About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Tag: nature

A bit of natural magic

Retreat 2

I’ve just returned from several days at a SoulCollage retreat, and I’m feeling relaxed and mellow. There’s no telling what kind of outrageous thing you could say to me right now, and still get a very mild response.

We each had our own cabins, and mine was a little extra hike away on an adjacent property. The first night I walked back at dusk, about 9 pm, and was surrounded by flashing fireflies–a bit of natural magic, and something I never see at home.

There were lots of beautiful wildflowers, fresh air, a bit of rain, grasshoppers that rose up on black wings as I walked down the path to the road, invisible as rolled leaves when they settled again.

It’s good to get away.

This post is illustrated by one of the SoulCollage® cards I made this past week, Retreat.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Communing with nature

Japanese garden

I’m writing from the Japanese Garden today, and I’ve just seen the smallest possum ever, apart from rescued babies. Since it’s shortly after 4 pm and possums are nocturnal, I guess I’ve just seen the Benjamin Franklin of the possum kingdom.

Multicolored koi swim gently beneath the platform where I’m sitting on a bench.

For years a possum family lived in one of my pecan trees, but you couldn’t have proved it by me–I never saw them once. I only received reports from my next-door neighbors, who smoked outside, giving them opportunity to observe all the nocturnal wildlife.

A mosquito just bit me–clearly there’s plenty of food here for the possum family. I’ve been told that each can eat up to 10,000 insects a day, so they’re highly beneficial. I thought about wearing mosquito repellent today, but didn’t. The scent is repellent even to me!

As is usually the case, I suppose, the people are making far more noise than the animals, though birds call, squirrels scamper, koi tussle over fish food, and ducks bathe noisily. Only the humans hoot and holler; only the human babies wail. Many, but not all, are the quiet types you’d expect to see in a Japanese garden. Most look as though they’d just as soon not see any other people.

More ducks swim by, almost silently, leaving chevron-patterned ripples in their wake.

My brochure says this garden was once a gravel pit–an immense improvement, no doubt. This is not wild–in fact, it’s less wild and more groomed than my own backyard, the dogs’ domain–but it’s nature, and I’m grateful to be here. I’d love to be somewhere truly wild, but I’d have to go much further than 5 minutes from home to get there. I’m lucky to have such beautiful gardens so close to home.

.
.
.

Following my visit to the garden, I felt a tremendous sense of peace and groundedness, making me think that I need to make it a priority to spend time here more often. Several times since I starting writing this, I’ve come across the term “communing with nature” or “communion with nature” in various contexts. How interesting that the term we naturally reach for when speaking of nature references a sacrament. We were made to be in nature, not in fluorescent-lit, indoor-outdoor carpeted cubicles, and really not in houses either. We’re meant to see the sun and sky, trees and rain, leaves and flowers, other creatures … not just occasionally, but every day.

My experience of peace and groundedness after visiting the garden also made me want to create a garden of my own. I have flower beds and potted plants, I grow herbs to cook with, I’ve had trees and shrubs planted (I don’t have the muscle or fortitude to dig into solid clay sufficiently deep to plant something large), but I haven’t done anything that’s fundamentally changed the nature of my urban lot. I understand now why my aunt restocked her koi pond over and over, despite repeated incursions by local raccoons with a taste for expensive seafood. (I don’t understand, though, why it wasn’t possible to devise some sort of pond cage that would have defeated the raccoons!) I’m thinking now about how I might be able to create a secret garden, a place that would be an escape, a place where I could commune with nature. It would be a challenge, but I’m sure it’s possible …

How to go with the Flow

Flow

I remember when I first started reading about the Law of Attraction, in books by Esther Hicks/Abraham and others, one of the first things that struck me was the emphasis on ease–the implication being that life shouldn’t be a struggle.

But my life was a struggle. I fought for everything, and always had. I thought that’s how it was done. (Maybe you think so too.) Every day I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. I decided I’d like to try living life a different way.

I started setting positive intentions for experiences I wanted in my life to flow to me, using intention to align myself with the Flow, and the Flow with me. I figured that if I did this, I’d no longer feel I was swimming against the current.

This turned out to be quite true.

If you find yourself struggling today, here are some ideas that may help …

  1. Be sure your purpose is aligned with the Flow. You may notice that striving for things that are, when you come to examine them, actually unimportant, feels like an uphill battle. After all, there’s nothing natural about a lawn without weeds–or even a lawn, full stop. Maybe there’s a reason you feel like giving up when you try to please a difficult person, or lose those last five pounds, or climb a ‘ladder’ someone else invented. Instead, try getting in touch with the Love inside you, and find a purpose–even a very small one to start with–that springs from that place of love. Then turn your attention to this purpose that’s in alignment with the Flow, away from the goals that aren’t.
  2. Plug in to the Flow by getting out in nature. Take a walk. Plant something you find lovely in your garden. Feel the beautiful life Force all around you. Inside you.
  3. Be creative–just like the Universe. Cook something delicious, or make a collage. Look at your handiwork, or taste it. Observe that it is good.
  4. Try a guided meditation that makes you feel 100% better, and puts you in touch with your higher Self.
  5. Listen to uplifting music that raises your vibration. Anael is a favorite of mine.
  6. Keep a gratitude journal to help you become aware of all that is right and beautiful and Flowing in your life.
  7. Ask a favorite saint, angel, or ascended master for assistance. You may just be amazed at the results. (Doreen Virtue’s Archangels and Ascended Masters is a favorite resource of mine. My copy is seriously worn.)
  8. Set some intentions that align you with the Flow, and the Flow with you.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, One with the Flow.

How not to melt down

Whatever you cannot enjoy doing, you can at least accept that this is what you have to do. Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment requires me to do, and so I do it willingly. –Eckhart Tolle

Tonight’s the full moon; yesterday at work a new policy that disadvantages all of us who work on a particular product was announced. General unhappiness was rampant; one person in particular was really angry.

This morning first thing she was presenting at a fairly major meeting, and both she and the meeting pretty much melted down. I was only on the phone, where it was bad enough–I was pleased not to be an eyewitness to the train wreck.

Yesterday I was able to receive the bad news with equanimity, and feel fully at peace, which really made me happy.

Earlier this week I worked an intense 12-hour day tracking down production issues. When I finished, I told my manager she could call me the next morning if she needed me.

About twenty minutes after I got up, just as I was about to pop my farm egg into the oven, the phone rang.

What I meant was that she should call me if she needed information she didn’t have to answer questions from the VP. What she wanted me to do was to start working again at that moment and produce results to be presented at the management meeting in an hour. I produced results in half an hour as the dogs circled, wanting their breakfast, and then got back to my morning routine.

The night before, my manager had strongly encouraged me to leave the office and go home, and I’d said that as long as I was working late, I might as well finish what I was doing–and mentioned that I’d thought of leaving early the next day, and she agreed. As I left my unbaked egg on the kitchen counter and headed into my home office, I was so glad I had. I know very well that I don’t handle a lot of overtime well. I can crank up the intensity and get extra results out of a fairly normal workday, but working continuous extended hours is not a recipe for success.

I need time to recharge my batteries, to wind down so I can sleep, to breathe.

So the day of the wakeup call, I did all that immediately needed to be done, attended scheduled meetings, and then took the rest of the afternoon off. I took a lovely walk by the river, and then ate at a barbeque restaurant and had a cocktail. I knew a local chef had opened this place, but didn’t know quite where it was. I wandered into a chain-linked patio with a Coffee Bar sign, and found I was actually in the restaurant I’d heard about.

It was a really peaceful, laid-back afternoon, and I think the physical exercise out of doors was significantly helpful.

As well, I have had a regular meditation practice for some years now, 15-20 minutes morning and night, pretty much without fail.

Some years ago I came across Doreen Virtue’s Archangels & Ascended Masters while browsing in the bookstore. I keep it on my coffee table and frequently flip through it before I meditate, asking one of the angels or masters for assistance with a particular concern, insight, healing, or whatever’s top of mind. I usually focus outward in the morning, inward at night.

I’ve also been using the prayer before work I posted awhile back on weekday mornings, especially when I have to join an early conference call before I’ve had a chance to meditate and center myself for the day.

I don’t feel a great deal of attachment to this workplace, which helps. I have absolutely no intention of retiring there, as a number of my coworkers plan on doing. It is not my home, and except for a few good friends, they are not my people. (Typically my people are not just everywhere in the corporate world in general.)

When the new policy was announced yesterday, someone asked if it was forever.

“I can tell you this,” I said. “Nothing is forever.”

It’s hard to contemplate that the good things in our lives won’t be forever, even if we ourselves are the ones to leave first. But for the not-so-good things, it’s a comforting thought.

No, this will not be forever.

Walks along the river

Now that the weather has cooled, I’ve been taking walks along the nearby river. There’s a network of paved and gravel trails that run along it, I’ve been told so extensive that no comprehensive map exists. I’ve been using the gravel trails as my feet seem to prefer them.

Last time I went I saw many water birds–perhaps half a dozen white cranes, which seem to like inlets for their fishing, and even more blue herons. Today I went earlier in the afternoon and saw none of these, but did see perhaps a couple of dozen ducks, some mallard, some brown, all swimming together below a dam, with birds of prey soaring overhead.

Across the river, a man and his foxy little dog were walking along the grassy bank. I couldn’t identify the dog’s breed from across the river–I suspect he may have no pedigree–but his coat was red with a short white ruff and a white tip on his tail. He was full of life and clearly enjoying his outing. The best part was when he walked seamlessly off the bank into the river and swam for awhile. He kept his white-tipped tail above water at all times, and actually wagged it as he swam! Here, I thought, is a dog who really knows how to have a good time.

There’s a unique two-sided water fountain by the trail. One side is for people, and the other, with the button at waist level and the fountain just above the ground, for dogs. I’d like to see if my dogs would drink from it, but sadly they are not good walkers. I’ve taken two of them walking on the trails before, and neither experience could be characterized as a great success.

When taken for a walk, Cherry makes it her business to select the very best patch of grass, or the very most beautiful lawn, and then makes a deposit, which I then have to clean up and place in an appropriate receptacle. She’s also a slow walker, because she needs to sniff everything, and then respond appropriately to all the other dogs’ ‘pee-mail.’

Gracie I suspect may have been dumped at one point prior to ending up at the puppy mill from which she was seized (along with 5000 other dogs). That would certainly explain her walking style. She will walk no further than two blocks from the house, and then she stops. No more than one block is her preference. Off leash and of her own free will, she goes no further than the next door neighbors’ yards on either side. On leash, when she stops walking around the two-block mark, the most mulish look appears on her little face, and she will walk no more. I took her to the river a couple of years ago, thinking that she might walk further with me if the house weren’t nearby.

And what I learned is that if the house isn’t there, the car will do just fine as a landmark. I ended up picking her up and carrying her, and I heard probably two dozen identical jokes from the people I subsequently met on the trail about how I was giving new meaning to “taking the dog for a walk.” So … I haven’t done that again.

Cookie is such a persistent herder that there is no taking her for a walk on leash. Unless I use considerable muscle to keep her where I want her, she’ll circle me and wrap the leash around me. And she’s so fast and skittish that I hesitate to attempt to walk with her off leash.

So I walk without my dogs.

After walking the trails for an hour, I notice that my hips and shoulders feel looser, and when I sit down afterwards, I can feel my quads twitching for awhile. One of the random bits of useless knowledge rattling around in my head is that there are fast-twitch muscles (possessed by Olympic sprinters) and slow-twitch muscles … mine have not been examined by an expert, but I feel I have an excellent guess as to which they are. I’m trying to recall a single occasion when I felt an urge to sprint, and coming up with exactly nothing.

It’s lovely to be able to connect with nature–masses of mature trees, the flowing river, the wild birds–right here in the city. In the distance I can see the downtown skyline, and today I thought also my office building with its light blue glass, from which I was very pleased to have the afternoon off. I started to look more closely to make a positive identification, and then decided that wasn’t at all necessary.

Of the other people I saw, a few were around my age. Many seemed to be college students, one guy (“This is Charles”) was conducting business on his cell phone, and a few were retired. One particularly ancient man was diligently riding his bicycle up and down a short stretch of trail. So many people locked away in those buildings on the skyline, so few out here enjoying the beautiful weather. I thought how lovely it would be to create my own schedule and come here whenever I liked.

I hope to enjoy many more river walks before winter begins in earnest. And also to design a way of earning my living that allows me to come here whenever I like.

In which the grasshopper has a death wish

Today I walked blithely out my front door, and was arrested by the sight of the grasshopper–back on my rose. It has sheared off, with its little grasshopper mandibles, an entire side of the rose. It has given the rose Grace Jones’s haircut.

Whether it was a good look for Grace I cannot say, but it is most certainly not a good look for a rose.

This time I knocked the grasshopper into the succulent groundcover. I peered down at his yellow ugliness … “You clearly have a death wish.”

I thought fleetingly of how useful my trowel could be at that moment, neatly dividing the grasshopper in two–if I were swift, and lucky, and especially if I had the trowel outside with me at all, which I did not.

The grasshopper will live another day.

After the rain

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. –William Morris

Finally, after the drought, the rains came–and today it is cool. I have the window in my bedroom open for the first time in many months, since the springtime. It feels like a miracle, the cool air as I walk outside–and of course it is. I appreciate my air conditioner, but how lovely it is to experience air cooled by Mother Nature.

The plants are content. They know the difference between the water I give them, and the rain. They can survive on city water, but lately some of them have been looking peaked. There’s nothing like the real thing, the gift from the heavens. They turn their faces upward, stretch toward the sun, and smile their leafy little smiles. I smile back.

%d bloggers like this: