Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ What Every Salmon Knows

FullSizeRender
Photo by Michelle Fairchild - Battlecreek 10/22/14
What people have forgotten
is what every salmon knows.
~ Robert Clark

This past week I used a vacation day so that I could be a parent chaperone for a field trip for my twin daughters 3rd grade class.  It turned out to be a rainy day, but seeing as how we desperately need the rain here in California there weren't too many grumblings.  Instead we wore hats, jackets and carried umbrellas.  The first portion of our outing was to the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery was established in 1942 to help curb the loss of natural salmon.  Our guide was soft spoken Jack Blanke who had many interesting facts and figures to share with us during our tour through the hatchery and the two mile nature hike that followed along Battle Creek.

IMG_1934
Photo by Michelle Fairchild ~ Coleman National Fish Hatchery

We observed the Chinook Salmon, as well as Steelhead Trout in the various holding tanks.  The fish start out as tiny eggs and are fed and cared for until they are released.  While they are young they have their adipose fin clipped and a wire clip is embedded into their nose.  When such fish return to the hatchery years later they can be identified and it will provide biologists with useful information.

IMG_1924
Photo by Michelle Fairchild ~ Spawning room Coleman National Fish Hatchery
An unexpected part of the tour for myself and my daughters was the spawning room.  Male and female salmon die naturally after they lay their eggs.  The fish actually quit eating during their journey to the spawning pools and their bodies absorb their own intestines to survive.  At the hatchery they speed up and mechanize the fertilization process.  The process begins with an elevator full of water and fish rising up so that staff can more easily grab them.  One of the workers then jams the fishes heads into a box with an automated hammer, that is intended to kill them quickly. A number of the fish do not die from the hammer and instead have to be beaten over the head with a club.  All of this took place while we watched.  It was after they were "dead" that a pair of workers would pick up both a female and a male fish and essentially force out the females eggs and the males milt.  One worker injects the female fish with a device that blows air into her, forcing her eggs to come flowing out, while the another worker presses on the male to eject his milt.  The eggs and milt mix in the tub.  The dead fish were then dropped down chutes, and then routed to a refrigerated trailer sitting outside the building, which would later be transported to a processing plant. The meat is primarily distributed to food banks and prisons.  Local Native American tribes in the area also have rights to put in requests to transport whole fish from the hatchery free of cost.

I personally was relieved to leave the spawning room.  As a person who gave up eating meat and adopted a vegan diet six years ago, seeing animals, even fish killed, was not a pleasant experience.  My daughter Maya was especially sensitive to it too and her teacher tried to explain that the fish would have died anyways.  That sound reasonable, though iI kept thinking about the difference between laying ones eggs and dying peacefully in a river or being killed by a slam to the head with a hammer or a club.  I tried to make some peace with it by looking at the bigger picture and how the hatchery is responsible for hatching over 13 million fish, and in doing so helps to ensure the populations of salmon and steelhead continue to thrive.

If I haven't bored you to tears with the account of the salmon tour and you are still bravely reading on I want to share with you an essay from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  Not having read from this book in awhile I opened it and flipped to the latter dates of October.  I have to wonder if it is synchronicity or coincidence that is just so happens his essay for October 30th called The Art of Facing Things is about salmon.  Maybe this particular essay wouldn't have caught my attention if not for the recent outing, but I decided there might be a message in it that I should take note of more closely and I wanted to share it with you.  

"Salmon have much to teach us about the art of facing things.  In swimming up waterfalls, these remarkable creatures seem to defy gravity.  It is an amazing thing to behold.  A closer look reveals a wisdom for all beings who want to thrive.
What the salmon somehow know is how to turn their underside-from center to tail-into the powerful current coming at them, which hits them squarely, and the impact then launches them out and further up the waterfall; to which their reaction is, again, to turn their underside back into the powerful current that, of course, again hits them squarely; and this successive impact launches them further out and up the waterfall.  Their leaning into what they face bounces them further and further along their unlikely journey.

From a distance, it seems magical, as if these might fish are flying, conquering their element.  In actuality, they are deeply at one with their element, vibrantly and thoroughly engaged in a compelling dance of turning-toward-and-being-hit-squarely that moves them through water and air to the very source of their nature.

In terms useful to the life of the spirit, the salmon are constantly faithful in exposing their underside to the current coming at them.  Mysteriously, it is the physics of this courage that enable them to move through life as they know it so directly.  We can learn from this very active paradox; for we, too, must be as faithful to living in the open if we are to stay real in the face of our daily experience.  In order not to be swept away by what the days bring, we, too, must find a way to lean into the forces that hit us so squarely.

The salmon offer us a way to face truth without shutting down.  They show us how leaning into our experience, though we don't like the hit, moves us on.  Time and again, though we'd rather turn away, it is the impact of being revealed, through our willingness to be vulnerable, that enable us to experience both mystery and grace."
  • Sit quietly and meditate on the last time you opened yourself to the life coming at you.
  • In recalling this, try to focus on three things; the way that opening yourself caused you to unfold, they way that being hit squarely changed your life position, and where leaping like a salmon landed you.
  • Breathe steadily, and invite the lessons of opening, being changes, and landing into your heart.
  • Breathe slowly, and realize that you are in this process now.
  • Relax and turn the belly of your heart toward the day.

Here is a brief video of the salmon attempting to jump and vault a controlled waterfall.  You can excitedly hear children cheering on the salmon as the launch themselves.  We kept hoping one would make it.  What we finally learned is that at this time of year the volume of water is increased to such a level that the salmon will never make it to the upper level.  This forces them to look for an alternate route, which happens to be a man-made fish ladder that directs them into the hatchery pools.  During the non-spawning season the water flow is reduced and fish can then naturally swim up and 
down stream.

I also ponder some additional questions and ask them of you too.

Is there anything that you are avoiding or not willing to face?

When things are difficult and challenging how do you handle them?

Do you think your methods and ways of dealing (or not dealing)
with challenges are healthy for you
or could you benefit from learning some new coping skills?



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ From Here to There

life-me-orlando-espinosa

smile to hide

overwhelmed scream

overwhelmed

feeling-overwhelmed-relax-and-do-less-2

bigstock-overwhelmed-woman-on-a-chair-durring-a-storm

remember youre going to die
inspirational-quotes-42

panic attack

they will pass

Feeling-Overwhelmed

coyote-help-218x300

SONY DSC

images

itll be okay

stay strong

let it go
Overwhelmed-by-gratitude
mom-quote

robin williams

enjoy the little things

bubbles

swing

slow down relax enjoy life go outside
Dr.-Suess-Motivational-Quotes-images-inspiration-18

start again

be happy

Practicing-Happiness-Gifting-Your-Mind-a-Breath-of-Fresh-Air1-604x270


You know that when it is only Sunday morning
and you are already dreading
going to work the next day
and you then begin to cry
that things have grown much too stressful.

This photo and quote Mojo Monday
is in response to the 
incredible overwhelm and anxiety
I am experiencing at this time.
I found transforming my feelings
into visuals and succinct quotes
was helpful and almost therapeutic.

Then to look for images and ideas
for helping one cope and deflate
the stress and overwhelm
also helped to bring
some present peacefulness
to the forefront of my mind and spirit.
When you feel overwhelmed or 
overcome by anxiety what do you do?

If you are struggling with someone
or something in particular
try turning the situation into a visual collage.
Look for images that reflect the problem.
Then look for images on how you would either 
like to resolve the situation or at the very
least how you would rather be feeling.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shades of Fucking Gray or Delicious Ambiguity?

CC Magazine Logo (1)


699bd-michellefairchildccmagazineheader4-5-13


Come read my latest article called
Shades of Fucking Gray or Delicious Ambiguity?
in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition,
but certainty is absurd.”
– Voltaire

If you have come to read about obsessive love and kinky sex you have landed on the wrong article, though I am quite certain that via a Google search you can find references to that book or its new movie trailer.  This article is about something far more down and dirty.  I am talking about righteous certainty, black & white thinking, and arrogant belief systems.

Some of the words I chose are provoking and have negative connotations ~ words like righteous and arrogant, but I did so intentionally since we are exploring the terrain of that which is Taboo.  This is also why there is profanity in the title of this article.  I am not one to drop the F bomb in public, well not often, but those really close to me know that given the right set of circumstances I can swear like a sailor.  

Honestly, I almost faltered on including that particular word, but I use it with intention.  This is not the first time I have been drawn to write about the world of mystery.  Two of my previous articles, one entitled Do You Trust the Mystery?and another entitled The Sacred Space In Between have touched upon the topics of uncertainty and doubt.  I have shared about both my fascination with faith and the beauty of doubt, but also my struggle with trusting ambiguity. In the past I have taken a softer approach in my explorations of these topics.  This time I am pulling off the gloves and taking to task those things that make my fists clench, for you see when I look around I am finding much to agree with in Voltaire’s conclusion that “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

Art background by Maya Fairchild
Art background by Maya Fairchild, 2014.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Love and Loss

IMG_1697I know a few things about love and loss.
I know a bit about grieving,
for I have danced with death on more than one occasion.

As I begin to write this post about a death, a birth and two heart surgeries my quirky mind jumps to thinking about the film called Four Weddings and A Funeral or those jokes that start off with "A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar..."  Perhaps it is not in my best interest to share how ADHD my thoughts can be, and may I add, how they exhaust me at times.  Yet it is true that these past two weeks have included the death of a great uncle, the birth of a great niece and two heart surgeries, an aunt's and that of a very dear member of my creative Cosmic Cowgirl community.

My auntie's heart surgery went smoothly and she is on her way to recovering.  The heart surgery of Sue Hoya Sellars, a master artist and matriarch, on Thursday, September 18th also appeared to be successful. All the monitoring during the long procedure indicated things went well.  There was a beautiful video live stream post surgery, where those present and those of us miles away could touch base and share in wishing Sue a speedy recovery. However things didn't go quite as expected because Sue didn't wake up.  As the hours and days rolled on vigils began and still family and friends held onto hope that she was simply healing in "Sue time."

As more time has passed the shadows of doubt have grown.  The community has circled around sending waves of love from around the world, while writing poems, drawing and painting, in honor of she who has taught many how to wield a paintbrush and how to mix her unique blend of black paint. In the midst of tears that I shed multiple times a day I am inspired by all the creativity and love that abounds.  There is the 30 day Committing Art with Sue that launched.  I have seen so many beautiful drawings and paintings posted by those who have been touched by her and this community.  I have fallen head over heals for the quotes that artist Christina Gage has been creating from close ups of her paintings and the wise words of Sue herself.   I have been moved by the poetry and written words of so many who wish to share their experiences with Sue and offer words of comfort to one another. I have loved hearing how many have visited the hospital, sitting and talking to Sue, singing to her, drumming for her and certainly praying for her.

Sue with her art and quote collages by Christina Gage ~ Forms of Joy by Christina Gage
Sue with her art and quote collages by Christina Gage ~ Forms of Joy by Christina Gage

Even as I write this on the evening of Thursday, September 25th, Sue is alive, blood flowing through her veins, and her heart pumping.  Actions were taken earlier today though to remove all the tubes and wires, so that family and friends could move her to her beloved Terra Sophia homestead.  The latest update was that she remains unresponsive and it is expected that she will transition from life to the great mystery called death.

Every day since the surgery I have awaited the announcement that she has awoken.  I have expected to hear accounts of her waking to joyous reactions and great relief.  I have imagined her look of surprise to learn she has been sleeping for a week.  Many have suggested she has been soul traveling and will return with stories of visiting the cosmos and spending time with ethereal beings.

I reflect and find irony in how my most recent taboo article for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is entitled We Are All Going to Die.  Poetry Can Help.  The day my article was published is the day I learned Robin Williams was no longer with us and not long before that one of my all time favorite human beings, Maya Angelou, had passed away.   In the here and now of grieving for the very real likelihood that Sue transitions in the next hours or days, the title of my own article feels more real than ever.  Yes, we are all going to die and yes, as I continue to witness, poetry can help.  So can painting, singing, drumming and writing as we transform grief and loss into expressions of love and beauty.

Sue believed strongly in the power of art to heal and to connect with our consciousness.  As a part of fulfilling her deepest wishes and the legacy of her vision a Barn Raising has been initiated.  Sue's longtime homestead is called Terra Sophia and an invitation has been extended to be a part of Sue's vision for her property to become a sanctuary for committing art.  Please visit the "Barn Raising" site to learn more on how you can participate.  On this site is also a beautiful video that offers a peek into Sue's world at Terra Sophia.

I have been a part of the Cosmic Cowgirl community since October 2008.  This tribe of creative women has impacted my life significantly.  Sue intimidated me a little the first time I met her and I joke that it was the "toilet paper lecture" that did it.  Those who have heard this same detailed instructional guide from Sue can nod knowingly and then giggle.  It was the second time I met her that I was struck strongly by the depth of her love and kindness.  I saw in her eyes the wisdom and the generous heart that poured forth.  I admired her deep contemplative mind and her gentleness.  I also loved her humor and wit.  That second time upon preparing to depart from an amazing weekend spent with Cosmic Cowgirls I went to say my goodbye to Sue and found myself spontaneously announcing "I love you Sue." I saw the glisten in her eye as she took in my heartfelt words.

Some people affect us more deeply than we know, especially when faced with their departure from our lives.  Sue was at the heart of the Cosmic Cowgirl community.  She is beloved to us all.  I pause while typing this to hold my hands to my face while stifling a sob. I wipe my nose and dab my eyes and return to sharing written words for comfort and a way to process the grief.  Later I will turn to the paintbrush and a canvas to transform tears into expressions of art.  Always I will turn to this community of creatives for connection, friendship and support.  We are bound by the red thread.

an-invisible-red-thread

In closing a song that felt called to be shared.

Raven Song

by Elephant Revival



Raven Song
Lyrics by Elephant Revival

If I was a raven
I'd fly on through the heavens

I'd fly to all my loved ones
If I was a raven

(vocalizations)

If memory's worth saving
I'd savor the feeling
of knowing love and loving
I'd remember the feeling

(vocalizations)

Some say upon that mountain
there is many a raven

They call out to the living
from somewhere far beyond them

From those we've loved
that have flown on

From those we've loved
that have flown
on

In Wind and Shadow by Aaron Paquette
In Wind and Shadow by Aaron Paquette

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Inspirational Odds & Ends

Breath of Fresh Air

Where do you look to for inspiration?  

Even if you are feeling blue or overwhelmed have you
identified beacons of light that can
brighten up your day or offer a breath of fresh air?  

Do you turn to nature, art, uplifting quotes and words,
music, writers, websites, or perhaps a combination of all of the above?  

Do you subscribe to any inspirational magazines, newsletters or video feeds? 

Share in the comments some of your inspirational touchstones.

Here is a list with links and notes 
of those things that have inspired me or 
perhaps provoked feelings and thoughts recently.


classroompeek

The course Hello Soul Hello Mantras by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Kelly Rae is an artist I have written about before
or mentioned in posts herehereherehere and also here
because I have felt a kinship with her social worker soul 
and her creative mixed media artistry.  Her class was something
I decided to treat myself too after simmering in the blues.
The on-line course kicked off on September 8th and I am feeling very inspired.

Are there any courses you are taking that you would recommend?


Love feather anahata katkin

The art and designs of PAPAYA! which predominantly
features the art of Anahata Katkin.  

I visited the flagship store in
Ashland, Oregon in July and again at the end of August. 
The store fills the senses with scents, colors, texture, 
deep dark chocolate and so much beauty.
While one won't get to taste the chocolate, feel the fabrics 
or smell the perfumes and lotions one can visit their
website to explore the hundreds of inspirational images.

Are there any particular artists that inspire you?


artist room

My own Artist Room

I recently did some late summer cleaning in my artist room.  
Partly in preparation for the Hello Soul Hello Mantras course.  
It felt good to dust and do a little rearranging and clearing out.
Having a beautiful-to-me inspirational sacred space is important to me.

Have you created or found an inspirational space for yourself?


bg_header2

I receive via email every single day an uplifting and positive article
from the good folk at Daily Good ~ News that Inspires

Some articles I read that very day.  Others I read at a later time.  
The team that gathers the articles from near and far, 
as well as research and writes about the 
wide variety of topics and people, do an amazing job.  
I am impressed that it all began with a single person.

"DailyGood was born in 1998, when one college student 
started sharing inspiration with a half a dozen of his friends 
by sending them an enriching quote every day.

Today, DailyGood leverages the internet to promote 
positive and uplifting news around the world to more than 
100,000 subscribers through the daily and weekly newsletters. 
Readers receive a news story, an inspiring quote, and a suggested action 
that each person can take to make a difference 
in their own lives and the world around them."

Do you subscribe to a regular newsletter 
or email subscription that inspires you?


TED3

If you have yet to check out TED Talks
I encourage you to do so.

I receive regular email updates for their latest videos.
This week I was particularly moved 
by the video by Zak Ebrahim entitled
I am the son of a terrorist. Here's how I chose peace.

Are you already familiar with TED Talks?
If yes, do you have any favorites to recommend?

Listen_to_Your_Heart

The last topic that has been on my mind has to do with the heart.

On Thursday I learned that one of my aunts was
to undergo heart surgery on Friday.
The good news is that the surgery appears to have been very successful
and she is recovering very well.
Then on Saturday I learned that a matriarch in my creative community
is also very unexpectedly scheduled to
undergo open heart surgery this week.
I have been sending prayers for healed hearts
and my inquisitive nature had me reading about the heart.

Did you know these very interesting facts about the heart?

DidYouKnow


Herat and Brain I and A


Inspiration is swirling all around us.  
Sometimes when I am blue I can get tunnel vision.
Reminding myself of all the beauty and wonder 
in our world brings me back into the light.


39266-Take-A-Deep-Breath-And-Follow-Your-Heart