How a Walk Can Lead to a Personal Philosophy

The other day it was my birthday and in honor of that, I did a few things to commemorate hitting my mid-30’s that filled my soul.

Fill my soul. 

I love those words. They make me think of Emily Dickinson poems that take the mundane and portray them in a whole new light such that when you realize she’s talking about a leaf, or nature, or even death, her words are at once understandable and extraordinary at the same time.

Many of my friends and family now know that I am beginning to work full time at a place that I love. Even though I’m a teacher, the work at my school will require my presence over the summer. I’m simultaneously gearing down the academic year while preparing to take on administrative tasks at the school.

What does this have to do with walking? Everything. Bear with me: I promise not to go on too many erudite ramblings that require knowledge of the 4th dimension.

I got to thinking about where I work.

I am so very lucky. I work in a place where there’s no backstabbing or gossip.

All religions and beliefs are respected.

The students and staff all cater to environmental sustainability, social justice and work for The Greater Good.

It makes me want to be a better person all-around. No, for the moment, I’m not thinking about engaging in any Salt Marches (and blessings to Gandhi), but I am feeling jazzed about creating my own little movement.

Here’s where my birthday walk comes in. I headed to south Asheville, to one of my favorite spots to unwind: Bent Creek. I headed out on a trail around the lake:

A little watering hole near the lake

I kept thinking about the Global Education program I’m going to coordinate next year. After much research for a recent graduate course, I’ve researched how to infuse it into my school’s curriculum.

The four focal points of it are: multiculturalism, intercultural relations, social justice and environmental sustainability.

Oh how all those things resound with my fluttering heart!

As I continued walking, I kept thinking of not only teaching, but expanding. By that I mean addressing my need to leave this planet in a better place than when I began.

I reached the lake. Suddenly I thought to snap a black and white photo in honor of timelessness.

bent creek
Lake Powhatan at Bent Creek, Asheville, NC

It was a Wednesday afternoon and the vacant beach was at once slightly haunting and inviting.

My mind began to race. It was supposed to be a relaxing walk, but my form of relaxation is contemplating all the possibilities.

I started thinking about preservation of this. Preserving plants and birds and lakes and mountains. Of replicating the peace and unity and love that I feel when I am at work. Yes, at work! I know how that sounds.

I also know that I am not nearly the first, thousandth, or millionth person to think these thoughts.

So many of us want to make a difference but we don’t always know how.

As my mind wandered through the paths of its own winding networks, forgetting to smell the flowers and taste the sunshine, I silently gazed at the burgeoning leaves that painted the landscape.

Lake Powhatan
A bridge near the lake.

I happened upon a bridge and still, the questions and thoughts kept bursting forth, like the drip from a faucet that is steady and doesn’t stop.

I kept thinking how I’m going spread the love, the peace, the tolerance, the trust, the justice, the hope, the goodness of what nature has to offer, but I hadn’t come up with a solution.

I took a moment from my meanderings and sat down with my dog. He was with me on this lovely hike, though I wasn’t completely present to him because deep in the recesses of my mind, my thoughts were wrapping around themselves in the same way a long coil of thread wraps around a spool, thickening layer by layer….

Lake at bent creek
Vinny, who stopped and sat on the bridge and soaked up the sun…

I breathed in the warm air, reminding me to slow down and feebly attempt to calm my mind. I continued on my afternoon journey until I came upon another watering hole.

bent creek
A rocky stream down from the lake.

Then I thought of it: I’m creating a personal philosophy to live by, to guide me as I wade through the river of life so that I stay afloat and hold in my palm all my values, morals, philosophies and hopes all wrapped together in a triangular water droplet that magically reflects the spectrum of the sun and breaks it down into the colors of the rainbow.

I’m still drafting it. I don’t even know what to call it. But I know one thing: it takes into account everything I’ve said here: respect for the Earth, social justice, harmony, tolerance for all people around the world.

When I finish it, this will be the first place to which I post.

The Ebb and Flow of Thankful

I finally have a chance to participate in a blog hop – it’s been a long while.

red rose
This knock out rose is the first to bloom in my yard; I set my camera to capture the vibrant red color.

And you know, it’s probably the first blog post where I feel completely “free” in an unexpected way. I guess that’s the first thing I’m thankful for.

I finally feel free to blog without worrying about a niche, without a care if I find my photos stolen somewhere – for the first time, I just feel like I can do what I want without the pressure of feeling like I need to make money off of my images (not that I ever really did) or if my writing is perfect. I now have a job that allows me to take photos and write content and I can just have fun over here. So, I’m not going to worry about what this blog’s theme is or becomes or whatever. She’s going to become a muse to park my thoughts…though, yes, there will always be those moments that stay in my heart, meant for the private audience of my own thoughts and not for public consumption.

young poplar tree
This poplar tree just decided to grow all of a sudden. It wasn’t there last year – or maybe it was. But, it’s young and beautiful and I’m letting it grow wild.

In any case, I feel like I’ve turned over a new leaf. Certainly I’ve been doing the grad school thing, teaching, and going about my day-to-day existence and moving forward. But, there’s a certain lightness in knowing that I have a job that I love – and created around my skills. I’m just oozing with happiness and it means less worry in other regards. I’m thankful that my mind is free to focus its worries upon other things…like the portfolio and defense of that portfolio at the conclusion of my graduate studies in December. All in Spanish. No problem – it’s not my native language – no pressure there.

Husby – after he built this bike. And he’s building that jeep in the background…and he’s the main wood chopper of us two. I’m usually inside…writing or something.

With my heart feeling so light, I have to say that other things are happening. I’ve suddenly realized that I’ve learned some hard, but necessary lessons over the last couple of years. I am now more spiritual than I’ve ever been before, and I seek out opportunities to see a higher wavelength in the things that I do. Perhaps it’s because I work at a school that encourages this, but perhaps it’s because I want to believe that we humans are capable of creating peace within ourselves that could perhaps grow to the earth’s circumference. Perhaps we can all really become stewards of the planet and hold her in high esteem like our Native American Indian ancestors did.

I recently found out that my great, great grandmother was Navajo and Cherokee and she lived near Angel Fire in the state of New Mexico. That untamed spirit is alive and well within my own heart. That yearning to love other people as spiritual beings in themselves, no matter our differences. I feel the pull of the Creator – God, Great Spirit, Great Father, Great Mother – they’re all fitting names. But, I feel the pull of something Greater Than I Am that’s lifting me up higher than I ever thought I would go.

Well, there’s that and there’s the good friend from college who recently told me, “You know what I admire most about you? That you don’t conform to society. You decide to do something and you just do it and you don’t care what anyone thinks.”

Haha, I thought this was funny because I attribute my apparent “nonconformance” to me being a clark. I do care about what people think…but I’m getting better at not letting it affect me. Still, it’s nice to know how I might appear to other people….

azalea flower
I realize nature photos might be a little boring, but I have fun working with the images themselves to create new things. This is a while azalea, which my camera set to “rich b&w.”

I still don’t know what’s in store for me. But one of the lessons of the past couple years has been to learn about trust: that unspoken yet poignant feeling of knowing that things are just as they are meant to be and for a greater purpose than what we may understand at present. However, that feeling leads to an understanding that things will work out even when it seems like the flames of lava are lapping at our feet.

purple flowers
Wild phlox flowers. I was having fun with black and white vs. color focus.

So for the rest of this post on gratitude, I must share that with spring, not only do I see new life everywhere, I also feel it within myself. All the images in this post are from my yard. I’m so thrilled at every new thing that’s growing and reminding me of the ebb and flow of what is, of life itself.

It’s Been 4 Months…

It’s been nearly four months since I’ve written.

I chalk it up to grad school. For those of you who have worked while simultaneously attending school, you know how it is. The laundry piles up like heaps of giant leaves. The dishes sit in the sink a day too long. You live in your PJ’s the days you don’t go to work because you have so much coursework that you don’t want to take half an hour to make yourself presentable.

Now, I have something of a life back. I’m still teaching – most schools go until June.

time to walk
I had some time to visit the Botanical Gardens the other day and snapped this image with my phone.

But in those four months, a it feels as though my life has changed like the seasons. When I thought I might be on one path, the winds carried me in another.

First, I must explain that though I’ve been absent from here, believe me, I have written nearly 100,000 words this semester – no joke. Some days I wrote nearly 10,000 words: for minutes, lesson plans, forum posts, journal entries, papers, research. Maybe I wrote more than 100,000 words. I’m not sure. But for the nearly two weeks my coursework has been finished, I have been playing catch up. That and soaking up the sun – it’s like seeing an old friend showering me in illuminated hugs.

A Return to Blogging?

There was a time when I wasn’t sure I’d return to blogging. I’m still not sure: between teaching and tutoring, and writing articles (for my beloved HubPages), I’m not certain I have the time or the energy to devote to being a good blogger. Responding to comments aren’t exactly my cup of tea. I don’t know…I feel like comments are like making small talk at a party or something. I can only do small talk at any party for about 30 minutes. Then my personal energy meter registers “depleted” and I have to go recharge. If I can’t leave said party, I’ll slink into a back room and peruse books while sips of stale boxed wine loosen my lips.

But we were talking about comments, weren’t we? I’ve toyed around with turning comments off entirely. See, I love the people I’ve met and the interactions we’ve forged across the bazillions of fiber optic cables that bond us together. But sometimes I just want to read someone’s blog and if it seems like my groups of friends will be interested, I’ll share across my social networks.

I’m Sort of Addicted to Writing

And to think…I was sitting here wondering if I had much to write about for this post. Who am I kidding? Words have imprinted themselves into my genome. They’ve become a code for expression just as much as the color of my hair. I have seriously thought about giving up art (and only toying with photography enough to illustrate this blog…once a cornerstone for my menagerie of images…) entirely just so that I can carve out time in my newly busy schedule (more on that in a minute) to savor and hone my craft of literary composition. It’s curiously like artistic composition, I swear. Inspiration comes from similar sources.

But, something happened recently to at least make me reconsider the whole blogging thing: I found a job that requires me to post to a WordPress site.

Sometimes Dream Jobs DO Happen

Actually, it’s the same job I had. I have been part time at the school where I teach. With graduation approaching in December and one graduate course to finish, I needed to find full time employment that would allow me the pleasure (or lack thereof) of paying back student loans. At least it’s not much: I could buy a used car with those loans, but at least the dividends are much greater. The school came up with a solution for me: teach Spanish, become a global education coordinator (based on a semester’s worth of research from one of my graduate courses this spring) and blog for the school and post to its social media networks.

I felt the earth do a seismic shift in the name of dream jobs everywhere. With a wonderful jolt, I’d blurted that yes! I will take and do said job before I had given it a second thought. But because I’ll be doing more “administrative-type” tasks, I’ll be busy working this summer at the school, too.

That’s fine. The Universe knew I would want to do that. Or is it synchronicity? The lining up of discrete wavelengths to all reflect ultraviolet waves? Spirit working within my soul after atoning for past transgressions?

I’m not sure. But I am eternally grateful. Somehow this job encompasses all my skills, all my interests and wraps them up nicely in a shiny package with matching ribbon.

Because of that, I won’t be able to write here or anywhere like I have int the past couple of years, but I can say a few things for sure: there will be teaching and it will be fantastic. There will be travelling. There will be writing – blogging, journaling, articles and maybe, finally a book somewhere  in there. Every time I talk about writing a book, I hear Jack London’s voice (not that I know what it sounded like) in the back of my head: do it every day. Do it without fail.

Ha! I love that I’ve done it without fail. Every single day, since 2011 pretty much. So, I’ll be seeing you all around. I can’t maintain others’ WordPress websites without maintaining my own personal website. How ironic would that be?