Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Getting Away

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face

Not being a city girl, I have never escaped the hustling crowd by climbing the stairs to find solitude “Up on the Roof”, like the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song describes. I prefer to travel to and explore places of natural quiet where there is (ideally) no human presence. Wilderness is my favorite Get Away. I am heading out tomorrow to Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in the Mahleur National Forest on my very first backpacking trip. I will not be tethered to a powered vehicle or a “civilized” infrastructure for three whole days. I will be relying on my own two feet and the company of a few experienced hikers. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for more than 40 years!

I have done day hikes in designated Wilderness before, but never an overnight. It is extremely important that our group Leave No Trace of our visit. Keeping wild spaces as pristine as possible ensures that conservation and spiritual values are not compromised.

If we lose the ability to get away from the impact of human domination, we may lose sight of humility and perspective altogether.

Thank you to this week’s hosts, Rusha and Bert of Oh the Places We See.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Hideaway

We do not retreat from reality, we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves… By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly. — C. S. Lewis

How do you prefer to take in and process new information about the world? Do you seek out facts, stories, or experiences? Probably you find yourself using a combination of these avenues into reality. And then, perhaps, you find a quiet place to sort through them. 

I know a place where no one ever goes;
There’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose.
It’s hidden in a valley, beside a mountain stream,
And lying there beside the stream, I find that I can dream
Only of things of beauty to the eye:
snow-peaked mountains tow’ring to the sky.
Now I know that God has made this place for me.
— a song I learned at Girl Scout camp long ago

My brother was grilling on the back porch last night. While the aroma of smoke penetrated my thoughts, my daughter’s boyfriend asked me, “When was the last time you were camping?”

Two years ago.

I miss that kind of hideaway opportunity. The simple reality of sky, water, earth, and fire helps me see all the storylines that I have crafted about life in a much clearer light. What is essential floats to the surface and becomes like the reflection of heaven. What is clunky and artificial sinks like dead weight in the silt bottom.

We are looking for happiness and running after it in such a way that creates anger, fear and discrimination. So when you attend a retreat, you have a chance to look at the deep roots of this pollution of the collective energy that is unwholesome. — Thich Nhat Hahn

Retreats, hideaways, sanctuaries — safe places for reflection, introspection, and soul work — are important to cultivate. They can be far away, across oceans of distance or as close as the inside of your own eyelids. 

 Take care of yourselves, friends. From the inside out.
Thank you, Ann-Christine, for sharing your beautiful glass greenhouse space in this challenge.



Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Quiet Moment

“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Patti’s challenge this morning is to capture on camera a quiet moment. 

“All of our great traditions – religious, contemplative and artistic- say that you must a learn how to be alone and have a relationship with silence. It is difficult, but it can start with just the tiniest quiet moment.” ~ David Whyte

I am spending a quiet weekend taking care of my friends’ dogs in their home while they are away. Like me, they don’t own a TV, they are musicians, and they love walking in nature. Walking their dogs is a pleasure. 

Their dogs are very mellow in the daytime and rather vigilant at night. Nocturnal animals in the backyard bring them out of a seemingly sound sleep and propel them downstairs, barking. This is the first time I’ve shared a bed with dogs overnight. Hence, I’m enjoying a very quiet next day to catch up on my rest and take notes on how to enjoy silence and solitude. 

“In the quiet moments of your day, what do you think and do? When you are with your Self and no one else, how does life proceed for you? Who are you when you are alone? Self-creation is a Holy Experience. It is sacred. It is you, deciding Who You Are.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

May your quiet moments bring you the joy of Self-creation.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude and Wilderness

The Wilderness Act of 1964 established a means for our nation to set aside large parcels of land where the human presence is temporary. Among other valuable things, this provides for “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined experience” for those temporary visitors who enter its space and leave it “untrammeled”.

Why is wilderness and solitude important to the human soul? I would argue that it is vital to our perception of our place in the Universe, a place of humility, not dominance or mastery….


…and a place of natural social freedom. 

pinnacles summit

Solitude is instrumental in developing self-knowledge and strength of character.

renewal 2

When we seek solitude, it is often because we are looking for a greater level of honesty,…contemplating colors…a greater level of awareness.


To defile these areas of wilderness and solitude is an act of violence that attacks our own freedom and causes us to be unnaturally enslaved. I think it’s imperative that we protect the places in our country that still exist as wilderness and to restrict the encroachment of human development and over-population that threaten them, not only or even primarily for our own benefit, but because any real understanding of humility demands it. 


Photography 101: Solitude

One of the wilderness character traits is Solitude, a dwindling natural resource.  Where do you go to realize your solitude, to find humility, to gain perspective?  Where do you find reminders that we do not dominate the planet?

solitude(And thanks for the tip on the Rule of Thirds…I’d heard it mentioned, but not explained.)

Solitude and Community

Steve and I have scheduled a Summit for today.  This is what we call our periodic “relationship discussions” where we aim our canoes and talk about where we’re headed and what we want.  I tend to have a deer-in-the-headlight kind of reaction to certain phrases that have been used in these intense forums simply because I get over-anxious about coming up with a “right answer”.  One of those phrases is “on the same page”.  I hate it when Steve uses that expression, and I have forbid it from future talks. It makes me freeze up. “What does that mean?  Do I have to think the same way as you?  Do I have to be you?  I don’t know how to do that!”  So he now describes what he’s after in a different way.  Another question that is beginning to have the freeze effect is “What do you want?”  I am dangerously close to over-thinking that one, too, and getting defensive.  “What do I want when?  Now?  5 years from now?  What do I want about what?  I don’t know what I want!”  It was really helpful when he put it to me this way: “We have a really great relationship.  But we can always do better.  What are some areas where you want us to do better or differently than what we’re doing now?”  Suddenly, I began to have thoughts and ideas where before I would just draw a blank.

The first area on my brainstorm list was community.  I want to do better in this area.  We are both nurturing our inner lives very conscientiously and intentionally, and I really like that.  I also want to work intentionally on community.  This morning, I received notice of a new post by thousandfoldecho.  The quote by Orhan Pamuk described the formation of a writer’s inner life so well.  The blog author then turned that question over to musicians and asked, “What do you think of the musician’s paradox of needing both solitude and community?”  I think this is probably any human’s paradox.  We all benefit from both.  The work of finding that balance in your own life is what keeps my partner and me coming back together for Summit meetings.

So how do you go about building community, finding and developing relationships where you can be your true, honest self?  I am more conscious of being myself in every encounter now that I’m focusing on that.  I used to just slip into roles very easily without a thought.  That was the actress in me.  It was a way of life that was smooth and slippery, easy to glide by.  I would be who people wanted me to be.  Now, I’m trying to allow myself to be…myself.  Even with the grocery clerk.  And my broker’s secretary.  And my voice students.  This is a no-brainer to many people, and they wouldn’t know how to do anything else.  I think I got into “acting” very young and had some early encouragement that kept me there.  My inner life was so different.  Writing is a way for me to really exercise that inner self, bring it out of hiding without costuming it for a certain audience.  One writer whom I really admire is Annie Dillard.  I just finished An American Childhood and even had a dream about meeting her.  I love how she writes about her inner life and becoming aware of others.  But I’ll save that for another post.  For today, I’ll leave you with this photo.  I think watching waves roll into shore is a good background for musing about solitude and community.  I invite you to share your thoughts on the subject, too!

Lake Michigan again