the art of doing meditative nature photography

Posts tagged ‘flowers’

Learning Patience from Flower Petals

My long wait is- finally– almost over.

I’ve struggled with patience my whole life. When I was in my twenties, my motto was “patience is a waste of time”. No kidding! My family is convinced that I’m part squirrel, and to be honest, I think they’re right. Hyperactive and impatient, yep, that’s me.

Luckily, I’ve found that I can learn just about anything from nature. I can pick up bits of wisdom, new coping strategies, fresh ways to look at life, and I can even discover new things about myself. Yes, nature is a fountain overflowing with inspiration, beauty, awe, wonder, and, apparently, life lessons. Which brings us back to patience. It’s another life lesson nature is drilling in to me.

While I think winter is beautiful and I love igloo building and a good sledding adventure as much as the next person, I long for warm weather. It has flowers bursting with a rainbow of colors and tender green leaves waving in warm breezes. It has soothing sunshine and soft rains (unless, of course, it’s monsoon season here in Colorado, in which case scratch that and change to “rain-and-large-hail-deluges”).

Winter comes and there’s not much I can do about it. It is grey and brown and pale, and compared to summer, rather dull. Nothing is growing and bursting forth new expressions of itself. Even the bears are sleeping. There are no cute baby bunnies to brighten my day, and so many of my delightful, chipper bird buddies have taken off for warmer climes. So each year as the cycle of seasons rolls on, as each winter approaches, I know the flowers will fade for a few months. The blue-grey gnatcatchers and the lesser goldfinches will fly south, and I will wait “patiently” for their collective return.

The seasons may be the circle of life, but I always end up feeling like a hamster in a wheel, thinking if I could only run fast enough along the circle, I’ll get there sooner. Yeah, I hear nature laughing at me, too, hoping someday, after all these years of “seasons of waiting”, I’ll finally get it. For having been such a good student, I sure can be a slow learner.

Alas, I don’t live in the tropics, so winter is an inevitable reality. Life has its lessons and its seasons, and though my allergies are making me miserable, the warmer air, budding trees, nesting birds and longer days are making me happy. So I’ll wait- hmmm- sort of patiently- for the flowers and leaves and my friends the lesser goldfinches. I’ll wait for baby bunnies to be born and black bears to re-emerge. And one of these days I’ll get this “patience’ thing. Yep, one of these days…

Though at least I know I’m not the only one looking forward to new green sprouts!


It Takes Courage to Open Yourself Up in an Uncertain World

Even though it takes courage to open yourself up in an uncertain world

Do it anyway

I love to take my inspiration from nature, from the natural wisdom that all sorts of funky little living things seem to have. They just live their lives, with a natural ease that lets them go for it. In the countless flowers I’ve photographed I’ve never seen a blossom seem to hesitate, second guess itself, or stay closed forever for fear of the big bad world.

Instead, they gently, confidently unfurl themselves for all to behold. No fears, just an air of poise and coolness, like they know that this is what they’re supposed to do.

I blogged the other day about the sweet sensation of anticipation in buds, and in writing this I guess I’m continuing that train of thought to the courage of flowers.

This blog is a new act of courage for me.

I’m learning the ropes and putting my feelers out. I’m offering my tidbits of insight and beauty I see in nature. I’m offering up my heart.

In life it can be so easy for us to feel like we want to stay closed up. “Playing it safe” is a game that’s addictively popular in our culture. Times get tough, sometimes we get burned, we know what it feels like to lose or get hurt, and before you know it, we’ve closed up.

The funny thing is, that’s what makes this little amethyst-colored gem of beauty my perfect analogy for this post. The pasque flower opens in shady conditions but closes up tight in bright sunlight. It seems to share that fear of the spotlight that many of us have- that fear of opening ourselves up to being vulnerable.

Now I suppose I could look at this lovely lavender life-form and think to myself, see, even in nature there are shy things that keep themselves hidden from the world.

But I think there’s another, wiser way to look at our little purple friend, here. The pasque flower knows how to be true to itself. It opens itself right up in subtle daylight, but feels no need for the glaring spotlight; it knows itself well enough to say, “I’m a little more introverted than that!”

Yes, I know flowers can’t talk, but nonetheless I can relate to this fuzzy beauty. Being something of an introvert myself, the pasque flower feels like a kindred spirit.

That’s one of the great things about nature. We can always find something out there that we can relate to. There’s a “muse” out there for everyone. (One of these days I’ll be blogging about all the ways I am like a squirrel- watch for it- it should be pretty darn funny!)

It does take courage to open up, and it also takes timing. It’s not the timing you set by some rigid schedule that you demand. For the pasque flower cannot demand when the sun rises and sets, nor can it demand the clouds come because it feels like being open. No, it’s at the whim and mercy of Mother Nature like the rest of us.

So here I blog, sharing words and pictures when the timing is right, and when I’m being true to myself.

After all, I can’t go through life thinking I have less courage than a flower. I couldn’t walk down the trails and face them anymore! I don’t want to ever look down at the courageous, naturally easy flowers and say, “Yes, I know you opened up, but I just couldn’t do it.”

So as spring blossoms over the coming weeks I’m going to proudly tell the flowers I meet, “Hey, guys! I did it! Thanks for the inspiration!”  All right, I know, people are going to look at me a little strangely, but hey, opening yourself up in an uncertain world takes courage, whether you talk to the flowers or not…

Ugh. If It’s One of Those Days, Just Try to Keep Your Best Side Showing!

Ugh. If it’s one of those days

Just try to keep your best side showing.

Oh, boy is it one of those days!

It’s official. I am blaming writer’s block, creativity block, and ability-to-write-worth-a-darn block on my allergies. Pollen has taken over my brain, and my thoughts are as congested as my nose.

And to think, spring is my “favorite season”. Hmm, I may re-think that and demote spring for its pollen-y rudeness.

It’s hard to chase rainbows when you’re sneezing. Yet that’s what I do every day! As a nature photographer and writer, doing daily nature photography is the air I breathe. My hiking adventures nourish me with the inspiration, purpose, and meaning I need to be happy. This past week, however, has been a bit of a foggy, sneezy blur.

So this week’s post based on the book is about keeping your best side showing. Although for me that’s a bit tough today, given that my nose looks a bit like Rudolph’s and my eyes look like they belong on a puffer fish.

No doubt today my best side is not quite as lovely as this little flower’s.

But that’s okay, for it’s our inner beauty that counts in life. It’s putting our best self forward that matters, regardless of the situation, be it red stuffy noses or a few embarrassingly missing petals. And though my brain is a bit befuddled with the wafting bud-dust of spring, I’m still giving my best effort, best side forward to the world.

My usual hike with my camera was cut short today, by chilly dropping temperatures and a mighty wind stirring up whole clouds of my pollen nemesis.

So it’s a bit of an “ugh” day for me.

I get the impression this little scrub jay knows what I mean. He looks befuddled, too.

But since I can’t breathe without a little joy from nature every day, I came home and made my own.

I am admittedly a little bit nuts about rainbows. Since I was a small child I have collected prisms of all shapes and sizes. I hang them in every south facing window and let them splash wiggling light splotches of joy all over my home. They look like flocks of crystal birds hanging delicately in the sun.

Today I was grateful for the miracle of just enough sunlight, peeking through the clouds of our approaching Colorado spring snowstorm, finding its way through my prisms’ glass bevels. My hike in nature may have been cut short, but I still chased my dreams… and I literally caught a rainbow today.

I just made the best of a kind of lousy circumstance!

My allergies won’t last forever, and this spring storm will pass. Maybe it will even create a nice rainbow as it drifts on by! One way or the other I’ll put on my best Rudolph the puffer fish face and head out on the trails again, looking for rainbows and glorious signs of spring. My nose may dislike spring, but my eyes know it to be a magnificent season of rebirth and beauty.

It’s a dazzling season to chase dreams in, full of the inspiration of buds, blooms, and bears bravely emerging from their winter slumber to live a new adventure.

So I’ll be brave, too, and keep hiking despite the pollen, and I’ll be sure to remember what I learned from the lovely red-and-yellow gaillardia flower- just keep your best side showing.

The Things We Dream of Can Seem So Far Away and Unreachable

The things we dream of can seem so massive, so distant,

 So hopelessly far away and unreachable…

But on the grand scale of the whole universe?

Think about it…

They’re really right in front of us…

I’m a dreamer. I’m an overflowing current of creative energy that buzzes through life, coursing along the field lines of ideas and inspirations that carry me from one “dream” to the next.

I’ve dreamed of, and pursued, a dozen different things. I’ve dreamed of business ideas, academic degrees, hobbies, talents, and passions. And every single one of them seemed, at times, to be one of those nifty “impossible dreams”.  One of those “go chase a rainbow” dreams. One of those dreams you just swallow hard and keep to yourself.

We seem to fear telling people about our sweetest dreams as we would fear telling them that we’d like to raise pet unicorns or chase rainbows for a living.

We fear the chorus of voices taunting us with a reprimand of, “You silly! Don’t you know how far away and impossible dreams are?”

In a world seething with a high-stakes, high-achieving mentality and stories of outrageous entrepreneurs and daring extroverted superstars, it can be an easy trap to think, “Everyone’s right. I’ll give up. Dreams happen for other people. Those kinds of people.”

You know, the people who make it look so easy. Or the ones who seem so lucky. The ones who are so different from you, so unlike the humdrum of ordinary people. Yeah, dreams are for those people.

Or are they for all people?

I mean, this little flower dreamed of one day growing out from under the oppressive shade of this big overshadowing rock. Its dream became real.

Okay, I don’t know if flowers dream, but I do know this flower had a mighty spark of life in it to achieve such a thing.

Don’t we all have a spark in us? Aren’t we all capable of so much more than we tend to believe? What if creativity was let loose here on Earth, given a free rein to make this world into everything, all the best things it could be. What If we unleashed ourselves to going after the big, beautiful dreams that matter? Are we so afraid they won’t come true? Are we afraid they can’t come true?

I know some of our dreams seem massive. But it really makes me wonder. Why do we call them dreams, anyway? As though they were something so otherworldly, intangible, unobtainable and elusive as never to make an appearance here in the real world.

Well, I guess because for those of us who have dreams, words like ambitions, goals, objectives, and purpose just don’t cut it. They’re too concrete. Too linear. Too, well, dull. Aspirations is a little better. It at least tries to capture that ethereal, effervescent quality of creative longing.

But I wonder if part of the reason we call them dreams is that we are so utterly convinced that the things we dream of are so hopelessly far away and unreachable. Think of it this way. We would never dare to believe that our dreams we have at night are “real”! How silly would we be? But ouch. Wait. What does it mean, then, if the desires and aspirations we cherish most during our waking hours we habitually refer to as- gulp- dreams? Dreams? Those things that we know for sure aren’t “real”? Wow. What does that say about us?

I think it says that we’ve lost sight of the notion that although the things we dream of can seem so massive, so distant, so hopelessly far away and unreachable, on the grand scale of the whole universe they really are right in front of us.

After all, rainbows do appear here in the real world. Mountains do get climbed. We’ve sent spacecraft to the moon.

So maybe we just need some cosmic perspective, some epic viewpoint by which to judge these “crazy” dreams.

How about traveling to the Andromeda Galaxy? That’s a nifty dream! But yes, on the grand scale of the whole universe- for now, anyway- that one does seem hopelessly far away.

What about changing careers to something that truly excites your soul, ignites your passion, and makes the world a better place? By comparison, that’s not so hopelessly far away.

How about uprooting yourself and moving to a land that’s warmer, or prettier, or has fewer mosquitoes? By comparison, that’s not so massive! (After all, I did it, so it can’t be that unreachable!)

See, it’s all just a matter of that pesky perception.

And since I’ve seen my share of jaw-dropping, lusciously brilliant rainbows appear in the skies above me, I’m a believer. Yep, I’m in, I’ll dream.

You, too! Go dream! Go aspire! Good grief, just go DO.

And what the heck, go chase a rainbow just for the fun of it.

But I wouldn’t expect to find too many unicorns. I think that one’s still out of reach. 😉

Every Bud Enjoys the Anticipation of What it Could Become

Ah, flower buds.

Sweetly wrapped up bundles of loveliness.

As they sit waiting for the day their petals unfurl to reveal the glory within, do you think they enjoy the anticipation of what they are about to become?

Okay, I don’t really know what flower buds think. But when I follow a plant photographically from sprouting to budding to full bloom, the moment that seems to hang in the air with breathless anticipation is the bud on the verge of bloom.

It’s intoxicating. I know that feeling. I love that feeling.

Because anticipation is one of the sweetest sensations in life.

And it’s at least half the fun.  For those of us on the creative path in life, when we have dreams we’re chasing, the anticipation is what keeps us going. It’s the months of swooning daydreams you have leading up to glorious events, adventures, and joys in life. It’s what we feel when we have something to look forward to. And what is life if there’s nothing to look forward to?

It is the anticipation of the future that propels us forward, like a wind at our backs, or a rope pulling us in. We lean towards it. We feel that future just beyond our finger tips’ reach and…. keep reaching.

So when I’m lying in the dirt, macro lens at the ready, clicking away at the soft, new, baby-fine petals-to-be, I drift off into that goose-bumpy emotion. A bud has shared with me the gift of enjoying its anticipation.

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

Are we so unlike the flower? Just ponder, how many such blooming transitions do we have in our own lives? We have our own seasons of growth and rest, bursting forth and settling down. We experience cycles upon cycles of transformation.

Stirring within me in those moments, beyond empathizing with the transition of the bud, beyond soaking up the yummy feeling of anticipation, I also feel inspired. If this fragile, kind-of-helpless little plant can find the power, the gracefulness and the know-how to burst through cool spring soil to become this magnificent expression of beauty… then what am I capable of?

What are you capable of? More than you realize? More than you ever dreamed? Be the bud today. Enter a new transition. Dare to ask yourself, am I a magnificent expression of beauty in this world? Be with that question for a while. If the flower can do it, I’ll bet you can, too.

So maybe today begins a transition. Why not? Set some new sight, new expectation, new goal or dream to blossom in to. Commit to it with the strength of the sprout that emerges from the land. Go make it beautiful as the bud does. And enjoy the anticipation of what you are about to become.

Then smile today. After all, you just had inspiration from a flower bud… how fun is that?

We’re all here for you, in the field of wildflowers! Does anyone have a dream they’re willing to share? What are your buds going to become?