I've been told my posts are sometimes too long. I laugh at this because it confirms for me how we live in a microwave society and everyone expects results immediately. The same folks who tell me to make my blogs shorter, are the same ones who come to me with their chronic conditions complicated by multiple co-morbidities and expect me to "fix" them in 1 magical treatment - FOR CHEAP - and WITHOUT DISCOMFORT! Well, Dear Friends, you'll have neither of that here, and I make no apologies for that. When I speak, I speak from the heart, and when information comes from the Elders, I share it with you as it was given to me. “He who hath ears to hear”….. as they say in the Bible (Mark 4:9). And so in compromise, I give you this month’s blog as a 2-part series. It is my personal story of change, letting go and the Law of Impermanence. It speaks to how resistance versus allowing can impact our lives on all levels – Mind, Body & Spirit – and how #ChineseMedicine can help you with any transitional challenges you may experience along the way. It begins with me selling the home and sanctuary I had created, a space that had birthed many dreams, fed a village, nurtured many of my Kindred spirits and Soul Family…. A home that I had set intention that would be unlike any other home I had ever owned, as it would serve as a beacon of Light with intention to heal the world. I invite those of you, Dear Friends, who are patient enough to read this blog and savor its words, if you have a personal memory or experience from having been to my home, to share your story – if you are so drawn – in the comment section below. My story begins (as Mercury prepares to go retrograde AGAIN!) as I reflect on the day I bought this last house, 10 years ago….
It was a blank slate back then; there was nothing perfect about the house on the corner, bordered by an alley on 2 sides, and steps away from 1 of the busiest thoroughfares in the neighborhood. . But I had a vision for the space I would create, and that in itself made it perfect. The only thing that was on the property were 2 palm trees in the front, and a Cherry Laurel & Brazilian Pepper in the back. I didn’t even have a fence, but my sister Lesley (the designated Fence Builder in my family who has built a fence around almost every property I’ve owned) spent almost an entire weekend building me a fence that would delineate the boundaries of the property, and contain the energy of a crystal grid that I buried on the land. I had a vision for the space that would serve as a beacon of Light and a sacred sanctuary from the outside world. “Build it and they will come”, I was advised, and so I envisioned a Peace Garden in the front with an altar where we could congregate & gather for full moon drum circles, a feast for the senses and a balm to the Soul. A “Shalom!” plaque hung between 3 wrought iron candle holders nailed to a stately palm tree on the front lawn. The “Group therapy practiced here” flag with wine glasses appliquéd all over it I had brought back from a visit to a winery & friends in Indiana - it waved unashamedly & gloriously in the breeze. One of my dear friends Robin brought me buckets of pea gravel (pea-stones à peace stones) that we put in between the pavers. Pretty soon, each of my friends began to donate items to the space. My friend Pam, when the house she grew up in was destroyed by a fire the night after we celebrated Obama’s inauguration, we had a blessing and release ceremony for her lost home. This 'DirtSister' of mine, before the contractors came to bulldoze the remnants of the house, helped me rescue pavers from her yard, and we recycled them to become the foundation for my outdoor altar. It would be here that I would sit some evenings, sipping on a martini while watching the sunset, and thank the spirit of Olive (Pam’s mother) for donating these St. Pete pavers that were over 80 years old. My friend Lois offered up a non-GMO lilac colored rose with the most beautiful fragrance, and a circular flowered paver that was placed in the center of the garden to mark the location of the firepit. I credit my mother and all the members of my family who invested countless time & effort, as well as blood, sweat & tears in helping me create the space.
It was here that when he was a baby, I would papoose & bundle up my nephew Elijah, & take him out at night to see the moon & the stars. “Where are you from Elijah? Which one is your home?” I would ask the little bundle. He would look up, even then as an infant, and babble in his baby tongue. “Then say goodnight to Moon; say goodnight to stars, Elijah; Tomorrow is another day”, I would say, and he would drift off to sleep. The next day, we would wander around the yard, to “Peruse the Perimeter of the Property”. I trusted his baby cells would remember these moments as he got older, and it would bring him comfort in his later years, much as I had from my early years with my Great-Grandmother in Jamaica. It was here on the front lawn that he learned how to connect with Mother Earth, and ground into her healing energy. As I watched him grow up, it was here on the front lawn that - with eyes closed, he sharpened his skills at sensing the color & energetic temperature of my crystals, and he would identify the plants based on their smell. Along with the regular culinary herbs like basil, dill, oregano and thyme, I grew Jamaican allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass, rosemary, and Ai Ye (moxa), all surrounding Quan Yin & Buddha. Crystals got charged out there on the altar every full moon night. Clearing & Blessing sprays matured for 9 days at the feet of Buddha & Quan Yin, amidst all that was planted for their spiritual properties, and with a central theme of attracting butterflies and tantalizing the senses. It was there that bees, butterflies, white egret, crow, frog, owl, possum and snake would visit, bringing with them the messages and wisdom of the Animal Kingdom.
On warm summer nights, our nostrils were bathed with the scent of jasmine vines that clung to and crept silently along the picket fence, along with citronella, gardenia, geraniums, cerassee, cinnamon, and Bay Rum. Night blooming jasmine flanked either side of the front steps. Birds of Paradise, day lily, ornamental ginger, Mexican petunias, Florida sunflower, purple & orange lantana, Hens & Chicks all grew side by side, like a band of gypsy travelers who find each other along the way. A Barbados Cherry tree in the front gave us beautiful pink blossoms, an abundance of fruits that Elijah would pick, and I would gleefully watch as Lola - my friend Lois’ corgi would jump up to pick the low hanging fruits, and I would plead with the blue jays & mocking birds to please leave me some to make jam. Squirrels danced in & out the branches of the Florida sunflower trees, & feasted on the seeds. My cherimoya tree – like me (at times temperamental and moody) – some years offered only 1 fruit all season, and then other years I was able to give to my friends so that they too could partake of this exotic Caribbean fruit. My Mayan spinach plants – the original of which was a gift from my ‘SisterFriend’, Carmen, grew to hedge height & provided privacy from the street while hosting numerous Monarch butterflies. I planted three flowering pear trees that sheltered the sparrows; a scraggly twig of an oak barely 5ft tall, donated by my neighbor, and a discarded 6ft Laurel from Lowe’s – all grew to majestic heights & became THE spot on my block where everyone (including myself) fought to park under because they had grown to offer shade from the afternoon sun. They had anchored in nicely and grew to become a living testimony and symbol for the magic of transformation that occurs when One is cared for, and they reminded me to stay centered and grounded no matter what storms prevail around us.
In the back yard, the 2 jasmines I planted as babies had grown up to become sturdy trees and the place that supported my colorful Costa Rican hammock. Imagine them in bloom… combined with the heady scent of frangipani, tangerine, lemon & orange blossoms; who wouldn’t brave the mosquitoes to bask in this seductive glory on a full moon night. Then there was the water fountain my daughter Jessica built me for Mothers’ Day when she was about 17 years old – she dug a hole & sat in it to make sure it was deep enough to hold the fountain, and I will never forget that moment of silence as we turned it on and waited for the 1st bubbling sounds to appear at which time we squealed & applauded in delight. Avocados from my neighbor’s tree would fall on my side of the fence, and if I was lucky enough, I would get them before the squirrels went shopping & sampling each one before it would hit the ground. Bird baths abound. A very special mango tree now grows along the western fence – as much as I wanted to take it with me when I moved, it had rooted itself in, and I couldn’t budge it to save my life. My dad had planted a mango tree back in Jamaica way before we were kids, and on a visit to my homeland several years ago, I snuck a mango through Customs and now it was growing nicely, a testament to the invisible strength, support, perseverance, and connection of family. Tamarind – glorious, exotic, deliciously sweet Tamarind – flourished beautifully, providing shade from the scorching afternoon sun, and loads of fruit to the point where they just fall off the tree. 10 years ago when I planted it, it was a mere 2 feet tall, grown from seed and a gift from Tita-Lola, my adopted Filipino Grandmother who lived behind me. 10 years later, it towered above the roof of my house, and carpeted the ground beneath with a blanket of fine delicate leaves. There’s cardamom & turmeric & Hand of Buddha (a citrus tree whose fruit is shaped just like Buddha’s hand), sweet Sambo lemon, a Kefir lime tree that I mixed with lemongrass for my Thai curry dishes, numerous variety of mints, leeks, callaloo, and a recently planted yam and sugar cane my Hunny – himself an Earth Man – had planted that luckily bore fruit before we sold the house.
This was where my tribe would gather – we had “Dolly-Momma” retreats where my Soul Family sisters helped me make dollies to take on my medical mission trips to Guatemala & Haiti (and I got hooked on Chick Fil-A chicken minis); we had fundraisers for my birthdays where all proceeds went towards the Fistula Foundation, an orphanage in Kenya, or a particular charity (you get to a certain age, & material things mean nothing to you when your Universal family is lacking the basic necessities to survive); we had Poetry Night, where my friends shared their favorite piece & my 5 year-old nephew Elijah became the Town-Crier who would sound the gong to announce the next featured “poet”. There was my 50th birthday party where many were invited but exactly 50 people showed up for my Croning & spiritual naming ceremony (Sanân Nariah Shafäth – at your service), and got (temporary) tattoos that reflected their God/Goddess self. We hosted Magda from Poland who attuned us to Reiki, and we got together every month for energy healing (Caregivers must care for Self), and Spiritual Cinema night where the ladies wore tiaras & a boa and carried their own magic wand, and Charlie – the only gentleman in the group – became “King” for the night & got to wear a Burger King crown. We watched & discussed movies like The Secret, Blue Butterfly, Peaceful Warrior, Spiritual Warrior, Celestine Prophecy, 7 Years in Tibet, 5 People You Meet in Heaven, and the Moses Code. This is my Soul family, and the community that became a pillar of support for me during my spiritual journey – this wonderful band of fellow sojourners like myself, who over a decade taught me the lessons of connection and kindred spirit. Ten years later, many of us have moved on to different places, different roles and responsibilities, different relationships, yet we remain connected by the unseen Web that has no Weaver. I am grateful to them for the many lessons they taught me, for the gift of their time and friendship, for being my teacher, for loving me kindly, for holding me in their hearts yet all the while willing to let me go. And now it is time to turn the page… Remembering always that home is where the heart is, and Turtle takes her home with her wherever she goes. I come because I was invited; I leave when it’s time to go.
*In part 2 of this series, learn how change can manifest in bodily symptoms, and how Chinese Medicine can help you on your personal journey.
“We leave something of ourselves behind every time we leave a place… we stay there even though we go away” (Pascal Mercier).
Audrey Steele, L.Ac