Thursday, April 5, 2012


Prompt #5 in the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge #HAWMC  by #WEGO  April's 30 days of writing prompts take us on a journey of our life and work, our inner worlds and our outer. Check 'em out!

PROMPT #5: Ekphrasis Post. Go to and write a post inspired by the image. Can you link it to your health focus? Don’t forget to post the image! 

Though I couldn’t find a photo on flickr, I did find one that I had taken that especially draws me. It was taken when I was walking through the redwoods outside San Francisco with my eldest sister, a walk of hours on a path that climbed the side of a deep ravine, then crossed a series of small bridges over running streams and rivulets. I loved the feeling of being so small when surrounded by magnificent trees and expanses. 

When crossing the bridges, I would look down at the stones and ferns, the variety of textures and soft colors. Looking down at these smaller more immediate environments was an especially intimate experience when contrasted by walking the edge of the ravine. I took my camera and zoomed up on the patterns below me, trying to see with abstracted eyes the configurations of plant, water, rock. Another contrast was the bit of man made presence, that reminder of man versus nature represented by just the shadow of the bridge railing.
Healing happens on many levels. The older I get, the more the line blurs between healing of the body and that of the spirit. A “redwoods” experience is profoundly healing. It takes me out of myself, requiring deep breathing, to focus in on what is closest to me, and then to look up to take in the beauty. In times of physical health challenges, during cancer or a bout of arthritis, though it has been necessary to focus on what is happening so as not to “lose my footing”, I have tried to remember to step back from the immediacy of physical or psychic pain, to “look up”, breathe deeply, and appreciate my life. 

During six months of chemo in 2002, I discovered yoga, which put me in touch with my body, teaching me how to relieve damaging stress through waves of intentional breathing and stretching. I became certified in the administration of Reiki, using it not only for physical healing, but also to get to sleep in the middle of the night. 

My speediest physical healing has come from focused awareness, as I had focused on those rocks and ferns, tuning in to the nature of my body while supporting it with carefully chosen medical protocols. And as on my "Redwoods" walk,  I then must get outside of myself to appreciate the uplift of my life.

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