The healing wonder of nature.

Sometimes we just need a good hard reset. A chance to clear away all that chaos that clutters our minds and souls and reconnect with who we are.

It’s not that I was broken. There’s nothing wrong with who I am or where I am in my life right now. But my mind has been cluttered with regrets, frustrations and minor stresses.

So I’ve been going outdoors more often.


Photo by Shannon Marie Chavez – Cougar Mountain Regional Wildand Park. I believe this was on the Cave Hole Trail. We did the Military Road to Sky Country to Cave Hole loop the day this was taken.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park – King County

With the weather we’re having right now, it would be a shame to not enjoy it. I always take my dog, and sometimes I take my son or husband or both. But we’ve been hiking. Each day we explore a new trail, a new area. And even if I don’t have much time, I try to get out to a small local park for at least a half hour or more.

My dog sure enjoys it, she waits by the door when she sees us getting ready to leave. She also seems to be quite fond of pooping in new places. Maybe she gets a kick out of watching me scoop and carry her leavings.

But more importantly, I enjoy the time spent outside.

When I was growing up, I spent a great deal of time working with and riding my horses. After a hard day at school, I spent the majority of my time after school grooming, riding and caring for my horse before I settled it to read, write or draw.

Recently, I’ve been struggling to write or draw. I’m able to, but it’s been a struggle. New writing, even edits or drawings of my beloved characters just weren’t coming. I was still reading, and reading a lot, but my own inspiration and drive has been absent.

Today, though, after the longest hike we’ve done yet, I hit a groove. Hiking uphill with the birds trilling around us, the beauty of the late afternoon light filtering through the trees, my breath coming hard and yet filling my lungs in a way I’d forgotten felt so good, I felt renewed.

I found myself again.

You see, after I moved away from home and keeping a horse was impractical, I spent a long period of my life struggling with depression, working and thankfully writing. Then, some how, I found myself again by teaching myself to love jogging.

I won’t say I’m a runner. I plod along on stubby legs at a comfortable pace. But I love hitting that meditative state while my legs pump and my lungs work. I love being outdoors, taking in new sights, challenging myself to go just a little further.

The promise of “just get to the next point and you can turn around” works so well for me. I love getting to that point and thinking, “How much further can I go?” Time becomes the limiting factor after a while, but my body is not.

And when I get to this point, my mind wanders. Up until now, the trail has served as a way to filter through the negativity and frustrations in my life. Working through them all so I can file them away.

Today, though, I hit that point where I was just happy to be out there. I felt free. My mind liberated. And my muse smiled on me.

Photo by Shannon Marie Chavez at Cougar Mountain - Cave Hole Trail.

Photo by Shannon Marie Chavez at Cougar Mountain – Cave Hole Trail.

I found myself walking with my characters again. I caught a glimpse of a story I could tell with these characters I know so well. I don’t know long this scene will take to fully manifest, but I like what they’ve been telling me. I’m also very excited about the major plot hole I’ve been given a rather handy solution for.

Truly, nature, the great outdoors and our own bodies are a great gift to our creativity. It’s difficult to remember this when writing means being dedicated to sitting down and typing. When it means putting in a significant amount of time not only writing, but reading, re-reading, editing and proofing. But part of being writer means getting out and living.

I am happiest when I take time to hike, jog and enjoy the beauty of this world around us. And when I am happy, my muse is happy. It’s a shame I can’t seem to remember this simple fact all the time.

But I’m working on it.


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