Touching the Base

Touching the Base

lassen

 

When I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed about six months ago my thoughts were, “Wow what an amazing journey this woman embarked upon.” If you haven’t read it, it’s the memoir of a woman in her mid 20s venturing out solo on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Cascades of Oregon. Remarkable, yet all the while, a parallel thought was running along, saying, “That will never be me, no way in HELL!” I finished the book, put it on the shelf and forgot about it until last week.

Last week my family and I headed out to the mountains. We had reservations for ‘glamping’ at a sweet little guest ranch in the Warner Valley of Mt. Lassen National Park. Our cabin was outfitted with a full bath, hot shower, comfy beds and kerosene lamps. The dining hall served up three gourmet meals every day with a wine list to match. We went there for some family time, just to get away, do some hiking, swimming, get off the grid and pay attention to each other.

One of the extraordinary things about this spot was that it is a thoroughfare for many thru-hikers in the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. Can I tell you these people were amazing! Men and women, traveling in pairs, small groups and even solo wandered onto the guest ranch looking forward to a swim in the pool, hot shower, good food and even a most-coveted popsicle.

These people became easy to identify as they strode into the ranch with forty-pound packs on their backs. They have a certain gait, some might even call it a hobble. Yet they wear it and all the blisters, scrapes, bruises as badges of honor. As well they should, because most of them just hiked up from the CA/Mexico border for over the past three months. We met one woman from Holland, a yoga teacher, deciding to hike the trail solo. She began in Washington and was making her way down to the Mexican border. We met a 41 year-old guy who had quit his job, sold everything, flew across the country and was deep in an existential crisis about why he was doing this, primarily because of the triple blisters on the balls of his feet which were taking him out of the game for three days until he healed.

There must have been at least twenty hikers who came through and while I marveled at each of them, I still wasn’t fully getting why they were doing it. Why would anyone put themselves through that kind of physical and emotional torture? They shared about how their thoughts while hiking were incessant of how many miles they have to go, how heavy their packs were, when their next shower will be, when they can get their hands on an ice-cream bar! They shared the mind tricks to get them through the last five miles of the day. Along with some pretty harrowing tales from near-death slips to up-close bear encounters, they also shared tales of the ‘trail angels’, people who had helped them along the way with rides into towns, home-cooked meals, supplies, etc. My beau and I became such angels to two hikers whom we offered the shower and fresh towels in our cabin. They were incredibly grateful to receive such a gift and we were elated to see their transformation from weary to invigorated. We heard about the moments of zen when all the pain begins to fade away and their true spirit takes hold and guides them. And I suppose that’s when I got it. The breakthrough moment of when you feel so broken that there is nowhere to go but up…literally! I would imagine doing a trek like this, or anything that challenges you to the brink of intense internal questioning brings you to a place of not only surpassing your limits, but a deep devotional surrender.

We hiked small day hikes while in Lassen to many of the hydrothermal features. We saw some breathtaking views. There is something about walking in the forest, hearing absolutely nothing but birdsong and your own breath that is so grounding and uplifting. There is a spiritual component to hiking, wandering on the long journeys, being off the grid and living in a way that has always been possible, but we’ve become so challenged by. It’s a touching down to our inherent basecamp within all of us. The place which tells us not only that anything is possible, but so available!

As we returned from the trip, we rode down from 8500ft altitude and back into Marin County. There was an acclimation period in which I resisted coming home, back into the buzz of the Bay Area. Yet with me I took the inspiration these trekkers anointed me. I immediately looked up the 2600-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. And while there was still a ‘HELL no!’ coming from my body, there was a audible, ‘hmmm…mayBE’ as I read about the 226-mile John Muir Trail. I’ll keep you posted!

 

jenniferbrinn.com     coaching : healing : training   newheadshot

Reality Show

 

Reality Show

reality-illusion

 

I’ll never forget the time I dropped to my knees in excruciating pain. I just turned 30 and was going back to school for my degree in Creative Writing. I was just three quarters away from graduating and whammo! A bulging disc in the lumbar region of my spine intruded upon my sciatica nerve, sending searing pain down my right leg. I woke from a nap between classes and waiting tables that evening to find myself dropping to the floor and crawling to a telephone. I endured three tedious months of dealing with mind-bending pain, in addition to a relationship that was on the rocks, having to drop out of school and no job. A long story short, since I had no interest in holistic healing methods back then, the injury healed from a cortisone shot to the spine. I vowed to be a better inhabitant of my body and to take gentler care of it. That injury and the very challenging time that came with it, made me seek reflection and inner healing. That injury opened the door to yoga, meditation and an opening of my senses. All of which ultimately led me to Reiki and the amazing practice I’ve had for over a decade.

I bet you can remember at least one circumstance where you felt life handed you a big pile of caca, but once you got on the other side of it, you found something so much better waiting for you. It’s in these moments when we can have gratitude and gain momentum for whatever we’re experiencing now.

Whether it’s a job we despise, relationship troubles or even a health issue. How we deal with these circumstances shapes our overall perspective and mood. If the constant loop in our head is, “Life is hard, this sucks.” then guess what? It will be. However, if we look at our circumstances and find the loopholes, the workarounds, and even the pockets of joy..and trust me they are there…then we begin to retain more energy and become more fluid with life.

There’s the saying that ‘everything happens for a reason’. We don’t know exactly what that reason is. It may or may not ever become apparent to us. All we can do is make a choice. There are two options available to us in challenging circumstances: Flow with it or get caught in the downward spiral.

Remember that energy follows focus. Whatever we focus on, that is where our energy will go. The circumstances do not define you, how you deal with them does. So go have a fabulous long weekend, regroup, gather your light and bring your A-game on Monday because that is who you really are.

 

jenniferbrinn.com  Coaching : Healing : Training      newheadshot

Goin to Church

Goin’ to Church

GLIDE Ensemble – Welcome Table from GLIDE on Vimeo.

This past Sunday, I did something I hadn’t done in a very long time…I went to Sunday morning church service. I didn’t grow up with an organized religion in our household. Yet, growing up in the bible belt, I felt I grew up with religion standing right behind me, looming over my shoulder all the time. Once in a while I’d be invited to Sunday morning service with my childhood friends. I experienced everything from Mass to Methodist to Pentecostal to Mount Zion. The latter was my favorite because it was held in a small white clapboard church on the edge of town. It burst at the seams with music and soul. Not necessarily because of the religion, but because of the willingness of its people. For some reason I was craving this soul, this movement, its embrace. So this past Mother’s Day, I decided to take my mother in-law to the 9am service at Glide Memorial Church here in San Francisco. If you’ve never been to Glide, it was rebirthed in the height of the Civil Rights movement to embrace all faiths, all people..no exclusions, no exceptions.

That morning we stood in the pews beside women in headscarfs, gay couples, hipsters, families and people who struggle with being on the streets. We all stood before the Glide Ensemble Choir being showered with their immensity. We were entertained by two men ‘vogueing’ on stage as they promoted Glide t-shirts. The 10-piece band belted out tunes from Earth, Wind & Fire along with traditional gospel hymns. We held hands and hugged people around us, we sang, we clapped, we danced. And it was here that I finally realized that the brick & mortar church was simply a place to gather, together, and align with a higher spirit of love and compassion. This spirit seemed amplified because of the collective as it streamed down and through its participants.

We filed out of the church into the middle of the Tenderloin, a place dense with despair. And instead of shutting down or shielding from it, we cradled it with our hearts as if it were our own wound, because in the connectivity of all things, it was. From our divinity, we bowed to its divinity, the ultimate “Amen”, “Hallelujah”, “Shalom”, “Salaam”, “Namaste” moment.

 

jenniferbrinn.com   coaching : reiki healing : intuitive training          newheadshot