Connecting You With Nature, No Matter Where Your Feet Are

Tag: wisdom

Amazing Grace


Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of things that happen in our lives, and the unexpected passing of my Mom in early October really shook me to my core. Given my Dad’s dementia and other age-related challenges, my four siblings and I all thought he might have gone first, as my Mom had been spry and sharp and in seemingly better shape until the week before she passed.

My Mom, Angela, had been progressing well after a seemingly successful surgery in late August, but about five weeks later, she experienced a significant downturn once more. A second surgery left her with weakened vital signs and she passed away two mornings later, another star and ray of light returning to the great unknown. Her closest friends had always called her Angel.

One thing I do know is that my mom’s spirit and love live on in all the life and lives that I am a part of. It’s hard not to think about her during one of her favorite seasons (spring is #1, fall is #2), when walking and kicking through piles of colorful leaves swirling around on sidewalks, when glancing up at brilliant blue skies decorated with white puffy cumulus clouds, when witnessing squirrels and birds zoom around the backyard preparing for winter .Or when getting ready for Halloween, as she got such a kick out of helping my brother Bill and I with costumes when we were very young, and still enjoyed seeing photos of grandchildren and her own grown children dressing up in the spirit of the season..

My mom lived her last 20-plus years in an apartment complex west of Richmond, Virginia, where my oldest sister continues to live just a few doors down from where she called home. I was always astonished by how much my mom had turned her little corner of the earth outside her place into something so personal, so beautiful, and so magical. She planted, usually with the landlords’ permission, small bushes, trees and plants to brighten up her home outside her home. She nurtured hens and chickens, forget-me-nots and other flowers in small beds outside, and had turned an old wooden barrel into a planter, leaving a hole at the bottom of the barrel intact so chipmunks had a place to hide. I wouldn’t say she was one and at peace with the squirrels, though, as she alternated between leaving crumbs out for them to eat, and then shooing at them with a broom, followed by the occasional expletive, too! She had deep roots and a strong connection to where she lived, yet she also encouraged her five children to find their own places to grow, to become rooted and call home.

As an adult, it took time, effort and lots of soul-searching before I finally found my own place to call home and put down roots here in Montana, which is where I was when my sister called about my mom’s condition following her second surgery, and where I was fitfully sleeping the morning that she died. We are honoring her request to have her ashes scattered next summer, and to have a celebration of life gathering for her instead of a funeral service.

A state of grace and calm prevail in most moments now, alongside occasional rip-currents and waves of grief and sadness. I think about my mom and how much she loved the seashore, especially Cape Hatteras and other places on the Outer Banks of North Carolina,

Imagining and envisioning being there reminds me that we are all a part of this huge ocean of love, family, community and possibility. Storms are inevitable, even hurricanes from time to time. We are all part of this tug and pull, these vast and often unknowable rhythms and cycles of life
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Even after the craziest, shittiest and darkest of storms, light returns, love remains. And if we keep nurturing that, remembering those who gave their love while they were here, encouraging us to be grateful for what we have and to do what we can to serve others and something bigger than ourselves, we are unstoppable.

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire” said Ferdinand Foch. My mom’s soul and spirit burned brightly her entire life.  It feels fitting that she passed at this time of year, when the maples, sumacs, oaks and other trees she loved also are aflame, before their leaves too return to where they once came from.

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

Prepare With Wisdom, Allow For Abundance

It’s an uncharacteristically cool, windy and overcast morning, and we’re unlikely to get much above the low 70s on this late July day. as I write this.

Our mountain ash tree berries are already ample, abundant, and hanging heavily as compared to previous years living here. The berries, still a greenish-yellowish hue at the moment, alternatingly swayed, brushed and batted against the neighbor’s roof with last night’s winds, at times providing a soothing backdrop to sleep, at other times abruptly waking us up at odd hours.

It feels like fall is already in the air. Birds and squirrels seem to be picking up the pace again, whether it’s collecting and scavenging ripening apricots falling to the ground, or picking over the last of the cherries. Earlier this week, our cat Flo-Jo brought inside a mouse she had killed. We calmly thanked her, then wrapped and tossed her wild gift into the trash can, preferring to feed her “cat food” instead!

In nature, wildlife seems to know when it’s time to step up the pace, to take action, and to prepare for what’s to come.

If one thing’s not in abundance in a particular season or year, something else undoubtedly is. Grizzly bears roam far and wide in search of sustenance in Greater Yellowstone when summer and fall seeds from whitebark pine trees are scarce.

It’s hard to believe that such large omnivores, in good whitebark pine years, can get up to 20 percent of their proteins and carbohydrates from these seeds, and up to 30% of their needed fats. Grizzlies are also adept at raiding caches of whitebark pine nuts stashed by squirrels, so squirrels create multiple caches, knowing that some will inevitably feed Ursus arctos horribilis instead.

Then there’s the chickadee, which weighs next to nothing and lives in cold, harsh climates year-round in places such as Yellowstone.

I remember waiting for Old Faithful to erupt on numerous -20 to -40 F mornings, and in the stillness and silence of anticipation noticing small groups of chickadees emerging from nearby conifers, unflappably confident, upbeat and knowing their needs would be provided for once the sun had risen.

Of course, chickadees also have a back-up plan, that being stashing small caches of seeds between cracks and gaps in the bark of trees throughout their range. Thus on severe stormy winter days when little food’s to be found, they have reliable places to get what they need as well.

Some people say that certain animals such as birds, squirrels, and rats are natural hoarders, that their motivations are driven by avoiding scarcity.

I beg to differ.

They are preparing, they are taking action. They make sure they have enough going into the winter, they allow for contingencies. They likely don’t lose sleep-they wake up each morning knowing what needs to be done, and they’re flexible and adaptable depending on what they’re experiencing every day.

But they also don’t seem to take and grab everything they can find and leave nothing for others in nature. They probably don’t agonize or over-analyze what they’re doing, what they did, or what they might do. I doubt they lose any sleep over things, either!

In the human world, though, hoarding and stock-piling inevitably leads to clutter, which, like kudzu, seems to restrict our mobility, and our ability to seize opportunities that are happening in the moment. It leads to increasing paralysis and separation. It fuels cycles of greed, shortage, lack, distrust and fear. It leads to violence and destruction of communities worldwide.

Do we really need 64-pack toilet paper rolls from a big box store on hand in our already over-stocked homes? Do we really have to go after the last of the fossil and non-renewable fuels instead of embracing abundant and infinite supplies of solar and wind power?

Stockpiling, hoarding and other actions stemming from fear-based, scarcity mindsets have real consequences that impact the natural world, and future generations.

Let’s loop back for a moment to what’s happening with grizzly bears In Greater Yellowstone in particular.

In poor whitebark pine seed years, grizzlies are now way more likely to encounter an abundance of subdivisions in what were once rural valleys they roam in search of food to fatten themselves for long winters. They’re likely to find an abundance of garbage, gardens, orchards, pet food, and occasionally even pets and livestock as potential food sources. These habitats that once provided an insurance policy or back-up plan in poor food years are now gauntlets of death and conflict for bears, other wide-ranging wildlife, and their human neighbors.

It’s fine and easy to have and create an abundant life. Nature shows us this in myriad ways, no matter where our feet are.

But creating and sustaining true abundance requires compassion and vigilance, making sure that that someone or something else’s right to thrive is not diminished or destroyed in the process. Something wild and priceless disappears when we neglect that, when we forget that we are all one. Future generations are robbed and looted when we act out of fear, scarcity, distrust and separation.

I know I am not alone on this, but grizzlies are what make Montana, Wyoming and Idaho’s back country vastly different from, say Colorado’s, for example. There’s something powerful and palpable knowing you’re in a place where you’re potentially part of the food chain-not the other way around.

There’s also a profound sense of awe and humility involved in respecting, protecting and allowing for grizzlies and other wild creatures to thrive, and not just survive, in this world, and maybe even to expand their range again in the Lower 48 states.

In the meantime, grizzlies are largely relegated to several island-like areas of varying protection south of the Canadian boundary. Politicians and government agencies in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are openly and publicly talking about de-listing the grizzly as an Endangered Species, and allowing for an annual hunting “harvest” (their words) in these states.

Again I beg to differ.

Conservationist and visionary Aldo Leopold remarked on similar challenges several generations back:

“There seems to be a tacit assumption that if grizzlies survive in Canada and Alaska, that is good enough. It is not good enough for me…Relegating grizzlies to Alaska is about like relegating happiness to heaven; one may never get there.”

There’s infinite, incalculable wisdom in being good stewards, and in restoring and healing the natural world in places where we can.

It seems like the only sane path moving forward for all of us-grizzlies included-to thrive.

If we follow a more self-centered and fearful path instead, decreasing numbers of people may still experience abundance for a while.

Yet they too will feel impoverished, and longing for that wild, wise and loving part of us we intentionally extinguished.

P.S.

I’d love to hear how this article resonated with you-thanks for contacting me to share your thoughts.

It’d be awesome to hear what you’re doing to simplify and de-clutter to bring greater meaning and focus to what you desire to create in your life.

I really appreciate your time reading this longer than normal posting.

It speaks so much to the rapid growth and transformation I am experiencing in my own life through deeper and more consistent connection with the natural world, but also to the powerful, positive and accelerated results my clients are experiencing as well!

Finding Peace In Nature

In A Course In Miracles, author Marianne Williamson shared that peace is being in the present moment without judgment.

That can be mighty hard to do at times, but I had plenty of practice doing so while visiting my Dad a few weeks back in Virginia.

My Dad has likely been living with Alzheimer’s for about six years now, though he wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2011. We could all tell that he was slipping here and there since the early 2000s, but largely attributed it to him having “senior moments”. We did our best in allowing him to remain as independent as possible.

It really sucks to see someone who was once so vital, vigorous become hugely dependent upon the care and watchful eyes of others. He no longer drives, but keeps a car in hopes that one day he will regain his freedom.

He’s maddening and demeaning and belittling at times, as my sisters and sister-in-law can attest to, they having borne the brunt of his hurtful behavior.

Many in our family limit their interactions and visiting times to protect themselves emotionally.  One sibling, though, feels relentless, crushing, seemingly never-ending guilt colliding with her sense of duty and meaning of family in trying to decide and do what’s best for him.

In a nutshell, my Dad does not want to be is assisted living-he wants to go home to die. He says he is not happy where he is and that everything is awful, but over the course of spending time with him over several visits while being back in Virginia, his actions and interactions showed me something profoundly different. He has a second family there, and he’s part of an at-times feisty community.

My Dad got to see Erik again and meet his mom as well on this visit, but the following few times we got together it was just the two of us. He asked how both Erik and his mom were doing and had ideas about places for them to visit in Richmond. He was thrilled that we came to visit and that we brought warmer weather with us, as it had been a cold and slow start to spring following a long for Virginia standards winter.

Each visit, he caught me up to speed on how the Yankees were doing as compared to the Mets and Pirates. A fellow  resident and baseball fanatic printed out the stats from each Yankees game to share with my Dad, and they would lively debate who either saved or blew the game.

I joined my Dad for lunch one day in the cafeteria, where we joined a group of five men, more or less his age, for soup, salad, sandwiches, and sugar-free dessert.. We sat directly across from someone in his mid- to late-90s (my Dad will be 88 in November).

Dad shouted out to him, “Now that guy is really old!”, and I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when the other man shouted back to him, “Shut up, Bud, that’s no way to treat your elders!”.

Another person at the table had a grown son a little older than me who had at one time played on my Dad’s baseball team, and he was happy to be hanging with someone who was hanging with his Dad.

We can all have challenging memories and stories about how we were raised and how we were treated growing up, and it can be astonishing when different parents and siblings have conflicting memories and lingering feelings as to what those times were like.

It might have been Wayne Dyer who said that the past is about as significant as old dishwater, but when you’re grappling with how to best support someone entering one  of their last chapters in life, we all slosh around in this choppy ocean a little differently.

I learned so much from my Dad this trip by doing my best to be fully present in the moment with him, without judgment. Even when things got rocky or testy, I chose to keep only the love and the lessons learned, and to let go of the rest.

A friend who we visited who had recently lost her mother, and who also knows my Dad, said it best:

They all once had careers, families and full lives. They all loved someone and were loved as well. They did their best. They remember and savor these moments in life because it helps them feel and remember what it means to be fully alive. They still have their dignity, they still have their souls and their spirits. Their bodies and minds might be faltering, but they once had lives like we do, and they want to be treated with love, patience, compassion, non-judgement and respect. .
Solo walks in nature (as well as with Erik and his Mom)  helped me gain clarity as to how I could be more present and at peace in the moment when visiting with my Dad, as well as with family members who found it hard to spend  time with him.

Before flying home to Montana, Erik and his Mom and I traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a few days following a week of visiting and catching up with my side of the family.

A rough-and-tumble ocean and towering dunes of sand was the perfect salve. Wave after ocean wave massaged,  released and healed pent-up and unresolved feelings, memories and stories that never really served me.

Into the sea they went, into the sea they all dissolved.

Gentle breezes, children playing and laughing, and pelicans gliding above the Atlantic Ocean gifted me tremendous calm, bliss and peace with what was unfolding in life, helping me to surrender to all that was beyond any one person’s control. Which is just about everything!

From the sea we once came, and to the sea we will once again return eventually.

In the meantime, I’m eternally grateful to have been able to see and be with my Dad in a different light.

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