Another chance to get the message


About a week ago I hosted a walk in the park.  It was a perfect morning. The sky couldn’t have been more blue, with gorgeous puffy white clouds. The green of spring was deep and the sun was making everything sparkle.


And no one came.  I don’t know why – it may have been post-Jazz Fest quietness, it may have been odd timing, because this particular walk is usually well attended unless it’s raining or freezing.

However, there was no one.  There had been six, then five, then three, then two, and now none.  Some changes of plans, some last-minute cancellations.

I had no worries about it.  I actually started to get excited.  I exhaled.  A big relaxed sigh.  No one to introduce.  No agenda.  Nothing to do for anyone but me.  What a wonderful opportunity!  I began the most delicious most leisurely walk around the park that I had taken in a long time.  I didn’t need to do anything but what I wanted and that felt fantastic.

My angels almost always take care of me when I’ve over-scheduled myself.   And I gratefully accepted this gift.

A triplet of squirrels perched coyly atop cypress knees.  The last of the purple irises showed off their perfect blooms.


Crows and jays called across the treetops. Turtles plopped quickly into the water or sunned languorously on the fallen logs.  I’d seen it all before, but it was still glorious.

Then I made a big request.  I asked for an unusual animal with a message for me.  I didn’t have much hope- I’ve probably been to this park hundreds of times.  I’ve seen everything. I couldn’t imagine what could possibly appear to surprise me.

I was wrong. I walked over to the edge of the lagoon. And there, almost close enough for me to reach down and touch it, was a three-foot long spotted gar.  It rested in the dappled sunlight, in less than a foot of water, sitting as still as possible on the leafy bottom.  It took me a long time to notice its gills moving ever so slightly.  Otherwise, there was no way to even know it was alive.  All it was doing was breathing.


Me and the gar spent some time looking at each other.  Actually, I’m not sure if the gar noticed me or not.  I had trouble distinguishing its eye from the spattering of spots on its head.   I listened for its message, which to me seemed something like this: “All you have to do is be.  All this running around you humans do, it’s not necessary. It's a choice.  If you crave stillness, take it.  Do it.  Be still.  All is well.  Look how long I am still.  I have nowhere to rush to.  It’s always ok to relax.  Especially when it feels good and peaceful.”

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know this is the message I struggle to receive over and over, even though it’s what I desire.  I love to watch and listen.  To wait.  To perceive.  To notice.  I love it as much or more than creating or moving or doing.  There’s so much already created.  I like to slow down to appreciate it.  I could spend every day watching the sky and the leaves moving in the breeze.  Just breathing.  Andmy message from the gar was, "That's cool.  That's enough." 

I am so glad I could make time to bond with an ancient fish.  And that it what I did.  I made time.  I have time for anything I want to make time for.  I’m believing that more and more.  I just got a little help this time from the angels in clearing some space on my calendar!


If you need some permission to be still, take the message from my friend the spotted gar.  It’s been working for him and his species for 100 million years.  Step away from your screens and rest your eyes on something beautiful.  Grass, leaves, flowers, clouds, water, branches, rocks.  Just be. It's enough.


And if you’re local and want to learn more about how giving yourself quiet time in nature will provide you with the energy and creativity to do what you want in the rest of your life, come to my book chat – outside! – where we’ll discuss Martha Beck’s book Finding your Way in a Wild New World.   May 24.  Details here.  RSVP via the Meetup or contact me at

Why go out in the rain?

You plan a walk or a hike and then it rains.  So you stay inside and postpone the walk until the weather's better. I've done it plenty - I've stayed inside because of rain.  I like dry weather and blue skies and long views.  But I've also learned to like fog and mist and rain and even a downpour here and there.  I've learned to love raindrops dripping from flowers and leaves all shiny and wet.

While I've never been a fan of hiking in the mud- in fact walking in mud for fourteen miles on my first day on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont made me cry - I realize that a walk in the rain can often be lovely. It shifts the perspective closer- to the moss on the trail side, or a bark-darkened tree, or a puddle adorned with fallen leaves.  Rain puts up a curtain around the long views so you notice what's right in front of you.  Sometimes its a box turtle in the trail.  Or a squirrel fixing up a nest for the evening.

Last night I hosted a wordless walk - it was supposed to be to enjoy the sunset and moonrise, but clouds and rain all day made visibility of the sunset unlikely.  So people who'd planned to attend the walk mostly stayed away  - rain tends to do that.

I learned from six months hiking the Appalachian Trail that if I only hiked when it wasn't raining, I would never finish the journey. It rains a lot in the eastern woodlands. Yesterday I had nowhere I needed to be and I could have easily stayed home and canceled the walk, knowing that people understand that you don't go out walking in the rain.

But I'd been inside too much this week.  So I went. And I'm so glad I did.  The quality of light as day shifted to night was magical.

The rain was only a sprinkle here and there.  I really did watch a squirrel prepare its nighttime cozy spot.


And the moon peeked out from the clouds for a moment!

The breeze was the absolute perfect temperature, and I got what I'd come out for - stillness for my soul.

Here's one more wordless video for you - raindrops on the bayou.  Watch the ripples.  So calming.


So what are your thoughts? Will you go walking in the rain?  What do you love about rain?


Wild, wonderful wordless walk

The deer came.  The woodpeckers came.  An armadillo surprised us. We were quiet for a couple of hours, but the woods around us were full of sound.  Robins, doves, frogs, hawks, chickadees, creaking trees, whooshing wind and skittering skinks provided an almost musical backdrop for our stroll, and the peaceful greens and browns of the winter swamp soothed our eyes.  For a little while we didn't have to do anything but be present and enjoy, and it was lovely. Yes-- today I hosted the my first monthly Wordless Wetland Walk on a beautiful woodland trail in Jean Lafitte National Park.  Before we even began, the deer came. This seemed special to me, because I'd asked the deer to please come. They weren't close--  way down the road actually, but one stood a long time watching, then eventually walked away, its white tail flicking coyly side to side.

Our walk was wordless to help us be present.  We wouldn't be chatting or making small talk, or even trying to find out the name of that bird or the species of this tree.  We wouldn't be talking about how pretty the woods looked or how good the wind felt. We would just be quiet, and look for the stillness in our own souls.  We'd use our senses to help us stay in the moment.

We walked to the base of one of my favorite trees and sat for a while, perched or nestled among its moss-covered roots.

We gazed up at the Spanish moss swaying in the wind.

We peered close up at leaves, acorns and dropped maple flowers,

We looked far at clouds and sky and treetops full of birds.

We didn't speak, take photos, or even gesture much.  We just walked quietly, looked, and sometimes stopped or sat.  (These photos are from my scouting walk yesterday.) We spread out for most of the time, so each of us had our own space in the woods. Toward the end of the walk we clumped up and watched an armadillo for quite a while - they don't see or hear very well, so I don't think this one even knew we were all about 6 feet from it.

We softened our gaze, slowed our steps, and breathed.  We forgot concerns or worries, at least for part of the time.  We marveled, noticed, appreciated, and most importantly, just existed.  Sound good?  Want to try it yourself?  Tomorrow I'll be writing some tips on enjoying a wordless walk anywhere.  And if you're in the NOLA area, check the Happenings tab above to see when I'm hosting the next wordless walk!