Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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Connecting With Nature – A Welcomed Retreat for Our Eyes

“In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the winter do you hibernate? Do you spend too much time indoors on the computer, texting on your cell, answering a barrage of never ending emails, watching television for hours at a time? Or, do you get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature and the fresh air?

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After sitting at a computer all day, responding to texts, traveling in my car for work and being cooped up inside my body, mind and soul call out for time in nature. For me, being outside in the cold fresh air is invigorating. Taking long walks in the woods, in the summer walking barefoot, sitting near a tree, on a bench or in the winter lying in the snow letting the snowflakes tickle my cheeks is an awakening experience.

During my last eye exam the Ophthalmologist asked if I spent time in nature and I said, “Yes, as often as possible.” Even though I’ve had glasses since 2nd grade (didn’t really wear them as prescribed until I was 19) my eyes have been improving over the last several year. This time he shared that my eye muscles are very healthy and my prescription was reduced once again. That was the first time I learned that being in nature can strengthen our eye muscles.

I’m not a doctor but have read, spoke with doctors and through my own experiences noticed that when sitting at the computer all day I don’t blink enough, my head and neck are bent for long periods of time, and there is little movement as my eyes focus on the screen or my cell when answering texts. This effects my posture and the constant typing and use of the mouse effect my fingers, hands, arms and shoulders.

What better way to counter act this daily strain than by taking a break from sitting at the desk and taking a walk outside. Or, stopping on the way home for a nice walk in nature. The varying colors of nature benefit the eyes. I found this article on the benefits to children’s eye health to be interesting:

https://opto.ca/health-library/playing-outdoors-can-help-maintain-childrens-eyesight

Here are some pictures of two of my grandchildren enjoying nature. Whether picking blueberries (eating more than what went into the bucket), sauntering through the woods, hugging and/or talking to trees, walking barefoot in the grass they all enjoy spending time in nature.

Part of the benefits to the eyes is due to the color green which is soothing and another reason is the eyes relax while in nature and benefit from a workout just like the muscles in our legs. Here is an article I found on the effects of a green environment:

https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/health/colorscope-green-environment-calm/index.html

When walking or sitting in nature we look up, out in the distance, and close up at nature’s gifts, giving our eyes a work out. (You can also stop throughout the day and do a figure 8 movement with your eyes for additional exercise.) We also give them a workout as we check out the movement of the little critters skittering from here to there, busy no matter the season. By sitting still in the sit-spot I noticed that they seem to have little roadways to and from their nests. You can also watch rabbits on their adventures. They stop a little longer here and there along the way. If you are still and down wind they may not even notice you. I’ve had this happen with deer. They walk by without noticing if you are still and they can’t smell you.

Don’t get too close to the squirrel or you will hear them shriek like this little guy. I was sitting in a sit-spot at the bottom of a tree in Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, NY when I heard a shriek. I looked out to the trees around me but couldn’t find where the noise was coming from. Thinking it was a bird I looked up. There a few feet above my head, was this squirrel running up and down the tree. I stood up slowly backed away from the tree. She ran up the tree trunk to the branch above. The shrieking did not stop. Look at her tail giving a warning signal. As I looked around in the next tree I noticed a nest. She must have been warning me to stay away from her nest. She finally quieted down and jumped to the other tree. I quietly went on my way so she could relax and found another tree.

I could not share my own recording as my recordings have recently disappeared from my cell but found this video on YouTube. This is what the squirrel alarm sounds like:

 

The shrieking can last for quite some time and become very loud. Once again, watching the squirrel and checking out the area gave my eyes a nice workout and I learned a little more about nature. It was the first time that a squirrel has come that close to me in a warning stance. Guess I chose the wrong tree for my sit-spot and she was not willing to share.

Along with observing squirrels, mindfully sitting in my sit-spot just before sunrise allowed me to witness the awaking of the forest. There is a slow illumination along the tops of the trees which gently seeps through the gaps in the trees eventually illuminating the forest floor. As it casts it’s light the yellow leaves of the Aspen trees appear to glow. Some of the leaves slowly hitch a ride on a slight breeze, spiraling round and round until softly landing on the branch of a Hemlock tree. There were so many decorating some of the trees  it resembled a Christmas tree.

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The leaves were the decorations, with the sunlight reflected in the morning dew the lights. I didn’t have a camera in the morning to capture the dew reflecting the light because I was enjoying the moment. Some spiraled gently to the forest floor, greeting those who came before, layering the earth in a blanket of leaves.

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Looking up at trees towering above I witness the mighty tree stretching up into the sky above with its many arms reaching out in all directions. Bare in the Fall and Winter this is the resting period as it awaits a bursting of renewal in the Spring.

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My eyes wander far, then closer and closer until, once again, I witness the scurrying of the chipmunks and squirrels gathering acorns and carrying them back to their shelter.

We should not just saunter and enjoy the benefits of nature ourselves. Sharing a nature connection with children is the best way to keep them healthy and teach them about the benefits of nature and connecting with their environment. Plus, their little eyes are always scanning the environment which is a plus for their eye health because many of the children today spend too many hours in front of a screen, many times holding a device too close to their eyes. We are only beginning to see the effects.

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than one seeks.” – John Muir

The benefits of nature are far reaching. It reduces anger, fear, and stress while increasing pleasant experiences and we become healthier, more creative, and more aware of our natural environment.

So get outside, saunter in the woods, near a stream, ocean, local park, garden, in your own backyard, take some children with you and explore. While outside look up at the stars, clouds, the tree tops, trails, the bark, flowers, the critters, dragonflies, and a little closer at the insects. Don’t forget to touch the bark, the leaves, the grass and bend down to smell the flowers. Walk barefoot and feel the earth beneath you. Sit for a while and take in your environment.

Remember while you are viewing the natural world and strengthening the muscles in your eyes you are also strengthening other muscles in your body, increasing your lung capacity by breathing in fresh air, expanding your mind and spirit. It is a win-win situation.

If you are interested in learning about mindfulness outdoor experiences and how to slow down and connect while in nature please email me or complete the attachment below. I would love to hear from you.

In my next post I will share some upcoming Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences that I will be leading in February and March.

Love and Light!


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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 – Trees

Lens – Artists Photo Challenge #50 – so happy to have discovered another photo challenge.

Trees are one of my favorite subjects. Every time I traveled my mother would want to see the photos. She would say, “They are all of trees. Didn’t you see anything else. You can see trees in the yard.” I would tell her that I can’t see those trees in my yard, every location has its own beauty. Watching my grandchildren interact with trees fills my heart and gives me hope for the next generations ability to connect with nature.

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”

― John Muir

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“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

― William Shakespeare

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

~ William Blake

“He believed because we evolved in nature, we have a biological need to connect with it. We love nature because we learned to love the things that helped us survive. We feel comfortable in nature because that is where we have lived for most of life on earth. We are genetically determined to love the natural world. It is in our DNA.”

~ E.O. Wilson
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“Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky.”

~ Kahlil Gibran

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 “To really feel a forest canopy one must use different senses, and often the most useful one is the sense of imagination.”

― Joan Maloof

Thank you for visiting our beautiful trees and all the beauty they bring to each of us in their magical way.

https://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/lens-artists-photo-challenge-50-trees/

This year I am visiting the forest weekly and spending time with trees daily. Each night, weather permitting, before calling it a night I sit in my swing under the tree in my back yard and converse with the glorious trees that bring such pleasure to my life. My goal is to become one with nature and share the experience with others through grounding and forest bathing (shinrin-yoku). It is wonderful that there are words to describe what I have been doing my whole life. If I were to win the million dollars I would purchase forests and preserve them for future generations.

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 – Rise/Set

For this week’s photo challenge, share your favorite photos of a sunrise or a sunset. If you’re an early bird, try to capture what dawn means to you. Is it a symbol of hope? A reminder to get going? Do you have any special early morning rituals that you do as the sun rises in the sky?

For night owls, share a snapshot of the day coming to an end. Show off the vibrant colors of sunset and the peaceful calm as the moon rises or any twilight rituals you may have. Get creative and show us the sun in all of her fiery glory.

I am a night owl and love watching the sky fill with vibrant colors as the sun sets over the horizon. Sometimes the night sky looks as if it is on fire and other times it sets slowly filtering rays of light through clouds and trees. There are never two sunsets that are exactly the same so one never gets bored watching this amazing natural event. Every night when the sun sets it reminds me of the fragility of life and to always end the day in gratitude for all of our natural blessings.

 

The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the colour that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again. ~ Ram Charan ~

Sunset off the coast of Skagway

Sunset off coast of Alaska

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Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps. ~ Sharon Draper ~

When in California a favorite activity to experience with my grandson is watching the sunset. It is a wonderful experience and one that he enjoys as well even at the age of 4.

 

When I lived in California, after work I would sit on a bench south of Laguna at a beautiful location called Treasure Island. Many people would visit the same location to witness the sunset. We would sit quietly waiting patiently for the sun slowly slip beyond the horizon. Once it made it’s decent, we would clap and enjoy the moment. Some would get up and leave as soon as the thin line along the horizon disappeared others, like myself, would sit and wait until darkness filled the night sky and then we would slowly make our way back to our cars.

Sitting with strangers enjoying the same natural event was quite moving. It cost nothing and actually gave more enjoyment than any expensive amusement park. No one had to say a word, when eyes met we communicated at a deeper level as we shared the same life experience. I can still feel the loving compassion and joy.

My grandson is naturally drawn to sunsets. When he was two sitting at dinner with his parents he said, “Look at the beautiful sunset.” My daughter and her husband looked out and had to agree – it was amazing. Sometimes in our busy lives we ignore the natural pleasures we are blessed with daily. Children can help us slow down and open our eyes to ‘see’ our world anew and become grateful for those daily blessings.

If you would like to view additional photos or would like to submit your own, please click on the link below:
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/rise-set/

Love and Light!


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WPC – Ooh, Shiny!

What shiny objects catch your eye? Is it jewelry or the sun shining on water? Each of us are so unique in our own amazing way. What will capture the attention of one may be missed by another. This world is filled with so many glorious moments and eye-catching beauties so there is always something for everyone.

“Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and we can reflect light in powerful ways if we choose to do so.” ― Robyn Nola

Dragonflies and damselflies always capture my attention. The photos below are from several different outings this year.

 

“May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with fairies and talk to the moon.” – Unknown

Lately I have been feeling quite blesses by the presence of dragonflies and damselflies. Their wings reflecting the sunlight like jewels always catches my attention. They appear as jewels shining in the air.

On Sunday while walking in the stream with my grandson we were cautiously walking on rocks making our way upstream when the shining wings caught my eye. It was amazing to watch three black winged damselflies flittering from leaf to leaf, dancing back and forth in the air as they chased one another. I didn’t have my camera at the time so I guided my little grandson to the path leading to his mother. My daughter, knowing I had to return, handed me the camera and went on with the baby. I returned to capture the moment. Two of the damselflies were playing with me just a little outside of my range or too close to focus. Then they began flying around my head, back to the leaf, around my head, and then one landed right on my shoulder. It was an amazing experience for this dragonfly lover.

Today, the passenger window in the backseat was shattered. I went out to take a look and we determined it was caused by a rock from the lawnmower on the hill. The shattered window was shining in the sunlight and actually looked quite pretty. I decided to continue with my training and worry about the window later. After the training I looked out at my car and, lo and behold, dragonflies were flying all around my car. After calling the insurance company I went out to load up my car and the dragonflies came to say hello. It was such a great sign – no worries, everything will be fine and it was. The insurance company paid 100% and I had an appointment for a new window installation this afternoon. They are always around no matter where I go, even in the parking lot at work.

 

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Another amazing shiny bug is the Japanese beetle. Although not my favorite this little shiny group of them caught my eye while visiting my friends mother-in-law’s house. They are quite beautiful with their shining hard shells glimmering in the sun make them quite colorful.

 

What about you: what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?

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

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

Love and Light!


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Volunteering and Sharing in Natures Gifts

This year started with a weekend retreat enjoying time with new friends at Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center. It was that weekend that I decided to return and volunteer at the center monthly whenever possible.

So far this year I have had the pleasure of Karma Yoga cleanup and prepping for meal. Both were wonderful experiences with the benefit of participating in classes, mediations and enjoying nature.

This past weekend volunteers gathered to share in cleaning cabins and preparing the garden for planting. All furniture was pulled out of the cabins and then each cabin was cleaned top to bottom. Furniture was then cleaned and returned to the cabins. With two volunteers assigned to each cabin it didn’t take long to finish yesterday. The afternoon and this morning were spent enjoying working the earth in the garden to prepare for the seedlings.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~Mahatma Gandhi~

The meals were delicious and well deserved by all. New friends were met and existing relationships were strengthened as we came together for karma yoga. It is amazing what can be accomplished when a group of people come together to share in loving service.

Of course, my camera was nearby for some nature photos. Love capturing some hidden treasures.

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Dandelion

While exploring this little greenery was discovered in a tree stump.

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Growth in the center of a stump

Lamb Ear decorated in morning dew, new growth on trees, and a bird’s nest above the entrance light.

Here are a few treasures hidden in the flower garden.

After cleaning out the cabin I noticed rain drops on the grass. As I was crouching down to take the photos the ‘rain’ began to rain down on me, except it wasn’t raining anywhere else. Debbie said it was only raining where I was and then we realized it wasn’t raining, there was a leak in the water line. It did result in some lovely photos. The drops of water look like crystals decorating the lawn.

Preparing the garden was quick work when you have several volunteers pitching in. The ground is ready for planting in another couple of weeks and the seedlings are being prepared in the green house. These photos were from Saturday so the rest of the crew are missing from the photos.

While on break I took a little walk to the waterfall and on the way stopped when I noticed the unfurling of the ferns. They are amazing to witness. Along with the fern were an assortment of flowers of many sizes. Then, with some patience, I sat and tried to capture bumblebees with their constant movement on my camera. It was a pleasure watching them buzzing in a swarm, as they enjoyed the spring weather after a long cold winter. After focusing and waiting patiently I was able to captured a couple in flight. It was a nice way to practice mindfulness. Time seemed to stop while I focused.

Nature is something to be treasures for ourselves and future generations. Everything in nature seems harmonious and interconnected.

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.”

Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.
Overall it was a wonderful weekend filled with friends, meditation, gardening, cleaning, good food and nature. This morning, before the short-lived thunder-storm, I had the privilege of providing one of the volunteers with a Therapeutic Touch (TT) session near a tree. It was an interesting experience for both of us and I hope to provide more treatments in nature. It is a perfect place for clients to feel grounded and release their anxieties and stressors in life. During the storm another guest had a treatment in the freshly cleaned library. Providing TT sessions was another highlight of the weekend.

Remember in nature, as with life, there are many hidden treasures if you take time to look a little closer. That person who may seem to rub you the wrong way may be a hidden gem in your life if you slow down and take time to get to know them on a deeper level. As with the camera – go from the macro lens to the micro in every area of your life and you will never have a dull moment in life. You may even learn something about yourself.

Love and Light!

 


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WPC – Surprise

This week, share a surprise with us, as you see it through your lens. We’re excited to see what you share with us!

“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” ~ Betty Smith, Joy in the Morning ~

Imagine my surprise when I looked at this photo on my computer screen and noticed the sticker on the wing of the butterfly.

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Mother Nature’s beauty

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”            ~  William Butler Yeats ~

In my quest to capture this beauty fluttering from one place to another, the sticker wasn’t even noticed. If it had I would have focused in more to discover what was written on this. It appears the writing is in black ink except for one word which is written in red and we will never know the message.

If you are interested in viewing 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/surprise-2/

Love and Light!


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WPC – Dense

This week, let’s get into the thick of things – share your take on “dense” — you could focus on a natural landscape like I did, or take the theme in a different direction, from a sweaty crowd at a rock concert or a busy avenue during rush hour to a fresh loaf of bread, waiting for someone to take the first bite.

I love densely wooded areas where the trees are allowed to grow. Whether blanketed in white, brown, orange/red, or green it brings a sense of balance and peace to my life.

“You must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne ~

“The forest makes your heart gentle. You become one with it. No place for greed or anger there.”  ~ Pha Pacek ~

If you would like to see additional photos for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own, click on the link below:

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

Love and Light!


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WPC – It Is Easy Being Green

Those of you who’d like to go more interpretive still have plenty of options: try an image of something you envy, or a photo inspired by the one of the other common associations with green (life, health, youth, money, hope). Otherwise, just bask in the color itself!

If you want to push things a little more, try creating an image gallery to highlight multiple hues of this springtime shade.

Green is the color of the heart chakra and symbolizes creativity, abundance, health, harmony, and nature.  The sights and smells of greens in nature raises my vibration.

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca ~

Welcome to my gallery of green!

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” ~ William Blake ~

If you are interested in viewing other submissions or would like to submit your own photos, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/it-is-easy-being-green/

Love and Light!


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WPC – A Good Match

Some things just work together: babies and stripes; road trips and loud music; beaches and beer. Creating these perfect pairings often requires some advance preparation, which is why I love stumbling upon them in my daily life — it makes it that much easier to take pleasure in what might otherwise feel routine or trivial.

A good match – butterflies, bees and flowers.

For bees, the flower is the fountain of life;
For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.

~ Kahlil Gibran, poet ~

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp,                               but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.                                                                         ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne ~

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.                                               ~ Saint Francis de Sales ~

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” 
~ Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee ~

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

Love and Light!