I went to the swamp on a sunny Friday morning, getting ready to host a wordless walk the next day. I decided to visit my favorite tree, a giant live oak maybe 50 feet off the trail - to get there you have to kind of bushwack through the palmettos, so once you curl up in the tree's giant roots and settle in, it's as if you're in your own primeval cozy secret spot- with the Spanish moss waving in the branches high above, and the rustling fronds of palmettos all around you. I sat quietly for a while, happy to have nothing to do but sit. I'll be honest - the past two months have felt like a pretty big whirlwind as I completed coach training, started a mastery coach class, went to the coach summit in Phoenix, turned my paperwork in and got tested and certified, took a trip on the Appalachian Trail - and in the middle of it all kept doing my regular coaching and tutoring work. My calendar had been looking a little crazy, and that's exactly what I promise freedom from! Hmmm. Time to walk the walk.
So there I was. Sitting under a giant tree, gazing into woods under the arched palmettos.
And I sent out a request for the animal who had a message for me to appear.
And I am not making this up. Within five seconds I saw her, about 20 feet away, stock still, and staring at me.
Still not sure? Well, what I did was crawl about 15 feet closer to her, and I sat with her for a while- maybe 20 minutes or so. Neither of us moved much, especially her. She blinked and moved her head a little, but she didn't take a single step. Here she is close up.
I didn't reach out to pick her up. It seemed to me that we had an understanding and I didn't want to disturb her. I think she might be a three-toed box turtle, And I'm not 100% sure it's a she - I would have needed to look at the shape of the bottom of her shell - the plastron- to see if it was flat or indented. That her eyes are orange, not red, means she's a female I think, but I'm not super-sure. (Can you tell I was once a naturalist and a science teacher??)
Anyway, I needed her message. Slow down. Clear that calendar so you can work on the projects you've been back-burnering. Or to just to take care of you. Rest. Retreat. All is well right now. No need do rush headlong into the future. Take small steps and you'll get there. Or take no steps and just be present for a little while. Breathe and be. Just for a while each day. If you move too fast you'll miss everything. You'll forget to savor. You'll fail to enjoy the process. Maybe there's some time needed to bask in some accomplishments - to take them in.
Right. Thank you! What a timely reminder.
After a while I left her, quietly and gratefully, and had a lovely rest of the day. The spring woods couldn't be more beautiful. I know - this may be a complete coincidence. Maybe it was just lucky. But that's fine. I'll take it. I needed to be reminded, and I got the message. Take it slow. You'll get there.
Interested in more messages from the animals? Check out What the Walrus Knows, a beautiful book about animal totems and the messages we can receive from them, by Sarah Seidelmann, a fellow coach and amazing wayfinder. I'm all for animal wisdom for everyone!