This is Not a Test

My life is not much different now, except that I’m not working. I’ve always spent most of my free time in solitude. In Nature. The only true authority over me. The poison broadcasted over the airwaves has no power here. Messages are carried in the wind, in birdsong, in the river’s defiant flow.

The wind. A presence in a perpetual state of wandering. The most faithful messenger, it delivers dispatches from the Otherworld. People are losing their minds. The veil of illusion is dissipating. Collectively and individually. The usual habits of avoidance have been ripped away. Tough love from the Universe. It is time to be still and examine the life one has chosen to create.

I had plans for a voyage to a river, the Mother of all rivers. A date with a shaman and a magic plant. I had prepared myself physically and mentally for months. I was not about to cancel. Half-empty planes! A Machu Picchu without the selfie stick hoards! Let everyone else stay home.

The past few months have been filled with betrayals, violations, disappointments. Utter discouragement consumed me. I’d done everything I was supposed to do. Kept my eyes open for opportunities, followed the signs, let go of attachment to outcomes. The beautiful connection I had to the Divine was brutally unplugged. The sparkle in my eyes vanished. This trip was to be my light in the darkness.

I stagger around my wilderness, overcome with grief. The cold Earth beckons. I fall to my knees. Be still now. Just stop. Let me hold you. The turmoil transforms into dawning light. Suddenly, I understand: no one escapes this. No more running away for me, either.

Even in silent solitude, my mind was always at work. Formulating, organizing, analyzing. Gotta figure it all out! Now, in this enforced inertia, I give myself permission to do nothing at all. I sleep. I stare out the window at the falling rain. Thoughts disintegrate when you pay no attention to them. The peace left behind is exquisite. Why didn’t I do this before? In the stillness, ancient emotions arise like toxic bubbles in a stagnant pond. Sluggish and murky. So old, I can’t even determine their origin. I embrace these lost children of my soul, allow them to speak, and witness their transmutation into love.

I cuddle up in bed under a pile of blankets. An alert on my phone pierces the ear-ringing silence. As of midnight, we are forbidden to leave our homes except for essential reasons. Childhood memories resurface: noon sirens blasting through the streets of my tiny hometown. Sudden static on the radio. The rainbow spectrum on the television. That aloof dystopian voice. This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test. Back then, it was a mere annoyance. The sirens made the dogs howl. Entertainment was momentarily interrupted. I always felt a faint undercurrent of apprehension. Someday something was going to happen. I needed to be prepared.

This is not a test. This is it. Maybe not The, but an apocalypse, surely the first of many. It is not fear, but curiosity that fills me. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. And I’m exactly where I need to be.

I am staying in the cottage that Grandpa built, which is next door to my parents and three cottages down from my brother Billy. My own little cabin will be built this summer, just across the street. Maybe. Nothing is sure anymore. My youngest brother Grant owns a hundred acres just a few minutes’ drive away. We all feel as though we were summoned here.

Every day, I go next door to see my parents. They give me the briefest of updates on the virus. Michigan is in bad shape, but it’s centered way down south, in Detroit. My mother wonders if I get lonely. My smile is tinged with sadness. I’ve never been lonely or bored in my life, except when I’m around most other people. There’s no one I’d rather spend time with than myself.

I can feel, in the distance, the invisible radiance that hovers over the cities. A corona of terror. Energetic pollution that spreads over the countryside. A tremor overtakes me. The first panic attack I’ve had in years. I take deep breaths and allow it safe passage. It does not belong to me. Anymore.

I stroll down the dirt road, singing to myself. A Duran Duran song from the eighties. Billy emerges from his place, trailing behind River, his Australian shepherd. I smile at the synchronicity. We meet up at his trail, which cuts through his property. He stops and backs away, his face pinched with irritation.

“Are you afraid that I’m going to infect you?” I snicker. “It’s not like I ever see anyone.”

He shakes his head. “No, I’m afraid I’ll infect you. I’ve had a sore throat for a couple of days. Nancy and I ate at a restaurant where one of the workers was ill with the virus.”

His trail ends at what used to be the railroad tracks. It’s been converted to a bike and snowmobile trail. We walk on opposite sides. I don’t tell him that my body aches to the core. No matter what I do, I am chilled to the bone. I am not sick, however. I am being rearranged.

Instead, I say, “I think I saw wolf poop, yesterday, on the trail just up ahead.”

He perks up and nods. “I saw tracks after the last snowfall. You can tell it’s a wolf by the size of the tracks and the gait.”

We fall silent. I hop off the trail, into the meadow. “See you later.”

His shoulders finally relax. He lifts his skinny hand in farewell and heads for home.

This time of year is the most nostalgic for me. The smell of thawing soil and thickening moss and mushrooms. Earthy, mysterious aromas. My grandparents brought us here every spring break. Billy and I would explore the awakening forest for hours, in almost total silence. This has always been my true home. My own backyard in my hometown downstate became exotic lands in my imagination. But here was always here. Nowhere on the planet do I feel safer.

The ghosts of the Otherworld ask, “How are you going to spend your day?” As if time were currency. Which it is. I’ve always considered my free time as wealth.

The borderland between defeat and surrender is obscure. Twinges of guilt linger. I can at least write something. A leaden weariness fills me. I think I will let that go, too. Does it even matter if I write anything, anymore? I sink into the Earth and stare Heavenward. I am so tired. The clouds part and converge. The spring sun has stage fright. It is not yet ready to shine.

To the ghosts of the dying world, I whisper in reply, “Falling through the sky.”

At the edge of the woods, near the river, I come upon a deer skeleton. It has been savagely ripped apart. Fur carpets the ground below it. Not a shred of flesh remains. The wolf, again. A flicker in my heart. Instead of revulsion, I am overcome with awe. Nature is life, but also death, resurrection, and light. All of it is beauty.

A wave of despair washes over me. Death throes of a life that no longer exists. If only I could vanish, forever, into the embrace of this wilderness. Let my body be consumed by creatures and my bones bleached white by the sun.

I have done almost everything that I set out to do. I did not take the easy route. I did not harden my heart or let the darkness I’ve known poison my soul. Whatever happens in this new Earth, I’ve been as true to myself as a human can be. I have truly lived.

At the riverbank, I come to rest. Sunlight shimmers on the currents, forming ever-changing constellations. Infinity illuminated.  A soft, golden glow infuses my atoms. I merge with the flow and let it carry me onward.

103 thoughts on “This is Not a Test

  1. Hi JD Riso – I really appreciated this post. I think you expressed what so many of us are feeling. On the one hand a complete disconnection with the ‘old normal’ and on the other the opportunity to re-boot and start again – differently! Let’s wish ourselves, calm and peace and satisfaction (whatever that may mean)…..

  2. Beautiful post, Julie!
    “The spring sun has stage fright”…love this! Love your writing and message….as always! Happy Easter dear friend!!! 😘🐰

  3. Hi Julie!
    Thanks for this. I loved imagining your family’s “compound”, the houses in the woods, the way Billy would be dresses (yes, I thought he’d be wearing a hunting-camo jacket!), a few scraps of snow. I might’ve borrowed a lot from the mental images of Maine I built while reading Stephen King, who knows if it’s accurate or not.
    I share your feeling about missing out on trips, on not being able to plan. Ah, planning a trip! I miss it. We, too, scuppered a few plans that we’d been working and dreaming on for a while. We had Patagonia, and right now I was meant to be walking around and hitchhiking Ladakh. Neither have happened. Instead we’re here in London, me trapped with a job I’m growing disamoured with by the hour and OH on furlough. But I can’t complain. I won’t allow myself to complain. So many more are in a worse situation. My brother down south got a viral infection, a nasty one to throat and larynx, and spent 2 weeks in total isolation. Now like everyone else he can’t go out but for shopping and exercise 200 mts away from home. He’s gone to the mountains every week since he was 8 and now he can’t. That must hurt.
    This, too, shall pass. And we’ll get back to going wherever we want, feeling all the better because we effin’ earned it. In the meantime, I found out a webcam showing the moais just off Hanga Roa. I watch it every day, even during the nastiest conference calls at work. It’s so great.
    All the best,
    Fabrizio

    • Hi Fabrizio. How funny that you imagined Billy in camo. My own jackets are bright colors. I’m definitely not inconspicuous. I believe that being forced to stay still and examine our lives is both painful and liberating. You are realizing that your work is dragging you down. I am in the process of deciding what and who stays or goes in my life. So much uncertainty and heartbreak, but I also refuse to complain. I have a perfect place to shelter, am surrounded by support, don’t have debt or high expenses. I will be okay. Right now it’s even okay if I never travel again. I’ve done so much. So funny you mention Easter Island. My ex sent me a photo of the moai today. They had bunny ears. 🙂 Warmest wishes to you.

  4. Wonderful images and a fine post which captures a worldwide mood. I don’t find the lock-down too much a of a trial. I am similarly happy just being where we are – if I feel deprived in anyway, it is simply that I would prefer to be close to water. I need to hear the sound of the sea every so often. All the best and keep safe.

  5. What a beautiful post J.D. I was entranced reading it. The sentences like poetry, dancing on my soul. I envy you your solitude and family compound that feels like home. I’ve never found a spot that feels like home, plus I’m working in Walmart stores so I’m yearning for the solitude others have. But like you, I must surrender to what is, accept, flow, and keep on. May we come out of this wiser and more compassionate.

    • Hi Brad-I feel for those who have to work long hours right now and can’t take advantage of the isolation and stillness, even though that also comes with financial worries. Hopefully after this has calmed down you can take some time for yourself, and hopefully in the midst of your work you receive some precious insights. Thank you very much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  6. Pingback: I loved this post: This is Not a Test — Wish I Were Here | Skyscapes for the Soul – Jeni Bate

  7. Your posts are like salves to the soul, JD. I always get to the end feeling calmer and in a way, wiser. You have so many beautiful words in here and pieces of revelation that ring true. Nature surely is the balm, the source, and it’s lessons are there for the taking. I also appreciate the wisdom in your approach to this virus. What are we to learn? How are we to change? What path forward will we choose as we stand at the fork? Thank you for starting my day with this reflection. I hope to spend the day with it. A perfect Sunday. Be well and stay centered in the moment, my friend. ❤

    • Thank you so much, Diana. I consider myself fortunate that it didn’t take long for me to recognize the gift in this lockdown. It’s so important that we don’t squander it. There is so much gold to be unearthed, so many uncomfortable things to confront about ourselves and about the reality we inhabit. Who will I be when I re-enter the world? What is really important. The shifts in me have been seismic, and if I hadn’t done so much inner work for years, I’d be a complete wreck. So good to know that my words brought you peace.💜

  8. I’ve enjoyed watching your story unfold on Instagram, and now, seeing it told fully here. I love that this moment (and several that proceeded it) has forced you to stop running, to stay in place, to embrace those lost children of your soul, to give yourself permission to do nothing at all. I also feel that I have been preparing for this moment all of my life; that I am right where I need to be. How fortunate are we to say ‘I have done everything I set out to do, I have truly lived.’ But neither of us are done yet. There are many more adventures to come and so much more to learn.

    • 💜Most of my preparation for this has been to do what I wanted to do- experience Planet Earth. Despite cultural pressure to “be practical” and have a career and a home and a family. This has been the cause of much alienation, but I’ll take that any day over regret at not having listened to my heart and soul. Maybe there are adventures in my future, but it really doesn’t matter anymore. I’m living each day as it comes. Sending love from northern Michigan.💜

  9. I don’t remember how or when I even signed up for your blog, but I love it when I run across a piece of exceptional writing. Writing that gets you to feel something, writing that gets you to be there almost with that person and their thoughts and ruminations.
    Excellent and enjoyed this so much.

  10. J.D. it is a story of yin and yang. A story of half glass full, half glass empty. Highs and lows, darkness and light all so closely juxtaposed.Thank you for this honest introspective and well articulated piece of writing. It is a good time to acknowledge that we are all where we need to be. The geographic set up with your family close by that truly feels like home, means that it is ripe for the universe to deliver whatever opportunity is next on this trajectory. Look forward to seeing your life unfold post COVID19 in this piece of the world.

    Ben

    Ben

    • Dear Ben – We are all indeed exactly where we need to be, and if it’s not a comfortable place then the time has come to address that. No more putting it off. So many changes will come out of this. Devastating, liberating, and so necessary. It is an exciting time to be alive. Warmest wishes — Julie

  11. I’m glad you are in the place where you feel safest. Many good things are coming out of this quiet time. Crime rates are down. When the phone rings, it is someone I know and not a scammer. People are starting to cook again. Families are spending time together. I hope these things last.

    • I was so grateful to live here even before all of this. So happy that I listened to my intuition which nudged me to move back here. It will be interesting to observe how behavior changes (or not) after things settle down.

  12. A great insight into your world. Yes, you are where you feel safest, and that is important and best. Hopefully your sanctuary isn’t being invaded by escapees from cities, potentially bringing an invisible enemy with them. This crisis is bringing out the best in people, but also the worst. I hope your brother is on the improve.
    I remember talking to you about your intent to make that trip, regardless of the risk. Here, they’re telling us that although new cases are seemingly falling, it will probably not be safe to leave the country, or let anyone from overseas in, until a vaccine is found.

    • My brother just had the sore throat and it went away soon after. It’s not unusual to have a sore throat or cold this time of year because of the mold and wind and pollen. Every little symptom has people panicking. As for people coming up from downstate. There was an issue with that. We had no cases up here at all until people started coming up here to open cottages and put boats in the water. So the governor decided they had to pick a residence and stay there by April 10. I can’t blame them for wanting to be up here rather than in the city, but the hospitals are few and small and people still aren’t respecting personal space.

      • Same here. Regional areas actively discouraging visitors and people going to their holiday homes. Some city people have been going to small towns to “raid” local shops and supermarkets.

  13. This pandemic (and the subsequent lockdown all over the globe, in varying degrees) has certainly put many people in a place they’d rather not be. It’s nice to know that you have this remote cottage to escape to — a lot of my colleagues from work are very frustrated with the physical spaces they’re contained into at the moment. I don’t have much to complain — I have enough food, a place to live, plants to care for (which is very therapeutic indeed), though I was supposed to travel to this small city in Java last week. At the end of May I have a trip planned to visit my parents in another city. But that should also be postponed. And I have another trip planned for October — although at this point I’m mentally prepared if that too shall not happen this year. I can’t believe that something at this scale happens in my lifetime. But I’m also curious with how different or same life will be like after this is over. Stay healthy, Julie!

    • Hi Bama- I can’t imagine being confined to a small space in a city right now. Whenever I begin to get anxious or frustrated, I look around at the paradise I live in. So good to hear that your spirits are bright. I am going to try to go on my trip in November, but at this point I’m also prepared to lose it. Wishing you continued health and peace!

  14. There is such serenity in immersing myself in your meditative words capturing the angst of our stricken world. The image of shimmering waters reflects innocence of a child flashing a radiant, milk-toothed smile. The mellow sounds of piano enriched with tonal colour appeared to provide just the right orchestration to move with the flow. Nice to be here after a long while, Julie. Let us hope the post Covid 19 world is one of sobriety and temperance leading humans towatds greater harmony with Nature. Best wishes…

    • So nice to hear from you Raj. Thank you for such a lovely, thoughtful comment. Serenity is what is most needed right now, so it’s good to know that I was able to pass some along. Warmest wishes to you.

  15. You really did see in advance where your comfort was, and you are fortunate to be spending this odd time in a place that pleases you in so many respects. I’ve got half the pieces: I am beyond happy to be sheltering in a warm place, and I am psychologically equipped for a lack of outside activity, but I am so far from everyone I truly love, from parents to kids to siblings to best friends.

    Like yours, my life is not terribly different except for the loss of work, and I am fine with that. I am very content with my own company, I see free time as wealth, and I see a lot of real positives in my current situation. At the same time, this is making me evaluate where I want or need to be long-term. I know now that I don’t need to be able to get to Vietnam or India or Bolivia, etc. any time soon, but I do need to be able to get to my family.

    Stay well in your little patch of heaven with your river, your fields, your trees, your empty roads, your birds, your fine and thoughtful brain, and your people!

    • It seems that we are in a very similar “place”, Lexie. It must be tough being away from your loved ones, though. My financial situation is okay, for now. Many have it much worse than I do. Whenever I get anxious, I bring my thoughts back to the reflection of my presence in the world. How do I wish to inhabit it, from now on? I can’t imagine riding this out anywhere else. I think part of me always knew I’d take refuge here, even back in the days when I refused to consider moving back. That gentle, but powerful voice inside always knows best. Take care, dear one.💜

  16. “I’ve never been lonely or bored in my life, except when I’m around most other people.”

    Right… There is no quarantine long enough. I’ve been practising all my life for it, only that now it’s been institutionalised.

    Interesting how you family has flocked together like this. You obviously know something.

    I’m really glad to hear from you at a time like this. All well.

    • You made me laugh, Manja. So funny how the enforced reclusion is actually a pleasure for some of us. My family has a very special connection to this place. My Grandpa was one of those rare individuals who naturally radiated pure goodness. Everyone who knew him loved him. He called us together to watch over us. I only wish my sisters could be here, too. Wishing you and your Amore health and serenity.💜

  17. JD, I sure do miss you daily posts and musings… I’m living most of my online life on Flickr, a little on FB and a little Twitter… but I certainly cut back… I tired of most of the BS… but there are a few that I miss… your writing is heart-touching, sometimes wrenching… but always pure truth. We’re trying to survive in the crazy new world… I guess we all knew it was coming. Chile is like most places, the poor are suffering the brunt of this quarantine, many small businesses are going to die, and I suspect big businesses will be knocking the govt’s door for a handout… you know… #ToBiGToFail and all that. Cheers… I’ve got to run and teach an English class.

    John B

    • Thank you so much, John. You’re so right that it’s the little guy who is suffering, while the big businesses and those in control will find a way to exploit this. Business as usual. Unless we stop allowing it to happen. Wishing you and your family health and serenity.

  18. Brilliant post, Julie! Something that I have been giving a great deal of thought to lately, even before this period of solitude. There are times in life when we must come to what I call the “desert walk” which is something that my father taught me many years ago – going out into the unknown with only the disappearing and changeable horizon. Sometimes we come to the journey and other times, the journey comes to us. While support systems may be in place – home, security, love etc – the path is only made for one. And so, my chosen word for this year is reconciliation. You have chosen your word wisely As Paulo Coelho once wrote: “Nature itself journeyed, seeking illumination.” Hugs coming your way!

  19. Our hearts use a disguise and it is the mind, with it lost our hearts reveal themselves. I think, I hope, that the most has not been bitten by fear, but those that have been, they just happen to make to the news, the rest around me are mostly tranquil, ends of the world come and go, anyway. I don’t feel a change, each day I find something new, the light falling over a place at a certain hour, (and I am also evolving from rice burner to passable chef :0)
    I am not a chaman, and the river mother of rivers is not there, but the Pachamama (mother Earth) is indeed there and for this you don’t need a chaman or priest, but a true heart. Before you drink or eat anything you have to have a glass with a liquid pure and clean, (we use beer or wine because it guarantees the water has been prepared) and then you have to pour from the glass a sip to the Pachamama. In our Andean culture among family and cherished persons give food to each other is intimate and very personal (is almost a taboo to be seen eating by a stranger), and if you let other eat and drink first it is a way to tell that being it is quite loved by you. So after pouring a quarter of the glass you can drink from it. It is like a “thank you” and “I care for you.” It is not done always but in special occasions, when we are alone and feel close to the Pachamama, or when we celebrate something special with others.

    It’s quite wonderful that you live in something made by your family, these memories turn houses into homes. And I am quite happy to have seen the nature there, different views shaping a slice of your life.

    • Your first sentence. Wow. When our hearts get broken as children and young adults, the mind steps in and “protects” us so that the hurt doesn’t happen again. “Don’t get your hopes up and you won’t get hurt”, etc. Eventually these protective barriers become a prison and keep us from reconnecting to our own source of love. This has been a terrible battle for me, personally. The first step is recognizing and truly understanding what’s going on. Then there’s the work of dissipating the beliefs. I doubt that will ever be completely done.

      People around me are quite calm, too. Even when I go to the supermarket. I overhear conversations and people speak of the “little” discoveries they make about themselves. But I live in a place far from any city. I’m happy to hear that you are becoming a connoisseur of light…and a good cook! You are using this time wisely, amigo, but I’m not surprised. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your culture’s belief about Pachamama. I find all of this fascinating. I think I will become my own shaman. Take care, Francis. Wishing you continued illumination and peace.

      • Thank you, amiga : ) as you said “the first step is recognizing and truly understanding what’s going on” and I afraid despite the good intention and positive mind… I was seeing in retrospective my days and I think I am feeling stuck. Yesterday wind closed a door and while trying to open it by making a slit in the pane of a close window this fell and the glass broke. That sound somehow was like awakening to notice my days have been just like addiction to procrastination. Well, I write it to just not give an unfair impression that is it not a strange time for everybody. So a double happiness to have read you, this publication is a cherished one n.n Illumination and peace.

        • It’s funny how unrelated occurrences can be a catalyst for epiphanies. The glass shattered and you realized something very crucial. It’s always a small miracle when this happens. A positive mind isn’t always the most helpful. Our broken parts hold the secrets to breaking out of patterns that keep us stuck. Thank you for sharing this. Take care, dear Francis.

  20. Dear Julie, this was such a magical and spiritual read my friend… Your words soothed me like balm on the soul…. Sometimes no matter how we plan, the Universe has other ideas, and this time was meant to be shared in the surroundings of what you grew up in knowing as Home knowing family are close by.

    None of your preparations are lost however… For Spirit, know our needs… And yes, our bodies are realigning, adjusting, and settling, those whose lights are here to hold the frequencies and those whose time is now chosen to exit, perhaps to strengthen ours from beyond..
    When we see the bigger picture of Spirit and those powers whose agenda is not always in the highest alignment with the Light…. We come to a calm recognition of a battle that has already been fought and won… As above, so below…

    My daughter, also her spiritual journey doubtful in September to Bali, like you a Spiritual retreat long planned and saved for… She too looks upon in disappointment, but also sees we need no special Place to connect deeper to ourselves..

    And this is what our Goddess Mother now offers, that Time to reconnect deeper into Self and for those who are waking an opportunity, and a gift, to let go of the trappings we no longer need… As we rediscover
    Who we Are… And that we so lost our way from the heart of mother nature..

    The skeleton of the deer shows us just how Nature gives and how she takes away, but nothing is ever lost… All returns to the Mother…

    Sending you Love and Blessings dearest Julie… You have no idea how through your narrative, I could almost hear your voice and the calm tranquil energy of your thoughts..
    Thank you for bringing your beautiful piece of your homeland into our hearts and for sharing the beauty of a land waking from its winter blanket…

    Much love your way Julie..Thank you Stay Blessed my friend ❤

    • Dear Sue – your own posts carried me through those leaden first days of the lockdown, when my own words seemed lost forever in the murk. Then that quiet voice inside whispered, “the words will come when they’re ready.” And they did. It’s been an intense time, on all levels, especially physically. It is necessary to let what needs to go, go and then let the body realign. We store so much in our cells. There is so much going on now. The situation is so vast and intricate. It’s time for all to decide if we will continue to cling to the illusion for dear life, or will we stand up and take responsibility for ourselves and the reality that we inhabit. It is an exhilarating, unsettling, strange, and beautiful time. Especially for those of us who can recognize what’s going on. As above, so below…

      Sending you my warmest wishes, dear one. Thank you for shining your light.

  21. Dearest Julie, this post wrapped itself in its words and spoke so eloquently to me. I relate. So much! At first the exhaustion and the pain left me sleeping a lot. The panic that arose was all consuming and I had the knee jerk reaction to run run run! But I could not! No, no one can escape this nightmare we are all stuck in. Yet recently the nightmare has turned into such lightness and freedom for me. I no longer listen to the news. I don’t believe in the poison that is being poured nonstop from the airways and the media. Twisted and exaggerated and death all with the motive to paralyze us with fear and terror. I will not be infected. I too have turned to Mother and will keep on turning to Mother for She and She alone has the health tonic we so need. This is a time of healing, of letting go of old fears and to bring about a way to ourselves of such empowerment that no one will be able to stop us. No fear, Julie. A Golden Era is rising and I both see it and feel it. The churning of the cesspool is making all of our lives restricted and surreal, yet in order for the Light to be seen this is a very necessary process. Keep on succumbing to Mother. Let Her hold you and fold you in Her arms. This is where Reality exists. Not in the illusion. Much love!! xo

    • Julie, I will also be coming here often and rereading this brilliantly written post. I’ve got tears in my eyes as I write this. Your words mirror my own experience in so many ways. Your talent astounds me how you are able to translate exactly what you are feeling and thinking. Amazing! There is SO much within this post that when I read it for the second time more jumped out at me then the first time. Hence, I will be reading again and again. Bless you, dear friend. We are on this journey together. And together we shall survive!! xoxoxoxoxo

    • My Dear Amy – the panic I felt completely took me by surprise. It literally seized me out of nowhere. It only took a few seconds to realize that it did not belong to me. I was picking up on the collective energy. Before then, I didn’t realize just how much influence it could have on those who are highly sensitive. But, wow, we really need to strengthen our boundaries right now. The fear no longer has any power over me. I decided to not be afraid of the virus. If I get it, I get it. Yes, what freedom and lightness. Waves of anxiety still move through me, but it’s my own and I address it.

      If I despised the media before this, I now believe it is pure evil. After years of refusing to read/watch, I glanced at a few articles. Absolutely horrifying. It’s funny, though, that one of the articles was talking about how the media may not survive this, and how tragic! All of the poor “journalists” out of work! I laughed. Talk about a huge step for humanity and the planet.

      Sending so much love to you from my beloved wilderness. ❤

      • I agree that panic is toxic and in of itself will kill. The ramifications from the constant fear state so many are in will have the hospitals flooded. I won’t even think about it, yet I know what is about to happen. What do you think the agenda is? Fear has been pushed down our throats for years now, never as now so viciously! I am SO glad people are waking up and walking away from the news and media. YAY!! Finally! As for those reporters and journalists, may they begin to learn to write the TRUTH and to focus on the beauty and good in this world! That is what I have to say about that! I refuse to listen to any news! Yes I am being careful but like you, if I get this virus, I get it. Until then, I live my life the way I want to live my life!
        Sending my love to you, my wilderness soulmate. You get how powerful Mother is and to what purpose She serves. May others right now get it too so humankind can survive not only this disaster but what is to come if our ways do not change in regards to this planet! xoxoxoxo

        • Fear most definitely has an effect on the immune system as well as being an effective method of control. I’m not even going to speculate what the agenda is. There is more than one, for sure. It’s enough to know that all is not what it seems. I’m focusing my energy on what’s going on in a universal evolutionary sense- the shift in consciousness that many have been experiencing. You know what I mean. The return to Nature. 💜

  22. So nice, the scene with your brother, Julie! Some lessons we never learn, and one of them seems to be that you can’t run away from yourself, however hard you might try. I thought, from recent posts, that you had found a peaceful space within yourself. Maybe… some of us are not meant to be peaceful? In all of this hideousness of the virus, my fear is for my youngsters. It’s that which gives me sleepless nights. Me? I won’t go willingly, but I’ll go when it’s my time. Sending love. It’s all that I can do. 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Jo- I certainly had found peace within, but then I had a nasty run of “bad luck” over the past few months which tested that peace. It happens to all of us. It’s Life. I’m beginning to see the point of it and feel the light again. I most certainly deserve to be peaceful. 🙂Wishing you and your family health and serenity.💜

  23. It’s such a tricky balance for us as humans: to make plans, and yet to make space for contentment when those plans go askew. It’s an ongoing circle of lessons on how to truly let go. But I know that you are so well equipped in your heart to weather this. Meanwhile, the trees are budding, birds are singing again where once they were silent. Another reason I am so grateful. Wishing you and yours the very best.

    • Thank you, dear one.💜 I definitely have had a lot of practice in letting go and embracing change. It gets easier, I guess. Nature’s awakening certainly does help. Sending love your way.

  24. I think people look upon shamans as if they magically hold the secrets of the universe, as if they somehow don’t harbor their own feelings of uncertainty. Perhaps this is fate’s little trick on you, to enable you to discover that you are already your own shaman, hidden secrets and all.

    • Wow, Dave. That’s exactly what I’ve discovered: I’ve always been my own shaman. However, I’ve always believed that the responsibility for our own healing, of any kind, lies just as much, if not more, with ourselves as with healers, whether they are shamen, acupuncturists, or regular doctors. They are experts who can guide and treat us, but we need to participate in order for it to truly work. This is why I chose to spend so much time preparing myself. I consider the relationship between the shaman and myself to be a partnership. She/he is the expert on that particular plant, who can guide me through the experience, but most of the navigation is up to me. I am going to try to go on the voyage later this year. 🙂

  25. Onward is good Julie. Now, unplugged? C’est pas “Top”. 🙂
    Those are difficult times. Even more so if you had been preparing yourself for a while for a trip… that is just postponed. Mind you, every day that goes by I see my tickets (already bought) to Paris in July turn into dust… And going back to France is a yearly condition to my sanity…
    Enjoy “le dégel”. Le loup aussi. Hmmm. To listen to the wolves howling at night à la Jack London… Another dimension.
    Not a test? Or maybe it is. A test of how quickly humanity will scratch away the thin, very thin veneer of civilization… It is a bit… “Déprimant” but interesting to watch…
    Now why do you write? Hey! For us! Don’t even “selfishly” think you are writing for yourself… 😉
    When your post arrives in my mail, I hurry up to clean the inbox and enjoy reading you at a leisurely pace.
    (Actually saved this post. To re-read again. Some day.)
    Prends bien soin de toi…
    Biz
    🙏🏻💕

    • Merci, cher Brian. Ça fait du bien de savoir que mes contes sont appréciés.🙂

      It is a fascinating time right now. Unsettling, but also exciting. It’s truly a mystery how things will evolve.

      I have some hope that I will go on my voyage in November, but I’m not investing a lot of emotion into it.

      Tu prends soin de toi aussi.
      Bises.💜

      • Très appréciés… 🙂
        It is fascinating, yet, most of what I see is free rein to the populists to hand out money to serve their purpose…
        November? Not investing too much emotion on my Paris trip even if I manage to postpone it. Unless a treatment is found soon, there will be hellish health restrictions to travel for a while. Who wants to go anywhere and spend 2 weeks in quarantine to begin with…
        Biz ma grande… 💕

  26. I’ve been saving this one Julie, and read it twice. There’s so much in it that I relate to, and you write so beautifully. I wish I could say it all half as well as you can.

    Like you I refer to “out there” as something other – not taking in the news, and feeling as if I live in a bubble. Safe. Grateful. So grateful.

    “I am not sick, however. I am being rearranged.” I get this. I don’t ache, well not everyday, or feel chilled, but know without doubt that I’m being rearranged. Sometimes I cry all night. But they are good tears, the kind that wash away what I don’t need anymore. We are all being rearranged. I now of those who resist. it will be more painful for them but eventually they’ll get it and let their soul take charge.

    I hope your brother recovers. Stay safe. Stay well.
    Alison

    • Thank you so very much, Alison. So much is seeping away right now. So much is shifting. Sometimes I cry those tears, too, but a lot is exiting through my dreams. They are so intense right now. Those who cling to the illusion are having a very tough time, but, yes, they will have no choice but to let go.

      My brother is fine. It never progressed into anything more. Sore throats are common this time of year. But every little symptom causes panic.

      Wishing you continued peace and health.💜

  27. I am afraid the current year, 2020 will be remember as watershed moment, just to be forgotten by those who may come later, but those who went through they will talk about it, saying: “I was there, and we went through in this fashion.” and they experience will stay with them, until they time to be gone as well may come.
    Of course for everybody will be different, specially for those who lost loved ones by the debacle.
    Its curious how a hundred years ago we went through with a similar treat, the Spanish Flu, that even today do not agree how many people died as a result they put the number the death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.

    And he we are again.

    Beautiful writing, best wishes. 🙂

  28. I have a feeling you are finding more through introspection than you ever could with a shaman and aya tea. Looks like you live in a beautiful place and have the openness and compassion to really appreciate it. Wishing you the best through a difficult time.

    • It’s quite possible that I’m discovering just as many answers as I would have in the Amazon. Few have the luxury of the time and solitude required for deep introspection, but this enforced reclusion has given many a perfect opportunity to go deep within. I sure wasn’t going to waste it.All the best to you as well. 🙂

  29. Beautiful writing, especially insightful with all that is going on around the world – this global jolt that has hit us all so unexpectedly, and as you say, no one escapes this. Your writing has a calming influence, amid all this chaos, there is also the opportunity to step back a bit and think about what is important in our lives.

    Seems like you have definitely found your oasis, couldn’t think of too many other places I’d rather be – you make it sound like a perfect retreat. In a sense, this is a special time to dive deeply into our own private world and universe and try to figure out where we are now and what lies ahead. A world where everyone’s carefully crafted plans has vanished, replaced by an deep/dark abyss. And you have the perfect reply, “Kept my eyes open for opportunities, followed the signs, let go of attachment to outcomes…. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. And I’m exactly where I need to be.”

    There isn’t a better feeling of the confidence you exude in this post, even if surrounded by uncertainty. I can almost see you in your woods, letting out a big sigh, acknowledging a life well lived. Great to see your connection with your brother and family during this time – finding the beauty and peace to make a good day. Stay healthy.

    • Thank you so much, Dalo, for your thoughtful words. Always very appreciated. Our culture glorifies busyness and “having a plan” for our lives. I’ve always been on the perimeter of that mindset, so the uncertainty isn’t as traumatic as it may be for others. It is definitely tough love time. No more hiding. There will be much change in individual lives and in society. I hope one day people will look back and see that the fallout needed to happen.

      I’m wondering if I’ll ever travel again. Something I never thought I’d have to contemplate. While I truly hope I do, I’ve accepted that it may not come to pass. I have my little place in the woods now. I’ve been using some of this time to work on my property: clearing brush (hard work!) and getting to know my trees and the various creatures who inhabit “my” land. They are all welcome.🙂

      There is still anxiety but all I need to do is look at the treetops dancing in the wind and it dissipates. This place is indeed a paradise. Sending you some of this northern Michigan serenity.🙂Take care of yourself, my friend.

      • You have the right attitude, Julie, of which was derived from your past ~ uncertainty creates an opportunity to find new possibilities. Wonder instead of fear, is a good thing. And the more people come to terms with something different/new, the easier it becomes to find serenity – and you’ve found it with the Michigan serenity you describe even if it requires clearing brush 🙂

        • “Uncertainty creates an opportunity to find new possibilities.” So very well said. But so often easier said than done.

          I’ve discovered that hard physical work in/with nature is very meditative and rewarding. A workout for body, heart, and soul. The pesky mind shuts right up.🙂

  30. Hello there from the UK (I am a Spaniard) where things are just as surreal and dystopian as I suspect they are in US right now. You are a beautiful writer. Your post made me well up! So much in it that struck a chord. Please keep writing! Take care and keep well! I envy your freedom of spirit.

  31. I think maybe the universe led you to where you were supposed to be right now to be able to let go and prepare for whatever comes next. To know you’ve ‘truly lived’ has to be good preparation. But I can feel the ambiguity through your writing, the veil between what is and what might come. Beautifully expressed and poignant thoughts Julie.

    • Thank you, Andrea. I have felt in transition since I came here 2 years ago already. My head has abruptly started to clear these past few weeks and I’ve realized that so much of these 2 years has passed by in a haze. It’s almost like I was in a stupor, shedding a major layer of who I thought I was. And, yes, always preparation for what may come.🙂

  32. Sending you BIG HUGS, Julie. I noticed you didn’t comment today which only means to me you are having a rough time of it right now. I encourage you to work through what you have to in order to both feel and embrace victory in YOUR life. Know you are loved!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

    • Dearest Amy, I am indeed working through yet more stuff. It’s never ending. But the weather will be beautiful today and I can go for a long walk in the woods and feel the rainbow.❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤍🤎💖 Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.

      • Julie, Julie. This is without a doubt, the most difficult walk I’ve ever had bar none. To keep walking my talk, being guided by my Inner Guidance who insists what we are being told is not true and come up against such all consuming aggressive resistance in that I’m told I am crazy or f’ed up, … there are days I just cannot take one more step. So I don’t. I chill in front of the TV and watch Netflix. Please just hang on and block out this madness and KNOW KNOW KNOW the insanity is NOT a part of your world! I’ve cried so much over this as I continue to watch the fear escalate in those who lives are based on fear. And what is even more evident to me, those who do not believe in anything, who do not know how to stand in their own power, are being pushed and shoved all over the place one way and the other. To be that lost and to be subjected to today’s insanity would kill me. I’m so so grateful that the faith I’ve developed and the Inner Sight as well are keeping me both protected and sane. If you ever need to talk, email me. I’ll be there for you.
        I’m going for a long walk as well today. OH do I need it. The anger in me today simmers so close to the surface and again I MUST let it go so I can get into Calm. (((HUGS)))!! xo

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