Early Autumn Forest Bath

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October in the woods in SW Michigan, just minutes from my Three Oaks home…

Moving from the heated expansiveness of summer, a refreshing and introspective autumnal forest calls.  Come walk and linger, enjoy scents and colors, experiencing the restoration and inspiration of the trees, plants, and earth.  The shadows are long and the days shorter, heightening our pleasure of the moment.  Falling leaves reveal the skeleton of a tree.  Scent of decaying leaves is both dank and sweet, a curious embrace.

I imagine most of us woodsy fans are aware of the Forest Bath movement, Shinrin-yuko.  (I rambled about Forest Bathing previously in a wintry blog – Winter Forest Bath). In Japan, formal studies are conducted regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature.  A recent study explores the immune strengthening abilities of essential oils from trees and plant life.  ‘Scuse me while I dab on some Hinoki Oil…

Most beguiling is the personal creativity that awakes in a Forest Bath.  If we step into the woods with senses open we begin to feel very deeply.  We let the forest in –  into us, our psyche – and we experience profound pleasure and the rarified activity, play.

Yeah, it sounds “woo-woo.”  Well, it is “woo-woo.”  Let’s just lighten up go with it.

Here’s some sensory forest bath games to explore.

Scent

Find a scent and breathe it in.  Close your eyes.  How does it make you feel?  Where do you feel it in your body.  Open your eyes and follow the scent until you discover another. Repeat.

Pine, I feel in the head,  throat, and heart.   I walk through the woods tracking pine until I discover a fungal-mushroom scent.  This I feel much lower in my body, it is heavy and rich.  Something about the mushroom seems mischievous to me…  Colors seem brighter after the scent of mushroom.

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Vision

Let yourself gaze at something until your eyes go in and out of focus.  Explore trying not to focus on anything!  Find some lovely objects and make a design with them.

I feel connected to my inner child when I do this.

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Hear

Sit in silence.  Close your eyes.  What do you hear?  Repeat, this time with a smile.

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Touch

Here’s a favorite.  Find a tree.  Go ahead and rest your hand on it.  Feel.  Move your hand away, slowly, and see what you feel now.  Ok, umm. Just wow!  Next, silently introduce yourself to this tree.  “Well, hello there, Tree.  I’m Doreen.  It’s so nice to be in your company.”  See what happens…

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Have Fun!

Go ahead and revel and twirl!  Don’t be perfect!  Be wild and wonderful!  Be present!  Be you in the deep, deep woods of autumn!

An Invitation

If you are interested in exploring forest bathing, yoga, and mindfulness in a cozy group setting  you will want to know about this fantastic retreat offered by Inseus at their retreat center in Harbor Country, Michigan. “An Invitation to Be.”  October 11-14, 2018.  Experience meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, Soulcollage, and a Forest Bath experience (led by me!).  Hope you will join us!

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Copal + Dunes = Bliss

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Was it the new moon?  Already?  And a spring new moon!

Time to plant seeds of intention!

If it wasn’t for my dear friend and aromatherapist, Miriam, (Kindred Earth Botanicals) reminding me of our shared monthly new moon mermaid card spread ritual, I’d have missed it in the frenzy of all my doing and then subsequent crashing overwhelm in the form of a nasty cold.

I’m doing and busy and running and late…

Trying to do all the things.  And be all the things to all the people I hold dear.  Which sometimes seems like everyone…

If it wasn’t for this new moon reminder (thank you Miriam!) I would have neglected, again, to tincture my Copal Resin.  (I got a sizable chunk on a trip – read here – and was instructed in sacred Mayan alchemy to tincture on the new moon for 9 days.)

Back to all the things.  The dilemma.   All the things!  I want them all!  Do them all, be them all.  And how to impart the faerie message to humans the beauty that is life and that each person is a perfectly imperfect incarnation of beauty, power, and infinite love?

Admittedly, I get jealous of people with single-minded focus.  They make progress.  They get shit done.

Me?  I have so many passions and struggle to coax myself into just one or maybe two.  But I get itchy feet, and I love so much all the things…

Sometimes I am harsh with myself though.  You must decide, Doreen!  Sigh.  It happens.

So I thought this new moon I’d ask life, aka spirit, what to do with this dilemma of passion for many things.  After all, why must I hold the reins?

Life, what will you have of me?  That is what I will plant this new moon.  Send me little messages, drop me a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest, and I will follow you.

First bread crumb.  The mermaids (cards) told me to go to the water and feel. (Typical mermaids, water, sensuality, emotions, feelings, sex, love.)

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I took the already scent-blossoming Copal tincture , a thermos of tea, my journal, and my dog, and hiked up a dune to a favorite contemplation spot…

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Missy kept a look out.  She can be very protective when I go into meditation / ritual mode.

Second breadcrumb.  Scent-savor the copal.  Inhale.  Open the flood-gates.

Ethereal-sweet-resinous copal, I see you.   I feel you.  When I anoint myself and inhale slowly, I feel you in my heart and solar plexus chakra.  You melt into me a lover’s caress for my psyche.  The tingle-glowing within begins.  From my heart you spiral down warmly engulfing my radiant center.  A sweetness of crying for beauty of life.  Love-tears crystallize and drop but do not sting.  Bliss.  You bring a miraculous bliss, sacred Copal.  You bring me to my nature.  My nature is bliss.

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From this state, I persist with my query.  What does life want of me? What does it want me to do?  I’m ready to take notes…

I wait.  In my mind’s eye I see a flash of lightening.  Then, the surprising answer.

Nothing.

Life wants nothing of you, Doreen, except for you to do and be yourself.  Life wants you to live.  To live and feel your extraordinary self in this extraordinary experience of life no matter what you choose to do.  So, the activity you choose to do matters not.  Only feel into it.  Be present with the extraordinariness of you.

Yes, do all the things.  Do anything.  Do nothing.  Just feel.

Including having a nasty cold from overwhelm.  Feel the sweetness and bliss of THAT!

Society will try to tell us life is ordinary and mundane.  But it is not so.  Do not believe this.  Choose otherwise.

But we all know this, yes?  Inside, yes, we do.

I guess I just needed a little reminder.  Don’t we all from time to time?

Thank you, Sacred Copal.  Thank you, Mermaids.  Thank you, Missy.  Thank you, Me.

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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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Beauty For 2017!

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Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve finds me pausing for a moment with my bulletproof coffee loving my 2017 engagement calendar.  All those clean empty pages.  A year of possibility with opportunity for beauty.  Sprinkle that faerie dust round.  Happy New Year, one and all!

My Ill-Advised Life

In January of 2016 I foreclosed on my underwater condo in Chicago and went free range faerie.  I quit my jobs and hit the road with my 9 year old pup, Missy.   It was not clearly planned and was a most definitely ill-advised life move.  Frankly it was fucking reckless and irresponsible.  Two years prior another reckless action, leaving an underpaying exhausting job of 17 years which left me even more financially unstable.  But I was compelled to shout “NO” to my prior unsatisfying life.

My intention was to free myself from this life that was not personally satisfying. To peel away layers of internal crap; exhaustion, bitternesses, urban and job induced stresses to indulge in the beauty my soul craved.   To know myself again and/or better.  Seeking a new location in a more beautiful or rural setting.  To remake myself as a faeriepreneur  with a way to support myself as my own boss.

My life unravelled and got unmistakably got messy.  I bravely resisted the negative mantra of “What the fuck am I doing???”  Support from kindly people, without who’s help I could not have done it, surfaced.  I learned to let myself release to this support, my mess, and waited for ME to reform and emerge.  I practiced faerieshamanism and magic, wrote, made perfume, hunted down faerie people and places, and grooved in nature.

This experiment was to last 3-6 months.  Then I’d prolly just get an apartment in Chicago and stuff.  It is coming up on a year this January and I’m still essentially homeless, or as I prefer to say, “nomadic” (it’s all in the attitude ya’ll!).  Ha!

What Next, Free Range Faerie?

During this madly ill-advised adventure I explored a lot of ideas of what to do with myself, always returning to the message and mission of beauty amidst chaos.   And of personal liberation through beauty, truth, and the imaginal realm.  I’m happy to report my soul is refreshed and I’m coming “home” to me.  I feel ready to contribute and collaborate. To set up a home-base again.

My favorite passion project of 2016 was launching my wee perfume line verdant faerie fragrances.  I completed my certification course (though I still have much to learn) and set up temp studios in the various places I stayed.  Perfume supplies were shipped to a variety of locations – Maryland, Hawaii, Canada, Chicago.  I’m excited to take it to the next level in 2017 with improved packaging and perfume blends.  Expanding my knowledge and expertise.  I’m looking forward to establishing a sweet home perfumery of my own in the first quarter of 2017.

I also rediscovered my love of writing and the location freedom it can provide.  As a young girl writing was shoved into my shadow self.  But it keeps seeking the sun!  So I hope to do more of that there writing stuff, perhaps combined it with my perfume.  Ideas are germinating…

One thing I truly missed was a consistent yoga and circus practice and community.  (Well community in general, for it’s hard to keep this going on the road.  Yet one does finds new communities.)  But I really missed the sparkle and comradery of those worlds – physical exploration with expression and soul.  So I’m planning to revisit that in 2017.

Oh, and once I get settled again I also hope to establish regular contribution to a social cause…

Terrifying

As I reestablish myself in 2017 I’ll admit to a certain degree of inner terror.  I have some undeniable challenges ahead.  Can I even pull this off?  And I do so love my freedom!  But mostly I think I got this.  I’ll establish a lovely home base to travel from and I have my mission ~BEAUTY & LIBERATION~ and together we will not be denied!

All the best to you and yours in 2017!

Here’s a verdant barn in Three Oaks Michigan from my recent travels… just cause it’s pretty…

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Happy Solstice

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The return of light, may yours sparkle and delight!

My sincerest wish that you shine your inner light on your dreams and your unique beauty.  Let the rest stay in the darkness…  Bring forth your beauty!

Here’s a free range faerie location update.  Missy and I have been in a little cottage in Michigan where we are staying for three months!  It is the longest we have stayed anywhere since last February.  We love it.

We go for long nearly daily walks in nearby Grand Mere State Park.  Exploring trails trekking up and down the sandy dunes on Lake Michigan’s waterfront.  Several varieties of Oaks and plenty of of deer and some foxes.  We’ve watched it changed from peak fall to deep winter. Beauty and quiet.  I feel full with it.

I’ve also been quite busy with seasonal markets in nearby Chicago, so haven’t been on here blogging quite as much.  It’s been great introducing folks to verdant faerie fragrances and reading the amazing Mermaid Oracle deck for them.

Here are some recent pics of our life…

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Shine on you crazy darlings!

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Happy Earth Day! A Gaian Read…

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An Earth Day Reading Recommendation

Stephan Harrod Buhner’s book, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm, gently and with humor encourages us to become wild scientists, and undomesticated explorers of the Gaian world.  We are not so separate from Gaia from and a plague on this earth, as we are often chastised as being.  And by connecting and feeling and dreaming into the earth we can consciously open doors of perception and reconnect with nature as kindred beings.

If you are a lover of the arts and creativity, you will especially  love this read.  If you are a fan of *feeling* life, you will love this book.  If you are a passionate meditator, and curious about perception, you too will love it.  And plants?  Dig it, you’ll love it.

Do you have an Earth Day read?

 

Peace!

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May all beings be peaceful, may all beings be happy, may all beings be enlightened.

 

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And beautiful joy to you dear Reader!