The gift of flow

Patterned swirls of flowing forest stream


All around us the world flows.  It flows in streams and rivers and lakes and oceans.  It also flows in the depths of our being, between cells, between the river which connects our heart with our hands and feet. 

Swirls in stream; blue sky reflection


Life flows…but do we flow with it?  

Or do we get caught in eddies and log-jams and flotsam? 

Are we stuck, swirling ’round and ’round and ’round in stagnant pools? 

And how do we allow ourselves to move more freely, becoming One with the water, flowing to the Mother Sea? 

Stream reflects circular movement of life


Our thoughts and beliefs–our stuck thoughts and beliefs–can be impediments which keep us trapped.  We’re so often insisting that life be the way we think it should be.  Or fussing because it’s not the way we want it to be.  We’re teeming.  We’re roiling.  We’re circling and circling and circling, never going anywhere, trying to figure it all out. 

Photographer lies on belly and almost falls in stream in order to capture this up close.


Let’s just let it go.  

Can we?  Simply open our minds and see the traps we’ve created. 

Find a way to discover the trap-door which leads to freedom. 

And continue to flow down the river, the bubbles all around us, the sun shining bright in a blue sky, the water closer to us than our skin. 

Stream-bubble creature lives for a moment only...


Someone once said, “Be kind.  Be very kind to everyone you meet, for everyone carries a burden of some sort.”  Everyone swirls trapped in the river, for a moment, a day, a month, a year, a lifetime.  

Perhaps our lifetime simply provides space for us to find a way to leave the swirl of our patterns, and to find the Larger River.  

The eye of the bubble reflects All


Do you see the way out, over there?  Have courage.  Have courage to try something different, to follow the deepest of our deepest inner voices.  Have the courage to move past sticks and brush and excuses and reasons and negativity and currents which never lead us to freedom. 

Our river moves now.  It flows, heavy with spring run-off.  Now is the time.  Let go!  Surrender to that which is stronger than ourselves. 


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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66 Responses to The gift of flow

  1. Nicole Smith says:

    I like the part where the photographer almost falls in. Now, that is devotion to art! 🙂

  2. Dawn K says:

    This is wonderful. Thanks for reminding us that not everything needs to be stewed about. Some of it needs to be released.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Dawn, I think we’ve all stewed and stewed and stewed some more. What stew-oriented people we can be! I think one of the gifts we can give each other is to remind each other (gently) that we can simply release some of the stew and let it float down the river… If we can. Yep…

  3. Barb says:

    Your flowing essay reminds me to allow myself to drift more with the current. I love the bubble “eye”!

  4. That last one is the eye of the Divine.
    What a wonderful photograph.
    I just got back from the vernal pools with my girl.
    Our fingers are still stained from painting eggs.
    We saw floating masses of salamander eggs and wood frog eggs.
    Heard a pair of barred owls as we walked out to the road.
    Magic night.
    Love and hugs and thank you for the joyful view of the Universe through your eyes…which are so amazing. xo S

    • Kathy says:

      Suzi, love your stories of the vernal pools. And the images of stained fingers from painting eggs. Heck, I love everything you just said. 🙂

  5. “Our thoughts and beliefs–our STUCK thoughts and beliefs–can be impediments which keep us trapped.”

    yes, Yes, Yes! Excellent thought-provoking post Kathy — thank you!

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, maybe just moving an inch or two differently–to the left or right–can help us get unstuck. Just an inch! for all that freedom. Thank YOU.

  6. Marianne says:

    Beautiful, Kathy! You have such a delicate way with words. Wonderful pictures!

  7. Jessica says:

    I enjoyed this post Kathy. It really reflects (no pun intended) the point in my life I am at. I hope to make some changes that will help me to move past the rut I feel like I am stuck in. Thanks for the beautiful message you shared today.

    • Kathy says:

      Jessica, you had a hard year last year. Thinking gently of you, and know that you’ll make those changes when the time is right. Blessings!

  8. Gerry says:

    Um, I am in a different place altogether. I am captivated by the pattern of the swirling water. Why do you suppose it did that? It’s quite beautiful. Nice captures, Kathy.

  9. pearlz says:

    Beautiful I have been thinking about this theme also (: love the flow of the water quite captivating.

  10. les da' prez says:

    Beautiful… I enjoyed what you have captured..

  11. Julia says:

    i literally cried when I read this post. This was such a timely and subject for me with moving my business to a new location. As excited as I am its been such a hard thing to maneuver through because Ive insisted on trying to control things. Thats my deal you know! lol (And if you didnt, you do now! )
    The universe of course has other ideas and is using this move and my stepping fully into my work in the world and my hanging out my shingle so to speak, to really let me know that Im not the one directing the symphony of my life. Certainly I have free will always, but just flowing and getting out of my own way has been something Ive really struggled with in this move. Lots of fears and self doubt cropping up…which makes me really try to dig in and stop the flow….yes, just me trying to take control…and not flow.
    I have to say Kathy a heart felt thank you from the bottom of my heart…its been a while since I came to your blog, Ive been so busy – Im sorry – because I know Ive missed some things the universe was trying to tell me through you! Youve always been so special that way and our connection has always been so deep through your writing….so Ill certainly be better about letting the universe speak to me through you.
    I love you Kathy….thank you for helping me so very much with this post. Im off to FLOW through my day with ease and grace and let the universe direct.
    Blessings and bounteous qi love

    • Kathy says:

      Hi there, Julia! I am so glad this was timely for you…so glad that your flow flowed you over to this blog to read. (Heck, don’t worry about reading more often. I know you are busy. And, hey, some blogs I write are just about fishing trips or crazy things like visiting the Chipmunk Kingdom, so don’t worry…) Those darn fears and self-doubts. I know–from the bottom of my heart–that you are one person who will keep listening deeper and deeper until you hear what the universe is trying to tell you. Loving you too and seeing you flowing easily into the next perfect notes of the symphony. Love, K

  12. You do have a way of opening up things, Kathy. Thank you for this post. I know it will mean different things to different people just as photographs and other works of art do. A tribute to your talent with words and photos.

    • Kathy says:

      Scott, it IS so interesting how everyone can read something (or look at photographs) and get something entirely different out of it. That one angle can mean something totally unique for each of us. Thank you!

  13. Trudie says:

    My river has passed the rapids and flowing smoothly again 😉

  14. p.j. grath says:

    Kindness is always a beautiful idea, never inappropriate. Let me put in a good word, though, for spending a little time out of the mainstream, lazing in a quiet backwater, slowing down rather than being rushed pell-mell downstream. I’m sure you will not disagree, Kathy! You are so good at both.

    That big bubble certainly does look like a big eye! You HAVE the eye!

    • Kathy says:

      Pamela, I LOVE what you said here. To remember that it’s perfectly acceptable–sometimes even necessary–to swirl in those backwaters for a good long while. That it’s not necessary to flow fast with that wild & crazy stream all the time. Maybe it’s simply the flowing…the movement. Sometimes one way, sometimes another. Loved that bubble too!

  15. Lovely, lovely images and words Kathy. I am so glad that I stopped by before writing the Creative Potager post this morning. I woke up at 4:00 ish this morning then went back to sleep. Three hours later I woke up again feeling like I had been caught in one of those eddies you mention painting the same painting over and over again. I am now starting to recover from the experience… your swirling water and words were very helpful.

    • Kathy says:

      Terrill, I am also so glad you stopped by. Never thought about how one could get caught in an eddy painting the same picture over and over again. You teach us so much about painting and seeing visually! I am always fascinated reading your perspective.

  16. DiamondLil says:

    Gorgeous Kathy! Although it’s hard for me to get in the spirit of the subject just today as Boston and parts northeast are about to get washed away entirely with all the rain and flooding we’re battling here! My toilet keeps gurgling and I’m afraid that when I get home I’m going to find the Charles River in my bathroom! Where can a girl hail an ark around here?

    • Kathy says:

      Oh my goodness Lil, it may have been the WRONG day to write this post with all that Northeast flooding. I truly hope the Charles River hasn’t flooded your bathroom by now. There can be something called too much flowing…YIKES!

  17. Kathy great pictures. I love your message, it is absolutely great how God speaks to us through nature. I enjoyed this post.

  18. Steve says:

    A lovely post.

    The part about courage is so true. I’m a creature of habit and routine, and so any change is scary. But I am learning to embrace it more. I start a new job in a couple of weeks, and think (hope!) that great leap into the unknown will work out. But, even if it doesn’t, I guess it will lead to something else interesting further down the line. Probably better to regret trying something different, than regret not making that step!

    • Kathy says:

      Steve, good luck as you start your new job. I like your attitude! If we don’t try to stretch out of our habits and routines a little bit…it seems like life sometimes becomes a bit stale. And, like you say, if it doesn’t work out then you have an opportunity to try something else. Blessings!

      • Jeannie says:

        Beautiful photography, beautiful words here. We tend to feel at home in our little pools with the familiar surroundings; this rock I always bump against, this tree right above me…we get connected to the physical experience and miss the greater experience of the pulse of life itself drawing us in close. Thank you for this artistic re~minder Kathy.

  19. Cheyenne Steele says:

    Dear Kathy!!!! Wow! The photos with the words are brilliant! It gave such dimension and insight into the phenomenon of ‘flow’ and entrapment – and courage to seek a way, even if just a little more – to seek a release from our trapped, spinning, bound mind!

    You gave a beautiful gift with this, Kathy!

    I love you work!!! It is truly inspirational!

    with love!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh yes, Cheyenne…seeking a release from our trapped, spinning, bound mind! I am glad you liked this. And you know I love you, too!

  20. kimhopf says:

    Very profound words and profound photos! I love taking photos of ripples and reflections, but I don’t think I’ve quite mastered it yet. Keep up the great blogging and inspirational words!

    • Kathy says:

      Kim, I’m smiling because I read your words wrong. I thought you wrote that you hadn’t quite mastered the ripples and flowing (of life). And I wanted to say ME TOO! I haven’t mastered them yet either. But you were talking about photography. In which case I’ll add ME TOO! I haven’t even begun to master the edge of photography. I wonder if maybe instead of us mastering it…maybe life and photography allows us to open up? Sorry, thinking philosophically this morning. 🙂

  21. Jeannie says:

    We get so caught up in what is familiar; the rock I always bump into, the tree right above me. We are connected to the physical experience more so than the pulse or spirit of Life itself drawing us in closer. The everchanging moment…Thank you for this beautifully illustrated re~minder Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Jeannie this is beautifully. Don’t we get caught up with the familiar and sometimes miss everything else which is flowing all around and through while our attention stays on the familiar? Glad you enjoyed this.

  22. Jeannie says:

    I thought I lost the first reply, loving you two times!

  23. Reggie says:

    That was so inspirational, Kathy…. The bit about being kind to the people you meet, because they too are carrying a burden, really struck home.

    I love every one of your photos – and particularly the stream bubble creature and the eye of the bubble!

    I’m just realllllly curious to know – how on earth did you capture those SWIRLS?! Did you draw them in afterwards, or did they magically appear in the image? I’ve been scratching my head, trying to figure this out. I don’t think I’ve ever captured swirls and ripples in that way with my camera. 🙂

    Your photography skills are absolutely sky-rocketing, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Reggie! I like that thought about kindness, too. Good to remember.

      As for the swirls–they simply existed! I didn’t draw them in at all. I think they were maybe caused by the spring run-off. You know, all the snow melting and the streams swirling like crazy. Maybe the streams have to be moving really fast to get the swirls and ripples doing that. I know you don’t often see them.

  24. Barbara says:

    Wonderful photos, Kathy! “The eye of the bubble reflects All” reminded me of Thoreau’ words: “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, isn’t Thoreau the greatest? I truly admire his eye on nature and the way he was able to express what his eye so so magnificently.

  25. Cindy Lou says:

    Beautimous photos and words….thank you as usual!

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  28. allielujah says:

    …wow. Seriously, that’s all I can seem to form! These pictures are beautiful and the writing — as always– is just wonderful.

    • Kathy says:

      Allie, I thought you had retired from the blogging world! (At such a young age, too…) Just kidding. Glad to see that you’re still visiting the cyberspheres…and thank you for stopping by. It’s good to see you.

  29. Wow, how did you do it, Kathy?! I am so moved by it!! The truth is…I often forget that to experience a sense of ease and peace in life is to move in life as the direction of how water flows–it flows down, not up, like push a rock up hill!! Thanks for the words, and images you provide for the world!!

  30. Truels says:

    Just arrived from a nice little holiday on the Danish West-coast your post was the first, I read: What great pictures and details you got from that stream! They really impressed me – and my own imagination (like yours).

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Truels–I just glimpsed at your photos, they look lovely! Looks like you had fun. I am glad you enjoyed the stream pictures and the imagination-story they birthed…

  31. Barbara says:

    Kathy… This morning I happened to be reading the following passage and it led me back here to your flowing ideas and images…

    “Contemplating the lace-like fabric of streams outspread over the mountains, we are reminded that everything is flowing – going somewhere, animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow flows fast or slow in grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches; the air in majestic floods carrying minerals, plant leaves, seeds, spores, with streams of music and fragrance; water streams carrying rocks both in solution and in the form of mud particles, sand, pebbles, and boulders. Rocks flow from volcanoes like water from springs, and animals flock together and flow in currents modified by stepping, leaping, gliding, flying, swimming, etc. While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood globules in Nature’s warm heart.”
    ~ John Muir
    (Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple)

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Barbara. John Muir had such a gift to put the poetry of the earth into mortal words. “While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood globules in Nature’s warm heart.”
      The eye-bubble looks like a blood globule in Nature’s warm heart…

  32. Chris says:

    Dear Kathy,
    by mere chance I discovered your blog and I am really impressed by the photos you took and showed us up there. In fact, I finished some time ago my phd thesis on a mathematical model of fluid flow, and I am writing you now because I was wondering if I might ask for your permission to use these photos on the book cover of my thesis?
    In any case, thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos and keep up blogging. 🙂
    Best regards, Chris.

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