Intentional LivingPurposeful Travel

Exploring the Natural Beauty of my Hometown

vallejo waterfront
“There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.”
 
Growing up, there was a general consensus, some would even say a “running joke,” that my hometown was not the best place to be. That there’s nothing to do here. And that there was nothing good about the city nor will there ever be something.
 
However, I beg to differ as the years pass by, and I grow older. I feel as if my mindset has shifted, and I have become more open to seeing the natural beauty of the city I lived in all my life. Not until after I graduated college did I drive as much as I do now, and the times I would see what my town had to offer, I only saw in small doses when people would drive me there – Mare Island, hiking trails, small gems, etc. There was a routine my family followed, so those were the places (shopping plaza mainly) that I know off the top of my head. My friends had their spots they liked going to. Those I know like the back of my hand. What else was there at home? What else did this place have to offer to me as a person? Of course I’d want to leave Vallejo and see what else the Bay Area could provide. I felt as if I had been sheltered all my life, so my inner wanderlust was rising to the surface. Once I moved to Berkeley for school, I was in such a culture shock seeing how much of a bubble I lived in back at home – It was an eye opening experience. But leaving Vallejo when I did was what helped me realize what I had all along back at home.
 
It rarely crossed my mind that such natural beauty existed in my city. But it takes some exploring, an open mind, and the time to go see these places. A creative eye sees the beauty in anything, and that’s what I’m trying to uphold more of in my everyday life.
How often can you say that you intentionally go outside for the sake recognizing how alive you are? For me, I go to the waterfront to just breathe. I stare at the water and note how the waves go back and forth. I focus on the small boats and watch them bob up and down against the current. Looking at the grass, I see people running, flying kits, chatting, and enjoying life as they know it to be in that current moment.
 
In addition to the waterfront, there are other natural parts of the city to admire, such as the public parks, trails, bridges and flower petals that cross your path. I can’t help but see the beauty in what I am surrounded by – I wish I could have these picturesque images immediately documented through what my eyes see. A phone, my phone, only does so much justice. 
 
This past summer, I’ve been taking more walks around my city and admiring the improvements and subtle characteristics that make my city unique. It’s been a different experience, especially as I’ve also used this summer to catch up with people who I haven’t heard from in awhile. When people ask me to hang out or catch up with them, food or drinks (such as coffee or boba) seem to be the common bonding factor. I love catching up over these delicacies, especially when it means trying a new place together or even traveling to spot that I’ve been meaning to explore. Now imagine how much more fulfilling these meets ups could be if we shift our current perspective of “catching up” and purposefully see more of what is literally right in front of us. If in addition to food, we took a stroll downtown or if in addition to boba, we sat near a river or lake — think of the endless, deep conversations one could have. Nature tends to dig into the vulnerability of the human soul.
I could literally make another post of my favorite places in Vallejo, or even places that I feel one should check out, but this post is specifically geared to helping people realize that there is natural beauty in the place they already reside in. That the world’s natural beauty has the power for you to hone your own natural beauty, or to recognize the natural beauty in others. It’s empowering. It’s refreshing. It gives so much more potential to living.

 

As I continue to explore the natural beauty of my hometown, I’ve gathered some tips that have helped me in improving my creative eye and appreciating natural beauty. These may help you too:
 
🌹 Look for symmetry (asymmetry is even appealing to the eye!)
🌹 Pay attention to texture and your five senses. This can add detail to your photos and to how you experience the environment you’re in.
🌹 Note different elements of nature:
🌱 Earth – the ground, the dirt, the paths in which your feet follow. Imagine how things would feel in between your toes. What feelings would you have as a result?
🌱 Wind – Look at the sky; is it windy? Do you hear whistles? What could you imagine the wind is saying? is it cloudy? Is the sun out and is a light breeze is blowing by? Is your hair getting messed up? Do you love the hair you have right now (style, cut, hairdo, etc?) Are you in love with who you are?
🌱 Fire – I know wildfires are a sensitive topic for some people, and this is not to say that one should look for natural wildfires and take photos there. But you can rewire what you associate with fire and think of warmth. What parts of your hometown warm your heart? Where is passion burning? Are you pursuing what makes you overjoyed?
🌱 Water – Are there are bodies of water near you? Even a small creek running through a park is enough to feel at peace and serene.
🌹 People watch. It can sound creepy at first, but people can teach you something new everyday. The places they choose to sit. The actions they choose to make. The way they carry themselves. The way they position themselves in front of the sunset before your very eyes, or even the aesthetic wall of your local downtown shop.
 
Seeing the natural beauty of the space I’m in has helped with my creative juices. It has helped me become more grateful for all that is present in my life currently. Being outside is stress relief for me at times, considering I work 9-5 most days of the week. but knowing what’s close by and pausing the busy-ness that is my life, I have felt restorative energy for my soul and mind.
 
Is there anything about your hometown that you appreciate? It’s the little things that can make you take a second look at the life you’re living now. Take a step outside and tell me what you discover.
[Originally published August 8, 2018. This blog post was reposted from my old wix site, also hosted at http://erilm.com]
 

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