Thursday, July 28, 2016

How Escaping to Nature Can Be a Reset Button.

I'm relaxing while sitting in the green kayak on Lake McDonald. Water in nature is fascinating.  

Water has a soothing effect, therapeutic and calming to my spirit.  Whether a trickling stream, a rushing river, a delicate waterfall, an expansive lake or a mighty ocean...water just soothes.  Life is busy for all of  us.    We make weekends our time to spend together as a family.  Short little trips are usually our favorite.  The local reservoirs are all low at this time of year.  We readied to spend a day on the water.  The kayaks were loaded in the bed of the pickup truck.  A picnic lunch of sandwich fixins' and chips and Oreo cookies was ready to go.  Our day of adventure required us to improvise as we went along.  We hit the road!  We listened to music and talked as we traveled that day.  When we arrived in Glacier National Park along the banks of Lake McDonald... what is it about God's creation, nature, and our being drawn to these places?  We just soaked it up!  The time spent on the water helped make it a fantastic day that helped us all reconnect with one another.

A nature inspired artist - that's me.  I watch to study, to understand, to remember how it captivates me.  I take it in so I can take it with me...whether the memory, the photo, the watercolor sketch.

Sometimes we all need to hit the reset button.

The kids (okay, teens) head directly to the water, both wading in and then kayaking for a while.  Then my husband takes a turn, heading out with paddle in hands, while our kids swim alongside the kayak.  I watched from shore, enjoying the moments as an onlooker.  I quietly take it all in, everything around me.  I love seeing how they interact with one another.

Slowly making their way further into the cold water of Lake McDonald.

My son makes his way out onto the lake in the green kayak.

My husband out on the lake in the blue kayak.  My two children swim off to his left.

My husband and two children spending time together in the lake.

Family time on Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.

Soon, it's my turn with a kayak onto the lake.  I can't believe how much I enjoy this, never thinking it would be this fun and relaxing an experience.  My husband has been focused on purchasing kayaks for several years.  He began by looking at canoes but it progressed to kayaks eventually.  I am so glad he decided on kayaks in the end.  This is our first summer with two kayaks and I believe we'll need to add on in time.  Maybe a dual seat kayak for the two of us will be our next addition.  I head out on the lake once with my husband.  We find a great view of the mountains from the water!  It's unlike seeing from the shore.  I also take a tour of the lake with my daughter.  We are gone for 15 or 20 minutes, just the two of us together.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.

My daughter and I paddle out onto the lake in kayaks.

My daughter and I return to shore in the kayaks.

My children and I spend time on the lake with the kayaks.

The waters of the lake are cold and clear.  The water playfully washes over the brilliantly colored pebbles.  I sit there, watching the ripples of water travel to and fro, as the light plays on the water and the pebbles.  It's intriguing that something so simple captures my focus.  My attention is drawn to the rhythm and I feel my being relax more.

Colorful pebbles in the shallow water at the shore's edge.

Water flows over colorful pebbles in the shallow water at the shore's edge.

Colorful pebbles in the shallow water at the shore's edge.

I feel an urge to leave behind the hectic and scheduled existence and escape into nature for a day or more.  I'm inspired and rejuvenated.  I soak it up, taking in the surroundings with my senses.  I feel the warmth of the sun filling me from head to toe.  The sounds of children laughing and splashing down the banks fill my ears.  The scents of campfires and meals cooking along with the scents of the forest are so familiar.  The lake's cold water envelops my feet as I get ready to take my turn in a kayak.  Huckleberry iced tea rounds out the day as we prepare to drive home again.

Colorful pebbles in the shallow water at the shore's edge.

Escaping to nature is my reset button.

Colorful pebbles in the shallow water at the shore's edge.

While we took turns with the kayak, as I sat on the shore, there was time to be still and observe all that was going on around me.  There's something so peaceful and nourishing in just taking it all in, not feeling the need to be busy.  Families and individuals would come and go, making their way to the lake to experience the place.  I'd listen as they exclaimed at the moment their feet meet the icy cold water.  They would not shy away.  This is the experience to not miss in this place.  How far into the water can they go?  Will they retreat to shore before getting completely wet?  These waters come from the snow and ice melting from the highest places at the mountains' peaks.  The rivers and lakes remain icy cold all through the summer months.  When the sun warms your skin enough with its heat, that water no longer seems so cold because you're ready for relief.

My camera and travel art kit came along as usual!  It's much easier to take photos because it's what I've worked into our travel all these years.  The watercolor kit doesn't always get unpacked.  I must make more effort to use the watercolors because I've gotten out of that habit.  While I sat there, watching the activity around me, I realized my time would soon run out.  If I wanted to paint something in the watercolor sketch book, I should get started right away.  I began by using the watercolor pencils.  The results just wouldn't be the same without the watercolor travel palette.  I need to swish the wet brush around on the palette.  That motion of the brush completes the experience.    Mixing in a bit of blue or yellow...whatever my instinct is guiding me to try.

My watercolor sketch of the mountains and Lake McDonald July 2016.
My watercolor sketch book.  ©2016 Christy Sheeler - She Must Make Art - All Rights Reserved.

I recall a camping trip years ago that remains in my memory.  We arrived at our campsite so hot and sweaty.  It had been such a long day with packing and preparing to travel; there's so much to do before hand leading up to leaving town.  Once we had arrived and our initial setting up camp was completed, we were all so weary.  As the sun began to set, we gathered towels and headed on foot to the lake.  That cold water was refreshing and soothing, making every bit of hard work worth the effort.  Such a welcome respite for each of us!

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.

We washed off the weariness and soaked up the renewing excitement of family adventure in the mountains.

I'm sure you can relate with the landscapes near you!  There's got to be a lush field or a rushing river or an ocean shore.  Are you looking for it?  It's worth stopping and soaking in for a while.  Press pause on life for a few minutes.  Everything will not fall apart; we fight the urgency to keep pushing hard.  When we take the time to see, notice, be present, life takes on a better perspective.

There are amazing experiences in the simple things of nature taking place everyday.


I realize we can't always pack up and head out on the road.  Responsibility and commitments won't always allow us to take off for the day.  I get that.  Is there some way we can take small little opportunities where we are?  Can you take a time out and see the beauty around you?

Yesterday, I stopped what I was doing to look out the window because I heard the sounds of birds nearby.  I moved to the window, trying to locate the birds.  There in the grass, a mother robin was plucking berries from a low hanging branch on a neighbor's tree.  I realized another smaller robin was also near, one of her young!  The mother bird plucked the berry and fed it to her baby.  She repeated this again several times, the baby bird waiting eagerly for another berry.  At a glance, I never would have realized the second bird was one of her young.  It was just a bit smaller in size than the mother bird.  By observing for those brief moments, I felt joy at being able to watch this mother robin feeding her baby.  Just so sweet and endearing!  I know at times, I'm so intensely focused on my tasks that I'd miss this experience without realizing it.

Advice to self:  don't be so driven with my plans that I forget to be aware and present to the small details around me.

So, I am sending out a challenge to you today, reader!  Take time.  Pause, look, see the unnoticed.

Catch a glimpse of small bits of beauty all around you.  The moments are fleeting.  How can you take better care of yourself in the everyday routine, making your days more fulfilling?  Be present.  I believe there's something worth seeing near you that will boost your spirit and energy.

Look.  See.  Comment here or on Facebook Christy Sheeler - Artist, because I'd love to hear what it is you see when you stop and pause for a moment.

She must make art.

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