the art of doing meditative nature photography

Posts tagged ‘mountains’

“Spiraling”

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

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

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(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!)

The Tansy Aster, Nature’s Curly Ribbon

The tansy aster…

Nature’s curly ribbon

(click to enlarge)

I couldn’t resist! Today’s pics of my favorite flowers as they begin to curl up after blooming. They look like curly ribbon!!!

My favorite flowers are hitting the peak of their blooming season with beauty and whimsy, adding their purple-and-yellow splashes of joy to the rich palette of the Colorado autumn.

Snow arrives here in the foothills of the Rockies tonight.

It’s as if the tansy asters are the ribbons on the gift of the arrival of snow. Heralding an ease to our drought as white sparkling water falls to blanket our mountains for the winter.

Weather our first snow well, little tansy asters!

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…

Welcome Miracles of Beauty, Love, and Happiness in Your Life

Welcome miracles of beauty,

Love, and happiness in your life

My miracle moment, from the trails today…

Follow the Path that Inspires You and Leads to Glorious New Things

“Follow the path that inspires you… and leads to glorious new things…”
“America’s Mountain”, Pike’s Peak, inspired me this beautiful morning.

Hope you’re all inspired today!

(click for a lager image)

Why I Love My Hiking Boots (Why My Office Hours are Chickadee to Full Moon!)

I love my hiking boots.

My hiking boots remind me that my office hours are “first morning chickadee chirp” to “wow look at that midnight Moon”.

Hmm… I guess that means I work all day, but hey, such is the life of the work-at-home-writer/ work-in-the-wild photographer.

These boots are the physical representation of my life on the trails. As I see them sitting next to my desk, they’re looking somewhat like a dog staring longingly at a leash, begging to be walked. My boots are waiting patiently to be taken out on a hike. I swear my dog gets jealous of my boots on the days it’s too cold or wet for him to come along!

These well-worn pieces of footwear describe me.

My hiking boots mean that my “research” for my writing gets to be trotting along looking at grand vistas.

My hiking boots say that I’m adventurous, even when the terrain is filled with boulders and prickly beings ready to poke me if I dare to bump in to them!

My hiking boots give me traction. I don’t always have the best traction out on the trails. I’m often caught in spots where the footing isn’t so great. Well, isn’t the same sometimes true in life?

I often feel like I can’t find my traction, like I’m slipping, sliding, or stuck. I feel it on the trails and in moving through this world. Even in writing this blog and my books I feel it! Some days the traction is there, and I’m on a metaphorical run down the dusty, winding path. Other days, I’m lost for words, lost in the trees, lost in a fog, or just plain, well, lost

As the boots give traction on the trail, my hikes in nature give traction in my life. My boots anchor me steadily to the ground beneath my feet. Hiking anchors me in this world. It gives me perspective, a grounding point from which all other things are measured. It is my sanity, my balance, my joy. I can handle what life throws at me when I know the mountains will be there for me, whether I need the trees to whisper softly to me or the birds to sing my blues away.

My boots give me support. They wrap my feet up and keep my arches from pancaking. Trotting on trails and hiking to new heights can be stressful on the tootsies. It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Well, those rugged roads we travel chasing our dreams are craggy and uneven, challenging us at every twist and turn. We fight to keep our fragile footing and not lose our balance or our way. Sounds like quite the trek. Better have supportive footwear.

My boots protect me. They are my armor against the twigs, boulders, bee stings and prickly pear cacti out to maul my toes. Hiking in nature protects me. It is like getting the clearcoat protectant at the carwash. Time in the outdoors braces me against the harshness of modern life. Wandering in the wilderness gives me both a gentle eye for beauty and a toughness that only the rugged outdoors brings out in us. Nature forces me to handle it all- the wind, the cold, the snow, the rain, the relentless sun, the bugs, the aches, and the pains. Nature makes me sturdy.

My hiking boots get me up the hill to where these flowers wait for spring to arrive, to bloom again and let the sun kiss their leaves and petals. My time in nature gets me up the hills in life. Wandering the forests on lush mountain trails inspires me to create my own internal spring. It brings out my own desires to bloom, to grow, to be more than I am and keep reaching for who I could be.

My hiking boots whisper to me… “Let’s go to the trails!”

They take me along the path, and help me find new friends.

They tell me, “Remember, your office hours are from ‘first chickadee chirp at sunrise’ to ‘full moon lighting your late-night trail’….”

I do love my hiking boots.

And don’t even get me started on how much I love my camera…

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. 😉