Winter Forest Bath

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My favorite forest primeval, Warren Woods State Park, lies sleeping under a blanket of snow and the spell of winter. I am out in the woods, practicing winter Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” – a nature inspired body-mind spiritual practice. By experiencing the winter forest in a liminal meditation state, through my senses, and without agenda, I’m connecting with nature and practicing meditation in motion.

The simple and dreamy practice of Shinrin-yoku comes from Japan and is encouraged by the Japanese government as a way to decrease stress, elevate mood, strengthen the immune system, and improve quality of life since 1982.

I walk slowly and use my senses. Or come back to my senses! For this experience I’m not trying to identify plants or birds. I’m not counting my steps or trying to work up a sweat. I’m just being, in the forest, in winter.

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With the absence of the leaves and plants, sounds are clearer, yet at the same time the snow mutes. Rasps and groans from the trees cut through the crisp air. The chatter of birds, woodpeckers rapping, an occasional soft thump of a heavy snow dropping from a tree limb. The curious sound of my feet in the snow makes me laugh out loud.

The landscape is awash in an endless array of subtly magnificent shades of cobalt, grey, browns, and white. A solitary snowflake sparkles like a faerie kiss on the snow – white, blue, or gold.

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I pause and feel the snowflakes land gently on my face; I follow a single snowflake on its path fluttering down. In the air lies a hint of the scent of fresh linen (washed in unscented soap, please). In the winter forest there is scent, but at the same time, no scent. The scent of snow is almost more of ‘scentsation.’ I open to the idea of feeling the scentless scent.

 

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Eventually a chill creeps in. I wish I had brought a thermos of tea. I could have stayed longer! Next time. For now I return to my car, my spirit cleansed and bright.

Maybe I’ll head over to a local beach community, now pleasantly sleepy with winter,  Union Pier.  I can warm up with a sandwich at Milda’s or a soup and vegan pastry at Black Current Bakehouse. Life really is good.

Interested in a talking a winter forest bath of your own? Here are some ideas to try:

  • Walk as slowly as you can while still keeping warm.
  • Fix your gaze on a single snowflake and notice how amazing it is!
  • Stop and listen. What do you hear?
  • Lean your back against a tree, feeling it sway (or not) and look up at the bare branches in contrast to the sky beyond.
  • Place your mittened hand on your heart. How do you feel?

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For more info about Shrinin-yoku go to http://www.Shinrin-yoku.org or check out the book The Little Handbook of Shinrin-yoku by M. Amos Clifford.

Warren Woods is located in Harbor Country Michigan.  A few miles from my sweet home in the magical village of Three Oaks.

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Why Imagination Is Your Superpower

(in defense of  faeries)

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Queen Mab

In the crisp, quiet snow, through the sleeping woods we quest.  The forest, at once muted and subtle, is laid bare with winter.  The naked skeletons of trees impose themselves through the softness of  white drifts.  The trees relieved of their autumnal frippery are akin to deep soul-urges exposed.

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We seek the Winter Faerie Queene, Queen Mab, my Fae companion and I.

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For the Winter Queen is queen of sleep and deep dreaming.  She delivers us to new imaginings.  Daring us to dream our dreams and intoxicate ourselves in crystalline brilliance no matter the chill on our fingers and nose.

So we hasten on.  After all, is this not what forest snow is for?  To lull and snap us to the feet of the magnificent Queen of the Winter Court.  To imagine and create.

Is it not the river of life?

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What?

What of her, this Queen Mab?

Shakespeare provides us this, “she comes in shape no bigger than an agate stone on the forefinger of an alderman.”

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But is she really so petite?  I’ll wager it’s an expression of endearment, like “Little John,”  the ironic name given Robin Hood’s 7-foot tall warrior.  Because Queen Mab, Queen of Winter, and of sleep and dreams, is massively powerful.

She is our SUPERPOWER.  She is your imagination.

Imagination

How often have we heard the following?

“It’s just your imagination.”

“That’s just fantasy.”

“You’re just daydreaming again!”

“Just.”  A single, insidious word making fantasy and imagination diminutive, rendering it powerless.  Thus (and here is the true belittling of Queen Mab) we set aside living creatively.   We set aside our power to create.

“Step in line!  Beware the siren’s voice inside of you! Shove away those dreams you hold dear.”

But the seeds sleeping in the depths of winter, preparing to bust out a move in the spring, are like your dreams and imaginings.  And the Imaginal Realm is where you nurture those seed dreams.

And EVERYTHING comes from a dream, a feeling, a thought, and then an action.

Why do you think “they” try to steer us from it?  (Yes, I’m a rebel.)

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So as the light returns with the winter solstice and your dreams start to stir and bud, get yourself over to the Imaginal Realm and curtsy long and deep to the Queen.  The intoxicating Queen Mab, your superpower – imagination.  For she is in YOU.  She is a part of YOU.  SHE IS YOU.

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Deep Knowledge

But why am I telling you this?  You know it all already.  Enjoy!

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Happy Winter Solstice, Dear Reader!

Go On, Bogart The Solstice Light!

A solstice wish from NamasFae Yoga….

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The Green Tara – Most dynamic Goddess of Compassion!  Right leg extended, signifying she can jump into action, left leg folded into contemplation.  A perfect integration between being and doing. Be love, do love.

May you find yourself loving you.  May you love you first among all things, in both action and contemplation.  May you soak up the returning light to the depths of your beautiful being and shine, shine , shine!  Step into the light, Baby!  For when you sparkle, so does the world.

Views of the studio…

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A peek of the yoga room from behind the tree
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Our Funky Tea Salon
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We practiced back there last summer!
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Laughing and falling out of Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon Pose)
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Using a friendly tree as a prop.

NamasFae
The wild and beautiful faerie heart in me,
honors the wild and beautiful faerie heart in you.

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The light is returning…

 

 

The Blue Faerie Hag

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Here is a story about the old ways. I could give you a historical explanation of its origin, classifying it as myth (The folk story of the blue faerie hag heralds from the Scots.  She was believed to emerge from the underworld on All Hallow’s Eve, etc.). I could detail how the old myths mingle with our collective psyche and bring healing and renewal, etc. (Blah, blah, shamanism, blah.) But then it would make it all sound not so true. Like it’s just a story or something.  And it’s all much truer than we care to admit. So pour yourself a cup, and simply open your heart and read.

Once a girl was, yet she was tender. She wandered the woods near her grandmother’s house and felt her own tenderness with great pleasure and innocence. The eyes and creatures of the woods were on her in hushed respect. The trees whispered and marveled, “her countenance…” The stones sounded silently of her beingness. Sometimes she would sit by the stream and make ‘paint’ of crushed berries and leaves to adorn the rocks. Always she would hold the rocks to her cheek first. Feeling their alliance. She was tender and could feel and sense like this.

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As years the years passed she was a woman, and she was yet tender. But, yet, not so tender as before when she was young. Things happened, not always nice things, as life goes, and the tenderness receded. The woods were far away and lost to her. Then all tenderness was lost.

She wondered, “Where did the tenderness go?” Then she forgot. She forgot about the tenderness she felt. She slipped into the dreamless, sleepless amnesia of the forgotten trees and stones.

The trees and stones did not forget though. They never do. They may not yearn as human creatures do. Yearning for what is gone or cannot be, but forget? No.  Especially the stones.

One autumn day a mysterious task of the ‘no room for tenderness’ variety appeared on her list of to-do’s and she found herself near her old woods.

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She walked into the welcoming hushed admiration of her woods. Sitting by the river she picked up a stone. It was cold and smooth. Bluish, grey. She held it to her forehead and cheek to feel it’s smoothness and then her lips and nose, to smell its dank fortitude. She drank it with her being.

She put the stone to her ear because the stone began to tap and sound. Rattling and knocking. It grew outside of the stone, all around her in a rhythm. It rumbled onto and into her chest like a thousand beating hearts.

Before her, (or maybe in her mind’s eye, or maybe in the corner of her eye), (oh, just, never mind)  before her appeared an old hag. Her aged stone-like skin was blue with cold.  Her hair was brittle with frost and her cloak the color of withered foliage and death. She bore a basket and a staff with the skull of a raven. But her eyes, you guessed it, her eyes, were tender.

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The stone song grew and in an instant she knew inside her was a massive urn filled with the stones. Each stone heavy with the weight of all those ‘not nice things of life.’ The urn too weighty to bear or shift it pressed the tenderless woman down. Without words the blue faerie hag directed her staff at the urn, shaking it open with a massive soul quake, spilling the stones.

The stones danced into the air. The stones rattled and knocked into her basket. Every last one of them. And then the old hag just sauntered off into a mist. Cause that’s how those magical faerie things end.

It was now winter. The woman felt empty and alone without her urn of stones. But it was a good kind of empty. And a good sort of alone. She grew to enjoy it. For she discovered there was, in the emptiness, yet a tenderness. And she could rest in this void for a time whilst preparing for spring.

And she a woman was; yet she too was tender.

Blessed Samhain!

And may you rest deeply in the arms of  the blue hag,

the Cailleach Bheur

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Me in the primeval forest.
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The tender and primeval, Missy.

 

 

Dearest Reader, thank you for reading!

Beauty Returns

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After a year and a half of travel this beautiful Tara returned to me.

She was with me in my condo before my beloved nomad year.  Another lifetime ago it seems.  A treasured gift from one of my parent’s many travels.  She was my companion in plenty of my ‘dark nights of the soul’ as well as joyful days of dancing yoga in the sun.

When I went nomad she was tucked away in a friend’s space.

And now she is returned.  Upon opening her storage box and seeing her,  I gasped, with pleasure.  I nearly forgot.  But I remember now…

Tara was returned to me to coincide with the flash of beauty in death that comes with autumn’s spectacular blaze of vibrant leaves before the deep sleep of winter.

Both remind me to treasure the beauty of things passing.  To enjoy the cycles of life.  And to allow myself rest and reprieve when the time is right.  To ready myself for rebirth.  And beauty.

Getting Connected at the Acorn Theater in Harbor Country Michigan

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A little blog I wrote, published on the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce website about the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, MI.  My home village…

By Doreen Stelton

To feel enveloped in a welcoming place with friendly folk. You know this feeling? You know it. We all share it. That desire to connect with others, to get social and commune.  Perhaps even sharing a deeper experience together, basking in the beauty and mysteries of life. For a lifetime, a day, …

Follow source/link below to read more..

Source: Getting Connected at the Acorn – Harbor Country

New Digs!

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Just wanted to share my news.

After a year of Free Range Faerie-ing I’ve got a new place.  An actual, physical home and studio.  I’ve settled in Three Oaks, Michigan.  How’s that for a faerie name?

It’s an artsy small town on the southwestern tip of Michigan filled with friendly folks and only 3 traffic-less miles to the nearest forest.

I even have a job at the cozy  Acorn Theater.  (Another faerie name.)  Where I am meeting great people and filling my life with music.

I’ve forgotten how much effort goes into running and setting up a home!  (So I haven’t been in the writing/perfuming/or social media-ing much.)

Truthfully, it’s been a bit stressful and exhausting with February behaving downright weirdly for me.  How’s your February?

But Missy’s been a great help…

Here’s an vintage chair we scored.

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Missy awaits her fragrance consultation
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Shoving it in the Mazda
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The Shenanigans she puts up with!

 

And then the other night…
I am sleeping and curious noises, giggles and the tinkling of bells, drift from the studio. Flashes of color and the scent of rose and loam fill my dreams as I explore an old victorian mansion filled with creatives and jokesters. At dawn I wipe the sleep from my eyes to discover the perfume/writing studio all put together.

Like this…

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Let’s see how long I can keep it tidy.

AND I’m excited to offer yoga classes again!  I’ve decided to keep the beautiful living room as a yoga room…  (My class schedule is right here on the Verdant Yoga Page).

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View of the sun drenched yoga room
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Missy checking out the Michigan Floor (that is what that style of wood laying is called)

 

Finally here is a glimpse of the view from the backyard.  What is seen from the studio window…

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What grows in that field?

I’m thinking fire pit and sunset dinners…

Settling here completes a goal for the first quarter of 2017 and the second quarter goal of this year’s Celtic calendar.  It also satisfies a life-long curiosity of life in a small town.  So yay me!

Never too late to make a change…

Got any great moving stories?

As always, thanks for visiting, dear Reader.