Eye of the Hunter

20170128_154424I’ve always been fascinated with arrowheads. I grew up on the high plains of southern Colorado, and as a child I spent countless hours exploring those plains on horseback. Occasionally, I was lucky enough to find a genuine arrowhead–a tiny relic of a forgotten time when those same plains, now subdivided by barbed wire, were dominated by herds of bison that roamed freely and the Native American tribes that depended upon the bison for subsistence.

Genuine arrowheads are very difficult to find these days, but they continue to have a certain mystique in the American West. I’m clearly not the only one who finds them fascinating because modern replica arrowheads can now be found in pretty much every rock shop in the west. That’s precisely where I found the Fancy Jasper arrowhead I chose for this necklace–in a charming little rock shop in Virginia City, NV.

I never know exactly what I’m going to do with some of the pieces I pick up while I’m traveling, but I’ve learned to pay attention to what is now a familiar sort of magnetic pull of certain stones. I can’t help but pick them up, and those are the pieces that I’ll buy. Even when I can’t possibly imagine what I’ll do with it in that moment, I’ve learned that inspiration will inevitably flow. The seemingly random stone that I picked up along the way will eventually let me know what it wants to say. And so it is with this piece, which I’ve named Eye of the Hunter.

Turn on your TV or open an Internet browser these days, and you will almost certainly be convinced that the world is descending into complete chaos. Our country is more deeply divided politically than perhaps at any time in American history. Millions of Americans are marching and chanting and demanding rights they already possess while millions more trudge off to work every day, quietly hoping that they can manage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads for another day or week or month. Those people dare not look further than a month into the future because they’ve learned over the past decade that the rug can be pulled out from under them at any moment.

Given the instability constantly portrayed on the news, it’s easy to believe that things are only going to get worse for us. But if you step outside and look around, you’re likely to find that everything is exactly as it should be. The balance and order we’re all desperately seeking is as close as our neighborhood park or greenbelt.

Growing up in a rural community, I was fortunate to spend the vast majority of my childhood outdoors. I had unfettered access to 20,000 acres of pristine land, which I explored on horseback as often as I possibly could. The countless hours I spent roaming that land, listening to the distinctive sounds of the high plains prairie and surveying wide open spaces as far as my eyes could see, left me with a deep and indelible connection to the natural world.

20170128_154152Whenever things start to feel out of balance in my life, I look to reconnect with nature. And the moment I step onto unpaved ground, I’m reminded again that the connection was never broken. I just believed I had lost it because I was focusing on the chaos instead of the order.

There is a natural order to our world, and no matter how much man claims to be above that order or in control of it, the truth is that we’re as much a piece of it as any rock, tree, or animal. We are intrinsically bound to this planet in much the same way that we are bound to our parents and our children.

The Native American Indians who once hunted these lands upon which my family now lives in a second floor apartment on the western edge of a sprawling Colorado town understood that basic truth. They knew that they were as much a part of their world as the bison that sustained them and the stones from which they honed their weapons. That understanding was central to their very survival, so they never lost sight of the common bond between themselves and the bison. Their focus was always on order rather than chaos.

Today, in a world where our food comes neatly packaged in tidy little boxes and we spend more time staring at screens than gazing out of windows, we’ve lost that focus. We’re so easily distracted by the chaos we see on the Internet and TV, and it’s easy to believe that the chaotic world portrayed on the screens that we’re so addicted to is the real world; but it’s not. The world in which we live is as ordered as it ever was. All we need to do is turn our focus to that order.

Eye of the Hunter is a reminder to turn our focus away from the chaos of politics and back to nature because it is there that we will find our way back to peace and order. What we focus on is what we foster. If you want peace, focus on peaceful things. If you want abundance, focus on those areas where your life is brimming with abundance. We all have some form of abundance in our lives for which we can be grateful. If it’s joy that you seek, focus on the squirrels chasing each other around the tree in your front yard or on the birdsong that wakes you at dawn.

Animals–particularly small woodland creatures–are inherently joyful. It’s no accident that nearly every Disney film includes scenes of a pretty girl singing joyously while surrounded by helpful woodland creatures joining in her song. Nature calls upon us to acknowledge our connection to it. I feel that call daily. Do you? Do you answer it?

20170128_153235All forms of Jasper are considered to be nurturing stones, and we’re all in need of more nurturing these days. It is my hope that this necklace will help at least one lovely woman reconnect with nature so she can restore the balance of strength and softness that is inherent to all women. The world needs more balanced feminine energy, and I can think of no better way to restore that balance than to bring as many women as I can possibly touch back to nature.

Eye of the Hunter consists of a Fancy Jasper replica arrowhead that has been intricately wrapped in handwoven copper wire and embellished with a Red Creek Jasper “eye”. The back of the pendant is finished in a pretty filigree of scrolls, so this piece can also be worn reversed. The pendant, which measures about 3 inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide, is strung on five strands of waxed nylon jewelry cord. Each cord is hand knotted with an array of natural copper and colorful Red Creek Jasper beads. Finished with an adjustable slide knot, this one-of-a-kind necklace can be adjusted from 24-40 inches long. It is currently available for sale exclusively at door44jewelry.com.

 

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Duality

My husband and I are in our second year of marriage, and this weekend we will be moving into our second apartment in the second city in which we’ve lived together. According to certain schools of thought, 2015 is the second year of a new energy on this planet. Human nature is changing. Evolving, hopefully. And the new energy consciousness is in its second year of development. The terrible twos. Duality.

As I’ve been packing up our household this week, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how the duality of this new age is manifesting in my life. I’ve heard estimates that 90,000 people are planning to move to the Denver Metro Area this year. Meanwhile, we three Reamys are happily moving out.

Denver has never been a city with which I’ve resonated. Since moving back to Colorado in 2006, many friends and relatives have tried to convince me to move to Denver. I flat out rejected that idea until Matt asked me to move to Denver with him in 2013. I didn’t even hesitate to say yes to him. I’d never consider living in Denver as a single woman, but when it comes to my husband–my heart–home is with him, wherever that may be.

Things fell into place for us so easily at first, it seemed obvious that we were on exactly the right path. We found the perfect apartment in the perfect neighborhood next to one of the best green belts in the metro area. Matt had a good job that he enjoyed. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we also managed to land in the perfect elementary school boundary for our daughter, who ended up coming to live with us less than a year after we got married. That first year was pretty near perfect. Neither of us loved Denver, but we were happy enough to think maybe things would work out for us here. Denver started to lose its shine over this past year, however.

Professionally, Matt started to feel like he was slogging through mud. Organizational issues at one company created unnecessary and frustrating barriers for him and his team, so he switched jobs. He met some top professionals and learned some useful skills at his second gig in Denver, but the corporate culture wasn’t a good fit. That, combined with a brutal commute to and from LoDo every day took a heavy toll on my poor husband.

Meanwhile, I was feeling restless and uncomfortable in my own skin while being continually surrounded by 1.2 million people. I started noticing how angry Denver drivers are, and how disconnected people are from reality. Once our daughter came to live with us, I started noticing a conspicuous lack of family friendliness. On weekends, we inevitably found ourselves getting out of town. We either went west into the mountains or south to Colorado Springs, which is where Matt lived before we got married. On one of those trips to Springs, I realized that’s where we should be living.

Every city has it’s own vibe and Denver’s energy has always felt scattered and frenetic to me. Living near a green belt helped to mitigate the effects of that energy for a while, but the longer we stayed here, the harder it’s been for me to stay centered and balanced amidst Denver’s chaos. I suggested to Matt that maybe we should consider moving to Colorado Springs, and once again we found ourselves back in a good energetic flow.

Matt landed a great job almost immediately after letting his head hunter know he was interested in finding work in Springs. We found a fabulous school for our daughter and learned that Springs has a world class youth symphony, which is something that Denver (a city more than four times the size of Springs) lacks. As I researched schools and the youth symphony, it was clear that Colorado Springs is a much more family-friendly city than Denver. Not surprisingly, it’s a conservative enclave in an increasingly liberal state.

We’re under no illusions that life in Colorado Springs is going to be perfect. It is still located, after all, in the state I like to call Middle California. Colorado’s politics is bizarre, to say the least. I’m not sure it’ll ever be a good fit for us in that regard, but it’s where we’re at for now. And living in a considerably smaller, more family-friendly, more politically conservative city will undoubtedly be more comfortable for Matt and me. More importantly, it’s a city where our amazingly talented young cellist will have access to the kinds of educational opportunities that will allow her to achieve her full potential.

Large/small, light/dark, right/left. Duality.

What living in Denver has confirmed for me (and I suspect for my husband as well) is that the choices we make in terms of community matter. The environment in which we choose to live affects us profoundly. We gave Denver a fair shot–two years of our lives, and the first two years of our marriage. As we prepare to move to Colorado Springs, though, I feel like we’re taking a giant step in the right direction. Springs may not be where we ultimately decide to settle down, but it already feels more like home than Denver.

Healthy, Happy, and Wise

Photo by Matt Reamy

Photo by Matt Reamy

My father-in-law turned sixty last Sunday, and the entire family gathered in Denver over the weekend to celebrate the birth of the dearly loved patriarch of our family. It’s the first time my husband and his three siblings have been together in several years, so I finally got to meet many of my new family members in person for the first time. I also had an opportunity to get to know those I have met before a bit better, and I came away from our weekend celebration with a renewed appreciation for this remarkable family into which I’ve married.

My husband’s parents have been married for nearly forty years. Next weekend we’ll be celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of his grandparents. My husband has two younger brothers and a sister, each of whom are happily married to spouses who compliment them well. Having just celebrated our first anniversary last month, Matt and I are the newlyweds of the bunch. So I took this opportunity to simply observe the Reamy family dynamics.

I’m not sure if the model for a healthy and happy marriage began with Matt’s parents or his grandparents, but as I come from a more typical American family of the highly dysfunctional variety, it was sort of startling for me to see so many happily married couples in the same room. Both my parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law are clearly in love and fully committed to their marriages. Both couples act very much as single units, as do my husband and I. Not surprisingly, the same can be said for my siblings-in-law.

Since we know that children learn by observing and emulating their parents’ behavior, I think it’s reasonable to say that children who come from loving two-parent households are more likely to form strong, healthy bonds with their future partners. This certainly appears to be true of the Reamy clan. None of our marriages are perfect, I’m sure, but all of them are visibly happier and healthier than most marriages I’ve observed.

We kicked off the weekend celebration Friday night with mediocre Mexican food and a seemingly endless supply of tokens for arcade games at Casa Bonita. The first thing I noticed about our family is that everyone mingled freely together, but none of us strayed far from our spouses. My 10-year-old step-daughter and her 8-year-old cousin, whom she hadn’t seen in years, were immediately joined at the hip in that unique bond of friendship that seems to form only between cousins. Although my two nephews (ages six and almost three) were a little shy at first, they gradually warmed up to everyone—even those of us they’d never met before. Somehow, the titles of ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’ put kids at ease. It’s almost as if kids are hard-wired to accept anyone who falls within the realm of family, which makes me wonder if there’s some sort of genetic tendency to form familial bonds that extend beyond our immediate families.

After dinner we sent the four little ones off to the hotel for a slumber party with Grandpa and Grammy, and my husband and I invited his three siblings and their spouses to our apartment for a nightcap. It was such a pleasure to see my husband interact with his brothers and sister, and I couldn’t help but appreciate how well everyone got along. The next day, we all gathered in a cozy heated caboose at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, which is where my husband took these gorgeous photos. You can see more of his photos from our family weekend here, here and here.

My birth family is nothing like my in-laws. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may recall that my sister recently accused me of hating her and her two daughters before cutting off all contact with me. There are certain members of my family who refuse to be in the same room with one another, and both the maternal and paternal sides of my family are riddled with alcoholics and substance abusers. Not surprisingly, I suppose, my family tends to lean heavily to the left politically while my husband’s family leans overwhelmingly right. Also not surprisingly, almost no one in my family maintains an active spiritual life while my husband’s family is largely committed to their faith.

I’m not suggesting that either religion or politics can make or break a family, but it is sort of fascinating for me to compare and contrast these dynamics in the petri dish that is my own life. No single member of my husband’s family is more or less flawed than any member of my own family. Both families are very similar socioeconomically, but that’s where their common ground ends. My husband’s family genuinely enjoys spending time together. They like each other. They respect each other. These are qualities I always wanted in a family, so I’ve tended to look for them through the years.

When I was much younger and still single, I think I was often more curious about the friends and families of my boyfriends than about the guys themselves. I still have a few close friends that I met through men I’ve dated over the years. By the time I met my husband, though, I was far more concerned with finding a compatible mate than a functional extended family. Luckily, I found both.

I’ve always related more to conservatives than liberals politically, which I suppose is part of the reason I find it difficult to relate to most members of my own family. In terms of religion, however, I spent the vast majority of my life distancing myself from Christianity. I was raised Catholic, but what I was taught in Catechism as a child always felt inherently wrong to me. It completely defied what I knew instinctively about God, and (growing up under the tyranny of an abusive alcoholic) I learned from a very early age to rely on my instincts and to mistrust authority.

Having experienced a great deal of hypocrisy by the time I left the nest, I stubbornly held the belief that all Christians are hypocrites. As an adult, I worked for two different privately held companies that were owned and operated by Christian couples who further cemented that belief. I not-so-fondly named one of those two couples the Twin Vortices of Evil: Hypocrisy and Greed. Ironically, I met my husband while we were both employed by that couple. Imagine my horror, then, when I discovered that the guy I was falling in love with is a PK (preacher’s kid).

Photo by Matt Reamy

Photo by Matt Reamy

In the year and a half that I’ve known my husband’s family, my stubborn hold on the stereotype that all Christians are hypocrites has steadily eroded. I’ve found nothing but sincerity, honesty and authenticity in my new family. These are people who walk their talk. They’re not stepping all over everyone around them all week long and then praying for forgiveness on Sunday. They don’t wear their religion like some sort of crown jewel that mystically elevates them to a level of moral superiority. They’re just good, down to earth people with a Christian world view that pushes them to continually strive to become better people. And I love them for that because, although I don’t subscribe to a particular religion, I share their commitment to growth. I’ve also realized this past year that, despite my skepticism about religion, I share their Christian world view as well.

I’ve found my people.

Life is short. Take a closer look at those you tend to view with skepticism. You may be surprised to discover how much you have in common with them. You may even find your way home.