Posted in Nature observations and thoughts, photo challenge

Twisted: Finds in nature

Twisted
In nature twisted things are beautifully complex, elegant, and harmonious in its surroundings. So for this photo post I looked through my photo gallery and picked some that I had taken in the past without knowing that they could be interpreted as twisted.

I hope you enjoy them!

One of the amphibians’ windows at California Academy of Sciences. Can you find the camouflaged frog?
Found this 2-legged carrot in a bag of store-bought carrots. We decided to draw it a smiley face.
Twisted stems of flowers all clambering to say hello
Posted in Faith journey, Nature observations and thoughts, ocean, sea life, tide pool, slipping on a rock, emergency room visit, Personal growth, Uncategorized

Who knew the dangers of tide pools

*I started this post ready to write about the calm that comes from watching waves and feeling the crisp ocean breeze on my face. But thinking about it diverted my attention to a painful incident that happened a few years back. Letting you know the thought processes leading up to this post.*

esther at carmel
One of my favorite past times…exploring the rocks and tide pools at beaches. At Carmel Beach before children. No fear until my 2016 incident.

The ocean is beautiful, mysterious, and refreshing to see. I love to hear the rhythmic sound of waves rolling onto the sandy beach. Then there is the tide pool: in small crevices between rocks live small sea creatures camouflaged or swimming around in their small habitats. It gets me bubbly excited, and these are times when Chris, my practical and vigilant spouse, tells me, “Don’t go too crazy.”

In 2016 we took a trip down to San Diego for our first family vacation since Ellis’ birth. My excitement level was beyond normal. I couldn’t wait for my kids to experience the joy of looking closely at tide pools and touching the ocean water.

This place was familiar to me since Chris and I briefly lived in San Diego as newlyweds. Pleasant past experiences made me overly confident and careless. I quickly discovered that safely walking around tide pools with small children is very challenging. The result: disastrous.

I overestimated my physical coordination and underestimated the danger.

Painful lesson learned that day: Never. Never. Never walk barefoot on mossy rock surfaces holding a small squirmy child. One misstep taken. I slipped and fell hitting my head on a rock. In that mind-numbing moment, I realized that dying can happen just like that. It was a bone chilling realization. People around me stared with dropped jaws as I rocked back and forth cradling my head between my arms. The goose egg that you see in cartoons was what I had.

Thankfully, Ellis did not get hurt from the fall: only the hem of her skirt got wet.

After Chris registered me in the emergency room, I asked him to go back to the hotel with the kids. It was hard to mask the pain and cry comfortably without getting asked every minute if I were okay. It’s a harmless question you ask people after an unpleasant event, but this was different. I was NOT okay. I wanted to be left alone.

Once they walked out of sight, an explosion of tears (mainly regret for my carelessness and fear of permanent head injury) let loose. It must have been a sight: wet clothes, crazy hair, bag of ice on my head, and a sobbing middle-aged lady crumpled up in a chair.

CT scan showed that the injury as a hematona: a fancy word for bruised. Thankfully, I was discharged with simple recommendations: take Tylenol for headaches, ice the goose egg as needed, and rest to recover. The latter was the hardest to do.

We came back from our vacation slightly traumatized and disillusioned. Although we made some good memories visiting family, the most vivid memory was the beach day fiasco. My kids reenacted the mommy falling scenario for weeks while they played, reminding me of what I wanted to forget.

For weeks I wondered what meaning I could take away from this experience. If deep insight or lesson were gained, I would’ve been less angry at myself. But I couldn’t derive any meaning from what happened. Self-forgiveness did not come easily or quickly.

Then the take-away lesson began to take shape. It was so straightforward and simple that I couldn’t believe it: I must physically slow down and take precautions to avoid future falls. Sounds like common sense but it made a big impact on me.

Another take-away lesson: have deeper reverence for nature in realizing how small and vulnerable I am to its greatness.

Deep inside I wondered if God was punishing me for missing church that morning. But God is not petty. If he operated like that, I would have been struck by thunder a million times already. He is God, the Almighty: not an emotionally volatile and revengeful being.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

This incident made me think how things happen in life because of choices I made, effects of other people’s choices, events out of my control, or overwhelmed by the forces of nature. What a good reminder to slow down and be mindful of my actions and thoughts, in the holistic sense of mind, body, and soul.

Next time at the tide pools I’m wearing a helmet.

Posted in Nature observations and thoughts

A little flower blooms despite hostile conditions

Words from my six-year-old son gazing at our abandoned plants: “Mommy, we are terrible planters. Everything dies.”

My gardening skills are disastrous. I could take a perfectly thriving plant and kill it in days. But my hopeless optimism convinces me to plant seeds each spring. Occasional crops that sprout drive this desire: a mini watermelon; a tiny zucchini; couple of jalapeno peppers; and a handful of green beans and basil.

  • Our many gardening attempts through the years. The photos above show the flowers and plants at their best. Photos were not taken at their worst state.

In spring 2017 we opted to plant flowers instead of vegetables. We implemented good gardening habits: watering daily, supplementing with vitamins, and trimming. Then, life got busy and flowers neglected.

Maybe it was denial or laziness (probably the latter), but I left the plants to just dry up. I think I silently hoped they would disappear or disintegrate on its own. Other times I convinced myself that it had a cool vintage look. However, the recent rain and warmer weather bloomed new flowers; little spurts of life in dried soil and stiff stems.

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We screamed with surprise! The resilience of these little blooms remind me of beautiful wildflowers blooming along the highway and in unlikely places. So wild, charming, and untamed.

Life is resilient too. When we think there’s nothing left, something begins to sprout and gives hope that all is not lost.

“Like wildflowers; You must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.” – E.V. Lucas

Posted in Nature observations and thoughts

I see spring coming

Everyday Ellis asks me if it’s spring already. She’s tired of winter (except for Christmas) and can’t wait to wear short sleeves without me nagging her about a jacket.

The arrival of spring will be a sweet relief from the cold winter months. My mind associates this coming season with warmer days, longer afternoons, and the blooming of nature. Last Sunday gave a glimpse of what exceptionally beautiful days look like.

I wrote a post last November that nature is at its best in autumn: leaves showing its brilliant colors and gracefully leaping off branches. Now with spring approaching, my earlier declaration needs modification: spring is another favorite season of mine!

The following are some pictures I took on recent walks with my kids.

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My initial love for seeing nature in transition started in my mid 20s when I was a student in NYC. Never before did I have a snow day nor experience the excitement of classes getting cancelled because of the snow.

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As a native Californian where sunny weather is the norm, I barely noticed differences in seasons. So when confronted with snowy weather and frigid temps (although snow is beautiful to see), my appreciation for  comfortable weather took a turn.

I anticipated the days when bare branches would begin to sprout baby leaves and bright blooms would begin peeking out of little buds. On a practical note, warm weather meant the bleeding cracks on my knuckles would heal soon.

It took living in a place with four distinct seasons to cultivate my appreciation for nature. The weather is not as dramatic in San Jose as NYC, but seasons here are noticeably beautiful and mesmerizing too.

When I see nature in bloom, I can’t help but be in awe of God’s creation; His creativity and handiwork are so apparent in these lovely sights. They are a reflection of His goodness, beauty, uniqueness, and magnificence. But I wouldn’t mind if flowers stayed in their bloom state longer.

Matthew 6:28-30

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

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The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.    Anne Frank

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