Letting Go Of Who You Are Not: Life At El Rancho

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 By Wayne Vriend

It’s been a couple months now just about since arriving at our destination: Rancho Amigos, though my sense of tracking time is way off from what it used to be. It sure doesn’t feel in any way like January, sitting here at 9 in the morning in shorts and a tee shirt on the veranda of our ‘guest house.’ I occasionally glance at the date on my cell phone, when I’m using it for it’s main purpose lately: the Spanish English dictionary app. I haven’t received a call on it for months now. It feels new and strange to not have reason to track the date, or the time of day for that matter.

We have a 250 watt solar panel, an inverter, and 4 very heavy batteries, that works great to power our laptops, run a few kitchen appliances etc. It’s kind of like camping on steroids. The blend of technology on what feels like me to be the edge of civilization provides quite the contrast. I tell myself to enjoy while we have it, because we don’t have the means to replace this stuff when it gives up. Thank God my 8 year old laptop isn’t complaining.

As I write this, I can feel the question of ‘Why am I writing, what am I wanting or seeking?’ or does it have more to do with contributing, giving back? I’ll keep feeling that as I write and see where this goes.

The last several days have felt intensely full. We moved from our tent camp on the ranch into the guest house after the workers completed some bathroom and outdoor kitchen tiling and plumbing connections. It all had to ‘hand bomb’ our stuff up a hill, as part of me likes to call it, as the ranch truck is waiting for a part from town. Then we planted our 900 square feet garden. The garden has felt like such a lifeline. We’re hoping to drastically reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables we buy in town on our weekly trip, in keeping with our budget predictions, more or less.

Back to the questions above: I can feel a part of me hesitant to write, not sure what tack to take. Shall we share the content of what life is like and what is changing externally with some commentary on the internal changes that afford that? Why bother writing about it at all? Is anyone being helped by it? Is part of me hanging on to an old identity of a blogger, writer, and healer as a steadying handrail in the midst of so much change? The questions are all here and baking in the oven so to speak. The answers aren’t clear.

I can so feel the surrender that it has taken to choose this path over the past year, and how that has been a continuation really of the past 10 years…letting go of the familiar when it feels time. When something feels complete in your life, staying any longer inside of that place has a signature feeling of you stagnating, of dying. Something wants to die all right, but only to make way for new life. Death can be so full of life, if we surrender to it. It is actually the refusal to surrender to natural deaths in our lives that brings on a kind of death we were not meant for.

Surrendering into an unknown is avoided for the fear it brings of being with the questions the unknown brings with it. Why am I here? and Who am I? What makes me fulfilled? I’m really curious at this point what another year of this so much simpler life will bring in terms of meaning and fulfillment, how I will perceive myself, and others, how I will perceive my own power in the world around influence or money?

Unanswered questions are the best, so I’ll leave those to bake and yield whatever insights they may. Maybe when all of our questions are answered, the quest of life itself is no more. And whoever came up with the idea that God himself, herself or itself actually knows the answers? What if us questing with our questions is god just goddin’ through us? Huh? Way cool shit man. Way cooler than the ‘to hell with you if you don’t get it figured out right shit.

Letting go of the contextual quest for the moment and just being okay with the sacredness of the content…the changes here and now on the ground, in this phase of life I live. Can you feel the difference? Do you know the part of you that can get lost in content, all the doing of life? And the heart and soul part of you who seeks to rise above it? Both are necessary and need to be baptized into the sacredness of a whole-some you.

As I was saying, about the content:

Internet: Getting the Internet here on the ranch is a $3,000 satellite installation away I’m told, and we’re not so sure we actually want it, even if we could afford it. That leaves us two hours drive away from the internet cafes and means that it has to fit into the trip to town day which has meant for me 20 minutes on line for every 2 weeks. It continues to open out for us how big a step it is to get out of the internet grids 24/7. It makes space for returning to our essential beings, being in nature and in our humanity. It’s kind of like those weird kids of my generation that grew up without TV, and how they were the most creative kids on the block.

Money: I did the last of my painting contracting days in August of last year in Canada, earning crazy good money. Doing something for 30 years enabled a finding of the best situations as far as easy money was concerned, but it also left me in a frequency zone of being a painting contractor, ready, willing and available, that was becoming less and less of who and what I am. Not that I’m real sure of who I am as I said earlier, but oftentimes, it’s about letting go of who you are not, or who you are not any longer. We alchemized and pooled all the money we could for this move to Mexico beginning when we decided to come in May of last year. We have about a year or more of money on hand to buy necessities if we live very simply, and partake of the yields of the garden, as well as the many fruit varieties on the ranch.

There isn’t any money income coming our way that we know of or expect. That’s an ongoing adjustment for me, at times that has felt totally scary, but each time, as I feel the fear and what’s behind it, it opens out into a trust and a rest. It births a trust in who we are and the value that we bring to life and others that will translate into our needs being met, but probably not so much through the fiat currency channels as the means of exchange that we have all become so entrained in. Today for example, I just brought a very welcomed coffee to the construction workers and one of the workers promised to bring me cocoa plant seedlings next week. Another promised me something yesterday from his garden that I didn’t understand. The energy of being in exchange with people feels like the natural and necessary future for us.

Social: Our English works well of course for the four of us on the ranch here, but that’s the end of it. Everyone else here is a Spanish speaker at the moment. The other ‘members’ of the ranch that have homes under construction are still waiting to move in and only visit here occasionally. So we practice our growing Spanish every day with the 4 ranch workers and the 6 construction workers that either camp out for the work week or horseback it daily here. It’s a bit of a euphoric experience to speak English with anyone outside of the four of us.

Pausing here in the writing for now, other things call in the moment….mostly life to be surrendered and responded to.

Wayne Vriend is co-creator and facilitator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life.

Sowing Seeds Of Beauty And Hope: Life At El Rancho

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Jillian and her dog Koda at Rancho Amigos

By Jillian Vriend

I have learned to live with all kinds of poop around me: bat, sheep, horse, dog, mouse, gecko, cow and chicken. And even to gather the poop that’s good for our young garden, mostly sheep and a little horse. Life has been about poop because it has been about soil. I’ve spent hours now looking at the soil in our garden area, assessing if it needs more compost, more water, more silty soil from the river. We were about preparing for soil for the first month and, now, we are about watering gently and observing as our plantings sprout up little green heads of life out of our soil.

I have never gotten to design a garden from weedy beginning to fruitful harvest. We were inspired to be non-linear in our design, creating curving and spiral raised mounds as beds. We inherited a plot here at Rancho Amigos that was already a 900 square feet with a solid concrete, but not quite complete wall built around it. So, we gratefully worked with what we had. For three years, sheep have been pooping in the lot so we figured it was pretty nitrogen rich. Still, we added month old compost composed of a ‘lasagna’ of green and brown manure. We also trucked in silty soil from near the river.

This is the best soil I have worked with, mostly because I’ve inherited gardens or even neglected yards in the past. We searched high and low (mostly online) until we found an organic, heirloom seed provider based here in Mexico. The seed company offered amazing varieties of all the vegetables that will grow well here in a tropical environment with a pronounced wet and dry season. We planted four varieties of beans, two varieties of tomatoes (with more to come), soy beans, green beans, jicama, tatsoi, bok choy, kale, daikon and regular radishes, carrots, green/red/white onions, jalapeno chilies and peppers. I sowed garbanzo beans and legumes that we bought at the store to eat, crossing our fingers that they will sprout and haven’t been sprayed with anti-growth chemicals. They are happily growing now. We also have arugula and cilantro growing in this garden, although most of our greens and herbs will be grown up by our house, as we’ll be picking from them often. We also received gifts of sweet potato slips, cocoa beans, and cucumber seeds from others in the community and from the sweet men who come here to work on construction.

I dream about seeds and little green heads bursting out of soil. The joy I feel looking at our freshly planted and mulched garden is difficult to describe. It is without connection to anything material. It is a sense of freedom that comes from taking care of your own needs without dependency on others. I feel it also when I turn on the taps here and fresh spring water comes out. And when our lone solar panel provides us even juice to charge our computers, play our stereos, and use the occasional appliance.

I’d had to adjust what beauty means to me. Just today, I was ‘decorating’ our living room, which mostly consisted of sweeping out old mouse poop and dust so I could put out the very few household decor items that we brought with us. I had a moment of feeling tears over what I had given up; so many beautiful pictures, stones, candles, plants, throw pillows…on and on…in order to pare down for the road trip here. I carefully picked these things out or they were lovingly given to us over the years and I had a moment of wishing that I could have them all back.

But, then, I looked out the wide open window at the view of the lake next to the house, or the canopy of trees providing sweet shade on hot days, or the expansive view of the surrounding hillside and the river valley off the veranda . This is beauty. It cannot be purchased or given away. It can be developed and destroyed but, here, on the ranch we are here at the invitation of nature and the Divine Mother. It invites us to be here and feel how it is to blend in with rather than to overcome nature. My tears faded as I took in the beauty around me, realizing that I had used objects when we lived in the city to supplement a sense of missing nature. I felt suffocated there with the windows mostly shut, the drywall surrounding me, the traffic noise a constant presence.

Life here is about simple joys and pervasive beauty. It is both subtle and, at times, extreme. The subtlety is found in the lens you use to perceive it….as lacking or as in bounty. The extremity is in the constant reminder that we are living in and near the wild without grid electricity, cell phone, or internet service. Both aspects are unpredictable and leave me with this sense that anything could happen and, if it does, it will be based in something natural.

Jillian Vriend is co-creator and facilitator of SoulFullHeart Way Of Life and author of three books.

Into The Wild: Healing Our Industrialized Self To Experience Our Wild Self

Nature is our partner, not our slave- Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

By Jillian Vriend

Being here on the ranch has brought into my awareness another part or subpersonality aspect which I am calling our industrialized self. The industrialized self is a false self version of us that has been created from industrial society. It is entitled, disempowered, reliant, and overly medicates with material goods attainment and easy access to life’s essentials and also internet. It is a creation of the modern age. Often it exists in a virtual reality and is non relational. The industrialized self’s message is about shoulds: You should have a nice car. You should have a good paying job. You should have a mortgage. You should invest in the stock market. You should do what everyone else is doing.

On the ranch, we are living off grid and currently camping in tents while the house we are staying in is finished. We have no internet or cell phone service and no city electricity or water. We get our water lines hooked up in a series of water lines to natural springs at the property and we get some electricity from our solar panel. We take dips in the river daily to clean off (even though showers are available) and we handwash our laundry and hang it on a clothes line. Our industrialized self is not used to this sort of living and generally would resist this kind of lifestyle. I have been deconditioning from my industrialized self for a number of years, especially when I moved out of a home and into an RV last year. This part of me that was used to fairly spacious and nice places to live had to get used to the small yet cozy space of the RV. This part of me had to adjust to shared laundry and shower facilities, a very small kitchen with a propane stove and oven, and sharing our ‘front yard’ with many people passing through. But now, this part of me is being challenged even more by the lifestyle we are living.

I feel that with the most likely impending collapse of industrial society, all of our industrialized parts will need to make intense adjustments in lifestyles. In some cases, people won’t be able to survive because they haven’t done enough transition to self sustainablity, especially in the crucial areas of providing themselves with fresh water and growing their own food. I feel it is the industrialized self that resists making these changes in a proactive way and keeps many people in denial.

I feel that the industrialized self heals to more expressions of what we are calling our wild self as it is felt by you, negiotated with, and you begin to make changes toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Negotiating with this part is crucial to be able to proactively make changes prior to collapse. If not negotiated with, it will sabotage your efforts to become self sustainable in some of the following ways: drawing a mate who doesn’t support your desires for self sustainability; becoming economically dependent or sabotaging your money resources related to becoming sustainable; receiving harsh judgments from friends and family about your plans and agreeing with them; learning very much about collapse but not taking action; being in denial about collapse and very resistant to hearing about it. The industrialized self heals to become our wild self.

The wild self is an aspect of our sacred humanity that has been unformed by industrialized society. It is untamed and unconcerned with rules and societal norms. It is connected deeply to our gut instinct, our primal nature. It thrives and comes alive in natural environments, the more natural and wild the setting the better and the more ‘unprepared’ the better. Our wild side naturally connects to all animals and plants. If it must kill, it does it with honor and reverence and gratitude. Our wild side can merge in with nature and become one with it. The wild self arises without personality in response to the environment. I feel it cannot really come alive until you have negotiated with and deconstructed the industrialized self to a large degree. Weekend wilderness trips give a taste of it, but not the full meal. The wild self doesn’t care about the latest and great camping gear or spending lots of money on it or keeping up with friends related to the latest trends. The wild self prefers to experience nature alone or with a deep intimate where talking isn’t even needed. The wild self feels the sacredness of nature, respects the rhythms, leaves no trace of its presence and exists in partnership in nature rather than trying to dominate it. The wild self can take care of all of its basic human needs and also its spiritual and emotional ones. It is naturally in abidement with the Divine in every moment and doesn’t need religion or church or a guru to experience It.

After global collapse of industrial society, it our wild self which will survive and thrive amongst the ruins of city infrastructure, highway systems, obsolete electric grids, declining fossil fuels, and shattered economic and political configurations. Even prior to this collapse, we can experience the healing of our industrialized self and the emergence of our wild side, which allows us to take in more of nature and our surroundings.

Jillian Vriend is co-creator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life and a facilitator. Visit soulfullheart.com for more information.

Fire Among The Ashes: A Mid-Life Awakening

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By Christopher Tydeman

I am typing this on New Year’s Eve 2014. A typical time for reflection. It is also a few weeks before my birthday. Those two events always elucidate a form of taking stock and evaluation. They just happen to be really close in proximity for me. A double dose in this case. I find that to be a blessing in the moment. It signifies something big for me. I know that time is just an illusion, but to a part of me it has much relevance as a marker or a yard stick. If I hold it with a larger context then this part of me doesn’t get mired in the content of what didn’t happen this year or what should happen in the following year of my life.

I was staring at a bed of coals from a campfire. The burning embers were glowing with their hot orange and red hue while surrounded by the dead gray ash of the previous flame. It was like looking at a pulsating heart in the middle of a dying body. As each moment passed the life of the fire became smaller and smaller until it would eventually merge with its lifeless surroundings. There was a message or a metaphor in that for me.

I am entering a new phase of my life. A completely new life to be honest. I am no longer a part of the old structure and conditioning I was used to for 43 years. I am in a foreign country with basic yet emerging language skills, a dwindling fiat currency supply, and, at present, no generation of future funds. This couldn’t be farther than what I was taught to believe was the “right” way to live life at this age. I “should” have a house. I “should” have a career. I “should” be planning for my retirement. As I sit from where I am, that just feels like the ashes surrounding the hot coals. The death that smothers the fire of passion, desire, and life itself.

Many would call this a mid-life crisis. I would prefer to call it a mid-life awakening. An opportunity to take back what was given to me by the Divine Itself. The power and choice to live a life of freedom, self-reliance, and joy. Not some fabricated, name-brand, “this is what makes everyone else happy” type of bullshit. But authentic, down to nature, human to human, self to self type of contact. Life is not an Easy Bake Oven for Christ’s sakes. But it’s not torture either. It’s a daily round of the ebb and flow of hard work and rest. Of desire and surrender. Of challenge and ease. Of getting to the guts of what really matters while eating a plate of home grown vegetables. Anything else is just corporate politics trying to sell you a life they convinced you was better than the one that God gave you.

I don’t have any clue what will happen this coming year. Hell, I don’t have a clue what will happen next month for that matter. Before my deconditioning, I could more or less guess what my life would be like one year to the next. Work would be the same. Daily routines would be the same. Even the unknown parts would be planned and then made known. My sustenance would be easy and never be in question. I would spend my “free” time trying to forget that I wasn’t free at all.

But now each day is an unknown adventure. I am helping to grow our own food by creating a rich soil foundation and utilizing limited space to produce an abundance of nutrition. I am learning Spanish by fumbling my way through understanding and speaking. I am beginning to make connections with others who live in a nearby community to help strengthen a bond of genuine respect and collaboration. I am continuing to delve deeper into my own being, both emotional and spiritual, through my daily relations with my SoulFullHeart family. As I type this, I realize how rich my life really is in comparison to what it was.

Interesting. So the less I know, the richer life becomes. The more I know, the duller. There is a wisdom here in Mexico that eludes the rest of industrial society. Life doesn’t happen later, it exists now. In the moment. Anything that happens has a solution, one way or another, at some point. It will get taken care of and life will continue while you enjoy your cerveza. People will take care of one another, even if they don’t know you. There is always something to share with each other, even if it is a smile and an “Hola”. I am honored and proud to be in Mexico in my next life journey. I don’t know what happens this coming year and I am okay with that. I am here now. I am enjoying this paradise I co-alchemized. I look forward to sharing it with others, to help them feel what it is that they truly want in their lives. For a moment to let go of all they have been trying to be and allow themselves to be just as they are . . . a fire among the ashes.

Christopher Tydeman is a SoulFullHeart facilitator. Visit soulfullheart.com for more information.

My Emerging Dance With Nature: My Exodus Journal – Entry Seven

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By Kathleen Calder

So some more of the reality of living here has been setting in lately. The reality of what we’re actually doing and the aspects of this dance with nature that come into play and make things more challenging yet catalytic in a good way. It’s like experiencing some tough love from the Divine, though of course not in a punitive way. There are ways that nature wants us to experience it more fully in order to be in harmony with it. It’s like being in a conscious romance where you each bring your wounds as well as your love and deep care. Sometimes this manifests in a way that is painful to one or both partners, but if the relationship is truly conscious, there is an ebb and flow of tension that only serves the growth of each person and the relationship’s intimacy. I so feel how this example parallels with what we are all experiencing so far with being here. You can’t be on this ranch without feeling changed or as if you are being asked to change somehow… there is no caretaking or codependency in this emerging relationship.

In my personal relationship with nature, I feel it having an unsentimentality about its needs, and yet loving and wanting me too. I feel myself wanting to show up for it but also having my own quandaries about whether or not I can. That’s the main challenge I’ve been feeling lately – how much worth do I feel right now and how much will that worth allow me to show up for? It’s an ongoing, unfolding process. Nature wants to keep bringing me more ways to feel my goodness. It is not interested in putting me in a corner and keeping me in an un-empowered state. I feel myself constantly being challenged to find my power through response to nature’s needs, my needs and the needs of my community, as well as my daily choice to be here and not in the grids I’ve lived in my whole life.

There is no way you can leave your body for too long out here or to become complacent. There’s lots of time to relax and dream, and yet this is an impossible lifestyle to lead if you are opposed to being in your body and your true humanity. I still feel myself struggling with this from time to time, though I do feel myself reclaiming my humanity in a way I never would have thought possible. As soon as you get complacent, you can easily get hurt, bitten or stung. Scorpions are a real thing. And they come in many sizes! I don’t believe that any creature is evil. What I am learning and feeling instead is their need for respect and caution. This is their land too, after all.

It could be my ache for a mate to share this new life with that has partly inspired what I just shared about my relationship with nature. That piece also illustrates what I’m learning about conditional love and the aliveness of real intimacy that isn’t taken for granted. My relationship with nature is as much as about my future relationship with a mate as it is about my ever-evolving relationship with the others in SoulFullHeart. Relationships that love you so much they want you to grow, even if that one day means parting ways. Every moment of every day is a choice I make to be here. I feel just as much power under my wings to leave if I really needed to, as I do to remain here. Or at least, I’m getting there. It’s amazing how catalytic this whole experience of self-sustainability is in terms of what it pushes up around our self-worth. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t ultimately feel that I was worth saving or loving. I feel the Divine holding my worth and reflecting it back to me, even in the most challenging moments when I’m not sure what to do in response to a situation. This is where the unconditional love of the Divine has become a feather pillow for myself and my parts to rest on during this time of intense change. It is the only love source that can’t ever have a path out of alignment with mine and can never actually leave me, no matter how hard parts of me may try to filter its love.

I guess it’s kind of hard to sum up exactly how I’m experiencing myself these days. I get a picture of a woman in a painting, brushed with fleeting strokes as if she is in rapid forward motion. So perhaps that means that the dust has yet to settle enough for me to actually get a picture of who I am. I am still arising, still unfolding. Doing this work and being in this place at my age will create this kind of momentum, of course. How could I possibly know how and where all the pieces of me are going to fall into place? I don’t really want to know, actually. I like the unknown right now. Life in the grids was mostly predictable with some very unpredictable moments, and yet the storyline would still remain basically the same. But I no longer have a body of media telling me who I should try to be more like or what I may be doing wrong in my life if I don’t have this or look like that. Therefore I feel like I’m even more of a blank canvas than I ever was or perhaps could have been before. How cool…

There’s still plenty of work and discovery ahead and I feel myself opening up to that more and more, though of course with some contractions from parts at times too. I’ve been reminded by Mother though, that these moments of contraction are all necessary and just as sacred as the moments of feeling opened-out. I want to hold onto that for the rest of my days, through every birth canal leading me to more of who I am meant to be.

Kathleen Calder is a SoulFullHeart facilitator, SoulFullHeart retreats volunteer coordinator, and has been involved with SoulFullHeart Way Of Life since January, 2012.

The Gifts Of Being OffGrid

By Jillian Vriend

All of my life I have been plugged into the grids. These grids provided in an anonymous way, all that I needed of electricity, water, food, and gas. I flipped the switch and currents coursed through. I turned the tap and water flowed out. I squeezed the handle and gas pumped out. I cruised the aisle of supermarkets and food was harvested. Flipping and turning, squeezing and cruising, that was all. I never thought much about this process until a few years ago when I began to increase my awareness of the environmental consequences of our modern lifestyles. Connecting the dots from resource allocation to resource acquisition to resource exploitation, awakened me to how all of these things came to me and the impact on the world. Also, I became more convinced that a major global collapse of easy access to these finite resources is inevitable. Therefore, becoming conscious and self sustainable related to these resources became crucial to me and led to the decision to move to an offgrid ranch in Mexico.

I think there can be a romanticism related to becoming self sustainable. A romanticism that can lead to inaction fueled by overwhelm and denial. What I have discovered after living in a sustainable way related to these resources is that this lifestyle offers many gifts, both sentimental and pragmatic. Once the crucial paradigm shift happens that separates us from our fusion with the grids, our adaptable and resourceful human instinct for survival can kick in. We have been greatly separated from this instinct by the insular reality of our industrial society. In order to truly live sustainably, we have to reconnect with both our gut and our heart.

Here on the ranch, we live without city water and city electricity. But, we get to live with wonderfully nourishing water from underground springs and any electricity we need is provided by the sun’s rays. We live without internet and cell phones. But, we get to live incredible sunsets, hikes in the woods, cleansing dips in the river, spontaneous horseback rides, evening bon fires, encounters with many creatures both wanted and not (scorpions-not, geckos- yes). We live without grocery stores and restaurants. But, we get to live with fresh bananas cut in a bunch from the tree; papayas prodded down from their lofty birch by bamboo poles; incredible superfoods noni and morenga harvested whenever we want to; lemons and limes picked from organic trees. And, we get to live with crafting and alchemizing our own organic garden spaces with a combination of book smarts and soul retrieved knowledge.

There are still things that feel challenging to give up, but we are finding our way. The most difficult for me has been refrigeration. My whole life I’ve had access to cold food, another thing that I never thought about. Open the fridge door, and there it was. We have one solar panel and four good batteries, which allow us to charge our devices (kindles and computers), use some appliances (blender, crock pot, hot water kettle), and light some twinkle lights and lamps. But refrigerators take a lot of juice, so, we decided to see how it would be to live without one. We are vegan, so our refrigeration needs are lower than people who eat meat and dairy. We’ve been using two zeer pots(evaporative cooler pots made out of clay) that were already here on the ranch and we find that they keep leftovers, beers, and wine somewhat cold. But it’s been an adjustment for sure.

I didn’t use the internet regularly until I was in my 20s. I grew up without it and my imagination flourished because of it. I was outdoors most of the time and when I couldn’t be, I would create elaborate play worlds out of basements and bedrooms. Like most everyone else in western culture, I got deeply into the internet and even most recently spent many hours online creating and keeping our blog and website up to date. It had become my creative playground and I have moments for sure where I miss that outlet for my creativity. But, also, I feel that the internet becomes yet another grid that we connect to, that we plug into without being conscious of it and that there are consequences to it, especially doing it as often as so many do. The internet is an alternative reality. It encourages us to leave our present, physical reality to engage in a surreal and alternative one.

I have been online once in the last few weeks and that was for only a couple of hours. We have to travel two hours into town right now to get online. There are rumors that satellite internet connections are coming to the area where the ranch is located. I am hoping actually that it doesn’t, at least not for a while. I have been living without internet. But, I have living with much more awareness and connection to every present moment and more engagement with others, the incredibly nourishing natural setting around me, and other venues for my creative expression.

I feel even more appreciative of the gifts being offgrid have brought me and what it will mean when and if the grids collapse altogether. There won’t be much sense of that here as all the systems that we have created self sustainably will not be affected much by a global industrial collapse. An experience of these gifts is what we offer with our retreats, immersion journeys, and volunteer program. Then you can define and discover these gifts for yourself.

 Jillian Vriend is co-creator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life.

Living Into Healing at Our Sanctuary: My Exodus Journal – Entry Six

IMG_1914By Kathleen Calder

At the time I am writing this, it is day 5 of us living full-time at Rancho Amigos. Our journey has ended in one way and yet has only just begun in another. It’s almost impossible to imagine that life could get much better than this… it hasn’t even felt that difficult for my parts to let go of having the internet on a regular basis (I’ll be in Tomatlan when I post this, to use internet and run errands). There is so much to do, yes, but more importantly and desirably than that, there’s a lot to take in. New possibilities and excitements are taking the place of living in a culture where stress is a key part of life and fear of rejection even more so. I mention that last piece – fear of rejection – specifically because of what I feel happening in my process right now.

I’m entering a phase where much of the surface of my emotional body has been healing and now I can go into what has actually been at the core of my emotional wounding and perhaps everyone in the world’s emotional wounding – deep feelings of unworthiness. Even now I feel myself scratching the surface of that core-wounding in myself, and I trust it will be a step-by-step process to get to the “thud” inside of it. What’s especially helping me right now is the support and love of my community, yes, but also the enchanting surroundings of the ranch. The magical feeling of being here, digging in the dirt to get our edible garden started, and being surrounded daily by a wide array of beautiful animals is all helping to push up any feelings of unworthiness in me that are due to arise. And the sweet part of that is all the while I am feeling what I’m feeling, I also get to feel the comfort and love of all that is so naturally and easily holding me right now. I am not transcending and medicating, forcing myself out of my pain by feeling my oneness with nature, but I am instead allowing nature to push up my feelings of inadequacy, undesirability, ugliness, etc. and then help me heal them, moment by moment. It feels like the ranch itself has its own soul, its own consciousness, asking each of us to become immersed and involved in it, asking us to claim it deeper and deeper…to take care of it and its needs so it can better take care of us and ours.

On that note, there is a book I’d like to recommend. It’s called Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway. This book has a lot of information on creating an ecological garden that is meant to not only serve you, the consumer of its produce, but also meant to serve the earth and its creatures, from helpful microbes, to bees and other integral insects, to larger animals. It’s my feeling as we dive deeper into creating our own eco-garden that this is such a critical piece for people everywhere, not just because of collapse. In fact, you don’t really need to buy into collapse at all to understand that the planet, from which we have taken and continue to take many resources directly from and are destroying it in the process, really needs us to give back to it however we can. This is the whole point of the eco-garden, actually. And, on top of that, Gaia’s Garden has tons of information on how to start your own even if you live in the ‘burbs.

Just before sitting down to write this, I was taking an end-of-the-work-day dip in the river that is only a few feet away from where we are temporarily camping on the ranch. We’re camping while we wait for the house we’ll be living in to be finished. That’s how badly we wanted to be here. Plus there’s nothing like sleeping under the stars in such a potent, natural setting. Actually, where we’re camping right now is where our volunteers and group retreat or immersion attendees will be camping. We’ve begun creating our first garden here too, in a designated garden plot that was gifted to us by someone who was intending to use it for themselves but will no longer be living at the ranch. We have our own plot of land that we need to start working on eventually as well, and as these projects emerge, we feel more and more compelled to have volunteers come help us. We need the help, but we also have so much here we want and are able to share with others that it feels that much more desirable to have people come stay and work with us. Also, if you came for a retreat or immersion there is no way you could leave here unchanged. That’s not only because of the quality of healing we would offer you, but because of the intense beauty, serenity and deeply catalytic quality of life on this ranch as a whole.

And so, it is with a full and expanding heart that I invite you, yes YOU, to come out here and give yourself that gift. It just occurred to me that just being on the ranch itself is in some ways the epitome of what we experience in SoulFullHeart: intense immersion into a new way of seeing, feeling and experiencing yourself and your life, with the promise of another side to your pain though the catalysts that launch you into your pain in the first place are anything but impotent.

Kathleen Calder is a SoulFullHeart facilitator, SoulFullHeart retreats volunteer coordinator, and has been involved with SoulFullHeart Way Of Life since January, 2012.