Posted in Uncategorized

Testing One’s Mettle

“What are you afraid of?” author Bob Mayer asked at a writing conference, “because that’s what’s holding you back as writers.”

At the time, it was social media–mastering new technology, committing to cranking out a weekly post. But I started a blog, and am glad I did.  Since my first blogpost I’ve made new friends, discovered photographic storytelling, which I love, and crossed a whopper off this writer’s to-do list.

Marriage was another commitment that terrified me, but I faced that fear too.

It took seven years before Thom and I felt brave enough to assume the awesome responsibility of parenthood.  It’s the most joyful, most difficult, most rewarding, and most important undertaking we’d ever signed on for, or ever will.

Whether we choose them ourselves or take what fate throws our way, the most daunting experiences are often the most edifying.

The most challenging ones tend to be the most rewarding.

With the toughest climbs come the best views.

After the kids were old enough to change their own diapers, we thought could rest on our laurels, but there was an unexpected twist to the parent/child relationship.

We raised kids who challenge themselves.  Bea watched her big brother do his math homework, and designed her own “Really Hard Math Problem.”

As they tested their own mettle, and created their own challenges…

…we were forced out of our comfort zones just to keep up.

Thom and I would never have chosen to go to the Amazon jungle if the kids hadn’t been keen to go.

It was hard to watch my kids twist and turn like little spiders on a web as they climbed 200 feet up into the canopy to zipline.  And for the first (and probably last) time in my life, I went ziplining too.  You never know when someone might need a bandaid or some bug repellant.

Only for my kid would I board a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, another thing I swore I’d never do. But it’s good to feel a fire in your belly and rise above your fears.

We are not extreme travelers.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: most of the adventures I have are in my own mind.  But for the sake of my kids, I’ve put on my big girl panties and donned a hard hat once or twice.

Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.

 I appreciate people who can lure me out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes it’s good to commit to a path with unexpected twists and bends.

I’m sure I’m a better person for it. And if nothing else, Life Outside The Comfort Zone provides great material for a writer.

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck.

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.

Posted in General Interest

Grand is in the Details

This magnificent mountain in the Peruvian Andes is Huanya Picchu.

 To me it looks like a great green ghost, its strong stone arms wrapped protectively around the ancient Incan city of  Machu Picchu .

Machu Picchu, meaning “Ancient Mountain,” was built in the 15th century, at the peak of Incan culture.  One of the greatest artistic, architectural, and land use achievements of the world, it was chosen as a World Heritage Site in 1983.

No one can say for certain, as the Incas had no written language, but it is thought to have been a royal estate, perhaps a summer retreat, or maybe a religious center.

It was so remote that the Spanish conquerors never found it, but it was by no means isolated.

It was connected to the vast Incan Empire by a royal highway called The Inca Trail, linking Machu Picchu to 25, 000 miles of roadway, the Incan version of the Internet.  Special runners called “Chasquis” traveled as far as 240K in a day to keep the king connected, or to deliver delicacies to his dinner table.  Runners could rest at stations along the way, or relay messages by tag-team.

Much of The Inca Trail survives to this day. This section leads to the Sun Gate. 

Another steep trail leading in the other direction hugged the cliffside.  This Incan drawbridge made it impossible for outsiders to invade the city…

…unless you count tourists.

The grand view was worth the walk.

Machu Picchu is surrounded on the other three sides by steep cliffs and a raging river, making it practically impregnable.

Magnificent.  Dramatic.  Ingenious. Grand.

Machu Picchu’s grandeur can be found in the details. Like the integration of natural elements into its design, shaping the city to fit into its surroundings.  Terraces not only took on the curve of the mountain, but prevented landslides and provided a hanging garden for growing crops.

Its location was a matter of sacred geography.  It was situated among mountains with religious significance to the Incas…

…and is perfectly aligned for key astronomical events.

This instrument cut into the bedrock was used for astronomical observations.

The Incans worshipped the mountains as gods, and this was reflected in their building.

Everywhere we turned, we saw natural features incorporated into the design.

Architecture mirrored nature’s design.

Walls were built around huge boulders, which remained cradled in the earth where they had slept since the mountains were born.

This did not prevent Incan engineers from using natural features to provide creature comforts, such as running water.

 

On our second visit, the clouds lifted.  We arrived in time to see the morning sun turn gray stones gold.


We tried to imagine what it might have been like to have lived there half a millennium ago…

The dry stone walls were constructed without mortar, with some stones fitted so tight a blade of grass couldn’t squeeze between them.  Even so, the ancients must’ve worked hard to keep the jungle at bay…

 …just as they do today.  There were redshirts perched on ladders, whose full time job was to keep the weeds from taking over.  

The backstairs whispered ancient secrets, but we couldn’t quite make them out.

We could only wonder at the world around us.

The flora…


And fauna.

Each one…

…a tiny miracle.

Great civilizations come and go….

…and life goes on.

As hard as we try to unlock them…

…Machu Picchu’s walls hold onto their secrets.

In the grand scheme of things, what does it matter if we don’t know all the answers?

It is a privilege to be there…

…following in the footsteps….

…of the ancient ones.

All images and words copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections.

Posted in Liz Rice-Sosne, Photo Essay, Poems/Poetry, Shamanism, Teachers

Traveling to Macchu Pichu

There is something truly wonderful about travel.  I have been blessed in the past to be able to visit a number of other countries.  I have been to Egypt, France, England, China, Mexico, Switzerland, Bolivia, Peru, Spain and I lived in Okinawa for a year.  The Okinawa year was when I was quite young and with a former husband, not a really, really great experience.   David and I never really traveled as Americans.  We have always been aware of the “ugly American syndrome” and truly did not wish to participate in it.   We did not make any reservations other than airline.  Although to be honest, I brought that sort of travel to an end in 1996 when we arrived in Seville without Hotel reservations after having driven from Madrid.  I was 50, it was hot, we were dirty and very tired.  Exhausted, looking for a hotel while driving down streets no wider than the car was not my idea of fun.  But we survived and we were introduced to Tapas.

Travel, if you allow it to do so will open your mind to the rest of the world.  You will see people other than those to whom you are accustomed.  You will see things through their lens.  When visiting ancient cities or ruins should you take the time you can see things through the lens of those who once were.  I believe that travel builds compassion, empathy, sensitivity, mercy and tolerance towards others within the individual traveler.  Traveling is about real connection with another culture.  Visiting Machu Picchu was something that I wished to do since I was 8 years old.  I did not grow up with a television but instead had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine.  How I loved it.  It opened up for me new vistas and made me aware of the world that was “out there.”  I had my first yearnings to connect with others, different from myself.

It is difficult to select a favorite trip.  I remember incredible aspects of each country that we have visited.  Below is a poem and  a few photos from one of my favorite trips:  Machu Picchu, Peru.  I was privileged to be able to engage a native shaman while on my trip to Peru.  At Machu Picchu my husband went one way and I another to do ceremony with the shaman.  Later we met up and navigated the mountain.  One of the important things that happened to me while there was that I lost my rapidly growing fear of heights.  The only way up the mountain was by bus.  The road was one bus-wide.  Looking out my window straight down the  mountain face was frightening.   Really frightening!  It was at that point that I said to myself, enough!  I will no longer be afraid of heights!  By the time that I was on top of the mountain my fear was gone.  I knew that this was true when I walked up to the edge of of the plateau and dangled my foot over the edge.  I was so grateful for that loss, it was life changing.

Still, stillness now

Quiet, center … centered now
Go deeply within
yourself.
Slowwwwww … ly
Deeply quiet.
Deep within
Space consummation.
Not hurtling … no, not hurtling towards the void.  But slowly advancing.
Slowwwwly … condense all thought.
Become nothing.
Find
your place
your opening
mo v  v v v e  slowly towards
your opening.  Be still.
Enter.
Slide
down
through
the tunnel.
LAND.  Quietly.
Summon … your Power.
Summon your … Animal.
Let.
Let him/her
Now take you into the void.  Void.  VOID.
CIRCLE … find what you need.
bring it back.  BLOW.
Rattle … feather.
Return now … open, open, open … your … eyes.
6uv MP
The rocks carved to mimic the mountains in the foreground.
6u MP
Surrounded by the Andes.
14
One could quite literally reach out and grab the clouds.
15
One of the two mountains on top of Machu Picchu.
18
Another view as the day moved forward and the mists lifted.
DSCN0647
Unique perspectives!
DSCN0662
An ancient alter.
MP4
A view of the terracing.
MP 1
Looking down, no longer afraid!
26
Doing ceremony with the Peruvian shaman.
DSCN0523
This is one of my favorite photos.  Rain was upon us.  We took cover in one of the nooks and crannies looking up at the sky covering us all.

– Liz Rice-Sosne

© 2013, essay and photographs, Liz Rice-Stone, All rights reserved

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Guest Writer, Poems/Poetry, Shamanism

SHAMANIC JOURNEY, Old Raven travels to Machu Picchu, Peru

Following the shaman. (2007)

·

SHAMANIC JOURNEY

by

Old Raven (RavenPress), All Rights Reserved

Still, stillness now
Quiet, center … centered now
Go deeply within
yourself.
Slowwwwww … ly
Deeply quiet.
Deep within
Space consummation.
Not hurtling … no, not hurtling towards the void.  But slowly advancing.
Slowwwwly … condense all thought.
Become nothing.
Find
your place
your opening
movvvve slowly towards
your opening.  Be still.
Enter.
Slide
down
through
the tunnel.
LAND.  Quietly.
Summon … your Power.
Summon your … Animal.
Let.
Let him/her
Now take you into the void.  Void.  VOID.
CIRCLE … find what you need.
bring it back.  BLOW.
Rattle … feather.
Return now … open, open, open … your … eyes.
·
The rocks carved to imitate the mountains … an alignment happened when the sun reached a certain place in the sky.
·
An Alter used for ceremony long ago.
·
Standing with my feet curled over the edge looking straight down 2600 feet, this is where I chose to lose my fear of heights.
·
Doing ceremony.
·
© 2011, 2012 poem and photographs, L. Rice-Sosne All Rights Reserved. No re-blogging or reprinting without the express permission of the author.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

OLD RAVEN writes poetry and memoir and shares her photography at RavenPress. She  lives with her husband and several pets and writes extensively about war and the suffering that results, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. She also touches on her own spiritual healing, shamanic studies, and the outcome of her shamanic journey. Currently Old Raven is working on a major project: a book about her mother’s experience of World War II, which we look forward to reading one day. Her mother worked for the United States Office of War Information (OWI). Old Raven just completed a five-year study of the Second World War, combat PTSD, and her father’s war experience.  She recently celebrated a birthday. We gratefully celebrate her here today. Please visit her blog to say “hi” and “happy birthday.” Happy Birthday, Liz.