The Power of Forest Bathing

It was my husband who first introduced me to the term forest bathing. The terminology brings to mind a stainless steel horse trough sitting out in the woods full of warm sparkling water while a naked being sits happily with arms on the side of the tub and head tipped back enjoying the peaceful bath and surroundings. IMG_3704 2As lovely as that sounds, that is not what forest bathing is. Forest bathing is a term that started in Japan in the 1980. It is about being in the forests. Walking or resting amidst the trees. Allowing the healing power of nature to improve your health.

IMG_7948 I fully understand the power of nature to lighten your spirt, raise your vibration, and make the world seem a little bit brighter. Living in a northern climate, were winter lasts half the year, I miss the call of the dirt path through the trees. I miss walking between the trunks great and small, having the branches of the shrubs brush against my body as I journey on, feeling the filtered sunlight on my face. In the spring the forest smells like dirt and the occasional blossom. In the summer I think it smells like life itself. Everything is boldly green and in its fullest, happiest stage of life. In the fall, the smell becomes that of ripe fruit and the leaves decomposing and returning to the earth. Winter has a crisp clean smell in the forest. The frozen crystalline world has the smell of a fresh start. The sounds change with the seasons also, bird songs and animals scurrying in the brush, give way to the crunch of leaves underfoot and the cracking of ice on branches. Whatever the season that you decide to visit the forest many magical gifts await you there.

IMG_8436.jpgThere is power there, for you amongst the mighty giants and new saplings. The life force energy that runs through the trees can renew you. It can renew you. It can help you improve your health, fight off illness, and sleep better at night. IMG_9762

We had an especially long and cold winter this year, with piles of snow that seem they will never go away. My husband and I journeyed to Washington State. This gave us a break from the winter weather and allowed us to get out and do some spring forest bathing. We hiked among the mighty trunks of giant Pacific Northwest trees. They seemed to reach up to the heavens. I could breath again. Suddenly all the stress of life and the rushing here and there just melted away. All that mattered was the forest full of new and fresh growth and our companionship as we journeyed through the forest. It felt like a fresh start. It was a healing journey.

DSC_0633.jpgThere is power and magic in the forest and if you take time to listen, the trees will speak to you. They will share their ancient wisdom. They will teach you how to heal yourself and to care for your neighbor. I strongly encourage you to get out there and take a forest bath.

 

Thank you for Reading my blog today! I wish you a lifetime of happy, peaceful time in Nature. I love you.

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4 Unique Stays

My husband and I recently traveled to Seattle. Instead of the usual hotel stay we decided to try Airbnb. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this, it is when people like you and me rent out our homes, campers, boats, yurts or other interesting spaces. It’s like the Uber of hotel rooms. As we looked over our options for a place to stay, we ran across many unique and wonderfully quirky spaces. An idea was born. Not only would our trip to Seattle be an adventure but also where we lay our heads down at night. 

So I set off perusing the Airbnb app, looking for the anything but ordinary places to stay. We decided to move around where we stayed, not only to make it convenient to the days activities, but also try as many cool spaces as we possible could! 

We had four very different experiences while we explored the Seattle, Washington area. 

The Beacon Hill Airstream:

Our first two nights were in this beautifully refurbished Airstream camper. 30715905_10216350833787397_3367843483548123136_nThe Airstream was located in a backyard that was masterfully landscaped. IMG_7360A hot tub made it seem like a very extravagant stay.IMG_7446 The beautiful deck that surrounded the Airstream would be a lovely place to hang out on a sunny, lazy afternoon, (our two days there were quite drizzly). The very thoughtful host also welcomes you to eat any ripe items in the garden. IMG_7367Included was a guest book on the kitchen table that showed the remarkable transformation of the Airstream from start to end.IMG_7362 The kitchen was well equipped and made this much more than a mere camping experience. String lights gave a festive feel to the yard and deck that surrounded the Airstream. 

The Private Redmond Cottage in the Woods:

IMG_7602This cute little A-frame cabin was located at the edge of the tall woods on a beautifully maintained price of property. The main floor made a comfortable living space with a efficient makeshift kitchen (provided breakfast) and relaxing couch. Games and books were provided, to make for a relaxing rustic vacation. I wrote a blog sitting at the kitchen table with a beautiful view of the forest behind. IMG_7626I thought what a great writers getaway this would be.IMG_7609 The bed was located up a ladder into the loft with tIMG_7616he forest right outside your window, at the head of the bed. We slept soundly and well with the cool breeze coming through the open window and the sound of rain on the forest floor. At this cute little hide away the bathroom was outside in the old garage. The bathroom was modern with a heated floor, so running over to the garage to use it, was not a hardship. The garage was my Marty’s favorite part of the stay. He loved all the old antiques they had stacked everywhere inside. I loved that they had fresh flowers.
IMG_7606 There were hiking trails in the woods, that we did not get to take advantage of due to time, that I would love to go back and explore sometime in the future. IMG_7608

The Devils Mountain Yurt: 

I had never stayed in a yurt before so I was very excited about this stay. IMG_8044I must say this Yurt was so beautifully decorated it easy tops the list of most romantic stays! IMG_8027Battery operated candles circled the inside of the space and to make beauty convenient, they were operated by remote control (just aim at to turn on or off).IMG_8034 On this stop we were treated with homemade banana bread and a basket of goodies. There were two chairs to relax in. Lovely touches everywhere made it very comfortable. A throw blanket, shawl, and a bathrobe were provided to enhance our comfort. There was an outhouse style bathroom updated with a hot water running shower and a composting toilet. String lights lite the way the few steps from the yurt to the bathroom. There was a skylight in the top of the yurt and on a clear night I imagine the stars and moon would be visible through it. The weather was cool, during our time there, but a heater in the yurt kept us warm and comfortable. IMG_8028There was a small fridge and a camp stove to provide a functioning place to prepare meals. A large basket was proved to put dirty dishes in. This was then left at the side of the main house so that you didn’t even have to wash your own dishes! IMG_8040
There was also a lovely outdoor space with chairs and a hammock for lounging away the afternoon. Not to mention a small babbling brook close by. IMG_8037Unfortunately, it rained on our stay, so we could not take full advantage of the resting space, nor could we enjoy a warm fire in the fire pit provided by our hosts. This was such a dreamy stay. 

The Seattle Adventurer’s Bungalow:

This space was so beautifully decorated and well thought out. It was such a fun space for our final night on the trip even though the bungalow contained only a bathroom and  sleeping room. There was a refrigerator, hot pot, and coffeemaker in the space and a trip across the backyard would lead you to the kitchen, in the main house, for any cooking needs you may have. IMG_8070There was a large door on the side of the bungalow that could be slid open to open into the outdoor living space. Reclaimed wood was used on the accent walls and stained various shades to create a beautiful look. 30703994_10216372155040415_5089529043099844608_nOld license plates covered the door to the bathroom and gave a fun explorer feel. 30741170_10216372142200094_3194382003709411328_nThe light fixtures were unique with combined pulleys and Edison bulbs to give the room a warm and cozy feel. 30739467_10216372129879786_4623854807533223936_nThe outdoor living space consisted of a covered patio which became an open air living room with an overhead heater and and string lights. I could picture myself cuddled up on the sofa, sitting there, reading a book. 30729395_10216372155280421_3908979246533443584_nThere were extra blankets and a fan provided to make for a very comfortable stay. We opened the window and let the spring air refresh us while we slept. It was such a beautifully thought out space with cute touches we really enjoyed our last night of our trip there. 

All of the neighborhoods the Airbnb were in, felt safe. All of our hosts were thoughtful, kind and welcoming. We will totally travel with Airbnb in the future. I know now that there are other funky fun finds out there that will feed our free spirited travel style. My hippy, gypsy soul loved this trip. 

Thank you for reading my blog. Journey on my friends. I wish you a lifetime of fun and adventure. 

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Don’t Give Up!

Yesterday my husband and I hiked a very difficult trail. It was rated as moderate to difficult. It has been a cold and snowy winter in Minnesota and we have been hibernating . We have not done our usual 10,000 steps a day, but instead been watching TV (which is a rare thing for us to do). Our fitness level is not what it has been over the last couple of years. We have a never say die attitude though and believe that there is nothing that we can’t do. So we took this and applied it to Rattlesnake Ledge Trail. 

Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is a 4 mile round trip trek up a mountain. You climb up 1,175 feet of elevation to a view point that overlooks the Rattlesnake Lake. There are many switch backs that make the climb not as steep as it once was. This is not to say that it is an easy climb any means. There were spots along the trail that were so steep it was almost more like climbing a ladder than walking on a trail.  

It’s a popular hiking trail though, where we were passed by many happy and fit people. There were people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. One young man who was hiking it in dress shoes made it look easy. He passed us four different times. When we told him he made it look easy ,he said it was because he was taking it slow. This struck me as funny since he kept passing us. We saw a mother carrying a baby, a lady carrying her puppy, as well as elderly folks making the climb. 

We were probably about an hour and a quarter into our hike when it became very steep. This was the part of the path that earned it the “difficult” rating. This truly showed me that I have not been treating my body the way it deserves and I need to be better. When we hit the steepest parts, I would climb about three yards along the path and be so winded, I had to stop. I wanted to turn around and go back. Inside, my mind, I was screaming for me to stop. That inner justifier was saying you can go back and have more time to enjoy your Airbnb. You do not need to keep going. No one will judge you. But I had told myself I will do this, that I can do this, and I would be disappointed with myself if I didn’t do this. So I ignored that inner voice that just wanted to stop and forged on. 

IMG_7591The climb, though hard, was full of beautiful scenery. Trees so tall they take your breath away. Cute little wild flowers that added a splash of color. We tracked on about another 15 minutes when my husband verbalized what I had been thinking. “I feel like I just want to stop and turn around” he said. Well nothing brings out my inner cheerleader like hearing someone else want to quit. I suddenly was very positive about our success. I kept telling him how “Creps don’t give up”.  We could and would do this. We would be so disappointed in ourselves if we didn’t. We continued to plod along up the mountain, to a promise of a breathtaking view. 

The inner cheerleader in me lost strength after a bit and I began to question my sanity. I asked Marty repeated if he wanted too stop and turn around. I worried about how sore our bodies would be the next day. Marty was now motivated and his never let go attitude was in full out determination mode. On we went. 

As some other hikers were descending, we asked how much farther. The lady told us we were very close. The man said what we thought was 40 minutes. Could I really keep going another 40 minutes. Yes, we were going to do this. No matter what. On we went. Suddenly we round the corner on a switchback and could see light coming through the trees. I am pretty sure I heard trumpets blowing and confetti was falling.  As we climb the final few steps to the rocky ledge top, one of the hikers, who had passed us earlier, said (with some surprise in his voice), “Hey, you made it”. We felt exactly the same way and told him so. We had made it! Our lungs burned, our legs were wobbly with fatigue, and sore muscle would welcome us the next day but we had made it. Despite all the screaming in our heads to quit! Despite the fact that it took us twice as long to climb it as we expected (2 hours vs the 1 hour promised on the sign), we had made it. 

I climbed out on the edge of the ledge and sat down even closer to the giant drop off. I have always been afraid of heights but on this day I was Queen of this mountain! Looking over the sheer drop off did not bother me (much).  I sat there, amongst the clouds,  overlooking the valley. I could see the parking lot, next to the lake, below were we had started from. Wow, we did this!

When things seem to be taking longer than you would like, when your inner voice is yelling at you to give up, just keep going. Sometimes you cannot see the light through the trees that promise success, but it is close at hand. You might just round the next corner and see the light. Suddenly, without warning, you will be at your destination and  have achieved your desired outcome. 

Voyage on my friends. Thank you for reading my blog today. May all of your journeys end with success and pride! I love you! You can do this! 

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5 of My Favorite Places

I simply love to travel. My blessed life and amazing job has given me the opportunity to travel quite a bit. I have loved every trip and every new destination. There are, however, some that are my favorites. These are places I would like to go back to again and again. My husband and I were planning some new trips and this caused me to reflect on some of my favorite places.
1. The Pacific Northwest. I am enchanted with this part of the country. Its volcanic mountains and giant tree filled mossy forests make for stunning scenery. The area is a rain forest and so magical. You can imagine fairies and gnomes peaking at you from amongst the branches. The Portland Saturday Market is full of interesting and talented artisans. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center provides a unique experience in the mountains and the opportunity to go within while there.
2. Ireland. This is another magical place. Here the gnomes are replaced by leprechauns. The people of Ireland are amazing. I felt so welcome while I was there. The Burren Perfumery has beautiful gardens where you are free to wander. They grow their own plants to make the perfume. The small windy roads of the Irish countryside pass by castle ruins with sheep grazing on the grounds. It was in Ireland that I saw my first real waterfall after a long delightful hike.
3. Florence Italy. It is stunning to be walking down the street and all of a sudden there are sculptures you saw in your art history text books. The history and the art is breathtaking. While there, we were able to see Michelangelo’s David. Words cannot describe how I felt when I saw this masterpiece. The food was also quite good. Affordable authentic Italian food was plentiful and we did not have one bad meal.
4. BWCA (Boundary Water Canoe Area). If you follow my blog you have heard of this before. Untamed wilderness, very few people, and the serene beauty of the area make this a yearly destination. I have a passion for the forest and when that forest involves camping, overlooking a quiet lake and paddling tranquil water ways, it makes for an even better experience. Sitting around the campfire at night listening to the wolves howl in the distance is a harmonious lullaby.
5. Cocoa Beach Florida. There is nothing quite like laying on the beach in the sun and listening to the waves lap the shore. It can be very meditative. I learned quickly to respect the sun’s powerful energy. Drinking lots of fluids and seek shade so as not to get burned. I lived in Florida for 10 years and it still feels like home to me. I enjoy the heat and humidity. It feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket to me. Traveling more inland the vegetation changes. When I see the Spanish Moss on the old Live Oaks it gives me a whimsical feeling.
There are so many places I loved visiting. To many trips to share all of them here today. I just wanted to share a few of my favorites with you. Perhaps they will inspire you to plan a trip in the New Year. Get out of your comfort zone and go someplace new. My bucket list is bursting at the seams with yet to be taken trips. New favorites await!
What are some of your favorite places? Why do they make the top of your list?