12 Reasons to Get into Nature!

Where I live, you can see the change of season coming. Some of the leaves are already starting to turn bright colors. This is one of the signs that Summer is coming to an end as it does every year. So here comes Autumn! I love all of the seasons for different reasons but Autumn is truly my favorite. I love the crispness in the air, the crunch and smell of the leaves on the forest floor as you hike, and the beautiful colors that splash onto the canvas of the world. I enjoy getting out in the kayak or on the hiking trails in the Fall. Exploring what I have seen before, but now looks entirely different. In the Winter, when the temperatures here dip below zero, I often find it hard to get outside and be a part of Nature. But I still try. Last year it was dogsledding in Northern MN. Finally Spring, rebirth and return of the sun. Always appreciated. Here are some reasons for all of us to remember the importance of getting outside (and into Nature) no matter what the weather.

 

1.        It gives you room to breathe – Removing the walls and the ceiling around you can give you the opportunity to see the sky, relax and just breathe.IMG_9974

2.        It lowers stress – The sounds of the birds and rustle of the trees, the clean smell of the air, the sun on your face; it can all help reduce stress and anxiety.IMG_5938

3.        It helps to keep your clock set- The natural light of the outdoors can help to reset your internal clock. Your brain responds to the sun on your face. IMG_1088

4.        You realize you are part of something bigger – The web of life happens all around us, all the time. When we spend time in nature, we can see how we fit into this bigger world.IMG_2486

5.        There are amazing things to see – There are so many things waiting for you around the next turn. Beautiful things are available for your five senses in all seasons. You only have to get out there.IMG_9876

6.        Feel more alive – Have you ever sat on a covered front porch and watched a lightning storm? You feel so alive with the wind, the electricity in the air, splashes of light and booming thunder putting on a show. There are so many of these experiences in Nature!IMG_4515

7.        Be inspired – So many outdoor sights can be inspiring. Whether it is the bumble bee making its way from flower to flower, a beautiful waterfall, or breathtaking rock formation – from the small to the large, Nature can be very inspiring. IMG_1813

8.        You time – It gives you time to unwind and step away from all of the “to do’s” on your list. Laying in the sun, swimming in the surf, or walking through the forest; it gives you some space to honor yourself. IMG_8501

9.        Just full of analogies – I, have many times, been out in Nature and noticed something that I can see as an analogy for my life. For example, once I saw how a beaver had built his house. I thought about the hardworking beaver. He doesn’t complain. He just gets to work and gets it done. Then he can go for a swim and relax. IMG_1044

10.     Experiences – I think most of my favorite experiences have happened outside. After all, it was an impulsive BWCA trip that inspired this whole journey that led to blogging and Adventure Sister Emy! IMG_8513

11.     Bonding time – My grandmother used to take me on Nature walks to pick wild flowers. I took my own daughters on fairy hunting treks and my grandchildren have gone kayaking with me. Whether it is friends or family, time in Nature can be such a lovely bonding experience. IMG_2489

12.     Appreciation – Finding things to be grateful for attracts more blessings into our lives. When you look around outside, there is so much to be grateful for and appreciate. IMG_9500

 

I am sure there are many more reasons other than these 12. Get outside today! Enjoy the weather, as is, without wishing for it to be anything other than what it is. Take a moment to be thankful for all the beauty that the natural world gives us.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be filled with opportunities to get out in Nature, as if by Magic!

***No Trees, insects, or birds were harmed in the making of the art on the featured image of this blog. All items were found on nature walks.

 

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Drumming With the Wolves; My Experience

On Saturday, July 21st I received the exciting opportunity to be part of an event called, Drumming with the Wolves. It was held at the Wildlife Science Center. To follow is the intentions behind the event, what I experienced there, and how it changed me.

The event was the brain child of one of my friends, Vonne. I feel grateful and blessed that she invited me to be a co-organizer for this important event. It was set with the idea of raising money to help support this important center and all of the great research they are gathering, knowledge they are sharing, and endangered animals they are fighting to keep from extinction.

The event started around 6 pm. The evening was sunny and warm and about 30-40 people joined us to have the opportunity to see these great creatures up close, learn about them, and be part of a drum circle. There was a strong feeling of community as old friends reunited and new friends met for the first time. I met some amazing people, who I hope to see again and again at future events. Peggy, the Founder, Biologist, and Wolf Mother took us on a tour of her amazing facility. We started off by meeting the Wolves. As we walked along their enclosures the Wolves ran up to the fence to meet us. I remember when my eyes met the golden eyes of the first majestic animal.  I fell in love. You could see the wildness in his being but also the love. These Wolves are, after all, spiritual beings too.  Peggy graciously educated us, answered questions, and howled so that the Wolves would howl back. I cannot describe the way it took my breath away to hear 100+ Wolves howling in chores together.  I have heard Wolves howl when Emy and I were camping in the Boundary Waters but to have them all around us howling, was a completely different experience. We met many Wolves on this tour, all with their own interesting and unique stories to tell.

After we met the Wolves we got to meet some of the other wild creatures that have come to live there, because they cannot be released back to the wild. Mountain Lions, Lynx, and Bobcats all call the Wildlife Science Center home. Additionally, there are Bears, Raccoons, an elderly Porcupine, Fox, and Skunk. Each creature has its own story of how it came to call the heartfelt place home. There are also Raptors, who we did not get to meet, perhaps during the next public event called The Harvest Howl in October.

After we finished our tours we shared in a potluck. Prayer Ties were made with Tobacco grown from a 100 year old seed shared by an attending indigenous woman. Intentions and prayers were placed in the Ties to be fed to the fire. It was very beautiful and powerful. That this tradition was shared with us and the tobacco song sung in the native tongue made me feel honored and blessed to be a part of this.

I led a healing meditation. I was awed and a bit amused as the wolves added their howls from time to time to the meditation. It was as though they wanted to participate.

Now it was time for the drumming. Lisa called in the directions and led the drumming. The drums beat matched with the heartbeat of the Earth. Each drumming session had a powerful intention set with it. Children and adults all participated. There were Drums, Dowels, Tibetan Tingsha Cymbals, Singing Bowls, Rattles, and even a white Crystal Bowl. A Didgeridoo was played earlier in the night offering sound baths to some participants. It was a blend of cultures and such an amazing sense of community. There was no judgment, only love, community, and respect. The Drumming was an important and inspiring part of the evening. As our Drums beat together, joining us with each other and the natural world around us, our prayers were carried off with the Drum beats and vibrations. It connected us together with one another and with all of nature.

The Wolves; who are a fierce hunter, strong predator, and create fear in so many – displayed only love and curiosity during our visit. They are well cared for and respected. They are not pets but rather wild animals who need our help and understanding to survive. At the end of the night we howled, Peggy howled, and the Wolves howled. It was a final goodbye and great end to the night.

It was an experience that was transformative in many ways. I was looking forward to the Drumming but the night was so much more than just that. The opportunities to join these kind of events is a blessing. They enhance your life and teach you things about others, but more than anything else, they help you to know yourself even better. What moves you, inspires you, touches your heart? This event and the people and creatures I met here did all these things for me and more.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find events that foster in you a deeper connection with yourself and those around you, as if by magic. I love you!

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Summertime

Summertime in MN is an amazing time. We suffer through the cold winters of ice and snow and when summer comes, it feels like the whole world comes alive. The days are longer and it just seems like there is more time to enjoy the day. There are those who love the Minnesota winter and I must admit that the snow, when it falls soft and fluffy, is beautiful. The peaceful white snow covers the world like a serene blanket. For me though, Summertime is supreme.

I had lived in FL for 10 years and it felt like summer all year long. At the holidays I would plant poinsettias and red and white petunias in the flower beds. Sure, there were times of year that were less hot, but there was no snow or bitter cold. When I moved to Minnesota from Florida, I rediscovered the beauty of all seasons.

In the Autumn, I love the change of colors of the leaves. I love going hiking and feeling the crunch under my feet and the smell of autumn in the air, which I can not adequately described. It is the time of year when the crops are harvested. All the fruits of our labor are fresh and available.  Ripe for the picking.

The Spring slowly awakens after the long slumber of Winter. She stretches herself toward the rising sun and the days get longer. Splashes of color begin to make the world bright again. The promise of warmer days provides hopefulness.

I love them all and always look forward the the newness of the change. None of them can make my soul sing like the summer though. The sparkle of the sun on the lake water. The bright green of the grass. The peacefulness of kayaking down a quiet waterway.  Camping in the forest and sitting around a crackling fire in the evening. All of these things are part of the experience of Summer that I love so much.

Thank you for reading my blog today! May you find things in all season of the year and a season of life to love.

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Go Beyond Your Fears

Alligators, snakes, and turtles, oh my! I love to kayak! This is a love I share with my Adventure Sister, Emy, as well as with my husband. It is an activity that is infectious and when I share it with others, I soon hear they are shopping for a kayak themselves. It is a lovely way to experience nature by gliding smoothly through the water. I feel as one with the kayak and close to the nature all around me when out paddling. Now that I am spending more time in Florida, I want to be able to practice this peaceful activity all year round. After all, kayaking season in Minnesota is a bit short. 

One day, as my husband and I were traveling the backroads in Florida, I was looking longingly at all the little streams and rivers that were just waiting for us to kayak through them. I looked at the grassy banks and thought, I wonder if the Alligators bother the kayakers. Hmmm, I had not considered that this prehistoric looking critter might pose a treat. I calmly did , what I do when I have a question like that, I pulled out my trusty phone and researched it. It turns out that if you don’t bother them while kayaking, they wont bother you. What a relief! 

So what else might pose a threat? Well, another possible problem with kayaking in Florida is the snakes. There are 4 poisons snakes here and unlike Minnesota snakes, they don’t stay on the ground. They get up into the trees. I have heard stories of them dropping out of the trees into boats. Ick! Although I am sure they fall out of the trees at times, perhaps due to a strong wind, I am guessing they do not intend to fall into boats. It really seems like it would be a bad plan on their part. I wonder if these stories are more for the “thill” factor of watching the listener’s eyes widen than anything. 

So my husband and I purchased a second hand tandem kayak. We tested it by paddling down a stream with overhanging trees. It was a lovely paddle. Everything was so green and there were beautiful purple flowers along the shoreline. We did see some reptiles on our paddle in this lovely place but it was just was a big turtle and a baby turtle, sunning on log. 

So often in life we hear stories or thoughts occur to us of all the: “what if’s”.  What if the snakes would have been raining from the trees? What if they gators were hungry and aggressive? I read in a book once, many years ago, “Why walk, we might fall?”. We can stop ourselves from doing anything if we let our fears become larger than our dreams. If you truly want to live the life of your dreams, you must boldly push beyond your fears. I am not saying be careless, but do some research. Check the facts. Have a plan to counteract the “what if’s”. And then go fo it! After all, the only reptile on your battle may be turtles! 

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. I wish you the life of your dreams, today and everyday. 

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A Brand New Adventure

Thursday was a beautiful winter day in Northern Minnesota. The sky was a crystal blue and clear. The sun was bright and white against the blue of the sky. The ground was blanketed with a layer of sparkling white snow. It was 7 degrees above zero with an expected high of 31. This was as lovely a day as we could hope for on our first ever dog sledding adventure.

The dogs were friendly and happy. They excitedly greeted each one of us. We walked amongst the dogs giving them hugs and loves. They were as excited as we were about the days adventure. It was to be a day long experience that would cover 15-30 miles in Superior National Forest.

It started out with the guides teaching us how to drive the sled and mush the dogs. The most important lesson learned was how to stop the sled; the dogs needed no encouragement to go. They loved to run. Instruction halted for a bit when a dog came over looking for affection. Theo (one of our teachers) stopped what she was doing to give the pup what she was looking for. I was impressed by the love and respect the animals were treated with. Our guides taught us how to safely and kindly harness the team. Lead dogs in front, team dogs in the middle, and wheel dogs in the back. As we secured them to the line, all of the huskies started barking and howling, saying they too wanted to go on the excursion.

As we set off into the middle of the forest, the dogs were excited and wanting to run. Marty (my amazing husband) was driving the sled while I was tucked safely inside, ready for an experience unlike anything I have done before.

We glided through the crystalline world, encompassed completely by nature. Giant boulders, some as big as our house, stood as reminders of the glaciers that dropped them there long years ago. The uphill climbs were slow and steady, while on the downhills the canines poured on the speed. The sound of an occasional bark was the only noise other than the paws on the trail and that of the sled. It was breathtaking! Large pines and bare birch trees stood in alliance protecting this sacred space. We pulled out of the trees to journey across a frozen lake. As we first glided onto the lake, one of the sleds lost its balance and tipped, throwing its driver. The passenger continued on behind the enthusiastic team in the sled, on its side, for a good 20 feet before the team came to a stop. I thanked my lucky stars that Marty had kept us upright. We stopped for lunch on the lake. A fire was started and brats were cooked on sticks found in the woods. Homemade cookies and hot chocolate rounded out the meal. While we ate and chatted, the dogs lounged in the sun. One of the younger dogs barked excitedly but the older dogs took it easy or rolled and played in the snow. The crackle and smell of the fire, which I usually associate with summer, was in such contrast to this silent cold environment.

After a nice break, we loaded back up, tummies full of warm food. As soon as the teams saw us coming they got all lined up and start making a joyous sound, more than ready to get going again.

The trip back was faster and with tighter curves. There were times my shoulder brushed trees as we raced on. As we came around one turn, the end of a downed tree protruded from the snow into the trail. Marty tried to shift the sled to avoid it but it caught us just right and our sled was pushed over onto it right side. Luckily Marty held on and the team stopped after a somewhat short drag on my side. Marty pulled the sled back upright and the dogs immediately took off before he could get himself situated. This time we were thrown onto our left side. Marty got the sled upright and again, the dogs took off. The fact that I was not dragged away is because Marty threw himself on the brake and held the team back until he could get situated. Dan, our other excellent guide, had tied off his team and was running back to help us, but by now we were all set and ready to go again.

The rest of the trip was a wild ride through the evergreens and naked brush. I can not describe how exciting and fun it was to be zooming through this majestic forest, pulled onward by these amazing animals. I am so impressed with the dogs and their enthusiasm. As we neared the end of our trip, a large cast iron bell hung in a tree. I reached up and grabbed the rope and rang the bell as we glided under it to let them know of our return.

We pulled back into the dog yard. The dogs were happy to be home and only slightly winded. We thanked each dog with pets, hugs, and treats. We got to help unharness the team and get them safely back to their homes.

This was a great adventure. I was in need of some forest bathing time and this was a beautiful and fun way to get to experience northern Minnesota nature in March. I recommend, if you are looking for something different to do during the frozen months, to give it a try! You will learn a lot, have a new adventure, and maybe even discover some things about yourself.

Adventure on my friends! I wish you a life filled with fun and new experiences.

Thank you Theo, Dan, and White Wilderness Dog Sledding Adventures for the grand day!

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Serendipity

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. This gives us all an opportunity to examine what we are grateful for. A moment of serendipity changed my world and my life for the better. It introduced me to a new place that allowed me to have adventures I may not have had otherwise. It also was the back drop for years of self improvement, helping me to become a better version of myself.

It all started with a Groupon. My friend Emy and I enjoyed going canoeing and kayaking. Although, we had not done much of it, at that time. I saw a package for a 3 day canoe trip. I envisioned Emy and I out on the water, enjoying the wilderness and the sun. I did not comprehend what this canoe trip really was all about. We bought the deal and the adventure began. I could not have envisions how my life would change because of it.

The canoe trip was in a place called the Boundary Water Canoe Area (BWCA). If you love the outdoors, isolation, and camping, then this place is for you. It is untamed wilderness. Lakes and forests provide a beautiful sanctuary for the area wildlife. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in most of the BWCA. Even a cooler with wheels is considered mechanized. The only way in is to canoe. When you need to move from one body of water to the next, you pick up all of your gear and your canoe. You portage (carry) it all to the next body of water. Quite the enterprise. Each lake will have campsites. They are far apart and isolated. A lake may only have 3 campsites on it, or less if it is a small lake. A campsite consists of a cooking grate and a pit toilet. There are no walls around the pit toilet but lots of trees and wilderness to provide for your privacy.

What you have is what you bring with you. Literally what you carry on your back. This untamed wilderness provided us with challenges we had not faced before. We had adventures that have kept us coming back year after year. The BCWA provided us with growth, individually, and as a team. It has provided me with a sense of pride. These trips have reminded me that I am capable of great things. If you put a challenge in front of me, I will do everything in my power to overcome it and succeed.

I am grateful for this moment of serendipity that improved my life and I am grateful for the changes I have made in myself. This first adventure helped me to be a better person and hopefully provide a positive influence to the world around me. It fortified my belief in magic and in myself.

What moments of serendipity do you have to be grateful for. How has a moment or experience changed your life for the better?

Go towards fear?

Our first year going into the Boundary Water Canoe Area, Emy and I were full of nervous energy and a lot of that was covered up with bravado. We wanted to hit the water right away at 5am when the outfitters open, so that we could make the most of the first day. The night before we stayed in the bunk house. We shared our bunk house room with others.

There was a group of men that stayed in one room and there was John. John was there from the Chicago area for his annual BWCA trip with his buddies. There was only one problem. John’s buddies all for one reason or another were not going to make it. I was impressed with John, who took all of this in stride and decided he would venture out into he wilderness solo. John also had nervous energy covered up with bravado as he talked about his voyage. He told us about the length of his BWCA adventure and the amount of portaging he was going to have to do. The weather was predicting rain. Emy and I put on our manifestation hats and told John to focus on sunshine and sunshine is what he would get. John was a good natured fellow and took our advise in stride.

We sat on the steps of the bunkhouse that night, all of us nervous. All of us also excited about what our trip would bring. The lamp outside the door blanketed us in a yellow glow. A moth floated back and forth between us as we chatted. Other nighttime insects buzzed around. At this point Emy and I were thinking we were in a little over our heads. I wonder if John felt the same way too. It was a totally empowering feeling to be taking on the untamed wilderness. It was also quite scary.

As Emy and I sat in the rain at our campsite the next day, we wondered if John was sitting in the rain. We wondered what it was like to be out in the wilderness, on a trip that was planned with friends, now taking it alone.

Those things that scare us can empower us. Someone told me recently to go toward my fear. To use fear as a gage that I am doing the right thing. During that first trip to the BWCA, so many years ago, we went toward our fear and our life has been so much richer as a result. Two women, alone out in the forest, surviving with what we carried in and what we could catch. When we planned the trip we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. Now we can’t imagine our lives without it.

What things have you done that scared you but now have made you life richer or fuller? What do you think about going towards your fear? Is that good advice or not?