Tag: Nature’s Teachings

Water Water Water

Water Water Water

Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday, I walked in the rain for 4 ½ miles and loved it so much I made a comment on social media that it was one of my favorite things. I think the rain listened.

Today, I wasn’t expecting rain while hiking and wading during fly fishing. But I did go prepared with my GoreTex jacket.

As soon as I parked, the rain started. While I geared-up, it kept coming. As I walked the two and a half miles up the trail…more rain. And even though GoreTex is breathable, sweat was rolling down my back. Water was rolling off my jacket. The sky was opening up and it was glorious.

It poured. It sprinkled. But one thing it didn’t do was stop.

And neither did I.

Nearly six miles of wading and hiking and casting was Medicine for me today. I wish I could come up with a word that described how much I love being in the creek, engaging fully with the life of that place, the energies that reside there and interact with me as I breathe with them.

I’m not the only one loving the rain.

Alas, I’ll just have to keep returning and exploring just how I can describe something so beneficial to me…in every way. Hopefully, it’s beneficial to Nature as we deepen our understanding of each other.

Remember

Remember

Words take me to a linear part of my brain and I want to stay in the fullness of the experience— watery curves of water flowing over stone; crashing sound of white water finding itself after falling.

Agitation, due to separation from wading mountain streams in lush forests, is resolved. Other things kept me from these sacred experiences, these holy times with Nature. But it couldn’t be helped.

Today, after nearly a month apart from my Beloveds, I waded again. My soul drank deeply from living waters flowing through an ancient river, an ancient creek. My entire body is re-set as is my energy and mind and emotions. 

I’m back with myself after 62 degree water caressed my legs and feet for three hours. It feels good to be home in my body once again. And to remember….

Seeking a Renewed Vision

Seeking a Renewed Vision

Standing in front of my altar, candle burning, invitation to the Ancestors whispered, I centered myself and asked for assistance. “Renew my Vision, help me connect with that which calls me to service. Guide me, please.”

For many years I had such a clear and powerful vision to document and share Beauty. I traveled to underwater realms, to amazing places like the west coast of Ireland, the Lake District of England, Bonaire…always seeking the Sacred to connect with and then share with others. 

Connemara Ireland

I knew, when I moved back to the mountains of North Carolina, that my life was shifting. A few months later, the pandemic exploded and the sensed shift became a whopping reality.

There was no social circle here as I hadn’t had time to connect with others but it didn’t matter anyway because we had to isolate. It was quite strange and yet perfect for me. I simply went deeper with Nature, thus deeper with myself. I had no option but to get really familiar with myself; thus, my connection with Nature became more real and delicious than I’d ever experienced.

And, as I wasn’t employed at the time, I studied and learned to fly a drone and took the FAA Part 107 exam to fly the drone commercially…but mostly I was thrilled just to FLY! And do something to enrich my mind and find other ways to experience and see Nature.

Flying the drone became a wonderful way to experience Nature in a new and expansive way.

So last week, when I ask for renewed Vision, I was expecting something to come rushing into my life that would give me some grand way forward. Instead, I got a dump truck load of firewood delivered and nearly every piece had to be split at least once, if not three or four times in order to fit in my little wood stove.

I got this pile of wood, plus had to split over half the wood from last season and restack it.

After a couple afternoons spent splitting wood, I got up the next morning and stood at my altar, lit the candle and said, What about that Vision, y’all? As clearly as a beloved elder standing next to me I heard, Chop wood. Carry water. I laughed out loud. The prayer was answered in a most unexpected way.

‘Before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water.’ This Zen koan emphasizes the idea that although it appears nothing has really changed from the outer appearance, everything has changed on the inner experience.

Still mind, active body.

While chopping the mountain of wood, my body was busy. Yet as I used the maul, I felt my mind come into focus and stillness. Thankfully so, as it kept me safe while using a heavy, sharp object for multiple hours and days.

Part of the new wood, all stacked and ready for cold weather.

As I tended plants during twilight today, I smelled the wondrous smell of freshly split wood and admired the large abundance of stacked wood. I realized that this is actually living. It may not be on the awe-inspiring scale of traveling and diving and doing underwater photography and being in the water with humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea turtles, but this is actually where life is mastered—the day-to-day tasks that ground us into our life.

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Kewick, England

I’ve always been active and enjoyed physically and mentally challenging tasks….diving, cave diving, fly fishing in remote areas near where I live, far up wild creeks. Or hiking in Ireland or Canyon de Chelly, up remote trails in winter. Or visiting standing stone circles in northern England to connect with ancient energies. Such glorious and amazing adventures.

Cave diving in Mexico

But what of the mundane tasks of buying groceries, pulling weeds, cleaning house, cooking…chopping wood. Embracing these duties as ways to grow instead of burdens to endure can change our lives.

I didn’t receive a peek into some exotic adventure awaiting me in far away lands and with insanely cool creatures; however, I did glimpse the exotic adventure of fully embodying my everyday life right here in these Smoky Mountains…and it’s really quite amazing. And I am grateful.

Rainbows Call Me Home

Rainbows Call Me Home

I slept later than intended so was a bit concerned about a 9am start to wading a favorite section of a local river. When I pulled into the parking area, nobody else appeared to be fishing so I decided to just go with the little intuitive nudge that called me there.

It was difficult to settle down. I felt out of my body–not grounded–as I begin wading up the river. Dodging overly-deep holes, limbs caught underwater, slick areas when I just wasn’t all ‘there’ made me a bit anxious. White water itself is cause to be fully present, but given the challenge of these mountain waters, I wanted feel more grounded in the experience.

Fish started taking the dry fly and that’s what finally brought me into the moment. It was as if they were saying, Hey you! You better pay attention!! Normally, when I’m feeling a bit ‘off,’ I don’t catch fish, but today the fish were ready to dance with me and forced me to really tune into the rhythm, the vibe.

Once I arrived with my whole self, I was able to appreciate the beauty…of the colorful fish, the colors of green moss and trees, the sound of rushing water, the shapes of rocks. The strength of my body, the ability to balance and the successful choosing of a way upstream was part of that beautiful experience.

When I first started wading and was having such a difficult time of ‘arriving,’ I thought perhaps I should have stayed home. But the fish called me to pay attention…to them, the water and rocks, the trees, myself. It ended up being one of the best times in the water this summer.

So what if we are a bit slow coming into communion with Nature, with ourselves. If we simply make the effort, sometimes magic happens and rainbows call us home…to ourselves.

Builder of Dreams

Builder of Dreams

Bull elk…wapiti from last autumn at the Cherokee Mothertown

In the gray light, before sunrise yesterday, I drove past the Cherokee Mothertown. On the sacred mound were two bull elks, sleeping…dreaming their wild elk dreams. Even though I didn’t stop and walk there, the image of those magnificent beings stayed with me all day. 

They remained with me as I walked along the nearby creek and as I worked on tasks and had a meeting online. The misty gray dream-like beings held me in their reality all day.

This photo is pretty ugh….but it was nearly dark, across the creek, with an iPhone.

This morning, as I walked along the creek in the dim light, I saw a large critter in the middle of the creek. It appeared to be a furry bulldozer. At first I thought it was an otter, but it was too big. Upon closer examination, a beautiful beaver emerged from the whitewater. 

I’m like a kid when animals show up in my life, but even my excitement didn’t scare the steadfast beaver as it swam and waded and pushed its way upstream. It never wavered from the journey.

Another low-light, iPhone image that makes me cringe (quality)

How amazing to be so focused and sure of yourself to push on, no matter what. 

Given the two mornings of amazing encounters, I decided to look up the spiritual meaning in my Ted Andrews book. My mouth fell open as I read both the beaver and elk passages.

Bull elk image I took last autumn during rut.

The elk remind me that I’m about to hit my stride and that at the beginning of a new project, to expect a period of growth of four to five years but I’ll have the strength for this new project. Then beaver, builder of dreams, reminds me to act on my dreams and make them a reality…it’s time for action.

Image by David Knapp, of Troutzone Anglers of Simone.

There’s no doubt…I needed to hear this. I’ve been playing with a new dream, one I want to build on for the next….yes, you got it… four or five years. I just spent a month off from my job…a forced layoff so the state university I work for doesn’t have to pay me benefits. I like the work and plan on staying there for the next five years. But it’s not a career or a vocation. 


I’m pretty big into doing what you love and living your dreams. I’ve done that for many years. But now, as I’m in the pre-retirement years, I’m enjoying giving back to the Cherokee tribe through the grants I help administer. I have zero complaints about the work…but it’s not the end-all gift I wish to leave the world sort of work.

So, in this forced layoff, I spent time thinking about what I’d like to do when I’m ready to ‘retire.’ Of course I’ll work, but what do I want to do? 

One of my favorite places to cast and wade

I reflected on the past year and three months…I’ve never grown so much and developed such trust in myself. Why? Fly fishing. Exploring. Wading. Going into the back country of the national park and connecting deeply with water, rocks, otters, trout, trees…it has changed my life. I’d love to share that with people…specifically with women who want to grow. 

Another place that has filled me with wonder.

As Lynette Monterio Musten wrote, “Never in my life had I thought I was capable of this; of being alone, of feeling safe, with myself, of being quiet.” This reflects my experience perfectly and I want to offer this to other women who want to learn how to do this.

I connected with a couple of guide schools and found what they are offering isn’t what I’m wanting to do. I don’t want to be a guide for grip-and-grin tourists. I want to work with women who want to develop their enjoyment of life through interacting with Nature. Guide schools I’ve explored are linear in their approach and that’s what most people are wanting, but I am creating a holistic approach to fly fishing.

My profile photo on FaceBook for the past couple of months….elk are a definite power animal for me.

In my dream, I integrate yoga, wading, fishing, casting, education (about insects, trout and the environment) and self-care skills. Rather than mold my dreams to other people’s trainings, I am creating a program of training that will support my dream. There are guides that are willing to help me learn and develop as a fly fisher, with my specific intentions, so I’ll be working with them. I’m already a yoga instructor, have worked with people in Nature as a naturalist, ropes course facilitator, scuba instructor, and trip leader. It’s a matter of developing my fly fishing skills, working more with guides, and continuing to do what I love…fly fish in the back country.

Photo by David Knapp, Troutzone Anglers, of Simone…David is helping Simone design her way forward as a guide

These two wildlife encounters feel really supportive of my dream. The elk remind me to be in sacred space and feel the strength of the Ancestors as they walk with me and strengthen my dreams. The beaver reminds me to believe in my dreams and work on them, build them to make them a reality.

Reach for the sky! Build your dreams!

Nature has always been my best teacher and early mornings, like these past two, remind me why I get up early and go walk the trails before most people are stirring. The magic of dawn and of Elk and Beaver Medicine give me focus and strength to support my dreams by taking the steps necessary to make them a reality. 

Step-by-Step we build our dreams

The guidance I keep receiving, when I journey inwards, is Step-by-Step is how this is accomplished. Gratitude fills me as I thank the Ancestors, the Elk and Beaver for bringing me this teaching. And now, I feel a bit of excitement as I take the beginning steps…of building my dream.