A Walk in the Woods

One of the highlights of my trip to Michigan last weekend was a quiet walk in the woods on Sunday morning. It was a gorgeous sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s. I was eager to get some exercise and fresh air, so I searched on Google for walking paths near me. A nature trail with a boardwalk popped up just over a mile away from my hotel. Perfect! 

When I typed the address into the navigation app, it looked like the directions ended in a residential neighborhood. Since there didn’t appear to be a place to park and it wasn’t too far, I chose to walk instead of drive.

I trotted along a somewhat busy highway for about a half mile before turning left and then right up a winding road into a peaceful little neighborhood in the hills. Sadly, when I arrived where the app directed me, there was no sign of a nature trail. There was only a space between two houses. Rather than traipse through yards in search of the trail, I decided to continue my walk along the streets and enjoy the beautiful morning and the pretty houses. My decision yielded unexpected results. Five minutes later, I stumbled upon the entrance to the nature trail! 

Grateful for my luck, I left the street and began walking along the trail into the woods. Autumn was starting her spectacular yearly show. There was just a smattering of bright red, orange, and yellow leaves among the trees. Purple and yellow wildflowers grew on either side of the trail that led to a boardwalk stretching across a trickling creek. 

I stopped on the bridge to enjoy the soothing sound of water flowing over rocks and underneath me. That’s when I spotted a great blue heron standing motionless just a few feet from me in the creek. As we stood there looking at each other, the wind blew through the leaves and pine needles of the tall trees surrounding us, making a soft, whistling noise. Peace was palpable. 

After a few moments, I said goodbye to the heron and continued on my way. The boardwalk eventually turned into a paved walkway as I strolled out of the woods and in between two residential neighborhoods. Brightly painted birdhouses lined the fence that separated the trail from the backyards. Many of the homes had ideal birdwatching views from decks or sunrooms overlooking the beautifully landscaped path. I hoped the inhabitants enjoyed those views. I sure would!

I don’t recall seeing many birds except the heron and a crimson cardinal who made a brief appearance when he flew out of a bush and into a nearby tree. However, I noticed many squirrels busy gathering acorns for the coming winter. It was comforting to my soul to be immersed in a world of nature similar to where I grew up in Upstate New York. What an unexpected gift! And other than one woman walking her dog, I had the whole scene to myself.

The trail ended at another residential street, so I turned around to enjoy the sights and sounds in the other direction. When I reached the spot where I found the trail, I had to make a decision. Should I turn left and go back the way I came? Or should I cross the street and continue on the trail in the other direction? 

The latter would be a risky proposition. My goal was to walk for about an hour, and I had already been walking for 45 minutes. If I chose the trail, would I be walking toward the hotel or away from it? By the way, I am notorious for being “directionally challenged.” My head said to play it safe and go the way I came along the busy road. My heart wanted to stay on the path a little longer and enjoy more of nature’s beauty.

Despite my history with directions, I decided to follow my heart and continue along the nature trail. I’m so glad I did! There were many more beautiful leaves and flowers to admire. Along the way, I also encountered a wooden sign with a map of the entire nature trail. To my surprise and delight, I discovered that if I kept going in this direction, the trail would end just a half mile up the road from my hotel. 

By taking a chance and following my heart, my walk ended up being the perfect distance taking just over an hour from start to finish. It was a powerful reminder to trust my heart and keep going even when I don’t know where the road may lead. 

Could you use some assistance in following your heart to destinations unknown? It would be my great honor to walk the trail with you during a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions. Together we will discover where your heart wants to go and what might be in the way. With a fresh perspective and new tools to help keep you on track, you can change course and start enjoying a wonderful walk in the woods of life. Please look around my website for more information or to book your first session

Until next time, may you find the courage to trust your heart and just keep walking. 

He walks in peace who travels sinlessly along the way love shows him.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-23.in.2:5

The Many Faces of Joy

Last week I wrote about the unconscious resistance to fully experiencing joy. Since then, the concept of joy has been rumbling around in my mind. What exactly is joy, and how do we welcome it? This was a common theme in many of my Life Coaching sessions and in both of my weekly A Course in Miracles Study groups. In all of these conversations, I noticed that joy shows up in different ways for different people.

One of the most joyful times in my life was when I worked in the Entertainment Department at Walt Disney World. Some days I couldn’t believe I was getting paid (albeit not much) to have so much fun with my friends in those costumes. I worked there for seven years, so it would be hard to pin down one favorite role in a parade or show. 

However, one of my top five joyful moments at Disney was dancing in the Easter Parade as a Hoe Down Cowboy with the County Bear Jamboree. (Please don’t ask what bears and cowboys have to do with Easter because I have no idea!) Our high-energy dance routine was choreographed to the song “Rocky Top.” I’m not a country music fan, but I had so much fun dancing to that song I whooped and hollered like a crazy person all through the parade route. Being so full of joy helped me push myself to keep my energy high and dance full out until we passed the sightline. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. I had a great cowgirl partner who matched my energy which made it even more fun. I think the picture below captures the essence of the joy we were feeling.

But joy isn’t always loud and flashy. Sometimes it’s much more subtle and quiet. This past weekend I had an experience of silent, peaceful joy. After receiving some happy news in Sarasota, I decided to revisit a place that my friends had taken me to the week before. It is a tranquil spot off the beaten path overlooking Sarasota Bay. I arrived about an hour before sunset and was surprised to find very few people there. I plopped myself down in an empty Adirondack chair to enjoy Mother Nature’s show. 

The sun was still shining brightly in the sky, but the steady breeze coming off the water kept me nice and cool. The tide must have been out because I noticed a large sand bar in the middle of the bay. At least a half dozen herons and egrets took advantage of that shallow water to do some fishing for dinner. I was very entertained watching their slow, deliberate walk and their necks stretching back and forth as they searched for fish. Once they spotted one, they plunged their heads into the water and almost always emerged with a wiggling fish in their beaks. 

Those birds might have had even better luck closer to where I was sitting. Every few minutes, a fish jumped completely out of the water. I was amazed by their ability to launch their entire body several inches into the air before landing back in the bay with a splash. I’m not sure why they were doing that. Perhaps they were trying to escape from predators below. The constant leaping and splashing gave the whole scene a comical flavor as if I were in a cartoon. I laughed every time. In addition to comedy, it also provided a feeling of abundance. Fish were jumping everywhere and readily available for the hungry birds. It definitely seemed like there were “plenty of fish in the sea.” I had never experienced anything like it. 


As the bright orange orb gently lowered itself toward the water, golden sunlight danced on the ripples of the waves. Occasionally a sailboat drifted through the golden sparkles way across the bay. Dark clouds began to invade the sky, and thunder rumbled in the distance. The impending storm just added to the mystical quality of the experience. After the sun dipped below the horizon, I risked getting drenched to enjoy the sights and sounds a little while longer. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave! And something interesting occurred to me. Even though I was there by myself, I did not feel any sense of sadness or loneliness. My heart was full. There was nothing missing. All I felt was a sense of gratitude and contentment. Perhaps those are the only ingredients necessary in the recipe for joy in all its many forms. 


This week, may you find ways to experience a sense of gratitude and contentment for things that are already around you. It could be as simple as laughing at your favorite sitcom, dancing or singing along to your favorite song, or taking a moment to sit under a tree. If you could use some assistance in welcoming joy, please contact me. I would be honored to help you remove the blocks to the awareness of joy’s presence with a series of Life Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Look around my website now for more information about these joyful opportunities or send me an email to schedule a session. 


Until next time, may joy sneak up and find you as it found me in moments of deep gratitude and contentment.

Be not content with future happiness.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-26.VIII.9:1

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