The Cleansing of the Tides


It beckons to you
seducing you with it’s rhythmic waves that soothe the restless soul
entoning the beat of the heart, the spirit, the world
until all is washed away whole
With each breath, each wave bringing new treasures
new mysteries for us to awe and admire
and, though cleansing, it is not without pain
it is passion without fire
The vast endlessness calling explorers to voyage
and broken-hearted poets to dream
all in search of the same enlightenment
in mother nature’s arms at sea
For me, you have returned me home
to a place in my heart that I have sometimes forgot
Quieting my demons, clearing my mind
filling me with that once lost
Mustang Island, TX
October 2014

Childhood Alfresco

Happiness, Parenting
My childhood was no where near glamorous. We didn’t live in the lap of luxury. We were poor at times. We were lower middle class during the best of times. But my childhood was nothing if not fun. I thank my mother for much of that fact. Her love for travel and the outdoors kept us exploring most of the United States throughout my whole childhood. Couple this with my love for reading and all things mystical and beautiful, any small expedition sparked my imagination so that it could become a great journey in my mind and in my soul.
With my mother’s blood flowing through my veins and her love for exploring in my heart, I find myself frequently dragging our kids along on some expedition. Clarify: when you have four kids, any little trip is an expedition. Sometimes there’s whining and complaining. There’s pretty much always some form of fighting and/or arguing, in between them all. And there may be times that at some point our adventure seems like more work than it’s worth. But the truth is… THEY LOVE IT. As do I.
It was one of our most recent little adventures that led me to realize the extent of how much our children love exploring and being outdoors. For my step-son’s birthday, we called it a day-off for everyone. We packed up in the minivan and drove out to Red Rock Canyon, Oklahoma. A short trip from our suburban home in Oklahoma City, Red Rock Canyon is a fun place to go. Locally, it is a well known state park, albeit a small one. There are no towering mountains. But there are trails for hiking and rock walls for climbing. There are small playground areas with swings and slides, a small pond for fishing, and a wistful stream that runs through it. There’s a swimming pool open during the summer time along with a concession stand. The canyon walls that surround it are the most unique feature of this country park, with their red sandstone that set apart so brightly from the trees and the sky. As a kid, I can remember coming here with my parents.  Running around, hiking, and collecting rose rocks. There is nothing fancy about this sparse, but nature filled place. It’s beauty is primarily in the rustic nature and pure uniqueness of the surroundings. You have to look to see the beauty here. You have to be willing and interested, otherwise it would be easy to just see a red dirt canyon with not a lot to do other than wander around in the woods.
This is how I realized how open our childrens’ eyes are to the beauty of the outdoors. They were intrigued by every shade of rock. They wanted to follow every path to see where it led. They climbed every canyon wall they could conquer to see what lie atop. And they appreciated every view they beheld during their climbs. They stopped to carve their names in the sandstone, with full belief that it may remain there for an eternity. They found long sticks and used them as staffs and walking sticks. Each of them, regardless of their difference in age (they range from 19 months to 12 years) loved to be under the blue sky exploring this new and unchartered territory.
On a day to day basis our four kids are completely happy to play XBox games, watch movies, laugh at videos on YouTube, and play on our iphones. But after seeing that natural excitement come out in them all so easily, that inborn want to explore the world and be one with nature, I can’t help but think that I am doing them a disservice if I don’t actively support for them a childhood filled with nature and the outdoors.
When I was a child, a small Oklahoma red dirt ditch was a mountainous ravine in which my Barbies and my brother’s GI Joes fought along side one another to defend the universe. Every unturned board in the pasture had the potential to be hiding a snake or a gold mine underneath. The country was mine to explore and imagine. There are so many ways to find a connection to the world, but is there any so natural as discovering, exploring, and enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer?
There are many things that we need to provide for our children: food, shelter, material needs, emotional support, healthcare, love, education, compassion. The list may have no end. But there is another important fundamental element that we need to provide our children access to in order to help them grow and learn in the world: the chance to commune with nature, to live a childhood natural and unbridled, to feel that innocent and inborn desire to explore, if only for moments at a time.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  ~Kahlil Gibran

Endless Blue

Healthy Living

I come here with no pre-conceived notions of finding any major spiritual enlightenment or answers to life changing questions. I just know what makes me feel better. Sometimes, often times, I get so busy with life that I become overwhelmed. My priorities get all out of whack while I’m busy trying to manage all my responsibilities. My head is full and cloudy with plans, worries, fears, doubt, and questions. What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? Am I doing everything I’m supposed to be doing? Sometimes I get so busy with my working, worrying, and planning that I forget the most important things in life. For example, how good the sun feels on my skin, how much I love the cool, crisp air and the colors of fall, and how beautiful a sunset can be.

I grab my phone and ear buds and head for the trail. Music is probably my favorite part of my run. I love music, but I get so busy I forget to listen to it. I get so wrapped up in my own thoughts, I forget to even turn on the radio while I’m driving or put on a CD while I clean the house. I used to consider this a good thing. I was actually proud of myself for thinking so much. Now, I think it’s kind of stupid. Why am I always so busy? Doesn’t my brain deserve a break? Isn’t allowing my nerves to relax and recharge just as important as all those tasks on my daily ‘to do’ list?

I put in my ear buds and tune into Pandora on my phone. Today is definitely a Cake day. Many days are. Sometimes I want something different, some Stevie Nicks or Joan Jett, techno or dubstep. But, Cake is always good. I start down the trail at a casual pace.. “while Frank Sinatra sings stormy weather, the flies and spiders get along together.'” It’s a beautiful day outside. It is fall in Oklahoma, just before sunset. Fall is probably the prettiest time of year here. The sky is blue and cloudless. The trees are various shades of yellow, gold, orange, red, and green. Some are just dead. Yes, fall is beautiful in Oklahoma. It’s too bad that it only lasts for about a week. The temperatures were in the triple digits less than a month ago, and we will probably have our first freeze just anytime now.

I pass the quarter-mile marker and begin to run. The course is a mile and a half and wraps around a quaint park in south Oklahoma City. It’s short and sweet. I notice the pretty young girls that are running in the opposite direction. That seems to be the majority of the runners today: pretty, young, female twenty-somethings in short shorts and tiny tank tops. This might make me feel uncomfortable, if I cared. Me, with my fitted black t-shirt speckled with sketches of neon fairies and my baggy gray work out pants. But I really don’t care. I am not here to impress anyone or look cool. I am here for myself. And my sanity. I pass the half mile marker. A slight pain in my side reminds me that I am not a twenty-something anymore. The first half mile always seems to be the hardest. I am a bit out of shape, and my stamina isn’t what it once was. Some days, about this time, I might give myself a break, save myself from a little pain. Sometimes pain is fun and refreshing. Sometimes it’s not. Today I go for it. I pick up my pace. The slight brisk breeze feels good and I’m glad it’s not a windy day like it so often is in Oklahoma. As I round the bend, my muscles begin to ache, and I feel the sweat start to boil up on my forehead and neck. But, I also feel my mind begin to clear. As my muscles fight for oxygen and my lungs and heart strive to keep up, my brain has no time to worry about bills or broken promises. There’s only room in my head for the most essential of thoughts. Breathe. Move. Breathe. I find myself thanking my Maker for the legs I have to run on, for this beautiful day, glorious sky, and the shining sun. Earth. Wind. Fire. My appreciation is overwhelming. This is all I need. The Earth beneath my feet, the cool Wind to caress my overheating body, and the blazing Fire in the sky that warms my skin and nourishes my soul. The sky is an Endless Blue, without a cloud to be seen. The sky is one of Oklahoma’s most beautiful features, in my opinion. We have no real mountains to obstruct your view and not hardly any large cities. So, we don’t even have sky scrapers to get in the way. The sky goes on forever, and today it is an endless blue.

“Well, you started out with nothing, and you found out you’re a self-made man..” I love this song. It always reminds me of the movie Reservoir Dogs. My hips sway so much to the music, I may as well be dancing rather than running. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you…” I finish out my mile of running and allow myself to casually walk again. My spirits are already higher than they were when I first arrived to the park. My head feels clearer, as if while I was working up a sweat my brain was working to put away all those useless thoughts and worries. A group of young boys are playing soccer in the adjacent field. The ball rolls out onto the path. A man walking a German shepherd hurries to retrieve it and roll it back to the children. Kindness. Politeness. I like that.

I enjoy a relaxing stroll and a little bit of people watching before I return to my run. I note that some of the tiny tank tops are on some pretty and physically fit females more in the 40-something range. I rejoice in this. It gives me something to work for and look forward to. “Dancing and chanting in sacrificial rite. Your feet are dried with the ashes from dead babies, who have passed the test just like all the rest, But never really understood the reasons why they took it in the first place…” – Cake. Their lyrics can be so strange and don’t always seem to make sense. I think that’s why I love them so much. “Pentagram” is probably their strangest song, that I know of at least. I hadn’t heard it in forever. The crazy lyrics shock me out of my wandering state of mind. And then I giggle at my own astonishment. That is why I love them.

I’m about half way through running my second mile. My muscles have grown accustomed to the ache now. My body feels lighter, my mind still clear and free of clutter and the clouds of doubt. The sun is about to set and is behind me now. My shadow laid out before me has the look of a big-reared woman on stilts with a tiny head. My legs are ridiculously long and my hips are huge! It is too funny. I have to stop and take a picture. I finish running and walk giddily the last quarter-mile back to the parking lot. Running in circles. Two laps, three miles. Ten years ago I would have come out here and run those three miles for the sole purpose of trying to make my butt smaller. I probably would have even considered it tedious, just running around in circles. Now it is my sanctuary. As a full-time hard-working mother and a part-time hard-working nurse, it can be very difficult to get some ‘me time’. I cherish this time. Nature, music, people watching, my heart pumping, my mind cleared, my body showing me what it is still capable of. I love it. I feel more at peace with myself and the world. I took time out of my day to do something that was purely for me. It just plain makes me feel good. I love anything that makes me feel good AND doesn’t harm me. Good bye my Endless Blue. I hope to see you again tomorrow, my earth, wind, and fire.

Me and my big-bootied stick figure shadow 🙂