Annemarie Eveland


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The Sanity of Simplicity

The Sanity of Simplicity

Most of us talk about having things simpler and what simplicity could bring to our busy lives. When we are “burdened” with things that take up our time, our care, our concerns, our energies, we are not free.

As we consciously take care to make room in our days, in our relations, in our lives to be in the now moments and to share meaningful loving with those in our lives, we are richly blessed. The blessing comes without us having to buy anything, to be swayed by the TV ads that always tells us we need something “more.”

I am inviting us to let go of all the things that in my own words, “If it doesn’t serve me, it doesn’t deserve me”. (and I it.) What would happen if all the things that don’t serve us were set aside for now? How freeing would it feel to not be running around and filling our minds, bodies and households with more…..stuff. All the stuff in our lives does just that; it stuffs us up and we have no breathing space.

Space actually gives us room to breathe a sigh of relief that we don’t have to tend all our things like an overgrown garden. Space –and its other part called- emptiness leaves a peaceful loving presence in our environment. It gifts us with time and energy that would otherwise be spent on caring for all our stuff.

When was the last time we just sat and enjoyed “being” rather than “doing?” Are we able to stop during our day and just sit quietly, letting our body, mind, spirit and soul rest connected with each other.

As an exercise in humility, imagine that all your stuff you don’t seem to be able to deal with is a stranger’s pile of stuff. How could you help them divest themselves of whatever isn’t really serving their life right now? Listen to yourself and see what you would say to them. Then look in the mirror and say it to yourself.

I ask myself, did I use this this year? Can someone I know use this now? I feel better gifting things to people who could use them. Can I live without it well enough? Or I say, “If I had to carry this in my backpack on my own back, would I keep it?” That usually does the trick.

I looked at photos of my empty house before I moved all my stuff into it. It is an awakening moment~ and has got me sorting more and more of the time. And I think of all that time it took to gather this stuff, and it’s going take about the same amount of time to get rid of it –unless of course there is a match somewhere. (just kidding!)

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I am the light in our world

 I am the Light in our World

Recent research has shown that if I were to stick my finger with a needle, the pain would register in a certain part of the brain and that part of my brain would light up.

This is the interesting point; if I did that and somebody was watching, the same part of their brain would light up. And both of our brains simultaneously would light up in the same spot.

What researchers have concluded from this experiment is that on some level, the brain cannot make the distinction between ourselves and somebody else. That is, the “you” in me and the “me” in you are no different.

When we become aware of this, when our spirit is touched with this, we light up until all we know melts and changes shape. Somehow, we are transformed and everyone around us is also transformed.

In such moments the singer becomes the song, the dancer melts into the dance, and the lover dissolves into the act of love. In this burst of oneness, singer, dancer, and lover are one.

Like a candle, burned over and over that lights an entire room with its flicker. The light from the candle reveals all in that room much like our light also lights up other people at the same time.

In essence, we are the light, not just in ourselves, but in our world.


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Seasoned Love

Every once in a while it is good

to stop and look at ourselves.

This reflection came back to me

in the form of as poem.

 

Seasoned Love

She was a seasoned woman

by standards of earth.

Walking with a slight favor

in her low left back.

Head moving ahead of body told me

she moved eagerly forward in life.

Carrying packages too heavy,

Her country clothes displayed to me

she had changed from the city now for sure.

Her golden hair with gentle wisps of gray

showed life had run through her.

Yet when she turned her head

and looked into my eyes,

I knew she saw life through eyes of good.

There wasn’t anything about me she judged.

To her, I seemed to be perfect somehow.

I glanced again just in case my imagination

made me feel her radiance and beauty.

But her image still glowed with love

back to me as I gazed at her amazed.

Full of gladness, light and life

I spoke to her of my love for her.

Her gaze steadfast upon my heart

still poured out unconditional love.

It was then I saw she was a mirror

looking back into my own eyes.

Yes, then my own eyes held me

and I accepted my own authentic Self

as a loved and a perfect soul.


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To See Clearly

 

 

In our daily routines we often overlook noticing moments that richly bless our days. This story is about how I missed seeing clearly.

My friend Shana invited me to accompany her to lunch at another friend’s home.

We arrived at Gloria’s apartment and were enthusiastically greeted. Gloria was the first to put out her hand to me and surround me with her beaming warm smile. She was absolutely radiant.

I instantly felt at home. As we entered, I looked around. Her home however was very stark and uncluttered. It reminded me of all the stuff I hadn’t dealt with in my own home.

Gloria’s slender model like flowing figure ushered us into her dining room, and again, I was struck by the neat orderly way she kept it. Some people might have called it anal.

She served a delightful nourishing meal, all the time enthusiastically conversing with us. She certainly was well read and very intelligent insights in our subjects discussed.

At the end of our luncheon, Gloria mentioned that she would be playing her harp at a coffee house if we would like to come to her concert. More talent, I mused. Besides being well read, up on current affairs, charming and engaging and now a musician, what more talents could she have?

As Shana and I walked from her front door, I turned and said, “Gloria is terrific. But with all her talents, why is her home so stark?”

Shana looked at me puzzled. Then said, “Didn’t you notice? Gloria is blind. Everything is set and simple so she can function easily.”

I was stunned. She acted so normal and functioned very well. In her blindness, Gloria saw more clearly than I did. She was living life to the fullest despite her lack of normal sight. She was living with insight.

 

 

 

 

 


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Thankful for Old Friends

                              Thankful for Old Friends

What gifts do old friends give? Old friends renew me. There is something so comfortable and comforting about having old friends. Their lifetime support and respectful sharings are treasures beyond any purchased item.

Their loving compassion is dearer than any long forgotten childhood delights. Their genuine enthusiasm to appreciate me will outlast this lifetime. When I am down or not up to my highest ideal their enriched caring is refreshing and encouraging. Their humor and lightness give me lifts when I feel down. They hug me no matter where I am.

How can I thank such friendships? How can I let these friends know how much they mean to me? Perhaps they already know and love me beyond any words that I might write. Old friends go beyond the scope of love in action and beyond ordinary ways to show appreciation.

Old friends are comfortable shoes that never squeak, pinch or stand obediently on ceremony. They have a true softness. They walk close to the earth and their hearts shine brightly.

Old friends are about longevity of loving and the grace to accept me as I unfold in my life learnings. Old friends are comfort from the storms of life, from challenges that the divine knows wisely to send us to grow.

They are the miracle that makes my mind sane again and again. They snuggle deep in a part of my heart that never leaves. Because they are old friends, they care for me when I don’t like myself.

Old friends give me inspiration when I am stuck in the void of creativity. They remember something about me that I tend to forget that is so warm and loving that I would love myself unconditionally if I were to remember.

Old friends endure the pain of my journeys of separation without taking on the burden of resolving my issues. They feel my feelings sometimes before I even understand them myself. And they kindly, wisely, and with the greatest amount of gentle prodding, give me their mirror so that I can see clearly the effects of my actions.

Old friends are so much more than I could write about. Because of old friends, my life has been richly blessed. From them I feel my purpose on earth significantly expands. They embrace me with open-hearted feelings faithfully and forever.

It is because of these incredible beings of light and love that I have renewed the meaning in my life. My heart is lighter knowing they are with me.

I carry my old friends inside of me, because where would I be without them? There would be a void that I could not imagine how to fill and an unbearable sadness.

So, today I celebrate my Old Friends.

And I remember that I am also……an Old Friend.


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Bear encounters Wonder Women …a forest adventure

Bear Encounters Wonder Women

“You’ll definitely need these.” The Park manager looked somber as she pointed to the heavy black canisters. She plunked two steel cans on the counter with a loud thud. Kings Canyon National Park in California lay in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain ranges where my friend Jenny and I planned to backpack.

“And you’re going to need to sign out and back in when you return.” Her dark brown eyes flashed with authority and grim finality as her lips tightened into a straight line.

I squinted against the light streaming through the overhead window and tried read her expression. Surely, it’s just a suggestion, I thought. But, her laser gaze again pierced through me.

“I really don’t understand what the big fuss is about,” I protested. “We’re backpacking into the wilderness for only three days. Gosh, I’ve solo backpacked in the Colorado Highlands for weeks at a time without armored food holders.”

Partly frustrated, definitely fatigued, low on emotional reserve because I had flown from Arizona with all my equipment, shopped for staples, organized a navigation route and arrived late at the Park lodge where my friend worked as a tour guide in Sequoia National Park.

“I will show you the most beautiful place to go hiking.” Jenny had promised.

Good enough for me, I thought.

But now as I stood before this counter, already loaded with a 29# pack, to learn that I was expected to put food in canisters which empty weighed at least 6#s or 8#s rankled my willingness to comply.

Besides, my friend Jenny was whispering in my ear, “We don’t need those heavy, black things.”

I faced the brisk bulging green uniform across the counter again. “Forget these canisters. They’ll be too bulky. Our packs are already heavy. I figure if we eat a lot, we might lighten them some the first day.”

Ms. Park Major replied, “Well, I can’t force you to take them. But it is bear country and you will have to sign (yes, you guessed it, still another piece of paper) a release form stating they were not responsible for anything that would happen to us.

With a flourish, I whisked the paper off the counter. My pen scribbled illegibly on the designated line. Then, as Jenny imitated my dancing signature, I saw a flicker of impudence dart from her eye.

We turned and bid our quick goodbyes. Then we heard Park Mama say, “Don’t forget you are going into an environmental area, so everything – and I DO mean everything – you take IN has to be carried out. Remember the slogan? Leave nothing but footprints!”

A certain edgy smile marked her lips as she punctuated each word carefully. Almost as if she was casting some sort of a feeble spell upon our trek.

“No problem!” we both chimed cheerfully and departed feeling somewhat victorious for no apparent reason.

Parking at the trailhead, with heads held high, we set an energetic pace down the trail. The giant Sequoia trees like monumental ancient centurions loomed overhead. Layers of forest leavings blanketed the trail making our footsteps quiet. The air was cool and soft. Only an occasional twig snapped underfoot and the gurgling of my shifting water bottles broke our silent walk.

Late afternoon grew long with dark shadows. Warm sunlight filtered through the forest trees, casting magical sunbeams onto the forest flora floor. Occasional sounds of unfamiliar bird calls pierced the silence, but I saw none. A storybook setting. I expected to see a fairy or at least a leprechaun jump out from behind one of the tree trunks.

These trees, these old giants of long ago have heard footsteps over thousands of years and conversations that no other person could witness. It is not unusual to find them standing perhaps as a symbol of longevity and dignity to ages long past our usefulness or understanding.

My rumination was cut short when my hiking buddy suggested we take a break. She noticed a ledge which overlooked the canyon and I nodded that would be a perfect spot. We both loved panoramic vistas.

Soon, we dangled our legs over the ledge. I reached down and pulled off my boots. Now, any worthwhile backpacker knows how wonderful it feels to get hot sweaty boots off for a little fresh airing. Only thing better for feet is a cool mountain stream to soak them in. But for now, ah, that cool breeze blowing around my ankles and feet was heavenly. And that million dollar scenery – the great expanse of row after row of mountains, the verdant greenery of evergreens and the brilliant blues of the skies. Wow! Who could imagine anything better?

We settled into the silence staring at the breathtaking scenery. Suddenly a loud Snap! Snap. Crunch. Snap!! We both froze. Only our eyeballs moved as they searched for the source of this startling intrusion.

Startled and dismayed, we spotted a huge brown bear lumbering down the mountainside. He looked like a fat bowl of Jell-O inside a giant fur coat. Lumbering and roly-polying along. His giant paws made thudding sounds as he came down the hill and onto the trail we just left.

It was about then I thought, what in the world was I thinking? I have just cut off any escape route. Here we are, dangling on the side of this cliff and nowhere to go, but down, down, down!!

I swallowed hard. My eyes still fixated upon the bear which loomed bigger as he loped closer. He loped purposefully along the trail and then to my utter amazement, he bypassed us and headed down the trail. I noticed a large curious thick black band around his neck.

As he disappeared in the distance, I exhaled a deep sigh of relief. Jenny said, “OK, I guess we can go now.” Said with such calm, I thought her to be a most impressively brave wilderness woman. I was still secretly shuddering.

I pulled on my hiking boots, double tied them and stood up only to find myself a bit woozy. Not the altitude for sure, I thought. I sure don’t want to meet that fellow on our trail again.

I felt tired after hiking for a bit. The sun was dimming with dusky pre-night sounds. Crickets, hunting birds, squirrels rustling were around and other mysterious night sounds became noticeable.

“I suggested we find a suitable spot for a campsite, rest and regroup,” I suggested. She agreed. We climbed uphill off the trail, and I murmured, “Fat furry” won’t be back the same way.”

Half way up the mountain, we found a semi-level spot for our little dome tent. It was then I recalled the Park Momma’s words…..   “Bears…food…we take no responsibility.” Ah….yes, better get food out of our tent and away from our sleeping place.

I collected all food sources and bagged them in my new Gortex gadget bags, color coding them for “breakfast, snacks, dinners, etc.” Then I tied several bags to each end of a three foot rope. I found a long tree branch, and with all in tow, walked a ways down the hill, selected a tall tree and hoisted my food packs over a high limb.

I stood back and surveyed my secured stash and smiled smugly. Surely no bear could ever reach up that high.

We trudged uphill to our safe rip-stop nylon security hut for a good night’s sleep. As both of us snuggled down into our sleeping bags we heard sniffing, loud and close.

Sniff. Sniff. Snuffle, Sniff.

In the dimming light, we read the fright on each other’s face. I held my finger up to my mouth signaling “Shhh!” We dared not breathe or for sure not move a muscle.

The sniffing continued. Likely, only a few seconds more, but in my head it felt endless. Suddenly, silence again. We waited, and waited, and when my straining ears could no longer detect any movement outside, she whispered, “Has IT gone?

“Whatever IT was, IT is gone,” I said softly. “Now, let’s get some sleep. I am tired.” We both turned over and back to back, went to sleep.

We were awakened early the next morning, not by the light surrounding our little nylon castle, but by more sniffing, snuffling and grunting. We blinked awake, frozen in movement again. But this time, because of the bright morning sunshine, I saw a huge shadow hovering over our tent.

More rustling, and sniffing and grunting. Then, the big shadow pawed the ground and shuffled away. We waited to exhale. The silence was deafening.

Finally Jenny said, “Why don’t you go outside and see what it is?”

Incredulous! I thought. But then I also thought- What kind of real protection is this flimsy piece of nylon tenting anyway?

I listened again for those sounds which petrified us. Nothing.

Finally, I gingerly slipped on my hiking boots, pulling the laces snugly at the top. Softly, quietly, carefully, trembling a bit, I unzipped a tiny crack of the tent, which revealed only a slice of morning light against the pines.

I braved another inch or two, so my two fingers could part the zipper. Still ok. Now I became very brave. I unzipped enough for my head to stick out. Still ok. Nothing around.

“Well, that is enough of this timidity,” I told Jenny. With one long determined downward motion, the entire flap flung open. I stepped out onto the forest ground and looked around.

Still, only the quiet of the forest and the beauty of the morning light greeted me. “Com’on out, Jenny,” I exclaimed. “All is well.”

We both stood outside our tent and stretched. My gaze went downhill, way down to that tree stash. I gasped. There was waddly giant brown bear with his fat black collar. He had gotten my Gortex bagfuls of food and was rolling around on the ground pawing and licking and chewing our food. I was outraged. How dare he shred my new Gortex bags. They cost me plenty. Then came a moment of sanity.

“Jenny, we have to get out of here fast. This is a dangerous situation.” I began quickly dismantling tent and stuffing everything into my backpack. I was fully packed, yet she was still standing there slowly putting her camp items together. To my amazement, she didn’t appear concerned.

It was at that point, she confidently said, “I hear if you rush them they run.”

“What!?” I hissed. “You gotta be kidding! That’s crazy.”

She took a few more precious moments to convince me it was true; she worked at the park and talked with the rangers and she ….dah dah dah. Somehow, she convinced me it was the savvy thing to do.

A few moments later, with full packs on our backs (minus of course all our food) we each clutched one end of my bright orange plastic ground tarp and raced downhill towards this bear shaking my tarp while screaming and yelling at the top of our lungs as ferociously as we could muster, “Grrrrrrrahhhhh!”

As we got very close, the furry Jell-O bowl looked up in surprise; then ambled up on all fours and turned and walked behind some large bushes.

“See, I told you,” Jenny said with some air of confidence.

But then Jell-O bear cocked his head to the side, as if to say, “Nay, I don’t think so!!” and proceed to come back to the banquet forest floor table in front of us. I grabbed by Nagene wide mouth bottle, quickly unscrewed the top and shook the apple juice vehemently on the ground before him.
All the while, I whispered to Jenny, “Back up slowly and quietly and don’t say anything.”

Fatso Brown Bear plopped onto the ground and began licking the apple juice up with relish, making sloppy moaning sounds while he licked the ground.

When we were back far enough, I turned and said, “We got to run before he comes after us.” I remembered it was Jenny who told me bears can smell 800 times more acutely than humans, and I still had apple juice on my hands from shaking while I poured it out.

“Com’on, Jenny. Run. Run,” I croaked. And I turned and ran as fast as I could. The first stream we crossed, I drenched my hands in water to wash off the smell of the apple juice I would never drink. I could see Jenny trailing behind me.

We ran. We ran until we reached my car, parked at trailhead. My legs shook violently. I braced myself against the door to open the lock. My hands couldn’t hold the keys. It took two times to get the key into the door. By the time I opened the door, Jenny was on her side. We both sank into the car’s safety and I was going to rest a second before turning on the ignition, so my legs would stop shaking, but she said, “I have seen at the park where bears rip off the doors of cars to get to the food.” I shoved the key into the ignition and we bolted out of the parking area. Glad I backed into the space when I came here to park. We raced back to the park headquarters in silence. I was mulling over our backpacking adventure…so far. What took us three and a half hours to hike in, only took us one and a half to run out. Not bad motivation.

I broke the silence by saying, “You know we have to come back there and get all that mess that bear made with our stuff…remember Park Mama warned us when we chose that environmental area? We both sighed, thinking about facing Jello bear again.

Back in the safety of park headquarters, we learned there was a nuisance bear. A big brown nuisance bear who had raided camps and had attacked hiker. They had collared him and were tracking him and going to move him out of the park for the protection of visitors. Maybe his name was Jello Bear.

I had mixed emotions learning about our bear. Shucks, it was his territory before we came along and claimed squatters’ rights. Somehow regardless of my frightened moments in his presence, I felt sorry for him and wondered about his future. And my final thought about our close call and the stamina it took to run from the bear? Real women don’t wear glass slippers!

(one of the stories in Annemarie’s upcoming book entitled “Real Women Don’t Wear Glass Slippers”