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When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul

I’m learning that I’m a deep-diver of things. I get into a book, and you won’t see me for three solid days until I’m done. Recommend a TV show on Netflix? I’ll wait until I have nothing on the calendar for two weeks, because once I start, it’s all I can do to not watch every episode and forget to feed my kids.

It’s the same with my work. If I’m writing a book, I’m a terrible blogger—I can’t concentrate on solid, long-form writing while having to post on social media and regularly publish blog posts. When I’m keeping up with the blog (or podcast, or e-course), that means a book is on the back-burner.

It’s just how I’m wired. It also means that if I’m not careful, I can really avoid taking care of myself. If I deep-dive into a project, I can easily neglect my soul’s deepest needs.

Yesterday, I posted this on Instagram:

In the months that we’ve lived in Austin, we’ve barely left the city. I had one girls’ weekend away, and for our anniversary Kyle and I went off for a few days, but as a family, we’ve been solidly here, focused on school and work and unpacking boxes and finding our favorite grocery stores and spending time with extended family and driving all over town to volleyball practice and therapy appointments.

It’s been terrible on my soul. I’ve been parched, depleted. I’ve let soul care take a backseat because I deep-dived into life’s daily demands and work projects.

Sometimes, it’s just necessary. Responsibilities keep us locked where we are, and no matter how much we guard our calendars, commitments pile up. That’s life.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

But sometimes, we have to put on the brakes, get out of the car, and force ourselves to smell the flowers around us. It’s not easy, with all we have to do. But it’s essential. Our souls depend on it.

For our family, that looks like getting out of town. That’s what we do. And yesterday, we did just that.

I have a major book-edits deadline in just a few weeks, and it’s staring me in the face. But I could tell the doctor’s orders were fresh air, spring sunshine, and a sprinkling of wildflowers because I just couldn’t. work. another. page. My brain, my creativity was toast.

And so, we kept the kids home from school yesterday, and we drove around the Texas Hill Country. (It’s the best part of Texas, hands down.)

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

We got away from the sound of traffic and the demands of our calendar, and just enjoyed being together. I mostly ignored my phone, and I didn’t open my laptop.

We sketched bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes off the side of the road.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

Sure, I regularly take off Sundays from my writing, but it wasn’t enough this time. We needed to get the heck out of Dodge and immerse ourselves in creation, in different scenery, in a slower pace.

The next day? This morning? It has made all the difference. I’m lighter, happier, and ready to get back to work. The kids’ moods are night-and-day different, too—better attitudes, better sleep, kinder words to each other.

When we lived in Central Oregon, it was so much easier to do this. Nature was everywhere, and a lack of traffic meant twenty minutes from our driveway to the mountains, tops. But we’re not there now, and as much as that hurts sometimes, it means we can choose to wallow in self-pity, or we can embrace our location and seek out the flowers.

It means more of an effort, yes. But because of how I’m wired? It’s absolutely essential.

If you’re burning the candle at both ends and you know there’s a little something that’ll restore your soul, find every way to stop and partake in it.

This week, make a plan on your calendar to get that thing, that whatever-it-is. Pretend like it’s a top-priority appointment. Because it is.

Your soul will thank you.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

When roadside wildflowers are essential to your soul.

I’m grateful for the reminder that I’m wired to need regular engagement with nature. Taking the day off to be in it with my favorite people in the world was just the prescription I needed to get back to my book today.

I’m gonna dive deep into my work today, because yesterday, I dived deep into soul care. And next time, I won’t wait so long to take care of myself.

texas highway

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  1. Missy Robinson

    I just want to say that I understand. We are so lucky to live near Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We lived less than 15 miles and twenty minutes from the park border until I remarried almost three years ago. Now, the extra twenty minutes (40 total) make it just that much more difficult to sneak up there. It seems silly, but it is the case for us.

    Prior to our move, we were there about once a week. Now I feel lucky to get there once a month. So, we seek nature on our local trails, neighborhood walks and whenever we can we still go to the mountains! I was grateful for a waterfall hike just this Easter weekend.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I understand….. Sometimes those few extra minutes make all the difference between easy and much harder.

  2. Beth

    It’s amazing how the simplest things can hold such power in our lives, and how easily we forget. I think a trip to the river to investigate the muddy, melting woods is in order here. Sounds perfect.

    P.S. I’m jealous of your shorts weather, but shall not let that deter me from our own adventure with splash pants, rubber boots, and jackets. 😉

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      If it helps, there’s a lot of intermittent rain here as well…. the day after this, it was gloomy and gray. Two days later, it’s gonna thunderstorm. So, not ALL sunny and wildflowers. 😉

  3. Meghan

    I’m much the same way, and it’s hard because I’m also someone with more than one passion. So, more than one project. It helps fill the gaps in my freelance work life, but when I have more than one looming project deadline, lots gets neglected — especially heart and soul.

    My 2 kids had no school yesterday, so we loaded up the jogging stroller and my kindergartener’s bike and hit a Rails to Trails path along the coastal river, then hiked out to the lighthouse overlook and watched the waves and threw oyster shells into the water. No one whined — amazing when the kids are 3 and 5 — and there was no (unjoyful) shouting. Just lots of hugs, laughter and fresh air and sunshine, and I’m ready to tackle my work week. Except for this quick break. I’m new around here, and glad of it 🙂

    Your photos make me homesick, though. As much as I adore living 20 minutes from the ocean, I miss bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush and Indian blanket in a big way. And just wait until the coreopsis takes over! Enjoy the Hill Country. Enchanted Rock and Barton Springs are also highlights not to miss!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Sounds like you get it. It’s a juggling act, but I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to do the juggling. 😉

      I’m a massive fan of Barton Springs – I went there several times as a kid and all the time when I was at UT. Now that I’m back, I plan to go more frequently again…. And yes to E Rock. I haven’t been in years.

      And welcome!

  4. Sarah H.

    We lived in South Austin from 2010-2013 (have also lived in San Antonio for several years) and this hands down is my favorite thing about the hill country. We moved to Austin when we had our first daughter, only eight weeks old at the time, and so we took lots of drives to small towns all over that area while she slept. In fact, seeing your pictures gives me deep pangs of longing again for that scenery and season of life. We now live in North Carolina and your sentiments about wallowing in self-pity or finding the best of your area are spot on. I want the new and the past all at once, but I also have to embrace the here and the now. Thanks for sharing yourself and viewpoint with us!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      “I want the new and the past all at once, but I also have to embrace the here and the now.”

      Dude, there’s some deep truth there, Sarah…. In fact, that’s a big chunk of what this next book of mine is about. I like how you’ve phrased that.

      And I really love NC. I feel like that’s one of the few places in the States with four distinct seasons.

  5. Pam

    Love, love, love this! I am also an all or nothing kind of girl that requires outdoor soul space. Taking a moment to feed my soul is so worth the space it creates for my soul to breathe. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re so welcome! Outdoor soul space is one of the best places on earth, methinks.

  6. Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life

    What a lovely reminder! There are many months where I will work tirelessly on my life and then something dramatic happens that makes me stop and smell the flowers that fill the roads on my journey. These past few weeks have included lots of sleeping, journaling and tea drinking. Hopefully I can remember that it’s okay to break out the routine sooner rather than later.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Different seasons for different rhythms, right?

  7. Lola

    The dirt road leading into the hills with bluebonnets (currently your header) – do you know where this is? My husband and I love touring around the back roads of the hill country on weekends. We have an old Land Rover, and dirt roads off the beaten track are favs. (My husband asked me to inquire 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Gosh…. I know I took the photo between Marble Falls and Llano, but I’m not exactly sure where. It was sort-of a road off a road off a road, if you know what I mean. That whole area is chock-full of fun detours and spots off the beaten path. 🙂

  8. susan hemann

    don’t forget to visit Lady Byrd Johnson’s wildflower garden

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      That’s a good one!

  9. Christina

    Yesterday, I read a book in bed after lunch and then took a one hour nap. I am still feeling the results right now, almost 24 hours later!
    Productivity doesn’t always mean more more more.
    I was going to take the whole afternoon off, but I decided to shoot out one blog post. I was refreshed, it was quick and easy, and then I was outside for the rest of the afternoon!

  10. Jennifer B

    I love this article. I have a personality a lot like yours and it makes it so easy to neglect the most important things that truly nourish our soul. Thank you for the reminder!

  11. Alana

    I totally get the “I need inspirational outdoors around me” thing because I am the same way. It’s a bit of a drive for you, but Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park have tall beautiful mountains,and wilderness, without having to leave Texas.?

  12. Staci

    You are so right! My husband and I spent last weekend doing the same thing–wild flowers are the best thing about this part of Texas, and I can’t get enough of them.

    May I also suggest Lost Maples State Park in Vanderpool? Gorgeous in spring or autumn. Some of the hiking trails are rather challenging, but the views from the top can’t be beat. Another plus–very very little cell coverage in the area!

  13. Elizabeth C

    Totally get this. I’m a purebred Kansas farm girl living in an Iowa city and you’ll frequently find me loading my kids in the minivan and escaping the city on “adventures” where we drive until we find a dirt road where we can explore. My favorite. Also sometimes I stop right in the middle of the city and cut wildflowers from the ditch. My city friends sometimes think I’m crazy. It’s been one hard cultural barrier in my friendships. Fun to read that you do this. 🙂

  14. Lauren

    This completely hit home for me. I am a So Cal transplant living in the Texas Hill Country (and dying to get to Oregon, how funny!) and the hardest thing for me is finding things to do to get me out of the house and into the nature around here. We did Jacob’s Well (overcrowded with college students so we barely saw it), Fredericksburg, all over Austin – but the random “exploring” trips we take down random back roads is my favorite. By the way, I got married on a ranch in Marble Falls and EVERYONE went to Blue Bonnet for pie – except me! I am going to have to make my way back up there. Great story, thank you for sharing!

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