I send belated New Year greetings to all that are here. In “Off The Grid” time, I’m just about “on time” for sending my New Year wishes, January 3rd. I received a very informative and fun review of offthegridmama blog via WordPress, my website host. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you will recall that I began my blog in late June, just before our family jumped off the grid from Massachusetts to the rainforest farm in the Dominican Republic. According to my WordPress review, we’ve had over 15,000 views since I began posting, from 66 countries. I had no idea who would join me on this adventure, but I’m beyond grateful to you, my internationally broad audience of friends who are here with me. As a newbie blogger, it’s been a surprise and a joy to feel so connected as I write to you – it’s reassuring to me that you are here. Some of you I know personally and some of you are known to me as “Botswana,” “Indonesia,” or “Brazil.” Wherever you are, and whoever you are, I send deep appreciation for your presence here with me off the grid. As I play the role of “Writer” of this particular blog, I hope you can sense how meaningful your role as “Reader” is. Some of you have also put your own comments here, and I would love it if that continues and expands. I love the private comments and exchanges, too, so keep them coming and feel free to put it all out here, too! Everyone’s voice is welcome off the grid.
Now, a few pictures just tossed into the salad bowl of today’s post. The first pic, above, is taken by Marin of Sofia, Michelle and I exploring one of the many outstanding ocean resorts in the Dominican Republic. I think the secret is – almost – out, that this country has put a lot into creating appealing, Caribbean style resorts for visitors to travel to. As you know, my own focus is on EcoTourism, which has been growing here quite a bit in the past few years. Yet many destination resorts are at least on the “Eco-Aware” spectrum (conserving water, ecofriendly choices with toiletries, hiring locals at decent pay scales) which I’ve been happy to see.
Over the holiday week, our family enjoyed hanging out at our home in the farm with Jose and Katiuska, many of their relatives, and other group members came out from the city. You can see Isabella here, who has the magical quality of bringing calm and joy to animals and young children, both. She is hugging – cuddling! – Luna the horse in this photo, yes, Luna, who is not always The Most Cuddly Horse I’ve Ever Met! Luna is completely relaxed with Isabella, one of Katiuska and Jose’s daughters who is also a group member.
Michelle also adores Isabella, who gets right down to Michelle’s level, meeting her where she is. Michelle asks about Isabella when she isn’t here, saying, “Whea ees Eesa-Belllla? When is shees comeenggg?” in her two year old, half American, half Dominican accent. Right now, luckily, I can always answer, “Isabella is coming soon, sweetie!”
Because it’s true: This is the vibration of the moment here: HmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMHHHHMMMMMMM….
Can you feel something coming? We do! On January 23, the annual Seminar at the farm will begin. In addition to Isabella, we are greeting approximately 60 guests (including us, and to Sofia and Michelle’s utter joy, eleven children!) Jose has shared and taught Fourth Way seminars around the world, and annually, he hosts an intensive seminar at the farm. There will be an eight day seminar which the group of sixty will join, continued with an ongoing seminar through Lent until April 5th.
Every day is filled with work and practices dedicated to bringing a deeper awareness to our body, mind, and emotions. Every day is shared, everyone has a role, be it dishwashing, cleaning the bathrooms, helping with the children or building a bench…everyone participates. In addition, everyone participates in the meditation, sacred dance, Sufi zikr and other specific esoteric practices that help bring balance and presence to our Selves. Jose said it well the other day when we were talking about past seminars. He said, “Once, we took everyone’s picture as they arrived to the seminar, and then again at the end of the seminar. Everyone had changed: Everyone looked different – so relaxed into themselves.”
Which I’m working on right now, relaxing back into myself. Because in the midst of all the bustle, Marin, the girls and I spontaneously decided to come to one of our favorite personal EcoRetreats that we’ve been to in the DR: Villa Serena, the intimate oceanfront hotel several hours from the farm. Katiuska just called to let me know that Jose and Romeo went to the farm today, unexpectedly – probably to work and get some things done. We have the keys to all the Workshops, Dining Hall, and so on. We are not there. They can’t get into the buildings. And so here I am, with an opportunity to swallow the feelings of guilt that I feel right now, and accept things as they are. I’m probably the epitome of the “Before Seminar” photo right now, rather “Not Relaxed.” but working on it…working on it…
To every one, may 2015 bring each person and the world much peace, love, happiness, health, safety and goodness. Everyone. xoxo