Among the many cool sights we saw during our road trip to Montana in July were two fascinating trees:
One tree is growing near the Bitterroot River and has two ninety-degree angles in its trunk. This tree seems to have specific ideas about what it wants to do and where it wants to go—up, out, and up again.
The other tree is growing in Hell’s Half Acre, and its trunk is swirling every which way. This tree appears to be spontaneous—ready to go every which way.
I’m a cross between both tree styles—I enjoy planned spontaneity. Approximately seventy-percent of what I do is pre-planned. The remaining thirty-percent I block in my planner as free time and spontaneously decide how I’ll use it.
Len, Willa, and I are currently in Big Sky Country—Montana. One of our stops is Redsun Labyrinth, located near the spectacular Bitterroot Mountains outside Victor, Montana.
Labyrinth walking is an ancient practice used by many spiritual traditions for the purpose of centering, contemplation, and prayer.
Contrary to popular belief, a labyrinth isn’t a maze. It has one path to the center and back—that path is a unicursal (meaning one line). A labyrinth doesn’t have blind alleys or dead ends. The path twists and turns back on itself many times before reaching the center. Once the center is reached, there’s only one way back out—the same way one arrives.
A labyrinth symbolizes a journey to a predetermined destination (such as a pilgrimage to a holy site), or the journey through life from birth to death.
A labyrinth walk is done slowly, with deliberate and thoughtful steps. Many times a person begins a labyrinth walk with a prayer or spiritual question to contemplate during their journey to the center.
When the center is reached, the person pauses to reflect, pray, and listen for an answer, or for an even deeper revelation. On the return journey, the person continues to pray and reflect. Most people find labyrinth walking to be a calm and clarifying experience.
Even if the walk isn’t tied to anything spiritual in nature, the slow, intentional walk is a quiet place on a set path with a level of focus that’s hard to come by elsewhere.
Due to travel, I’ve turned comments off this week. If I were here, though, this week’s internal inventory question would be:
[bctt tweet=”What question or prayer would you contemplate on a labyrinth walk?” username=”@TuesWithLaurie”]
“What question or prayer would you contemplate on a labyrinth walk?”
On the seventeen mile drive between Darby and Hamilton in Montana, there’s a totem pole carver who does exquisite work. When I stood back to admire his creations, in my mind’s eye, I imagined the “weight” on the shoulders of the “person” on the bottom.
You’ve heard it said—or maybe even said it yourself—“No problem, I’ve got broad shoulders.” Meaning, I have the ability to take criticism, accept responsibility, or carry another person’s burdens.
When people ask about my role as a transformational life coach I respond, “I won’t walk in front you. I won’t walk behind you. I won’t carry you. I will, however, walk beside you.”
How many people are you carrying on your shoulders?
A trip to Whitefish, Montana had us laughing when we came across this fully loaded (pun intended) bicycle. With a six-pack caddy, wine bottle holder, and a single carrier on the front, it appears the would-be bicyclist is prepared to either celebrate profusely, or drown their sorrows.
Curious, I checked to see if it is or is not legal to drink alcohol while riding a bicycle. It turns out it varies by state and what they consider non-motorized vehicles—including horses. Depending on where you live, if you decide to drink and drive a non-motorized vehicle here’s what you might expect:
“You may not be arrested for drunk driving on a non-motorized vehicle, bicycle, etc. You may be cited for any individual violation that is committed, or possibly for drunk and disorderly (if the circumstances fit). Also, some municipalities have ordinances simply for being drunk in public, and if a horse rider were in one of these areas, then they could be arrested for that.”
During my sabbatical (January through March of this year) Willa enjoyed the best of both worlds spending time in Boise, Idaho with Len, and then he’d bring her to me in Darby, Montana. She adored the wilds of Montana for a couple of reasons:
The two resident cats where we stayed—Marlo and Avocado.
The zillions of up-close-and-personal mule deer. Willa always stayed statue-still and simply enjoyed watching them.
Willa watching the Nature Channel—deer outside the window
And then there was the day that a doe hopped the six-foot wooden fence into the back yard and couldn’t get back out. That was definitely an oh deer moment. I made like Harry Potter and put on my invisibility cloak, snuck outside and opened the gate, then snuck back in and watched through the window. Sure enough, the moment she saw the way to freedom she made like a bread truck and hauled her buns!
Literal or figurative, what was your last “oh deer” moment?
Being married to a pilot, we fly a lot. When I take in-flight photos through the window, the propellor looks motionless. Not because it’s still, but because it’s spinning so fast!
Physics tells us that everything—without exception—is in motion. Even the Buddha statues you see in the photo below.
During my sabbatical I visited the GARDEN OF 1000 BUDDHAS in Arlee, Montana
Stillness is dynamic; it’s un-conflicted movement (no friction). We experience it when there’s unrestricted participation in the moment; when we’re unreservedly present with whatever we’re doing.
Stillness is a natural rhythm in the cycle of life. In the space that stillness creates we have the opportunity to quiet the mind and body; to re-group, re-charge, re-connect, and to find a point of reference; something to measure against.
For me, that point of reference is my inner compass. From here, I can move back into the busy world refreshed.
While in Darby, Montana to finish writing The Business of Being, I passed this Lost Horse sign on my weekly drive to Hamilton to buy groceries. The mischievous side of me was desperate to strike through the word “lost” with a black marker and write “found” instead. I’m happy to report that the better part of me won out.
And though I didn’t lose a horse while on sabbatical, I lost some preconceived ideas and found better ones to take their place. For instance:
All males in Montana are not fashioned after the Marlboro man.
Not every public place in Montana has a spittoon.
There’s an incredible French bistro—Taste of Paris—in Hamilton, Montana. Who knew?!
The libraries in Montana (I visited four different ones) are amazing!
While there I learned that “creek” is pronounced “crick.”
On the Montana Fun Facts and Trivia website I additionally learned that “the word ‘ditch’ can be used to order a drink. It means ‘with water.’ ‘I’d like a Jack Daniel’s ditch, please’ means, ‘I’d like a Jack Daniel’s and water.’ This is not a joke. In fact, all you really have to ask for is a ‘Jack ditch.’ Try it out the next time you find yourself in a Montana saloon.”
And while invention and discovery are two different things—invention means to create or design something; discovery means to find or observe something that was already there—both of these occurrences can experience breakthroughs. Here are just a few examples:
Bandit Brewing Co. is a nano-brewery and the smallest brewery in Montana with a quaint tasting room in Darby, just off of Highway 93, and within walking distance of where I stayed.
When I was on sabbatical in Darby, I experienced an artistic breakthrough. I wrote to beat the band! I assure you, however, that the discovery of Bandit Brewing Co. and my writing breakthrough are not linked.
The first person to type the accurate location of my sabbatical — Darby, Montana — into the comments section of March 28th post was bodojanbo. Congratulations! She has won a signed copy of Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth.
Wintering in Darby, Montana was a great experience. Not only was it breathtakingly gorgeous, it was productive. I completed what I set out to do—finish The Business of Being: Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace.
Often mistaken for an extrovert, I’m an introvert who functions as an extrovert. So this opportunity—three months of solitude—was like a decadent slice (or three) of crème brûlée.