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Happy Birthday Sundog Tales!

Blog entry posted by Lisa, Oct 1, 2010.

(originally posted at Sundog Tales)

As the title implies, today is the one year anniversary of this blog. I've spent the last few days trying to decide what type of post to write for marking such a momentous occasion. I could write a review of the changes, or lack there of in many cases, seen in the last year. It could be a more typical post written about the changes Fall is bringing to the woods around me as the very landscape itself is drastically altered in an unusually brief period of time this year.

But instead I have opted for a different sort of post.

<strong>Life in the Woods:</strong>

Each day I am awakened by nature. This is much different than the life I had known the majority of my previous years. Where once there was an annoying alarm clock to call me back from dreamland and into a world of deadlines, traffic, and various social responsibilities; now there are even more annoying squirrels to jolt me from my slumber, though the world they bring me to is much kinder than that of their electronic brethren.

I have spent a lot of time contemplating this odd life of mine, for make no mistake, choosing to live in a tent year round in the Pacific Northwest is an odd and difficult lifestyle. Sometime I am very angry at how things have occurred and the small role I played in my situation developing to its current state of dysfunction. Despite the difficulties of multiple infections causing a downturn in health the last six months, those times are mostly eclipsed by how often I find myself enjoying life and where it is leading me this last year,

Overall there is this growing sense that my path was never to be an average American woman. Rather, it seems to be unfolding into something much forgotten and ignored in the high pace of today's society, guided by a deeper connection to nature and all that thrives around me. The trials of pain, loss, and hardship I survived have brought me here, and I am a much more liberated woman now than I was ten years ago as a fiery, young activist.

I find it very freeing to be without the boundaries set by our modern society. I am coming to understand that some of these boundaries and walls are surprisingly insubstantial once you open your mind to being allowed to do something different.

Our society has made me feel less than a whole human being, less than someone who is considered a contributor with earned money as the only valuation means, and because of the label for my illness I am less in need of cures than someone with a more impressive label - such as cancer or AIDs, yet many have offered comparisons showing my labels are just as debilitating.

I am here to say I am not LESS, I am MORE!

I am more aware of the small wonders in life than your average person who takes for granted all the ease they have in each day. The warm home, hot shower each morning, clean clothing with minimal effort, and the simple ability of not having to question everything they come into contact with to find out if it is friend of foe to their body. My life has slowed down as the world I live in is timed by seasons, not calendars. This slower pace allows time to stop and enjoy a cool breeze on my face or a stray sunbeam through the trees.

I am also very aware of the changing seasons and how it affects the birds, making the young ones born this year very nervous because their world is seemingly dying around them while they are helpless to change it. "Wait until spring," I keep telling them, "it will be alright again." I watch all the animals and plants around me, each one miraculous in its ability to have adapted to be exactly what it is today - a harmonious part of a self perpetuating cycle of life.

And I am <em>more</em> because I am learning to slip the knots that society has tied around me, trapping my soul to this damaged body; always telling me that to be deeply ill is to be sad, silent, and unfulfilled.

There is a growing awareness that I have a unique opportunity to step out of the box I was born into; the box my culture built for me based on ideals and beliefs so easily conformed to. Born again out of the fires of extreme illness and hardship, I am now free to explore life from a new perspective - one of my own creation. Even though physical healing has been very little this last year - emotional, mental, and spiritual healing has progressed by leaps and bounds.

And so as I continue to explore what it means to be Lisa now, instead of living in who Lisa used to be, I will not be posting as regularly to Sundog Tales.

This blog has helped me grow beyond need of it. The people who have posted comments to it have helped give me confidence and a new sense of community, two things which have been seriously lacking as illness put chasms of distance between myself, and my relatives and friends. I will still post updates and the occasional interesting bit of life that comes from living outdoors, but it is time I turn my energies elsewhere for now.

Thank you to everyone who has made Sundog Tales mean so much to me. Lisa
  1. jenbooks
    Hi Lisa, no it doesn't sound crazy to experience all of nature through all four seasons. However, I have a somewhat heavy work load and I couldn't fathom doing it in a tent in winter. So I'll probably go to a b&b in Florida that is supposedly totally nontoxic and cheap off season, or we'll head back to the green hotel in Atlanta, that was pretty decent in the winter, and only got bad in the hot weather about late April early May when the wedding parties started with drunken carousing till all hours under our windows and up and down the hallways.
  2. Lisa
    Hi Jen. :)

    It will sound a bit crazy - but you're missing out by not living in it through the winter too. Going through the long, cold nights to come out into warm spring weather is an amazing experience. I don't recommend it several years in a row... that starts to feel a bit like overkill. But one winter while you are learning to get back to natural roots would likely be a life altering few months. :)

    The Shelter System tents are still on hold. Still need a pole alternative to the pvc ones it comes with. I have worked though a number of possible alternatives, but they are each problematic in their own way. At this point we need to wait until full spring before trying to air a tent out, one good snow and the poles would snap if we were not vigilant at all times.

    For now, we are putting all our energy into getting camp prepared for winter. Just changed out the tarps over our tent, old and holey for new and very blue. Its strange having the lighting change so much by our blue tarp being larger than the last one. Everything feels very 'smurfy!' lol :)

    Glad you are enjoying the outdoor experience. :) Hugs! Lisa
  3. jenbooks
    I should add, there is no wifi at this park, and so little EMF. And there is a concept Wayne wrote of in a book, called "Earthing." I slept better in the tent than I do in "society", where there is EMF and noise and toxicity. This is why I've concluded building a safe home is a really good idea. I know you concluded that, too, but straw bale is risky because it molds so easily. I don't think I'd ever choose straw bale, tho I hope you can rescue your home.

    What did you decide about the Shelter tents, that you felt were as inert as wax? Are you going to try one?
  4. jenbooks
    Darn, Lisa. Why post less often? Others want to read it. I always do, anyway.

    I have been thinking about habitat and niche. As a species we are destroying our own habitat. In all the ways you know. However, every organism does have a niche. That is the work it contributes to life. Whether a fire ant or a badger or a bird or a human.

    So what is your niche? I can't force it on you but can't some part of it be describing your world to others? Like Thoreau did with Walden Pond.

    I have come to realize how toxic almost all regular housing is. And how polluted almost all areas of the country are. We tent camped in Abilene last week. There was a big rainstorm. A tarp mostly protected my crapola rainfly, though water seeped into the corners of the tent eventually. And my mat bottom got wet. But I slept pretty well through the rain as it was kind of soothing. And then 24 hours later there was a perfect blue sky of a pristine crisp briliance I haven't seen since the Jemez mountains. Then of course 48 hours later we were sneezing endlessly, as whatever ragweed or pollens had a chance to bloom in that rain went wild. Then about 72 hours later my sneezing dissipated.

    Anyway, in the tent, in this particular park, it's really pleasant because the air is so good and the park is so pretty, the sites are well kept and almost all are shaded, and the foliage is so diverse. Meanwhile it's a reasonable 15 minute ride to town and amenities.

    I got to know fire ants (bit me), and how to sweep away their mounds in the morning; armadillos (sound like a bear, but are really sort of dear little creatures, snuffling around for bugs oblivious to humans unless majorly startled; various birds, bugs, deer, racoons, wild cats etc. Oh, and your chattering squirrels, they're really playful, unlike in Riverside Park in NY. They chatter endlessly and play. And I swear after about five days this one squirrel would greet me about 7 am by shaking the branch and dropping acorns on my tent rainfly. I don't think it was a coincidence.

    We took nice walks. A lot of my symptoms improved (mold and toxicity related). It's not too humid in Abilene, and it happens to be a really amazingly good microclimate, but a coal plant may come there, and until I know the outcome of that, I couldn't possibly commit to it as it could get poisoned.

    Oh, and the milky way and the stars--beautiful.

    I noticed how alive nature is, but how death is part of every day and how little sentimentality there is in nature, none at all, about death. It's part of the natural order.

    We think we're special and not subjected to the natural order? Why is that?

    I think hearing about how life is in a tent is really interesting personally. I don't plan to do it in winter, and the problem with campgrounds is 90% of the people are great and 10% are horrible--the horrible make horrendous campfires with great plumes of acrid smoke, or turn on loud radios, or are generally disurptive until wee hours, basically wanting to turn attention on themselves, I think...

    So living on private land sounds nice.

    I hope you continue to blog.
  5. Lisa
    Hi Vicki! :)

    I'm finding myself looking to winter with anticipation this year. Feels like it will be one of our better ones and not too much trouble at all. My mind frame is much better for it this year than I think any year so far, helps a lot. :)

    Hugs! Lisa
  6. Victoria
    Lovely to hear that update, Lisa.

    Strange how chronic, debilitating illness changes our awareness of the life around us.

    Difficult as it may be to live though a deep winter snow in your tent, in some ways I am envious of your closeness to nature - the woods, the animals & the ground around your tent.

    Acceptence of what life has dealt, is an important part of living with chronic illness & pain.

    We can't do much to change our circumstances & physical debility, but we can do an awful lot to change how we view life as an ICI sufferer.

    Hope the Fall brings many blessings & improved well being, so that the harsh winter will be easier for you this year.
  7. Lisa
    Hi Pam!

    Thank you very much for coming by. I hope the next year bringing you much joy as well!

    Hugs, Lisa
  8. pamb
    Happy Birthday Sundog Tales.

    Thank you Lisa for a very moving, insightful and inspiring post. If you post less often it is certainly understandable, but I for one look forward to the times you do. May the next twelve months bring much to give you happiness.