vulnerable path

Make yourself a stronger woman.


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A walk in the woods

The weather may have been freezing cold this weekend, but I was determined to spend some time outside, appreciating nature.  Here in Pennsylvania, we are lucky to experience the change of seasons.  And I try to see the beauty in all of them.

lake_editedWith the chaos of the holiday season right around the corner, I find it even more important to step aside and enjoy a quiet moment.  No better place for that than in the woods.

 

I take my Girl Scouts on a wonderful camping trip every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Here are a few of the scenes I found at our lovely hide-away in the woods.

 

During the summer, this lake is filled with swimmers and boaters.  But on the verge of winter, it is already frozen over.  Even the waves by the lake’s edge seemed to have been frozen right as they were about to break.

 

 

rhododendrun_editedIt’s fascinating that as winter approaches, some plants in the woods are already preparing for spring.  The cold air curls the leaves of the rhododendron bushes, as though they are wrapping themselves tight against the frosty air.  Clusters of dead flowers still cling to the plant.  But the new blossoms have already formed and wait to explode in the warmth of June.

 

The lake is encircled by hundreds, if not thousands, of rhododendron bushes.  They have grown massive over the years.  Along one section of trail around the lake, the bushes form a canopy overhead.  What a sight it must be in the spring!

 

kayaks_editedThis time of year, there is not much color to liven up the landscape.  But one sign of summer lingered, brightening up the view!

I think I would have been tempted to take a kayak out on the lake had it not been frozen over!  Though, no paddles were in sight, so that might have been difficult.

 

frosty_leavesI love to take a close look at Mother Nature’s creations.  The smallest crystals of frost on the dried leaves were like tiny gems sparking in the morning sunlight.

 

Nearby, a marshy bog had frozen over.  The ice was smooth and perfectly clear.  It was like peering through glass at the forest floor trapped beneath.  What living things could be under there?  Will they be strong enough to survive these harsh conditions?

 

Nature is full of resilience.  And so are we.  A walk in the woods reminds me of this.  Our frozen hearts can be revived.  We are strong enough to outlast the harshest winter of the soul.  Our spirits can bloom again, stronger, wiser, and more beautiful than ever.

© Vulnerable Path, 2014

 


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Just Dance

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”  — Ann Lamott

So this little tidbit jumped out at me today.  I was reading a blog post about writing.  Yes, writers write about writing on WordPress.  And it’s pretty darn inspiring sometimes.  The challenge of the blog post was to just write.  Just start typing and don’t stop.  Don’t edit.  Just get the words out onto the page.  So that’s what I’m doing.

I love this quote — “don’t look at your feet.”  I am so guilty of this, always wondering if I am doing it right.  Is it perfect yet?  No, silly.  You’ve got to stop worrying about that.  Ann Lamott’s quote is kind of like the “Just Do It!” slogan of the writers world.

I am a runner.  I love to be out on a trail somewhere, just chugging along.  I’m not a very fast runner.  I’m usually pretty happy if I can log a 10 minute mile during some portion of my workout.  I don’t concern myself much with speed.  Running is a great way for me to find some peace and clear my mind.  But guess what I do when I run?  I stare at the ground.  I watch my own steps.  Recently, I have started making a concerted effort NOT to do this.  When I catch myself, I straighten up my posture, raise my head, and look at where I’m going.  The view is beautiful!  The leaves on the trees are changing colors.  The trail is carpeted in yellow and brown.  Walnuts, acorns, and a rare Osage Orange litter the trail.  Squirrels rustle above my head.  The river churns by.  Ducks chatter to each other.   The earthen musk of what the river reclaims wafts up from the river bank.

IRT_trail-editedHow about that?  When I’m not staring at my feet, wondering if I’m doing it right, I can actually appreciate the beauty in what I’m doing.

I wonder how much of our lives we spend like this, worrying about every step we take.  We can get so caught up in what we are supposed to do, who we are trying to impress, and what we are trying to accomplish.  We impose perfection on ourselves.  We have turned exhaustion into a status symbol (as my current favorite writer says).  We are in such a rush that we miss the Now.  We hurry past the current moment, racing to get to the finish line.  News flash:  God is not standing there with His stop watch to congratulate you on finishing fast, or perfect, or with the most stuff.

When I look back on the most meaningful and joyful times of my life, I see my family and friends.  I remember special holidays, and trips to new places, and exciting new learning experiences.  Its not about how clean my house is, or what’s in my wallet, or what’s parked in the driveway.

Maybe it’s because of this mid-life spiritual epiphany I’m going through.  I realize that it’s so important to slow down.  Rest.  Play.  Laugh.  Dance.  Breathe.  Invite balance into your life.  Take time to savor the simple joys that we so easily take for granted.  Step back and re-assess once in a while.  Like an artist has to step back from his painting; that’s when you can see and appreciate the beauty in what you are creating.  You might trip over your feet once in a while.  So what?  Dance with abandon.  It’s so much more fun than dancing with perfection.

© Vulnerable Path, 2014