What Places Make You Feel More Alive? Go There.

Winters in Oregon are blue. They’re drizzly and drab and full of longing for sunshine. Spring on the other hand, is my favorite time of year in Oregon. I love the brightly colored blooms, the gusts of wind, and the moody rain showers that often end in a beam of delicious sunlight breaking through the gray clouds.

Yesterday I took a walk to one of my favorite places, a bench up on a hill beneath a giant old-growth Doug Fir. It’s a part of the Pioneer Cemetery, ten acres of beautiful, forested hillside with walking trails and sacred spaces nestled between tall grasses and rain-washed tombstones. The lower hillside is full of purple Camas flowers this time of year, and the bees hum methodically from blossom to blossom, collecting the bounty.  From my perch on the rough-cut stone bench, I can see the clouds shift above the thick forested hills that hug Eugene—a quirky mishmash of neighborhoods and parks down in the valley. I go here to clear my mind, breathe, and remember what’s most important to me. From high up on the hill, I get a new perspective and leave feeling refreshed.

As you can tell, I’m passionate about this place. But there are many other places I love just as much. I adore my home-state because there are countless awe-worthy outdoor spaces to spend time in (like Proxy Falls, pictured below). Even though the seven or so months of straight rain and gray are hard to live through, I just love how green and alive Oregon is. Everything grows here. Grass and flowers, roots and weeds all poke through the sidewalk cracks, no matter how much we weed them. Nature rules here, and we are all inspired by her beauty.

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What places make you feel more alive?

Perhaps you have a favorite coffee shop to tuck away into when you need to think, or a hike that inspires you. Maybe it’s as simple as a spot in the shade in your backyard, or as complex as a city that fills you with energy and excitement. Regardless, these places we love are a part of us, and we are a part of them. So go. Visit them often. Renew your spirit.

Homework

Visit a favorite place this week, or discover a new one! Take the time to enjoy where you are by being present and appreciative of how much you gain from your surroundings.

Let the Wind Run Through You

Tonight I’m writing from an abandoned library on the first floor of my grandmother’s retirement center in Tallahassee, Florida. Although it’s nighttime and I can’t see a thing outside but the dim lights lining a pathway through the grounds, I know the silver Spanish moss is gently swaying in the wind, dangling in ringlets from the broad Live Oaks.  I love the big oak trees here and the way the moss drapes itself across every living branch, like old lace, sophisticated and intricate. I can almost hear the crickets singing and rejoicing in the cool calm of the night. It’s been a good trip to visit family, recall childhood memories from past visits , and to stay in my favorite beach house on beautiful St. George Island. The ocean is the mother of wisdom and I love watching the waves roll in and out with my toes in the warm sand. I’ve had lots of time to reflect during my stay here.

Tonight I’ve been thinking about letting the wind run through you, rather than resisting it. We have grief, we have emotion, we have doubt. And I believe the body and the subconscious mind know how to dangle freely like the moss, letting the pain or the thoughts sway through, if we just let them be. It’s the logical thinking, the resistance to the process, and the shame of emotions that really causes the delay in healing. When we feel the emotion arise and we feel like crying, that’s what we should do. If we can trust our body’s instinct and allow the wind to move through it, then we can release whatever needs releasing. What’s difficult is when we tell ourselves “stop feeling that” — then the gears get mucked up and suddenly our mind is driving, rather than the subconscious, which intuitively works to bring pain to the surface so we can expel it, heal, and grow.

On a walk this afternoon, I watched the moss sway in the wind and dance and twirl, sometimes frantically, if there was a big gust. What I find fascinating about the moss, is that it looks like it’s barely attached, hanging onto the bark by mere fibers, but it doesn’t get torn off in the wind. It’s by surrender and flexibility that it is able to hang on amidst the gusts. We too can benefit from these qualities. If we let go and trust our subconscious to show us the way, be it through grief or depression, or any other difficulty, we can heal quicker and more completely. Resistance only prolongs the pain and weakens our ability to flow. Likewise, attaching to logical thought processes or talking ourselves out of feeling something counteracts our natural process of working things through. Whatever comes up is only trying to be healed. It wants to flow, so you can let go and grow.

Homework

This week, try being like the moss:

SURRENDER and TRUST the wind moving through you to keep you alive rather than knock you off the branch. Let your body guide your way to healing by quieting the logical mind, and feel what is asking to be felt.

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