Spring is whistling in my NEIGHBORHOOD

If you travel a mile inward you light a fire to the darkest areas of the soul, if you walk a mile in the neighborhood you realize your house isn’t the only one on the block. – Vagabond Warrior Musings

The past few days I’ve been getting back in the groove of my work routine, silently desperate for another adventure on the road.  I’ll admit I have an identity crisis between loving my home-work routine and the road.  We all need a balance in our life between experiencing awesome life-shattering wondrous adventure and the equally important subtle beauty in ordinary places…often it is in the space of the ordinary the most ordinary aspects of creation can be revealed.

Today I enjoyed my day off basking in the southern grace of God’s effervescent warmth of a March day.  It is not officially spring, but spring is opening windows with warm seventy degree temps, radiant sunshine against a flawless blue sky and a light breeze – whispering the spirit of hope against want has been a bleak and rather harsh winter on the Tar Heel side.

I live for days like today – warmth streaming down, the rustling of magnolia leaves stirring the trees deep roots to blossom as Lent prepares to open doors to Easter’s glory.  It is the sort of day you are content to just sit outside on a park bench and stare at the view, meditating on the extraordinary beauty in ordinary spaces – life is bustling, life is in motion.

I live in a walkable neighborhood which begs exploration when the sun is seeping through the window shades.  I leave my workload – a manuscript in need of editing and thousands of to-dos unchecked on my list – I set out of the confines of my apartment – ambling through the well manicured eclectic city streets to Fletcher Park in Raleigh – this is where I used to hang out as a kid – full of hopes and dreams.  My dreams may not be realized yet – still I find the hope still pinches at my nerves ‘don’t give up’ in the spirit of the southern wind.

Fletcher Park is an example of community and the value of giving oneself to community.  This park is city-run but was established by a man and his family who cared deeply for Raleigh and wanted to have a green space for children to play, family cookouts, ballgames (tennis, basketball and soccer/baseball field) and an outdoor theater for summer events.  It is a laid back place of peace, where I am content to write on a .99 cent notepad and just get lost in the scene.

Most of the deciduous trees have not bloomed yet, but spring’s shift is in the air and I know in a month the colors of wonder and light, bright reds, purples, lily white…will blossom and spur the imagination and engage the senses.  Out of the depths of winter – life blooms in ordinary stark places.

My tip for all my Vagabond Warriors – every day step outside (even for five minutes on your lunch break) and take time to enjoy the view.  If it is raining let the drumbeat of the pitter pattering precipitation cleanse your soul so you can dance in the healing power of the rain.  Everyone wants a life-defining adventure – but often times the adventures that shape us the most are our everyday encounters of discovery.

1. Get Outside

Find a park in your neighborhood or town and just enjoy a picnic lunch, relaxing in the sun…go on a hike.  Raleigh sadly doesn’t have much green space, but you can make urban sidewalks under the shade of trees work…I know we have a Greenway but sorry it is not really the green space we need in a city of sprawl (and I am Raleigh born and raised, and love my town but for us who need trees and green parks – the City of Oaks is lacking big time, which is why places like Fletcher Park and Pullen Park are so important.)

Nashville TN has great inner-city parks and in-city hiking trails including Radnor Lake…so research your options – take action – even if it is just a backyard barbeque with rock and rhyme playing a sweet spring beat.

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2. Don’t be Afraid to Explore your Neighborhood:

We have lost the art of communicating as communities – often so focused on the ‘me’ we forget to be engaged with our communities – get to know your neighbors, even if it is just a hello every now and then.  Volunteer with a group to give yourself in doing something you love.  Love flowers, get in the garden and donate your flowers to someone in Hospice (for those who don’t have allergies) or just leave them on a stranger’s doorstep with a note of blessing.

3.  See the local sites…

A big part of Vagabond Warrior is exploring your community on the ground and having travel experiences without breaking the budget.  I love the concept of a ‘stay-cation’  How often do we neglect touring local museums or going to off the beaten path restaurants in our hometown because we are too busy or so focused on going on vacation elsewhere.  I am guilty as charged.  Took me four years to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame when I lived and worked in Nashville!  So get out do something in your community:

Ideas: local high school or college play, coffeehouse concert, art gallery exhibit, First Friday walk…lots of possibilities if you redirect your focus.

4. Plan an event – be the change you want to be in the world.  April is Arbor Day month – passionate about our environment maybe you can help plan an event in your neighborhood…at least with your family – Plant a Billion and other organizations allow you to donate money to plant trees – that is a spring forward idea to get you hopping…invite friends over for a Spring Fiesta…try new recipes…

Don’t get so caught up in the day to day grind and muck drudge that you forget to enjoy life, the small blessings are graceful flowers of spring.

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