How Now Brown Cow

Negro & son

It’s been one year since Reed Burns gave me one cow to figure out how to produce grass-fed beef in San Miguel, and what a tremendous year of learning it’s been — and hopefully far from over. I find it all so very fascinating, interesting, satisfying and completely heartbreaking.

One year later still, the most difficult cow is Reed Burns, but that’s the price of this front line education on cattle ranching and making meat. Reed and I have evolved together in this partnership because we both have great regard and determination to make an agricultural contribution, but Lordy the road has been bumpy and difficult.

When I walked into that meeting with Via Organica last year, I wasn’t sure of the name of the ranch, how many cows there were, what they did all day, and I barely knew of the breed “Limousin”. I googled it that morning to discover they’re a hearty French cow, good in this terrain, known for easy birth and similar in meat quality to the Angus. Reed Burns knew what he was doing when he choose the breed for his Guanajuato ranch over a decade ago. And I knew that we needed a better quality of meat in our community.

I didn’t know many of the things I know today, and looking back, I may have thought twice if I knew what I was in for… but then again, no. I have loved all the challenges of learning about cows, ranching in Mexico, butchering — soup-to-nuts, as they say. I’d never have privy to the things I’ve experienced if I were in the States, that’s one of the beautiful things about an unregulated life in Mexico; I’ve had face-to-face access to the blood, sweat and tears of raising cows.

Morning

I am not hardened or immune to any of it and sometimes all this blood, sweat and tears takes my breathe away. It has brought me to my knees more than a few times. Ranch life is very close to the bone and I am surrounded by men who seem to be unaffected by the death or killing of cows, whereas I’m affected by it all and still want to be involved. I prefer to be affected, but it requires me to take care of myself so I can continue to tend to the job at hand with a clear mind. It requires me to elevate my thinking and continue to strive to be a better person in all that I do.

Yes, I do take it very personally and work diligently with the folks I am working with to provide a good life to the cows, before we take their final sacrifice. Who are we to ask for the life of a cow if we are not clear in our own lives?

Morning

My heart has grown with the cows and I get accused of being too emotionally attached to them. It’s true I love them. One of my most favorite places on earth is sunrise in the corral, when I can hear all the cows breathing and chewing and snorting. I breathe with them. I stare. They stare. They get up slowly and stretch their front legs much like dogs. An avalanche of poop and whiz begins to splat on the dirt. Sun up, time to eat, time to move out into the fields. It’s strenuous work getting out to the fields and these cows work hard and are quite lean, yet very well-natured. I bless them with reiki as they march out into the rocky pasture. Another day of hiking across the hills of Rancho Santo Niño in search of food.

Heading Out

I continue to work with Reed Burns because I want them to have a better life and their lives have improved over the past year. They eat better food, their housing structures have been expanded, and greater attention has been given to their health. If I were to walk away right now, I would be content to know their lives are better now than when they were a hobby ranch a year ago. But I haven’t walked away; I am also in on the butchering of these animals when it is time, because it is my commitment to make sure they have a good death, as well as a good life. None of it is easy, however.

Bone

We have been fortunate to have found a butcher in Dolores who has a tremendous heart and has taken time and consideration to teach me so many things about cows and meat. He has taught me how to smell a carcass and what to “look” for when smelling that carcass. So many cows are fed horrible diets and no matter what’s said when the animal is sold, the smell of the meat never lies.

My butcher has taught me the importance of a veterinarian who is not afraid to bend over. What, bend over??! Yes, when cows need shots, and they all do at some point, you want to work with a vet who will bend down to administer the shot in the lower leg quarter and not in the prime rump, because that affects the quality of the meat. Our butcher has also taken time to work with our ranch boys to teach them how unnecessary it is to hit or beat the cows. He takes care to photograph the results of a bruised cow — or rather, bruised meat, to show them the consequence of not taking care. It has worked! The ranch family now flail their arms and yelp to move the cows. It literally made me cry when I saw this the first time.

A good life and a good death, right?

I am emotionally attached, but I also butcher, deliver and devour con gusto. It’s the most profound and soulful work I’ve ever done. It also completely kicks my ass.

Recently, two bulls got into an argument as bulls do, and one bull took a horn under his jaw, which caused an existing tumor to very quickly grow and swell up the bull’s head. He stopped eating, became listless and motionless. We had to end his misery. I went to see our butcher to talk about it and he took from a very large bucket the head of this bull that I have enjoyed breathing with on occasion, and plopped it on the table in front of me. We looked at the jaw, we analyzed everything, as the dead eyes looked at nothing.  I knew that cow and I liked him a lot. “This is what happens Meag, just deal with it,” I kept telling myself. This is what happens, cows die, deal with it.

Guess what? I have no clue how to deal with it. I don’t want any of these cows to die and how in the world did I arrive at a place in my life that I’m in on the killing of cows?? How did this happen and will I ever be forgiven???

This has cracked my soul wide open to a very strange place and I find myself considering life and death, love and hate, sex and dying, as well as wondering how far away am I from having my head on a table being examined and considered if there was anything more that could’ve been done? Is this who I am, a murderer of cows, a happy carnivore, or is it forcing me to see and experience life from a place of extreme gratitude for all that I have?

The other day I began to sob about my part in the killing of these cows to the point where no sound came out and my rib cage trembled and ached. I asked for forgiveness, I asked if maybe I should go instead of the next cow. I looked to the sun and wondered am I good enough to be doing this work and to please help me become a better person.

There is more work to do. But first I will draw Negro el Toro because he is so handsome and strong…

Negro

 

 

 

I’m 50!

birthday

I recall with a pang in my breath the times my mother mentioned Christmas was not the same without her mother. I barely flinched, I may have flashed an eye to meet hers, but rarely did I extend compassion to my mom when she spoke of such things. More than likely I returned to my own desperate thoughts of yet another devoid holiday season.

I recently realized I was on that same self-inflicted, torturous path, even though I’m a long ways from home. My mom has been gone for almost three years and so far this “joyful” season was kicking my ass. I stood last week in the center of San Miguel as the decorations went up. Mom would have liked that, I said under my breath, as I turned and walked flatly away. It’s just weird without her.

I still reach for the phone most Sundays to call her; it’s become my missing limb with it’s phantom feelings; she’s not there. My brothers are not speaking to me, most of my family is dead or very distant, and I forgot to have a daughter who will hold my hand as I lay dying. The world has gone crazy-violent, the Republicans are hell-bent on destroying any shred of decency remaining in my country, and chemicals, pollutants and plastics are choking the earth to death. Whoa is me, this is all made a just tad worse by the fact that I am alone once again, ooooooh whoa is me.

I tumbled into a dark rabbit hole for a number of days, sad and weepy, deep in the clutches of grief. It has turned cold in Central Mexico, so I crawled under a mountain of blankets and stayed there; highly unusual for me. I’ve orchestrated this highly solitary life and it is no longer working for me. And oooohhhhh my gawd, my birthday, the big FIVE-O is approaching, aaah boy, hand me another hanky.

Sunday morning I awoke with tears streaming down my cheeks, but everything felt different. I could see colorful, brilliant, twirling lights in the corners of my eyes; something I used to see quite often as a kid, but not so much as an adult. I used to called these lights “fairies”, although I really have no clue. They do however, make me feel better; they generate heat within. I stood up and noticed things looked brighter, so I karate chopped my way out of my bedroom, “I live in Saint Michael’s town and I have a bazillion things to be grateful for, just LOOK at how well I can karate chop my way around the house!!” I got dressed and ran down the hill to dance class; I felt a pep in my step and was eager to move. My eyes were full from the idea of tears, as I glanced at some new and familiar faces in Sunday’s ecstatic dance class. The song, “Hallelujah” came on. It poured over me like a waterfall.

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Yes, I’m going to be fifty years old and how fucking amazing is it that I am still alive?!? How tremendous is it that I am dancing like a champ in the ballet room of Bellas Artes, in the middle of Mexico!?!?!? And hallelujah to be free of a relationship that has been wearing me down ever since it started?!?! I love the cows of Rancho Santo Niño! I love my strong legs! I love my jibbly belly! I love my dog! I love Mexico! I love the United States! I love Donald Trump! I love my artwork! I love my energy!!

Uhhhh ok I would love for Donald Trump to shut his racist cake hole and go away forever. This is where delusion and optimism come in handy.

On and on I pranced, HALLELUJAH my forties are over! I hid out for so many of them; I tried so hard to be invisible, but nothing worked. I hated myself and wished I were dead. The gravity of these sentiments is not lost on me, ever; it wakes me in the wee hours of the night, but throughout the years, I honestly thought I was quite deficient. I was always buzzing in a quiet desperation to find a cure outside myself, but in the meantime I distracted myself with a number of mind-numbing pacifiers because — well, because get me out of this pain now.

I struggled over a lot of things my forties. I felt awful about a marriage to a man I should not have married. We liked each other a lot, we still do, but we never once worked as a couple, and so I strayed, before we divorced. I was wracked with guilt, angry too. I was a failure. I crawled back to Illinois with my tail between my legs and worked for awful people because they helped punish me when I fell short. I didn’t care about my future, I didn’t want to travel, I didn’t want to learn anything new, I had zero interest in any long term goals. I deserved no happiness.

I hope it’s not too late.

Then my mom got sick and needed me. She was going down for the count and reached for my hand like never before. She apologized to me. She told me she was very sorry she had not been nicer to me and had deep regrets. “I wish I had been nicer to you Meag.”

With those words, my mom healed a thousand and one wounds; I can picture myself falling slow-motion backwards through a time warp as these words penetrate. My focus went from staring deep inside my jagged soul, to turning around and looking at the horizon out in front of me, “There it is, my death, over there towards the horizon. I better live the best damn life I can possibly live before I reach my horizon.”

It’s true, I fell into a rabbit hole, what with the coming holidays, my approaching half-century birthday, the holidays without my mom nor family, and dang I forgot to have a kid, and well, why not have another holiday as a singleton…. oy vey, the grief is huge.

Although, none of this matters if I slather on the right combination of denial, delusion and optimism, because I have the greatest gift inside my heart; my mom’s blessings.

cleveland

She set me free and I will be forever grateful, even if she did wait until her deathbed — but oh my she finished strong. It’s time to get busy living or get busy dying, as they say in prison. Don’t forget the denial — fake it til I make it is in full swing right now.

San Miguel de Allende is a lot of things, and it is also a city full of women who have come to re-invent themselves after the divorce, the retirement, the breakup, the failure, the success; this path has been blazed many times, but never duplicated. I am in the right place, at the right time, at the right age.

So let’s dance…

Thank you Fairies!

Thanks Ma!
Love you like a diamond! xx

Happy Birthday to my brothers Sean & Kevin too, I love you both wherever you are! xx

the_band

What is a Modern Farmer

Two years ago, I was hit with a powerful waterfall of emotions and tears as I blurted out I wanted to be a Modern Farmer, in the last hour of the last day of a Sonia Choquette six-sensory workshop. A Modern Farmer, what the heck does that mean?!! Aside from the magazine of the same name, I was very unclear about where this explosion of feelings came from, and laughed and scoffed the entire way home, no way could I be a modern farmer, oh the audacity!

Truth be told, once I uttered those words, I felt as if I had been hit by lightning; the spark had been lit but I had no idea what to do with it. A modern farmer, you say!? Oh stop.

sonia_workshop
Moments after declaring my Modern Farming ambitions

I did spend the first few years of my life on a dairy farm in Huntley, Illinois, although I have little-to-no-memory of it. But now that both my parents were dead, the pull to be in the country was strong, much to my chagrin. I fought it, dug my heels in, as I really believed I was supposed to be in Chicago. I was a Big City Gal, in fact, I was afraid of the country and all its creatures that go boo in the night; the wide open spaces made me terribly nervous. Give me a deserted city street at midnight any time over a quiet country, star-lit night. Once while house-sitting for my brother and his wife in Hebron, Illinois, I called 911 because I heard noises and was certain I was about to be terrorized. After a brief inspection, the policemen said to me, “do you realize that’s the wind?”

I called the cops on the wind.

There had been such tremendous and rapid loss at this point in my life; jobs, addresses, jewelry, my truck — my mom — and through all this I could feel the magnetic pull back to the country. Or maybe it was fear? Or, I know, it was shame, because how embarrassing to lose my everything, so why not run to the country with my tail between my legs? And what was I supposed to do, pray tell, become a tomato farmer? Can I support myself on tomatoes? Maybe a sprout farmer? My track record with plants has never been great and now I think I can be a sprout farmer? Fat Chance. I may have been sitting squarely in the farmlands of Northern Illinois-Southern Wisconsin, but I had a snowball’s chance in hell to become a farmer, modern or old-timey, at this point.

I filed the day dream away and continued my desperate search of WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?!

Days after Sonia’s workshop, it was Thanksgiving, and thanks to a wonderful invite from my generous ex-husband, Reed, I made my way back to San Miguel de Allende and then to Austin, which I now call home. I quickly forgot all about my farming declaration and moved on to the task of cleaning up the wreckage from my past. I was a fairly miserable girl when I was married to Reed and had felt terribly guilty about how our marriage ended. It ended badly. Certainly not the worst divorce in the world, but I never got over the guilt for my bad behavior and selfish ways. The years I lived in Illinois after the divorce were one big alcohol-fueled guilt trip. This was my opportunity to make amends for my harmful behavior.

frida_diego

Whether he would agree or not, I believe I have made amends to the best of my abilities, first and foremost by being kind to the deserving Reed, and then by trying to be there in ways I had not been in the past. Not everyone gets a shot at this, nor would many want one, and even though it’s been messy and painful all over again, I am super-grateful I had this opportunity to make right a few of my wrongs. This has helped me to grow up. I like growing up, it feels good.

In early August of this year, after returning once again to San Miguel, I overheard Reed on the phone making a deal to sell his Mexican cows to a factory farm in Northern Mexico. Wait, wait, whoa, whoa WHAT?! I said as he hung up the phone.

Reed purchased his ranch in Dolores Hidalgo after we married in 2005; there were little or few cattle when he purchased it, and he spent the past 10 years adding to and cleaning up the breed of Limousin cattle to create a fine, handsome, beautiful breed of cattle; in addition to drilling for water and creating a majestic, sprawling, lush, 250-hectare Guanajuato rancho. The sound of the wind is amazing out here; I would never call the cops on it.

RSN
Majestic Rancho Santo Niño

Given my recent experience with a thyroid condition and the need to eat paleo, yet finding little-to-no resources for grass-fed beef in San Miguel de Allende, I chimed in with, “we need grass-fed beef right here in San Miguel and that’s what you have. Why don’t we make meat right here instead of shipping them off to a feed lot, where the cows are mostly wanted only for their arrachera?” Reed responded, “If you can find someone to process the cows, you can have some cows.”

The next day I was at Via Organica, aka, Central Mexico’s Whole Foods, and within two weeks, the team was assembled to produce grass-fed beef.

RSN_cover
The handsome Limousin cattle of Rancho Santo Niño

And so began Rancho Santo Niño.

I had spent the past year living with the cows at Reed’s ranch in Texas; I practiced reiki on them, played crystal bowls for them, and especially loved watching the Texas sunsets with them within an earshot. I loved those cows and had (have) great regard for them. Reed says, “cows are dumb.” I say no they are not! They are amazing mothers and any creature that is a wonderful mother is not dumb.

crystalbowls
Playing the crystal bowls off the back of the pick-up for the Texas cows

While I have great respect for the cows and their place in the world, I do know why these cows are here. They are fuel for the people. Oh but how to get them to the people?!

I think factory farming is an unspeakable, horrible injustice to all the animals churned out through them, in turn turning out sick food; to which some people have responded, yeah but you kill the cows too! This is true, but how the cows are treated until it is their time to become fuel for the people is where I want to do it different. I see the hidden videos of how animals are slaughtered; it bothers me tremendously as well. Have you see the Temple Grandin’s movie? She understood this on an entirely different level.

The hard-working cattle ranchers out there producing responsibly raised grass-fed beef are my inspiration, and I don’t pretend for one moment to be a fraction of a rancher, nor skilled tradesperson that they are, but I have learned amazing things through them and with my own experience of working with the ranchers and butchers of Dolores Hidalgo. I have thrown my hat in the ring of producing responsibly-raised grass-fed beef and this makes me incredibly proud and I am excited as I forge ahead and learn new things everyday. I am in on every step of this process and believe it has made me a kinder person, a more mindful person and the gratitude I feel each day when I drink my bone broth is a feeling I don’t want to shake anytime soon.

Producing grass-fed beef been a profound experience thus far.

Cattle ranching done right can save the world’s global warming demise, so says Allan Savory; his TED Talk is extremely moving and inspiring.

Oh and that declaration I made two years ago? I suppose it came true…

reiki_cows

 

 

October 2015 PicTweetArt

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Don’t be sad because October is over, be grateful you had the opportunity to feel all the autumny-feels xx

~~~

This week I made the transition from using pencils and erasers to only using ink pens and I love it! It’s totally nerve-wracking because I look at the paper and I say, “OMG PLEASE DO NOT RUIN THIS!!” because there’s no erasing ink. Then I jump up & down, shake around my hands and pick up that pen. My version of the hocky-pocky ;))).

I’ve been frustrated for weeks and I am finding that tossing aside the pencil and especially the eraser has brought back that buzzy feeling of excitement once again!

Kudos too to Susan Dorf, because I took her excellent class, “The Artist’ Journal” and can’t wait to try more of her tools! I absolutely admire her work and appreciate all that she shared. ANDALE!

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Temazcal we meat again

tem_6
Survived the Temazcal!

This past weekend, there was a “Festival of the Spirit” event happening in the park across the street from our casa; how handy was this? Incredibly handy!

It made for a really lovely weekend in the neighborhood; the sounds of pan flutes, conch shells, drums and kirtan came softly wafting through the house, as opposed to super-loud Mexican music. I enjoy the weekend mariachi sounds, but why-oh-why can’t a country the size of Mexico have one set of speakers that work correctly? Maybe they all go to ELEVEN and then some, but the sounds of this weekend were quite pleasant and I of course spent a bit of time in the park chatting with the healers, dancers and merchants. This was a delicious weekend!

I signed up for the temazcal and it turns out it was being hosted by Gustavo, the same man who ran the temazcal I participated in at el Charco del Ingenio (the botanical gardens) last year. Gustavo was looking much leaner and his muscles were more strongly defined; I mentioned he looked thinner and he excitedly told me his girl friend had helped him change his diet. Ahhh I am gluten free now too, save for a few cheats I’ve had since arriving in SMA.

Reading my post from last year’s temazcal reminded me of how fearful I was about recovering my health; my fears have quieted a bit, but there’s always more to do. Being diagnosed with a low thyroid condition BEFORE I needed to go on medication was a Godsend and pushed me to make the changes I had been entertaining; getting off wheat and sugar. Faced with the idea of daily medication, I jumped in with both feet. I started asking around and was absolutely floored at the number of women I met with auto-immune conditions and/or diseases, and the challenge to discover a new way of eating.

I don’t like being the weirdo at the party, the one who has to take five minutes to discover what’s in the food and then how to change it to my specifications, is there anything more annoying then THAT person? The world of living gluten-free is alive and kicking and the ideas are swirling all around me; thankfully it’s a lively community!

I successfully survived my 30-days of no wheat, no sugar, no grains, no caffeine on The Myers Way program, and came out on the other side a lighter and brighter person; I no longer cry at the drop of a hat either, which is a good thing for all those considered. I like this lifestyle; it works well for working with my energy and the energy around me because I no longer feel fuzzy from sugar, nor wheat. I’ve lost about 10 pounds and can run, skip and jump so much better. However, the challenges of maintaining this lifestyle are a bit challenging in Mexico, however, San Miguel de Allende is probably one of the more advanced cities in the country, even rivaling Mexico City for the access to gluten-free, organic and grass-fed options. People are moving here from all over because it is a forward-thinking community.

Reed has had a cattle ranch outside of San Miguel de Allende in Dolores Hidalgo for a number of years. I told him I needed a cow because I need to eat grass-fed beef and it’s hard to come by on a consistent basis. He then told me if I could find someone to process the beef, the project is MINE. I had a meeting the next day with Via Organic, the local organic shop that has far-reaching tentacles around the world, as they have initiated and are involved in many projects and educational efforts to reverse the effects of global climate and provide a more organic and clean way of living in Mexico and beyond.

We struck a deal and currently have gone to market and soon you will find our Rancho Santo Nino grass-fed beef at Via Organica. I am excited to be a part of this project, which is leading us to be involved in other projects in the community and elsewhere. Stay tuned for more information!

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Reiki on the cows:))

“The word Temazcal originates from the Aztec, “calli”, meaning house, and “temas”, meaning vapor or steam. The structure, made from mortar and stone, is symbolic of Mother Nature’s womb. Through the use of steam and healing herbs, the Temazcal ceremony purifies the body and the spirit.”

Amongst eighteen strangers, I once again was the only American and now felt very much at ease as I crawled into the ceremonial hot hut, while wearing barely nothing. It should be noted that I believe the Mexican woman is the strongest and hardiest of all the creatures there ever existed; this sweat lodge becomes unbearably hot and we are in there for over three hours, yet the Mexican woman remains unswayed and fully-clothed. Jewelry too. I am in awe of their ability to endure while the rest of us fall all over each other from the sweltering heat and pitch darkness.

I now understand and appreciate the community aspect of a temazcal, to be so close to each other, respect each other and to quiet the fears if you think you or your neighbor is going to freak out — and believe me, the idea is right there.

It’s an amazing feeling to crawl out of the hut after I’ve sang songs, cried and prayed to my Gods. I have been walking on clouds ever since and feel incredibly grateful for the experience and how it makes me feel. I am getting involved in some exciting projects in the community and am excited to move them forward.

Jump in that temazcal if you get the chance, it’s a wonderful opportunity to shed some unwanted skin!

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And then there’s the #PicTweetArt, exploring even more deeply the energy between people. I am learning anatomy and how to draw emotions. My first set of balls ever!! :DD

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#PicTweetArt going deeper! xx

Drift Out of Driftwood

dirty meag

This week I am closing up life at the ranch and joining Reed in San Miguel de Allende for the next few weeks. It’s hot as a witch’s breath here in Austin; everything’s gone and dried up and blowing in the dust. I hear cackles in the wind, it’s that hot.

I’m so very happy to be heading down south; when the news sank in, my spirit shot up about three stories high. My time in Central Texas has not been easy, oh but it has been highly educational.

It’s been challenging to find work in and around Austin, THE hottest, hippest city in America. Countless interviews later, I was probably giving off a much bigger vibe of “no, I really don’t want to work for your company” than their vibe of “now wait, who are you?” After years of working for companies I could not be more opposed to, I find it difficult to pretend to be excited about someone else’s company. Throughout many of the interviews, I could see exactly why I would leave, or more specifically, why they wouldn’t ask me to join. I have had small project work here and there, but mostly I have spent a heck of a lot of time expanding my repertoire of energy, energy, energy, gimme more of that arty-energy-jui-jui-jui.

My fear of failing after being fired a handful of times a few short years ago has had a fierce grip on me, almost smothering at times, but my backbone has returned and I’m ready to get forward move ahead. I failed at being able to succeed in a corporate job; I never liked it, but that’s what I was supposed to do, right? My mom’s voice still haunts me, “for crying out loud Meag, why can’t you just keep your mouth shut?”. This internal struggle has led me to work for some terrible people at some awful companies and guess what? I could not keep my mouth shut and was eventually shown the door.

My inner conflicts reflected as all my outer struggles. I have been in my way forever.

Another challenge to finding work was “being so far away from Austin” in Driftwood, Texas, a small po-dunk Texas Hill Country town, about 22 miles southwest of Austin. Yes, TWENTY-TWO miles, not TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO miles. Driftwood truly has a gritty feel of the wild, wild West; it’s rugged and quiet, hot and empty — for now, the real estate wars are heating up all across Hays County. The Salt Lick BBQ is here and that’s a huge claim to fame for Texas BBQ fans, but there is little else besides ranching, cowboying, and stealing water. Reed’s family has had property here for a number of years, so I have had the privilege of living on a gorgeous National Park, in a state with very little national parks. I have tremendously enjoyed my ranch explorations with Dito Bandito at my side, Henry in the car; I will always think fondly of this little internet-providerless town, ideally from afar.

You get dirty when you live in Driftwood, it comes with the territory and the terrifying shower I avoid like the plague. Here, I have lived precariously close to scorpions, spiders, snakes, fire ants, lobsters, chiggers, kissing bugs, cows, wasps, mean donkeys, mean HORSES, oh and an angry Reed Burns, but the latter has started to mellow as he ages like a fine wine, errr rather a full-bodied, potent, añejo tequila. We have had a rough road together, Reed and I, but we’ve also made great strides as we break down our walls — huge graffiti-filled walls from the early days of our spontaneous, mostly reckless, tequila-fueled, rowdy marriage. I am excited to meet Reed; he’s in his element in Mexico and it is something to behold, when he holds his court.

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In early 2001, I moved to San Miguel de Allende to teach Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms dance class and develop my artistic talent. However, in reality, after 10+ years of sobriety, I decided to drink the vino tintos and life took a turn towards a very different path than I had envisioned. It wasn’t awful, but sometimes it was painfully awful. I certainly had some glorious times, but many of my demons came back to haunt, they took a hold and directed my life for a number of years and through a number of scenarios. I eventually made my way back to Chicago after our divorce and I spent the next few years directionless and heart broken.

I am not these things anymore; my heart is alive and looking straight ahead. I take my dedication to all-things-energy very seriously and have experienced some tremendous healing as of late. I was recently attuned in Reiki Level II in Wimberly with Melissa Kleen; I am very aware of the strengthening eyeballs in the palms of my hands. An intensely powerful shamanic surgery with a clairaudient shaman healer has created new pathways in and around my heart during a mind-expanding experience. A traditional cacao ceremony has elevated my heart and I can’t stop giggling, nor crying tears of joy, for that matter — it has also changed my approach to my art and how I see the world. An autoimmune friendly approach to eating has relieved some long-time anxieties and discomfort, in addition to helping me drop some weight I had been struggling with. Curious to see how I will fare when face-to-face with the delicious street tacos of Guanajuato olé!

—> I am totally ready to get to work — I need to get to work.

ANDALE! Nos vemos!! Saying adios to my NIA Dance pals, until next time xx

New Energy in 15, big gay Texas wedding!

The week-long celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage in all 50 States has been buzzing all week, although we’re probably assured it will not be without further pushback, unfortunately. On this 4th of July, dozens of gay couples gave up their independence to join in holy matrimony — and the steps of the Texas State Capital were alive with love!

I was a witness, and what a wonderful, wonderful thing to witness.

Love, the ultimate energy, and it has won this round xx

PicTweetArt July 2015

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Update: This was a pivotal month because I feel as though I moved closer to the type of art I want to explore; the humanness of physical love, the energy that dances between people. I do not wish to be vulgar, just visceral and many times I feel I just miss is, I want to go deeper. As I get more established in my new home, I will go deeper. Love on, Fair People!

xx

Now heading into the fourth month of my daily drawing challenge — and the overall affect has been positive; it literally — okay figuratively, has cracked my head wide open on some level. When I fire up Twitter in the morning to select a tweet to draw, I move to a bigger space. I think bigger than me, bigger than you, something outside of me. I remove myself — at least I try. Third eye-thingy, if you will.

Ahhhhh but the ego enters back in as soon as I post the drawing on Twitter, attached to the creator of the tweet. I would say most of the time I get no response, and the overall responses I do get, is that my tweet gets favorited. What is a favorite, by the way? My ego goes, “waaaaahhhhhhhhhh nobody likes me!!” as I throw the crayons across the room. Ah, but the Third Eye chimes in to say, “Hush you, Rigid, Needy Ego, it’s not about you. It’s about creating a ritual, a daily practice to help take you outside of yourself; to see the world in a uniquely special way. It’s not about the details of each drawing, it is the showing up to the paper and seeing the world through your hands.”

Voila. I trust my Third Eye way more than my ego, ergo. xx

New Energy in 15, walking the labyrinth

Have you ever experienced the magic of a labyrinth?

Being from Chicago and having travelled a bit in Europe, I have seen my fair share of labyrinths, even enjoyed the movie, but honestly, I never paid them much mind. They certainly are pretty. I used to walk one during lunch breaks when I worked near Saint James Episcopal at Huron & State in Chicago, but I probably stood there smoking butts on most days, pondering my daily dilemma.

These days labyrinths have taken on a much deeper meaning, other than wrecking the depths of my lungs thankfully; they have become a place of revitalization. Walking a labyrinth is an opportunity to experience a divine imprint through a walking meditation, a different manner of praying. I like different manners of praying. While I appreciate mediation and continue to explore the hidden nuggets found within, I’m always anxious to get my butt up off the floor, preferring to walk, dance, hop, skip, jump as I strengthen my third eye. It works for me and through this, I discovered the magic of the labyrinth.

The labyrinth is an archetype in the human mind and represents the many twists and turns we can take to arrive somewhere — anywhere in life. “SOLVITAR AMBULANDO.” IT IS SOLVED BY WALKING says the sign over the labyrinth at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin. Labyrinth patterns are universal, have only one path and there are no tricks, nor dead ends. Many times my thoughts are chattering away in my head as I begin to walk, starting from the outside, zig-zagging towards the center, but the experience changed for me when I walked with a group of women on the night of a full moon in Butler Park. It completely altered and lifted my spirit — the moon beams surely helped — and I’ve been a big fan of walking in these magical circles ever since.

labyrinthATX

If you would like to find a labyrinth in your area, the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator is shock full of information and will point you in the right direction. If you have never tried it, I would suggest walking a labyrinth with a group of people because the opportunity, for me, represents life. Often times churches will offer a free monthly labyrinth walk; I like free.

The labyrinth walk is a chance to see how I navigate around and through others. Do I dance smoothly or dart sharply with my world, what are my thoughts telling me? What makes me hesitate? I have always gone to great lengths to avoid people throughout my life, but I’m changing my tune — it’s now or never. This sacred map is teaching me things.

If anything, it’s a wonderful bump to disengage from the day, a chance to re-charge and think about love. Wait. Love? Love won big today with the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriage across the entire damn country, HOORAY! Here come the haters but Welcome to 2015, America!

Ooooh I’m looking for clues… maybe then I won’t be so frightened by the sound of a telephone, oh yeah…. xx

New Energy in 15, re-energize on the lake

After realizing I needed a physical break from the qi-gong training I was doing, as well as from too much exercising when under the weather, a day on the lake with friends was a great way to re-energize and enjoy some lols before the thunder and lightning rolled in. Perfect day!

 

Cries from the Buddha Belly

This past week was my second week of an intense daily qi gong practice called “Jingui Golden Shield,” and this was also the week that the levy broke. The beginner instruction for this ancient form of qi gong involved slapping my bare stomach in key meridian points for several minutes in succession, in order to awaken the chi (qi, prana, holy spirit, life force energy, call it what you will) to quickly develop the human energy body for improved health.

Yes, it hurts to slap the belly with the bare hands. So what, I said.

On about the 12th day, tears started to fall as I reached the end of my lesson, right before I was to hit the floor and apply the ancient Chinese tincture to my red-hot pink belly. My instructor suggested I stay ahead of the slapping; in fact it should be a hit and not a slap, and don’t take it too far — but don’t be numb to it. It should keep me awake. I tried to find that spot that kept me awake; I could not. The tears continued as I made my way home. I kept on crying; the tears fell throughout the day and night, when I was alone and when I was with others. ugh.

You know that crying that comes from super-deep within the lungs and goes on forever with the mouth agape, yet no sound is produced? I had time to wonder if I would ever breathe again, or if it would ever stop. That kinda crying. Buddha Belly tears, but fuck that, I was not in search of a zen-like state-of-being, I was cracking some buried egg wide open all over the place, and the oozing seemed to have no end in sight. It was the most exhausting cry I ever cried.

In some recent blood tests, I learned I have a borderline thyroid condition that does not yet warrant medication, but now is the time to repair current damage and prevent future injury. My research into the world of autoimmune disorders and conditions has begun. Whoa Nelly I had no idea!

I read a new book written by Austin doctor, Dr. Amy Myers, called “The Autoimmune Solution” and could not believe how much sense this book made to me. I have been denying symptoms of my autoimmune disorder for years, but did not even realize it; I just thought I lacked the discipline and motivation to achieve my goals in life, although I have always remained busy. In the past six month, my symptoms have worsened; weight gain, chronic fatigue, digestive disorders, muscle soreness and brain fog.

I continue to exercise quite a bit and assumed I was always sore because of it, but now I wonder. I exercise because I worry I’m getting fat and old, although I do really enjoy being active and continue to have ambitious future goals. The worry makes my stomach upset after eating a very small amount. I sometimes forget what I am doing. The movie “Still Alice” was scary to watch. We all forget, right? I cry A LOT. My Chinese doctor gets a little uncomfortable when he sees me. I have to lay down after each meal I eat, even if I just slept 9 hours and this “laziness” drives me bat-shit crazy. It’s all a vicious cycle and this book goes into great detail about our current state of gluten and how it’s newly-mass-manufactured evil properties are wiping the human race right off the planet. Well she doesn’t exactly say that, but it does not look good for the world and all it’s millions of highly-processed gluten-filled products we find ourselves surrounded by.

I have been tremendously stressed over the past few years and my life has yet to settle down, but I never considered any lasting physical effect from any of this…. until now. Now it’s staring right at me in the mirror and I need to make some enormous changes.

cry me

I have stopped working out every day; I stepped away from the qi gong classes. I have cried a river of tears and I’m not even sure why, except it sure does feel good when it’s over. I am going to do the Myers Way Program because I want to feel as good as I can for the rest of my days. I have suspected sugar and bread and whatnot for months and months and now my exhausted self is ready to take this leap of faith.

Pass the hankies xx

 

Andale Austin

austinstar

I have been in Texas for just over a year and in the past few weeks — no, days really, it has truly begun to feel like home. I am feeling so much support in this cradle in the middle of Texas, I find myself caught off guard and tingly-all-over by the kindness of strangers and not-so-strangers that have helped me get acclimated in my new hometown.

After several months of travelling and setting up shop on the ranch, I have turned my focus to getting into the groove in Austin. I’m back at Square One in that I need to get a job, an address, a routine… and it’s finally starting to happen. I know what I want and now it’s time for the legwork. I have found some work; it is not my dream work, but it is putting me out in front of people, which is a great start. I am highly animated these days and eager to work with others. One foot in front of the other.

Austin is a very fast moving city; hottest city in America, some would say. The recent cover of Austin Monthly magazine quoted 158 people are moving to Austin EVERY DAY. That’s a solid stream of buses dropping off musicians everyday at the Greyhound station.

New friends, YaY!

Austin’s NIA dance community has been a great source of support; it’s teeming with women who are excited about life, love to shake their moneymaker and aren’t afraid to let it all hang out. Their stories are extraordinary and many times moving, and I’m thrilled to have found this support as a new whitebelt teacher and as a new citizen of Austin. Many of these women are undergoing profound personal transformation and have been a great source of comfort as I go through my own. Plus we spontaneously break out in dance when out in public.

There’s something very delightful about not caring if you cause a stir –when stirred properly.

Meetup.com has been a great resource to meet new people and learn of new ideas; I attend about four meetup groups on a regular basis and the momentum is building. One is an art and technology meetup with it’s focus on creating a community in Austin for new digital artists; I volunteered to be the gatekeeper of information and gather everyone’s name and interests. I even presented my #PicTweetArt and #NewEnergyin15 at the last meetup! It was a bit of a departure from the amazing new media presentations that were being highlighted, but I think it was all very well-received. There were LOLs :D. I joined the group to discover new ideas in video and to meet some interesting people.

The artistic sparks are flying, she said with a cheese-eatin’ grin!

I am a member of a Women’s Shaman Circle; the wisdom that’s being shared within this sacred circle has altered my life forever. I am honored to be a part of such a experienced and educated circle of women.

Women helping women. SHAZAM.

I’m also a new member in a specialized qi gong training called Jingui Golden Shield. It is a rare Temple Style of qi gong designed to achieve super health by developing the human energy body very quickly. I discovered this through my Chinese doctor and acupuncturist, Dr. Zhang, who diagnosed me with a deficient spleen a few weeks ago. We are working on this, but basically it’s the early stages of a thyroid condition, and it is my goal to reverse this condition NOW before a Western doctor prescribes daily pharmaceuticals.

Nooooo pills for me.

A worrisome mind, my age and irregular eating patterns are probably to thank — oh and the stress of absolutely everything changing in my life.

thanksaustin

I am turning 50 this year and this health condition has added an extra 10 pounds around my belly. It freaked me out — well hell’s bells it still freaks me out, because it gets in my way and I want it gone. Given the amount of energy work I do in addition to biking, hiking, dancing, yoga-ing, qi gong-ing and walking, it drives me craaaaaaazy that I have this new blob that just won’t budge. Then I read a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. I’m remarkably embarrassed I’ve had the audacity to cry about a little midlife weight gain.

mans_search_for_meaning

I have the privilege of being alive and living pretty well for half a century. I digress. This profoundly moving book about surviving a Nazi prison camp put gratitude in perspective for me in a manner I shan’t easily forget.

Profound gratitude.

My body can still move in amazing ways. I have great new friends I can lean on. I am networking. I’ve always hated networking! I love, love, love learning about energy and sharing it. I am branding and self-promoting, gaaaaa the dreaded self-marketing. I am in Austin, f*cking Texas, the hottest city in America and the good vibes are growing. I have a tremendous friend and confidant in Reed Burns. Sure it’s terrifying to be starting all over, but I am totally grateful for this life.

I am scrappy and I live in America — and if there’s one thing America loves besides Cheezwhiz, it’s scrappiness.

ANDALE TEXAS!

 

New Energy in 15, I am a Texas Tree!

I have decided to lay down my roots in Austin, Texas after sitting on a fence for about a year. I actually cried as I gazed up to Lady Liberty on top of the Texas State Capitol; this State can annoy the heck out of me at times, but fault can be found in any state. I don’t look for that because I have found some awesome new friends, some bubbling opportunities and a fairly clear path ahead of me. It’s where I want to be.

xx

New Energy in 15, the Texas Polar Dip!

These past few weeks have been especially awesome because Deep Eddy pool has opened its gates at 6am because Barton Springs pool is closed, due to all the recent floods and storms. The water is spring fed and suuuuuuper-cold, which is a fantastic way to greet the day if your heart can take it! The pool goes back to regular hours (8am) on Monday, June 8th, so I am grateful to have enjoyed it these past few weeks in my favorite sunrise hour.

#PicTweetArt June 2015

And the days keep rolling on by!

I’ve crossed into the third month of the mostly-random-daily-drawing from Twitter, although it feels as though I’ve been doing these drawing for many moons. I love the challenge of plucking out a tweet, serious or not, and quickly creating a snapshot of said tweet — without the use of words (and believe me, it’s tempting). I still struggle with hands, but I’m feeling much more confident about the emotions I’m able to convey; not every time and certainly not perfectly, but there you have it. The daily practice is what is helping me see clearly — not whether or not I nailed the hands (which I didn’t).

Twitter is rich, full of kings and queens, jokers and leeches. Thanks for following along!

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New Energy in 15, Go with the Flow, Vladimir!

Best laid plans until Vladimir the Russian Wolf Hound decides it’s his party, then it’s best just to roll with it ;).

Things have definitely settled down after last weekend’s torrential storms and flooding here in Austin; even Red Bud Isle dog park is back in business. It’s a very pretty park to start the day in and even to do some qi gong if you know how to go with the flow!

Sure it’s cornball, but I believe the key to happiness, which is fleeting, is to look for the good stuff in times of chaos. What do you believe?

Why I do the New Energy in 15

For the past 40 weeks, I’ve been posting a 15-second video to Instagram, sharing insight on what I’ve learned about energy. “Energy?” you say?! “Energy!!” I say! “Energy Balls!” I say even louder!! The road has been fascinating and it will be a lifetime of learning — tip of the iceberg, as they say. Some weeks are better than others and I find I am getting better at just rolling with it. I’m truly dedicated to this, so I decided early on to commit to doing #NewEnergyin15 for one year… but why?

Because there’s so much to learn, so much to know and so much to try. So much to heal. I don’t need to post the videos on the social networks, but why not? It’s fun and helps keep me focused on this, my purpose. Learning about video on the iPhone and all the cool apps available, are an added bonus. Doing energy work in public places has all kinds of perks, mainly meeting new people and getting over my fears. Sharing these videos with you is *your* bonus 😉 The more I learn, the more there is to discover, and so it goes. The videos will go deeper in the future.

Two years ago I awoke to the gift of feeling something different around me, in fact everything had shifted in my life after my mom passed away. I’ve felt compelled to know more about this strange new sensation because my vibration had unknowingly been raised and it literally felt like I was having a heart attack. It was scaryKundalini rising, wooooosh. It took a few weeks to feel right in my skin, but when I did, holy moley what is all this??! So began the clean up of my life and it continues today.

What’s that? Was that an eye roll? Energy is a bunch of hooey, you say? Faeries Riding Unicorns, Sprinkling Pixie Dust on Glittery Rainbows All Over the Place? Believe me, I have heard it all — mostly because I’ve thought it myself; at least I did years ago, before I could see and feel the things I can see and feel today. I spent years trying to understand and fix myself through self-help books, therapists, groups, workshops, ETC., mostly to no avail because I was a bit dead in the heart. My mission was, “I’ve got to fix this thing that’s wrong with me; WHAT is this thing that’s wrong with me!?” ‘Round and around the treadmill I ran for years and years. It was exhausting and frustrating, and eventually I gave up and went back to my old bad habits. My eyes would roll as I walked away from “energy” people. Weirdos.

Millions of self-help books.
They know the treadmill.

Then.
As my mom neared her final day, she said to me, “I wish I had been nicer to you Meag. I was wrong about you. I’m really sorry.”

*boom*
I fall down, everything’s different. Closed my eyes…
The power of love. The power of forgiveness.
Millions of useless self-help books.

My mom’s death (and perhaps the other heart-breaking deaths I’ve been privy to) completely cracked me open in a way I was not expecting. I now feel a responsibility to understand what’s happening around me and to gain a grasp of it– not a control of it. All those years of annoyance at my mom have been replaced with gratitude for the priceless gift she has given me. There are things to do, but I no longer feel there is something wrong with me. I am excited if I am anything, for Pete’s Sake.

I read about energy. I study energy. I love energy! I practice intuition. I sleep better than I have ever slept in my life. I dance, I qigong, I t’ai chi, I make art— which has improved tremendously since I started playing with energy. I’ve walked through many of my fears and doubts and have witnessed some incredible shifts. I moved to Texas. I am meeting a new tribe; we speak the same language, yet there are plenty more words to learn. How cool is that? But in all honesty, my energy game is way off these days.

This road is not always easy; but it is necessary. There has been heartache and loss, there too has been ghastly name calling; I have been called weird. Alas… I no longer blink at weird; my mom thought I was weird, she then regretted it. I am weird. No biggie.

I’ve set my sights in a new direction because the past few months have been brutal at home and my Spirit has effectively left the building. This affects my everything; I am not learning as quickly nor effortlessly as I had in the past. My energy is stuck, wowza how ironic — and dammit this hurts. Luckily I have found a support system and am leaning on them; I am confident I will bounce back but my biggest fear is that my heart shut down again. Oh please not that. I hold my heart near and dear, literally, figuratively and metaphorically, and will continue to protect it fiercely.

Three steps forward, two steps back.
Expanse, Constrict.
Energy Balls.

Thank you for checking out my new website; Larkabouts is now forever larking about here and there. This site will house my art and energy endeavors, with more categories to come. My heart thanks you for following along — and reading — this far. Stay tuned for a few more weeks of #NewEnergyin15 and then… on to deeper things.

This week’s video is a reminder about why I do this work — I really do love it, even as I struggle through it right now. I am not, nor will I ever give up; I am Grasshopper 4Evah!

Thank you xx

—> My #NewEnergyin15 YouTube Channel is here <—

Follow along on Instagram
………. Twitter toooooooooo!

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New Energy in 15, a bike ride in Austin

I love that Henry is still game to come along with me on adventures — he really is the most docile dog in the world, without being annoying.

In what was a rather stressful week, a bike ride along Lady Bird Lake was the perfect medicine for the day; I rented an Austin B Cycle and away we went. Henry gets all the smiles — he alone changes people’s energy. My energy was changed too, Bless His Heart as they say here in Texas.

New Energy in 15, Draw me Amadeus

Draw Me Amadeus

Each day I draw a drawing based on a tweet I randomly select from Twitter; the exercise has done amazing things to expand my creativity and inspires me more each day, even on the days that I don’t like my drawing. I did a drawing of Pope Francis recently that literally made me feel weird — but even the creepy ones teach me a lesson.

The more I work with my energy, the more risks I take with my creativity — and this is my goal! My art is pretty safe right now, so there is tons of room for growth, but I also focus on my people skills — drawing them, that is. I struggle with hands and feet, but it’s getting better.

So this week’s #newenergyin15 is all about creativity, playing and setting high hopes! I’m currently taking belly dancing lessons — I love it! It uses muscles that rarely get used in the Western world and makes me feel stronger on oh-so-many levels.

Here I am belly dancing in Vienna, listening to Mozart In Real Life, because this is what I’m going to do some day. Perhaps not all at once, but you get the drift, it’s my vision board… :DD