Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Politics, Polarity, and Peace


"Think what a better world it would be if we all-the-world-over had cookies and milk every day at about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. ... And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." 
- Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


Yesterday, as headlines blared, my kindergarten music class spontaneously transformed into a gang of doppelgangers. There was punching, pushing, and wrestling, growling, shrieking, cowering, and crying. Quickly, I attempted to address each incident in a teacherly manner, but as soon as I focused on one, another erupted. It was chaos. 

Then a still voice inside me said, “Do what you always do to end class and they will follow. You cannot reason with them, you cannot argue with them, you will gain nothing by joining their frenzied stupor. You must simply, calmly, stay centered and guide them in their closing bow.” 

It worked. The unruly children put down the mats; their mouths and bodies joined mine: (“I see and I hear, I touch and I feel, I am a part of this world and this world is a part of me. The energy in me rises and I make music. This song was for you.” - arms gesturing to include the entire universe) and it was as if that weird and stressful couple of moments had never happened.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert

I know many of us are reeling - grieving, angry, concerned.  Our global path to creating a just and sustainable future has just met a major obstacle. The future is unknown, which can be terrifying.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert

We can't change what has happened, but we have the power to choose how we respond to this moment. Now more than ever we need to courageously and lovingly address the issues that matter. We are being challenged to wake up and see the big picture, and to breathe as much of our being as possible into each word and every action. As I learned yesterday from a group of kindergartners, reaction got me nowhere. But by holding my centerinviting balance, and opening my heart, peace was made possible. Energy matters, perhaps more than words.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert
So how do we balance our energy? For me, simple things like these can make a world of difference:

- getting enough exercise and sleep
- eating unprocessed whole food
- spending time in nature
- limiting my exposure to EMF and digital distraction 
- tuning into and addressing my emotions
- giving thanks
- making time to breathe and connect 
                         and 
- doing things I love and spending time with people I love each day

The mind is powerful, but it perceives and shapes reality based on our own filters. Risk to see beyond judgement, the divisive, the proverbial “us and them.” Dare to speak your truth and share what you know about the harms that endanger all of us, as well as your deep desire for a caring and healthy world. Stay grounded in your essence as you listen to rhetoric of any kind. 
Photo by Leigh Hilbert
Some will now have license to express opinions that were previously "politically incorrect." This does not make them morally correct. Listen fully to views that differ from your own and seek common ground, higher ground, even if you are riled or hurt by what you hear, even when some may be too wounded or bound to join you there. 

Celebrate beauty. Plant something. Keep loving. Be radically creative and compassionately outrageous as you honour and affirm life and earth.  

We have reached the tipping point. The Halloween of humanity. That place where the dark and scary subconscious rears its ugly head and it appears the world is full of ghouls and monsters. Yet, if we still ourselves, we can sense how just like on All Hallows, the ancestors are near. They guide us from beyond with wisdom and compassion, reminding us that Light and Love are all there truly is.

Breathe. Believe. Drink in the moon and the stars. Have faith.
Photo by Leigh Hilbert

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer's Joy

It began in the woods.  I was standing near a four-foot tall anthill, step-dancing to avoid getting ants in my pants while talking to my neighbor Leonie, who was taking her 6 goats and 2 dogs for a walk. We commiserated about how, as self-employed women, we rarely get a day off.  She talked about the hard work and the near non-existent financial returns of being a farmer.

And then it happened.  I - who as of late have been extremely overwhelmed by the details, and almost incapable of seeing the gifts of the amazingly creative things I do to earn a living - said: "It is important that despite how hard we work, we stay anchored in our joy."


And so, on Midsummer' s Night Eve, at this time of crazy climates and threatened species, of inconceivable hate, mistrust, and violence, of ....well,  you get the picture, you know the picture, unless you blissfully keep your earbuds in, and your digital device tuned to Something Cheerful.


At this time of the great turning, I offer you the last chapter of a children's story I wrote today.  The whole story will be the foundation piece for my upcoming Fairie Camps.

In the first four chapters, Mr. Toad, Bumble the Bee, Papilia the Swallowtail Butterfly, and Melos the Song Swallow share meaningful messages with Summer as she travels to visit her sister, Lady Winter on the cusp of Midsummer's Eve,   During their visit, Lady Winter reminds an over-extended Summer that happiness is a choice, and that doing is best connected to our being.

Which leads us to the final chapter: the celebration we have all been waiting for is here - the Full Moon Midsummer's Eve Ball!

May your summer be beautiful.  May your heart be light, and may you know Joy.

Midsummer's Eve.  E.R. Huges, 1908

The Midsummer’s Ball

It was a perfect evening.  Pink puffy clouds sat lazily in the sky, waiting for the moon to rise so they could turn silver.  How special it was to have a full moon on Midsummer’s Night Eve!


Summer excitedly adjusted the bodice of her green silk dress.  Papilia had asked some silkworm friends of hers to make it, and her cousin Painted Lady had added the splashes of colourful butterfly embroidery to the sleeves. Fawn had carefully picked the flowers Summer wore. Wind had done her hair.



Preparing for the ball had been so much fun!  Melos created a choir of songbirds and Mr Toad, fresh back from his singing workshop, was going to be the soloist.  Squirrel formed an orchestra of woodland animals.  Summer never knew would have guessed that Woodpecker was such a fine percussionist. Spider wove a delicate harp that Bunny played with her ears.

The Faerie Folk were thrilled to prepare the feast.  They decorated the tables in flower petals and ferns.  They made piles and mounds of honey balls and berry soufflĂ©, and mixed gallons of Dewdrop punch, which they stored in a barrel made from a hollow oak.



Hope, who loved to laugh and frolic, was Games Mistress for the night.  Owl was the Storyteller. 

“Perhaps youhoo will regale us with the story of your recent visit with Lady Winter?” he asked. 

“I don’t think so, Owl,” Summer laughed.  “I would much rather be dancing!”

Bumble and her sisters took a much-needed break from gathering nectar and invited all the Flower Folk to add their beauty to the evening. The smells and colours were pheromon-omenal!

How effortlessly everything had fallen into place.  There was nothing left to do but enjoy the evening.  Even the clean up was taken care of, as Ant and his family had happily offered to haul everything away.

Summer shared a banquet table with her dear, wise friends Mr. Toad and Bumble, Papilia, and Melos.  Her sisters Hope, Spring, and Autumn sat with them.  Even the hard-working Green and Harvest Faeries joined them, taking a well-deserved night off. 


Summer danced until she had holes in her rose petal slippers. (Never mind, said Ladybug, I can easily make you another pair.) She laughed until she had pulled a seam in her gown, (silkworm fixed it on the spot), and ate so much strawberry soufflĂ©, she thought she might float up and join Firefly, who was providing overhead ambient lighting. 



As she gazed up and made a wish on the evening’s first star, she saw the rising moon, so bright and luminous in the still-blue sky.  And she thought of her sister, Lady Winter, standing at the forest’s edge, celebrating Midsummer with her own quiet Joy. 


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Retreat

© 2015 Oona McOuat


Sleep little seed, in your warm earthen bed, dreaming of what you were born to become.

Falling leaves and fading flowers; shades of ochre and brown.  Garden wisdom speaks to me as I pull out the tomato plants.  Let go, and make space for next year’s bounty. 

As the days shorten and a late October wind chases clouds across the moon, I too feel a need to make space for what I want.  


Outside the plants are slowing down, dying back, and decomposing - nourishing the soil.  Growth requires death, my garden teacher shows me.

But my grown-up life with its glowing screens can become frenetic to distraction. So often I am busy and buzzy, but getting less and less “done.”  Slowing down feels like trying to sleep under a fluorescent bulb.   The first thing I need to do is remember how to turn it off.

You see, I have a sneaking suspicion that the time I spend on digital tools – as freeing and uniting and amazing as they can be - is rewiring my circuitry.  I remember how it was at age 18 to watch the first November snowfall through an old stone window in a cafe in Quebec City – how still and purposeful and vast everything was, how immediate and present each sensation.  But if I had been brought up on a steady diet of digital devices, I am not sure I would know that silence, the perfect stillness that existed before the buzz.
candles, girl, and lights image
Turning inwards and making space requires a reclaiming of my own innate peace patterning.  This means saying no to extraneous distractions, like a mindless use of social media, and a huge yes to all that nourishes me. Making space for what I want requires resetting my nervous system and reconnecting to my heart. 

Snugly, cozy, fire, and book.  Pumpkin soup, a forest walk, misty lake canoeing.  Writing and dancing and laughing and loving, and being, just being.  Giving my very best gifts to the very best world I know, believing that we can awaken from our dormancy, our self-induced sleep, to become a balanced, vibrant haven of wonder and delight.

A Mute Swan overwintering at Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island - photo by Leigh Hilbert
Sleep little seed, in your warm earthen bed, dreaming of what you were born to become.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I’m Ready


© 2015 Oona McOuat

You were born on Beltane, the 1st of May, a day of dancing Faeries and deep magic for the Celts.  You were a dreamer and a doer, a visionary, a builder of community, of beauty, and of life.


How quickly things can change in a fortnight.  Three weeks ago, you were convalescing from what x-rays showed were a few cracked ribs.  Two weeks ago, you were told you were dying of cancer.  Today, on Midsummer’s Night Eve, you released your body and joined your celestial sisters in the heavens.  Alice Moon.  I have been blessed to know you.
Alice Moon in Hilo, Hawaii at Black and White Night - one of her many wondrous legacies


Photo by Leigh Hilbert
You have been one of my super supporters, inviting me to play at countless events while organizing and promoting my concerts and tours.  You have conjured myriad details into place and created warmth, meaning, and belonging in the most unlikely of situations.  You gave love purely and generously to all, from an open heart. 
Two days ago, I called you, having just heard the news, and you surfaced from your deepening and found the strength to talk.  “I love you, I love you,” you repeated in my ear.  “I’m ready.”

Courageous to the last breath, you have now fearlessly surrendered to an energy that is greater than our individual lives.  I see you, rising like a comet, circling the moon.  And I want you to know, as I prepare to travel solo to perform and teach at the Open Up Festival in the Netherlands, I will draw on your courage and lean into your words. I will remember what you have taught me: success lies not in controlling every detail, but in surrendering to essence. It is our presence, not our perfection, that makes the Magic happen.

With the planet rapidly shifting, so much is in flux.  May we find the shining source within, that which is constant even in the midst of tumultuous change. Sunlight, starlight, heart-light, Moon-light...

I am ready, Alice. And I love you.

 photo by Leigh Hilbert



Friday, February 13, 2015

Love is a Verb


© 2015 Oona McOuat

I still love this song and the kids I created it with.  If you are receiving this by email and a video does not appear below, please read this post here:  (And thank you for subscribing!)  The video below was edited by then 9-year-old Kasper Packford and the music was performed entirely by children from across the globe.




Sweet, eh?  So, how then do we spread the Love?
Creating a just and loving world is easier than we think. It begins with connecting with the magnanimous and awe-inspiring natural world around us….
LeighHilbert,leigh-hilbert photography.com
Photo by Leigh Hilbert
… and by appreciating the simple blessings of each day – breath, body, light, moon, ….  It begins with opening our hearts. (Explore some techniques for doing this here.)
Our own well-being is intrinsically linked to the well-being of the world around us, and cultivating joy is key to making the world a better place. But we cannot be so obsessed with our own happiness that we forget that we are one.
Photo by Leigh Hilbert
Spontaneous hugs, random acts of kindness, tender and truthful words, voluntary simplicity, and conscious, grassroots community action – these are the kinds of things that are healing us as a people and a planet.
May you feel the Love today, and all-ways,
Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sacred Seeds

© 2015 Oona McOuat

I just read an amazing novel about seeds: “All of Creation” by Ruth Ozeki.  It navigates the world of bio-engineering and genetic modification, and the race by multinationals to control seeds. Mostly though, it spoke to me of the miracle of getting your hands in the rich brown earth and planting a tiny something, and then watching it transform into something else.

"Whatever happens to seed affects the web of life." 
—Vandana Shiva


Seed Mandala
Photo by Ana Castilho


For me, this past year has been all about seeds - literally and metaphysically.  What a privilege it has been to steward our garden, to learn how to listen to the voice of each plant, and to witness how a tiny seed, which contains all of life, and a specific life, both surrenders and gets down to business at the same time.


Photo by Deanna Holbova

"A seed is small but rich with possibility, like love, which is as humble as it is powerful."
—Pir Zia Inayat-Khan
from "The Seed of Love"

At Imbolc, February 2nd, the  Halfway-to-the-Beginning-of-Spring-Day, we choose the seeds we want to plant.  At a time on our planet when the pace is fast and our days are full, yet the need for balance and healing is great, we must choose carefully, judiciously.  And so, on this Imbolc Eve, I invite you to reflect on what you want for yourself and the world.   May you sense the stirring of the secret seeds within you.  May those seeds that will bring forth the highest good for all of creation germinate and flourish, nurtured and nourished by the unseen magic of the elements.  Everything starts with a precious little seed - an intention, a thought, a dream-before-form.


Photo by Ana Castilho

"The seed holds a very great secret—it never gets old. It is the eternal YES to life."
—Anat Vaughan-Lee
from "The Language of the Seed"

Let’s take a moment now to celebrate the golden – fire flickering, sun reflecting, moon beaming, heart shimmering, and then let’s dive down for one last visit to the Dolphins’ Dreamtime.  When you emerge, may you be refreshed and connected to Deep Self, the part of you that knows when, and what, and how to plant:  earth wisdom rooted in your body, connecting you to everything.

Thanks Leigh Hilbert for making this wonderful three minute video of me swimming with my Beloved Friends.  Don't forget to turn up your audio for sonic bliss!




Friday, January 16, 2015

Into the Deep

© 2015 Oona McOuat


An unexpected journey, and I am travelling to a watery retreat, camped on the beach with no WIFI, internet, cell phone service, or electricity – just yoga, rest, reading, warmth, plenty of dolphins, and a grateful heart.

Photos by Leigh Hilbert


Dive with me into the deep – into cool, salty, shifting shades of blue and grey and green. 


Photo by Leigh Hilbert


Here, there is no separation between voice and body, sound and essence.  Time falls away.  Moments are marked by breath – the percussive puff of exhalation, dorsal fins surfacing, shared air.  



Photos by Leigh Hilbert


Below, a lucid dream:  the graceful legato of swimming sleep; the noisy swirl of playful chaos - leaf games, leaping games, cuddling, peace.

Photos by Leigh Hilbert

Embryonic, beyond words, squeaks and clicks and siren song...  No need for translation. Communion, sacred and simple, awakening primordial self.


Photo by Leigh Hilbert


Back on land, reflecting. How to remain in watery oneness while weighted by gravity’s pull?

Photo by Leigh Hilbert


Fall into the breath,
tidal movement of belly and back.
Heart radiant and shimmering,
giving and receiving,
Lover and Beloved
floating on a pool of light.
Eternity enfolding,
embracing, releasing,  
merging,
Into the deep.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace, deep peace.

 From The Dominion of Dreams: Under The Dark Starhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=&l=as2&o=1&a=B000GLCDTE by Fiona MacLeod     (1895)

Photo by Leigh Hilbert

See or purchase Leigh's beautiful images here.