Enter this wild wood

Chiricauhua Mountains. May 14, 2019.

Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature . . . .
~ William Cullen Bryant

(Note: After posting this, I realized it all felt very familiar. Probably because I’d posted the same words very recently.)

Sunday Confessional: sometimes anxiety just is

I’ve been trying to work on my revisions this afternoon. I’m listening to Beethoven through my earbuds in an attempt to drown out the present reality and it seems to work in short bursts. I’m focused and then . . .I’m not. So I decided to look at some photos to find something to put here, and began examining pictures of birds, flowers, waterways, and other typically calming images.

May 3, 2019. Clearwater, Florida.

Well? Right now, my heart is racing. Adrenaline is pumping and it’s as if there’s no escaping my anxiety.

Rather than try to (unsuccessfully) distract myself from these feelings, I’m going to try another approach. I’m going to sit with my anxiety. Because maybe it’s like how you’re not supposed to run when you encounter a bear: if I don’t run from my anxiety, maybe it’ll quit chasing me.

Sanctuary

This afternoon I packed notebook, binoculars, camera, blanket, and camp chair, and walked up the street and out into the open space. I’m still not feeling great so only “hiked” a short distance before settling in. I spent that time outdoors doing much and also very little.

I sat in the chair and watched birds through the binoculars. I rested on the blanket in the sun, welcoming the heat baking into my black shirt. I explored the immedate area with my camera, jotted in my notebook, and eavesdropped on hikers talking on the nearby trail. When my stomach growled, I fantasized about snacks. I photographed the moon in the blue sky. I rolled onto my back to watch this uncharacteristically mellow Dark-eyed Junco in the tree above me.

Those two hours outside were balm for my soul. I’m very grateful for the luxury and ease of walking up my street and out into the open. Next time, I’ll know to bring something to eat.

Sunday Confessional: on becoming a conformist

When I was in first grade, my teacher sent a note home to my parents. Mrs. B was concerned I wasn’t taking time to color within the lines and included a worksheet as an example. I’d filled in whatever blanks were there with the correct words and then scribbled with crayons across each of the pictures I was supposed to color.

Maybe my fine motor skills weren’t that well-developed. Or, perhaps I’d already caught on to the busy-work aspect of school. Either way, I wasn’t interested in coloring inside the lines.

My attitude has changed. Today, I’m sitting in my self-isolating bedroom (upright in a chair, rather than in bed), and just finished this Sea Dragon picture from the coloring book I bought months ago. This time around, I found it very soothing to focus on staying within the lines. No time for anxiety while trying to follow the complex paths of green foliage! I suspect I’ll be coloring more pictures in the days to come. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend.

Thankful Thursday: magical nature edition

Backyard steps. March 26, 2020.

“If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say, ‘Thank you.’ If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do… Nature is magic.”                                                                                                             ~ Robert Bateman

Thoughts on a Magpie Monday

I woke with anxiety (in large part exacerbated by the reality of the corporate, political, and media establishment rallying around the candidate who’s campaigning against Medicare for All during a pandemic) and knew I had to do something. Pull the covers over my head and remain in bed all day? Or get up and get moving?

I wisely chose movement and for the first time in weeks, went for a run. Well, a walk/run. For once, I was kind to myself and didn’t berate myself whenever I slowed to a walk. I went out on the trails in the open space and within minutes, I saw a bunny under a bush. I greeted it as I chugged on by and then a few minutes later, I spotted a talkative magpie perched on the water tank.

Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.

I’ve become accumstomed to being the only human out on the trails, but today I encountered a total of ten people and three dogs. I hope that if they also woke with anxiety, that their time in the open space soothed their souls. I know it did me a world of good.

Sunday Confessional: a toast to comfort food

Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

I’ve been leaning on comfort food more than usual these days. And I guess it’s time to admit that my dalliances with sourdough toast and strawberry jam have become a daily thing. There might be a day here or there in which I don’t toast my bread and eat it too, but more often than not, I indulge in that crunchy, sweet comfort food.

The best part? I’m completely at peace with my newly acquired discipline.

Standing tall

Great Egret. May 5, 2019. Clearwater, FL

Last night I met with the young leaders of the Sunrise Movement in Colorado, and heard some tough news. As I listened, I slouched lower and then lower in my chair. At the same time, I noticed the young woman across from me sitting straighter, back erect and strong. It was as if I was a cautionary tale. The lower I went, the higher she sat. No caving in for her. It was a beautiful sight.

I’d like to be more mindful of sitting and standing tall, no matter the situation.

A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind. ~ Morihei Ueshiba

So long, Saturday

This week brought ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. But in classic Colorado style, today was blue skies, sunshine, and a balmy 55 degrees. My sons and a friend joined Emma and me on a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and the weather was so delicious I wanted more. When we got home, I put on my running togs and ran around the neighborhood streets.

Final light of the day hits neighbor’s roof as melting snow falls in jeweled strands.

And even though the sun has disappeared behind the hills, I’m still feeling good. Thank you, sunshine and endorphins!

Inspirational aftermath

Image by Alison Innes from Pixabay

I spent this weekend at the SCBWI-Rocky Mountain Chapter’s fall conference. Two days filled with 240 creative people and lots-o’ conversations. I took copious notes (which became less lucid as the weekend wore on) and felt many pings during motivational keynotes and informative breakout sessions. It was an awful lot of extroverting for an introvert who needs alone-time to refill her well.

On Sunday morning while I was conversing with several women, someone confessed to being at a point of overwhelm. We all agreed it was getting more difficult to process what we were learning. I said, “By the time I left last night, I was almost crying.” A woman replied, “I did cry.”

I’m past the crying stage, but am still refilling my well. I hiked alone this morning and spent some of the day in a patch of sunshine with a middle-grade novel. I’m slowly coming back to myself and hope to resume writing in the next day or so. In the meanwhile, I’m like a candle that burned brightly and is now a slightly different shape/different writer as a result of the experience.

Poppy pride

Many people welcome and celebrate autumn’s arrival, and I agree there’s much to be said for cooler temperatures. However, I’m not a fan of stuff dying off. I get that it has to happen, but what makes my heart soar is the new growth and bright colors after long, dark winters.

So today I take another look back at the poppies from my front yard. Look at all that glorious color and all that potential for many more blooms!

On this final day of September, I celebrate the exuberant poppy.

Say it with me: More good things are coming my way

For the past couple months, I’ve felt discouraged by various aspects of my life. Those feelings aren’t a constant, they tend to ebb and flow, but this morning the discouragement rose up in me again. With a vengeance.

Then I thought back to what I felt last month when I was offered an assignment to write a book about birds. Not only was I so darned happy, but I was also filled with a sudden certainty: without a doubt, more good things were coming my way.

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

If only I could’ve bottled those feelings. But right now I’m doing the next best thing to help reexperience that confidence and certainty. I’m opening my arms wide and chanting my mantra: More good things are coming my way.

Yep, that feels so much better.

If you’re feeling not-great right now, say it with me: More good things are coming my way.

Better, right?

Mondays gonna Monday

Image by Richard Smith from Pixabay

Happy to report I survived this morning’s visit to the dentist without throwing any punches. Woot! However, the whole thing got off to a rocky start when my sandal strap broke as I walked across the parking lot. I somehow kept the shoe on my foot as the strap slapped against the ground. But then the front desk woman asked for my insurance card and I emptied out my purse searching for my wallet that wasn’t there. The good news is Zippy located it at home.

So here’s the score:
Teeth cleaned without me breaking into tears (yes, this has happened before).
Sandal broken but fixable, I believe.
Wallet back in purse and the bill’s in the mail.

Mondays gonna Monday. All I can do is keep my head down and push ahead. Wishing the same for you.

Resting in the grace of the world

Green Heron, Kapok Park. January 11, 2019

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. ~ Wendell Berry

For your viewing pleasure

Because it’s Monday and there’s so much awful, rage-inducing stuff going on in the world, I’m offering Emma Jean-Jean, in all her splashy glory, for your viewing pleasure. I hope her wet, whiskered face brings a smile and/or relief from the heat.

Take care of yourselves.

Thankful Thursday: the natural world

So much of our current reality causes me outrage, fear, and anxiety. It’s gotten so that I struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. But today I’m grateful for a new writing project that brings me happiness.

Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard. Greenhouse Trail, Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019

I’m always at my best when fully immersed in a project, especially when the subject matter involves the glories of our natural world, and so this dapper lizard feels like the perfect guide for today’s work.