Winter Sunshine

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Rare Winter Sun soaks in deep,
Warming these frigid, weary bones.

Quiet winds whisper peace,
Soothing these anxious, unyielding thoughts.

Red dirt and sleepy mesquite beckon,
Come…get lost… for just a little while.

Alone here,
These lungs recall,
What it’s like to breathe real air once more.

Alone here,
This heart recovers,
Its beat growing stronger for another tomorrow.

Alone here,
These feet remember,
Their direction once again.

Chelsey Whitlow

Saturday Scribbles – The Great Outdoors

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I’ll be honest, I’m kind of a sucker for wilderness/survival shows…the idea of a person pushing themselves to their limits, against a force as daunting as Mother Nature…well, it’s exhilaratng. But more than that…it’s inspiring. ( I don’t care if half of these shows are staged or whatever, they still get me hooked)

And I needed something exhilarating and inspiring after this last week. It was a tough one.

It didn’t take me long after work yesterday to crawl into my stretchy pants, pour up a refreshing beverage and land myself on the couch for the evening. Now, a lot of my friends would flip the channel to some romantic comedy or feel good movie during times like this, and I understand why. It is lovely getting lost in make believe and squishy stories from time to time. But I didn’t need squishy last night… I needed grit and inspiration and Mother Nature. (From the comfort of my couch, of course. Let’s not get too crazy. It was a long week after all.) So, I found myself watching several episodes of a survival show on my On Demand channel. That’s how this girl ends a tough week…..with Guinness, stretchy pants and Bear Grylls on the tv.

The Great Outdoors have always been vital to me, whether I am encountering them first hand or enjoying a tv show about them from the comfort and safety of my comfy, overstuffed couch. They are necessary to my sanity at times; like oxygen to a drowning man. The Great Outdoors speak to me of both revelation and examination. I have experienced many moments of each….From the challenges of a summit testing my endurance and perseverance from high above me to the quiet reflection of a mountain stream revealing hidden truths and easing troubled thoughts. The tests of the mountains and canyons I’ve tackled have challenged my mettle and required every ounce of who I am to conquer them. And the streams, meadows and caves I’ve sought refuge in have revealed and healed crucial pieces of who I am, more than a few times.

I seek solace in the Great Outdoors. It’s where I’m best able to face myself and find my way out again. It’s where I find my balance.

After my evening of survival and adventure, I woke up restless, early this morning. There was a familiar itch under my skin; this drive to get outside. I needed oxygen and wide open spaces and something to climb. So I got up, got ready, and with a strong cup of coffee in hand, set out in search of a remedy.

A short thirty minute drive from my little apartment lies a beautiful State Park and one of my favorite places on earth….Palo Duro Canyon. Now, it’s no Grand Canyon, but it’s still pretty majestic in my eyes and it runs rich with the history of my youth. It is my retreat when I can’t run away to the mountains. It carries within it cracks and creases thousands of my sunburns, scrapes, and bruises, along with so much of my laughter and, in the last few years, my tears. It is my haven and one of the few places I’ve found, thus far, where I am truly able to breathe.

And mornings are some of the best times to find yourself there, before the heat of the Texas sun grows too vicious.

I have a secret spot I go. A place hidden away from the road, just a short hike away. I climbed up there this morning with my coffee and journal and breathed…..exactly what I needed. It was no survival show adventure wrought with peril, but it was outside and wide open and covered in warm sunshine, and the restless itch I awoke with began to slowly seep away into the red dirt beneath me.

I met a piece of myself I’ve left hovering under the surface for some time now. And out came this scribble…

You linger under the surface…
taunting,
waiting,
burning.
A fire from deep within,
I’ve always managed to smother before.

You’re not safe.
You’re not comfortable with their expectations.
You’re restless in the shadows I’ve kept you hidden within.

You frighten me.
You always have.

You long for stories and misadventures,
for endless, unpredictable skies and wild, untamed places.
You crave salt sea air and cold mountain water.
You ache for warm desert sun and frigid, snow laced night.

Slowly, and ever so mercifully,
You are dissolving my fear;
swallowing it up with a greater need to
burn brighter,
grow stronger,
be more…
of who I really am.

You are my joy.
You are my balance.
You are my very Heart.

Chelsey Whitlow