Butterfly Navigation Systems

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Monarch and Queen on Zinnia taken in Voca

October saw the beauty of migration.  What seemed like millions of monarchs floated overhead on their long journey to Mexico.  They were like feathers on the wind, so graceful.  I am always astonished at how such seemingly fragile creatures can endure so much and travel so far.

I wondered how far they actually travel and found this record:  “A tagged male monarch (Danaus plexippus), released by Donald A. Davis (Canada) at Presqu’ile provincial Park near Brighton, Ontario, Canada, on 10 September 1988, was recaptured on 8 April 1989 in Austin, Texas, U.S.A., travelling an estimated 2880 miles, making this the World’s Longest Butterfly Migration according to the Guinness World Records Ltd (Davis, 2005)

 But usually a single monarch doesn’t make the entire trip.  Monarch butterflies may take as many as five generations to make it from Mexico to southern Canada and back again (Main, 2013).  Each generation is made up of four distinct life cycles – that’s 20 separate states of being.  

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Which came first the monarch or the egg?  (The Science of monarchs)

 So, this is where it gets spiritual for me.  Somehow the knowledge of the journey gets passed not from one monarch to another but through an evolution of existences.  There is a ONENESS…from the butterfly to the egg to the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the butterfly.  Five monarchs, five times in an egg, five caterpillars, and five times in chrysalis:  the journey just continues.  Is it really five different monarchs making the trip or the spirit of one monarch just trying on new outfits along the way?

And then I think about the swarms of monarchs making the trip…this knowledge…this “TRUTH” is within each of them.  I don’t know how they share it or how they hear it, but they all just KNOW.  Could the swarm of butterflies really be part of a greater being…all butterflies are truly one? 

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In the Elm Tree across the Creek from my House

 

What is this monarch navigation system? How quiet the mind of a monarch must be to hear this mystical guide!

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Sunning in the field

I was on the phone for an hour Saturday with somebody I dearly love. It’s funny because I NEVER talk on the phone…nonetheless for an hour. We talked about how we both suffer from relentless voices in our heads…there is never quiet…never space.  The voices drive us and push us in directions we think we SHOULD go.  We hear the directions society, our parents, our bosses, our lovers believe we should go.  They chatter, like multiple GPS guidance systems talking at once, constantly recalculating new routes.

I believe that like the monarchs, we don’t need a GPS. I think we are all born with monarch navigation systems that gently whisper the directions.  But the voice is gentle, never forceful.  So, I must learn to quiet my mind to truly hear.  I know there is a whisper for me…I can feel the loving call.  I just have to be quiet enough to hear.

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I constantly try to photograph the butterflies in flight…this was closest I got that day

References

Davis, D. (2005, September). Meet Canadian Naturalist. Retrieved from Journey North: https://journeynorth.org/tm/monarch/DavisDonBio.html

Main, D. (2013, August 13). Monarch butterflies may take five generations to migrate to US . Retrieved from NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/sciencemain/monarch-butterflies-may-take-five-generations-migrate-us-6C10910055

The Science of monarchs. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club: https://www.chautauquabtg.org/life-cycle-anatomy/

 

 

 

 

Lesson Two: $2.49 Mussels

I rolled my forehead on the cool bathroom floor. I breathed, trying to calm the violent nausea. After throwing up for three hours, I decided I could do nothing more than wait.  I knew that regardless of the ending, this would not go on forever.

Sometimes you have to accept that your body is in pain, but you don’t have to identify with that pain…accept your body is aging, but not identify with the aging body.  Sometimes you just have to accept imperfections, but recognize you are more.

 

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“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
― Brené Brown

 

Seems more than coincidence that earlier that day, I’d lit my sage smudge and with a feeling of perfect peace, smudged myself.  I still felt a barrier, an old resentment to which I kept returning. I knew it was time to move on but something around my heart felt like a burnt-out light bulb. So I smudged myself prayerfully and went to the kitchen to fix those delicious $2.49 mussels I’d found on sale along with a light gluten free pasta pesto dish. I watched a short segment on Gaia TV enjoying my delightfully inexpensive supper.  A few hours later, I asked Barry to just bring a pillow to the bathroom for me.

That was Sunday night. I’m writing this Friday night and I still don’t feel 100% right physically.  BUT throughout this whole thing, I’ve felt peace. I think I vomited up a piece of resentment.

 

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Finally letting go of those things I cannot change..

So what is my point? There is always another obstacle. There is always a problem to overcome, a friendship that is lost, a body that ages…there’s always a resentment to release or a fear to face.

Life is like a sit-com series – it opens with laughs then a conflict arises. By the end of the show, the situation is resolved and more laughter erupts.  A week later you do the whole thing all over again. Sometimes you get a break during re-run season but usually there’s always another episode. And it’s ok…because all that stuff happening is kinda the whole point.

A dear friend sent me the following meme after she patiently listened to my constant yammering for the past few months. I think this beautifully sums up the Lesson of the Mussels.

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The air I breathe…

(I took all the photos around Voca, TX  – – such a beautiful spring!)

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I’ve been lost . . . for a long time, I think . . .

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There is beauty wild messiness. . . 

Sometime during the last few decades, pieces of me died. Things that once burned brightly, faded. I can still feel a tiny flicker under my ribs, but it’s just a faint warmth.

I got caught up in being accepted…being loved…being kind…being like everyone else…

(How honest should I be in this blog? If I share too much somebody might feel hurt…but isn’t that the attitude that got me here in the first place?)

I SOLD OUT.

I traded my spark for conformity. I traded freedom for safety.  And I lost myself.

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No audience is necessary for beauty to exist… no approval needed.

I learned something the other day as I walked/ran (wan or ralked) with the dogs. The aroma of trees in bloom was bewitching.  I found myself inhaling more deeply than I usually do.  I realized I was being beautifully seduced by these wise, wild arboreal beings…actually by all things green and fragrant. As I inhaled the air, I benefitted from the oxygen and the enchanting scent. When I exhaled, I returned the favor as carbon dioxide. I visualized ribbons of CO2 rising to meet imaginary nostrils on leaves.

Without effort…without sacrifice…without losing myself, I was able to be a part of the circle simply by BE-ing. With a simple breath I gave easily and easily received.

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Pollination starts with a thirst…with a desire…

Creation Story

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My theory of reality/existence is based on personal experiences..on overwhelming feelings of oneness that changed me forever. Here is my take on…well…everything:

Once upon a time there was NOTHING except Supreme Love – God – Higher Power – Divine Beloved – the Creator – whatever you want to call Him/Her/It.  Since nothing else existed, this Creator had only its own “essence” to work with…and S/he exploded (BIG BANG) into fragments that became ALL THAT IS.

So every star, every planet, every piece of stardust is a piece of God. And to take it even farther…every being is a piece of God. Each cell is a piece of God…each atom.

In the Old Testament God is called I AM!  God ultimately IS…ALL THAT IS.

At the end of Yoga class, we use the phrase Namaste:  the divine in me sees the divine in you.

So here’s another thought that really blows my mind…99.999999% of each atom is empty space. So we are mostly empty space. We are empty space moving through empty space with a tiny fraction of matter… *note – this is not exactly accurate. See more information below if you’re interested.

What keeps us from merging into one another? Only electrostatic fields.  cactus

When I sit back under my Bodhi tree and contemplate all this, I start to see that we really are all connected. There is only a vagueness that separates me from you. Remember in psychology classes when we were taught that babies cannot distinguish between themselves and their environments…well, maybe babies are right.

What if there is such a thing as reincarnation but with a twist? We are EACH and EVERY being  – we are the killer and the one being killed, we are the mother and we are the child, we are the lover, the beloved, and the hater…we are the Democrat and the Republican, the Christian, the Jew, the Muslim, the Pagan…we are the calf that is slaughtered and butchered and we are the one consuming the flesh…

Our karma means living all sides of all actions.  Our hell is created by us for us.  BUT we are also our own heavens…Each act of love  actually affects every other being. When we feed a starving kitten, we nourish All Beings.

Cut and paste from Wiki:  *The space between atoms may not have much matter (other than a few electrons) but it is still affected by fields – wiki check quantum field theory – which fill the space and impact upon anything that enters the space! So, the 99.9999999% is not really empty in the ‘nothingness’ sense of ‘empty‘! 

What if we decide to call that other stuff…that 99.999999%….LOVE ENERGY? Isn’t that a cool idea!

This changes so much for me…just by concentrating on LIGHT and LOVE, I can change the world. I no longer have to fight…I can just love.  That sure takes the pressure off.

So we are all ALL…and we can each change the world because all that “empty” space is something…it’s the love, the energy, we each manifest and move through…we swim in, inhale and exhale…we are God floating in Love creating more Love.

Namaste

 

 

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Rain, Sleet and Joy

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“How can you tell somebody has run a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll TELL YOU!”  

On March 1st, I did it.  I finished my second marathon and beat my previous time by more than 30 minutes.  A few days before the race the National Weather Service predicted a start temperature of 40 and a daily high of 55. Sounded like perfect running weather. As the race neared, the predictions grew gloomier. At 6:30 a.m. the morning of the race, the current conditions were freezing rain, 30 degrees and a wind chill of 23. Now for some people this isn’t a big deal, but I’m a true Texan. I love sunshine and prefer sweat to chill bumps any day of the year. As sleet pelted the windshield, I honestly considered leaving – – – nobody would blame me, right? But I knew I’d regret it the rest of my life, so I stepped out, shivering and muttering obscenities under my breath.

I shuffled off into the sleet, determined to make my goal time and prove to myself I could do better than I did in October.

PACING

One of the problems I had with my first marathon was pacing. I was so concerned with the finish line, that I didn’t run a steady, slow pace.  During a recent yoga class, my instructor explained that one of the problems beginners have with yoga is trying to hurry into the final pose.  Instead of concentrating on creating a strong base for a headstand, they start kicking their feet into the air,wanting to get UP…NOW.  It doesn’t work out well.  So I focused on my base…I concentrated on my steady pace.

COURAGE

Around mile 6 I saw a sign on the back of a man’s shirt so I ran a little faster to catch up and read it.  The sign read “Running off the chemo one mile at a time:  26.2” I ask him about the chemo. Last year he ran the Army Marathon. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed and had been receiving chemo all year. And there he was  – out in the icy rain – running.  His courage took away every excuse I had for not finishing. In Harker Heights the sidewalks were crowded with Harker Heights firefighters cheering him on. I remarked that he had quite the fan club and he told me he was a firefighter.  What a motivation!!!

SELF-CARE

I trotted along, still at my pace (give or take).  I rewarded myself at certain points by eating gels and drinking sports drinks. I had failed to take adequate nutrition at the first marathon. The lesson here is that self-care is vital! We can try to be brave and tough and unselfish but the bottom line is unless we feed our bodies and souls, we’ll end up pretty useless to everybody around us (and we’ll post a terrible performance).

MINDFULNESS

I also focused on running one mile at a time. I didn’t think about how far I had to go or how far I’d gone. I tried to concentrate on that single mile under my feet. Step…step…step…focus on the step. Live in the moment. I reminded myself I can’t go back and run the last mile any differently and I can’t be at the finish until I’m at the finish. I tried to be mindful, living the race foot by foot, mile by mile.

ATTITUDE

Smiling…I smiled as much as possible. I thanked volunteers along the way. I made a game out of trying not to miss a single volunteer. Of course, when there were 15 folks at a water stop, I had to yell out a general THANK YOU.  But I wanted my heart filled with gratitude and joy on this run.  As I remarked to some of the law enforcement officers, I chose to be out there running in the ice. I’d actually even paid money to participate.  But these men and women were there out of duty. I felt gratitude and compassion.

I was affected by the positive attitude of those around me too. Somewhere between mile 18 and 20, I ran with a wonderful woman from Killeen. She was so full of energy that I felt revived talking to her. We laughed and shared for several miles.  I thought about how such exuberant energy is contagious…what a gift to the universe!

PURPOSE and REAL HEROES

Then I hit my wall…it started on the dam when the cold wind picked up and slapped me in the face. By mile 22 I was doing a lot of walking. Then I remembered why I was running . . .

When I signed up for the marathon, I was given the option of setting up a fundraiser page for one of several designated charities. After reading and studying, I chose Team Red White and Blue.  Team RWB works with veterans to reintegrate them into the civilian world. From the website:  “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”

Every day 22 veterans commit suicide…that’s one human life lost every 65 minutes.  Involvement in sports and physical activities has been shown to alleviate the despair in which these veterans find themselves hopelessly lost.

(A good article to read:  http://teamrwb.org/in-the-media/two-teams-unite-to-better-veteran-community)

As I ran, I started thinking about how so many of our veterans are living in darkness – in sadness, grief and despair so thick I can’t even imagine.  I was just running 26.2 miles. I was smiling and happy.  I felt some pain but it would be over in a few hours.  These men and women can’t see an end to their pain so they opt for the most radical of solutions.

I could endure for them…I only raised $1,420 on my fundraising page, but just maybe that would change the life of even one veteran somewhere. Just maybe he or she would wear the Eagle (the Team RWB logo) and find hope.

Thinking of these heroes, I finished my race….I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry so I did both.

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I was laughing and crying simultaneously.

And just as the Army Marathon promises, I did run with heroes…and I ran for heroes.  May God bless them ALL!