Finding Calm in the Water

Water…. soothing, peaceful, healing……

I have always been attracted to water whether it was a stream, lake, river, ocean and yes, even a pool.

For two summers in a row while I was young, my mom would take us on summer vacation to Bend, OR, and we would stay in a hotel right on the river. I loved that spot. I would walk down and climb around the river, listening to the sound the water made as it ran through, over and around the rocks. I loved that sound…. It was soothing. And there on the river I would relax.

There was also a pool at that hotel and I swam as much as I could. My mom called me a fish. I loved to be in water, feeling the coolness roll over my skin, floating…. letting the water take all my cares away.

There have been many pool, lake, river and ocean swims since those early summers with my mom, each bringing peace to my soul.

I told my husband many times over the years that I would really like to have a pool of my own, in my backyard that I could use anytime I wanted. We both dreamed about the forever home we would one day have and the pool we would build (even if it had to be an indoor pool in the Pacific Northwest!).

And then we moved to Arizona…. a pool year ‘round!

This past week our pool was finally finished and we could swim.

I knew I would love having a pool, even with the work it would take to keep it clean and running…. I just KNEW I was going to love it…

I was right. I have been in our pool at least twice a day, and sometimes more, since it has been full of water and running. I love swimming. I love floating. I love the water.

And I have found the place where I can be mindful…. And just breathe.

I knew I would love the pool but what I didn’t realize was just how much I needed the pool and how much my time spent in it would soothe my soul, bringing peace and calmness to my crazy life.

So early in the morning, before anyone else was up in the house, I got in my swimsuit and headed out to the pool. The water was COLD! At first anyway….

I braved the cold and swam. I started out swimming laps for exercise. But soon, I was not counting the laps anymore…I was just swimming….and noticing……

The birds were serenading me as I moved silently through the water. One bird, in particular, sang to me… different notes, different sounds…all from the same bird. It was if the bird was trying out every “ring tone” it had in its repertoire, making me smile as I listened and swam. Birds were flying above me and they were beautiful.

Early morning, just me and the birds… oh and the cow! At first I thought someone was disturbing my peace and yelling, but alas it was a cow that had wandered from its home and it was talking to me through the wall. I laughed.

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As I swam one direction in the pool, I could feel the cool water passing slowly over my body. And then I noticed my shadow, swimming slightly ahead of me. Beautiful. My inner child was there swimming with me, enjoying the serenity of the morning…. Happy!

Swimming back the other direction, instead of my shadow swimming, I noticed the light from the sun dancing along the bottom of the pool, creating light green and blue designs that delighted my heart and mesmerized my soul. Stunning!

And then I noticed the sparkle of the sea glass and abalone in the pool interior. Wow! It was if there were hundreds of crystals and gems sparkling just for me. Again, I smiled.

I floated for a bit and noticed the dancing light bouncing off of the water, dancing on the wall and trees beyond. Dancing just for me, to the music created by the birds all around. Beautiful. Soulful.

This was my moment. My mindful moment. Here I was, alone with the natural world around me, soothed by the water. And I was just there. Present. Mindful.

I spent time last week talking with the members in my Weight Watchers meetings about being mindful… present….. in the here and now….. and how much our minds and souls need those moments to just take a pause, a step back and breathe.

And that is just what I did for the couple of hours I was in the pool. I was there. Present. Mindful. And I just breathed. The worries of yesterday were gone. The worries of tomorrow were gone. The “to do” list for the day forgotten. It was just me, the water, the birds and my prayers.

Mindful, present moments help us to recharge, renew and begin the day in a calm way.

Who knew that having a pool would be one of the things I would need to soothe my soul and take my cares and stress away?

You will find me, many times a day, in the pool…. swimming, enjoying, relaxing and breathing!

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That View….

My husband and I just spent an extended weekend in San Francisco, visiting our youngest son and daughter-in-law. We had a great time seeing this city through their eyes….food, drinks, shopping, site-seeing, and hiking. A wonderful trip for us and time spent with our kids was priceless.

My husband normally plans all of our trips and what we are going to do. Those trips are filled with so much that we often need a vacation to recover from our vacation. So, when we planned this extended weekend, we let our son do the planning for us….. with time spent with the two of them the priority. And we wanted to see San Francisco through the eyes of these two young adults, to see what they loved about their city, their home.

Our son and daughter-in-law did a fantastic job of planning just the right amount of things to see and do and quite a variety. We completely enjoyed our time with them, creating more memories to look back on.

I could write a book about our trip and all that there is to see and do in San Francisco. But, this blog post is all about THAT View….

Our son planned a hike for us for Sunday morning. Saturday night we watched the fog roll into the city from their living room.   Of course, we checked the weather apps to see what the morning would be like and if the fog would lift before our hike.

And the weather apps all said it would lift about 8am. Yes! We would get to see those views our son had told us about.

He chose to take us on the Lands End trail hike. And said that hike would offer us spectacular, out of this world views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the ocean and the bay. We were excited and my camera was ready to go.

Sunday morning came and we were ready for our hike. The fog was hanging on, but the weather apps said it would lift about 9am now. So, off the four of us went.

We started from the ocean, hiking toward the Golden Gate bridge and the bay.

And the fog hung on…..that view our son and daughter-in-law said was so spectacular was shrouded in mystery. The fog was surreal and mystical. And it was beautiful, creating an air of mystery all along the trail.

Our views were spectacular. And magical. And beautiful.

As we hiked and talked and took in the surrounding areas, I couldn’t help but realize that THAT VIEW was THIS—my family….my son, my daughter-in-law, my husband.

THAT view was spectacular. THAT view was beautiful. THAT view made my heart dance. THAT view was just what I needed and wanted. And THAT view will make my heart sing and bring a smile to my face for many, many years to come.

My son and daughter-in-law were right. The hike would give us amazing views! And time spent with them, talking, laughing, sweating…..all AMAZING!

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The love of family and time spent with family is absolutely priceless and NOTHING beats it!

Resilience in the Redwoods

 

Ahhh….

The mighty Redwoods.

Walking among the giants was mesmerizing…..peaceful…..majestic.

We were in California 2 weeks ago for our youngest son’s wedding and while there we decided to spend a couple of mornings seeing nearby sights. My husband and I love to travel and explore and seek out new adventures. And we don’t believe in letting an opportunity to find some hidden gem, pass us by…

On our second morning in California, we got up early to go explore Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It WAS WORTH the early morning!

The first thing that hit us was the smell…..that redwood forest smell….ahhh…..we don’t get that in the desert and boy do we miss it.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park encompasses 40+ acres……acres filled with the tallest of the trees, the redwood. Here the coastal redwood survives and thrives. We walked the Redwood Grove Loop Trail in the park and were thrilled.

Walking with my husband through the forest of giant redwoods was exactly what I needed at that moment. The redwoods are giant, growing tall, some for over 2000 years. These coastal redwoods were magnificent! Majestic! Mighty!

The Redwoods grow tall….some reaching heights beyond 300 feet! Here in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park the tallest tree—the Giant—stands 270 feet high. And among these trees we felt very tiny….just a spec in the forest.

As we walked through the forest I was awed by the beauty surrounding us. Learning about the redwoods in a book is one thing, but to actually walk among the trees and see for myself how they grow, how they spawn new growth, and how resilient they are, took my breath away.

Redwoods can live for over 2000 years. And some of the trees surrounding us had been here far longer than us, our parents, our grandparents and our great grandparents……actually, many of these redwoods were here long before any of my or my husband’s ancestors came to this land. It is hard to comprehend how any living organism can stand so tall for soooo long. Yet here they were, just waiting to tell us their story.

At the beginning of the trail we picked up the brochure that would explain the stops on the loop trail. We learned about the redwoods and how they grow. And seeing for ourselves the redwood family circles was beyond amazing. Redwoods have the ability to sprout from the tiny seeds, but it is their ability to sprout new growth from the base of the “parent” tr3ee that really struck me. These magnificent trees sprouted new growth from the base, and from their roots. Amazing! And as we stood looking at one of the family circles, it struck me….this was representative of our family, and of the young couple whose wedding we were celebrating….this family circle. Love, support and strength are found in the family circle.

And then we stopped and read about how the roots of these trees were shallow…only 6 to 12 feet deep….wow! These mighty trees, these VERY tall trees, did not have the deep roots that I had expected. Instead their roots were shallow. Then how could they survive? How do they grow so tall and withstand so much? The roots of the Redwood tree may not go deep, but they do travel out, extending hundreds of feet from the tree base. THAT is how they withstand so much. The roots of the trees extend to the roots of other trees and the roots wrap around each other, supporting each other through the forces of nature that threaten to topple them. The Redwoods not only sprout new growth from their base, but they reach out to the other Redwoods to support each other. Amazing! Resilient! Wondrous!

Not only do these trees thrive through their family circles and their extended root system, but when a tree dies, it gives life to more trees. Trees sprout from the dead trees, growing right out of them and the root system of the downed tree lives on, giving more life and supporting the newer generations of trees. Much like my mom has done for me! Even though she is no longer living, she is still my support, she is still with me, a part of me and my family.

Our walk among these magnificent trees was showing me a lot about my life…..

All of this amazed me, but the one thing that I discovered among these 4 (2)giants that really resonated with me and spoke to me was their resilience. Redwoods have a bark that is thick, REALLY thick and the bark has a Tannic acid within it that helps to protect the tree…from insects, from animals, from the forces of nature and even from fire. We stopped at one tree that had been hollowed out at its base, much of it burned away in a fire over 100 years ago. Silently I stood under the tree, in the hollowed out area and touched its scars. This redwood had deep scars from a fire that would have destroyed the life of any other tree. Yet this tree was still standing, still alive, still growing and healing, and still sprouting new growth. RESILENT! STRONG! It had survived the worst thrown at it. Not only did it survive, but it found a way to thrive, to grow and to heal. The scars remain, a symbol of what the tree has survived.

And standing there I couldn’t help but reflect on my life and my scars, both visible and invisible, yet through it all I am still here. Like the Redwood, my roots may not run deep, but they run far, joining with other’s roots and providing support for each other through the storms of life. My family circle has grown and the support I have found keeps me thriving. Despite the forces throughout my life that tried to destroy me, I am still standing tall. I am scarred. But I am alive. My scars remind me of what I have been through and how far I have come. And like this magnificent redwood, I am resilient. I am strong. I am a survivor.

Some say it takes a village. And here in a redwood grove, I realized that it also takes a forest!