Life is Like…

In my very best southern drawl Forest Gump voice (which, My Friends, is pretty darn good), “Lie-ph is lack a waul-k through them woodz.”

There are places that heal. We, as humans, are especially drawn them. They help us (re)connect our mind, heart, and soul to something bigger than ourselves. These places offer us a peace deep within if we allow them to. Sometimes people call them their “holy ground.”

What is your place? Is it a particular spot on earth? A cabin? Or do you go to the mountains, or the ocean, or a cathedral? Or the woods?

I go to the woods.

I go to the woods alone.

To be among ancient stones, running water. To be surrounded by living and quiet things, trees, plants, water, and woodland animals.

I usually grab a stick on my way to the woods. Just in case I encounter a certain slithery woodland animal. The stick is to scare it away, no other purpose. I’m not sure that would work, but it makes me feel better. So, I do it.

As I have settled into a new life, a new farm, and a new place, I get outside every morning and evening. I walk to the barn, the chicken house, the outbuilding. I walk down to the creek.

And sometimes, I walk through the woods.

I have a little patch of untamed woods on the farm, most of it is pasture. It’s been unwelcoming since I moved here, grown up and invested with imaginary snakes. And probably some real ones too.

Today I decide the snakes are either asleep or slow with the colder temperatures. Time to try to walk through those woods.

Usually I simply bask in the way in which the woods and forests calm and nourish me. Usually I am fine-tuned to the nature around me. Usually I try to quiet my mind.

But this morning is different. The walk is hard because the woods are thick. It is slow. I brought my machete to hack us a way through.

This morning, as I walked through those woods, I noticed that life is like a walk in the woods. Or maybe better stated, a walk through the woods is like life.

Woods like Life #1 Sometimes your path is well-marked and clear.

When the path is obvious and well-laid out, you feel secure. Yes, I am on the correct path. This path may be well-travelled and a little manicured. I walk this particular path every day.

It follows the bank of the creek. I’ve outlined the path with rocks and logs. I try to keep the path clear, although I haven’t blown it clear lately.

Ah, look. One of my Encore Azaleas is still in bloom. It blooms in spring and again in fall. Most of them got hit a few nights ago with freezing temperatures. But this one’s hanging on.

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Woods like Life #2 Sometimes friends join you.

On this particular walk through the woods, 2 dogs and 4 cats join me. Is it funny that the cats like to walk with me? They are a constant companion on my morning walks.

Blue (orange dog in front, leading the way), Strudel, (little black and silver terrier, on a leash), and Hoshi (black and white cat on a log) are the first to join.

Next comes Jude, a cat with a fluffy tail, long vampire teeth, and dainty feet. Jude is definitely MY cat. And I am his person.

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Mr. Mustache shows up. Most of you have followed Mr. Mustache since I saved him as a feral cat caught in a “trap and kill” program in NC. He’s a great cat. Still a little wild, but sweet and loving, everything they say a feral cat can never become.

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Mayor Hayes, the cat that came with the farm and refuses to come into the house. (You guys asked if he is named after Mayor Hayes in “Heart of Dixie.” Yep.)

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Woods like Life #3 Keep your eyes (and mind and heart) open.

If you do, you might see something you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Like this little bee. I don’t know what bees do during the winter, but this little guy is getting the last of the yummy sugar in these azalea flowers. I should have asked him his plans for the next few months.

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Woods like Life #4 Rest is important.

If you need or want to sits and thinks, please stop and sits and thinks. Or just sits. A body needs rest.

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Woods like Life #5 Explore different viewpoints.

Sometimes your view will improve when you look between the lines. Or narrow your focus. Or broaden it. The main thing is to try from different angles and viewpoints.
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Woods like Life #6 Sometimes you cannot find your way.

It happens to everyone. You can’t find your path at all. You feel lost and confused. Which way to go?

Don’t fret too long in this situation. Just start moving. One foot in front of the other. You don’t have to have all the answers when you set off.  If you can’t  progress in this path, then turn around and find another.

In order to not get stuck here, just keep moving.

And don’t fret.

Here, there is no path at all. You just have to keep trying and looking.

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Woods like Life #7 Be quiet and trust.

Yeah, sometimes you have to be quiet and listen intently to those who (may) know more than you do. Perhaps they’ve been through these woods before. Maybe they know a way. Listen and follow.

Here’s the backside of Blue. At this point, we’re all following him through the woods. I’m guessing he found a deer path. He shows us which way to go.

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There’s a saying about horses. If you’re lost, you are told to drop the reigns and let the horse lead. The horse will find his way back—to the trailer, to the barn, to where the trail started—every single time.

Woods like Life #8 There comes a time when you could use some support.

Don’t be proud, just take the help in whatever form it comes. You might have to find it for yourself.

In everyone’s life there are times when we need to find something that will support us, that will make you feel more secure.

It is weird, but sometimes you don’t even realize you need support. It just shows up out of nowhere, right when you need it.

In the woods, that might be a walking stick.

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I’ll take it!

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Woods like Life #9  Find What Keeps You Hopeful

You can locate things, situations, and people who give you hope. Sometimes you don’t recognize them for what they are, hope-givers. Other times you have to look hard for them. Whatever it takes, keep hope thriving.

Hope of green. Hope of better days ahead. Hope of vibrant life under the fallen brown leaves and stone.

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Woods like Life #10  Things are not always what they seem.

I walked past this and thought it was a moss-covered rock.

Looks like a moss-covered rock, feels like a moss-covered rock.

It is not a moss-covered rock.

It is wood. Hard, hard wood covered with moss.

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Woods like Life #11. When walking through darkness, keep going.

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If you’re feeling covered up, like you are suffocating, keep going. If darkness surrounds you, go towards the light. Find a way out. Catch your breath.

Look at this little tree is lighted with sunshine peeking through the upper story.

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Woods like Life #12   Keep your eyes open for hearts and love.

Never turn away from healthy love.

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Woods like Life #13  All Obstacles can be overcome.

Sometimes you come upon obstacles, things that are blocking your progress.

When that happens, acssess. Look for ways to overcome and continue your journey—if you think you are on the right path. If you have doubts, might be time to try a different path. Only you get to decide what is right for you.

And hey, your path might as well be fun.
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Woods like Life #14  There is astonishing beauty all around.

Rock formations. Rain. Leaf colors. Moss. Reflections.

Swirly patterns.

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Find a path that interests you, not one that bores you. Be engaged and pay attention.

This hole under the tree. Who lives in it? I don’t know, but I heard him/her/them hit the shallow water when I approached.

And check out the straight roots coming out of the tree, searching for solid ground.

The roots will never find solid ground there.

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Words like Life #15   Find redemption when you need it.

Around here, this little fern is called “Redemption Fern.” I’m not sure why. My sweet cousin showed me this fern, growing on plant life, rock, and dead tree branches. Redemption is all over. Find yours if you need to. Forgive yourself and everybody else.

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Woods like Life #16 Sometimes life is hard and unfair. Accept it.

We all, all of us, know this to be true. Yet we fight it. And get mad about it. The sooner we accept this as truth, the sooner we can move forward and get happy again.

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This is my precious Strudel, my Walt Disney farm dog. Now my miracle dog.

As some of you know, she was attacked this spring by two neighborhood dogs. She almost lost her life. It took months of care by a skilled and talented veterinarian to put her back together again. (Thank you, Dr. Williamson!) My tough little Strudel.

Strudel has always valued her freedom.

But she can no longer have that kind of freedom. Now she must be leashed at all times. Now she is constantly supervised by her bestie, Me, whenever she is outside.

I was afraid that she’d be miserable, maybe even want to commit suicide, when she realized this was her new life. We went through all this together, and I wondered if she would  struggle and be depressed.

Nope.

She is happy.

Happy in all things.

She appreciates the freedom she has. And when I walk her on a leash, I give her as much freedom as I can. I often follow her, letting her go where ever she wants. In other words, I don’t control her every step.

And she loves to go walking where ever and whenever. The outside is her aesthetic (just like me.)

Woods like Life #17 Don’t buy into stereotypes.

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Who said cats don’t like water? All of mine do.

Woods like Life #18 Find beauty in everything.

Appreciate what others consider to be ugly and unacceptable.

Sometimes you look at things as an “invasive species” and don’t appreciate what they bring. These two plants are not indigenous to this region. But here they are, deep in the woods.

I think they add interest.

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Woods like Life #19 Sometimes small, unnoticed things can really trip you up.

In the woods around here we have these thin and lengthy thorny vines. Lots of them! They come up from the earth in groups and quickly wrap around trees or anything else in its path. If you’re not paying careful attention, you will get caught up in them. You might trip over them. You might get the thorns caught in your skin.

They are troublesome. Small, but mighty.

Try to look for things that interfere, that can make your day harder. If you spot them, go around those things.

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A lovely, easy part of the woods finishes up our walk. That’s Hoshi the cat in front now.

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Woods like Life #20 Drink more water.

Water prevents stroke. Is thirst quenching. Is better for us than any other beverage. Drink more.

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I have some work to do on a path. I haven’t picked the path yet.

Next time I’ll leave the animals at home and take loppers with my machete, see what I can do. I like to see where I’m stepping, so ultimately need to rake or blow the leaves. And might need to get some help from someone who knows how to use a chainsaw. I should have a nice wide, clear path before spring!

Has your “spot” (ocean, mountains, open space, church, woods, etc) taught you anything??Leave a comment and share it with us all!

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

Leave a comment 42 Comments

  1. Mary Frances Rauch says:

    It would be so fabulous to sit and talk with you face to face. You sound both calm and restless at the same time. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we will celebrate our 53 years together as we express our thankfulness for all the blessings we have.
    My wish for you is that 2020 will be a year of new surprises and interesting challenges to feed that vivid inquisitive mind of yours.
    I really enjoyed your article and all the great pictures! Thanks for keeping in touch.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Mary, yes, wouldn’t that be fabulous. You know me so well–yes. I hadn’t thought of that, but it captures my essence. Calm and restless.
      Congratulations on 53 years! What an accomplishment. Tell us your secret(s) to a happy long marriage.
      And, new surprises and interesting challenges would suit me well in 2020!
      Take care and keep in touch! OXO

  2. Ramona Puckett says:

    Love this!

  3. Ruth Merritt says:

    Thank you, ART. Love your words of inspiration. It’s great the way your photography and writing mesh together. I’m sending this commentary to a friend who lost her husband recently. I know it will be instructive and, hopefully, very healing.
    Take care of yourself. Love, Ruthie

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Sweet Ruthie, always great to hear from you! I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s husband. I don’t know how my inadequate words would offer any comfort to her, but I’d be happy if they do.
      We should see each other again! I’m not that far away from you anymore. I miss you! OXO

  4. Penny J says:

    Rebekah,
    I just bought the MaryJane magazine, and remember you from a few years back. I remember you were interested in walking the Appalachian Trail “someday”. My husband finished it last year and he wrote a book. I would like to send it to you for your enjoyment. Just let me know your mailing address.

    Penny Jack
    Anchorage Alaska

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      YES! AT is still on my list! I don’t think I could ever pull off the whole trail, but def want to do part of it.
      I’d love to read your husband’s book! Did you join him on any of the sections?
      Email me at rebekah@maryjanesfarm.com. I’ll send you my mailing address. I’m so excited to read his adventures on the trail!
      THANK YOU! OXO

  5. Dianna Hauf says:

    Ahhh Rebekah, such a deep, insightful and wonderful personal story! It is exactly what I too experience when I take my hikes! I especially love my alone times with just me and Kodabear. Its spiritually refreshing! Thank you for sharing.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Dianna, yes, those are the words that perfectly describe these journies in the woods. “Spiritually refreshing.” Absolutely! Thank you for giving me those words. That’s what I meant to say! OXO

  6. Jill McFaul says:

    This was a lovely walk. I could smell the smells, feel the sun and hear the crunchies under my feet. Love having the kitties and puppies along. My kitties love to be with me but will not follow unless I walk in safe places like the woods or fields near the barn and house. Thank you for today’s walk in the woods I truly enjoyed tagging along as I can’t walk in my woods today but! maybe tomorrow. Happy trails. Jill

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Jill, I wondered if cats usually join others in walks. It seemed odd to me at first, but I love them to come. They enrich my walks as they suddenly climb a tree and then jump down. Or chase each other — or just a blowing leaf. They lead me to weird thing on the ground as they dig. And they’ll meow if they lose sight of me.
      Thank you for joining me on my walk. I loved having you there. Maybe I can come with you on your walk one day. Have you ever joined our You Challenges in the month of May? We share our walks with each other through photos and words. Very lovely experience. Join us next year!
      Enjoy your strolls! OXO

  7. Pamela says:

    Absolutely adore your posts. Read the “10 years ago” first and was hooked. Just started reading these blogs a year ago and had not checked yours out yet, but you have a new follower. You write the exact sentiments that I feel. It only takes one person to make change wherever you live and even a single act can help! Lived in a city for 40
    years and then moved to RURAL Kansas but I was always a farmgirl. Even when I was
    growing up in New England, I had the same feelings about the woods that you expressed
    so artfully. Thanks for taking the time to prepare and write such a wonderfully express-
    sive blog for us. Pamela

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Thank you for your words, Pamela! I’m so glad you found us all here at MaryJanesFarm. It’s so refreshing to find like-minded folks. And MaryJane’s website is one of the few happy, safe, uplifting places on the internet.
      Your words are powerful. “It only takes one person to make change.” We often get caught up in feeling like we’re not able to make enough of an impact. But two hands are TWO hands, right? Thank you for sharing.
      Farmgirls are a breath of clean, fresh air in a smoggy world. OXO

  8. Terri Goggin says:

    Best blog I have ever read. You really took me on a journey to a beautiful place that I will visit again. Thank you.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Oh my gosh, Terri, are you kidding me? You made my day! No, week! No, month! I’ve got such a big smile right now.
      THANK YOU for taking the time to leave a comment and telling me this. OXO

  9. Amanda says:

    Simply beautiful. Both your woods and your words. I have many spots. I also love the woods. I explored them when I was a child and I still do as an adult. It seems deserted until I quiet myself and listen. Then there is so much to hear. Lesson #1. I love my garden. I work hard and put faith into tiny things and what might become of them. I have to be content with the end result be it good or not so good. Lesson #2. I love my cows. They remind me that not everything goes at my speed. I have to slow down and consider others. Lesson #3. I do not love doing dishes! But it’s a reminder that we are fortunate to have food to eat. Lesson #4 even though it makes me miserable. Sending you many blessings!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Beautiful lessons, Amanda! And important ones. My horses do for me what your cows do for you.
      These are great! Thank you for sharing. I know many of us need to be reminded or maybe learn for the first time, the wisdom in your words. OXO

  10. Reba says:

    The life # that involves being quiet is huge in my walk in the woods (as I am having to find my “holy place” currently). This is a way to be quiet yet everything around is alive and “moving” in it’s own existence. By that one can figure out how they fit into this life plan overall. At one point in this walk in the woods someone intruded (I knew the intruder)! That also will happen along the way. Figure out how to best respond and then get back to being “quiet.” Sometimes quietness is the way to respond to the intruder as I did, realizing that this was definitely a time in life that was in the past. It was a good lesson: that the intruder is in the past and quietness has resumed! It is like that unexpected area (intruder) needed to be examined before moving on. It seemed that I was on a “seat in a theater”, the woods were the stage, and the performance was past experiences being played out on the stage. These are very good steps to pass onto those who may be experiencing their own walk in their “holy place”. Thanks, Rebekah!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Reba, you are so spot-on. There are often intruders to the quiet time we need (not want, but NEED.) There was a time in my life that was full of constant chaos and noise. I rememeber thinking then that instead of “solitary confinement” being punishment for unruly prisoners that a more severe punishment would be constant interruption and chatter, no quiet ever.
      And I agree wholeheartedly. These places are our “holy” places that provide a profound connection to the Holy.
      Thank you for your comment. So insightful and helpful! OXO

  11. Jo K. says:

    I can so identify with your analogies today! Several months ago, after attending a church for many years, a person there spread a rumor about my husband. We brought it to the attention of our then pastor but it wasn’t dealt with in a speedy manner, and the tentacles of gossip spread. After a couple of months with no accountability from the gossiper, we ultimately chose to leave. Forgiveness to those who wronged us is important, and it is the avenue we took before leaving. We are now in a new and vibrant church and are taking baby steps to begin again and become involved. Not so easy when you’re in your 70’s! Without that unfortunate event, we would still be struggling in the dark place we were in, and would not have purposely chose to step into the light! Change and growth is hard–but so worth it in the end. Blessings to you and to your journey!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Oh, Jo, your words of encouragement are uplifting! I’m proud of you for doing what was best for you and your husband. It is easier to stay put, but not always best. Your words knock me to my knees. In gratitude and in prayer. I plan to print them out and put on my bullentin board. I thank you for that. OXO

  12. Beth says:

    Just absolutely love this post and shared it so others can enjoy it as well. Thank you!

  13. Diane Van Horn says:

    It’s so good to see you have a woods at your new farm! It is also great to see Strudel is all in one piece and enjoying the walks in the woods.

    My place is also in the woods. I love to walk in the woods and watch the seasons change. I have a special tree that I visit. His name is Eugene. He is a gigantic evergreen with a trunk so big, I can’t get my arms around him. I take his picture often in different seasons and times of day. I usually hike in the woods with my dog Molly and sometimes my Hubby but the walks that I love the most, I am alone. Alone with the flora and fauna, the moss and rocks, the lakes and streams. Alone to breathe the forest air and listen to the quiet. It makes me feel alive and humbled.

    It is getting cold here in Wisconsin. We have had some snow already. I can send you some, I know you will miss it. Glad to see you are settling in. Can’t wait to see where your path leads you.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Oh, My Friend, I love that you named your tree. I have a special one as well, but hadn’t thought about naming it! Have you heard of people singing the trees to sleep for winter? Sounds woowoo and “out there,” lol, but I’m kinda both. Haha. So I think I’ll try it this year.
      I do want your snow, but guess it would just be water by the time you sent me some. Am definitely green that you have already gotten some.
      “Alive and humbled”…your words are perfection.
      Post a pic of your tree! I don’t think you can here? IDK? but on FB if not, and tag me. I’d love to see your Eugene.
      Good to hear from you, Diane! OXO

  14. Donna Kozak says:

    Hi, Rebekah – have to agree just getting outdoors makes everything seem better, rain or shine ! A slow walk around my property (and the neighbour’s field) lifts my spirits – can’t take my old pussycat, tho, but he is content in his own backyard. Looks like your furry buddies are enjoying their trek outdoors !

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Donna, you are right about getting outdoors. It is a spirit-lifter. I’m going to try to send you a link to something. Be right back.

      • Rebekah Teal says:

        This is the “Try Nature” short video I saw at a Film Festival in the mountains several years ago. I’ve shared it before, but in case you missed it. This version bleeps out a particular word. Let’s see if this link works.

        Thanks for your comment! OXO

  15. Libby Orenbaun says:

    My dad had a few acres in southeast Texas. He had trails that he walked every morning. He kept the trails clear of underbrush but the overhead canopy made the trails feel like you were deep in a forest but in reality, there was a subdivision next to his property and a busy highway in the front. Every time I went home to visit we would walk the trails with his little dog Buddy, who was on a leash. He was a known runner and loved to escape and go his merry way. Dad also had a walking stick and offered me one to use. Your story brought back sweet memories. He walked the trails until he was 98.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Thank you for sharing this with us, Libby. I love it: your Dad created his own little haven and enjoyed it every morning. I can just see your Dad (whom I picture with brown boots and a well-worn brimmed hat. His stick is tall, natural wooden walking stick) strolling with his dog, Buddy (a blonde lab?). And then the father/daughter walks when you visited. Wow. Sweet memories for you, for sure. I’m sure I’m wrong about the details, but that’s the image that formed in my head as I read your words. Yes, perhaps that nature walking ritual helped your Dad enjoy such a long life. Maybe mine will do the same for me. OXO

  16. jacqueline Hull says:

    My very favorite place is on a high point on the ocean in Maine sitting, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean air and gazing eastward to the British Isles from where my ancestors immigrated. It’s amazing to me because so many of my relatives are also
    drawn to the ocean all the way back to great granny who came from southwestern
    England. I’m looking forward to returning to Maine in 2020. Before that I will feel all of
    the above in Beaufort, SC, over Christmas

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Jacqueline, I’ve never expereienced the magical coast of Maine (seen videos and photographs), but your description took me there and brought such peace. My toes must touch the mighty ocean at least once a year in order to be a whole person. The draw of the ocean. Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? “Mother, Mother Ocean. I have heard you call….” Great song. Enjoy your time at the beach! OXO

  17. Carol D says:

    I think this just may be my favorite post of yours. I don’t really have a ‘spot’ exactly, but instead, I have trees. I zig-zag through the yard or woods to give them a pat and a hello then move on to the next one. It’s always been like that no matter where I’ve lived. We recently drove past a property we owned years ago and I made my husband stop the car so I could run down to the edge of a pasture and check on a water oak that I loved. I think it remembered me because it shivered a little, ha. It’s all grown up now.

    The tree thing must run in the family. My sister in SC has ‘praying trees,’ a stand of live oaks where she slows to cool down after a run. Each tree represents someone or something she prays for. Included is a nephew tree, thank God, where my now adult sons are firmly included.

    I guess the thing I’ve learned from my ‘new’ trees in Ark is not to be jealous of all my past trees and their deep permanent roots. Every little seed around the world eventually sends out a root downward and a sprout upward and says, Here I am, world! And they smile and reach for the sun and do their level best to live and thrive and offer what they can. Awesome things, seeds.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      This is beautiful, Carol. I love the image in my head of walking amongst the trees and telling each one “hello.” I have a special one here on my new farm that I, too, greet every day. Connection to nature is powerful. And healing. Seeds, YES. Miraculous. (I always knew you’d be a close friend if we knew each other in person.) OXO

  18. Joanne Reed says:

    for your recuperating doggie -check out Dr.Melissa Shelton at AnimalEO who has researched extensively essential oils and blends for healing and support for dogs,cats,horses and even elephants. They can be diffused,applied and injected. I even find they have helped my arthritis.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Thank you, Joanne. I will check her out. I hadn’t thought about essential oils. I’m glad they have helped you!

  19. Absolutely wonderful/perfect read this Christmas morning. Thank you for a sits and thinks.

  20. Cheryl says:

    I know how you feel being in the woods!! I have a cabin in the New Mexico Rocky Mountains and it is my get away from noise and over population!! I stay there all Summer and never ready to come home for the winter. But it gives me something to look forward to each year.
    A walk in the woods is like life, I like that thought❤️

  21. Debby Carrico says:

    Wow! I need to get to be able to walk through woods again!!!! This was a wonderful rendition of your walks and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!! Thank you!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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