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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dr. Bowling Goes to the Gardens.

It has been quite a full time, and now Spring is upon us and today the first oriole and hummingbird appeared. The warmth of the day brought on a feeling of hope and well being. 
This past week I was with my friend Tasha Mannox  www.tashimannox.com and his assistant David, for a special adventure in the Bronx Botanical Gardens. It was masterfully planned by the universe that we should all meet while the Chihuly glass exhibit is embedded in the masterfully designed arrangements of tulips, narcissus, allium, cherry blossoms and rhododendron. 
Tashi is visiting New York, after is trip to Bhutan. 
The experience of being at the Gardens was a feast for the eyes, soul and spirit. 
There was a sense that we were walking through fields of magic. 
Tasha's work is equally as magically as is his presence. He and David appeared for our meeting artfully dressed in the colors that melded seamlessly into the Chihuly glass sculptures.
Days of such goodness are to be cherished and tucked away in the reservoirs of our hearts where we hold our dearest and most colorful memories. 



Since my last post, I have finished my fourth year of trauma resolution study in Denver, Colorado and completed my Doctoral degree. There will be more time for photographs of hummingbirds and whales, Earl Grey tea and walks in nature with dear and patient friends who supported me from near and far while I dove down into myself and touched the bottom of the ocean of my potential and came back with an understanding that now I begin again from scratch and start anew. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Transition

The art of cultivating stillness while simultaneously being available for transition is the theme of the moment as we shift to the new calendar year. How to internally build and support capacity is one of my greatest explorations and curiosities. As we attempt to remain fluid in our day to day activities, it feels equally as important to remain paced and gentle with ourselves. This is the art of regulation, which is to move from one energy state to another. 


In this process, extremes sometimes appear. The brightness of the external world, coupled with the depth of the more subtle need to let go and be still. All the while, paying attention to the needs of the skeleton and the wisdom of the bones. In Chinese medicine, this would be referred to as the Water element. And here within, lies the Jing or Essence, which many of us know as 
life force.
In the northern hemisphere Winter is governed by the Water element. As I lean into the exploration of embodiment and how to stay alive in the process of being contained in the layers of the physiology, accessing the Jing, while also being available to the needs of others. Growth, meaningful dialogues with the external world, interwoven with the art of the 'pause' that is required to preserve Jing. 
In an age that is fueled by the sympathetic response, learning how to negotiate the changing energy states of physiology remains a life's work. 
Sometimes when we are in transition, what we need is the 'pause' in order to gently move into the next energy state. We are often rewarded for the push, for breaking through, overriding and ultimately exhausting ourselves and draining our life force.
My current exploration is cultivating time and space for the in-between, so that we may in turn practice more of the 'pause', thereby reaping the benefits of its' spaciousness. 
I chose these botanical images as representations of these concepts. The bright and beautiful Amaryllis in bloom in the clear Winter light and the skeleton of a magnolia leaf that was gifted to me by a friend. How different these two images are and yet they are vivid reminders of the juxtaposition of internal and external. Yin and Yang. Aliveness and stillness. 
In Chinese medicine, there is a wisdom that expresses one of the gifts of the Kidneys, it states that all of the other organs are controlled by the the Kidney's efficacy in balancing Yin and Yang. This is possible because they are the store house of the resources. By nourishing the Water element, we are in fact nourishing the capacity to live in the spaces between movement,  impulses and activation.


The leaf is tapped to the window just next to the red blossom.
Gentle reminders of how nature pendulates between life and death, Yin and Yang, in a rhythmic continuum. Day after day. Season after season. 
How curious is it to see the gentle softness of a fading petunia along side the rough and spiked external surface of a Jimson seed pod from Accabonac Harbor. There are so many beautiful layers to the stories in these two images. 


So as we transition into the new year and we allow the depth of Winter to wrap us in cold and hold us still, I hope that we may all remember the 'pause' as we pendulate between the brightness and the darkness, the hardness and the softness, the Yin and the Yang, as we build capacity to stay present within each moment. 
Wishing everyone a beautiful and very gentle new year. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Magic from the Great South Channel

Humpback bubble feeding nets, frothy aqua waters, shiny black skins, spouts of rainbows, flying dolphins, breaching whales, swishing tails, and spectacular skies filled my last CRESLI trip out to the Great South Channel. This was my third trip, and it was just as awe inspiring as the trips of years past. It was filled with riveting conversations with fellow naturalists, scientists and writers, shared snacks, and stories of adventures in far away places.
(It's all about the snacks.)
We also exchanged the curiosities of the natural world that we experienced in the past calendar year.
 And, most importantly, we had many laughs with new and old friends.


While taking pictures, I tried to focus on the textures, patterns and the details of whales and pelagic wildlife. Below are the bubbles that are seen as the Humpback whales collectively create a net that concentrates their food. As the sea life comes to the surface, birds swoop in, often sitting on the heads of the whales as they travel with open mouths. 


Below is a Humpback with it's lower jaw billowing and baleen exposed as it comes to the surface of the water to fill its mouth with food. 



Below, one can see a sand eel caught in the baleen of the Humpback. This frothy swirling feeding  mass makes for an exciting symphony of sounds. One of my favorite moments was watching the faces of fellow travelers as the early morning pink skies revealed this magical and mysterious feeding grounds. Sleepy incredulous eyes watched with what I can only express as pure joy, as the whales 
traveled the blue grey slate morning waters. 
There is little to say in moments like this, one can only rest in the knowing that it feels like a sacred experience. Or the places in ourselves where we feel our soulful spaces, knowing that we are part of something greater, and more beautiful.


Observing the water catch the light as the boat traveled at sunset was like watching a gold plated river move under sorbet skies. And as the moon rose, it looked like glitter was being poured over the surface of the ocean. These moments are like optical illusions, filled with exquisite colors, textures and salty goodness. Thank you everyone for sharing this moment with me. 


During moments like these, my imagination goes to a time when botanists and naturalists traveled months or even years along far oceanic routes to new lands to collect and document specimens. Something in my cellular memory speaks to this kind of travel. 


My grandmother Isabelle May who had deep roots in Appalachia, was a botanist and shared many of her travel adventures to far away places during my childhood. Through her letters and conversations, she spread her love of meeting new people, drawing plants and sharing her gifts. 
Her curiosity was contagious and feels very much alive in me, especially when I spoke with fellow naturalists.


 In years past, it felt unlikely that I could ever catch a photograph of one of the common dolphins in the air! They are so fast, most of my dolphin photography is done underwater with more time and contact.
I am thrilled that I was able to capture this dolphin with its' shimmering skin and visible markings, most likely from other dolphins.


The tail of the Humpback whales are especially graceful and beautiful. 


I love how in the photograph below, the early morning light reflected off of the skin of the tail. 



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Passion Flowers and a Sweetheart Moth.

Yesterday brought a surprising amount of energy from the Heart into the garden. A new passion flower erupted into a dark purple surprise and a Sweetheart moth revealed itself and its dark orange underwings. 
The genus is Catocala, they are also known as underwings. 


 What I love about this picture below is that you can actually see the proboscis curled up between the eyes and just a hint of the orange under the wings. 

It is the height of the warm season so there are many new discoveries in nature. 
Another new discovery that I welcome everyone to explore is the new look of my website:


It is updated and redesigned with many new images. 
Please feel free to have a look! 

Best wishes, 
Maria


Monday, July 4, 2016

Sacred Spaces

There is a beautiful hummingbird that has become a resident here in the garden over the past two months. Until today, it has been incredibly elusive and shy as it drinks the nectar from the salvia, fuchsia,  cleome, cardinal vine, and agastache flowers. This morning, it appeared to be more comfortable with my presence and allowed me to take photographs as it was perched in a cedar tree on the edge of the garden. It sat on a thin dry branch. It was protected and safe.


I am very curious about what creates a sanctuary and a safe place for one to land and mend. This concept is very important as I assist my patients heal from trauma. Sometimes the layers of  trauma may present as complex and energetically dense. Creating a safe and contained space is the first and most important step to regulating and mending. When we feel safe, our nervous system is more available for healing work and we are able to access more spaciousness within our bodies through the para-sympathetic state. This spaciousness allows us to slowly uncouple the energy of trauma from our physiology.


I feel that this is the most sacred healing work and when the physical spaces that we live and work in reflect order and a precious energy then the unwinding may be more elegant and supported. 
Today I created a small sacred space in my office where I included fresh flowers, some of my favorite crystals and one of my favorite statues. I love what I created and realized that this made me so very happy. My little vignette sits on top of a Florentine set of drawers that belonged to my grandmother Isabelle. The Chinese lacquer vase belonged to my mother and one of the crystals was a gift from a dear friend that is beautifully tucked away in a small metal tin with an image of a peacock on the lid. Having fresh flowers, like a gorgeous, fragrant and elegant magnolia takes us where we can allow ourselves to be enveloped by the senses, nature and beauty. 
One could find sanctuary in the center of a magnolia, or in the shimmering surface of a crystal, or a photograph of a magical hummingbird. These are all beautiful resources.
During these volatile  times on the planet, staying true to ourselves, our process of regulation and cultivating sacred spaces feels more important than ever. Our capacity to regulate, stay fluid and maintain flow is ultimately what I believe will help to stabilize unsettled energies that we may feel within ourselves and the outside world.
My next creative projects will include creating sacred spaces in nature with cedar branches and vines that I have been collecting for over a year.  I am also helping others find and create sacred spaces on their properties and in their homes so that they may develop their own sanctuaries for healing, resting and mending.
Wishing everyone a safe and beautiful season.