Week 5: I Am A Gardener Too

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Lately, Baker and I have been going on afternoon walks down the unevenly paved road leading into Bodega town. It’s a good couple of miles and I leave my phone at home so I can be fully present to my reality and to Baker’s infectious joy as he frolics down the road with his buoyant gallop. He never did learn how to run properly.

As we walk I am present. No podcast, no music, no Audible book. Just me smiling and laughing at my youthful pup as I become more at home in my new space and it’s quickly becoming my most favorite way of spending time with him.

Sometimes I am surprised by the gentle drift of the heady floral smells wafting throughout the air as we are well into autumn and those smells seem as if they should be long gone by now. These smells change as the seasons do. The air lingers with the familiarity of autumn from my youth growing up in the Pacific Northwest but every now and then I still catch the lingering smells of a summer that is having a hard time letting go.

Mostly the air smells of decaying leaves and lingering cool crisp morning dew as I pull my navy sweater down over my hands to protect them from the change of temperature when we hit a shady patch on the road.

Whenever we walk by a garden that is still overflowing with an abundance of messy elegance I am taken back in time to a place where I once was a mystical gardener. Maybe another life but a deep knowing that whispers, “you are a gardener too, Amanda.” It feels like a part of my truth I haven’t quite learned how to achieve yet. But it’s a part of my truth none the less.

When I lived in Oregon my former partner was the gardener and me, well, let’s just say I was his curious apprentice at best. When it came to my own gardening skills, most of the time I was still just that young girl doing cartwheels in outfield or braiding my teammate’s hair. In other words, I had other things that pulled at my attention.

We had thirteen rather large raised beds and a bustling garden of bright red and orange heirloom tomatoes that burst with a sweetness you just don’t understand until you’ve had a tomato straight from a garden. It’s nothing like a store-bought one and I now understand why my mom used to eat them like apples on the front stoop when she was young.

There were giant heads of emerald green broccoli and zucchini the size of my forearm and sugar-sweet snap peas we’d often pick and eat straight from the vine as we tended to the garden. Every now and then I’d meander out to the beds alone and harvest whatever looked ripe all the while knowing there was a part of me that knew this would eventually be my own path.

And now that path has never been more present.

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It’s no secret I already have an affinity for house plants. My love of tending to them developed in my last home in Encinitas where I acquired roughly sixty of them and tending to them became one of my most cherished parts of my week. Most of these plants survived the move but some didn’t and now I’m learning about how to take care of them here. I love assessing each individual plant’s needs and how I can keep them alive and happy. It’s a presence and awareness and attention to detail you learn with time. This gives me hope that I can do the same for the garden.

But it’s still a bit overwhelming for me to take on such a great task on my own. A reality I inflict on myself really. I think I have to do it all at once instead of realizing it’s a lifelong journey, of becoming. Becoming anything really.

So I will start small. I will plan during these cooler months and sow seeds (both literally and figuratively) until I can plant my garden.

Because I am, a gardener.

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Week 4: Don't Wait. EVACUATE NOW. 5 Lessons I've Learned From a Mandatory Evacuation

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I remember reading the news the last few years about the raging fires all through Northern California and my heart ached for those losing everything and even worse, those that lost ones they love. Nobody ever thinks a natural disaster is going to affect them until it does.

The last few days have been increasingly stressful as once again a fire rapidly destroys parts of Sonoma County. It’s been really easy for me to stick my head in the sand when something is happening just out of reach from me but these latest Kincade fires ripped through this area threatening to bring the fires west which has made it now my reality.

And this reality feels helpless.

I don’t like the feeling of helpless. The feeling that very little is actually in my control and that feeling is never more present than right now.

Saturday I woke eager and excited to begin my day in a home I have recently come to realize I love very much. By the evening around 7:15 PM, I was getting a loud text alert telling me to EVACUATE NOW.

As I mentioned in this Instagram post, I am neither a fight or flight person in times of stress. I am a freeze person. My breath catches, my heart begins to race and I lose all ability to reason and think normally. I called my mom and told her I just got the notice that I had to leave and she coached me through the process. When we hung up she must have quickly made phone calls to my family because my brothers began to send texts helping me too.

I frantically packed up whatever I felt was most important to me and loaded my belongings and my beloved pets in my car to head to a friend’s farm just outside of the danger zone. All while realizing just how unprepared I am for an emergency. Something I plan on changing when I return back to my yurt.

Before I left, I stood in my yurt and looked around at the life I have slowly rebuilt for myself over the last six years and I couldn’t believe that with one shift of the wind, it could all be destroyed. I thanked my home for the comfort and support it has given me and walked outside closing and locking the door behind me. I placed the palm of my my hand on the door for a moment and closed my eyes and said a quick prayer, not knowing if I’d ever return. That, that is a very strange feeling.

Saturday night was a sleepless one and I woke at 4 AM to gusts of wind that shook the windows of the grannie suite I was sleeping in outback behind my friend’s sweet little farmhouse as cars rushed by still evacuating from miles around us. Tears filled my eyes as I started to realize how small and powerless we really are when it comes to mother nature. If she wants to take something, she can and will.

The tears began to fall as I thought more about how I had just turned a corner. How I came back from working on a custom piece in Encinitas the following week and saw this place with new eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t love and respect this new home of mine already but now it actually felt like HOME. I had turned the transitional corner from the new place I was living to it becoming truly home and now it was being threatened.

As the day went on my anxiety lessened as we started to realize the reality of the fire spreading to where I live was very slim and my insides calmed down a bit. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt for those that have lost everything or that I’m a bit rattled and displaced from this experience. It does and I am.

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Later in the afternoon my friend Jenny and I took our dogs on a walk around her property and watched the smoke lined sky in the distance start to encroach on our afternoon stroll. Her daughter said it best. “It feels like we are in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.” And it does. It feels eerie and unsettling and awfully quiet in this community of mine.

By Monday the Kincade fire had spread to destroying 65,000 acres and was still only 5% contained but Zone 7, where my home is located, got word that we could go home if we felt safe to do so. Power still hadn’t been restored and still hasn’t as I write this on Tuesday so I decided to continue staying at my friend’s in Petaluma until power and cell service is back on in the west part of the region. This however is looking like Thursday as we prepare for another windstorm today (Tuesday) until tomorrow morning.

So here we are. Waiting. And all I can do is surrender. Once again.

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All of this has taught me some pretty significant things and continue to do so. And once again I find myself in awe at how often it takes the hard knocks of life to point out the big things we need to review and change. Here they are:

1) Don’t wait to leave. Even if it seem unnecessary and inconvenient, the authorities have their reasons. Trust me, they aren’t trying to make your life hard. That is the last thing they wish to do. But if you stay, you are putting yourself and those who would have to rescue you in danger and that is selfish. Don’t wait. Leave.

2) Plan for an emergency. You better believe I am going to be putting together an emergency kit when I get back to my yurt. This includes a plan of action, a kit and a small box of all my most valuable items that is quick and easy to grab. I’ll be posting about this soon!

3) Build a community. If it wasn’t for my friends here, I’m not sure where I would have gone. I’m so grateful to Jenny and John for opening up there home and to my friend Rachael who has offered up her home as well as a few of her family member’s homes for myself, Louie and Baker. These people in my life are amazing and I will forever be grateful.

4) Be grateful and live more in the moment. I have a tendency to get caught up in the past or pine for the future. Something had shifted when I returned from Encinitas last week. I felt more present. More confident and happy where I was. I was releasing old things and felt in such alignment. This is making me realize how important it is to be in that space. Be in that space. In the now. It’s a good place to be.

5) Yes it’s just ‘stuff’ but it’s our lives too. It’s easy for people to stay “it’s just stuff. You can get new stuff.” However, it’s okay to feel sad about the possibility of losing it all. It’s your whole life and rebuilding is hard. However, don’t go too far down the rabbit hole because lives do mean more. And in the end, this has made me realize how much I love where I am and how grateful I am for what I have built.

Overall I feel so lucky and blessed. I feel so grateful to be living in this place. I love where I am at and am so excited to get back to my life living in my yurt on the hill on a goat farm. I feel so loved and supported and am proud to be a part of a community that rally’s together to help those in need.

This space…it’s home. Home sweet home.



Week 3: Farm Life and The Apple Tree Trimmer

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We have an apple tree on the farm. It’s big and fertile right now busting at the seams with well over one hundred Organic Granny Smith Apples just waiting to be picked.

Every few days I open the gate leading to the tree and grab enough to fill my medium-sized mixing bowl. This act alone makes me feel a connection to myself and the land that got lost several years ago after my divorce. All of the sudden, I’m transported back to my days living on the vineyard in Oregon when I nominated myself to be in charge of trimming the three apple trees on the property. I loved the methodical way in which I’d cut back each branch preparing the crop for the cooler, dark winters month.

In the spring the buds would pop out and I would be filled with deep satisfaction at knowing I did a good job. I was successful at trimming the apple trees.

So when I saw we had an apple tree here on the goat farm I smiled at the distant memory that reminded me that I am a good apple tree trimmer.

Every few days I handpick more apples, making sure they are free of any significant dings or holes that let me know some critter has yet to take up space inside dining on the sweet nectar I too hope to enjoy.

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The tree is on a slope and I sometimes lose my footing as I reach for the perfectly round apple just out of my reach but the one just right to make apple butter or dehydrate into a sweet snack of dried apple rings. But it’s okay because this act of picking apples from a tree makes me happy and I don’t mind slipping if it means I get the apple eventually as I mentally add one more reason I love the fall so much to my already long list.

It’s these very things that remind me I made the right choice to follow my gut and move here. I left that life on the beach with sand between my toes to fall back into one that feels so much more like me. The one with the fertile apple tree and making apple sauce and apple butter and anything I can with apples.

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Today I made an apple crisp and I smiled the whole time because deep inside I am in fact a woman who trims apple trees and bakes apple crisps.

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Week 2: Let's Be Honest, I Kind of Suck at Slowing Down

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Back in July when this whole move came about I felt deeply in my gut that one of the main reasons I was being called to move to Bodega and live this way of life was to slow down and simplify so that I could really figure out who I am and what I am here for.

Well, almost three months in and I must confess. I kind of suck at the slow down.

On my drive to Encinitas this week I was deep in thought about how something just felt off. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The last two months have been hard. Transitions are never easy and I have no idea why I always think the next one I’ll just glide through it with absolutely no bumps, no questioning, no anything remotely emotional (Said the most emotional person in the world. Insert eye roll here). Now mind you, I don’t just go through small transitions. All mine are like, uproot and change every aspect so I feel totally unstable and ungrounded kind of transitions. And this one was definitely no different.

And I should have known better when I broke my foot and had a sudden relationship ending all within the span of three days a week before I moved that this one was probably going to take the cake. That life, something bigger, was pushing me out of the next. It was time to get really uncomfortable.

While at The Home Depot a week and a half before I left, I dropped a 4 ft by 8 ft sheet of plywood on my left food from about 2-3 feet up and watched it all happen in slow motion as I lost my grip and the wood came crashing down before I could get my food out of the way.

Then, three days later over dinner the guy I was seeing and I ‘accidentally’ broke things off. I’m serious. We were fully intending to continue exploring our relationship from a distance but I now see that that wouldn’t have worked for me. I still look back and think, WTF happened there?

THAT my friends, is a perfect example of how the Universe steps in because you aren’t doing the very thing you know you need to do. I knew he wasn’t right but he was a really amazing guy and there were SO many things about him that did feel right it was easier for me to not listen to that small voice in the back of my mind that was saying, “Nope. This is still not it but it’s close.”

So when I wasn’t icing and elevating my foot and trying to figure out why the hell my relationship ended out of nowhere, I was looking up into the heavens with a smirk saying, “Ok, ok! Jeez la weez! Pipe down up there I’m picking up what you are laying down already.

Let go and surrender.

But sometimes I don’t want to surrender. Sometimes, I really want to control every single aspect of my life until my insides are wound up so much that I explode like one of those creepy Jack In the Box’s because I can’t take the pressure any longer.

So I moved here with a broken foot and a super bruised heart and sat alone in a yurt in the middle of nowhere wondering what the fuck did I just do.

All the while in the back of my head I kept hearing a voice say, “Just slow down Amanda. It’s okay to slow down.”

So I tried. Some of it was unintentional because the emotional force of the transition had me literally paralyzed at times…with a broken foot. Other times I remembered that little voice in the back of my head and intentional tried to discern what slowing down even meant.

To be clear, that little voice in the back of my head is something we all have. It’s called our higher self, our intuition, our inner guidance. It’s the one that told me to move to Encinitas and also told me to buy a saw. It’s the one that told me to look on my ex-husbands computer and ultimately leave my marriage. It’s the one that says, “don’t go down that dark road.” The one that always guides me to my next thing and never leads me astray. And I remembered that about a year and a half ago, it started telling me to slow down and simplify my life.

Except, what I realized on my drive to Encinitas this past week was that I’m not exactly sure I even know what that means for me. And that I am really good at pretending I’m slowing down but in reality, I’m still just busying myself and my mind.

I also think it’s easy to look around and see other’s definitions and take bits and pieces of what they are doing and apply it to our own reality which in part is a way of figuring out what is true for you and I was doing that but something felt off.

Most of the time I think I’m slowing down but I’m really still doing. Like for example, I take Baker on walks and bring my phone and listen to music or a podcast. Sometimes that’s fine but mostly it’s just another distraction. Or I sit on my couch and work on macrame or weaving something on my new handmade loom while watching another episode of Scandal and I convince myself this is the slow down. And maybe for some people it is. But for me, something still fells off.

So on my drive to Encinitas I thought more about this. How the week leading up to this trip I was rushing and caught back in the hustle of getting it all done and I just kept thinking, I don’t like this feeling. I mean, I LOVED most of what I was doing. I was back to creating and just so in the flow but I also felt the old stories of validation from my business start to creep back up. Look at me I’m SO BUSY. I must be worthy now.

And I know very clearly I don’t want that existence. And I’m tempted to say that I know there will be times in life where the hustle is sometimes necessary but is it? Or is that just a deep seeded conditioning by society. Have we just been so programmed to believe that we really need to work hard to play harder? Do we really have to burn the candle at both ends to feel successful?

So today I’m back from my trip down to Encinitas where I was commissioned to make this barn door and I’m recommitted to understanding what the slow down truly means to me. And to understand this, I have to get quiet and really listen.

To be continued.

Week 1: What If We Are Attacked by Zombies? Irrational Thoughts In a Giant Tent

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“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” - Dorothy Thompson

Someone asked me recently if I get scared of living in the middle of nowhere in a giant tent. I paused and thought about this for a moment remembering that sometimes I’d leave my doors unlocked at night in my house in the suburbs of Encinitas yet here, I double and triple check my locks before crawling into bed.

The funny thing is, I know logically I am safer here but the years of binge-watching horror movies have me convinced otherwise. I can’t help but think that where I currently live is the perfect setting for a horror movie.

Overall, I feel pretty safe. Except for the horrific noise I woke up to the other night which resembled what I would consider a cross between a velociraptor and…a zombie. If you don’t know what a velociraptor sounds like, I will kindly point you in the direction of my eight-year-old nephew Henry and he will happily educate you.

I can assume this noise, however, was the proud grunts of some animal consuming something it just caught and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was dining on my beloved cat Louie who never came home that night. (Don’t worry, he came home alive and well)

When I first moved here a girl I know by acquaintance sent me a message on Facebook suggesting I get a gun because “although it’s mostly safe, there are some weirdos!” Not much of a gun person, I brushed off the suggestion with a slight eye roll for what I thought was a bit of an overreaction. Admittedly, I did have a brief thought about how much more efficient it would be to ward off zombies if we were, in fact, ever attacked by them if I had a gun. A gun would come in a lot handier than my already dull kitchen knife. But other people live on the property so, at the very least, I know someone will hear me scream. (just kidding ma. take a deep breath)

But sometimes I do think about Zombies though. Like, what would I do if I looked out the window and saw something that resembled a human but with gaping wounds, a slight limp and an eerie discoloration that resembled the leader of the free world because let's be honest, I’ve questioned if Trump is a zombie too, hobbling my way from the bottom pasture? You think I’m joking but if you see one Walking Dead episode, you start to mentally prepare and pray to God that if it does come true they’d at least be the slow kind. Fast zombies, like in 28 Days Later, and well, we are all F#*ked. The end. Story over.

The short answer though is no, I don’t really get too scared living in my yurt. Other than occasionally, as in, cough cough, every night, double and triple-checking my locks, I feel pretty damn safe. Sometimes I remember that I live in a giant tent and I start to laugh at the realities of my current conditions and how if someone really wanted to get in, it wouldn’t be too terribly hard.

But mostly I feel safe.

But this makes me think about how much we are subconsciously conditioned by things like media and movies and pop culture and how what we allow into our lives greatly affects the reality of our thoughts. And it makes me ask: how much of what we allow into our awareness really does influence our irrationalities?

Like, I know very well that zombies don’t really exist but the idea still scares me. I was a horror movie buff when I was a little kid after all. I have no clue why but I frigging loved scary movies but I can’t help but wonder if that somehow contributed to some of my irrational fears. Hello JAWS. Thanks for making it almost impossible for getting in the ocean water!

But I loved horror movies when I was young. Often my parents left me at my God family’s house and my mom remembers walking into the living room when it came time to pick me up and my three or four-year-old self was standing about two feet from their big-screen TV. Remember those back in the ’80s?. Those big, oversized square things that protruded out into the middle of the living room? These things did not mount from the wall. They sat there, big and intrusive and at Christmas, your mom used the top of the TV to create the perfect little Christmas Village.

So image my younger self, standing two feet away, my big blue eyes wide open and fixated on Jason in Halloween slashing some young, blonde twenty-somethings big perky chest.

I’m not sure what shocked me more, the blood and the act of slashing or the boobs. At that time, both horrified me (and kind of fascinated me) because well, why would one human ever do that to another? As for the boobs, I was mostly confused because mine did not look like that.

Flash forward thirty some odd years later and I can confirm that my boobs do in fact look like those now. But definitely not as perky. Or big. But wait. We aren’t talking about my boobs, are we? If you want to read more about those I suggest you read this post here.

I digress. Oh yeah, irrational thoughts about zombies.

Today, I can’t watch The Walking Dead. I can’t even watch Criminal Minds which was a show I used to love. Something started happening when I started to “wake up” a bit. I found it harder and harder to be around or watch things that pushed violence or a lot of darkness. Stay with me here. Yes, I’m about to go all woo woo on you.

I’ve read this many times. That a spiritual awakening of sorts often brings a deeper sensitivity to energy. That is why it can be an extremely lonely experience. As you raise your personal vibration, your consciousness, things, and people start to fall away as your sensitivity to it begins to heighten.

So as I started to take more inventory on my internal landscape several years ago and pull back some layers, things like shows with zombies biting the jugular of a human neck became harder to watch. Call me crazy but it makes sense.

It is amazing to me how many shows that glorify torturous acts are on TV and how a lot of us watch these shows before going to bed. So much happens on a subconscious level when we sleep, if you wake up with anxiety, may I suggest you take a closer look at what you watch before turning in?

It’s not a cure-all but it definitely has helped me.

However, for the past two months until about two weeks ago, I noticed that my irrational thoughts, anxiety, and worry started to really creep back in. I suspected, and now know that the internal upheaval from the transition of my move created a lot of inner chaos and decided to shine a big spotlight on all my unresolved trauma, limiting beliefs and low self-worth. And there is nothing like sitting all alone in a giant tent in the middle of nowhere with all of that to keep you company.

Now I understand that most people would read this and ask, “Amanda, why would you ever subject yourself to that?”

My answer? Because it’s what I’m being called to do. I don’t know how to explain it but in the pit of my stomach I know that the main purpose of this move is to get me to finally dive deeper into all that unresolved stuff and find some freedom from it.

But first, I have to feel it to heal it.

Because truth be told, all that unresolved trauma, those deep-seated limiting beliefs, and areas of crippling low self-worth are holding me back from living a life on purpose. My true purpose.

If I’ve learned anything over the last year it is that when we don’t truly believe we are worthy of something in the deepest part of our subconscious being, no matter how bad we want said something it will never fully come to be until we truly believe we deserve it. That’s just basic energy 101. But THAT is for another post. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about it read this post from the woman I’ve learned so much on this topic.

So, for the last two months, I’ve really been in it. Even deeper then I have before and in an entirely new way.

I’ve been sifting and assessing and analyzing and trying my very best to rise up into my worth by learning to let things go. Like, let things go in a totally different way. In a way, I’m not even sure how to explain it yet. Old stories and beliefs, people, places, and energies.

But every now and then and irrational thought creeps up and out.

Like, what if we are attacked by zombies?

And I have to wonder what’s worse, zombies? Or all the trauma, most of which asn’’t even mine, that has been lying dormant inside me for all these years…

Weekly Life Musings for One Year

When I felt the call to start my first blog back in 2008, I had no idea why I felt such a strong internal pull to do so. I had so many negative stories about my ability to write well that I was terrified to actually put my thoughts out into the world. But thoughts and ideas and a voice I knew I had. There was something deep inside that was pushing me to start writing.

And then slowly the why became more obvious and still is unfolding.

There are people who love to write and there are writers. Those of us that NEED to write to fulfill a part of our soul’s purpose. That’s me.

I’ve been sporadic with my writing for the past eleven years mainly because the way I write is more of a channeling process. I live my life and when something needs to be shared it floods through me quickly. That is why I can go months without a new post here.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the responsibility of being a writer. I’ve started getting paid to write and would love to continue doing so, more frequently. My fear is this though, how do I do something consistently that only comes out through me when IT’S ready to be shared?

I’ve been thinking about this more and realize that as much as I am a channel, writing is also like a muscle that needs to be worked consistently, regardless if you ‘feel’ like it.

That is why I decided to create a little challenge for myself — to work that muscle and create more habits that get me writing more frequently.

Thus, 52 to Letting Go was born.

So what is 52 to Letting Go?

It’s an experiment of sorts. To get me to A) write more about one of my favorite topics and B) work my writing muscle so it becomes more second nature for me instead of me waiting for the words to come which sometimes can take a really long time.

This idea came to me on my drive up to Seattle last week as I was ruminating over my life and what I think I’m here to do.

Write, create and share.

I realized that I have a lot of excuses and one of them is this whole idea that I can’t write frequently because that’s just not how the words come to me. I thought about what would inspire me to create a better routine with writing and since I’m really into life experiments right now (ie: moving to a yurt to see how I feel about that kind of life) I realized that this was a great way to accomplish a couple of goals with one stone.

But I like the idea of a weekly blog post that shares the ups and downs of this new life of mine, what’s currently going on in my life in general and more on this overarching theme taking place for me — letting go and surrendering.

My ultimate goal though is really just to write more.

And to just stop worrying so much about the things I can not control and be in a more consistent flow of trusting life.

I’ve tried blog series in the past and I always fail to write the second post so a weekly post may be a challenge for me. But this is a challenge I am willing to accept.

I’ve also tried to get on a weekly blog posting schedule but something always comes up. But really, when I get honest with myself, I’m not prioritizing the very thing I love doing most.

So every Monday for the next fifty-two weeks I’ll be posting about the previous week. I’m committed. It’s gonna happen. I have no idea what it’s going to look like, that is part of the letting go piece. As much as I want to create a system and a consistent style of posting, I’m going to go with the flow.

But by this time next year, we shall see. Maybe I’ll have the beginning of a book.

Here is to consistently showing up for myself, setting bigger goals and doing the damn thing.