Posted in Air, Change, Covid-19, Critters, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Faith, Fire, Garden, Gifts, Gratitude, Health & Well-Being, Heartfulness, In these strange times, Listening, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Quotes, Spirit, Summer, Walking & Wandering, Walktober, Wonder

Slow walks and long goals

A garden spider.

…But I wonder if the virus is a symptom, that we’ve actually been ill for decades and are only now struggling to name the cause of this plague. Of course, politicians argue over what’s most profitable: prevention or the cure. We were contemplating the ripple effects of the virus: who might slip into poverty, what it would mean to lose our loved ones and not be able to publicly mourn them. The run on toilet paper and bottled water, on meat and guns, tells you everything you need to know about our national character.

~ Amaud Jamaul Johnson, And God Laughs

Recent studies and discoveries increasingly point out that we heal primarily in and through the body, not just through the rational brain. We can all create more room, and more opportunities for growth, in our nervous systems. But we do this primarily through what our bodies experience and do—not through what we think or realize or cognitively figure out.

~ Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

Some of the ranch residents.

I meant to post a Monday Meander yesterday and then got caught up in processing tomatoes.  M the Younger gave us about 20 lbs. of roma tomatoes from his experimental market garden.  Most were barely ripe when we brought them home.  By Sunday, they were looking like they might go from perfectly ripe to rotten within another few days if I didn’t do something with them.

The last sunflower. The rest (in my flower garden) have gone to seed.

It felt good to do something so productive.  It’s a lot of work at the time, but there is something so satisfying in standing back and looking at the finished products, all ready to go into the freezer.  Once upon a time, back in the old days, I used to can tomatoes.  Now I turn them into sauce and freeze them.  I gave some of my canning equipment and jars to M the Younger since he is now growing and preserving food.  It’s easier, for me, to freeze stuff.  I don’t have to worry so much about sanitizing everything and wonder about whether or not the lid sealed properly.

The beech tree leaves are changing.

We now have about six quarts of spaghetti sauce awaiting our dining pleasure.  I made two quarts of a roasted tomato sauce that we used on homemade pizza over the weekend.  We didn’t need all two quarts, of course, so I will use the rest in chili or something.  Some of the tomatoes went into salads we ate with our meals.  They were particularly good with fresh basil and a balsamic dressing.

Near sunrise on a dewy morning.

I’ve been following Meghan Genge via her email newsletters, and now on Instagram, for several years.  She recently completed 1000 days of writing (something akin to Morning Pages), and has created a workbook, The 1000 Days Project, for her newsletter subscribers.  (You can find a link to her blog post about it and information about the workbook here.)

As you might have guessed, the idea of a project this big is very appealing to me.  That is why, after giving it much thought, I won’t be doing it.  Did that surprise you?  Yeah, me too.

Watching a rose be a rose.

The project reminds me of something my yoga teacher wrote/said in her course, The Art of Self Care.  She posed the question (and I’m paraphrasing here so it might be slightly off):  What would it look like if you did sun salutations for the next ten years?  This was part of the idea, the possible goal, of being able to do sun salutations when you’re 80 years old (which would be longer than ten years for me, but you get the idea).  It was also an exercise in thinking about the process itself.  What, indeed, would it look like if you did _________________ for the next ten years?  Fill in the blank with something that calls to you.  Meghan calls it Soul Work.

The dew reminded me of frost at first.

I’m reading the book The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.  It was suggested reading for me as part of my individualized yoga study.  I forget why it was recommended but I think the conversation revolved around the contemplative lifestyle and how I have that built in to my life here on the ranch because we are so isolated.  The book has surprised me in a number of ways, not least of which is that I am enjoying it and find it hard to put down.  I was not expecting that from a non-fiction book, especially one written from a Christian perspective.  Christianity and I have our issues.  Or we did.  Or still do, depending on the form it takes.

Levitating.

Somewhere in the beginning of the book, Ms. Norris writes about faith, comparing it to poetry (Ms. Norris is a poet). Norris compares faith with poetry as a process instead of as a product.  I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking of faith as a product, as something I should have or be able to acquire.  Norris writes:

Poets are immersed in process, and I mean process not as an amorphous blur but as a discipline.  The hard work of writing has taught that in matters of the heart, such as writing, or faith, there is no right or wrong way to do it, but only the way of your life.  Just paying attention will teach you what bears fruit and what doesn’t.  But it will be necessary to revise — to doodle, scratch out, erase, even make a mess of things — in order to make it come out right.

Faith is something I learned during my year-long challenge to get outside, every day, and write about it, every day.  By paying attention and by having the discipline to move towards my edges, to push myself a little, to resist the “I don’t feel like doing this today,” I learned to have faith in the process itself.  I learned a lot throughout the experience, about myself, about nature, about the paths I was walking, about life.  The process, not the goal/fruits/results, became sacred in and of itself.  I learned even more throughout the yoga teacher training.  While finishing was a big deal in its own way (a graduation of sorts), it was the journey/process that I learned the most from, via the teacher, the teachings, my own practices, willingness, and discipline, and the community we formed.  Quitting smoking and quitting drinking were also pilgrimages, so to speak, that taught me how important the journey and process are because those are things you do one day at a time.  You can’t be eyeing forever and ever.  That will drive you nuts.

A slight turn.

You’re probably wondering why I wrote that I won’t be doing The 1000 Days Project.  Well, truth be told, I have embarked on just such a journey without calling it that.  I wondered what it might be like, what *I* might be like, if I did my personal practice every day at sunrise for the foreseeable future.  The personal yoga practice I’ve been given can and does change, every day.  I add to it as needed.  I slow it down, speed it up, do whatever it is that feels right at the time I am doing it.  Some days I do more, some days I do less.  A personal practice is supposed to change and evolve.  The basics stay the same, but I can improvise based on what my body-mind needs.

I’m so glad Meghan’s generous offer of a free workbook came when it did.  I’ve spent a little time today looking it over.  She includes some gentle reminders that when you approach your edges, you also approach your resistance (your no’s).  She writes about the gift of your no’s in a way that turned them around for me, to see them as gifts that offer an opportunity to explore rather than an excuse to take the day off or quit.

So, I guess in a way, I am doing The 1000 Days Project, one day at a time.  If you were to practice something that calls to you every day for 100 days or 1000 days, what would it be?

When the water looks like silk.

Thank you so much for visiting with me today.  Don’t forget about Walktober.  Time flies and it’s likely it will be here sooner than you think.  Think about participating and where/how you might participate.  In the meantime, let’s go watch a sunset at the Point.  Sunset is scheduled for 7:23 PM.  It’s hot and humid today.  Might be buggy, too, although I think the breeze might keep the bugs from finding us.

Please be safe, be well, and be kind.

Colorful.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,526) Half-day retreats.  I’m doing half-day retreats this week, starting my days with the sunrise, yoga, meditation, slow and meditative walks, and dharma talks.  1,527)  Getting back into the rhythm of the day, and the rhythm of the seasons as we experience them here.  1,528)  The gift of attention.  1,529)  The gift of my no’s.  1,530)  Surprises, in whatever form they come.

Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

22 thoughts on “Slow walks and long goals

  1. I admire your discipline! I am not so good at committing to things, perhaps because I’ll beat myself up if I fail to do whatever I’ve committed to. So I’m never 100% – I need to work on that. 😉
    Lovely photos. Your deer family is getting larger… Are they eating everything in sight?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eliza. 🙂 I think I must have given up on being perfect when it comes to the long-term. Maybe it’s about seeing the bigger picture, or looking at it on the arc of time. My perfectionism used to be a reason not to commit, so I understand where you’re coming from.
      As for the deer, they have plenty to gnosh on without having to destroy the garden plants, but they go for the stuff in the gardens anyway. Maybe it’s gourmet food to them. That why we either fence or I grow things they don’t want to eat. The forsythia (not fenced or protected), however, are taking a hit lately. The fawns seem to like them. Usually scaring them off several times is enough to make them look elsewhere, but I have to catch them at it first.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently made a commitment that I would take a photo every day of Mount Warning and add it to my blog, Robin. For me, it’s a commitment also to leave my desk where I study, and where I become so absorbed in what I’m doing that I forget a world exists beyond my room. It’s almost two months since I made the commitment and surprisingly I find my study easier to cope with now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the dew on the grass in the fifth picture! Honestly, the only thing I can think of that might call me to practice every day is taking pictures of nature in the changing seasons. But how does one keep a practice from becoming just another chore? Something for me to think about today. There are lots of things I do several times a week, but can’t imagine making them a daily practice…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having done that, Barbara, I can say that a commitment to taking pictures of nature every day throughout the seasons is an amazing learning experience. There are days, as you mentioned, when it becomes a chore rather than a ritual or something sacred. Sometimes weeks. But even that can be considered part of the process of both learning and ritual if you think of it that way. 🙂

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      1. After I left my comment, Robin, I did do a lot of thinking about chores, routines and practices, and I had a bit of an ah-ha moment. Over the months of self-quarantine, I have found comfort and healing in two chores, taking my shower in the morning and cleaning up the kitchen in the evening. For some reason I’ve started looking forward to them. There I was thinking about practicing becoming a chore when without me realizing it a couple of chores evolved into ritual practices, both of which I very much look forward to these days. 🙂 Anyhow, thank you for your many thoughtful posts over the years. ♡

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful post, Robin. I’m reminded of something I heard Neale Donald Walsch say, while participating in a retreat years ago, and in particular related to religion and wisdom traditions, “there are many paths up the mountain.” Many of us have likely heard this uttered by someone at some point…and today, for me, it represents freedom. Freedom to choose and create my own series of practices which are life sustaining and soul nourishing. I admire your diligence and discipline in all of your projects and commitments. I’ve reached the point in my life, after so many year of intense and structured living and working, where I eschew too much of any of it! 😉 You are an inspiration, Robin. Thank you for being you. 💕🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwwww. Thank you so much, Carrie. ❤ I’ve heard a farmer’s version of it (“there are many paths to the barn”). Yes, I do think we all need to find our own way. 🙂

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  5. First, I notice when I read your blog posts slowly and mindfully my nervous system relaxes so much. It feels like you are writing from a place of ventril vagal regulation and that feels so good. (Just finished a unit on polyvagal theory and am reflecting on that.) As often is the case, your musings reflect some of mine. What seems really clear right at this moment is that I don’t want to vow to do anything for a certain number of days. What I want to do is be more aware of what state the nervous system is in. It seems that so many of the crashes, burns, “failures”, mistakes and suffering happen when in sympathetic fight/flight or dorsal modes. When in ventril vagal regulation it’s possible to choose what feels right in the moment–yoga, coming over to read blogs, processing tomatoes, taking a walk. It feels the actions themselves are coming from wholeness and that feels regulating, healing, loving, enough. Thank you so much, Robin, for facilitating so much contemplation here at your beautiful blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Kathy, and thank you so much for saying/writing that about relaxing as you read. I always hope to convey that, somehow, in my writing and in photos (even in the posts where I get up on my soapbox… not easy to pull that one off…lol!). It might stem, in part, from writing early in the day, just after I do my morning practice/meditation/walk. I am happy to hear it comes through.

      I understand wanting to go with what feels right. I’m finding that for me, for now, the discipline of a regular practice helps to keep my nervous system calmed. It gives me a center, if that makes sense, from which to operate (an eye of the storm, perhaps, to be in when things are nervous-making and haywire). A kind of sanctuary, too, away from the chaos of the times we are living in. I’ve seen some stuff on polyvagal theory, but haven’t really looked into it. Sounds fascinating. 🙂

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      1. That is so true, Robin. That regular practice can deeply soothe the nervous system. It can rejoice in having that center. I have watched that happen, too. Then I watch another point happen where it begins to make the nervous system tighten or become anxious about feeling obligated to follow it. Am playing with the repercussions of these two reactions and watching how both can work well at certain times and not at others. It’s fascinating! Have a good day, Robin.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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