I went to one of my morning spots in the backyard garden to begin my daily Qigong practice. This spot is in a patch of grass surrounded by our magenta pink rose bushes, two strawberry patches, one of our grandmother apple trees, three vegetable garden beds and our beautiful towering red maple tree with its rustling leaves in the early morning breeze. Usually at this hour, I enjoy the warmth of the early morning sun, but not today. It was already hot. The day before was “only” 88 degrees but the sun’s intensity, along with my looming dread for the unprecedented heat wave coming to the Pacific Northwest, even as I stood in the cooling waters of our local Tolt River, made it that much stronger.
Today was the first of the 3-day heat wave and temps were to reach 3 digits — This was the first time I’ve ever experienced such heat in our river valley where I’ve lived for 6 years now in the unceded lands of the Snoqualmie tribe. Now I am Mama to our delightful, inquisitive and curious 3 year-old son, Orion, and my husband, trying to keep us all well, planned a get away to the cooler temperatures of the Olympic peninsula to help our family cope. I’ve seen my son struggle with heat when temps are in the 80’s, and our house, with no central AC (as is for most places here), didn’t feel safe as the predicted temps were to reach as high as 111-112 on Monday.
This morning I went to do my morning Qigong practice outside, something I do every day as it’s my time to connect with the day, the beauty and wonder and the Life around and within me. This practice brings much joy, wellbeing and deep connectedness to our garden, our buzzing insects, our plants, beautiful trees, and our wonderful community of gray squirrels, osprey, steller’s jays, junkos, chickadees, song sparrows, robins, great blue heron, eagle, crow, raven, and so many more. It connects me to the clouds, sky, surrounding rivers, forests, mountains and various terrains of our Cascadian bioregion. And fills me with Love, with a passion and fierce desire to protect and nourish these Lands and Life.
Aware, Care, Share
One of my dear friends and mentors, Mick Dodge, said many times, that as you step outside with your two bare soles, you first become Aware – aware of the awesomeness, beauty, enchantment, wonder and magic of the life around us. Second, this awareness burst opens our hearts and we begin to Care. We establish a connection, a relationship that deepens and sweetens and continues to mature over time as we once again are tapped in, learning, giving and receiving from our Beloved Earth Mother. And third comes, Share — sharing our heart, our love, our fierce desire and actions to protect, nourish, repair and replenish our lands and life.
I have felt this again and again. And one of my callings is to share this upwelling, to write and act and most important, to LOVE. For my heart will show me my foot path forward, our foot path forward as our earth and animal, insect, bird, fish and tree peoples call out to us.
So this morning, going out to do my practice, I realized yet again, but in a new way the interconnectedness of my happiness. My upwelling of joy and happiness I so easily feel outside in my garden, by the river, in the forest and mountains, in Nature, this depends on the life around me – the mutual thriving and full expression of life around me. The indescribable joy I feel as my son Orion and I spot a ladybug on the now blooming cosmos flowers planted in spring, the comfort I feel in seeing the honey bees buzzing busily and happily in our comfrey flowers, the security and joy in seeing the baby salmon swimming in the shallow waters of the Tolt River, and the relief, awe and reverence that expands my heart and being as I walk amongst giant old tree beings in a lush verdant forest — this all depends on the amazing interconnected web of thriving life, vitality in the land and ecosystem. These gifts of sensation, love, beingness, joy and majesty come from the Land. And in a moment that morning, I felt a deep chasm of grief, overwhelming concern and despair. I recognized it, as it is a similar feeling I feel when witnessing a forest and landscape ravaged and raped for lumber and hearing the logging trucks screaming by. Like many of us, I feel this feeling more and more as our world is gripped in climate crisis, from the doings of us humans.
I realized that morning that the deeper I love, the deeper my Joy. And, the deeper I love, the deeper my Grief. What was going to happen to our resident birds, squirrels, owls, bees, earthworms, trees in this upcoming unprecedented heat? Life is resilient, yet also so fragile. How much heat is just too much?
Before leaving on our trip I called the local wildlife rescue place for ideas on how to best help and support our wildlife here. They suggested frozen trays of water, so we set out water throughout the garden with sticks for the insects to use to drink as well.
As many of us, I live daily with an intensity of emotions — the joy of the living life, community around me, and also the caring, concern and grief for the trees dying, those that are only skeletons, the ones cut down arrogantly and ignorantly in my neighborhood, and the grief of seeing our mountains designated for “tree farms” being bulldozed down. Knowing that each of these bulldozed mountains was once a thriving, magical forest home to so many –This devastation and destruction tears at my soul each and every day.
What do we do? What do I do? There are many calls to action now. Speaking and standing with our Indigenous peoples, remembering and doing the work of restorative justice for the native women and children missing and killed in the oppressive “re-education institutions”, standing and speaking out as an ally with all our BIPOC brothers and sisters, getting involved in local habitat restoration and planting trees, stopping Line 3 pipeline set to go through untouched wetlands and the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples in Minnesota, supporting our friends saving their forests from developments (here’s a campaign where one of my friends is raising money to turn a local forest into an outdoor forest school and dance/community sanctuary), supporting our Indigenous brothers, sisters, elders and people from all walks of life, and the Ancient Forest Alliance who are all currently in the front lines to save the last 3% of of Old Growth forests in Fairy Creek watershed, British Columbia from current clearcutting.
Just Do It ~ Our Lives Depend on It
Action is happening everywhere. What does your heart say? If you feel moved, do it. As my Qigong Grandmaster says, if your heart guides you, just do it. Just Do It. The Earth, if we listen, is speaking to us. Her energy courses through our body and bones and into our heart — you will be guided to do your Gift, your Sacred Actions. Our life, all lives depend on it.
One of my friends recently shared this article, Why women are key to solving the climate crisis. If you require a dose of inspiration and “I CAN make a difference”, read this. As an example here’s a quote from the section on women as powerful organizers:
According to the Goldman Environmental Prize, what some call the “Nobel Prize” for the environment, approximately 60% of more than 200 hundred prize winners are women.
Women also have taken the initiative as key leaders in social and environmental movements. When Ecuador’s government was about to sell off seven million acres of Indigenous land in the Amazon to oil companies, an Indigenous woman, Nemonte Nenquimo, led a community action lawsuit. The court ruled in favor of the Waorani people, protecting the land from oil extraction and requiring informed consent from the tribe before any further auctioning. Wangari Maathai created 6,000 tree nurseries to block desertification in Kenya and empowered women in her community. Her work led to the Great Green Wall initiative, which is an African-led movement that aims to grow an 8,000 km belt of trees across the Sahel to transform millions of lives while providing vast amounts of carbon sequestration.
When the Dakota Access Pipeline was set to be laid across her people’s lands, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard ignited a global movement opposing its construction. In July 2020, a federal judge sided with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and ordered a full environmental analysis, and in 2021 the pipeline was officially scrapped. In Honduras, the world’s largest dam developer, Auga Zarca, was set to build on the Gualcarque River. Sacred to the Lenca people, the dam would have cut off their supply of water, food, and medicine and negatively altered the environment. Berta Cáceres waged a grassroots campaign that successfully halted the project, proving that it was in violation of international treaties governing Indigenous peoples’ rights .
We can and do make a difference
One of my biggest jobs right now is loving and raising my beloved son, Orion, and raising him in a way where he grows up connected to our Earth Mother, to the magic and wonder of Nature, of giant cedars and their swirling fronds, of tiger swallowtail butterflies, of raindrops on our strawberry leaves, of baby salmon swimming in the Tolt River, of sword ferns unfurling bigger than him, of barred owls flying silently in the nighttime sky, and so much more. He has his own strong heart, body, soul/sole connection with Earth, with the Magic of Life which will guide him in the sacred ways of reciprocity, regeneration, gratitude, generosity, innovation and LOVE for the times ahead.
Another one of my callings is to find ways to be the strongest ally I can for our Trees – to speak for our trees, either in writing, in planting trees, in restoration work, in contacting policymakers and networking.
Orion often hears my pain when I see logging trucks or see trees needlessly cut down. And he’s already become an ally and started finding solutions. He has started talking to our forest fairies and has asked them to take all the chainsaws and put them on an asteroid belt in outer space!! 🙂 (So, this is one of many possible solutions, right? :)) And Orion is regularly asking me to have conversations with him where he has me pretend to be a logger, or the one making the big decisions to cut trees and forests, and then he talks to me about why he loves the trees, what he loves about them and how they provide homes to the squirrels and birds and keep the mountains standing. His passion, kindness and heart inevitably help me to see the beauty in the forests and let them grow tall and, in our conversations, I then agree to change my ways and become a protector too.
As a daughter of our Beloved Earth Mother, I am constantly learning from, listening to, connecting and musing with Her. This connection makes me Aware, births my Love and Care and from this I Share.
This unprecedented heat wave gave me yet another layer of understanding of the preciousness and interconnectedness of life. Yes, my happiness is birthed from within. And it is also fed and nourished deeply by the interconnected web of Life. For within me is the Earth and Cosmos. We all give and receive from each other in the most magnificent of tapestries. Yet the threads are delicate and require tending to, respect and care.
Each year, the deeper my joy and enjoyment in the gifts each season brings, and each year I value even more the miracle of our seasons, the multitude of inter-related miracles that happen to bring the magic of golden, yellow and crimson leaves in fall, or the sparkles of infinite falling snowflake crystals in winter, the magnificence of looking up into the fluffy pink blossoms of an ancient cherry tree against the deep blue sky in spring, and the miracle of the perfect blood-red, heart-shaped sweetness of strawberries in summertime. This is just one example of the joy we receive from the dynamic harmony of Life!
Now that these balances are changing, what do we do?
Now more than ever it is important to connect, listen and love our Earth Mother. May we uphold the characters of nurturance, compassion, restoration, community, generosity, gifting and cooperation. And at the heart of it all is LOVE. This is what life thrives on. Women are the keepers and the peacemakers, and the time is Now. We are the Ones.