Coping with Chaos

Spring has turned to Summer and the world continues to be a crazy place. It’s been hard to know what exactly to write this past couple of months. My heart is heavy for so many reasons and I often find myself both frustrated and saddened by the state of the world. Instead of trying to write with any sort of sense about those complicated issues, I’m going to share what I’ve been focusing on to cope: my adventures in nature and need to be creative. Nature is quite powerful and, as usual, has been an effective source of calm for me. I’ve been doing my part to keep my distance from most people and instead have focused on what I do best: exploring and enjoying the natural beauty around me.

After returning home from Oregon in April amidst Wisconsin’s Safer-at-Home order, I got my daily dose of nature by walking around and exploring the yard with Cole. It’s been nice to slow down and discover the easily-overlooked beauty that lies right outside our door. There has been a myriad of flowers blooming at various times these past few months and just when I think there are no more new kinds of flowers to bloom, something else pops up. What a treat! There have been many wonderful sunsets too that I’ve gotten to enjoy while walking with Cole. On those walks, I’ve also come across mushrooms, caterpillars, birds, rabbits, deer, frogs, lightning bugs, and more. There is a robust ecosystem thriving in our yard. We’ve had several thunderstorms roll through with powerful wind, thunder, and lightning. I’ve been missing those during my time living in Oregon as they are much rarer there. With all the good, comes a little bad too. The mosquitos, gnats, and biting flies can be relentless at times. When the June bugs started coming out in May, I changed my and Cole’s entire schedule so we wouldn’t have to walk outside in the dark. If you are unfamiliar with my June bug phobia, take a moment to read this post from earlier in my blog series. The upside to this new schedule is that I’ve been able to enjoy sunrises again, something I have rarely been able to do in the past due to my night owl tendencies. Now that the June bugs are gone, I have for the most part kept the early bird schedule. Could I have successfully made the transition from night owl to early bird? Time will tell.

When I wasn’t exploring the yard, I focused my energy inside on designing a calming space to call home. It’s been a bit of a long journey with several returned purchases along the way to get things just right. I processed some of my photos into new pieces of wall art and made use of some already printed pieces. In addition to art, I’ve made sure to surround myself with a healthy amount of plants too. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet for the perfect pieces of furniture to meet my practical needs as well as impress my eyes. I taught myself to rescreen my torn and taped window screen so I could enjoy an unobstructed view into the yard. I also focused on tiny details like finding the perfect curtain ties, coasters, and mug to enjoy my morning coffee each morning. It took a good deal of trial and error before deciding that the area rug I already had from my sister was the perfect one for my space. I had to rearrange a few times but I finally found the furniture configuration that works best for my space. I’m a firm believer that, when it comes to interior design, small details matter. Flow matters. Lighting matters. White space matters. Function matters. I’m fairly confident that I finally have my space just the way I want it, short of painting the walls and hanging the trim pieces which are beyond my ability to control at this time.

Once the parks reopened, I found plenty of ways to explore the outdoor spaces in my home state this past couple of months. Cole and I hiked at Dells of the Eau Claire County Park the first weekend the parks reopened. It was a much-appreciated treat after so much time unable to hike over the winter months. Another weekend, I met up with an old friend for a socially distanced hike at Devil’s Lake State Park, one of my favorite parks in Wisconsin. You may remember that I had camped there the first night I was back in Wisconsin last October but it was a nice change to see it come alive in Spring, despite the busyness of the trails. Any future hikes I do there this year will be timed for during the week. I’ve also explored Astico Park in Columbus and Pauquette Park in Portage by foot, both of which had high numbers of mosquitos, as well as the Pheasant Branch Conservatory via my new-to-me bike. Now that I have my own bike again, I’m looking forward to exploring more bike trails in the area and am on the lookout for a used pet trailer so I can bring Cole along with me on cooler days. I recently decided to buy my own kayak too and have been enjoying getting out on the waterways. So far I’ve kayaked at Beaver Dam Lake in Beaver Dam, Lake Monona in Madison, Park Lake in Pardeeville, and Lake Ripley in Cambridge. Before I moved to Oregon, I had been working on a goal to hike at every state park in Wisconsin. Now that I’m back, I’m working on finishing the handful of remaining parks this summer. The weather has been difficult to plan around but I’m hoping I can find a way to squeeze those hikes in later in the summer and early fall when the temperatures and humidity come down a bit.

Pandemic and other current events aside, I’ve relished these past ten months since quitting my traditional job in Oregon and setting my sites on a different way of life. I’ve traveled, explored, created, spent every day with Cole, and have lived mostly on my own schedule and terms without waking up to alarm clocks or punching traditional time clocks. I’ve had the gift of time to reflect and explore my curiosities. Even though it hasn’t all turned out the way I envisioned, for instance starting and growing my new business venture, it seems things have mostly fallen into place and that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. I would not be able to do that so easily right now if it weren’t for my sister providing me a peaceful place to live and my Madison employer allowing me to work, albeit greatly reduced hours, from home. I’m thankful for both of them as well as for my supportive friends who talk me through the hard times just as much as they celebrate my successes. They may not always understand every decision I make but they are there for me nonetheless and that is truly the best gift anyone could ever give, we should all be so lucky to have people like this in our lives. I know I am fortunate for this way of life and perhaps that is why I am ever more committed to living a life of authenticity for it seems the best way, for me, to enjoy true happiness.

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