Tag Archives: Nature

My Northwest Body

Will loved hiking and playing outdoors. We talked about his hopes for a trip to the northwest. He imagined me as his Mom cooking him meals and taking him to places that are special to me on the Olympic peninsula.

No one’s Story is Finished ~Rachel Naomi Remen

The northwest is home. I feel her dampness in my bones. Rain cleanses and heals as I focus on each present moment.

My Rainshadow Body

…is no longer afraid of the Boogie man, running home breathlessly in the dark.

…climbs trees and over fences, loves dogs and horses.

Will © Mary Alice Long

My Animal Body

…is also a red-tailed hawk, raven, sparrow, robin.

…a black-tail deer, Roosevelt elk, harbor seal, orca, sea otter, Olympic marmot.

My Tree Body

…is Douglas and subalpine fir, salal, cedar.

…is boundless and has clear boundaries

…is a dreamer.

Rooted Map © Mary Alice Long

Olympic Peninsula

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Each moment that I bend down to lightly touch a wildflower on the meadow’s edge, look up and notice the clouds drifting between the mountain peaks, or listen to understand Raven’s call brings me happiness. It’s all I need. No more.

Each moment that I…take a photo of subalpine fir tree roots, dig my toes into the sand following a storm, witness a doe leading her newly born twin fawns into the woods, sit by a pond and wait as witness to the unfolding I am remembering.

Each moment I am. The soulfulness of playing. Help me remember.
Rooted Map 2 © Mary Alice Long
Hurricane Ridge Spreading Phlox © Mary Alice Long

Practicing playing in the everyday is not difficult. Do you take your thoughts seriously? We all do. Hold those serious thoughts of yours with a light touch and bring yourself back to each precious moment.

What [moment] is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s this [playful moment],” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite [moment],” said Pooh.

in Gratitude to A A Milne

Want some help in how to embrace everyday moments in your life?

Mary Alice Long, PhD is a play-based, depth-oriented coach, writer, and artist who practices and teaches the ‘Art of Playing in the Everyday’.

Wonder, What is Hidden, What Will Emerge this Spring

When I climb to 5,242 feet, the wind reminds me about momentum and my desire to keep going…

the voices keep shouting their bad advice

I keep going. I know what I must do.

21 inches of new snow has fallen. My snowshoes sink deeply as I create a pathway through the subalpine firs. I stop frequently and am aware just how alive I feel in the midst of such

Beauty. Presence. Presents.

What happens when I have that sinking feeling that something isn’t right? I shut down or take a few awkward steps.

I am hungry and take a bite of nourishment. I am carrying burdens– a pack with necessary gear and stuff I lug around with me all the time. To what end? Can I give all of it to the trees who know so much about shedding when their limbs can no longer bear it?

All around me I hear communities of winged ones, four-leggeds who live under the snow, and insects.

The seekers. The survivors. The sensate.

I plop myself down while I snack. I feel closer, sheltered, grounded. I want to be part of, not separated from. The white all around me provides light. The air clears the way. Instead of wanting to push forward I want to

slow down and listen, deepen, connect with life.

I don’t have my journal or watercolors but I have my phone camera. I start to capture or 

I make an attempt to capture images, the moment, reverie, where I came from, where I am going, what my heart wants to sing, what my gut wants me to know.

So many have been here before me. I am surrounded by my ancestors. Not just two-legged. Ancestors come in many forms. They are all present. This place. I am here to understand and communicate. Dreaming comes easily here. I sink further into the deepening of who I am becoming and what I am called to offer.

In this moment, when I learn of the unwelcome news that Michael’s  P.E.T. scan shows another hot spot (cancer), that my spouse will need surgery–the icycles are hard and frozen. or so it seems. I breathe and remind myself that there is fluidity in all of life. Certainly I am a fluid being. I want to be fluid. The drops of water on my branches are in flow, a stream of consciousness, a river of life.

I am grateful for the inspiration of Hurricane Ridge, a mountainous area in the Olympic National Park, the poems of Mary Oliver, and my 25-year love and creative partner, Michael.

 

 

Playing with Our Natural Habits

Up in the air and over the top of the tree til I can see so far. ~Mary Alice, age 5

Play in the Everyday: Natural Habits

Each day I take a nature walk. Going back to the same place again and again may seem boring to some. For me, it is a reflective practice that helps me deepen my relationship with the natural world and the place I call home.

Daily Nature Walks

There is nothing usual about my daily walks. I walk for miles some days. Other days I walk with Lila, now almost 10-months-old and we stop to sniff and take in the smells all around us.

Right now there is a great deal of pollen in the air. Living in the Northwest we have a good bit of rain or we have overcast skies so musty and damp are common smells to whiff.

I frequently see quail and deer and a variety or roaming dogs and cats. Lila is always eager to play with all of the friends she sees on our walks together whether four-legged, winged, or two-legged but they are not always so eager to play with her!

When I look up and out I see mountains and water just about at every turn. What I see changes quickly. There is nothing static about our relationship. Mountain, Water, Tree, Four-Legged, Winged Ones, and many others along the way converse with me and I listen. I don’t always hear or I don’t know their language–I am always eager to hear what they have to say. I know very little in comparison to what Nature knows and can share with me at every turn.

Its Really Good For Me

There are days when I am involved with writing or have something else to do–

once I am out the door

there is no going back, movement takes over and I’m totally in! realizing just how much I en-joy each and every moment of my walks. I’m re-energized when I return to my writing or whatever I was involved in before leaving home. AND I haven’t missed out on all the wonder and awe I experience as I walk–create deepening, soulful relationships with place and the natural world.

Sometimes I see evidence of broken relationships with nature. Trees cut down, garbage haphazardly thrown on the side of the road and scattered in fields. Animals mistreated. When I witness brokenness of this sort I remember,

Since we are inclined to care and protect who and what we love, ‘falling in love’ with the natural world…is a key ingredient for creating a peaceful, healthy and just world…it’s critical to find those places that stir our awe and wonder. ~Zoe Weil, Institute for Humane Education President

Playing Outdoors is a Priority

It is now my playful habit to walk daily. Often I take my camera along. Being the photographer places me in the position of witness and recorder. 

Sometimes I take a small notebook with me or carry along a portable watercolor kit so I can paint. You might see me recording some of my thoughts as an audio file or creating a small video to share. Talking with another walker or stopping to share a treat with one of the dogs or horses along the way.

Some ‘play notes’ from my journal:

I don’t feel as safe here as I use to

I’m out of breath. Can I outlast them? Outrun them?

Oh, I can move past that obstacle easily

I’m all for greater play-diversity in my habit-[at].

Want to create some new playful habits of your own?

THE PLAYFUL JOURNEY RETREAT is a half-day gathering that can be accessed by phone from wherever you are.The Playful…