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  • Writer's pictureRaven Bonniwell

Three Legged Stool: The Abel Tasman


I’m on the Abel Tasman walk in New Zealand. I’m here to visit my brother in a town called Nelson. The town is right on the water, which is a beautiful teal blue. My brother recommended this hike and we were all game. I love hiking in places that I won’t easily be able to access in the future, and this definitely qualifies.


The mountains and the beach are smushed up against each other. Peaks rise right out of the water. We are on a tiny little toe path and the changes in elevation are shocking. I have the sudden realization that I am on the edge of a mountain. It’s a well maintained trail, but if I step off this path…


There are birds coming right up to us. I’ve never seen so many different types of birds in one place, each with their own call. Their iridescent hues flash brilliantly off of the lush green forest. I’m not a birdwatcher or anything by MY GOD these birds! They are nipping at our elbows and trying to steal my brothers lunch.


I think about this hike often.


Especially when the weather in DC is too humid or too cold. (So pretty much all the time.) My husband and I are constantly dreaming about getting back to that place - could we do it every January? I just haven’t come across anything that’s been quite as spectacular as that.


When I got my coaching certification at Accomplishment Coaching, we were required to do a weekend training centered around spirituality. I was dreading it. I’ve never felt like a very spiritual person. Spirituality is a church thing right? Like… religion? I’ve just never felt connected to that part of myself.


Over time, I’ve realized that nature is my spiritual experience. Seeing how the world comes together and marveling at it, that’s how I experience the divine. It can be natural wonders, like that toe path in New Zealand, or it can be a tree in the yard with the wind blowing through it.


Yesterday, my husband and I were driving home after looking at closet systems. We are renovating our house, which is exciting as a concept but pretty mundane in practice. We noticed a storm off in the distance. It wasn’t raining where we were, but we could see the rain coming down from a few miles away. It looked like a grey smear across the sky.


That’s cool, I thought to myself. It’s cool that that happens.


That’s it really. I just found it beautiful. It’s not something that I created or that was created for me or anything like that. It’s just something that exists in the world and I think it’s… nifty.

In coaching, we talk a lot about there being three relationships in life. There is the relationship to self, the relationship to others, and the relationship to spirit. You can think of these like three legs of a stool. If one of these legs isn’t present, or if it’s shorter than the others, your stool is tipping.


I don’t care how you relate to spirit. You might relate to spirit through God or through “the Universe.” You might relate to it through nature, like I do. It could even be that feeling you get in your relationship when you realize that it’s bigger than just you and your partner. It doesn’t make a difference to me what it is, but I do think we all need something that can give us a sense of spirit, a sense of the divine.


These things give us access to a bigger picture, to something greater than ourselves. Being in touch with whatever that means to you is part of living your fullest life.



Originally published on Linked-In



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