Making Peace with Nature

February 10, 2020

By Toni O’Keeffe

Those who spend time in nature, come to understand that there is great healing and peace when we ground ourselves in the natural world.

We also come to understand that we are not separate from the natural world, we are a part of it.

This planet gives us everything we need. The air we breathe, the water that gives us life, soil to grow our crops and even medicinal remedies to heal our bodies. 

We are the only species on the planet that takes more than we need, this greed is impacting humans and the other species that share our world. We are literally killing the hand that feeds us and killing ourselves at the same time.

As we have become more disconnected from the natural world we see more people hurting. There’s more illness, pain, suffering, loneliness, mental health issues, chaos, violence, corruption in the world then there ever has been. You can find evidence to support this in research done by many institutions; one for example is Berkeley’s study on “How modern life became disconnected from nature” ( link below)

This disconnection is unhealthy for all of us. There are generations of people that have never been on a walk through the forest, or seen ocean waves crash on to the shore line. They have never grown a plant and never seen where their food really comes from. We owe our children and grandchildren an understand of how interconnected their mental, physical and spiritual well-being is with nature.

Once we make peace with nature, and the fact that we are apart of the natural world, I think we will make peace with ourselves. Then maybe the planet and our human tribe will heal and survive.

On that note I’m going to hug a tree and thank it for the air I breath🤗 🌲

Toni O’Keeffe

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_modern_life_became_disconnected_from_nature

What if it was a blessing?

What if, that horrible thing you went through

was a blessing, a lesson designed to give you,

strength and an awareness of that type of pain?

So you’re prepared to hold up others when they meet this pain on their path. Just as others met you.

🌹❤️

Spend time ALONE and love the ONE you’re with.

by Toni O’Keeffe

The past five years of my life has been a period of reflection. I’m grateful for the gift of this reflection and for the blessing of the alone time that came with it.

Growing up in a large Irish/French-Canadian family full of happy noise and our own brand of chaos, which included; 14 hands rummaging through the sock box looking for a match, one bathroom where it was not uncommon to have three in the tub, one on the pot, Dad shaving over the sink while one of us brushed our teeth as mom hollered “you’re going to be late.” (I sometimes felt those words were her default cry, as chances were, “someone was always going to be late.” I became use to the familiar buzz of family noise and it was comforting. It was what I knew and it was a constant companion for most of my life.

When I left home I moved exactly half-a-block away into my aunt Jeanne’s house. My 6 year old brother Chris pulled most of my belongings in his wagon as I dragged my dresser up the street and my two little sisters Jacquie and Jeanette lugged the rest of my stuff up the road to where I would now reside.

My new residence was always buzzing with the movement of aunts, uncles, cousins, people, pets, my younger siblings and friends constantly coming and going.

From there I moved into an apartment with the man who became my husband and the father of my two sons. Life continued to be a chaotic swirl as I grew my own family, worked full time, went back to school, moved several times and still stayed closely anchored to the roots and busyness of my immediate family.

As my boys grew, and my first marriage ended, life continued to be a beautiful hectic blend of community service, career responsibilities, cubs and scouts, baseball, soccer games, swimming lessons, ski trips, camping adventures, birthday parties, sleep overs, trips to the emergency room for stitches, ear infections, broken bones, things stuck up little noses, strains and enlarged tonsils. Never a quiet or lonely moment. And, I loved it.

When the boys left home my new partner and I still led a busy life with our jobs, trips, entertaining, my sons coming and going and attending events related to the various community organizations I was involved in.

Then it all changed. The happy noise of my life became quiet. My son Ryan passed away at the age of 30. My partner of 16 years decided he was “done” and we parted ways. My youngest son was settling into his adult life and I retired from a long and successful career, leaving behind the social structure, community service and workplace friendships that were tied to my identity and a big part of my life.

A deafening silence settled over my world.

What the hell had just happened. 55 years had just zipped by.

Now alone in my new home with my grief, two little dogs as my primary companions, and no outside commitments, I began to assess, question and ponder my life. What was the purpose of any of it? I looked in the mirror and saw an older version of a person I thought I knew. Yet I didn’t know her at all.

A loneliness I had never experienced began to creep in. I had always been an upbeat positive optimistic person despite the painful parts of my journey. So, how did I land here, feeling lonely, lost and pushed off my perch?

I knew I had to fill the void. I considered part time work, joining clubs or volunteering as I had lots of experience and talent to offer. However, something held me back.

I missed the noise, my children, being a mom, a wife, a leader, I missed the busyness, the commitments, the responsibilities and the community service, or, did I?

I was lost.

After years of being many things and wearing many hats, here I sat not knowing who I was at all.

I started taking long walks to figure myself out. I thought about the son I had lost and played “what if” scenarios over and over in my head.

I found myself wandering into the forest or along the ocean. Retreating into the lap of nature brought me great comfort. I analyzed my relationships, all of them, to try and figure out what was wrong “with me” and understand how I had arrived at this place.

I also began to journal which was something I had done off and on over the years. I wrote down everything and began to pose questions to myself. And to my surprise, the answers came.

I began to realize that this aloneness was a gift of time, time to take a break, take a breath and pause before I stepped into the next phase of my life. This alone time was my chance to forgive and heal myself, to course correct, to reflect on and own my past behaviour, challenge my beliefs and chart a new path forward. A time to walk in nature and listen to my inner voice, the gentle voice I had not listened to for years. I had shut her out, listening instead to external voices, opinions, beliefs and the noise of others.

I recall hearing this inner voice when I was a child. “She” had provided me with inspiration, encouragement and wisdom. She had always been with me when I was playing or creating. Then, somewhere in my teenage years I stopped listening to her comforting, wise and loving words. “She” is my spirit, my soul, always childlike, ready to play, kind, compassionate and true to herself and always there to guide me.

It was in silence and in my aloneness that I met her again and I started to remember who I was and what this life journey is about.

This kind and loving voice kept me from jumping back into busy, noisy things because she knew exactly where she was guiding me. And, her timing was perfect.

She reminded me to be thoughtful in how I engage with the rest of the world, to make time to exercise my gifts. She helped me understand that we have to forgive, heal and love ourselves before we can forgive, heal and love others. In this alone time I committed to being careful with who I give my heart to and to embrace the magic, the starlight, the forest, the rainy days and each moment of the life I have been given.

I will continue to listen to the voice of that sweet spirit that continues to whisper in my ear. I don’t know exactly where she will guide me next. But I am going to trust that whatever comes, is meant for me and is meant to be.

Listen to the voice that calls you from within. It will guide you. No matter where your road leads, take time to listen, to forgive, to heal and to spend time alone and love the one you’re with❤️

(c) January 30, 2020

Toni O’Keeffe 🌹❤️

Stillness, is necessary.

Stillness, is necessary.

More solutions are found upon calm, still waters, than upon turbulent, chaotic seas.

It is in stillness that we are fully awake and can see, hear and think more clearly.

Allow yourself to be still.

Especially during life‘s greatest storms, allow yourself to be still.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

Ridiculously Idealistic

Ridiculously Idealistic

by Toni O’KEEFFE

As a global village, we have proven that we have the capacity to come together in times of crisis.

We see this unity in action as the world rallies to assist with the fires that devastated Australia.

In the summer of 2018, we were knit together by our common concern for 12 members of a junior football team and their coach who were trapped inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand.

We all stopped and wept as we watched Notre Dame cathedral burn and members of our global community rush to offer assistance to rebuild.

On September 11, 2001 we came together as a global tribe in support of family, friends and strangers in the US as the twin towers and a wing of the pentagon fell.

The world united with Canada in our grief over the tragic bus accident that claimed the lives of 16 Humboldt Bronco athletes and coaching staff in Saskatchewan.

 We have been united during events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and industrial accidents, proving that our ability to be compassionate and loving to one another despite our borders, religious beliefs, race, gender, financial status, is strong. And, demonstrates that as a global village we care deeply for one another.

How is it then that on a day-to-day basis human beings can display such selfishness, corruption, racism, greed, insensitivity, anger and cruelty?

 If individually we have such capacity for compassion and love, why is our world in peril?

Could it be that our constant quest to segregate into territorial clusters organized by race, religion, gender, social status and even monetary systems, is causing this peril?

We have created boarders that keep us apart and cause friction. We have artificial levels of power that create the inference that some have more power over others. It is most often this segregation and lack of tolerance that is the focal point of anger, hostility and dispute.

Until we start seeing ourselves as “the same” and celebrate our sameness rather than continuing to create friction around our differences, the world will not change.

Yes I know we are all not exactly the same, but my point is, we focus too much on the things that separate and make us different rather than celebrating the things that make us the same. All human beings are 99.9 percent identical in their genetic makeup. It is the titles, the flags, the shrouds, the idols and the cloaks we drape over ourselves that create our separateness.

The good news is, a light is shining in the hearts and minds of many people around the world who understand that we cannot sustain the planet the way we are currently living.

We see this understanding in the efforts being taken by healthcare and educational professionals who are providing services and support at no cost to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Trades people, technology experts and engineers from around the globe constantly step up to help rebuild communities, villages and homes.

There are business leaders taking action around environmental sustainability and human rights practises that are making a differences around planet. Individual philanthropists are making huge financial contributions to improve the living conditions and the lives of complete strangers. Youth around the world are rising in solidarity over environmental and human rights issues.

What this tells me is that it will not be governments, religious organizations or large corporations that will lead the change we seek, it will be private citizens that come together to drive change.

Of course we will never all agree on all things, that’s impossible. But we can deal with things respectfully, humanely and in ways that don’t start wars, destroy our environment or cause starvation.

Thousands of years ago, your ancestors and mine were a part of the same tribe. Whether we like it or not we are still a part of the same global family. We need each other. Let’s act like it.

I can hear the eyes rolling and brains thinking “OMG she is so ridiculously idealistic.”

Maybe, but hey, what if we all were?

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

Sometimes a walk in the rain can fix everything.

There are days when I step away from things, all things.

I pull out my boots, umbrella, bundle up and venture into the rain.

Each droplet cleansing the air and washing the heaviness in my soul away.

My breathing slows, the stabbing ache of anxiety, stress, grief, betrayal, anger or whatever I’m feeling, feels less.

The noise of the world and the noise in my head is held at bay against a backdrop of a billion tiny, healing raindrops, tapping in unison on everything around me.

I synchronize my breath and the pace of my steps to their collective medicinal rhythm.

Then, I feel it, the parts of me that are hurting, begin to untangle, relax and fall from me into puddles of sorrow, regret and relief. I can now leave these things behind,

Whatever it was, no longer feels so bad.

My heart begins to heal.

Sometimes a walk in the rain can fix everything.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

Sometimes you just have to float

We’re told to go out and chase our dreams.

We’re also told NOT to chase who or what we desire but to trust that the universe will provide.

So, which is it? Do you wait for your ship to come in? or, do you swim out to it?

I think the answer is, both.

Most of the time we have to trust our instinct and chase the things we desire or the goals we want to attain.

Then, there are times in life when we feel lost, weak, have a cluttered mind or a spirit that is not at peace. Its at these times that we have to surrender and trust that the universe will take over and guide us.

We are the pilots of our journey, but sometimes we need to flip the auto pilot switch and trust that we’re going to land where we’re supposed to.

We don’t wake up and think “gee, I have to pump my heart, or move the blood through my veins or breath air into my lungs,” we trust these things are going to happens – and, they do.

So, swim out to your ship. If you lose your way in the swell or the elements become too much to bear, lay back, float and trust that the current will carry you to where you’re meant to go.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️

Growing on 60

“Growing” on 60

As I approach the sweet, sage, spectacular age of 60 next month, I feel I’m hitting my spiritual, physical and mental stride and life is good. The journey ahead will be oh so sweet as I call on the lessons and wisdom from the past six decades to guide me.

The older I get the more comfortably I melt into living my authentic life. A life that is calm, brings me joy and settles my soul. A life where I find joy and inspiration in the smallest, oddest and most beautiful of places and people.

I am definitely not the woman I was at 30, 40 or 50. I’ve grown into someone better.

I’m grateful that I’ve landed at this place and no longer feel that I have to be more of anything or less of anything, all I have to do is show up to life and be me.

To the woman, especially the young woman, in my life, growing well is a gift you give yourself. A gift you should look forward to. Being female is not about duck lips, thick eye brows and push up bras. Being a strong woman is about being confident, truthful, having integrity, lifting other women up not tearing them down, maintaining a youthful heart and a healthy mind, body and spirit. It’s also about letting go of pain, people, beliefs and attitudes that no longer serve you.

We can all “grow well”, despite our pain, our losses, our life circumstances and our age. The key is literally “all in your head.” Our attitudes about our physical and mental state dictate what our lives look like now and in the future. It doesn’t matter what yesterday looked liked, tomorrow can be different.

Me, I will continue to grow well. I will wander, I will ponder and I will dance under the stars (or in my kitchen) either alone or with those that dance to the same beat. I will keep furry friends by my side as they are the best therapy. If and when I feel lost, I will wander away from the flock towards the quiet of the rain forest or meander along the ocean shore lines that kiss the edge of our wild, windy, wet, west coast. Nature is my temple.

Some of you will continue to travel this journey with me, and I look forward to whatever mischief we get into along the way. To others, I will say thank you and goodbye, you’ve been a beautiful teacher.

Here’s hoping we all grow well.

60, I embrace you, let’s do it, let’s do all of it!

Crap I think I just put my back out typing that last exclamation mark 😁.

Grow well my friends, GROW well.

Love Toni

Be Less

Be LESS THAN YOU CAN BE!

Most of our lives we’re told to be MORE, to want MORE to consume MORE.

Isn’t it time to be Less?

~ Less busy

~ Less stressed

~ Less critical of yourself

~ Less offended

~ Less judgemental

~ Less worried

~ Less impatient

~ Less of an impact on the environment.

~ Less violent

~ Less hurtful

~ Less deceitful

~ Less angry

~ Less prejudice

~ Less greedy

~ Less wasteful

~ Less concerned with what others think.

~ Less willing to tolerate the things and people that hurt you.

Maybe, just maybe if we were all a little less, the planet and all that dwell upon it would to heal just a little bit 🌏 😊❤️.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️