Spirit of Dragonflies

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


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience – Forest Bathing – Joys and Benefits

What can slowing down in nature do for you?
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The benefits have been proven time and time again in research all over the world from Japan – Germany – Australia – Finland – Norway – British Columbia – United States and many other countries. The benefits to our children are countless as well. Here are some of the benefits that I have found:

  • The fresh air feels like it cleans out your lungs and revitalizes the body, mind and soul. I prefer being outside in the cold of the winter because the air is so refreshing.
  • Stopping the chatter releases the mind to be in the present moment and observe all the beauty around you. Leaving the chatter behind brings me into the moment to enjoy my surroundings.
  • Giving gratitude and asking permission before entering carries out into daily life waking with a mindset of gratitude for another day to experience miracles. When inside I am always grateful when I walk into the kitchen and see the light filtering through the crystals forming rainbows around the room.
  • Sitting still in nature allows our ripple effect to dissipate as we become one with nature. Paying attention to our ripple effect in our daily life makes us aware how anger can be almost contagious by paying attention we can stay with love in our hearts and allow that to ripple out around us changing the environment we are in.
  • When we enter the forest, meadow, desert the wildlife will send out warnings – many times this goes unnoticed as people are in their own minds, on the cell phone, running, or not paying attention to their surroundings
    • You will begin to see more birds, deer, chipmunks and squirrels, and other critters go back to their daily activities
    • As you sit in silence you will notice the sounds of the wind, trees crackling, birds communicating to one another
    • Chipmunks chattering back and forth to one another
    • The sounds of leaves gently tapping on the ground as they land
    • Rustle of leaves in the trees
  • I believe that paying attention to the signs in nature brings a heightened awareness of our environment and enhances our intuition – something missing from being inside and on electronic devices too many hours of the day. If our children were in nature more and allowing their natural intuition to return they would be more aware of the dangers of the internet predators. As it is they are removed from intuition and do not have the sense of danger being in nature teaches.
  • Your senses will open to the different scent of trees, fresh and dead leaves, the air of the forest, the soil and more. Being inside has been a detriment to our sense of smell. When in nature we can renew our sense of smell.
  • Your eyes will feel relieved as they take in the greens and blues of the trees and water. My ophthalmologist shared that the muscles in my eyes are very healthy even though I wear glasses and my eyesight has been improving over the last couple of years.
  • Your stress is reduced as your body is allowed to relax and release tension. No matter how much stress I am feeling, when out in nature I return from the experience relaxed and refreshed.
  • It has been proven that blood pressure drops. Luckily my blood pressure has not been an issue and maybe that is because I have always been a lover of nature and have used walking in the woods, on the beach, in the desert as a means of promoting health as long as I can remember. 

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Those are just a few of the benefits of a mindfulness outdoor experience and forest bathing. While sitting at your sit spot – generally on your own – you can experience an open eyed meditation. This allow you to notice your surroundings without judgement, just observing with your senses. You never know when a deer, bird, or squirrel may come along without noticing you.

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Slowing down allows you to observe nature and all living beings within nature. During our walks we may stop to discuss what we are noticing. The Pileated Woodpecker has left its mark on this dead tree.

You may find prints throughout the forest of deer, turkey, coyote, rabbits, squirrel and sometimes bear. In some areas they are very active. Just slowing to touch the back of a tree. Sauntering allows you to look up, around, behind, and in front to take in all that is around you. The paper like bark on the tree, new buds, intricate designs of spider webs, or maybe lie in the snow and allow it to embrace you.

Walking through the woods in silence even when there is a crunching snow underfoot is a remarkable experience. We practiced fox walk at a slow pace so the crunching was at a minimum and sometimes in the soft snow there was no sound coming from our steps.

We should be respectful of the living beings within the environment. Like us they are just trying to live in peace. Being aware of our own effect on them allows us to learn about ripple effect in our daily lives. If we can respect nature we can respect ourselves. Once we respect ourselves we can respect others. When we respect others we show people how to respect us. It is a circle of life and we can all play a part in making this a more harmonious world. We need a healthy environment to survive and we can all take steps to ensure the same for future generations.

Some of the benefits of participating in Mindfulness Outdoor Experience and Forest Bathing over the last two weeks – slowing down and sauntering in silence as a group in nature brought us together as one. No one knew anyone prior to the gatherings and by the end sitting together for counsel we were all one – sharing tea and our experiences without fear or being self-conscious about what we were sharing from our personal observation. It was quite beautiful.

Bringing this experience to your own life or to children – you can walk out your backdoor, to a local park, nursery, to a local tree, sit outside and look at the stars to experience nature.

My goal is to ensure that my grandchildren have the benefit of connecting with nature. Not really a sit spot but this little guy, my grandson, loves to connect with nature anywhere he goes.

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While I was in the garage grabbing his snowboard and sled Colt was out in the snow waiting for me. When I came out he was lying on the dirt path quietly looking up at the clouds enjoying the moment. I believe this comes naturally to children when provided the opportunity. We had just been out looking at animal tracks and sitting quietly by the stream. I showed him deer ears and once we were quiet for a few minutes, on the other side of the stream, a fisher cat ran across the edge. Birds began to sing loudly back and forth from one side to the other. I said they were talking to one another and Colt said, “No, they are singing to each other.” As we sat in silence more birds began to fly from tree to tree. It was a beautiful experience.

Have you participated in a mindfulness outdoor experience or forest bathing?

Many of us remember this from our childhood before anyone gave this a name – it was just hanging outside lying on our backs looking up at the clouds or stars, playing in the mud, rolling down hills, hugging trees, lying on the ground looking at insects, watching butterflies and dragonflies, jumping in mud puddles. It comes naturally to children when given the opportunity.

Being a Kripalu certified Outdoor Mindfulness Guide has brought the ability to share my love of nature with others. Looking forward to many years of sharing experiences with others.

Please share your nature experiences if you like. I would love to hear how you enjoy nature especially for those who live in different environments – desert, seashore, grasslands, tundra or other. Mindfulness Outdoor Experience can be shared in any environment even in the inner city there are ways to enjoy nature. Mine preference is the forest but have enjoyed the desert, seashore, rain forest, and open fields.

Love and Light!


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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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Vision Board – International Dark Sky – Bryce Canyon National Park

My cousin and I have been planning a camping trip through Bryce Canyon National Park and other locations in southern Utah for over a year with Bryce being our first stop. I wasn’t sure what Dark Sky was until my cousins shared that we would be staying somewhere with we could enjoy it. She told me to look this up online and when I did it surprised me. On my vision board is a photo of the Milky Way taken on the new moon at Dark Sky. It was something that I have been wanting to witness but was not sure the name or where to see this. Also, I have photos of Utah with the word Travel over the top.

When she picked me up on August 28th at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV we witnessed not one but three rainbows. Unfortunately I didn’t capture the rainbows that appeared when I arrived but we both felt this was a good sign for our trip.

The first night was spent in a hotel in Cedar City and in the morning we traveled to Bryce Canyon National Park. When we checked in at Bryce they weren’t sure if there were any open tent areas. We rode around and the first three they thought were still open had been taken. It is a first come first serve area so we continued on and found the perfect spot.

After setting up our tent and camping area we went to the visitor center to see what events were occurring during our stay. They shared that Bryce had just received it’s International Dark Sky certificate and they were going to have a astrophotography walk on Saturday night. It was Thursday, we were told to arrive by 8 am on Saturday morning to request one of twenty tickets to reserve our spot. I had my camera and a couple of camera lenses, my cousin was using her cell phone. My plan was to arrive at 7:30 am and wait for them to open so we could be the first in line.

Saturday morning came and we arrived at the building at 8:01 am. We went straight to the counter and were given two tickets. I spoke with the ranger to ensure that I would be able to take the hike slowly as my atrial fibrillation causes me to slow down at times. He said it would be a slow pace and there would be three stops along the way to take photos. Luckily I had purchased a small tripod in case it was needed – it would be on this venture.

Saturday we hiked along some of the trails, then I took a nap to prepare for the evening’s adventure scheduled from 8 – midnight. My camera batteries were charged and at 7:30 pm we headed over ready for whatever happened.

This is a picture of the trail we would walk on once darkness set in. As you can see we had quite a way to hike before setting up on below on the other side of the formation. Our group stood at the top getting to know one another and our photography experience. We were amateurs to experienced photographers coming together to share an experience.

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This picture of the sun setting and in the center behind the distant trees you may notice the smoke from the forest fire that was active in Bryce Canyon during our visit.

We didn’t actually start walking into the canyon until around 9 and found our way to the perfect sight as darkness was setting in and the stars were filling the sky. What a beautiful sight. An amateur with my camera, I wasn’t expecting too much but listened to instructions and was ready for any assistance our group members wanted to provide.

Not only did I capture the Milky Way and the Hoodoos but even captured a shooting star or two throughout our time in the canyon.

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We were told to take at least five of the same shot so we could stack them later but I am still not quite sure what that means. I am sure someone has posted on YouTube exactly how to do this and I’ll check it out when there is time.

Being in nature with a dark sky filled with planets and stars is amazing. The night lights up with so many stars you can actually see the paths you are walking on however we did use head lamps and flashlights – mainly with red filters – to make adjustments to our cameras. Here are some more shots taken during out walk.

As the night sky darkened the stars did their magic and we were in awe.

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Tried to use more white light in this pic

If we could be aware of our effect on Mother Earth and the Universe by dimming street lights, turning off lights that are not being used in buildings and homes, changing the way the lights filter into the night, and allowing more areas to be certified as Dark Sky more people would witness this amazing natural event. Isn’t it time to realize how insignificant petty arguments, obsession with material possessions, and other things and focus on all of the beauty in the world. Life is short in the grand scheme of things and there is so much to enjoy. We should spend more time in nature and more time lifting one another.

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While we are here living life on this planet we can take action to save this beautiful planet for ourselves and generations to come. Being with this big dark sky made me feel small and insignificant, yet, it also made me feel large, energized and worthy of being in the midst of all this beauty. I don’t want a trip to Mars and wouldn’t want to live on another planet – Earth is my home and we all need to figure out a way to live here peacefully with everyone else who shares our home.

This year I have been able to visit California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and have seen several sights that have been on my board to either see for the first time or see again. I will continue to share stories and photos of my trip and let you know if they were on my vision board or written in my journal. Nine days of traveling disconnected from internet, cell, television for the majority of that time was wonderful!

If you are ever in Utah do yourself a favor and visit Bryce Canyon National Park. You will not regret it.

My questions to you is:

Do you have a vision of something you want to see or do? Do you have a vision board placed where you can see it daily? Or, have you written down your dreams in your journal? Please feel free to share your experiences.

Light and Love!

 


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Forest Bathing – Grounding – Connecting to Nature

I do not know whether it is possible to love the planet or not,
but I do know that it is possible to love the place
we can see, touch, smell and experience.
~ David Orr, Earth in Mind

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Nature is not a place to visit, it is home. 
~ Gary Snyder

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When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully
because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at
us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.

~ Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation

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It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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When in nature it is not a time to rush. Slow down, stop and look at the gifts nature has blessed you with. Take in everything in front of you, above you, to each side.

What are you smelling – the flowers, trees, dirt, earth? Take off your shoes and feel the earth under your feet. Let the energy of the earth revitalize you. Look up and watch the leaves dancing in the breeze above. Is the sunlight shining through the spaces between the branches? Raise your hands above your head and move your body like the leaves dancing in the wind. Release all that is holding you back. How does that feel?

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There is so much to see, smell, taste, feel, and connect with in nature if you just pay attention. When you are out, sit down and feel the earth. Let the dirt sift through your fingers. Feel the texture of the trees. Notice how each tree has a different shape, thickness and texture. Notice the trails – some are well worn while others are covered in moss or greenery.

Do certain sections of the forest feel like rooms? Maybe there are sections of trees protecting an area while other areas are open. What insects, little or big critters are scampering around through the trees, under foot, or along the dirt bath?

Pay attention to how the sunlight filters through and decorates the forest floor. Listen to the birds singing or sending out a warning signal. Sit and watch the dragonflies, butterflies and bees dancing from flower to flower. Can you find any edible plants along the path?

Forest bathing is learning to slow down and take in a section of the forest at a slow pace. There is no destination – just being present in the moment. Being mindful of life, of your surroundings. Slowing down to allow your body to heal. The forest has healing properties that are being discovered everyday. We have this beautiful gift if only we slow down enough to appreciate this blessing.

Last week I had my first experience facilitating Earth Walk with my client. After searching for several months I stumbled upon the perfect setting. A doctor had purchased a home and planted trees, flowers, and shrubs around the property. There are several ponds on the property and varieties of trees from around the world. There are many ‘rooms’ on the property with benches placed for a visitor to sit and contemplate the beauty that surrounds them. When he died the property was left for others to enjoy.

You can sit on a bench near a pond and watch dragonflies chase one another for hours. My client took her time and with my guidance she was able to release something that has been holding her back in life. We would walk to the various ‘rooms’ and she would sit on the bench and write in her journal. Then we would sit in silence until it was time to move on to another area. Sometimes after experiencing this type of walk you can feel melancholy for several days. After my first experience in New Mexico I traveled home and wasn’t sure what was happening to me. I felt sad but not depressed, a bit quiet and wanted to be alone, it felt like a loss or death. Which it actually was – a loss of what I had been holding on to for a couple of decades. We had buried something I had brought along and had a little ceremony to release. The night after our our ceremony I felt so upbeat and excited about the future it surprised me how melancholy had set in once I returned home. I reached out to Mary to share this experience and she said this was normal. You have to go through the stages of grief after releasing. After the week was over the scene from my memory could still rise up however it was like a movie that I no longer had any attachment to – it was someone else from long ago. It was a wonderful feeling to release that emotional connection. Two years later and I am still unattached to what had been a painful memory. Think about what you will be able to release while in nature? You can have your own ceremony.

When in nature give yourself the privilege of spending an hour or two in a state of relaxation. The beneficial effects will stay with you for days after the visit. If you can manage to experience this two or three times per week you will begin to notice the physical and mental health benefits. If you take someone with you try not to speak to one another during your walk – only to point out something that you are seeing, smelling, feeling – a shared experience. It is fine to bring a journal to write down what you are experiencing. If you are with another person after your experience sit down and discuss what you noticed and share your personal journey with one another if you wish.

Please let me know if you decide to experience this journey. I would love to hear from you.

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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Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe ~

“When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.” ~ Paul Cezanne ~

Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge

Love and Light!


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Finding Beauty in the Light

 “To love beauty is to see light.” ~ Victor Hugo ~

This weekend I walked into the library at Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center to check out the books, something I do every time I volunteer. There were no lights on so the room was lit with natural light but as I stood there the rainbows of light began to fill the room. The sun had set just enough to reflect into the crystal hanging in the window and it was beautiful. There were rainbows reflected on the carpet, ottoman, couch, tables, everywhere. After enjoying this gift for a little while I decided to take a walk.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

In the woods, the sun was protected by the tree canopy but once in a while a stream of light would find its way to the ground dotting the mossy path or shining through the back of a leaf appearing as if someone was holding a flashlight behind them.  It looked quite magical. On this walk I was not in a hurry to reach a destination. It was a slow pace, observing all that nature had to offer stopping to touch the bark, leaning down to explore tiny wild flowers, sitting on a fallen tree, feeling the cool moss, listening to the birds and the leaves rustling above. A little forest bathing, taking off my shoes to ground myself in nature. Such a peaceful experience.

When you are walking into a room do you stop and notice how the light filtering in the window decorates the furniture, carpets, and walls? When walking in the forest to you notice the patches of light on the ground before you, or decorating the foliage? Do you take the time to ground yourself, listen to the birds, feel the presence of trees, listen to the rustling leaves, feel the coolness of the air on your skin?

Every morning when the sun shines through my windows I feel blessed when I wake to the rainbows decorating my bedroom walls, waiting for me in the kitchen, and in the afternoon decorating the dining and living room. I have sun catchers, wind chimes, and/or crystals hanging in the windows that give quite a show, one that never fails to amaze me.

When you can appreciate the small things in life you will never miss the big things because the small things are the big things in life. They can uplift and help you find your way through sadness, illness, and other dark times. However you don’t want to wait for those ‘dark’ times to notice the beauty of life happening all around you. If you live mindfully aware of the beauty you are blessed with daily it will be easier to see and light the way during those dark moments. Remember the light is always with us on cloudy days, you just can’t see it at the moment.

For me, my darkness sets in when my heart dances – not a comfortable dance – atrial fibrillation. It is something I am learning to live with, not pleasant but I refuse to let it take over my life. My new normal is starting the day with medication and ending with medication. As someone who didn’t even take Tylenol this is a new experience. I am a nature girl, someone who loves to be active, to hike, snowshoe, kayak, always on the move. My new reality has me slowing down a little more, feeling tired a little more during the day, resting more frequently. There are some days I rather not do too much but as I have a habit of noticing the rainbows, light patterns on the walls, and ceilings I can always see beauty and enjoy the moments.

I lit candles in my office the other night and this beautiful design appeared on the ceiling. It was so colorful that I sat and enjoyed this for a while. Amazingly I had never noticed how beautiful the design was in the past. This I couldn’t understand because I have lit these candles in the past but never noticed – maybe it was the way the candle holders were sitting on the bookshelf that made the difference or maybe I just needed this little lift that night. Either way, it was an amazing gift.

If you are having a problem seeing the light during your dark times feel free to email me and we can talk about techniques to guide you to see the light. spiritofdragonflies@gmail.com.

Love and Light!


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Into the Forest – One Step At A Time Finding Inner Peace

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” ~ John Muir ~

One need not go into the woods to hike or even walk very far to enjoy the benefits of nature. You only need to slow down and listen to the leaves crunch under your feet, smell the fresh scent of trees and earth, listen to the birds and the rustle of leaves in the wind to become connected to the natural rhythm of life.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Stop, breathe and look around. Do you see the tiny flowers peeking out below you.

Do you stop to converse with the trees? Stand for a little while and wait for an invite from one of the trees. Of course they will not speak so you can hear them however you may feel an energy from one or two trees tug at you more so than others. Those are the trees you should spend time with. What kind of bark do they have – smooth or thick and rough? Are the large roots on the ground around the tree or are they hidden under the soil? What does the bark feel like? Touch it for a few minutes to see if you can feel the water running up from the roots to the branches above. Imagine how many years this tree has stood in this spot. Imagine all of the people walking through who may never have taken the time to enjoy its company. Imagine what experiences this tree has witnessed. If it is an older tree think of the possibilities – Native Americans, droughts or floods, insect infestation, fires, deforestation of other trees . . .

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

Sit down on a rock and listen to the waterfalls or the birds singing in the trees. Is it cooler in the woods that it was on the road traveling to the woods? Can you distinguish the different types of birds that are singing? Maybe you can hear an owl hooting in the distance or another bird signaling that there is a hawk in the area. Is it quiet near the pond or can you still hear traffic in the distance? What colors are you noticing? I love to notice all of the shades of green to yellow.

Sitting taking in the reflections on the water is my favorite. Last weekend while visiting Yaddo Garden in Saratoga Springs, NY, I slowly walked around the gardens – which are not in bloom yet – and spent some time standing near the pond listening to the small waterfalls across the road. The highway is nearby so there is a constant roar of car wizzing by on their way north and south of Saratoga. Once you overcome the constant drone it becomes easier to hear the bird’s songs and the peace in the wooded area. I stayed with one of the trees a little longer than the others and meditated for a short time in the peaceful environment.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir~

Stop and take notice of the beautiful green moss growing on the trees and rocks. Lean down and touch the cool, moist surface.

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.” ~ George W. Sears, writer & conservationist ~

You don’t have to be in the middle of a thick forest to enjoy nature, you can benefit from sitting on a bench under the shade of a tree in your own yard or in a local park. In the spring you have the pleasure of magnolia blossoms, lilacs, Lilies of the Valley, and many other treasures to enjoy.

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” ~ Frank Herbert, novelist ~


Flowers and buds are blooming along streets everywhere. It is beneficial to take time and notice how life continues. From the decay of the winter months new growth appears giving hope for the future. Colors, birds singing, there are smells of earth, flowers, trees in the air, different textures can be seen from tree to tree, leaf to leaf, flower to flower. We just have to open our senses to the beauty and diversity all around us.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” ~ Edward Abbey, novelist ~

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As the sun is setting, notice above in the tree line how some trees are still capturing the sunshine while others are beginning to fall into the shadows.

“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.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Sometimes while traveling for work I’ll pull along the side of the road and get out of the car to stretch and take a nature break. One never knows what they will find along the road and taking the back roads is my favorite because there are ponds, lakes, rivers, forests, and parks along the way. My camera is always sitting on the seat behind me however I do not always carry it when I get out of the car. Sometimes it is nice to just walk along slowly and become one with nature.

“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” ~ Walt Whitman, poet & writer ~

Do you stop to enjoy nature on a regular basis? My goal is to be in nature daily with longer visits on the weekends. At the end of summer I shall be traveling across southern Utah to enjoy sleeping in a tent under the stars with my cousin. One thing I truly look forward to witnessing is Dark Sky when the night will fill with stars that cannot be seen from where I live. It will be magnificent with everyday bringing a new adventure and beauty to take in. In the meantime, Spring is here and there are so many treasures to enjoy at this moment that I look forward to what lie ahead every day.

Love and Light!

 


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Nature, Trees and Grandchildren

“Hope is the tree that holds the world”

Pliny, the Elder

“Most people never listen.”

~ Earnest Hemmingway ~

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse, Wandering ~

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Silly Tanner climbing a tree

“Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes Calamity.”

~ Michael Chardon ~

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Baby Colt checking out the flower on the Magnolia tree

“If man is not to live by bread alone, what is better worth doing well than the planting of trees?”

~ Frederick Law Olmsted ~

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Checking out a very wise tree at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

~ John Muir ~

“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.”

~ Anton Chekhov ~

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Hugging Trees at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life and activity; it affords protection to all beings.”

~ Buddhist Sutra ~

Teaching children to connect with nature at an early age has been a very important part of my life. First with my own children, nieces, nephews, and their friends taking them for hikes, sleeping in lean-tos in the forest, and playing outside daily. Now with my grandchildren – Taylor, my eldest granddaughter, Tanner (5), Colt (3), and soon the youngest, Lainey (10 months) and Abram (6 months). Sharing the love of nature with children gives them a lifelong love and knowledge of our interconnection with the nature and all the life it maintains.

Whenever I get the chance I am outside with others learning about our environment, forest bathing, enjoying the sounds, smells and sights. Living mindfully in nature allows time to reflect, to take in fresh air, exercise the body, feel the spirit, and relax the mind. I have been very fortunate over the years to have attended classes with other like minded people, belong to groups, and volunteer at locations that allow time outdoors.

If all goes well and I am accepted into the class I will be spending 9 days outside in October of this year learning more about forest bathing, mindful outdoor meditation, group facilitation skills, and more. This will be truly a dream come true. After the class I will be a certified instructor and will begin to share my knowledge and experiences with others. What a blessing it will be to bring a sense of wonder and share this knowledge with the next generation.

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

Do you take time to hug trees? Do you teach children about their connection to nature? If we each take on the responsibility to protect nature we will be blessing our children and their children with a life sustaining gift. More precious than all the money in the world. 

A few things that you can do to help our environment:

  • Use cloth bags when at the grocery store or any store
  • Pick up garbage from the ground and throw it in the trash
  • Carry your own reusable water bottle
  • Purchase reusable sandwich bags – wash and reuse
  • Bring your own reusable lunch bag
  • Make your own meals from real food – not boxed or canned
  • Try to have less trash
  • Donate any unwanted items
  • Compost
  • Grow your own food in a garden
  • Walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation or drive a Hybrid
  • Ride share
  • Use your towels / wash clothes more than once before washing
  • Turn off the lights when not using, use energy saving light bulbs
  • Unplug your equipment when not using (laptops, computers . . .)
  • Have your furnace cleaned before cold weather
  • Carry all trash out of the woods when hiking or camping
  • Don’t write on trees or carve your initials in them
  • Plant trees every year
  • Call your representatives and senators to request more green space
  • Spend an hour or so outside daily connecting with nature
  • Hug a tree or two
  • Read books on nature – educate yourself
  • Take an outdoor class
  • Remove all chemicals from your home – inside and out  – find natural alternatives
  • Don’t purchase Round Up and don’t hire anyone who uses chemicals on your yard
  • Purchase only organic foods and grass-fed beef, free range chicken

Do you have something to add to this list? Please share.

Love and Light!