Spiritual Toolbox

**All photographs by Leslie Sheridan

 

 

The energies of the past month have been so intense, where I was feeling like I was in a vortex that I couldn’t pull myself out of some days and other days I was on the mother of all emotional roller coasters. These intense energies went away with a bang culminating with last night’s full moon and Mercury in Retrograde leaving today. Fortunately I had a long weekend to sit, reflect, meditate, give myself Reiki and walk in nature.
When life gets crazy or hard, or when the energies are spinning us around like a fast spinning merry-go-round we need our spiritual toolboxes. Sensitive people like me are especially sensitive to other people’s energies: at work, shopping or at the amusement park.
Spiritual toolboxes are a necessity not only when there is so much going on in the world but anytime you need help keeping your mind, body and spirit together. Going for a walk in the park or on the beach; grabbing a good book and parking ourselves in a comfortable chair; meditation; affirmations, prayer and gratitude; and a spiritual support group – an actual support group or call all the angels, saints, deities, God, or Jesus; or all of the above. And when all else fails – just breathe.
When everything gets crazy or chaotic and confusing sometimes our first reaction is not always breathing or praying. We can make a practice of finding peace within when everything on the outside isn’t. Its peace we really want. Peace of mind, a peaceful space, a peaceful life.
There may be more intense energies yet to come this year as well as both a Super moon and Mercury going retrograde again in December. What’s in your spiritual toolbox?

 

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The Detour

A recent hike with my camera in hand led me to a beautiful spot with a little leftover snow from a recent snowfall.  The path was an off shoot or smaller trail, of the main path, with the early morning sun filtering through the trees. Click. It was a beautiful shot. What I would not find out for another three and a half miles was that the picture I just took was a clue.
It was a perfect mid-winter Sunday morning. And so I went along the path, looking at the trees, the snow covered rocks and frozen stream. Being on this trail that early morning was just what I needed: cleanse my aura, get fresh air, and really just being out in nature – my favorite place to be. The trail has hills, gorgeous trees, and a stream running under a wooden bridge. It really is picturesque all four seasons.
One of the great things about taking an early morning hike is that there really aren’t many people on the trail.  It’s not anti-social; rather this time is spiritual – Sunday and the other six days of the week.  I don’t really think about things while I’m hiking. I allow myself to just be in the moment, although occasionally my mind does wander, as it did this day. The funny thing is I have daydreamed before on this trail, so I don’t understand how I lost my way. I was walking along the path for a while before I realized that the texture of the ground beneath the inch or so of snow left did not feel right or familiar to me. I did not recall there being small mounds of fall leaves or rocks jutting up through the ground. This path was lumpy; not clear or smooth like the path I had started out on.
The nearly three mile hike became a four mile hike. I wondered if there was a reason I subconsciously took a detour. Perhaps it was a route I chose to take to avoid something –on a metaphysical level. Was I meant to go off the path or was the universe allowing me to have a choice (free will). Or, I wondered, was it a reminder to stay aware while I’m on my path, to discern, to not be led by anyone or anything that might take me off the path. There is a reason for everything. Maybe if I had paused and listened to my inner self when I’d taken the picture, I may have heard “Stay on your path.”

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”  ~ Vincent Van Gogh

 

Like a lightning bolt, I never know when inspiration will strike.

Nature inspires me every day. I love the hues of blue and gray -whites on a really cold winter morning. I love how the sun dances off the water, glimmering sparkles of gold after a summer thunderstorm. I love the reds and golds of the fall foliage. I’m inspired by the textures of scenery – I love how it all comes together. I am always photographing it.

I’m inspired by a film with good, no, passionate acting and the cinematography. I love the beauty of film.

I’m inspired by art in the form of music, painting, drawing or photography, a play or musical. I love the passion that people exhibit through their work, their art.

I love a good book, not just a good book: literature. I love works by Tracy Chevalier and Patti Smith.

I’m inspired by people. People who live their lives with passion, a sense of adventure, an apparent acceptance of self so much so that they are content and able then to live in the present.

In high school I took a Humanities elective out of desperation. There was one other option that I would not take, the subject I don’t recall. So, I signed up for the comprehensive art class and was reluctantly accepted by the teacher. The class consisted of mainly art students and future art history majors. The teacher was refined and knew by looking at me that I didn’t deserve to be in his class – I was a bit rough around the edges but determined to stick it out in the class. Early on in the class there was a slide show of various paintings and other art pieces. One painting was Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy. He asked everyone in the class what we thought about the piece  and offer a description of it. I had seen this painting before and when it was my turn  to comment I said “I like it.”  The teacher said my answer was unacceptable. He wanted to know why I liked it.  

What I learned in this class stayed with me. It wasn’t the teacher, but rather the subject that inspired a love for the arts. When I go to art museums I really look at the piece, the colors, the subjects, the smallest details. What was the artist feeling, what did the artist wish to convey to us, or did the artist create it for themselves?

When I take photographs I don’t just see the scenery. I see texture and colors and light and I feel the emotions it evokes within me. Those are the elements of an art piece whether it’s a film, book, an historical piece in a museum, a painting, drawing or photograph. I am always interested, curious, grateful and inspired by life.

 

 

A Summer Nature Retreat

*All photographs by Leslie Sheridan

 

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. ”       ~Lord Byron