*Photo taken in Nelson, NH.
Last week I posted a writing prompt on Instagram: discover nature. I’ve been sharing weekly writing prompts to help get people motivated to be more aware, focus on having a positive mindset, and to encourage personal growth. This is a relatively new thing I’m trying, and it’s been interesting. Over the last several weeks I’ve been doing the weekly prompts, too, and having some fairly interesting results. My last week of discovering nature provided me with an opportunity to focus on how nature already fits into my regular work days, and it opened my eyes to how much nature is in my everyday life. Since it made me so happy to explore this aspect of my life, I thought I would share it in a longer form of writing. For those who don’t know what my writing prompts are about, I typically post a short video on my Instagram TV channel with the week’s prompt and a brief explanation or thought. The idea is to write the prompt at the very beginning of the day, right after you wake up, like this: “My intention for today: discover nature.” At the end of the day, right before bed, the challenge is to write a reflection on whether or not you adhered to the intention for the day. It’s meant to be short, nothing more than a few minutes.
As I work through these daily prompts, I am learning all sorts of things about myself and my tendencies, and it’s helping me to pay attention in general to my own thoughts and actions. It helps to keep me aware of what I’m doing, especially if I have goals I want to accomplish. Though I’ve always been a writer, and tend to write reflectively a lot, I haven’t always been dedicated to reflecting daily. Strange, I know, but true. What I love most about this daily prompt experience is the way it tends to draw out the good aspects of a day. It leaves me feeling inspired, empowered, and accomplished. When I started out my week of writing about discovering nature, my Sunday bubbled over with outdoor fun. Michael and I had a blast getting out for a hike with the dogs—me on my snowshoes, and the dogs happily romping through the woods off leash, a real treat for them. I wrote about our Sunday adventure in last week’s blog post. After that day, on Monday I didn’t have the chance to get out other than for a few minutes. But what beckoned me outdoors was the sunset. I think because my intention was set, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but dash out with the dogs for a few minutes to appreciate nature’s most fabulous show. As I stood at the edge of the driveway, the sun sank toward the horizon, lighting up the trees and the air and the snow with an orange-pink glow. In my reflection later I wrote:
“Gorgeous orange fire lit up the pines as I walked up the driveway, the trees alight as if shedding the spectre of the illusion of our world, our inability to see the [full spectrum] of light with our eyes…every once in a while, an astronaut sees the death of a star, its light driving through their bodies in a gasp, a whisper for the magnitude of such a distant end traveling so far….” I wrote that last phrase about the astronauts after having seen the incredible show called One Strange Rock on Netflix, a truly captivating love story about the planet from the eyes of astronauts. If you have time to watch it, I recommend it. I continued to write farther down the page, “The snow painted itself salmon…” but what I couldn’t capture in words was the single moment in which the sunset actually set the air aglow, turning everything in that light the color of the sunset. Such moments do not come often, and when we are lucky enough to witness them, how can we not stand in awe?
On the following day, I got out for another snowshoe hike and wrote, “Four o’clock, getting dim amongst the trees. Sun touches only the top halves of the trees; gold above, silver below the line of shadow. Turkey tracks drag through the light snow, the marks of three-pronged feet prominent and perfect. Sunset astonished again. Supermoon tonight, hope I see [the] moon at dawn again—saw the moon slipping yellow-faced behind the cross hatch of bare branches. So big I could see it without glasses.” For me, that’s incredible. My eyes are terrible enough that even seeing my hand a few inches away from my face is blurry, and I can’t recognize people in the same room with me. If you didn’t get to enjoy the super moon last week, go check out some photos online. It was a remarkable marvel of nature, to see the moon so large in the sky. What I also loved, though was that I paid closer attention to what I was seeing as I hiked in the woods, noticing the quality of the light and then taking the time to write it down. Sometimes I do that anyway, but this week I did it with purpose, and it made me appreciate it more. And coming across the turkey tracks was just fun. I love seeing signs of animals in the woods, like a little surprise present.
At work the next day, when I was out on the playground with the toddlers from my class, we investigated icicles that had clung to a bush near the porch. I wrote, “…noticed how clear and glassy one icicle was, then how bubbly another was…” and we had fun inspecting the ice and how it felt so smooth. One of the toddlers was especially interested in the way the icicles looked where they had dripped down the branches of the bush, a large cluster of ice hanging low to the ground. I have to admit, I am so happy we get outside almost every day when I’m at work. That’s one part of my job that I love, and I know the kids appreciate the time outside. We usually play right along with them when outside, jumping on sleds with them, building snowpeople, pointing out snowflakes, or even dusting them with snow from low branches. It’s not easy getting several toddlers into snowsuits and boots, but once we get out there it’s totally worth it.
For some reason, my reflection from Thursday was short, and I wrote that I was tired. I wrote briefly that I had watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel to get myself passionate about saving the planet. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do, regardless of your politics. He makes a good case for getting all hands on deck to make sure we handle the planetary crisis we’re all facing now, and I do think everyone needs to be informed by this point. The next day, I wrote about getting out into the woods with the dogs again after work, but this time I went alone. Here’s what I wrote: “Took dogs in the woods after work, wore my snowshoes, let them off leash…blammo, dogs are gone in the woods. Called them for half an hour, had to go all the way back down the hill (thank goodness I’m in good shape and didn’t really mind) where Luna came running up the path looking glad to see me, but upset. I said out loud, ‘Where’s Puppy?’ [that’s what we call Sasha—it’s a long story] and Luna nearly hauled me off my feet to run down the hill some more to find Sasha. Sasha probably got lazy and didn’t want to walk, so Luna probably stayed with her, not wanting to leave her there alone.” That was a little adventure I was glad didn’t last very long. Having the dogs lost in the woods in winter is a bad thing, especially since I could hear neighbors out shooting when the dogs were lost. Talk about nerve-wracking! Fortunately, the dogs were fine, and Luna is a good mother hen. She didn’t leave Sasha alone, always concerned about keeping her pack together.
On my last day of the week, I wrote very little again, but I was in need of rest. I wrote about how I needed to get better because I had a sore throat starting and didn’t want to get sicker. I did get out and wander in a couple of hardware stores to explore ideas for tiny houses, just because. Ever since I went to Thoreau’s cabin, I can’t get it out of my head how small that space was, but how cozy and perfect it looked to me. When I stood in that room and took in the sense of calm, I knew that could be my life, my dream, my ideal way to be in the world. A tiny house in the woods with only a few of life’s necessities at hand. When Michael and I lived in our Airstream for a year, I felt the same way. When you live tiny, you get outside more and have less to keep you secluded from the vast glory nature has to offer. I am more determined than ever to make that dream a reality again, no matter what else happens. Could my week of discovering nature have been more glamorous and exciting? Sure, but I wanted to be real. I have a job and responsibilities, and the point to my writing prompts isn’t necessarily to go out of my way to seek out special experiences, it’s to notice the experiences I already have in my daily life. What the daily writing has helped me do is to pay closer attention to what I have right now, and to enjoy it. If you care to join me in my weekly prompts, you can go to my Instagram feed in the right side bar and check my IGTV channel for the video prompts. Sunday afternoon is when I usually post a new video, and I try to post a reminder on my feed so people know it’s there. Even if you aren’t a writer, this is an exercise designed for anyone who wants to have a more positive focus in daily life, so check it out if you think it might help you. I’m excited about how much it’s helping me, and I like sharing things that work. Have a wonderful week, friends, and get out there and enjoy our beautiful world.
*Just a quick note: I am in the process of changing the look of my website, so next time you visit my blog it may have a new look. Don’t worry, my content will all still be here! It’s just getting a little TLC. 🙂