Tag Archives: inspiration

Quote of the Week #83

Have you ever been somewhere and seen someone with a FREE HUG sign? Did you take them up on their offer? Did the hug feel nice, or awkward? Did you enjoy it? If you didn’t hug the person, did you think about it afterward and wonder why you didn’t?

One day in late December my husband and I were both feeling depressed and in a state of despair even though it was that time of year when people are supposed to feel festive and happy. We decided to cheer ourselves up we would take our dog, Schroeder, and go into town with the sole purpose of making people smile and giving out free hugs. We made three signs, put them on and set out on the streets of Asheville.

Our first time giving out free hugs

Our first time giving out free hugs

Some people looked at us strangely. Some people moved away from us. Some people laughed when they saw Schroeder, moving closer–happily– to accept some puppy love. Oh, they laughed when Schroeder wagged his tail wildly and tried to lick their faces. We quickly learned several things:

1 That Schroeder does not give hugs–he gives kisses and licks

2. That if we did not take initiative, many people just walked on by

3. At the end of the day, after hugging many, many strangers and sharing many smiles and laughs, WE felt better. In giving out hugs we had managed to cheer ourselves up!

Since then we made giving out hugs a monthly event. We are better at it now–better at warmly inviting strangers to hug us, better at not taking it personally when they walk past, better at letting the hugs go on as long as people need. And Schroeder’s sign now says “Free kisses and licks.”

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And so that brings me to the quote of the week, two of them actually, because, as you know, I can never decide:

The first, by Maya Angelou, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

and the second, a fact that was apparent to us almost immediately– it is very easy to make someone smile.

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YOU can be reason someone smiles. YOU can make a difference in someone’s day. All it takes is the desire and a tiny bit of effort.

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Photo Challenge #11

Happy Wednesday! Are you having a great day yet?

I spent my morning out in one of my favorite meadows and it was absolutely glorious! The field is filled with yarrow, milkweed, New York Ironweed, butterfly weed, daisies, and more. In most places the grasses are as tall as my shoulders and I walk along, slowly, immersing myself in the NOW and viewing the world through my “photographer’s eye,” constantly on the lookout for insects and other interesting things. I frequently find deer beds of flattened grasses–it makes me smile, thinking of the deer curled up in a ball and sleeping peacefully for the night.

gmead-5200Today the swallows were making rounds over the field, swooping low above the wet grasses in search of insects, calling to each other as they danced in the sky. There was a flock of crows calling in an adjacent field. Butterflies, dragonflies and honeybees flitted around the pink milkweed blossoms that are so heavenly fragrant right now–if only I could capture the smell and waft it into your space as you read this post! As I sat in the field, hidden from the world, I thought of a poem by Wendell Berry that I read yesterday, sent to me by my friend, Bea.(Thanks Bea!)  For those of us intimately familiar with the natural world, this poem will make you nod your head in agreement:

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Anyway, I just wanted to share it with you on this Wednesday, in hopes that you can make some time to get outside and “come into the peace of wild things.”

Last week’s photo theme was FOG. Here is the weekly slide show

Ward Pound Ridge ReservationBackpacking in Denali National Park, AlaskaDelaware National Water Gap on The ATDogwoodNC Mountains, by ArdenDrama in the skyEagle on the Mississippi, by JockFoggy church Davenport by JockFoggy day on the ATSecret Garden, Roan MountainWestern North CarolinaFog at Nahant Marsh Iowa by JockIn Great Smoky Mountains National ParkFog by ArdenFoggy forest by JockFog over the mountainsIn Etowah Fog in the valleyIn GSMNPLooking back on the AT in MaineFog in AlaskaMy backyardIn Denali National ParkJones Gap, SCDawn's Early LightLight at the end of the tunnelFogFog in the pine forest at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, NYIn Cade's CoveTree by Whitewater Falls, NCDancing FogDenali National Park, Alaska

And in honor of my surprise-filled trips to the unmoved plots of land everywhere, let’s do THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS as our theme for this week. Have you been to a glorious meadow near you and felt the peace of wild things? Or been to a forest, a spot at the top of a mountain, or beside a pond or river? Do you have a special spot where you can feel the peace of wild things? Have you inched along the grasses in a meadow to find secret treasures? How can you create a compelling image depicting the peace of wild things? Do you think this will be an easy theme?

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I hope to hear from you, and especially, hope you will join us in next week’s slide show. Just email me a few images to sharenaturemore@gmail.com and I will happily add them to the Wednesday blog post…. see you again soon!

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1 Minute Meditation: River Time

Some of you may know that I took a backpacking trip with some friends recently to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see a special kind of firefly called the synchronous firefly. The trail we hiked hugged a most beautiful river the entire way, making it very challenging for me to keep moving. Every few steps I would see another something interesting that I felt compelled to stop and photograph. I realized very early on that I must return alone so I can spend all the time I want without pressure that I am not making enough (or any!) forward progress, AND, I will bring my tripod…. Special thanks to my trail companions who were super patient with me and never once complained about always having to wait.

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…so the scene is set. It is late spring. Imagine that you are walking beside a rock-filled river, the constant sound of water accompanying your every step. When you stop and look closely, you notice how many of the rocks in the river are covered with thick, green moss. There are lovely reflections in the still pools of water close to the edge and the morning lighting makes the trees and rhododendron lining the river paint the water a glorious golden-green color. When you close your eyes, the music soothes you, chasing away any thoughts but the here and now.

What do you think? Was it easy to imagine you were there? Do you think it is somewhere you’d like to visit?

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Quote of the Week #82

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you will likely recall my talking about seeing a special kind of firefly that lives in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park–the synchronous firefly. I have written several posts about my experience witnessing the hundreds of these fireflies that light up night for two weeks every year in early June–Magic for your Soul, Soundless Music and 10 things you didn’t know about fireflies.

q-4278Recently I backpacked 4.4 miles to a remote campsite in the backcountry of the park with my husband and two new friends. We arrived at our site in late afternoon, set up our tents and sat back to relax until dark. We drank lemonade rum, snacked on cheese and crackers before our dinners and played a dice game called Farkle. All was well in our world.

Later, as darkness approached, anticipation was high. Our new friends had never seen the fireflies and I badly wanted them to experience the awe I felt the first time I’d seen them, many years ago after I moved to Asheville. With a nearly-full moon already high in the sky, darkness came slowly. At 9:00, I left everyone sitting by the empty fire circle, walking back down the narrow path, looking hopefully for signs of the fireflies. I saw only a few lights. Next I explored the area behind our tents, towards the wide, rock-filled river that provided constant music. Still only a handful of lights. Growing discouraged I ventured farther up the trail, hoping perhaps that would be the “spot” where the fireflies would be gathering. Again, nothing.

I walked back to the group, wondering how it could be that the fireflies were not here. Were we too early? Too late? Was the ranger who gave me advice wrong about this spot?

My friends were quiet, looking around like me.

And then! Here a light, there a light. Here a light, there a light! Tiny lights began flashing in the darkness, low to the ground. We made our way away from our open site, to another spot just on the other side of a small stream, in a denser part of the forest. There, in the silence of the woods, surrounded by darkness, the flashing lights surrounded us! They were everywhere!

Synchronous fireflies are different than other fireflies in that they all flash, flash, flash, flash and then somehow, a signal is communicated and they all stop flashing in unison, making the night black again. It remains black for a few seconds and then the lights start up again. And this goes on and on and on until somewhere between 11:00 and midnight.

Our small group of 4 stood silently in the forest, surrounded by flashing lights. At times they seemed to all dance forward, towards us before growing still again. Blackness all around.

Then the flickering of tiny lights again, decorating the darkness and creating a silent symphony of dancing light.

Later, after we all had our fill, we moved off to settle in our tents, which were by then surrounded by flickering lights. We took off the rain fly, lying in the tent and watching contentedly the dancing lights of tiny insects gathered outside of our temporary home in the forest. It is hard to describe. Difficult to convey the emotion I felt as I watched this. Impossible to communicate why I am moved to tears by this most simple natural event that happens at this time of year in this place every year and has for many, many years. It is magical. It is special. It is food for my soul…

And so, this week’s quote–two actually because as is often the case, I could not decide.

“Silence is life’s most sacred melody,” and:

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“Life is passing rapidly. Fiercely commit to every moment you find beautiful and remember it. Record it. Fully, whole-heartedly inhabit it. Awareness is one of the greatest things you can possess in this life as it is as important as the very air we breathe and water we drink to stay alive.” –Victoria Erickson

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Do you agree? What magical moments have you been a part of lately? Have you ventured to the Smokies to see these fireflies? What was your experience like? Have you seen fireflies in a meadow or forest near you? What was it like? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts–I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

…Here’s to making time for a magic moment near you in the very near future.

Posted in Animals, For My Soul, Insects, Spiders and other Invertebrates, Nature NOW, Quote of the Week | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Quote of the Week #81

So I think it’s safe to say that if you have children, or have been around children for any length of time, you know that as an adult, it’s important to monitor their exposure to certain things: TV shows, movies, internet sites, etc. Not only do you want to protect them from physical harm, but you also want to protect them from other “bad” things, many of which can’t be seen. Protecting them from seeing or hearing something that you deem not appropriate for them, for whatever reasons and however you define harm is of the utmost importance. Everyone is different and likely has his or her own ideas of what is okay and what is not.

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I was thinking about this the other day because I have done the same thing to myself, for myself. Surely this isn’t unusual, but sometimes as adults I think we might forget we can. We might forget we have that power.

As you likely know I have had a long absence from my blog posts–from December until now.  This break felt essential to me because (after November) I was not able to function normally. And even after all this time I can’t say I am great, but I at least don’t break down crying several times a day. I am better, and this, because I have changed my habits and limited my daily exposure to things I know only sadden, cause anger, make me feel hopeless and just generally depress me.

In the beginning I felt guilty for not keeping up with things, for “sticking my head in the sand.” But now, all of these months later, I am accepting this as reality. My new reality. In the same way parents limit a child’s exposure to harmful or dangerous “things,” I too must limit my exposure to things that are guaranteed to have these negative impacts. It doesn’t mean I care any less. It doesn’t mean I won’t fight for what I believe in. It doesn’t mean that I accept the changes I see or that I have given up. It just means I understand myself and put my needs first.

And so, this week’s quote:

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What do you think? What ways do you make sure you are healthy and happy?

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Quote of the Week #80

FLYAWAY-2085I haven’t met many people who don’t enjoy butterflies. After all, what’s not to like? They are beautifully colored, fly gracefully, don’t kill things, have amazing life cycles and just generally bring a smile to your soul when you see one.

They start out as a tiny egg, hatch out, then eat, eat, eat, molt several times, make a chrysalis, and then, some days later, transform into a lovely butterfly–a sure symbol of something we all can use–HOPE.

So, this week’s quote:

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.

If you live locally to western North Carolina, please come out and join me THIS TUEDAY (April 18th) night at 7:30 for my first program –about butterflies and moths–with my new Meetup group, called Share Nature More. To learn more, or to sign up, click here.

If you don’t live locally I’m sorry I will miss you! You can click these links to see some amazing butterfly transformations (these will knock your socks off! )-a monarch here or a red-spotted purple here, or the emergence of a variegated fritillary here. Or if you want, check out 10 things you might not know about butterflies.

Posted in Animals, Insects, Spiders and other Invertebrates, Quote of the Week, Wisdom for your Wednesday | Also tagged , , , , , Comments Off on Quote of the Week #80

4 Things to Remember this Holiday Season

Several years ago I wrote a post in December called 5 things to remember this holiday season. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you may remember this post. It was one that I really liked and wanted to reshare, especially with my new subscribers who may not have been reading then. (By the way, my favorite from that list is number 2; what is yours?)

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I won’t repeat those 5 things, but I will add 4 more, in honor of THIS December and THIS moment in time.

So here then, 4 things to remember this holiday season:

1 Don’t compare yourself with others.   This is a hard one because we see examples of “perfection” everywhere we look–on Hallmark cards, friends’ Facebook posts, TV commercials, photo cards sent to us from family members. Remind yourself that this represents a few seconds in time. No one’s life is perfect; no one is immune from struggle, from challenges, from day-to-day stresses. Appearances aren’t everything–just because someone looks happy, doesn’t mean they are. Family and friends and people around you may be thinner, taller, shorter, smarter, richer, more attractive, more fit, more busy, less busy, more ambitious, may have a “better job,” or “better house,” or “better situation,”, etc, but that doesn’t make them BETTER THAN YOU. Stop comparing yourself to others and you will be so much happier.

2. Joy comes from within.  We sometime think, and are led to believe by tv commercials, billboards and other media differently but this is TRUE. We all have the power to be happy or not be happy. It is whatever we decide. The poorest people in the world are not the saddest, nor are the richest people the happiest. Having money and things does not equal happiness. Instead, happiness comes from being grateful, from being able to focus on our blessings rather than our wants, and from being at peace with who we are and on what road we’re on in life. If you are not happy, try doing something nice for someone else –because making others happy often makes ourselves happy.

3 Make time for YOURSELF. If you are a giving person, it is so easy to get caught up in all of those lists and commitments. You rush from one thing to the next with barely any time to breathe. Slow down and remember that YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO! Give yourself some pleasure this holiday season by making time for things that bring a smile to your face and a feeling of contentment in your soul. It could be a walk in the woods, lunch with a special friend, a trip to the salon… whatever it is don’t let it slip away–YOU deserve to be on your Christmas list too!

jen-09934. Keep making new memories.  All of us have collections of memories, of fond times that we have stored away in the corners of our brain that we can bring up, close our eyes and relive. But maybe we need to think of those memories as having a shelf life. Just like that can of corn or that jar of pasta sauce needs to be replaced when the expiration date comes, so too we need to think of replacing our old memories with new ones. And you don’t usually make very many memories sitting on your butt on the couch! So get out and DO SOMETHING! Go sledding, go hiking, go backpacking, go bowling, go to a new country, play with your kids, go visit your friends, invite friends over for some fun games, sign up for a new class… the list is endless. Maybe instead of a New Year’s Resolution we should make some lists of all the things we can do and learn in this coming year. We must remember to KEEP MAKING MEMORIES!  

Want to know one way to do this? Have you heard of a Bucket List? Well how about instead of–or in addition to–making a LIFE Bucket list, why not make a monthly bucket list? At the beginning of every month, sit down with your spouse/family and write a bucket list for that month. What are some things you’d like to do? Write them down and post them on your calendar–this will help remind and hopefully, motivate you!

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Good luck and do let me know how it goes and if you have any things you’d like to add. I always appreciate hearing from you!

Happy day! See you again soon. Oh, and here’s a post about some meaningful gifts that won’t break the bank or one about some gifts for Mother Nature that make a giant difference.

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