Inside Out

I’m sitting here in my kitchen, feeling my home as an energy system.  It breathes with me.  It holds me.  It holds anyone who is invited to enter it.  26 Beston Street or Rosehip26 – that’s its name.

I asked my real estate friend to keep an eye out for me – in town – so Frances could walk to school.  It came fast – too soon really.  It was our home – no question.  Built in 1860 by Irish immigrants who came for a better life, on a quiet dead end street, in town.   With low ceilings, painted floors and a sagging front porch, it had its own story. It was loved.  I bought the fixer-upper in summer 2014, with big life changes underway.   Selling a house, buying a house, swinging loans and payments and lawyers, while working, being a mom and grieving the end of my life as I had known it – uncomfortable. I operated on instinct, from the gut.  Everything fell into place.  The earth came up to meet my bare foot with each step. 

I’ve lived here since January 2015, after a six month renovation.  Frances and I lived in someone else’s home during that time – a rental down the street – surrounded by their things, their pictures, their artifacts, their books on healing and contemplation.  I felt like I was supposed to read those books.  I saw them on the shelves but didn’t touch them.  I peeked into the meditation room, with butterflies and a walking stick, but didn’t meditate.  All our things were in storage.  It was a waiting period – like our lives were in suspension.  We couldn’t move from one life to the next without a period of pause – almost like a suspended inhale.   

During the renovation, the craftsmen discovered artifacts in the walls – two short canes, ice skate blades, a tiny book of the New Testament, a photograph of a gentleman, a glass half pint bottle.  History held in bones.  Held in cell structure.  Artifacts capturing an experience - An image.  Recreation.  A support.  Nourishment. Spiritual guidance.

I started doing Air BnB when Frances went to college, to help with expenses.  Initially, it was a sacrifice.  Renting a room off the kitchen, people entered our sacred space.  Two years later, I have increased clarity of who I am and who I am not and what my house is and what it is not.    Spirit travelers are meant to come here.  I have something to learn from them, to teach them or both.  Or the house can help them in some way.  I get a snapshot of someone’s life. Young love; found love again; recovering; long-distant travelers missing their family; healing; college visiting, re-visiting, studying, teaching; fans of Emily Dickinson, of changing leaves, marching band, theater, astronomy, art, homeopathy and weddings.  They like the fat cat, the wise cat and the cuddly cat very much. They feel the warmth and love in our home.  They sleep well.   

The house holds me.  As I heal, it absorbs and facilitates the energetic movement and release to the outside, where it diffuses with nature.  The house has its own chakras – its own spinning circles of energy – that mirror my own.  The house works with me to sort it all out, getting out of sync and then together again.  Like in waves, like reverberations.  In tune and then off tune and then in again.  Energy within energy.  A breath within a breath. As emotions and pains are shed, the movement becomes literal and shows itself in some way – The house takes on what I release and physically manifests it before it is released.   The house makes sure I catch the drift -- making sure the lesson is learned.  It’s showing me my progress as if it were cinema or a narrative.  This summer the house got infested with fleas.  It needed clearing out – a daily removal of dust, debris, fleas and their eggs.  It needed professional support.  All Air BnB reservations were cancelled.  No visitors.  It was gross.  It gave us the shivers.   An empty house that needed space clearing and focused attention.  No one wanted to be there. 

Pondering the house as a living organism with its energy system, we start with the root chakra – Muladhara – the base chakra. Its element is earth and color red. The foundation.  I go down to the basement and see the root chakra, smell the root chakra.  The floor is literally earth – a dirt floor.  There is a french drain and when water rises up from the earth, a pump flushes it outside into the neighboring wetland.  It’s wet down there and dark and scary.  When I made the house renovation photo album, I had a photo down the dark stairs with the caption “Never going down there.”  Haha – how untrue those words were.  “Down there” was exactly where I needed to go and I needed to spend some time down there – precisely because it was dark and wet and scary.  But when you walk back to shut off the hose for the winter or to bring up an old paint can, there really isn’t anything to be afraid of down there.  The old foundation is made of stones and brick.  It’s solid.   It’s earth.  This past month, each week I brought up one old can of dried-up paint – slowly moving what is no longer needed from the darkness below.  Clearing out the root cellar chakra a little bit at a time.  There are several cans still down there. They aren’t all empty. They aren’t ready to be discarded.   Chakra clearing was also physically manifested this summer, when buzzing yellow hornets built a nest by the outdoor shower in a crack in the foundation.  When the shower water naturally and peacefully ran into the crack, where the nest was, the hornets buzzed angrily and aggressively dove at anyone out there.  They went on attack.   I had the foundation cracks filled in so the angry hornets would move on to the flowers, the trees, the grasses and earth.  And they did.  Firming up the foundation helped them dissipate.  Free and on their way, without dive-bombing unsuspecting, innocent people.

The second chakra is the Sacral Chakra – Svadhisthana.  The element is water and the color orange.  This chakra is about sexuality and pleasure but also materialism and overindulgence.   Frances invited me to be vegan with her for a school project in this house, bonding over missing cheese and butter – and it stuck – going on three years.  Alcohol left two years ago.  Using food as medication has moved to food as meditation but will always be one of my harder edges.  I feel the emotional fluctuations.  Waters ebb and flow, the power of tides and their connection to the moon.   Darkness comes in, I retreat and rest and then return outside to the stars, our healing garden, for nourishment and strength, when the moon pulls me back out.   I’m a Pisces – a water person.  My photographs are shifting shapes of water, depending on time, tide and weather.   It represents power and depth, the subconscious. It changes right before our eyes.  I love swimming in water and in emotions.  As a child, I would dream that I could breathe underwater and explore its depths.  The houses’ physical manifestation appeared as dark, black spots of mold on the downstairs bathroom ceiling where the water vapor couldn’t escape.  It hung there, suspended in space, like a cloud or a fog.   They represented blockage, no movement and shallow breath.  The inhale of an exhaust fan and an open window did the trick, learning how to breathe deeply and regularly.   

The solar plexus chakra, navel center is Manipura – Fire.  The color is yellow.  I can hear my teacher’s voice - “Manipura!” He says it with enthusiasm – that’s the power of the navel center.  Manipura!  That’s where we get our conviction, our “keep up” spirit and drive.  This is the fire in the belly – passion.  The Manipura can link with the ego and impact the state of mind – anxiety, worry and fear. I’m careful to protect my energy field, hosting so many visitors and inviting energies into the home.  Smudging with sage frequently and clearing energy in the rooms calms my own nerves and helps move any lingering energy that the house doesn’t need and that we might confuse with our own.

Yellow, as it turns out relates to the mind.  It carries positive currents. I’ve pondered why different colors attract me at varying times in my life.  I’ve been drawn to yellow ever since starting the new chapter.  My friend helped me pick out the perfect yellow egg yolk color for the doors to our dark gray house.  It makes sense – the yellow doors – the entry way to our home.  Positive, happy, uplifting – for anyone invited to enter. 

Worrying at night when in bed has manifested as squirrels in the attic – imitating the chatter in my mind.  I hear a nut rolling around and a shuffling above me.  The house makes sure I have this literal experience as a reminder to be present.  To give thanks for what was and to let go.  To love, forgive and love again.  To allow the earth to rise up and meet my bare foot.  With reiki hands on the heart, a focus on the breath, the squirrels in the attic calm down, gather their nuts and go on their way, diffused in the trees where they belong. 

The kitchen is the Heart Chakra - Anahata – Air and green.  The heart – it has its own rhythm – its balance. Photographs of my kids, family, friends, homemade pottery, a view to the garden and avocado toast with hot pepper flakes.   It’s where we nourish and create.  The heart center combined with the manipura – navel center – is where we want to come from in life.  We have conviction and passion – and act from a place of love.  That’s the balance I seek.  That’s what’s in the kitchen.

I look up to the heavens, to the clouds, to the sky above for guidance. Clear communication is associated with the throat chakra - Vishuddha – Ether – Blue.   When it’s warm outside, the energetic vibration of a morning mantra chant is set free from my porch to the stars, the moon and the lavender dawn.  When it’s cold, the vibration is absorbed and bounced in the floors, walls, ceiling – it travels room to room and up the stairs. It explores.  It’s like sweeping and it vibrates to the outside and beyond.   While I find my voice in chanting, I’m learning to use my daily voice more gently.  Less energy, less power, less force.  Allowing quiet, allowing softness, sweet tones or no tones at all. 

The third eye is the Brow Chakra or Ajna.  The element is ether and the color is Indigo.  This is wisdom, intuition, a knowingness.  The Ajna has led me to great adventures like biking up Haleakala, creating our healing home, deciding on a whim to take Kundalini Yoga teacher training or to go to New Mexico for a month next year.  Decisions are made quickly and in retrospect, I can’t remember where the idea came from.  When the earth raised up to meet my step, finding the right contractor – that’s Ajna.  I told him I felt I could trust him and he told me that I could.  I let the garden develop organically.  I plant. I move things, create pathways with wild flowers, rocks and wood, without a plan.  The house spills out into the yard – it breathes out, into the surrounding neighborhood.  And connects with neighbors, like the new neighbors across the street, with a young girl, who reminds me how to play. 

The crown chakra or Sahasrara is violet and the opening to the infinite.  It’s a rainbow after a summer rain.  A late afternoon light.  A fox trotting down the street, at predawn hours, unaware that I’m awake too.  A fresh raspberry plucked from my garden.  The smell of mint.  Bare feet on soil. A dreamy state, just falling asleep or waking up, when angels are heard.  Voices in dreams, spirit visitors.  Ideas when exercising or thinking about nothing. 

And in Kundalini Yoga – there is an 8th chakra – the Aura, with no element – it’s white.  It’s the combination of all the others and how we connect to the universe.  It’s the energy that surrounds the whole, the electromagnetic field – And that’s literally our house – the 8th chakra.  My friend did a Feng shui and akashic record for our home.  She saw the home like a cat with its paws curled underneath - resting comfortably on the land, the indoors connected to the outside.  She describes, “26 Beston Street was built many years ago as a container for a new life. A place to land after a tough voyage to a sweet calm. The renovations “whooshed’ it to a fuller flower - a renewed and refreshed sense of purpose and a re-setting as a place to rest. It’s almost like an echo of the original - a place to be safe in the turning of a page, a vantage point to remember the past and its purpose - to bring hope. The house supports abundance - a place to feel the fullness of life.”  And she was right.  The pulsating energy of Rosehip26.

Living alone, my favorite time of day is post yoga and pre work – from 6:30 to 8:00 am or so.  It’s quiet.  It’s prayer, intention, introspection.  Petting a cat.  Contemplating an oracle card.  Lighting candles and sage. Reading a poem.  Making oatmeal.  Giving Nico cream in a ceramic dish.  Digging in the dirt or cutting some flowers.  Sweeping the floor.   Strong coffee. 

The house expands and contracts with our breath.  The front porch faces east – breathing in new beginnings.  In my bed, I face the west and close my eyes as the sun goes down.   And in between, artifacts are revealed from walls, cells and bones.  Some are treasured and put on a shelf.  Others are released out the window.  

 
26 Beston street project

26 Beston street project

Artifacts in walls, bones and cells

Artifacts in walls, bones and cells

“never going down there (went down there)

“never going down there (went down there)

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Falling to Earth

Camping by Lady Tree and Secret Beach

Camping by Lady Tree and Secret Beach

Lady tree - elegant and wise. photo courtesy of emily snyder :)

Lady tree - elegant and wise. photo courtesy of emily snyder :)

My sister calls these my "have a story to tell" shoes -

My sister calls these my "have a story to tell" shoes -

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Jackie and me on solid sand - we never saw a candy house and no one tempted us with treats.

I keep it moving.  Get it done.   Onto the next thing.  In Kundalini yoga and meditation, I’m learning the power of stillness.  In stillness, the message finds us. The path is revealed.  It doesn’t feel natural to me.  I want to search for, run to and push through for the answers, for the path, for the next thing in my journey.  I’m impatient.  But lately, it isn’t working.  I push, I run, I take control of forward movement and I feel lost – I can’t find my way.  I give up. Sit down. Cry.  And when all my tears are cried out and there aren’t anymore.  I look up – tired and quiet.  I have to concede.  I have to relinquish control and let it be.  It’s counter intuitive to me – as a doer all my life – to wait, be still and let the next thing be revealed.  It feels lazy. It feels passive.  It feels unproductive.  

This summer, I camped out in my solo orange tent on an island in Maine, where my family has a cabin.  I love my tent.  I love creating quiet spaces for myself.  I chose the perfect spot and learned from others that it’s a favorite  spot of many – lady tree and secret beach.  Lady tree has intertwining branches and roots that twist like a serpent off of the earth and onto the sand.  She feels wise, solid and ancient.  She connects the magical forest to the sandy beach and water.  Some of her branches are dead and brittle but she is still very much alive and her roots hold her securely while she reaches up to the light.  She’s elegant – lady tree.  The site is protected and close to water sounds and views.

I woke up before my alarm sounded and decided to get up.  It was 3:30 am, my alarm sounds at 3:50 am for my 4:00 am daily sadhana – my kundalini yoga practice.  It was dark.  I changed into leggings, t-shirt and a hoody.  I slipped on my red “they have a story to tell” keen, rubber toe sneakers, zipped out of the tent, peed and turned on the light from my iPhone to get me about a mile away to a little cabin for my practice.   It’s cool in the mornings in August and often dewy on the earth – so the empty little cabin destination for yoga had been working well all week.  I headed towards a path that led through the woods, across a little bridge and to a field and up to the “Hilton” – the cabin.   

After about twenty paces, I realized that Jack, our toy poodle, was not by my side.  I called for him – nothing.  I retraced my steps all the way back to the tent and found him.  Why did I think Jack could navigate a trail in the darkness?  At first I tried to use my phone light to help both Jack and myself navigate but Jack was very slow, carefully picking his way.  I scooped him up in one arm and held the light with the other.  There was a narrow path to follow and off to the right, through trees was eventually rocky shore and ocean.  Further to the left was a larger path that a jeep could navigate. 

I lost the path very quickly.  Sometimes I would retrace my steps and try again but mostly I would just forge ahead, ignoring that I had lost the path.  I knew the general direction and had the ocean to my right and the destination straight ahead – how bad could it be?  I became entangled in sharp pine branches, moss, rocks and no path in site.  It got too thick and I was forced to back up and try again.  Sometimes I would see a buoy, like a cairn, to let me know I was on the trail but then I would lose it again.  I started sweating.  My glasses fogged up and my arm was tired from holding Jack.  I stepped over rocks, scooched under sharp branches and barreled forward with my unabashed motivation to reach my destination.  My frustration mounted “Are you Serious!” I put Jack down and cried a few tears of utter frustration.  I looked at the clock.  It was 4:30 am – I had been wandering for almost an hour.  Getting nowhere, going in circles.  I completely lost my sense of direction.  I decided to head to the rocks on the shoreline which I could follow around and lead to the bridge – I heard a lobster boat and headed towards the sound.   I made it to the big granite shore but it was too hard to navigate.  The rocks were cliff-like and with the tide as high as it was, couldn’t be passed.  It was very dark and I might hurt myself.  Sometimes I put myself in unsafe situations so I knew enough to retreat. So back into the trees I went – beep beep beep – back it up.  But I was stuck.  Where to go.  Tired, frustrated and sweating, I took off my foggy glasses and put them on the ground.  I put Jack down, took off my sweatshirt, sat on the mossy rock and cried again.  I felt like Hansel and Gretel, lost in the woods – like in a fairy tale.  I wasn’t scared.  I was frustrated. I wanted to get out – to find the path.  But I couldn’t. 

My routine strategy of sheer force did not work this time.  I gave up and decided to do my yoga right there – right where I was.  I put on my phone recording of the Magnetic Field and Heart Center Kriya.  I was on about day ten of a 40 day commitment – for nervous system repair and balance of the psycho-electromagnetic field.  I tuned in with the Adi Mantra, started with the Heart Center Opener with the breath of fire and went from there.  The set takes about 55 minutes.  After I finished the set, I always do the navel adjustment kriya – only four asana of one minute each – stretch pose to bow pose to wheel pose to fish pose.  Then I set myself up for chanting the seven mantras of the Aquarian sadhana for 62 minutes.  Rooted in the earth, spine straight, hands in gyan mudra, eyes closed – at peace.  In the middle of the mantra, my phone died.  I continued on my own, estimating the proper timing for each.  It was nice hearing my sole voice in the quiet woods – it helped me focus on the sounds with no musical accompaniment.  It felt good that the only voice was my voice.  I ended with the “Long time Sun” – inhale, exhale and done.  Calm.  The sky was lighter.  I could see the green moss, the brown trees, the branches, sky.  I stood up to get back on the path and started thinking about a cup of coffee - but where were my glasses?  I had taken them off – sweaty and then for yoga.  Where did I put them in the darkness?  I looked and felt the ground for the familiar plastic frames.  I was feeling the earth--  searching the ground with touch.  No luck.  I took off my sweaty t-shirt and put it on the ground, like Hansel and Gretel leaving bread crumbs – so I could come look for it later.  I put on my hoody over my nakedness, slipped into my “story to tell” red sneakers and started off again, with our fuzzy view metaphor still in place.    “My yoga studio” that morning turned out to be right by the path itself. I was where I intended to be.   I was literally where I was trying to be.  I just didn't know it. I headed to the main cabin to make coffee.  My sister already had the kettle on.  I told her what had happened.

Couldn’t find my way

Couldn’t see the path.

Pushed through the darkness.

Was tired and frustrated and going in circles.

Stopped.

Cried.

Dropped to the earth.

Slow down.  Wait.  Breathe.  The path will be revealed. 

I needed the literal experience to get it. 

Pine needles in my hair, dirt in my leggings and fuzzy view.  I spent my time rolling around,  stretching, chanting and singing --  grounded in Maine dirt., trees, moss and pine needles.  

For the rest of the week, I kayaked from the tent to the  field – more light on the water – still a little touch and go (!) but an adventure.  Never found my bread-crumb-of-a-t-shirt and never found my glasses.  I decided the spirit animals in the magic forest by lady tree are playing dress-up with them.  Maybe they were giggling at me –  watching me trying to find my way and finally, falling to earth.

 

 

Welcome to Rosehip26

When I bought my Amherst, MA fixer-upper and moved in 2015 – I was ending a chapter of my life and starting anew – turning a page.  I set out to create my notion of a healing home.  The gray house with the yellow door is small, simple, and calming with quiet spaces for relaxation, creativity and peace --  with my water-photographs, artifacts, reading nooks and natural light.  With porches, flowers and butterflies in the summer.   I work out of a home-office on health care environmental stewardship, and started renting rooms through Airbnb.  In 2017, I kicked off a side offering of Reiki and Integrative Body Work.  It took a few comments from Airbnb visitors to realize that my idea of a healing space felt calm and peaceful for them, as well and that visitors were curious about Reiki.  I like that idea.  A space for rest.  

I decided that all of these things combined wanted a name - a name that could hold what is now and what could be -- Rosehip26.   I've always liked the word Rosehip.  I love the smell of Rosehip flowers, the colors, the bees buzzing, the sound of the word, the shape and 26 is my address - a number that represents abundance.  Rosehip26.

Five years ago, I started practicing Reiki as a hospice volunteer at the Fisher Home and in 2014 became a Reiki master under Haleya Priest from Sanctuary Healing Arts.  Reiki supports relaxation, pain reduction, a sense of calm and can benefit anyone – regardless of age - including children and teens with sensitive spirits.   I continue to take other classes from Sanctuary Healing Arts, always wanting to learn more.   I'm currently in Kundalini Yoga Teacher training at an Ashram in Massachusetts, where I travel monthly.  I'm studying, writing, reading and practicing every day. 

Over Thanksgiving Holiday I was making pies from a dessert cookbook I made a few years ago – and I read the introduction that I wrote back in 2011. 

Pie is a simple offering in a complex world.

I’m a messy, imprecise cook and I like it that way.

The cake may be lopsided or the pie patched,

But its imperfection makes it real – not manufactured – hand made.

I was writing about pie – but upon reflection, I now realize I was also writing about myself and of people I admire and people I want to know.   I used to feel burdened by my imperfections – my mistakes -- my pain -- my shoulders sore, my brow worried.  I was weighted by stones in my pockets.  But over time, I’ve dropped those stones one by one.   They sit by streams, under a fern and on a window sill.   I still have one or two in my pocket and in my palm - for comfort.  To hold onto.

For anyone turning a page, consider a Reiki visit  to feel its benefits -- to complement your health routine. Follow us (my cats, stones, artifacts and me) on Instagram at Rosehip26 and help spread the word by liking Rosehip26 on Facebook.  Thank you for visiting my website.  Janet Howard