Becoming the Stream

Soul heartedly

If you’re afraid, do not fear. You are not alone.

Everyone’s afraid of something. Everyone’s afraid of words. Everyone’s afraid of love. Everyone’s afraid of success. Everyone’s afraid of truth. Everyone’s afraid of rejection. Everyone’s afraid to dream. (Well, maybe not everyone is afraid to dream, although it is a terrifying concept). And it’s really hard to keep moving forward pursuing your deeepest desires when we dwell within such a fearful mindset. It’s really easy to “go with the flow” and try to forget about your fears and remain in a place of stagnancy, stuck on a stone in the river with water cascading past you, without you.

And there you remain plastered to an ancient, cold, lonely stone… growing mold and trying to tell yourself you’re at peace with your mind and your heart. Well, this is a great place to be. Sometimes it’s the only place to be, because moving forward with or without the fear might disrupt your comfort zone and cause so much anxiety that you could die. You don’t consider the option that you could become the stream, that you are the stream and always have been the stream.

Be aware. Be aware that anxiety is not your own– that possibly anxiety exists in everyone because we are all human (except a select few coming from distant galaxies reincarnated in human form, of course– but even they have to learn to overcome fear), and this is the reason we’re all in a lonely place of fear and rejection and not extending our power into the Earthy realms nor the ether! And perhaps our personal fears are reflected into worldly fears (politics, weather, wars, etc)…

However, this is not a story in which words are the answer. This is a story of acceptance and understanding that if you feel you’ve done all you can do, maybe you have. Then ask yourself, is this something you can really live without? Is this something you CAN find in another form? If the answer to either of these is yes, then leave the situation behind to be recycled into something even better.

Sometimes we don’t overcome our fears in time, but this is only because we must learn from our fears. We must recognize the growth process around such fears, bringing us into a new state of confidence and courage. From this place, we CAN move forward and overcome anything we want to overcome in order to be wherever, whoever we want to be. The good thing is that if we don’t die of our anxieties, whether we face our fears or not, we are inevitably guided towards a better place in our lives to which eventually, fear of a certain situation will literally evaporate and we will have a magical revelation of the truth.

Sometimes there are mistakes we make, and sometimes we talk ourselves into the extreme of saying, “There are no mistakes so I must be in the right place at the right time, and I must be doing the right thing by following my fears instead of leaping outside my corner of the forest and into the vast ocean of bravery and freedom.

This is also a story of utilizing our innate powers of intuition and following the signs that lead us on, even if we are rejected, even if we don’t receive the outcome we desire. Because the signs are only trying to push us outside our comfort zones and teach us that it is possible to do something we never thought we’d be bold enough to do, because it “just isn’t who we are” to be brave or to be courageous or to act out of love for acknowledgement of self.

We DO have the authority and the capability to take actions towards our truths because we are more than our fears. Even if something we believe in doesn’t matter to anyone else, we must still believe in it because it matters to us. And we have helpers to help us along the way.

Some things you might try to overcome anxieties and begin living your new, fearless, courageous, beautiful life:

  1. Forgive yourself and express gratitude towards those who have hurt you.
  2. Learn about Flower Essences. These can create shifts in something specific you may be overwhelmed with. Flower spirits are close allies.
    1. Red Chestnut~ allows you to love without fear and recognize how your fear affects not only you, but others. (When I began taking this, I was overcome with a sudden slap in the face of how extremely I was causing a disturbance of natural factors by telling myself I was too afraid. After freaking out for a bit, I was sent into a state of clarity and realization of the steps I needed to take to move forward.)
    2. Willow~ denotes some of the anxiety you might feel when it is difficult to move forward.
    3. Mimulus~ an aid in encouragement which pushes you to do things you feel otherwise might be impossible.
  3. Drink more water. Dehydration may be one factor of irrational fears, or so I’ve been guided to say.
  4. Soak in a hot springs as often as possible, or take salt/mineral infused baths.
  5. Omega-3 supplements
  6. Vitamin D + SUN to brighten your perspective
  7. Earthing- aka allowing the Earth to absorb your worries as you lay on the ground or walk barefoot
  8. Trust the process.
  9. EFT Tapping.

Still, you must know that you are strong enough to speak the truth of your heart to others, to do what you believe in, to stand up for yourself– to express yourself in any necessary way– in exactly the condition you are. You have the power and the right to do these things despite your fears, anxieties, sinus problems that cause speech problems, dialect, accent, mental fog… despite your insecurities, the perception that you’re overweight, that your face is too red or too dry to talk to anyone today, despite your chronic sinus congestion, your oily hair, the fact that your feet hurt, that you don’t feel free because you’re deprived of the sun… despite your age, the color of your hair, your height, and any other weaknesses.

You still have the right to do whatever you want, wherever you are and however are you currently, because nobody requires you to be perfect. We all know that when we have a seemingly perfect day, we can count on something to go wrong the next. Yet we find beauty in it. We find a way to move forward and believe in ourselves because we matter. We are matter, after all, and nothing is out of place. We have our own beliefs and ideas for a reason. All we have to know is how to trust the process.

® Camille Garcia, 2017

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We ARE the Missing Threads

Soul heartedly

If anyone has ever told you, “In order to be loved, you must first love yourself…” and left it at that, I want you to recognize that this is a very dangerous and melancholy mindset to dwell within. What does it mean to love yourself fully, and how is it humanly possible to grow into a space of self love if you believe that you are unable to receive love from others if you don’t even know what it means to love yourself? I want you to know that it is extremely difficult to feel isolated in the world, cut off from support for fear that you are being judged for your imperfections, which represent proof that you don’t fully love yourself (right)?

Love is not something we can do alone. We are all the missing threads that complete one another, and if we become so absorbed within our own heads that we become blind to the outside beauty and numb to the outside energy that is yet a vital part to our being. So if anyone has ever told you this, they are probably not lonely only children and have never truly been in a place of extreme isolation and desolation. And yes, both of these things are only illusions… but they can become so real in the physical world if we truly believe we have to conceal our love within ourselves, solely.

Love has to be reflected, whether it is in the eyes, in energy, in clear lakes, in the stars. We have to realize that we’re part of all of that. I have learned that others’ perception of selfish love leads one down a desolate path plagued by ego. The egotistic mindset haunts you, whispering all your imperfections and insecurities to you through the gusty wind.

What we must learn to do is expand our minds to the external beauty and cultures and how this is a total reflection of us. What we see in the eyes of others: the anger, the beauty, the cosmic illumination, the ever-changing colors, sparkling blue oceans, intimidating red hues as real as the core of Planet Earth– these are all reflections of what we have within us. And we have to learn that these are all safe qualities. We have to learn that living life to the fullest means making mistakes and consciously not following rules staked down in our paths. That we cannot exist for ourselves, because without knowing others and without knowing the world and the outer worlds, we have no way of understanding ourselves in the least bit.

Because if we release the anxieties of our personal lives and expand our minds even further into the Universe, we might realize we are an essential part of all of it. That the Universe exists in all of us, and for us. And the we exist for the Universe, that we are the Universe. We are whatever we want to believe. We have more power than we think. And yet we think too much.

Most importantly, we must realize that there is a multitude of magical beings desperately hinting their love and attraction towards us, frustrated that we still don’t recognize that within ourselves despite our constant strides towards “self-love”, still blinded by the fog of guilt and not being perfect yet. We won’t ever be perfect as we perceive it, but in the eyes of many complimentary beings, we are so perfect as we are. Some are even blind to our self-perceived imperfections because they see us as their own beautiful reflection. Not only are external factors a reflections; it is two-sided. WE are a reflection of the Universal, Godly magic and beauty in everyone else if we can see ourselves this way.

Most importantly, love has to be reflected in words. You need to understand that you are so beautiful as you are even in your imperfect health, facial flaws, inconvenient setbacks, etc… and that so many people are already placed in your path, eager to love and accept you for all of that whenever you allow them to. Loving yourself is accepting yourself for all the beliefs you lock down deep within, accepting that everybody has insecurities that won’t be resolved no matter how hard we try until we surrender to acceptance. 

And accepting that nobody else we love will ever be perfect, so we must learn to love beyond the flawed perceptions and into Truth and wholeness of oneness.

®Camille M. Garcia (2017)

 

Neediness: Plot Twist

Abstract Essays

You move to the mountains because you think you need to restore your energy. You go because you didn’t find what you were looking for in your hometown and you weren’t enough for anything or anyone there. You go to the mountains pleading for answers for your needy, desperate soul. Constantly you beg God and the Universe to send people to you so you’ll be satisfied. You search from town to town looking for people to heal you. You feel so deprived, so desperate for these people and landscapes and then so discouraged when, one day later, you can’t seem to find the answers written clearly in front of you.

You need an anchor. You need somebody to be there for you in your times of need (which is always). The need is so intense, so urgent that you conduct a private ceremony to manifest your solutions right here and now. Why wait patiently for the right timing in the future when you can just as easily control the outcome of your present? You feel confident stepping into your own power. The answer will come, you say, tomorrow morning if not NOW.

However, you’d almost forgotten how God, the Universe, and the Cosmos work in absurdly strange and mysteriously ironic ways.

You wake up in the morning prepared to go out in the world and manifest the solutions to all your needs and desires. You’re dressed to the nines with your newly inherited yoga suit- PLUS an extra dress to stroll the sidewalks of downtown after you’re finished with your yoga sesh in the ever-renowned studio a few miles south. This is it: the day you find exactly what you were looking for. The day you finally manifest your life partner and eternal sunshine and nine kittens, and an everlasting zest for art and creativity that cannot be killed off by anything- sickness, rodeos, or Donald Trump.

Plot twist.

You’re taken aback when, halfway out the door, you receive a text from your friend. A friend! You know, the one you met right here in your new mountain town. But you don’t necessarily know how to respond to texts in such a frenzy, so you call instead. Turns out, this friend has been throwing up consistently since 4am and tells you she’s desperately in need of someone. Living a little too high up the mountain and miles away from town, she needs someone to bring her electrolytes to restore her energy. She’s desperately in need of healing.

Of course, you want to help, so you run to the store and purchase all the essentials she needs to rehydrate. Beforehand, you followed your intuition and packed along the crystalized ginger and holy water that happened to fall off your shelf just as you were leaving. You thought you might as well utilize these in the healing session.  When you open the door to her cabin, you’re greeted by the most beautiful kitten that reminds you of the one you left with your parents back home. Your friend is so miserable she can’t even drink water. “There’s nothing anyone can do to help me!” she cries in desperation.

But you know this is not true, as you feel that the power of love energy can heal anything. You also know that you are certified in reiki, which can be very powerful, so you offer this assistance. After the reiki and Recharge and holy water, your friend feels much better and is no longer heaped in a fetal position on the floor.

While you’re here, simultaneously experiencing the power of love and its healing effects as well as angelic guidance, you receive a voicemail coming in later than it was recorded from another friend that you’re supposed to meet for lunch down the hill. At that moment. (The message popped up later than it was recorded because there is no service where you are currently located.) Now that your friend is doing better, you’re able to speed down the hill and arrive to your lunch appointment albeit forty minutes late.

The meal is more than satisfying to your physical hunger you’d forgotten about. It was exactly what you’d been craving all week, and finally on a Sunday you are able to fulfill this desire! And you’re sitting in a sheltered patio underneath the sunshine in January! Your conversation with this other new friend is spiritually satisfying. After lunch, you’re invited to her home where you are greeted by another precious cat- this one reminds you of the very first cat you ever had. Something in the conversation you have here catches your attention. You catch your friend saying, in comparison to another scenario, “…just like I needed someone to toss things back to, like we did at lunch today”. This new friend needed you there on this day, too.

At this point, you’re kind of getting the hint that everyone here’s in the same boat. And maybe you didn’t need the mountains after all, and maybe the mountains actually needed you.

This becomes even more evident when, upon your return from town after a refreshing solo hike around the lake at dusk, you receive yet another phone call. This time from a number you recognize but never saved as a contact.

“Hi, this is Sara,” the voice says as you frantically unplug your headphones so you’re able to talk. In the midst of this chaos, you both immediately begin the conversation with laughter.

Long story semi-short: you have a brief history with this name you’ve never met. Her sister called your work looking for her and you’re the one who answered. Apparently ‘Sara’ used to work there, too, but nobody knew her. A week later, you stumbled into a shop you had a dream about visiting. The owner, who for some unknown reason believes you need a new place to live even though you’re perfectly content where you are, asks if you know ‘Sara Parsons’. A familiar light flashes in your memory. This is the exact same name you heard a few days ago when her sister called your work looking for her!

Whoa! This wasn’t even the same town we’re talking about! And ‘Sara’ lived in a town forty minutes away from the shop– how is this conversation even logical? So you took this as some sort of sign. You’d been texting this lady about her potential room for rent even when you weren’t looking for a room, and now she was calling to figure out if you were actually interested. You confess the entire story from her sister to the shop and the town she lived in, figuring this story has to be 60 miles long but you sum it up in one sentence. You both agree it’s a little strange.

Yet the conversation flows so naturally that you immediately begin discussing the most personal issues in your lives, forgetting you’ve never before met in person. Turns out you’re both on the same path to self worth but you actually hold some important information to Sara’s blockages, and know exactly what words of wisdom to hand down to her. You’re completely confident at this point that you were the one who needed to give constructive criticism for the betterment of this stranger’s life. In 33 minutes, you discuss signs from the Universe, work history, future hopes, toxic home environments, unhealthy relationships, being stagnant in bad situations, flower essences you both should be taking, Kate’s Magick anointing oils, and the paint color of your rooms.

You plan on hanging out Tuesday.

Yes, you needed the mountains… but this is precisely for the reason that the mountains were desperately in need of you.

And when somebody or something needs you, you realize that your needs no longer matter and feel filled with purpose. Your desires are naturally fulfilled without having to conduct ceremonies to manifest them. (Did I mention Sara has seven cats? Count the number of cats mentioned in this post and it will equal nine, just as I subconsciously predetermined in my sarcastic list of needs in the earlier paragraphs.)

To be continued…

Day 2 ~ Morrison/ Kittredge/ Golden

September Retreat, Uncategorized

On my second full day of solo exploration, I went for another bike ride along Bear Creek in Morrison. It was a vast, hilly desert– strenuous to propel upwards, but as I absorbed the atmosphere I felt renewed. Upon returning, I felt so proud I was able to stuff my bike in my car in just two pieces instead of three. I set my keys on the passenger seat as I finished buckling up my bike, and slammed both doors. However, I was thinking just a little too quickly…

I’d locked my keys inside my car, and no doors were open! What a wonderful way to start my Saturday- what I’d planned on spending as a day of leisurely shopping in my favorite town to shop in. Someone recommended I call the locksmith. There was only one locksmith number I could reach. I knew it would cost me an “arm and a leg” — but what other option did I have?

He said he would arrive in approximately 35 minutes, so I found a coffee shop to stall in. Luckily, I had my phone and my wallet on me. I ordered drip coffee and doused it with honey while I pretended to blog on my phone. Really, I was making up stories about the interesting couples who also entered the coffee shop.

What cost the man 35 minutes of driving and 35 seconds to unlock my car door, ended up costing me $178. Always think twice about whether your keys are in your hand or your car.Strolling Morrison, CO.

After Morrison, I was feeling a little frazzled. I didn’t want to stay inside, though, so I drive the opposite direction of the rocky canyon highway and made my way into Kittredge. I’d missed an Adobe Market sale by just seconds, but the owner of a local art gallery mentioned the Canyonfest taking place just down the road.

Canyonfest, Kittredge, CO

Nothing makes me feel more at home than encountering a group of hoopers dancing to live rock and roll.

I met the artist whose work I was initially intrigued by at the local gallery and purchased two pieces of wood art. Sherpa House, Golden, CO

I was elated when my cousin suggested Indian food for dinner. I ordered Chana Masala- the most satisfying salvation after any long September day, as the air begins to cool.

Meghan and Stephen- my first hosts of my solo journey.Woody’s wood-fired pizza.Walking along the river in Golden

 

 

Piñon Pine

Abstract Essays, Cultured Narratives

My sense of time had been seriously distorted that week due to sleeping in a dark room and being an opener at a coffee shop at 4am, while also subconsciously aware mold must have been seeping through the walls of that apartment and into my sinuses. I was barely breathing, in a state of minimum consciousness when my alarm screeched unpleasantly, piercing my eardrums. I didn’t open my eyes. I was nauseous and dizzy, better prepared for death than I was a road trip to Utah.

The voice telling me this would be an instant life-changing trip was the only thing propelling me to roll out of bed two minutes after I was supposed to arrive at Emery’s house to depart to Utah. A painful rush of cold blood flooded my head as I did so, but I miraculously found myself capable of throwing my five luggage items into my car, throwing clothes on my body, and driving a mile and a half all within ten minutes.

I was headed there with my class of Fort Collins herbalists to visit House of Aromatics, a essential oil distiller lab. The concept of distilling essential oils from scratch intrigued me, but Utah was the last place I planned on travelling to within my lifespan. My imagination could never quite grasp what it would feel like to be there—to drive through flat-topped sandstone hills with red dirt mountains sprouting bushy bundles of Artemisia.

The descent winding down the western Colorado-Utah border was overcome with traffic but surrounded by beautiful scenery, including majestic mountains and equally mystical ghost towns blanketed with fog. Despite the beauty, two hours of riding in the backseat made me so cold and nauseated I could have passed out. Fortunately, I was in a car full of intuitive herbalists—one of which happened to possess a homemade ginger tincture. After consuming a few drops of that, stopping for coffee, and walking briskly through the cool, mountain morning air of Georgetown, Colorado; I witnessed the healing powers of nature already reviving my health and my spirit. We were walking along a full river in search of a coffee shop, which I spotted just in time.

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I savored the taste of comfort; a sweet, warm soy latte while walking back along the river lined with vivid green grass and medicinal plants that our Mother Herbalist pointed out to us. That crisp, cold and rainy air flowed through my veins, allowing me to breathe a little more clearly. Our next stop was also by a river that I walked downhill towards… and my soul shouted for joy at the view of yet another element I clearly didn’t visualize enough: water. Water, earth, fire, wood, air. It occurred to me indirectly along this journey that I hadn’t been surrounding myself with the essential life elements, so it was no wonder I was experiencing so many ailments such as respiratory issues, fatigue, and infections.

Now nearing our destination as we wound up the mountain, I was feeling the most enlivened of the entire group. I was transfixed by the pink reflection of the setting sun illuminating the valley with cirrostratus clouds overhead, casting contrasts of pink and indigo upon the plateaus. I had never seen a more expansive sky than this one. The expansiveness allowed me to breathe in the atmosphere, appreciating the journey. I almost choked on my water when I suddenly spotted a formation of white sandstones perfectly shaped like a guitar, right there on the hill! It was a large formation, obviously natural. I shouted at the other passengers my revelation, but we’d already passed the hill and they’d been oblivious.

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Though this caused me to double-take on dreams versus reality, I knew I was not mistaken. Guitars were engraved in these hills, playing music to the sky and the valley. I felt instantly at home. The trees were smiling at me.

We were there for the Wood and the Earth, but I was astounded to recognize that the wood and the earth were there for us, before anything. The entire time, we wore the scent of the trees upon our skin in the form of hydrosols derived from piñon pine’s essential oil. This way, we absorbed that aroma both internally and externally while emitting Piñon’s scent from our own pores so that we could better connect with all of nature. Especially the trees. After collecting pines from the forest, walking barefoot, and sniffing flowers, we stuffed the pines into a large barrel that would sit, generating heat, for days.

I believe it was the trees, out of all elements, which transmitted a wonderful idea to my soul whilst I was amongst them. They made me believe that all of my aspirations are beautiful and magical, surely possible to achieve. Don’t give up, they said. Everything is always okay. Nothing is a mistake; only part of the plan. They shed light upon the fact that not only had I been so out of touch with the elements- I was out of touch with the entire Universal cycle and it was making me crazy and forgetful and depressed. But spending time with a multitude of trees twenty-five times older than myself rooted some ancient wisdom within me. One being: we are part of them. We are part of a living, breathing organism and our personal health influences the entire body of the ecosystem.

Another forgotten “element” I rapidly remembered along this trip was space. Is it an element, or all the elements? Our existence is something else compared to space—something quite small and seemingly irrelevant to the entirety of the Universe and beyond… yet somehow, each one of Us is actually composed of all the elements that our Universe is composed of. Though we’re merely “atoms in the hind leg of a dog on some foreign galaxy”, according to Eryl, we are also God to one of our living cells.

 

So it’s no wonder the six of us found ourselves laughing nonstop in the oil distiller’s kitchen for four hours that night while everyone else sat outside drumming around the fire and searching for the spiritual truth. The spiritual truth sometimes means nothing more than laughter—the kind of laughter that is so relentless it hurts. The kind of laughter that ignites smiles to every one of the cells forming your body—all the atoms spinning around at the speed of light, holding you together in one piece. The kind of laughter that causes you to gasp for oxygen because your muscles are uncontrollable in the moment. The kind which causes you such shortness of breath you don’t take heed the very real possibility of death, because the overwhelming load of serotonin rushing to your brain makes you forget everything. It makes sense that laughter creates a higher vibration when your entire organ system vibrates with the untamable action.

Sometimes, stillness and silence may also lead to the most serendipitous moments. While I was lost in silent wonder, staring up at the sand hills basking in the golden evening sun, I met Jackie from Florida and Nora from Switzerland outside of a barn party in the small town of Boulder, Utah (population 150). How either of them ended up at this particular barn party was a mystery to me, until I wandered inside the barn and was confronted with the most passionate, lively energy I’d experienced… ever. A marble dancing stage sat at the south entrance, and hanging lights of all colors lighted the north stage. The sound coming from the stage was one that would instantly bring to life even the most lethargic of souls, such as myself at the time. I came to life, fully, as I became one with all the other colorful dancing spirits from all over the world in this middle-of-nowhere-Ute barn.

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I danced with the crazy locals to a cover of Gnarles Barkley’s “Crazy”. My body flowed with the rhythm, inspired by the reckless, carefree dance moves of everybody in the front crowd including my Mother Herbalist and the owner of the field on which we were camping. Absorbed in the band’s sound, I was astonished when the reckless, dancing local woman with whom I was barely acquainted suddenly turned around to face me and placed her palms on mine, hands still in midair.

“You know what’s crazy?” she looked gravely into my eyes, staring straight into my soul. If I hadn’t learned anything about magic and synchronicity within that past year, I would have merely thought she was drunk. She was, but I knew she had turned towards me, specifically, to make an significant point worthy of permanent remembrance. “The world we live in, where we’re so afraid of being what we really are.” I agreed that it is a crazy world. “But now is the time to break through society and just be our crazy selves. Right? Just let go of everything. Be free. That’s what we really need in our world.” The guitarist kept rocking a riff while repeating “Crazy… crazy… crazy…” and the crowd roared under a hundred multi-colored lights. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to just be you.” The woman with brown eyes squeezed my hands before letting go, then turned back around to dance facing the performers.

I lost myself in the music as the song transitioned into “Moonage Daydream” and two free-spirited young girls reenacted a 1980s David Bowie rage. I allowed my entire body to move freely, synchronized with the rest of the audience who felt as much. I let go of everything and just felt. (I did not get up on stage with the girls and rage.)

The sky was densely lit with mysteries clearly visible in the open field throughout those nights: beaming stars, galaxies, and the Milky Way. The sky was also looking at us during those Central Utah nights while we made music by the fire, danced carelessly in a barn, made friends from across the world, drank wine, and gossiped about the stars. The galaxies would undoubtedly remember us, the Herbalists, simply trying to shed light upon other living beings united in our system as a whole. And I believe it was a success, especially there in a land where we, the plants and the plant-lovers, could view what was happening up there on a tangible level.

On the last day, we gathered in a circle around the barrel of pines and lifted the cover off the top. A multitude of three whole trees– or more– had created a mere five ounces of essential oil. Steam emanated from the barrel and into my sinuses; it was lovely and sweet, but also powerful and healing. It was as though a blast of clarity hit me directly in the face. I could breathe. My heart was open. No one said a word; we were all suddenly still. Tears were shed around the circle. We had co-created this substance with the Earth, asking her permission, and now she was thanking us. This steam carried more with it than its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, and anti-viral properties… it carried the Spirit of Piñon Pine.

We gave the remains of Piñon Pine back to the Earth. I was feeling light, like weight had been lifted from my heart and mind. The golden sun paved the road home, shining past our sunglasses, igniting some kind of hidden light within our souls that evaporated any doubtful parts of us, replacing those parts with hope and wonder. I took with tools of healing and wholeness derived from a variety of sources, silently thanking each source.I experienced a newfound appreciation of the layered sandstone canyon walls surrounding us, and mountains freckled with sparse bright green trees contrasting with vividly red dirt.We drove under tunnels holding our breaths, and I was reminded of the ancient concept of emerging from underground caves with a new perspective of life. We emerged from the tunnels every time in bursts of laughter.