Monday
Feb222016

Happy Birthday Jane

I am getting ready for my bi-weekly women's circle tonite which I created ten years ago as a way to build a trusted community amongst women who know how to have fun, be sensitive, intelligent and go deep. I am also aware that February 22 is the birthday of my dearest, oldest friend, Jane Kutzler Paar, who left this planet ten years ago..

Jane and I first met in eight grade at a Phila. dance scene held at Boulevard Pools in Northeast Phila.  It was 1965, just a few years post the leather jacket days of Fonzi and kids still hung together on the corner and needed to be cool. It wasn't my neighborhood but it was the best place to dance. On the first night, I witnessed a cat fight between two tough girls fighting over some boy. I stepped into the fight because it upset me and I was too naive to know better. After successfully talking them down by persuading them that the boy wasn't worth their grief, Jane emerged from the crowd and introduced herself. She wanted to know me. The following year we ran into each other again in the hallway of a small private all girls high school, St. Basil's Academy in Fox Chase. It was the beginning of a life long friendship. We were friends through alot of thickness and then some thin. We were intelligent thinkers, writers, poets, naughty, playful hippies and sexy girls. 

What I am aware of today is how much Jane was also my personal historian. She knew me when. Is this not also what we mourn when we lose a life long friend? Someone who is our secret soul keeper? One who has witnessed all the suffering and growing pains you go through to come into consciousness.  I miss Jane still. I think often of her raspy Lauren Bacall voice and the interchangeable laughter and tears that often emerged when we drank too much.  Happy Birthday Janie! I love you.

 

Thursday
Dec312015

One Gift Left For You To Accept

The tradition of the New Year Resolution is a gift left for all of us on this marked day of Beginnings. I recall years when I stared at the gift for several days, weeks and even months before opening it. I remember declaring a unique avoidance strategy of waiting until Chinese New Year came around as it always bought me an extra few weeks. Those times were unpleasant for me as the gift often collected dust.  I developed a restless mix of internal guilt and apathy wondering which was going to win out that year. When I finally couldn't bear being me anymore, I said "Yes, Yes, i will gift myself after all."  

When you accept the gift of creating a New Year Resolution, the personal challenge of creative intentionality emerges. It is a creative process for the betterment of oneself. Developing a strategy of follow through is a true act of personal care and self love which requires slowing down enough to actually listen to your real dream list. Thus affirming the gift to yourself.  

The gift is alchemical by nature. When our soul consciousness searches within for a strong clear resolve, "Yes, this is possible. I see myself becoming, acting on, ready and able...these inspirations are already living inwardly and outwardly as potential seeds of light waiting to be planted. They are aligned with the higher vibration of our soul purpose. Grounding them to will and intention results in manifestation.

It is my wish for everyone to take the precious time of these Holy Days to breathe into the eternal gift of Beginning anew. It is our inherited gift from the Holy Ones to accept over and over again. Breathe in the creative imaginal potential of life. Allow yourself to be an instrument of manifestation. Bring in Peace, Compassion and Love in all its abundant, radiant forms of expression . Breathe in the inspiration, and plant your Seeds of Light. Bring in the abundance for yourself, your love ones and for the Planet. Create a life worth living for all of us.

Happy New Year, Ellen 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov172015

The Gentle Giants

Truth be told when I first returned home from Africa, I woke up every morning expecting to see the elephants again.  I knew I was in trouble a month later when I was invited to a party on a horse farm in Chester  County, outside Phila. and found myself scoping the tall grassy fields for a sight of these ancestral ones. I remember thinking that they would love this tall grass as, of course, all the other surrounding fields of grass as well!

Elephants eat 18 hours a day in great constrast to the lions, leopards, cheetahs that sleep 18 hours a day. They can weigh up to 15,000 lbs and if their life is not interrupted by their only enemy, man, they can live up to 70 years. Once they have gone through their six different sets of teeth over the span of their life they head for the softer marsh grasses that are easier to chew and then die.They are the earth's gentle giants that still roam our plains. They possess a social hierarchy, behaviors that demonstrate self awareness and a ritualistic process for taking care of their young, elders, sick and dying. Their social structure is complex with the matriarch always being present to big herds. If more than one bull is present, it is because they are brothers; otherwise, they keep to themselves and, or, seek a new herd to mate with.

Elephants are so fun to watch as they seem to defy their massive weight. Everything is moving at once.They have a boyancy and a lot of wiggle in their walk and their ears are perpetually fanning themselves in a slow rhythmic wave in order to maintain their homeostatis in the equatorial heat. In these moments, they look like they are moving along to the song O-bla de- O bla da- life goes on blah.....Sometimes, they walk slow with such a deliberate forward propelled motion that it seems they are carrying the full weight of the world. I have wondered if these ancient creatures have their cellular consciousness speaking the collective history of the world to them? Watching them, at times, in very large herds moving steadily across the plains like pilgrims on a journey stirs a very deep archetypal ache within the soul. The elephants and the first hominids, which date back 3.5 million years ago in East Africa , lived near the Ngorongoro Crater and the Olduvi Gorge in Tanzania. Tanzania holds ancient vibes in its earth and this World Heritage Site exposes the archeological, geological and anthropological beginnings of life. Visiting here brought a unexpected piece of a puzzle of understanding in my soul. I felt that seeing these unearthed findings, standing on this ground, touching and smelling this earth allowed me to connect to my inherited existence as a human who has travelled this far and survived the test of time. I hope for all humankind sake that we continue for millions of generations to come.    

No other creature but man would dare consider messing with the adult elephant. I recently understood what is behind the old saying that "the elephant never forgets". They belong to the elite group known as the Big Five, along with the buffalo, lion, leopard and rhinocerous because they are hardest to be captured or killed. This is because once they know who their enemy is they never, ever forget and they will seek revenge.

It is a wonderfully, strange phenomena to behold an elephant close up. It is a mixture of excitement and fear because of their sheer massiveness. It is an awesome moment to look in their eyes and be seen by them. Their eyes are softly attentive and receptive. One time  while staying at a beautiful, large lodge that was just on the edge of the Tarangire National Park, I took a walk down the steps to a lower floor only to discover myself face to face with a baby elephant 4 ft. in front of me. What separated us was a mere three ft.stone wall that either one of us could have stepped over. The baby and I were both startled to come upon one another. It was one of those moments in life when a situation could go either way.  My first impulse was to go up to this baby as it seemed so approachable. It was truly my first encounter!  Quickly, my rationale kicked in as I realized that my little Dumbo is a wild animal who probably weighs ten times me and whose mother is eating just around the corner. When I found my legs again, I perfected for the first time in my life Michael Jackson's moonwalk and quietly dismissed myself.

Another close encounter occurred one day while we were watching a parade of elephants go by while perched safely in our safari vechicle . When the large herd who had gathered in a small river bank was finished bathing, drinking and spraying themselves with dirt to keep bugs away, they began moving in our direction .When the sheer power of tons after tons of gray flesh past within ten feet of our vechicle we felt the sensation of a passing freight train that was a little too close for comfort!  But the truth is, on safari the excitement outweighs the fear; the awe outweighs the long bumpy and dusty travel that is required to truly witness safari at its best and the experience of seeing these bigger than life animals in their natural habitat is the most enlivening experience I have ever had. Pure and simple elephants make me happy!

Saturday
Nov072015

WILD THING, YOU MAKE MY HEART SING

 

 

It was love at first sight for me. I understand that most everyone must feel the same way when they lay eyes upon you for the first time in the flesh.  You are a wild beauty!  I've been told that you are Tanzania's symbol of all that is good in the world as you are by nature a visionary who sees far ahead, glances back at the past while gracefully moving through the present. I can see how you are their chosen one as you wear unapologeticly your bold prints and stand in flawless poses for all to wonder at you.  You are the muse of every prima dancer as you articulate your long, sinewy legs in harmonious, rhythmic strides across one's field of vision. Has anyone ever told you that you have the most beautiful neckline? Maybe, it's because I am a professional bodyworker, a yogi in body and soul, a dancer at heart and a somatic healing therapist; but I must say, your body language rocks!  

I too, would like to stand as tall as you and learn to stay a head above the rest. I too, desire to reach toward the heavens for my every nourishment. I too, want to learn the required shifts of delicate balance within my soul's anatomy whenever my head takes a bow and my thirst is quenched.  I watched you quietly on that first day for so long, before you ever took notice of me. I felt so small in contrast to your lovely, flashy self. But finally, you did indeed turn toward me and when your gorgeous, large, shapely eyes with those long, curvy lashes caught mine, my heart seized with pure joy! What a total flirt you are, my lovely Giraffe. 

 

Friday
Oct022015

A Day in the Life of the Hadzabe Tribe

 

I wasn't sure I had it in me to write about this.  My initial return home from Africa after our 18 days trip left me more than jet lag. I have needed time to digest all that I have experienced and still floats in my consciousness. There are the interactions of meeting men, women and children from three very different indigenous tribes in Tanzania. I have been told there are more than 120 tribes that coexist there.  Some haven't changed their ways in hundreds of thousands of years. One such tribe is the Hadzabe or Hadza that we had the privilege to meet. They are the last tribe of bushmen in Africa living in Tanzania, whose survival still depends solely on hunting and gathering in their immediate environment. They are supreme archers that hunt in the bush with their dogs for game, both large and small. Wort hogs, birds, baboons ,antelope..... No creature survives at the hands of these bushmen living off the earth. After five, six months of living in their camp they must move on so there is time for the earth and animals to be replenished. I dare not tell them that I have a daily ritual back home of feeding the birds. 

When we first arrived on the scene of their bush, I thought I stepped into a National Geographic Magazine. It was 9 am on a warm 85 degree day and two seperate campfires were going.  One camp had only women from young mothers to a 95 year old and young children of every age. The other camp was surrounded by only men who had been up all night after a very successful kill at midnight of three wort hogs. Their fresh hunt was in clear evidence everywhere as we walked past trees with hanging animal heads still dripping fresh blood; meat strung up on twine to air dry for jerky and lots of raw meat, kabob style, on sticks over the open fire. Men wore baboon skins slung around them with tails hanging. The women draped themselves in layers of fabric that double later during the day as satchels for the root vegetables that they forage under the deep, dry earth. Their tools are their hands and sharply pointed wooden sticks that serve to pierce and pitch away at the dirt.. It was easy to identify the chief amongst the group of fifteen men as he wore a beaded headband. He was surprisingly handsome with high cheekbones, clear eyes and skin and an intensely penetrating look of a responsible leader with a kind temperment. I thought he could easily be in a leading role of a Hollywood film. The infamous film "The Gods Must Be Crazy" was inspired by the bushmen tribe. Unlike many other tribes, the Hadzabes are not polygamist. The chief's wife was also easy to identify as she wore a beaded headband which signified her status amongst the women. We discovered quickly that the Hadzabe tribe still speak the ancient click language. Other than body language, we were at the fortuante mercy of a young man Thomas who had some personal history with the Hadzabe tribe and could interpret for us.

We learned that the Hadzabe own no material possessions other than what they make with their own hands from the environment they dwell in. We were told that because they chose to own nothing, they live without worry and are therefore free. They care for no things; thus, there is nothing to gain or to lose, nothing to covet nor protect or insure. Their homes are built from the materials that surround them and resemble oversized bee hives. Their earthen floors are covered with the skins from their kills. They derive their medicines from the trees and local plants. They are much like our indigenous Native Americans who held no ownership of the Mother Earth and took only what they needed. The Hadzabes have been squeezed out of most lands in Tanzania. They are not warriors of people, nor herders of goats and cattle, nor agriculturalists. They have easily been overtaken through the centuries and pushed further into isolation by other warring tribes such as The Masai who migrated long ago from Northern Africa with their massive herds of goat and cattle..

Throughout our trip here to Tanzania, Tom and I found spontaneous opportunities to offer many goods that we had brought from the states. Reading glasses, colored pencils, pens, paper, frisbees, t shirts, flashlites and batteries.  We found that what we thought we might present to them as gifts had no value to them . It didn't feel right for Tom and I to visit them without offering some gesture of appreciation. At our insistence, we were advised that bringing buckets of fresh water, a sack of freshly milled corn and metal arrowheads that were made by a local blacksmith from the Datoqa tribe would be highly regarded. The local Datoqa tribe blacksmith and Hadzabe chief bartered meat for arrowheads. These arrowheads would later be dipped by the Hadzabes in poisonous sap from a local tree and then attached to the arrows that are used in their hunts. After spending a day foraging with the woman while Tom was out on a hunt with the younger men, we presented our gifts to them. The chief was so impressed with our generosity that we were invited to stay with his clan for a full month! While Tom was still licking his chops from earlier tastings of barbequed wort hog, this non meat eater graciously declined and headed toward the Land Rover.

More in the coming days.....