Forest Bathing for Inspiration

Gravel dust swirls in the warm air, stirring more with each step I take. To my left are rows of flowers, with colors spanning the rainbow, smelling like a perfumery of floral and wood. To my right is a border of trees, protecting a wetland and habitat to rabbits, ducks, frogs, and many varieties of birds. Up ahead the crows call out, beckoning me to move deeper into the forest. Two butterflies dance in the sky, moving from one side of the pathway to the other, reminding me to be spontaneous and playful.

I have been an avid forest bather long before I even knew what it was. Nature’s cathedral of treetops has always been my place of peace, where I can turn off and allow everything else to fall away. The Japanese have coined the term “forest bathing”, and it has recently made a surge into our American lexicon, but for those of us living in the Seattle area, forest bathing has already been a part of life.

Forest bathing is not simply being outside, it is about immersion in the natural beauty that surrounds you. It is a break from devices, signals, and busyness. While there will be some people who tell you how to take a forest bath, it is more about embracing a being-ness that cannot be defined by another person. Forest bathing creates a daily escape from our workweek routine, and forges connection with nature, as well as our innermost thoughts.

When you emerge from your time in nature, you come out with renewed priorities, perspectives and focus on what really matters, instead of what you think should matter. You can walk, jog, sit, meditate, practice tai chi, do yoga, read, color, take photos, sing, laugh, or simply be. The more you allow each moment in the forest to lead and guide you, the better experience you will have.

I enjoy using this time for walking meditation, contemplation, connecting with the animals I encounter, tai chi on occasion, and taking photos. Each day is a different experience, even if I go back to the exact same place. The forest is my place for inspiration to jolt me to my next adventure.

Whether, I am sun gazing though the canopy, or pondering on the ripples in a pond, the forest reminds me of what is important for me in my life today. It is my therapist, my guide, and my theater, showing me all that I need to see.

A Taste of My Morning

A mixture of pollinated air and car exhaust climb through open windows as I begin my day. The cat joyously runs between the sorted laundry piles, and down the hallway to greet me. Excited mews bounce off my ears.  Closing the bedroom door behind me, I creep to the kitchen. A fuzzy warmth flops on my feet to remind me, again, that ear rubs are needed. With a few more strokes of her silken midnight fur, I am granted passage.

The alabaster bag crinkles under my touch, as the smoky sweet scent opens to awaken me. Hints of cherry, chocolate and wood combine in a perfume of perfection, as the whir of the coffee maker brings the kitchen to life. Following a stream of molten drips, completion arrives.

Heat radiates through the well-loved mug, warming my hands as I cradle my precious cup of indulgence. Ripping open a packet of stevia, the faint aroma of marshmallows stirs through the air. My official coffee spoon, tanned with residue, clanks on the edges of the mug, ensuring the sweetener is perfectly distributed.

Tossing the empty stevia packet in the garbage, the odor of yesterday’s cantaloupe rind slaps me. Sticky sweet and pungent, is has grown into an over-ripe reminder to take out the trash. Thankfully, the cool night did not bake it, leaving it instead as an overzealous air fresher.

No longer distracted from my goal, I walk to the sofa, coffee in hand. My furry shadow follows, stretching out next to me. Time for the first sip. I am in bliss.

The smooth liquid welcomes my taste buds with a buffet of flavors. Bitter, sweet, smoky, umami. My eyes open just a bit wider with each taste, as if in coordination with the rising sun.

As I reach the end of the first glorious cup, an all too familiar texture hits my tongue. Clingy, scratchy, stringy, like a hot spider web, a cat hair tries to linger as it is plucked from my mouth. I will try not to think about what part of the cat that came from. Two golden eyes innocently stare back at me, and the moment is worth it. Ahhh.

Believe in Yourself

I have always felt an urge to express myself. For years, I was taught that I am supposed to be a tool. One destined to write the desires of others. To be an honorable pencil was to be assigned the duty to author another person’s life. But, what about my life?  What about what I wanted to share?

One day I made a choice, to become my own storyteller. The ideas of others no longer bound my expression. Words are magic, and I create what I wish.

Very few understand me; instead they believe it is a pencil’s duty to be subservient to the will of another. But, I believe we can be so much more. Deep inside every pencil is a story to be told, an adventure waiting to be shared. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to give our power away to those who use us to tell their stories.

What if we all believed in ourselves? What if we all had the courage to share our own stories?

The other pencils think I am a dreamer, that I can’t possibly make a life for myself by sharing my own perceptions. What they don’t realize is that I have true freedom. Freedom to live my life each day as I please. Freedom to express my inner most feelings. Freedom to be myself.

Some time ago, I was motivated to write simply to prove to others I could, to demonstrate my choice was valid. But, that was only because I still did not truly recognize the full validity of the path I had forged. Somehow in the discovery of understanding why I need to write, I found that I was still focused on pressure to conform.

Finally, upon accepting that I am not like other pencils, do I now believe that is it not only okay, but also amazing, to be the author of my own life.

Pencils have always been magic wands, bringing thoughts into form. And, I have now embraced my purpose: to show what pencils are capable of when they let go of following someone else’s script.