Dirt Road Daily#16: The Wisdom of Awe

Recently, my friend M and I headed into the woods together for our first overnight backpacking experience. We both have an appreciation for nature and a spark for adventure. Our first night we  camped near a lake serenaded by frogs. With contentment we watched the sun set over the lake and then woke frequently to twigs breaking nearby and finally to a cold misty dawn. We were surprised to hear highway sounds in the distance–we thought we were deep enough in the woods to escape such things. Day hikers began to sift through our camp on the trail around the lake invading our primitive privacy. The work and effort it took to carry in gear, cook, and repack did not dampen our wonder at beautiful skies and a variety of animal sounds: the plop of fish, the scuttle of chipmunks and flick and buzz of winged spectators (or torturers).

Apparently experiencing awe is a well-being booster with physiological and mental benefits. Awe can be experienced through nature, relationships, and accomplishments. Some feel awe in association with religious and spiritual experiences. Some feel awe when they complete a marathon or create artwork or watch a marathon and view artwork.

Whenever I am around young children or see photos of children I am filled with awe-a connection to something greater that is inspirational and humbling all at once. Young children lay there thoughts and emotions out there. They are unfiltered, mysterious, raw, pure, and so precious. Preserving their innocence while hitching a glance to see the world through their eyes is fulfilling. A sense of purpose and intention swells up and feels focused and simple.

This year as my youngest goes to college I feel a deep sense of honor that I could daily step into a child’s world. I am humbled by the possible wounding I inflicted at times with my hurry and over structure. I am grateful I have an eternity to be part of this universe, traverse the earth, weave my life thread among so many others and experience something that comes to us frequently enough to evoke joy and rare enough to treasure.

May you be open to awe and embrace its ability to create a meaningful life.

 

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Offspring Spring off to College

Preparing your young adult or new adult for a life away from home? We are sending our youngest this fall. Although we will miss his energy and light in our home we are happy that he has the opportunity to expand his horizens and step into the wide world. When my offspring are young they learn laundry, sewing, cooking and other skills that will help them when they are on their own. I also emphasize that even if none of their room mates clean up, take out the garbage, and such that they can do it to protect themselves. I found out my oldest was good at keeping dishes done, and garbage out even when his room mates neglected that. My daughter also keeps up with many cleaning chores–in her own time. It’s a matter of wellness!

To help my kids I sent them with a basic cooking guide and a laundry guide.

May you thrive as yours leave the nest or you make changes in your nurturing.

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Always Children

Adolescents are often classified as young adults which is only true in outward appearance. Their brains are still between young child in fast growth mode and adult with complete frontal lobe neural connections. The brain’s plasticity with its ability of ever-changing and learning, we humans are always children. Whether you believe in a divine creator and parent or evolution of matter in the universe, we spend our mortal existence in a changing childhood.

This is not an excuse for childishness but an opportunity to embrace childlike qualities and thrive.  Finding meaning in our everyday lives may be as simple as tuning into our childlike passions.  Individual strengths have emerged from these child delights ranging from intense focus and precision to finger painting unicorns on the walls. What type of activities delighted you at age 4?

My oldest offspring enjoyed lining up his books, stacking and building with blocks, battling his guys with sound effects, or making booby traps for his baby sister or “bad guys”.

His sister, offspring #2, had a different approach at four. She loved to dance and sing, play princess and dolls, imagine deep meaningful conversations with her dolls and stuffed animals, hopping and skipping and long spans of time “reading” books.

Offspring #3, the youngest brother, enjoyed lots of social interaction with family and friends, building, laughing, riding his  stick horse and listening to music.

I can only guess at my mate’s childlike activity at age 4 according to the recollections of his parents and siblings. His activities most likely involved deep affection, high intensity activity followed by relaxing. Social connections in the family and out were important to him.

As for me…my favorite Little Golden Book was, “Little Mommy”. Reading stories, writing stories and being a nurturer have always been a part of my playtime work. Strength of appreciation of Excellence and Beauty, Curiosity, and Spirituality naturally came out of my early childhood play. Believing I am a child of God came naturally to me and has influenced most of my choices and interactions throughout my life. The freedom to be childlike allows me to embrace opportunities of seeing the world through new eyes.

May you thrive in your childlike strengths and wisdoms as you navigate this life.

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Dirt Road Daily #15: Ancient Tree Nurturing-Connections that Endure

When I read Peter Wohleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, I was blown away by the similarities in how trees in old growth forests nurture and the desires of modern human nurturers. Ancient trees in old growth forests are meant to live hundreds of years. In forests around the world trees are removed when dead, or cut down around 120 years old or less. Due to their slow growth nature, many species of trees don’t reach their adulthood until they are 120 years old. Cutting them down is like cutting down  18 year olds and saying. “Your old enough. We’ll put a baby in your place so it’s ethical. Thanks for what you put out there.”

A 18 year old hasn’t even begun to realize their potential in the nurturing eco system. They are still refining their neural connections.

In ancient forests the 200+ year-old trees help teach the new saplings how to thrive. They send a message of danger and how to repel it. They pass on their experiences of how to reach the light and retain moisture. Their leaves have built up compost that creates and nourishes an ecosystem of microorganisms that aid the tree in connecting with all the other trees nearby. When the trees die, their carcass decomposes to nourish the next generation. Often the new saplings will grow up out of the carcass. They have a community, a tribe to support thousands of trees over thousands of years. These forest have even been known to migrate to better environments to thrive better when an ecosystem changes.

Many of the trees we are around in our yards and parks or more like street kids. They’ve been left to figure out the world on their own. Their leaves scooped up, the soil compacted down, they have no connection with the other trees on the street or park. No information passed on how to survive pests, and weather patterns. They tough it out until they reach adulthood and are often cut down before that because they die out.

When we nurture others we need connections that are authentic and organic. Connections which we flow our knowledge and pass on our thrival skills. How do we grow that?

  1. Fertilize your connections by giving others agency. Allow choices and consequences. It starts with children as young as one year receiving a choice between socks or two shirts, two snack options, or two vegetable options. Do you give in and do all decisions for your child? What about spouse, siblings, co-workers, employees, clients, students,etc?
  2. Loose soil allows for the most growth and stronger connections. This means your allow space and time for those you nurture. Some need more attention and engagement than others.
  3. Get your sunlight first before giving away nutrients to others. Nurturers must take care of themselves first.
  4. Accept the lightning scars. Storms happen and parts of us break off or are torn away. Like trees we can seal up our wounds and continue reaching for the sun while our roots grow deeper and spread wider touching others and sharing our experiences that can help them to grow past their wounds.
  5. Connect with other species to ensure thrival. Trees extend their neural like connections by connecting with the fungal threads that spread in the lush forest soil and connect to other species of trees and wildlife. We need plants, pets, and even those microorganisms that gross us out to thrive as a diverse planet.

May you thrive as you reach your light and advocate ecology of nurturing throughout the world.

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Semi-Hibernation Awesomeness 2017: Feed the Beast

In times when chronic health challenges seem to intensify, such as when you get a virus on top of IBS, allergies, sensitivities, fatigue, muscle weakness, mental fog, depleted humor, dull hair, and random unexplainable or explainable pains, you linger in  Depth mode with depression and addiction spectrum symptoms. Craving chocolate at one o’clock? Awake through the night with aches and pains? Can’t remember if you showered? Can’t wait to binge watch Grimm/Criminal Minds/classic MacGyver?

Sometimes when we are low in energy and strength its a temptation to feed the beast. In other words we eat what is easy instead of nourishing. We watch television narcotically–or at least I do. Feed the beast also includes wearing athletic wear with no hope of doing more than going up and down the stairs but to your family its an improvement from pajamas…during the day. How do you thrive?

  1. Set a time to put your best (clean) athletic wear on such as by 9am. Set the earliest time to put your pj’s on such as 7pm– because lets face it 5 o’clock is too early and you may need to answer the door!
  2. Eat the superfood smoothie and bone broth before the ice cream bars or potato chips. Try not to buy the potato chips.  Have dark chocolate and figs or other dried fruit on hand to snack on for your cravings. Drink lots of warm herbal tea.
  3. Learn to not guilt yourself over your weaknesses.
  4. Allow for naps!
  5. Allow yourself to feel the pain without trying to eat, watch, or dose it away. Pain awareness is a great teacher I run from too often and then I feel worse so I might as well face it, feel it, and free it.
  6. Read. This is a great time to catch up on reading whether that’s audio books, e-books, or hard copies. Reality reading is always productive–you are doing something– and reading can help your brain in processing experiences.

When you start to feel physically better you may find your dull mind and binge worlds are taking over your schedule. How do you rise from the funk slump?

  1. Treat yourself with love and kindness! I usually scream in my head to get my lazy  you-know-what up and move it–which creates anxiety and shame, which weighs me down, which halts productivity. I recover better when I say kind words to myself and focus on at least one strength.
  2. Practice patience by allowing yourself to skip connecting with others for most of the day. Introspection and mindfulness around the facts can be helpful. “This hurts. Such and such is comfortable.” Evaluate your sensations and feelings with: pain, comfort, discomfort, tension, and relaxed instead of good or bad.
  3. Write down or talk to someone close to you about what is going well, what you are grateful for, or your blessings each day. Focusing on the positives (even if its staying awake while making lunch) can help your brain to seek out more positive experiences and to see your present situation in a different perspective.
  4. Avoid time limits for recovery. Sometimes you know it usually takes two weeks or three days after an illness but you may be dealing with autoimmune symptoms that require additional time to retain resources that were diverted to fighting the virus.

 

Sometimes I feel like I lose months of my life that I’ll never get back and then I look back at the accomplishments of my indisposition: 4 magazines and 30 articles read, 3 books read, over 7 seasons of various shows viewed–taking particular note of their emotional arc and story devices (since I’m a writer this is research), over 40 hours of introspection and epiphanies, and a reserve of compassion and empathy.

May you thrive as you experience the sensations of pain and illness. Remember you are always loved regardless of your experiences.

 

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Semi-Hibernation Awesomeness 2017: Mindful Intentions

Although Spring has begun and we are emerging from natural semi-hibernation, taking time to review this period before stepping forward is worth the time. How do we navigate the darker, deeper times in our lives?

Yesterday, I decided to play with my 6-year-old niece. A cold, dark day is perfect for building a blanket fort. She was thrilled that I came to play with just her (she is 8 of 8). We built the fort and began a movie. She ate some food and then got comfortable and fell asleep. My sister and I ended up watching the rest of the movie–spending one on one time we hadn’t had for a long time because we live over a thousand miles apart and dedicate much of our time to nurturing local (immediate family, community service). I was grateful I chose to be mindful about spending time with my niece and sister instead of dashing off to work on other projects.

I’ve found that it’s important to be mindful with our daily intentions. Ask yourself, “What is my focus today?” Whatever your answer may be, action comes down to nurturing and what does that look like. What movement serves you during this time? I need to slow down and spend time doing exercise and work that strengthens without taking away from my energy reserves. Here are some ways for you to nurture mindful intentions that will support you during the depths (times when you have low energy, anxiety/depression symptoms, illness, pain, difficulty moving forward).

  1. Nurturing Choice and Accountability: Choose one to three tasks to work on or complete during the day and then accept the consequences. Are you  expressing an opinion or advocating for an organization or topic you feel passionate about? Have you received praise or persecution? The consequences of praise or persecution can be uncomfortable and finding a way to accept consequences in a positive manner–personal accountability– provide opportunities for growth (See Brene Brown’s work on Vulnerability).
  2. Nurturing Faith: A big part of faith is trust. Learning to express trust through boundaries is essential. Trust and boundaries go both ways, trust for yourself and trust for others or higher power.
  3. Nurturing Divine Nature: No matter how pressed down I feel, I consistently remind myself that I am a daughter of God. Sometimes this includes reading scripture, finding a positive quote, or baking! Yes, baking is a creative outlet and a part of nurturing intelligence, spirit, and tactile movement that supports uplifting you.
  4. Nurturing Worth: Make your bed everyday! It doesn’t matter how just make it your way. Making your bed is one thing you can accomplish with ease and it makes you feel better when you go back to bed. It is something you see throughout the day that is complete, encouraging confidence and well-being.
  5. Nurturing Integrity: Be Honest with Yourself! Do a self-evaluation of your thoughts and actions in the morning or evening without judgement. Observe yourself honestly and categorize as healthy, unhealthy, comfortable, uncomfortable.
  6. Nurturing Knowledge: Take moments several times a week to learn new things. Information from your contacts in email, books, magazines, or other research can help lift yourself using a lower energy process. Sitting or lying comfortably (on your made bed or elsewhere) and reading or studying things are productive and progressive.
  7. Nurturing Good Works: Keep it Local! Service in your community can help you feel your value and increase your well-being. Service can suit your lower energy level in winter or during the depths. You can volunteer with your local library, most have a Friends group, a local museum, food pantry–even if that is buying a few extra items each week and taking them to a drop off once a month, Youth Assistance programs, Lions Club/Rotary or other clubs, a nearby zoo, school PTA, or church organizations. You don’t have to give a lot of hours to make a big impact. One hour a week or less  makes a difference.
  8. Nurturing Virtue: You have value because you exist. Do you allow others to have value because they exist? Find ways to support your self and others by avoiding judgement and simply observing, listening, and being.

May you thrive as you nurture yourself during the depths and emerge from semi-hibernation with peace.

 

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Depth Life #16: The Bear on the Beach

The Bear stood onto hind legs and walked towards us as a woman in suede clothing and a bearskin cloak. Her bare feet stepped lightly in the sand as she moved towards us. “You must find your powers and save our people.”

“Are they all bears?”Ord asked. The woman laughed, “No.”

“The sea-born are keeping the sharks away as best they can but they won’t last much longer and the air born have been bound and are unable to turn. Forest born and mountain born have been betrayed and are bound. You must break their bonds.”

“Why did the pirates take them?” Kal shifted closer to me with the boys behind him.

“Wind born have no reason. They collect and feed off suffering.”

“If all these are changelings,”I said, “then what will prevent them from harming us?”

“Tree warriors are most sacred.”

“Tree…” Vity mouthed “warriors” without any sound. The bear woman smiled at her and pointed to us. “What about the Yeti?” Vity stepped out away from me. The woman looked at her strangely. Vity pointed to the snow-capped mountains. The woman laughed, “snow born do not change. Like tree warriors. Always one form.”

“Why aren’t we tree born? Why are we tree warriors?” asked Ord. I had wondered myself. Smiling the woman walked near the water and stepped in looking out to the ship at sea. “Tree warriors are not born in our world. Creator sends them. Always different.”

“How many have come here before us? Are they always families?”

“Who built the tree house?”

Just off shore I saw several fins…dolphins or porpoises I wasn’t sure, but they were chattering.

“They will take you to dead tree.”

“The ship?”Kal turned slightly.

“Go now.” She pointed to the dolphins. We walked towards the water. When we stepped in, our suits turned into wet suits with tanks. We had never snorkeled or scuba dived but we had seen it on tv so we put the mouth piece in, our masks had already turned into scuba masks. I was terrified and I could see that my whole family was too. I had nightmares about the ocean and sharks. Now I was supposed to head towards them. I wanted to throw up and I could feel a panic attack coming on. “Ann. Ann…keep it together. Deep Breaths.” Kal put his arm around me and moved me closer to our transports. I grabbed onto the fin and tried to breathe normal. Looking at Ord and Reas light up and Vity didn’t seem scared either. We didn’t head straight for the ship but followed the coast a bit before heading out to sea. I wanted to close my eyes but I felt I shouldn’t. We dipped down under the ship and up to the other side. The dolphins twisted and dove we couldn’t hang on. Two of them seemed to nose us up. Ord’s swim skills were not the strongest and one of the dolphins seemed to sense it and supported him up to the top until we all came above water on the back side of the ship. Our gloves had grips on them and our wet suits changed to dry, scuba gear deflated into nothing,  as we climbed the ship like crabs.

The sun was setting and I felt so tired as if it were Christmas morning and I’d been up with a baby for days. My arms burned and I worried if any of us fell what would wait below. Vity was next to me then Kal, Ord, and Reas. Reas reached the top first and peered over the side very carefully. The children seemed to sense they needed to be quiet. Kal peered over the edge and looked all around. He looked at me and held up one finger as if to say wait. He faced the boys and did the same then he hoisted himself up and onto the railing before he climbed over. I heard the smack and thud of fighting and peered over to see Kal dragging…something with boots and pants. If they are all changelings who knows what they turn into. What did bear woman say… wind born collect.

Kal looked and saw my eyes and motioned. I directed the kids up and Kal helped Vity and the boys and finally me on deck. we crept around the side and saw another…wind born, who looked like a fisherman, regular human to me. Out of Kal’s glove came a rod and he shocked the man who fell to the deck with a thud. Soon several men resembling fisherman came to us and all of us had a rod come out of our glove. We each had the opportunity to down several, Kal and I trying to protect the kids who were fearless with their electric swords. Soon a very tall man came out wearing Khakis and a polo shirt. “you the captain?” I asked. He nodded. These windborn fisherman made no sound. Eerily they never spoke, grunted or yelled out. Silence was only interrupted by our breathing and communication followed by the shock sound and thud.

Kal asked the captain, “Where are your captives?” The captain pointed to a hatch that led below. He stood on the hatch. “We don’t want to hurt you. We simply want to return the…captives to their home.”

Reas was not where I could see him. Then his head popped out slightly behind a boat before he stealthily moved behind the captain aiming his electirc sword at the captain’s legs. The captain was about to turn so Kal and I charged.

“Don’t mess with a mother bear old man.” I was very charged up and struck several blows to his torso before he flung me across the deck. Kal and Ord had Him to his knees when Vity aimed for his spine towards his head like the hole in a dragons scale armor. He was out. It took all of us to move him off the hatch. Kal opened it and stepped down. I stayed on deck to watch out for any revived pirate fisherman or any other crises that might arise. Soon people of all ages came up rubbing their hands and ankles, limping, helping others. A young woman who looked to be about nineteen came towards me. “Thank you. Did Bess show you where we were tree warrior?”

“If Bess turns into a Bear then Yes.”

“I am Mayor of Luna Cove, Tara Key.”

“I’m Ann. Aren’t you a little young to be mayor?” She laughed and stretched forth her arms towards the rising moon.

“I am 7851 cool seasons. We wear the face that feels most wise. Tree warriors do not understand true age, like infants.”

“You may be right. How do we get back to land?” Tara smiled and stretched her neck before turning into a wolf and howling. Soon we were surrounded by creatures. Kal came to my side and the children joined us. The boat seemed to sail on it’s own towards a cove left of Luna Cove Beach. It was much easier getting off the boat near a dock than it was getting on. A great celebration took place on the beach as the Luna Cove residents turned into human form and began making fires and roasting fruits and vegetables. After eating and shaking the mayor’s hand we walked back to the treehouse and collapsed on the beds exhausted.

Bright morning light penetrated the inner room of the tree house I woke and went to a window opening it up to the breeze and sweet air. Something was cooking and I turned to see bear woman, Bess, cooking something at the stove that smelled like pancakes. “You must change and eat.”

My headache was just as bad as yesterday and the thought of food nauseated me. Bess brought me a steaming mug, “drink.”

“What’s in it?”

“Sun kissed herb. Good for head.” How did she know? I took a bath in the copper mother of pearl bath tub before everyone got up for breakfast.

She left as everyone was getting up and eating. We put our tree warrior armor away and put on the clothes we came in. We returned to the slide where we found steep stairs up to the tree door. We went single file into the corridor and up the under-basement stairs through the basement floor door and into the laundry room where Kal mentioned chores to the kids while they each hiked up the basement steps and I started another load of laundry and watched the floor door disappear wondering what face would I wear that seemed the most wise.

 

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