.N.E. Project. My big fear is spending a night alone in the woods. And I'm doing it. Next week. 

We've spent six months preparing and I've learned a lot about being on the edge. The edge is where you feel adrenaline. It's where you feel alive. It's where you feel like you have that heightened awareness. It's where you are pushing yourself. It's where you naturally find yourself doing lots of self-reflection. In the past six months I've been on my edge learning to track animals, start a fire by friction, eat bugs and plants, use plants medicinally, carve cutlery, and so much more. 

This solo night in the woods is a 'choose your edge' experience. You can go hardcore with matches and a tarp or opt to stay up and tend a fire all night. I am choosing between a hammock and one person tent and/or the fire. I don't expect to sleep. I'm afraid a porcupine will fall out of a tree into my hammock. (Did you know the leading cause of death among porcupines is falling out of a tree?) One of my mentors tells me it is so cool to wake up and see a deer standing 20 feet away. A friend who did this course last year swore she could see eyes watching her during the night. 

Whatever happens, I am facing my fear. I know every time I've faced fear in my life I have grown as a woman. I'm choosing the edge. Fear is limiting. Fear is not reality. And from where I sit - life doesn't get easier, fears don't lessen. Courage is required. Don't get too comfortable. 

Gift Idea #5: If Women Rose Rooted

It almost became annoying on my podcast, Reframe Your Life,  how often I referred to this book. On every episode I seemed to find a reason to refer to it. It was the book that had the biggest impact on me in the past year. It's the book I recommend the most to the women in my life. A few of them have even read it!

In the first chapter, Sharon Blackie writes, "Before there was the Word, there was the land, and it was made and watched over by women. Stories from almost every culture around the world tell us that once upon a time it was so. For many native tribes throughout America, Grandmother Spider continually spins the world into being. For the Andean peoples of South America, Pachamama is the World Mother; she sustains all life on Earth. In Scotland and Ireland, the Cailleach - the Old Woman - made, shaped and protects the land and the wild things on it. In these and other Celtic nations, Danu gave birth to all the other gods and was mother to the people who followed. Women: the creators of life, the bearers of the Cup of knowledge and wisdom personifying the moral and spiritual authority of this fertile green and blue Earth." (I know that first line is problematic for people who believe before the world existed there was the Word. - it's OK, you don't need to agree with everything she says but read this book and you'll find yourself nodding in agreement with many of her thoughts along the way.)

Unfortunately, for most Western women we do not know these stories and as a result we have floundered. I resonate with the image of women rising rooted. We recently interviewed the author Mary Reynolds on Reframe Your Life. She said, "We treat women and the environment the same way." We want pretty well manicured gardens and pretty well manicured women. We exploit women and the environment. And it is women, I believe, who will be the ones to rise rooted and take our place as protectors of this planet.

I have felt uprooted for much of my life. It's only been in recent years that I've begun to connect with the land and to recognize the wisdom available from indigenous cultures in understanding how to become rooted so that I can rise in strength. 

I'm ready to be called an Earth Mother.

Gift Idea #1: Braiding Sweetgrass

It's that time of year when most of us are starting to think about gift giving. Christmas Day is just over a month away. Even thought I've scaled back a lot on gift giving I still have people I want to buy gifts for and the number one gift I love giving is a good book. 

Over the next few days I'm going to go through some of the books that I read in the past year and that I recommend for you to read and to give as gifts. I'm not doing this in any particular order. (Spoiler alert: I think I may have already tweeted my favourite book from 2017.) Seriously though, you can't go wrong with any of the books I recommend. 

The first one is Braiding Sweetgrass.

It's a challenge to review a book when I don't have a copy in front of me. The person who I lent it to is familar with my lending rules so I know I'll get it back soonish.  And I'll update this post when to include some of my favourite quotes from the book.  

This book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She blends teachings about plants and animals with scientific knowledge and the wisdom found in the traditions of Indigenous Peoples.

I was left with a deep awe and desire to be far more intentional about the way I interact with the earth. I find myself looking at nature as a teacher with so much to offer to me. As I write this I am away in Northern Ontario (if Muskoka can be counted as Northern Ontario). I've been getting up early to watch the sunrise over the water and to hike through the woods. Rather than get my 5-7 km in and get back I linger with the trees. I take time to listen and to see what is in front of me. I've made a connection that grows deeper with every encounter.

It on my 'most recommended books' list. Reading it changed me. This book has called me back to a part of me that needed to be awakened.  I've started on a journey because of this book. I'm not sure where it is leading me - but I know, everytime I hold the braided sweetgrass in my office, that I'm being called to live differently and to advocate for this beautiful planet we inhabit.