Amidst the Chaos, Two Favorite Places

If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.

—Joanna Macy

Were you ever taught the skills of deep reflection, introspection, and when to engage these skills? Are you learning to respond to all the cues that might be prompting you towards self-discovery? What are you learning about your inner world as the realities outside continue to be unpredictable, frightening, and chaotic?

I know I wasn’t taught any of these important life skills, but to survive inside a household, school buildings, playgrounds, and a church fraught with chaos and unpredictable bullies of all types, I quickly learned. Life experiences teach lessons in places where books and the most gifted experts or even a beloved teacher cannot.  As I observe the political, social turmoil, the uncertainty, and deaths that the global pandemic has created, I realize that the microcosm of my childhood into teen/adulthood years showed up as “life training” for navigating the macrocosm of the world of 2020.

Growing up in an ever-changing emotional environment required constant vigilance. I kept trying to morph as best I could in a body with cortisol flowing, headlight eyes, grippy toes, and shallow breathing. Over time a realization finally awakened. No matter how I reacted or responded, certain individuals would persist in their rage, critical barbs, fake nice manipulations, and unregulated emotional states. Finding some peace became essential to my resilience.

Returning constantly to my inner world and escaping to natural settings with trees, acorns, leaves, dirt, bugs, and rocks, I discovered that these two places remained domains of solace, comfort, and respite. Even during a thunderstorm, I trusted that thunder and lighting, though loud, crackling, or rumbling would not harm my psyche. The cycles of day to night, winter to spring could be counted on when the adults in my world could not be, would not ever be.

Recently what I’ve been calling my Inner Fly on the Wall now feels like Quiet Charlotte- similar to the wise, loving, observant spider from the beloved children’s story, Charlotte’s Web.

Listening with my heart, I feel the dynamic equilibrium, harmonies, and beauty in the diversity of the dance of the two places I love the most. Like a radiant birthing process, nature guides me gently to the emergence and growth of Charlotte. Charlotte’s quiet allows wisdom to bubble up, guiding me to the next inspired kind deed for myself and other people.

I recognize that other individuals have had similar “training” and many have taken different paths. All of us have had experiences that created similar emotional realities. We arrived from our different/similar journeys to these unprecedented times.

Many of us have been doing the radical inner work to heal and transform those traumas or challenges of our past. Some people have recreated and are perpetuating the “hurt people hurt people” cycle on the world stage from positions of power and leadership.

Some individuals may not recognize that they are on a familiar ride that resembles the emotional experiences of their childhood or teen years because they remain in a chronic state of numbness or addiction. Maybe some people are realizing for the first time that they are on a scary, uncontrollable, rollercoaster ride. Maybe that’s why the shock of the unpredictable and chaotic seems so intense.

Those of us who’ve lived and endured these all too real worlds know how disorienting, disconcerting, and frightening life can be. We continue reconnecting with resilient, sturdy sea legs we had to develop inside turbulent childhoods, teenage years, adulthoods. Our hearts keep opening and reshaping. Our souls keep whispering good, playful, life-giving ideas to us. We know soft winds of summer turn to cool gusts of autumn breezes that caress our faces, that a new day arrives.

Being still in self-reflection, introspection, and immersed in the cycles, the beauty of the natural world can be two places to awaken, heal, and transform from the inside out, the outside in.

May inner healing and communing with nature become foundational practices for all who desire to live in a world where compassion, beauty, harmony, creativity, and wonder flourish. May the passion to savor and honor the precious gift of life become a guiding love light.


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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    • Thank you so much, Cynthia! To shift to seeing all the gifts inside the challenges-the love all around the fears is a practice-and as you observed so succinctly–“Peace and opening of the heart heals-and transforms!” Most definitely. I appreciate your kind words, your thoughts, and support. With gratitude and many blessings to you, Laura

  1. Laura, you always inspire me with your words. As you know I spend my time in forest, the lakes and rivers. I learn for living life and listen to what it tells me. I don’t watch TV and only go in o town once a week. I am home schooling the grandchildren and that is so rewarding. I love that you see the simple within your words. It took me retiring to live as I did growing up on a farm. The simple but abundant life. Thank you for inspiring us all.

    • Larry, I celebrate your simple life in nature, in retirement as you write and homeschool your grandchildren, spend time in quiet reflection. Your words, prose, photos exude this tranquility that now makes me appreciate and understand you even more. I now understand the peacefulness you share on FB, through BizCatalyst360 comes from the sacred life you’ve created for yourself without TV, distractions that could disrupt a more peaceful inner world of your beautiful heart/mind/soul. Thank you so much, my friend, for all you’ve shared here and for your incredibly kind words about my writing. I’m ever so grateful for you.

    • Oh, Sora, how cool that you just watched “Charlotte’s Web” this past weekend! I really adore that movie/book and haven’t seen it in awhile-may do this really soon-since the messages seem to resonate powerfully for me-as a child-and now. Thank you so much for offering your thoughts, reflections-how important for those of us who are sensitive to take care of ourselves from the inside and with the spaces in the natural world that delight us.

  2. Laura, there is hope here and your words generate this even more. Reflection is the quiet time needed to learn about yourself. We spend so much time on the outside…no one really teaches us to go inside.
    Some of us were told to interact, told how to do it, prayers were the only thing I was really taught, but the main ingredient of true communication was somehow missing. There was a lack of spiritual connection.. I was told that if I didn’t pray, I’d pretty much go to hell. Lol. Ha! The fear factor was used too many times, the goals of things were not as important as happiness.
    The more we get to know ourselves, the happier we can be as we will discover what we like. Being in the face of bullies and evil doings, opens up the doors of reflection. Mother Nature is ready and willing to help you.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful words and casting the imagery in a way that shines bright and adds to the hope. I think we are all reflecting on a l’erger scale in a way. And old fears are resurfacing..there’s a whole lot of internal battle happening .. a great time for this hope to be generated.
    Bless you always for your uplifting spirit. Hugs to you my sister here.

    • Paula, thank you so much for your reflections, thoughts, experiences you lived-how you learned from these. The demand that you pray seems quite different than a gentle invitation to “pray” and maybe no one us really knows what a prayer is-because maybe it’s silence. Maybe Silence is where God lives or Source. Maybe heaven/hell is what we create inside of ourselves and then outside of ourselves when we resist the silence, the deep place of quiet inside. I know I was taught that God was a condemning dead man floating around in the sky which made absolutely no sense to me as a child.) I appreciate all the value you’ve contributed here-including the thought that maybe more people are reflecting-and that old fears are resurfacing-maybe to be healed–like a wound that needs attention. What are our deepest fears and our greatest aspirations? Oh, I so look forward to a day when we can listen to each other in person from our hearts. We have so much that we share-and I keep learning from you, being lifted by your words of love, contribution. I hear you. I value you. I see you in my mind’s eye, my friend!

  3. “Life experiences teach lessons in places where books and the most gifted experts or even a beloved teacher cannot.” It takes years to realize that truth. If we are to understand and rise above the chaos of life, we must learn from the past and use it to create a better tomorrow. I, too, immerse myself in nature. God’s creation is beautiful in every stage. It is healing, comforting, and even teaching.

    • Thank you so much for letting me know a sentence that especially resonated for you, Jane. I appreciate that you, too, immerse yourself in nature for “healing, comfort, and even teaching.” And importantly, that you continue to learn from your past, to glean those rich lessons. I appreciate your valuable reflections and contribution to the conversation. Grateful.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful reminder Laura! I loved reading this piece.

    This was my favorite part, “We continue reconnecting with resilient, sturdy sea legs we had to develop inside turbulent childhoods, teenage years, adulthoods. Our hearts keep opening and reshaping. Our souls keep whispering good, playful, life-giving ideas to us. We know soft winds of summer turn to cool gusts of autumn breezes that caress our faces, that a new day arrives.”

    Amen, girl. That sounds like a prayer.

    • Thank you so much for letting me know the section that sounds like a prayer to you inside this essay, and for all your kind words. There’s something about “coming through” “going through” that has us see our lives through eyes of love and appreciation-all the gifts that showed themselves all along the way-I appreciate you and value your affirmation.

    • Oh, indeed, Carol. I cannot imagine my life without the support of natural settings –throughout my life–at all the stages. I appreciate your affirming reflections-as I know you have lived through challenges and learned lasting wisdom-integrated into your very being. Thank you for being you, for offering your thoughts.

    • Thank you so much, Maria, for all your kind words. I love that quote too! It sums up so much what I believe my life in connection with other people’s lives are really all about. Keeping the heart open continues to be a sacred spiritual practice for me. I appreciate you so very much, Maria.

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