Connecting You With Nature, No Matter Where Your Feet Are

Tag: diversity

The Power of Life, The Power of Love

 

Paris, France has been long known as “The City of Light”.  Nearly two weeks ago, a sudden darkness enveloped the city as terrorists struck at multiple locations where Parisians and others gathered, killing over 120 people and injuring several hundred more.I don’t have any easy answers or explanations for what happened, or any easy solutions to offer to end the cycle of violence and mayhem, either. What I sense, though, is that people who do not value and are willing to extinguish the lives of other human beings do not value their own lives as well.

It’s hard to tell where it all starts, this slippery slope of de-valuing people who do not believe, think, act, speak and look like themselves, to their willingness to denigrate and annihilate anyone and anything that represents what is threatening, which often means something they do not fully understand, nor wish to take the time and effort to better understand. How do people become so disconnected that they harm others and them selves? How do we do the same toward the environment in which we all live and depend upon?

We’re all complicit in this from time to time, casting for sound bite responses and solutions to complex issues, looking for the easy way out and to then move on with our busy lives, until the next crisis or misunderstanding arises. I would argue that until we start more compassionately connecting with others who are different from ourselves and the communities in which we live, not much will change, whether it is to reduce the conditions in which terrorism thrives worldwide, or to reduce the rate of global climate change that threatens our own and future generations.

Nature has and plays no favorites. There is no right or wrong, there are no favorites or rejects, their is no clear black or white. In nature, gray is o.k. Everything and everyone has a role to play and is of equal importance. We all belong-the question is “Can we all get along?”
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Spending more time in the natural world breaks down artificial barriers humans create to divide and separate themselves. More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban and suburban areas, belying the need for people to connect more consistently and deeply with nature, which is the foundation of our human and planetary community, no matter where our feet are.

Maybe it all starts with self-love, understanding, compassion and forgiveness first. Maybe there’s a healthy dose of humility thrown into this messy recipe as well. Maybe it also requires us to turn off the televisions. computers, radios, and mobile devices, to not text, read newspapers or magazines for a little while, and to spend time in person having difficult and challenging conversations with people in your own immediate circle rather than expecting to change the lives of others half a world away.

About a week ago at a networking meeting, a fellow entrepreneur said that often, challenging and difficult conversations and conflicts ultimately create an opportunity for greater connection between people. She went on to say that this often means really listening and understanding where others are coming from before expecting and demanding others to understand them first. It’s a two-way street yet nearly everyone is in a hurry, trying to pass others in a rat race that humans and their institutions have created over time. As Lily Tomlin commented, “Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat”.

The City of Light, as myriad other cities, towns, villages and hamlets around the world have done before, is slowly recovering and rebounding after a senseless attack that plunged them into a brief darkness.

Let us give thanks that this will always be the path we choose to take when our instincts are to lash out and exact retribution from those who have caused us harm. If we take an honest and compassionate look at our own lives, we can find and seize opportunities to better understand, accept, forgive and love not only others, but ourselves as well.

Thanksgiving is a natural time to pause, reflect, and shine brightly our appreciation and love for all of humanity, and to take our own baby steps to creating peace in our hearts and world. As Jimi Hendrix once said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace”.

Have a wonderful, peaceful and Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrate Your Nature, Celebrate Pride!

MontanaPrideFlag June is Pride Month for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and questioning people (and their countless allies!) worldwide, and this year Pride Montana will be held in our beloved town of Missoula from June 19-21.

Here’s hoping you’ll join us in Missoula, or wherever your feet may be that weekend, to celebrate, acknowledge and express gratitude for the progress we have made over the past decade, and to acknowledge and energize for the remaining work necessary to achieve full equality for all LGBTQ families and individuals worldwide. The non-profit Pride Foundation inspires giving to expand opportunities to advance full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ) across the U.S. Northwest, including the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. They envision a world in which all LGBTQ youth, adults and families enjoy the freedom to live openly, safely and genuinely.

To honor the vital work that Pride Foundation does, I will donate three dollars to them from every “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: Four Fun and Easy Steps to Create Your Powerful Nature Connection Sit Spot, No Matter Where Your Feet Are” nature connection sit spot recording purchased between now through Montana Pride Weekend this Sunday, June 21, 2015.

Click here to purchase your portable, fun Nature Connection Sit Spot Recording:

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

to bring home more nature into your own life and those of others you care about, and know that three dollars from your $13.97 purchase amount is going to a phenomenally important cause. The world is full of stories from people for whom nature has changed, inspired or turned their lives around, and you really never know how important nature connection is to you and your own one wild precious life until you need it most.

Enjoy more nature in your home and work setting, and best of all share it with others.This portable, adaptable, and fun nature connection tool and recording powerfully supports and serves so many people in consistently creating, envisioning and allowing a nature sit spot to enhance our lives.

“You know they say that if you imagine peace and calm, your body experiences it. Well, Hobie’s audio course, “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!” really brought me to a space of balance and calmness. And best yet? I was sitting at my desk. No need to go anywhere, and most importantly, do anything but breathe”.      -Maureen Calamia, St. James, New York

Pride Foundation is the only non-profit organization I am selecting to support in 2015 through a percentage of PayPal sales, so now is the golden moment to support them through your love of nature and its amazing diversity of all life forms. Take home your own copy of “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There” (and buy a copy for other nature lovers) and support Pride Foundation, too!

Here’s that PayPal link again:

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

For more info on Pride Foundation and the vital work they do please visit http://www.pridefoundation.org

Digging Deep In Death Valley

Erik and I recently returned from a desert vacation that included sailing on Lake Mead at sunset, enjoying the sights, sounds and zaniness of Las Vegas, and experiencing the profound quiet, haunting beauty and splendid isolation of Death Valley National Park in California. It really was like visiting two different planets on the same vacation, and provided us with many contrasts that we are still digesting and reflecting upon. The National Park Service’s Death Valley brochure describes the area as follows:

The raw desert landscape shapes Death Valley’s human story. Like the mesquite tree, some of its people have deep roots, drawing sustenance from hidden sources. Others blow in on the hot winds of get-rich-quick schemes, then out again on scorched dreams, never anchoring themselves to the land.

The Timbisha Shoshone Native Americans have considered this region home for thousands of years,  surviving and thriving by adapting to natural rhythms and cycles, and to the inevitable curveballs that nature has thrown their way over time.

A few examples of adaptation include congregating near natural springs, moving to higher elevations during warmer, hotter seasons, and using skinny spearing sticks to stab and deflate chuckwallas (a large lizard native to the region) that had wedged and inflated themselves in crevices, thus turning them into high-protein meals.

The Timbisha Shoshone are certainly not alone in their ability to survive and thrive in such a harsh and unforgiving environment. Remnant populations of desert pupfish, some now critically endangered species, inhabit isolated surface or cave waters throughout the park and region. These pupfish once thrived in a large body of water, Lake Manly, created by melting glaciers and a wetter climate. In a few places, you can still see evidence of the ancient shoreline in Death Valley, when Lake Manly was over 100 miles long and over 600 feet deep, making it larger than Yellowstone or Flathead Lakes are today.

The pupfish is a pretty resourceful critter, managing to persist around permanent water sources often less than one foot deep and in water temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Keep in mind, too, that the water’s way saltier here than in the ocean. We stayed resourceful as well throughout our four-day stay, being active mainly in the early morning and later in the evening, seeking shade whenever possible, and going on a higher altitude hike one day when the temperature soared to over 105 at aptly-named Furnace Creek.

Nearly six thousand feet higher, on a trail starting near Dante’s View, we encountered vast vistas ranging from the alkaline salt flats of the valley floor, in places more than 200 feet below sea level, to snow-covered mountains in the Panamint Range. Wildflowers and flowering cacti greeted us on nearly every turn on the trail, as did fast-running lizards, and one large nonpoisonous snake that made me jump a vertical foot or three before I recovered and was able to laugh about it. We were thrilled to encounter clusters of gorgeous orange desert mariposa lilies (Calochortus Kennedyi) on some of the higher ridges, while ravens and a lone red-tailed hawk rode the thermals above.

Nature’s a place, no matter where our feet are, that brings people together, especially in the desert. It’s a place where people experience a more profound connection to life, creation, others and themselves. It reminds us of how adaptable, resourceful and flexible we all have to be to survive and thrive, and of the different niches and roles we play in this game of life on Earth.

Spending time in Death Valley really brought this all home for me in ways that other places have not, maybe because of the tenuousness of life itself here, or that so much of desert life lives close to or just under the surface, out of sight to the hurried or untrained eye. Many mid-19th century Gold Rush bound travelers died in places not far from where Timbisha Shoshone families gathered near permanent springs and sustained their culture. A few managed to survive or be rescued, and rumor has it that one of the luckier travelers shouted out “Goodbye, Death Valley!”, giving the area its well-deserved name.

Not only here, but world wide, the earth has witnessed plenty of human-generated hot winds, get-rich-quick schemes and scorched dreams over time.

No matter where we live or gather, it’s vital to anchor and tether ourselves to the land, to be in partnership and relationship with it, to nourish it and ourselves. To put down some strong, resilient roots, drawing sustenance from hidden sources, and pass on what we learn to folks who want to do the same, and in turn pass that on to future generations.

These are the real riches in life, to know a place, yourself and the ones you love and care about well. By digging deep, even in Death Valley, we find surprising sources of strength and sustenance that show us how to navigate challenges and opportunities in our own lives.

Desert Mariposa Lily Courtesy of and Copyright by Erik Benson 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Desert Mariposa Lily Courtesy of and Copyright by Erik Benson 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Celebrating A Half Century of Wilderness

Wilderness has of course been around for way more than 50 years, but The Wilderness Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1964 gave protection and preservation to remaining places in this country where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain…”

The idea of safeguarding wilderness for current and future generations has since become a worldwide phenomenon. yet there are still unprotected places large and small worthy of wilderness designation

Why wilderness?

For my better half Erik, it’s a place of refuge. It’s a place to decompress, to experience solitude, and return home recharged and inspired after spending time in its healing and soothing energies. He often comes home with new ideas for creating art as well.  Wilderness palpably reminds me that there is so much in this world that I may never fully understand, that as a human being I am a tiny yet powerful part of the planetary and ecological puzzle, and that here in Montana, I am not necessarily at the top of the food chain. I am totally responsible for my own safety there and for my own actions.

I love the gift of being able to lose yet also find yourself in nature, and in the wild. Things appear, seem and feel less complicated there, too. Our senses and awareness are heightened and magnified. Solutions and creativity surge and emerge after immersing ourselves in nature..

Even if you never experience wilderness in person, it’s comforting to know there are places where we allow natural processes and forces to interact without our micro-managing the environment to our advantage.

Over the past 50 years, wilderness areas have also gained an immeasurable and perhaps unforeseen advantage. Within larger national parks such as Yellowstone, lands managed for their wilderness values and characteristics also serve as baselines for study and research, to be compared with nearby areas more directly impacted by human activity.

At a time when some are calling for no more wilderness, that we have already have enough (or even too much) of it, that we may need remaining unprotected wild lands worldwide for energy or mineral extraction or human settlement, I beg to differ.

The earth is not creating any more wilderness. Right now, we have the power and capacity (and hopefully the wisdom) to set aside as many remaining wild lands as possible. Future generations could count on experiencing and enjoying places without a heavy human footprint or our long-term presence. Other species with whom we share the planet today would have a fighting chance to adapt, migrate or move in response to climate change related impacts.

One day I will also likely be too infirm or old to directly enjoy and experience wilderness. A little over 20 years ago, a lifetime’s worth of stories, movies, music, and photographs inspired by wilderness lovers, explorers and advocates triggered my desire to come West, to explore what others with incredible foresight and humility and unselfishness had preserved. There is still so much at stake today, as people in Montana fight for protection of the Badger-Two Medicine area and other treasured wild places, and people elsewhere advocate for areas close to their hearts and souls.

In the end, I think about our nieces and nephews and their families in the future, and what they will be able to enjoy and experience. Will they be able to sleep under a clear and starry light sky, and hear elk bugling, or the distant howling of wolves? Will they be able to build tree forts, ride bikes through the woods, or play games inspired by being out in nature? Will they become competent stewards of remaining untrammeled wild spaces in their own backyards, or say silent prayers of gratitude to nature lovers who came before them?

Dave Foreman once said that “Wild things exist for their own sake”.

Deep down, all of us have something wild and free and powerful in our hearts and souls-often revealed and brought forth to life through nature connection, through connection with something that is larger than ourselves.

Can we afford to live without wilderness?

Can we afford not to dream?

Celebrating Pride, Naturally!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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