In addition to preparing for and leading my lakeside retreat, tending to and harvesting the garden, and starting my training for the Frosty Moss, (an 80-mile running relay on one of our local trails) Justin and I got a new puppy at the end of August. He’s a little black cutie patootie mixed breed. (Well, he started out little anyway. Now he’s nearly 40 lbs and only 4 months old!) His mom is part Irish setter, Husky, Malamute, and German and Australian Shepherd, and his dad is a fence jumping yellow lab. We named him McNally after the family homestead name, and call him Mick, or Micky.
Because we lead such adventure filled lives, our goal has been to introduce him to tons of experiences so that he learns to take everything in stride. He and Blue have become fast friends (although Blue prefers to have quieter less-active mornings, like me.)
For those that don’t know, our big beloved old dog Hank passed away on Father’s Day, and left a big hole in our hearts. In late August, Justin decided he was ready for a new puppy. Almost immediately after we clarified our intentions we found Mick and fell in love.
(A version of this post was originally published in the July 2018 version of Healthy Families, produced by Peninsula Daily News.)
By now, summer is winding down. Most likely, whether you are aware of it or not, your family rituals are too. Historically for me, summer rituals revolved around time on the water. I had the privilege of growing up on Lake Crescent. We played in and on the water nearly every day of summer vacation, tirelessly jumping off the dock, challenging our balance by standing and floating on our old black inner tubes, swimming, and making up various imaginative water games. As a teen ager, I mixed these in with voraciously reading our entire library and writing snail mail letters to my pen pals while sun bathing on our floating dock. As an adult, these moments are mixed in with the responsibilities of work, and caring for my garden.
What are your summer rituals?
Whether or not we’re aware of our rituals, we all have them. But much of the time we throw ourselves into the busy activities of summer, one day following another until we’re surprised that it’s suddenly time for back to school shopping and summer is almost over. We procrastinate on the tasks of summer we don’t enjoy, try to cram a few more fun summer activities in to the days remaining and wind up feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks we put off.
This summer I invite you to consider a more contemplative approach to your remaining summer days.
Part I: Identify and Savor
Stop right now, go outside, and look around you at the natural bounty of the summer season. What sights and sounds signal to you that it’s still summer rather than another season of the year? If you grew up in a different part of the country, what summer experiences from your childhood do you miss or are happy to have left behind? What are your favorite sensory experiences of summer? Take the time to name your favorite ways to experience the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and felt sensations of summer. To make this a family activity, coax your family to share their favorites over a meal.
Once you’ve taken time to identify your favorite sensory experiences of summer, I invite you to savor those moments, and allow them to stretch your imagination and your sense of time. Instead of rushing to clear the table or wash the dishes or check your phone after a meal, linger over your dinner conversations like the light continues to linger in the sky.
Part II: Free Your Mental Energy
Now think of a task that is part of your summer ritual of procrastination. If you were to complete this task, would it give you more peace of mind and free you up to enjoy the moments left? What larger purpose / goal is this task a part of? How might you tackle this task in a way that plays to your strengths and values, clears your mind from the nagging guilt of procrastination, and accomplishes the larger goal this task represents?
For example: one of the things I love about spring is planting a garden. I love watching the sprouts shoot up like magic. However, the task of summer weeding seems like it never ends, and as a result in the past I’ve often neglected my garden, choosing to ignore it rather than tend it, trying to cram more fun water activities into my summer at the expense of my garden, even though one of my favorite sensory experiences of summer is the taste of fresh vegetables and the sights and sounds of wildlife in my yard.
This year, after intentionally developing my spiritual apprenticeship to nature, instead of avoiding this chore, I tapped into my natural strengths of curiosity and wonder, set the goal of creating a wildlife friendly organic garden, and broke the weeding down into bite-sized chunks. That is, rather than looking at the overwhelming task of weeding my entire garden every day, I focus on a couple square feet, mindfully noticing more about that small area. How is the soil? What insects did I uncover? Are they beneficial? What can I do to keep them happy? If they’re pests, how can I get rid of them organically?
Practicing this mindful tending of my garden, and looking for ways I can cultivate my strengths and values has given me a deeper appreciation for the abundance of wildlife my garden attracts,
and expanded my knowledge of organic gardening. Now, when I look at my garden, instead of seeing it as a pile of work that still needs to be done, I take pride in the variety of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, the garter snakes helping me save my plants from slugs, the brightly colored flowers waving in the breeze, and the delicious summer vegetable crop interspersed amongst the flowers and herbs.
Part III: Reflection
When you appreciate and savor the aspects of summer you love, and tackle the tasks that keep you from fully enjoying the moment, you are invited into a more mindful way of experiencing the ordinary, and more opportunities for grace.
What are some of your tips and techniques for capturing the moments? What summer tasks do you usually procrastinate on? How can you tap into your own strengths and values to get those tasks done?
For those who didn’t hear before, 2017 was an unusual year. My dad passed away very unexpectedly on January 6th, 2017. My partner’s dad died –also a bit unexpectedly, although he had been sick– a few weeks prior to that, and my favorite cousin’s mom (my aunt) passed away a few weeks before that. After my dad’s funeral service, as a bit of a break from our ordinary lives, and to help my cousin remodel her mom’s home to use as a rental, Justin and I spent the better part of three months in California in early 2017. A few months after we returned, we held the service for his dad, and just a few weeks after that his grandmother passed away.
In late summer, just as we were settling back in to our routine, we found out –a bit dramatically, but that’s a story for another time– that we had to move out of the home we’d been living in for five years. We weighed our options, and decided to move into what had been his grandmother’s home, this log cabin (see photo below) originally built in 1893.
Bottom line, 2017 was very transitional and hard to predict … very much like a walk-about pilgrimage. (A walk-about pilgrimage is a journey we go on simply by virtue of the –often sudden– unpredictability of our lives.)
At the beginning of 2018, my internal GPS (what I call my Wise Self) kept telling me to slow down, breathe deep, take a nap, relax, listen, connect to my self, my place, my new home … and allow myself the luxury to take a break from the need to chase down clients, or plan workshops & retreats. My underlying counter-voice kept saying, “you already took a year off! If you don’t get out there and DO stuff (market) you won’t get clients. And if you don’t get clients you won’t get paid!”
I chose to listen to my Wise Self. Although sometimes –I’ll admit– I wasn’t sure it was her, and I did host a workshop and attend a couple of local marketing events.
Finally, towards the end of April, when I pulled a card from my Oracle deck that once again said, “Take a Nap” when I asked about marketing my business, I decided to call my year a sabbatical.
A sabbatical is most common in academic vocations, but the concept of sabbatical originated in farming. It means to allow the land to remain fallow, to let it go wild for a year.
My Wild Year so far …
In the process of “going wild”, I’ve been rooting into my self and my place and without even knowing it at the time, working on the practices of belonging, and awakening to the ancient Earth consciousness inside me.
The first task of moving in was to clear a space for us. We had to be completely out of our old place by Thanksgiving, and before we could move in here there were a few things that had to be done. We painted the press board ceilings white, gave away or sold the furnishings we weren’t going to use, built some beautiful rustic book cases, and sorted through, cleared, or stored decades of Grandma Beverly’s personal belongings. My partner kept saying, “get rid of everything” and my sister-in-law kept saying, “don’t get rid of anything without talking to me first.” Somehow we managed to make room for ourselves and keep the peace.
Come spring, my # 1 priority has been to cultivate my garden spaces. Justin’s grandma loved to garden, so the base of the garden was already in place. But it was overgrown with grass and weeds because her health (at 93) kept her from doing as much as she used to do. I mulched it heavily last winter with cardboard and leaves from our Norwegian Maple, but that wasn’t enough to kill all the grass.
I hate to weed, so I decided that I would tap into my strengths rather than my weaknesses this year. Rather than feeling the pressure to reclaim the entire garden, I decided that I would work on it a section at a time. My overall plan for the garden is to make it a wildlife sanctuary and Kristin-variety cottage garden … lots of indigenous wild flowers mixed in with roses, my favorite vegetables, herbs and Grandma Beverly’s perennials, plus a few of my own favorites.
One of my strengths is a love of learning, so to tap into that love, I decided to learn which plants have a symbiotic relationship with one another (like tomatoes, basil, carrots, & garlic for example.) I decided to learn the names of the bugs I discover in the soil and understand which ones are beneficial and which aren’t. And I decided to learn how to garden completely organically, with my own compost, beneficial nematodes, and by attracting wild life “critters” that help keep the bad bugs away.[Did you know that snakes, lizards and beetles eat slugs?!]
In the midst of all that yard work, June, and my Greece retreat snuck up on me. I signed up for the Greece Goddess Pilgrimage retreat in November, right in the middle of our move. The description said, “come journey with us to the Greek Island of Tinos, for an empowering and creative nine-day sacred Yoga and Art retreat.” I said, “I’m in.”
I communed with the land, the Aegean Sea, and Greek goddesses, did lots of art and a little bit of yoga, and made connections with like-hearted women from all over the US, Greece, the UK and Australia.
My intention for the trip was to make an even deeper connection with myself and my work … while also connecting more deeply with Mother Earth and her infinite wisdom. While there, I read the book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, by Toko-Pa Turner, a Canadian writer, teacher and dreamworker, who lives on a small island in the Salish Sea. (My neighbor!!) From her I integrated the knowledge that belonging is a practice … and one that I was already intuitively immersed in!
My take-aways from this pilgrimage journey / art retreat / goddess retreat were:
I am an artist. Or rather, an artist and creative activist. I knew this before, of course, but the process of indulging in art for fourteen days helped me feel it.
I am also a writer. And part of my calling as a creative activist is to write. This is not new knowledge either, but as of now I am officially writing my first book, tentatively called “A Field Guide to Practical Magic: 21 Days to Connect with Your Wise Self” …. or something like that!
I’m being called to call women back to their wild roots, to apprentice themselves to Nature and their own shadow, and to reconnect to and express beauty and their own Wild and Wise Soul.
Going forward, my work will more deeply reflect these three things. (To learn more about my work, you can follow my page on Facebook or visit my website.)
Navigating your own grief is challenging, no question about it. In theory, the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, are a part of the framework originally proposed by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, while writing about coming to terms with one’s own death. These five stages have since been used as a helpful framework for anyone in grief.
In my own experience, just as difficult –if not more difficult– than navigating your own grief is navigating grief as a couple.
Between my partner and I, we’ve lost four people we care about in the past 7 months. In order: my aunt, his dad, my dad, and most recently his grandmother, (just this past weekend) who was also a mother figure to him.
We’ve been further challenged by our self employment. There is no such thing as “time off with pay” when you are sole proprietors. And we’re also navigating a reconciliation period from last year’s 8 month separation while he fished in Alaska.
It’s difficult to balance your needs with your partner’s needs during the everydayness of a relationship, but add grief and extra challenges and this balance becomes even more difficult.
For one thing, the stages of grief have been proven to not be linear stages. You can dance back and forth between depression and acceptance for months if not years. And of course, you are unlikely to be in the same stage at the same time. So when one partner is moving on, the other might be depressed, which creates tension and feeling a need to tiptoe around one another which feels inauthentic. Also, with multiple deaths in a short time frame, there is almost a sense of rivalry (comparison for sure) at who is grieving the most and when and why, and whose funeral was the best, and how we honored the lives of those we lost. This is ridiculous of course, but human emotions are not always rational, even in the best of times.
Other questions come up:
How can I support my partner without losing sight of my own boundaries and needs?
How do I deal with my anger and impatience when I don’t feel like being understanding and patient right now?
How can I best help my partner process his / her grief while still honoring my own process and continuing to move forward with my own life?
Of course, being me, I hold myself to a high standard and expect to do more than just muddle through. I am still learning to be gentle with myself and accept that I have to take care of myself first in order to be there for my loved ones.
My most relied-upon tools are the same ones I teach my clients.
HeartMath(R) –to transform the negative and draining energy into positive.
Walks in Nature –to bask in a sense of awe and wonder.
Creative Expression –to help process the emotions
A reliance on Spirit –to help when it gets too tough.
But unexpected encouragement that shows up in your inbox is also a big help. This past week was a particularly challenging one for me. I didn’t handle any of it as gracefully as I might hope, although certainly better than I could have.
I subscribe to Notes from the Universe, by Mike Dooley. This morning, here is what it said:
“You’re simply the best, Kristin. You blow my mind. We’re all in total awe. How you hold together under pressure. How you face up to your challenges. And your rebound ability totally rocks. You’re driven, persistent, and strong. Playful, silly, fun. Compassionate, sympathetic, understanding. You’re just plain unstoppable. And you always have time for others. What a package. Soooo…
How ’bout cutting yourself some slack every now and then?
Beautiful. Thanks Mike. And this goes for all of you as well.
Since I’m on the topic of serendipity, I became reacquainted with my partner through yet another funeral, back in 2007. The funeral was for the older brother of classmates of ours, and there were many people there that we knew. At the time I arrived, he was heading out the back door with an elderly woman. He smiled and waved, and although I knew he was someone I used to know in school, I couldn’t place him. I sent his face through my mental facial recognition software and came up blank, but I have to admit that I was never was able to fully forget him either.
Finally, months later, he sent me a Facebook friend request, saying that he thought he’d seen me at that funeral. Oh! Of course! It clicked into place for me. The elderly woman he was solicitously escorting out the door and into a silver Mercedes was his grandmother. When he contacted me, he was living in Mexico, caring for his mother’s property, and was with someone else so I put him out of my mind except when Facebook did its thing.
Several years later, he reached out to say he was back in town, and would I like to meet for a beer? And the rest, as they say, is history. This is what he looked like when I graduated from high school, and again when I met up with him in 2011.
How has synchronicity shown up in your life? Do you have a favorite story of unexpected treasure popping up when you were least looking for it? Please feel free to share in the comments. It’s fun to hear other’s stories!
I haven’t written a thing since last October! This is, in part, because I wanted every blog post to be “meaningful” and “perfect.” Of course it never will be, but before I let go of that expectation, it was difficult to start.
To be fair, beyond that self-imposed restriction, it has been an unusually unusual year. Along with Joy and Goodwill and New Year’s intentions, the holiday season folded in three important deaths: first my aunt, next my partner’s Dad, and then my Dad.
I know that the way each of us will grieve and process these three deaths is still unfolding … but the initial impact reframed my chosen theme for 2017 from abundance to serendipity.
You might think that death is an unusual place to find serendipity. But both my father’s death and my partner’s father’s death brought with them reconciliations that were both unexpected and valuable. And my aunt’s death brought both adventure and an opportunity to spend lengthy time with my California relatives. Now of course, I’d trade all of that to have our loved ones back; but since that isn’t how life works, I’m happy to have experienced the serendipitous moments.
Looking forward to sharing more of those with you in the days to come.
I know it has been quite some time since my last post. Let me first reassure you that Blue is growing into a delightful dog. Ever since spending four days in the wilderness with seven women on my backpacking Pilgrimage, his social anxiety disappeared. In fact, he spent two weeks with my sister’s family while I was in Alaska with my partner. Last I heard, he was sitting on my nephew’s lap; I imagine a bit like in this photo with my niece from late summer.
The Dream Hatchery’s Inaugural Backpacking Pilgrimage was deemed two thumbs up by all . Here we are at the top of Marmot Pass, (elevation 6000′) on day three of the adventure. (Stay tuned, more to come.)
When I last checked in about my new puppy, Blue, he was starting to feel quite comfortable here with us, and I was starting to feel quite uncomfortable with my state of “conscious incompetence” in stepping into my role as the “alpha” of our little tribe.
Fortunately, the book came, (you might remember I ordered one specific to Herding dogs) and I found my training collar, which turned out to be in a little used storage bin in the basement. Unfortunately, the book was assuming that I already knew (or remembered) how to teach the basics, like “sit”, “down”, “heel” etc. Although Blue and I both mastered “sit”, I couldn’t remember how to teach “down” or “heel” so I checked out another book at the library to refresh my memory. When I have treats in my hand, Blue remembers quite readily. Without them, his memory is a little rusty, especially when I request a “down” on the uncomfortable asphalt road.
The first book was great at helping me understand how dogs (especially Heelers) learn, and that just because they seem to have mastered a skill in one place, it doesn’t automatically transfer to another place. (For example, it could be that he just doesn’t understand that when he is on the asphalt road the command “down” is the same as the command “down” when he is on the carpet at home. I understand this. I also understand that it’s uncomfortable to “down” on asphalt, and that he gives me the look that says, “surely you don’t really mean you want me to lie down right here?”)
All in all, the training is going much better for both of us now that I have started to remember my “alpha cues” … (feeding time, going in and out any door, petting time). I simply make him sit first before he gets what he wants. I still forget sometimes, but I seem to be holding the “Alpha” title, at least for the moment.
The best news is that Blue’s socialization has improved significantly! On Father’s Day, I took him with me to my parents, where 13 of the 24 of us Halbergs were gathered to celebrate. I explained to the six kids that they needed to mostly ignore him except when given the okay by me to feed him treats or see if he’d let them pet him. The adults had the same rules, although I knew they were unlikely to initiate the attention. Blue was a little unsettled at the beginning and again later when the majority of us were gathered in one spot. He was very jumpy and nervous, but he displayed no aggressive behavior.
He is also more relaxed when I take him on trails and beach access with plenty of people. I’ve introduced him to bicyclists, and allowed him to be “off-leash” on some of the least traveled trails.
Anytime he encounters something new for the first time his initial response is to simply stop and look. He met the 102 animals at my sister’s farm with curiosity, but didn’t seem to want to chase them … even when she let the 36 chickens out of their overnight hutch.
I’ve been crate training him, meaning that he gets put in his crate at night and if I am gone during the day. I crate trained my earlier dogs, and it is a fantastic practice. Dogs are den animals, so they really don’t mind having their own space. I can transport the crate when I visit other locations, so he can still have “his” safe space to hang out, and it limits his ability to get into things he shouldn’t and allows me to get a good night’s sleep.
Plus, the added benefit of his bedtime crating is that the cat (Katniss) has started roaming around the house in the evenings again, and even felt comfortable enough to sleep with me last night (with Blue in his crate beside the bed.)
Ahhh. The training is far from over, but we’ve made it through the first month.
In my first blog post, I hinted at my new name & business branding … Since re-branding a business is not something you should do lightly, I thought I’d give you a little more information about why I am …
To start with KIC (pronounced “kick”) itself has been an evolution … I first claimed the name KIC about ten years ago, when I left my corporate job and decided to branch out for myself, uncertain yet what form that would take. K-I-C are my maternal grandmother’s initials, and I wanted a business that would honor her. I delighted in both the brainstorming and choosing of my first logo, wanting it to both represent something meaningful to me and something that might speak to my potential client. I still like both the logo and the name, but I’ve learned over the years that choosing a name that gives prospective customers a hint about what you do is important. At first, I simply added Healing to the name … KIC Coaching & Healing seemed a little more explanatory, and the simplest way to tackle the problem.
I also noticed over the years (because I occasionally get requests that seem to be out of my expertise entirely) that there is another company out there in the world that calls themselves KIC Coaching. It’s a GRE coaching company located in Mumbai. Lately they must be pouring money into their Site Engine Optimization (SEO) because they’ve been encroaching on my google traffic. For a small business … or any business … this is not good news. As much as we hate to rely on Google for our traffic, we do.
The combination of knowing that KIC Coaching does not tell you intuitively that I am a transformational coach, and the recent encroachment on my space helped spur along my need. But I also knew I wanted to branch out and offer more than just coaching … I wanted to offer other transformative experiences such as Pilgrimages, Retreats, and more. I wanted a name that didn’t limit me to coaching.
I’ve been playing with business name ideas for about a year, but nothing seemed quite right. Soon after Prince passed away, I was out on a walk. I didn’t follow Prince’s life or work closely while he was alive (although of course I knew his most widely known songs), but this clip of Prince with the Muppets delighted me. I love to see the creative process at work, and I am wowed by people who can effortlessly turn anything into artistic expression.
I also completely believe in asking people I admire (living or dead) for advice. So I called out to Prince (in my head), telling him I was sorry I didn’t follow his work more when he was still alive, (this was a longer conversation than I’m including here, filled with justifications and pleas for mercy … ha ha!) explaining my post-humus admiration and asking if he’d help me come up with a business name I liked that was relevant to the work I do. In my head he asked me for a bit more information about my work, about my dreams, and about icons that were meaningful.
A few minutes later, The Dream Hatchery popped into my head, and I loved it. I give Prince all the credit. 🙂 Thanks! (I also promised to purchase at least a few of his songs for my iPod. If anyone has recommendations of their favorite Prince songs (ideally that showcase his brilliant creativity) feel free to post in the comments.
Creative Tip: Stuck on a project? Think of five people who you admire, living or dead, and ask them to give you advice. Don’t be surprised when you get a brilliant idea. Be sure to thank them for their help. 🙂