Leaf and acorn

Leaf and acorn

It’s been 269 days of this Outdoors Commitment.  Two hundred sixty-nine days of opening the door and going outside.  Two hundred sixty-nine days of blogging.

All I can say is:  what a year it’s been!

It’s so challenging for so many of us to actually stick to resolutions.  We start on January 1st (or December 21st, in my case) and say we’re going to accomplish something. 

What prevents us from following through with our desire to commit to a new way of acting or being in the world?

Red leaf stretches out its fingers to us

Red leaf stretches out its fingers to us

I think (although who knows, I could be wrong) that so often we start a commitment fired up with enthusiasm.  Then our Mind starts with its challenges.  The Mind whines, “But I don’t WANT to do that today!” or “Wouldn’t you rather do something else…?” or “Why did we start this stupid commitment in the first place?”  It sometimes even completely forgets why.  Minds are strange things.  If we believe them, half the time we wouldn’t get anything accomplished.

Trinity of leaves

Trinity of leaves

I have learned so much this year.  Whenever a commitment is made, we’re bound to learn.  Whether it’s a marriage, or decision to have children, or an intent to quit a certain behavior…we’re bound to learn so much.  Commitments teach us so much because we can’t just abandon them when the going gets rough.  We have to look at ourselves squarely.  We have to see more clearly who we are (even the ways we don’t necessarily like ).

We’re bound to learn the ways in which our ego steps up to the plate and wants to take control.  This can be very instructive.  I could list at least 25 ways in which I’ve learned new things about myself through this commitment and writing this blog.  Let me try to pencil in a few:

1)  The Mind says there’s nothing to do outside; nothing new to see.  Certainly nothing new to photograph.  (It tried to tell me this AGAIN today!)  Just sigh when it starts this.  Go outside anyway.  There is always something new.  The Mind does not tell the truth.  And neither do the feelings which get attached to it.

2)  The Ego will say:  you better write an exciting and interesting blog or no one will read it.  Double sigh.  I am still working on this challenge.  I would feel so much more relaxed if I didn’t believe this.  Instead, every day I try to write something interesting. If not to entertain others, at least to entertain myself.  And it works 90% of the time (at least entertaining myself!  Sometimes I sit and laugh and laugh after writing a blog, amazed at the way words come out and say strange and unusual things.)  But other times, I cause myself stress by thinking that it has to be an entertaining blog.  Life is not always entertaining, Kathy!  Why do you think it needs to be presented that way?

3)  Sometimes it’s easier to go outside than it is to write a blog about it.

Leaf hanging in mid-air!  Almost, anyway.

Leaf hanging in mid-air! Almost, anyway.

4) It took me three months into this commitment to let go of certain expectations about who should or should not be reading this blog.  When someone (who knew about the blog/commitment) would ask, “So what have you been doing lately?” I wanted to shout, “Read my blog if you care about me!!”  It was SUCH a relief to let go of this expectation…whew!…we cause ourselves so much grief when we think people should do or act a certain way.  What a huge relief to let this one go.

Leaf on bark

Leaf on bark

5)  OK this is another embarrassing lesson.  Don’t know why I’m sharing this with all of you tonight…I had a light-hearted and entertaining blog in mind, rather than one which felt vulnerable.  Except that I know we all struggle with commitments and challenges and trying to figure out how we want to live on this planet.  Do you know what has taken me eight months to feel comfortable with?  When people like my photography.  Isn’t that a shameful sentence?  I have cringed when people compliment my photos and wanted to retort, “Yeah, thanks, but what about the WRITING?”   Triple sigh.  Because, you see, writing means so much to me.  It enlivens my heart, makes me want to sing, makes the heart pitter-patter so much faster.  But apparently photos do that to people, too.  So I have learned to be gracious.  And today, when an email came in with a compliment, it was easy to say “thank you”.  And to mean it.  Would you think this would take almost nine months to learn?  I must be a slow learner…

6)  oh yes.  And then there’s been the little challenge about checking hits and stats WAY too much.  Still working on that one.  Sometimes I’ve only checked once a week.  But other days…way too compulsive…  Anyone else have that problem?

Still green leaf

Still green leaf

As for the joys with this commitment:  too numerous to mention.  Joys of new friendships, joys of expressing in words, joys of learning to photograph, joys of spending time outdoors with the wind and the warm and the cold and the rain and the sun!  Joys of learning to look at things with an eye toward the unusual, with an eye toward the usual, with an eye which sees rather than passes by.  Joys of readers and joys of deepening into a relationship with nature and the exterior world.  It’s been one of the best years of my life, all thanks to this outdoor commitment and blog!!  One of the absolute best.

Thank you, every one of you readers and commenters, for witnessing this, for stopping by, for sharing, for listening.  Thank you for everything!

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