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Hello blogging world!
I know, I’ve been a bit AWOL for a while. I’ve had an amazing summer where I was traveling a lot and had a lot of adventures. I went to New York State, New Brunswick, Provincetown (yes, there will be the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge post for that!), Kentucky, and New Mexico. I have not tended to be a big traveler, but this year was different, and I was trying something new. It has been a great experience with new learnings, and you will be seeing comments and pictures about them on this blog.
That being said, I’ve let you, and most importantly myself, down by not keeping up with blog posts. Writing down my thoughts and comments on spirit, passion, and career is not only a way to put my thoughts in concrete form and promote my ideas to you (and any potential clients), but also a spiritual practice. In the zen practice of every action you take can be mindful and promote your spiritual health, I’ve been blogging to keep myself focused and active in mind. I’ve been more active in body this summer with all the traveling, and I have gotten better with being more consistent with my yoga and meditation practices. That is a good thing, and I’m happy for that.
I can’t change the past, and it does absolutely no good to get down on myself for avoiding this, as I won’t be a better blogger now because I have a judgmental voice in my head. I can just be kind to myself and move on forward.
So, how are you being kind to yourself and acknowledging your past shortcomings?
Upon leaving the Rowe Labor Day Weekend, I figured I should take advantage of my location and find another town to travel to fit the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge. I also wanted it to be one that I wouldn’t get to easily on another trip. After checking out the map, I decided to visit Colrain.
I’d heard of the town before, and knew that it had a lot of apple orchards and other farms. After a side trip into Vermont, we drove through beautiful green country roads along a Green River towards Colrain Center. Now, I knew the name Coleraine as its a popular contra dance tune and it I’d one if the first ones I learned on the hammered dulcimer. When I got to the center, I was really surprised at what I found.
While the rest if the town was bucolic beauty, the town center looked like 1600 square feet of urban blight. There were two abandoned churches, a condemned building, and an apartment block with four apartments and what looked like trash and junk spewed about. There was also this mental object that looked like a small pyramid. The whole situation was sort of surreal.
Granted, there might be a much better center of town, but this is what I found.
So, when where you completely surprised at what you found that seemed so out of place?
After following all the back roads and maps (GPS reception isn’t that good out there in rural Western Franklin County) I stopped by a country store that seemed to be a part of someone’s house. After waiting for the two men to pause from their discussion at the cashier’s, I asked for directions to the town center. They asked me why I would want to go there, as there’s nothing there. I found out I was standing in the only store in the town!
I got my directions and drove into the town center. There was a small common, with a community hall, a combination town hall and library (open only a few days of the week) and a church. I happen to strike up a conversation with the man who lives between the church and the town hall and told him why I’d traveled to Heath. When I mentioned that I needed to photograph something that could only be in that town, he said “We’ll, you’ll have to get a photograph of the Niebuhr church.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, but then he explained that the Heath Union Church, next door to his house, was where Reinhold Niebuhr first read “The Serenity Prayer” in public in 1943. He also wrote it in a little cottage in the town. This was another surprise for me that I’ve been finding when I visit all these towns! The town center was certainly serene!
My new friend gave me some of his beautiful heirloom tomatoes and then he gave me directions back to Rowe, passing by the Heath Fairgrounds. The Heath Fair has been happening for about 100 years and is one of the oldest in the state still happening. Unfortunately, I’d missed it by three weeks, but if I were there then, I’d would’ve been a lot less serene.
So, where have you found done serenity?
While I was staying in Rowe, I decided that this was my chance visit a few other of the towns in the area. Just up the street was the least populated town on the Massachusetts mainland, Monroe. With only 121 residents as of the 2010 census, there’re not a lot of people there! After heading down the steep hill into town, you see the mill next to the Deerfield River, and then come onto Depot Street, where there are about 10 houses and the town hall. One of the houses had a pub/restaurant in it, where a number of motorcyclists had stopped.
This is a town that you certainly wouldn’t get to unless you wanted to get there. There’s no numbered routes in the town, and it’s right on the Vermont border with no larger towns around it. I understand that it had a little boom when the Hoosac Tunnel was built in the mid 1800’s, (population 3000) but it’s been pretty sleepy since. With so few people, there are few municipal services (they have a library, fire station, and post office, but no schools or police station). It seemed like the type of place that would be a village within another town anyplace else, but they’ve managed to keep there own identity.
So, when have you been able to stick it out when others went elsewhere?
I was lucky enough to be asked back for the second time to be a workshop leader for the Gay Men’s Labor Day Weekend at the Rowe Camp and Conference Center in Rowe. It’s a wonderful Unitarian Universalist retreat center in Western Massachusetts off the Mohawk Trail, and they’ve had numerous famous people in the personal development field give workshops there. It’s a great group of men who get together and share their humanity. Thanks to Ben Seaman to have the faith in me to present again!
I lead two workshops: “Finding Your Calling” and “How You Show Up in Dating Profiles” (talk about self-branding!). I also got to take a writing workshop and partake in the other great activities.
The Conference Center is about the biggest thing in the Town of Rowe, which has about 700 people and is miles from the nearest road with a route number. We walked the 1/4 mile from our site to the middle of town to use the old church, which looks like it is now used as a community building. It’s the type of place where you can walk in the middle of the road and can tell if a car is coming from far enough away to get to safety before they get near you.
Most people know the town as the site of the Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station, which is now closed down. I drove past it on my way to Monroe and its on a side of a steep mountainside way far away from most people. I was told that the construction vehicles used to barrel down those rural roads and almost crash on the sharp turns. I’m sure this town was picked because its so rural.
So, what do you want to be known for?