Embracing Autonomy

“Rekindle Your Heart” it says, the invitation carved in the mantle.  Day three of my stay in this rustic home-away-from-home, amidst ski hills and chair lifts.  I adore people-watching in places like this.  Places created to experience the natural gifts of nature.  ‘On holiday’, the burdens of life checked at the entrance, pleasure and excitement in the air, with hopes of reconnecting and recharging.   Chattering voices of all ages in line, being whisked up the mountain in glass bubbles, “skis and boards stay outside,” announced to all the newbies.  Re-convening at the top, exchanging a few words, and then, pushing off.    

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I drove up here on Wednesday, a seven-hour drive, to Lutsen, MN, not far from the Canadian border with clear winter skies, and extreme arctic temperatures.  Met up with my son, his girlfriend and her family for some skiing.  It's the longest road trip I’ve ever made alone.  I was aware of my anxiety and the remedies I have perfected over the decades of my life; this time with appreciation, rather than the judgment and embarrassment which usually accompanies me and what I call, my ‘handicaps’.  Well prepared, early start to guarantee plenty of day light, keeping the gas tank topped off and reassuring myself that I had more than enough clothes in the car if I had trouble…temperatures in the single digits. All these decisions reassured me and at least doubled my enjoyment as I drove through new territory.  

Reaching the Minnesota/Wisconsin border was when I felt the shift.  The horizon opened up and my heart skipped a beat. I’m sure I squealed something out loud. A harbor with a cargo ship hoisted up for the winter. As I came around into Duluth, the huge expanse of Lake Superior met my eager eyes. Brilliant, sparkling patches of the surface visible through a cloak of mist. A light house, painted a crisp black and white.  Perfection perched on a point.  The cliff dwellers in glass houses, living on the ledges above the shoreline.  I took it all in.   

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I felt the urge to pull over to take some pictures and for a moment wished I had someone riding shot gun to enjoy a pause with me, a moment to admire the vision in live, wide screen.  A bit of loneliness, perhaps a tinge of grief.  Then, almost immediately, I was caught by surprise by an equally gratifying wave; a sense of autonomy. This was my adventure and it resonated like the answer to a prayer.  

Just a week ago, over the solstice, a time that I hold with fascination and significance in terms of being a time to release the old and turn towards the return of the sun and possibility, I spent time exploring what I wanted for this year’s transition. I began thinking of it in terms of a threshold, and on this longest night of the year what showed up was crossing the threshold into Sovereignty.  It seems the more I watch, it’s key to my contentment. Trust in myself, autonomy, inner-dependence, the freedom and joy of ‘moving about my cabin’ without the influence of others. To follow my muse. It’s also a letting go. No longer worrying about what someone may think as I express myself.  Allowing others to pursue their lives unencumbered without my great wisdom and advice.  It’s the voice of freedom for all.  Being alone on this trek north, I could fully experience the pleasure of the vision in front of me, uninterrupted or altered by another viewpoint. There was no ‘other’ to reconfigure around.  It was all mine.