The other day, the words on my Hay House calendar hit home.
“I have a great relationship with money. It loves me and fills my pockets.”
No. Not even close. I’ve been in a struggle with my money story all my life: from not having it and wanting it, to having it and letting it slip away, to having barely enough, to having not enough, to feeling shame and deficit because of it.
You see, I’ve believed that money isn’t real for a very long time. That it’s a made-up thing. It started out as shells and cattle; stones and salt (yes, salt), not bills and coins; certainly not checks and credit cards. If you had something I wanted or needed, I could trade you some pretty shells for it. If I had something you needed or wanted, you’d offer me some unique and lovely shells, which, in turn, got you the thing you wanted.
At some point, the business of ‘government’ chose to be the sole creators of money because, not unlike early religious organizations, “government was created to control a population larger than those who wished to control it.” If you control money, you control the people.
There’s a true story about early money; shells and stones: “An example which takes this tendency to the extreme is the rai stone, used as currency on the Micronesian island Yap. Not only do these huge wheel-shaped carved stones not have a practical use, they are also far too large to be practically transported. Instead, the Yapese keep an oral history of each stone owner, and the value of the stone was determined partially by its historical heft. In one instance, a rai stone even sank to the sea floor, but remained in the economic system of the island. Islanders would simply agree to transfer ownership of the stone without ever having to see it for themselves.”
So, it surprised me the other day when I had a realization; not about my money story but about money’s story about itself. Systems thinking. “A system is an entity which maintains its existence through the mutual interaction of its parts.” What this means is, if we’re talking about money, money should have a seat at the table as an entity unto itself. Otherwise, it’s just gossip, isn’t it?
While there is so much more to say about systems and governments, for now, let this suffice.
So, what does money think about how it’s used in today’s society? I asked it that very question and here’s what came back to me:
· Money is in pain about how its story has changed; “WTF, Humans?” was the energy that came back to me after asking the question.
· Money never wanted Humans to suffer because of it, or the lack of it or the surplus of it, either
· Money sees the greed in the eyes of Humans who hoard it and use it to brag of their wealth; those who ask so much for their product, service or work that others have to gulp before they say yes or have to say no because the price is out of reach.
· Money realizes that the story has gone too far in the hands of Humans for money to change the story, even as a system
· Money wants to be used for good, to create more good
· Money delights in service and stewardship; it has a “let it flow” attitude that always finds its way back to the giver
So, with that, I’m learning to change my money story. I am its ally; not its enemy. It is my ally, not my enemy. I will never again see money as something made-up; I acknowledge its existence as a vital system within our systems. If I use it benevolently, as it would like to be used, it will come back to me as something unique and beautiful, not a trophy that separates me from the rest of Humanity; a connector to Humanity AND the planet AND all living beings.
Ask me about my money story. Here’s what you’ll hear:
“Money is a system; an entity unto itself that holds at its core an intention of generosity and abundance.”
“I use money as a loving extension of myself; caring for my needs, yes, and caring for the needs of others and the planet.”
“I have a great relationship with money. It loves me and fills my pockets.”
Linda Lombardo, 1/25/18
Those of us who love the outdoors, seemingly enjoy everything it has to offer. In Spring and Summer, we can hardly wait to go outside and feel rebirth and renewal in every breath; see bulbs break ground and burst into flower; the trees leafing into their distinct shades of green once more. We’re inspired to dust off our bicycles, or skates, or walking sticks. We are ready to engage in the beauty of nature; engage in activities that often require some long soaks in a hot tub, citing how out of shape we are after “that long lazy winter”. In Autumn, we walk along trails resplendent with the color from leaves that the trees have pushed off in preparation for wintertime. We go apple picking and love the crispness of the air and the warmth of the late afternoon sun.
We must talk about Winter if we’re going to engage with nature in ALL her beauty. I’ve seen memes on the first day of winter that read, “Only 75 more days till Spring!”. We stay indoors; become less active, less motivated, perhaps. We’ve forgotten - or choose to ignore - an entire season that is essential to our human cycles of life as well as nature’s. Not all of us, certainly, and yet, enough of us.
Energetically, Winter is a time of deep rest in preparation for a rebirth or transformation. The trees sense it as early as late Summer and early Autumn when many begin the arduous task of pushing their leaves off their branches, dispelling the idea of “Autumn leaves falling”. They only fall because they are pushed. These leaves are useless when the tree needs all its energy to keep its living cells from freezing in the cold. Trees know how to shut down what’s non-essential in order to ready themselves for hibernation, or dormancy, all the while actively keeping their living cells from freezing. At rest and active simultaneously. Some even set their buds before dormancy in preparation for Spring and warmer weather. My lilac bush is awash with tight red buds in December awaiting a signal that Spring has arrived and it gives me hope every time I stop to admire the lilac’s forethought and handiwork.
So, how do trees keep from freezing in wintertime? Research tells us that some trees change their cell membranes to become suppler in wintertime, so the amount of water they usually hold is released to the space between cells, where freezing is not an issue, maybe even of benefit to the tree. We humans usually eat more, put on a few of pounds, two or five or ten, acting more like bears planning to sleep through the Winter than trees whose work is less obvious yet still at work. Speaking of eating more, some trees even supply more sugar to their living cells, like anti-freeze, lowering the point at which a cell will freeze. They just don’t gain weight or worry how they’ll look in a bathing suit.
This brings me to the question: how do you keep your living cells from freezing in Wintertime? What are the non-essentials you push off to focus your attention on what keeps you alive? And what little buds are you birthing for a later date, a warmer season, a full expression of you when the time comes?
Beyond the science of trees, there is an aesthetic beauty to the woods in Wintertime. There is a silence in the woods, in which we can hear our own hearts beating, or hear snow fall to the ground as a squirrel dashes across a branch, or hear how the song of the wind in the leafless trees has changed ever so slightly; a song in the key of Winter; different than a song in the key of Spring. It requires us to be in dormancy, too, if we choose to notice and hear these things. What’s in motion when it isn’t you? What are you noticing, being present to the silence and stillness of Winter?
Most of all, how is Wintertime essential to your being alive, a thing of beauty and part of every season in nature?
For the longest time, I’ve grappled with what I call my ‘cloak of invisibility’. What I mean by that is that I seem to be able to go unnoticed in a crowd. Not intentionally. I’m the one who raises my hand and doesn’t get called on. I can be in the middle of saying something, and another person begins to speak over me, as if I hadn’t been speaking at all.
“Hmm, I must be wearing my cloak of invisibility,” I say, often aloud these days, as my filters are wearing thin with age.
It bothered me for a long time, and I wrote it up to the fact that I’m not flashy or glamorous. I’m quiet, reserved, and introverted. For years, it seemed like that cloak was wearing me. It had gotten heavy and there was a ‘why bother’ somewhere in its lining. In fact, I still recall being at a workshop in NYC with some friends. As the facilitator arrived; he was also a friend as well as a mentor/coach, he was saying hello to everyone outside the building, hugging everyone (remember when we could hug?). I opened my arms to receive my hug as he approached, and this person brushed right by me, saying to no one in particular, “Hey, we’d better get upstairs!” I was left on a NYC sidewalk with my arms open wide. Anything could have happened to me. But it didn’t because, apparently, I was wearing my cloak.
Before it feels a pity party to you, the reader, and it’s not that, I promise you … this past weekend, on a forest therapy walk, I suddenly realized why I’m often invisible and it’s quite the opposite of what I imagined it to be.
I was leading a walk in a very human-congested location. We’re all still ‘going outdoors’ because there are still lots of places we cannot go and gather. Families were picnicking, playing, running, and shouting, throwing balls, flying kites, walking dogs. Our group of 13 walked among them in an invitation called, “What’s in Motion When It Isn’t Me?”, an invitation that comes from my certification training with the ANFT, or Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.
In this invitation, we walk more slowly than we’ve ever walked, stopping to notice everything around us: the grass moving in the breeze, the bark of trees, insects, mushrooms, birds, or the water in the bay. We also notice people, and most people are moving quickly, involved in their outdoor human activities; concentrating deeply on their ‘doing’, while we were concentrating on our ‘being’.
I suddenly realized that we were invisible to the people there. No one noticed us, not even as I played my flute to remind the forest bathers to drop back into presencing. No one noticed us at all.
It was then that I realized how wonderful being invisible can be. What a delight to move among humans so slowly and witness them in their distinctly human behaviors! We were like the wee people, the elfae folk, the Varivae, the Little People of the Light, and others, moving slowly, unseen among them. I’ve never felt that before with a group of people as a group of people. It was magical.
I realized then that, in my own life, I, too, move slowly, I listen, I observe. I am always curious about what’s in motion when it isn’t me. That’s not to say I’m never in motion. I am, and then I am like those humans who cannot notice what’s in motion around them, or the ever-so-slight shift in energy. And mostly, I’m living in the slow place, the place of questions rather than the answers; the metaview and the macroview simultaneously; holding that curiosity where my mind is always processing, working, weaving, imagining. I feel as if I’m having the most intimate conversation with you and you’re probably wondering why I haven’t said anything for so long.
If you relate, perhaps we are the ones who are capable of dancing between the raindrops, who are drawn to the stars light years away as if they are in our own back yard. Perhaps we are the invisible ones as only we can be, noticing, witnessing, being in the questions of life.
I realize that this is my gift and wonder, is it yours, too. If it is, what is the gift you receive when you wear your cloak of invisibility? How is it your superpower?
We offer this pause as an opportunity to connect, celebrate and restore our strength. Join this group of extraordinary leaders for meditation, poetry, forest bathing, yoga and MORE!
Noon – 1:30 pm ET - Saturday, October 10
Opening Connection, Meditation, and Healing with Deborah Beany Slide into our Opening Circle -- beginning with our video cameras on, connecting and setting our intention together. Then drift into a guided meditation, nowhere to go, nothing to do. Let go of tension, lists, expectations and anything that needs clearing. Relax into a 90-minute session of meditation and stress release techniques.
3:00 - 4:30 pm ET
Shinrin-Yoku, Harvesting a Deeper Connection with Divine Feminine with Linda Lombardo We are entering a time of divine immanence, in which all that is sacred is accessible to us right now in this existence. It isn’t separate from us or outside us. We will fully recognize and honor what has always been within us. And regardless of whether we’ve ever birthed another being, we must acknowledge the unique and utterly necessary feminine spiritual power to create as the world’s stories begin to crumble and new and long-forgotten stories are birthed.
7:00 - 8:30 pm ET
Welcoming a Season of Gratitude, with Poetry and Moon Magic with Carolyn Dragon Our celebration begins with music and dance. Feeling our body come alive and enjoying the rhythms of life. Settling into our harvest nest, poems of encouragement, joy, and connection will be shared. Allowing the words to wash over us, you will have an opportunity to capture your own words. Our party moves on to games of gratitude and we conclude with moon magic.
9:30 - 11:00 am ET - Sunday, October 1
Nourishing Yoga Practices to Reap at Harvest and Transition Forward with Kerry Ferguson The practice will be a guided flow of yoga postures. A choice of poses that will encourage connection with the inner sacred feminine. Breathwork, centering, simple and digestible yogic teachings, woven into a flowing sequence of yoga postures, that will be simple yet could be as physically challenging as you choose. A variety of modifications to the movements and options will be offered.
11:30 am - 12:00 pm ET
Closing Circle -- Connection, Celebration & Restoration We close our program with a gathering of women celebrating the harvest, each other and themselves. Your Restor-A-Day guides will each share a lasting bit of inspiration -- taking the time to strengthen our connection, build on our intention and complete our day of restoration.
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I’ve always been the first to say that I would love it if everyone went outdoors to be with nature. What a goal; what a dream come true. Now that everyone is going outdoors, mostly because there’s nowhere else to go, I’m a little less certain that it’s really what I want.
As a Master Naturalist and Certified Forest Therapy Guide, being outdoors in nature is the most calming experience I know; connecting with a tree or a blade of grass; feeling the breeze and letting it take me where it wants, watching the Connetquot river flow effortlessly into Nicoll Bay before becoming part of Great South Bay, and more invitations that are protocol from my ANFT (The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs) forest therapy training. Right now, it’s like bumper cars on our trails; it’s like the Long Island Expressway. Everyone is out, using the same trail, trying to stay in their lane, and it’s not as wonderful as I expected it to be.
I seek solitude in the forest, when I’m not leading walks, whether a park, preserve or arboretum. What happens when the parks, preserves and arboretums get really, really crowded? How can I maintain my recommended 6’ physical distance? My colleague, Mindy Block of Quality Parks and the Master Naturalist Program in Port Jefferson, concurred, “I need 600 feet when I’m in nature, not 6.” I agree with her wholeheartedly.
It’s like discovering your favorite restaurant, only to find that everyone else has discovered it, too, and now, you can’t get a table.
Here on Long Island, Quogue Wildlife Refuge just instituted a ‘one-way trail’ direction. I might be able to live with that. It’s certainly a step (no pun intended) in the right direction. Even though research says it’s not the passerby; it’s the prolonged exposure, are we willing to take that chance? Passing someone on a narrow trail means shifting our bodies, our pace in less than a 6’ area. Imagine supermarket aisles and add some generic vegetation. That’s what it’s like these days.
Still, to be fair, I’m excited that families are going out and spending time together in nature. Many people are in nature, just not with nature. What I mean by this is, they are outside doing something active, like jogging, bicycling or walking while listening to music or a podcast, earbuds in and eyes on their phones. They may be deeply engrossed in conversation or actively keeping the kids on the trail, off trees and grassy areas. I suspect many of those folks will go back to their normal routine once we are able to. It might be ages before they visit another park, preserve or arboretum. Nature doesn’t discriminate, so whatever immune system boosters it has to offer, it shares inclusively with everyone who ventures out. It’s like your mother, who loves you, even when you come to visit and spend most of your time on your phone or watching TV. Unconditional love from Nature.
I’m also excited to believe that some are stopping along the trail, noticing the Snowdrops or the Crocus, listening to bird song or, like me, feeling the breeze and wondering where might it take them if they let it? Across the grass, off the trail, winding around conifers or an old crab apple tree? I’m excited that someone might notice that there’s a tree that appears to have the eye of a dragon where a branch once was; excited that someone might notice that the bark from the London Plane tree makes a fun, natural mask if you find just the right piece. And, of course, there’s more; the Witch Hazel blooming, the bright green Spring tips on the fir trees … how the air feels when Spring arrives, then retreats, then arrives again.
I trust that some of those people will remember and return, deepening a connection with the natural world that we Long Islanders are so proud of, but don’t always experience personally. A deeper connection created out of necessity, and now, something we realize has always been a necessity.
In the end, I’m grateful that more and more people are coming to nature and spending time with their families. They are all welcome. I’d like to leave you with some forest therapy, no matter how you’ve experienced nature in the past. If you've ever walked with me, you've done some reciprocity breathing with the trees. A deep breath in with gratitude for the trees that made the oxygen you require to live; a deeper breath out to share the much-required carbon dioxide that the trees need to live, and also, to activate the vagus nerve. Research tells us that you can indirectly stimulate the vagus nerve by taking deep, deliberate breaths from your belly. Deep breathing activates specific neurons that detect blood pressure. These neurons signal to the vagus nerve that blood pressure is becoming too high, and the vagus nerve in turn responds by lowering your heart rate. The result, a calmer, more grounded you. So, try breathing with a tree today, even if it’s one that's in your own back yard. Make the connection. Be grateful. You are part of everything, and everything is part of you.