Nature

Deeply Awake – Guest Post by Zoë Trout

Have you ever come across an essay and thought, “Wow! Another human being understands the way I view the world!” As a writer, a quiet observer of humans, I’m constantly wondering if others have the same sensitive intuition as me. When Zoë emailed asking if she could post on my blog, and I read her essay, I inhaled deeply into her words. She gets it. She’s wired like me, at least a little bit. I’ve got sisters and brothers and sensitive folk out there doing the same beautiful work as me. I feel honored to share her perspective. From one beauty seeker to another, write on.

Author: Zoë Trout
Blog: https://speckonaspeck.wordpress.com/

Her favorite quote: “i thank You God for most this amazing / day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees / and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes”  – e. e. cummings

Lately I’ve wanted to write about beauty. When I say lately, I mean for months—
and for months I haven’t written a thing. It daunts me to render something so
vast and brilliant in plain words, and my mind spirals in a hundred directions. I
still don’t know how the thoughts will come together. What I know is that beauty
wants to be written about. It’s been knocking softly over these months of
avoidance, and I’ve come into surrender, and so begin.

. . .

Our acquaintance is long, I’ve always loved beautiful things. When I was little I
slipped into imagination easily and intuitively and no one demanded answers. I
collected beautiful images in a mental folio for daydreams, pouring over
photographs in coffee table books, and copies of O magazine and House &
Garden. I treasured a calendar with pictures of French countryside, and pictured
my own “some day” life nested in fine art and stylish decor in a beautiful setting.
The appeal extended beyond possessions, I wanted my whole being to be a
beautiful thing. I sat on the big purple couch in our living room and practiced
writing in cursive over and over, pouring my attention into the loops of o’s & p’s
& b’s, and the quick, elegant peaks of lowercase r’s—it wasn’t task so much as joy.
I wrote, and drew, and painted; I took pride in helping my mom choose furniture
and fabrics, and in laying out outfits for her to wear. I courted loveliness with the
unspoken belief that it would enrich my life, or really that it already was.

I continued to harbor that belief as I began to grow up. Driver’s license in hand,
many of my first independent trips were to beautiful places that made the world
feel quiet and deep. I went outside, into green spaces and under trees. I went into
chapels and galleries, and visited art I loved. I sat before text and pictures, and let
myself steep in their harmonies. I obeyed the same gravitational pull that lured
me into daydreams, the same finger wagging me towards pockets of delight. I
followed enchantment with beautiful things.

Beauty inspired more substantial decisions, too. In high school I let it direct me
to my first job in a restaurant with windows on a stylish plant nursery across a
little green lawn. At night Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday swam through the
candlelight like honey and kept the restaurant glowing. I wasn’t always excited
for long shifts on my feet but my delight was renewed in going to a beautiful
place, and getting to be part of its melody. When I had to choose a college, an
impalpable charm drew me to the school I attended on first glance. Even from the
car, its campus had the same lyrical poise as a poem, and held me under the same
power of awe.

I would go on to choose apartments the same way, and find myself laying tracks
in beautiful spaces wherever I went. Now, I often get pressed into the fog of daily obligations and then wake up to some physical grace, like a silk scarf, or leaves on
a tree branch, twirling together madly in a sudden breath. Out of the daily plod of
emails, errands, and hourly pay emerges something plainly extraordinary, like
sun on the grass, and my spirit lights anew. Sometimes I don’t watch the road as
carefully as I should in the car; my eyes drag on glassy pond-tops, shop windows
and wings outstretched in the sky; my heaven is a perch with a view.

. . .

The question of vanity is raised, and also the question of escape. Isn’t it
superficial to swoon for aesthetics? Isn’t it irresponsible to abandon screens and
numbers and the high-stakes sport of “figuring out?” What do you get from
simple reverie? The spreadsheet and the checkbook demand an answer. The
insurance company demands an answer, and the accountant, and the banker, and
the boss.

For a long time I asked these questions, too. I thought I must use beauty as a
means to escape or avoid, running away to a false palace of my mind. I assumed
my delight was undisciplined. I reasoned that it was, by nature, a weakness.
It’s easy to confuse immersion with escape.

Today I know the difference. I still seek out brilliance in nature and art, and
anything else that stills my soul. It’s no secret that I know how to escape, and
have plenty of practice, but now I see that beauty never asks me to hide.
Submerging into wonder might look going to sleep, and perhaps it is a kind of
numbing to the outside world. It asks to be prioritized over tasks and lists and
news headlines. It asks that I surrender thinking, and let myself be led. But on the
other side of that quiet I hear my own harmony in a timeless choir. I come to
know myself as lovely and beloved. I come home to my necessity in the great,
mosaicked mystery of everything alive.

The world may continue to question. All I can offer is heartbeat, and sky reflected
in my eyes. All I can do is continue, pen in hand; there’s more to see and more to
say. I keep an eye out for wonder, and the discovery reminds me I am never
asleep in beauty, but only more deeply awake.


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Zoë Trout was born and raised in Texas and studied English and psychology at the College of William & Mary. Despite living in the Boston area, she harbors a deep affinity for the South and enjoys memoirs, contemplative poetry, and traveling widely. She has previously worked as a university writing consultant and served on the editorial board of The William and Mary Review, and she continues to write creative nonfiction while working in mental healthcare.
You can read more of Zoë’s work by following her blog, where she writes about growing up, living with purpose, and finding meaning in a noisy world.
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Beauty Happens Every Night – All Around the World – Guest Post by Charlotte

Another Twitter connection. Another delightful person working bravely to write, create, and appreciate gifts right under her nose. Check out this sensory guest post from Charlotte Underwood. I love how she reminds us we don’t have to venture far to find experiences that please the senses.

Author: Charlotte Underwood
Blog: www.charlotteunderwoodauthor.com

Her Favorite Quote: “Time passes, people move. Like a river’s flow, it never ends. A childish mind will turn to noble ambition. Young love will become deep affection. The clear water’s surface reflects growth. Now listen to the Serenade of water to reflect upon yourself.” – Sheik

Nature is a gift that we receive every day and yet seem to ignore and maybe even act ungrateful for. It’s easy to forget that in our ever-increasing urban lifestyle, that we are on the doorstep of some of earths most beautiful creations.

I have always been infatuated with the beauty of nature and the little gems that the world provides us, memories of me playing in the mud, dancing under blossom trees and going on adventures through woods and dipping my toes in the hidden lakes of my hometown; these are the ones that showed me true happiness, love and awe, it reminded me of life.

Now, I must admit that as an adult with severe anxiety, I do tend to ignore the world that I crave all too much. I want nothing more than to pack up and travel the world, to see each of the wonders of the world and to experience every culture known to man; but for now, that is but a dream but one that I will achieve.

Until I am able to jet off, it doesn’t mean that I can’t make the most of my local area, we all seem for forget that our own towns and neighborhoods contain some truly beautiful sights. Be it the park that has contains a pond full of rainbow fish or a building that fills your mind with curiosity, when was the last time you actually took the moment to look and to ponder, to let that imagination flow.
My old garden and the memories of it has become my happy place when things start to get hard for me, because the environment it gave filled me with such warmth and safety; I’ll never forget it. I used to lie on top of my trampoline in the evening, with the sun glistening through the trees the enveloped my garden and caressed my cheek, I could hear the birds sing and the trees sway in the wind that was tickling my toes, this was happiness.

I can no longer sit in that garden but the memory will last a lifetime and also, right now, like you, I am surrounded by opportunity that will surely leave me breathless and thankful. A short drive away from my home is my local beach and while it is not the prettiest, have you ever sat and watched the sunset on a beach? Where the sun shines a golden coat across the coast and then folds into a hypnotic shade of purple before darkness fades in? This happens every night, all around the world and yet so many of us, even those who literally live on the doorstep will miss out – why?

Mother nature is an artist with the most precious and fine creations that not one person could ever mimic, with no cost or trap to experience the beauty and lust of these masterpieces, it seems almost wasteful that we do not spend more time appreciating what is right under our noses.


Hunstanton

Charlotte Underwood is a young 22 year old from Norfolk, UK. She is a growing mental health advocate and likes to use writing to inform and support.

You can follow her blog,  where she posts a lot about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide. She hopes to raise awareness as well as end the stigma. You can follow her on Twitter.

Spring Blossoms

Spring Blossoms

Aren’t these blossoms beautiful? Pleasing to the senses? The internet is blowing up with pictures of blossoms, and people asking us to stop and appreciate these delicate, short lived pops of beauty. I am loving all of the flowering trees that are coming up around town, even if they are making me sneeze and the Zyrtec come out in full force. What I love about this picture too, is that if you look into the background you can see parents waiting and watching as kids play soccer. What you can’t see are the sounds those parents are making. The house I grew up in backs right up to a small neighborhood park, and the cheering voices of soccer games drifted into my family’s life to become the sound track of Saturday mornings in both the spring and fall. It is comforting to know those games are still happening, and even more comforting to know that I sometimes get to hear that soundtrack again. Can you tell I’m balancing between growing up and finding comfort in my roots? Maybe that’s an underlying theme here that I didn’t anticipate noticing about myself.

Anyways, I love these blossoms. The day after I took this picture we got a spring snow. Welcome to Colorado, right? Where you never know when you can put away those boots and settle into the next season. The snow flakes were thick, and cold, and slushy, and they covered up all of the brave, budding little plants that are trying their hardest to push their way into this earth. I noticed that these blossoms turned inward, protecting themselves from the cold and they drooped a little, shivering as the wind whispered between them, threatening their existence. Sometimes, that’s kinda how I feel on this journey of looking for beauty. Sometimes in life things are feeling really good, positive, like change is being made and things are being accomplished. And then a cold wind blows – an uncomfortable experience, or a harsh word said by a co-worker, and I want to turn inwards, away from the wind, and away from those experiences that make me question my own place in this world. Because goodness, sometimes doesn’t it seem like the world works pretty hard at making us feel small, and unworthy of showing our true beauty.

Maybe this journey of exploring beautiful things isn’t always going to feel %100 beautiful – is that paradoxical? I’m not sure I’m communicating exactly what’s swirling around in my head this week. But I know that I am trying my hardest to blossom, to break out of that little protective shell, and stand against the elements and say, “here I am, please appreciate me.” But a part of me knows too, that this beauty comes in seasons; we shrink, petals fall, and then we get the courage and the time and the opportunity to grow and try again and resurface and say, “here I am, beautiful like last time, just a little different.” Oh the lessons nature can teach me. I’m kinda into it. I started some tomato plants this week, and basil, and flowers in a pot. We will see how I do – I’ve never really gardened before.

Easter Eggs with MommaI also got the chance to have fun and be creative with Easter eggs. This is a tradition I’ll never be too old for. This year we just felt a little bit more sophisticated in our design. Thank goodness for Pinterest, and my mom who will still blow out the yokes of the eggs into a bowl so I can decorate the hollow, fragile shell. Again, beauty in the delicate nature of life. And beauty that I didn’t have to get egg goop in my mouth (still a child here… what can I say?) My mom said I should practice for motherhood and start doing these messy things – let’s put the breaks on that one please. Tonight, there is supposed to be a lunar eclipse. I’m not sure I will be able to stay up until midnight to watch it. I’m getting kinda old. Maybe Jimmy Fallon can help. We’ve been watching on Hulu, and that man is funny! I think when I look back on this time of uncertainty, or this stage of life, I will be able to say that this search for beauty and Jimmy Fallon helped to keep me grounded. You never know what is going to come your way. What areas are you growing in? What is threatening your beauty or your place on this earth? What is helping you stay grounded?

Also, for a throw back laugh, I thought I’d share this really bizarre picture. These are my Barney slippers from when I was little.I can’t believe my parents kept photo 1-4them, but they certainly make me laugh. Apparently, I’d never take them off and I had a nightgown to match. Commercialism at it’s finest. Aren’t those little lizards creepy?