Announcing Wild Church of the Olympics

I have some big and scary news to share. (Scary in part because I get too hung up on what other people might think of me WAY too often, but also because it’s going to force me to stretch outside my comfort zone in a big big way.)

Are you ready for this? Drum roll please.

I am now an ordained minister!! ūüė≤ (Astonished face emoji, in case that didn’t come through as that on your screen.)

Kristin Halberg credentials
My credentials

This is not a decision I stepped into lightly. 

For those of you who do not yet know me well, I consider myself to be a spiritual seeker. If I had to pinpoint when this began for me, I’d say that it was the Easter after I turned 12. My mom gave me a book called Mister God This is Anna, by Fynn. I don’t think her intention was to turn me into a spiritual seeker, as she is what I call “very Catholic,” and has spent many hours of prayer over the years in an attempt to coax me back inside the umbrella of Catholicism.

But I fell in love with Anna and her musings at the age of 12, and quite honestly, I can say that her philosophy shaped mine at least as much if not more than any other books on philosophy and religion that I’ve ever read. (And I’ve read a LOT!)¬†(For a synopsis of the book, see the insert below.)

The book, Mister God this is Anna,¬†¬†describes the adventures of Anna, a mischievous yet wise four-year-old whom Fynn finds as a runaway. Sixteen-year-old Fynn¬†takes Anna home to his mother who takes her in, though Fynn becomes Anna’s main caretaker and closest friend. Fynn recounts his time spent with Anna, and gives a very personal account of her outpourings on life, mathematics, science and her mentor, Mister God.¬†At five years Anna knew absolutely the purpose of being, knew the meaning of love and was a personal friend and helper of Mister God. At six Anna was a theologian, mathematician, philosopher, poet and gardener. If you asked her a question you would always get an answer ‚Äď in due course. On some occasions the answer would be delayed for weeks or months; but eventually, in her own good time, the answer would come: direct, simple and much to the point.¬†*

*Quote from Wikipedia

I was going to add that unfortunately the book is out of print, because I tried finding it to give it to a friend years ago. But … I just did research and found out that it was re-released in the year 2000, –guess it was over 20 years ago that I last looked– so it’s possible to order a copy. AND there are sequels! Which I just ordered.

What I loved most … no, I can’t really say that because I loved everything. Let me try again … one belief that Anna and I share is that Mister God doesn’t care about religion. Mister God cares about relationship. And that’s what drew me to the Universal Life Church, specifically. It welcomes people of all cultures, creeds, and belief systems.

This Fall wasn’t the first time I considered ministry as a career. My spirituality has continued to deepen and spread into my work for the past several years. In fact, I considered applying for a ministry position at a local unity church when they were hiring a few years ago, but didn’t feel “qualified” because my beliefs don’t generally align with a traditional church.

Hoh Rain Forest in the snow
Hoh Rain Forest in the snow

However, this summer I read an article in Spirituality & Health magazine, called Is it Your Time to Add to the Wild Church Network? The author starts the article by saying, “I am one of those people, who, for most of 50 years, had said, “I don’t go to church; my church is the woods, the mountains, the rivers.” [Um. Yes. Me too!]

But then one day, he was out walking on his wild property and was called to create a church for people like him … “people who encounter God in the woods yet also long for human community with its ancient ritual and wisdom.”¬†

I read further. 

What Makes a Church a Wild Church?

  • Meeting Outside.
  • Nature as Co-Congregant

What Makes a Wild Church a Church?

  • Meets in community.
  • Has a grounding Liturgy. But not the kind that recruits members into a dogma, but rather to invite people into a deeper relationship with an untamed God, the land, and creatures that share their home, and into a deeper relationship with their own wild, untamed soul.

Hmmm. I said. I wonder if we have one of those here?¬†But I checked, and we don’t. Inviting people into a deeper relationship with an untamed God, the land, the creatures, and their own wild untamed soul is what I do anyway on my pilgrimages, my forest bathing expeditions, and in my 1:1 coaching.

Mouth of the Elwha River
Mouth of the Elwha River

And even though I am terrified at the thought of being labeled “a minister,” I am beyond excited at the thought of bringing people outside to “church” with nature.

I decided to start small, with one church session / month beginning in February. Service locations may vary, but I want to start at the Mouth of the Elwha, which is a newly wild river.

Sign up to get notifications and updates. And stay tuned for more from me on what it means to me to be the minister of a Wild Church.

Update on Blue

Blue went from socially anxious to this snuggle pup soon after our return from the Backpacking Pilgrimage.

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.


Blue: Five weeks in …

When I last checked in about my new puppy, Blue,¬†he was starting to feel quite comfortable here Blue.Lyre River.framed.06.16with 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! ¬†Blue at the lake Fathers Day 2016.framedOn 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 Blue meets chickens  & peacocksthem … 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.

As my dad always says, “Onward and upward.”

Two weeks in …

Blue has been a member of our family for two wBlue rotten wood 06.04.16 framedeeks and two days now. ¬†I have to say he is adjusting well. ¬†Too well. ¬†To be honest, he was easier when he was scared of everything except me. He stuck close to the house, kept me in his sight, and tried very hard to please me. ¬†He still does. ¬†Except when he doesn’t want to. ¬†Sigh. ¬†Now he gets bored –Hank won’t play with him — and finds things to amuse himself with. ¬†Like pieces of wood. ¬†From the deck. ¬†Or the house. ¬†Or a planter. … Or somewhere!! ¬†(Yes, I give him chew toys!! ¬†He likes these other things better.)

We will get there. ¬†When I got him, he’d never worn a collar. ¬†And he didn’t like it. ¬†But by the end of the evening (four – six hours after his arrival) he let me put a leash on him. ¬†I also don’t think he’d ever been away from his home or away from his siblings. His social anxiety was pretty bad. ¬†They call it fear aggression … towards people, not dogs. So one of my first and most important jobs has been to socialize him. ¬†Once I discovered he loves water, I started taking him to the closest beach, which almost always has people. The article I read on curing social anxiety in Heelers said to give him lots of treats so that he associates good things instead of bad things with the experience. ¬†I tried that, but he was too scared to eat. Another thing he really likes is pets from me. ¬†So whBlue 06.04.16 frameden he gets too scared (usually when people are walking towards him) I squat down beside him¬†and pet him. ¬†Then I get back up and we keep going. ¬†Sometimes we’ll talk to the people if they are friendly and sympathetic, but nobody gets to reach towards him or try to pet him. ¬†When we get to the beach, he gets to swim / splash, and he loves it!! ¬†This part of our project seems to be going well. ¬†Today I brought him to my parents place on the lake, and he only growled once even though there were five¬†new people right around him, and others nearby. ¬†Unfortunately, when he did¬†growl, this time it seemed to be a protective growl … him protecting me from my mom’s reaching fingers.

I’m afraid that might be a sign I’m failing at Alpha.

Honestly, I keep forgetting. ¬†I forget to make him sit and wait for me when I open the door (this is big in dog-hierarchy apparently). ¬†I forget that I’m supposed to make him do stuff for me (like sit) before I pet him (when he comes seeking it from me.) ¬†I forget that I’m supposed to ignore him (rather than push him away and say no) when he’s jumping up to get my attention. ¬†(Hank is giving me lessons on this one. ¬†He is an excellent¬†puppy ignorer!!)

But Blue is very smart, and has already mastered “sit”, “come” (both the command and the whistle), “kennel” (except lately “kennel”¬†has been only when he wants to, which hasn’t been often.) ¬†Today at the lake I even taught him to play fetch with a ball. ¬†“Get it.” ¬†“Bring it.” ¬†And even “Drop it,” which is more than Hank will do. ¬†(Hank was trained NOT to drop anything¬†… he grew up in Alaska, and Justin’s rationale was that if Hank¬†held onto a stick, it could then be used to pull him or Justin out of the ice. ¬†Great idea. ¬†Not so great for playing ball.)

As for me,¬†I am in The-Competence-Spectrumthe “consciously incompetent” phase of my Alpha training, and it’s uncomfortable. ¬†I know that it is up to me to socialize and train this puppy. ¬†And I know that I need to figure out the right way to teach him. ¬†So … I did what I always do when I need to learn something quickly: I ordered¬†a book. ¬†“Teach Your Herding Breed to be a Great Companion Dog.” ¬†It should be here next week. ¬†Also,¬†I can’t find my training collar, which I know would help us both pay attention, and make it easier to spend 15 minutes / day completely focused on training. ¬†I’ll keep looking.




New beginnings …

On this New Moon I’m kicking off my new blog, announcing the beginning of my new business branding, (from KIC Coaching & Healing to The Dream Hatchery, more on that later) and officially starting my new challenge … to turn my recently adopted six-month old Heeler / Australian Shepherd / “who-knows-what-else” mix into a well-behaved member of my family. ¬†(I will also be learning WordPress, so you will see my formatting improve along with my “alpha leadership”¬†…)

I’ll start by introducing¬†the puppy. ¬†Blue 05.25.16 cropped & framed

Three weeks ago, as I was returning from my walk on the nearby beach, I saw a sign posted at Angel Crest Farms, “Farm Puppies”.

“Farm puppies?!” ¬†I flipped a U-ey and went back to investigate.
The owner of the puppies informed me that the pups were now six months old. ¬†“Wha? ¬†How long has that sign been up?” ¬†“Six months,” she replied. ¬†Hmmm. ¬†I wondered how I could drive past the place nearly everyday for six months and not see a sign for puppies. ¬†I could miss¬†a sign for fresh dirt maybe, or fresh cut flowers perhaps, but puppies??? ¬†I guess I am more ready now than I was six months ago, even though I have been threatening to get a new puppy this year. Anyway, she arranged to bring two of the male puppies to meet me the following day, also informing me that one of the puppies, (the one she felt was best for me considering I needed him to fit in with our 14 year old Labradoodle mix and our cat) had the markings of a butterfly on his back. ¬†Hmmmm. ¬†Universe? ¬†Are you conspiring on my behalf?

Long story short, I couldn’t take the pup right away because I had to be out of town for a full day later in the week, so I took her number and said I’d think about it. ¬†Meanwhile, I did some research on Australian Cattle Dogs, and asked around. ¬†You need to be prepared to step into the role of the Alpha completely, said all the research. ¬†Fear and doubt came crowding in … am I ready for this? ¬†Do I have what it takes? ¬†I’ve raised well-behaved, wonderful dogs in the past, but it has been ten years since I last had a puppy and none of them required a lot of work to train. ¬†Also, my partner is fishing in Alaska, and I wanted to make sure he approved as well. ¬†“Uh oh,” was his first response when I texted him a photo of the two pups. ¬†His biggest concern was for Hank, as was mine. ¬†Our original plan was to wait until Hank was gone, but Hank¬†continues to be quite healthy, he’s just deaf and can no longer accompany me on trail runs or walks.

Finally after hemming and hawing for a couple more days, I decided to give the puppy¬†a trial. ¬†If Hank hated him, I just couldn’t do it. ¬†And if he passed the Hank test, but harassed the cat, I still couldn’t. ¬†Ironically, stepping into the Alpha role and stretching out of my leadership comfort zone (I prefer Hank and Blue 05.30.16 small framedcollaborative partnerships so I can stay under the radar) is aligned with the other growth edges in my life this year, so I knew that was another “sign from the Universe” to help me stretch and grow.

Hank accepted him right away.

The cat wouldn’t even deign to come out of her hidey-hole for four days. ¬†Finally I had a conversation with her. ¬†(I do this. ¬†All the time.) ¬†“Katniss,” I said. ¬†“That puppy is just a baby. ¬†If you tell him you’re the boss, you get to be the boss. ¬†But if you hide out down here and don’t even show your face, you’ll never even know.”

Katniss 2016I did some introductions while the pup was in his crate and completely under my control, and by the end of the 5th day, Katniss strolled out the front door past him with her tail in the air. ¬†I breathed a sigh of relief. ¬†(And¬†replayed The Stray Cat Strut in my head that entire day with a smile on my face.) We’ll get there. ¬†All of us. ¬†It’s just a matter of time.

Welcome to the family, Blue!