Tag Archives: nature

Going Pro

I have decided to become a professional photographer so I can better develop my blog/magazine; it seems like a natural progression to enhance my words by adding photos. Even though my phone’s camera works very well, it is not satisfying my artistic vision, especially when it comes to taking pictures of wildlife and nature.

I see stories everywhere I go, some that I would dearly love to unravel through the eye of my lens, and the words of my interpretation.

The idea of leaving for the day with my camera-bag slung over my shoulder, to wander the forests, rivers, fields, and trails of all the beautiful places I love to visit; sounds like an adventurous dream to me. I would also enjoy taking photos of old buildings, gardens, design ideas, and to capture candid snapshots of daily life.

Just yesterday while on my neighborhood walk, an elder man was carefully making his way up the street, pushing a small shopping cart with a few grocery bags. Appearing out of nowhere, several miles in any direction from a store, there he was walking right past me. Dressed in winter-wear from head to toe, elegant in his movements, he seemed to step out of a scene from another place in time. He had stopped to fuss with his bags, and as I drew near we both smiled and greeted one another. I was filled with curiosity and wanted to ask him so many questions, like…was walking to the grocery store something he did often… how much further did he have to go…does he have a wife waiting at home ready to help unpack their supplies…or did he live alone with his cat…how pray tell, has he been holding up during these difficult times?!

Note* Any photos I take of random people are from a distance, and do not show their face out of respect for the individual’s privacy, unless I otherwise have their permission to do something more formal.

Luckily for him I was feeling quiet and asked none of these things, although most people are charmed by my friendliness, and usually responsive to my chattiness — I was too comfortable in my solitude to say anything beyond hello. Understandingly, by his age he has lived through the after-effects of the Great Depression and several wars. Perhaps this is why I perceived a certain easy-going-travel-weariness that enveloped him like a cloud. Having already endured so much, his suffering through a pandemic, insurrection, domestic terrorists, combined with political corruption, was nothing more than a regular day in his life. In my imaginings, (because at the end of the day that’s all I had, having no real idea who he is or how he thinks) I admired his savoir faire attitude. Maybe in the future I will be the same way, unmoved by outside chaos, and no longer surprised by the fall of man.

You can’t say *savoir faire* and not also be reminded of this!

I consider myself a visual storyteller, teacher, and inspirational writer, so I think adding photography to my repertoire is the next step. It’s hard not to be intimidated by the cost of a good camera, not to mention needing to buy a new computer that is able to handle editing programs crucial to my expanding career.

I am trying to justify spending such an exorbitant amount of money while I am currently unemployed and living off of prayers. It would be a gigantic leap of faith to believe I could become skilled in something so technical. I am an artist, so hopefully photography will come easy for me. Although I am able to self-learn, I will most likely have to take a few classes, and maybe find myself a willing mentor.

Either way, I believe it’s never too late to begin something new. I have been lost in the land of despair for so long it feels good to be inspired again with my writing and now perfecting my use of photos/videos.

When I lived in Southern California, for several years as a young adult I lived within feet of the boardwalk in Mission Beach. This was back in the early 80’s, I didn’t know it then, but those were my glory years. Too bad they were also filled with so much angst, but I still had some of the happiest and most memorable times of my life there.

My daughter and I went home to San Diego to visit my family in 2018, and it was such a joy to revisit my youth.

Back then, being a little more daring than I am now, I would get up every morning and walk to the boardwalk, coffee in one hand and roller skates in the other. Outfitted in my beach girl uniform; mini skirt, bikini, favorite Grateful Dead t-shirt, my Sony walk-man and headphones, I would lace up my skates, put on my music and fly down the boardwalk. I averaged about 60 miles a week, and would skate both day and night. I loved those times and smile in my memories to see myself navigating around bicyclists, surfer boys, scantily clad girls, skate boarders, and a myriad of other fine characters….especially because I wasn’t the greatest at stopping or going over curbs. It’s a miracle I survived.

Me, probably around 22 years young, when I lived at the beach. Thank you to my friend Russel for taking this photo!

To this day I can feel the sunshine, cool wind in my hair, and the sound of Cream, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Eagles, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and all of my favorite bands blasting in my ears. Never have I felt so free!

On quieter nights, I would walk along the boardwalk with the Pacific Ocean to one side, and the wealthy beach front owners, or those who could afford summer rentals, on the other. I loved looking in the windows (not in a creepy way) but to catch casual glimpses of people going about their daily lives. I have always been fascinated by the mysteriousness of how others live, which is one of the reasons why I like to write.

If you have ever lived at a beach in Southern California, you would know that most people tend to enjoy a life of celebration, especially on the weekends. I would see versions of this playing out everywhere, some functions private and small, others grandiose, with families and people of all ages and backgrounds. Often we would find ourselves pushing our way through a sudden crowd of keg drinking party goers spilling out onto the boardwalk, dancing to some live band tucked tightly into a corner patio. Obviously we didn’t have cell phones back then so I never really had a camera handy. Too busy making memories, but I wish I would have taken more photos.

I looked up, “How to be a Professional Photographer” which was slightly discouraging. The first thing I read was that since we all carry a phone with a built in camera, almost everyone has illusions of being a photographer. This sort of brought me down a peg or two, as I know I have an incredible amount of information to learn, but I am determined to begin my journey either way.

Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t the most creative of roller skaters. Some people could literally dance circles around me, many could skate backwards, and leap over curbs with such dexterity I would be in total awe.

Here is a local legend, filmed on the exact same boardwalk I spent years on. I love what he has to say, this video is totally worth watching.

Nonetheless, I had the most wonderful time being the best I could be. I understand there will always be amazing photographers better than me, most who have studied for years, with experiences and equipment I may never have, but I won’t let this prevent me from following my dream.

I will do it my way, and on my roller skates!

In Professional Peace, Raven

These are actually my daughter’s skates, hers are much more modern. Back in my day the stopper was in the back, which always made me feel like I was going to fall over backwards. Never did I wear a helmet, that absolutely did not go with my California beach girl outfit!

Watering My Plants

Today is watering-my-house-plants-day, which is something I do once a week when I know I will be home alone. It’s a dedicated time that I set aside specifically for their care. Tending to my plants has slowly evolved over the years from being a basic chore to a sacred ritual that I find very calming.

Being surrounded by my plants brings me such happiness; they are my ever flourishing reminders to the beauty of nature.

I believe creating rituals that are significant to you, will strengthen your ‘soul-er system,’ by opening up pathways between your body, mind, and heart. This holistic perspective will give you the clarity to live a life that is more genuine, purposeful, and truer to your inner convictions.

Traditionally, many rituals are practiced by performing a meaningful course of actions, with the intent to honor and/or connect with the divine. However, rituals don’t always have to be elaborate in order to be authentic: you can easily take a simple routine such as making your morning meal and turn it into a ceremony of gratitude, just by adding purpose and higher intention to your actions.

My leafy pals are my daily companions, each with a different personality, energy, and personal story. For instance, I found my giant Fern on the side of the road while on a walk last Summer. Another time while driving I saw a person about to place this full grown Spider plant on the curb. I quickly pulled over and they handed it right to me.

My large aloe, and pink geraniums were freely given to me by a generous gardener two summers ago. She carefully dug them up from the ground and I brought them home wrapped in a blanket, dirt and all. They are now potted so I can bring them outside during the warmth of summer, then back in for the cooler months.

These origin stories are only a small part of what I see as I water each one: they are also reminders of who I was when they first arrived and who I have now become in the present. Watching my plant friends evolve through the changing seasons has been a helpful way for me to measure my own personal growth.

Recently, my potted geraniums have begun flowering, which is amazing since we are in the coldest part of winter; they are very pretty against the backdrop of ice and snow.

Establishing rituals can support one’s belief in the divine, and manifest the possibility that we are part of something magnificent and holy. By our very actions we become active participants in beauty.

baby bay leaf tree and thyme

Watching my plants grow in size and seeing their newly sprouted leaves is so rewarding. Some of my favorite plants bloom throughout the year: delicate little whites, tubular fuchsias, purples, and rosy pinks, all blessings of joy to brighten my world; I have several heirloom varieties of scented geraniums: lemon, apricot, nutmeg, lime, and orange, along with my organic herbs: rosemary, oregano, and lavender, all delightfully fragrant and pleasing to the senses. I also have the added joy of caring for my friend’s Patchouli plant while she is away being a ‘traveling nurse hero’ during this pandemic.

patchouli plant

I find the ancient custom of rituals found in different religions and cultures to be fascinating, which is why I follow my own. I have learned in my quest for emotional healing that rituals can help reduce anxiety, just by the weight of comfort and stability they provide by performing familiar steps. Rituals offer up a sense of spiritual continuity which by its very nature is a reminder of peace.

My three eldest are trees, two Ficus, and a Norfolk Pine, all standing over 6 feet tall. We have known each other now for more than a decade. They have been my non-judgmental, supporting witnesses during significant times in my life, such as raising my children, divorce, financial struggles, romance, loss, and of course everything else woven in between.

Many leaves have since fallen, and dried branches broken off, yet we continue to thrive and reach for the sun.

I know my plants are happy to be here and I sincerely believe they love when I compliment and praise their beauty. I am also certain we have the same taste in music.

Prayer, walking, cleaning your house, building a fire, preparing meals, bathing, making a cup of tea, writing, exercise, art, gardening, can all be forms of rituals if you want them to be. The key is to stay mindfully focused, step by step, and to engage your entire self in the process; body, mind, heart and soul.

In Ritualistic Peace, May we Walk in Beauty, Raven

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life. I think ritual is terribly important.”

Joseph Campbell

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Cloak of Leaves

 We all wear changing cloaks as we walk through life, protecting us from what is not comfortable, hiding vulnerabilities, while also expressing the beauty of how we want to be seen. Only when we are able to stand before friends and loved ones, even our perceived enemies, uncovered without armor, do we reflect the truth of what really lies within.

photo by Deven, Maine Woods

Trees have always been sacred to me. Something about their graceful strength fills my heart with a sense of eternity. Many times have I smoothed my hand over the rough bark just to feel the vibration of their songs echo through my soul.

Winter is here, and I am happy to hibernate for as long as I can while still enjoying the great outdoors. I love this time of quiet solitude, when most people are hidden away in their homes. I try to walk every day, not just for the health of my body, but to be refreshed by the beauty of nature. I have several trees I stop to visit with along the way. They tell me how nice it is to trust the rhythm of our earth, and how tranquil it is to feel the gentle scrolling of passing time, from the earliest of morning rays, into the darkness of setting night.

When I moved here to New England, a lifetime ago, it was in late Autumn. The trees that had been so lush when I visited one summer as a teen, now stood naked and unadorned. Coming from Southern California, I was unused to seeing trees without leaves, and in their starkness I felt such loss.


 A wise friend of mine who has been my spiritual mentor for several decades helped me to see through different eyes. I will always remember the comfort of her words;

This is when they are most beautiful. Each tree stripped down to bare bones, no longer hiding behind a cloak of leaves, revealing their soul essence.

Seeing them this way now brings me such joy. I appreciate my winter walks so much more for being able to view their divinity from my new perspective. I count myself lucky for each and every moment that I get to spend in their healing presence.

photo by Deven, along the beach in Maine

As I saunter through neighborhood streets, and forests far and wide, trees of every size surround me wherever I go. The lines and curves of each branch outline my path, creating sculptures against the sky. I may not always know their names, but they are my dearest companions.

With Spring still many miles up the road, and then suddenly just around the corner, I will be ready when it arrives to enjoy one of my favorite sights: newly sprouted leaves, vivid and bright, magically coloring the canvas of our world. No matter how many times I witness the blooming of creation, I am amazed how miraculous the birth of a leaf can be.

Photo by Math on Pexels.com

Life constantly gives us a chance to clothe ourselves in something brand new, opening our eyes and waking us up to possibilities.  Like the trees we are able to shed what no longer brings substance. Gazing inward, we let go and allow the ever flowing beauty of transformation to begin. Only in the coldness of winter, with our roots digging deep into the earth, are we able to feel the warmth of the sun gently nudging us awake.

Having lost my leaves before the solstice, I will be ready when the light of spring returns to clothe myself once again into something beautifully my own. Vulnerable, yet protected in my bareness, I am grateful for this time of drowsy slumber, knowing my new leafy cloak will fully express the sacredness of all that I have grown into, and will also soon become.  

Trusting, I lift my branches high up to the sun, confident my new leaves will symbolize everything that is right and perfect for me.

In Beauty May We Grow~ Raven 

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Two Swans

I woke up early this morning and walked over to my sliding glass door and looked outside. I am blessed to live on a lake, with my bedroom facing the water. My door opens out into my yard, making it easy to escape whenever I want, especially at night when I visit the stars.

view from my lake side door

For any other exit, I would have had to walk right through my daughter’s room, interrupting her dreams. Our home was built in the 50’s and was meant to be a vacation place. When the previous owners decided to live here full time, to make it more habitable, they added on my bedroom, with a half bath, and a great family room overlooking the lake. They nicely built three large windows up high to let the light in. Often I can see the moon at night.

Because of this my house is small, with an interesting layout, which is why I have to walk through another bedroom just to get to mine, but we are very cozy. We can see the water from several rooms, so the peace and beauty of living here makes up for any longings for extra storage, and bigger spaces. I am grateful for all that I have. Living next to a body of water is soothing to my soul, and with the added benefit of being surrounded by wildlife, I find it always healing.

Beavers, snapping, painted and musk turtles, serenading frogs, muskrats, giant carp and other fish, eagles, great blue herons, turkey vultures, crows, and many other creatures, have all become my daily companions.

I frequently find myself with my face pressed against the glass, without any remembrance of how I happened to arrive. My feet seem to know when I need a little peace, and they bring me here often to gaze out.

Even my dog Skadi likes looking out over the water

Many ducks live on our lake, including a new breed that has migrated here from Canada called the Bufflehead. A flock of seagulls hang out with them, as well as the local mergansers and wood ducks. They meander together, a fine feathered community, seemingly without destination, looking for food. Canadian geese are frequent fliers, they live here year around, and are beautiful to observe. I love to watch them fly in overhead only to splash- dive in perfect formation on to the lake, loudly proclaiming their arrival. My winged majestic friends.

This morning when I peered out, two swans were swimming by, I haven’t seen swans on the lake for over a year, maybe longer. Time is a blur since I have become a pandemic hermit. I grabbed my phone and ran barefoot outside in my nightgown. The ground was frozen and rough under my feet, it was 27 degrees.

The swans were singing together, something I had never heard before. Trumpeting softly, taking turns, they welcomed the light of the rising sun, while celebrating their devotion to each other. Swans are known to mate for life (some will say it’s to raise their growing family, but I think it’s more). Nature is our reflection, and I believe we are here to not just coexist, but to learn from each other. Swimming in the same direction, moving in harmony, sharing beauty, enjoying companionship, and trusting our loved ones will remain by our side. That all sounds lovely to me.

Birds of a feather, flock together

In Peace, Raven

Into The Woods

Being the high-spirited kind of woman I am, I have a lot of energy I need to release, so it’s important I get outside as often as possible, no matter what season it is. During this year of trauma, it has become even more crucial to stay active to maintain my peace of mind. I usually walk around our lake which is pretty and very soothing, especially since I don’t have to drive, but sometimes I need to get away from it all and go where I can be totally immersed in nature.

Our lake

These past few months, my boys and I have been escaping into the woods as often as possible, but it’s been frustrating because of all the other people who have the same idea. Our last couple of adventures we’ve had to veer off the main path just to get away from everyone, and as a result we have enjoyed some new and interesting trails.

Recently, in the middle of nowhere, we came across these logs that had been cut into weight lifting equipment. It was such a strange sight and it took us a few minutes to make sense of it all. Perhaps we found the hidden gym of a Yeti.

My family and I are a bunch of night owls, and have been sleeping in later and later every morning. By the time we find ourselves out among the trees, we only have so much time to hike before it gets dark. There is always something very magical about seeing the sunset, and when you are in the middle of the winter woods it’s especially lovely.

Yesterday, to flee from hikers who were coming upon us from every direction, we found ourselves on a wonderful trail that led us over a rushing stream. The path was steep in some places, but with the help of mother nature’s stepping stones, it was easily navigated. Much of the snow had melted and the vibrant green moss peeking out through the fallen leaves was gorgeous. At one point we were surrounded by giant rocks that formed into small caves and deep crevices. I am sure there had to be a sleeping bear close by.

We had somewhat of a map on our phones, but it wasn’t clear how much further we had to travel before we ended up back on the main path. Finally we had to turn around before it got too dark. We ended up walking over 4 miles and getting to our car just in time. I felt tired, but greatly renewed from our grand adventure. I love these times with my family. My children are all young adults, and I know eventually they will be moving on one day, and it won’t be so easy just to take off into the woods. Exploring the sacredness of nature together, and the wonderful conversations we share while doing so, are memories that I will cherish forever.