In the Gut

Forest-grown ice cream cones--really beautiful

Forest-grown ice cream cones–really beautiful

Is it 2 weeks straight of gray skies and pouring rain, the limited daylight, the fact that I just had yet another birthday, and/or the colder temperatures that make me draw into myself and reflect on life?  Perhaps it’s just what winter is for.  There is, after all, a lot of precedence around the notion of withdrawing for the winter to be reborn in the spring.  Seems to work well for the plants, anyway.

This dead branch became hot real estate for the local lichen community

This dead branch became hot real estate for the local lichen community

But in withdrawing, I find my gut talking to me.  So far, it hasn’t learned to speak English.  It seems to speak through general achy-ness.  It pokes at me like it’s really trying to tell me something, but I have no idea what it’s trying to say.  I envy people who know what it means to “listen to your gut.”

While technical Lichen doesn't "bloom," it sure looks like it does

While technical Lichen doesn’t “bloom,” it sure looks like it does

This is not new.  My gut started talking to me when I was a teenager.  I was pretty sure it was saying “Run!” every time I was on my way to school.  In more recent years, a friend who, shall we say was not-immersed-in-the-world-of-engineers, suggested I ask my gut what it needed.  Desperate to understand this mysterious, recurring pain, I tried her suggestion and sat quietly for a bit, taking deep breaths.  I thought to myself, “What do you need?” directing my attention to my gut.  The immediate response was, “More fiber.”  I laughed out loud.  But, more fiber didn’t quiet my gut.

Another ice cream cone

Another ice cream cone

What did quiet my gut was more relaxation, more presence in the moment, regular exercise, and learning to breathe.  So, why is my gut talking to me now?  Is it trying to tell me I should have been on some sort of elite detective team?  They all have talking guts, right?

Let’s think about this logically.  When stress happens, the body reacts.  If we ignore the stress, we don’t discharge it.  So, we start habitually tensing areas of the body where we react to stress.  My jaw is another good barometer of when I’m feeling stressed. It’s talking a lot too, and I don’t mean through my mouth.

My gut and my jaw are telling me I’m not dealing with stress effectively, but the problem is, I’m unclear about what the source of the stress is.  My job is not more stressful than usual.  Other than having moved a month ago, there haven’t been any major stress-creating events in my life.  So, if the sources of stress haven’t changed, I guess that means the discharge of stress has.

Tiny "blossoms" against moss

Tiny “blossoms” against moss

Well, let’s see . . . I haven’t ridden my bike in weeks.  I have only been making it to one yoga class a week.  I haven’t rowed for months.  I’ve only been hiking about 3x since October.  Hmm.  I think I’m starting to get the message now.

Rain, rain, go away!  I want to ride my bike today!


Fern-like Lichen producing another structure that looks like blooms

Fern-like Lichen producing another structure that looks like blooms


4 responses to “In the Gut

  1. What a display of photos. I never thought about the beauty of lichens. Next time, when I go for a walk in Mill Creek Park I will pay more attention to lichens.

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