Coming home. Two little words can hold such different meaning dependent upon the context of the speaker. For me, and I suspect many of my clan, coming home can only mean sitting by the pond on Miller's farm, a spot named A Little Piece Of Heaven by my mother, Nanny. This morning I am filled with gratitude for the beauty I always find here.
Coming home to this familial sacred place is to become immersed in the great beauty of this precious mother-of-all, the Earth, herself. Just being here, with bare feet on the grassy slopes on the banks of the pond, soaking up the sun and wind, or gazing in wonder at the diamond-studded velvet canopy hung behind the moon, I always find healing here. There is no need to go looking for the healing. No need to perform any magical ritual, or proclaim any loyalties. Just by stepping into this beauty always offered here, the healing seeks me out, even when I deny need of any healing at all.
I have been a transplanted-buckeye living in Virginia for nearly a decade now. I love living in Charlottesville, Virginia, with it's small-town charm and the added bonus of having a top-rated academic university feeding the local culture. Yet, as much as I enjoy my life in C-ville, it still is an urban lifestyle.
Arriving at my sister and brother-in-law's farm in rural Ohio around midnight left little opportunity for anything but heading to bed in a temporarily vacant guest room. I crawled into bed with my eight-year-old granddaughter for the last night of sleeping in a bed for a while. For most of the remainder of my visit home, I would be sleeping in a tent out by the pond, (clearly our family's private sacred place), something I had not done in decades. Considering that just one year ago I was unable to work due to hip and joint pain, I admit I wondered how well I would handle this first attempt at roughing it in many years. I was prepared, though, and was looking forward to spending several nights by the campfire underneath the star filled black velvet sky. I had just recently finished a quilt called Cognitive Liberty - Biohacking The Mind, and the closure I always seek when I finally bind those quilts that become milestones of my work would require immersing myself deeply in the beauty of nature. I planned to spend as much time as possible with my bare feet on the earth, breathing in the beauty of my family gathered together in this sacred place.
Rising early, my first day home begins, as always, with a cup of Bulletproof coffee. Today would be a busy day, helping my sister and her family prepare to receive those family members scheduled to arrive shortly. The Stevenson Tribe would begin gathering for the first family reunion we have managed to pull together in fifteen years. Today would be a very busy day. We would all be camping by the pond, and though my sister and her family have been busy preparing the property for weeks, there were still tables to set up, and the large barn would be the camp kitchen in the days to come, and there were lists to be checked to insure everyone had a safe experience. Everyone was bringing their families, and this would be my first opportunity to meet some of the young members of my tribe.
The tribe began gathering as the hours passed, and as those that had made camp on Day One gathered around the campfire. Those that were not tired from a long day of traveling were tired from the long day of last minute preparations. The night air was cooler than anticipated, and it was not long before one and all retired to their tents. I crawled into my granddaughter's tent to sleep with her this first night of sleeping on the ground. I was appropriately tired, but will admit thinking as I drifted off to sleep - "Well now, Gwandma, we will see how bulletproof you REALLY are tomorrow!"
I had made three short overnight visits home since I began bulletproofing my lifestyle, and two of those visits were for funerals. Living hours away and still working a demanding full-time job left me little time for much of a meaningful face-to-face visit with anyone. Those previous visits provided ample evidence that I had definitely made some remarkable changes in my life that were readily apparent. I had lost over fifty pounds and was definitely looking the healthiest I have looked in decades. Those previous visits had definitely created interest as to my methods, but this prolonged visit over several days of camping would surprise even me.
I awoke early each day with the sunrise, eager to fix my cup of Bulletproof coffee, and go sit with the memories of my mother underneath 'her tree' to greet the day. In the previous months of biohacking my life I had become deeply aware of my emotional connection to drinking a cup of coffee and sharing a cigarette with my mom. A large part of my addiction to cigarettes was in that emotional bond we shared as we stole away for a cup of coffee and a smoke together. So many, many times I had tried to give up my cigarette addiction, only to fail.
Living bulletproof, I have learned a lot about how to hack unwanted behaviors, and I had managed to give up tobacco entirely for one full month late in 2013. When my son, Shane died, right before Christmas, I smoked one cigarette and was back on the tobacco habit full-time again. It took some time to get back into control of my emotions, but in the weeks before our family reunion I made a better bulletproof choice. I opted to keep the nicotine and get rid of the tobacco by switching to vaping with electronic cigarettes. Going bulletproof is about making the best choices possible at any time, and this one seemed the most appropriate to me. Sitting here in my mother's favorite spot on the planet, having a cup of bulletproof coffee while vaping on my e-cig was a perfect solution. This would be the first time my family would see me tobacco free in forty years!
I have always been a 'country girl' at my core. I have always loved the feel of grass beneath my feet, and though I have never really cared for the fishing part of going fishing ... Put me near a pond or stream and I can easily make a day of cloud-gazing and listening to the sounds of nature's melodies. My life in Virginia has kept me mobile and active, but always shod. These few days at the pond found me barefoot until sundown, sleeping directly on the ground with blankets to keep warm, and always outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Day Three of our reunion was a day filled with games and plenty of youngsters to keep every adult on the move and active. There was always someone fishing, or a ball game of some sorts to join. We had a marshmallow gun shoot-out, and I was pleased to find a lung capacity strong enough to hold my own in the heat of battle, but one of best laughs we all had was when someone decided they wanted a picture of The Matriarchs (that would be my sisters and I) on the merry-go-round/teeter-totter set up for the little ones! I heard my granddaughter exclaim with a giggle - "Look at the old people on the see-saw!"
Day Four dawned and found Gwandma (me) feeling awesome! No aches or pains, and plenty of energy for another full day of family fun. Even the thirty-year olds were complaining about how they felt, muscles hurting from all the fun the day before. I can honestly report I had never felt better, with less back ache and joint pain than before I left Charlottesville. I am convinced the earthing effects from going barefoot and sleeping on the ground made the significant difference to my somewhat bulletproofed body. It has been enough proof through direct experience to keep me motivated and committed to giving myself a MINIMUM of fifteen minutes everyday barefoot with my skin touching earth.
Of all the Stevenson Clan camping at Miller's pond for this reunion, I hold the esteem of being the eldest female present. I share the status of family matriarch equally with all my sisters, but facts remain facts, and I still remain the eldest of the sisters. It has been a great pleasure to present a fresh approach to getting older, with evidence of the effectiveness of the simple measures I have employed to gain lost mobility, strength, endurance, and focus. I am grateful for the awesome sense of peace and well-being I feel as I return to Charlottesville by train. The gentle rocking of the train upon the tracks as we weave through the mountains of West Virginia have lulled me into a deep and peaceful meditative state. Reflecting on my visit home, I am recharged and ready to return to my busy life with even more passion for life and the decades ahead. My 'senior years' are looking pretty good to me!
a.k.a. The Bulletproof Gwandma
July 9, 2014
Trades Of Hope