About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stress Relief

Like most moms, with a million things to do and worry about, I suffer from stress. I know that stress is not good for my baby or me, so I have been trying to find ways to lower my stress levels. I took an herbal tincture during the day and drank a glass of wine at dinner until I got pregnant. Now I am struggling with more subtle stress reductions techniques. Of course, yoga and Tai Chi helps, but it is hard to find time and floorspace for that with a three year old. In fact, too many yoga positions say to him, "human jungle gym!"

The only thing that works every time is nature! I had a mental break down on Saturday. I just snapped. I couldn't handle life anymore. So I drove out to Owls' Knob, 50 miles from a streetlight, siren, or 24/7 store. Way out there I don't have a cell phone or Internet connection, the radio waves don't penetrate my brain and no one is calling me up to tell me their problems. I slept two nights listening to crickets and even a few hardy frogs. I took long walks during the day, through the tunnels of red, gold, and brown leaves. I started reading an old first addition copy of Gone with the Wind (old books are more relaxing to me somehow, written and printed in a slower paced world). For hours I just sat with my son, gazing dreamily at the colorful leaves and listening to whatever nonsense he had to say.

What is it about staring into nature that makes me feel so calm? It doesn't logically make sense. I still have to make food, wash dishes, and deal with my son's mood swings. In town I have a yard, my street is quite, and I have more modern convinces. What makes the dramatic difference? Research shows that sunlight boosts the levels of serotonin in the brain and fresh air (particularly air that is near a body of water) contains negative ions which are also necessary to balance the brain's chemicals. It is not just the quiet or beauty that the wilderness provides, there is something chemically going on in my brain that changes my mood when I am outdoors.

But that still doesn't explain why the back yard is not just as good at the deep Ozark wilderness. Why is the park or the bike trail not just as relaxing as a walk through the crunching leaves of the old oak and hickory trees? Perhaps science will not be able to answer that question. Maybe it will remain a mystery. However, I can feel it and I know it to be true. The remote Ozark wilderness is good for my soul and necessary for my sanity!  


  1. Oh, so very true. Dad always said he was closer to God in the outdoors. Maybe that's it, a reconnection with our Creator.

  2. So very true. I feel the same way, Roslyn, and Gail. :-)

  3. This is a beautiful post, I love the photos and feeling for nature... I just happened to find it... doing a little research about a poem. So I wanted you to know. I do all those things you do for nurturing.. A little wine, Thai Chi, yoga and I know exactly the feeling you have going into a forest place as if time opens up, we can breathe deeply there.