Karen Tracy's first experience with the desert was the destination of one of her father's Sunday drives. Her dad had a friend whose parents had retired in Joshua Tree and were doing some farming... not the type of farming you might expect. That house is still there, as is the little shed that housed the farms product. Karen recalls her feelings around the 'farming' and also remembers the owners proudly demonstrating their toggle switch operated window blinds.
It would be a number of years before Karen returned to the desert. A marriage to a fellow student at dental school dissolved, but Karen moved forward and completed dental school. Some of Karen's friends had purchased property in the desert and she would find herself out here on weekends in the 70's and 80's.
After graduating and then leaving a dental practice in Northern California, a friend called asking Karen to come out for six months to assist with her own dental practice in 29Palms while she took some time off for the birth of her child.
Thirty-three years later, Karen is still here.
During her stint helping her dentist friend, Karen discovered climbing and the Joshua Tree climbing community. Karen worked hard to become a climber who takes herself climbing, rather than one who gets taken climbing. At one point, Karen was working one day a week at the dental office and climbing the other six days of the week. It was the climbing that cemented Karen's decision to stay in the desert.
In this episode, Karen talks about the fall during one climbing trip that not only broke her back, but broke her arm in several places. After an attempt to self heal, Karen heard a message calling her to try yoga. After an attempt to self-teach by book, she decided to go to Los Angeles and Hawaii for in-person classes culminating in a trip to India for yoga teacher training as a way to improve her practice. A few days after her return to the desert from India, she received a phone call from one of the few studios in town to come and teach.
Karen also shares her experience with Transcendental Meditation (TM) and talks about the meditation domes in Fairfield, Iowa, as well as her involvement in the beginnings of Transition Joshua Tree, a sustainable system based on the Transition Network of Rob Hopkins.
Photo: Elena Ray