As I sit here writing, I am distracted by the birds enjoying their breakfast at our feeders. Watching them, makes me realize how important interacting with nature has become for me. When I think about the different strategies I use to cope with my cancer, I keep coming back to my relationship with nature as a most important experience to help me lift my mood, fight depression, and weather the impacts of chemo.
A very long time ago, my Mom gave me a book called Simple Abundance, a collection of daily writings and inspirations. Many of the pieces talk about simple acts of observing and nurturing nature, everything from taking care of household plants to walking outdoors. Combine this with the memories I have of my great aunt Josephine feeding chickadees in her hand, and I began to realize just how important nature has always been to me, and is important to my present cancer experience.
Now, this is not to say that I am actively throwing myself into projects such as gardening – oh no! The thought makes me have to lie down to rest! But watching our feeders, buying a bouquet of flowers for the table, watering our house plants, taking a walk – those are activities that help me tremendously.
When I am having a difficult day – you know, the kind that keeps me in bed – I try to have some flowers next to me, or spend some time looking out the window at the treetops and sky. Connecting with all that nature has to offer, even when bound to my bed, has a relaxing effect, diffusing my spiraling thoughts of my illness and treatment, in fact halting any worries I might have. It creates a positive perspective that relaxes me, and bolsters my mood. A tremendous sense of calm comes over me, and at the same time a feeling of renewed hope and positivity courses through me.
I highly recommend putting yourself in the middle of nature whenever you can. Sit outside, tend to a houseplant, collect pretty rocks or shells, get a bird feeder, buy some flowers, feel the sun on your face, look at the sky…find a patch of nature somewhere and immerse yourself in it. Observe and feel the moment fully. Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. And let it all in. Feel the feeling that you are communing with something bigger, something more powerful than your illness. It has the power to transcend cancer, or any struggles you might have, while lifting your spirits and perspective.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” John Burroughs
‘Til Next Time,