Tag Archives: nature

ROOTED – my word for 2016


Rooted FB Banner 2016

In a year in which I will spend three months overseas in a very foreign culture, then return back to my little nest of a cottage only to begin packing it to move elsewhere overseas…in which I rejoin a husband I haven’t seen in five months….change up my solopreneurship into new offerings and directions….boot up my daughter’s unschooling enrichment…and lose the friends and connections I’ve spent the last two years making, doesn’t the word ‘ROOTED’ seem either ironic or desperate?

It’s just that after two separate stints living abroad, thirteen years in total, one of those with a young child, part of the time on my own…after seven different apartments and three different houses…. I’ve been so tired of moving about, of not being able to settle, to ever unpack every single box, of having books on shelves and setting out my collections on display…it seems that every few years I’ve been uprooted, and every time I have lost things in the process.  And here we go again.

Yet…when I expressed this sentiment plaintively to an almost-complete stranger, she looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, then said quietly as she poured me another cup of her hand-harvested herbal tea, “It sounds as though you might need to develop…inner roots.”

And those last two words hit me – literally made me gasp and wince as if someone had thrown a pillow at my stomach – struck and sank in.  I let them sit for a few days and found they were joined inside my skull by the scriptural injunction to be ‘rooted and grounded in love’.  And a few days after that, playing casually with an oracle card app (which deck, sadly, I do not know) online, a card turned up for me that told me I had a ‘physical desire to be grounded…to sprout roots…’.  Well, I listen to these sorts of Sophia-Wisdom prompts from the Holy Spirit (because otherwise she tends to use something a little more emphatic than a pillow), so I wrote it down.  And because I’m a visual person (in the same way that a tree is wood, which is to say, I don’t have a choice in the matter), I made it into an image.

And then roots started showing up on my facebook feed, pictures from acquaintances who routinely share lovely pictures, quite without intent or tagging.  And my custom-blended herb tea showed up from the not-quite-so-much-a-stranger, with, what else, roots in it.  Dandelion and burdock root.  Nettle, lemon balm and mint.  It helped me balance, ground, mellow.

And as I started to prep, to pack, to winter-clean and simplify my nest, to release in the way a tree releases her no-longer-necessary leaves, I began to realize:  Being rooted is not about one’s environment, circumstances, or situation.

If home is where the heart is, then surely to be with my husband is home, not this small cottage – no matter how painstakingly and lovingly decorated, how many personal bits of me there are in it. I can take the beauty I need to have in my surroundings with me; I can create it again wherever I am.  If I have invested in friends here, I will not lose them, and I can invest and receive again.  If I can weather storms and tears with the root system I already have, then the sun and the wind will only make it stronger.   So – feeding and growing those inner roots is my 2016 promise to myself.   Let’s see what fruit it bears!

Rooted - 2016 Word of the Year JPG


The Hearts of Fish


The Hearts of Fish

A headline on npr.org caught my eye; I didn’t listen to the program (click the image if you’d like to be redirected there) but found the headline itself not only told the whole environmental story, but my own emotional story as well.

Our hearts still bear scars
from toxic events
that happened years ago.

Emotions that overflowed, inappropriate actions we failed to control, harsh and angry words which spilled out of our mouths or those of the people closest to us ….
And like petroleum oil, so hard to clean up, so bad for our environment, so staining and scarring. Everyone in the vicinity suffers.

It takes a lot of soap and elbow grease and scrubbing to clean up a beach that’s experienced an oil spill. What does it take to clean up a damaged relationship, a scarred heart, a hurting marriage?

No easy answers; forgiveness may be the soap that cleans up, living water the cleansing grace that allows us to get the stains off, unconditional love the motivational force that lets us keep doing the day-by-day work in ourselves and our relationships…but none of it easy. A lot of elbow grease, a lot of scrubbing.

And the hearts of fish may still bear the scars
of that toxin
spilled so many years ago.

House Tree Water


House Tree Water

This digital collage was inspired by an old technique used by art therapists, where they ask their client to ‘draw a house, a tree, a person’ – an updated version asks us to draw a house, tree, water, animal, sun and moon.

The client is then gently led to look at her particular interpretation of each object and how they relate; for example, a house – in dreams, in therapeutic imagery, and in metaphor and symbol – is almost always a person’s perception of self; it embodies selfness and personal identity, quite understandably.

Conscious of this particular interpretation, but not the other requested symbols, I chose to create a digital image first and look at the ‘meanings’ later…a sort of self-administered Rorschach, I suppose. (Footnote: The wolf, by the way, is the mother wolf who raises Mowgli, in Kipling’s Jungle Book…) Be gentle; this is authentic stuff here, even if the details are shaded over. Try it for yourself, in a few days when the details are fuzzier, perhaps: house, tree, water, animal, sun and moon. What comes out of your drawing or your collage?

Watching Butterflies


In early fall the butterflies seem most prevalent here, fluttering among the squash vines and cabbages on the verge of the creek ravine, teasing the sedge and tall grasses along the edge of the paving behind our university guesthouse apartment, flicking up from knee-level to tree-tops and back in giddy swoops.  I know the Cabbage White, common but decorative in its pure colour, like petals, and the Yellow Swallowtail, gaudy in scallops and dots.  But for others even the power of Google fails me.  

Last weekend a huge pure black butterfly visited our barbeque and spent time hovering like a hummingbird over the rambling wildflowers.  Nearly the size of my hand, with elaborately curved, heavy wings, as if it had been cut from velvet…I didn’t wonder that our visitors seized their cellphones and tried to capture its splendor.  Against the green and purple of the swamp blooms it stood out magnificently.

And today I was privileged to feed a butterfly from my fingertips.  As I lounged on our lawn swing (a rare privilege itself for a Korean resident – most people have apartments, not houses with private lawns) reading a linguistics textbook, a tiny butterfly came dancing past my face.  Curious, I laid down my book and reached out my hand, fingers upward.  It landed on my index and did not immediately dash off again, instead folding its wings upward and extending its proboscis.

I brought my hand up to look at it more closely, as it calmly investigated the grooves of my fingerprint and the join of my nailbed.  The underside of its wings were a soft grey, flushed faintly with blue near the body, dappled with a few black spots, and decorated along the top edges with a surprising row of orange rosettes.  The topside it mostly kept hidden, the faces together over its back, but as I tilted my hand in the afternoon sun, the wings fluttered out long enough for me to see their hue; a dusty faded blue, almost a periwinkle, trimmed all around with black and then white, for all the world like a child’s butterfly sticker.  The body itself was a delicately-white-furred taper, brushed with the same faded blue, while the short furred legs were a greyish-white. 

It stayed with me, happy to move from finger to finger, the little legs splayed in a secure stance, the hair-fine proboscis tapping and curling.  What it was that kept it feeding from my fingers – literally – I do not know.   Minute skin oils or flakes?  Traces (of what could be scarcely more than the odour) of the fruit-and-granola bar I had eaten after lunch?  The natural salts of my body? 

I watched it, absorbing the details, storing away the colour and beauty for, perhaps, a time in the dark winter months when I would want it again, memorizing its minute, perfect, shape, appreciating its simple presence with me.  A good five minutes it stayed, and then, a flick of wings lifting it away, it was gone back to the grasses and the sunshine.

Inside, later, I found pictures on the net that matched my little visitor. 

Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus), most probably Plebejus argus seoki specifically, say all the links.  A lame choice of nomenclature, like a cheap paint chip… and the Latin is no better, meaning ‘common-eyed’ – rather unimaginative names for a dainty bit of evening sky!





You’re responsible for your personal growth.
You. You have to find opportunities to push your envelope and explore your edges.
Anyone who offers to take care of that for you, is robbing you of the opportunity to find incredible knowledge, growth and epiphany through reality itself….
The crazy thing we forget is that art IS the original personal development. And before art, our prehistoric ancestors gazed into the night sky and told each other tales to explain their worlds.

Art + Nature + Friends

Let these three be your seminar. Let these inspire you to grow.

Peter Shallard

You’re responsi…