It was a girl’s weekend last weekend. You know what that means don’t you? Excellent food, bottles of wine and don’t forget the dancing.
Nostalgia sometimes surfaces in places you would not expect. We approached the second winery on a wine tour of six locations. A wine-tasting weekend with a bunch of friends was the last place I expected to be reminded of an enchanted moment while trekking the Camino de Santiago.
After my shoes fell apart and my injuries healed, the walk became magical. A huge horse ran up to nuzzle my face. Thousands of lady bugs and butterflies surrounded me. An ostrich sat down in front of me to gaze into my eyes for ten minutes.
Since I’ve been home my connection to nature is still there, albeit not as profound. When you are surrounded by nature and transition back into a concrete jungle, it’s to be expected. Imagine my surprise to discover the same level of enchantment while wine tasting.
Once we had been poured a taste or two, we were invited to explore the grounds, from vineyards to a collection of farm animals maintained on the premises. We walked down the cages of a group of fluffy-head-feathered chickens.
As soon as I was within eyeshot, they ran toward me and stood in a group along the other side of the fence. They gathered around my feet, looking up at me, heads bobbing as if they were happy to see me. Although there were several other friends with me and other wine tasters around, they did not cease in activity until after I had patted each and every last one of them.
As I patted the chickens, it felt as though I had incarnated the gift of St. Francis of Assisi. He completed the Camino de Santiago in 1214. Legend has it, while on pilgrimage, St. Francis spotted a great number of birds, varying in types and sizes; Doves, crows, ducks, fowl and more. St. Francis left his friends for a moment, running for the birds. Rather than fly away as his friends suspected, they waited patiently for him. He talked to them and they responded back, spreading their wings and stretching their necks in a wonderful way. St. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, touching the heads and bodies as he walked.
My hand still on the birds, my friends cringed in disgust. After all – birds are dirty, dirty creatures- known for carrying more than their fair share of diseases. I shrugged and explained the purposes of soap and water, reminiscing about the legend of St. Francis. Since the pilgrim route Chazelle and I had chosen was St. Francis’s route, I smiled to myself, nodded to my bird friends. I washed my hands before returning to the counter with my friends for another wine pour.by Jessi Lohman
Do you have a cause you are passionate about?
I have driven Highway 17 a hundred times, venturing to the home of my Mom and Stepfather. During a recent weekend, my Stepfather took me on a surprise hike along the Santa CruzMountains. The area we explored was the start of over 62,000 acres of preserved unspoiled public area that is dedicated to permanently protecting the natural resources contained therein.
Since 1972, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has worked diligently to make these trails available to the public. The trails are able to be enjoyed by anyone searching for a good view, a strenuous hike or possible wild life sightings. So long as you aren’t afraid of the occasional risk of rattlesnakes and mountain lions. Those critters are a natural part of the Santa CruzMountain environment. Although rare, they are sighted on occasion.
Do you have a passion you would work diligently toward for over forty years? Although I may not be passionate about ticks or the preservation of poison oak, I am excited that a group of people took it upon themselves to protect a place I can go to connect with nature. Although everyone may not share your level of interest or passion in a particular direction, it doesn’t mean your work will not be appreciated. Sometimes it takes over forty years for the right person to be so inspired, they will hike your trails, be appreciative and write about it.
Let’s talk about your passion. What causes do you have an interest in? Take a few minutes this week and tell me about that.by Jessi Lohman
Last week I was caught up, thinking about my Great Grandparents. This inspired me on another level. The level of remembrance.
My Great Grandfather served in World War II. In the garage, he kept a chest of medals and honors he earned during his time in the war. Although my brother and I begged and begged, he’d never talk about it. He’d never show us what was inside.
“One day,” he said. “When you’re older.”
That day never came. After his passing, the treasured secrets locked in the chest fell victim to a house fire. It may have been a blessing, that he did not have to relive his experiences by sharing his history with us.
Band of Brothers, directed by Steven Spielberg, is an epic depiction of what our soldiers went through during World War II. When I watch and reflect, I am humbled by the incredible sacrifice those brave men underwent in the spirit of patronage.
Not just during World War II, but earlier as well as later. There have been made battles, far too many to list here, along with many sacrifices. In honor of Veteran’s Day, a day glittering with heroes for decades upon decades – Thank you. Where would we be without your heroic bravery and diligence, protecting this nation and the generations to come?
by Jessi Lohman
When I was a young girl, my Great-Grandma came to stay with us. My Great-Grandfather had passed away and we wanted to five her support while she went through the grieving process. She stayed in their Motor Home, a 1987 Winnebago. The Motor Home was a special place for my brother and me. We thought our Great-Grandma had the coolest club house in the world. She let us spend a lot of time in there, left to our own devices, exploring every nook and cranny.
Our favorite spot in the Motor Home was a a loft bed that we could pull down. Neither of us could sit up straight but we had access to our favorite cupboard. The cupboard was stuffed with pamphlets of all kinds of places all over the United States. Some were National Parks and various points of interest. Our favorite, of course, were the creepy pamphlets.
One we would look at all the time was the Winchester Mystery House. It was said to be haunted. Although I’d never seen a ghost, I was intrigued by the spirit world.
I flashed back to reminiscing over mysterious places in the Motor Home while I visited the Winchester Mystery House this past weekend. While on tour, some facts were confirmed while others learned were new points of interest. Here are the five top ranking favorites:
One – The Winchester Mystery House consists of 160 rooms.
Two – You can have birthday parties hosted at the Winchester Mystery House (Maybe I’ll even have my 40th there.)
Three – The old tower bell tolls 13 times at 1300 hours every Friday the 13th.
Four – There are two ghosts seen regularly within the Winchester Mystery House. The first can be seen fixing the fireplace in the Main Ballroom (the Ballroom is considerably smaller than you might expect). The second can be seen wheel barrowing coal through the basement.
Five – Carpenters were working on the Winchester Mystery House for 24 hours per day for ever 38 years. (This is longer than I have been alive).
Have you ever fantasized about visiting a place as a child and your wish came true as an adult? Similar to the movie, Up, when young Carl Fredrickson grows up to experience ParadiseFalls in South America. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. “Sometimes, you make plans for life but life has plans for you.”
by Jessi Lohman
There is crap everywhere. It comes in the form of drama and issues that weigh you down. We attach ourselves to this nonsense and wonder why we are dissatisfied with our existence.
Bearing the weight of burdens is never easy. Be them yours or the blah-blah-blah of another, the heaviness can latch on and hold you captive if you are not careful. The challenge is: We often don’t know where to turn.
You are your own solution. The only person with a lantern. Your only duty is to be you. Sounds easy, because it is.
Take a seed for example. You can take the seed, crack and bust it open. You will not find a tree inside. However, if you nurture the seed, give it water and sunshine, eventually the blue print within the seed will begin to open itself up to the world.
How are we different? We require nurturing, water and sunlight. Then, although it might appear we are hibernating, a leaf takes form. Then another and another. All the while roots are reaching deep within our character.
Relax. Take a breather. Be good to you. Do something great for yourself. It’s when we get out of our own way our potential and dreams, desires and passions have the possibility to surface.by Jessi Lohman
Love without possession. This is true love. Is it possible to have one experience with a person and love them endlessly?
Sometimes a situation, time or place prevent us from being without our beloved.
This is okay.
To love without greed, expectation or need is the truest, most pure experience.
The object of your desire will forever be able to carry the light of your undisputed, undiluted love with them. Into all situations; at all times; in all places.by Jessi Lohman
Over the next week or two I will be going on an adventure that differs from the norm.
For a year and a half I have allowed my hair to grow. It is now so long that I can slam it in a car door on accident if I am not careful. The coolest part of all? I have the freedom and the ability to grow hair as long as I want as often as I want. What does this have to do with adventure?
Some children are not able to do the same. Due to medical conditions without causes, cures or definitive outcomes, financially disadvantaged children throughout the United States and Canada suffer from lower self esteem and confidence in dealing with the world as well as their peers.
Locks of Love is a non-profit (and for-purpose) organization that creates high quality hairpieces and prosthetics for the purpose of supporting a sense of normalcy in these children. I may not be able to do much, but I can grow hair and donate it to babies that need wiggy-poo’s.
Since 2005 I’ve donated four additional times. During the next week or so, number five will take place and with it I will have donated over 100 inches of hair. If it appears as though I’ve gone missing, don’t worry. You just may not be able to recognize me for awhile.
by Jessi Lohman
“Attention all passengers,” the Captain said over the loud speaker. “We will be arriving at our destination in one hour.”
As I returned home from my far off adventures in Europe, I was filled with excitement. Today was the day. I would be able to hug people I’d known all of my life. Love overflowed for them and I gazed out the window, lost in my thoughts.
Looking down, I realized we were soaring over majestic Lake Tahoe. The sun was setting as we glided across the lake and over the mountain passes. It was so beautiful I was afraid to blink; afraid to breathe; afraid to miss a single moment.
A vision played across my eyes. Braiding the lessons I’d mastered during the course of the Camino de Santiago together and bridging them with surfacing passions as I arrived home. I saw myself teaching toddlers yoga. I laughed to myself. That didn’t even make sense.
Did something like that even exist?
The plane swerved left, my entire window displayed the entire range of the Sierra’s. With the sun setting, the mountains lit up in vibrant orange and pink. I had my answer.
Upon my return home, I enrolled and pursued earning a certificate teaching yoga to toddlers. The result? I absolutely love it.
The most important age of a child’s development occurs between ages 0 – 6. It’s important to develop healthy habits as early as possible. A foundation in strength-building, balance, flexibility and focus is helpful in giving children a solid start.
We live in a physical plane and physical health is the first step in a happy, successful and meaningful existence. Toddlers, as it turns out, are not too young to begin connecting the body, mind and spirit. In fact, 3 – 9 is the perfect age for our youth to fall in love with a healthful practice that will serve them for a lifetime.
by Jessi Lohman
This weeks adventure brought me to Donner Lake to spend time with family. After spending every day surrounded by nature for over a month, it’s been tricky adjusting back into life, surrounded by a concrete jungle. Answering my prayers to remain connected to nature, my family found a peak overlooking Donner Lake. Hills, wind and altitude were on the agenda.
We took a path known as Emigrant Pass. Our first stop took us to jagged cliffs where double teams of oxen raised old wagons up the mountains. The energy is amazing. The strength of the settlers who were brave enough to travel to this unpredictable distant land of California. Knowing themselves, their families and their animals would suffer- for a chance at something better.
Stories of The Donner Party and the brave Chinese who built the railroad remind me how humble and small my life is. To then take it to the next level, walking where they walked; seeing what they saw. So many have sacrificed so much.
Oh the blessing of living during a time when I can enjoy fun, laughter, great food and peace with people I love. I can do yoga on mountain tops with stunning views that will have my heart humming for days. I’m not freezing in the snow without shoes. I don’t have to watch as my animals starve after I’ve worked them to death. I’ve never had to risk my life, blowing tunnels in mountains for railroads.
Sometimes we don’t know how good we have it.by Jessi Lohman
While in Portugal, Chazelle and I had the opportunity to raise our consciousness and commit to the discoveries we made along the Camino.
Mooji, a guru for millions provided a warm and inviting environment for us to step into the fire of self discovery. Living in Portugal, he encouraged us not only to determine our own truth, but also to recognize what is true an untrue; real and unreal. His sweet sense of kindness and tenderness, coupled with humor and vivid lessons we could take to the heart provided the perfect way to finish off our amazing trip.
You don’t need to focus on changing the world. Change yourself. Honor yourself. The light that shines when your heart is full will always make a bigger impact than trying to change others.
Just as we knew it made no logical sense to walk 707 kilometers (440 miles) across a country we hardly spoke the language, we believed it would bring us closer to our truth (and further from cellulite).
Focusing on our physical health led to a flowering of our mind. The flowering of our mind brought on various joys of spirit. This will benefit our lives until we take our last breath. Even more important, the relationships with our loved ones are more rich because of this experience.
The experience of being wrecked on the Camino, reborn into a beautiful sense of surrender and then strength, followed by the teachings of a wise man all contribute to a bright future. More important, it creates a beautiful ‘present.’ Every moment can be treasured and enjoyed, regardless of the stepping stones of the past or the unknown of the future.
In this time and place, with a full heart that pours in all directions, there is no feeling or experience more beautiful.by Jessi Lohman