Why "Soulwork Adventures?"

EarthLife is amazing and if you aren't paying attention, it just may be passing you by. Slow down! Observe what is around you. Plant a garden. Make Your Own Food. Create Beauty. Meet People. Create.
Welcome to our blog. We love discovering what Earth has to teach anyone willing to be on the Growing Edge of life.

--Loretta McCarthy, Soulwork Adventures

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Whole Trip


The one word that best describes Loretta's and my journey across the USA to visit earth spirituality centers in tribute to her brother John.

I left California fancying myself a marginal farmer and came back realizing that what I have initiated at Dancing TreePeople farm has been amazing.  Now, my energies are drawing me to something new and yet unformed.

I am clear that I will not know what is next until I let go of what has been.

We need to put DancingTreePeople farm on the market and set an intention that someone will purchase it who can continue the transformation that was started here.  This decision has triggered the next whirlwind. In the weeks to come so much will happen.  Yet, I am at peace in the midst of it.

Dancing TreePeople Farm is a special place.  It has taught me to take things one step at a time, to be persistent and observant.  It has taught me that the universe is on my side, even though my vision might not be how things actually unfold.
It has taught me that each new cycle, each season is an opportunity for abundance and a change to try something new.  it has taught me to appreciate and value community and connection.

It has taught me that nature is powerful and fecund.

There will be a great deal of grief in letting go... for so much has taken place here and so much of my life's blood, my time, resources, hopes and dreams have been poured into this farm.   This place is special.  It is beautiful and alive.  It is rich beyond measure.

In the weeks ahead, it is my intention to share the wisdom of Dancing TreePeople Farm and the insights that I will take forward into what is to come.

Your Permaculture Soul,


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Home Sweet Home

As we drove into the driveway at 1445 Pitney Lane, we were greeted by three barking, exuberant, well-cared for dogs and their caretaker, Denise's sister Shelly. What a welcome! It is so good to be home. Unpacking, catching up, and entering back into the daily tasks feels so good.

Tonight I am looking forward to a good rest. Tomorrow, I may need to take one of the dogs to the vet - for a possible fox tail in her ear. Back to life as usual. How good! There is so much about the trip that I want to process and share. More in the days ahead.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

California, We Are Here!

"California or bust" has changed to "We made it!" Though not all the way to Upper Lake, we are finally back in California with one more day on the road to go! Today's trip was long and felt even  lo-o-onger as we traveled through the Mojave Desert toward Bakersfield. But there is so much beauty and diversity within the landscape, even when it seems to "look" the same, I watched the passing scenes with a deep sense of wonder!

John seemed to have had the same delight in the natural beauty that surrounded him. Among his many pictures (1000+) are scenes of waterfalls, cactus pocketed desert, barren trees, blossoming bushes, mountains, streams, deer, bears, elk, turtles, rabbits, and the list goes on. John had a photographer's eye and many of the pictures he took are striking, I am so grateful to have seen for myself some of the sights that caught his eye and imagination.

Before leaving for this tribute journey, I had removed John's photos from the albums where he had placed them in a somewhat random way. With some of the pictures I created an album to share at the memorial service. The rest ended up in a shoebox. Often as we have been driving home (and I have been the passenger) I would look at them and arrange them in categories. Most of the pictures are of the people who were part of John's life, but he also had photos of his truck parked in front of the places where he stopped to help, of the bedrooms where he stayed, and of the projects that he worked on. And, yes, of tables decorated for holidays and of food that was served. Each picture holds a memory. I am grateful to have them and to remember the stories that John shared about his life.

Taking it Easy

Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona...

Friday, September 06, 2013

This very spot

 I almost titled this entry "Altered States" because after over two weeks on the road, from driving to accepting the hospitality of so many generous people and the kindness of strangers, I most certainly feel fundamentally changed.  As often happens, the outer world mirrors the inner world... here we are in the wide open southwest, seeking out the "four corners" --the spot where four states come together: New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.. 

There is a history of surveyor disagreement as to the EXACT spot, but popular lore and public outcry has affixed the marker in this very spot, and there it stays.  And to me, Pluto is still a planet too no matter what they say.
Loretta stands in four states
Close up

Four Corners

Places of Life and Welcome

Today we did something that John would never do - a little bit of sightseeing! Instead of going directly to our next stop over place we took a side trip to the Four Corners Monument. It is the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point. On August 23rd we drove in four states. Today we stood in four states at the same time: New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Plus we saw Shiprock, a monadnock rising nearly 1,583 feet above the high desert plain on the Navajo Nation, and other marvelous vistas and rock formations.

The highlight of our day was the time we spent with the community at the Desert House of Prayer in St. Michaels, AZ. For me, this included a chance to reconnect with one of my dearest friends, Sr. Nancy, who also knew and loved John. And we had the opportunity to tell the story of our tribute journey to others who were guests as well. Six of us sat around the dinner table sharing stories and delicious food from Judy's garden, a productive oasis in this desert land.

As I get ready for another restful night, I am aware of a deep connection between all the places that we have visited on this trip. They are places of life and welcome! Though they may seem to be located in out of the way places, they are peace-filled versions of "Grand Central Station". It was true at Rockhaven Ecozoic Center, at St. Francis / St. Emma, at Timberlake, and now here at the Desert. People are in and out - volunteering, bring fresh produce, stopping by to say "hi" or to seek advice, asking for prayer, checking on a scheduled activity, and so on. What a gift these places offer our world. No wonder John was drawn to visit and to serve!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Detours Can Be Blessings

Another day of driving through the beautiful, amazingly diverse, terrain of New Mexico until we reached "Colorful Colorado" as the welcome sign announced. We had decided to change our original travel plans so we could include Durango. We wanted to visit with Lora Cardarelli, a friend of ours and of John's. Lora and John had met each other at Rockhaven Ecozoic Center and had worked together there on a couple of projects. We told stories of John and caught up with each other's lives. Then, we enjoyed a delicious meal with Lora and her partner Molly before heading out again toward the setting sun.

Our "detour" may mean a fewer longer days of driving ahead but the time to connect was such a blessing. I have a deeper appreciation of why John often went out of his way to stop and visit new friends and old, as he traveled. Tired tonight and deeply grateful!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

"Devils Rope" and an Abandoned Brassiere Factory

What the heck is Devil's Rope and why would an entire "Route 66" museum be dedicated to it?
Tribute to Barbed Wire "Devil's Rope"

It turns out that there actual IS a   "Barbed Wire Historical society" and it has been their mission since the 1990's to amass all of the private collections of barbed wire into a single location.  They took over the abandoned bra factory in McLean, Texas (pop. 850) in 1991 opened their doors alongside the old route 66 and, well, the rest is history.

There are all sorts of tributes--in fact we are on a tribute journey.  This museum is a tribute to barbed
45 stars
Loretta with a "Route 66 Beer"
wire.  The museum sports two large balls of barbed wire in front  and a delightful docent named Alta who sold us a bottle of "Route 66 beer" (root beer) and really wanted us to see the US flag with only 45 stars.

Later we visited the Dinosaur Museum, a well-done display of artifacts and fossils, with plenty of fun Dinosaur facts.... and even a Dinosuar with a saddle.

Only on old Route 66.
Denise hangs on at the Dinosaur Museum on Old Route 66

"most this amazing day"

The day began early with a ho-hum drive out of Oklahoma into Texas. Flat land, glimpses of Route 66, and a couple of stops at interesting places made for a pleasant, but uneventful morning. Then we reached New Mexico. It was in the afternoon that the words of e.e. cummings came to my mind:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; . . .

We had one hope for this day connected to our tribute in memory of John - a visit with one of the many friends John made as he traveled across the country. I remember John talking about Don and his wife Gail. He met them when his beloved F-150 Ford pickup truck had problems in the desert area to the east of Albuquerque. 
John was on his way back to Brockton and was quite concerned about the noises and the difficulties he was having with his truck. Where to stop? How does one find a reliable auto mechanic in a new place far away from home? Trusting his gut John pulled off the interstate onto Route 66, and turned into Mt. View Auto Repair. There he met Don, who secured the needed part and fixed his car for a mere $30.00, way below what John thought he might have to pay for a new transmission. 
John spent the night at a nearby hotel, picked up his car the next day and in the process of talking with Don, a friendship was formed. John kept up with Don and Gail via phone calls and stopped to visit each time he passed by on one of his cross country trips. When John heard that Gail was seriously ill, he brought her some water that he felt had healing and strengthening powers. When he heard of her death, he cried as he shared the news with me on the phone.
Denise and I wanted to stop by and meet Don and let him know of John's death. We had very limited
Loretta and Don
information about Don gleaned from one of John's address books: a first name, the name of his business and a phone number, but the phone number didn't work! So we googled the business name, found an address and followed the google directions. No sign of Mountain View Auto Repair.  
Then serendipity came to our rescue. We spontaneously pulled into one of the businesses along Route 66 in Moriarity,NM, asked the first person we saw (who was just leaving as we pulled up), and he said, "Oh, Don moved years ago. He is now located at. . ."  Ten minutes later I was at Don's new business--East Mountain Auto and RV Repair--explaining to Don who I was and why I had stopped by.
Don's response to hearing of John's death was so simple it brought tears to my eyes - still does as I write this post. He said,  "John was a good man. He would stop by each time he came through, even brought water for my wife when she was ill". We visited for a bit and shared stories and exchanged information. (At least, now I have his last name, an email address and the new name of his business!) Once again I was moved by the awareness of how John went through this life touching people and creating a web of care - one person at a time. For most this amazing gift, I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Traveling Too Long

I noticed a few things today that may indicate that I have been traveling a little too long.

1) Last night I took everything out of my suitcase and repacked once again. However, this time I only put in what I needed for six days. Everything else went into an extra duffle bag that was shoved way back in the trunk of the car.

2) While we drove today, I paid more attention to billboards than usual. (Maybe because Missouri seems to have more than any other state that we have traveled through to date.) I even found myself reading them. One advertised "toasted ravioli". I was fascinated by the concept and asked Denise what that meant. She described the process of creating this delicacy and then said, "Why would anyone do that to a ravioli!" I laughed out loud and then chuckled for miles. Does traveling for twelve days make one silly?

3) I brought the bags and cooler that contain our food into the hotel room tonight and reorganized them. I checked and yes, we have enough for five more days of travel.

4) Thoughts of our farm, our dogs, and the things to be done when we return kept popping into my mind as the miles passed by. I must be getting ready for the traveling to end.

But meanwhile our journey continues. "What would John say to you about this trip, Loretta?" was the question Denise posed to me as we drove past Tulsa, OK. I paused for a moment and replied.
"He would say three things, 'Why did you spend money on this trip, Loretta?', 'Thank you so much for doing it!!' and 'If this trip is in my memory, why aren't you on the road at 4:00am like I was?' and then he would smile!" Denise reminded me that we are creating a tribute for John. We do not have to be John.

The turnpikes

From time to time as we traveled from House Springs Missouri through to Oklahoma, we catch a glimpse of the old Route 66.  For whatever reason, I have a fascination with Route 66... I'm not sure why.  Its hey day was well before my time, in fact it is of my parents generation, and the old, now dilapidated, malt shoppes, dusty motels, gas stations with a grouchy mechanic are from a bygone era, one of innocence at having taken the whole continent and turned it into... kitsch I guess.

Perhaps my fascination stems from the 1949 classic book by George Stewart: Earth Abides, a dystopic tale of the demise of all but a few humans and what Earth does without us.  The book was formative for me, and I read it four or five times while in high school.  I have always wondered what the land was like when it was still wild, before we started pouring concrete... and what it would be like again if we just stopped doing what we do.

In the book, the main character, Ishmael, decides to travel across the US to find signs of human
beings who survive a catastrophic epidemic .  He takes Route 66.   Something as simple as a tree falling across the road renders the route impassable.  In the scheme of things, eventually all the concrete get reclaimed by forest and prairie and the story is as much about what Earth does without "man" (remember the book was written in 1949) as it is about the small cadre of humans that survive and try to recreate civilization.

Today, Route 66 has been replaced by a four lane interstate and, of course, the turnpikes.  All of the abandoned sections of old Route 66 are being reclaimed by nature, the first phase of this reclamation is taken on by the most aggressive weeds poking through cracks in the pavement.  With each winter freeze and spring rain, cracks grow wider and deeper.  Soon, trees may sprout.

the passenger side
Today, it seems the character of the former Route 66 is a shadow of what it once was.  Interstate 44 from St.Louis to Oklahoma City is a wide swath of road that connects unremarkable fast food chains to each other.  You pay toll to ride these stretches on a series of turnpikes.  As far as I can tell, "turnpike" means you pay a toll to drive on the road and keep it drive-able, lest the elements take it too.

Monday, September 02, 2013

"Love and Peace to the Whole World--Think It and Make it Happen"

As we left Louisville, KY, this morning, we skirted around the city and passed by the KFC Yum! Center. Sometimes I wonder what future generations will think of us when they unearth our cultural icons?

The fog was soupy as we drove into Indiana. For at least fifty miles, we could not see clearly ahead of or around us. The driving was not difficult if I paid attention to the road right in front of me and the cars around me. I decided to make that the mantra for the day and for the rest of our journey – paying attention one mile at a time – living each day one moment at a time. At. 9:00AM (Pacific Time) we joined with people across the globe for a ten-minute focused prayer for a peaceful solution to the crisis around the possible U.S. intervention in Syria.” Love and Peace to the Whole World – Think It and Make It Happen.”

Driving for long distances provides plenty of time and freedom for reflection. Today I was remembering John’s story of his website came into being. “In the fall of 2005 while I was visiting and working at Green Mountain Monastery, I started thinking about tying all the places that are earth friendly together on a website. Aware of the cost I decided to wait until I hit the lottery.” John then described the places he visited for the next two years and how each experience drew him closer to Mother Earth.

Then he wrote what I consider my lesson for today. “In March of 2007 while sorting through my papers I came across what I had written at Green Mountain Monastery in 2005. I decided – given my awareness of how Mother Earth is being destroyed daily – I could not wait to hit the lottery to begin tying places together. I had to start now with what I had. I contacted Denise Rushing at Dancing TreePeople Orchard and Farm for assistance in setting up a website. www.people4motherearth.net was created."

I am reminded of Drew Dellinger's powerful question: What did you do once you knew?

Our Labor Day Journey: Day in Pictures

Sept 2, 2013
On the external journey: we travel through the heartland through three states, crossing bridges in Louisville, KY, the Ohio River and the Mighty Mississippi.

The internal journey is also through the heartland too, a pause that allows a reconnection to center.  I feel strength gathering and clarity of purpose... and a deep deep gratitude for the journey itself, for all those who have supported us on this path, and for the earth centers whose fidelity to their mission is even more apparent when viewed over time.

I am preparing the soil right now for the inevitable choices ahead.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Taking the Easy Way Out

I have walked the labyrinth many times. Each time the "journey in" has been profound. I set an intention and begin walking - following the path faithfully. I feel confident that I will arrive at the center. So when the way seems to curve away, I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually I reach the center with a feeling of accomplishment and peace. Usually I sit down on the ground or floor and wait for an answer, a message, or a realization that it is time to stand up and leave the labyrinth.

The way out is to retrace the path until one arrives where one began. It is then that I often feel a desire rise up within me: " Take the easy way out!" Just walk over the path's boundaries and you will be finished and free to go. To date I have never done that because I know the blessings and the insights that come as I have taken the time to walk out with as much fidelity as I gave to walking in.

Today, as we departed from Belmead, the labyrinth came to mind. We had reached the center - the Ritual: Remembering John is completed. Why not take the "easy way out"? Hurry home and be finished with the tribute journey. Instead as we drove through the hills of Virginia and West Virginia, I sense a recommitment to this trip in memory of John. As we passed by rivers and lakes, I silently spoke  as John always did, "Thank you, Water." Denise and I recalled the gift of yesterday's memorial service and were grateful for those who touched John's life with love and honesty. And most important we asked John and those who have gone before us to help us in the days ahead to see clearly the path we are to take.