Let Your Ashes be Stirred

The year in the life of each individual soul transcends many obstacles, barriers and unknown territories. Some of the places we go seem eerily familiar while others are new and welcoming like a freshly snow filled landscape. They are pieces of our beings like the light that breaks through the smallest cracks into the depths of our internalized darkness.

While we journey to these roadways and landscapes we often wonder what it all means and if there is anything we are supposed to walk away with or leave behind. Even in the comfort of the most inviting fire lit corners we can feel scared and apprehensive.

We need to remind ourselves to turn off the radio signals that are controlling the air waves of our minds. The airwaves that infiltrate our beings with the heaviness of things that cling to our skin like the mud of spring time rain. And, while the mud can dirty our external layers and cause us to feel unclean/unworthy that mud that affixed itself to our layers can be washed off with the same cleansing rain that put in there to begin with. It’s cyclical. It’s healing. It is as necessary to our well being as the eye opening moments of sunsets and moon risings.

Some of the most important journeys that we travel are the roads that knock us down and cause us to feel defeated. It is on these roads where we have the ability to remember that the light of our truth(s), the energy of which we wish to cast upon the world is ours, and it always has been. It is never there for anyone else to control or smolder like a campfire turning to ash.

Inside each of us is a Phoenix waiting to rise up and spread its wings. The tears that it cries bringing healing/love/understanding. That burning flame is with us, always. It presents itself in so many ways – new experiences/new love/new connections/new hope(s). And, within each of these experiences that fire simply seeks one thing – the respect to be appreciated for the brilliant flame that it is. The understanding that the warmth coming from its embers has been ignited over the years from various matches. Some of these ignited red burning ends of wood have been welcoming in their wood smoke scented joy while others hold deeper charred pieces of burned out bits of what was left behind. They are all part of that burning fire, that pile of lifetime ashes and the Phoenix wing’s which stir them each time it rises.

Let the ashes be stirred, let the wings unfurl, and allow your light to dance in the flames that are yours. Those who understand your burning will dance with you inside the fire.

 

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‘Your Mountain’

Wild – we all have it, that underlying inspirational determination to do something bigger than ourselves which in the end allows us to be humbled and find ourselves all at once. The difficulty is that so often we allow ourselves to be put in our place by what what we feel are various barriers/pressures/constraints that are placed upon our beings while we feel we are doing our absolute best to make it.

But, what if, our absolute best are the boulders we tie upon our beings that allow us to not completely drown but not completely swim without being tethered? So often we become caught up in the options for tomorrow instead of the possibilities for today. We convince ourselves that we’ll always have time later on to take part in the experiences of the living that when their light creeps in our beings feel electrical surges. When we decline to build up the energy and release it to the universe it stays at bay and sits uncomfortably in the harbors of our souls. The longer it sits the more difficult it becomes to maintain the brightness that was once ignited.

The best thing though is that those little campfires of passion/inspiration/determination are still within you!!! It’s up to us to feed them with beautiful pieces of pine and cedar woods to illuminate our senses when someone/something creates a spark to keep the burn going. The fire never really dies, but it can become dangerously low and difficult to build up. Sometimes that building requires not only the love/patience/understanding of others, but you must also require that of yourself.

Then, one day, you find yourself climbing a mountain trail for the second time in one day and you realize that voices of ghost’s past had managed to find a small cavern within you and hide there quietly. When you emerge from the forest and into the clearing of a beautiful vista you find yourself letting them go. The campfire roars into a bonfire and instantaneously you are smiling and relishing in the moment of pure knowing that this needed to happen, and suddenly your being feels lighter. Your heart is pounding, and your mind feels a sense of clarity.

Relish in these moments. Grow with and from them, and share them the moment they happen with someone that you care about so the journey can continue with not only your beautiful soul, but with the power of two.

Love Big/Dream Big/Live Big. That doesn’t always mean becoming monetarily rich and buying expensive things. More often than not, it’s standing on a rock clearing over looking a beautiful vista and sharing your growing moment with someone who cares because each time one has growth the other does as well; simply by sharing it with you in the listening/supporting/love.

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True Grit – A Gallery Submission

Recently, one of my sisters shared some information with me for an upcoming gallery photo exhibit that had put out a call for artists. She felt that I had some photography that would fit perfectly into the theme of what the gallery was looking for. Not that I did not want to submit anything, but I found myself being slightly hesitant because; me – my work – gallery. It’s wonderful, but also something I wasn’t sure I would be accepted to so it felt a little intimidating. When I heard myself whispering that to my being I knew in that moment that submitting a piece of work was exactly what I needed to do.

The show is called, ‘Sacrifice: The Cause and Effect’; An Exhibition of Art & Photography Honoring Our Vets’. It’s a gallery show that has a purpose of honoring the service/sacrifice of military men and women.

Over the past couple of years I have done some different captures to best honor the passing of my nephew who was killed in action on August 16, 2012. It was within these captures that I felt something would speak to me enough to submit for this special showing, and I was hopeful that it would speak enough to the organizers of this event to have the work as a part of the show. I found my capture, worked on it, did the requested write-up and hit the send button. This all took place at two in the morning, and therefore my thoughts centered around how I would probably forget I even did this at such an early hour of the day (a big shout out to not sleeping).

I am proud to say that the piece (to my feelings of prideful joy and surprise) was selected to be a part of the special gallery showing. Who would have thought – my work in a gallery outside of Boston for such a special cause.

As a part of each submission the artist is required to reflect on what the piece they have submitted means to them and how it ties in with the theme of the gallery showing. I always find my best thoughts come when I can write without thinking, and apparently, it is also super helpful to do such things at two in the morning. The passage(s) below is what I wrote.

My name is Heather Babcock, and I am the photographer/owner of Natural High Photography. Nature has been my outlet of re-connection, staying in tune with my being and grounding myself back to my center. I often strive to find ways to share with others what it is often missed in this hurried world through my work. The inspiration for my piece is my nephew Michael Robert DeMarsico who was killed in action on Aug. 16, 2012. I opted to blend/smudge the colors on the ground beneath the flag to give a fluid feel. For me, it represents all that one gives/lives for, and it’s their energy/love being poured back into the earthen ground for others to absorb into their being/living. This to me represents my nephew, his ability to live/love, and the ability of his family/friends to carry that love forward.

What is the cause and effect of sacrifice? What does it mean to sacrifice? For many, the meaning pours from a place of giving everything you have regardless of the weight placed upon your being. It’s paying no mind to yourself, but putting all of your love/light/energy into the living of other’s no matter what it may cost you. There is no concern about your well-being, and there is no hesitation when duty comes to call; whatever that means to you. A person will rise with the sun and find no time to rest with the moon. The blood,sweat and tears that are dripping from the pores of day-to-day living have no time to dry/heal. For many, this is what it means to sacrifice. These are the effects that transpire when one pushes themselves for the living of others that is not their own, but i don’t think that is the whole of the meaning. I think real sacrifice is also a call of the heart. It’s a song that the light of a person listens to and never stops singing even when others are unable to hear. It’s not about giving up everything you are/have, it’s about pouring your being into an orchestra where others are joining in with their chosen pieces of instrumentation. It’s about feeling alive with each step that you take, and pushing yourself further with each piece of progression because no one stops learning. It’s about making yourself vulnerable to others so that they may see the beautiful human that you are. It’s about understanding that your light is a gift to the world, and without it, the world would be a little less bright. It’s about living your life and sharing your love in such a way that when you take a journey that requires you to leave others behind, they can carry your fire forward and never let it die. No, sacrifice is not just about giving it all away without concern for your living, it’s very much about living in such a way that everything you do, and everyone you touch will be better for having known your light, and richer for the ability to keep your candle burning.

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That’s How the Light Gets In

Vulnerability, it taps into the places of our beings. It’s where our truth lives, and it’s where the essence of our humanness resides. As we get older we often find ourselves further away from the ability to expose ourselves in complete raw openness.

It’s not that we never had the ability to be a book of thousands upon thousands of words ready to be read, but, sometimes in the sharing of our life’s chapters the book was closed by those reading along with you. Each time it was closed represented another moment of wanting to retreat further and further back.

As we continued to become a protector of our being we found ourselves holding onto those vulnerable places very securely/tightly under lock and key. We don’t forget about their existence, but they lay there resting. Wishing/wanting to be exposed but long forgetting the feelings of safety that allow them to be so fluid, they are like a waterfall gently cascading it’s way through mountainous terrain – beautiful/daring, but hidden away.

As we continue to journey on the roads before us we discover new beings. We find ourselves yearning and wanting to live from our light, our truth, so we can be our truest selves at all times with those who carry a light which energetically connects with our own. We want all parts of us to be known, respected, understood and not judged. We meander in and out of the energy of a delicate dance, be who you are or remain locked away and not open to the possibility that light will find its way in.

We find ourselves remembering and not wanting to focus on all that came before, you know, the energies that found it difficult in accepting you…ALL OF YOU, and not wanting to change/mold/design you into anything other than the magical human that you are and that you always have been. There have been those who have run, those who have pushed back and those who have stood still not knowing how to hold space for you and your being.

It happens though. It happens when you’re in a place of wanting to allow yourself to stand naked with vulnerability once again because you have grown tired of hiding in the corners of your internalized truth.

You find yourself living from your truth, your light. Then it hits you, you no longer know how or wish to do anything else. You are you, and you deserve/need to be who you are. Your light. Your heart. The you that you have always pushed a little further into the corner because you wanted to protect that piece you had from further destruction.

As you find yourself standing there naked, dripping with your vulnerability once again, the fear/anxiousness that you have become accustomed to surging through your being begins it’s swimming through your veins. At first, you want to stop, you want to say to yourself, “Go back to the shoreline! It’s safer there!”. Yet, you allow yourself to go a little bit further out. You are opening up to this person walking beside you and something different starts to happen. As they received your being and the pieces of your life quilt that you were sharing, they did not run. They did not jump on you or come at you with judgment. They did not shame/blame you, and they did not try to fix you. They simply held space for you and responded from a place of appreciation and acceptance. Hours go by and they reach out to you later on in the evening, and they thank you. They thank you for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable with them and how much they appreciate the fact the you took the risk in doing so.

Who is this magician that stands before you? This beautiful being who knows/understands that the very wet/tattered wings that have carried your being through a lifetime of flying/evading, have now found safety/comfort in their hands/their listening.

You have a little bit of fear and wonder if they can withstand all of the pieces both past and current, but as the road continues to journey forward you continue to realize that they are true. You continue to see that the light/being that presented themselves to you not that long ago have not transformed into anything other than the magical human that they are, and equally as beautiful…neither have you.

 

brene-brown

 

 

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‘Wild’ – All of us Have a PCT Story to Tell.

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Have you done yourself the favor and picked up the book ‘Wild’, By: Cheryl Strayed? If not, do your being justice by reading this compelling, and in many ways, life changing book. I have been reading this work for a while now. I like to take my time when writings such as this one speak to me on a different level, and reach down into the depths of my being.

Have you ever hiked the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)? Me either. However, the reading of this book and the multiple viewings of the movie depicting the powerful journey of Cheryl Strayed’s solo trek along the PCT has not only inspired me, but it has reminded me that we have all hiked the PCT in our own way.

Somewhere within ourselves are the things that have created physical/mental/emotional barriers. They are pieces of ourselves that are standing on the precipice of personal growth. The hikes on living’s trails with our lives strapped on our backs. Part of this journey came to fruition, for Ms. Strayed, when she put herself on the quest of hiking the PCT. For me, that PCT journey represents many things, and on this day it’s how I spent three nights and four days as a volunteer ranger at a campground in a yurt.

When I arrived at the campground I suddenly realized that this was happening. I began to wonder, “What did I get myself into?” Was I going to be able to do this?

The most challenging piece of this experience has been the night. Spending most of this experience alone, being required to roam the woodland trails at night while doing rounds of the camp sites and trying to sleep with nothing between me and the night but a slim canvas wall. It has been such a push on my being/soul, and a test of so many things around personal vulnerabilities stemming from a lifetime of sorting things out from my growing; being here as a female, the dark-the dark-the dark, wandering the woods at night with only the light I could carry with me – I have pushed myself in ways I’ve never done.

I didn’t do it like the backpackers you see on the cover of explorer magazines, or the hikers who have spent a lifetime of not fearing the unknown – let alone the noise(s) of twigs/branches breaking in the night. My anxiety was consistently elevated when that bright ball of orange went down and the dark skies with pinpoints of light rose up. However, you want to know what? I am doing it, I did it!

There were times when my insides were a tangled mess, but I kept going anyway. I may have slept (or lack there of) with three lanterns remaining lit all night and the sounds of white noise from my phone, but I kept going anyway. I may have had three light sources attached to my being while doing my rounds on the trails at night (essentially looking like the full moon blazing through the woods), but I kept going anyway. When my being felt uneasy and not able to settle, I kept going anyway. I may have slept most nights in my clothing vs pajamas (because in my mind it felt safer and more comforting), but I kept going anyway. I may have had pieces of my life quilt constantly resurface when my mind wanted to settle but the night not allowing it to do so, and yet – I kept going anyway. My anxiety and personal trauma history never fell completely silent, but I kept going anyway.

You would think with so much that often felt like an unbearable weight it would be difficult to be present with what I was here to do, but – there was the magic. The undeniable magic that can come from such moments of living and pushing yourself. The Milky Way soaring overhead – over my yurt – across the lake, the big blue beautiful lake that represented such tranquility, sitting in the middle of that lake in a kayak and a canoe, an owl silently drifting overhead as it left one pine tree to perch in another, brilliant meteors soaring through the sky and piercing the night, turtles, stars, spending time in a yurt for the first time, camp fires, hiking, waterfalling, meeting great people, capturing the night sky for my photography business, the dragonflys – every time I had a thought of a particular someone who has recently entered my space of living – they’d appear, and this time they landed on my hand and sat upon my pencil.

When you allow yourself to be the magical human that you are – your personal vulnerabilities; the shades of pretty/the shades of scary cannot deter you from the magic if you allow yourself to see what it is there/in the moment/in the now. You just have to let it in – scary and all.

On my last night in the yurt there was the rare occurrence of a group of campers choosing not to be respectful of the grounds or those around them in the sites nearby. They were checked upon once by a campground staffer before leaving for the day. When I started my rounds that night, a campground staffer came back to check on them with me as they were concerned. I asked if they would like me to go back into the woods later in the night to check upon them one more time, and they asked me to do so. When that later time in night arrived (around midnight) I tried to talk myself out of doing what I said I would do, but then I reminded myself of who I am as a human and that my word means something – so, I adorned myself with lanterns and off I went. My anxiety was through the roof, but – I did it anyway, and I could not have been prouder.

Each morning that the light came = I did it. The lack of doing it pretty does not matter, the fact that I simply did it, does. And, you know what? I may just do this all over again. And, maybe this time; I’ll only need two lanterns instead of three.

 

 

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Queer/Proud/Not Silent

While I can appreciate and understand the sentiments of how this horrendous moment that occurred in Orlando is an attack against humanity I just need to say something as a gay/queer woman – this was a hate crime. This was a purposeful attack on members of a community that are my brothers and sisters. This was an attack at a place where so many for so long have deemed a safe haven because we knew being in such places was safe, and we didn’t have to be invisible both in who we are and our love.

Yes – humanity has an unbearable sadness affixed to it once again, but those of us in the Queer community are (as we’ve done for so long) walking with fear and unsettled feelings on our day to day goings. We are shaken to our core because there are those who hate us, want to erase us and wish we didn’t exist simply because we do.

Growing up as a young queer girl in a small Vermont town I didn’t have havens to hide away in. I didn’t have places where I could go and feel a part of something bigger than myself and not feel alone. Places such as Pulse were where I wanted and needed to be. I would leave my small town on any given Friday night to go to places where I could have this safety, this security, this feeling of knowing that I was with others who were just like me, and all we wanted to do/have was the freedom to just be.

Those for me are some of my fondest memories in my young queer days. Piling into a car, driving the nearly 2 hours to a destination with friends and having the freedom to be for hours and hours without cause for worry or concern. You’d be amazed to hear of all the unusual things we would do there – we would dance, we would talk for hours, laugh until our sides hurt, enjoy breakfast at the local diner after being out all night long, and relishing – relishing in the feeling(s) that these moments were defining our beings, reminding us that we are beautiful/lovely humans whose only incriminating crime was being who we are.

For those who were at Pulse – this is all they were doing. Being who they are in a place that had been a safe space for so very long. They were creating memories and laughing. They were dancing to the sounds of musical beats that made their bodies explode with freedom. They were celebrating life/love/happiness. They were simply; being/loving/relishing.

It has been many years since the beginnings of understanding who I am as a human. I used to feel that being gay was only a part of me, but actually – it’s more than that. IT IS ME! I am a beautiful queer human who wants nothing more than to live/love/be loved/enjoy the time I have on this earthly domain. I will never understand how love/kindness is not the vehicle of motion for any/all with each day that we breathe in and breathe out. Love will win. Love is what we need. Love will bring us together. Love is how we should be.

 

more love less hate

 

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Your Song – The Universe is Listening

Each human gracing this earthly plane has a talent. Sometimes those talents are discovered during your youth, and we spend a lifetime cultivating them. And, other times, they are discovered later in our living years and days are spent experiencing this joy we ignored for so very long.

These talents we are given are what I like to call our Heart Songs. Each of us has one, and we should make it a priority to discover the music and play it for the world.

When we ignore our music we are hiding a piece of ourselves. And, when we do this, our beings feel unfulfilled and in many ways not completely born regardless of how long we have been here.

I remember growing up and wanting nothing more than to be the next musician or singer on stage like so many artists I admired. I also remember being told that I needed other plans if I wanted to make it in life. This crushed me and my young world.

So, for years, I quietly spent time doing pieces of my first heart song, but I never really shared it with anyone let alone the world as a whole. I figured there was no purpose in sharing because it wasn’t how I was, “Going to make it in the world.” I even traveled the world performing and doing community service projects, but when I returned, I fell silent again. I did however allow my community piece to become louder by volunteering.

Years passed and I started to discover other pieces of my heart song, and these pieces were fighting me because they wanted their music to be heard. It then came in the loss of one of my siblings and one of my nephews. I too, fell victim to the wake up call, but I am glad I finally listened.

I realized that my time with nature and how it heals my being is something I wanted to share and sing loudly, and so my nature photography business was born. It started very quietly by only sharing my music with friends and family, but then my song grew. I began listening and learning – my being was smiling, and I was finding fulfillment.

Every time that another human stops and chats with me about my work I sing, and my light grows brighter and brighter. I am listening to my song, and I am realizing that others want to hear it.

I don’t speculate that I will become monetarily rich from my gift sharing, but I have and continue to become rich in so many ways. The story sharing, having my work on display, being contacted by organizations to use one of my captures and most importantly – the discovering of my being’s joy/passion and not allowing anyone/anything to silence it. This makes me feel alive, and that is not only my gift to the world but a gift to my being and light.

So, I encourage you to share your gift. Do not let it be silent. Do not keep it to yourself. It is your Heart Song, and more than likely you have many. Sing them out, and share your music with the world.  Your being will feel brighter and fulfilled. The Universe is waiting to hear your song(s). Nature Lover – Photographer – Writer – Human Service Worker. Who are you?

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Natural High Photography – Photo By: Heather Babcock

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