It’s been a month since we said farewell to Gandaulf. I still have moments in the day when my eyes fill with tears and the words get stuck in throat. Times when all I want is to feel his thick, soft fur between my fingers, and smell his musky odor. At night I swear sometimes he is still there at the bottom of the bed snoring. Of course I sit with the feelings, let the tears fall and, like the clouds in a blue sky, it passes and I am left in the present moment…to move on.
We continue to sell off all our possessions and donated 4 big boxes of women’s clothing to the women’s shelter and odds and ends to the DI. Our shed is becoming more and more vacant everyday. Getting rid of “stuff” is fun, freeing and terrifying all at the same time. What I want to get rid of, Chris thinks we might need someday and sometime visa versa. No matter we settle and the item stays or goes and we move on to the next.
We have started our trial packs. It takes almost as many clothes to be gone for a week long vacation as it does to pack for a year. Save a nice outfit for the occasional fancy dinner or cafe hopping, a few more necessities for hiking or swimming, and an extra pair of shoes…they make a thing called a washer and dryer, so…just like at home, you still need to stop for a domestic goddess day.
The farewells continue almost daily. I have hooked up with some healers that are concocting some plant medicines for me to continue my journey of good mental health and a balance of mind and body. It’s been almost six months since I went cold turkey on anti-depressants and entered the world of good, wholesome plant based medicines. The journey has had its ups and downs, but I am a whole new person, not better, just changed and more energized and grounded.
Between this change and my spiritual endeavors, I have broken through the ancient fortress built around my heart and mind, and found a strong, safe foundation to build a new life on. Yes I have many small tears left on my heart, but I am free from this old baggage and free to build a new adventure in loving kindness and peace.
It has begun…today we officially sold our Adventure Van, SleepyTurtle. The UTV and trailer got sold to a friend we’ve been selling cars to forever. All of our toys and our “home” have gone to good homes. This we are happy about. The universe has been at play in the last 3 months.
As sad as it was to loose Gandaulf, we were in the right place…not in Baja. His death was the beginning of the avalanche of change in our lives. Our entire lives have been geared around Gandaulf, so when he went over the rainbow bridge, we felt a great loss and confusion.
This entire week has been all about getting back on our feet, liquidating everything and getting on with our new chapter of life. Mornings are getting easier, and we are beginning to accept whatever has happened as our path. It’s bucking against things as they come up, that causes us discomfort. As we listen and pay attention to the signs, being aware of the subtle nuances of our daily life, things fall into place. Things that seemed insurmountable.
Farewells have also begun this week. This is where I struggle. We have touched so many new lives, and made so many new friends over the last 3 years which may not seem like that big of a deal to some but for Chris and I, we never have been able to develop friendships outside of work. Now we’ve connected on a deeply personal maybe even spiritual level, and unknowingly influenced their lives by just being ourselves. This for me is a gift. It is exceedingly difficult to connect with people at a meaningful level these days, perhaps due to mistrust and social media…Or maybe the later makes it easier? These special relationships will never go away, and there is no such thing as “goodbye” in our book.
May 6, 2023 will be our new adventure start date. Until then, the universe has our backs.
It’s been 3 weeks since the loss of our pup and companion, Gandaulf. We got his cute paw print from the vet that compassionately help us let him go. Yesterday was the first day I didn’t cry over my coffee and all morning. I almost didn’t cry at all.
The hardest thing to reprogram is my brain. Let me explain; I know our boy is gone. I know he’s not coming back. We also talk often about the hardest forever decision we made and I think we both are getting better knowing that it was also the most selfless decision we’ve made concerning another living being. We’ve spent the past few weeks looking for the right words. The words that tell us it’s gonna be okay…someday.
A good friend posted exactly what I needed to hear. My tears are not shed for Gandaulf, but actually for me. He has been released from this world of suffering and moved into the universe as energy we can draw on through our memories. I can feel him in my day in and day out movements, sometimes I stop at the van entrance and wait for him. The day will come that memories with bring me joy, maybe through tears, but at least he will make me smile again.
Part of any journey, after a death, is picking up the millions of pieces of your life that are scattered about in places you didn’t even know or forgot existed. Then put one foot in front of the other and live! Living for us includes travel, so that’s what we’ve been doing.
I told Chris that when Gandaulf passed, she and I needed to go on a around the world trip. First stop…Ireland.
We are starting in Dublin and traveling south along the country, this map is going the wrong direction, but symbolizes the trip.
We have given ourselves two weeks to sight-see, hike and explore the rich history of this small island.
We are too excited to find the words to express our giddy, child-like wonder that stands in front of us on this long journey of travel and cultural immersion. The world is our oyster, as the saying goes. Travel without our side-kick will be lonely at times, and for sure much quieter. The hardest part of jumping off is always that nagging fear that rightly resides in the back of everyone’s brain when it comes to getting out of our routines and facing the unknown. Traveling for an undetermined amount of time, to places we’ve only seen in magazines and blogs. To relieve yourself of all your worldly possessions and travel with what’s on your back, what fits in a carry-on roller bag and a small daypack.
Someday we will settle down, when the wanderlust turns old and our body’s desire a place to call refuge. By then, perhaps we will have found a place, or a couple of places, that check off all the blocks. Until then, tune in for the next adventure to begin and we invite you all to travel vicariously with us. Thank you all for your support while traveling in The Turtle (sleepyTurtle our van). We may be down one body, but his traveling, fun loving spirit will continue to travel along with us. Peace
It was an enchanting day and the child woke up feeling quite energized. The nights chill still hung around in the trees and bushes. The child stretched to the sky and sighed. What new things will I encounter today, the child thought.
She picked a few flowers and a ripe apple from her favorite tree, and set off on her walk through the woods. She had made a special request to sit with the wise old owl. She had so many questions, but one, in particular, was of dire importance. She bit into the crisp, tart apple and added a bit of a hurry to her stride.
The sun had peeked above the mountains and the clouds hung tight to the tops. The mountains were ablaze with a patchwork of colors. Bright yellows, crimson reds, intense oranges, all scattered throughout the green of the forever trees. Forever trees never loose their color or shed their coat of leaves. The birds and insects began to buzz about with the warming of the day.
The child passed the otter’s den and saw she was busily collecting moss and twigs to insulate her home for the winter. She waved and they exchanged a smile, then set off towards the wise old owl’s treehouse.
The day wore on, the sun climbed high in the sky, creating shafts of brilliant light that filtered through the canopy of trees. The child was beginning to tire when suddenly a black and white burro appeared.
“You look like you’ve been walking forever”, noted the burro.
“Yes, since the sun came up”, answered the child.
“Where might those little legs be taking you” asked the burro?
“I have an audience with the wise old owl. I have many questions I want to ask him. He is the oldest and wisest of all the forest creatures”, the child told the burro with delight in her eyes as she spoke.
“I don’t have anything too pressing to do today. Would you like a ride to his treehouse”, offered the burro?
“That would be so kind of you”, and the child slipped onto the burro’s back and off they went.
The child began to tell the burro all the wonderful things she’s learned from her animal friends. She told him of her sorrows and delights and all the things she’s discovered since she came to live at the edge of the forest. How she was special and deeply loved. The burro plodded along slow and quiet, listening with great interest.
After some time, walking quietly, the forest opened up and a huge tree stood in the middle. The most magnificent tree you could imagine. The shafts of light illuminated the tree as if on display. Half way up the tree was a wooden door that led into the enormous trunk. This was the home of the wise old owl.
The child graciously thanked the burro and hugged him tightly. She then began to climb the enormous tree. This posed no problem to the child, she had always climbed trees to get away from her worries, and she was good at it. She climbed and climbed until she stood at the old wooden door. She gently knocked on the door and it slowly opened and the owl flew out without a sound and landed on the branch where the child sat.
“Good day child”, spoke the owl in a gentle but powerful voice.
“Good day Mr Owl”, the child said politely. “I have come to ask you so many questions”, stated the child. “Otter told me that you would be able to answer them all”, squealed the child.
The owl moved closer and put his huge feathered wing around the child and told her to ask away. The child began to speak, each question more involved than the last. The owl was taken back by the curiosity of the child. “And now, for the most important question”, stated the child.
“Well my my young one, where do all these queries come from”, asked the owl?
“I dream the most wonderful dreams”, answered the child.
The child went on to explain that she had noticed that when the days grow shorter, and the trees come into their best colorful show, the tall mountains are always covered in clouds. Why?
The owl summoned the hawk and told him to take the child to the tall mountains so she could see for herself. Needing to know, the child climbed onto the hawks back and he began to ride the thermal currents, round and round, until they reached the clouds on the mountain. The hawk found one of the big ram sheep that live on the mountain and deposited the child at his feet.
The ram stood taller than the child but had a kind demeanor and soft brown eyes. His white coat was thick and curly and his horns were curled tight around the sides of his head. He looked frightening and yet so cuddly, the child jumped up and gave him a huge hug.
“What brings you so high into the mountains my child?” asked the ram.
The child began to tell the ram all about the owl and her questions. She told him that she was told to go to the top of the mountains with the hawk to find the answer to the one question she needed the answer to. She explained how she noticed the clouds were always draped around the peaks when the trees turned colors and the days grew short. The ram sat back and listened intently as the child told him of all the things she had learned, telling him story after story.
When she finally finished, the ram told her to climb onto his back and he would take her to see. She climbed on and held tight to his giant horns and he began to climb, and climb, and climb. The child showed no fear, even though she was terrified, she wanted to be brave. As they came closer to the clouds she could see hundreds of mountain sheep huddled together around a huge lake.
The ram helped her down and took her over to the herd. She noticed that several of the sheep would grab the clouds as they drifted past. Then the rest of the herd would hold it until the cloud relented and dropped all the water they held. The water was collected in the lake at the top of the mountain. The child couldn’t believe her eyes as she watched this carefully orchestrated task.
The ram looked at the child and said, “now you see with your own eyes.”
“But why?” asked the child.
The ram began to tell the child about hunters and cars and dangers that lurked for the herd if they descended from the safety of the mountain tops. They needed to figure a way to get water so they asked the great spirit for help. He told her that one night the great spirit appeared to the herd and told them of the plan. From that day forward, mother’s never mourned the loss of their ewes and ewes were no longer left without the love of their mother. The child felt the sadness that the ram explained.
“This was a great plan,” exclaimed the child in a joyous voice. “Mothers are important,” said the child, “and being without one is hard and lonely.”
She tried to hide her tears but the old ram felt the sorrow and curled around the child and she fell into a deep sleep. When she awoke, she was lying back in her hammock at the edge of the forest. She threw her legs off the edge and sat still, gazing at the clouds clinging to the mountain tops and smiled.
One bright morning, the brightest morning in some time, the Child woke up from a night of playful dreams. She wiped her eyes and sat up stretching into the brilliant sunlight.
What a wonderful day, thought the child.
She looked around the forest at the edge of the sea and something colorful caught her eye.
She stood up from her hammock and wandered over to a branch.
Before her was a most curious thing… not quite animal and not quite bug.
It was bright green with orange spots that looked like eyes on its one side and long hairs and two beady black orbs on the other.
“Hello and good morning,” announced the Child with a huge toothy smile.
The strange thing stopped its chewing on its leaf and half its body rose up to look the Child in the eye.
As it rose up the Child could see that this creature had hundreds of little legs with little suckers on each.
“Hello young Child, are you here to eat me?” quizzed the creature.
The Child looked in horror at this beautiful creature of the forest and assured him she wasn’t planning to eat him.
“Why no… I am mostly curious,” assured the Child.
“Why curious? I am not doing anything to harm you. I am just getting ready for my change,” replied the creature.
“Change?” The Child looked inquisitively at the creature, still standing upright.
The Child carefully scooped up the creature and ran to the wise Owl.
“Look what I found, eating a leaf on my tree,” and the Child opened her hand.
The creature again stood up, looking the Owl in the eye, and asked again, “are you going to eat me?”
The wise Owl looked at this small creature, all covered in long hair and hundreds of legs.
“If I ate you, you would not go through the change and become a beautiful being.”
The Child was bewildered by what the Owl said to this small creature.
The Owl told the Child to watch over this small creature and be sure it is safe.
The Child slowly closed her hand and ran back to her favorite tree and gently placed this strange creature on a low branch by her hammock.
“I will protect you and you will be my friend,” promised the Child. “Do you have a name?”
“I am a Caterpillar,” informed the creature.
“I am this color and design to stop birds and other animals from eating me.”
The Child looked sadly at the Caterpillar and wondered how it would be to live in a world where you were so different no one would want to come near you. Again, the Child gave her word that she would keep him safe.
Days turned into weeks and the Caterpillar continued to spend his days in the Child’s favorite tree, eating all the delicious green leaves it could.
One morning, the Child woke up from the most wonderful dream, and found the Caterpillar moving very slow.
“Are you okay,” she asked her new friend?
“I feel strange,” said the Caterpillar.
“Are you sick? Should I go get Otter, she can heal anyone!” The Child was deeply concerned about her friend, so she ran as fast as she could to the river where Otter lived. She frantically explained to Otter that her new friend called Caterpillar was sick.
Otter took the Child by the hand and they went back to her favorite tree together.
He was wiggling and wiggling.
When they arrived, the Caterpillar was hanging by the branch the Child had left him on.
“What should I do?” cried the Child to Otter.
Otter took the Child by the hand and told her that this is what Caterpillars do… just watch.
The two watched for hours as their friend spun and spun, covering himself in silky thread until he was gone.
The Child began to cry, but Otter wiped her tears and told her that he is now in a cocoon and her duty to her friend was not over, she still had to keep him safe.
The days turned warmer and warmer, and everyday the Child would wake up to the sun, thank the day for coming, and looked in on her friend. It had been weeks since he had spun himself into a cocoon. His cocoon had gone from bright white to a hard brown color. She wondered if she had done something wrong but continued to do as Otter and Owl told her, and never let the cocoon out of her sight.
One day, while swinging in her hammock, she noticed a crack in the cocoon. She ran through the woods again to the river to find Otter.
The two ran back to the tree. All the animals of the sea, forest, and sky had gathered around the Child’s tree.
Otter took the Child’s hand and whispered to her to watch, this is the change he spoke to you about.
Slowly the crack grew bigger and bigger until a wrinkled, winged creature, emerged.
The animals and the Child all watched for hours as this creature began to grow wings.
The Child stood in amazement as she watched her friend come out of his cocoon and turn into a beautiful winged creature.
The creature then released itself and floated silently on its new wings over to the Child.
She put her hand in the air and her friend landed on her finger.
“Hello my dear friend,” said the Caterpillar.
The Child looked at this delicate, beautiful creature. On its wings were the same orange eyes she had seen on the Caterpillar, it had only 6 long skinny legs, instead of the hundreds he once had. It’s body was much more slender and its black eyes still remained.
“You are my friend!” screeched the Child in excitement. “How did you perform such magic?”
“I am now Butterfly,” spoke the newly emerged insect. “This is what I was born to do.”
The Child ran to her secret hollow in the tree and pulled out the paint bucket, brush and jar of smells the old lady in the cave gave her.
“As a re-birthday present, I will paint you your favorite flower and it can smell as sweet as you’d like,” offered the Child.
She ran around the forest painting flowers all around her favorite tree for her new friend.
They played games of hide and seek and spent hours in the sun resting together.
After a few days the Butterfly began to slow down and didn’t want to play anymore. He said he felt strange again. The Child asked if he was going to change again?
“I am afraid so,” answered the Butterfly. “This change is life’s own journey.”
The Child didn’t understand.
Soon Otter and the wise old Owl appeared.
“My friend is sick and is going to change again,” cried the Child, and big tears ran down her face. “He said he’s on life’s journey.”
Otter and the Owl sat next to the Child as she watched her friend fall asleep on one of the beautiful flowers she had given him for his re-birthday. He didn’t move for a long time as the three comforted him. His journey had ended.
The Child cried for days and Otter sat with her.
“We all will die, and our life’s journey will end much like your friend,” said Otter trying to explain life to the Child. “We must live our lives as good souls and take care of our land and love each other for as long as we can.”
The Child looked at Otter with her big innocent eyes full of tears. Otter wiped away her tears and the two went to sleep in her hammock.
In not so recent past… maybe when the moon passed into the darkness two times in one cycle of time, the animals of the lands and streams had a feeling of dread. The Mother Earth and Father Sky had lost a child and they wept and wept. The sky lamented and huge clouds formed storing the mournful tears and heavy hearts The animals could no longer see during the day and gathered in fear in the highest peaks as the tears began to rain down on the land The child that lived on the beach, at the edge of the forest, saw the rage of the sea as the furry of the clouds made huge waves that thrashed the delicate sand.
The child knew her friends were in danger and ran over the ancient trails to the secret meeting place of the night seers. The night seers could see when the others could not. They had special powers and summoned the animals and fishes of the sea. The child was instructed to go to the lagoon and seek the Sleepy Turtle. It was said the Turtle was the most ancient of all creatures… so ancient that the earth itself had been fooled by its slumber and grown trees and mountains on its very back. The child knew this journey would take too long and went to find the falcon that lived in the side of the the canyon that held the great river of red.
The raven knew the exact place and agreed to help the child. She climbed onto his silky black back, held tight to the scruff of neck feathers and they took off. The journey took the whole day and most of the night. In the darkness of night, huge burst of light flashed in the sky and you could hear the the very breaking of The Mother’s heart. The sky filled with streaks of light that flashed sometimes more bright than the sun. The heavens broke open and the rains once’s again flooded the land. On the second day, the child arrived in the great canyon of the river. There was a huge cave in the wall of the ancient exposed rock and the falcon sat waiting.
He had heard from the swallows of her arrival. “How can I help little one,” asked the falcon? The child told the story of the Sleepy Turtle and that only it could save the lives of the animals of the forest, deserts and streams. The falcon looked at the sky and knew that there was little time left. “I will fly faster than time,” said the falcon. The child was grateful for the eagerness of the falcon to help her friends. She jumped onto the falcons back and he jumped off the cliff and soared so fast the world became a blur. In less than the blink of an eye, they arrived, but where was the Turtle? In a dream, the child was given a small pan flute by a native she met. He told her it would help her when she needed a miracle.
The child reached into her sleeve and there it was. She pulled out the flute and an enchanting melody shook the land. The earth shook, the sky rumbled and the clouds flashed. Huge landslides tumbled down and when all was quiet… an eye opened like a giant mirror and the child saw herself but not as she knew herself. She was a beautiful woman with long hair as black and silky as the otters tail. The eye blinked and more earth fell from the huge figure they were standing on. The clouds flashed and the rain began again. The last of the trees and rocks fell away as the earth beneath their feet shook violently again. A sleepy old turtle rose from the land and on its tremendous back was a whole world of lush green trees and high top mountains, deserts and valleys, rivers, lakes and streams tumbled down the craggy peaks on its back. It opened its eye again and spoke softly in the child’s mind so only she could hear. “Your friends are fine.” The child let a single tear fall. The turtle told the child that a deal had been struck with the elements created by the sorrow of Mother Earth and Father Sky. The clouds flashed once more and the ground trembled but not a drop of rain fell.
Many, many long years ago, Mother Earth was a small child herself and was cast out by an old witch and her father was never seen again. She was thrown into the primordial seas and left for dead. The huge ancient beings with wings tried to save her, the fish of the ancient sea couldn’t hold her above the waves and angry wind blown seas. Finally a giant otter appeared and knew the only creature that could save her and dove deep into the inky Black Sea. All the fish and flying animals took turns helping the young child to stay afloat. She finally could no longer stay awake and drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep and slid beneath the water. As the otter rose out of the darkness she brought with her a huge sea turtle that had been asleep on the sea floor for years untold. It rose to the surface with enough fertile soil to sustain life and the small child. She grew and created a world of beauty. It was grief that has brought this suffering to your friends.
The turtle lumbered off to where the lagoon and forest met. The earth had risen up above the angry waters and her friends had gotten on with their lives as if nothing ever happened. The child turned to the giant old turtle and put her hand up, the turtle laid his head gentle on her hand and he fell back into his deep, deep slumber.