Ant medicine

It’s been difficult for me to slow down recently.

Five planets are in retrograde. We’ve made it through April and a new month has just begun. Astrologers and pagans are celebrating Beltane, looking at the new moon in Taurus (5/6), talking about themes of trust.

Lena Stevens writes: “The most important lesson this month is to trust and allow your life to be supported in unfolding in a very new way, one that you are not familiar with but you welcome and receive.
Intuition is non-intellectual and helps us to ‘feel’ into things instead of rationalize them. Remember that rationalization uses language from the past and past experiences, whereas intuition feels into the future.
“Your intuition ‘knows’ your true values, and your values are important building blocks to the foundation of your future. It is no longer acceptable to be engaged in activity that goes against your personal values and integrity.
Moving towards what your heart wants and your intuition agrees with will be what ultimately changes the game. So trust your intuition, trust your new rules, trust right timing and trust the new game.
“Instead of trying to figure out where you are going with your mind, trust your intuition and let the right project, work or partnership choose you.


Yesterday in yoga, an ant scurried across the floor near my mat. He was traveling solo (so far as I could determine, anyhow). Later, I saw an ant exploring my desktop at home. I’ll never know: was it the same ant? Did he somehow hitch a ride? I haven’t seen an ant in the state of Illinois since last fall.


In these situations, I’ve learned to pause. One ant: hmmm. Two ants? Mitakuye Oyasin.


Medicine Cards describes ant’s extraordinary virtue as patience. There’s a bit in there about trusting in the good and allowing time for foundations to be built. My mom and I texted about ant for a while: they look closely at things, it’s hard for them to see the big picture, they have an unmatched strength and driving force forward, they adjust in the face of obstacles and leave trails for their kin.


Patience. Trust.


Let the right things choose you.


I’ve released a bit lately. Surrendered, if you will. Found some very good humor in life’s recent challenges. (Admittedly, my ability to find humor had grown very very dim until a huge wind brought cataclysmic shifts… seemingly at once. I asked for a sign. I vowed faith. I said I was open. Et voila! As they say: Careful whatcha pray for.)


Dear me,

When it’s really hard, and you’re thinking


somehow, maybe,

you’ve fallen off course (as if

there is such a thing),

remind yourself

that it’s just a test.


Things I want to do before leaving Chicago

Mischief managed

  • Art Institute — Valentine’s Day 2016
  • Architecture Boat Tour — with the Kristens
  • Chicago History Museum — thanks, Groupon!
  • Chicago Pride! — 2015
  • Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade/River Dye — 2013
  • Field Museum — with the Fitches
  • Christkindlmarkt — with Hill + Tallulah
  • Hancock Tower (best brunch!) — with the Fitches
  • Cloud Gate — February 2015
  • Navy Pier  — with the Kristens
  • Frank Lloyd Wright tour — with the Kristens
  • National Museum of Mexican Art — March 2016
  • The Plant (tour) — March 2016
  • Garfield Park Conservatory — March 2016
  • Lakefront Trail — June 2012 
  • Buckingham Fountain — June 2012
  • Haunted History tour — Thanks, Pat + Steve for the Christmas gift!
  • A day in Andersonville — April 2016
  • Swedish American Museum — April 2016
  • Weiner’s Circle for a legit Chicago dog — April 2016
  • Harold Washington Library – May 2016
  • The Rookery – May 2016
  • Museum of Science and Industry *CityPass in hand
  • Adler Planetarium*CityPass in hand
  • Shedd Aquarium*CityPass in hand
  • Cubs game * Tickets for 6/20


Things that need advance tickets

  • Chicago Botanic Garden – free (parking is $$$)
  • Bahá’í House – free
  • Northwestern U – free
  • The 606 – free
  • Food Planet Tour
  • Lincoln Park
    • Conservatory – free (parking is $$$)
    • Zoo – free
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – $12
  • Second City
  • Chicago Cultural Center – free
  • Day on the lake – free
  • University of Chicago, including Harper Library and Rockefeller Chapel – free

Trips to take

  • Madison to visit friends
  • Milwaukee for the art museum
  • South Bend, Indiana to visit Notre Dame
  • Michigan lakefront weekend
  • St. Louis, MI for the botanical garden and friends
  • Kansas City, MO for the art museum and BBQ
  • Racine, WI (for fresh kringles)
  • Detroit + Ann Arbor for the beer
  • Fargo, ND to cross North Dakota off the list
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • House on the Rock, Wisconsin

Things I think we’ll run out of time to do

  • Chinese New Years Parade
  • Chicago Big Bus tour with Chicago Architecture Foundation
  • McCormack Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum
  • Bears game
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Door County, Wisconsin
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

“just thinking about it”

On Friday, a friend asked me at lunch how things were going.

I was apprehensive to give a real answer, so consider me surprised to report that what I said was the following: “I feel like there’s a lot transpiring behind the scenes… on the back burner.  Like I’m spending a lot of time sorting things out and it’s maybe like I’m in the contemplation phase for a whole lot of things.

She nodded graciously, which was (apparently) the encouragement I needed to begin word vomit.

“Like… food is a big one.  I’ve been thinking more and more – gosh, I’m even hesitant to say this – I’ve been preoccupied with a question: what would shift if I ate in alignment with my integrity?

She nodded again, and took a big bite of chicken shwarma.

“Because, you know, I’m conscientious of the toll of doing other things out of alignment with integrity.  And food is a near-constant. I do it multiple times per day, every day. And it’s got me thinking, or wondering: what possible shifts could take place if that one piece was a better fit?”

And I bristle at the idea of politicizing all food choices, even though they are a political statement in some ways, and I don’t have much interest in being some kind of food person… you know, the food people who have constant, evolving food needs…. because food is so social.  And I don’t want to have such hard and fast rules that I have to make every restaurant decision or plan every holiday meal.  Being obsessive about food does not align with my integrity…”

“But the standard american diet, y’know?  The standard american diet is built around convenience and mass standardization, not health, nutrition, seasons, regions, or sustainability.  And right now, I don’t have to ever question if I will be able to find food at an airport, a truck stop, or in a restaurant.  I wish the entire food system was whole, real foods and less genetically modified.  Y’know, and it’s tricky because some genetically modified foods can be credited with saving humanity and others are downright killing humanity. I’m worried about petrochemicals, and groundwater toxins and soil depletion, and mercury in our oceans and Fukushima.  I’m still really disturbed by Fukushima and what that means for fish and seafood and not to mention the entire oceanic system. And I am really, definitely, 100% morally opposed to factory farming, and the conditions that mass-produced meat come from, but I’m not opposed to eating animals.  And it seems impossible to come up with hard and fast rules that totally fit, but I wonder if there’s a rule, like 80/20, that will work enough.  Y’know, 80/20? People use that.”

“…I think a lot of this started with paring down my wardrobe.  Yeah, because that process really forced me to think about what I wanted to buy… and I could buy cheap, disposable clothes from [retailer], and then dispose of them and add to the world’s garbage, and buy MORE cheap, disposable clothes but that is not what I want, and it definitely doesn’t align with my integrity.”

I was learning things by monologuing.  Saying it aloud made me notice just where my thought process was at that moment.  It’s easy for thoughts or feelings to be a jumble when they’re internal.  When they are transposed for an audience, they seem to straighten them selves out (at least a bit).

For a while, it was important to me to be able to just buy things because I could.  I think it comes from having no money to having some money.  When I finally got some money, I spent it.  For like 5 years. And for a while, the cheap, disposable clothes worked really well for me but this wardrobe project I think might have started a new phase.  And it’s really made me think: ethically, morally and politically, I feel better about sustainable, long-lasting fabrics and clothing items that will last me a good while.”

“And I can afford to think and buy this way. And it makes me feel like if I can afford it, I have to vote with my dollars.”

“So anyway, this whole thing is happening in the background and I’m excited for what it could mean but I’m also – get this–  I’m also scared.  I’m scared of what becomes possible if I eat more in alignment!  That sounds … I don’t know, not like me? I don’t consider myself to be scared of much? I don’t know what that’s about exactly, but I’m not ready to put things into action yet.  I’m not ready to like, make a concrete action plan or start taking steps. I’m still just thinking about it.

My gracious friend shared a story about someone else she knows who eats based on her principles, the 80/20 rule, and how where you live impacts the food you eat.  She started talking about Portland and Oakland, and how much easier it is to make the choice for good food when good food is plentiful, abundant, and open at all hours.  We talked about how the midwest feels 15 years behind, and the South feels 20 or 25.  We talked about the first time we touched a styrofoam cup after living in places where it’s been virtually eliminated… and I wondered aloud what other ubiquitous materials we might cease to touch or hold in the future.

So that’s how things are going.