I didn’t always realize how much I needed nature.
I always loved going out into it, but for a long time I didn’t recognize it as a daily need like food or water, or perceive that there was no need to go anywhere to find it.
The only outdoor space my first apartment in Atlanta had was a platform at the top of the stairs just big enough to fit one chair. I spent so much time in it that I made sure my next place had a yard. I loved that yard, but it was small, and I still longed for fewer fences and more…something. So when my husband and I heard about a house for sale a couple neighborhoods over with a half-acre lot and a creek in the back, we jumped at the chance to buy it.
The yard was more than big enough this time, but I still had doubts. There were only a few pine trees—none of the enormous oaks that I loved—and everything else was overgrown with English ivy or kudzu. It didn’t feel special, and I felt no connection to it.
Encouraged by others wiser than me, I trusted that it could grow on me. When the pandemic hit, my opportunity came. Six days a month, I spent five or more hours lovingly pulling ivy, kudzu, monkey grass, and all the other invasive plants across the yard. As I learned about native plants and the many ways in which they support wildlife, I found natives to add in and encouraged the ones already here to spread. It was hot, sweaty, tiring work, but undeniably satisfying.
These days, our yard is overflowing with bright yellow goldenrod and deep orange jewelweed. The delicate white aster blooms last well into November and attract so many bees landing and taking off that from afar it looks like the bushy plants are dancing.
There’s no better way to calm my addled nervous system than to lie in my yard and watch the sunlight turn the dark green needles of the pine trees golden. Nothing heals me faster or fills my creative well so wholly as soaking in the rich sights, scents, and sounds of land I’ve gotten to know inch by inch. When I’m still enough, I’m joined by bunnies, hummingbirds, green anoles, praying mantises, chipmunks, squirrels, hawks, owls, opossums, mink, deer, and great blue herons. In such company, it’s easy to receive ideas for stories, solutions to problems, or intuitive guidance for the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Tending a piece of land is a powerful way to find a special place in nature, but it’s not the only one. On my recent trip to Brazil to visit my husband’s family, I was feeling disconnected from the natural world. There was too much concrete, too little green space.
But when I focused on what was there—my mother-in-law’s beautiful garden, the great kiskadee singing “bem-te-vi” on the electrical wire across the street, the southern lapwing mama sitting diligently on her eggs on a vacant lot in an industrial park—when I really noticed them, observed them, greeted them, and appreciated them, a sense of connection returned. Simple acknowledgement and gratitude can work wonders to make a place feel special.
Probably because every place is special.
Really, the only limitation is our ability to feel the connection that’s always there. And whatever we can do to tune into that relationship, in my experience, also opens the floodgates to intuition.
Because connection is a 360-degree phenomenon. Connected to the wild world around us, we can’t help but be connected to the wild wisdom within us.
Find Your Own Intuitive Nature
To make a place special, all we have to do is spend dedicated time in it.
I find it best to go with what’s close and easy. If it takes too long to get there, I won’t spend enough time there. A yard, a porch, a stoop—even an open window—can work well. The important thing is to be present, noticing my connection to the place. The easiest way for me to do this is through my senses, by paying attention to what I’m seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling—on my skin and beneath my skin. Sometimes, if I’m feeling anxious or ungrounded, I imagine roots growing down into the earth beneath me, or spend time focusing on any beauty or pleasant things around me that I can enjoy.
If possible, I spend time there every day. Even five minutes can make a big difference, whereas if I miss it, I feel it deeply. So much so that I’m as reluctant to skip spending time in my special place as I am to miss a meal, a glass of water, or my next breath.
I would love to know what this is like for you! I’ve created a special group on Facebook so we can receive each other’s stories about developing our intuition in nature. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/180860054978770/ and share your experiences there.
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My new novel is available for pre-order!
A sensitive young woman rediscovers the hidden gifts of her forgotten inner nature.
If you haven’t guessed already, all image credits are (humblingly) my own.