by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This is part of my series of creative posts as encouragement through pandemic 2020. We have many obstacles to challenge, but one thing’s for sure; our wellness of mind, body, and spirit will impact our successful response.
Enjoy my video above (click the PLAY button and have your speakers or headphones on!) to experience the healing power of nature immersion and mellow music.
This video includes nature photos taken in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. The spring blooms and rich landscape of Kentucky are stunningly beautiful.
My original music in the above nature video is called, ‘On The Wings Of Faith.' I composed this piece last year for my late friend, Tina. She died of heart failure before her 50th birthday.
A HEART THAT NEVER FAILS
Ironically, her heart never failed in life. She was a relentless, ever-present friend who ceaselessly encouraged me to see my better self. She had a way of making me feel that I was the most important person in the room and her best friend.
But Tina had countless friends in her life who felt about her the same way I did.
Tina’s undying belief in my ability to rise up despite any obstacle or my own perceived inadequacies is what deeply inspired me to compose this short piece for her memorial. Her constant encouragement and never-give-up cheer remain deeply wedged within my heart and soul.
You may have noticed that friendship is a huge theme in my creative process. Friends like Tina (and Linda, Kay, Jean, Kristy, Kathy, Terry, and Barbara, etc) have boosted my spirits in the darkest moments of my life. For this reason, I feel creativity emerge unstoppable from within me.
EMBRACE EVERY SEASON AS A WAY TO GROW
This is like the season of spring now. Despite the craziness of dealing with a global pandemic, the season’s explosion of color, blooms, and gorgeous textures has burst forth.
This is the way life goes up and down, testing us to become better and stronger in our clarity and vision of purpose than before.
This is how I view my creative world, too. Every season, problem, illness, or loss has meaning only if I embrace the opportunity to grow in some way. Creative expression is how I use transition as fuel for my inner strength and as a way to give hope to others.
May this video of nature’s beauty and my musical tribute to the significance of friendship embolden you toward greater heights.
Please continue to stay at home as much as possible and socially distance to protect yourself and others. While you’re at home more than usual, please enjoy the music, poetry, and nature videos (like this one above) I’ve created as meditative therapy.
If you can't get outdoors, or you just want to relax or de-stress for a moment, this nature music video will help elevate your mood and keep you calm.
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If this resonates with you, please leave your comment or ask a question below! I'd love to hear from you!
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What Are Ways For Nurturing Creativity And Inspiration? Part 2
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Creativity Brings Comfort, Courage, and Hope
Special Episode For British Radio Station, ResonanceFM & International Women's Day YourCreativeChord Podcast
How To Live A Life of Joyful Creativity Part 2 | YourCreativeChord Podcast
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What Self-Care Has To Do With Creativity
Set Your Positive Intent & Inspire Yourself
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
My last conversation with my brother, before he tragically died in a late-night car accident ten days before his 29th birthday, was about riding a bicycle. John was a true naturalist, hiker, camper, gardener, cyclist, outdoor-man. In our last chat at our parents’ Kentucky home, he put his all into coercing me to get a bike and take up cycling. So, after he died, in my 42nd summer, I bought my first bicycle since my youth. It was a Trek road bike that cost me almost $1000.
Just before purchasing, I had a bit of a desperate conversation in my heart with John, neurotically seeking his approval of my first fairly-expensive-for-me bike choice. As if on cue, and out of the blue, John’s best friend, James, walked into the bike shop! (Scheller's Fitness & Cycling Shop, which my brother had highly recommended.)
Of all days, he had come to the same bike shop to check on repairs of an old bicycle my brother had given him. I showed him the Trek, explained this was something John had wanted me to explore, and got enthusiastic approval from James that this bicycle was a great choice. I felt as though my brother was speaking to me through his buddy to encourage me to get on this bicycle and roll forward.
Since that day, I’ve ridden my cherished road bike up and down suburban hills, behind the Kentucky Horse Park in (my hometown) Lexington, Kentucky, through Talon Winery & Vineyards for a quick tasting with a cheese snack, to the beautiful Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, the Arboretum on Alumni Drive (both Raven Run and the Arboretum must be explored only on foot, so bring your bike lock!).
I've cycled through winding, country roads where gorgeous horses trotted parallel to my dual road wheels past scenic farms with white fences in Paris, Kentucky. Each of my bike rides is a personal tribute to my brother, his ode to the natural world, and to living fully in the present.
Having moved to Florida in 2006, my days of huffing and puffing up Kentucky hills were replaced with sweating bullets through the heat and humidity of Florida's tropical flatland. I’ve pedaled my way on multiple rides through the Starkey Park Trail in New Port Richey to the Suncoast Parkway, along the Pinellas Bike Trail from downtown Tarpon Springs to the Greek Sponge Docks, to Honeymoon Island Beach, Caledesi Island State Park, Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor, and through downtown Dunedin.
As I have passed the big five-OH, I’m more interested in stepping off my bicycle for some R & R. There are some fun things to explore along the northern Pinellas Trail if you want to park your two wheels along the way.
Start in downtown Tarpon Springs and cycle to the Sponge Docks for a look-see (and maybe even buy) at the plethora of small shops on Dodecanese Boulevard. A unique way to explore Greek culture, or introduce a guest to a leisurely afternoon in Florida, is to view the beautiful hand-made Greek jewelry, wonderfully aromatic, organic hand-made soaps, explore a tea and spice shop full of unique fragrance and flavors, or grab a few, big, soft sponges and assorted, fun souvenirs. Make sure you’re wearing a backpack for your treasures!
There are short boat cruises featuring dolphin sightings and sunset views you can book ahead on days with good weather. I love grabbing a delicious Greek lunch or dinner at Dmitri’s On The Water and enjoying a quiet view at the dock alone, or with friends before getting back on my wheels for the jaunt to my car at downtown Tarpon Springs.
On one of my previous rides, upon return to Tarpon Springs, a friend and I got a coffee and decadent chocolate dessert at what used to be an Irish pub (it is now Currents upscale restaurant), and sat outside listening to a young guy playing the bagpipes on the Pinellas Trail at sunset.
Another great bike ride is from Tarpon Springs to Honeymoon Island Beach. Nothing beats a moment to take in the relaxing atmosphere there; colorful kites floating above invisible strings held by kids on family outings, sailboats skating smoothly past the horizon in the distance, the distinctive yakking of sea gulls flying a little too closely as they scout for food, the salty, gentle breeze brushing over you, the warmth of the famous Florida sun, and those beautiful waves of water slapping and bubbling onto the white, sandy shores. Another fun option is to lock your bike wheels to rent a few hours on a kayak, sailboat or a paddleboat at Sail Honeymoon, Inc. The bright rainbow of upright kayaks there has been the subject of many photos (mine hang in my ocean-themed bathroom).
On the way back from the beach, boost your energy at Strachan’s Ice Cream & Desserts on Dunedin Causeway, then ride back to Tarpon Springs for dinner. Burning calories makes you hungry! Speaking of food; you can go all the way to Dunedin from Tarpon Springs to have a scrumptious pan-seared salmon dinner at Cafe Alfresco.
Dunedin is full of options for future bike trips to include leisurely strolls in its abundant, small art galleries and gift shops. On one bike ride, at Lafayette and Rushmford Home, I found an almost realistic, brown Cuban cigar ornament with a glittery red and gold-painted label—a silly, impulsive Christmas gift purchase that held a private history and packed a humorous punch for my four-foot eleven-inch, petite, blonde, younger sister.
One of my favorite places along the Pinellas Trail is an old boxcar called Express Cafe, where you can get an amazingly delicious chocolate smoothie. They also have hot and cold coffee, quiche, breakfast, dessert items and various snacks. A great place to chill on a bench with your bicycle parked close-by in a bike rack.
All these food options give me the sustenance to cycle my way back, taking time to view the lovely Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor, or stop on top of the overpass at Palm Harbor Boulevard to catch my breath while I snap a few photos of the mangroves down below.
Every bike ride I’ve taken along the northern end of the Pinellas Trail has been a wonderful tribute to my brother’s adventurous spirit, as well as enjoyable, leisurely and refreshing.
It’s about discovery, getting out there, doing new things, touching the spirituality in nature, being present and appreciative of the small things and little excursions, always inspired to continue pedaling ever forward, on to the next adventure. Just have some fun. Get rolling.
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