This week my regular writing exercises are focused on settings. How and why the landscapes in books are so important to a reader’s story experience. Story settings draw us in, emphasize the mood in scenes, and also give insight to our heroes’ state of mind. So it’s no surprise to me that our personal settings, the environment we choose to exist in our day to day, impacts us in a similar way. Story settings affect reading experiences; real life settings affect our overall balance.

Blue time.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be outside; Even if it was bitter cold, (I grew up in Chicago) scorching hot, raining, or windy. (Again, Chicago). The fact was, I truly suffered if I had to be cooped up indoors for too long. Our family had a tent that I begged my parents to put in the backyard so I could be out in the fresh air where I felt the most at home.

Not all that much has changed now that I’m older. I still feel more comfortable outside then in, but as I’ve aged, I’ve grown to appreciate warm showers and a pillow top mattress. With that being said, if required to choose one over the other, odds are I’d pick outdoors. The same wild spirit that I had as a kid, the one that wants to explore and discover, that wakes me in the middle of the night, calls me out during a snowstorm, summons me to listen to the rain and watch the lightning, lives on. Even if I wanted to, and I don’t, I can’t help but stare at the stars, search for far away planets, and gawk at the moon. I’d take any time of day to fill my spirit’s need to be out and connect with nature, but truth be told, I have a favorite time to be outside. I call it blue time; The brief interval before dawn, and the transition leading into dusk at the close of the day where everything outside appears to have a blue hue. So much so that in middle school, if I had the chance to pick a scene to draw, I translated the subject into my favored shade of cobalt.

For me, the moment before daybreak signals a fresh start and promises a new day is coming, which means anything is possible. Birds sing, critters scurry around gathering breakfast. In the evening, blue time hints that the trials of the day are coming to a close. The shift between light and darkness reminds me to pause and prepare for an evening of rest. Deer are out, chipmunks and squirrels vanish, readying to hunker down for the evening. At different times in my life this time was spent ice skating on the creek behind our house, walking along city streets window shopping, running on the beach, flying at 41,000 feet, hopelessly chasing the setting sun. What I didn’t realize then and know now, is blue time brings me balance.

Where is your favored life setting? What kind of space surrounds you when you’re the most comfortable? The most balanced? Is it creating culinary marvels in the kitchen? Energizing your body and mind at the gym? Is it in an airplane, or lost in a book, training animals, listening to music, playing sports, or retreating into a virtual world? Have you created a life setting that helps you stay centered?

When you consider your nest, a place for you to get centered in order to thrive and grow, think about the energy you allow in your space. (And no, I’m not referring to material things.) Remember, we all know that we can’t get what we want by looking around. Breaking others down with judgement, won’t get us what we want either. Since that sort of energy only brings back to us what we have given. Instead, focus on a landscape the cultivates joy, peace and abundance. Be hyper-aware of the settings in your life where you organically feel that sense of peace and pleasure. Like when I’m outside, for example, and any angst I feel falls away, shifting me into a place of awe and gratitude. The setting where I’m filled with everything I need; and when I eventually return indoors, I’m centered and calm, no longer longing for anything, or for others to fill me up.

Just like how the setting in a book affects our story journey, the landscape in our lives is equally significant to how we experience our earth minutes. Life settings don’t cost anything and they don’t require any prep work in order to enjoy them. You can go alone, or with others if they’re part of your ideal setting. This week, take a second to notice your surroundings.

E.L. Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Coming soon: The Surge

Discovering ways to be the best version of myself.

aka The Glamorous Wife