Thoughts from Away ~ Healing Nature

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

 

I spent the past weekend frolicking in the forest up north in Algonquin Park. My family usually spends a weekend there in early May in the hopes of seeing moose. Early May is a good time to see moose.

When the snow melts, the salt from the roads creates salty puddles that the nutrient-deficient moose like to drink from. If you have luck on your side and are strong enough to get up early, there should be an abundance of moose to view.

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Unfortunately, we only saw one moose this year.

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(I’m so sorry for this crappy picture)

Despite a lack of moose, I still enjoyed myself immensely. I’d been feeling a bit rundown at work and was in need of a refresh.

I personally believe in the healing power of nature. Something about being under the sky, surrounded by fresh air, trees in all directions, is good for the soul.

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Obviously, it’s not a catch-all solution; I’m a full supporter of getting proper treatment for mental health problems whether it’s medication or not. For my personal brand of high-functioning anxiety and depression, I find time away from civilization to be beneficial.

People aren’t meant to be so disconnected from nature.

I also firmly believe that if you can get out into nature, you should. It can’t hurt. Simply going to a local park might be enough, or even standing under a tree (it would probably appreciate the company).

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Coming home is always bittersweet because I could just spend forever up there surrounded by woods. I definitely want to come back as a tree. A big oak tree.

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*In all these pictures, the lakes are still partially frozen. The upsettingly sad April we had meant the lakes up north have only started melting. It was interesting though, seeing all the chunks of ice.

First draft vs. now

The first lines of my first draft from 2014

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The first lines of my most recent draft (2018)

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Since 2014 Winnie has undergone many changes (age, location, whininess). I’m not sure if this draft is the draft I’ll be submitting or what. But, I’m hopeful it’s getting nearer to that draft.

(I’m sorry for how many times I just used the word draft)

Book Review: Braving the Wilderness

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

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This book came to me at exactly the right time. It was the Saturday before Easter and I was feeling kind of “wrong.” I was particularly upset about anything, but there was a bad feeling gnawing in my head. Suddenly I had the urge to write in my journal.

I wrote about my feelings of inadequacy in my relationships (friendships, romantic) and my inescapable desire to be liked by all, even at the expense of my identity.

When I was done writing, I was feeling extremely vulnerable; I reached for this book and began reading.

Early in the book, Brené Brown talks about a quote from Maya Angelou, which permeates through the whole book:

You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.

I feel like this quote in and of itself is what I need(ed) to realize about myself. The rest of the book often came back to this quote and the idea of belonging nowhere and everywhere, and especially, to oneself. Brown provides advice on how to achieve this with generosity and kindness.

She explains very clearly how and why people have separated from each other, but human connection is something we all need. If I had read this book at any other time, I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did. But, I quite enjoyed it because it was exactly the right time for me.

Brown’s work is well-researched and filled with relatable stories from her own life and from others. The stories make the research understandable. This book was thoughtful, heartfelt, and she inspired bravery in me when I needed it the most.

Adventures in Positive Feedback

Yesterday I got a text from a good friend. She’d finished reading the latest draft of my manuscript after she’d volunteered to be a Beta Reader. “I couldn’t put it down” is one comment that really struck me.

I think every writer wants to hear at some point that a reader enjoyed your work so much they couldn’t stop reading. Though, I suspect it happens more after a manuscript is published. Maybe.

Her feedback was positive and was a much-needed ego boost. I’d been working on this thing for two and a half years, and I figured I was the only one who would care about the characters and the story.

Later that day, I got a message from another person who asked to read it. Their comments were also positive; the characters were individual, the writing was fluid, etc. That was also a much-needed ego boost.

Having positive feedback on a draft of one’s first novel, there is hope (or at least more hope) for the future.

 

BRB: Daydreaming of getting an amazing book deal with a huge advance.