Reflections: Gifts of 2020

Stop and revisit

As we move through the final days of 2020, I looked through my journal to reflect on the year. Like many of you, I spent so much more time at home than I ever have, and journaled every day.

With entries tracking the changing of the seasons from spring to summer to fall and into winter, I’ve chronicled the patterns, life history, dramas of animals, and noticed things I had never stopped to see before.

Each morning, I sat outside my house in my “sit spot”– a place that I watched nature regularly. From this spot, my daily nature journaling practice became a habit and a joy-filled, wonder-filled respite from the technology-driven world.

As I started to spend more and more time teaching from behind my computer over Zoom, I needed the counterbalance of nature to bring me calm, replenish my energy and inspire creativity.

Because I slowed down to notice the ordinary, extraordinary sights and discoveries appeared before me. The more I focused my attention on each nature subject, the more familiar I became with the subtleties, intricacies and patterns, and the more connected I became with them.

Sunset altocumulus clouds. Melinda Nakagawa

From the varied cloud forms in the sky, to the changing voices in the dawn chorus, the bluebird family that reared three babies in the nest box my husband put up in our yard, to the unusual garden spiders living their secret lives in our ceanothus bushes, the resilient willow tree to the diminutive mosses in the brick walkway, I have grown a fondness, an appreciation for these beings.

Not only have I learned so much about the nature around me, I’ve learned more about myself. How to slow down more, to have intention with my journal and throughout my day. To be aware of the falling leaves, bird language, as well as my own bodily signs signaling my stress level and to respond with nature breaks.

Western bluebirds, Melinda Nakagawa

I have grown to become more comfortable being me and expressing myself wholly. As I shared nature connection with all of you out of love, gratitude and generosity, I practiced more and more of being true to myself, listening to my inner wisdom, listening to nature and being ME.

I see my journals as sensory scrapbooks. When I flip through them, I am transported to that moment in time when I filled the page- I remember the sights, sounds, smells, thoughts and emotions.  In 2020, I’ve filled 9 journals!

The other gifts I received is that life is so much richer, than it was before. It’s an ingrained habit to see the world through eyes of possibility, gratitude and wonder. My life is full of joy, and nurtured with community connection (new friends like you), collaboration with others, inspiration and creativity.

AND my nature journaling has gone into overdrive! I’ve got more tools that are accessible in my tool belt rather than gathering dust in the tool box.

What have you learned or gained this year through nature journaling? What has awakened in you?

Please come on a Sunday to the Monterey Bay Nature Journal club to say hello and continue your journey with others.

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