Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

Kripalu Mindfulness Outdoor Experience Guide & Life Coach – Get Outside. Go Within.


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Vision Boards and Reaching Goals

May you find joy in 2023 – with all of the ebbs and flows we will face in the new year remember to find your still point and find your joy.

Do you prepare a Vision Board as you slide into a new year?

Or, do you prepare a Vision Board at different times of the year for different areas of you life?

Do you set goals for yourself?

Have you experienced synchronicity?

At the beginning of 2022 I hadn’t heard the term End of Life Doula or Death Doula but while at Kripalu Center assisting with a Level I Mindfulness Outdoor training, two of the other assistants and I were conversing about things we would like to accomplish. I shared about my experience at the local hospital providing Therapeutic Touch (TT) sessions to patients and some were ‘actively’ dying. Sometimes when arriving a nurse may ask if I would mind going to a certain room where a patient was ‘actively dying’ and would benefit from a TT session. It was such a pleasure to be there and hold space, provide a TT session, and just sit with those at the hospital who were either suffering from an illness or actively dying. Speaking of this feels a little morbid but someone needs to be there for support and guidance. I shared that I wanted to find a way to continue doing this with those dying, with terminal illness, and for their loved ones. Knowing this would have been helpful to me and how I felt Hospice was supportive but not really present during my mother’s last days I wanted to learn a way to be that support.

In my younger days when working as a Housekeeping staff I was so frightened to walk into a room and see someone in the process of dying that I quit. When my own father was dying in the VA Hospital I panicked on his last day. After saying good bye I didn’t return to the hospital until right after his last breath. When my mother died 26 years later, we sat by her side in a bedroom in her own home. We held her hand, played her favorite music, sang and read to her, and held space for her. The difference in experiences between my father and mother’s death was like night and day. Of course he was only 61 at the time and I was 26, which made this more challenging. But, truthfully when is watching a loved one die ever easy. There is always loss and grief.

What I wanted to learn is how to hold space, the signs the body is approaching death, how to be there for the family, for the person who is terminally ill facing their own death, to be present for the grieving. After sharing this, the two assistants sharing a dorm said why don’t you become a Death Doula.

A WHAT?? This was actually a thing?

Yes, a Death Doula or more appropriately an End-of-Life Doula. Not focusing on the ending but on the life in between. Those precious moments when the sunshines and the room fills with rainbows from the sun catcher in the window or the shadows display in beautiful shapes along the wall, the sound of birds singing, the warmth of the sun on the skin, the cool breeze, the green grass or white snow, the sound of children laughing, a hug from a loved one . . . It is in those special moments that we actually live.

After the Mindfulness Outdoor training was over and I returned home, I started looking up how to become an End of Life Doula. Added this to my vision board and pursued finding a way to learn more. It took a little time and research, there are no actual rules or regulations on practicing as a EOL Doula but there are some trainings available. I reached out to the University of Vermont in the fall but the training was full. I registered for the Spring training but asked if there was a cancellation to please add me to the fall session.

Synchronicity – meeting the right people at the right time to guide you, registering for a training and discovering someone backed out so there is an opening for you to attend in the fall. Then sadly, two weeks before my training started, as I am reading the required and suggested books, find out that my sister-in-law was given 4 weeks of life. I reached out and asked if she would like me to visit and share TT sessions. She was a Reiki Master so was thrilled that I was going to come. I met with her seven times over the four weeks. Reading my books and taking the first classes was helpful for this situation. It allowed me to know what to expect, to hold space, to see the stages her body was going through as the last day became closer, to sit with her children/grandchildren, to listen to her goals (even as death approaches you will have goals/dreams), to provide TT sessions, massage her hands and feet, add essential oils to her diffuser, and anything else she needed. After the TT session she would be relaxed and fall into a deep sleep. She died at home surrounded by her family. I was still in the middle of my training and had wished to have known more but felt that she received what was needed at the time. Her family members were there and all provided her with the support needed in her final days. She was at peace and not afraid at the time of her death.

This is what I hope to share with others in the future. I reached my goal in 2022, without knowing at the beginning of the year this was even a real practice to share with others. I now hold an End-of-Life Doula certificate from The University of Vermont. Although there are no rules or regulations at this time, we know what is expected of us and are ready to hold space and provide comfort for the dying and their families who face loss and grief.

For 2023, one goal is to become certified as a Therapeutic Touch practitioner. Although practicing since 2014 under the guidance of my mentor, Sue Conlin, I still need to complete the application to be certified – for the second time. All of the hours plus have been completed, the research completed, the trainings completed, and yet I haven’t sent in the request for certification. Hoping Sue and the other practitioners will hold me accountable this year. I also plan to find a way to incorporate the End-of-Life Doula practice with Mindfulness Outdoor Experience and TT. This is a work in progress and one I look forward to sharing in the near future.

Feeling grateful for the synchronicity that led me to the path of this certificate – to Donna, Stephanie, the woman who backed out of the training, and The University of Vermont educators. Always holding a place for Norma in my heart – grateful to her for allowing me to practice being an End-of- Life Doula and being there to support her in her last days. May she rest in peace.


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Forest Bathing – Mindfulness Outdoor Experience

For the past two and a half years, even during Covid shutdown, guiding people in the forest has been a very rewarding experience.

We have meet up in several locations over the years with very different experiences based on the weather. These locations have included: Rensselaer Plateau Alliance forests, Dyken Pond Educational Center, Mount Greylock State Preserve, Pine Hollow Arboretum, and Grafton Lake State Park.

I personally love being outside in all weather but Fall and Winter are my favorites as I enjoy breathing in the clean crisp air. Participants who come out in the rain and snow always surprise me and make me feel grateful for the opportunity to share the experience with them.

Forest Bathing in Autumn

The participants are encouraged to have an individual experience within the group setting. This allows time for each to explore on their own in silence. Yet to maintain a feeling of being safe while in the woods. There are times when walking in the woods alone may frighten some people and keep them from enjoying the many benefits. Walking in a group allows them to experience time in nature without being overcome by their fear and anxiety. With everything happening in the world lately, taking the two or more hours outside exploring allows them to unplug, relax, take a breath, and enjoy the moment.

A quiet walk in the woods

The slow pace of the walk allows time to stop and take a closer look at all the ‘beings’ residing in the woods. To find patterns, textures, designs. To listen to the sounds of the singing birds, owls, gurgling of water, wind rustling the leaves. To enjoy the sunshine, colorful shades of greens, blues, browns, reds, oranges and array of other colors within this special world.

Forest Bathing allows one to forget about time, issues, and when out long enough to slow down the constant chatter of the mind. Being out in nature – whether the forest, desert, or near the ocean, stream – allows the body and mind to slow down, lowers blood pressure, decreases the stress hormones, and opens one to more creative thoughts. Possibly they will make new discoveries or remember of times when life was simpler.

The participants discover mushrooms of varying sizes, colors and textures as well as moss and lichen.

Autumn Walk – Mushrooms are everywhere
Winter Walk – still mushrooms are found

When guiding a group, in my backpack I like to carry small mats for everyone to have for their sit spots, magnifying glasses which allow them to get a better look, a first aide kit, my own water, bear spray, bear horn, cell to keep track of time so others don’t have to, and a thermos of hot tea with small cups. The goal is to have participants focus on the moment without any thought of what they might need, or worry about what they may have forgotten. The necessities are my concern and they can stay in the moment. It is highly encouraged to leave the cell phone off or on airplane mode. This way, the hectic world is left behind.

Guiding the group

After a while, when the perfect place presents itself for a sit spot, I stop and hand out the little folding mats. Everyone is invited to find a place that feels comfortable to sit or stand for around 20 minutes. In the bitter cold this time is shortened to 10 minutes or until someone shares they are too cold. Once in their position, we sit quietly in open eyed meditation. Once we are quiet birds, chipmunks, squirrels or other critters will visit. Once in a while we may see a deer or other animal. If we are lucky an owl might begin to hoot.

Can you find the participant at their sit spot? In this case their lying spot.
Another participant at their sit spot and the other near the log lying on the ground

At Pine Hollow Arboretum we actually had china tea cups to share with participants for the tea ceremony. No matter the weather, a tea ceremony is always welcomed but especially in the winter.

China cups for a Tea Ceremony in the snow

Once the sit spot and tea ceremony are complete, we get together for a Counsel Session. Participants are invited to share anything they noticed, felt, heard . . . It always surprises me to hear what they have to share about the experience. One thing that they generally have in common is a new sense of peace and connection to nature.

The more you can get out in nature, the more you will remember that you too are nature. We are all connected. Nature is healing, nature raises our vibration, enhances our senses, brings a sense of peace and simplicity.

If you are interested in joining me on a Forest Bathing / Mindfulness Outdoor Experience please let me know and I will share upcoming events.

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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience – Connecting with Mother Nature

Children Enjoying Nature

Two of my younger grandchildren enjoyed getting down on the ground with their new magnifying glasses and Mimi (me) enjoyed spending time with them exploring nature this summer. They discovered the shapes of the leaves, tiny insects unseen until viewed through the glass, the texture of mushrooms and bark on the trees, and the layers of earth.

After visiting with the littles I decided it would be fun to share the magnifying glasses with participants for the Mindfulness Outdoor Experience. We discovered that adults love them as much as the littles do so they have become a part of the experience. If you get the chance grab a magnifying glass and go out into nature to see what you can discover.

Some of the participants shared that they remember doing this as a child and wondered how they had forgotten how interesting and relaxing it was to get up close and personal to Mother Earth. Others lost themselves in the experience – forgetting time. It was just as fun for me as a guide witnessing their reactions and watching them explore.

When we move through life too quickly we miss a connection that is healing to the body, mind and soul. Those who walk or run for exercise looking down at their cell phone or checking their watch to see how far they went, to keep track of the time, to chat or text with someone never allow their body and mind to relax. They miss an opportunity to destress, to relax and enjoy the moment. Sometimes I see people running through the path and wonder if they ever really ‘see’ what is around them. Do they enjoy the sights, sounds, smells. Do they notice the textures, the small insects enjoying the flowers, the little newts wandering along the path. For to allow yourself to slow down you gain so much joy and appreciation of life. This feeling can be retained when you learn how to find this still point during chaotic life events. This is a gift that nature has taught me – finding my still point when life seems chaotic.

While slowing down in nature you begin to notice the colors, shapes, sizes, patterns, textures, scents, and hidden gems hiding in, on, and under leaves, flowers, bark. You realize there is life within the forest and begin to want to respect and protect Mother Nature and all who share this home with us – those without a voice who give us life.

As you begin to slow down you lose track of time, demands, worries and your body begins to relax. You begin to lose yourself in the moment as your body flows from space to space. After you remember what joy you found in nature as a child, or understand what you missed by not being in nature as a child.

Seeing With New Eyes

By getting up close and personal with nature you exercise your eyes, your muscles, your lungs as you breath in the fresh air. You begin to understand your reciprocal connection to Nature. Everything is connected. The tiniest of insects is living because there are flowers, leaves, trees. The mushrooms and fungi bring new life and restore the soil. As you breath out carbon dioxide the trees breath it in and as they breath out oxygen you breath it in. What a beautiful life giving connection we have. Almost like a dance of life.

After sauntering and exploring, it is time for our sit spot. Everyone finds a tree, rock or place they feel comfortable. We are very still and quiet with eyes open as we take in our surroundings. Our senses have begun to open and we hear new sounds – see movement near and far – begin to smell earth, leaves, flowers, trees – feel the textures of the dirt, leaves, bark nearby. Our bodies are very relaxed at this point in the journey and we settle in as we lean on a tree, sit on a rock or sit on the warm earth. This is when most of the participants enjoy a personal experience while in the midst of a group setting.

After our sit spot we gather for counsel and participants are invited to share our experience – anything they noticed while sauntering in the woods, while looking through the magnifying glass, or while sitting quietly. Sometimes the sharing are very insightful.

Sometimes as you sit quietly you may have a little visitor as I did while sitting quietly next to a pond. Not just one but several dragonflies over the 20 minutes or so that I sat quiet and still. Some would brush along my hair while in flight. Others sat on my hand, my arm and both legs – not at the same time but over and over again. It was a magical time for me, the lover of dragonflies.

Dragonfly Visiting Me At The Pond

One of my most exciting times of the month is guiding the Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences. Discussing forest bathing, mindfulness, grounding, centering, meditation, sauntering and sit spots is so enjoyable. Hearing from participants about the knowledge of trees, insects, moss, lichen, land formations, Druidism, Buddhism, soil, and more always adds to the experience. No one is an expert at everything but we are all experts in something. This is why I love the diversity of the groups and when they are willing to share. We always have a poem or quote to share that seems to be perfect for that days experience. It always seems magical and this is the way I want to live my life.

I will share that last year while out sauntering on my own I had a couple of very interesting interactions with animals. One time with a deer and another with an owl – both lasting quite some time.

This little deer was enjoying the apple tree as I was walking out of the tree line. There she was just enjoying her meal on a nice sunny afternoon. At one point I thought she was choking and wondered how I would give her the heimlich maneuver. Thankfully I realized she was just trying to chew the apple. So I stood silently in awe watching her. She looked over at me and started walking toward me. We just stood there looking into one another’s eyes and she came a little closer. I on one side of the trail and she on the other. We had a special moment and then I heard someone. I looked up the hill and noticed a couple standing watching the deer and I – they were recording our special moment. I said good bye and left her to enjoy her fruit fest.

On another adventure I met up with an owl, or rather the owl met up with me. I was going into a wooded area where there were picnic tables to enjoy my lunch. As I sat at the table I heard a something crashing through the trees. To my surprise an owl landed on the branch almost above my head. I said hello and asked if there was a message – it was my very first encounter with an owl. As I ate my lunch we chatted. Every time I went to stand up the owl would hoot. When I sat down he/she would owl chat. We conversed with neither knowing what the other was saying. When my lunch was done I told the owl that I had to put my lunch bag away but I would return if he/she wanted to wait.

When I returned to the area, there was the owl sitting up in the tree. I sat back down for a bit and again, every time I stood the owl would hoot. After about ten more minutes I said I was taking a walk before dark and invited the owl to come along. He/she hooted when I stood and then followed me along the path to the clearing. Once at the clearing I shared that I would return after the walk and stay to visit if he/she was still there. We both went our ways.

After about two hours I returned to the same path in the woods. I heard the same noise as early through the trees and could not believe the owl returned to greet me. When I was standing still the owl would converse and as I moved would hoot at me. Walking along the path the owl swooshed back and forth across the path from tree to tree above me. At one point flew so close I thought he/she would land on my head. We returned to the picnic table and I sat down as the owl sat on the branch nearby. We continued our conversation until the darkness began to set in. I said, “When you are ready I will leave but it will have to be soon.” Eventually the owl turned, looked back at me, said something in owl language, hooted, stepped back and forth on the branch and then feathers up and off he/she went. It was such an amazing experience and one I shall cherish for life.

Conversing With An Owl

Have you had any interesting experiences in nature with animals or other wildlife? If so, what type of experience have you had? Have you ever had any connections with a tree, rock, animal, insect?

Love to hear from you.

Love and Light!


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Autumn in the Adirondacks

Autumn in New York is just as spectacular as a trip to Vermont this time of year. This is especially true when the Adirondacks are at peak. Even a little rain can’t dampen the spirits when leaf peeping. The two and a half hour ride north to Tupper Lake was spectacular.

After Tupper Lake we traveled to Fish Creek Camp Site in Saranac Lake area. It was a perfect day for kayaking. We had to wear a light jacket and it sprinkled a little yet it was perfect. The colors were an eye candy treat. There were two other kayakers who stopped their journey at a campsite around the corner from where we started and one lone kayaker out in a secluded section of the pond. It was quiet and very peaceful on this cool Autumn day.

To live in New York – not NYC – is a wonderful experience with all of the changing seasons. Sometimes it seems as if seasons change within the day. You may start out in the morning bundled and by mid afternoon be down to shirt sleeves, then throw on a rain coat, take off the rain coat to enjoy a beautiful sunset while wearing a jacket. Dress in layers and be grateful that you are alive enjoying such an experience.

There are a lot of tragedies occurring all over the world, even close by there was a tragic accident with twenty losing their lives in one useless car crash so if you are alive and well, be grateful. Take in the beauty of nature we are blessed with even if it is a weed growing up through a crack in the sidewalk. Everyone has a story and by remaining grateful and hopeful we can help raise the vibration of the world.

May your day be blessed with love, light and joy!

Love and Light!


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WPC – Edge 2

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” ~Henry David Thoreau ~

Take a seat at the edge of the water, release anything weighing on your mind, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy Mirror Lake. Some run by quickly, others drive by, and some go into their houses never to notice the beauty. On this bench one only has to sit and hear the call of the loons, look to the right and left to absorb the beauty of the mountains. When its time to get up you will feel like a new person.

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Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein ~

If you wold like to see other posts for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own please click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/edge

Love and Light!

(I submitted this photo for WPC – Mirror however I thought it was a perfect fit for this week’s edge as well)


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WPC – Edge

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” ~ Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water ~

The first time I stood at the edge and looked out at the frozen lake I didn’t really notice the house. The house is built at the edge of the rock formation and made with stone to resemble the natural habitat. The occupants must have a wonderful view of the mountains and lake below. Across from the home a tree grows on a rock, almost in competition with the home as it shouts out, “Look at me.”

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If you would like to learn more about Minnewaska Preserve click thee link below: http://hikethehudsonvalley.com/minnewaska-state-park-preserve/

In winter the Preserve is quiet. The roar of the waterfall could be heard from quite a distance while hiking through the woods. Once you get a little closer your heart beats a little faster in anticipation of seeing the rushing waters. As you walk down the stream you will first reach the edge of the falls. The water is so powerful that you don’t want to get too close the edge.

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A trail that leads down the mountain to the bottom of the falls. The photos above are a mix of two visits. As you can see one is later in the year when the I’ve has thawed and the other is in the midst of the freezing weather. It was breathtaking.

This location is a perfect place to slow down and enjoy the winter weather. Sitting on a rock listening to the falls is a great place to meditate, get in touch with nature, and just allow your mind to quiet for a short period of time. Time seemed to stop for a while as we sat enjoying the sounds of nature.

We spent hours at the edge of the waterfalls capturing ice melting, green life poking through the snow, leaves caught in the rocks and other amazing gifts of nature.

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods ~

If you would like to view other photos from this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges

Love and Light


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Terrific Tuesday!

Wishing you all a Terrific Tuesday. Take time to enjoy the little moments in life that diminish before your eyes. They will not return for a later day.

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Spending time walking on the pier with my daughter and grandson (2.5 years) reminded me of when my daughter at the same age. We would walk together holding hands enjoying the day. At home she would follow me around the house singing “I’m watching you, watching you…” while we prepared meals together.

Those were cherished times – holding hands and cuddling were my favorite times of the day. My grandson didn’t want to cuddle as much on this visit so we shared special moments playing, enjoying nature walks, and watching Curious George. Yesterday before heading back to San Diego he wanted to repair the tire on our McDonald’s toy. I gave him a roll of tape and he worked on repairing the tire. It was adorable. While watching Curious George they would show George’s antics and then children would try to replicate the cartoon by drawing maps of their park and finding their way around, learning about pulls bringing items to the second floor of the porch, and repairing things. Tanner was absorbing everything the entire time he watched the movie.

Thankfully I knew during our visits as we explored nature, laughed and played that these were precious moments. Exploring with children can open your eyes to things you may have long forgotten to notice. Watching them absorb their environment, observe the adults actions and listen to stories is amazing.

For today, enjoy those you are spending time with, get out in nature, check out shadows, the sound of trees rustling in the breeze, water dripping, and all the wonders of life. You don’t have to travel to enjoy your day – there is beauty all around you.

Have a terrific Tuesday:)

Love and Light!


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WPC – Fun!

This week’s theme is simple: share a photo of something fun! Let’s all shake our booties, literal or figurative.

This week I had the privilege of having some fun with my two year old grandson in San Diego. We went for a walk to Rite Aid so I could pick up a pair of flip flops and my grandson wanted an ice cream. Two year olds love colorful ice cream so we went with the Bubblegum flavor. San Diego is experiencing a heat wave which resulted in some melting ice cream as soon as we left the store. Two blocks later this was the little face under the cover of the carriage. Oh what fun Tanner had. Check out his nose:)

 

Later in the day we headed to the water park for some fun in the water and a picnic.

Tanner had fun running in the water while his mother and I had fun watching him experiencing running through the water. As he became a little more comfortable with the water fountains he climbed up and stood over the water flow. Pure joy and fun was had by all.

While watching Tanner, Channel 9 San Diego newsman stopped to ask me my thoughts on the heat. As I was in the moment, the heat was not really bothering me and coming from high 90s in upstate New York, the 80s in San Diego wasn’t bothering me. Not sure my response was the response they were looking for as they were discussing the heat wave across the country. Guess if you are in the midst of having fun at a water park you don’t really think about anything else.

There is a time and place for everything. Sometimes in the midst of having fun it is better to release thought about problems that you haven’t any control over anyway. Do you live in the moment? Or, is your mind always focused on what you have no control over?

It has been such a fun week visiting my daughter and her family. I look forward to more fun for the remainder of the week!!

If you are interested in viewing additional photos for this week’s challenge or submitting your own, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/fun/

Love and Light!


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WPC – Morning

This morning I had the pleasure of waking at my son’s home to a light rain. I grabbed my camera and headed out the bedroom door into the woods and captured the beauty of nature.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~ Marcus Aurelius ~

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” ~  J. B. Priestley ~

 

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Thursday morning I also woke in the morning at my son’s home and after witnessing the morning light shining through the trees grabbed my camera and explored the paths behind his home. It is like awaking into a dream world here. Feeling blessed.

“The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden ~
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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden ~

Wishing you the joy of adventure and enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures. Open you eyes to the beauty around you.

If you would like to view additional entries for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own click on the link below:
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/morning-2016

Love and Light!