Tag Archives: nature

Nature’s Gift

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Today I turned a year older. I didn’t really want presents. I have no room for anything and really don’t need anything. Instead I wanted to go on a hike at a new place with friends. I had seen pictures of a place that was a bit of a drive but still near by that intrigued me. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. I just can’t even begin to tell you how perfect it was.

There are quotes on plaques at certain spots along this boardwalked path. Between the sighs and sounds of the preserve, and the quotes. Nature was talking to me. Letting me know that I am on the right path and to keep it up. It was nourishing in a way I didn’t even realize I needed.

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“You learn that if you sit down in the woods and wait something happens” Henry David Thoreau.

The soft sunlight, the smell of cypress and the chatter of birds in the trees. It was all just so perfect.

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“Falling in love with the Earth is one of lives great adventures. ” Steve Van Matre

Its true. It was like falling in love with the Earth all over again. Every step. Every new discovery. Every new enjoyment from the kids.It doesn’t matter that we have lizards and squirrels. These were here now! We saw them! It was right there! Watching their delight was truly a gift. Using our imaginations and just taking our time walking. We even saw a tree looking at us!

 

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It was truly an enjoyable walk. It was exactly what I wanted. It was gorgeous weather. The humidity and barometric pressure were steady, important tidbits when dealing with arthritis.  We lost track of time watching the turtle weave around the pond. We delighted in watching them eat the algae.  It was a secure enough trail that we felt confident enough to let the kids wander ahead of us.  Letting them explore and make their own discoveries.

 

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Its camouflaged  very well but I promise you there is an alligator in this picture. We watched him rather lazily swimming around for a bit.

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I can’t even imagine what it was like here even just fifty years ago. These trees are relatively small for cypress. There were some bigger ones. I just love the cypress knees sticking up.

 

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heron

 

I think one of my favorite things was how many Yellow crown night heron’s we saw. It was like once we saw one we kept seeing them. We even got to watch one eating a fish.

 

It was the perfect escape and the perfect way to turn a year older.

 

We followed this with a visit to Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The kids were super excited for smoothies.  It was all very delicious and the food came fast enough that the kids didn’t get too delirious and were so well behaved. Enough so that they even got cookies.

 

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When was the last time you….

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Stopped to smell the roses. Wait, no I am serious.

As parents we have a unique chance to always enjoy the little things. We just have to remember what it is like to be a child, when everything is new and wonderful.

Does it really take that much out of our day to

……Stop and smile as you watch a butterfly flit around.

…….splash in a puddle or two after the rain.

…….wore something just because it made you happy.

I find that when the pain is the worst or the most annoying that if I focus in on what my daughter is involved in, the pain isn’t as bad. It may mean that I have to get down on her level. Let’s worry about getting back up when it comes time.  Sometimes with chronic pain and parenthood we are so focused on doing that we forget to just ….be. That it’s okay to slow down. Sometimes just acknowledging that I am in a lot of pain and to slow down is enough to lessen it.

One of the joys in my life right now, is that I am an auntie and a family friend to enough other kids that I have my pick of age ranges. I can immerse myself in the infant stage or just chill with some eight year olds. If I am feeling really adventurous I even have a teenager or two I could annoy. I regularly get to enjoy my friends five year old as I help out by taking her to Tae Kwon Do. I am so immersed in the life of a parent of an eight year old that I forget what five was like.  Sometimes it is not that thrilling. I completely forgot how at five my daughter was slow as molasses on doing ….well….anything. I forget how determined to do it themselves they are at one.  I forget how exciting and perplexing a bird is to a nine month old.

Its amazing to me how much even just five minutes focusing on them can help sort us out. The pain is a bit more manageable, the stress is still there its just less. Does it always work? Nope. If I am really honest with myself though, its because I have not been slowing down enough. It is because I am trying to do everything all at once. There is so much guilt associated with being a parent who is in chronic pain that we tend to push our limits, all the time. It doesn’t help us. This is something I work at remembering every day.

When was the last time you……..

Sat in the grass and examined it for bugs?

pulled a part a flower to see what is inside?

stopped to blow on a dandelion?

took delight in watching the birds fly around?

As I think about the last five years dealing with chronic pain and parenthood. There were times that it was so easy to ignore everything around me and focus on the pain. It has been a slow  journey to find myself again. The things that stand out in my mind are when I was basically hyper focusing on my child/family instead of my issues. Unplanned moments that just stick out in my mind.  Will my daughter look back and see a parent in pain or a parent involved?

I hope and strive for a parent involved.

Prepare prepare prepare

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The thing to do when you have chronic illness is pace yourself. There is something to do before that though. First you need to prepare. If you know in advance that is, if not its all about recovery.

We have a huge big group hike that we have been planning happening tomorrow. Well if it is Thursday it is happening today but, I am writing this Wednesday.So we kept activities very minimum and flexible as well. I even came home and took a nap. I really did not have much of a choice actually. I came home from a rather short activity for me and laid down. Tried to get into the computer with my tv on like I normally do. I knew  shortly after that I needed sleep. It was a good way to start preparing for tomorrow.

Tonight I will take an epsom bath and when I wake in the middle of the night, as I inevitably will, I will re-medicate without hesitation. I normally wait. I don’t like to take anything if I can get back on my own. Tonight however, sleep will be imperative. I will also stagger my melatonin and other night meds, for whatever reason they work better if I take them about an hour apart. The only thing I can think of is it is like stepping your body down from the day. I will probably take the magnesium first with half dose of melatonin. My heart meds the next hour and then the last one will be benedryl so I can breathe.  (I know there are other things to take, Benedryl was what my ENT and I settled on).

In the morning it will still be about preparing. Coffee of course will happen. A good breakfast will be vital today especially. A good bowl of quality oatmeal, some chopped almonds tossed in.  About an hour after breakfast I will drink some green juice mixed with some soy protein.  Lunch will be light. Probably Cheese and crackers and apple. A pocket full of almonds and cashews, a bottle of water and we will be off. It sounds like a lot. Especially when you think that is just to get me ready and not the kid. At eight though she pretty much takes care of herself. We go on hikes enough she knows to drink lots of water and she will probably have the same lunch as me.

The last thing I will do is take my multivitamin right before we go. Its kinda like a little pep before we go.Just one more way to give my body a little oomph.

This is what works for me. It has taken me literally years to know how to prepare and not just recover. There was a lot of trial and error. There was a lot of thinking or over thinking or under thinking going on. There were even a few I found by accident, like stacking my medications. Only stack your medications like that if they are not scripts. If they are scripts talk to your Doctor first. I can not stress enough the importance of water. When you think you are hydrated, drink some more. I would encourage only water but whatever it takes for you to be hydrated. Often we get the Mio electrolyte additive drops for flavor and a maintaining hydration. The key to finding what works for you is to journal it. Jot down notes when you can about what you did , how it worked. I kept mine in just a microsoft word file for the longest time. There are also a lot of good pain journal apps that will help as well. I still use one off and on.

The last bit of advice is remember to this will NOT stop you from hurting after a big activity. It is to reduce the impact. It is still important to pace and to recover. Do not consider this pampering yourself. This is self care and it is vital.

Also…if you have followed me for even a little bit….you know there is a hike post coming as well!

Serenity Sunday

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A collection of pictures I have taken over the past week that bring serenity and peace to my heart.

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Walks with my kid.

 

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Nature

 

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Snickerdoodle

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Princess P….The first picture her mom took and it is just so beautiful. Someone reported it so they loose twice because I am posting it here too.

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A date night with my hubby.

More insight from our walks

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If we had turned back when they originally wanted…our walk would have been over before it began.

Because even though I said “Watch out there are ants here.”

one of the three inevitably stood in the pile.  A few feet down the way. A sandspur.

“Can we go back now?” started a few feet later.

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It was not horribly rough but it was overgrown and I promised them once they got passed this first tiny bit of the trail the rest of the trail was pretty easy and gasp EVEN FUN!

Its nice to some times have that person in our lives who won’t let us quit. Who says no I promise keep going the best is just around the corner. Someone who is not just cheerleading but has a calm firm and confident voice of experience.

Some of us are lucky that we have had that our whole lives.Some of us are just finding it. Sometimes we have pushed that person away and either are trying to repair that bridge or find another person.

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Not to say that cheerleaders are not needed. They are. It really takes both types. The cheerleader who believes you can do it even when you don’t believe it yourself and the one who is confident you will make it. These are the people that when you are feeling low help you and when you are feeling good and you have conquered a major accomplishment rejoice with you.

The funny thing is we often play these roles for other people just as they play them for us. Its something that binds us together. Most of the time we do it without even realizing it.

I watched as the three girls encouraged each other along the trail , made sure every one got to see what new wonder they discovered and waited for each other when one fell behind.  Not once did they complain someone was too slow. Not once did they put down someones discovery. If it was not particularly interesting to them they moved on and did not say much.

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When we got to the end of the trail they were slightly disappointed so I led them over to this bench I found the first time I walked this trail. Suddenly they were renewed and played around it and touched it lovingly but not once did they sit on it. When I came across it the first time I too could not sit on it. I don’t think I even touched it. Part of the joy for me was sharing this with them. To see it through there eyes. We all agreed it felt pretty magical and it did not feel like a bench. They are not familar with the word Alter but it is the best word I have to describe it.

The way back was full of chatter and happy racing ahead and waiting. They knew the rougher part was ahead but with each other for support and knowing they did it before. Not one complaint was heard.

Then it was as if nature was rewarding us, we saw a snapper turtle swim by on the very last bit of the trail.

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I tried to remind the girls that if we had turned back when they wanted think of all the fun we would have missed. I hope it sinks in a bit but they were pretty happy and giggly and I am not too sure how much they heard. That is okay though, I will be here for them.

Don’t forget to renew yourself

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I think I am on top of it. This whole self care thing. Then I realized that I was trying to find things to do other than take a walk by myself. My phone app had told me it had been three days since logged my activity…Still I didn’t want to walk.

I got the kid to school and then found myself driving to a park down the street I had not walked the trails for awhile. I don’t even remember making a conscience decision to go there. Then I thought, well its just a short walk. I can walk it a second time if I feel up to it. I started off by the little pond. It did not disappoint me.

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It was early and the locals were out and about.

I spent the first bit of my walk……possibly five minutes with my head down.

It was not a bad view

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Once I realized I had been walking looking down and was still inspired to snap a picture. I realized maybe I needed this walk. Just me. My phone camera. Nothing else.

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Pretty sure this path leads to Narnia. Pretty sure. It sure feels magical.

I have walked this trail many many many times. I am still captured by some spots. I am still amazed at how the seasons change the same spots.

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Then I saw things that really truly made my heart happy.

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The red on the tree is called Red Lichen. It is a good indicator of good air quality. Breathe deep take it all in…this is the good stuff here. By this time I was feeling pretty good. Not the mess of pain that I woke up in. Why do we put off self care things we KNOW we need? The pain was less, not gone just less and slightly easier to deal with.

So I decided to see if I could locate how to get onto this other trail I could see but had not found the entrance to.

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It was worth looking for.

It was exactly what I needed. I even saw a black racer snake. I didn’t scream…..big win for me. He saw me and took off.

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This is when I realized THIS was what I needed. This was my sanctuary, this was my temple, my heart was full again in this moment.

Although I had a good walk. It was time to go back. I did reach the end of that new trail. I was shocked and disappointed it deadend at a golf and country club neighborhood. The way I felt it should have ended with picnic tables and a serene lake. It was that magical feeling.

I got back to the main trail. I look over at the other trail.

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A different local was seeing me off. Don’t worry he was down on the shore. The trail was above this. Besides for the most part, gators don’t like humans. We don’t taste right.

When Mania strikes

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I used to shop……..it was on sale. the kid needs more clothes I need the next size up I need this. I NEED. You could not tell me it was being foolish or ruled by impulse. I have no credit cards now because I have no restraint with them whatsoever. If I feel I need something even if its more like a want, CHARGE IT. I wasn’t always aware of why I needed to shop or why I was doing it even knowing I didn’t really have the money to do it.  It took time in therapy before I realized it.

So with my therapist I tried to focus some of my mania. I am not bipolar. I don’t get caught in the grip like someone with bipolar does. I have Attention Deficit Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with a mix of Anxiety and depression. I still have to balance what is a healthy amount to do all of these. Sometimes I get so focused on them.

I write lists…….I write detailed and long lists that detail each thing I need to do each day. I write out days worth of lists at one sitting sometimes. Its my way of regaining some control. I don’t do good with long term lists. I need to check off each thing. Waiting weeks or months to check it off. Drives. Me. NUTS. I have notebooks that I use and I throw them away when I am done. This is an on and off again thing. I start and stop and a lot of it depends on how out of control I feel, or my life feels.

I clean. I don’t think, I clean. Wash the dishes. Clear the counters, wipe down the counters. Wipe down the appliances. Is that dirt on that wall? Better spray it down. Sweep the floors. Vacuum the floors. Mop the floors. Move the laundry along. Scrub the tub. Sometimes, rarely but sometimes, I even go systematically through each room. Most of the time it’s clear the counters, take something to put it away. Straighten the bathroom counter, move laundry along, go back to the kitchen counter. Do the dishes. I use enough spray cleaner that there is no doubt in anyone’s minds that I cleaned. My hands are dry and wrinkly and probably slightly chemical burned. I don’t pay attention to any of that. I attack the dirt.

I write…. I can’t tell you how many posts I never publish. I type it all out or talk to text it all out. Then erase it. Sometimes it stays in my draft folder for weeks or months, but mostly I delete it. I just needed to get it out. I wouldn’t want to hurt others with thoughts I have so it’s not published. Sometimes I just need to see how I am feeling in black and white. Okay and most of the time with little judgey red squiggly lines that I spelled it wrong, too.

I disregard what I should not eat and eat whatever I want. Normally candy, chocolate pastries. It’s a bit different than when I am pms-ing because I am not always aware I am eating too much until I have a stomach ache. There is something that takes over and whatever it is . It’s all I want. Every day at lunch. Every night after dinner. Whatever it is. This actually I have gotten better at controlling myself over. Mainly from weight gain and how I don’t like what I see anymore. Sometimes that is all it takes. Sometimes it takes more control for this exact reason too.

I go for walks . Long walks by myself. I don’t really think out what is bothering me. Instead I focus on nature. I absorb the peace that nature offers. I walk until I start to think again. Until I start wondering what time it is. How far have I walked? What I am going to eat for lunch. I sit when I need to. I walk. sometimes I stand still. I don’t pay attention to the pain. I don’t give it attention. When I have my camera in my hand nothing else matters. The wonder of nature takes a hold of me too. When I get back to my car its like coming out of a fog but something has settled in my mind and I feel renewed. The angst I am the more I walk. The more the NEED to walk drives my thoughts. I have even been driving somewhere saw a park. Felt the need.  Sent a text…Going to be late and walked til I was satisfied.

I used to be able to do the same thing with reading. To the point that my husband would tell me I loved my books more than him. I would spend days in bed reading if I didn’t have to work. When I was working I wanted to be reading. I can still do this but most of the time I am entirely too tired to do this. I read and fall asleep. I have always had this routine so add Chronic Fatigue from the chronic pain. I fall asleep way to easily reading.

A word about littering…..from my daughter

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This morning we walked to school. It was a gorgeous morning for it. Perfect temperature and even a light breeze.

About halfway there she says:
” Do you know why I am hanging my head down?”

To be truthful I had not really noticed that she was doing it on purpose. Somehow I did not think her thoughts were on all the acorn tops and how I will never look at them the same after seeing the movie Epic.

“No, Why?” I said, asked.

” Because I see all this litter and I am the Nature Queen and my power comes from the Earth and the Earth is hurt by all this litter and it hurts my power.

People just think. Oh I have this trash and there is not a trash can so I will just throw it on the ground it doesn’t matter. But it does matter. It matters to me. To the Earth too. If it matters to the Earth then it matters to me to. They are just rude people who are not thinking of anyone but themselves.

I am the Nature Queen so I care about these things. Anything that hurts the Earth hurts me.”

Serenity Sunday

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Serenity can be elusive.   Sometimes I use the pictures I have taken to help me meditate.

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Not all my pictures are of kids or nature. I often find myself scanning through pictures getting lost in what has already happened.

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Sometimes it is something that has just recently happened. Sometimes it is not.  Serenity.

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Sometimes when we are quiet and calm and silent. Serenity creeps in. Sometimes its just a quick little moment. The way the light hits the trees and it comes out in a sigh.

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Sometimes it slips in during those few silent seconds before sleep takes over.

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Sometimes its a sneaky little moment captured in a second.

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Sometimes serenity comes in the little silly things. Sometimes its the spur of the moment things. It slips in sometimes unnoticed.

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Sometimes its in the simple moments, the silent moments the silly moments.

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Sometimes it slips in , in the secret moments. When it does. Take a deep breathe. Hold that feeling.  Take note of it. Give it a smile.

Sometimes it takes searching for. Serenity is worth searching for.

Is there ever enough pictures?

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There are some times I feel like my daughter got cheated.

Its not for any rational reason. I mean good gracious I have over six thousand pictures of her first year. I do not jest.

However now it is so much easier to snap pictures all the time and yet still enjoy the moment too. Our phones have camera’s

I have at least as many pictures of my friends kids as I do of my own.

I am not trying to be a professional photographer, not even really an amateur one. I know how heavy the good camera’s are and I know I would not be able to take as long of a walk as I do with them.

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It’s about capturing that moment. Freezing time. For me just seeing the picture can also bring back exactly how I felt at that exact moment. Not only with pictures of my

own kid but also ones I take of my friends kids. Its about capturing and saving the rolls of fat, the sweet innocence, the impish glint in the eye.

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I enjoy taking the pictures almost as much as I enjoy being with the kids. It actually helps me distract myself from chronic pain, depression or anxiety I may have.

The thing that I notice is the more I take pictures the more I pay attention to the small little details.  The more I wonder what something would look at if I crouch down. What would it look like if I stand on that stump?

True sometimes my knees don’t like that I crouched down. They sure don’t like straightening back up either. Its temporary pain and discomfort to freeze a moment in time.

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Moments in time that I hope not only I treasure but that my friends also may treasure. I enjoy doing it. The fact that it is a useful tool for distraction is just a side benefit.

It doesn’t matter what others think about my photos. I enjoy posting them on Instagram. I enjoy editing them. I enjoy playing with the filters.  I am constantly reading and learning different things about taking pictures.

I am constantly trying to take better pictures what will and won’t work with my camera phone. What the different settings mean and what they work best in.

Sometimes I am amazed at what works, how just zooming in on one aspect actually makes such a great pictures.  How taking pictures from different angles makes some very ordinary times into priceless moments. The side benefit on that one is moving my body! It may not like it. That is fine. It doesn’t have to like it.

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The wonder is captured. The beauty is captured. There are people who work their butts off to be professional photographers. They have a gift. An ability to capture that moment no matter who or what they are photographing. My best pictures happen when I am centered and content and full of love at that moment.

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Sometimes it amazes me how good the pictures come out. It fuels my desire to keep photographing every second that I can. Freezing every precious moment that I can.

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Some days I take over a hundred pictures but only like a handful of them. Some days I take only five or six photos, and they are stunning.

There are some times that are blurry either from medications or depression. Photo’s help keep things crystal clear for me.

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Perhaps if I had the heavy equipment and the super nice camera I could take even more amazing pictures.

That would take a lot of the enjoyment out of it for me.

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I don’t need to know about shutter speed and what each setting means.

I have the photography I have learned through experience.

Its more than enough for me.

And no I can never ever ever have enough pictures. EVER

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