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Welcome Aboard!

--"Izzy, how did you start dancing?"

--"What got you into martial arts?"

--"What kind of dancer/martial artist/writer are you?

--"How do you deal with brain damage, bodily injury and 

     C-PTSD, yet still dance, write, train, live the way you do?"

--"How do you still find joy and beauty amidst pain and loss?"

--"Wow, you should write your memoirs!" 

    This Is My Story

NSFW, 18+

  • Writer's pictureBella Dancer

HUNTING FOR "YES" - Gift of the Thistle


I drove all the way out there for nothing.


It's almost a half-hour drive to my dentist's office, which is annoying in itself, but when it happened, gas prices were at their highest so... I was NOT thrilled. What can ya do?

Make lemonade. We make a lot of lemonade around here. Good thing I like Arnold Palmers...

Since I was almost all the way out on the edge of town, I decided not to let the gas-guzzle be a wasted expenditure. I also had some free time because I'd thought I would be spending my afternoon getting new crowns installed after three years of Dental Hell. No dice. So I took myself into the woods to a lake I have never really explored--mostly because it's out in BFE and that's an expensive trip on my budget.

This post will probably be easier to view on a computer - the photos are in a slideshow:

Most of the time when I head into the woods, I don't really have a plan. Mostly, it's an exercise in Listening. An alluring siren call draws me somewhere. "Go on this trail, not that one." So I do. Or a sunflare blinds me in the eye. "No, don't go over there, go here." So I do. I think y'all know about my Sagittarian inability to resist poking down a path that is smaller. Darker. More secluded.


Boing? My ears perk.

I rubber-neck. I creep closer. I just cannot help myself.

Wut? Sag gonna Sag. Kittens gonna poke.

When I get back there to see what hidden treasures exist, I understand why I was lured back there.

Ohhhhhhh...Purrrsephone. Of course She wooed me to deviate from the main path! You may not know, but these are some of my absolute favorite flowers in all of Arkansas. I'm a sucker for any type of hibiscus. These are Rose of Sharon.

Reason 792 why I don't resist the urge when the path less traveled calls. You just never know what you might find back there!

And of course, Someone Else wanted to play with me, too. There was a whole shadowy, secluded place to explore but...well, I would have had to destroy multiple homes in order to do so, and we do not tear down spider webs in nature. First, it's just not nice, especially when I am invading their territory.

Also. When Hades sends postcards, we do not flip Him the bird.

We'll be talking about my complicated relationship with spiders more in the future. Suffice to say that one of my longest enduring nightmares used to be a huge spider dangling over my bed while I was asleep. These dreams come and go with such now-predictable specificity that I never ignore them. I only have this type of spider nightmare when there is someone sleeping next to me who is...NOT someone I should be falling asleep next to.

Interesting development in the past few years: Y'all know that I'm a catch-and-release gal with the spiders in my home, and that I marvel at the stripey-legged orb weavers who make masterpieces on my deck, right? (Yes, even when I walk face-first into them and have to become instantly ninja as I lose mah sheee-it.)

Well, the last few times I have dipped some toes into going on dates, only to discover OH HELLS NO, the spiders in my house have started doing interesting things on my approach to these discoveries. This is twice now that they've hung out over my head on the ceiling--in the No-No Place. (Over my bed, duh.) The last one also migrated during the day to hang out over my writing chair.

But the moment I called off any future dates with these guys, voila!

Spiders: back in the woodwork where they (mostly) have agreed to chill while I'm awake.


Therefore, rules about the No-No Place now have a new addendum. I am most happy and appreciative to be warned off sooner rather than later.

While traipsing into the shadowy, secluded places of the woods, however, Hades tends to be a bit more overt: TURN AROUND NOW, MORTAL. Yeahhhhh, I almost blundered straight into a monstrous web while trying to poke about deeper into the woods. It was too big and to crawl under. I lack wings. And every other place that I could have snuck between the trees to get back there also had a similar web so...okay. I was just supposed to prance with Persephone for a moment, get my sweet postcard from His Chthonic Maj, and high-tail my happy ass back to the main trail that day.

Yes, Sir. I hear and obey.

The shadowy lair, home of invisible webs, and other signs of The Unseen One. And of Her:

Although I am eternally grateful for the easy paths that allow me to traverse these places, I am always heartbroken to see the swaths of trees with their path-side branches hacked off. Yet another thing that leaves me hacked off at humans while simultaneously aware that I am benefiting from this sacrifice.

Someone else I almost walked face-first into because the sun was slanted at just the wrong angle until I was nearly on top of it:

Other fascinating shenanigans that catch my eye. Are we fighting or...?

Being the curious nerd that I am, I had to look up "centipedes mating" on YouTube when I got home. didn't quite look like this so I can only assume this was aggression. Of course, aggression and mating are not always mutually exclusive in the animal kingdom.

(Or in fighter chicks who dig fighter dudes. Ahem.)

Moving on.

At this point in my adventure, some things began to gradually seep into my conscious thoughts. Things about my knee, spine, my brain injuries, about the dental fiasco, and the way that these issues' rhythms have affected my arts, particularly dance. There is just something about being in silence without the feeding frenzy of all the Doing-ness, putting one foot in front of the other, that helps my mind sort things, to see bigger pictures and wider nets of connection, to envision pathways that have led me places and potential pathways I should take next.

Where the body goes, the mind will follow...and vs. versa.

Obviously, I had a lot of revelations. That was a pretty thick post last time. Hahaha!

So once I started heading out of the woods and back to the lake overlook, I was gifted with some lovely eye candy. Eye fruit? Eye treats. The area around the parking lot was an especially fun sight, with all the flutterbyes. I must have been in Faerie Princess Mode, because they let me get right up and close to them. Go figure, for such a transformative day.

Look closely on this first pic. Can you see the big moth hiding? Sneaky-deaky.

And to think, this adventure started out with a snafu and a "waste of gas." Hah!

I found it supremely fitting that it was also thistle blooming season. They provided the perfect metaphor for my state of my mind and for transforming my perspective on all the NO I had been pummeled with over the past three years into mysterious, intriguing, annoying, cumbersome, aggravating, sometimes painful, pokey little plants that also gave glorious flowers.

In the right season.



--OR: You can find my whole gallery of Nature Photography Adventures HERE.

--OR: Another post about curiosity, exploration, healing, and the gifts of STRUGGLE - those in nature, and those in life.



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