Sun + Moon = Magic

This solar eclipse today was magical! It made me feel like I could accomplish anything I could ever dream of and more! Wait, let me take a step back and catch you up.

Have you ever heard of Hatha Yoga? There’s a whole book called the Hatha Pradipika that outlines all the bazillion rules about this particularly physical yoga practice. It’s actually kind of awesome … inside this spiritual text is the kind of stuff that make people

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Some teachings in the Hatha Pradipika are, um, odd by modern day American standards.

roll their eyes at yogis. Like, beyond poses and breath work, it talks about stuff like putting a piece of turmeric up your butt and “flossing” your nasal cavity. Gross, dude. Like, seriously. No one needs to know you’re doing that, especially not your highest self.

Anyway, Hatha Yoga is a yoga practice that involves asanas, or all those poses in class. The Sanskrit word “hatha” can be translated a bunch of ways, but one way is “Sun” for “Ha” and “Moon” for “Tha.” So it’s Sun and Moon, the light and the dark. Makes you think of Yin-Yang, the same sort of thing.

The term “yoga” means a lot of things too, but at its root, it refers to the idea of union. So, Hatha Yoga literally means the union of the light and the dark.

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My friend Leah has been making some pretty cool art lately. We also look alike. Check out her stuff on Instagram at @feelbetterhealbetter

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Hello! Today was the first solar eclipse of my memory (the last one was when I was 2)! It was a day when the moon’s darkness completely eclipsed, or, one could say … made union with, the sun’s light. It was as if the dance of the moon and the sun finally came together. It was a yoga of these opposing forces.

For anyone who has taken a yoga class mindfully, you know that this is what the practice of yoga is all about. Bringing the unconscious into the conscious. Recognizing and honoring your weakness while recognizing and honoring your strength. Seeing where you are stiff and where you are flexible, and breathing into both. Namaste may translate to “the light in me sees and honors the light in you,” but you could just as easily say “the dark in me ….” It’s not bad and good, it just is.

The other day in yoga class at the botanical garden, I practiced a headstand for the first time in a while. I toppled over! Haha! Then I tried it again and nailed it. After class, some students complimented my headstand. Which one, I wondered? Did they like the up or the down? The light or the dark? Was either of them actually better?

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Me in class. NOT (yet)!

Tonight, the teacher of the fantastic yin class I took at the community studio here in Santa Fe brought up this definition of Hatha Yoga, which I had already contemplated. But she told the class that it was a dance of the sun and the moon, but, she added, they never fully connected.

Well, looking through my little pinhole camera that I made out of a cereal box, some tape and a small piece of tinfoil, I can tell you today from my sweet housesitter’s patio that they sure connected alright! After class, I discussed this with her. She said, “Well, I guess so, but it is really rare.”

EXACTLY! Having the moon and sun connect so intimately – like during today’s eclipse – is indeed a very rare and very special experience. It is as rare as overcoming the maya, which is the Sanskrit word for the world around us. The maya is of course filled with illusion. Right? Think about all the stories you tell yourself, and how years later you see how they weren’t even true. Or the way you view yourself one day to the next. Oh, today I feel great about myself! Oh, then this happens and now everything sucks.

See how it’s all just an illusion? I used to hate raisins, and now they’re an OK snack. Are

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I mean … how can you hate these guys? Have you seen that choreography? Smooth.

they yucky or yummy? Are my tastebuds even real? See how everything around us is just an illusion that tries to trick us into being attracted to somethings and adverse to others? That way, we’re stuck in a suffering game and we never get to the point where we can truly connect and cherish both our light sides and our dark sides. Oh, tricky maya!

Well, when you overcome the maya and the illusions that are inherent within it, then you have reached enlightenment. That of course is also the whole point of yoga. You overcome all the ridiculousness of your everyday life to realize that you are one with your highest self, that you have God within and you are God and oh my GOD, what can’t you do?

That was what was so awesome about the eclipse today. It is a visual reminder that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Anything that you want to do is possible. I mean, are your dreams bigger than actually somehow lining up the sun and the moon so that your entire surroundings go dark in the middle of the afternoon? I mean, I don’t think me becoming fluent in Spanish is that hard, comparatively.

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Another epic shot by my friend Sam Wolfe. Check out HIS work on IG @sam___wolfe

You’ve surely heard a lot about intentions during this solar eclipse talk. What are your intentions? What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish in the next, say, 5 years? Dream big! Remember, if the moon and the sun can unite in a beautiful dance, then friend, we can grab our highest self by the hand and we can dance too!

 

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Sue the Steward

I’ve taken a break from the water and moved to the mountains for a few months to spend time alone, create and generally do whatever I want. I signed up for a web

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I’m a mountain woman now.

site that matches nomadic, groovy people like myself with homeowners who have pet and plant needs to fill while they are gone. It made perfect sense for me – it’s like I’m finally getting rewarded for being an amazingly responsible adult.

 

Once I realized that I was going to be leaving the islands, I wanted to get my life tightened up even more than it was. I sold/gave away everything that I couldn’t fit on my back at one time. Farewell to my paddleboard, my surfboard, my SCUBA gear, my djembe … Granted, the remaining stuff wasn’t comfortable on my back, but on my back it was nonetheless. After a week of organizing and face-timing (the old fashioned way, like buying bagels and giving hugs) in Florida, I was down to owning an overstuffed camping backpack, a computer and a ukulele.

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My possessions.

I arrived at my first housesitting gig about a week ago. It’s about 30 minutes outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was always one of those states that called me from an early age but I hadn’t had the opportunity to go. The owners of this house are a retired couple with three cats. They were heading up north with their nephew to see the eclipse happening on Monday. (I myself am still searching for a pair of glasses. They were charging $100 a pair here! I’ll just look through a cereal box, geez.)

 

Once I arrived at their beautiful adobe abode, I got a feel for all the work they do to maintain each day. Here’s my schedule: I wake up early because their 19-year-old cat yells when she is hungry. And you know what? I’m going to do the same thing when I’m old too! HEY! FEED ME! So I rouse myself from bed and hook that frail cutie up with some wet food. Then I’m up so I feed the other two

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Charlotte the cat’s spirit animal

cats. One of the cats, Chicha, sleeps with me, and the other one, Nikki, is super-jealous of this but is too shy to join in on the cuddles. One morning, I was leaving my bedroom with Chi close behind me and around the corner walks Nikki, and she was shocked, like I was cheating on her. Like she didn’t know that Chicha and I were a couple, and she had taken me out a few times. It was hilarious. About an hour later I completely covered my lap with Nikki hair by giving her a massive pet session. See, I keep all my ladies happy.

 

After the cats get food and water, I clean out their litter boxes, which is a bit of an undertaking. At this point, I get myself a warm glass of lemon water, because I read somewhere that was a good thing. I may tidy up if I left my stuff out the previous night. Then it’s time to head outdoors.

On the back patio, there are 10 bird feeders, and every day I fill them up. There

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SO MANY HUMMINGBIRDS!

are four different types of bird food for the various birds that hit the smorgasbord up every day. I’ve seen scores at a time. Then there are the hummingbird feeders, which require a mix of sugar water. There are two of those, and I fill those up as well. I have seen more hummingbirds in a day here than I’ve previously seen in my entire life. The sugar water in the feeder drips down and creates a little feast for ants.

Also as part of the back patio are two large ponds. These require filling because there are some sorts of leaks. Then the one gets clogged with algae fairly regularly, so every couple days I need to clean out the filter. If it doesn’t rain – which it really doesn’t, even in this “monsoon season” – I need to water some of the plants that aren’t on the drip irrigation. Out front, the owner also planted a bed of seeds, which I must water. This is my favorite chore, because there is a metal bell in the middle of the seed bed. Watering the bell produces the most sublime low-pitched ring. It is bliss.

 

This entire process takes about 45 minutes to an hour, unless I linger. Then I make coffee. Then I play my ukulele. Then I write for a few hours. Then I think about what adventure I want to get into, since the whole point of being here is to explore New Mexico.

But I’m learning something beyond the joys of adventuring. I have recognized the owners’ wonderful stewardship model as their way of living. Caring for these animals – the hundreds of birds and the kitties – is a natural extension of simply living on Earth. I love being responsible for helping out my fellow animals. It is not a bother at all. Even when old Charlotte is yelling at me at 6:30 a.m., I am grateful for her. She fell in the indoor pond a few nights after I arrived, and I wasn’t sure she would make it. She had one of those Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days, but she’s back to herself now.

I think this stewardship model ought to extend to our fellow man as well. As I watch with

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Environmentalist – Vegetarian – Feminist … I can probably come up with a few more interconnected labels that fit as well.

one eye closed the recent racist parades and see my otherwise lovely friends on social media giving Nazis the benefit of the doubt because the American president did, I think about the time I put each day into helping creatures that aren’t even my species. Thursdays is the day I water all the inside plants. It takes a few hours because the owners have many beautiful plants. I was happy to give them all a drink. Why would I not want the same happiness for my fellow man? What is the difference between helping grouchy Charlotte and helping a grouchy person whose skin color is darker or lighter than mine? What is the difference between offering a drink to a plant and offering a drink to someone who is a different shape than me?

 

Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, I think it is part of God’s plan for us to care for all living things. I encourage you to do so. Providing service for others is the best thing you can do for your own personal growth, and I am grateful for my efforts. I am also grateful for those who have helped me. Because there’s sure been a lot of you. The little rosebush inside me says thank you.