Oh the flow…

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Oh that birch bark flow

I recently returned home to the Upper Peninsula after a week-long visit with my mom in the Thumb of Michigan.  It’s a 550 mile drive from the western U.P. through the sands of the eastern U.P. through breaking-into-spring greens in the upper Lower Peninsula to the hummingbirds and cardinals near Lake Huron.

I drove alone, all those clickety-clacking miles with the tires strumming their traveling song.  Although it’s always a different kind of pleasure to trek with Barry or the kids or a friend, it’s especially lovely to take the trip alone, steering the car left or right at whim, surrendering to the flow of life.

It usually takes two days on these solo adventures because, hey, who wants to travel 550 miles in one day?  Only someone who wants to get there fast, right?  But I’m of the opinion that the journey is equally important to the destination, so stops and side-trips sometimes abound.

You see, what traveling solo blooms for me is this–entering and realizing the flow.

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The flow of footsteps

You know how we so often remain in our heads, our thoughts spinning tale after tale about who-said-what, or what I should do next, or how to fix this problem?  Thoughts can take over, mile after mile, minute after minute, until we’re buried in a grave beneath the earth without ever truly realizing that there’s another reality pulsating alongside the thoughts.  Every single clickety-clacking moment.

The Canada geese winging overhead know that nature moves them in their amazing V-formation without thoughts about what’s-for-breakfast or who gets to be the leader right now or how come I haven’t been the leader since last Tuesday?

Nature moves life constantly.  Spring knows when to spring.  Winter comes, whether we appreciate her or not.  Leaves gently rock on the trees at dawn.  It’s all the motion of life, coming, appearing, disappearing, gone.  And then it’s something new.  Each moment is filled to the brim with the gift of itself.

I call it the flow because it’s life moving, and there’s nothing like a Buick heading south to watch thoughts move to the background and the silence of just-being-here to settle in the foreground.

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The flow of sand and lake

The car almost drives itself with soft alertness at the wheel.  The gaze turns to a rocky cliff and moves immediately to an old wheelbarrow beside a rickety cabin.  It shifts to the radio and delights in “Put your head on my shoulder” and then there’s an upswelling of prickly tears because that was one of my dad’s favorite songs.  There’s a thought about Mom, waiting all those miles away, and then a police car passes by, and now the stomach rumbles and the steering wheel turns almost effortlessly in the next town and you wonder “Where will I eat?” and the next moment it’s leafy spring greens and warm duck salad and you’re totally amazed that you ordered duck–duck?–because it’s so unexpected and you can’t ever remember ordering duck before because you even labeled yourself “vegan” for years.  It’s a gourmet restaurant in Gaylord called “The Bearded Dog” and you bring half of it in the car, and they even give you a plastic fork, and you have no idea when you’ll finish the bounty.

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Are there stars in your flow?

On the way home I realized that flow is the very life-juice that makes me the happiest. For example, writing this little post is a surrender or engagement with flow.  The fingers simply type and words appear like magic and it’s exquisite.  It’s why I’ve liked writing since age eight.

It’s always been hard to explain my relationship with photography to anyone–but I finally understood on this trip.  My personality does not really care about taking pictures very much.  It’s possible to not take photos for days, weeks, years.  But when the flow is ignited–when it decides to take pictures–it’s amazing.  The flow moves the camera, the flow snaps pictures, the flow delights in every movement, every capturing, every angle, every new aim.  Bystanders will watch and think I love photography, but it’s the flow that I love.  The flow moving and creating and who-knows-where-it-will-move-next?

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The magic feeling of the flow

The flow is always unexpected.  It’s a gift we’ve all been given–we are part of the flow. We often think we need to make so many decisions (shall I go left or right?  shall I retire or keep my job?  shall I stop at a motel or drive home?  should I go to the doctor or not? should I should I should I?) but sometimes it’s possible to let go of the chattering inner thoughts and discover that there’s an underlying flow already moving.  And it seems to sense or know exactly what to do next.

The flow doesn’t always seem to move in some kind of perfect la-de-da way, either.  The flow moves into hard places, snowstorms where you can’t see out your windshield and you think you’re going to die, flat tires, broken glass, exhausted I-need-a-cup-of-coffee moments.

Yet, if you stick with the flow, it does seem to contain a wisdom.  It gives us what we need. The next lesson, the next realization, the next ah-ha, oh that’s what it’s all about.

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The upward flow of spring blooms

Between Munising and Marquette on Thursday, the flow moving Kathy along the road of life, I suddenly felt a desire to write this post.  (The flow had not shown any inclination of writing a blog for a while.)  Energy and thoughts zinged, inspiration ignited.  And I looked up in the sky and a bald eagle flew just over the car, looking at the softly lapping waves of Lake Superior, his white head reflecting the sun.

The flow does that.  It seems to reveal its presence in serendipity, in synchronicity.  It gives nudges, whispering silently:  Fly this way next…trust me…


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Tiny flowing feather in lake

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.
This entry was posted in May 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Oh the flow…

  1. lisaspiral says:

    I love those moments when I can feel everything flowing around me and I’m just going along for the ride.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, isn’t it lovely? And maybe so much of life is always that and our awareness is stuck in a cul de sac going ’round and ’round…

  2. Barbara Kass says:

    You are so delightfully creative and magical. Let it flow.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Barbara, good morning. I think of the flow as being delightfully creative and magical–when I get out of my own way. The flow says thank you. 🙂

  3. john k. says:

    Oh, how I wish to be in the flow again. I can’t seem to let go. I do hope your mother is well.

    • Kathy says:

      John, I’m learning more and more that the flow is always here if we can just drop off the merry-go-round of our thoughts. Sitting beside Lake Superior is always a good opportunity to let go for a few minutes…and every time another thought arises….look at the waves and watch how they flow.

      My mom is doing pretty good–she does have a sprained ankle though. Hoping it heals quickly.

  4. dorannrule says:

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I had to sit down in total silence to absorb the stunning “flow” of your words and your breathtaking photos.

    • Kathy says:

      Dor, your words mean so much to me. Because if you think they’re beautiful and they meant something to you…then you were in the flow. xoxo

  5. Fountainpen says:

    Again you have outdone yourself!!!!!


  6. melinda says:


  7. Brenda says:

    Kathy, thank you for allowing us to join this wonderful journey, flowing in magical delight. Your words and pictures bring joy to my day and they also awaken memories of times I had out in nature, delighting in the beauty around me. It was always breathtaking to see the world through eyes of wonder like a child. Thank you so much for this gift!! ❤ I hope your Mom is doing well and please let her know my thoughts and prayers are with her. And please give her a hug from me too ❤

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, one of the biggest challenges can be learning how to flow sitting in one’s living room. To see how life is flowing inside four walls, just like outside in nature. I still can’t always see or feel that, but sometimes it’s possible if thoughts calm down. The flow of the refrigerator humming, laughter of children outside, fingers typing on keyboard, cup of tea…when the flow is seen it doesn’t seem to matter where we are.

      As I just mentioned to John, my mom has a sprained ankle. We had to flow very slowly on our adventures to the mall, the cemetery, to a fund raiser…

      • Brenda says:

        Kathy, I understand your words….it is a challenge finding life’s flowing moments from my chair downstairs. Many days it feels like I am watching life pass me by and I visualize a large hourglass with life’s treasured moments flowing like sand to the bottom of the hourglass. Many times it brings a tear to my eye because I feel like life is passing me by. So, when that thought enters my mind, I work hard trying to focus on the blessings around me and send up a prayer of gratitude for being in this place. I do know life could be a lot worse so I look around and see how blessed I am right now.

        I hope your Mom heals soon and regains strength so she can enjoy life treasured moments.

        • Kathy says:

          xoxoxoxoxo I know you work so hard at seeing the good in life and feeling grateful from your chair. Sometimes I think of you as a monk or a nun, sitting in your chair, the gift to the world being your love and awareness.

  8. Bonnie says:

    You have such a gift….putting thoughts into words that may touch the life and heart of particularly one of your readers. That heart is mine, and I shall return to read this post over and over until perhaps I can ease myself into the flow that is waiting for me. Thank you.

    • Kathy says:

      Bonnie, I love reading that the flow touched your heart here. And that you want to re-read to connect to the energy that’s available to us every minute when we let go of our thoughts. I also think we really are flowing all the time–us and the flow dancing–I think of your blog and the flow of your thoughts and feelings about the fire and then the flow to the lambs and the farm. Maybe it’s a matter of slowly down to see what’s always happening. xoxoxo

  9. Karen says:

    Lovely post…”words appear like magic and it’s exquisite” that is what I would say about what you have just shared with us.

    • Kathy says:

      It felt so good to write this, Karen. It felt like blogging with integrity by honoring the flow. I am thinking about what that means today. Thank you so much for flowing along here…

  10. Lorraine says:

    Love the stars in the water photo. Thanks for sharing your beautiful graceful flowing within the flow with us!

    • Kathy says:

      Lorraine, I didn’t mention in the post but another miracle of the flow actually happened. All the photos were accidentally shot with an 1,600 ISO. That usually turns all the pictures too light and sometimes white. However, all the photos turned out as if the ISO was appropriate. I still can’t believe that! Thank you for dancing over here and reading. xoxoxoxo

  11. Dawn says:

    I’m glad you had a good trip, and time with your Mom. I like to travel solo too. Something about just going with …well…the flow…when you’re on your own. My favorite image from this set is the one with the stars…but I love that little feather on the water at the end too. And the rest when you get right down to it.

    I’m sorry I didn’t get up your way when you were down my way this time. We will have to try again.

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, I suspect you’re a flow-er (flower?) on your trips as well. Solo traveling tends to do that. I also realized why I like to write ellipses at the end of sentences. Because they indicate the flow…

      As for getting together downstate, I didn’t even have a moment to connect with my childhood friend. Had to call and apologize on the last evening. Mom and I stayed busy with the cemetery, the mall, a Little League fund raiser and many other things–even though she has a sprained ankle and brace. Maybe another time, for sure.

  12. sybil says:

    Nothing like the open road and that wonderful feeling of freedom …

    You are such a thoughtful, insightful person Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Sybil, I suspect you’re a flow-er on the open road, too. (Now what if we think of life as an open road…? Interesting, huh?) And thank you for the compliment, although I really think you should meet Kathy sometime when she’s annoyed. 😉

  13. Diane H says:

    I enjoy reading your blogs about the UP. My son lives in Marquette and we enjoy the trek from West Michigan to go see him. We figure a 7 hour drive. We do it in a day. We don’t make many trips to the UP when my husband and I get out of work at 5 on Friday’s.

    • Kathy says:

      Diane, I took all the pictures between Munising and Marquette, so you probably know that area well. Seven hours sounds like a do-able trip in a day, especially when you only have a weekend. It takes nine to ten hours for our trip. The kids used to make fun of us for stopping at a motel along the way! How cool that your son lives in Marquette. That’s a beautiful town.

  14. sherrysescape says:

    I really like the words and phrases you use to express your thoughts and feelings.

    • Kathy says:

      Sherry, I liked the words and phrases that came out of the typing fingers, too! Hope you’re doing well, my friend. I am headed back to the Hilltop this morning for a breakfast with another friend–Susan D, who sometimes comes to book club.

  15. Beautiful post Flowing and movements That is life. Sounded like and enjoyable trip to visit your mom.

    • Kathy says:

      YES, Yvonne! You said it well–That is life. Always happening, always right now. Thank you for seeing that. It was an enjoyable trip to my mom. We did bring all my dad’s clothes to Goodwill and visited the cemetery. And she has a sprained ankle. But we did enjoy lots of laughter and fun. Thanks for pausing to say hi and comment.

  16. Karma says:

    The flow – I love this concept. It is something I am striving to be more and more a part of as my life transitions. I’ve felt so much more of the mind-body-spirit connection in recent months and I see that flowing along is where I long to be. Thank you for putting beautiful words to this fluid concept.

    • Kathy says:

      Karma, I am so glad to hear that you’re flowing more into that mind-body-spirit awareness. You have expressed a desire to embody this before, and it’s wonderful that you’re moving in that direction. Be patient with yourself! lol…that’s what I keep telling myself after almost 30 years of this. It’s only recently that it feels I’m starting to be able to write about flowing and kind of understand it. Thank you so much for commenting, I love seeing you.

  17. debyemm says:

    I’m with you, Kathy, “the journey is equally important to the destination”. Each moment is the journey “filled to the brim with the gift of itself”. I find the same to be my experience as well – “writing this little post is a surrender or engagement with flow. The fingers simply type and words appear like magic and it’s exquisite”.

    I find your experience of photography interesting. I don’t take many pictures. Like most people I take some. My older son is an excellent photographer. His artist’s eye captures the world in ways that delight me.

    I’ve long enjoyed the feelings of flow and I enjoyed reading what your fingers typed about the flow of life through all that is this morning.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, I appreciate that you’re a person who enjoys the feelings of the flow. I think I remember that your oldest son excels at taking pictures. Didn’t he win a prize or some acknowledgment for that at one time, or am I not remembering correctly? That his eye captures the world in a way that delights you–that feels precious to me. What a gift!

      • debyemm says:

        You are correct. At 9 yrs old, he won 3rd place at a state level photography contest (MO Dept of Agriculture). He had his first public speaking opportunity (without any warning or preparation) at an awards ceremony at their headquarters. The next year, he won 2nd place in the same sponsored event but was the only one among about 30 winners (mostly adults) asked to speak with the governor and his wife present at the Missouri State Fair because the MO Dept of Agriculture’s chief guy knew he could pull it off without stage fright. The following year at 11 yrs old, he was named the first Missouri Junior Entomologist for a video series of insects he produced and he received a gift basket, his third public speaking opportunity (his 2nd with the governor and his wife again present) and one-on-one time with a state entomologist with the Dept of Agriculture.

        What is rather beautiful about him is that he knows he has been blessed with an artist soul that allows him to create almost effortlessly at a level his effort to improve his skills (which he is always working on) does not explain. Am I happy to see him fulfilling his potential ? – you bet. Thanks to his gift of seeing the tiny world with big creative eyes, he has shown me wonders by zooming in I never imagined. A wonderful gift thanks to having him in my own life.

        Thanks for asking, Kathy !!

        • Kathy says:

          What a beautiful tribute to your son. Happy birthday, Deb! Have a great weekend…

          • debyemm says:

            It’s been an awesome birthday so far – two more days of celebration and then I’m “done” with this celebrating my own existence for another year – Life willing it proves so – another year’s birthday that is !!

  18. lucindalines says:

    Glad you went with the flow and shared the pictures with us. They make me want to visit your part of the world even though I am not a woods or beach born person.

    • Kathy says:

      Lucinda, glad you enjoyed the pictures of our Lake Superior flowing in and out. Would you call yourself a Great Plains person? A person made of fields and waving wheat and big skies?

      • lucindalines says:

        Yes Kathy, though I have been to the ocean and loved it, and the mountains made me sure their is a creator of all, I am a child of the plains; the endless, windblown, restless plains will always be where I belong. Thanks for the return comment.

  19. So beautifully expressed, my flowing friend. We are all in the flow. The sad thing is when we think we’re ‘stuck.’ IMPOSSIBLE, because we flow flow flow constantly. My blog flowed to your blog, and I’m so glad I now ‘know’ you and your flow. You have a beautiful flowing spirit that nothing can stop. Ever. xo

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for this lovely flowing comment, Pam. Yes, I have felt myself stuck many times, but it’s becoming more and more clear that the flow never stops moving. Thanks for expressing that. Ditto to your own flowing spirit…I delight in it. I also realized why I write a lot of ellipses. It’s to try and describe the flow never ending!

  20. Lucienne says:

    Hi Kathy dear, it’s been quite a while since I last visited you here , but as always it’s been delightful, a little bit of the ‘coming home feel’ that I get when reading whatever the flow decided to flow out of you to share.
    As you know the environnments we live in are quite different but you have such a wonderful way to describe whatever is going on, within you and without you, that it easy to feel and visualize.
    That’s when I get the ‘coming home feel’ and delight in the space of heart and spirit we all share. Thank you and much kudos 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Lucienne, it delights me so much that the flow moved ourselves together once again! Remembering when we shared that heart and spirit space together, and when we danced in physical reality in the Netherlands. What a beautiful moment. Feeling your essence right now and I can’t stop smiling… thank you for sharing.

  21. This is lovely, Kathy! Being “in the flow” is my favorite place to be, and flow is a topic I am interested in and inspired by. Have you read any of the books on the topic by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? They are wonderful!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, you do not know how happy I am that you mentioned this author! I remember thinking a couple days ago…must look up books people have written about the flow. And here you have serendipitously answered the question. Love it when the Universe replies like this. And it does not surprise that you are a fellow-lover of the flow. Thank you for pausing and sharing.

  22. Lori says:

    This is beautiful. I felt the flow as I read. So many stressful things going on here, and it brought me back to center. Thank you.

    (I’m curious how long it takes to drive 550 miles. Took about 21 hours to drive 1,200 from FL)

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Lori, it can be challenging when all those stressful things are happening. So easy to lose center. I like that we can share and invite another person to flow along with us–and sometimes it happens.

      OK, that driving question is a little challenging as well. Do you mean non-stop? Which is something we never do. If we were to drive 550 miles non-stop it takes about 9-10 hours. Once, with a person driving really fast and never stopping, I made it in 8.5 hours. Felt like flying! (P.S. I admire people who drive to Florida. It always seems impossible.)

  23. Barb says:

    Wow – your flow took some amazing photos, Kathy. Lately, I’ve been trying not to think so much – trying not to over-plan and just let life happen. Maybe I can do that more easily because I’m retired? I’m more relaxed and creative when I don’t feel the need to know what’s coming next – if I just let life happen and react in the moment, it seems better for me, more true. I hope your Mom was well.

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, we’re on the same wave-length about not over-planning. Being retired does seem to have its perks. 🙂 Ummm, not that I know that yet! But lately have just been not making lists as much, just listening to what needs or wants to happen next. It feels so much better and the body seems to be relaxing even more. Thank you for thinking about my mom–she has a sprained ankle so that’s a bit of a mobility challenge. But I think she’s doing OK. A widow friend told her, “Things soften over time” and she said she agrees.

  24. Carol Ferenc says:

    This is the loveliest road trip I’ve ever taken and the scenery is stunning! Any inner chattering I had in my head is out the window. Thank you for posting this, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, that is so neat that your inner chattering departed like mine did! That’s amazing, truly. I am glad to you traveled virtually alongside, and that the flow brought you to this blog’s door yesterday.

  25. I enjoyed flowing along with you on your car trip and am loving the picture and the question, “Are there stars in your flow?”

    Your lovely writing reminded me of a John Muir quote:
    “While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood globules in Nature’s warm heart.”

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, I know there are stars in your flow. And they are twinkling in between the words of John Muir’s understanding of Nature’s warm heart…

  26. Debbie M. says:

    The flow perseveres and creates something beautiful. (I am thinking of the Grand Canyon as one example.) Oh to be swept along with the flow and allow the little things, unnoticed before, to capture your imagination! There is a whole world of flow around us to enjoy, if we simply surrender to the moment!

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, this is such a beautiful way of stating it. The Grand Canyon is a perfect example of flow which has carved its essence into the earth in such a stunning way. Agreeing with you indeed.

  27. Stacy says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited, and I seem to have landed on the perfect post – “the flow” must have directed me here (that, and your recent “hello” to me, which itself must be part of the flow). I guess the flow has taken me away from the need to blog every week, taken me away from many things I used to feel like doing. Where am I being taken now? I still don’t know in the general sense, but at this moment, I am happy to have come here to Lake Superior Spirit. ❤

    • Kathy says:

      Stacy, it’s a delight that you flowed this way and stopped to say hello. I have missed you, my friend! I had *mostly* stopped blogging for a year and a half when the flow suddenly insisted upon it again. That’s one of the gifts and challenges of flow–it’s so unexpected!

  28. Very nice. Your photographs are beautiful. Lake Superior and Michigan always present beauty.

  29. Janet says:

    I loved this post. The words and the photos. It seems to me that you’re a professional at both.

    • Kathy says:

      The flow is amazing, Janet. It never stops sharing its unexpected gifts (and, I suppose, challenges.) Not sure about being a professional, but I’m wide-eyed in love with it all.

  30. floating feathers and glittery, starful water – beautiful!!

  31. I Wilkerson says:

    So important to just go sometimes. And I’m glad the flow had you taking these lovely pictures to share the moments.

  32. This is a beautiful post and I love the photos. The one photo asking if there are starts in your flow just sparkles with possibility. Thank you.

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