Where are my late-to-the-party nature lovers at???
As a kid, I didn't love nature or being outdoors. It was too unpredictable - fluctuating temperatures and weather patterns, insects that bite or sting, plants that cause rashes, places to fall and get hurt. I preferred to be inside where it was predictably safe, quiet, and comfortable. This stayed with me until my 40s, when I was driven outside as I was grieving my grandmother and nature became a big part of my healing.
I now understand all the evidence connecting nature to improved mental health. Nature's beauty brought me a sense of wonder that was missing. It brought a sense of self-diminishment, the idea that I am a small thing in a big web of interconnectedness. All that jazz. To this day, the best thing I do is get outside, breathe fresh air, and witness the continual unfolding that is nature. There is ALWAYS something happening. It's the most beautiful display of busy yet unhurried; it is purposeful without pressure.
A long stretch where I walk is currently lush and wild with overgrowth. Every day, there is something new to see. Yesterday I saw this plant with pale purple blossoms. Upon closer inspection? There were clusters of blossoms on the same plant in three distinct stages - closed and round like pom-poms, open with tiny purplish flowers, and "gone by" like old paper, paler pink and yellowed at the edges. Just like us, they can be in distinct stages of development in different areas in the same moment.
I saw another flowering plant, this one with larger white blossoms, and I leaned over for zoomed-in scrutiny. Upon closer inspection, there were trails of tiny ants on their way up and down the stem. They were going in and out of the flowers like bees do. Why are they doing that, I wondered, do ants collect pollen and take it back to their queen? You would never know to ask unless you slowed down to really look.
This is what fasting did for me (yup, here's the inevitable part of the post where I make a connection to fasting.) Fasting created a daily time and space that invited a slow down. It created the perfect recipe for intense noticing. With food and digestive "noise" turned off, I could hear my intuition more strongly. In that state, I could take a clear-eyed look at myself and ask deep questions about who I am and what I want for my life. Many questions got answered, and the "unanswerables" took on a new peace, an acceptance that it will all be revealed in time.
It feels like this is where my work is going next - developing self-inquiry tools to help others harness the energy of the closer look at self, at career, at surroundings, at relationships. Because what you find on closer inspection may scare you, may surprise you, may delight you. You never know until you stop and scrutinize!
In the meantime, my new book Unmired is available on Amazon using the affiliate link below: