Climate Change–In and Out and All Around

I’m writing this very personal piece because I’ve been traversing a path that has pushed me into the potential and the terror of change, and I’m talking about big climate change here.

A new view of the world…read on!

Climate change is not something that is only happening “out there.” As the world goes, so do we because we are part of Earth, and many of you may be feeling your inner climates shift, heave, and blow. I have gone through a huge climate upheaval these past few months. My shorelines are rearranged. For awhile, there was nothing but cyclone after cyclone. I lunged across the barrier of what is socially acceptable, and am now living with days of sunlight scattered with regular ground tremors…

I want to share this story as honestly and gently as I can, in hopes that it may give you courage if your own geography buckles and breaks apart.

Those of you who have followed my writing for years know that I have struggled with MMD (major depressive disorder) for decades. Sometimes it is bearable, sometimes it takes stays in a mental hospital to keep me going.

For these past two years, MMD sent my mind into an exceptionally black hole and my body into what felt like pure paralysis. I could not eat, I could not think, I could no longer tend house, garden, or marriage. I was bedridden, with tremors, dizziness, weakness and bile-making fear.

Somewhere during this time period, I scarcely remember when anymore, John and I decided to build a small apartment on our property that we could manage to live in and tend. His son would take over the main house at MillHaven and help care for us. John has lived with a multitude of chronic health issues including chronic pain for many years. We both knew we could no longer live as we did. The tiny house still is not completed, but we trusted the plan was sound.

Dinky contemplates his own changes…

In early December, I took a further deep dive into into the blackness, and came to believe that suicide would be my only path forward. This is common with MDD, as depression’s goal is always to kill you. And so I checked myself into a mental hospital for the third time in ten years as a last resort—a last and final hope to get me to the finish line of the completed tiny house, and some helping hands living in MillHaven proper.

Those of you who have never had to voluntarily commit yourself to a mental unit are blessed to never have experienced trying to find hope and salvation in hell. Whatever the medical world says, mental health care is hideous unless you have lots and lots of money and can afford private care. These hospital units are understaffed, often poorly staffed. The patients are a boggling mix of addicts, psychotics and seriously mentally ill people off the streets, parole violators, and depressed people like me. All of us are tossed together there for medications, interventions of many sorts, and all of us are sent out on our way too swiftly, and with little care of where we wind up.

Perhaps because I was old and gray, and near death, the center where I would spend the next month took pity on me and extended my stay from the normal 8-10 day rollover. My prayer was that they could find a mix of antidepressants that would work for me, and give me guidance on how to best live my very marginal life.

I was quickly disabused of the idea that I would get any guidance, as the social workers were so slammed with patients that I saw mine very rarely, so I changed my prayer to one for just some good drugs.

In climate change, they speak of “tipping points.” I thought that I had already passed that indicator and was in the sea-levels-rising stage, but I was mistaken.

Three days after I landed in what I call the Looney Bin, My husband told me over a brief phone call that his son had decided for unforeseen reasons he would not be moving into MillHaven. “I don’t know what we are going to do,” John said.

It was a quiet phone call with no real indication of imminent continental colliding. But that call—that call—was my tipping point.

I hung up the phone and my life exploded into pieces. I shuffled back into my room in a crazy trance, my head deciding without my input whether to dive into a psychotic break, or throw me gasping onto some unknown shore.

By some act of grace alone, it chose the shore. I plopped down on the edge of my bed with the rubber mattress and plastic pillowss and said out loud to an empty room, “I can’t go home anymore.”

The moment those words hit the air, everything inside of me gut-clutched and spasmed into the shape of a hitherto unknown map. It felt instant, but perhaps I was spinning for hours. When the tsunami settled, my vision of how I had been living clicked into a sudden and riveting clarity: I knew in my very bones that I had long passed the place of living with the responsibility of home and garden and the daily is-ness of adult life. What had I been thinking? These things—only hours before major sources of my identity—suddenly fell away. I lost all attachment to them. “That was the past…” my mind said. “That way is gone now…”

Imagine a new world order…

The lava flowed when I tried to explain this to John. He was completely blindsided, as I would have been if our situation were reversed. “What are you doing?! Why??” he shouted across the phone lines.

I didn’t have good answers. All I could say at the time was, “I have to do this. If I want to live, I have to do this…” How could he possibly understand? I hardly could myself.

Meanwhile, as Christmas came and went, my inner continents sorted themselves a bit. Surprisingly, I found myself able to eat normally after four years of struggle. The new medications began kicking in and the brain fog that had engulfed me for several years began to blow slowly away as fresh breezes asserted themselves. I was still on the walker, and so dizzy I dropped to my knees often and fully passed out once. My hands shook so badly, it was hard to move spoon to my mouth without losing most of the contents along the way.

The stress of the tectonic shift was gigantic, and yet I had never been as certain about anything in my life as I was about this: I could not go home. That was all that I knew for sure. My marriage? Where to live? How to live on a tiny income alone? While my outer world flooded and metaphorical tornadoes raged all around me, I was shockingly calm on the inside.

“Put yourself into the current, and trust,” my heart murmered one rainy morning. And since there was nothing else I could do, I let go and allowed myself to make tentative plans. When I finally left the Looney Bin, my dizziness left as well and I was sure-footed stepping onto the train to head back to my town. Somehow, I had arranged two-months-worth of a roof over my head with various friends.

I hoped that I’d find something more permanent in that time period that I could afford. I imagined myself in a small trailer somewhere, or in a tiny senior apartment, or a room in a house, or in assisted living. In my less trusting moments, I imagined myself in a large cardboard box on a curb.

I’ve read about what can happen when you completely let go of something. Not just wish or think about letting go but when you take that leap and have utterly no idea if there will be a bridge beneath you, or a bottomless abyss.

Beneath me was an unforeseen bridge. My new bee corner…

The weather on the home front was cataclysmic. My psychiatrist said, “You know, not many people will understand this.” She told me that many of her clients were in very similar situations with both of them falling downhill, knowing the situation was killing them, yet they stayed until death or the hospital took them and charted their involuntary course forward.

“Do you know anyone who has done what I’ve done?” I asked.
“No. No one. What will you say to people who can’t understand this?” she queried.
“I’ll say that when the airplane is going down, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first.”

A few weeks later, my FaceBook friend, David, posted this:

“Letting people be wrong about you or a situation while keeping your peace and focus is the most misunderstood
power move you will ever make.”—Morgan Richard Olivier

If I could remember to say that I would, but the airplane quote is easier to recall, and it remains true for me.

Fast forward two months: Has my climate settled into a “new normal” or are ice storms still raging? Well, both. The strong current of life I’ve been riding took me swiftly and surprisingly into an unexpected permanent living situation with a dear friend and her husband. I have a large private room in their home, and pay a monthly fee toward food and utilities. Dinky my old cat has moved with me. It is perfect for me at this stage of my life and health. These dear friends—angels, really— have turned over a corner of their large pollinator garden to me and my bees. I also am managing a frog pond here.

New garden space!

This all came about with no advance planning or even hoping. It arrived in my life like a “God-plop,” leaving me stunned, humbled, and wondering how I ever fell face-first into such blessed goodness.

I also said “yes” to an opportunity to teach bee classes again this summer. Because my living quarters are small and my responsibilities few, I am able to use my still limited energy for joy and wonder again.

A new frog pond to tend!

Much remains unsettled. Climate change takes time, and there are many earthquakes around fault lines. While I would never recommend such an abrupt course shift as I’ve taken to anyone, I would also say, if it needs to be, follow the current and trust. Trust those old adages that when you finally crack the light comes in, that when you hit bottom there is nowhere left to go but up, that only empty hands can be filled with new possibilities.

It happens! And I’m living proof.

A cozy corner for writing.


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Body, Soul, and Bees

Facing this blank page, I’m a bit cowed. It’s been months since I wrote anything but a FaceBook post, and with the calamities colliding in my life, I’m not certain my ability to write has survived. Let’s see: Continue reading

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Letting Nature Have Her Way

I have been trying to get the gumption to let my yard “go.” Many of my friends would say that I’ve already done that, as MillHaven’s gardens are pretty wild as is. I leave all the weeds, and little here could be misconstrued as “managed.” The borders are amorphous at best, and birds are always planting new seeds each year, so we never know what will show up.

Yet for all this messy joy, I’ve had a pretty heavy hand in the yard for years, pulling grasses, moving plants from here to there, and trimming back all the tall things so they won’t flop over in midsummer. I mow and weed-wack as needed, and try to maintain some semblance of order.

This was our hillside when we’d been here a year or two….

Still, a small voice inside has been whispering, “Just let it rewild itself. Get out of the way.” 

Last year was a rough year health-wise for me and my husband. There were many days we worked hard simply to prop each other up through the days, and everything from housekeeping to cooking to yard work all pretty much stopped. We lived on TV dinners and canned soup. Carter’s fur-blobs rolled through the house like tumbleweeds. The yard exploded with tall grasses and entire tribes of lemon balm that snuffed out many established perennials. 

Last summer we saw a heat dome that took our temperatures up to 117—unheard of in the Northwest. Then came a winter with several hard freezes. Through it all, I could only look outside and fret over my inability to be on my feet in the yard. I pondered whether we would have to move to a smaller place as I was clearly unable to keep up with MillHaven. And I had no idea—still don’t—if I will ever be able to manage this small house and city yard. 

Having had cancer, I know painfully well that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much. And health has been eluding me for the past three years especially. Doctors still have no idea why my lethargy is so all-consuming, leaving me with only a very few hours—on good days—where I can be active and moving.

Some on my medical team encourage John and me to move into senior housing, or assisted living. This is something neither of us can bear, so I’ve been working hard to find help to keep me and MillHaven functioning.

 Then, seemingly out of the blue, a wonderful young couple have pretty much taken us on as extended family. They come and work with and for us at least weekly and there is simply nothing they can’t do: construction, house maintenance, yard work and tree trimming, pet care, and the list just keeps on going. Creative beyond measure, and funny as heck, Sean and Chandra have been angels sent by a kind universe, and we are in awe that they have decided to “keep and eye” on us.

With our own heath in such disarray, I decided that this would be the year I needed to get bolder with letting the yard go wild. At first, Chandra and I decided to do pretty much nothing with all the green beings, and see what happened. But as we head into June, I’ve realized that there are still things we need to do so that we can continue to walk across the hillside. 

Late and continuing rains have made MillHaven grow like crazy. While the flowers are slow in coming, all the greenery has been simply rampant. Plants that normally reach to my calves are up over my knees now. Many others will be over my head by the end of June. It really is a jungle out there!

New path through the hillside. Foxgloves, sedum, grass, Herb Robert, hemp agrimony, and an iris or two…

Our small concession to actual gardening has been to pull really tall grass, and to yank out the lemon balm plants before Millhaven becomes a dense forest of this lovely mint who simply can’t contain herself. But by leaving all the rest, we’ve discovered so much more life in the yard: This spring, I found a nest of baby garter snakes on the hill, and we have so many, many more songbirds! Insects are everywhere, inviting even more birds. Bumble bees and mason bees abound, along with some new bees I’ve never seen before.

sidewalk strip with milkweeds, columbine, sedums, plantain, and too many weeds to count.

I posted a small bulletin board in the front yard, explaining that my yard is not for pretty, but for life. Rather than make a lovely garden, I am making lovely habitat that encourages nesting sites for birds and bugs, and low ground cover that allows critters to slip safely and unnoticed through the plantings.

Front yard–the wildest place of all with no paths, and no plan save welcoming everything.

And…it all makes me just a bit nervous. A lifetime of conventional gardening makes for a bad habit of wanting to intrude too much into the workings of Nature. And I can see with my own eyes this spring that Nature always does a better job than I can ever aspire to.

So, I’m doing my best to keep my gardening tools in the drawer for the most part. I celebrate each spider, snake, and buzzing thing in the yard. I cherish new bird songs morning and eve, and delight in whatever plant makes a new arrival here. This year, we’ll be having a small field of evening primrose who planted herself all over last autumn. And the frogs have had many nights of singing passion in the bathtub pond, resulting in dozens and dozens of pollywogs.

A neighbor walked by the other day and said, “Wow, I love what you’ve got going on here! It’s insane—but in the best way!” Perhaps this all might encourage you to set aside a part of your own garden and let her rewild herself. You may be surprised at what she has to show you!

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Kissing the Sea

I awoke this morning to the sounds of seagulls outside. It took me a minute to remember I was not in my own bed, but snuggled into a warm bed in a seaside Air B&B. The day before, hubby John blessedly was able to “capture” a Covid vaccine. I could not, but managed to find an appointment for Saturday.

After John got his shot, and Krystal (the friend and angel who agreed to house sit for us) swept in and grabbed up Carter for a morning run with her pup, we headed for Seaside on the coast. It was a long drive through alternating rain, hail, and snow.

8am in downtown Seaside. I have no idea how these downs survive the lockdowns…

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Coincidence or Providence

NOTE: For some reason, FB will not allow me onto its site anymore. This may be a glitch of some kind or it might be a message from the Universe, but I’ve decided this: I’ll do my best to get back onto FB, mostly so I can tell everyone I’ll be leaving. I’m setting up a MeWe page for myself and wen it is ready, I can aim you there if you would like to follow me and keep up our conversations. Meanwhile, I’ll be communicating more with my blog, so be sure to sign up here for new posts.

Today, I’d like to share some surprises and little miracles with my healing journey, in the hopes that there is something in here that may help you in your own healing. Because we are either in the process of healing, or in the process of decay. It is that simple. You either lift yourself into healing, or you abandon yourself to the pit where you sit and suffer and wonder why. But the motion forward never stops, so it will carry you either up, or down. Your choice. Ouch, yes, but your choice.

Perhaps many of you saw this on my FB page. I purchased the print from I felt that the print was a part of me. The old crone with the long braid, graced by bees. After the print arrived, I noticed the paw of the wolf wrapped gently about the woman’s kidneys, and how a bee floats inside the woman’s kidney area, bringing healing.It is a powerful piece of art I will be reflecting with for a long time.

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Come Walk With Me

On a cold morning when hubby John was off on his own adventures, I was overcome with an urge to take Carter to the forest, and to walk as slowly and exploratively as I wanted. I did not expect nor desire to go far. I simply don’t have the strength yet. So, I grabbed my phone, my walking stick, and my dear walking companion and headed off. Often, I post the photos with brief descriptions on my FB page, but this time, I wanted to go deeper into how I “see” and experience the forest when I am alone.

Here, we head into the woods.

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Routine and Ritual

My mother always told me that it was good to have a life bordered by regular daily routines. She learned will power and firm resolve when she was in the Hitler Youth in Germany. The Youth program was all about self discipline and strong bodies. Hitler was growing a powerful army out of those school children.

My mother’s grammar school teachers taught her the importance of daily calisthenics, and of handwork and needlework. Far into her 50s, she would do pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks at her bedside each morning. And her entire Wall Street wardrobe from back in her early years was all knitted by hand, seemingly spilling out of the large basket of yarn she kept by her living room chair. She made coats, two-piece suits, blankets, dresses, and all my baby clothes… Continue reading

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Mental clarity

All these tender-filled words can be associated with Food. Food: that which sustains and nurtures and brings comfort, warmth, and hope. When I worked for humane societies and wildlife rehab centers, I had plenty of opportunity to bear witness for creatures on the edge of starvation, who were do depleted, they had lost all interest in food, in life.

Back then, I had no idea how it would feel to be so very wasted in body and spirit. Now I know, and I will never forget.

Little girl with ducks reminds me of the joy of sharing

Two years ago, I went through six weeks of a treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, for severe depression. According to everything I read about the process, including all the information on the Mayo, Cleveland, and John’s Hopkins clinics, It was “safe, with very few minor side effects.” Continue reading

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Tree Medicine for Christmas

Just a few days ago, John and I took a forest walk and stopped to appreciate my favorite tree. Here she is in all her magnificence, with her thick, fern and moss dress, and her leaves bare. She is old and dying, but here’s the thing…

Grand old Dame of the Forest.

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Let’s Root for Roots!

Grab your trowel, and your dog. Digging is always more fun with company!

Autumn time is root time. At this time of year, all the “growing” energy of plants dips down deep into the roots, where the glowing energy of the core of the Earth is known and cherished by the soil and the roots she enfolds.

After the first frosts, root vegetables become sweeter. So, this is the time of year when I go digging for dandelion roots and dock. On a fine sunny day, there is such joy in plowing your hands deep into the dirt to loosen these nutritious, looooooong roots that are so deeply nourishing to our systems.

Dandelions and dock roots are cleansers and tonics of the liver, spleen, and kidneys. They are nature’s gift to us at the closing of the year—medicine for us to drink all winter, toning and healing our innards.

Here is a link to the many wonders of dandelion roots: … Continue reading

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