Connecting You With Nature, No Matter Where Your Feet Are

Category: Blog (Page 1 of 14)

Stronger Than The Story

I wasn’t familiar with Joseph Campbell’s life story and work until the six-segment PBS special “The Power of Myth” was first broadcast in 1988. Campbell (1904-1987) theorized that myths and stories are universally similar, no matter where and when people have lived. These myths and stories have helped us understand the importance and value of connection and belonging, and provided guidance and illumination when navigating life challenges, setbacks and opportunities.

Campbell highlighted another universal theme, the appearance and formidable power of “hidden hands” guiding our lives, supporting us in myriad, unexpected ways, when we trust and remain open to their presence. One of my favorite quotes from him was to “follow your bliss.” In 1999 this quote became my guiding star upon leaving an unsatisfying university teaching career. Looking back, I navigated an unorthodox and at times jumbled path that perplexed many people around me. Thankfully and ultimately, though, this trajectory has led to the deep nature connection work I enjoy and love sharing with others today.

To quote Campbell:

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

By following my bliss I’ve learned to trust my intuition and instincts better. I’ve developed greater discernment and less attachment toward conflicting societal expectations and demands. I’ve shed my proverbial skin quite a few times, breaking free from cul-de-sacs and dead ends to create new pathways moving forward.

A line from the song “This Is Your Life” from The Killers also comes to mind: “You gotta be stronger than the story.”

We’re all capable and worthy of changing our stories, and deeper, more consistent connection with the natural world can be a powerful catalyst for helping us do that. Now is an especially powerful time to dream big, be proactive and courageous, given the speed and scale in which many lives have been upended with the Covid-19 pandemic.

For everyone, there is no going back to “normal,” to the way things were before the pandemic arrived. That was a past moment in time, and wishing to go back there takes us out from being present.

So how do we stay present and move forward?

Embrace possibility, most importantly, that things can turn out even better than you imagine.

Believe in yourself and your capacity to keep changing, learning, and growing.

Embolden and encourage the same in others.

Recognize your hidden depths. strengths and resources and bring them forth.

Acknowledge and welcome unseen forces for good in your life and in the lives of others.

Learn from nature and you will learn more about yourself. It’s a powerful, positive way to impact your life and everyone around you.

Keep following your bliss,  and always enjoy the journey!

This Spring, Break Pattern

For nearly everyone this spring, it’s been challenging to stay calm, grounded and pro-active as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the globe.

Ironically, though, there is very little control we have as individuals over how things might unfold from here. What we do have complete control over is whether and how we choose to respond to things, whether they are our own thoughts, the concerns and fears of others, and all the what-ifs that can flood the mind when uncertainty looms over our lives and consciousness. 

Mindset expert and business coach Marcy Stahl stresses the importance of “protecting our own ecosystem.” when it comes to staying calm and focused. This means that no matter what might be going on in the world outside, we’re prioritizing nourishing ourselves and creating a positive, affirming immediate environment. Marcy’s analogy is that if we’re on an airplane and the oxygen masks drop down, we won’t be successful at supporting other people if we don’t provide ourselves with air first! Marcy suggests scheduling and then honoring crucial self-care time daily so that it ripples out and supports you in all areas of life.

Another colleague and friend, Christine Lustik Ph.D., helps people create healthier, more resilient environments through cultivating and developing greater mindfulness. She suggests consistently using her “STOP Tool”  to help reduce stress and increase clarity and focus:STOP – This is a tool to practice that hesitation between reaction and response. At any point throughout your day, or whenever you sense your body and emotions reacting to something, go through this acronym in your head.

S – Stop what you are doing, intentionally pause.

T – Take a breath, follow your breath in and out, feeling it as it enters your body.

O – Observe your thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Labeling them can help create a spacious and calming effect. For example, observe that your throat is tight, your forehead is scrunched, and you feel agitated.

P – Proceed with what will serve you in that moment. Perhaps just taking a breath was enough; perhaps you need to step back.

Just as the pandemic has shaken up routines and schedules worldwide, consider this disruption as an opportunity to proactively  shake things up in your home, interpersonal and community life. Following are some personal strategies I’ve learned through life experiences that may also help you stay centered, grounded and calm in challenging times.

Break pattern. For every 30-45 minutes you’re at the desk or computer,  take ten minutes away. Call someone to say hello and let them know you’re thinking about them. Or stand up and stretch, make a cup of tea, pet the cat, dance to an inspiring song. Consider yelling or singing if you feel like it, as long as it’s not going to piss off or disturb the neighbors!

Breathe deeply. Most of us breathe rather shallowly and quickly over the course of the day. Instead, practice breathing in for three full seconds, then breathe out for three seconds too. Experiment with breathing in and out for three full seconds throughout the day from sitting, standing, moving and other positions and notice how it feels. Doing so can be especially soothing and grounding when you’re stopped at a red light in heavy traffic, or standing in long lines.

Set and honor consistent, clear boundaries. Put time limits and boundaries on checking the latest news, news feeds and social media. Get the digest, not the live breakdown on what’s happening as events unfold. Challenge yourself, friends and family members to talk about topics other than what’s happening in the news, too. Honestly and politely let others know when you’d prefer to talk about something else, and then do it!

Treat Yourself. This looks different for everyone, of course. With restaurants and other public places closed except for take out food and beverage orders, it’s already been an opportunity for Erik and I to stretch our culinary skills and repertoire. With warmer weather forecasted for the weekend, for one night we’ll be grilling salmon, rice and veggies and sipping some pinot grigio. We’ve also set our sights on making a slightly toned down version of dom yang, a Thai-inspired soup, for another meal in the coming weeks. We’re also lining up early spring and late summer vegetables seeds to plant, knowing that we’ll be savoring and enjoying the fruits of our labors not that far down the road.

Keep the faith.  A few days ago, we caught up with one of our neighbors over a safe social distance. We were so excited to learn that he and his wife had just bought a home and that their moving date would be the first of April! My oldest nephew and his fiancee have set their wedding date for late October. Another couple we know recently became pregnant with their second child. And we just bought a new to us replacement vehicle for Erik’s 1987 Nissan truck.

Palpable, positive energy ripples out and inspires others when we demonstrate faith and trust.  As someone who lived for years in the closet can attest to before coming out as a gay man, there’s considerable energy expended living in a state of fear. One excruciating emotionally exhausting morning, I opened to the possibility that being out might be a safer, saner and healthier place to be and live. Looking back, I’m glad to have taken that tremendous leap of faith and trust. Doing so created opportunities for others in my life to also be more honest, authentic and vulnerable, and that has been an immeasurable and enduring gift.

Envision things turning out even better than you imagine. As human beings it’s easy to tumble into monkey mind where we worry about all the things that could go wrong. What if we caught ourselves when we fall into that mindset, and instead wonder “What if everything turned out alright?” Being able to re-envision and re-frame things may help reveal silver linings, opportunities and other blessings in challenging circumstances or situations.

As the British Government urged its citizenry nearly 80 years ago, there’s tremendous wisdom we can take with us, no matter where our feet are in life, when we keep calm and carry on.

And that is my wish and vision for you at this time.

Travel, be and stay well!

Saving Nature, Saving Ourselves

On the surface, you wouldn’t think that Abraham Lincoln was a generally happy man, given all that was on his plate as U.S. president from 1861-65. Yet even in the midst of The Civil War, Lincoln retained a glimmer of hope for the eventual reunification of the United States of America. Lincoln envisioned things that would help heal and bring people back together following the bloody conflict. some of them seeds eventually leading to the birth of our first national parks.

In 1864, Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant into law, the first legislation setting aside land for preservation and the public’s enjoyment and use. It also protected the nearby Mariposa Big Tree Grove of sequoia trees, at that time one of the largest unlogged stands of this species remaining in California.

In the decade following Lincoln’s assassination and The Civil War, President Grant established Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872. Some years later, after the U.S. frontier was officially declared a done deal, Yosemite and neighboring Sequoia national parks were created under President Benjamin Harrison in 1890.

In 1903 President Teddy Roosevelt traveled and camped in Yosemite with conservationist John Muir. They had lengthy spirited conversations about the future importance of America’s remaining wild places as they camped under the stars, and upon Roosevelt’s return to Washington he expanded Yosemite’s boundaries to reflect its current size of over 1100 square miles.

Roosevelt created a slew of new national park and monument designations from 1901 to 1909. Establishment of the National Park Service shortly followed in 1916, creating a federal agency charged with protecting and managing the rapidly growing number of national parks.  It was woefully underfunded and understaffed at its inception, and in 2020 the trend continues as the N.P.S. strives to manage and protect a staggering 420 national park units.

Who knows what Abraham Lincoln’s take would be on the state of our union today. His recognition of nature’s enduring value and power to bring forth the better angels of our human nature inspire me to believe that all is not nor ever lost. Doing what we can today to remain hopeful and continue taking inspired action is most crucial.

When we step back and allow ourselves a more detached view of humanity’s time on earth, we more clearly see how we’ve been continually building upon the efforts and lives of others, many whose names will be forever lost to history and the ages.

Today, we’re also creating stories and legacies for others. I hope future generations will thank us for what we did for the greater good of all, rather than ruing us for allowing selfishness, greed and short-sightedness to trash the planet and their future.

As we honor Yellowstone turning 148 this March and the 50th official Earth Day in April, let’s redouble our efforts to protect and preserve special places, alongside our air, waters, soil and environment. We are the only species that consciously and unconsciously trashes our planet, whether it’s through environmental destruction, war, violence and other means.

There is no Planet B to move to for anyone- maybe that’s what Lincoln recognized and felt on a palpable level.  It’s up to us and our nature to nurture and safeguard this thread, this connection, this fragile miraculous lifeline we maintain with the natural world.

What’s Worth Saving?

“What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.”

-Mollie Beattie

 

The Mollie’s Pack has been just one of three Yellowstone area wolf packs named after humans, the other two being the Leopold and Chief Joseph packs.

After being exterminated from most of the Northern Rockies by the early 20th century, gray wolves gradually gained allies in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere to support their reintroduction beginning in the mid 1990s. Today over 1,600 wolves roam the region, a stunning success story illustrating how changing attitudes and values over time can spur us to take further action to protect and preserve species with whom we share this planet.

Mollie Beattie was a fierce advocate and ally for restoring gray wolves, and expanding protections for remaining intact landscapes and ecosystems nationwide. Serving as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the Clinton administration, she was on the ground in Yellowstone when Canadian captured gray wolves were placed in acclimation pens in the northern part of the park. She was no pushover and could hold her own with anyone. In 1996, she passed away from brain cancer at age 49.

In her three years at U.S.F.W.S. Beattie oversaw the addition of 15 national wildlife refuges, and over 100 habitat conservation plan agreements made with private landowners. She played a significant role in successfully restoring wolves to central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone. If she were alive today, she’d be overjoyed to have witnessed their recovery and expansion into neighboring Western states.

Beattie inspired many people to take a longer, more nuanced view toward climate change and other impacts challenging our ability to save and protect wildlife and habitat for future generations. One year before her death, she said :

“When Americans are asked what the most pressing environmental issues are, they cite pollution issues such as toxic wastes and clean water. Problems like loss of biodiversity, rapid depletion of natural resources and the international problems of population explosion are way down the list. And yet these are the issues that are of greatest importance to the long-term health of our world.”

Beattie’s life trajectory illuminates the challenges and opportunities we have today to work together, keep taking action, and never give up when it comes to protecting and preserving what we care to save. It could be that last stand of oak trees bordering a still free running creek in the suburbs, or an overgrown urban lot with the potential to become a community garden. It could be a landscape once roamed by wolves and grizzlies that retains the capacity to support their return.

In the end, what we choose to save matters. By doing so, we just might save ourselves.

A Little Bit of Nature In Your Life

This Thanksgiving, I was grateful and happy to announce the arrival of two different nature connection meditation apps, available at both the iTunes and GooglePlay stores.

It’s been a long-time labor of love, time, beta testing and collaboration with my tech guy to bring these apps into the world. It’s also taken considerably longer than anticipated ensuring that everything works seamlessly, complies with hosting platforms, and provides a high-quality nature connection experience for people, no matter where their feet are.

Undertaking and seeing this project through to completion was definitely outside my comfort zone at times. My tech guy, Geoff Pepos, focused on his brilliance, technology, while I focused on mine, content creation. Ultimately we had a lot of fun working together to bring this baby forward, and I now have a stronger degree of techno-patience that didn’t exist before this project started.

A special thanks goes out to friend, colleague and past client Marcy Stahl, who encouraged me to create a multi-media experience to support busy nature lovers connect with the natural world, even when they could not get outside. Thanks Marcy! So get your very own “Nature Boy Free” app, and enjoy connecting with nature, wherever your feet are. These guided meditations and images bring you greater peace and perspective that nature uniquely provides.

Try the Nature Boy free version available on the iTunes store and the GooglePlay store today!

The Nature Boy Free app has two free nature meditations. Additional meditations are available within this app for a one-time fee of 99 American cents!

Once you’re at the iTunes or GooglePlay stores feel free to check out my Nature Boy One app with longer, more varied meditations for a one-time fee of $.99.

P.S.
If you’d like to share news of the Nature Boy Free app with others, here’s a handy link to my website, where folks can access the iTunes and GooglePlay stores to get theirs:

https://yourlifenature.com/nature-boy-app/

 

Greater Yellowstone: Saving All the Parts

Greater Yellowstone is one of the largest remaining nearly intact temperate ecosystems on the planet.

Depending on whom you talk to, the size and boundaries of the “GYE” vary, but it’s somewhere in the range of 18,000 to 34,000 square miles! To put that in perspective, the ecoystem is larger than Vermont and New Hampshire combined, and slightly smaller in area than the state of Maine.

A vital, remaining unprotected part of Greater Yellowstone is the 155,000 acre Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area, which is deserving of full wilderness desgination. This “W.S.A.” stretches from south of Bozeman, Montana to Yellowstone National Park, and also provides a wild, rugged travel corridor and refuge for wildlife between the Gallatin and Yellowstone rivers.

The Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn and numerous other wilderness study areas in Montana have languished without full federal designated wilderness protection since then president Ronald Regan pocket vetoed a bi-partisan bill passed by both houses of Congress over 30 years ago. Despite the veto, such designation commands overwhelming support from Montana and beyond.

Please remember that no matter where your feet are in the U.S., that these are your public lands, too. Your voice is welcomed, encouraged and needed to press on for full wilderness designation and protection.

Here are a few links and websites for additional info if you’re inspired to learn more and take action.

First up is a U.S. Forest Service map of the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn W.S.A.: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5396904.pdf

The Montana Wilderness Association highlights WSA’s within Big Sky Country. To learn more please visit  https://wildmontana.org/discover-the-wild/public-lands-101/wilderness-study-areas

The Wilderness Society works nationally to support wilderness designation and protect these areas from myriad interconnected challenges and threats. Please visit https://wilderness.org if you’d like to learn more-there may very well be a place close to your backyard that needs more advocates and stewards!

Saving All the Parts

Earlier this fall, I was fortunate to have joined a group of 12 clients on a wildlife watching safari in Yellowstone National Park. We lucked out with weather and with wildlife sightings, and it was wonderful to focus on one national park and ecosystem over six days as well!

What I love most about guiding is helping people connect the dots, and come away with a deeper understanding of the importance of protecting all the parts of a particular ecosystem. For all the places I guide people, I know the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem the best, though there is always far more to learn, know and understand as this and other dynamic wild regions change over time.

Our converations centered around how wildlife is perceived and treated within and outside of national park boundaries, and how things that happen in one location within an ecosytem have a profound impact everywhere within it.

A quick example here: Whitebark pine trees in Greater Yellowstone inhabit a narrow zone of life at higher altitudes. With climate change, whitebark pine trees are way more vulnerable to blister rust, pine beetle infestations and other problems.These trees cannot easily and quickly adapt by moving to higher elevations as the climate continues to rapidly warm.

Whitebark pines produce high fat content seeds and nuts about every four to five years. When there’s a robust year, grizzlies gorge on them from late summer into fall often raiding stash piles cached by pine squirrels and Clark’s nutcrackers. Grizzlies tend to roam less within Greater Yellowstone when the nuts and seeds are unusually abundant; in lean years they wander into more human occupied and developed areas in search of alternative food sources.

And this is when grizzlies get into trouble. Unsecured pet and livestock food entice them to visit people’s property throughout the ecosystem, as do apple orchards, gardens, compost piles and garbage. Hunters who do not immediately gut and remove their kills outside park boundaries often contribute to grizzly vs. human encounters, triggering tragic outcomes for both parties.

In short, a fed bear is a dead bear when it comes into contact with people. The challenge is two-fold: making it hard for bruins to get human food rewards, and preserving wild areas outside of national parks for bears and other wide-ranging animals to make a living over the course of their lifetimes.

On the last full day together, our wildlife watching group traveled a rugged rural road outside the park, hoping to glimpse an elusive moose, and perhaps one more grizzly. We first saw a massive bull moose several hundred yards away before he ventured into a dense thicket of willows. Afterwards we drove to where we could more easily and safely turn around, and to our surprise saw a grizzly bear ripping open a rotting log not far from where the moose had been standing!

The bruin definitely sensed that we were there watching, but continued to feed upon whatever inhabited the rotting log. Unlike earlier wildlife sightings together, this wasn’t an “animal jam” where hundreds of people crowded in to see a grizzly or black bear-it was just our small group seeing how powerful, vigilant and intent the bear was to put on more weight before winter fully set in.

Witnessing this grizzly roaming freely, living its life outside Yellowstone, drove home the importance of preserving places outside the park for the sake of grizzly bears and all wildlife species, and for future human generations to experience and enjoy, too. We better understood that wildlife cannot exist on isloated islands surrounded by humanity and all of our activities.

That grizzly’s presence was an enduring gift; it helped us forge a profound and more meaningful connection with the natural world from where we all came. The following morning, everyone departed for flights home from Bozeman, inspired and energized to do what they can to strengthen that bond and connection.

What’s Your Numen?

Much of the Northern Rockies were whalloped by a series of snowstorms, along with record-setting low temperatures, from late September into early October. Missoual and far western Montana escaped these storms for the most part. The snow that fell vanished nearly as fast as it landed, but we did have several frosty mornings hovering in the low teens.

The abrupt shift to winter reminded me of the numen of this region. Numen is the spirit or the divine power presiding over a thing or place. I first heard the term from Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Powers in his book The Overstory, which I highly recommend.

The novel delves deeply into how individuals and societies have related to nature and the natural world, and illuminates how it has also related to us since time immemorial. I love how Powers wove a considerable amount of natural history into his work; I never realized until reading The Overstory that trees and humans share approximately 25% of the same D.N.A.!

Reflecting on the term numen, I am awed and inspired by the divine power presiding over our environment. Indeed. when you slow down and set the intention to be present for even a few minutes, wherever your feet are, techno-distractions and conjurings of the monkey mind tend to diminish in intensity and urgency.

Play with the concept of being completely present, and connecting with the numen of your place over the coming days. First, find a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed, then close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Take a few seconds longer than usual for a full inhalation, hold it for a few seconds, then allow a bit more time to slowly exhale. If something from the “real world” prods and tugs for your attention, just note that it’s a thought, and if it’s truly important it’ll come back to you later.

Keep breathing deeply, allowing the essence or spirit of where you are to reveal itself. It may arrive as a sudden warm feeling of calm, trust, or reassurance that everything is and will turn out o.k. You may experience your breath feeling less labored, your heartbeat steady and less rapid, your pulse immanating at a more relaxed rate. Your shoulders and entire body may feel lighter and less burdened, as things previously preoccupying your thoughts loosen then shed their grip.

Be open to impressions, intuitive nudges, and inspired ideas that arise, too. You may very well come away with insight for how to approach or view something that’s been challenging lately, or the urge to drop something quickly and start something else from scratch!

We can consciously create the numen of our home and work environment to support us in being open to those insights.

My indoor workspace neighbors are a geranium, along with an eight-foot-tall ficus tree. Beyond, a large window overlooks the front yard, where I can observe a microcosm of the world go about daily life. Outside, two arbor vitae trees anchor the walkway to our home. These burled and burly sentinels protect us from blazing summer heat and howling winter winds while welcoming and visiting family and friends year round. They also provide shade and shelter for squirrels and birds, and occasional raccoons and deer.

When we connect with the numen of a place or thing, we come away feeling more inspired, energized, and hopeful, remembering that the fate of all depends upon the actions of many. We do our one small part today in each moment, knowing that that is enough. We keep striving, growing, loving and sharing as our collective roots deepen and intertwine, our gifts branch out toward light, sun, sky and all who may welcome them, weaving an enduring thread of life between earth’s generations.

Return of the Condor

Erik and I celebrated our tenth anniversary this spring by visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, plus Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, and a free-flowing stretch of the Colorado River near Lees Ferry, Arizona. We missed a late April snowstorm back home by being farther south at the time, and experienced warm, sunny days for the most part, great hikes and explorations, and friendly, hospitable people wherever we went.

It was a fun, much-needed vacation, and this time around we stayed in front country lodging rather than having car camping in the mix. One of our most memorable experiences happened at the Navajo Bridge across the Colorado River just west of Lees Ferry.

The original Navajo Bridge is now a pedestrian only bridge, and provides a unique and dramatic perspective both up and downstream along this stretch of the Colorado River. It’s also an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, while the newer neighboring Navajo Bridge opened in 1995 to accommodate the needs of more modern motor vehicles traversing this still rugged, isolated region.

To our surprise, we saw a massive large black bird perched below the newer Navajo Bridge. At first, we thought it was a raven or a turkey vulture, but its massive size indicated it was a California condor! The condor was likely a sub-adult, as its head was still covered with feathers, and its wings completely black.

As condors become older and sexually mature, they lose their head and neck feathers, revealing a fleshy orange to pink-ish look from the shoulders up. This adult, more naked look is not all fashion and radar for mating attractiveness and readiness, though. Not having feathers on their head and neck makes it way easier to plunge and rip into carcasses without parasites plaguing them, and also makes for less time spent grooming and preening.

As condors mature they develop rather large,  isosceles triangle-shaped white linings on each wing, making it easier to identify them in flight from far more common turkey vultures. California condors have nine to ten feet wingspans, making them the largest terrestrial birds in North America. By age seven or eight they reach sexual maturity; they often bond for life, with many condors living 50 to 60 years in the wild.

Back under the new Navajo Bridge, the condor continued preening and grooming itself, avoiding direct contact with persistent rain showers that swept across the area that afternoon. Moments before we left for Lake Powell, though, it glided to a new perch underneath the older bridge, extending its massive wings to dry out from the storm.

California condors were nearly extirpated from the wild before a last-ditch captive breeding program started in the 1980s. Since the 1990s California condors have rebounded to healthier numbers in the wild, soaring freely once again in their namesake state, and in rugged, remote places in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Just like the mesmerizing, remaining free-flowing segment of the Colorado River between Lake Powell and Lake Mead, it was encouraging to witness something profoundly primordial, wild, untamed and free rather than temporarily engineered, domesticated or manipulated by man.

My spirits soared that afternoon as we departed for Lake Powell, remembering that human beings best succeed as a species when we care for and preserve what other beings need to thrive on the one planet we all share.

Tree of Life, Tree of Love

 Mother’s Day was celebrated by many folks nearly two weeks ago, and for me it was a bit easier than the last few ones following my Mom’s passing in October 2015. This time around, I didn’t take the radio, television and social media ads plying us with what we should give our moms for Mother’s Day as personally. I still found them annoying and unnecessarily frequent as Sunday May 12 approached, yet relieved when the day ended not feeling emotionally worn out as in previous years.

Maybe that’s what the gift of time and perspective illuminates for us: that it’s worthwhile to honor and celebrate the ones we love, but something we can do on our own terms, period. We can do that without feeling guilty, conflicted, or induced by ad campaigns that kick into high gear for occasions such as this one.. We can define for ourselves what we choose to do or not do and owe no one an explanation, excuse or reason for our actions.

One huge gift that has emerged since my Mom passed is my appreciation for everyone’s mother, no matter who they are and where they live. We’ve all come into this world through our moms, of course. From having been a lifelong advocate for Mother Earth over the years, I’ve come to see that I also have some, fierce, nurturing and protective instincts within me.

That’s massive to acknowledge and let it all sink in. It helps me empathize with what parents and families worldwide go through and feel from day to day. We all get up in the morning wanting the best for those we love and care about. Some days go swimmingly, while with others we hope that it’ll all somehow turn out for the best anyway.

Erik, his family members and I recently received the gift of his mom moving to Missoula from Helena in mid-April. She’s healthy, mobile and independently living in her own apartment with two cats as companions, and it’ll be easier for all of us to stay connected given that she’s 15 minutes rather than two hours away.

I’ve also been in closer contact with the parents of two long-time “brothers from another mother” in Virginia, Chris and his late brother Craig. For over 40 years, they’ve blended, overlapped, grown and changed alongside members of my biological family. Through that, we have all grown and established stronger, wider-ranging roots, with sturdier foundations and unshakable ties. At this point in life we all have loved and lost family members and friends, yet the spirit of those we’ve loved and lost live on, and that’s indeed a good thing, whether it’s Mother’s Day or any other day.

Two more things come to mind to share here before wrapping things up.

First, If you haven’t watched Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show interview with Keanu Reeves from earlier in May, be sure to catch their 10-minute conversation. Toward the end, Colbert unexpectedly asks Reeves what happens when people die, and his answer is surprisingly sweet and profound. I won’t spoil things here but check it out for a wonderfully fun, rambling and poignant conversation!

Second, following is a link to a wonderful new song from Brandi Carlile called “The Mother” to share with you in honor of mothers everywhere.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npSDM26xlzs

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