A Walk in the Rain, or Just Getting Wet



I’ve planned to hike in the Adirondacks today.  Meeting a friend at the trail head.  With the understanding, of course, that I’m bagging-out if it rains.  I’ve had more than my share of rainy hikes.  In the Adirondacks.  Wet leaves over wet rocks are slippery as ice, but with a trustworthy appearance.  When it rains in the woods the amount of water seems to multiply exponentially.  Each drop that lands on a leaf turns to three.  You become wet to the bone in moments, regardless of the Gortex you’re wearing.  And even though your hiking boots are waterproof, your socks are saturated by the water that’s running off your legs.  Water drips from your nose and your chin.  You’re saturated.  I’ve had this experience many times.  I’ve become a fair weather hiker.  I don’t mind if the temperature is well below zero.  Bring it on.  But I like clear skies.  It’s just more fun these days.  Not to mention safer.

But then there’s the sounds you hear on the rainy days.  The rain on the trees is a cacophony of tiny drums.  The birds will be out.  I can’t recognize a single one from its song, but still.  And there’s the company.  Hiking up a mountain with a friend, catching-up, sharing stories of the past several months.  And, best of all, there will be few other people out.  I’m not alone in preferring to hike on clear days.  And I’m a prima donna when it comes to privacy.  I like to have the place to myself.  Whether it’s the mountain, the beach, the museum, or the theater I don’t want to have to contend with crowds.  Not a realistic preference, but none the less, that’s how I like it.

The rain is teeming down as I write this.  The forecast calls for rain showers all day long.  All Day Long.  My lunch is packed, along with a big water bottle and a change of clothes for the ride home.  I’ll be leaving in 15 minutes.  It’s going to be a rainy hike.  Guess I’m going to go for a walk in the rain.


Painting the Stars

Pinterest, of course

Pinterest, of course

Today, my friend Maria and I painted stars on the walls of the Meditation room. The paint is silvery. Sparkly.  Etheric.  Maria’s an artist.  I am not.  So we practiced a bit on some cardboard.  We laughed.  We practiced until it felt easy.  Fluid.  We made a swooping splash of stars around the doorway.  They trailed across the wall of sky.  Then we painted another trail across the adjacent piece of sky.  We kept switching places, because our styles were quite different.  Maria taught me to step back and just look.  This was a great lesson for me.  I tend to dive in and hold my breath until a project’s finished, not looking at the big picture until it’s over and too late to change anything.  But she reminded us both to stop, observe, see where it was headed and how we liked that.  It gave us the space to ponder things and decide where we wanted to take this project.  I’m going to practice this “stepping back” more in other aspects of my life too.  I love the results.  I also loved the process.  Thank you Maria!


Maria Painting the Stars. The blessings of friendship.

Maria Painting the Stars.
The blessings of friendship.


Getting Word Out, Getting There

Jon & Maria.  Moving day.

Jon & Maria. Moving day in October.  I wish I’d been clever enough to take photos on Thursday, but I was too preoccupied.

I created a flyer about Meditation Circles at Stairway Healing Arts Center.  I had the notion of pinning the flyer around town to get local word out.  Tuesday morning, at our weekly meeting-of-creative-dynamic-and-entrepreneurial-women, I showed it to Maria.  She gave me her artist’s view and I went back to the Mac to make some changes.  I loved the process of this creation.  I was up until midnight  playing with it.  It really feels like no time passes, when actually the hours slip away.  You know what I’m talking about.  So I finished-up and felt good about the result.  Proud, even.  Then I set it aside.

When I saw Maria on Valentine’s Day, she asked about the flyers.  I laughed.  “I haven’t put them up!”  Something about walking around town, blabbing about myself felt scary, intimidating, and completely out of my comfort zone.  Sure, I’ve come to do it daily on this blog.  I mean, talk about writing your heart out.  But that took years of nudging, and excuse-making, and putting-off before I actually got started.  The idea of putting my own printed word on the bulletin boards of my community felt impossible.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just the way it was for me.

“Do you want me to go with you?” she asked.  “Oh my gosh, would you?  Yes!”  I couldn’t believe it.  What a great idea.  What a great friend.  But the next thought I had was the realization that now I actually HAD to do it.  Oh no.  And I was right, because her next question was, “When do you want to go?  I’m free this afternoon, and tomorrow afternoon too.”  Oh shit.  She had a big smile on her face, because she knew exactly what was going on in my head.   With snakes in my belly, I finally agreed to 1:30 that same afternoon.

Maria and Jon both walked through town with me.  Jon chatted everyone up in his charming way, Maria carried the flyers, tape, and tacks.  Jon teased my nervousness and kept me laughing, telling everyone I was trying this new and very cutting-edge business tactic of actually letting people know about what I was offering.  Maria smiled, told me she totally understood my apprehension, and kept me marching to the next destination.   Stairway Healing Arts Center, Hubbard Hall (thanks Deb!), Battenkill Books (thank you Connie!), Cambridge Food Coop (thanks Nancy!), Round House Bakery  (thanks Scott & Lisa!), Cambridge Public Library, Glens Falls National Bank.  We pinned my Meditation Circle flyers next to the flyers of all the other interesting notices of what’s happening around town.  It was simple.  It was easy. It was painless.  It was fun.  The hardest part was getting there.  And I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t had the nudging, urging, and support of friends.  Thank you so much, Maria.  Oh, and Jon too (just getting him back a tiny bit.) You’re both wonderful.

Friday morning there were two new people at the Meditation Circle.  They’d seen the flyers.  Sometimes, the hardest part of doing something is just getting there.  Maria and Jon got me around town with my flyers.  They got me there.  I think the hardest part about meditation is sitting down.  Getting to that place.  But it’s so worth it.  So healthy.  Join us at Stairway Healing Arts Center for daily meditation circles:  Mondays & Tuesdays @ 10:30am;  Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays @ 9am.

The Flyer.

The Flyer.

Porcupine Pie: An Unfortunate Incident for a Good Dog

Dr. Seuss tree.

Dr. Seuss tree.

Another glorious day for hiking/snowshoeing yesterday.  Clear blue skies, crisp cold air.  I’m awed by the silence of winter.  Is it that the snow absorbs the sounds?  We’d stop walking and there would be absolute silence.  We’d just stand there and breathe in the quiet.  It felt so good.  Like quieting my rushing mind in meditation.  Is nature meditating in winter?  On days like that it certainly feels like it.  As though nature is quieting and turning within herself.   Perhaps gathering her energy for the birth of spring.  Or maybe not.  But these are the kinds of things I wonder about.

My friend Susan loves winter too.  We see more of each other in February, it seems, than all the rest of the year combined.  We meet up with our dogs and hike up into the forest behind her house.  “The Chair Overlook today, or Cathedral Pines?” she’ll ask.  And we take off in one direction or another.  We have good conversation, talking about things like nature meditating, and backpacking in Greece.  Our dogs, Weston and Eli, romp and run and play together.  They’re good friends too.  So we were having a wonderful day.  Until Weston ran up to us with a face full of porcupine quills.

His snout looked like a pin cushion.  So did his chest, front legs, and paws.  And his mouth was full of quills.  He was pawing and scratching at them miserably.   Shocked, we started pulling them.  But without the right tools they just break off, which makes them harder to pull later.  “We just need to get him home,” I said, “and I’ll call the Vet.”  That’s the thing about porcupine quills, especially when they’re in the poor animal’s mouth.  You’ve got to get them all.  It usually entails some sort of sedative because it’s probably at least as unpleasant having them pulled as it is getting stuck with them.  But we had close to an hour’s hike just to get back to Susan’s place.  She led the way, and I talked to Weston, urging him on, trying to soothe him with my voice.  He was a trooper.  I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for him.  Some of the quills were surely in his feet.

Our veterinary clinic is, understandably, closed on Sundays.  So were the other local clinics I tried.  So Delaney, my 12 year old daughter, and I set up camp on the kitchen floor with a stainless steel bowl, plenty of towels, and a few sets of pliers.  She sat with Weston, talking to him gently, stroking his back, while I began pulling the quills.  One at a time.  We began with his feet.  Some were sticking out of his pads.  How did he ever walk all the way home?  He sat patiently, letting me hold his legs and yank.   He whimpered with each quill, but let me work my way up each leg and over his chest.  Such a good boy.  We praised him with each pull.  But working on his snout was more challenging.  And much more unpleasant for him.  He let us know he’d had enough.  I’d return to the task every 15 minutes or so and managed to remove everything around his nose, those on his outer lips, and some on his inner lips.  But it was the inside of his mouth that worried me.  I knew we needed help, and the clinic wouldn’t open for another 15 hours.  It was going to be a long night for poor Weston.

Then the phone rang at 6pm.  The Veterinarian.  I won’t name him/her as I don’t yet have his/her permission.  But I could have sung the Hallelujah Chorus when s/he said, “I’ll meet you at the clinic in 10 minutes.”   S/he was an angel to us right then.  Amazing.  Help was on the way.

Now, one of the many things that I love about being a massage therapist is that I can help people with their health without the experience of  blood or needles.  But I know there’s a time and a place for everything, and that this was going to be one of those times for both blood and needles.  The good news was that Weston felt no more pain within minutes of walking through the clinic doors.  Marleigh, Delaney, and I stayed with him during the icky procedure.  Well, Marleigh and Delaney came and went, but I stayed for the duration.  I had to giggle though, because a couple of times I started to feel a bit woozy.  The vet, without even having to look up, each time said,”You doing ok, Mandy?”  “Need to go sit down, Mandy?”  It cracked me up.  How did s/he know?  That 6th sense.  Anyway, we made it through.  I didn’t pass out, and within an hour of receiving the call from the Vet, we were home with a slightly dopey, quill-free Weston.

Weston’s a little subdued today, but he’s healthy and will be back to his exuberant self in no time, I’m sure.  Sitting here right now I’m awed by and tremendously grateful for the generosity of time, skill, expertise, and kindness offered by our Vet.  We needed help, and it was there for us.  I’m seriously awed and deeply, truly grateful.  I don’t want to try to make anything more out of this story that isn’t there.  It doesn’t have anything to do with massage therapy.  I trust I was able to handle the situation  calmly all the way through thanks to my meditation practice, so I guess it has something to do with meditation.  But really I guess it’s just about friendship, and dogs, and kindness, and receiving,  and life.  We were all having a really nice day when something unfortunate struck, unexpectedly.  Life keeps happening: the good, the not so great, the amazing, the challenging, the heartbreak, and everything in between.  Flowing with it, even gracefully sometimes, is a lifestyle I’m developing, little by little.  And not without a little, and sometimes a whole lot, of help from my friends.  We’re going to keep doing the things we love.  And hopefully, if the opportunity ever arises again, Weston will remember that porcupine does not make a good pie.

Weston today.  A little subdued, but healthy and well.

Weston today. A little subdued, but healthy and well.

The Art of Slurping


In between meditation circle and afternoon clients yesterday, I met with my dear friend and shaman, Bonnie, for tea.  We had a lot of catching-up to do, so it was a good thing we had two whole hours.  We talked, laughed, and shared our stories over her home grown and brewed licorice tea, and we ate ginger cookies.  He kitchen window has an expansive view of the rolling hills of Shushan and the Green Mountains of Vermont:  Equinox, Mother Myrick, Snake Ridge…  It was a nourishing time together in so many ways.  But maybe the best part was when she cut an orange into quarters and bit into it, making a really loud slurpey noise.  Exactly the kind of noise our moms discouraged when we were kids.  The kind of sound we avoid making in public.  She was the first to comment on it, between big juicy slurps.  Then she encouraged me to try it.  I did, of course.  It took a little practice, but I caught on pretty quickly.  She said I had a talent for it.  So we sat there slurping and laughing, orange juice dripping off our fingers and running up our wrists.  Who would have thought I’d add slurping oranges to my list of healthy things to do, but I have.  I highly recommend it.  Best with a good friend.  (And perhaps in the privacy of your home.)

Fresh Air and Friendship


Our path snow shoeing through the woods today.

Our path snow shoeing through the woods today.

My friend Maria invited me to go snow shoeing this afternoon and I jumped at the chance. I’d been feeling a bit tired and run-down.  Getting outside is always an excellent antidote to fatigue for me. Maria and I  spent a couple of hours trekking through the woods behind her farm and talking.  It felt great.  Exercise, fresh air, friendship.   I felt refreshed and rejuvenated afterward.