Cheryl Strayed wrote a book a few years ago called Tiny Beautiful Things – It’s a book based on her stint as an advice columnist known as “Sugar” and it’s full of people sharing their heart wrenching experiences and asking advice. It’s full of stories about the things that make being human so hard, yet at the same time, can hold so much beauty if we let them. The story I’m about to share isn’t about overcoming drug addiction or sexual assault or homelessness like many of the Dear Sugar columns were, but tiny beautiful things don’t have to be about overcoming the hardest stuff of life. They just have to be tiny and beautiful.
Woodland Manitou is a book for individuals who are searching for something that they can’t quite verbalize; those who aren’t content with the state of the world but are trying to make peace with how things are; those who are unsure how to move forward in taking action to change what feels important to change; those who want to find solace in natural spaces. Reading this book provides reassurance that we aren’t alone in uncertainty, a reminder that there is beauty in the ordinary if we take time to notice and focus on it, and hope that one person’s choices can make a difference even if it’s not always apparent what that difference is.
Originally posted on Heidi Barr:
Knocked off her feet after twenty years in public health nursing, Iris Graville quit her job and convinced her husband and their thirteen-year-old twins to move to Stehekin, a remote mountain village in Washington State’s North Cascades. They sought adventure; she yearned for the solitude of this community of eighty-five… Continue reading Hiking Naked
Muted reflections staring at the sky making sounds to draw down angels that sing in tune with mystery and ride on the white bird’s call. Thirsty soil covered by freshly fallen leaves holding out hope for refreshment and clinging to a beauty that refuses to fade. A gray expanse of possibility whispering into the … Continue reading A Window’s View
Yesterday I took to the woods in the afternoon. It’s the first week in about ten years when I don’t have any sort of schedule. There is no work calendar hovering in the background, I’m not on vacation for a certain amount of time, there are no appointments to plan around. I’m a free agent, at least for now. So I did what I do when I can do whatever I want – I went to the woods.
Going to the woods is what I tend to do when I am feeling melancholy, unsure, anxious, or angry. It’s a place to go when I’m grieving, wondering, lamenting, or stewing about something outside of my control. Basically, going to the woods (or prairie, or ocean, or any other natural area) is healing. It’s a place to go in celebration as well, but lately, its role in my days has been one of holding space for what needs to rise from the ashes of what has recently burnt away. Continue reading “Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn”
It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in. There’s a war being waged on peaceful indigenous people and their allies in North Dakota, people who are continuing to stand strong to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed (and eventually poisoning the Missouri river watershed.) People in high office in this country seem to have missed the history lessons that taught us about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the danger that lies in acting from fear, hate, entitlement, and greed. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, loved ones are hurting, the dog is getting old. There are many things to lament. But we might do ourselves a favor and take a break from the lamenting to give thanks as well. Gratitude is always possible. Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Continue reading “A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude”
What would it be like to dance with mountains? To sway with the majestic alpine wildflowers that dot the valleys, or to listen to the whisper of clear snowmelt as it cascades to lower ground over a bed of stones smoothed to perfection? To kiss the pine needles, to breathe the scent of ancient bedrock mystery? Or to walk in step with the peaks that have been stripped of life, or the valleys that have been clearcut and left for dead? The toxic rivers, the tundra fracked of life, the homeless topsoil that can’t hold on? How do we love our failed expectations alongside our beautiful victories? How can our defeats, our poor choices, and our monsters co-exist with our grace, our goodness, and our love? How do we embrace them all and hear what they have to say?
Dance with mountains.
Continue reading “To Dance With Mountains”
To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now. ~Donald Altman
I glide though the silence of early morning fog rising from the river, my kayak paddle slicing through the glassy water, propelling me forward into the next moment, and the next, and the next. I am not always good about doing this, but sometimes in the time just after dawn as the sun starts to claim ownership of the sky, I am able to be in each moment, not thinking about the last one, not anticipating the next one. I am able to just be present, one paddle slice or step or breath at a time. Simple elegance, one paddle slice at a time.
We spent this past week about 500 miles from home, in a little yellow cottage outside of Manistique, Michigan. Perched on the southern shore of the state’s upper peninsula and the northern shore of Lake Michigan, my husband’s family has roots deep in the sandy shores and waters and lore of the small lakeside town and its surrounding forests. It’s a place of simplicity if you choose it, and an elegance of a different sort than is usually conjured from the term. I suppose you could say it’s a place where they have always gone to be present. To simplify the pace of the days and let the slow energy of a summer vacation take the reins. Continue reading “Kayak Morning”