I have been a tree lover since I was a child. During summer vacations we spent hours building tree forts in the field behind our housing tract with scavanged boards and nails from a construction site. The trees were a combination of old gnarly Oaks and towering Cottonwoods that offered much needed shade to a herd of cattle and a few horses that grazed in the field.
The tree fort was my favorite place to sit and daydream. It also served as my escape from a not so pretty home life. I remember the feeling of freedom it gave me to sit up high, lost in the cover of this massive tree. I felt safe and protected by its branches. If I sat still long enough I could hear what sounded like a chorus of ancient voices drifting through the leaves as they rustled in the wind.
Trees are truly amazing gifts of nature. I have often pondered the thought of their longevity and wished they could tell us the stories of all they have seen over time. Some have been silent witnesses to centuries of history. Others, like the Ancient Bristlecones, have been on this earth for more than 5,000 years. Oh the tales they could tell.
Trees provide shelter and shade for birds and mammals. They help to cool the earth, remove particulates, and provide oxygen for us to breathe. Studies show that hospital patients who are in rooms with a view of trees heal faster than patients who don’t. Also, communities that lack trees have a higher crime rate than those that have them.
I proudly consider myself a “tree hugger” yet I do have a balanced understanding of the need for a percentage of trees to be cut and utilized for human needs. But I become saddened at the thought of our rainforests being decimated with abandon and cringe when I hear about large trees being removed for a development in my city.
If only the trees could impart on us the wisdom they have absorbed over time. Maybe we would understand the need to treat nature and other human beings with more kindness.
** Click to purchase Zen in the Garden: Finding Peace and Healing Through Nature on Amazon. **
This morning I decided to heed my words from my little book “Zen in the Garden: Finding Peace and Healing Through Nature.” Being self-employed, tax season is always a stressor. Add to that the demands of work I perform for clients and my attempt to self-promote the launch of my new book and you have the perfect recipe for a potential meltdown.
But if I have learned anything on this journey it is the importance of placing a damper on stress, or at least the way my body reacts to it, before it has a chance to impact my life and most importantly my health. Today I woke up with a long list of to-do’s in my head. Not a good way to start the morning. I didn’t even take a moment to say “Hello world!” My first mistake. But since I have a forgiving heart, I gave myself a hug and decided to go out on a walk at a local nature trail for a quick attitude adjustment.
The minute I stepped out of my car and placed a foot onto the trail I felt relief spill over me. I could breathe again. There was a cool breeze that placed a kiss on both cheeks and the morning sun warmed the top of my big floppy hat. Whatever stress I carried when I left my house was instantly replaced with a calm peace as I began to notice the beautiful Spring blossoms that had begun to grace the trees. I felt a smile begin to creep across my face. This is how life is supposed to be. We are meant to be happy and to experience the joy And beauty of simple things.
As my day continues forward I carry that peace I found this morning and feel a renewed sense of groundedness and the ability to focus on my tasks. Do yourself a favor. When you begin to feel stress creep in take yourself out on a walk and find at least one thing you think is beautiful along the way. Take a mental picture, or if you have a camera take a photo and revisit that image throughout your day.
You can still download “Zen in the Garden: Finding Peace and Healing Through Nature” for free on Amazon through tomorrow.
Happy New Year!
I love spending time in nature. It always grounds me and helps me to remember the important things in life. During the last two months of the year I was able to refuel my soul with a visit to some beautiful places. Of course I am never without a camera, so here are a few of my favorite landscapes that came out of those journeys. All four of these photos were shot and edited on an iPhone 5.
“Ebb Tide at Sunset” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.
“New Melones Sunset” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.
“Lonesome Oak” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.
“The Fallen” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.
As a New Year’s gift to all my followers, here is a 40% discount code that you can use through April 30th to purchase my work. Just enter AUARGP in the “Discount Code” area at checkout. Here is the link to my store: http://tracy-thomas.artistwebsites.com/. These are direct ship prints so if you would prefer a signed and/or limited edition print, instead of purchasing through my store you can email me through the contact form on my website and we can work out the details. (http://www.tjthomas-iphoneart.com/#!contact/c175r)
Here’s to a beautiful new year!
I began my career in photography as a nature and wildlife photographer. Over the years my work has morphed and touched just about every genre imaginable in the craft. Lately I have found myself drawn back into nature, focused primarily on landscape photos. In the past I shot most of my landscapes with my DSLR, creating moody High Dynamic Range images. This time around I have been shooting exclusively with my iPhone and feel drawn to a combination of apps that create a more painterly effect on the final image.
Here are some of the recent landscapes I have shot during the Fall color change in the Sierra’s.
“Nature’s Symphony” – Fall colors at Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.
“The Change” – Fall colors at Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.
“Into the Woods” – Fall colors on a grove of Aspens, Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.
Below is a photo I shot last year that was recently part of “Creatives Rising” and was projected onto the 42-story Linc LIC building in New York City as well as part of the See Me exhibition on Long Island.
“Soliloquy 9” – Fall colors in the Sierra Nevada, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012-2013. All rights reserved.
so·lil·o·quy noun \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē\: a dramatic monologue that represents a series of unspoken reflections.
It is in nature where I cleanse myself from the constant drone of the city and absorb the quiet beauty all around me. A deep breath of fresh air and my lungs open to capacity, free from the exhaust and toxins spewed out hourly by the bane of a “civilized” society. My feet do a happy dance as they touch the raw earth beneath them. It is much more forgiving than the asphalt and concrete of everyday life. I feel connected to the core.
Surrounded by an infinite wisdom that transcends the exterior casing that houses my soul, I walk. I listen. I see. I discover. A swarm of white gnats gathers next to my cheek. I am amazed by an almost silent, collective “whoosh” created by their tiny wings. They move in unity with barely a space in between. Somehow they know to move left or right or up or down as one, without impeding the flight of another.
I continue my walk and contemplate. Hours go by and I feel refreshed, renewed, ready to move forward through life. The fall air lays its final kiss across my skin and once again the evening comes to slowly bid adieu…
“Soliloquy 9” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.
“Soliloquy 10” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.
“Soliloquy 11” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.
“Soliloquy 12” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.
More Soliloquy here.