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Alchemy For A Stressful Time

Updated: Jun 8


Tallulah, my Catahoula friend. Photo by Katharine Donovan Kane
Miss Tallulah

I have a writing deadline. Writing is what I love to do so this should be a piece of cake. Instead, I gaze out the window and notice that my mind and my body are as unsettled as the uneasy weather pattern outside. There’s a mounting to-do list to think about. And, I feel exhaustion from what’s happening in people’s lives around me and around the world. My eyelids are heavy. They want to close and rest to recapture my energy. It’s clear that I need to reset.


So, Miss Tallulah and I go for a walk. Tallulah’s Catahoula nose sniffs the ground as if trying to decipher some big mystery. She nibbles on the tips of the new grass looking up at me as if she just stole a treat from her jar. I smile and look away pretending not to see. Suddenly her head snaps up, she leans back on her hind legs, and leaps into the air propelling herself forward toward the nearby bush. There are birds flying in and out of their nesting area very aware that she is coming and calling out warning messages to each other. Tallulah dips under the lowest branch squeezing herself inside the burgundy-leafed fringe flower tree and contemplates how to climb up to where the mocking birds are waiting. Giving it careful canine thought, she finally comes out again for fresh morning air. Unexpectedly she sees squirrels. How dare they come in to her yard? (So herself thinks.) Off she goes at a dead run to tell them they have to go elsewhere.


As Tallulah clears the yard of flying and scurrying animals I walk the ridge of the hill looking beyond the fence into the neighboring woods. I see the buck, doe and babies but I’ll keep that information to myself. I'm hoping they stay hidden from Tallulah’s sniffing nose. The crows catch my attention just as the breeze picks up and I notice dark cloud formations. Rain is coming. Perhaps the crows are alerting the woods to take cover.


Miss Tallulah trots around the perimeter as I wonder about the crows. There are times when I notice them gathering but they are too busy to see me. I am a bystander to their animal world interactions. As an outsider I watch and observe their mysterious realm. And then there are times that the crows see me first. One time I only became aware of them when the murder of crows cawed in unison as I walked absentmindedly down a pathway. So loud was their chorus that I stopped and looked for where they were gathered. I scanned the area wondering what they saw. Their cawing sounded like a warning so I paid attention. And there, only a few yards ahead, was a buck protecting his herd. Thank you I whispered silently to my crow friends as I quietly turned and took an alternative route through the woods. I’m grateful that I see them and that they see me.


Tallulah, the crows, the breeze, and the rumbling clouds overhead are alchemy for the stress that accumulates. My body was closing its eyes making it nearly impossible to concentrate and like the crows it was telling me that there was something that I needed to notice. I realized that as a highly sensitive person I was holding too much undesirable energy – some of it was my own, some of it had slipped inside from other people, from the news, or from the stormy weather. No matter. A simple walk outside in nature, a moment’s rest, or observing the playful antics of my Catahoula friend were just what my body needed to realign my own energy and let go of what was not mine to hold. For me sometimes the alchemical elixir is simple and living in plain sight. It offers the needed respite for living in a stressful time.


What self-care rituals do you perform as you become aware that you're carrying too much stress?

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