Nature Is All Around Us

I live in the city even though I am a nature girl at heart. As I was driving through downtown Minneapolis, on my way to work this morning, I noticed the sunrise reflected on the glass of the downtown sky scrapers. It was stunning and it helped me to realize Nature is all around us.

As a girl who loves nature, I sometimes feel that living in the city keeps me away from my beloved forests, but then I take the time to notice there are wonderful ways for me to experience the outdoors without having to take a drive to the countryside. The trees and shrubs along the side of the road, showing off their autumn color,  are one way we are blessed with beauty. The squirrels, who are busy putting on their winter fat, are little bits of the wild that we can enjoy. If we just take the time to look around, there are so many amazing little gifts that the plants and animals offer us, even within the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

Winter is coming to the Twin Cities, where I live. I find it difficult to get out into the natural world in the winter because the cold weather does not agree with me. I have purchased snow pants, good quality winter boots, hats and gloves; all with the intention of making sure I continue to get outside and experience the wild and fresh air all winter long. This must be a mindful decision on my part. It is not natural for me to want to venture out into the frosty cold. I have learned that when I push through and get out there, even if it is just to walk around the block, seeing the sky and feeling the wind on my cheeks makes me a better and happier person.

Are you like me? Do you feel better when you have more playtime with Mother Nature? How do you incorporate her into you everyday life? It is too easy to think that you need time to drive to the bluffs and go hiking, or take the kayaks to the river to get out there. Maybe just enjoying this gorgeous world we live in is as simple as noticing the sunrise or sunset. Maybe watching the fluffy clouds float by, or the even fluffier squirrel in the tree, can help sustain us until a deep journey into the wild is available.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find the beauty you need in your everyday life.

 

 

 

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Fostering a Love of Nature in the Younger Generation

This weekend my husband and I met our daughter and granddaughter on the North Shore of Lake Superior. There are so many lovely views along the way. Majestic Lake Superior, beautiful waterfalls, and forests all make for an enjoyable day surrounded by natural beauty. Our granddaughter is 5 years old and a smart little girl with a naturally inquisitive nature, that made this day even more special.

As we voyaged along the North Shore, we made many stops. The first was at Gooseberry falls and the last was at the Temperance River. The paths were covered with snow, slush and ice from the recent April blizzard we had. But that didn’t stop us. That little girl was always excited to get out of the vehicle to see what new experiences this stop would bring her, what new path to trot down and what new sights to see. It was such a joy to watch her as she darted here and there. I could see her falling in love with this area of the country that I love so much.

Our other grandchildren love the outdoors just as much. They enjoy playing outside every chance they get. They love to hike down paths through the woods, are excited about upcoming camping trips, and enjoy getting to see the wildlife that are part of these types of adventures. Fostering this type of love in our youngsters does a couple of things. It helps them and it helps the planet.

It helps them by giving them an escape, that we all need sometimes. They learn that the world has so much to offer. There is more to life than just the TV and tablets. They learn that fun, as well as peace, can be found by getting out into nature. Helping them develop a love of nature at a young age gives them an opportunity to develop several coping mechanisms as they age. Going hiking and camping, are parts of my life, that help me during tough times. Paddling a Kayak down river, after a stressful day, helps all the tension melt away. When we introduce children to these things at a young age, it gives them more for their tool box as they age.

It helps the world by producing more people who will want to protect it. They are less likely to take actions in the future that could cause harm to the planet, when they see how special the natural world is. When they fall in love with Mother Nature and all she has to offer them, they are more invested in taking care of her. They will not all become tree hugging hippies but they may become responsible with their trash, recycle, or choose products with packaging that is earth friendly.

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Just as our little granddaughter had a blast exploring the beauty around us, I enjoyed watching her fall in love with the earth. Do you have children in your life? what kinds of things do you do with them out in nature? I would love to hear about your adventures with little ones. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you enjoy the world of nature with any little ones in your life, as if by magic.

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Nature Will Always, ALWAYS Take Back What Is Hers

Have you ever noticed that when humans step away from things, Mother Nature is quick to say “Ok, I’ll take that back”. Sometimes she even takes it back before we might be ready to give it up. This thought has occurred to me several occasions over the last year or so. In the end, all that we think is ours, (including our bodies) will belong to Nature once again. IMG_1612

Have you seen where a store has closed and no-one has gone into the parking lot for awhile? It doesn’t take long before there is all kinds of green grass and weeds growing up through the blacktop. I tried to look up how long it would take for New York City to revert to nature if humans disappeared. The answer was not as easy as I thought it might be. Somethings would happen rather quickly like wildlife returning, vegetation growing up, and things starting to decompose. Within 10 years Nature would definitely have an eco-system functioning quite well within the city. Give it another 50 years, 100 years or 200 years  and it would be nothing more than ruins among the wilderness.

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Sometime the human race doesn’t even need to step back. Sometimes Mother Nature decides she wants something back and will force herself on a certain area until once again it is hers. Sometimes we can do something about this; like fill in a sink whole, rebuild after an earthquake, or divert water to another course. Other times there is nothing we do can to persuade the natural world to give us back what we “think” is ours. IMG_6458

When you really think about it, if Mother Earth decided that she was no longer going to tolerate us, and wanted to take back all that we think is ours, there is not a thing we can do to stop her. Have you been through a natural event? Hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake? Have you ever truly seen the power of nature? Have you been there when she swoops in fierce and angry? There is nothing we can do to stop her when she is like this? DSC_0231

Even when she is not full of turmoil and destruction, even when we think we are living in harmony with her, she is slowly taking back what is hers. It is only through our constant maintenance, presence, and a pushing back, that we maintain a delicate hold on our corners of the world.

So the next time you see a crack in the sidewalk filled with “weeds”,  an IMG_2702abandon building that is over run by vines, or the pigeons sitting on the head of your favorite statue; realize that this is Mother Nature. Patiently waiting for her opportunity to take back what was once hers, alone. Remember to thank her and offer her blessings for allowing us to coexist with her. Respect her and try your best to take care of her and the creatures that are part of her. Keep in mind that she could wipe us from the face of the earth at a moments notice, if she so chose to. Nature will always win in the end. She will always take back what is hers.

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Thank you for reading my blog today. May you easily and happily coexist with Nature, as if by magic.

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Symbolism is All Around Us!

As we dance through life we see things that appeal to us or notice things we may have missed before, such as animals making appearances. All of these things may have messages for us. They may be a way that God or Spirit is trying to speak to us.

How many times have you been walking down the street and all of a sudden you are seeing something repeatedly. Maybe it has been there when you have walked the same path in the past, but for whatever reason, today they are standing out to you. They may have a message or symbolism that is important for you in this time. For example, in the spring of this year, I was noticing tulips everywhere. They were growing in planters, in vases and painted in pictures. Ironically, I was traveling at the time and missed the blooming of my own tulips. It was a time when I was feeling a bit disconnected from spirit. When I looked up the meaning of tulips it spoke to connection with spirituality. It seemed I was noticing the tulips because my spirit was calling out for that connection.

Now, just because that’s what tulips meant to me at that time, does not mean that is what it means for everyone. Allowing others to find their own meanings in the symbols around us and allow their message to you to be unique. I know a woman who knows her deceased loved one is near whenever she sees an Eagle. Eagles hold a different meaning for me. For many others, Eagles can have patriotic symbolism. Another example, I have of this, is about a time when I was seeing deer. They were outside my hotel drinking from the pond. Standing next to the pharmacy in a good sized city. Grazing in the woods next to the road. I was seeing deer all over and in very unusual places. They were, for sure, trying to get my attention. There are many websites and books where you can look up the symbolism of animals and other things. I looked deer up in various books and websites and nothing they said seemed or felt right to me. I finally took sometime to meditate and allow the answer to come to me. Suddenly, one day, it came to me. All the deer were standing or slowly walking. None of them were running. Even though they were in places that may have been dangerous, they did not seem to be afraid. I was in a new situation where change was causing me some fear. The deer were a sign for me that I was safe and had no reason to be afraid. I trusted the message and it turned out to be very true.

Watch and notice things and events  around you. There may be messages you are receiving that you are not even aware of. Be open to what they may have to tell you. It can be important and might even bring you peace.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you live a life full of messages easily received, as if by magic.

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The Glory and Grace of Mother Earth

Today I am flying home from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Minnesota. The PNW is one of my very favorite parts of the country. Work, play, and education have brought me to this fabulous part of the country. I have friends, new and old, scattered about the PNW. The ocean, mountains, and rainforests never fail to cause me awe. As the plane took off, it was a cloudy day. Not so very unusual for this part of the country. I am always hoping for clear days because I love seeing the gigantic volcanic mountains that rise up to make the Cascade Mountain Range look like foothills. Whether it is Seattle’s Mt. Reiner, Portland’s Mt. Hood, the topless Mt. St Helen, or one of the others; I am always dumbstruck at their sight. They are stunningly beautiful and energetically powerful in a way I do not really have the words to express. They cause emotions to rise up within me the way the molten lava could rise up within them at any moment.

As we took off and ascended above the clouds and reached our cruising altitude, I looked out the window and low and behold, there were my mountains. They rose like majestic giants above the clouds. The other mountain range could not be seen but here they were, standing sentinel to the passage of time. The white of the clouds lay before them like some royal carpet, pure and pristine. Here, above the clouds, these silent giants rein supreme. They patiently wait, holding space, inspiring dreams, and standing firmly in the now. Their future is uncertain, but then again, so is ours.

These mountains, like so many beautiful parts of our Mother Earth, have Grace. I used to wear a ring with the word “grace” on it. I aspire to have the presence that one would call grace. We have all met people like this. They have a grace and presence about them. You know when these people enter the room, without ever seeing or hearing them do so. You feel them. They float in causing the space to suddenly seem to vibrate at a slightly higher level. Sometimes these are very serious people, but more often than not, they walk with so much joy that you are drawn to them as if by a mysterious tractor beam. You feel safe, accepted, and loved when you are with them.

Where are your favorite places of Grace on the planet? Is it a waterfall, rocky coast, mountains, forest, desert, or something else? Where do you feel Grace? Where do you feel unconditionally loved and accepted? I love you! I accept you! You are perfect just the way you are! Did you know that? You are!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of finding Grace and of being Grace, as if by magic.

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Nibi Walks – what they are and why you may want to participate!

Now and then we are given the opportunity to be a part of something. The chance to be one of the change agents on this planet. I was invited to an event where I got to meet a number of really amazing people who are walking (literally walking) to be change agents, to make a difference on this planet. I participated in a short walk with them and felt inspired (and invited) to join them on a bigger event. Let me share with you a little about these amazing people.

I was invited to a “Water Ceremony” this past Sunday. Upon arriving with my husband and meeting a friend there, we discovered we were in for a real treat. It was a special day and they were having a Nibi Walk as part of this ceremony. I learned that the Nibi Walks started with the the Chief asked the women of the tribe, “What will you do to protect the water?” A woman out of Thunder Bay was moved to walk. Dreamt that she should walk. The first Nibi Walk started with her and she walked around Lake Superior carrying water! WOW! That is dedication!

Our walk that morning was just a short walk, a little more than 15 minutes each way. After making an offering we collected water from the Mississippi. Since I hadn’t brought my own vessel, someone was kind enough to share a vessel with me to carry the water. The women carry the water. The men can walk to support the woman but the responsibility to carry the water lies with the women. It was explained to me that in this indigenous people’s culture, the woman is the creator of life. She is life. The water is life. We cannot live without the water. This is why it is her responsibility to collect the water, to care for the water, to protect the water. This makes sense to me. The woman is the creative life force, the goddess, the bringer of life. We collect the water and walked along while songs were sung in a native language.

I walked with the water, between my friend and my husband.  I was surrounded by a community of people all who I was so proud to be a part of. I felt honored to be welcomed to participate with this dynamic group. August 4th there will be a Nibi Walk along the the Wisconsin River. These amazing women walk about 28 miles a day.  Everyone is welcome to participate, even if they can only walk 1 mile 1 day. The Wisconsin River Nibi Walk concludes on Aug 18th. If I did not already have plans for these weekends I would walk at least one day with them. Next year the walk will be along the Red River. I grew up in the Red River Valley. I feel a kinship to this river. I plan to participate in the Red River Nibi Walk. I already have friend who is planning on joining the cause with me.

Are you available to support either of these walks? I hope you will consider it. If you cannot be there in person perhaps you would like to support them with a donation toward the preservation of clean water. (Click the link if you would like to make a donation) When they asked for donations, they said one of the uses for them would be to get more youth involved in the walks. What a wonderful thing for the children of today, our leaders of tomorrow, to participate in an event like this!

After we walked to the designated spot, we climbed down the bank and returned our water to the river. We then climbed up from the river to walk back and join in the circle for a final part of the ceremony. We came together as a community. We shared our experiences, met new friends and reconnect with those we had met before. I even met a Minnesota House of Representative; Mary Kunesh-Podein. Who was there, not to campaign but to support this important cause. Adventure Sister Emy is also running on a platform that is all about clean water and protecting what we love. Both of these woman need our support in order to be able to make a difference.

I encourage you to do what you can to make a difference, whether it is joining an event, sharing the word about these events, financially supporting an event or a candidate. You have to do what feels right for you.

“To thine own self be true”~ William Shakespeare 

We all need water to survive. Even if all you do is read this blog, share this blog, or learn more about Nibi Walks, you can make a difference.

I love you! Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find and follow your passion, as if by magic.

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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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