Monday, July 31, 2017

My Trip to the USA – March 2017 aka Re-Entry into an Advanced Matrix Simulation

I wish to share about my recent trip back to the USA and my impressions about what’s going on there. I’ve decided to share more than what I was originally going to share, so you get a fuller sense of my experiences. Thank you in advance for your patience and reading.

I’d love to hear of others’ recent experiences too, both being in the USA and returning to the USA. Also, I wish to let people know that you are NOT crazy – if you’re sensing any of what I was feeling - you’re not alone in your awareness – and don’t minimize what you’re feeling and don’t minimize what your heart is telling you to do in response.

So here goes:

My Trip to the USA - March 2017 aka Re-Entry into an Advanced Matrix Simulation

Less than one year after we moved to Cuenca in May 2016, situations had arisen that necessitated a return to the USA. We’d had a well-designed fail-safe position for our first 2 years as expats but there was no ignoring what our hearts were saying rather loudly now, so we agreed wholeheartedly to deviate rather dramatically from that plan. And one of had to go back to straighten out our affairs and complete our exodus from the USA.

Neither of us wanted to go back, but we reasoned out that I would be the best choice to make the trip while Michael supported the process in Cuenca. We were revising our original plan, following our hearts, and letting go even more so than before.

So here are some insights as to what I experienced when I was back in the Seattle area.

Originally in early 2016, I’d thought I’d only take off 6-12 months from the corporate world, but I’d also thought that of course I would have to go back. What I didn’t realize back then was there was actually no way once I stopped that I could have returned. I am enormously grateful that Michael and I heeded the call of our spirit, our intuition, and QUIT the **** when we did! At the very least, I believed it saved both of our ALIVENESS, and perhaps our lives. I saw what had happened with many of our friends, what was still happening with many of them, and I’m not kidding here, and definitely not exaggerating.

I had lived under a sea of denial for so long and for so many decades, and didn’t recognize the toil that our lifestyle was taking on me (and Michael). I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t see it for what it was, (and now question WHY since it’s SO obvious now) but fortunately something inside of me did and spoke loud enough that I listened and quit before it was too late. Even though I’d worked on myself for years (ok, decades) to heal, that well-intended and dedicated work had barely made a dent, and had NOT led to healing nor freedom.

Thank goodness, back in the fall of 2015, we’d heeded the call of the South American plant medicines, Ayahuasca and San Pedro; received strong insights and messages; and then took the necessary actions once we returned to stop the madness and shift gears in our lives.

Yet that madness had been familiar, and we had lived and loved for many decades in that sea of madness. I was incredibly sad, yet incredibly grateful to let go, and continue to let go, so that was all a part of my emotional landscape during this trip back to the USA.

The USA is a Toxic Sea

It was very cloudy flying into Seattle and I could only see the peak of Mt Rainier poking above. I was dismayed to see, for the first time since leaving Seattle the year before, airplanes spewing out chemtrails, high about the clouds. Yes, there are no chemtrails (that we can see anyways) in Cuenca, and yes they are laying down chemtrails daily in all cities throughout the USA (and most of the rest of the world). Look up and you’ll see them – crisscrossing layers turning the skies milky-blue and raining down poisonous crap on mountains, trees, water, and of course people. And any outcry against this is largely ignored – “You’re just a conspiracy theorist.”

I knew that I would be eating food and drinking water that would not be as healthy, but simply had to deal with that for a few weeks. I was not going to be able to cook so would have to eat out. There’s only one organic restaurant within 15 miles of our home. After all, even if I was eating and preparing organic food, it really wasn’t organic – that food is nor longer labeled as “organic” because it is NOT; instead it is now labeled as “grown organically” and is sprayed and therefore poisoned AFTER it is harvested. I figured I would detox once I got back.

I gained at least 7-8 lbs in the first day or so after arriving in the Seattle area. I believe this was an inflammatory response due to my exposure to the toxic air, food and water. Upon returning to Cuenca, within a week I lost that extra weight even though I indulged in some food that typically causes weight gain for me.

I question how people can survive or thrive in such toxicity, and I admire the human spirit that prevails in spite of repeated assaults on our physicality.

Re-Entry into an Advanced Matrix Simulation and That Thick Dense Layer Around People

One thing I’ve noticed since moving to Cuenca, is that I feel more alive, more energized and more in tune with my intuition. I’m actually happy – see my blog post here that I wrote last September. I was surprised to re-read my description of the lifting of the depressive fog as it mirrored what I’m writing about now.

Immediately upon arriving in Seattle, I felt like I had landed in an advanced Matrix simulation. It’s hard to describe how and why I felt that. I felt like a giant, walking among automatons (that’s people) who were acting out their Matrix programming. There was a strange vibe in the air, and it felt alien to me. Now, much of my reaction could be due to coming from a simpler, homier setting and returning to a busier, bustling environment. Still first impressions are important, and I realized that Seattle had changed, or perhaps it was me that had changed.

After a few days, I realized that I was sensing something odd about most people. In Cuenca, people (even strangers) greet each other warmly as they pass in the streets or at the mercados (markets), with a lovely “Cómo estás. Buenos días.” (English: “How are you. Good day.”) They look at you and truly engage with you. And they are SO happy to do so – it’s part of their culture to be so gracious, so kind, so welcoming. In Seattle, typically they avoid you, turn their face away, and don’t engage. At all. Seriously, not at all. It was rare that someone even acknowledged me. This is not just Seattle – it’s throughout the USA and other first-world countries. Also I sensed they were intensely caught up in their personal lives and focused narrowly on making those lives happen within their well-defined cocoon, and the hell with anyone that wasn’t an important factor in making that happen.

But more insidiously, I “felt” something different. Although I wasn’t seeing it, I was “sensing” a thick energetic layer, about 18” thick, of a dense and stifling energetic layer of a thick substance or “spongy goo” that was surrounding most people (for a few people it wasn’t as thick); there also seemed to be tiny spirit/soul residing in the deep interior that would periodically perk up, come out to engage with you but too quickly retreat back to that deep interior safe place. This thick layer was not sticky, but it felt like it had a slimy yet porous quality, and when it was poked or punctured, it would reseal quickly once the spirit/soul retreated back and that intrusion to the surface was removed.

If I was to describe it further, I’d almost describe it as a “protective” layer but it was a strange sort of protection. Surprisingly, it felt like it wasn’t a protection for the spirit/soul inside, but rather a protection built for the Matrix simulation controlling the spirit/soul. I’ve gone back and forth on how to describe this.

First, I thought it was almost like something was purposely and energetically attacking that tiny spirit/soul and the soul’s natural response was to create the protective layer. Yet this layer wasn’t really native to the spirit/soul but the spirit/soul was being purposely stimulated with fear or other negative emotions so this goo would then form, layer by layer, over weeks, months, years and decades.

Second, I believe that when the tiny spirit/soul inside expressed and asserted itself in a manner that was contrary to the Matrix simulation’s programming, that the Matrix would generate an additional protective layer that would isolate the spirit/soul inside AND enable the intended programming to continue unabated, and in greater force. The spirit/soul may have thought it was the one being protected; but in fact, it was the Matrix programming that was being protected. I stand by this second interpretation. And this is an important distinction as to what this 18” layer is all about.

It also was apparent to me that if the spirit/soul came out for too long and engaged with someone for too long or too intimately or with too much true connection, that there was a counteraction / response that would cause that spirit/soul to retreat back. Then there’d be an instant resealing of this outer substance, and even an additional layer added on.

When I talked with the people at Starbucks, in the stores, the contactors at the house, or neighbors or friends, the lack of true connections was painfully obvious. Now, not everyone was like that all the time, but it was prevalent enough to be the norm. Most people seemed to be acting out their roles, without truly engaging, or being conscious of what they were doing. They were acting out their programming, in a rather unconscious way. Even mothers with children were not really connecting with their children – that was especially sad.

They seemed to be these cylindrical-shaped objects of an energetic substance that were navigating their “life” operating under a pre-determined and insidious programming, that was stifling to the human spirit inside, but very sophisticated in making you think it was truly human, humane and/or natural. It was rather creepy. And after awhile, I could not drive down our neighborhood’s main boulevard with all those seemingly non-human objects walking, talking, and being in their “Stepford Wives” reality.

Honestly it was amazing that anyone was making any connection with anyone at all – and it was a testament to the human spirit that I witnessed as many attempts, albeit aborted ones, as I did. And incredibly sad that so many people are as fooled as they are, and think that what they are experiencing is actually real life, when they are being totally controlled by some sophisticated programming.

There were many people that claimed to be free or immune from this Matrix programming – such as spiritual leaders, life coaches, conspiracy theorists, inspirational speakers/writers, but it became obvious that they were just operating within a more refined construct of that programming. I actually discussed this with a friend, and we were able to reason together what was especially happening with her, and had happened to me in the past (and even in the present), and how pervasive that mind-control can be. It’s like waking up from a dream into a dream, but thinking you are now awake.

Mirror Work – I Love “YOU”

Have you ever done “mirror” work? It’s supposed to work in lovely ways, in creating more self-acceptance, more self-love of your body and soul. It’s a nice practice and for some, especially in the beginning, it’s very hard to do – for some it’s simply hard to tell yourself that you love yourself and accept yourself, especially when you’re in your undoctored nakedness looking at yourself critically in the mirror. Yet how much that self-love is needed, and how challenging it can be to gift it to ourselves.

When we were living in Issaquah previously, I would do “mirror work”. After a shower, I would stand in front of a full-length mirror, and tell myself, “I love you” and other nice things. It was nice, and I could do it with some ease, and thought it was working. Now that was a nice illusion about the effectiveness or non-effectiveness of much of the self-help work that I did.

I hadn’t done this practice since leaving Seattle and moving to Cuenca.

Now back in Issaquah, I got out of the shower one day, and as was my past practice, I stood in front of the mirror. “I love you.” I connected my eyes with those in the mirror and spoke those words. Kinda automatically. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.



I was so shocked! This was NEW! And I was totally floored and excited and flabbergasted. I pulled away from the mirror several times, and pulled back in, almost magnetically, surprised that “I” was still there and connecting with “ME”. It was beautiful!

I had fully, thoroughly and completely connected energetically with ME and I knew it. Omigosh, what a lovely interchange followed! I was so excited and thoroughly thrilled.

“Hello there, beautiful. It’s so lovely to see you. I so love you.  Thank you for being here. Oh my, I do see you – I see your eyes – they’re so clear, they’re so vibrant. You’re so alive, so precious, so beautiful. Oh my, I SEE YOU! You are SO loved! You are SO precious!”

And on and on. I could barely pull myself away from the mirror and every time I did, I went back and reestablished that connection; it was addicting (in a good way) and it was so healing. Such beautiful love being expressed to ME by ME – that is so wonderful and so different from the me from before.

Now, that’s true mirror work. I call it miracle work.

What had happened? I’d never experienced this level of connection with myself before. Somehow, I believe that simply being in Cuenca, living that healthier and less stressful life, being away from influence of that crazy advanced Matrix simulation, that the insidious 18” layer had dissolved, at least most of it. I was now able to see the true me, in all my glory, with total clarity, and total appreciation. And love me. And express it.

What a gift!

The Matrix – What Will It Try Next?

The first few days I was back in Issaquah, I kept feeling these insidious and seductive whispers, “You like this. You liked this. You did this well. You could do it again, and do it even better.” And it was right. Michael and I had created a beautiful home, we had risen from the ashes of past relationships, past jobs, past mistakes, to build a lovely life together. We had succeeded well in the corporate world, even excelled and reached the top of our professions. We had all the benefits (or trappings) of a good and successful life. And something out there wanted me to hear about that, over and over again.

My response was to be appreciative of what we had been able to achieve, but also to appreciate that we had been able to learn, and what we had chosen to leave behind. I rejected the so-called natural conclusion of this message to come back to “reality”, to what I knew, to what I was used to. It was very seductive but I acknowledged the little truth contained, and claimed my bigger truth and freedom from the enslavement that was no longer.

So the message changed. (Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the “voices” being beamed at me changed their messages. Where was this coming from – you use your imagination. It felt like a psychic encroachment to me.)

For the next few days, the messages shifted from that of seduction to that of vicious overwhelm. I became overwhelmed with all that needed to be done, the many obstacles both anticipated and unexpected, and the ridiculously short time that I had to accomplish it all. Plus when would I find the time to do the important stuff – which was connect with friends.

The entire first floor of the house was strewn with boxes, papers, and “stuff”. It was a mess. People were being unresponsive. Everything seemed to be delayed, or reversed, or made harder. It was as though the “hive-mind” had changed tactics and was now saying, “So you don’t want this after all. Let me show you exactly how much you don’t want this – here take this, take that... If you really want to leave all this, by the time you get done extricating yourself, you’ll HATE it all.”

By the second or third day of these messages, I broke down. Tearfully, I talked with Michael that Thursday, with my emotional state of mind a complete mess of jelly. I can’t do this. It’s too much. I can’t get it done in time. Why did I come? Why didn’t you come?

I know that Michael was shocked at my state of mind. And perplexed and even helpless as to how to support me. After all he was about 4400 miles away. And I spent the rest of that day wallowing in despair as I tried valiantly not to drown in the sea of negativity. After our conversation, Michael talked with one of our friends who suggested I get some Bach’s Flower Rescue Remedy. I had just unearthed some, right at the house, but when I held it in my hand, and although I was grateful for the love and the suggestion, I could “feel” that that wasn’t the answer.

But what was?

I do know that I acknowledged the partial truths in all the negativity that was streaming at me. I didn’t resist that, and I wasn’t trying to make it all perfect. Yes, there wasn’t much time. Yes, people were being uncooperative. Yes, there was tons to do, more than would typically be expected of one person. Yes, it was overwhelming.

It was kinda surprising, but the next day I woke up and it was different. Somehow I had shifted. I hadn’t planned on shifting, I hadn’t prayed, nor meditated, nor sent out intentions about “healing” this breakdown. I really didn’t “let go”. I didn’t do anything.

Instead, I simply found myself “being” me. Something simply rose up in me, without my willing it, without my asking for it, without my grasping for it. It simply was me, being me, naturally. And I didn’t realize that my native “beingness” had risen up – it simply was there, and was going to stay. Of course, it felt like me – it was me, so nothing out of the ordinary, right? Except the messages of deafening overwhelm were gone. Again, that felt natural and not noticeable. Interesting...

Instead of “being in the zone,” “I was the zone.”
Instead of “being in the flow,” “I was the flow.”
Instead of “being confident,” “I was confidence.”
Instead of “breathing,” “I was the breath.”

In talking with Michael, he was surprised and relieved to hear my complete about-face and my newfound cheerfulness and go-do-it attitude that was now present. I didn’t realize what had occurred until after the trip was over and I reflected on what had happened day-by-day. I believe that our time in Cuenca this past year had done something very healing to me, my body, my psyche, such that when faced with such adversity that I naturally rose up, because I simply was me, I “be”.

And for the next week and a half, in spite of continued delays and ridiculousness, I was OK, I was able to navigate it all. My physicality held up (in spite of 12-16 hour days and yes I did get tired, but I recovered); my emotional state was excellent (I was riding the waves and feeling the ups and downs); my mental state was acute and able to multi-task and keep on task. I wasn’t perfect and I was good to go. I flexed, I adjusted. And I simply did what I needed to do. And beautiful “miracles” happened as one situation after another was solved.

The initial seductive messages, and the follow-up overwhelming messages from the Matrix simulation just didn’t affect me any more. I wasn’t resisting them. Instead, I had a profound sense of stepping naturally into an essence of me, that I hadn’t done before, quite as completely. Without fanfare, without efforting. I have a very clear sense now, that whatever might be required of me in the future, that simply being “me” is enough.

I learned a lot on this trip, but it was mostly about the healing and expansiveness that has happened for me since moving to Cuenca, the evidence of the lifting of the depression and oppressiveness, and the gift of seeing the difference of what had been before, and what is now blossoming.

And now your turn… I can't be the only one who is sensing, feeling, changing...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

How To Wake Up When You Don't Even Know You're Asleep?

We're asleep and rather unconscious about so much about life. Here's my take on how to gently wake up, on purpose and with joy!

1. Relax about it - at least part of the time. Don't always be so focused on waking up. The intensity of constant pressure to wake up can be counterproductive. Some of the best discoveries happen in a daydream, or while relaxing, or on vacation.

2. Have a sense of humor about it.

3. Just Say No - Take action of correcting what we've already woken up to. I had a dream a while back, and at the end of remembering the dream, this message came through loud and clear, "You're complicit in agreeing to stay asleep when you agree to go along with the insanity". We are already awake in many ways, but still accepting placidly the insanity and not rejecting/correcting it at all - so are we ready to wake up to more, if we aren't going to take action there either? Example when I went along with the insanity of some price increases at work (3x, 4x, 5x from what they were a few months previous). Though I tried to work with management, I acquiesced and compromised and therefore was part of the problem. And as a good person, I was signalling to others that all was well in this job, when it wasn't.

4. Ask and pray for guidance. (I've received such guidance many times when I've asked! One time, I was frustrated with my job and going into work on the bus. I was praying/asking/pleading, "Please just give me a sign that this will all turn out OK, and I'll get past this." I got off the bus in the Seattle tunnel, and straight in front of me was an American Family insurance advertisement - a HUGE sign - literally - that said something to the effect - "Go after your dream. We'll protect you. The sign stayed up there for many months - a constant reminder. Apparently our angels DO have a (literal) sense of humor.)

5. Trust that I will hear the messages and "niggles" or nudges when they happen and will take proper action in the right space and time. Also, patience! Listen and pay attention to synchronicities, serendipities, dreams, and just stuff smack in front of you.

6. Question everything. And while questioning, look for the inconsistencies, the contradictions.

7. Bring to our lives a spirit of anticipation, love, unconditional love rather than fear or foreboding. This creates the right mental/emotional environment for us to question, notice and wake up further.

8. Ask myself, how would I be acting / thinking if I was truly awake, and then DO that! Or at least imagine it vividly.

9. Gratitude. Be grateful for how much I have already woken up.

Letter to My Future Self

Well - I got inspired right away to write out a letter to my past self (say about 40 years ago). It was really quite a lot of fun, and gave me some good insights.


Hello there, my dear. You're 18 years old, and in the midst of embarking into your adult years. Let me bring your attention to a few things.

First, you have a powerful intuition and I encourage you to slow down, and listen to yourself more. There's a bunch of noise around you, and do take the time to get to the place where you can truly listen to yourself. You have been programmed to align with the not-so-wonderful values of overworking, overdoing, and not resting. You think that this will bring you love and approval - it will NOT since it's not based in higher truths. This programming is NOT YOU.

You've been fooled in many ways and please don't be afraid to see how and why you've been so manipulated. You already have so many inklings about this already - your spidey sense is really quite good here. So please do pay attention, and take the time to listen to yourself. It is vital that you take care of yourself - it is NOT counter-productive to rest, recuperate, and simply think and reflect and be QUIET.

When you find yourself reeling from overwhelm (you know the feeling that you're drowning and you start grasping for solutions any which way), STOP and REFLECT. There are messages in each of these situations - they will serve as a barometer for you to make better decisions. If you feel you're making a desperate and "Hail Mary" attempt to resolve a problem, STOP and really listen to yourself. You WILL be given the necessary insights to resolve it in a much better way.

There are consequences to each of your actions and decisions, and do realize that it might not be so easy to correct and retract from a decision you're making in haste. It might not be as easy as you wishfully think, to get back on the right track. So make your decisions and take action much more carefully. It's OK to go SLOW.

Feel free to SAY NO to that which does not serve you, no matter who you might displease. Your future will only be better - don't give in the numbing fear that you are sinking into an abyss and must acquiesce to others' impositions or influences and manipulations of you. Yes I know that's simply an undercurrent running way below your conscious awareness most of the time - but you are SO capable to tuning into that quiet but devious undercurrent and calling it for what it is! That's a LIE that you have to run your life by unconsciously reacting to those unnamed fears and unrecognized influences - have the confidence to upset the status quo. It WILL be alright. It's better to be on the right path and working harder (still with sufficient rest of course), than being on the wrong path and compromising what's best for you.

Question EVERYTHING - seriously, EVERYTHING. You've been fed a pack of lies and you've made much lemonade out of lemons. That doesn't mean that the lemonade is always the best response - sometimes, you just gotta STOP accepting all the lemons. There's another option other than just making lemonade again and again, in spite of the fact that your lemonade is quite tasty and appealing. You're doing a great job of questioning much, but do take it MUCH MUCH further - you will find that you will break through much quicker and easier to a truly satisfying life.

Fear - don't stuff it and negate it - it has POWERFUL messages for you. Please recognize when you're afraid, afraid of the future, afraid of not having love, afraid of being alone, afraid of disappointing your parents, friends and bosses, and FEEL that fear. Instead of feeling that you must as though all is well and trying to confidently put in place solutions that are only desperate attempts to assuage the fear, please sit with that fear, seek out people you can request guidance from (now this is NOT your parents, nor most people that you know. ASK and PRAY for guidance and see who shows up in your path - you'll know it when you see it - remember I have reminded you how powerful your intuition is - it truly is). Remember it's OK for life to be messy - get used to "not knowing", "not having to perform" and "not having to be perfect (whatever that means)."

Love your body, your physicality, your sexuality - you might be recoiling at that, but pause for a minute and realize that you already do in so many ways, and you tend to censor yourself because of the conditioning to which you've been subject. Think for a moment about the contradictions inherent in claiming your spirituality / your divinity and then squashing the natural expression of that in your physicality.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
Tell YOUR truth, especially to yourself.
Come from your heart, and truly honoring YOU.

Learn how to forgive others, and especially to forgive yourself. (More on this later but you can listen for direction on this and follow it - just be flexible and willing to give up the victim/martyr conditioning that really doesn't serve you. Once you realize how every situation is meant for your highest good, and you claim your ability to traverse the path with grace, you will be able to shake off any traumas, because you will be focused, not on the past, but on the present and unfolding future opportunities.)

And I'm sure you're noticing that I'm not giving you specific advice and that's intended. Because if you simply took the advice to not do this, and to do that, or take that job, or (you name it), you wouldn't have honed the necessary skills and innate talents on how/why/which decisions are best. And you're so capable of waking up and consciously claiming that which is already a powerful part of you.

You are so capable and so loved. Truly love yourself, and do what pleases you and aligns with your highest sense of good. I thank you for being on this wonderful path, and please do know that you have succeeded beyond all your imaginations, since I (your future self) am a great testament to your beautiful success.

All my love to you, my precious one,

Your Future Self

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hiking in the Magical Forest in the Ecuador Cajas National Park

Recently, Michael and I had the pleasure to be on a gorgeous hike exploring the magical forest in the Cajas National Park with our friends, Bill and Darby. And it truly is magical, even enchanted.

Our ride to the Cajas National Park was the first step into the magic, even as I realize that I see our new hometown of Cuenca as pretty magical. My husband and I moved to Cuenca from the USA back in May of this year and we are still in awe with the beautiful skies and clouds, the stunning views of the mountains surrounding Cuenca (translated from Spanish as "basin"), the rock-filled rivers where many wash their clothes daily, and more. Now, traveling just minutes from Cuenca, we had gorgeous scenery as we drove through towering mountain peaks and relished the blue skies with puffy clouds.

For those without a car, it's an easy bus ride - go to the bus terminal and get a bus going to Guayaquil and ask to be let off at the Cajas National Park. Coming home, flag down a bus going back to Cuenca. We've heard it's an easy trip. 

I loved the Cajas National Park Visitor Center - small but packed full of wonderful snippits about the Cajas, done in a very tasteful way. 

We started on the hike, and immediately descended upon a lake that had me oohing and aahing. We're high up - over 13,000 feet above sea level. There were teeny tiny flowers on the ground, and you could tell from the gnarled branches and tree trunks that the weather is rugged here, and nature had adapted well. Especially, we loved paying attention to the tiny instances of floral beauty hidden under foot and to the unusual quality of the trees' and bushes' growth. I was enthralled with the variety and individuality of the natural wonders. What a treat!

The scenery was constantly changing, and around this bend, up a slight incline or simply a few steps more, the scene changed completely, again and again.

I remember saying I wish I could take a few steps, then sit for an hour and appreciate the gorgeousness, then take a few more steps, and sit for another hour, and do that again and again. I'll probably come back and do just that. That's my idea of meditation - to breath and drink in all the beauty, in nature's silence.

You can see the breathtaking scenery in the photos - in person, it's even more amazing.

Everything felt so primal and vibrant. I remember appreciating some of the plants, flowers, trees, clouds, etc. and saying silently to them, one at a time, as my gaze rested on each one, "You are beautiful!" And I could swear I heard from each one back to us, again and again, "You are beautiful!" It felt like they were appreciating us and our recognition of them as much as we were appreciating them. And yes, I did feel as though I'd been transported into another universe where those conversations seemed perfectly natural.

We were aiming for what's known as the highest forest in the world. And as we entered the forest, the stillness and grandeur stunned me. It was like entering the aliveness of the Avatar's movie, the magical fairy tale landscapes of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings and more, as well as the vibrancy of the Redwood Forest and the best of National Geographic specials.

I knew I was seeing in 3-D, after all our world is in 3-D. But as I closed my eyes and opened them again, the 3-D effect seemed magnified as the landscape leaped towards me. I felt deliciously enveloped by the aliveness all around me.

The energy here is profound. There seemed to be a buzz in the air. There are fallen trees and branches everywhere, and trees that are almost growing horizontally, until they twist again in another direction. Eons ago, boulders had crashed into the forest, and some are partially submerged, and more are camouflaged by trees and foliage, and yet others form the foundation for hidden caves and crevices. Perhaps as a possible residence for the Wawa Grande (South America's name for Big Foot or Sasquatch) and family. There's a gorgeous sponginess to the forest floor, like many layers of moss and leaves all compressed.

There was one tree in particular that my husband, Michael called my attention to. As he was hiking past the tree, he felt the unmistakable energy of the tree and was drawn to it immediately. Connecting with this magnificent wise quinoa tree essence was a treat. Like in Avatar where they show the interconnected source energy, it felt like this magnificent tree was that source. In connecting with the tree by first with my hands, then arms, then full body hugging, the energy coursed through me. Looking up towards his branches and leaves above me, they waved in unison and synchronization, seemingly delighted to feel us and be with us in such connection. I felt literally energetically, almost magnetically glued to this beautiful tree and his energy and when I tried to disconnect, it felt like I was a layer that had become attached to the tree that didn't want to be separated. I felt almost sucking noises as we pulled apart reluctantly. I could barely remove myself to continue our trek. As I was disengaging from this precious tree, it felt like I asked his name and he told me his name was "Tomas", and as I turned away, he continued, "Or Tomasina, if you prefer." I turned back in amazement - had he really spoken to me?  Again, another magical spot where I would like to luxuriate for an hour or a day, in silent communion.

Once we got into the forest, the path took us in a straight line out to other vistas, but that was not for us. We climbed over tree trunks and branches, tested the sponginess to make sure there was solid footing underneath, avoided holes to the right and the left, climbed up and down on rocks and basically made our own path. We knew we couldn't get lost and we were on an adventure!

I'll have to admit that at times this part of the trek felt beyond me. Sure footing was essential as one didn't want to have one leg sink into a deep endless layer of moss, or slip on a rock going up or down hill and not be able to navigate the next steps safely. I was grateful for the offer of one of Bill's walking sticks (ski poles), everyone's encouragement, and even a helpful shoulder or hand, and I simply went slowly and surely. Everyone was very understanding, and perhaps they were experiencing much of what I was. Anyways, it was enormous fun and I'll do it again. I kept remembering to drink and breathe in all that beauty, and finally we emerged out at a lower level right by a lake.

And it was quite marshy in spots. This is where Bill was leading the way, and all of the sudden he sunk in up to his knees. That would have been a great photo op, and later on, when he removed the boot and poured out the murky black water.

We continued along the lake, being careful to avoid any other quicksand-like spots. Our socks and shoes did get soaked as we squished our way through. Such childlike fun!

Coffee, water and snacks stops were so appreciated. Bill had brought coffee (even with milk and sugar, as we desired - such luxury!), delicious Ecuadorian dark chocolate found in the mercados, and nuts/dried fruit. We rested, munched, sipped, and onward!

We identified our way back, knowing we had plenty of time before sunset, but would we make it back before the rain? At this point, we were going uphill a lot, and I found that short frequent rests were helpful. My legs were a bit jelly-like - even though we walked a lot around Cuenca, I hadn't exercised like this for a while! Even though we were at high altitude, I found that I had pretty good breath, but my legs were needing to process more oxygen like they were used to at lower elevations.

I've probably bored you with my descriptions of the scenery, but just because I haven't mentioned it much on that way back, well it was just as glorious and delectable! Copy, paste those appreciations here!

As we completed the last leg of our hike, it was starting to sprinkle lightly. Perfect ending to feel the cool wetness - so refreshing. And we ended up at the delightful cafe, where Bill's recommendation of the "best hot chocolate ever" was so appreciated. And at Ecuadorian prices, it was a bargain at only $2.00 per cup. We tried their empanadas as well - I can highly recommend the $1.50 "pollo" one - with a flaky fried crust, it was a delicious handheld chicken pot pie. We had brought some "cachitos" or croissants which were perfect for dipping in the hot chocolate.

This is exactly the type of adventure that Michael and I love! Getting off the beaten path, creating our own adventure, and discovering the hidden treasures. We were grateful that even though we were pretty tired at the end, that we slept well, and barely had any soreness the next day. If you ever get close to Cuenca, Ecuador, visiting and hiking in the Cajas National Park is a highly recommended treat. It's not always easy to get out of your comfort zone, especially in a new country, different language, and we loved joining Bill and Darby on this amazing day!

We'll be back often - so eager to be in the forest, and with Tomas and other beauties of nature again!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Shopping at the Cuenca Mercados

We love shopping at the mercados here in Cuenca, and have recently gotten some great deals from the Feria Libre mercado. You can get wonderful prices at the other mercados too. The prices are amazing:
This GIGANTIC papaya (see photo) along with 10 beautiful oranges was only $3. I wanted to give you a sense of the huge size of the papaya so included some other fruit in the photo along with the dollar bill so you can see the comparison.
This HUGE bunch of green onions (see photo) was $0.50. We cut them up and froze them!

The 6 DELICIOUS mangoes were $1.
The SUPER BIG 3 cauliflower heads and 2 SUPER BIG broccoli bunches were only $2.
A MASSIVE bunch of bananas was only $1.
A LARGE pineapple was only $1.50.
A BUCKET of tomatoes was $1.00.  
Two "cubetos" or 60 (30*2) large eggs were $6.60 (Yes, we eat a lot of eggs)
Bargaining is expected, and we did for most items. But even I couldn't bring myself to bargain for less than $0.50 for the green onions.

Helpful Hints:
1. Greet the vendors first with: Cómo estás. Buenos días. This is the way business is done in Cuenca and it is so nice to make that personal connection first!
2. Know your numbers in Spanish - makes it so much easier to recognize what they are telling you and when you are attempting to bargain back.
3. When bargaining, whenever possible, ADD to what is being offered, rather than offering less.  For example, instead of 4 mangoes or avocados, add 1 or 2 to the group, and offer the same amount.
4. When bargaining, buy more than one item from the same vendor, for example bargaining for both cauliflower and broccoli with the same vendor. Another example: the gigantic papaya was priced at $2.50 and the oranges were 8/$1 - we bargained for both asking for the papaya at $2 and 10 (not 8) oranges for the $1.
5. Always with a pleasant smile on your face and a small frown when you hear that first price. Remember that "por favor" and "gracias" works wonders. 
4. Have your money out, preferably exact change, and be ready to pay. (A bird in the hand...)
6. Go to several vendors, and find out what their going prices are. Often you will see other transactions happening so pay attention to what is being offered.  Don't be afraid to experiment.
7. Be prepared to walk away if you feel the price is not right. There are many vendors offering the same thing. They will often call after you if they are willing to accept your offer.
8. Be fair, but also remember they won't sell you items for less than they wish to.
9. When you find a wonderful vendor, ask them their name, "¿Cómo te llamas?" Usually they respond so sweetly and will ask you your name too. Most likely, then you will enjoy engaging in some other friendly conversation with them. And remember where they are and go back to them!
10. Have fun!

I'm sure others will have even more helpful hints. We enjoy our mercado shopping excursions, and try to do as much of our shopping at the mercados as possible. 

Good News Shall Come To You From Far Away

“Good news will come to you from far away.”

On the day my dad died, I drove home from work and stopped into our favorite Chinese restaurant for take-out food. As you can imagine, I just didn’t feel like cooking. The meal was delicious as always, and when I opened up my fortune cookie I read, “Good news will come to you from far away.”

My mouth gaped open in shock at first. What a fortune cookie to get on that particular day, when it was anything but good news. Yet my dad has always had quite an unusual and wry, even rude sense of humor, and this would have been just like him. I shook my head in disbelief, smiled and saved the fortune cookie message.

This was in 1997, almost 20 years ago. I continued to go to this restaurant frequently for the next 5 years but never got that fortune cookie message again.

Then in late 2001, I met Michael and fell head over heels in love with him. I’d moved away from the area at that point, but eventually we made the long drive and treated ourselves to dinner at the same Chinese restaurant. I shared with him over hot and sour soup, egg rolls and other delicious dishes including the best egg foo yung ever, that I really wished he would have met my father – they would have definitely hit it off together. I imagined how both their wits and senses of humor would have connected, and especially how Michael, the come-back King of all time, would have skillfully bantered with my dad. My dad truly respected someone who could deftly spar verbally with him. In fact, when he and his second wife (not my mother) got married, we joked that their wedding vows should include the promise to “love, honor and bicker in perpetuity.”

Imagine my surprise when I opened my fortune cookie and for the first time since my dad’s passing, found the SAME message received years previously. “Good news will come to you from far away.” I couldn’t speak and was quite choked up, even in tears. That was not exactly how I liked to present myself to the new love of my life. I wasn’t quite in the “it’s ok to be vulnerable” space with him just yet. However, it was apparent to both of us that my dad and/or his sense of humor was quite present during dinner, and perhaps he did have the pleasure of meeting Michael after all. I took it as a good sign that Michael and I would indeed be very good together.

Ok, so fortune cookies speak to me. Apparently, the angels definitely like communicating in this  forum, at least with me.

I remember attending my going-away luncheon at work, and being the only one to receive a fortune cookie message, “A new job is in the offering.” And I remember getting a fortune cookie with the message, “You have a calm and unassuming manner.” Well, that wasn’t me (or so I thought) so I asked for another fortune cookie, and got the same message; I didn’t ask for another one. And when I was running a life purpose workshop and had created fortune cookie messages, everyone chose exactly the right message for them. Including me – mine was “Forgive yourself. Then act as though you truly are forgiven.” There seems to be something divine percolating through in those messages.

Another time, when I was having a depressing challenge connecting with the joy in life, I drove to downtown Issaquah. First I saw a license plate including the word, “Joy” on it. Then I browsed around a metaphysical bookstore where I saw flyers advertising “Linda Joy’s” offerings and drew a fortune cookie message offered in a dish; it said “Joy is the feeling of grinning on the inside.” I went to the library after that, and as I walked in the door, there was Martha Beck’s book, “The Joy Diet” in front of me. So I got my “joy” reminders that day! 

So I was with my best college roommate friend some years later, celebrating the 4th of July weekend together. We treated ourselves to dinner at a Chinese restaurant (different place – 100 miles away), and I was commenting to her how it was July 3rd that day, which was my dad’s birthday and sometimes I still missed him. Yes, you know what’s coming – my fortune cookie message was practically the same, something like “Good news from afar can bring you a welcome visitor.”

You can’t make this stuff up. I loved getting my “good news” messages!

There were only a few times in the 19 years when I got other messages such as “You will hear good news today” and “An unexpected phone call will bring good news” and “Good things will come to you in due time.” I always smiled and quietly said hi to my dad. And I saved all the little slips of paper.

In 2016, Michael and I decided to move to Ecuador. This move was quite a leap of faith, as we were both officially retiring from the corporate world, we had little idea what was going to really happen next, and we were anticipating our upcoming adventure with joy and some wariness. Even though, a fortune cookie message had declared, “You are going to have a very comfortable retirement.”

I drove up to Bellingham to say good bye and visit with my best friend again. Along with another couple (we had all been college friends many years ago) and their son, we went to a Chinese restaurant, to celebrate this new adventure. I hadn’t had one of those auspicious fortune cookie messages for many years. As we were all choosing our fortune cookies, my best friend and I looked at each other, in memory of what had happened in years past. I was last to choose. This time, my message read, ‘Good things come in invisible packages. You will be delighted.” We were both kind of shocked and stunned.

I was so grateful for that wonderful reminder that there’s “something” out there that is caring for us, and sending us confidence and love and “atta girl’s.” Whether it’s my dad, or guardian angels, or God, it works for me. I loved getting that last message, so serendipitously, just before we embarked on our Ecuadorian adventure.

I taped all the messages I’d received over the last 19+ years on my laptop keyboard and brought them with me to Cuenca. They do have Chinese food here in Ecuador, but they don’t serve fortune cookies. So it will be interesting to see how future “messages” get delivered. In the meantime, I have my daily reminders of the precious love that transcends time and space.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

OMG? WTF! Need an eye doctor in Cuenca? This one has a sense of humor that only an English-speaking gringo would understand.  Here is their eye chart displayed prominently just outside their office door. They're on Ordoñez Lasso around the corner from the Super Maxi.  I'm ROTF! :P