We cannot hide at Grandma's house

As I write this, I find myself terrified. Excited, yes, but incredibly terrified.

I am buying a house all by myself on a salary with which I can barely make ends meet (the danger of working for a non-profit). No backups. No safety nets. No second income. No roommates.

Just me.

There are times, as I run from one room to another, packing furiously, that I feel I will explode from the worry, from the fear. Can I do this? Can I even make the one step it will take to sign that last contract? Can I even make it as far as to just finish packing and truck everything over there?

Funnily enough, by the time you read this, I'll be well-settled into my house. I realize all of this will be over. I might even feel like laughing that I ever felt so afraid.

In fact, I'm counting on that.

In my youth, this kind of fear would signal to me that it was time to run - or at the very least, hide. I would've assumed the fear was a sign that things were wrong, that I was going down the wrong path.

Now, I see that I have never grown in significant ways without doing something that scared the you-know-what out of me. I have never changed without the rug being pulled out from under me, without doubting that I was ready to make a change, without jumping off the edge and into what scares me most.

I still hate that that's true. Will the next 40 years also be full of nausea-inducing choices to grow, versus the relative ease of complacency? Will I have to face this fear again and again and again?

I wish it weren't so, but I think I probably will. It's the Big Bad Wolf waiting for me in my dark forest. I just want to arrive at Grandma's house, safe and sound, but in truth, there's no end, there's no destination. There's only the twisting, winding pathways leading us through the woods, where all the scariest creatures await us.


So, I press on. I know better now than to run. The fear, like a bear, will only run after me, and eventually overtake me. So I might as well face it, trembling, holding on to my lantern. Once I've looked it in the face, I know it's not going to be half as scary as I thought. And once I've danced with it for a little while, it's going to become easier and easier, pressing me to meet the next creature that awaits me.

I suppose that's the best gift we get out of all of these risks, all of these moments of facing our fears - we realize, simply, that we can survive it, which gives us the courage to try again, to reach even further.

Scared as I am, I cannot wait to see who I become after I settle into home ownership. That's a big manifestation in the physical realm. What's going to come to help me support that?

I am terrified…but jubilant with excitement, waiting to find out.

The Path of Totality

It was the middle of the morning, 9:30AM, when I went outside, put on my special glasses and looked up at the sun. I could already see the moon crossing over, leaving a crescent-shaped shadow over the sun.

It was amazing. Seeing the moon in shadow. In daylight. Seeing what appeared to be the two celestial bodies almost switching roles.

Copyright: C. Martin

Copyright: C. Martin

I didn't expect to sit through the whole thing, but that's exactly what ended up happening. I sat down on a lawn chair and watched the show for the next 40 minutes or so. Every few minutes, I'd put my glasses on and look up and see more and more of the sun disappearing behind the moon.

As time went on, I realized I was shivering. It was getting colder. The shadows were getting longer. The light turned to an almost gray color. The shadows were unlike the shadows I normally see. The lines and patterns strange, unfamiliar.

I ran inside to get a sweater about 2 minutes before the peak of the eclipse. I stopped short. The house was dark inside, except for a few more odd shadows laying themselves across the floor and walls. I stopped to take pictures, then ran back outside again.

The whole backyard looked gray, like someone had fiddled with the contrast and exposure settings on a picture. It was genuinely cold.

I sat down again, and suddenly…there it was. The moment where everything went almost completely dark (I was about 30 miles south of the path of totality). It was like that moment just before night falls. Total quiet. Chilly. Gray.

There was something almost creepy about it, but mostly it was fascinating. Awe-inspiring. It made me realize just how vital the sun is to our lives. Would we survive in that darkness? In that cold?

And then, almost before I could blink, it was light again. Even after the moon had only moved the tiniest bit, even only 90 seconds of that darkness…the yard became so light again that it felt as if someone had switched on a lamp. Just in a moment. Light to dark to light.

It was magic. Pure, beautiful magic.

The sacred space of grief

There is a place along a path I walk where a beautiful coyote took its last breath. He laid in rest there for the many cold months of winter until he was removed in the warmth of spring.

Copyright 2016 Yancy Lael

Copyright 2016 Yancy Lael

The weeds have grown around this spot, leaving the perfect outline of the wild creature’s body. Nothing grows there. Everything keeps a respectful distance. For now.

There is something beautiful about the space that death makes. It’s sad, and it’s empty, but it’s also a blank page. A quiet moment. An empty pocket.

Life respects this empty space. It keeps things clear for a time. Because the space must be acknowledged. The grief must be tended to.

From the outside, it may look like ruin. Plants may grow in a riot around this space. Life may be screaming all around the emptiness. And yet there it remains, still, silent, gaping.

What you can’t see, hidden underneath the surface, is all the magnificent energy building and growing. New life is always waiting to be born from this empty space. The ground where the coyote once laid may look barren, but in reality, it’s more fertile than the ground around it, boasting all those audacious weeds.

One day, when I walk that path again, I won’t be able to tell where the coyote slept his last sleep. That space will be filled with luscious green grass, swaying the in breeze. That spot will be more filled with life than any other place on the path. The bees and worms will swarm and squirm there. The Western Kingbirds that live nearby will visit for lunch every day. Gophers and snakes will take shelter there when a stranger like me walks by.

One day, the space death overtook will be alive again. Screaming, screaming, screaming alive. 

Interacting with Spirit Animals

I have always had a strong pull toward the concept of spirit animals. When I was younger, Unicorn was my spirit guide – it became a huge symbol of power for me. As I grew up, woodland creatures began to “appear” to me as spirit guides. At one time, Bear was my companion, but soon after, Fox came along and has been my companion for many years.

However, I’ve never been one to have just one spirit totem. Many come to me, sometimes for just a short spell, while others are always nearby, just in the background.

Owl has been one of these secondary totems, always hovering close, always an energy of guidance in my life. Lately, Owl has been taking on a bigger role in my life as a protective figure. Last year, my neighbor’s dog attacked and almost killed my dog and later they refused to pay the vet bills, becoming almost threatening when we pursued the matter. I was terrified that something more would happen – another attack, perhaps, or something worse.

A few months later, I noticed a little metal owl sitting near their front door. It must’ve been there all along, but I never noticed. In that moment, I heard a voice in my head saying, “You and your house are fully protected. No further harm will come to you.” I knew the voice was Athena’s and that she was speaking through her owl companion.

I heard her speak again. “You will know that you can have faith in this promise when you hear something about Athens or Athena today.”

I was grateful for the message, but I didn’t think much of it until a few hours later, when I turned on my MP3 player. I was listening to Thrive, by Ariana Huffington and had just started a new chapter, where she talks about growing up in Athens. I literally had to sit down, because I was shaking so hard.

Since then, Owl has become the protector of my home. There have been many, many times when worry arose about my safety, or about the changes happening in my home, but every time I think of my Owl, I feel better.

Last weekend, while walking out in the fields, I decided to go on an “owl hunt” (don’t worry – I was just looking for one to photograph, not to kill!). I made my way into the wooded area behind my mother’s house, toward a tree where I knew owls like to sit. I put the binoculars to my eyes and immediately found myself looking directly at a Great Horned Owl.

Again, I got the chills. It was so beautiful, I couldn’t believe it. I spent half an hour creeping closer and closer to it, trying to get a good photograph. I was shaking with excitement the entire time. Finally, I was just 10 feet away, and I lifted the camera to my eyes…and my brother’s dog, who I had brought with me, jumped up and barked, scaring the owl away before I could get a close-up picture.

All the while, I could feel the connection and the protective energy of this beautiful creature.

Engaging with spirit totem energy in real life situations is so powerful. Make sure to watch for any opportunity to engage with the energy and messages coming to you. It may be something as seemingly innocuous as seeing a bee crawl across your window. Or you may be blessed with a prolonged “visit,” like mine with the owl.

Whatever it is, pay attention and do some research on the animal that has made itself known to you. They are always bringing us messages – we just have to listen.