Dancing With Trees

1600 year old ancient Oak, South Carolina

(Re-posted from Breathing Spaces, Gaye Abbott, 10/3/21)

A very young voice filtered out from the trees at the local Nature Park where I walk every morning, only 2 blocks from my home. 4-year-old Liam and his father were out in nature for some father and son time this cloudy Sunday morning.

When I engaged with Liam, back pack on and a map in his hand, he told me that they were looking for acorns to plant in the park so more trees could grow. The map with a highlighted strip across it apparently guided Liam and his father along the path, and his backpack held a small container of gathered acorns, which he was very proud of.

We talked about squirrels and how they gather acorns for the Winter, and Liam was most insistent that they couldn’t bury them in the ground because the dirt would go right through their claws. With a little more conversation Liam understood how squirrels could store the nuts away, and then he was off on the path looking for a place to plant the acorns. A little later on I came across them again and Liam was planting his acorns in a place where the potential oak trees could grow and thrive.

Dancing with trees? Most certainly within a young boys context and with his father’s guidance. This young child is learning within nature that we as humans are a part, not separate, and that our conscious actions can make a difference. He is learning to dance with life!

My hope is that LIam goes on in his life connecting as deeply as he did today – with his father, with the trees, with the squirrels, with the dirt – and understands how everything is woven together in a community of life. May he be able to say to himself,

I AM HERE

I BELONG HERE

I HAVE A ROLE IN THE WHOLE .

“Be wild every now and then. By regularly doing that, you will be reminded of how much nature means to us, how much solace it can bring, how much joy and peace and hope.  You will be reminded of how deeply we are connected to all living things.”

Dance with life!

Gratitude to Green Renaissance for this beautiful video! Filmed in Hermanus, South Africa. Featuring Sue Swain.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Church of the Wild, How Nature Invites Us Into the Sacred, by Victoria Loorz

Gaye Abbott, Natural Passages Consulting, 10/2/21. Please feel free to share this post and link to Breathing Spaces or WildlyFreeElder.


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Embodying Attention

Image taken 2017 by Gaye Abbott, Wolf Creek in Grass Valley, CA

Take a few moments to pay attention to this image from the deck where I lived in Grass Valley, California just a couple of years ago. Take in not only what is present, but also how it makes you feel.  Look closely and notice what you are feeling in your body sensations, your breath, your thoughts. What stories emerge?

This was taken in the October morning light.  A time when the shadows captured more than what is directly in the lens of my iPhone.  I am by no means a “photographer” like some of my dear friends.  But what I do practice is embodied attention.

Attention to what is right in front of me, around and behind, above and below.  Attending to how whatever I am attending to affects my breathing and the bodily sensations that go along with that.

Do I make up a story? Do I fall into wonder, curiosity and awe? Is a sense of curiosity evoked? Is there a tendency to deflect whatever it is that is taking my attention? What emotions am I feeling?

This is in complete opposition to “distracted attention” that has so many people either multi-attending, or scattering and jumping their attention from one thing to the next as the stimulus of our world, the news, our phones, email and social media hold us captive.

In other words missing our own lives.

Are we truly paying attention to the details of the simple experiences in life? The masterpieces that unfold right before our eyes from moment to moment.

That bring peace of mind and open our hearts to the beauty and miracles that unfold day after day after day.  That connect us with others, the natural world and the very essence of our life as deeply as we yearn for.

What you might not see in the image above is another component that is somewhat hidden in the shadows, but is none the less a simple part of the natural world.

Coming home from a few days away last month I almost missed it as well, until I came into the wide angle lens of embodied attention and found the nest.  A nest built with passion and ingenuity in a season that was rather out of sync with traditional nest building times.

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Yes, I am extremely fortunate to live in a space where I simply go out onto my deck to worship amidst 100’s of trees and relish the sound of the flowing creek below.

Yet, aren’t there 100’s, perhaps even 1000’s, of moments each day when we can remind ourselves to embody (take in with all of our senses) – versus em-mind – what is placed before us no matter where we live or what is happening.

Might “time” slow down a little and afford us the luxury of timelessness….even for just a few moments.

Sometimes it may be painful to open that much in our attention.  But what may come of openly experiencing our lives versus fragmenting attention in a way that evokes stress, tension and anxiety because we are not taking in the whole of our experience in the present moment.

An opportunity to live our lives with open, embodied and engaged attention.  To pay attention with our whole being to what has meaning for us.  It is our choice!

…..to fall on our knees in gratitude for this breath and the next.


All Rights Reserved by Gaye Abbott. Copyright 2017  http://GayeAbbott.com

If you wish to share this post please link to the Wildly Free Elder website. Thank You!

This post has been reprinted from the blog Life At Wolf Creek


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For Presence


Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you from all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

~John O’Donohue, For Presence, from “To Bless This Space Between Us”

Sometimes I forget what it is to be fully human. With all the consciousness, potential, diversity of emotions playing within, embodied physicality changing and shifting constantly, vulnerability that we sometimes push aside into a dark closet lest fear take the upper hand…..and the innate interconnected presence with everyone and everything.

It is in those moments of forgetfulness that wonder, courage, presence and joy may recede into the background.

is it possible to dive into the rich and vibrant colors of the dahlias in the image above, to remember the light of our own being within the candle flame in a time of life that presents challenges never navigated before, to breathe with the River Birch outside the window celebrating birdsong, squirrel antics and a myriad of smaller creatures that cannot be seen yet still hold an important part in the evolution and diversity of life unfolding.

The mantra of one woman here in the Asheville N. Carolina area who contributed greatly to the local community was “Don’t Postpone Joy”. The story that was told to me was of a woman who was intimately and generously involved in, and contributed to, many projects and causes in the local Asheville community. She was passionate and devoted to making a difference with her presence and within that found joy.

Joy of simply living fully within our own presence. Of making choices that align with heart and soul. Her vulnerability and challenge? Cancer – which eventually took her life.

Each line of John O”Donohue’s blessing “On Presence” asks us to receive fully all it is to be human until the last breath we take. I like to believe that is how he lived his too short life, taken suddenly from this physical embodiment without permission.

Perhaps in the remembering of what it is to live passionately, even within the challenges we all face and the wounding we have all incurred, we shall recapture the potential and possibility – the juiciness of being – to celebrate together in collaboration of what it is to be human.


Elemental Musings” offers postings by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina, in addition to postings by the Wildly Free Elder community.

Post by Gaye Abbott, 9/16/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you for doing so!

Love Much, Think Less

“The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.”

St Teresa of Avila

For the past 4 months I have been loving Saturday mornings for the local Farmers Market taking place in my new home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of N. Carolina. Today I was moved by a woman standing next to me at my favorite organic farm stall at the University of N. Carolina tailgate market. She had a bunch of sunflowers in her hand and several bunches of dahlias in her carry basket. I exclaimed “those flowers always make me smile!”

Her response back also made me smile as she said “Life is too precious not to have flowers in it . I consider it my therapy and have fresh flowers in my house all the time.” I loved her spontaneous response to me, a stranger whom she shared her love of beauty with. Our connection was one of sharing our love for not only flowers and the sensual pleasure they bring, but also to enjoy the moment of contact and to open that energetic space of love.

Imagining the unseen energies – presence – that surround each flower bringing it from seed to germination to leaf to bloom. Rather like our lives.

At times we are faced with challenges where the energies of love and gratitude seem a million miles away. Thinking takes over contracting us within a cage of our own creation. Yet, I am aware more and more that love is always right here surrounding every living being and every conscious action – even the act of breathing in and out which is intricately interwoven with all life.

What if we saw within each and every challenge, or simply each moment of everyday life, an opportunity to release contracted thinking energy and be present to take actions that “best stir us to love”.

Since relocating across country away from friends, family, sons and grandkids there have been multiple opportunities to shift challenges and release contracted thinking. One of the most powerful ones wiithin the first 4 months being here happened when I “failed” the vision test to obtain a N. Carolina drivers license.

Having scheduled my appointment right before my California drivers license expired on my birthday my thinking mind made it not only mandatory to obtain my new license, but actually had me paralyzed with fear that I might lose my freedom of independence if not able to obtain a drivers license.

I was immersed in this “worry cage” for a few days, but at the same time took conscious actions to shift this thinking that had taken such a strangle hold upon me. First of all putting everything into perspective, knowing that this was not about survival or control but about releasing into “loving much”.

Within 4 days I had an appointment with an ophthalmologist, was corrected to 20/20 vision and heard my cataracts were not at all ready for surgery; obtained corrective glasses the same day from a wonderful caring optician team of people a short distance away; rescheduled my DMV appointment for N. Carolina drivers license for 3 weeks away; learned that having an expired drivers license is not the big deal I thought it was; studied for the written test which I was certain I was going to have to take; drove to a small little town one and a half hours away for the completion of the DMV process; was in and out in 15 minutes without having to take the written test (better N. Carolina driver because of the intense study!) and walked away with license, new ID card and was registered to vote.

All of this to say that for most of us we always have choice as to how we meet each moment of our lives whether in patterns of assumptions/contracted thinking/fear or with the openness of possibility, living in the spaciousness of love and gratitude.

Like an artist trusting the creative energy that emerges from within we dip our brush in the colors of life and do that which best stirs us to love.

Elemental Musings” offers postings by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina, in addition to postings by the Wildly Free Elder community.

Post by Gaye Abbott, 8/14/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you for doing so!

A Touch of Magic

Elemental Musings” offers weekly postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

Having been born and raised on the West Coast of California I had never seen fireflies. That is until I moved to Vermont some years back and found this magical display of flickering white lights all over the grass, bushes and trees. I felt as if I was a small child filled with wonder in those moments. I still do….

Now I find myself in N. Western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I settled a mere 4 months ago now. One evening a couple of weeks I ago I was drawn to my screened in porch to sit out in the balmy night listening to the night sounds of cicadas and occasional bird calls as the darkness descended like a curtain wrapping me in soft moisture laden air like an embrace.

Synchronous Fireflies, Great Smoky Mountains, N. Carolina

It wasn’t long before I noticed the flickers of light among the trees and on the lawn below. What is it about these small creatures who must certainly be a member of the fairy family? They only show us their bio-luminescence, which is 100% cold light energy, for a couple of months as they mate and then they are gone.

As I rocked in the swing in the screened in porch an alternate realm invited me in. What would it be like to magically part the screen that contains me in my human world and take flight among the trees and grass merging with the night as I wait for the dancing light of my potential mate to find me.

In human life, where magic and mysticism took a back seat long ago, perhaps it is time to bring it back……


Post by Gaye Abbott, 8/2/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you for doing so!

Embodied Transitions

Blue Ridge Mountain Sunrise, Photography by Gaye Abbott

Elemental Musings” offers daily postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

A morning person I have always been, at least for as long as I can remember back over the timeline of this embodied life. I can’t imagine any better way to start a day than to see the sun rise, listen to the birds celebrate with their varied calls, breathe in the morning air laden with moisture and feel in my bones a transition into rain soon…very soon.

Shifts and transitions are continually happening even if we don’t pay attention – within and without. Energy constantly shape shifting bringing magic and tragedy, delight and sadness, awe and forgetfulness. Are we paying attention, or lost in the mundane mainstream detailed oriented life we actually have never felt at “home” within.

Sitting on the porch of my friends home where I am house sitting I was gifted with the sunrise above. Within minutes it shifted to a gray cloudy sky with a light rain. If I was distracted for even a moment I would have missed this transition.

Storm Moving, Blue Ridge Mountains, NC. Photography by Gaye Abbott

Aging for me seems to bring with it a desire to not miss the transitions. Instead, to actively participate in them by being fully present. For it is in these moments that life happens. Not the planned event in the future or the worry, or even excitement, over what might happen tomorrow.

If I would have become distracted and gone inside thinking the nature show was over with and focusing on a breakfast agenda, I would have missed this grand wild turkey greeting. That would have been my great loss.

Wild Turkey, Hawks Landing, Weaverville NC/Photo by Gaye Abbott


Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/30/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you for doing so!

Nature’s Medicine

Elemental Musings” offers daily postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

I have always felt, even as a small child, that nature in all of her beauty and unpredictability was a sanctuary where I felt most “at home”. As I watched the short film below about 95-year-old Oom (uncle) Johannes and his relationship with nature a sense of kinship filled my heart.

This wise elder, his stories, daily seeking for natures healing herbs, deep connection with the natural world, and his intimate awareness of what sustains us as human beings is the type of “medicine to the soul” we need to shift consciousness as we continue to re-discover this deep interconnection that has always been present.

Oom (uncle) Johannes is known by many names: herb doctor, healer, story teller, and teacher. Although he is already 95 years old, he still dedicates his time and energy to walking the lands near his home in search of healing herbs. For Johannes, nature is medicine to the soul and can be used in many ways to aid healing.

To follow our film making journey – https://www.patreon.com/greenrenaissance More information about Oom Johannes’s herbs and the work he does – https://kruiekraaikoning.co.za Filmed in the Karoo, near Beaufort West, South Africa.

Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/29/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you for doing so!

Embodying Wildness

Artwork by Alex Grey

“For many years, at great cost, I traveled through many countries, saw the mountains and the oceans. The only things I did not see were the sparkling dewdrops in the grass just outside my door.”

~Robirdranath Tagore

Many of us find ourselves domesticated. Adhering to the demands and expectations, not only of our society and culture, but from our own deeply grooved patterns of thinking that formed over the many years we have inhabited this lifetime.

When we reach elderhood – a state of being, not an age – we take stock of who we have become and perhaps question where the wild, free, playful and passionate one is hiding. Wild being the essence of who we are in our wholeness. The one who rests in the pause, finding our value not in the outside world, but from deep within.

We may become more of who we are in our essence than we have ever been before. What a rich time of life as we step into the heart of our being and artistry!

Yet we face challenges and vulnerabilities that we have never faced before. Does this impact our willingness to be in our wild untamed nature? It may. Yet it does not have to.

Having traveled many miles in our skin, bones and unique body support system we may have missed the one whom we have come here to be.

It is now in the diversity of our wisdom years that we realize why we are here. It is in the “sparkling dewdrops in the grass” just outside our door.

That wild and free nature has been there all along – you have only to say yes to it honoring the voice inside who whispers sweet trust and love into your ear…..

Dew drops on grass.

Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/28/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you if you do!

The Twisted Tree

Elemental Musings” offers daily postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

The twisted tree lives its life, while the straight tree ends up in planks. – Chinese proverb

Have you ever reflected on the many twists and turns your life has taken as an embodied human being?

Even in one of my all time favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, the infamous yellow brick road twists and turns and along the way Dorothy meets each new character that will help her to return “home”.

The beautiful unique tree in the image above, as well as the Chinese proverb, reminds me that trying to go a straight path anywhere may be a waste of energy and lead to a mundane life following others and cultures direction but never really birthing our uniqueness.

How much more interesting to be spontaneous, take risks, follow our passion, and inhabit every single one of our senses and creativity. The circumstances af our lives will naturally take us on many twists and turns if we do not resist, accepting and trusting the unfolding of it all.

As I reflect on this beautifully twisted tree I am reminded of a free form style of dance called contact improvisation/soul motion where one is lead by the flow of energy, spontaneous connection and inner guidance to become one with the movement as dance art that changes and shifts from one moment to the next in relationship with yourself and others on the dance floor.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live my life as a twisted, elegant tree in each moment – an artistry that is so unique it can never be replicated….ever!


Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/27/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you if you do!

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You Only Die Once, But You Live Every Day

Photo by Gaye Abbott, July 2021/Sunrise Blue Ridge Mountains NC

Elemental Musings” offers daily postings, for an undetermined amount of time, by a nature lover and elder in transition in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Western N. Carolina.

We are composed of all elements that make up this amazing Universe. How can we ever think we are separate.

The early morning this photo was taken I was mesmerized by the ever changing colors in the sky, the shifting cloud formations, and the miracle that I was present in these very moments to be part of it. A dance of life!

Have you ever thought about quality of life moments versus years lived?

For some it is when death touches us that we allow ourselves to contemplate, and come closer to, the relationship with our own potential death and that of our loved ones. The unique choices we will make when embodied time is drawing to a close.

“Death is giving us a gift by teaching us to love in the moment.”

In these precious moments you are reading this post, and perhaps watching the beautiful video of this nurse who is at last exploring the territory of her feelings about fully living every day and embracing the wholeness of life and who she is.

A grand unique life dance that only we know the steps to.

Video by Green Renaissance, https://www.greenrenaissance.co.za/

Post by Gaye Abbott, 7/26/21, Natural Passages Consulting.

We ask that you reference Wildly Free Elder if you wish to pass this on…and thank you if you do!

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