Mojave in my Heart

From a not-so childlike beginning in New York City to my child inspired world here and now


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sunrise hike

What is it that we always want more of? Or, less of? As we approached the holidays this year, I felt a strong desire to just BE together. Freedom to BE together. Perhaps Santa could arrange time together rather than things?  Perhaps we could remind ourselves that this time of the year is a gift to be free. To not feel the yoke of commercial obligation, but to take that moment and breath deep and remind yourself that YOU are FREE. I had an inspiring thought in the fall about the Sabbath in this regard– that truly the gift is freedom.

One of our favorite 12 Days this year was our sunrise hike day. Santa left warm undershirts, hot cocoa powder, and a map…a beguiling map that we were to follow the next morning to experience the beauty of the sunrise together as a family.

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Stephen and I were very tired during the holidays and honestly, it was challenging to gather the mental and physical, as well as emotional energy to follow through on this and some of the other 12 Days. Nonetheless, we set the alarm and went to bed early, unbeknownst to us, we were to receive an incredible gift the next day!

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Arlene and Ada? Amazingly excited to hit the trails at 6 am on a chilly, Colorado, winter morning. It was truly exhilarating to begin the hike. The mountains, black and silhouetted against a dark, but lighter background. The air was refreshing and almost nourishing. The quiet. The solitude. It was truly incredible and we were only 100 feet into the hike.

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We followed the map and landed at the star. What a spectacular spot to await the rising of the sun! We poured hot cocoa, settled in and waited. Suddenly everything was okay out there. Serenity and peace washed over me. There was no where else I’d rather be.  Within minutes it seemed everyone had found their own space and quiet, both physically and internally.

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What a miracle to experience the sunrise. Awaiting something so special, so simple was  at the heart of that morning. The season, too. It was dark, then it was slowly light.  It was just us and then there were animals. It was cold and then slowly, warm all the way through. It was quiet and then there were birds.

I did indeed get what I wanted for Christmas. A priceless experience– seemingly extravagant in how greatly it filled me up, yet completely free.


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experiencing inspiration on the solstice

 Nothing, I believe, can really teach us the nature and meaning of inspiration but personal experience of it. That we may all have such experience if we will but attend to the divine influences in our own hearts, is the cardinal doctrine of Quakerism.
~ Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909 (my italics on inspiration)

The winter solstice began beautifully and ended magically. First to the Meetinghouse for worship and lunch. While I craved more silence during the Meeting, I appreciated the words shared by fellow worshippers. Worship ended with the entrance of the children in a Christmas pageant. A & A were the two Marys– again 🙂  There were readings from Luke and singing of songs. The middle and high school children followed with their very own satirical and comical songs. We ended with an acting out /sing-along version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The room was fun and festive– a contrast to what the space usually offers– silent gathering.

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The potluck spread was delicious and with the mild temperatures and sunny day, we sat outside.  I was so appreciative to have Stephen and the girls at my side, wonderful friends around, mountains ahead, gorgeous sun above. I really just wanted to go around and hug people! The Quaker Meeting has brought us so much joy, direction and confirmation of what I’ve been looking for–and it just seems to continue to grow and grow…

We putzed around at home for some much needed putzing before heading out for a solstice bonfire with a new friend — whom we met at a Mountain Quaker Meeting through another wonderful friend. His place is about 40 minutes from us, 10 minutes from Lyons. As we drove between enormous boulders it felt as if we were passing towering dinosaurs and their ancient eggs. It was gorgeous. Unlike other canyons, this one stands out, at least to me, geologically – not that I can explain it very well!  The canyon ascent is a gentler climb than the other canyon roads we’re familiar with–wider with what seems like a tranquil, meandering creek, the St. Vrain, flowing beside it. The same creek that flooded and caused massive destruction to Lyons and surrounding areas in 2013. Rather than forests and steep canyons here though, you’re met with sandstone, rock and sky. All together it evokes a silence, an inspiration…

We arrived early at our friend’s place so we could get the tour while there was still light on this, the very shortest day of the year 🙂 He is a minimalist, living with the motto: “use less so you have to earn less” or something close to it.  He works a lot on his property, improving the original cabin, building fences, and a lot of inventing- a self-taught millwright. We spent time with his flock of 30 chickens, feeding them popcorn, talking lots. We eventually headed to the bonfire spot, down a steep hill to a dry creek right up to a beautiful hill. Here you’re surrounded by lodgepole and ponderosa, hills and peace. At the opposite end of our bonfire spot, where the creek (dry now) tightens, a 60ft swing beckoned us. Comfort level with the swing grew with experience – rides were more adventurous by night’s end, like from a chair atop a table! We made friends with another family and their lovely daughters. Our conversations flowed smoothly, without much effort and we were all content there, together in the dark woods with the bright fire on a special solstice night.

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We ate, we talked, we played on the swing, watched the kids and warmed ourselves by the fire while fat, beautiful snowflakes fell all around us!  A simple string of lights made for some pretty ambience by the swing and the snowflakes falling perfected it. It was magical.

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The girls, typically slow to warm to new places, were right at home in these woods. They were confident and ambitious. More than once we had to remind them to stay together (strength in numbers!) and where we could see them. They seemed to want to climb higher and deeper into the woods each time I turned my back. Then they’d return to the swing, which made me nervous too, but a little less so than bears and lions!

I reveled in the new friendships and genuine inspirations from just this single day — all emanating from our precious Quaker world. The decision to explore the Quaker path has presented us with sweet friendships, wonderful opportunities and an inspiring path with direction. At our solstice gathering, I felt no hesitation in opening myself to these friends. I felt honored to listen to others’ stories– full of twists and turns, dreams and inspirations. Sitting, standing, being in the company of kind people, amongst the snow, the trees, the mountains, the fire, I was truly inspired, deep within me to continue to walk firmly toward our dreams.

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ecosystems – montane (day 3)

Thursdays take us up to Nederland, a town 18 miles west of Boulder at about 8300 feet. We had a great morning at Wild Bear, an ecology center conveniently located  beside the wonderful Carousel of Happiness. Add to all that fun, a hike in the mountains. We love Caribou Ranch but because of time, we did an easier loop at Mud Lake. They enjoyed talking about all the places water comes from in this ecosystem, which paved the way for a good chat about the importance of snow at this altitude and why it is better suited to the land than rain.

I’m getting better at identifying the different conifers, too, so that’s helpful. It gets old saying I just don’t know, but I do know it is a conifer! All my life I called them pine trees, but not all conifers are pine trees! We saw Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and the beautiful ponderosa. We’ve seen areas where the conifers are more spaced out and that has to do with soil moisture and the direction of the slope. Here at Mud Lake, the forest trees grew closer together. The competition for sunlight yields long, slender trees.

IMG_9224Hiking around the lake. It was quiet and cool. We had all hoped for snow. My southern ladies do LOVE snow.

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A beautiful scene, clouds and all.

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ecosystems – foothills (day 2)

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Since we talked so much about the flat grasslands yesterday, today we started our ascent! We went to Rabbit Mountain in Lyons — the lower, initial part of our walk served as a refresher on yesterday’s ecosystem, grasslands. From there we climbed several hundred feet to more of a foothills ecosystem 5700-7000 feet above sea level. The foothills refers to a region of the Front Range where the mountains rise suddenly from flat, prairie, grasslands. The girls immediately noticed the rocks, the incline, the shrubs, the trees! It is pretty incredible that a few miles east or a few miles north yield different landscapes and biological environments to explore. It is challenging to explain that there are transition zones, meaning we’ll see evidence of one ecosystem in another, such as grasslands at Rabbit Mountain although it is “primarily” a foothills environment.

Incredible views since it is the easternmost part of the foothills in the area. It was stunning and the photos don’t begin to capture it. We picnicked under ponderosa pines and had great little talks about grasslands and foothills environments.

This place has a great vibe for the girls–they just love it there.

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