Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It’s an uncharacteristically cool, windy and overcast morning, and we’re unlikely to get much above the low 70s on this late July day. as I write this.

Our mountain ash tree berries are already ample, abundant, and hanging heavily as compared to previous years living here. The berries, still a greenish-yellowish hue at the moment, alternatingly swayed, brushed and batted against the neighbor’s roof with last night’s winds, at times providing a soothing backdrop to sleep, at other times abruptly waking us up at odd hours.

It feels like fall is already in the air. Birds and squirrels seem to be picking up the pace again, whether it’s collecting and scavenging ripening apricots falling to the ground, or picking over the last of the cherries. Earlier this week, our cat Flo-Jo brought inside a mouse she had killed. We calmly thanked her, then wrapped and tossed her wild gift into the trash can, preferring to feed her “cat food” instead!

In nature, wildlife seems to know when it’s time to step up the pace, to take action, and to prepare for what’s to come.

If one thing’s not in abundance in a particular season or year, something else undoubtedly is. Grizzly bears roam far and wide in search of sustenance in Greater Yellowstone when summer and fall seeds from whitebark pine trees are scarce.

It’s hard to believe that such large omnivores, in good whitebark pine years, can get up to 20 percent of their proteins and carbohydrates from these seeds, and up to 30% of their needed fats. Grizzlies are also adept at raiding caches of whitebark pine nuts stashed by squirrels, so squirrels create multiple caches, knowing that some will inevitably feed Ursus arctos horribilis instead.

Then there’s the chickadee, which weighs next to nothing and lives in cold, harsh climates year-round in places such as Yellowstone.

I remember waiting for Old Faithful to erupt on numerous -20 to -40 F mornings, and in the stillness and silence of anticipation noticing small groups of chickadees emerging from nearby conifers, unflappably confident, upbeat and knowing their needs would be provided for once the sun had risen.

Of course, chickadees also have a back-up plan, that being stashing small caches of seeds between cracks and gaps in the bark of trees throughout their range. Thus on severe stormy winter days when little food’s to be found, they have reliable places to get what they need as well.

Some people say that certain animals such as birds, squirrels, and rats are natural hoarders, that their motivations are driven by avoiding scarcity.

I beg to differ.

They are preparing, they are taking action. They make sure they have enough going into the winter, they allow for contingencies. They likely don’t lose sleep-they wake up each morning knowing what needs to be done, and they’re flexible and adaptable depending on what they’re experiencing every day.

But they also don’t seem to take and grab everything they can find and leave nothing for others in nature. They probably don’t agonize or over-analyze what they’re doing, what they did, or what they might do. I doubt they lose any sleep over things, either!

In the human world, though, hoarding and stock-piling inevitably leads to clutter, which, like kudzu, seems to restrict our mobility, and our ability to seize opportunities that are happening in the moment. It leads to increasing paralysis and separation. It fuels cycles of greed, shortage, lack, distrust and fear. It leads to violence and destruction of communities worldwide.

Do we really need 64-pack toilet paper rolls from a big box store on hand in our already over-stocked homes? Do we really have to go after the last of the fossil and non-renewable fuels instead of embracing abundant and infinite supplies of solar and wind power?

Stockpiling, hoarding and other actions stemming from fear-based, scarcity mindsets have real consequences that impact the natural world, and future generations.

Let’s loop back for a moment to what’s happening with grizzly bears In Greater Yellowstone in particular.

In poor whitebark pine seed years, grizzlies are now way more likely to encounter an abundance of subdivisions in what were once rural valleys they roam in search of food to fatten themselves for long winters. They’re likely to find an abundance of garbage, gardens, orchards, pet food, and occasionally even pets and livestock as potential food sources. These habitats that once provided an insurance policy or back-up plan in poor food years are now gauntlets of death and conflict for bears, other wide-ranging wildlife, and their human neighbors.

It’s fine and easy to have and create an abundant life. Nature shows us this in myriad ways, no matter where our feet are.

But creating and sustaining true abundance requires compassion and vigilance, making sure that that someone or something else’s right to thrive is not diminished or destroyed in the process. Something wild and priceless disappears when we neglect that, when we forget that we are all one. Future generations are robbed and looted when we act out of fear, scarcity, distrust and separation.

I know I am not alone on this, but grizzlies are what make Montana, Wyoming and Idaho’s back country vastly different from, say Colorado’s, for example. There’s something powerful and palpable knowing you’re in a place where you’re potentially part of the food chain-not the other way around.

There’s also a profound sense of awe and humility involved in respecting, protecting and allowing for grizzlies and other wild creatures to thrive, and not just survive, in this world, and maybe even to expand their range again in the Lower 48 states.

In the meantime, grizzlies are largely relegated to several island-like areas of varying protection south of the Canadian boundary. Politicians and government agencies in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are openly and publicly talking about de-listing the grizzly as an Endangered Species, and allowing for an annual hunting “harvest” (their words) in these states.

Again I beg to differ.

Conservationist and visionary Aldo Leopold remarked on similar challenges several generations back:

“There seems to be a tacit assumption that if grizzlies survive in Canada and Alaska, that is good enough. It is not good enough for me…Relegating grizzlies to Alaska is about like relegating happiness to heaven; one may never get there.”

There’s infinite, incalculable wisdom in being good stewards, and in restoring and healing the natural world in places where we can.

It seems like the only sane path moving forward for all of us-grizzlies included-to thrive.

If we follow a more self-centered and fearful path instead, decreasing numbers of people may still experience abundance for a while.

Yet they too will feel impoverished, and longing for that wild, wise and loving part of us we intentionally extinguished.

P.S.

I’d love to hear how this article resonated with you-thanks for contacting me to share your thoughts.

It’d be awesome to hear what you’re doing to simplify and de-clutter to bring greater meaning and focus to what you desire to create in your life.

I really appreciate your time reading this longer than normal posting.

It speaks so much to the rapid growth and transformation I am experiencing in my own life through deeper and more consistent connection with the natural world, but also to the powerful, positive and accelerated results my clients are experiencing as well!

The Serenity Prayer goes something like this:

Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

The natural world’s abundant in wisdom that helps us to discern that difference, and take emboldened, courageous action to experience what we desire most in our lives.

Especially if we slow down and pay closer attention. If we stop multi-tasking. If we put the kibbosh on expecting something to happen 24/7 or in a certain way when nature has its own ideas as to when the timing’s right, or how things will unfold.

A few personal examples from nature follow.

For the last five years. we could count on cherries ripening on our tree in the backyard around the 14th of June. Not so this year. We had a pretty dry spring following a wet and cold winter, with very little moisture falling our way until the last two weeks of June.

This year the cherries ripened at the very beginning of July, and they were even more abundant (and sweeter and more delicious!) than in previous years. We had gotten accustomed to things being a certain way at a certain time, but nature had its own time frame and ideas as to what was best.

This spring I also decided to try growing tomatoes from seeds instead of starts, something I had done easily and successfully in both Virginia and in Thailand.

Perhaps I got a late start toward this endeavor. We went east to visit family and friends in mid-May, so I waited until returning home to plant tomato seeds, thinking we might still have a frost in town that would kill them all, and also not wanting to bother a neighbor with watering plants who was already looking after our cat for 12 days. So I planted the seeds on June 1, and nurtured and tended to them diligently.

Last weekend, as temperatures hovered near 100 F, I gave up my dream to grow tomatoes from seed in this part of Montana and see if it could be done.

It probably can be done, but not by going it alone, not without support, not without learning from mistakes, and definitely not this year, given where we are now in the growing season.

Next year, I’ll invest in some healthy, solid tomato starts and plant them after the risk of last spring frost. I’ll save on labor, watering, weeding and grief in the process and support someone else in the community financially by doing so. I’ll focus on what I do best and enlist, hire and pay others to be in their own area of brilliance.

In the meantime, this summer I’ll savor and enjoy the harvests of fellow gardeners by buying their fresh tomatoes and other produce at local farmers’ markets.

I was mighty stubborn surrendering this vision to grow edible, delicious tomatoes from seed in less than 120 days, especially given my blazing track record over the previous four summers.

I saw only failure at first, and the disappointing prospect of not using our own tomatoes in canning special salsas for Thanksgiving and Winter Solstice celebrations.

Over the past five weeks, Erik has non-judgmentally watched me tend to the soil, and weed and water the ground diligently, and heard me mutter and agonize whether anything was to come from all this activity, time, expense and effort.

Ironically and perhaps serendipitously, the neighboring raspberries have sprouted like kudzu during the same time frame, and they are also the juiciest and most abundant they’ve been in years!

The natural world is not at our beck and call, as the above two anecdotes illustrate, but neither is the so-called “real world” for that matter. Neither world operates the way we demand or command it to do at times, in contrast to how we expect hotel room service to function!

Instead, when we open ourselves to notice what’s going on in nature, and to detach from our personal ideas about what’s best, we reconnect with our soul’s deeper desires. We witness unforeseen outcomes and results that are often better and different than what we expected, too!

We open ourselves to experiencing and receiving miracles on a daily basis, and to a deepening connection and reverence for all of life. We empower and encourage and embolden others to do the same. As more people connect with the healing and inspiration nature freely provides, everyone prospers and experiences greater peace.

As the tomatoes from seeds story illustrates, we don’t have to go it all alone. We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to force things, to struggle, to take things personally.

The natural world constantly reminds us that we are supported and provided for, no matter what.

That’s what nature does-without expectation, without judging, without micro-managing, without blame, without worry, fear, regret or impatience.

In nature, we’re all equal and worthy. We all belong. We’re all deserving.

Yet we also experience faster, lasting results when we receive support and accountability, and participate in an encouraging, welcoming community.

We’re all human and perfectly imperfect. We are not meant to live our lives alone, disconnected from other human beings and the natural world that sustains us all.

We are all heroes to others. Others are waiting to hear your story as to how you courageously changed and bettered not only your life, but the lives of those you’ve touched.

What is it in your life that you most want to change?

Courageously take action on that-don’t wait or waste another day, and tell and share your inspiring story with others!

June is Pride Month just about everywhere in the world, even in places where some governments, groups and individuals do their best to criminalize or otherwise restrict the inalienable rights of individuals to express who they are and love who they love.

The natural world provided me refuge, and a non-judgmental, welcome environment at a time when I needed it most, when I was first coming to terms with what it meant to be gay, and how I could begin to integrate that vital part of who I am into the nature connection life’s work I’ve been called to do.

For many, it’s become easier for people to come out and be who they are, and the overall environment and climate have become more accepting in some places, but we still have a ways to go.

Too many people still kill themselves, get thrown out of their homes, become jobless, homeless, or both, or are marginalized or persecuted because of who they are and love.

The Pride Foundation inspires giving to expand opportunities to advance full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ) across the U.S. Northwest, including the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

They envision a world in which all LGBTQ youth, adults and families enjoy the freedom to live openly, safely and genuinely.

To honor the vital work that Pride Foundation does, I will donate 10% of all sales of my large format, signed prints, handmade, hand-signed photo cards, lithographic greeting cards, meditation and note card sets purchased from now through Wednesday night, June 25.

Visit  http://www.yourlifenature.com to bring home more nature into your own life and those of others you care about, and know that ten percent of your purchase amount is going to a phenomenally important cause.

The world is full of stories from people for whom nature has changed, inspired or turned their lives around, and you really never know how important nature connection is to you and your own one wild precious life until you need it most.

Enjoy more nature in your home and work setting, and best of all share it with others. Pride Foundation is the only non-profit organization I am selecting to support in 2014 through a percentage of sales, so now is the golden moment to support them through your love of nature and its amazing diversity of all life forms.

Thanks for visiting http://www.yourlifenature.com and supporting Pride Foundation, too! For more info on Pride Foundation and they work they do please visit http://www.pridefoundation.org

 

In A Course In Miracles, author Marianne Williamson shared that peace is being in the present moment without judgment.

That can be mighty hard to do at times, but I had plenty of practice doing so while visiting my Dad a few weeks back in Virginia.

My Dad has likely been living with Alzheimer’s for about six years now, though he wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2011. We could all tell that he was slipping here and there since the early 2000s, but largely attributed it to him having “senior moments”. We did our best in allowing him to remain as independent as possible.

It really sucks to see someone who was once so vital, vigorous become hugely dependent upon the care and watchful eyes of others. He no longer drives, but keeps a car in hopes that one day he will regain his freedom.

He’s maddening and demeaning and belittling at times, as my sisters and sister-in-law can attest to, they having borne the brunt of his hurtful behavior.

Many in our family limit their interactions and visiting times to protect themselves emotionally.  One sibling, though, feels relentless, crushing, seemingly never-ending guilt colliding with her sense of duty and meaning of family in trying to decide and do what’s best for him.

In a nutshell, my Dad does not want to be is assisted living-he wants to go home to die. He says he is not happy where he is and that everything is awful, but over the course of spending time with him over several visits while being back in Virginia, his actions and interactions showed me something profoundly different. He has a second family there, and he’s part of an at-times feisty community.

My Dad got to see Erik again and meet his mom as well on this visit, but the following few times we got together it was just the two of us. He asked how both Erik and his mom were doing and had ideas about places for them to visit in Richmond. He was thrilled that we came to visit and that we brought warmer weather with us, as it had been a cold and slow start to spring following a long for Virginia standards winter.

Each visit, he caught me up to speed on how the Yankees were doing as compared to the Mets and Pirates. A fellow  resident and baseball fanatic printed out the stats from each Yankees game to share with my Dad, and they would lively debate who either saved or blew the game.

I joined my Dad for lunch one day in the cafeteria, where we joined a group of five men, more or less his age, for soup, salad, sandwiches, and sugar-free dessert.. We sat directly across from someone in his mid- to late-90s (my Dad will be 88 in November).

Dad shouted out to him, “Now that guy is really old!”, and I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when the other man shouted back to him, “Shut up, Bud, that’s no way to treat your elders!”.

Another person at the table had a grown son a little older than me who had at one time played on my Dad’s baseball team, and he was happy to be hanging with someone who was hanging with his Dad.

We can all have challenging memories and stories about how we were raised and how we were treated growing up, and it can be astonishing when different parents and siblings have conflicting memories and lingering feelings as to what those times were like.

It might have been Wayne Dyer who said that the past is about as significant as old dishwater, but when you’re grappling with how to best support someone entering one  of their last chapters in life, we all slosh around in this choppy ocean a little differently.

I learned so much from my Dad this trip by doing my best to be fully present in the moment with him, without judgment. Even when things got rocky or testy, I chose to keep only the love and the lessons learned, and to let go of the rest.

A friend who we visited who had recently lost her mother, and who also knows my Dad, said it best:

They all once had careers, families and full lives. They all loved someone and were loved as well. They did their best. They remember and savor these moments in life because it helps them feel and remember what it means to be fully alive. They still have their dignity, they still have their souls and their spirits. Their bodies and minds might be faltering, but they once had lives like we do, and they want to be treated with love, patience, compassion, non-judgement and respect. .
Solo walks in nature (as well as with Erik and his Mom)  helped me gain clarity as to how I could be more present and at peace in the moment when visiting with my Dad, as well as with family members who found it hard to spend  time with him.

Before flying home to Montana, Erik and his Mom and I traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a few days following a week of visiting and catching up with my side of the family.

A rough-and-tumble ocean and towering dunes of sand was the perfect salve. Wave after ocean wave massaged,  released and healed pent-up and unresolved feelings, memories and stories that never really served me.

Into the sea they went, into the sea they all dissolved.

Gentle breezes, children playing and laughing, and pelicans gliding above the Atlantic Ocean gifted me tremendous calm, bliss and peace with what was unfolding in life, helping me to surrender to all that was beyond any one person’s control. Which is just about everything!

From the sea we once came, and to the sea we will once again return eventually.

In the meantime, I’m eternally grateful to have been able to see and be with my Dad in a different light.

Summer is nearly upon us in the northern hemisphere, and here’s hoping you’ll have a safe, fun, adventurous and relaxing outdoor-filled summer with lots of time outside.

From June into September, I’m leading a series of four different themed monthly nature discovery walks.

These late afternoon local outings are perfect for shaking and waking up your mid-week routine, and for creating more regular nature connection opportunities in your life.

I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday June 25 from 4-5:30 p.m. for the first of four Nature Discovery Walks.

I am offering each of these nature connection opportunities for $20 per person, but you can bring along one other friend or family member (elementary school aged and older children are welcome-one per paying adult) for the same total price.

Just click on the PayPal button below to reserve your seat, and we’ll have fun discovering how to partner with nature to create more energy, balance, clarity, peace and joy in your life.

Be sure to bring a small day pack along with water, sunscreen, something to sit on, and something to write with and on, and you’ll be set!

Register early as I have set a maximum group size limit for each outing, and plan on walking/hiking up to two miles over terrain ranging from fairly level to fairly moderate in elevation gain.

We’ll walk/hike rain or shine- here’s the link to sign up:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=PS3HRBKVE6LW2

Each Nature Discovery Walk will have a different built-in theme and focus, with the first one on June 25 being “Discovering Your Own Backyard.”

Also, please mark your calendar for the following mid- week summer Nature Discovery Walks on Wednesdays from 4-5:30 p.m:

Wednesday July 9, 2014 This outing is all about  “Midsummer Day Dreaming”, where we’ll enjoy honing our senses in nature.
Wednesday August 20, 2014 This outing zeroes in on “Big Sky, Big Water”, where we’ll be doing a fun mix of reflective and inspirational activities.
Wednesday September 10, 2014 This outing focuses  on “Harvesting Summer’s Gifts For The Seasons to Come”.Here’s hoping you can join me for as many of these walks as you can, and you are most welcome to share this opportunity with others!Thanks, and may your feet never be far from the natural world that sustains us all…

P.S. Directions and other related information for the June 25 and later Nature Discovery Walks will be emailed upon registration.

 

Natural Miracles

 

Spring is indeed a time of palpable and visible miracles, but then again so are the other seasons of the year. Crocuses rocket out of the ground not long after overnight snowfalls, robins and northern flickers contest favorite spots on lawns for emerging worms and insects, and it’s easier for most of us humans to wake up with the sunrise, and stay up a bit past sunset again.

Saint Augustine had it right when he observed that

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature”.

It’s a dangerous tendency to think we know it all.

Ditto for thinking we’re fine to go it alone in this world, to leave our thinking, free will, and decision-making to so-called “experts”, to wash our hands of making a firm decision or commitment to change, to surrender or give up, to crawl into a hermitizing hide-a bed of apathy and despair, you name it.

Miraculously, nature shows us that nearly everything depends on chance, on timing, on inspired action or intuition, on recognizing patterns, cycles, flows and opportunities. It also reveals how much we are not meant to do and be and live this thing called life alone-we all have an important role to play, and we are all part of the natural community.

Nature’s a risk taker-we are hard-wired to be and do the same.

The rewards are of risk-taking are universally uncertain and unknowable, yet the risks of not changing or evolving portend a death knell for all of us.

We stop growing. We dig in tenaciously, hoping someone or something else will change, yet ironically and miraculously, our entire world changes once we allow ourselves the miracle of seeing and experiencing things differently.

Nature does that for all of us, gladly, willingly and unconditionally. Nature doesn’t seen to have favorites or to take sides.

What’s the true cost of not being connected to nature’s wisdom, encouragement, support, and infinite wellspring of creativity and possibilities?

What miracles are we missing out on in life because we perceive and believe we’re too busy, there’s not enough time, the timing’s not right, the money’s not there, or we  need someone’s permission before we permit and commit ourselves to changing?

All you need is to allow yourself a tiny shift in perception, hope and belief. Once you take that leap, once you make an unwavering commitment, nature will always be there to meet, greet and support you, no matter where your feet are.

It was awesome and most inspiring to share with others how to “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: Four Fun and Easy Steps to Create Your Powerful Nature Connection Sit Spot, No Matter Where Your Feet Are”.

It was great being able to share such a portable, adaptable, and fun nature connection tool that has positively supported and served so many people,  whether we’re at home, work, rest or play. During the recorded tele-class, we created, envisioned and allowed a nature power spot to enhance and empower our lives. We used all of our senses, and connected deeply with the healing and transformational powers of water in particular.

If you weren’t on the call, you can most definitely benefit from listening to and revisiting this sit spot recording.

My intention is that this recording not only supports your deeper, more consistent connection with the natural world, and with your own authentic nature, but also that it’ll be an evergreen, go-to gift for yourself, so you may continue practicing and experimenting with what works best for you, and become more comfortable with sitting still and allowing nature to work its magic with you, too!
Creating a consistent sit spot place and space can enhance and empower your life in myriad ways.
If you’d like to purchase, receive and enjoy this 30-minute plus recording for an affordable $13.97, click on the Paypal link below, and your Nature Connection Sit Spot Recording will soon be on its way.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UAPNXKL2RA5NY

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.