Conscious Family Journeys: West Coast Tour, Week one

We were planning to head up the coast through to Salem, OR, but my stellar nephew Aaron was available to show us what he has been up to in Jacksonville.  We drove the extra three hour detour, knowing we would pay for it later, but excited to see him and learn about the restoration project he’s been working on.  Jacksonville, OR is apparently a goldmine of national history with many original buildings from the 1850’s.

Aaron showed us around the town, including the restoration projects that he oversaw, then we went to dinner and had a lively conversation.  His thoughtfulness, passion and zest for conscious living always inspire me and remind me of ‘the passions of my youth.’  How far we can stray from those heartfelt ideals, particularly when we have a family and are in the process of adjusting our priorities to include stability, safety, continuity…but sometimes we take these too far into status quo and fearful thinking.  As we drove the four hour drive back to our cabin, pitch black woods streaking by, I reflected on the ‘passions’ of my soul that I knew way back when and recommitted to them.

Conscious Family Reminder: Let the idealism of youth (no matter what age) remind you of your soul’s passions and purpose, and brush off the cobwebs of fear and false security that may have obscured them for a time.  Live courageously.

Woke up to delightful wild berry picking at our KOA Kabin in Bandon, sampling huckleberries and salal berries. (KOA Kabins have been a perfect and affordable way to travel..giving L and M the feeling of camping along the way…without packing and setting up all the stuff.  We just roll out our sleeping bags and enjoy their playgrounds and scenery! )

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On our way to Sunset Bay we discovered Art101.  (see www.washedahore.org for great pics)

There we found an amazing beach clean up project where volunteers not only clean up the beach but create huge art displays that are then put on exhibit to raise awareness.  L and M were in awe at the creations and also expressed a lot of confusion about why anyone would throw trash into our oceans (they had a mind boggling amount of trash that they had collected from the sea).  One of the volunteers there offered her own harsh words about why this happens and I could see L and M cringe at the judgement that they felt in her words.

Whenever they ask us about things like this, we usually just reflect back to them their disappointment.  “Why” is such a big question and so multi-faceted, we stumble in trying to give answers because there truly are so many reasons why someone would put trash in the ocean (or cause wars, or make toxic toys, etc.), and we do not want to communicate in blacks and whites, right and wrongs.  So for now, we listen to and validate their disappointment, holding tenderly this unjaded heartbreak and sensitivity, giving it time and space.  We share our own sadness.  Then after a while, we point to the ways we can take action that would feel good to our souls, focusing on what we can control and expressing gratitude for those who have already paved a hopeful path here.

Conscious Family Reminder:  Judgement never leads to the healing we seek for ourselves and the planet.   Life questions this big and honest, often have no clear answers, only companionship in the heartbreak, and action taken together to make things better.

A short stop in Sunset Bay…each moment different than the one before.  Fog in, fog out, sun shining, clouds overhead, rocky shore, tidepools…L and M marveling at the sandstone that falls to pieces in their hands…breathtaking, breathtaking, breathtaking.

Family time in Salem, visiting cousins and my sister. L and M thrilled to play and ask endless curious questions… they have become quite good at interviewing the locals!

My sister tells me she is going to a “Mexican healer” so I jump in the car.  On the way she and my niece tell me of their initial skepticism and how they experienced firsthand results that changed their mind (they don’t realize how comfortable I am with this). There are many people who would never walk into this place; dusty old garage, with a blanket on a clothesline separating the ‘healing room’, a bottle of baby oil, a squat massage table of sorts, and a small drinking glass and candle on a makeshift table, used for ‘venting’ the body…no candles burning for ambiance, no pictures of bamboo, no relaxation music, no fancy letters behind his name.  Don Rafael, in his t-shirt and baseball cap gets down to business, diagnosing and rubbing out ailments with vigor and lighthearted conversation.  No chants, no prayers, no incense or sage, just an intuitive understanding of the body and no nonsense approach to healing it.  All of this comforts me, as it is clear that his integrity and finely honed skill speaks for itself. He is 70, he tells me and I am shocked.  He looks 50.  No, 50 is how many years he’s been practicing. When it is my turn, I experience the unquantifiable validity of his approach and simply feel lighter and brighter the rest of the day.

Conscious Family Reminder:  Look past appearances at the heart of every situation, every person… trusting the eyes and ears of your own heart/inner knowing to lead you.

Next stop…berry picking at a family friend’s farm… blueberries, raspberries, loganberries and boysenberries…yummmmmmm.

We pick, we eat, we pick, we eat, red and purple staining our lips and all around L and M’s mouths.   L and M run up and down rows, yelling for and finding their cousins.

Delight, delight, delight.

On to Portland to visit our dearest Godmama who took me and my family under her wings nearly 8 years ago.  We are infinitely blessed by her friendship.  After a fun night of reconnecting, we head out in the late morning to the Farmer’s market Portland is well known for…. A fun streetcar ride..

and we arrive to the largest farmer’s market I’ve ever seen…rows and rows of ethically, organically grown produce, meats, cheeses, honey, nuts, and scrumptious breads, pies, and sweets.  It is a foodie’s heaven.  We wander around sampling and buying, and wind our way to the adjacent lawn where an Iranian festival is being held.

We sit in the grass, enjoying dance and music performances and a delicious middle eastern feast.  In between sets, little girls dance freely, mimicking the belly dancing they have clearly witnessed often.   Hip sways and flowing arms unfolding like second nature.  I think about my own children and how we lack a cultural, connective dance. I’ve always admired the group folk dances of other cultures and how they bring people together, to touch, to mark with the movement of their bodies this gift of life, of community and time together…of connection.  And how this connection, this practice of dancing together can heal so many wounds… the dramas and tensions so common in family life, melt away when we move and reenter the timeless tradition and rhythms that mimic the flow and unending cycle of life.

I sit with visions of dancing circles in my head…and will share more on this soon..

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