Self Portrait #1

I have a Facebook friend that has been posting photographs that he takes from around town. He has them in an album titled, “Self Portraits”.  A new one shows up on my news feed every couple of days.  At first they just seemed like the passing whimsey of another person, but I now look forward to the emotional impact they have.  It is like I am taking a walk around Alameda – a walk where I am present to all that is and taking the time to enjoy the simple beauty of my world.

His collection has created in my a deeper sense of connection with my personal world as I move into resonance with the vibration of the art he is creating.  Inspired by his walk around town, I decided to start my own self-portrait collection.

Cutter bee damage on Rose bushThis morning my self is best captured by the Mr. Lincoln Rose that graces the front porch.  While the rose if lovely and has an awesome scent, the part that truly depicts me is the leaves.  Notice that they are all “chewed up”.  That would be the work of cutter bees.

Cutter bees are so cute.  They come and cut out a relatively huge section of leaf and then, with their small bodies and little wings, they try to carry the piece off.  It seems more often than not that they drop the piece and need to start over.  Last year they almost decimated the gelsemium that grows next to the rose.  Apparently they prefer rose, which is the newest addition to that part of the garden.

It is nice to be a pesticide free space where I can live in harmony with all that is. I enjoy fostering the cutter bee part of my self.


Autumn is my favorite season.  I love the cool mornings, the sun with a lower intensity, and the energy as the season shifts.  Even though people consider spring to be a season of beginnings, my experience is that autumn is truly a time of beginning in my life.  After being cooped up all summer the energy begins to expand outward, but more importantly there is an inward expansion of energy.  As we move into September and October we find that the veil between the realms begins to thin and this is a perfect time to cultivate our inner space, clear out the old and begin to plant the seeds that will bring us fruition in the next spring and summer.

In the Five Element System, the fall is ruled by the metal element.  It is characterized by yin energy.  And what I am calling an inward expansion is usually referred to as contraction.  The wheel of the year passes from the summer where we have full-on vibrant yang energy to a transitional period of balanced yin and yang into a rising yin energy.  Right now we are in the balanced period, but I am anticipating the deepening of yin.  Autumn begins to see an increase in this yin energy: receptive, quiet, dark.

From autumn the yin increases until in the depths of winter we find us in full-on yin energy. While yin itself is contracting and stilling, the overall process of increasing yin is an expansion of yin. Hence I experience expansion within what would be overall considered a darkening, drying and withering phase.

When I am living in harmony with the seasons I find that fall is time for nesting and preparing for increased internal activities.  It is a time for coming home.  We are collecting our energy that was loosed during the year.  It is a good time for personal reflection – especially on the gains and loses of the year.  As we move deeper into the fall and the winter we will have ample opportunity to process the past year.  Emotions may arise from our deep inner pool as we emotionally experience at a greater depth the recent changes in our relationships.

Find below the Metal Element from my recently painted series:  Mandalas of the Five Element System.

Mandala for the Metal Element.

Mandala for the Metal Element.

Mindful Weeding

One of the things I value most is living in harmony with nature.  My garden is one of those places where I get to interface with a wide variety of creatures on the planet.  When I work in the garden I am mindful of what I am doing and why I am doing it.  This is the same process of awareness that I use when I am doing all other activities, but the content of “why” varies slightly.

Two months ago I harvested huge heads of cauliflower.  Once the flowering head of this vegetable has been picked, the plant is fairly well past its prime.  Many people would then pull the whole plant and send it to the compost.  I, instead, considered the option of non-action.  This specimen had very large leaves which could serve additional purposes.  In the ground, still living, those leaves served as “shade” for the young alder tree sapling that was next to it.  In addition, the leaves were a future source of food for the pet rabbits I live with.  It wasn’t until later that I realized the large leaves also served as a bird bath.  They accumulated water from the sprinklers and held it within the shallow bowl the leaves formed naturally.Cauliflower Bird Bath

The “why” for pulling the plant could be mindlessness or it reflect a value for esthetics.  I also want things to look ordered and nice, but I am conscious of my objective to make the garden at TESLI be in harmony with the land around.  I find that many of the “weeds” I leave unpulled look somewhat unsightly, but the birds love the seeds and I am finding that I am becoming quite popular with my flying friends.  In a “complex” living style, one might put up bird feeders and drive to the store to replenish the seeds.  In a simple living style, one only has to leave weeds around and sit back and enjoy finches, sparrows and even love birds feast.

When I garden, I reflect on what is right action – sometimes I feel the drive to know what is the “best” way to act.  This idea is addressed in a book I just finished reading.  In A New Earth Eckhart Tolle writes on page 194:

“When we go into a forest that has not been interfered with by man, our thinking mind will see only disorder and chaos all around us.  It won’t even be able to differentiate between life (good) and death (bad) anymore since everywhere new life grows out of rotting and decaying matter.  Only if we are still enough inside and the noise of thinking subsides can we become aware that there is a hidden harmony here… The mind is more comfortable in a landscaped park because it has been planned through thought; it has not grown organically.”

I was intrigued by his statement.  Many people are actually refreshed by the walk through a forest, despite all its disorder.  Yet, those same people would not tolerate allowing plant debris to naturally decay around their houses.  I wonder, who is making those decisions?

Reflection:  Am I choosing to do things that are in alignment with my values?  Am I thoughtful about the full ramifications of my actions?