Poetry: Allowing And Understanding Feelings — Without Being Ruled By Them

The Golden Rules For Feelings, And Other Thoughts In Verse

CS Sherin, 09-10-2019, edited 9-11-19

Canadian Geese and Tundra Swans, La Crosse WI marsh. Photo by CS Sherin

FEELINGS…

are neither good or bad…
they just are.
If denied
they become like
exiled mice
burrowing and hiding
in hidden places
of the psyche and body,
indefinitely.
Only when
they are felt
and named
can they be released
and resolved…
even if it takes
50 years, or more.

If there is no room for certain feelings
they can get squeezed out
sideways
in unintended words or actions
that may inflict
lasting harm…
a lot of times
upon those
undeserving
and most loved.
Or we may express
inappropriate emotions
at inappropriate times
because we were never given permission
to show certain feelings, like
sadness, fear, or anger.

Feelings are like babies
or art…
they are so often
a surprise, an experience
created and flowing
through us without effort,
a full human experience…
emotions provide a needed function
that each of us is
responsible for…even
while others
may come to their own
interpretations
about it.

Feelings are.
All the feelings
are natural, honest responses
to whatever we are experiencing. Sometimes
they seem ugly and wrong,
sometimes they are
harsh
and exaggerated,
but truth is
they are what they are…
and everyone
has all of them
no matter how repressed and denied
they may be. Sometimes
the full gamut of emotions
haven’t been felt or
experienced, but the
potential remains
the same
within each of us.

What is important,
essential,
absolutely necessary
is
to look at our feelings
and name them,
especially the difficult or enigmatic
ones — whenever we can,
no matter
how clumsy or tentative
it seems in doing so.

Feelings, ultimately
are meant to be felt and then
fade…let go of
in the moment,
and recycled
into other energy
and actions that are needed
in each moment.

If we cannot let a feeling go
it becomes something else…
a thing, a force
that we
consciously or unconsciously
choose
to feed and hold onto…
like a depraved zombie
that is treated like a
beloved teddy bear —
it will surely cause
malfunctions and
other problems both
subtle and obvious.

If it is hard
to let go of a certain feeling
it may require really listening to
and responding
to the feeling, or it may mean
that one feeling is dominating
as a defense
to hide a deeper feeling
that was or is
less
acceptable to us
or to those
who
influenced us.

Look at your feelings,
name them, and
let them go.
Let it be
natural.
Let it be
like a passing moment.

No bird ever soars
by holding on.

Truly,
real and needed fear
can keep us alive,
and generate enough
kinetic energy
to fuel needed
responses to real danger
and emergencies:
like running, rescuing,
putting out fires,
fighting for our lives,
and so on.

Best we don’t hold onto it.
Best we listen to it
and respond. That allows
the natural flow
into
needed actions
and new feelings
and experiences.

Real and needed anger
can alert us to the fact
that our boundaries are being
disrespected, someone is
being harmed,
or that we need to
say no, because we are
allowing ourselves to be taken
advantage of, and we are giving too much.
And, it can tell us
that the other person
cannot be trusted, and shouldn’t be
at this time.
The anger serves its purpose…
we feel it,
we listen to it,
name and understand it,
and respond to it appropriately,
and then,
move on.
Anger too,
can give us new energy
to act, to respond,
to create
positive change,
movements for the good,
and new creations. Anger doesn’t mean
ugly. It means
something productive
needs to happen, adjustments
need to be made. Deep breathing
helps.

As emotions flow through and out of us
channeling difficult ones into
actions and words that do the least harm,
is most preferable.
Seeking to channel difficult
feelings can contribute to
health and creativity.

It is a choice
to be responsible
and transform pain and difficulty into
something helpful and
healing, or at least something
that brings greater health and balance
to self…
rather than creating more,
and unnecessary suffering.

In anger
I have created some
of my most beautiful
art. Channeling emotions
with creativity can be
surprising,
refreshing,
renewing. It can lead
to great things.

Easy feelings are easy.
Difficult and layered feelings
can be quite hard
and uncomfortable.

Rage and terribly sad can be much
harder. Along with resentment,
jealous insecurity and many
other challenging emotional
states brought about
by many dynamics…

Norms make some of these
unacceptable to feel or express,
except when channeled into
energy that bypasses
perceived weaknesses…

Feelings range the gamut
and can be easy to handle, feel,
name and let go of
unless
we have been in places
in circles
where
we were made to feel
over and over and over
that certain feelings are wrong and bad or
that there is no room for our feelings
or that feelings are inferior
or too big, or too much trouble…
there are so many ways
that our culture
has manipulated, exploited
and exiled feelings,
while also neglecting to
teach healthy processes for them.

Some of us grew up
being told without words that
there will be no support for our feelings
(trusted caregivers did this,
as was done to them)…or that
some feelings are forbidden. This is like
telling someone
that peeing is forbidden.
The pee is going to come out
sooner or later.
Seen or unseen.

Feelings are an automatic
and natural response to experiences
and situations.

Some of us received love when we
expressed pleasant emotions and then
likewise, love was
withheld
if
we expressed anger
or other “ugly” feelings.

Some natural feelings became
confusing, hard, forbidden.

There were so many unspoken judgements
and snares
like barbed wire for our
automatic, natural emotions
to navigate, all the while our brains
weren’t fully developed.

Drugs and alcohol often step in
for so many of us
to alleviate, numb, or mask
the difficult feelings and exile, and the
resulting anxiety and depression
produced
by such a dysfunctional culture
that has developed and upheld such
corrupt systems
that discriminate
and silence
among other things,
natural functions necessary
for
healthy development, comprehension and
coping skills.

Stress can be living in an environment that
denies and forbids difficult feelings
in public and community settings,
while also setting up media forces that feed
on stagnant, underdeveloped, unhealthy
held-on-to emotions.

Seems a stage set for devolution, really.

We have a right to our feelings. Just as
it is a basic right
to go to the bathroom
in a healthy, sanitary way.
We don’t have a right
to piss on others
and to take out
our pissed off state
on others.
Dealing with others
who are doing this,
or being cold and vicious
can be just as challenging
to handle.

We have a right to
our feelings and there is only
one over-arching
golden rule:

While feelings are neither good or bad…
when you are old enough
to understand and respond,
you are 100% responsible
for your own feelings and
how you handle them.

The GOLDEN RULE has many parts,
but it is all one
understanding and code:
We honor our feelings,
we take responsibility for our feelings,
and we take every measure to refrain from
causing harm to self or others due to our feelings.
We find ways to express our feelings
in healthy, honest,
creative ways. We refrain from
holding on to feelings, and instead, we
let them flow. Except,
with an anger that is unreasonably lit
with threat to harm, we engage our
breath, logic, and exercise — we engage
all manners of detaching from the lit rage,
as needed,
so that it does not become
unnecessary harm and suffering
for others
and self.

We are most true when
we realize:
No one makes us feel a certain way.
We experience our own feelings,
through our own experiences
and lens of perception.
Likewise, we aren’t responsible
for other people’s feelings.
Still, we can share a
healthy detachment that seeks to
acknowledge and honor the feelings
of others,
as needed, in order to
address something important.
Then, we let the feelings go,
and move on…
all the wiser.


CS Sherin, WildClover.org 2019©

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Life Advice From Cats

CS Sherin, September 4, 2019

Having lived with and loved many exceptional cats in my life so far, I am finally getting around to sharing some of their sage advice for life and living. The cats I know and love, and those that have since carried on across the Rainbow Bridge, all are/were the best kinds of cats. The best cats aren’t really aloof, mean or uncaring. Quite the opposite. Anyway, please enjoy some of the wisdom I have gleaned from generations of fur family companions, as it comes straight from them. 🙂

Baby Wesley. Photo by: CS Sherin

Life Advice From Cats

  1. If you are a leader: lead with love and encouragement. Purr and smile when things are good. Also, correct bad behavior swiftly, and mean it. Hiss if necessary.
  2. Become good friends with the dog. Keep it on the down low. And hit the top of her head (not too hard) if she gets rude.
  3. Hold your loved ones paw until they fall asleep when they are sad. Stay beside them when they are sick.
  4. Smile, run, play, eat, cuddle, nap.
  5. Ask for what you need when you can’t do it for yourself. Be as loud and creative as needed.
  6. Take your jobs and duties in life seriously, and keep your humor.
  7. Vow to be true to those in your care. Watch over a child. Protect and guide them.
  8. Be king or queen of your own life. Be just, valiant, fiercely passionate. Do this without apology or arrogance.
  9. Be tidy in the bathroom.
  10. Take sun baths whenever possible.
  11. Cuddle with your loved ones.
  12. Jump the fence. Even if it is quite tall. Do this to really live — not to run away. Go just a little ways past the fence and sleep under garden plants for the day, where no one can find you.
  13. Get home in time for dinner.

May we all make the most of the life we have, with the luck of nine lives, and the health of a happy purr in our hearts that abides. Meow!

CS Sherin, ©2019 all rights reserved.

Changing Our Habits For The Greater Good

Ethical Leadership for all, and shifting our thoughts and actions in healthier, empowering ways that last

Art by Warwick Goble, PD

CS Sherin, August 27, 2019

After I earned my MA degree in Servant Leadership in the Spring of 2006, one of the major lessons that stayed with me was the understanding that real change — the kind that is ethical and accountable, the kind that lasts — does not happen overnight — it takes time. For an ethical leader (and the average person seeking to change destructive habits and live more ethically), this means being dedicated to the best possible outcome and positive impacts for all involved. It also means caring more about long-term results than about immediate satisfaction. This requires thoughtful, engaged patience, and an understanding of the time and timing required for real, lasting change to be established and maintained over time.

Impatience, shortcuts, quantity over quality, greed, abuse of power and control, and leaning on loopholes and convenience ultimately degrade long-term progress, health, and sustainability. Although we may enjoy and see short-term progress by doing these things — in most cases, that kind of progress won’t last, and if it does, it will be riddled with compromises and harm to health, esteem, ethics, and healthy communication and systems.

For example, when we first bring a fish home to the aquarium, there may be an impatient desire to get the new fish into the aquarium right away. If we give in to that selfish impatience without gradually acclimating the fish to the new water and temperature, the fish can go into shock, become injured, sick, and/or die. Sometimes the shock and subsequent illness or injury from that initial impatience won’t be immediately visible — it may happen days later or a month later, but the harm was done. Taking the 30 minutes to 2 hours or longer, that a new fish may need to acclimate to the new environment makes all the difference.

So it is with cutting corners to achieve something — it can give the satisfaction of visual completion and short term satisfaction, but at what ultimate cost to integrity, quality, health, and future ability to thrive?

We also need to make space in order to fully evaluate and receive feedback on current: needs, communication, delegation, processes for feedback, efficiency, transparency; and inclusivity of processes, systems, and structures.

At the same time we need to take the time to evaluate ourselves (as leader, or leader of one’s own life) alongside the work, project, team, and/or organization. Ultimately, we cannot administrate, manage, or lead effectively — we cannot change destructive habits, and systemic problems — until we have addressed ourselves and our own inner workings honestly, and as objectively as possible. No matter how far we’ve come, the need for this practice remains true.

How can we, as ethical leaders/individuals, best serve our purpose, the people we work with, our teams and/or those in our care?

The leader sets the tone. The leader establishes what is acceptable and not acceptable by: tone, actions, style, methods, policies, presence, and follow-through. To effect real, positive, lasting change we must be willing to do the kind of work and collaboration that establishes new pathways in place of familiar, comfortable, dysfunctional ones. We must be willing to see systemic privilege, and to see past assumptions that run on autopilot.

The ethical leader asks, “How can I best serve my purpose, my employees, clients, and/or customers now, and for the long haul?” and “How can I create a healthy, thriving system that is sustainable, transparent, and ethical for the long haul?” The real answers require extra effort, time, and resources. The real answers also include knowing the importance of creating effective teams, supporting them, delegating with clarity, and then walking away with trust and knowing. Then, being free to address the big picture issues while the details are left in capable hands that report back.

There are many steps involved in getting to that point. Yet, the results? The results may not be evident right away. It depends on how healthy or not healthy things are to begin with. Yet, the payoff for long-term transformational change is: greater satisfaction, productivity, creativity with better results, and a system of collaboration that is strong and can last.

But how do we get there? We have to start with ourselves. All of this is applicable to each of us. We are the ethical leaders of our lives, or not. We are the administrators of our lifestyles and habits.

When we keep our standards high and inspiring, we have motivation to do better: personally, independently, and in collaboration. When we instill standards of healthy communication and effective, responsive accountability and pathways for it — we begin to build lasting systems for positive change. Even if we need to work quickly with intense deadlines, there are still ways to implement systems within culture and operations that are ultimately healthier, refreshing, sustainable, and invigorating for the long haul. We simply must stop and take the time to establish them, so that intense deadlines become an enjoyable, exciting challenge rather than hellish and draining.

All of this is applicable to each of us. We are the ethical leaders of our lives, or not. We are the administrators of our lifestyles and habits.

In the face of challenges and setbacks, the patience to grow real lasting change remains a core value for the ethical leader. The big picture is not lost, the big goal is kept central during setbacks. And, core motivation includes knowing that: facilitating healthy restoration of systems eventually translates into returns and legacies of lasting value. In this same way, each of us may apply these values and practices, in order to navigate and wield the authority of leadership for our own lives, and increasingly, in the best ways possible.

Begin With Yourself: Understanding Habits

This approach and these lessons are adaptable and applicable for most everyone. But where to start? We want to begin the long, demanding, and worthwhile, rewarding path by being aware of and changing our own habits and autopilot blind assumptions/norms. By beginning this process on the personal level, we may then effectively respond to changing needs, emergency situations, and a troubled human world and Environment in flux.

To do this, we must first grasp what habit really is. Creating a habit demands a considerable investment of our time and energy. Much like Artificial Intelligence requires tons of data in order to learn, grow and operate well — human habits are also established by tons of repetition and concerted effort in order to become autopilot functions.

“Habit” is defined as: “something done often and regularly; a behavior or action repeated regularly so as to have become automatic.” Some synonyms for habit include: routine, pattern/norm. The idiom, to be “on automatic pilot” can be defined as: “completing a task without awareness or thinking because it has been repeated so many times that the function is automatic.” With autopilot in this sense, the meaning also connotes a degree of unconscious, mindless behavior.

Many parts of operating and driving a vehicle become habitual — we go on autopilot with many aspects of driving. We also operate with a good measure of trust for the maps in our memories that help us to navigate in the area in which we live without much, if any, thought. It is much the same in navigating and operating within our homes and at work each day. Some of us have mental memory maps so well-defined and subtly present in our neural pathways that we can even walk with our eyes closed (or in the dark) and find our way around the house (or neighborhood) with little to no problems.

In “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman, the author explains how habits form strong, rigid neural pathways in the brain. These pathways are solid and resistant to change. Yet, the author reported, it was discovered that those pathways can be altered and changed — however, it takes a lot of conscious effort and persistence to succeed in doing this. Repetition is the key to creating a habit (healthy, neutral, or destructive) and to set a more fixed pathway in the brain, and therefore, in one’s life. Anyone who has developed a somewhat destructive habit can attest to the effort and determination required in order to alter that habit.

Inner Peace Matters

Art by William Blake, PD

One necessary component for making change that lasts is to achieve a complete sense of resolve about the change that is needed.

A resolute belief or motivation is the fuel that transforms a habit. Being free of any conflicting feelings or beliefs regarding the needed change is quite necessary, in order for any of the effort to succeed for the long-term. If even a quarter of our mind and/or heart is conflicted about changing the habit, the effort will most likely fail in the long-term. Most often, it would happen via subconscious and subtle sabotage, or a very conscious and clear defeated or jaded attitude.

People may turn to hypnotism and visualizations to undo self-sabotaging behavior that is resistant to the desire to change. Sometimes this is successful, sometimes it isn’t. Deep down, the knots must be untangled, with visualization and hypnotism, or through other methods and modalities. However it is done, the deeper issues of conflicted feelings, thoughts and beliefs regarding the habit must be found, faced, and resolved consciously.

Psychologists often say that a bad habit often continues because a person is gaining something from it, even when they say they want to stop. Perhaps an unconscious bit of the person likes the negative attention, or ties it to something learned in childhood. Sometimes, there is a hidden sentimentality, judgment, pride, or sense of entitlement attached, no matter how veiled. Whatever it is, we have to be willing to face and evaluate our own inner workings and inner saboteur as we seek to change habits and lifestyle for the better. It is essential that we search our own thoughts and feelings regarding any needed change that must take place. Right along with this searching, is prioritizing time to process issues, and to begin to enter into the needed change with deeper resolve.

During and after that, asking for feedback from honest and trusted others is also important. It is important to choose to hear feedback from those who will tell the truth, not what we want to hear — yet also those who care about us and want us to succeed in these positive changes. In this way, we gain perspective and new ideas. It is an ongoing practice of transparency and accountability — first in relationship to self, and then to others. Here is an example for perspective. Please read it both literally and figuratively:

Yard Restoration

I have moved into two different houses where the yards needed restoration. The first had been treated by pesticides for years, but had fertile soil, and lots to work with. It took about three years for the yard to fully recover — and became a thriving oasis of native plants and a refuge for wildlife. The second also had been treated for pesticides at one time, and the soil was greatly depleted and mostly sand. This yard has taken longer to recover, and still can’t fully recover without amending the soil. A big leap to lushness and progress was not evident until five years had passed. That being said, I am no expert in restoring yards, and I do the little by little approach in that regard. Additionally, this second yard hasn’t been a main priority like the other was. In aiming to restore the second yard — without expertise, or a lot of dedicated time, or a lot of invested money/resources — the long term results took longer.

Someone once told me that when they moved in to their new house, their yard had been treated yearly with pesticides as well. They took an intensive approach, investing resources into immediate change that would improve year after year. They had all the grass removed and planted clover as a ground cover instead of grass. This ground cover is organic and provides food for bees, and requires little, if any mowing.

While I didn’t immediately invest in overall change for the second yard, I did effect overall change in one way. Without pesticides and herbicides involved, I was able to allow pollinator ground cover to take over naturally. This took longer, yet it worked well. I allowed the plantain, clover, violets, and dandelions to spread, while planting native plants, and allowing them to propagate naturally as well.

Consciously Changing Habits

Art by Warwick Goble, PD

In committing to needed change through ongoing self-reflection regarding thoughts, choices, and habits — we will be able to maintain a vivid and thriving approach that is more in tune with current and changing needs and realities. In addition, we are then able to be in tune more authentically to who we are, and who we are becoming. This can serve to boost confidence, mood, and motivation. This also then, translates into new ways of approaching leadership, management, care, and facilitation for others.

Our thoughts, once observed, reveal much. In observing and evaluating our thoughts, we see, little by little, or all at once — what we have left to autopilot each day. Most likely some of it will be unwanted, outdated, and perhaps even counter-productive to our well-being and most desired goals for life and work. Some of it may not even really be ours, but expectations and distorted voices that belong to other people (from the past or present), and that were put upon us. We can take that weight off once it is observed for what it really is.

After we make progress personally — re-shaping, discarding, and transforming some of our thoughts and habits — the ongoing approach remains the same. We begin by observing and evaluating our thoughts and actions each day. We maintain a list of questions for ongoing self-evaluation check-ins. Are we:

  • Contributing to positive long-term goals with our daily thoughts, habits, and actions?
  • Noticing and consciously choosing which thoughts are maintained?
  • Happy with our personal process and the results?
  • Noticing and addressing details, feelings, needs, inspiration? or ignoring them?
  • Noticing harmful elements, ingredients, or dynamics? or ignoring them?
  • Making the most of the choices available each day?
  • Allowing ourselves to remain in a rut of looped thoughts?
  • Allowing ourselves new options, new thoughts, new approaches?

With ongoing discernment regarding our thoughts, habits, and daily actions — we are instilling healthy, conscious pathways that can better empower ourselves and others. Another example for this process is my book, Recipe For A Green Life. It is a complete guidebook for this kind of holistic process, focusing on lifestyle and sustainability.

All of this requires a dedication to some amount of life-long learning. Finding pleasant ways to maintain interest and curiosity regarding the “who, what, when, where, how, and why” of anything we are choosing and putting our energy into is most helpful. Personal choices (at home, at work, and beyond) — from the smallest, and most overlooked, to the biggest — all matter, to some degree, and at some level. Start small, start big — start however this all works best for you, and continue in whatever ways and at the pace that allows you to keep going in the right direction. Consistently showing up in this way helps us to more easily stay current and healthy, and more primed to facilitate the process for others too.

Truth Telling

It can be, and is important that we share our process and discoveries (when we can, and as appropriate) with straightforward honesty, integrity, and reasonable kindness. Sometimes the truth is ugly though. Do we wrap it in kindness? Whenever possible, yes. Still, absolute gentleness at all times is not possible or realistic. There are exceptional times when even kind honesty can feel harsh. And there are times when being too kind and too forgiving is a disservice to ourselves and others.

The standard mode of operation for the ethical leader is: to establish trust with honesty, that is upheld by integrity and kindness. Even better, if that honesty, integrity and kindness is accompanied by impartial ethics and wisdom, which remain unswayed by status or privilege. Being a truth-teller can make us very lonely at times, especially when others are playing games, and don’t want to play fair or to be healthy. However, as a leader, being a truth-teller is the highest calling. And ultimately, that is rewarded with connections and teams of integrity and advanced skills. That is what takes us to the next level. And, that is why the ethical leader must be a truth-teller — and with values for kindness, integrity, and impartial wisdom at the helm. This comes from having lived it — by having the ongoing practice of self-evaluation that creates the integrity in the first place.

By dedicating ourselves to this considerable, yet worthwhile and rewarding effort, we make progress in real time, and that grants us a warranted hope in momentum and strength, which is gained by right action.

May we all go forward more mindfully, shifting to more healthy, productive habits and leadership on all levels. May these new and healthier collective thoughts, habits, and right actions increase exponentially, and dynamically contribute to a great healing and new positive pathways for the future and all life on Earth.

Photography: California Vacation, Part Four ~ Finale

CS Sherin, August 22, 2019

This will conclude the photographic highlights from our Bay area vacation this past July. It has been so much fun sharing and revisiting these moments in time.

The following photos are from some of my favorites places (already shared in parts 1-3, but from different angles), and some places and things that haven’t been shared yet.

As always, if you see any photos (or art images) on this site that you would like to blow up as art for your walls, please contact me to order a custom, high resolution, archival quality print. Likewise, if you would like to purchase a digital copy for your personal or business use.

San Francisco:

Chinatown, San Francisco, CA, July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

The view from Portsmouth Square, Chinatown, SF. Photo by CS Sherin

SF Ferry Terminal, July 2019. There was a festival for Bastille day going on, and also an outdoor Farmers Market.

Land’s End trail view of the Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon, July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Along Highway One, State Beaches:

View from the top of a trail overlooking a part of the beach below. Gray Whale Cove State Beach, CA; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Ocean time at San Gregorio State Beach, CA; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Drift wood structures on San Gregorio beach, July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Santa Cruz:

Adorable spotted seagull chicks on a separate, protected part of the pier in Santa Cruz, CA; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Sea lions consider the areas below the Santa Cruz pier to be their home base. They talk a lot, swim, sleep, and lounge together; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

The historic (created in 1907) beach Boardwalk Amusement park of Santa Cruz, CA.

Sea birds of Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, CA; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this photo journey with me. Thank you so much for stopping by!


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Photography: California Vacation, Part Three

CS Sherin, August 14, 2019

A slice of a fallen redwood with dated rings, at the entrance to the trails at Muir National Monument in Mill Valley, CA; July 2019. “909 AD tree is born…1930 tree falls.”

It was a beautiful day this past July when we drove up to Mill Valley from the Bay Area in order to visit Muir National Monument, aka Muir woods, where some of the ancient redwoods have been protected as a National Park by Sierra Club founder, John Muir, since 1908.

Looking up at a congregation of ancient redwood trees bathed in sunlight, July 2019, Muir National Monument (Muir Woods State Park). Photo by CS Sherin

We were enthralled with the forest that is home to countless ancient trees (the oldest in these woods is at least 1200 years old, and redwoods can live well over 2000 years old) as well as so many groves of baby redwoods. The tallest redwoods in this forest are almost 300 feet tall. Further north they get to be closer to 400 feet tall. We spent over four hours simply hiking the trails there, from top to bottom, and all around. While there wasn’t overwhelming evidence of wildlife, the further we got from the crowds of people below on the walking trail, we did encounter tiny birds, a curious chipmunk, and ravens flying silently above us.

My daughter, Samara, inside and beneath a mammoth redwood. July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Being among the tallest and oldest trees I have ever seen, for a short while, was a beautiful experience. I experienced it as an atmosphere of complete goodness, as if the ancient rootedness exudes an aura of deep peace, and contentment ripples outward.

Towering giants of Muir woods, July 2019, Mill Valley, CA. Photo by CS Sherin

Giant clover, the main ground cover along the floor of the redwood forest in Muir National Monument, July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

The ground cover, amazingly, was mostly a bigger than usual kind of clover. I would say that it is 3- times bigger than the clover leaves I am accustomed to. Since Wild Clover is my brand name, I have to say, it meant a lot and surprised me to see the clover there. No one talks about the giant clover dressing the ground around the ancient giants in northern California, and I completely understand why that detail would be lost. As I spoke about this with a fellow writer and friend, it pleased our humor when I mentioned that perhaps the average wild clover would be inspired to become giant among such companions towering above. My friend suggested that perhaps they are, in fact, aspirational clover. This made us laugh happily. Brilliant!

Here I am stretching up to photograph the upward view, beside Samara, July 2019. Photo by Jeff Sherin

After coming back to the Midwest’s Driftless area, the trees here who stand the tallest and oldest now look like children to us, because of the tree world scale we now know. It is a strange and welcome awareness.

Impossibly tall redwood trees leave us feeling smaller than I felt the first time we walked through Manhattan; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Most of all, I come away from Muir woods with, first, a deep sense of gratitude for National and State parks and beaches. Second, and just as deeply, I am thankful that the redwoods and other ancient and giant beings still exist in this world. At times, all the destruction being waged against many things — including health, biodiversity, and nature — overwhelms.

My first encounter with these giants has left me with a sense that some great natural magic of this world is and has been protected.

From that deep gratitude, I say to you and all: may we arise from the current attacks by hatred and corruption upon many fronts — stronger, wiser, and with greater measures of caution, restoration, and protection for all that is precious, naturally magical, and irreplaceable in this world and life.

This is not quite the conclusion of the California Vacation photography series! Stay tuned next week for the conclusion. 🙂


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