Category Archives: Nature

The wonder of the natural world

Signs from the universe

On Sunday, I pulled in the driveway of my childhood home for my parents’ last day there. (We were getting everything ready for them to move into their new apartment the next day.) As I got out of the car, I heard a noise: a massive chattering, similar to but definitely not cicadas.

I looked toward the noise and saw something very much like what is shown in this video. A massive flock of swallows (I assume) were circling my grandparents’ farm across the street, flying in and out of one of the large trees. It was breathtakingly magical. I stood there for several minutes watching the birds, entranced by the beauty of their coordinated aerial dance. I felt as if I had been given a gift directly from Heaven.

And then my eyes refocused, closer. Something else was flying around in circles, directly in front of me. Dragonflies! At least half a dozen of them. In my almost 47 years, I don’t remember ever seeing any dragonflies at our house, ever. And there they were, darting back and forth, maybe 10 feet in front of me.

Soul sketch by Alena Michaels July 11, 2019

Recently, a friend read my soul’s energy and was inspired to draw a dragonfly in a heart. We discovered that dragonflies can symbolize souls that have been freed from their human bodies. She said my brother was communicating with me: I just needed to open up and allow the connection. All the dragonfly decorative items I’ve collected over the years took on a new meaning. And now here were real ones, coming to support me during this huge life transition.

Yesterday, I started the drive to my parents’ new home, to get ready for the movers to arrive with their belongings. A hawk flew directly over my car, close enough for me to see its face. For some reason, I have always gotten excited every time I see a hawk– so to have one fly so close was special on this momentous day.

Thank you, Universe, for reminding me that I am always supported and never alone. It’s taken me a long time to realize, but I feel so blessed now to finally accept the gifts that are being given, every day.

May you all be aware of the gifts, the miracles, that surround you.

With much love,

Spring growth

The crocus is one of the first flowers to appear, announcing the spring season. It fills people with joy.

Look at it. Its structure appears so delicate, and yet it is strong enough to make its way through the frozen ground, reaching for the sunshine. I find that fascinating and inspiring. (And so I had fun taking these photos of them yesterday.)

If a delicate crocus can successfully grow through the cold hard ground, we can do anything.

As Don Miguel Ruiz says in his transformative book The Four Agreements, “Life can be very easy when love is your way of life. … Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.”

Where is your focus for growth today? What is one thing, one thought, you can adjust to have a more beautiful life today?

You are not broken

Remember, even when the whole moon is not visible, the moon is still whole: We simply can’t see it all at that moment.

We are never less than whole. We are just finding our way out of the darkness into the light. ❤️

Love yourself, as you are right now. Shine whatever light you have and trust that you will be restored to your full brilliance. Cycles are simply a part of nature, nothing to be feared.

Natural magic

I was inspired to take a walk this morning. It was meant to be.

A magical dancing leaf, 4 butterflies, and a heart leaf (plus lots of other beauty) told me that I can inspire others simply by living an inspired life.

I don’t need a specific plan. There is no pressure for perfection (a past hangup); in fact, perceived perfection is intimidating, not inspiring. It creates separation, not connection.

What lights us up is when other people are lit up. Hey, hey, I’m a light! 👏🏻😁🤩 And when I’m not lit up, I can share that too, so others will know that being human is not about being perfect or happy all the time; it is about being real and honest and vulnerable.

But when I am looking with a child’s eyes or an artist’s eyes and finding the wonder of life, that is worth sharing. That is inspiring. I AM Inspiring.

The beauty of just being you

A while back, a dear friend posted something on Facebook about appreciating the people in her life who are not afraid to just be themselves, flaws and all… for one reason, because it allows her to feel better about her own flaws.

“I appreciate the fact that as I get older I have come in contact with people who are willing to be honest about who they are, flaws and all.  Makes me like them all the more. [It] also gives me courage not to judge myself so harshly. Courage… because it is sometimes easier to just assume I should be a better person than I am.”

The very next day, I found myself thinking about my friend’s post again as I was listening to World Cafe Live on the public radio station. Brandi Carlile and the Indigo Girls were the featured artists. I found myself tearing up a little—because of the raw honesty when they spoke and when they sang. Carlile described her first songwriting experience with one of the Indigo Girls: how nervous she was to be working with someone she admired so much. She, after all, is just another person dealing with self-doubt and self-criticism. Hearing her laugh and poke a little fun at herself was refreshing. (Wow, other people—accomplished, talented people—really do have the same insecure thoughts I do!) And then the two women sang the song they had written together. Beautiful.

It occurred to me that this is what I cherish most in people and what I miss (often without realizing it) when it’s absent. When people aren’t trying to sell something or convince someone of something, when they are just themselves, there is something so utterly beautiful about that. You don’t have to like what they’re doing or saying or creating or singing, but if you can tell that it is truly from the heart or the soul, whatever you want to call it, it is magical. It is pure. And that is beautiful.

So, how about we make that our goal for the day? Just to be 100% ourselves and accept that as a beautiful thing. My guess is that other people will see the beauty too.

I find that it is often easier to accept myself just as I am when I am out in nature.


Surviving the heat and humidity

When I walk outside my house in July and August, when both temperatures and humidity are soaring, I tend to wilt a bit. Like me, most of the flowers around my house are geared more toward spring and early June. However, there are a few hearty individuals who are thriving in the summer heat. Here are some snapshots from the last few days.







Yes, this is thistle, a weed. But before I ripped up a whole mess of it that had taken over one of my flower beds, I had to admit the blossoms were kind of attractive in a funny sort of way.


Need a vacation?

Are you stressed out? Exhausted? Have you just about had it up to your eyeballs with your boss, your co-workers, your kids?

Well then…

Take a vacation. Right here and now.

No, I’m not kidding.

It will take just 3 minutes, and it may bring a smile to your face that lasts the rest of the day.

So grab a (real or imaginary) umbrella drink, sit back in your chair, feel the sand under your feet and the sun on your skin (I know you can do it), smell the suntan lotion, and listen while you enjoy these images from Key West.

“Don’t worry about a thing.” Wise little birds.


Just chill

Sometimes you just gotta chill. Take a breath. Start fresh.

So take 6 minutes out of your day of oh-so-important (really?) and oh-so-urgent (seriously doubtful) tasks and enjoy this track by Mishka. Since the YouTube file has just the album cover, I’ve included a nice little sunset scene below for you.

Go ahead. Drift away. Everything else will wait.

Peace & Love to you, my friends.

Mallory Square sunset
Sunset from Mallory Square, Key West (2009)


Mowing, again.

It’s been raining a lot lately, to put it mildly. Some areas have been flooded, and people are trying to cope with major damage. I’ve been fortunate to have only a relatively minor water issue in my basement—which we’ll hopefully get fixed sometime soon.

But another effect of all this rain is some seriously green grass. The other day I found myself just staring at my yard, mesmerized. I don’t think I’ve ever seen grass quite this bright—certainly not in front of my house. It looks like photos of Ireland. I guess I can pretend I’m on the Emerald Isle for a while, since I haven’t made it across the pond yet.

The grass certainly is pretty when it’s this happy, but here’s what healthy grass does: It grows. Fast. Something I probably should have considered when I hired a company to start treating my lawn last year. I just wanted to get rid of the weeds. It never occurred to me that the grass would actually grow faster, requiring me to mow more often (or look at really long grass). Oops! Be careful what you wish for, right?

Personally, I think mowing every three days seems a bit excessive, but what can you do? If you don’t keep up, then the process becomes even harder. So when I was out there mowing again already today, I started to grumble a little. And then I caught a whiff of the lilacs. There you go: perspective and mood changed. After all, the rain doesn’t just help the grass grow; it feeds all the flowers too. It’s pretty difficult to complain about something that produces such beauty. Plus, pushing the mower around (especially with a heavy bag of damp clippings) is good exercise. So I proceeded to enjoy the temporary sunshine, mopping the sweat running down my face while appreciating the wonder of nature around me.

Perhaps these snapshots from the Walsh yard the last few days will help brighten your perspective too.

Lilacs against a bright blue sky
One whiff of these lilacs and I'm transported to a happy place.

Pink bleeding hearts
Bleeding hearts apparently love it here: they grow and spread like crazy. (I wonder if that's a reflection of my personality.)

White bleeding hearts
Here's the white version. I like to think of these as pure hearts.

Little blue flowers
I bought these plants for their great silver and green foliage. These cute little guys are a short-lived bonus in mid-spring.

Inside of purple tulip
I love tulips. The house came with plenty of yellow and red ones. I added some purple ones at Easter time last year.

Poppy inside
I think the color of this poppy is just phenomenal.