As I strolled through the forest and along Englishman River today, it struck me how much life is like a forest.
Depending what storms have blown through our lives, where the light is shining, where we’re planted, who’s planted beside us, how solid our foundation is, how deeply our roots grow or what nutrients are in the soil, we will either flourish and grow strong or struggle to survive.
Like the forest, life is filled with twists and turns and unfamiliar pathways or paths that are blocked.
When we meet another soul, we don’t know what foundation they’re built upon, how sturdy their root and support system is, what storms they’ve walked through, what change has blown through their lives, what twists and turns they’ve had to endure or, what might be blocking their light or blocking their path.
Imagine if we were all be bit more understanding, patient, kind and gentle with each other, how much stronger we all could grow.
Why are we drawn to the peaceful, unencumbered wilds of nature? ~ the awe of forest paths that magically transform when rays of light stream in between the branches of towering old growth trees or, ~ feel inspired when we set our eyes on majestic mountain peaks draped with snow, or, ~ melt into a state of relaxation gazing at an expansive indigo sky dressed in twinkling stars, or ~ fall into a state of peaceful reverence when we sink our toes into the sand and watch the rising and setting of the sun?
Why do these and the other sights, sounds and smells of nature call to us, arouse our senses, bring us comfort and cause us to pause and exhale?
I think this call into the wild is our deepest self calling us home.
Our DNA evolved in nature. Our ancestors spent most of their time in the natural world. We’re hard wired to live amongst the trees, near the water and under the sky.
It’s only been in the last couple of centuries that we’ve strayed away from where we belong and moved into loud overcrowded, concrete jungles and on to busy asphalt highways.
Numerous studies have shown spending time in nature is a natural remedy for stress, can lower blood pressure, boast immune system functioning, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. That’s a pretty good “pill”.
Yet, humanity spends trillion of dollars annually purchasing and consuming self help products and services to make us feel well, less anxious and less stressed; things we’d feel if we spent more time in the great outdoors.
Spending time in nature is like pushing the reset button and going back to our original factory😊settings.
Going into nature is peaceful, comfortable and reminds us of home because, it is home, it is where we’re meant to be.
When you feel the stress of our modern world impacting your well being, go home, stick your toes, your heart and your soul where they belong and BE well.
When we choose anything; a partner, a movie, produce, a bottle of wine, a job, friends, we try to get the good ones, the ones that are good for us, lift us up and make us feel good.
When you choose your thoughts, you should also choose the good ones, the ones that lift you up and make you feel good.
You know the saying “you are what you eat”? Well, you’re also what you thinking. If you think you’re unhappy you’re right, If you think life sucks, you’re right. If you think you’re beautiful you’re right. If you think you’re capable you’re right. If you think a rainy day is fabulous you’re right. If you think a rainy day is dismal you’re right. We become what we believe and what we fill up on. Fill your life with good people, good thoughts and good stuff.
Today feels like a good day to start healing from whatevers hurting or haunting you.
It doesn’t matter how you got here. It matters how you muster the courage to move beyond it.
Healing can start by forgiving who or what hurt you, including forgiving yourself for the role you played or decisions you made that led to your emotional or physical pain.
Forgiveness does not mean you condone or forget what happened. Forgiveness is the act of reclaiming control over your mental and physical well being so you can live your best life.
When we forgive, we put the weight of our pain down and remove the power it has over us. Forgiveness allows peace to fill in the spaces where sorrow, guilt, regret, anger, grief or other pain once lived and, we begin to heal. You may not be able to get over your pain, but you can get through it.
Forgive the ones who hurt you, left you in a state of fear, or left you feeling less than you are. Forgive the disease, discomfort or physical pain hurting your body and ask it to move on. It doesn’t matter why or how this pain found you, it matters that you move on in spite of it.
Even if you have to live with your pain, as many of us do, you can still ease the hurt and take away the power it has over your life.
It’s on the path through our pain where some of our greatest learning and growth takes place.
You deserve, happiness, peace of mind, love and freedom from everything thats ever hurt you.
If you need help getting started; write down the things you want to heal from and who you need to forgive. Then, find your place of peace. This place might be a forest, the ocean, a wide open field, a mountain top, a lakeside, a garden, your backyard or a room with a view. In this safe space set your words free in whatever way feels right for you. Burn, bury, scream, shred or flush, the choice is yours,
When you leave, this place, leave what and who hurt you behind. If you feel your pain creeping back in. Go back to this place and reclaim your peace of mind.
Whether your pain is anchored in grief, regret, remorse, abuse, addiction, heartbreak, an accident, disease or other physical or emotional suffering; today’s a good day to start healing.
Your pain can leave you paralyzed or, it can be the wind that allows to you set sail.
Today as I sat on the beach with my little dog Bo’, a young girl, about 4 years old, ran up to us happily excited to see Bo’ digging in the sand.
She gushed at how cute he was, stroked his fur ever so gently, softly tapped his head and utter the words; “good boy” and giggled as he licked her hands and face.
Her mother ran up to where we were and apologized for her daughter’s intrusion and excitement and told her to leave us alone.
“It’s quite alright,”I said. “His name is Bo and he loves the attention.”
Then, quite spontaneously, the little girl looked up at me and said “I love you, and I love Bo.” It was very sweet. “We love you too,” I replied. “Thank you for making Bo so happy today.” The little girl smiled.
Her mother appeared very uncomfortable, quickly grabbed her child’s hand and pulled her away. She turned to her daughter and in a harsh tone said; “You don’t tell strangers you love them. That’s silly, stop bothering this lady.” She went on publicly scolding the child and told her; “You don’t even know this person, You save those words for people you know.”
A quiet reserve fell over this sweet child’s face, erasing her glow and her smile. Her slumped shoulders and nervous hair twirling, were signs she was confused about what she had done wrong.
I wanted to pick her up, hug her, tell her she had done nothing wrong and, in fact, she had made me and Bo quite happy. But, I couldn’t, it wouldn’t have been “appropriate” and, her mother had quickly whisked her away.
Let me be clear, I understand the importance of educating our children about stranger-danger. Some people might not want their child running up to strangers saying “I love you”. This situation was different. And, it was a lost learning moment for the mother and the child.
There is nothing more beautiful than the innocence and vulnerability of a child speaking their truth.
Most young children do not possess social restraint, so their raw honesty can be insightful and even comical when they say things we might find inappropriate, such as; “your breath is stinky like a dog butt” “I think I barfed in my underpants” “farts are my favourite thing about granpa” “mom you look dizzy in that dress” “we don’t eat meat ‘cause our moms trying to be a virgin” ……or other words and phrases describing the plethora of thought swirling inside a tiny human mind(and yes these are actual raw honest phrases spoken by my two little boys, in public, decades ago).
So when a child is moved to say the words “I love you” its a beautiful act from a little soul under construction.
Saying “I love you” in a platonic way, shouldn’t feel scary (my god I just wrote about this a few weeks ago). When children say it, it should feel wonderful and they shouldn’t be shamed or scorned.
In a world filled with anger, hate and distrust, we need little people to feel comfortable expressing LOVE.
So what’s the moral of this story? Our words have power. The words spoken by this sweet child, lifted me up. Her words were beautiful, authentic and spoken from the innocence of her tender heart.
The words spoken by her mother, were filled with anger, disappointment, perhaps fear, and quickly had the power to bring a very happy, excited child down, and put me off balance for the rest of the day.
Our words can create ripples that echo on long after we’ve left them behind ( this post is an example of just that). So lets create ripples of kindness that flow gently into (and beyond) each other’s lives, rather than cause and waves of fear, hurt and destruction.
****Fun fact, I was not successful in my attempts to eliminate meat from my diet. I did not become a “vegetarian”. (You might have to go back and re-read paragraph 11 to fully understand 😁)
Be still ~ Close yours eye ~ Slowly inhale ~ Hold ~ Now, let your shoulders drop and the muscles across your neck and brow loosen and relax as you slowly exhale. As you release your breath, imagine all pain, stress, anger, jealousy, fear, fatigue, regret or sadness, melting and floating away. Let it all go.
These uncomfortable emotions and physical discomfort are often sent to wake us up. They remind us to stop wasting time on the wrong people and the wrong things. They are calling us to to live, create, explore and love in ways that lift us up, not break us down.
If each day is a repeat of the day before and you’re not fully living, your mind, body and spirit will send you messages through feelings of discontent, fatigue, tension and illness. Listen to those messages.
My Dad used to say, “learn something, create something, observe something, meet someone or go somewhere new everyday, it’ll keep life interesting.” He was right.
We never know when we’ll take our last breath. Don’t waste this day, this life, this moment on things and people that bring you down.
You deserve happiness and joy. You have this one, big, colourful life. What wild and wonderful things are you going to do with it?
Don’t die with your hopes, dreams, desires, words, art, music, love, passion still in you. Open your heart and unleash your magic into the world.
Now, be still and listen, where does your mind, body and soul want you to go?
I use the “L” word a lot. I tell my family, friends, even my dog, “I LOVE them.”
I love my home, my community, my morning coffee, cinnamon buns, Prosecco, chocolate, harp music, a good “who-done-it”, walks in the forest, starry nights, the sound of the ocean, crazy wild storms, songs that make me cry and spontaneous adventures ( lol- sounds like an online dating profile😁). My point is, each of us use this one small word; “LOVE”, to define the emotion, passion and affection we have for so many things.
So why then are so many afraid to say it? Maybe it’s because we’ve made saying “I LOVE you” weird. Our socialized definition of the word is based on romantic love, when actually, LOVE goes further and so much deeper than that.
If you’re a part of my tribe and I tell you “I LOVE you.” it means; I’m grateful for the bond and history we share, the memories we’ve made and the time we’ve spent together. I appreciate the energy and wisdom you bring into my life. I’m drawn to your creativity, your soulfulness, your wit, the way you lift me up and make me feel. When I say “I LOVE you” I’m saying I’m glad you were born and I’m happy you’re a part of my life.
Now, what’s so scary about that?
Just saying the words “I LOVE you” is uplifting to the one speaking them. Being told we’re loved is not just nice, it’s necessary. We all need to know we matter.
LOVE has the power to inspire, comfort, heal, and pull us up from the darkest of places. There are more songs, books, movies and poetry written about LOVE then any other topic. We have special days to celebrate love, we’re consumed with finding love, and without love our species would, well, die off.
In a world that always seems to be in peril, sharing our love for one another is the glue that will strengthen our bonds and allow us to better navigate the challenges, conflicts and disagreements life throws at us.
So let’s stop making it weird. Spread the “L”word. I promise the more you give, the more you’ll get.
Imagine you’re on a day hike in the forest, it’s getting dark and you wander off the path.
Your lost. You don’t know which way to go. You don’t have provisions to get through the night, you’re feeling stressed, hopeless, anxious and mad at yourself for not being better prepared.
Then, as you’re stumbling in the dark, exhausted and disoriented, you see a light in the darkness. A spark of hope surges within you and you make your way towards the light.
Your anxiousness turns to excitement. Your hopelessness turns to optimism. All because you saw a small comforting glow in the distance.
You’re overcome with joy when you come upon another hiker sitting next to a cozy fire. This person is a stranger, yet, in this moment they’re the most important person in your life.
They offer you shelter, warmth, food and water. You graciously accept. You’re relieved and you feel safe.
In the morning this stranger guides you out of the forest to safety. You hug, shed a tear and say goodbye. Your grateful, humbled and alive. ~~~~~~~ We all stumble. At times, we feel lost, alone, anxious, stressed or hopeless. Pride or self doubt might stop us from seeking help.
You sweet soul, when you’re lost, do what you’d do in the forest, look for the ones with the light and let them guide you. Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️