Taking the Garden Path Home

… I can appreciate that part of my soul shares something with that of plants and flowers and vegetables. Why else would I have a ficus in my living room, a garden of herbs and tomatoes just outside the house, and peonies and orchids blossoming around me? Are they just physically there like the furniture, or are we cousins of a sort? Am I more at home with this vegetative life?     Thomas Moore*

Since my recent relocation to Southland New Zealand, I have been searching for a sense of what home means to me. I didn’t relocate for my own job– my husband accepted a position here, and I am more than happy to accompany him on this adventure. But a sense of home is critically important to finding my place and purpose. In some ways I have been trying to work this out for more than a decade, as I designed a new life after a divorce. Fifteen years ago I drove away from my house that I had helped to design and build and raise two children in — a house across the street from where I had grown up — to live alone several towns away in an apartment over a barn. I had no idea what would happen to me next or where I would end up. There have been seven moves since. In my wildest dreams I never imagined I would end up on the bottom of this far-flung island in the South Pacific, over 9000 miles from New England.

It’s easy for me to say that the first element of home is having loved ones nearby. No structure, garden, neighborhood, beach or mountain vista can replace the need I have to be close to my family. The bridge we used to move here was family, in fact, because two of my stepdaughters had settled here and now we have Kiwi grandchildren and a growing clan. But I still had to leave family, friends, and loved ones in the US. How did people bear to do this before the days of Facetime, Skype,Facebook, and Air New Zealand? I can’t even imagine the sense of loss and distance. Many people here emigrated from the British Isles, over 11,000 miles away. The Maoris arrived here from other islands, voyaging in canoes across dangerous oceans.

I have noticed that in New Zealand we are not only privileged to enjoy the natural scenery, but that the people here really know how to garden. The most modest of homes often are bedecked in flowers, garden trellises, and shrubbery with a tiny glasshouse in the back yard near the shed. In fact, yards are not a big deal at all (except for use as grazing or sport!) Hedges, paths, flowering shrubs, raised boxes, vines, fruits and veggies are worked around the homes amidst the sheep pens, pastures and bush.

IMG_1752 I sometimes question whether I should “invest” the effort and expense to develop the gardens around this house because I may only be here a few short years. But then I realize that the simplest acts of cultivation around the place brings me happiness: for instance, raking away the old leaves reveals some lovely rocks that were carefully placed by a former inhabitant. And the hassle of setting up a new raised veggie box will be worth it when I can step outside and collect fresh greens for dinner. There is no better way to connect with a home than to grow and cook your food.

It will be a while before this feels like where I belong, but I think I have found one of the paths—and I can gaze at it from my window.

*Read more of Thomas Moore’s essay on the Veggie Soul: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/care-soul-veggie-soul


Ten Reasons Why I’m Not Going To Quit These Blogging/Writing Courses Even Though I Decided To An Hour Ago

  1. I am really just running into that wall of old brain fog that arises when I feel exposed.
  2. It’s just some annoying and unhelpful form of social anxiety.
  3. It’s a type of perfectionism and it’s a hang up.
  4. I freak out when I am challenged to write something quickly and it might not be fabulous yet.
  5. Maybe I’m anxious that I’m in a developing form, not yet perfect.
  6. It would actually be horrible to be someone who’s perfect.
  7. I don’t even want to be perfect; it’s boring and ridiculous.
  8. A perfect person would be mythological and doomed to fall, which would be actually interesting to read about!
  9. Didn’t I join this program to grow? If it didn’t feel a bit uncomfortable, it would be worthless.

Painting Taras

I have a thing for painting White Taras. A few years ago I was going through a scary time: there was a chance my husband’s cancer had returned. I was filled with the desire to make or do something that felt healing. But I didn’t just want comforting, I wanted to create something for our home that would affect the energy of the household. I had a photo of an antique Tara thangka painting from a Buddhist calendar pinned on my bulletin board and I found myself attracted to and comforted by the image. Her sublime beauty, relaxed and sensuous face, bejeweled- and silk- draped body sat both erect and comfortable in a lotus posture, all the while seeming to exude a subtle power and comforting beneficence. Continue reading “Painting Taras”

How I ended up on the other side of the world

It’s been exactly a year since I wrote my last post. A year ago today I was settling in to my new home in Maine; my husband and I were trying to design a new life and meaningful work. We were establishing a new office downtown while literally re-working the land around our house; planting gardens and making this place our home. So how did I end up living on the other side of the planet?

We had often talked about some day moving part-time to New Zealand, where two of our children had settled and were establishing families. How we could do that was a mystery, and didn’t seem practical or even possible. We both have dear family and friends in the States, and I love my new spot on the coast of Maine. But on the other hand, I hate the cold winters. So I would jokingly say that some day, who knows when, we would live in NZ in the winter and in Maine in the summer.

Then we had a month in which everything we knew went through radical shape shifting, as if our lives had been thrown in a blender and the switch was turned on high. Continue reading “How I ended up on the other side of the world”

The Science of Reading Signs

Yesterday two special things came to me. As I walked with a companion along the path overlooking the eastern shore of the island, a large black feather came down in front of me, falling vertically from the sky in a lovely spin, twirling perfectly upright as it descended and landed at my feet. I was stunned, and could have reached out and picked it from mid-air, but it’s descent was so purposeful that I didn’t want to interrupt its fall. It was a good size feather: 9-10 inches long and perfectly formed. It appeared at first to be black, but was really a deep, rich, solid gray-brown. Later that day I was showing the same visitor my office, and was surprised to find, upon a little side table in my sitting area, a small, attractive and unused journal I had never seen before. It had a very lovely patterned cover and a quote from Rilke on it. The quote read: “Think of the world you carry within you”. Were these “signs” or synchronicities? How does one know?

I decided that, maybe, these “signs” were telling me something. How dare I make such a conclusion? And is that crazy?

It so happens that my visitor yesterday is an Extragalactic Astrophysicist. She also happens to be my sister-in-law Ruth. She is one of the world’s experts on the Big Bang, as well as the properties of black holes in the distant edges of the universe. She wanted to see some of the sights at the end of the island, and have a walk along the little cliff trail overlooking the ocean. She also wanted to get a glimpse of the old cottage called Inner Ledge, the former summer home of three women physicians who were the first Jungian analysts in the U.S. This is the location of a Jungian Retreat the Island Well is planning for September, and she was curious. We were having a wonderful conversation, but it was indeed strange — I was in the challenging position of trying to actually explain why I “believed” in Astrology to someone who studies the properties of the known cosmological universe.

She is an understanding and open -minded person, and listened with close interest to what I was saying. Since I am not an astrologer or shaman, but just someone who has absorbed much of what I know in a non-linear and intuitive fashion, I felt that my explanations were pathetically inadequate. But on the other hand, I marveled that Ruth was taking the conversation seriously, and she was using her considerable intellect to understand what I was trying to say as best she could. She and I share an admiration for the writings of Carl Jung, who had a great interest in “mystical sciences” like astrology and alchemy. We agreed, as did Jung, that even though modern academic scientific thought has not yet learned to measure, quantify and explain mystical phenomena, it would be actually unscientific to completely discard material that doesn’t fit into a particular paradigm of reality. With that as a common point of interest, her mind was open and receptive.

I think that the art of perceiving “signs” is all about being receptive to the essence of that particular moment in time. It’s all about context. If I had been standing in the grocery store parking lot, or sitting in a kayak, the feeling or message of a feather from the heavens or a new journal might be different. But I was walking with Ruth to a special place that has been resonating with me on an emotional and spiritual level for years; a location that attracts me so powerfully that I rearranged my life and moved from another state to live near enough to visit at my heart’s desire.

And what was I doing when these gifts — a quill and a journal — came to me? I was in conversation with someone who is so much more learned than I — someone who explores the edges of the universe, someone who, like me, cares about the greater meaning of life and our evolution. But I was also struggling to translate into words, into language her scientific mind might accept, bits of the understanding I have developed over the years about ancient teachings from traditions that still embrace the mysteries of soul and spirit.

Yes, there are times I do “see signs” and choose to accept and respect the information. Maybe someday a brilliant scientist will reveal the workings of all this—and finally provide a rational explanation of the physics underlying this expanded, mystical reality. But if that ever happens, I can’t help but wonder if the scientist will be given a “sign” and a nudge toward the “Truth” – and that is how she will figure it out.

Back to the well

Today heralds a full lunar eclipse, and the buzz everywhere is that we are in a time of great energetic intensity and transformation. I am using the gift of this cosmic influx to power me back to this page, where I have longed to be. It’s been over three months since I posted last.  Since January tenth I have travelled through a mash-up of major life transitions and events, including selling our old home, packing and moving, unpacking and settling, becoming official residents of a different state, finishing my master’s degree, travelling to New Zealand and back and, along with my husband, laying the groundwork to open a new wellness practice. Phew.


   Funny, isn’t it, how outside events can mirror inner transformations? This week we had a new well drilled on our property. The process was a huge success: they hit a terrific vein of water, a best possible outcome. It pretty much “ruined” our lawn, but that’s OK. The new well is the first part of a bigger project of major site work we are beginning. Because of necessary shoring up of an eroding embankment behind our house, we have to rework much of the landscape to add stability and make it more usable. I intend to transform all the old neglected lawn and unkempt surroundings into gardens and a woodland path. I am looking forward to sharing some of this transformation as it progresses. Here is the first photo showing the new wellhead, surrounded by the spewed stone dust, and placed pretty much smack in the middle of what was our miserable yard.


If things go as we hope, soon some heavy equipment will be rolling in and pretty much destroying what is there now in preparation for the new. It opens up such possibilities– new stability, new foundations, and new paths to tread — and for these I am grateful.