Endings and Beginnings

Dear ones,

I write to you from Far Leaves Tea, a Japanese teahouse on the edge of Berkeley and Oakland. There is a very calm and warm energy here, from the lighting to the wi-fi password: Be Here Now. Outside it’s the first rainy day since I arrived last Thursday night, not ideal for Halloween but nice all the same.

A couple hours ago I packed up all my things at my friend Lizzy’s apartment in the Mission District and took Marcos to the BART station, sending him on his way back to Minneapolis. Now that I think of it, I have never spent so much time with one person…maybe ever. For the entire month of October, we traveled, ate, worked, played, and rested together. We took on some of each other’s mannerisms, taught each other tons, had running jokes that only made sense to us, drove each other a little crazy at times, and bonded deeply. Our film project became a little world of its own, a field vibrating around us as we journeyed, dancing with so many creatures along the way. Now we each take it with us into our individual lives, collaborating on the editing process from across the country.

When I left Minneapolis, I imagined that when this day came I would continue up to Chico, CA and Ashland, OR, visiting friends and seeing if Ashland is a place I could call home. As fun as it was to travel with a partner, I also love traveling alone and being with myself so intensely through the ups and downs. I love the freedom of flowing where I’m led. Now that I’m here in the Bay, however…I’m playing with the idea of landing. I have two job interviews next week that I’m excited about, both in Berkeley. Two or three days in Berkeley in January were enough to make me feel at home here. It’s been fantastic staying with my friend Lizzy this past week. Now I feel a pull to the East Bay, away from the chaos of the city.

With the constant flux of traveling, holidays seem to pop up out of context. How is it Halloween??? And not snowing?! Preposterous. I don’t have a costume yet, nor do I have definite plans. I’m here in the East Bay to celebrate Shabbat and “Challahween” at Urban Adamah, a Jewish farm. After that I may meet up with a friend I met in Arizona last March at a Shamanic Herbalism retreat, a sister I knew I’d see again before long. She’s just moved to Oakland! Another reason to stay…

My parking meter is about to expire, so I’ll keep it short and relatively plot-oriented for now. I’d love to spend a week or more relaxing, reflecting, flowing and opening the gates for a flood of creative expression. I’ll say it once more: there is so much I want to share! For now, I give thanks for an incredible journey and the beauty of coming to closure on the first stage of a dream. I remind myself to take a deep breath, lift my palms and surrender to what I’m being shown. Nearly a month ago, the image of G!d as a soft earthen path came to me during Yom Kippur services in Boulder. Now more than ever, I intend to continue on that path. Distractions and distortions glitter along the way. As often as I can, I choose the deeper joy of making undefended, intimate contact with the earth beneath me and the spirit around me. I trust that I am guided.

Today and every day, I love you.

With gratitude and wonder,

Rivka

The Moment of Trust

The sun’s gone down and here we are in Santa Barbara/Isla Vista, stretching both our manifestation and surrender muscles to open up to receive a place to rest tonight.

I’ve been here before, watching my optimism fade as the moon rises and the air chills. Checking my email compulsively to see if anyone has replied to my last-minute couch request post on CouchSurfing. Smiling at each passing stranger and imagining the circumstances that could lead us into sharing the night (totally nonsexually….I mean unless that’s what we were into..).

These moments bring me into deeper contact with myself and the world, stirring up all kinds of questions:

What do I really need to survive?
What are my main fears? What would happen if the scenarios I fear (ex. sleeping on the street) actually played out?
Am I putting undue stress on the situation? At what point am I just being stubborn?
What does it mean for me to navigate this as a person with many privileges that make it somewhat safe for me, while so many people face homelessness with additional challenges?

I’ve seen these moments play out a few ways, including spending a night on the street in Florence with a couple young Mexican women I met at the train station. That ended up being one of my favorite nights of my travels in Europe, and seeing that even without shelter I was provided for in many ways was liberating. I have a pretty good feeling about tonight. We’re in a college town and people seem pretty friendly and open. We did post on CouchSurfing, and if that fails we met a nomadic couple that have some space where they’re RV camping at a nearby state park and we’d only have to pay $10 to park our car.

This morning we awoke in or near Beverly Hills (I don’t understand LA) at my friend David’s house. David and I traveled through Israel together when we were 17 on a program called Nesiya, and hadn’t seen each other since. Pretty wild! We just passed through LA to interview Rabbi Mike Comins, creator of TorahTrek Jewish Wilderness programs. It was great to meet him and receive his wisdom and perspective! After seeing very little of LA, we continued on up Highway 1 (along the coast) and figured we’d keep driving short today and camp on the beach along the way. And if not on the beach, there are national forests closeby where we could camp for cheap or free. Once we got to Santa Barbara and checked it out, it became clear that the tiiiiimes they are a chaaangin. These California residents aren’t too keen on the beach bums and RV-ers strolling through and trying to live on the land, and much of the area has become strictly privatized. Even if we could get to the beach somewhere and evade the patrol, where would we park? The streets are private roads! No doubt if we’d arrived earlier or done some more scouting, we could probably have found a place. As it stands, we feel more inclined to take our luck with other humans. 

We’re sending out the intention to share space with someone who could use some hope, love and inspiration in their lives. Participating in this mutual *sparking* gives us such joy, each encounter building our trust in the lifestyle of interbeing. Our travels so far have affirmed our belief that we can be gifts to one another and support each other in a natural, symbiotic way. 

So, I’m coming to know these moments as beautiful opportunities. I can go into a fear and self-pity spiral, or I can recognize that this is where it gets FUN–what a chance to experiment with manifestation and engage in dialogue with Source! If I can stay aware (read: STAY CALM and present), I can conduct little experiments and try to observe their effects:

Setting intentions: How can I get really clear about what I’m asking Source to provide? What happens if I shift the focus from fulfilling something I think need to something that could help others?

As always, this is followed by noticing how it impacts my external reality and my experience in my body.

Shifting my energetic state: What’s the feeling I want to have? Do I really need something external to feel that way or can I embody it simply by choosing to attune to that state? When I decide to feel calm, for instance, I attract that principle into my energetic field. Now I’m bathing in a frequency of calm, and I’m also emanating it to others. How does this impact my experience of life?

Opening up to my environment: Are there any numbers that keep coming up, symbols I’m drawn to, people I keep running into, etc.? Where do I feel drawn? If I smile at people, who meets my gaze? Is there someone I feel compelled to speak to?

Appealing to other entities: What allies can I call upon? Are there plants I have relationship with that might help me by inspiring courage, love, strength, etc.? Rosemary is my primary plant ally, so I chose to write this post in a booth under its name at Silver Greens (couldn’t hurt!). We can also always ask our ancestors, spirit guides, angels, etc. for support.

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Teach me to open my heart and trust, Rosemary!

Those are some of my main tools I’m playing with these days. Do you have any experiments of your own? Leave a comment! The more we know…

But seriously, the more we can trust ourselves and others and remain calm in the face of challenge, the more we can cooperate and help each other rather than spinning off into fear and self-preservation at the expense of others (who are pieces of us!).

No matter what Great Spirit brings us tonight, I know it’ll be just what we need. We’re also fortunate that if things really did get unsafe, we could find a motel. As it stands, we’d rather hold out for a chance to share light with others and inspire each other in a mutual cycle of nourishment. Weeee shall seeeeeeee…

With so much love,

Rivka

Return to Tucson, Return to Center

Friday night

10pm

Tucson, AZ

Greetings from Tucson, family!

I’m here at our Couchsurf host Nick’s apartment, noshing on dried fruit and watching Parenthood, enjoying myself thoroughly. Marcos has gone out with Nick for a U of A pub event, where it’s rumored there’s a reggae band playing. Normally, I am so very down. Tonight, however, mamacita needs some time to herself.

It was a low week; I spent most of it in a fog with sinus pressure and congestion. I was beyond exhausted (and see how my dramatic side comes out and makes matters even WORSE??!!)

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Anywho, I’ve been cranky this week. This corresponded with a challenge I expected to face: being around other people so much as an introvert. Particularly, traveling with one friend (especially one of the opposite sex whom l’m not sleeping with) for an extended period of time. I forget that it’s normal to get on each other’s nerves, the little quirks that seemed funny the first week starting to wear themselves into a nauseating pattern. The little hassles the other causes with their particular flair of forgetfulness (because we all have areas of our lives in which we’re less and more aware) begin to pile into a depressing picture. What’s happening?? Are we forgetting how to love?

Probably, yeah, temporarily! What is the other person mirroring for us? Our issues with each other point out our resistance to some aspect of ourselves. When Marcos seems careless to me in the way that only 20-something boys can be, my choice of irritation says way more about me than it does about him. How am I not caring for myself? Why am I reacting defensively—drawing myself inward—right now? How do I not feel completely safe?

Coming back to myself, taking accountability for my projections and understanding where I’m at mentally/emotionally/physically/spiritually changes the whole external. Recognizing the areas I’m impatient with others and myself and releasing the burden feels soo good. I’m feeling pretty excellent about staying in right now and looking forward to very soon chugging a glass of water, turning out the lights, and falling asleep giving myself Reiki. Tomorrow I plan to spend Shabbat on the mountain my family visited all the time when I lived here (birth to age five). Mount Lemmon. Hoping to take some time to journal, play didgeridoo, and replenish/balance my internal energies.

Today we hiked to Superstition Mountain in Mesa to see Native American hieroglyphs. It was absolutely gorgeous. It also served as another reminder that as much as I sympathize with the native cause, I am wildly ignorant. I have this underlying sense of sorrow when I pass through a reservation, for I feel a weight of what’s being oppressed/surpressed. Yet I know so little about what’s happened and continues to happen.

Ahh, Pisces the peacemaker. Very sensitive, feeling so many parts of myself –the One Self (vulnerable to others’ energy), wanting all the pieces to fit together, to be loved and at peace. Sometimes I forget that this has a shadow, and that acting a certain way that makes total sense for the function I personally serve, is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Next Morning

Shabbat shalom! Ahhhh feels so good to come back into some clarity and peace. I was able to practice yoga for an hour first thing this morning and had a pumpkin tamale for breakfast! Marcos and I shared about our nights and we read through my astrophysical birth chart a bit. Man, it’s helpful to witness objectively the light and dark aspects of make-up and accept myself as I am. One of the lines in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is “THUS THEY NEED SUFFICIENT TIME EACH DAY TO BE ALONE, WHILE THEY BUILD BACK THEIR FLUCTUATING ENERGIES”. Ha! Yep.

If you’re interested in having your astrophysical birth chart done, check out D. M’Chelle’s offerings. She lives in Minnesota at the moment but can do yours from anywhere as long as you send her your birth time/place information, etc. I’m finding mine to be a good resource to come back to.

Okay! Time to go journey on the mountain for a bit! Then we’re off to Windspirit Community in the Sonoran Desert to visit friends I met while on a Shamanic Herbalism retreat there in March and to help them cook for a retreat they’re hosting this weekend. We’re going to do a bit of filming too 🙂 Back to Tucson tomorrow night.

Thanks for ‘listening’ to my ramblings and witnessing my light and dark!

Love and blessings,

Rivka

Behind the Scenes: the Halfway Point

Hello dear ones,

I write to you from Phoenix, AZ where Marcos and I have been staying with my cousin Jennie and her husband Brody. It’s been such a blessing to have a place to stay with family, as I rode the extreme high of an adventure in the Grand Canyon straight into the low of physical illness. I felt so clear and connected in the canyon, and it was frustrating to be congested and contracted. I did my best to make it a meditation, to resist the urge for medication to numb my symptoms and instead to be compassionately present with the pain in my body. Thankfully, I’m feeling much better today. Grateful for another opportunity to practice loving it all! (Not to say that yesterday I didn’t feel like a bag of poop…I really noticed my thought patterns when sick and tried to counter each “I feel awful” with “My body is amazing!”)

This marks the halfway point of Marcos’s and my journey together, and it’s been quite a couple weeks. We’ve learned about partnership, transformation, change, death, nurture, coherence, expanded perspective, trust, and the external as reflection of the internal. It’s been rewarding to explore our partnership, and we’ve found it amusing that so many people assume we’re a [very cute] couple. We recognize that people put love into categories they can understand. This is new territory for us as well, to be in this intense of a non-“romantic” partnership. It’s a great teacher!

Some of the highlights since I last wrote…

-Finding soul family in Santa Fe, a Saturday night where everyone is ready to go to sleep at 9:30pm but we stay up four more hours singing and laughing

-Standing for Peace (20 minutes silent standing) in gorgoues Jemez Springs and meeting with Rabbi Shefa Gold and her partner Rachmiel at their mountain home for chanting, quiche and an awesome interview

-Pitching a tent in a sukkah in Flagstaff after our last-minute CouchSurf host fell through

-Falling to the earth in the Grand Canyon and crying because I could feel the depths of motherly love, the devotion to nurturing another being and the complexity of letting it have its own journey, letting go…calling my own mother to tell her through my tears how much I love and appreciate her, while gazing out at this great womb of the world in the land of my physical birth

I’m hoping to spend at least a couple weeks, if not a month+, reflecting and creating after this adventure. I’ve gathered so much information, inspiration, and love that it feels overwhelming at times. I know that the footage and ideas I’m collecting will inspire projects and continued learning far beyond this year, and I find peace in remembering that I have all the time I need, always. 

We’ll be in the Phoenix area for a couple more days, long enough to spend Simchat Torah with the Jewish Renewal congregation here. This is the holiday where we unroll the entire Torah and begin the cycle of its reading anew. That means that this week is the last portion of the Torah: Moses glimpses the Promised Land and dies ‘by the mouth of God’. Read Rabbi Shefa Gold’s interpretation of this here. Here’s a preview:

“Throughout our lives we receive the light, the blessing of Shekhina in flashes of terror or beauty. The light of the Infinite shines through this finite world. A veil is lifted. Our physical existence is unwrapped to reveal a splendor and brilliance that is the soul, the “innerness” of all things. These flashes awaken in us a yearning for Truth, an aching desire that tears our hearts open in surrender to the Beloved.”

This weekend we travel on to Tucson and the Sonoran Desert, where I spent the first five years of my life 🙂 Then on to California! As much as we’ve already experienced, there is so much more to come. Wow. Thank you for your ongoing support, blessings and inspiration!

With love and peace,

Rivka

Shabbat Shalom from Santa Fe

Dear ones,

[HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!]

It’s been a quiet, rainy day in Santa Fe. Marcos and I arrived last night after a couple days in another dimension…about 8000 feet up in the clouds of Crestone, Colorado. It was a time of restoration, creation and elevation–serious air energy. Our friends Chances R Good and Annmarie Misik have found a beautiful home in this mystical town to focus on their art, and they shared stories, space, art and wisdom with us all “weekend” (we were there Tuesday-Thursday but it felt like a weekend!).

There’s much that I’d like to share with you from those few days, not to mention our experiences with the Jewish Renewal community in Boulder and seeing Matisyahu in Colorado Springs. We stayed with a friend of a friend in CO Springs who studies Environmental Science at Colorado College, where students take one course at a time. Guess what hers is right now? Re-enchanting the World. A religion/philosophy/ecology course. After a late night of dancing, we had an early breakfast and after hearing about this course I decided to tag along! The intersections with what I’m exploring and the film Marcos and I are making were wild.

One of the major challenges of the trip so far is finding the time to reflect and share what I’m learning and experiencing. I will do my best to honor what the moment calls for, make space for my projects when it feels right, and trust that all will unfold in its right time. As I surrender to this knowing, magic seeps into more and more of my life.

Last night we arrived in Santa Fe and went out to look for a coffee shop so I could get organized. So many connections, suggestions, appointments, etc.! Within a few minutes I saw a sign that said “oxygen bar” and decided that sounded pretty great after the drive. I also remembered chatting with a healer in the same building in March when I passed through on my way back from Arizona, and I had mentioned to Marcos I’d like to reconnect with her. When we got upstairs, I was drawn into this etherial healing space and decided to splurge on a Heartmoon Rhythm treatment with flower essences, oxygen, aromatherapy, bodywork and energy healing…it was amazing. Even cooler was the fact that my therapist recognized from my name that I was Jewish and asked me if I’d been celebrating Sukkot, the holiday that began this Wednesday. After my treatment we talked and it turns out they’re a Jewish Renewal family business and we had several points of connection…including my friend Kelly from college whom I’m staying with! They were excited to hear about the film and are interested in hosting a screening! Tonight we’re all having a Shabbat potluck at the healing space 🙂 

Well, I’m going to put this away and cook with my friends. I thank Great Spirit for family all over the world, the rains and the reflection they bring, the mountains and raised consciousness, kind hearts and artistic avenues. Most of all I give gratitude for the opportunity to be here, now, having this human experience in a time of great change and awakening. I have so much love for you, whatever you do and however you’re contributing to world. May it be a Shabbat of peace, harmony, clarity and appreciation for the gifts all around us. ❤

Rivka

You are the Eyes of the World

Aloha!

Writing from the road as we travel from Colorado Springs to Crestone, CO to visit mystical musician Chances R Good!

It’s been about a week and the flow is only growing stronger. Every day I wake up, look around and remember where I slept that night and what city I’m in, and give thanks for another day in the paradise that originates in that most joyous center of my being. In addition to the (awesome) interviews we’ve collected for the film that will come out of this journey, I’ve gathered lots of footage of the places we’ve been and people we’ve seen. Exploring and researching in both inward and outward direction; it’s all coming together. I pick up a new phrase or concept or scientific model, and experiment with it as I adventure. What a gift to have my education in my hands, in my body and the womb of the world! With all this research and beauty collected, I’m just about overflowing and so yearning to share it with you. At the same time, the adventure continues! Hopefully in a few days I’ll have a storytelling/poetry video up.

In the meantime, I love you from the depths of my being and out from every pore. Be well and be free.

Your sistar,
Rivka

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Corn you believe it’s only been two days??

Greetings family!

I write you from a very special co-op house in Boulder, Colorado. Though only four of us are Couchsurfing (and there are many couches), six of us chose to sleep on the floor in a puddle of love. More on this empowering and supportive community to come.

Our first day immediately blew through our conception of time and space; seven hours of driving went by (on a few hours of sleep) and both Marcos and I felt awake and enlivened, stimulated by conversation and laughter. After passing an absurd number of signs asking us to “corn-sider visiting” the WORLD’S ONLY CORN PALACE, we corndn’t resist! Oh, South Dakota, you do not get enough credit for your shenanigans.

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When we weren’t making “corn” puns, we talked about the creative force/process, sacred geometry, the inner senses, Source and “God” language, telepathy, Atlantis, Jesus Christ, astrology, the power of our thoughts and subconscious beliefs, speculations on parenthood, and nonlinearity. We also came up with a little elevator speech to introduce ourselves and our project:

We are learning to embody tikkun olam through sacred livelihoods, contributing our natural gifts to help repair the world. Our journey is a chance to practice and develop our abilities and creatively connect with others. Along the way, we’re collecting interviews and adventures for a film that we hope will spread awareness and inspiration.

We reached the Black Hills National Forest by about 5:30pm Mountain Time, emerging through a one-lane tunnel to see Mount Rushmore standing stoic in the distance. Winding through the pine forest, we found that the campgrounds were closed. So, we parked The Magic Mobile in a little pull-out and spent some time exploring the forest in the cold and damp of a tapering rainstorm. The bark, the crystals, the rocks and the animals fascinated us. Marcos and I have been teaching each other so much in just two days; we discover the world around us anew through one another. 

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As dusk fell, we ate leftover quinoa and carrots in the car and came up with a game plan. We didn’t have a tarp, and the ground was soaked. The nighttime temperature would be about 35 degrees F. We had two options: the front seats of the Magic Mobile, or the cold wet ground. For Marcos, who preferred the cold over the cramped, the tent posed the more attractive option. I on the other hand would rather sleep in a semi-upright fetal position than shiver all night. This actually enabled us both to sleep better! Marcos got to use my sleeping pad as a barrier between him and the freezing ground, and I got to spread out across the front seats, wriggling like an earthworm in my sleeping bag until I found a comfortable position across the e-brake and cupholders. This is my advice: find something to cover that area in between the seats, get inside your sleeping bag in the passenger’s seat, and wriggle your way across facing the seats until you can lift your feet up and tuck them against the passenger door. My yoga bolster was a pretty big help. Marcos’s advice for the tent option is to stick your arms inside your sweatshirt and cross your hands over your chest. We both slept pretty well! When I awoke and took the sleeping bag off my head, I let out a gasp at the pine trees surrounding me, illuminated by golden morning sun. What a way to wake up!

After a little walk among the deer and meditation on a large rock, Marcos and I met up and gathered things to make breakfast. We had found some dry ground underneath a rock cliff the night before, and carried our camp stove, pot, and oatmeal/coffee/tea/instruments to that now-sunny spot. With no sense of urgency, we savored our outdoor breakfast and played music together, making up a song about our day. Yes, we could get used to this. We laughed as we thought of people paying for a hotel room and missing this beautiful (free) experience.

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Our second day of driving took us to Boulder, beginning with a walk around Pearl Street to get a feel for our new surroundings. It reminds me a bit of Madison, Wisconsin in the sense that it’s full of energy and yet has a stillness and serenity. We didn’t stay long, as we’d been invited to the house dinner being prepared by our Couchsurf host. I had sent only one request in Boulder; this host and house seemed such a perfect fit. As with the last time I Couchsurfed, at a co-op called The Lakehouse in South Minneapolis, the transition from strangers to friends took something between minutes and hours. Our first night together included: an amazing, nourishing meal (made mainly with ingredients found in dumpsters and cleaned with vinegar water) with chairs added every 10 minutes or so to accommodate a newly-arrived beloved; icebreakers for the benefit of us and a new friend who’d come to interview for a spot in the house; a yoga class in the living room; hours of conversation; chains of hand massages and a slumber party on the the living room floor.

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All this produce was found in dumpsters!

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Today one of the beautiful humans who lives here is taking us on a hike around the Flat Irons, and tonight Marcos and I will attend Kol Nidre services. I won’t be in communication on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), which we’ll spend in communal prayer, reflection and fasting. I’m starting to see just how much of a new beginning this is. It’s been two days, and it’s as if I’m being activated, new lights and stripes igniting under my skin. Stay tuned–it’s going to be a wild ride. 🙂

With love, blessings, magic and gratitude,

Rivka

Words from the Road 10/2

Photo by Marcos

Photo by Marcos

Prairie punctuated by mountain peaks
The only hint of borders
Contain me, constrain me
Restore a sense of order
As I flow
Orient me as I grow
Tossing seeds along the highway
Guides along the road say
“Why die?”
Why spend one more day
Living without breath
Loving stasis, fearing death?
So I fertilize the path
with each exhale sharing fire
Realize the truth that nothing external inspires
Harmonizing with the masses and merging with the grasses, let mountain roads take me
Higher
Even the clouds will fall
All’s the same for one and all
I’ve chosen to say yes
Continuing, with no illusion of
Progress

With love from Colorado,
Rivka