the art of doing meditative nature photography

Posts tagged ‘life lessons’

A Celebration of National Wildflower Week

May 4th-12 is National Wildflower Week! I would be remiss in my duties as a lover/photographer of wildflowers if I didn’t share some Colorado beauty in celebration. So, a collection of just a few of my favorite wildflower shots from the past few years…:)

One of the most uplifting aspects of spending time in nature is being soaked through your senses in beauty. There’s beauty in the smells of nature, the sounds, the feel of the sun on your skin and the wind through your hair. But come spring and the arrival of wildflowers, the eyes are offered the biggest treats. Splashes of color and grace blanket wild landscapes in lush displays of nature’s grandeur. Delicate, sunny faces smile at us with a cheery “Hello!”

May you all be uplifted by wildflowers this week! Enjoy all that nature offers us to heal, center, and delight us.

Copy of DSC_3866close cropcsg

DSC_0206ca1copysig

DSC_0012ca1csg2

DSC_0012ca3

DSC_0063ca1csg2

DSC_0083ca1csg6

DSC_0164ca1csg

DSC_0198ca1csg

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

DSC_8587ca1csg

DSC_0228ca1csg

DSC_0252ca1csg

DSC_0766ca1csg2

DSC_0947ca1csg

DSC_1267ca1csg

DSC_3868ca2csg

DSC_7425ca1csg

“Spiraling”

We’re not always out of control when we’re “spiraling”.

Sometimes we’re growing in beautiful ways that no one imagined…

DSC_0154ca1racsgwrds

(click to see a larger image)

(mountain mahogany, January 21, 2013, from the trails at Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs)

Do Everything in Life From a Place of Love

Do everything in life

from a place of love

Nearly every day I am blessed to see the “Kissing Camels” rock formation at Garden of the Gods.

I always find life lessons in nature, and this lovely red rock has softly been speaking to me for years.

It is a gentle visual push to soften my heart.

It is an unspoken voice telling me to be open.

It reminds me to always act from a place of love

rather than fear

or anger, or jealousy,

or any of the emotional states that sabotage our well-being and close us off from the love we all need.

(Click to see enlarged images!)

On Waiting Patiently and Holding Hope: Life lessons from the Fall Equinox

(click on any of my photos or a larger image)

When I wrote last March’s post about the spring equinox, I was working towards something. I had an exuberant anticipation of the blossoming of a new endeavor in my life.

I wrote:

“Tonight (where I live, anyway- it may be early tomorrow where you live!) the earth will be aligned such that the sun crosses the celestial equator. The days will be, momentarily, equal in the length of light and darkness. The time of long nights and short days will phase, barely perceptibly, into the time of longer days and shorter nights. I will celebrate another transition in life, choosing this day to mark what I already see happening- the arrival of spring.

For me, a season of magic begins. Spring has an almost intoxicating pulse of life coursing through it. You can almost feel all of nature around you in a collective deep breath, as the race begins and the time of rest is over, for now. The excitement of renewal, rebirth, and re-invention of all our selves begins.

As a nature photographer, this season marks the start of the great thrill ride for me. One of my greatest joys is documenting new life from first bud to last bloom, observing in one living being the great race of life, all of its hurdles and triumphs, growth spurts and rests, milestones and mishaps.

Tonight I will take this opportunity to reflect on my own life, and ponder what this new spring season brings for me. I am in my own growth spurt right now, with new ideas budding and new aspirations emerging, while simultaneously other aspects of me fall away like the leaves in autumn. I feel as nature does, now. I am in transition. Tonight I will allow myself to feel the pulse of nature, tap into its collective breath, and try to catch some of that intoxicating rush of life-force that drives us forward in time, relentlessly reaching, growing, emerging.

I wish a Happy Spring Equinox to you all, a season of growth to bring to life and full bloom whatever dreams inspire your souls.”

Oh, such enthusiasm!

I had a dream inspiring my soul, and was joyously lost in the flow of transition. Spring was progressing with its intoxicating rush, and I felt on the edge of not just transition, but transformation.

Then as spring morphed dutifully into summer, that glorious season of “blooming” that followed turned out to be a season of chaos. The Waldo Canyon Wildfire happened here in Colorado Springs, and all my grand plans of blossoming something new into existence were thrown into a holding pattern. There was no time or emotional room for big plans, grand dreams, or transitioning, much less transforming. It was all I could do just to hold it together some days. I felt withered, exhausted, and stressed beyond belief.

It wasn’t just me or my fellow humans that withered. I watched all summer as the plants around here struggled, with the drought, with the smoke, with the intense heat. They never quite got their act together. Many lost branches or grew in awkward, stunted ways. Nothing ever looked or felt quite right or normal. Beyond the ugly, sad scars on our once-lovely mountains, everything looked wounded. Even my favorite flowers, that I look forward to seeing all year, seemed a mess as their blooming season approached in September.

The few tansy asters that I found seemed distressed and suffering.

I was sad. I would hike the trails at Garden of the Gods, looking along the places where they normally grow in wild, uninhibited abundance. I searched for their bushy, showy splashes of purple, only to find just a few scraggly stems with small, stunted flowers.

Sigh. It seemed a sad end to a sad summer. This season of “growth” was going to end with a whimper.

But several more weeks went by and a funny thing happened. All of a sudden, there were tansy asters!

Not scraggly twigs with scrawny petals, but rich, full blossoms seeming to smile at me with cheerful purple faces! As I wandered the trails day after day, I found more and more tansy asters beaming at me.

Their presence along the trail edges made me feel like a marathon runner getting high fives from people along the road. Every trail corner I turned, new purple, petal-faced friends cheered me on.

They hadn’t withered, after all. They’d simply waited.

Wow. What a life lesson from Mother Nature. I’ve blogged several times about my life-long struggle with learning patience. Pile this experience on top of all the other lessons like a cherry on a sundae.

You see, I’m squirrelly. A little ADHD, even. Impatient by nature, and a little beat up from a life with a bit more drama than I would have cared for. Patience and hope are two things I have been thoroughly tested on… over, and over, and over. I’m always praying to pass the test and stop repeating this life class.

This summer I, appropriately, slowed down. I put things on hold. I said “O.K.” to the notion of –gasp- waiting for something. I did it, but I didn’t like it. I fought it, struggled against it, and wound up a bit depressed over it.

Life had not conformed to my schedule of blooming. My glorious transition was put on hold. My triumphant transformation temporarily stifled. I felt like a runner who was waiting at the starting line, ready, coiled to spring forward, adrenaline rushing, only to have someone cancel the race. Ugh, how disorienting.

So, being the silly squirrel that I am, I became sad and out of sorts. My bushy-tailed glee waned in to tail-dragging “waiting” (eeew!). I was a little bitter and whiny about this summer, I’ll admit it. And almost a little self-righteous about it. After all, even the plants had given up hope this year. The lesson I saw in them was, “Oh, well. No hope for this year. Pack it in and call it quits till next blooming season.”

Until the tansy asters showed up.

Good grief, they hadn’t given up! They hadn’t whined once about the stress of ash on their leaves or smoke blocking the sunlight they needed to survive. They hunkered down, and waited. Patiently. Wisely. They took their time to regroup, get the nourishment they needed, and bloom- a little late- but bloom nonetheless. With gusto.

I found myself somewhat speechless this past week on the trails. Almost as if the tansy asters were giggling at me. “Silly human. Don’t you know that it’s alright to bloom late? You may not get exactly what you want in this life right out of the gate, but it will come! You may not get as far as you want when you like, but you will get there. You will bloom in your own time.”

And what has happened is something rather remarkable. The thing I thought I was doing last spring, the transition that I thought was happening, turned out to be something else. The delay turned out to be a good thing. A godsend. It was the sacred space that allowed my business partner and I to realize that we needed to pick a different fork in the road that we were travelling. Not stop, per se, just shift lanes and make a course correction that made our idea much, much better.

The struggle we had just endured had focused us. Patience and waiting turned out to be just what we needed. I had no reason to lose hope or lose sight or feel thwarted. I needed to be the easy-going tansy aster with the wisdom to let life unfold naturally, organically.

Fall is not normally my favorite season. It is rather obvious from my March equinox post that I am an enthusiastic fan of spring and summer! I am realizing during this fall equinox that fall is beautiful, too.

While I have always been intoxicated by the glory of twinkling golden aspen leaves in the Colorado fall, I was always nonetheless disappointed by autumn’s arrival.

It meant more waiting. Waiting for growth, waiting for blossoming, waiting with that ghastly patience that I so dread in life.

But this year is different. This year I am going to relish the season of dormancy. The season of rest. I am going to go about the quiet business of taking my business down the new fork in the road. I’ll quietly lay the ground work and be ready to burst forth its new expression of itself in the spring.

This year, I am willing to wait for the thing I want. This year, I am no longer frustrated by these things not coming in to my life fast enough, soon enough, or on my timetable. This year, I am content like the twinkling aspen leaves.

This fall equinox I spent the day with beloved people- my kids and two of my very best friends- up in the Colorado Mountains. I spent the day hiking and laughing, slowing down, and being at ease with the pace of life and the path I am on.

I can’t convey in a simple blog post how deeply this has affected me. And that’s O.K. I know in my roots and my heart that something new has taken hold. A transformation did occur, just not the one I was expecting. I grew. I matured.

I bloomed in to someone who can wait without losing hope.

I learned that some things in life are worth waiting for. That sometimes you have to choose the wrong path in order to arrive inexorably at the better path.

Thanks, tansy asters.

Wishing you all a beautiful fall equinox!

-Susie

A Rich Palette of Colors with Which to Paint our Lives

Life offers a rich palette of colors

With which to paint our lives

We just have to pick up the brush

And begin…

Judgment of Beauty and Life

Shining in the Light

None of us is perfect

We each have our blemishes

And subtle flaws

But if we find our way to the light

Our striking beauty, our individual splendor

Shines right through

We all shed tears after any tragedy, hurt, or loss. (In memory of Grandpa)

In memory of Otis Persons

1929-2012

Today my husband’s Grandfather passed away.

To relieve our sadness the kids and I went for a hike, and found this this tree that was badly burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire last month.

It seemed to be weeping along with us, and I felt the connectedness, resilience, fragility, and specialness of life.

We love you grandpa…

Be One Who Climbs Above the Ordinary Dirt and Discovers Wonder and Beauty

Be one

Who climbs above the ordinary dirt

 And discovers wonder and beauty

(click for a larger image)

Popping Up to Say Hello, but Knowing When to Rest: A Life Lesson From Illness and Chickadees

I was on quite a roll for a while, blogging consistently, doing my meditative nature photography and sharing it with whomever was willing to listen. Spring break came along and I took a week off from writing and photography to spend quality time with my kids. I’d just gotten back into the swing of things when life threw a new curve ball at me.

I’ve been proverbially upside-down and hanging by my toes.

(Click on any of my photographs to see an enlarged image.)

Back in February, the first post I’d written based on my book was “Some days upside-down and barely hanging on by our toes, other days perched way up high and on top of the world”. The pictures were of chickadees exemplifying those experiences rather nicely. In that post I recounted how I’d both used meditative nature photography to face a medical issue, and how my daily nature photography finally had been ground to a halt by the illness.

Well, after a nice little run of “on top of the world”, I’ve found myself hanging by my toes again. I’ve done very little photography lately- the pollen count of 11.5 was making that a miserable experience, and too much time braving the wafting particulate monsters apparently lowered my resistance, resulting in me becoming rather ill.

One of the hardest things for me to do since my kids have been born (and they’re now 12 and 15!) has been to allow myself time to rest. They’ve been fairly high maintenance little people (both with truly significant health needs of their own) and there’s never been much time to take any “me time” whatsoever. Moms don’t often get the luxury of “time off” when sick or exhausted. We just work through it. Motherhood doesn’t stop and wait for us. With my kids that was absolutely the case. And I in no way mean that in the whiny tone of a martyr. I adore my kids and being a mom! But I won’t deny that at times it’s been hard.

So now that my kids are older and in better health, I’m having to completely re-learn how to take care of me. I’m re-learning how to slow down, listen to my body and soul, and just take time off. When this illness hit me, I was annoyed. How dare some little germs interfere with my time in nature, my photography, my sheer joy and “me time”? Hmf!

Well, as reality would have it, germs really don’t care if you “hmf” at them. Sick is sick and recovery time is recovery time. No amount of running the trails or photographing gorgeous spring blossoms can make you well when you’re really not.

I realize that my frustration with getting sick is because I had so little time off when my kids were younger. So now that I do have time for me, I relish it. I revel in it. On my daily nature hikes I’m like a kid in a candy store. Everything excites me; I can’t take it all in fast enough. I indulge myself in this self-pampering. I soak it all in with a zest for life and a passion for experience. I’m kind of unstoppable.

After all, I have years to make up for! Years when the kids who needed me came first. There was no “nature hiking for fun” then. So now that my life has the space for that, the sacred me time for that, I don’t surrender it easily. I’ll push through the offensive pollen, cold weather, even falling snow to get my outdoor communion with the deer and flowers and chickadees. This is my time, dang it, and I cling to it unyieldingly.

So this past ten days or so I’ve been fighting the need to rest. I started out pushing myself, then slowed down, then just collapsed in exhausted surrender.

And then today I remembered the last group of pictures I took as I slowed down- it was these chickadees, just like from the February post. Oh, the juicy ironies of life.

So here I blog about hanging by my toes again, poring through a folder of photographs of chickadees, giggling at the synchronicity, but interestingly, noticing that in most of the pictures the chickadees are simply being still.

Sigh. Nature delivers yet another life lesson to me. Time to stop and listen to her wise whispers.

It’s just that, well, I’ve been resisting her message.

I have a few friends here on wordpress who deal with chronic illness and pain, and who use nature photography as a healing tool as well. (An excellent blog is throughthehealinglens!)

One of the ironies I’m learning to navigate in my life is that the thing that is most healing to me- my time in nature, especially with a camera, can be thwarted all too easily by health issues. The irony is tough. What heals me, centers me, allows me the space to be healthy, well, sane, happy, and fit can also be the hardest for me to accomplish when I’m not feeling well.

But if I just stop and listen to all of the lessons nature has taught me, all of the hints on how to live well, I see clearly that nature knows when it is time to rest. In the fall, the trees don’t make a fuss about resting for the winter. They just do it. When my chickadee friends, here, had done enough flitting about, they rested. And they didn’t look annoyed about it. So I need to stop being depressed about not running the trails lately. I need to stop being frustrated by my lack of chickadee time. I need to get over missing a few of the flowers blooming this year.

But that’s the great thing about nature photography. I have pictures from all these years of meditating through the lens to pore through and look at. Nature is there for me, in photographic form, day or night, good weather or bad, sick or well.

So today I’ll peruse my folders of photos and enjoy all the nature I’ve had the joy and privilege of experiencing over the years. I’ll let myself get lost in nature’s images; I’ll let nature’s lessons come to me. I’ll be grateful for the wonderful technology that is digital photography, the marvel that allows me to re-live memories in vivid and colorful detail.

So I’m popping my head up to say hello to my blogosphere buddies. I’m not sure if I’ll be back full-time right away. This time I intend to rest as long as I actually need to! I hear the chickadees calling me to come play, but I’ll wait ’till mother nature lets me know that I’m truly up for it.

So see you soon, my cute little nature friends, I’ll be back for your doses of wisdom soon enough.

Until then… Today’s Life Lesson from Nature:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers