Nature inspires a step out of the comfort zone

The view from a September evening ferry ride from Pt. Judith, R.I., to Block Island.

The view from a September evening ferry ride from Pt. Judith, R.I., to Block Island.

I've been in Block Island three days now, and I am so inspired -- by the nature, the landscapes, the ocean, the sunsets, the sounds, everything. It makes anything and everything feel possible. I think this invigorating inspiration is capable of drawing out our best and encourages stepping outside the comfort zone.

I have been doing that this week...I got back into yoga, I'm trying to cut out dairy, and I even ordered fish for dinner for the first time in my life, for a few examples.

I'm reminding myself that sore muscles are just my body saying, "Thank you," coffee with almond milk is do-able, and I'll indulge in yogurt and cheese only on special occasions. And I made it through half of my baked sole entree. It helps that it was on a bed of spinach, artichoke and farrow salad! They have the freshest seafood here, so it's not just about the soul but the sole, too, out here. ; )

But there's more than exercise, clean eating and solid sleeping. Being in this environment expands my spirit.

It's easy to be inspired when you are surrounded by natural life. You witness life happening right now.
It's easy to be present.
It's easy to have clarity.

In fact, so many life analogies have come to me during these walks. Here are a few.

rocks at beach

Rocks of all shapes, size, textures, and colors protect the bluffs along Block Island's 17 miles of beach.


They surround the island, from boulders peeking out of the water or fixed on the sand like a beachhead, to those the sizes of basketballs, baseballs and marbles. They come in all colors -- blue green, gray, pink, red, coral, white, black, and a mix of these. They are smooth orbs, having been tumbled by the water and conditioned by the salt, sun and sand. When the water rushes over them the hues go technicolor and the sound is a majestic chorus, almost like bells.

These are my souvenirs. (Yes, I am the nut who has a three-pound round rock from Block Island as a door stop for my terrace.)

Why can't we all get along?
These rocks come in all sizes, shapes, textures, and colors. Just like us. We objectively view them simply as "rocks." Like we should objectively view each other just as "people."

rocks wet and dry

Water turns the rocks technicolor!

Just because the white quartz rock is my favorite, do I call the others ugly? No.
Do the rocks segregate themselves? No.
Do they judge one another? No.

Yes, of course, they are inanimate objects, but we appreciate their beauty and purpose. Shouldn't we afford equal respect for animate beings?

When the water washes over those rocks of all colors they are even bolder and brighter than before. Just as we do when refreshed or inspired. Or happy.

Each rock is beautiful, and together they are beautiful. As we are.

sand and rocks

There's lots of sandy beaches for purists (not this one!).

Walking on sand is a great workout because of its shifting property; more laborious yet less boring than the gym.

Block Island's sand furthest from the water is a soft, fine grain like you'd find on Bermuda, though it's a light tan not a pink color. As you walk toward the water the sand gets grittier where shell fragments have piled up from beating on the rocks, and where rocks and seaweed pile up from the recent high tide.

The firmest sand -- the wettest -- is the easiest to walk on. I wear my running shoes, which I recommend in Block Island because the long stretches of beach you hit may alternate between sand, shells and rocks or all three at once.

Beach walking is stimulating and relaxing at once. I ventured to Charleston Beach, on the northwest side, for the first time. Desolate and beautiful with occasional massive tree trunks that became that ash-taupe color as driftwood. I walked on. Far in the distance I saw someone walking along the water's edge, just like me and toward me.

When our tracks finally met, I said, "I bet we thought we both had the place to our self!" He said with a laugh, "Yeah, it's crazy, huh?!"

As I walked, with the tide going out and the sun hanging lower in the sky, I was thinking about this adventure called life. And I've been doing a lot of thinking this year because my perspective has changed. Coming here in May was a chance to contemplate things and wrap my head around them. And upon returning home from that trip I immediately booked this week's stay (September).

I've always felt direction in my life, self-motivated toward what felt was the natural course for me, personally and professionally (building a successful career and partnering with "my man" to raise a family together). I felt equipped with the self-esteem, support and ethic to carry this out.

But for the first time -- 2014 at age 46 -- I feel I have no direction.

See, what I thought was my purpose in life didn't manifest.

When I finally realized that maybe there is a larger plan in place that I don't know about -- or that maybe what I thought was the paradigm for me to spread Light & Love in this world wasn't the only paradigm -- I surrendered to the Universe.

I'm still the positive, enthusiastic person I've always been, but I've realized the only things we control are our attitude and effort. I have faith that the right path will open before me.

This transformation didn't come easily or quickly, though. It took seven years and was marked with confusion, frustration, tears, and brief flashes of hopelessness.

Now that I'm on the other side of that, I am free in a way.

Freedom can be scary. Which way should I go personally (lifestyle-wise) and professionally (career-wise)? So many possibilities can become "analysis paralysis." So at this point I'm just putting lots of feelers out there and seeing where it leads me. The path will illuminate by being open and present.

Back to the beach walk.

My beach walk at the water's edge got mooshy. My feet sank into the wet sand, leaving imprints of a couple inches deep.

I laughed in an instant of the obvious life metaphor: "Yes, after all these years, I am okay with not being on terra firma!"

As on Charleston Beach as in life!

Moments later I happened to look down at the precise moment to spot, once again, the most perfect piece of aqua sea glass! It felt like an affirmation of my thoughts on life.

ripples by minnows

Even the actions of minnows have ripple effects.

At low tide in New Harbor, off Champlin Road on the way out to the U.S. Coast Guard station, the water is very shallow. Part of the area is being used to restore the shellfish beds. I walked along here and kept hearing what sounded like raindrops. I couldn't figure out the light twinkling sound could be, so I stopped still and focused my eyes and ears.

There were schools of minnows darting around and some would jump out of the water. It was incredible to watch. Even more transfixing was the ripple effect visible on the water surface.

I stood still and watched how these concentric circles overlapped and happened in cycles.

I couldn't help but think of how we talk about positive words, thoughts and interactions having a ripple effect. They extend far beyond the incident. In this case, the smallest minnow splash caused a perfect circle that expanded until it was 10 feet in diameter -- and interconnected with other such perfect circles. It was pretty beautiful.

And the ripple-causing minnow, and its school, had moved on immediately after the initial splash. It didn't have any idea or care about the ripple.

It was a powerful, cool sight to see, and such an obvious metaphor and I had share it. (At bottom is another ripple image I created by tossing three shells in the water.)

ripples 3 concentric circles

Energy ripples, just like these when I tossed three shells in the still water of New Harbor at low tide.

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