It’ll be hard to relay all that has happened in the past year in one blog post so I may not even try. Probably best to break it all into several posts!
Suffice it to say, reading Michael Singer’s book “The Surrender Experiment” was as life-changing and life-affirming as when I read Jett Psaris’ book “Hidden Blessings”. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last wrote.
Tuesday morning of this week, I was feeling scared. I was feeling blocked and although I wasn’t freaking out and having panic attacks (like the week before), I was still feeling unsettled and uneasy.
You see, it was early morning at a 433 acre property called River Highlands Ranch and I was about to take a big step to become part of this gorgeous piece of land and to start realizing the dream of building The Healing Farm. This is big stuff. Stuff that brings up anxiety. Stuff that brings up self doubt. Stuff that brings up all my stuff.
A friend who has known me for thirty years was with me on the property the previous week and we were trying to talk me through the fears and panic I was feeling about moving forward with all that had to be accomplished to continue the process of moving to this gorgeous land and figuring out the big financial puzzle that could help me realize my dream. It got to the point where she told me she was going to do an “I Ching” reading. I’ve definitely opened up to being accepting of anything that might help me through the process of following this crazy path I’ve chosen (thank you Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays!) and so I said it was a good idea. What came up was that I’ve been offered a big gift (true), but I don’t know how to move forward with it (also true). That I had to listen to myself to figure out where the blocks were and try to work through the blocks in order to let myself free to be guided down this path of accepting (or not) this gift.
Now, I’ve always said the The Healing Farm will be non-spiritual, not too new-agey or hippie dippy and that’s all still true. I don’t ever want anyone to feel intimidated or judged for who they are and what they believe, but here I was sitting and contemplating what I had just been told and it was uncanny. I prayed and meditated on it the next couple of days and the panic started to lift and I started feeling more excited again about the process instead of fearful, but there were still all sorts of things that were tugging at me and bringing in the blocks. And then I went to see my mentor and she gave me a BIG reality check. And then I went to see some friends, drank too much wine and THEY gave me a big reality check. I was reeling again.
Saturday morning I was back in our “home” on Stone’s Throw Farm. It’s where we’ve spent the past year living in a 26 foot trailer. You can read about what got me here in this blog post link, but as rosy as the picture was that I wrote about last year, even though we made the trailer a home that we’ve grown to love, on a farm with people we’ve grown to love, the project for which we had come to the farm fell through RIGHT after I sent out my last THF newsletter (last August). It was two days after I got the news that we weren’t moving forward with the business plan and retreat center that the book a Healing Farm client told me about - “The Surrender Experiment” landed in the mailbox.
I was reeling. I had moved from my beloved Bay Area, given up a rent-controlled single family home in Oakland, separated myself from the photography business I had grown for the last 15+ years and moved into a 26’ trailer with my 6’2” husband. And now I’d not only lost the project I had moved to devote the next 1, 2, 3 years of my life to, but also had lost my new job. Yowsa. What a blow and what a good time to receive THAT book and leave for a scheduled photo shoot at Rancho La Puerta at the end of that week. I decided that was the perfect place to read the book given RLP has been such a huge inspiration to me and my vision of The Healing Farm.
I had come to a place in my life where I was beginning to think I had lost my mind. Was I being selfish? Was I being naive? Was I being irresponsible? I had been trying hard, but mostly spinning my wheels the past few years trying to switch careers. Trying to follow an inner calling which kept coming up in the image of The Healing Farm, but which somehow kept slipping through my fingers: Was I not working hard enough? Was I lazy? These it turns out, these are all my blocks. This is my “stuff”.
So Saturday morning, present time, back at the trailer I woke up out of an unsettling dream. I was walking down a dirt path in bare feet. All I could see in the dream was the view from my eye’s perspective. I could see the path, I could see my bare shins and I could see my bare feet. Suddenly the path began to get muddy, but I kept walking. Then the path became mucky with large pools of muddy water. I stopped and could feel myself contemplating whether or not to move forward. I think I decided not to. Then I woke up.
Coming into Saturday, I had just been given a little clarity after those reality checks (and feelings of not wanting to move forward) with those friends and my mentor (and that I Ching reading!). With that clarity, I was going back to the ranch for a meeting midday so I could share with the owners some of the feedback (both negative and positive) that I had received. The muddy path dream had shaken me a little, but I kept going back to trying to let go of the fears of not knowing all the answers. We had a very frank and positive meeting and I walked away not having answers, but feeling a little lighter with the knowledge we MAY have found a solution about how to move forward.
Then that night, I was letting go a bit with my husband and a song came on to which I went almost immediately into a seated meditation (There’s a line that’s repeated in the song that’s beautiful: “She’s like the wind” sung by a dreamy female voice”). It was lovely and I was swaying a bit to the music and completely in the moment when suddenly I was looking down again as if back in the dream I had that morning. But this time, although it was still my bare shins and feet I was looking down at, the path was green and lush and beautiful. It was lined on the sides with green plants and reeds. It felt so good to be moving forward on that path and so I started shifting my gaze up. As I did I heard birds singing and then they were in my line of sight swooping and flying and there were butterflies and dragonflies. And I felt light and free and happy and went into a full-on (maybe transcendental?) meditation. When I opened my eyes, a voice came into my head that said “The path made clear.” Pretty astounding.
In the past year I’ve had a handful of these types of experiences and feel like I can start to share them because they seem to be leading me on this path of surrender. Because of the inspiration I received from reading “The Surrender Experiment” I’ve let myself open up to what might bubble up even though I’m scared and unsure. But every time I let go and work through my fears things do bubble up and I have more of these inklings and visions and guidance and then that turns into a tangible opportunity - like this path to River Highlands Ranch. It’s not something I was looking for. It kind of just came to me. It’s a bite my mind was not ready to chew, but it seems to be a movement beyond me and every time I’m ready to throw in the towel, something comes up that keeps me going.
The “path made clear” meditation visual didn’t magically make the path clear. But it made me feel like I am somehow on the right path and being guided and the more I listen to what’s deep inside, call it God, call it consciousness, call it soul, the more I’m led to who I am at my core.
So there I was once again, despite the dream and vision on Saturday, feeling my doubts and fears creeping in Tuesday before going to this important meeting about the ranch. I’ve been staying at the ranch during the week to stay connected and to focus on the tasks at hand. It was early morning and I went outside the barn and saw the sun on the stage that has hosted hundreds of weddings, musical talents, memorials and mostly was the manifestation of the incredibly talented, creative and gifted woman who bought this property twenty years ago to realize her own vision of a healing retreat center. I walked over and set up my yoga mat. I sat and drank some coffee feeling a little lost and miserable. And then I was inspired to do a vinyasa flow with sun salutations. I haven’t been inspired to do full-on yoga in a long time. I stood up and began. And I flowed and I flowed and I felt the sun and I heard the birds and when I went into my warrior II position I looked out at this gorgeous ranch and the Monty Python line from “The Holy Grail” popped into my head (one of my husband’s favorite scenes): There is a king and his son standing at a large window in their castle. The window has ornate window treatments (for the time period!) and they are looking out over their lands. The king says “One day lad, this will all be yours” and the son responds: “What, the curtains?”.
I burst out laughing. I looked out at the rolling hills and oaks on this beautiful property that has somehow dropped into my lap and I looked toward the wetlands. And although I knew it wasn’t an ego thing that popped that line in my head because it’s my intention that some day this will all be “The Healing Farm” land and not “mine, all mine”, it did make me realize I’m not seeing the forest through the trees. I’m not seeing the land and opportunity beyond the curtains. All these blocks and fears I’m letting sit right in front of my eyes and I’m not looking beyond them at the beautiful gift that has been presented.
I’m not sure how many times I must be told to look beyond myself to realize my potential, but here I was standing on a gorgeous property that could one day, quite miraculously become The Healing Farm flagship property at River Highlands Ranch. I stepped off that stage with a confidence that I haven’t felt in a long time. I turned on my phone and there was a text from my oldest and dearest friend from high school who despite our similar upbringing has taken way more risk in life than I have. She’s gotten judged for it (even by me) over the years, but she’s always, always walked out ahead, never wavering from the free spirit she’s always been. I asked if she could talk and we called each other immediately. I told her everything that was going down and she was the perfect person to talk to at that very moment. We hadn’t talked in a few months (neither one of us are phone chatters) and the last time I saw her was the weekend her father died so I didn’t tell her about this opportunity that had popped up. There she was coming out of weeks unplugged on a sailboat in the San Juan islands and reaching out to me. My oldest friend who has always seen more in me than I’ve ever let myself see. Another thing that was seemingly perfectly timed.
Last Tuesday, I walked into that scary meeting helping to present a plan to try to save this property from being sold to developers so that myself and the owners could begin again the process of honoring this land as a healing oasis full of Native American history, healing wetlands, nature, life and celebration.
The path is still not 100% clear, but knowing how good it felt in the meditation when the path was truly made clear has given me the freedom and energy to trust myself and this process I’m going through. Whether it leads me to The Healing Farm at River Highlands Ranch or on a completely different trajectory, I’m ok with it. I can now see through the curtains to the gorgeous land beyond and even if it isn’t the literal land I was standing on, it will be my forest through the trees. It will be my inner calling.
During this process of discovery, I’m sure there will be some who say I have lost my mind. It reminds me of when Oprah (who BTW I’ve only just started listening to in the last year) was interviewing Ekhart Tolle. He was talking about his spiritual awakening and his history with his mother and Oprah said “your mom must have thought you lost your mind” and then Oprah added, “well, you DID lose you mind!”. Meaning, he stopped listening to that incessant voice inside his head that was full of doubt and fears built up from childhood. Once he released all that, he was free to become who he is today. Someone who, I believe, is helping to change the world.
I’ve had a vision for a healing retreat center called The Healing Farm for a long time now and as much as I sometimes want it to go away because it’s a more challenging path than I could have ever imagined, it keeps bubbling up pushing me forward and more deeply into getting past those trees. I hope someday to be helping others heal their bodies so they have the energy to heal their souls. It’s what I believe this country needs and what this world needs right now.
I hope you’ll help me in any small way to realize the dream of The Healing Farm so together we can Cultivate Practical Wellness. Stay tuned to the continuous roller coaster that may be the path to The Healing Farm at River Highlands Ranch!
And by the way, never believe me when I say I won’t write too much! It’s who I am!