15 Quiet Minutes: Spending Time Outside

This 15 Quiet Minutes practice is a simple one, and one of my favorites: simply go outside.

If you live somewhere that you don’t have access to the outdoors, you might have to find a nearby park, cemetery, school yard or anywhere else you can find a bit of quiet and green space, but if possible, I recommend just spending time in your yard or on your balcony.

This is the perfect time of year for this practice, and I spend time on the porch pretty much every evening during the summer. Sometimes I read or journal, but quite often I just watch the birds at the feeders, or lay in my chaise lounge and watch the trees above me dance in the breeze.

The only parameters for the practice are taking fifteen minutes of quiet outdoors. Very simple! But if you want to add something to your practice, you could try the Elemental Centering Meditation. Or you could do a bit of nature journaling by writing down what you observe happening around you: the temperature, the weather, the birds you see, the flowers that are in bloom or how your garden vegetables are coming along (I will cover nature journaling in more detail for our next 15 Quiet Minutes practice).

But mostly, just take some time to be still and quiet outside. Listen to the birds calling and singing. Lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. Watch the ants scurrying across the sidewalk, the bees visiting the flowers, the fireflies flickering in the dusk (we don’t have fireflies in Oregon, so enjoy them for me if you have them!). Rest your feet in the grass and dig your toes into the warm soil. Notice what you smell and the feel of the air on your skin. Let your mind wander. Take a deep breath and relax. It’s summer, take a break and enjoy it!

Until next time, may you be blessed by the peace of long summer evenings!

A Summer Solstice Tarot Spread

Cards pictured are from Monstarot Tarot Deck, the Gaian Tarot, and Tarot of the Crone. Goddess figures from Brigid’s Grove, and the sun prayer beads are available in my Etsy shop.

Summer Solstice kind of sneaked up on me this year—I can hardly believe it is tomorrow! This year the Solstice falls on different dates, though, depending on your timezone, so for some of you it will be on the 21st.

It is definitely starting to feel like summer here. The high today is supposed to be near 100. At the Grower’s Market this weekend cherries and blueberries were available, as well as lots of lettuces and greens, and a few early cucumbers. My absolute favorite part of summer is enjoying the succession of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. The tomato plants I am growing  are full of flowers and green tomatoes. They’ll enjoy this heat we’re having, even if I don’t!

At this peak of the sun’s energy, we celebrate creativity and the fruit it bears. We celebrate the creative, fertile power of the earth that feeds us, and our own creative energy that brings joy to ourselves and others.

As the sun grows stronger, my thoughts have also been turning to questions about power—how we access it, how we use it, how we fail to claim it, or give it away to others. I am writing here of our own personal power, the power to direct and make choices in our own lives, not “power-over,” i.e. trying to control others, that is the more common association with power in our culture.

This spread for the Summer Solstice looks at these themes of creativity and power, helping us to call on the energy of the sun, even as it begins to wane again, to help us access our own inner power and to light our creative fires.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Summer Solstice until Lammas)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What will fuel my creative fire during this time?
  5. In what area of my life do I most need to claim my own power?
  6. What action(s) can I take to stand firm in my own power and live according to my own values?

I’d love to hear how your reading goes. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the spread.

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice and a blessed summer season!

A Good Morning

I was on my way to a local farm stand this morning after an early appointment, but realizing that the stand wouldn’t be open for another hour, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful morning and stop for a walk at a local park that runs along the river.

It was one of those glorious late summer days when you can taste autumn in the air, a hint of sharpness in the cool of the morning. The sky was deep blue, with a few high clouds, and a haze of smoke to the south, a reminder that summer, which for us means fire season, was still having her way with us.

A man was standing on the path with his two small dogs, one a Boston Terrier that was looking longingly towards the river.

“Good morning!” I called.

He said to me, “He doesn’t want to leave. He likes to chase the jetboats and we haven’t seen any yet this morning.”

“Oh, I remember you!” I replied, “I’ve seen you here before—I remember the boat-chasing.”

I had walked a few more feet when he called back to me, “Excuse me.”

I turned around. “Did you see the deer over there?” he asked.

And there they were, a doe and her fawn, picking their way across the grass. We stood watching them in silent wonder, even the dogs didn’t make a sound. Catching sight of us, the deer began to trot across the trail and into the brush.

“They look so beautiful when the run like that,” the man said and I agreed.

“Thank you for showing me,” I told him, and continued my walk, grateful to have shared such a lovely moment with a friendly stranger.

There were lots of people out enjoying the cool morning weather after a string of very hot days. Almost everyone was smiling and friendly, “Good morning!” “Good morning!” “Good morning, God bless you!” came the greetings as I walked along the path.

I came to the little bridge over the pond where ducks and geese swim and turtles sun themselves on logs. Two older women were on the bridge, one was taking pictures.

The other woman said to me, “I don’t see any turtles today.”

I laughed because I had just been leaning over the railing looking for them myself. “Yes, that’s what I was looking for, too,” I told her.

Two Wood Ducks swam under the bridge, among the water lilies, and I took a few pictures.

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Wood Ducks and Water Lilies

I followed the trail to another bridge, a large pedestrian bridge that spans the entire Rogue River. In the autumn you can see salmon spawning in the shallows from there, but it will be another month or two before they arrive. As I began to cross, the smell of decomposition wafted up to me from the blackberries below—something dead was hidden down there. A reminder, I thought, that autumn is on the way, death coming even in the midst of this bright and life-filled day.

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The Rogue River, as seen from the bridge

As I made my way back out of the park I continued to exchange “Good morning!” greetings with everyone I met. My heart felt full, the day seemed touched with a kind of magic. It was one of those days when I felt open-hearted and connected to everyone and everything. A rare day, a beautiful day. A day for which I was filled with gratitude. These are the moments I remember and treasure, simple times of connection that become imprinted on my heart and mind.

A good morning, indeed.