What Makes a Good Life?

Breathing, sitting, meditating, taking long Saturday naps. These are hazardous exercises, my friends. How so? Well, participate in this rebellion and one finds oneself asking alarming questions such as, Do I Like My Job?, Do The People In My Life Encourage Me?, Am I Working Too Hard?, How Long Has It Been Since I Sat Down to a Good Meal With Friends, or What Makes a Good Life?

The last question is delicious: What Makes a Good Life? What. Makes. A. Good. Life. It is a question that comes from deep in the girdle of ones being. Try and prescribe what the thinking mind calls “good” for life without consulting the body, mind, heart, and spirit, and end up with a schedule bursting at the seams, and yourself in the role of consumer. A prescription is unnecessary. Just listen. The travails and dead ends of every day are speaking into what makes and does not make your life good.

I write these words because My Life and I have been discussing this Good Life topic lately. Now in a full time position, but still working out part time commitments, and cultivating ethical habits at home (gardening/composting/recycling/actually cleaning stuff), I say to you, LIFE IS REAL BRUH. It is taxing, exhausting, and calling me to live from that girdle of being, and not settle for anything short of my Sat Nam (true self). Settling or compromising part of myself leads–as yet without fail–to frustration, internal conflict, and eventual disconnection from one or more of my core values (for help to identify your core values, click here). Those frustrations are redemption disguised for they catalyze this holy question: What Makes a Good Life?

 

 

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Raw & Real, Earth redeems us by calling our muchness to surface.

Friends, I say. Friends faces around a bonfire or dinner table, simultaneously remembering and creating. Hours on the couch with a kitten or cat, I declare, make a life gooooood. Legs curled under me and a soft blanket with a Madeleine L’Engle novel in hand. The smell of incense and the sensation of fingertips pressed into a sticky mat, hips rising in Adho Muka Svanasana. Meditation makes a Good Life, and the practice of Pranayama (channeling the inherent inner Life Force via breathing exercises). Vegan food, bought from ethical sources. Long conversations or silent walks around a lake. Toes on dirt, shovel playing with the layered compost pile. Throwing dry leaves into the air and watching them fall like glitter. Travel travel travel. Live music or listening to a song on Spotify that makes me weep as I hold my phone against my chest before I fall asleep. Exploration of the natural world is undoubtedly a pillar of a Good Life. Taking time to greet my own wide smile in the mirror before and after the day. Talking to young people about their authentic feelings and perceptions. Touching the skin of people who are old enough to wear it like soft cloth. Looking at baby hands and feet as they kick and learn to grab.

 

 

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You, Little One, make this a Good Life.

 

Sometimes not doing an activity, not making a commitment, or even cancelling one that is already made, is the path to a Good Life. Turning off the television or current video playing on your phone ALWAYS leads to better life. These practices and experiences, sacred and most often simple, in addition to removal of that which lowers the quality of my life’s essence (TV, videos, too much work, “obligatory” social events), I have found to make A Good Life.

Ask and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. ~Jesus, our precious Jesus

Amen. Shanti.

Lydia Nomad

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Ahimsa & My Ego

Heart ablaze again, guide me. You I consult in times of humility. You I live by, you my internal North Star. The Jesus before and after they spoke to me of him. You, preservation of my relationships, hope of my days. 

This week I said the most powerful and dreaded word in the English language. Never expected that from myself, consciously or by accident. As a believer (believer in Spirit, that is, the world inside our world, always conspiring to make itself known to the physical beings), a mistake of this kind leads to deep introspection. In fact, since getting suspended from my job, I have passed days almost entirely alone and in deep reflection. How did I get so out of touch with my heart that a word contrary to who I have worked to become, slipped, like any other word, across my lips? That is Spirit. That is Spirit asking for attention. True sign of my need to pay attention. To get woke anew already.

You see, waking up to the pain of those around us isn’t a one time thing. It is an evolutionary (gradual; see Everything is Spiritual for a deeper explanation of this idea) process. I cannot one day decide that I will abide by the revolutionary ideals of Jesus and stand against the system of domination and expect myself to….abide there from that day forward. That is uncomfortable territory. That is asking the ego to bow. That is tough shit.

Violence happens to humans everyday in the form of unkind or careless words and actions: all the grub and grime of a groaning and restless world. Our fears are the first application process, so to speak, through which that daily violent input must pass. Fear we encounter on the daily  is a disruption which can become either ego fodder or transformation fuel. Author Deborah Adele says that there are two kinds of fear: instinctual fear, for the sake of survival, and fear of the unfamiliar (The Yamas and Niyamas, 2009). Those of us who exist on the more posh side of life (a place to live, some food to eat, very few–if any–daily threats to security, health, and freedom) are prone to over-entertainment of the second kind of fear. (It goes all the way back to the Old Testament IMO, when they scaped those poor goats all the way to the wilderness with everybody’s adultery and disrespect and masturbation tied on its’ back; A live metaphor for the weight of human sin.) When humans have time and/or security, they seem to begin to react to fears (real or unreal, rational or irrational–ego food all the same), and inevitably accumulate guilt. Well….who is around to interrupt this fear and guilt cycle? Who trips us up when we walk in the pride caused by this treacherous consumption of fear? Them. People (especially those at or near the top of the food chain) like to pin guilt on them. The ones without fear. The ones who face fear number one and still have the nerve to stand on street corners asking for money. The ones who do the-thing-I-never-would and dare to continue living instead of melting into the dehumanizing guilt-puddle we expect. It’s yuck, but it’s human. Or, tragically, entire people groups scapegoat other entire people groups because of the truth they tell about history (see: Black Experience in America). Humans do this, and then the ego, if unaddressed by empathy (or equal parts suffering), laps that stuff up like a thirsty puppy, and, like a puppy, it grows. Then, perhaps, it bites.

The same day I am dismissed from work, I reach up to grab a book or two off the Black History Month shelf at Terry library, and for the first time, insecurity chases my hand back into my pocket. Racist, I hear the voice of accusation inside my head. What are you trying to cover up? 

The ego growls and I snarl to myself: the injustice of it! That my innocent action should be inhibited by a single misunderstanding. One accusation.

One accusation, not even voiced outright had me suspended in inaction and egoism.

Violence to fear. Violence reaps fear. If I refuse to scapegoat this insecurity grounded in fear, where does it go?

Transformation fuel. To quote Gary Zukav (The Seat of the Soul.), “…we are held responsible for our every action, thought and feeling, which is to say, for our every intention.” Pay by what you outsource to others, or pay by running your own transformation race. The choice is always ours.

I have found that my ego’s kryptonite is understanding. When I take the time to understand, I overcome violence in myself, and in my interactions with others by the power of peace and by lofty aspirations of Love. Understanding often leads me to tears; this time I can’t help reflect on how hurtful this me-centered attitude must have been over the course of these callous months, culminating in my utterance of that unfit word, to my minority friends, or friends living on the corner of gender and racial discrimination* in this often hateful society. I acted contrary to the magnificent Eastern value of Ahimsa; nonviolence, and thus, contrary to my deepest self. I can do better. We can do better.

One accusation, result of my mistake, shaved ounces off my ego. No wonder the African American community has offered the world countless humble artists, truth-tellers, and thundering prophets. How many accusations do they hear in a day, my brothers and sisters next door, yet so far away from me? Drunk. Lazy. Racist. Dumb. Inadequate. Inferior. The list goes on, for them and for our Native American kindred. May my white ego stop short, as those of my friends are forced to every time they leave their homes.

So much to learn, so much loving left to do.

Gratitude & Hope for Ahimsa,

Lydia Nomad

 

*For more on this idea of Intersectionality visit The Liturgists

 

I Can Laugh Again

There is a moment of my life that I will never stop writing about.

It is you, Jamal. You fiery young one, left alone in so many ways.

I find myself burning with the desire to write about those moments which cannot be written or comprehended: they cannot be anything more than marveled at, danced with.

Yet here I am, writing just like people write about one another, about pets and history and anatomy. We do not know. We are alive. We explore, either because we want to know, or because we are alive, or both. Only the people know why.

There is me, there was me, there was that moment. Then there is the power that moment has to touch today–two years later–and to shape the moments I have survived between those two: today, that day.

It was Love, that moment. I thought I knew something of God (or gods) then; now I know I do not. I attributed it to God then, that love, but today I know less of that day than I did then though I have gained much from it.

When I saw the vein in his neck protruding and his head hung and his arms slung around like he was trying to convince us to be against him though, really, he was begging someone to be for him when he could not be for himself.

As something or someone in me rose up to be that one, graciously, unconditionally, for him in a crowd of embarrassed scoffers, I experienced the inexplicable Love. I pushed in as he pushed against himself because I know what it is to be trapped and alone and have no idea which way would be a better way because this is all I know.

That love changed everything because I felt such a wave of grace, such bizarre empowerment, that from then on (skipping like a school girl with a jump rope from that day to this day to all the rest of my days) I knew that if Love is true you will not need it anymore when it goes.

True Love gives you something so that when it leaves, you will not ultimately doubt its goodness but will trust its infilling power and know that when it is just you with yourself again, you will have a bit more of you to face you with.

There will be moments that skip across your life like smooth stones on a river, they will touch you, change you, and you will find yourself in that unpredictable phenomenon.

Someone or something will move toward you and you will move toward someone else. That is called dancing, and it is born from and carried out by Love.

You are loved

and

you will come to Love you.

Ser She Ahora

As am I

So are you:

Good.

Como soy,

igual eres:

buena.

She is trying to grow and learn.

She is a deep mystery.

She is imperfect and young.

She is a delight.

Ella intenta a crecer, a aprender.

Ella es un misterio profundo.

Ella no es perfecta, ella es joven.

Ella es una maravilla.

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My cup of coffee, the leaves of big trees all around,

the fear between us that we both understand

because we are women

in a world we adore

set to destroy us.

Mi taza de café, las hojas de los árboles en su jardín, el miedo entre nosotras el cual entendemos bien

porque somos mujeres

en el mundo que adoramos

y que nos intenta a destruir.

 

12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].~1 Corinthians 13:12, Amplified Bible

Nuestros conocimientos son ahora muy limitados, como si estuviéramos viendo una figura en un espejo defectuoso; pero un día veremos las cosas como son, cara a cara. Mis conocimientos son ahora imperfectos, pero en aquel día podré conocer tal y como Ella me conoce a mí~1 Corintios 13:12, NBD

Ode To My People

Ode To My People

 

Rationality is me seeing what I see

and not saying otherwise.

To say is to be brave;

for to say is to admit that you are not happy

in a system where the meter of your happiness provides true indication of belovedness.

 

This is the system of my heritage and it demands Truth or belovedness, but finds their coexistence to be

a confounding impossiblity.

 

If this system is true

then I am unloved and unhappy,

(though I often feel both loved and happy)

because this is what I see and must speak:

 

Dehumanizing declarations made at Thanksgiving and families move yet further away from unity

Original land owners herded like cattle and eighteen year olds commit suicide on the eve of high school graduation

Women with ebony eyes disappear along with elephants and no one says if either one is important

New neighbors forced into corners of lives spent with hands red and bruised from tearing frozen

chicken breasts

 

Little feet and necks swell with flesh and with every click Coca-Cola makes millions

Men have bad dreams of the children they killed beneath a red flag

Ebenezer Scrooge lives in privileged pockets, sewn with the blood of Taiwanese factory workers,

just $7.99 at Old Navy

The final chapter of the Biology textbook goes untaught and lives of girls without options

grind to a halt

Twelve year olds are hustled across state borders like sacks of cocaine

Girls are touched in taxis and under tablecloths

Boys get shot in the street

 

Candy wrappers fly out of open windows and choke sea turtles

Concrete eats the grass

Earth´s belly heats up and casts religious people out of their homelands

Ice melts and Santa Claus will show up soon; a wintery work shop disrobed by our insistence on a 66 degree house year around

Regions suitable for cultivating vineyards move from North to South and still the planet is unchanging;

She is wrong about her own health

 

Irrationality is expecting the blind to see

the way I see.

 

Sight is a gift:

a gift that weighs on souls,

shaking the burden too long left on the shoulders of the beloved Underdog:

firstborn of the Christ.

 

This is the system of my heritage and it demands Truth or belovedness; but I dance

in their coexistence.

Truth is, I find myself beloved.

 

Woe to you!….For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)

Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:24-26)

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways. (Luke 3:5)

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty & Sexuality

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The story of why I cut my hair starts with yesterday (the seed of today):

Yesterday I experienced & incarnated Divine beauty. The invitation went something like this:

touch some sacred places within you and know that you are profoundly gorgeous.

You are woman: wondrously alive and unified with the Earth.

 

That was yesterday.

 

Today I hear afresh the bullhorn of unjust division between men & women, along with a

gospel of mutual objectification. Corruption crawls in one side of my psyche and the

beauty that was the gospel of yesterday becomes a ball and chain–a temple of limitation soaked in the blood

of everyone whose hair isn’t blonde and whose chest isn’t robust.

 

What this new (to me) culture called my kingdom quickly became an instrument of handicap. The reduction of my being into a body, a butt, blonde hair, chafed at me–rubbing me raw. I

felt myself turning on a spit amidst jeering humans with balls & chains of their owns. Pieces

of my flesh dripped grease into the fire as they pulled me apart–nothing but a morsel on their tongues. Women worldwide are seen (and see ourselves) as consumables; my race cut in two like the skin we all rip to enter this world

The same charade plays in my country, but new perspective brings fresh heart break, and a

hunt for Divine invitation here: (the way, Truth, and life of) how to evolve.

 

….Jesus showed me the face of ardent rebellion: women who have been in this fight longer

than I. My classmate with cropped hair under a boys cap, accustomed to the jeers yet still

fiercely female, playing for years with no checkmate, she called me wordlessly to leave my

own kingdom of beauty behind.

 

My soul heard hers call me out of the enemy’s bed, into the rebellion. I jumped. I blinked and

knew that what I did had been essential: that there are no exceptions, no part of me that can

maintain allegiance to the lies. There is no looking back. There is life and death and I choose LIFE.

Life with the side-lined. Outcasts. Humbled Ones. Marginalized. Homeless. Single Mothers. First Nations. Scapegoats of our societies. Fortresses in my own soul.  Life against the odds.

 

I choose to fight relentlessly against sexist, racist, dehumanizing ideologies while loving

radically those who hold to them.

 

As one being we long for freedom.

We long as one because we came from One & are journeying together.

Redemption is written into every story;

I learned from this jump that my sexuality is more than an act or a crass word. My sexuality is

a fierce desire to survive, to evolve for the sake of abundant life in any context.

 

This haircut is the external symbol of my internal evolution: this is Truth incarnate.

 

The Lord lives and blessed be my rock and exalted be the God of my salvation….yes, you have exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. *Psalm 18:46 & 48b*

 

¿Porqué corté mi pelo?

Hay dos partes en la historia: la belleza y mi sexualidad.

Cuando me mudé a temuco, chile de una pequeña ciudad en el sur de los estados unidos me di cuenta de una división muy profunda entre los géneros. Una división en la cual mis lágrimas nadaban porque de la pena de estar vista sólo como un cuerpo: pelo rubio y nada más. Me sentía como un objeto como resultado de la diferencia entre esta cultura y la mía. No es peor acá, simplemente es diferente y más fuerte y me costó cuando caminaba por las calles y escuchaba las voces de trabajadores y hombres normales.

Me sentía como carne en un circulo de hombres con hambre, con ganas comer lo que soy. Pide a mi Dios(a) una perspectiva nueva, una manera para sobrevivir y evolucionar en este contexto nuevo. No pude creer (ni quería creerlo) que mi sexualidad podía ser nada más que un acto, que dibujos y fotos encontradas en el internet.

Entonces vi una compañera de mi clase y su pelo cortito me inspiró: ella luchaba en esta guerra antes de mi tiempo acá y ella tenía la sabiduría y la fuerza mantener su propio estilo sin tener en cuenta las opiniones tristes y malas. Sabía que seguir su ejemplo valiente era mi senda, el próximo paso en mi evolución personal. Así corté mi pelo.

Unas personas no me han respetado desde lo corté y la mayoría no han entendido. Pero hay un poco…un grupo pequeño que me apoyaba, que entendía, y ellos cambiarán esta cultura, este mundo. Porque sus mentes están abierta, sus corazones están suave y porque siempre eligen la esperanza y la libertad personal y no pierden una oportunidad de ver por los ojos de una otra persona.

Si no seguimos luchando, creyendo, esperando un mundo mejor, viviremos sin la energía divina que es necesario para disfrutar llenamente cada día de nuestras vidas maravillosas.

Lucharé contra ideologías deshumanizadoras sin recreo pero amaré a la gente quien cree en esas ideologías radicalmente; es posible hacer los dos al mismo tiempo, lo sé.

 

Por mas difícil que sea un objetivo, siempre exista una manera de superar los obstáculos….Si permanece esperando el momento ideal, nunca saldrá del lugar; es preciso un poco de locura para dar el próximo paso. El guerrero usa un poco de locura. Porque en la guerra y en el amor, no es posible preverlo todo.
*Paulo Coehlo, Manual del guerrero de la luz*

 

¡El Señor vive! ¡Alabada sea mi roca!
    ¡Exaltado sea Dios mi Salvador!
Tú me libras del furor de mis enemigos,
me exaltas por encima de mis adversarios,
    me salvas de los hombres violentos. *Salmo 18:46 & 48b*

 

 

 

 

I Am & I Hope

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Born to be creative, freed by the Truth to pursue life in the trails I blaze through this globe-jungle.

Who am I? is a question I ask myself every day and then smile at the obstinate refusalof my soul to respond simply. I am not simple. I am big. I am not defined by the color of my skin, by my heritage, by what I know or do not know, experience or do not experience. I am me, I am. I am lost in I AM. I am a wide network of dynamic relationships, ideas, and memories. I will not be stifled. I am gratitude and I am the tears of the ones I love.

I spend my days in expectation of the unspeakable Divinity which is faithful to bestow a timely spark on my dry wood. Then, as ashes, my substance travels the invisible current of our atmosphere to the wildest corners of our world; may I land where hope is needed and may I be loyal to her, Hope, the North Star of my very being.

I bow my head to the women whose voices are strengthening me, whose hard-earned beliefs keep me company, keep me grounded in the soil of my God & teach me that I am never away from my loved ones, nor am I ever unloved.

Enjoy the quotes, friends. Thanks for reading.

Lydia Nomad

 

I once heard that there is enough food in the world to feed all the hungry children. It is not a lack of resources; it is simply a lack of will. When I think about what I have hoarded or held onto because of fear, it causes me great grief. I want to walk, eat, pack, and work with an open and trusting heart. For I have learned that when my heart is open to the world, my vision is transformed, and I am able to see family where I once saw strangers and opportunities to heal where I once saw obstacles to joy. –Becca Stevens

 

We have been treating the earth as if it were a supply house and a sewer. Weve been  grabbing, extracting resources from it for our cars and our hair dryers and our bombs and we have been pouring the waste into it until it is overflowing. But our earth is not a supply house and a sewer. It is our larger body. We breath it, we taste it, we are it, and it is time now that we venerate that incredible flowering of life that takes every aspect of our physicality.–Joanna Macy

 

“No hay paz sin justicia,

no hay justicia sin equidad,

no hay equidad sin desarrollo,

no hay desarrollo sin democracia,

no hay democracia sin respeto a la identidad y

dignidad de las culturas y los pueblos”.–Rigoberta Menchú

 

 

Poem Full of Hope

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She carries her cross, terrified and fully aware of surrounding and indwelling dissonance;

she knows she was made for more, a more she knows nothing of, which makes her ache with hope and agony.

 

Terrified, she treads deeper into the forest landscaped with fear and uncertainty.

She carries her cross because she needs more to live for.

 

Children who have yet to see the forest edge, for them she carries her cross.

While they can’t muster hope she, terrified, touches one more toe down.

 

She carries her cross, brown-eyed and unstable.

Terrified, the woman is Jesus, come back to lift the poor from the hopeless heaps we’ve put them in.

 

 

Me For Me

These words are about the healing and growth I am undergoing and what that is bringing about in my life. Next post will be about how exactly the 31 days of Her Voice has intensified this process. Enjoy 🙂

 

Everything is different now that I get to have me, and

see through the eyes I was born with, no one else’s.

 

A world of invitation and delight orbits just outside my domain,

without whisper of exclusion.

 

Having me is eating and tasting food for the first time,

it’s looking in the mirror and knowing that I am that.

 

It’s dancing wildly without a thought for who is around,

it’s being with loved ones and then being completely alone.

 

It’s one boat leaving the dock and another pulling up alongside

It’s a journey I can’t un-take

 

 

Who is she?

This wild woman with Tarzan arms that have climbed trees in Puerto Rico, held children, cooked Indian curries,

shook hands, written essays, braided hair, drafted budgets, wrapped around the body they’re attached to.

The wild woman who holds herself and stands on no feet but her own.

Who creates spaces where others can breath, where long-dormant hearts can beat again.

 

Once you see you can’t unsee.

Once you feel you can’t unfeel.

 

There are magical children around me. Some are adults but most are young, not so long out of the womb that they have forgotten the Spark they sprang from.

When I ride in the car with these kids, climb rocks with them, blow bubbles with them, read books with them, something extraordinary happens.

Over time a space is created. I imagine wind drawing a circle between us, its gusts creating a vortex of safety, peace, love, and acceptance.

Some kids hear the whisper quicker than others but it is there for all: Everything you are has a place. And by sheer Heaven-wizardry that message brings out hearts and puts smiles on faces. It’s like camels just come to an oasis.

Hearts start to show like turtle heads peeking out from under shells. Words I can’t yet voice, about things I haven’t begun to comprehend,

do their life-giving work in this space. All that I feel I cannot do for the children starts to do its work.

With me, but also without me.

 

In me something is happening.

My interior is a wide expanse with hay that sways in the breeze rather than the barren land it once was.

As restoration roots within me it creates a sacred spin around me; rearranging the souls that I overlap with, gentle licks of ocean against sand.

I sense that it is less an hour glass and more the mysterious layer of cinnamon particles carried by winds that, over time, shape the sand dunes.

 

There is no sense to be made of what goes on in and around me. To put language to it is a fun, sometimes useful, challenge.

To enjoy it in all its delicious mystery is the only mandate. It’s more of an invitation.

 

Do you believe in an endless love?

31 Days of Her Voice

If I could put one word to my 2016 journey so far I would choose sight. Recently I changed my Instagram bio (what else marks transcendent realizations about ones’ path?), now it reads: Born blind. By poetry I see.

I have been shedding old, restricting ways of seeing and gaining new eyes. Maybe it is that my two eyes are becoming one in Faith as I explore contemplation and a more unified soul. I’m not sure exactly, but it has become an unraveling process. As I have begun to see in new ways,  I am seeing much that I have previously neglected to see. The interweaving of liberation ideals and personal experience is churning within me. I feel that the underbelly of things is emerging in my consciousness and my what lovelies are creeping out of the corners.

“All the liberating prophetic visions must be deepened and transformed to include what was not included: women.”~Sexism and God-Talk, page 32

Thanks to some great voices (see this post ) I am coming to see women.

Because I have come to see myself, I cannot stop seeing women.

Because I long to love the girls around me, patriarchy’s lies are losing their grip in me.

“…what does promote the full humanity of women is of the Holy, it does reflect relation to the divine, it is the true nature of things, the authentic message of redemption and the mission of redemptive community.”~ Sexism and God-Talk, Ruether page 19

In my life today, promoting the full humanity of women looks like a 31 day challenge. (Challenges are often catalysts for growth in my life, as this blog has testified for years). For the next 30 days (starting yesterday) my media in-take will be strictly female voices. Books, podcasts, music, blogs. Those are the only types I consume on a regular basis and this is a pretty radical change for me, as I receive e-mails and devotions from men as well as subscribe to podcasts dominated by masculine voices. I love those men and their voices. They have blessed me deeply. To hear something different is my path today.

I’m excited! How much am I not seeing that I will develop eyes for in the days to come? What will I find the collective female voice saying?

Further in, friends! Tales (and no doubt music/book recommendations) from the challenge trail to come.

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