Three years ago, after a really bad car accident, I was diagnosed with a congenital brain condition. Congenital as in, born with. From that moment forward, my life changed completely. A retail veteran, and Disney cast member for umpteen years, I was told I was not allowed to work anymore. I am a fine jeweler, and metalsmith. I create worlds from molten metals. But not anymore, if I wanted my brain to be happy, argued my insistent doctor. So in the middle of launching a new business and earning my college degree, I was told I had to stop doing both. I needed to heal from the accident and address my brain’s newfound condition.
This resulted in a small bundle of angry pudge that didn’t want to do anything but Netflix and leave me the hell alone. Therapy helped. The long and agonizing death of my grandfather did not. Let’s just say the last three years have been a huge shit show. Can I say that on here? Anyway- my saving grace from the depression and anxiety of being a non productive member of society came in a few forms: my husband, my therapist (honestly, I would be dead without her, not kidding), a small online skincare and scent shop I run by myself, and reconnecting with nature.
I take my husband to work, and nearby is a park called Larry and Penny Thompson park. One day on my return home I decided to stop there, armed with my cellphone camera and a pair of sunglasses. The Florida sun is mighty and fierce. I was going to walk for a little bit and take some pictures. I was going to try to be outside and see if I could sweat off some of the pudge I had accumulated.
I remember it was a clear day. The clouds were like bright white tufts of cotton candy floating in the vastness of unencumbered blue that stretched for eternity above me. Soothing and terrifying. Filled with freedom and opportunity. There had been a fire, so the pine forest and surrounding vegetation were all shades of black and brown, layers of bark bubbling and cracking off. But the green had already started taking over. Nothing stays dead too long here, in the humidity of a Florida summer.
Plants and vines had already started making their presence known, wrapping themselves around the scarred foliage and tree trunks that flanked me. Birds were out in abandon, their calls bright, excited, and happy. Summer was here, you could hear it in their little avian voices. And the insects chimed in, with similar calls. I was utterly alone on the nature trail, but I was surrounded by so much life. The essence of living touched everything around me.
And while I trudged along, like a pregnant penguin who could barely take a step, I felt that energy touch me too. By the time I had gotten back to my car, sweating buckets and feeling like my arms and legs wanted to fall off, I had somehow breathed that essence into myself. I felt revitalized. I felt human. My shaky legs took longer strides, and my lungs felt unencumbered for the first time in years.
I would return to that park in the coming days, waddling along in the heat, and letting myself become lost in how the scarred landscape around me healed itself. I would witness a rehabilitated black vulture be released back into the wild after being poisoned. Make friends with the absolutely adorable, and incredibly insistent cat population that roam the pine rockland forest freely. Learn what it was like to have to walk a mile to find a bathroom (the bathrooms are very clean, I was surprised!). Some days I would bring a book to read, intending to sit by the lake and enjoy a murder mystery. But I never found a chance to even reach for it. The shape of tree roots were too fascinating. The ripple of the water in the lake. The way the clouds floated by on a canopy of cerulean blue. The was the breeze chased away the heat of the sun.
I had lamented for a dozen years that I hated living in Florida. I’m from California. Dry heat, seasons, trees that know how to blush. Cold rain, cold winters. Mountainous skylines and pink sunsets. I miss my home so much. There isn’t a day I don’t walk outside my front door and hate the oppressive humidity, wishing for the dryness of California air. But Florida has it’s own singular beauty, and I just needed to give it a chance.
And in a way, I also have to give myself a chance too. So with the encouragement of my husband, I came up with this idea. Start a blog where I go out into the world and discover the beauty around me, pursuing my secret passion of photography. The blog will keep me motivated. Keep me taking pictures, researching, writing, and going. Through my illness, through my depression.
This blog is my active effort to reclaim my sanity and my life. Whether it becomes popular or not doesn’t matter. I mean, I’d love to have followers! To start discussions and share my adventures with others who are looking for some for themselves. So if you want to support me, support my blog. Check out my Patreon. Share the things. Be my heroes.