BY TANJA DIAMOND
May 27, 2015
In the late winter of 2014, my family and I moved from a two-bedroom, 950-square-foot apartment near Lynnwood to South Whidbey Island. I chose a 2400 square-foot house in the woods on the bluff in the Scatchet Head community for the greenery and quiet vibe.
Right from the start my excitement was high—nature all around me, the sweet smell of grass when I got off the ferry, no traffic to speak of and space to spread out, all for the same price we had been paying.
The first thing I noticed was how my relationship to myself changed as I expanded and inhaled the beauty around me. I felt more generous and less compressed. A drive to my daughter’s school was a quick 15 minutes through the woods and past the glorious Maxwelton beach where I would always slow down to see the magnificence of the view, envious of the people in their houses there. From there—a drive through the woods and meadows of Maxwelton Valley, where I contemplated the delicate balance of the sun and shade: how the ferns needed the shady evergreens and the wildflowers needed the sun.
As the months rolled by and we settled into our new way of living, my family became happier. Being this close to nature, tied into land and water, the communities that welcomed us, made us see each other differently. I realized that having our needs met was not only about what we did daily but, more importantly, how our values were being reflected in our new lifestyle, the environment outside the house and our interaction with others, both human and non-human.
I work from home and treated myself by positioning my office desk against a big window that looked out into the trees and a large deck where I placed bird feeders. I catalogued over 30 bird species on our feeders through the year. Predators like the Sharp Shinned Hawk keeping his eye on the feeder, the Great Horned Owls hooting in the night and the Bald Eagles that soared above us daily. And then the prey—Raspberry Finches, Yellow Finches, Red Breasted Nuthatches, three species of Woodpeckers, Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Red Crossbill, hundreds of hummingbirds (Rufus and Annas), and the shy elusive Western Tanager. Each of these living creatures was having its moment, each having its season and each having interactions with everything around them.
We tend to think of relationships as interactions with people we know and our pets. Yet we are having a relationship with every aspect of our lives, our breath, what we see, hear, smell and taste, what we experience, where we live, the weather and the land on which we live.
When Raccoony brought
her three little babies to me,
our relationship shifted…
The raccoon family that found its way to the deck was a wonderful source of inspiration on the family front. “Raccoony,” as we called her, would go to the bird feeder and I would run her off and feed her some grapes instead. Soon she would go to the feeder and put her hands on it and turn her head to see if I was looking. I would get up and go and get grapes. Next thing I know, she is at my backslider sitting watching me; I gave her grapes. The day I was super busy and couldn’t get to her right away, she laid down at the back door and waited, head on her outstretched paws.
All of our relationships are patterns and programs, which make up the dynamic of how we interact— a dance that can be complicated or easy depending on the strategies we use, our needs and communication we learn to have. Raccoony and I had a very uncomplicated relationship; she wanted to eat and survive—I wanted to enjoy her intelligence and our interaction.
When she brought her three little babies to me, our relationship shifted and I understood she had an even greater need now, not only for her survival but for theirs as well. That made our relationship more complicated because now I had increased her babies’ odds of survival while increasing her workload to care for them and I had to assume some responsibility for that.
Relationships are messy, they always will be. Everything connects to something else and we don’t always take the time to look out ahead and see how our actions will ripple across the pond to influence others. I understand that, so I am not afraid to go all in.
South Whidbey Island is rich in relationships. From the flora and fauna, to the interesting colorful characters who live here, its tapestry provides an immense experience for witnessing the beauty of growth and change in ourselves and others.
Many residents of “The Rock” have told me they moved here to get away from things that were not working in their lives. I found out we moved here to get something—more harmony with each other in our family through our connection to the natural land and community.
Tanja Diamond is a Master Life Strategist and bestselling author, dedicated to helping people get unstuck in life, love and money. She has fallen in love with South Whidbey Island and plans to be here awhile. Tanja is currently working on designs for a floating office.
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