It is snowing here today in Longmont, Colorado... a beautiful dry snow that's blowing in from all directions. I was feeling a bit more energy after the New Year, and the past few days have had me remembering the benefit in taking my time. Just the other day I was sitting on my bed on a pillow meditating, and received a message from an ancestor. This ancestor gave me a message that was much needed: "It's not about the achievement, its about being on your journey and living your life in joy." This was such an important reminder to slow down, and enjoy the process of everything in my life! I can sometimes be so excited about the outcome that I focus intently on my end result, and can forget that the point is the journey. So I've been working on balancing work with joy, even in the moments between writing this blog post, and making phone calls to pay bills. It's as easy as taking my time to breathe mindfully, and enjoy my surroundings and the feeling of having a body!
"This ancestor gave me a message that was much needed: 'It's not about the achievement, its about being on your journey and living your life in joy.' "
So, with that reminder to breathe and enjoy....I am very excited to share some news! Owl Tree Press, an Occult Literary Magazine, published three of my poems in their Winter Solstice issue! They are based in Seattle, and are releasing online issues featuring magically inclined artists and poets on the equinoxes and solstices. Brilliant way to release a magazine in my opinion. I am so honored they decided to publish me, and excited to be connected with them now. My three poems are down at the bottom, and I suggest going to check out their Issue 01 ASAP Here.
Also! I know I've been talking about my poetry book Moon Studies quite a bit. For those of you who don't know, it is a coffee table poetry book about Magic, Love, Sex, Death and a recollection of my 20's in poetry. I pair my poetry with gorgeous photographs by Jasmine Amara Beaghler, an incredibly magical photographer who lives in Bishop, California. (See her work here http://www.jasmineamara.com/ ) I can't wait to share some photos of the book with everyone VERY soon! I am waiting on my book to arrive in the mail to have a few last folks edit it...and then...I will be launching a pre-ordering campaign! Folks will be able to purchase the book ahead of time, and I will have them printed and send them to your doorstep. If you want to know when I will launch this pre-order campaign visit my page for poetry and sign up to get your Free special monthly poem.
(You can do that Here.)
The last thing I want to share is that I am now offering my Counseling Services for a wider audience. I have been sharing my counseling services with my immediate community for the past few years, and have been studying and honing my skills for the past 9 years. I use my Psychic Awareness and Intuition paired with simple tools that assist in reaching your goals. My passion is to teach you how to be your best healer. I have more about my services on this page, so take a look and let me know if you'd like a FREE 20 minute consultation. I am offering sessions on Skype or in person.
Now, please, enjoy some poems that were published in Owl Tree Press! And remember to sign up for your Free Monthly poem here!
My Old Friend
Old crone spindle fingers
flicks her nail cross the string.
Wonder when she wants to pluck it,
will I hear the toll bell ring?
Will I look across the river,
Hear the fog come full and thick?
Know the night pulls covers over,
will it have its one last trick?
Will the end look through my window Beckon soft, come follow near?
Just a friend, nothing to fear.
When I pull this old tight shoe off,
Crone will hold my hand and guide me
No, she will not have to pull.
When the Time Comes, For it Definitely Will
Coming to the path
of The Beyond we can feel
that She is waiting for us.
Surrendering to Her grasp
is no small task.
We will become the next form
without the hold on this life,
this stuff, these people, these loves,
my house, my feet, my shoes.
We will all get to
go beyond the individual,
let the personal transcend the everything
and go back to the oneness.
The oneness more vast
than we ever could have imagined.
She is muse and She is maker
She is pen and She is paper
Her life pulses living proof
that magic lives
amongst the pavement
Her van is where She dwells
amongst the witches and the painters
Her life the chapel of songs to pray
Her heart woven tapestry
of threads unfrayed
She sees beyond stars
but with the angels she stays
in the city is where She is made
She, the expression
of Goddess creates
a being so tender
we cannot look away
a being so soulful
She dances night down the lane
singing up the sun
as we bow to say
You are the spark, the creatrix of play
lead us to the clouds
or lead us astray
We will follow the beauty
in what You choose to make
for You are the artist
the brush and the paint
the canvas the easel
the colors and grays
thank you for being
I've come here to say
You inspire creation
within me today
Turning 28 this past November was the first time I ever considered my age. It all sounds very absurd to me really…“my age.” Aren’t I young, vivacious, healthy and able? And only just beginning this life that lays before me? Well, it all started a few weeks before my birthday when I was chatting with the produce kid in my local grocery store and my age came up. I was reminiscing about my trip to Central America at age 18… “Ten years ago now, Wow!” I said, feeling quite proud of the milage I’d put on my grown-ass self. The produce guy echoed in a surprised way, “28! You look good for your age!” In something like shock, I laughed awkwardly, pushed my cart to the avocados and then quickly out of the produce section.
Letting those words tumble around in the hopper for the rest of my ride through the store, I was waffling between disregarding cackles and complete contempt. “My age?! Haha! My age.” As I came to the check out line, my favorite checker was there, and behind her I could see a magazine with the words “The Look Younger Issue” scrolled in big black letters next to a thin blond model in her early twenties. “Can you believe this shit? Our youth obsessed culture!” “Yeah, It’s disgusting really,” she said. As I proceed to tell her about my experience with her co-worker she tells me how people tell her that all the time. They think she’s about 10 years younger than she is. Maybe this could seem flattering, but she said it brings up the question for her “what are we supposed to look like, other than ourselves? What does a person ‘my age’ look like?”
Flash a few months forward, and I was having a conversation with a friend on the phone who is, like me, a creative, always working on 3 different projects simultaneously. Similarly to me as well, she is white, female identified in her late 20’s, early 30’s asking herself multiple huge life questions. Simultaneously, all our co-workers and extended family members want to ask us the same questions. Maybe the questions are scrolled across our faces, or maybe it is again, “my age.” These questions range from, “Do you have babies? And if not, when do you plan on having them?” And if not that, “When are you and your boyfriend planning on getting married?” Now, not that these questions are bad or even inappropriate, I find them more refreshing than talking about the weather, but they do point to ways in which our culture expects things from women, and find it appropriate to check in on these topics. Are men being asked these questions on the weekly? And it begs the question, what questions would I like to be asked? (What are you passionate about? What do you believe in?)
As a women of “my age” (I am aware that I am still very young, yes) it brings up so many things. Firstly…do I even want to birth any babies personally? Do I want to add to the overpopulation of the planet? Also, can I see myself raising children with this person I’m with? If I don’t have babies, will I regret it when it’s too late? If I do have children will I feel stuck and depressed, wanting to escape from a helpless perfect child that I love more than anything? When is the latest age I can have babies safely, and how much time does that give me before I need to make a choice? (Counts questionably on fingers) If I don’t have babies, then do I have to become a successful entrepreneur?! I’m pretty sure men my age aren’t thinking about this…or are they? I am only able to speak from what I know, which is my own experience. The men I’ve spoken with in my community are definitely not seriously considering most of these questions currently. A woman friend who is about ten years older than myself is helping raise her partner’s teen, and has decided not to birth any children herself. She said that for her there was no real lightning bolt moment. “People will tell you that you will just know when you know. It wasn’t like that for me. It never came to some clean pointed decision.” She said that for her there is grief on both sides: the decision of having babies and not having babies.
Now that I’ve officially just left our cultures favorite age for the female identified (late teens to mid twenties)… I imagine I will look back at this time as the end of my maiden-hood. As a woman in touch with and aware of the cycles of a woman’s life: maiden, mother and crone, I honor these cycles and each part of the journey. I revere all three stages, and yet find myself asking the question, where do I fit into this cycle? I play an auntie role in my friends children’s childhoods. So am I a mother? A maiden? Left somewhere awkwardly between? How do I know when I reach motherhood if I decide never to bear children or even adopt!? Can it be completely okay for me to not want any of it, the babies, and/or the successful business along with beautifully branded website and huge instagram following? And most important, can I accept myself where ever I end up in ten years, twenty years, fifty years from now? Babies or not, a hefty savings or not?
And aside from these deeply personal, deeply emotional and sometimes frightening inquiries, there come the other questions. At what point did I begin to believe that my life might not have meaning if I don’t have babies? Is this cultural, evolutionary, hormonal, familial, or ancestral? All of the above? And then, the most poignant and piercing one; What pieces can I uncover and heal inside myself in connection to these embedded expectations of what my duties are as a woman in this world, including babies, including career stuff, including how I am supposed to age? The asking of these questions has always felt inevitable, I just didn’t realize they would all come up in a real way within a matter of months. And, of course I want these conversations to be alive in my life (and oh they are). But, just for now, can I be comfortable in the not knowing? Can I sit in the unfolding process, and practice being present? When I feel into my intuition, drop below the waterline of the monkey mind, I truly believe that there are no right or wrong answers. Only lessons. (Oh goddess, I sound like my mother.) But it feels right to let others in to see the monkeys on the jungle gym. It somehow makes this crazy human experience more real.
I am two and a half years deep into the biggest project of my fairly short life. I bought a school bus to gut, completely refurbish inside and make into a full time home. I am finally starting to see it come together.
It has been the most humbling few years of my life. I decided to buy the bus in my early twenties, after 15 years of having this dream sparkling in my heart. I'd always had the idea that I was going to learn to do everything myself and do it all with my own two hands; wood working, metal working, plumbing, and electrical...and everything in between. I thought, "This is going to be the best learning experience of my life, and I will be so damn skilled when I finish the bus in 6 months. Maybe I will even become so skilled I will want to become a wood worker, or welder by trade!"
First off, let's enjoy a nice laugh together. Super sweetly naive previous Me was extremely gung-ho and "I can do it" to the core about the skoolie conversion. (Insert image of Rosie the Riveter here) And I have worked countless hours in the bus; sweat and bled and laughed and cried my way to a gutted, and now more than halfway converted bus. I have learned how to use an angle grinder, a screw driver, a hole-saw, a chop saw, a table saw, a jigsaw, and so many other tools that allow me to create with my hands in a way I never knew before. Through the process of continuing on a project so much bigger than I have ever taken on (and now that I am 28 and super grown up and wise and stuff) I have realized a few huge things. I not only don't have to do everything myself, but I actually don't want to or need to! Asking for support and help from friends and family and partners during this huge process has been so uncomfortable and amazingly freeing. I have been learning to surrender to what my true gifts, skills and talents are, as well as allow others to step in to share theirs.
I believe whole-heartedly in the healing powers and empowering nature of learning to make and fix things ourselves. The important thing I've learned is to be honest with myself. When it came to the projects like plumbing and welding, I had to ask myself...do I want to spend the long time, focus, energy and possibly money it takes to master this skill and do it well and right and then apply it to the bus? Or do I want to hire/trade with someone or enroll a friend who is skilled at their trade, and have them show me the beginnings of what this entails? Since when did I have to do EVERYTHING myself? Since never. I don't want to be a welder. I don't want to be an electrician. And figuring those things out in the past few years has been relieving and has allowed me to focus in on what I truly enjoy. I truly enjoy writing poetry, singing with my sweet heart, going on hikes, stretching and doing yoga, spending time with friends and family, and continuing to learn about psychology and all the other things that get my wheels going. I don't need to be good and knowledgable about thousands of things! Nobody does. We can choose to specialize, and learn something deeper than we could if we did a hundred things at a surface level.
I feel like there are so many options for young people in our society these days, which is such a privilege. It can also feel completely daunting and overwhelming. I am obviously a DIY kind of lady, or wouldn't have made it thus far with the school bus conversion. And I have gotten to check in with myself about what I really want to spend my time on, and where my energies are best used. I have never really built anything in my life before the bus. Each project within the bus project (and there have been 1 million projects it seems) has been an entire emotional roller coaster for me. There have been ups, downs, in betweens, resistance and surrender.
People ask me how it is building out the bus, and in all honesty, it has been the most challenging, heart exploding and frustrating thing I've ever taken on.
And it has also been the most exciting, giddy inducing, creative learning experience I've ever had. I can only recommend it for those with relentless determination, a fierce vision and a partner in crime. I've cried so many tears, nearly given up, almost sold the bus, wanted to leave the country, left the country, came back, went back to school full time, graduated, hated the whole project, and continued on despite all the resistance and wanting to give up and simply buy a travel trailer or move to France. Damn, I feel proud just writing that. That's a good feeling, because today I told myself I'd work on the bus, and instead did other work that needed to be done.
Sometimes I forget how much I've done (and friends and family who have helped! Thank you all!) And then I look at photos, or stir a memory of when I first got the bus from southern California and how dirty and nasty it was as we stripped the seats out. Children's gum, dirt and sticky candy from 30+ years. So many hours have gone into planning the design and layout, procuring the tools and materials, and then...actually working in the bus!
I could never have imagined how much time and creative energy it would have taken, but I am so grateful that we are so close and I never truly gave up on the seed I planted of living in a bus 18 years ago when I was 10 years old.
If you are deciding on whether or not to take on a school bus conversion, tiny house build out, or any big life project for that matter, I would only encourage you to make a commitment to yourself and nobody else, and stick with it like a marriage vow (one that you intend to keep). Coming back to a project again and again, despite your frustrations or confusion, is an amazing lesson and metaphor that can transfer into so many realms of our experiences as human. I think that anyone who has completed something that they thought was going to take so much less time can understand the humbling nature of a large project. And maybe you are a serious kinda person with the resources (time, energy, money, etc) to make things happen at lightning speed, and more power to you. But for the regular Joanna and Joe-shmo, it's not always so simple as just "getting it done." There are emotions that need to be tended, and side jobs that need to be worked, and degrees that need completing, and songs that need to be written, and vacations that need to be had so that you can come back refreshed! As much as I thought I'd be done in 6 months, it is now nearly 2.5 years from my bus purchase date, and I am finally approaching the move in day. *sighs in relief*
I am so grateful for all the help of my community in the process of the bus, I would never have gotten this far without Ariel, Matt, Tim, Justin, Jake, Ash, Stem, Trevor, my Dad (hugely) and all the wonderful friends who participated in our work-party days. Check in soon for more blog posts from the Skoolie Margarit, and MagicBusLife. I hope to catalog the realities of my journey in the process of making a school bus into a home, and then my real life inside the bus.
I will never sugar coat it, and I will always keep it real here. Thanks for reading. I'll catch you later.
This is a photo of the bus last winter before we realized all the windows were leaking, and decided to remove them all and put in sheet metal and new RV windows.
The front of the bus transforming with a little blue paint and some leftover wood from the ceiling.
This is my sweetie Justin and I adding the first pieces of sheet metal to the bus a few months back.
Gwenivere Weiss is a California native. She is a writer and musician, and is currently building a home in a bus. She got tired of waiting for her dreams to find her, and is creating a life that she loves. Join her on the journey. She likes to keep it real.