As you can probably tell, I haven’t written here for a while. I took a solo 3 week road trip covering 6 thousand miles and it was fun and life changing. I ended up camping for two weeks in the mountains without electricity, water or even cell phone service. I was in a campground only 5 miles from a small town so I wasn’t totally isolated but enough to enjoy it.
It took me 4 days of driving to arrive at my destination. As the miles ticked by, the ancillary habits and disruptions began to disappear. I was leaving it all on the side of the road and it was ALOT!! I feel bad for the people mowing the right of ways!
That was just the beginning, much like peeling a peach. Once in the mountains, the rest of the distractions melted away and I was left at the core of who I really was. Who was that anyway? I’ve been running for so long, it was time to take a much-needed break.
Without the disruption of modern conveniences, the mirror kept getting polished and I’d see things that’d make me stop and go really? I do that? Or at times, make me cry as I realized some of the crazy things I’d done.
I realized I was just living on habit and not really conscious of what I really wanted. Here in the fresh mountain air and nothing to do all day long it was pretty easy to look inward.
Course seeing what needs to be changed and then doing it are two different things. I returned home and immediately made changes. For example, I changed my work schedule from 10 hour days back to 8 hour days. I had been going in at 6:45am and leaving at 5:30pm; breakfast was something microwaved and ate at my desk. My entire life revolved around work.
Now I get up, cook (not microwave) a good breakfast and eat at home. I take time to pray, plan my day, and set intentions. I arrive at work relaxed and ready to go. I continued to focus on my health, both physical and mental and began working out again. Not just working out, but doing things I love for exercise.
What a difference in my countenance and attitude with just those two simple changes! I am continually making adjustments to live consciously instead of just via habit. Some days though, I feel the pull to slide back into those old habits. It’s easy to change when you’re isolated in the wilderness, but back at home in the thick of things, it is a lot more effort.
As soon as I returned, a friend took a 3 month vacation into the mountains. Two weeks in, I received a phone call and the hard, annoying person was replaced by a calmness and peace. Ahhh….there’s my friend. They were beginning to experience the cleansing that occurs when you step outside of yourself.
For me going to the mountains was just the ticket. You may prefer the beach or somewhere else. Whatever you enjoy, I’d highly recommend taking some quality time to step outside of yourself without distraction. It’s a great way to get back in touch with who you really are and focus on what you really want to accomplish.
“Stop, I see something”, Laurie yells from the passenger seat. I was preparing to pull onto a 2 lane road outside our neighborhood and hadn’t seen any traffic. I still didn’t see any traffic….
She excitedly points to the right, “there’s an injured bird in the bushes over there!” Sure enough, a few car lengths from the shoulder a big black vulture is limping, dragging a wing, and struggling to get further into the bushes.
Seeing us, it struggles even more and with good reason. Imagine, you’re feasting in the road when suddenly, Wham!! a giant, shiny object runs you over. Reeling from the blow, you gasp for breath and struggle to get as far away as possible. Thankfully, the big shiny object keeps going and you can now peacefully tend your wounds.
But wait, here comes another big shiny object. Now 2 giants come out and head over to you. You thought the day was bad before, it’s looking like it’s about to get worse…. Yeah, I’d run like hell too!
As volunteers at state parks and animal rescue organizations, we’re experienced with rescuing and relocating injured wildlife. From turtles in the middle of the road to birds that have been shot, we’ve seen a little bit of everything.
However, capturing a bird is a much different challenge, because if it is injured but has enough energy to fly away, you won’t be able to catch it and rescue it. By the looks of this guy, he’s not flying anywhere. However, nature is on his side as he slips into the wild, un-groomed area of our neighborhood.
This area is the real Florida….Sunlight creeps its way to the ground passing through vines, thorns, poison ivy, big trees, little trees, and the infamous Saw palmettos. We have to go in to this thick, natural area to retrieve this bird, so we look for potential openings in the undergrowth and begin the task of forcing the bird to an open area. Sounds easy enough, it’s just one bird and there are two of us.
We start tiptoeing in, over, under, around, through; any way possible to get this guy to move out where we can catch him. At one point I’m successfully making my way through the jungle of foliage when a large saw palmetto blocks forward progress.
I look around and can barely see the sun; vines are running in a confused maze above me, and branches have me blocked in. I was so focused on moving forward that I wasn’t thinking about anything else. Now I’m wondering 2 things; how did I get in here and how will I get out?
Two hours later, (yes two hours!) I am covered in sweat, my arms & legs look like I’ve been clawed by a cat, and this bird is still at bay. We were planning a bike ride, so shorts & t-shirt are the attire. Not the best for trekking through “natural Florida” at its worst.
I finally give up and yell “I’m going home!!!………and putting on some pants and boots”. I briefly thought of just driving away and not telling her where I was going, but I decided to behave.
10 minutes later I return, a new man; old thick jeans, hiking boots, and ice cold water. Bring me this bird!! Like Godzilla stomping through Tokyo, I stomp my way through the brush. Path? I don’t need a path. We force the vulture toward an open area and finally corner it between us.
She is on one side and I’m on the other. The only way out is by one of us and we’re ready with towels and eager anticipation. It moves right and we move right, it moves left and we move left.
It moves right again and I move right but….this time it pulls up short and darts left. Oh no, he faked me out!!! I quickly recover but it’s too late.
2 quick steps and it’s out of my reach and then get this; it takes flight!! It lands about a block away. As it looks back, I swear it’s laughing.
I’m hot, sweaty, scratched, hungry, and thirsty. I’m done!! I lean against truck reflecting on the events that just unfolded when she heads to where it landed. “If it was that seriously injured, it would not have been able to fly away” I yell.
5 minutes later, she victoriously parades out with the big bird in both hands. I spit out my water in disbelief. We put it into the carrier and headed off to our local wildlife hospital.
It was treated, brought up to healthy weight, and then released back into the wild. I still laugh about that story and what we went through. Each time I see a vulture flying over, I can’t help but look up and wonder; does it remember the time……..
I’m riding home after work when my phone rings. Hmmm… I don’t recognize that number, I’ll let it go to voicemail.
At home, I cooked dinner, fed the pets, and did my thing and then I remembered that voicemail. I played it back and immediately looked at the clock. As the message went on, I could not believe what I was hearing. My heart sank!!
The message was an opportunity to shoot and produce a video for a live performance. The gentlemen who called has done some great work and this would’ve been an opportunity to sharpen my skills. I could’ve made it if I would’ve checked the message earlier, but now it was too late….
Aside from being angry at myself, I felt like an idiot, to put it mildly. Here was an opportunity to do what I love that could’ve opened other doors and not only didn’t I answer the phone, I didn’t check the messages. What good is technology if I don’t use it?
I know I like to think how events or situations will play out, but often good things come in unexpected ways. So next time the call comes, answer it or at least check the message right away. You never know what opportunity could be awaiting.
Do you know anyone who might want this plant? I asked my friend who was on Skype and knows everything botanical. She wanted to see it, so I went out to the patio, drug it out of the corner and held the laptop in front of it.
It is a frangipani, or what I affectionately call it a stick plant. The shoots stood about 4 feet tall and were just bare sticks; nothing really interesting.
I left it in the middle of the patio so I could just grab it when it was time to take it away. After a week, it appeared to be have green on the ends of the nubs. The person who wanted it was unavailable and I was too lazy to move it back to the shaded corner.
After two weeks, the nubs had turned green and it was obvious this plant was growing. I didn’t call the person who wanted it because now I was curious what was going to happen.
Fast forward to 4 weeks later and this plant is alive!! The previous bare nubs have 3-4 inches (yes I measured!) of new growth and each one has many big green leaves and bright, fragrant flowers have appeared. Needless to say, it’s thriving and I’m keeping it.
So what was the change? I moved it from the shaded, corner of the patio where it just sat in oblivion. Sitting under a tree, there wasn’t much water, little sun, and no attention.
Moving it to the center of the patio, placed in the direct sun and it was fully exposed to soak up the morning dew or afternoon rain. Plus as it started growing, I’d walk over and notice it. Now I wander over and smell the fragrant flowers and amazed at how tall it’s getting.
As I look at changes I’m planning in my life that sometimes seem just short of overwhelming, I look at this plant. It wasn’t a massive change that made it thrive, it was a shift in position. From the shade into the light was all it needed.
Maybe some of these changes to aren’t that difficult after all……maybe I just need to shift more into the light, where I can be exposed to the experiences that help me grow.
I was on my morning run, when a few feet ahead a big brown leaf tumbled to the ground. Leaves are nothing unusual, but what I saw next was. On the ground was a large tan butterfly, with beautiful blue eye markings on the lower wings and small almost mirror like eye markings on the upper. I have seen and photographed butterflies, but none were this big or this beautiful.
I bent down to pick it up and expected it to fly away. Instead it stumbled and flitted, but couldn’t take flight. I gently picked it up, thoroughly amazed at its beauty and fragility. I placed in my hand or should I say on it; it was large enough to cover my hand.
It made a feeble attempts to fly, but would just fall to the ground. I wasn’t sure if it was injured or in it’s final moments. Regardless, I was going to give it a safe place and I gently placed one hand over the other as if I was carrying a fragile glass and walked at a slow pace.
The slower pace was actually quite welcome. I really didn’t feel like running anyway because I feel like I’m always running somewhere; to work, to the grocery store, to do the laundry, etc.
Eventually I removed one hand and it just sat in my palm. Of course, I had nothing to capture a picture with and wanted to turn around and go home. I was a mile away so I just stayed the course. No sense in turning this peaceful moment into a rush adventure just to capture a photo.
As I rounded a curve, the butterfly crawled up my palm and sat on the edge of my hand. It was like it wanted to see where we were going. It sat there taking in the view as the path meandered around the golf course and near the trees.
And then it happened; it went tipped forward off my palm, tumbled down to toward the ground, and……unexpectedly took flight. Further and further it flew, climbing higher as it went, and eventually settling into a tall tree. I stood there in amazement and yet a little sad. Like all animal releases, you’re glad to see it return to the wild, but sad to see it go.
I carried on with my walk and realized how nice it was to provide a safe place from the world for the butterfly to just recoup and gather its bearings. I could use one of those little breaks!
Shortly after returning home, a friend called;”want to take a ride?”. I was cooking breakfast, had a full day of tasks planned, but I said “lets go!”. We took the scenic drive near the ocean, had a long relaxing lunch, and spent the day doing nothing particular with no schedule. It was exactly what we both needed to let go, regroup, and renergize.
Sometimes we can get a little beat up and making our way can be difficult. We flit about, here and there, not really making any progress. Taking a short break from it all to regroup (with a good friend really helps) can be just what we need to get off the ground and take flight again.