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Archive for the ‘Resolutions’ Category

I have come to love my morning walks. Not just love them, crave them. They started not only as a way to get back into shape, to lose weight, but also as a way to try to find some sanity again. I have always gone to the woods when life has been too much. John Muir wrote “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind, and find my soul”. These days I find that many times, I’m finding not just my soul, but my my mind as well. The woods settle me, balance me.

Take this morning as an example. Like many mornings, I awoke to a brain that was already racing like it was Dale Earnhardt running the Daytona 500. So many things to do, so much to get done. So many worries. There was a time when I would start the work right away, check email, put laundry in, prioritize the to do list, but now I put my socks and shoes on, strap on my sidearm, grab my walking stick, douse myself in bug spray and head out the door. Yes, I said strap on my sidearm. I live in the north woods and share my beloved forest with bears, coyotes and the occasional wolf. My measly 38 won’t do much to harm them, but it will scare them and it will alert my husband that there is a problem and he should probably come check on me.

We had thunderstorms last night, so the grass was damp. It wasn’t long before my shoes and socks were soaked through. The plus side was there were hardly any bugs out, even those annoying little gnats seem to have been washed away. It wasn’t terribly early, 9 a.m., but if you know me, that’s on the early side. When I started walking last spring, it was closer to 11 before I got out the door. Who knows, maybe by the time snow flies I’ll be out by dawn. Anyway, there was still that just rained freshness out. The further back into the forest I get, the more peaceful it feels. Sparkling sequins of raindrops still decorate the edges of the ferns, here and there a crystal rainbow spun by a spider hangs between two trees.

At this time of day in the woods, I can remember that there is still magic in this world. Through the softness of the foliage I see carmel brown, a head lifts up over the raspberry bushes. Mama doe and I meet eyes. We silently watch each other for a few minutes before she flicks her tail at me and quietly walks across the trail, followed by a fawn that still has faint white spots. I curtsy as I pass the “fairy tree” and wish her majesty a good day. I know that the malevolent force that lives near to me is not likely to be out and about in the woods at this time of day, so I don’t need to be afraid. I breathe, I walk, I watch, I admire. I find peace, even if it’s only for a short while. My brain takes a pit stop for refueling. I stop worrying about lawsuits, and loss of family, about people who care more about money than feelings and just appreciate the goodness around me. The way the light filters differently through the leaves on the trees than it does through the ferns. That there’s still a raspberry or two hiding on the bushes here and there. That a very pretty rock sparkles on the path in front of me, like a gem that spilled from a treasure chest.

By the time I return home, I feel balance again. My mind, my heart, my soul are more aligned, better able to face whatever the day will throw at me. The end of the day may see it all askew again, but if I have the courage, I can put on my socks and shoes, pick up my walking stick, and in the still of the morning go into the forest to “lose my mind and find my soul”.

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A New Year

The Christmas decorations are down and put away for another year. The Christmas tree stands out in the backyard, needles still green against the snow, a shelter against winter storms for the birds my dad loves to watch.  We are now in the second month of the new year, and if you have made a New Year’s resolution, chances are it has already been broken.  Not because you haven’t tried, but so often life gets in the way of those noble ideas that we have on the dawn of a new year.  I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions anymore.  Yes, I want to lose weight.  Yes, I want to exercise more.  Of course I want to eat healthier.  Don’t we all? But I’ve made and broken those resolutions more times than I can count.  So, I didn’t make a resolution this year, but I did make a promise to myself.  This year, no matter what, I will rediscover joy.  For you see, somewhere over the last year and a half, I lost it.

This last year has been a difficult one.  There have been many changes in my life.  Some of them have been good, some of them have been bittersweet, and some of them have been downright painful.  On the good side, we completed the move back to my childhood home, to be here for my parents.  I love that we are here, in the same home.  I love to hear them talk, to know that I am here if they need me.  My youngest son graduated from high school with honors, received academic scholarships to college, and is thriving there. I’ve reconnected with friends that I grew up with, and discovered that they are pretty fascinating women.

We’ve had 2 dogs cross over to the rainbow bridge.  My dad’s sweet Maqua and our happy little sweater dog Lucky.  Their loss was and is still painful.  But a new clown joined our circus and Lobo entertains us daily.  Most painful of all have been the struggles of my oldest.  He lost his way, tried to find solace in a bottle, which has only lead to legal troubles and heartache.  I have felt the weight of his mistakes around my shoulders.  I want so badly to “fix” everything for him, and know that I cannot.

And so, while navigating through all the changes, the joy I’ve had in life seems to have gotten away from me.  It’s not in one of the boxes I haven’t unpacked from the move (I looked, there’s nothing labeled joy).  I didn’t leave it in Indiana.  I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but like the box of dress clothes I couldn’t find, I think it will take some looking to find it again.

The promise I made to myself was to find one thing, everyday, that gives me joy.  Whether it’s the sight of a cardinal, red against the falling snow, taking shelter in that old Christmas tree, or a 120 pound puppy chasing his tail, or being ordered around by my 5-year-old grandson, or my husband wrapping his arms around me each day when he comes home, there are things to find joy in.  I just need to look for them. We are meant to have joy in our lives.  I think that there is always some little thing that can give us joy everyday, if only we look for it.  What are ways that you find joy?  When life seems hard, and as gray as a winter’s day, where do you look to find a smile? Leave me a comment – I’d like to know.

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