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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Journey 2: Greensboro/Richmond, VA Week 2

Merry meet Friends!
Michelle here sending lots of love and light!
I've spent this last week meditating on the word journey.  During the week I felt alone, not lonely but very alone.  I know that I'm not.  I am supported by many friends and family members, even if I weren't, Spirit is always with me.  Yet, I felt very alone.  Regardless of how many people may understand what one is doing, unless one experiences it for one's self, it feels alone. 

So as I meditated on the word journey I realized that we are all on some type of journey, or have been or will be. The word journey means: traveling from place to place for an extended period of time.  We don't have to physically travel to journey.  Many journeys are inward and lead us to another place.  It's because of my inward journey that I'm on a physical journey.     
Of course because I'm traveling alone, I knew I'd be alone but this felt, oh, "je ne sais quoi".  I began to question Spirit as to whether or not I'd heard correctly, was I crazy to do this? (I may be crazy regardless but...)  I even wondered why I used the word gypsy because gypsies travel in a caravan, not alone.  Then I saw the old gypsy woman driving the wagon in the Lon Chaney werewolf movies.  I realized that whether traveling alone or with a group, we still make the journey alone, at least inwardly.

I believe this feeling was brought on by the realization that I have no home in VA.  Yes I have places to stay but no base, no roots.  The feeling was further developed because Laurie, whose home I visited, has similar decorating taste as mine.  This caused me to think about the possessions I lost in storage.  Needless to say I cried a lot in Greensboro.  I even heard myself think: I wish I had someone to talk to, and of course I do, but none the less, the thought was there.

On Wednesday I found out that my two youngest children were going to Richmond on Friday for the holiday.  I decided that maybe I should go and see them because I didn't know when I might see them again.  I was hesitant because I'd have to leave on Sunday (today) for the Spring Herbal Immersion and that's a long drive.  I decided to take the trip anyway and left on Thursday morning to surprise them.  I drove non stop for three hours until I reached my friend Millie's house.  She knew I was coming along with my friend Celeste and my sister Net with whom I would spend the night.

I visited with Millie for awhile, then went to see my oldest son Donnie, then visited with Celeste who cooked a meal for me (thank you), then my friend Iris and finally my sister.  I felt antsy in each place after awhile and didn't really know why.  Visiting with my friends felt as if I'd never left, we picked right up as friends would.  I thought it was good that I had come because seeing friends and family could/would fortify me for the next leg of the journey.  I felt displaced being in Richmond however.

I didn't get to see the children until Friday night because, not knowing I was in VA, they, along with their father, made a day out of being in DC.  They visited the MLK memorial and the Viet Nam memorial.  So I spent most of Friday with my sister, saw Donnie again and went back to Iris' house for awhile.  As I visited with her, she had an exchange with her granddaughter.  She then turned to me and said, "Nothing's changed".  We laughed and continued with our visit.  I was supposed to go out with friends on Friday night and attend a birthday cook out on Saturday but I didn't.  It felt "right" to stay with the children.

When I thought about the statement that nothing had changed, I knew for me that that wasn't true.  I had changed.  Doing the same things and having the same experiences will keep us the same but journeying of any kind will change us.  I think that's why I felt displaced, I am different.  It may not be noticeable except when I speak about GMO's and organic foods, but I have changed in my awareness and consciousness.

In September 2012, Rev. DeShannon Bowen, an Interfaith minister and Yoruba priestess, gave me a reading.  I had a question about whether to stay in VA or move to California.  During one of the readings. it was discovered that turtle was my totem.  That meant that like a turtle, I carried my home on my back.  It didn't matter where I lived, home is always with me, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  This reading was before cancer, losing the apartment, the possessions or the journey.  So now I will keep this thought in my consciousness, and whenever I feel as if I have no home, I will know that it's with me always.  The universe is my home!  By the way, in case you haven't, check out google plus for my page, Wild Woman Gypsi, for pictures and postings.. Join my circle to see more.  Thanks for reading my musings.

I'm headed for the Immersion so....
Until next Sunday,
Merry part and merry meet again,
Gypsi Mama Michelle

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Journey 2: Greensboro, NC, Week 1

Merry Meet Friends
Michelle here sending lots of love and light!

On Saturday May 10, 2014, I left MedicineWheel/Earthaven and headed to Greensboro, NC.  My friend Octavia invited me to spend Mother's Day with her family since I was in NC.  Octavia's sister Laurie lives here with her son.  We attended a brunch at Embassy Suites.  The group consisted of Octavia, her sister and their parents, Laurie's son, Octavia and Laurie's aunt and her daughter and myself.  The food was delicious.  I thought I might have problems but I didn't. I stayed away from what I thought might be more pesticide infected.  Octavia, her parents and her aunt returned to VA a few hours after brunch.  Her cousin lives in Greensboro.  I remained at Laurie's house.

Two weeks before I left Earthaven, I spoke with Octavia on the phone and asked her to ask Laurie if she knew of any inexpensive places there to rent for two weeks since I was traveling there and couldn't find anywhere in Asheville.  I received a text asking me to call Laurie.  When I did, she said that I could stay with her for the two weeks and I didn't need to pay her anything.  When we speak our intentions, the Universe supports us.  Laurie has treated me as if I am a member of the family.  She has repeatedly said, "Act as if you're home.  Eat or drink anything that you see."  She is very gracious.  We went to the store on yesterday and I purchased some items that I hadn't picked up on Monday. When I told her I would pay for the beer, she said that since I would be traveling, I needed to keep my money.  Later Octavia called Laurie and before she hung up she asked Laurie to tell me not to let Laurie spoil me.  "Too late", I said, "she's already doing it."   Laurie is truly a blessing.  Isn't it wonderful how Spirit brings people into our lives for different reasons and seasons. 

I have been amazed at how supportive my friends and family have been throughout this journey in words and deeds. Before leaving Richmond, I told Millie, a friend of mine, that I was going to get rain boots because it was rainy season at Earthaven.  She took me to the store and bought them for me.  On my last night in Richmond, Octavia gave me a box of stationary, stamps, a journal and a wide straw hat which I should have worn because my face is really tanned!  I never felt it was that hot but the sun is burning brightly whether we feel it or not. (Yes, Tiffany, I heard you!)  Celeste has offered money for the journey.  Rev. Sonya Brown sent a care package with pure essence of Lavender oil, a gratitude journal, lip balm and my beautiful amethyst pendulum. So many have given me words of encouragement even as far away as Australia!  I give gratitude and thanks for you.. Knowing that you are reading and are interested in what I am writing gives me a sense of accomplishment.  I am however, interested in your comments so that I know what you think.

This week has been a contemplative one.  I've been reflecting on my stay at Medicine Wheel and what I've learned.  When my journey is over and I finally settle somewhere, I do wish to live intentionally.  Eating food that I've grown is something that I look forward to doing.  I am more aware of what I put into and on my body.  I am definitely more conscious of GMO's and toxins sprayed on our food.  If you get a chance, look up the Dirty Dozen.  It is a list of foods very high in pesticides.  Apples are at the top of the list.  If you choose not to buy organic, please, please, please, wash your fruits and vegetables extremely well! I can't stress that enough.

Oddly enough, even though I missed certain things about being on the grid (flush toilets being one), I miss many things about Earthaven.  There is an easiness there that isn't always prevalent in the city.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy working the land and dealing with the grey water system and all the other day to day activities. Yet, there is something to be said about the lack of sirens, no cell phone reception, and no television or constant emails on the phone.  It is so easy to fall back into old habits.  Not having a TV there, meant more verbal communication with your housemates.  Yes, we did have a TV for DVD's but if the sun didn't shine brightly that day, there wasn't enough power to play them. I miss potluck and Coffee and Trade and getting dressed to go into town because they were highlights and a chance to interact with the community.  So often in the city, we don't do anything but wave at neighbors. But having said all that, I still don't want to be that far off the grid.  I hope to find a balance.

I am glad that Spirit has me in this part of Greensboro.  It's very peaceful and I haven't heard any sirens. This is a good transition for me. I will be in Greensboro another week then I am off to the Herbal Immersion!  I am anxious to learn how to identify plants for food and medicine and to make tinctures.  There will probably be compost toilets, I bet!  LOL.  It's ok, being in nature is great! There are pictures of the compost toilets on FB. I can't post them here for some reason.

Until next Sunday, Merry Part and Merry Meet again
Gypsi Mama Michelle

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Earthaven:Week 6

Merry meet friends.

Michelle here, sending lots of love and light.

On Sunday, May 4, we celebrated Beltane at Earthaven.  Beltane is a cross quarter day between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice usually on May 1st.  We celebrated on Sunday for those who couldn’t attend during the week.  Face painting for the young and old was an activity along with various games.  There was a maypole dance which was fun to watch.  I hadn’t done a maypole since elementary school but I let those who had never done one participate.  Then there was a ritual.  We called in the elements, paid homage to future generations, and honored the ancestors by calling the elders to the center.  I’m considered an elder so of course I went to the center of the circle.

There was a small fire in the center of our circle.  We were given dead leaves to represent what no longer served us.  We named it and threw the leaves into the fire.  Then we were given fresh, new green leaves to represent our intentions for the year. We were asked to embrace our shadow selves, our wild nature, as it were.  Well, you know I liked that.  Releasing the wild stallion is my thing.  LOL   As we held the leaves in our hands, we were asked to find someone we wanted to be in partnership with in any capacity and jump the bonfire.  We could also jump alone.  Many songs were sung representing the earth. 

Cookies were passed out and whoever had the one with the almond was chosen as Queen.  The King was chosen by lot. We gathered back in the circle and mead, alcoholic and nonalcoholic was passed around. The leaves were gathered and scattered to the wind.  One of the women who is ready to give birth was called into the circle with her husband and child.  We gathered around them with laying on of hands and spoke well wishes over them.  With drumming and singing, the royal couple then led us in a procession to the bon fire.  We then had a pot luck feast.  Later, stories were told, songs were sung and poetry was read.  It was my first Beltane celebration and I enjoyed it immensely.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been feeling that my time was up here.  Originally I thought I had to be here five months which I didn’t want.  Before coming here I found out that the five months was a misunderstanding but that I probably would want to stay that long.  After arriving and finding out that most work exchangers were leaving in two months, I decided to stay for two months as well.  Last week after certain incidents I consulted my beautiful pendulum (thank you Sonya Brown) about whether to leave or the 10th or not.  The answer was yes.  I wanted to be in integrity and complete my two months but I really felt a pull to go.  Spirit always, always works everything out.  This is what happened: on Tuesday when I went out to water the orchard, I asked Spirit to let Patricia be out there if I was supposed to say something to her.  She wasn’t.  She came out within 5 to 10 minutes however.  After exchanging pleasantries, she asked what I was feeling and what my plans for my journey were.  I told her that I was feeling like my time was up.  She said that she could sense that because I wasn’t acting weird or anything but my energy was different.  She then said that if I wanted to go that she wouldn’t hold me to the two months.  I explained how I wanted to act with integrity and fulfill my obligation and she said she didn’t question my integrity.  They don’t want people flopping in and out but they don’t want to hold someone if they’re not feeling happy.  She went on to say that she wanted me to find my place and not take as long as she had.  I was very moved. 

That night at check in I told the group that I was leaving and how I was glad that I started my journey at Earthaven and had met them all.  Tears began to fall because I have mixed feelings about leaving.  They are a great group of people with similar yet different goals.  Everything there, in spite of the lack of ethnic diversity, feels real and genuine.  The young women plant bare breasted which seems so natural and earthy. I notice that most of them don't shave their underarms either.  Quite a few of them have locks. The children have no shame about sexuality and a three year old can identify plants.  Yes, there are disputes and disagreements but the general atmosphere is one of congeniality.  I told the group that I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz.  Lyndon, a co-owner of the house, asked which character I was.  I said, “Why Dorothy of course, I’m the one leaving.”  In my mind, Demetrius is the scarecrow, Seaver is the tin man and Will is the cowardly lion.  I didn’t share that, so after saying I was Dorothy, Seaver said that he was the tin man.  I knew it!  I said to him, “Yes because you have a heart even though you act as if you don’t.”  I will miss Seaver walking through the orchard singing, “Oh, I wish I was a glimmer in your eye”.  One day as he walked through I started singing that and he picked it right up and continued singing.  Will (lion) has so many fears but is getting braver every day.  Like Dorothy, I will miss Demetrius (scarecrow) most of all.  I have a special but different bond with all three but I bonded with him first and fast.

The household consists of Patricia and Lyndon, co-owners (not a couple), Brent, his wife Devi and their son Eamon, Seaver, Sarah, Allie, Will, Demetrios, Hillary and myself.  Seaver is thinking about becoming a member.  Brent and Debbie were considering long term but are separating.  She will live in town and he at Medicine Wheel.  Sarah is moving to a homestead in NC with her partner.  Allie plans to be at Medicine Wheel for a year or longer.  Will, who recently split with his fiancĂ©/wife, is planning to stay or join another community.  Demetrius is leaving on the 17th and is not sure whether or not he will return.  Hillary plans to live there except in the winter because she hates cold.

On Tuesday, a former resident, Travis took me into Asheville because he likes it and wanted to show me the places I had not seen.  It was a fun day.  I got to see downtown, West Asheville and the River Arts District.  I like downtown the most, it has a great vibe.  Hopefully I will get to spend some time there before continuing my journey.  On Wednesday some of us worked outside clearing up the back and side yard.  It was rewarding and productive because we cleaned a lot.  Dinner was Patricia, Demetrius, Allie and myself.  Hillary and Sarah were at work.  Lyndon, Brent and Seaver went with Travis to Illinois to help Travis’ housemate move.  Devi and Eamon went into Asheville for the evening.  It was nice to have a small group for a change.

On Wednesday I said goodbye to Lyndon, Seaver, Brent and Travis.  I will really miss them.  Wednesday and Thursday were quiet days for Medicine Wheel.  I went into town on Friday with Hillary for ice to make mint juleps.  It was a goodbye celebration for me.  One night, about a month ago, Allie read my horoscope for the year from the We’Moon book.  Everything she read described me.  When she read the part about me being a “frisky mentor” for people, she laughed because she said it’s so true.  After that, my nickname became frisky mentor.  What can I say? if the shoe fits, hey, you have to wear it.  By the time Saturday came, I was anxious to get under way.  Patricia smudged me and the car for the journey.  I am so happy to have started my journey at Earthaven and to have met the people I’ve met.  Perhaps we will meet again along the way.

 I learned that Medicine Wheel started as a Bed and Breakfast in 2001.  It was started by Patricia, her mom, and her sister and brother in law.  It was called A&A, B&B.  Patricia’s family came to visit and decided she wasn’t as crazy as they thought and started a bed and breakfast as a welcome center for Earthaven.  It was shut down in 2007 because one of the guests had visited Peru and contacted hepatitis, someone else got it and the health department became involved and shut it down as a business.  Hence the birth of Medicine Wheel and 11 bedrooms.  Patricia’s brother in law Lynn is buried beneath a pecan tree in the garden.  His body was placed in the ground sans coffin in order to nourish the soil.  The coffin is not wasted either.  It’s used to house linens on the third floor.

Corinna invited me to a Goddess dance in Black Mountain on Saturday.  I was going to attend but it was from 6 until 9 and I would have had to stay the entire time.  I didn’t want to do that because I was coming to Greensboro for a while and didn’t want to drive that late.  Perhaps I will get to the next one.  It sounded like fun and Corinna said I would have missed the most beneficial part if I left early.  I can’t wait until the Herbal Immersion at the end of the month.  So long for now.  The journey continues!

Until next Sunday, Merry part and merry meet again

Gypsi Mama Michelle

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Earthaven: Week 5

Merry meet friends.  Michelle here sending lots of love and light.

Another week has come and gone.  On Sunday morning I went to Ecstatic Dance. I’ve referred to it before as dance church.  This time it was in Swananoa instead of Asheville.  It was held at Warren Wilson College in an outdoor pavilion.  It was fantastic.  In addition to Ecstatic Dance, some were doing contact improvisation.  It is very beautiful and sensual, a dance between two or more people.  I wanted to take pictures but it’s not allowed.  Perhaps I will teach it if I come back to Richmond.

It was my turn to cook on Sunday.  I prepared East African peanut soup, candied yams, collard greens and a Native American pudding for dessert.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  The peanut soup was such a hit that I’ve been asked by Black Wolf, an artist who lives in VT, to prepare it for pot luck on Tuesday.  People were raving about the greens.  They asked me what I did.  I cooked greens the way we cook them in the south.  In lieu of meat, I used butter.  One guy said they were so good that he wanted to drink the broth.   I told him to go ahead because it is called pot liqueur and had a lot of nutrients.  He asked if it had pot in it because he had never heard the term.  Several of my grandmother’s sayings are coming back to me.  I now have two people who want to be my sous chef on Tuesday in order to learn how to cook the peanut soup. Honestly I got it from an Ethnic Vegetarian cook book.  Who knew?

Sunday night or early Monday morning there was a thunderstorm and a downpour.  Every Monday morning we have a house meeting.  It is in house meetings that chores, kitchen and cooking duties are determined for the week.  Afterwards I spent the morning hours transplanting vegetables in the garden and orchard.  No one felt like doing much after that.  Each Monday night we have check in.  It’s a time to share what is going on in our lives if we choose to do so.  I always share but this Monday I passed.  I was feeling very emotional.  I believe I pick up on the energies of some of the house mates.  The married couple that lives here is splitting up and it’s playing with everyone’s emotions.  She wants to live in town and he doesn’t.  Another exchanger and his fiancĂ© have split because she doesn’t want this lifestyle.

On Monday night or early Tuesday morning it rained again.  Although the day was relatively clear, no one felt like doing anything and so we didn’t.  I did cook for Pot Luck and once again the soup was a success.  On Tuesday we were told that exchangers were invited to the Wednesday night core meeting.  Core meetings are for those people who are members of Medicine Wheel or would like to become members.  The owners of the house want to know why people don’t stay here and wanted to know our obstacles.  At first I wasn’t going to attend but decided I might be able to glean helpful information.

On Wednesday mornings I clean Council Hall for Leaps.  Leaps are the monetary exchange at Earthaven.  We owe Earthaven 16 hours a month which are payable in Leaps.  Leaps are worth $10 an hour. Some people pay for services in cash though.  I’m ahead in Leaps so I can relax on work party days.  I think I did some work in the green house on Wednesday although it was another, “blah” day.  At the core meeting I shared that I am on a journey and didn’t come to stay but wouldn’t because of the lack of ethnic diversity.  When I shared that with Patricia earlier she said she understood because she wouldn’t want to live around all African Americans.  My statement was not about African Americans.  In my life I have been a pioneer.  I have either been the only Black or one of a few.  I have no problem living around Caucasians or any group of people.  I do however have a desire to be around all ethnicities because I love people and their individual cultures.  Thank God/Goddess/ and All That Is for my seminary people who love diversity.

Thursday I woke up feeling very alone.  I decided to go into Black Mountain to wash clothes after transplanting in the green house and planting summer squash seeds.  One of the exchangers, who is my sous chef when I cook and I’m hers when she does, asked if she could come with me.  She even offered to drive.  We talked and had lunch.  I needed to get out of the house and away from everyone’s emotions for a while.  Hillary is someone I thought had subtle prejudices and maybe she does but we get along well.

At the meeting on Wednesday I asked if Earthavem was the lifestyle people wanted because the conversation appeared to be fear based.  There’s so much talk of collapse and the world systems failing.  I wondered if any of them had heard of the term, “collective consciousness”.  Systems may be failing, there is a definite shift but if we all hold a vision of world peace, who knows what will happen?  An exchanger named Sarah who wasn’t at the meeting said something very similar to another exchanger on Thursday.  Don’t try to change lives with fear, try to inspire them to want a better life, is what she told him.  Amen to that!  I’m so used to positive thinkers that it’s hard for me to hear fear based conversation.  Again, kudos to my interfaith/interspiritual community: TNS, OSIS and ISIS for being who you are.

On Friday I played in the dirt to prepare a bed for transplants.  It was very healing and I have another to do as well.  That afternoon an exchanger named Seaver told Patricia that whoever was using the second floor compost wasn’t using sawdust and it was beginning to smell.  He said regardless of whose responsibility it was to dump it, that people needed to take care of their shit.  Patricia said it appears we have to have a talk about shit.  People need to take care of their own shit.  These people are hilarious!  There was no pot luck Friday because the cook was in DC with her daughter soaking up culture.  Many Earthaven people came to Medicine Wheel to eat because they wanted community. There were a lot of people.  Sometimes I like that and sometimes I don’t but at any rate, people had a good time.

Roots and Fruits is a market in Black Mountain where we buy our vegetables, fruits and oil.  It is under new management so on Saturday they held a grand opening.  Most of the household went.  I don’t know how many of you saw the movie, “The Brady Bunch”, but there is a scene in which the father says, “Put on your Sunday best kids, we’re going to Sears!”.   Each time we go into town I feel that way.  It’s a big production.  Everyone knows you’re going into town because one dresses differently. I even put on eyeliner and mascara, Octavia Jones.  The opening was fun.  There was a variety of samples from local people and two bands played music the entire time.

I’m attending Ecstatic Dance on Sunday in Asheville.  Earthaven has a Beltane celebration on Sunday which should be well attended.  I’ll let you know next week.  I am thinking about leaving here on the 10th of this month.  I’d like to spend two weeks in Asheville before the Herbal Spring Immersion.  I received the scholarship by the way.  The immersion is the last week of May.  My spirit seems to be in alignment with this decision but  I want to be sure.  Stay tuned.

Until next Sunday, Merry part and merry meet again.

  Gypsi Mama Michelle