Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 16, 2017

Inspiration: Celebrate Nature! Celebrate Life!

Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.
– L. Wolfe Gilbert (songwriter)

pink dogwood, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas. Ross, inspiration

Pink dogwood on a spring morning


After a six-month hiatus from The Author Chronicles, I finally feel I’m ready to return to our blogging rotation and agreed to write today’s post. I half-finished a post over the weekend and intended to finish and publish it today, but the perfect spring weather, after too many days of weather more typical for March than May, has sabotaged my efforts.

This morning when I opened the windows and the sliding glass door and walked across the fresh green grass to hang towels on the clothesline, the beauty of the day demanded notice. The sun in the cloudless, bright blue sky warmed my skin while the light breeze cooled me. Birds chirped, and yellow buttercups and butterflies added sparkle to the landscape. This day was no time to write about the craft or business of writing, so I put the post I’d planned aside until another time.

Today is a day for joy and inspiration. A day to recharge, to celebrate beauty and nature, to become “one with the secrets of life itself.”

After all, when you pare writing — or any art form — down to its essence, what is it but the artist’s attempt to express the basic truths of existence, the secrets of life itself?

And life itself is precious.

Song Sparrow bathing in a puddle, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, inspiration

Song Sparrow bathing in a puddle


For the past six months I’ve mostly watched the natural pageant through windows. In fact, I’ve spent more and more time indoors during the past few years as I struggled with back problems. Since I’d had back problems off and on for a couple decades, I expected eventual improvement. Months passed with no relief, but I put off going to the doctor until the pain got so bad a year and a half ago that I could no longer stand it. [This delay is not something I’d recommend. Be smart and see a doctor instead of suffering for needless months.]

My doctor sent me to a pain management center, where the physiatrist started me on physical therapy. That made a huge difference but didn’t relieve all my symptoms, so I also saw a pain management specialist there and had a lower back MRI. The MRI showed so many problems in my entire lower spine that the doctors were amazed I hadn’t experienced more severe symptoms. I had an epidural injection, which made me feel almost normal for a month, but both doctors said I really needed surgery.

The idea of spinal surgery scared me. No way did I want that. Stubborn, independent person that I am, I figured I could manage without surgery. I had two more epidurals, three months apart, but once each soon wore off and my condition gradually worsened.

Over time I limited my activities more and more, because I could no longer do many of them and because the minimal things I could still do took longer and sapped my energy. I couldn’t garden. I couldn’t hike or walk very far without having to sit down. I managed to shop only in stores that had carts I could lean on. I had already retreated from social media and, other than blog posts, could no longer concentrate well enough to write. Finally fed up with living a half life, I accepted the need for surgery.

The surgeon recommended by the pain management center did not accept my insurance. That initially upset me but turned out to be fortunate. My condition was so complicated that I wanted the best, so I researched spinal surgeons who accepted my insurance. I chose Dr. D. Greg Anderson of Rothman Institute in Philadelphia. He did a good job explaining the steps he would take to correct my problems, and in December I underwent two surgeries, two days apart.

The recovery has been long and difficult, and it’s seemed months longer than it actually was. I’ve had to practice patience because I had no choice. For three months I was not to bend, twist, or lift heavy weights. After that, physical therapy and weekly massages helped loosen up the tight muscles and tendons and helped me regain strength. Only time will heal the numbness around the incisions. Although I’m not back to normal yet, I’m getting there. And the physical problems I’m overcoming now are the results of the surgery — the problems I had before the surgery have all been corrected. Hallelujah!

As I watch the the buds bloom and the birds build nests, I feel a special connection to nature as the world come back to life this spring. I too am returning to life. I can stand and walk more than five minutes without having to sit before my legs going numb and refuse to work right. My mind is no longer muddled by pain or post-surgical drugs. And I am so thankful for the medicinal advancements that have made correction of my condition possible.

So today, as I eagerly anticipate returning to writing and all my former activities, I say celebrate! Live life to the fullest. Enjoy its the beauty and become one with its secrets.


buttercups in the lawn, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, inspiration

Buttercups in the lawn



  1. […] **For more about my surgery, check out my post from May — Inspiration: Celebrate Nature! Celebrate Life! […]


  2. […] 21. Inspiration: Celebrate Nature! Celebrate Life! […]


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