Pagan Parenting: Natural Living for Toddlers

Raising a child in my tradition poses some unique challenges.

For that reason, I periodically like to update you all on our progress so that other pagan parents know they’re not alone!

I last talked in depth about this subject in my post Pagan Parenting:  The First Year if you’d like some background context.

Please note:  There are lots of wonderful ways to raise a child.  None of these ideas are meant to be definitive.  I submit the following suggestions humbly and with respect for our diversity as parents looking for ways to raise our children in a natural and spiritual environment.

I enjoy coming up with creative ways to introduce my toddler to a life centered around natural living, compassion and heightened sense of spiritual awareness.  I hope the ideas here inspire you to come up with your own unique pagan parental journey.  🙂

To start, I always try to take a step back and observe my child’s abilities.   What do we do on a daily basis?

How might I best modify our routine or activities to creatively guide him towards an enlightened, open-minded path?

How do I steer him away from all the flashing lights and plastic and television that surrounds him and encourage him seek out the intrinsic beauty of the world?

Those are some pretty big questions!

The first goal I made for this year started with eliminating plastic toys.

Instead, I aimed to surround him with more natural materials like cloth, wood & metal.

A lot of people think natural toys come attached to big price tags, but I found this completely untrue!

To begin with, for us, minimalism works when it comes to toys.  I discovered (quite to my surprise) that while plastic toys with flashing lights and noisy gizmos engage my child briefly and intensely, he lost interest in them quickly and they became useless objects discarded in the toy box.

This made them addictive, and I found myself purchasing new ones almost weekly to keep him occupied.

Now that gets expensive!

On the flip side, when I introduced him to simple, traditional toys, it took a while for him to become interested, but once they engaged him, he played with them for hours and returned to them over and over.  Which in the long run, works out to be much cheaper.

But even the upfront investment in natural, simple toys need not be prohibitive.

If you are open to purchasing used or antique toys, thrift stores offer a great opportunity to find affordable toys like wood cars, rocking horses and blocks.  Just be mindful about things like lead paint, and small parts that pose a choking risk.

IMG_1504

However, if this idea makes you too nervous, you still have lots of options!  I found wood and cloth toys very affordably at IKEA.  Or, if your budget gives you some freedom, Plan Toys makes excellent toys made of sustainable materials.

Anyway you get them, I found less is more when it comes to toys.  Rotating a few toys proved more effective for us, engaged my toddler longer and let his natural abilities shine through to me.

For example, he loves wheels, and will play with the gears on this cast iron toy bike, endlessly hypnotized by the way it moves.

IMG_1475

All of this inspired us to make a decision I never thought we’d make:  We opted to enroll our child in a Catholic Montessori preschool. 

I know a lot of pagans have difficult or complicated histories with Catholicism and Christianity in general and I don’t want to negate that.

Personally, my experience with Christianity has been largely positive, so sending my child to a Catholic school poses no conflict for me or my husband—although filling out sections in the application truthfully without raising any eyebrows proved amusing:

“What denomination are you?”

(Uh, Unitarian Universalist?  We’ll go with that.)

I know his school teaches religious education as part of the curriculum.

I’m personally very comfortable with that.

I really want to steep my child in a spiritual community——even if it’s not mine.

Neopagan religions generally don’t encourage proselytization.

My husband isn’t pagan, no one in my (biological) family is pagan and I’ve never suggested any of them should become pagan.

To me, that extends to my child.  Of course I’d love to raise a “second gen” and have a child who is as enthusiastic about my path as I am—but I expect him to carve his own way, and I see my role as one of guided exposure, not predetermination.

I will teach him about my traditions as we go, but ultimately, when he reaches adulthood, I am called most to expose him widely to many different faiths so that he might make his spiritual and religious choices with as much information as possible.

Although Catholicism piques my interest spiritually (in particular, the idea of prayer to Mary, the high ritualism of ceremony, and the sacredness of art in Catholicism fascinate me) the “Catholic” part of this preschool seemed almost beside the point.

What really intrigued me was the Montessori approach, which has no association with paganism, but it feels pagan to me—the emphasis on both individuality and community, a progressive approach to education and the respect for children as human beings with their own minds really appeals to me.

Oh, and in the school we chose, there’s no plastic toys!  🙂

So we’ve covered toys and school.  Now let’s eat.

Food and mealtimes gave me another great opportunity to encourage natural living in my toddler.  In this respect, the universe blessed us generously.

I know not all parents have the time to prepare homemade food for every meal.

I was very lucky to have the option to work part time and I chose to do just that, so I have room in my schedule to cook a lot.

Having said that, if feeding your child “real food” from scratch is something that’s important to you, don’t be discouraged!  It’s not impossible to do it with even time constraints.

Actually, although I enjoy cooking, I don’t really need to cook much at all.  Raw fruits and veggies make up most of my toddler’s diet.  I buy some prepackaged things, like plain Greek yogurt and whole wheat pasta, but for the most part, I stick with totally unprocessed foods.

I make large batches and freeze them in single serving portions.  Homemade bread, quiche to reheat for breakfast, sweet potato mash, and all the other 10,000,000,000 recipe ideas on Pinterest I’ve yet to try make great freezer meals without the preservatives.

I also banned plastic tableware.  I noticed something whilst traveling overseas to . . . almost any other country in the world—-Americans take for granted that everything a child touches must be made of plastic.

I noticed in other places, families sat even the smallest children at the table to use tiny versions of the adult tableware.  Very early on, the children learn to handle these items with care, whereas American children treat tableware roughly well into the preschool years.

I picked out several wood bowls, as well as small “toddler sized” metal and wood spoons.

IMG_1556

I compromised on sippy cups.  If you live overseas, you might be quick to point out that everyone else also teaches their children to drink out of a glass between 12-16 months.  You guys are awesome.   I don’t how you do it.  My kid throws a cup across the room as soon as I put it in front of him.  So we do sippy cups.

In small ways, we even started to help our toddler make the connection to his food and the places it comes from by visiting pick-your-own farms where he could actually eat fruit right off the tree.  We particularly enjoyed our experience at the peach farm last month!

squick with a peach

Finally, one positive step forward to natural living that nearly everyone will find rewarding and achievable is a “screen free” hour every day.  I don’t let my toddler use any screened device at all yet, but I also don’t want him to constantly be surrounded by other people using them, so I try to take him on regular nature walks and I make it a point not to bring my phone.  It’s good for both of us.

And we have the good fortune to live near the Civil War battlefields, which are among the most beautiful trails in the world.

Towards the end of this year, I look forward to celebrating the Sabbats with my toddler, because he’s already old enough to start appreciating little things about them.  I’ll try to make some footnotes around the coming Sabbats about how that goes!

Blessed be!

Save

Advertisements

Make a Winter Hair Wreath

Most people associate the beloved hair wreath with Beltane or Litha, but I was inspired by the winter foliage to do one for Imbolc (and then I dragged a poor model out into the cold to pose in it.)

make-a-winter-hair-wreath-for-imbolc

If you’d like to do the same, here’s how!

You will need:

An embroidery hoop.  I’ve seen other people use wire, an old hanger or other bases, but these seem to work best for me and they are fairly cheap.  Available at any craft store.

holly-hair-wreath-base

Thread.  Any thread will do, but I like a neutral color or green.

thread

Some natural foliage.  You can use fake flowers, too, but I think natural looks best for pictures or a one-day event.  I just looked around the landscape until I spotted some color.  The leaves and berries from this holly bush were perfect.

img_9837

From there, it’s very simple.  Take a section of the greenery and hold it firmly between your thumb and fingers.

how-to-make-a-hair-wreath

Then wind the thread around the bunch and the embroidery hoop securely.  Keep going, adding sections of greenery as you continue all the way around.  Don’t worry about getting it perfect or even.  A little wildness makes it look more natural.

how-to-make-a-hair-wreath-for-imbolc

I like to save the colors for last so they stand out on top.

img_9848

And there you have it!  Gorgeous.  Everyone at the Sabbat circle will want one!

15591621_356692648030045_724439244965277100_o

holly-hair-wreath

holly-hair-wreath

mabon incense 3

Interview with Penniless Pagan

This week, we’re sitting down with Michaela from Penniless Pagan, who graciously agreed to answer questions about becoming a pagan, retreating to nature and her favorite herbs.

moody-moons-interview-copy

What brought you to paganism?  Was is it a particular moment of revelation, or a slow progression?

Like many people, I didn’t have the most stable childhood. Right around thirteen things were particularly heinous, and I began searching for something—anything—outside my house to keep me from having to go home. I came upon a really cool metaphysical shop several miles from my house and was immediately enamored with all the beautiful crystals and spell books inside. The owner was super friendly and welcoming, something I wasn’t experiencing at home, so it was nice to just spend a few minutes in a place that wasn’t seeped in negativity. He was so generous he actually approached me one day and said I could borrow any books in the store free of charge! Of course I read anything I could get my hands on!

As I said, thirteen was one of the worst years of my life, and I yearned for some stability and hope. When I discovered Paganism could be practiced alone, I dove in with every ounce of energy I had! Interestingly, this actually caused more strife in my home life, but ultimately gave me the strength to carry on. It showed me there was a reason to keep living, that bad things end and there was a purpose for my existence.

Did you come from another faith or spiritual background?

I was raised Catholic, but beyond bedtime prayers and celebrating the major holidays (basically Easter and Christmas), my family didn’t PRACTICE religion. Sure, they said they were Catholics, but they never went to church. EVER. The sole time I went to church for a Sunday mass was when I slept over a friend’s house the Saturday night prior! Of course, once I proclaimed in a very teenager angsty way that I was Pagan, crap really hit the fan! My mother’s husband even tried to throw me out…at thirteen!Sadly, this attitude wasn’t at all unusual for him. He was extremely abusive.

Ironically, because life is so wonderfully humorous that way, my father was very accepting of my new spirituality and even purchased books to learn more about it. Very interesting considering he was once a catechism teacher and heavily involved with the church! (Before I was born) Nowadays he’s of no particular faith, but he does remember to send me a text on every Sabbat. He’s thoughtful that way.

Fortunately, my family eventually got their heads out of their rears, into some fresh air, and realized I was not worshiping the devil! (For a spirituality that doesn’t even believe in the devil, we sure do get accused of that a lot, hm?!)My mom even transitioned to a blend of Christianity and Wicca years later. As I said, life is funny.

You seem like a practical lady who knows how to throw together a ritual on the go.  What’s your favorite “in a pinch” ritual idea?

Why thank you! =D My first go-to when time is tight is to simply BE! I think the biggest thing we all forget when trying to be “good” Pagans is that there isn’t a rule book! Life is a gift. The Goddess and God (Universe, Divine, etc) want us to enjoy it! So when a Sabbat creeps up on me and I haven’t planned an involved ritual, I simply go outside or to a park or for a hike and just take in the moment. I listen to the wind in the trees. I feel the breeze on my skin. I inhale the scent of the season. I marvel at the beauty around me. As I often say on my blog, the best way to honor nature is to be in nature! There’s no better way to celebrate a Sabbat than appreciating the nature around you!

What do find most challenging about being a pagan blogger?  Do your friends and family know about this side of your life, or are you a quiet witch?

As cliché as it is, I don’t want to disappoint readers.If they’re taking the time to read something I wrote, I need to make sure it’s worth it! It TRULY makes my day if someone leaves a thoughtful comment! It’s not unusual for me to text a photo of a reader’s comment to my husband or best friend with nothing but exclamation points as my message. It’s just SUCH an incredible feeling to know this tiny little post did something for someone. The world is a tough place; we have to help each other out!

My family and friends know I’m Pagan (it’s kind of hard to hide it with a pentacle tattooed on your ankle!). But only my husband and best friend know about PennilessPagan.com. I want to be able to connect with readers without feeling censored, and I just can’t do that if I know family is reading it. It’s kind of odd to say you can be honest with strangers and not your family, but that’s just the way it is sometimes. It comes back to creating healthy boundaries. It took me many years, but I now know who I can bare my soul to and who I need to meter. My family are decent people, we just mirror Arrested Development a little more than I care for! 😉

When you retreat into nature, where do you find yourself? 

The woods. Always the woods!

Herbalism is clearly one of your specialties.  If you were trapped on a desert island, what five herbs would you have with you and why?

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to answer this question!!! I LOVE herbalism. Like, if herbs were a movie, I’d be that weirdo that spends two weeks in a tent waiting for tickets to go on sale.

Without question, goldenseal and plantain leaf. Both are amazing anti-infectives, internally and topically! Peppermint for stomachaches and headaches.Slippery elm, which is super nutritious and can be eaten like oatmeal. And chamomile, because if you’re stuck on a desert island I’d imagine you’re a tad stressed! =P

I imagine you probably do some wildcrafting.  What are your favorite items to look for on a nature walk?

Due to his job, my husband and I currently live in a very rural part of New Mexico. This part of the desert receives less than 10 inches of precipitation on year!  (You’ll hear me complain talk about this on the blog from time to time.) Therefore, wildcrafting isn’t as plentiful as I would like, but it’s something I eagerly await once we return to grass and trees.

But the desert isn’t entirely without its perks. One of the gems of the Southwest is the prickly pear cactus. It has this BEAUTIFUL fruit that yields the most gorgeous, vibrant pink juice. The juice is very beneficial for inflammation, which is fantastic because the dust and high winds produce tons of respiratory issues. Of course, it is a cactus so you have to harvest the fruit with thick gloves and pull the spines out with pliers. There’s very little in the desert that isn’t pokey and spiney. That’s why no one calls nature enthusiastscactus-huggers. 😉

Anything else random you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I will knock over small children and the elderly to get to baby goats! Just love ‘em!

 Penniless Pagan is a blogger, novel writer, and enthusiastic proponent of affordable, natural living.

mabon incense 3


Natural Beauty for the Natural Witch: A Guide to Making Homemade Beauty Magical

Although the natural/organic homemade bath and home products craze is decidedly mainstream at this point, we pagans have been attracted to natural living for decades.

It makes sense, of course.  Most of us have a lot of experience with the key ingredients.  Herbs, essential oils, natural waxes, resins and organic bases are things common to the practice of witchcraft.

The high value placed on living close to the earth naturally makes us inclined to make good use of these skills in the mundane world as well as the magical.

While many bloggers have covered the subject of homemade beauty products at length, none that I know of have approached them from the spiritual perspective of a witch.  To fill this gap, I decided to give you a review of the most common recipes along with some suggestions about how to use them in a ritual context.

IMG_8542

I reviewed them based on the final criteria:

-How easy/difficult it was to find the key ingredients.

-How easy/difficult it was to actually make.

-How useful the final product really was.

Let’s get started.

1.  Sugar Scrubs & Salt Scrubs

Overall Rating:  B

Finding ingredients was . . .  easy.  Nothing here you can’t find in your average grocery store—and probably in your kitchen cabinet.  Basically just sugar or salt, an oil (like olive oil) and a scent.  If you don’t have essential oils as a fragrance, you can always use vanilla extract.

Making it is . . . easy and super customizable.  Maybe the easiest of everything on this list.  It’s literally just oil and sugar.  Only have brown sugar?  Brown sugar scrub it is!  For salt scrubs, you can use a basic sea salt or be really fancy with the pink Himalaya stuff.  You can also get super creative with mixing scents or just use whatever is on hand.

How did it turn out?  This stuff is perfect to give away for things like baby showers, birthdays and holiday gifts.  It’s a nice home spa type treat.  But there are a couple of problems with both sugar and salt scrubs.  They both tend to be greasy and can make your skin and bathtub kind of slick.  Probably the biggest downside with sugar scrubs is that they attract ants in the summertime, so it’s best to use or give these a way during the colder months.  Salt scrubs do not attract ants, but they can be harsher and more irritating to sensitive skin.

Mundane to magical:  Add a purifying oil like sage and include in ritual baths to “scrub away” negative energy.

2.   Shaving Cream

Overall Rating:  D

Finding the ingredients . . . moderately difficult.  Coconut oil is pretty widely available.  Shea butter, jojoba oil and castile soap usually require online orders or trips to specialty stores.

Making it . . . is a lot of trial and error, especially if you want it whipped.  It takes about a day to full set.

How did it turn out?  Don’t do it!  Anything that is not water soluble and solidifies at room temperature clogs drains.  It took me about a week before I realized what the problem was and a half hour of pouring boiling water down my bath tub to clear it when I finally figured it out.  So not worth the effort.  Go with a quality organic commercial version, or just use a nice, moisturizing bar of well-made organic soap instead.

Mundane to magical:  I don’t recommend this at all.  So.

3.  Deodorant

Overall Rating:  B+

Finding the ingredients . . . was moderate to  difficult, depending on how you do it.  Unused empty deodorant containers are almost exclusively  available online.  But they aren’t necessary.  Arrow root powder is sometimes available at regular grocers, sometimes not.

Making it . . . was pretty straightforward, but did require some tweaking.  I added beeswax to make it harder.

How did it turn out?   I love this stuff.  Customizing the scents is fun.  Woodsy scents like rosemary work well for men’s deodorant, vanilla & orange is perfect for teens, or choose a sophisticated floral like lotus oil for you.  It works well, lasts all day and doesn’t have the nasty chemical odor of commercial deodorants, or scary skin-penetrating metals like aluminum.  The only downside is that really doesn’t do much for moisture and you may have to reapply.

Mundane to magical:  Add a rose or vanilla oil to enhance romantic allure.

4.   Lotion Bars/Lip Balm/Boobie Balm/Diaper Balm/Belly Butter

lavender rub

(All of these things have the same basic ingredients with varying ratios.)

Overall Rating:  A

Finding ingredients . . . took some effort.  The three key ingredients I’ve found essential to this recipe are: shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax.   Coconut oil is pretty widely available in most grocery stores around the country.  But beeswax and shea butter are harder to come by.  Beeswax is sometimes available in craft stores, and shea butter can be found at most beauty supply stores.  Both can be ordered online, of course.    

Making it . . . requires some experimentation to get right.  The ratio of beeswax in particular usually needs to be tinkered with.  More beeswax equals a harder balm (best for lotion bars and lip balms) and more coconut oil softens it (better if you mean to use it as a diaper cream, belly butter or a boobie balm).  And of course, you won’t know if you’ve gotten it right until it cools completely to room temperature, which usually takes 12 hours.  My advice is to get it the way you like it once and write the recipe down in your Book of Shadows to save time.

How did it turn out?  Hands down the best final product on this list.  I like mine harder rather than softer.  Use this stuff for any type of chapped skin problem where light lotions or creams just aren’t enough.  As a lip healer, it is better than any commercial lip balm I’ve ever used, including the high-end organic kinds.  As a winter hand cream, it heals chapped and broken skin without irritation if you don’t mind the greasiness.  I also know several moms with babies who swear by it to heal cracked nipples from breastfeeding (though be careful to make it WITHOUT essential oil for this purpose as some are harmful to baby) and also as a soothing diaper cream.

Mundane to magical:  Add a protection oil like rosemary and use to salve as a protective “shield.”

5.  Witch Hazel Toners

Overall Rating:  C+

Finding the ingredients . . . was easy.  Essential oils require trips to specialty stores, but they are optional.  Some people just use apple cider and witch hazel.

Making it . . . was very easy.  Mix and shake.

How did it turn out?  Meh.  The apple cider vinegar kind of smells funky for something you leave on your skin.  But if you are acne prone, this is much gentler than harsh commercial toners, and the tea tree oil definitely helps.  You can even use tea tree oil as a spot healer for break outs and it’s very effective.

Mundane to magical:  Add a purification oil, put it in a spray bottle and use as a smoke-free smudge.

6. Facial Cleanser

IMG_8558

Overall rating:  B+

Finding ingredients . . . was pretty easy.  The key ingredients are honey, an oil and liquid castile soap, with the castile being the most esoteric.  It’s generally only available at health food stores like Trader Joe’s or your local hippie grocer.       

Making it . . . also pretty easy.  Be careful not to add too much oil because it will solidify.  I have oily skin, so I was nervous about using an oil-based cleanser, but I was pleasantly surprised at how not-greasy it is.

How did it turn out?  Nice.  I found it especially refreshing with a few drops of peppermint oil.  It left my face feeling clean but not too dry.  Definitely better than commercial cleansers.  My skin felt healthier than regular drug store face wash afterwards.  The oil and the castile soap separates overnight because there’s no chemical emulsifier, but it is easily re-integrates with a simple shake of the bottle.

Mundane to magical:  Use in glamour and beauty spells to “wash away” old insecurities about yourself.

7.  Microderm Abrasion Facial Paste

Overall Rating:  C+

Finding the ingredients . . . is as easy as it gets.  The simplest versions are just baking soda and water, with the fancier versions including essential oils and/or coconut oil.

Making it . . . also very easy.  Just mix and apply.

How did it turn out?   Don’t expect miracles.  Many articles promise it will erase acne scars and fine lines.  It won’t.  For sensitive skin, this treatment should be avoided all together, as it is somewhat harsh.  It will, however, leave your skin smoother and deep cleaned if used in moderation.

Mundane to magical:  Include peppermint oil to “face” the world with a fresh approach.

Moral of the story?  Making your own bath products is a fun, healthy activity for the budding and seasoned witch alike.  It’s a great introduction to herbalism and learning about the properties of different essential oils, and herbs.  It also doesn’t carry quite the same risk as herbal medicine, so if you’re headed in that direction or you’re trying to train a younger witch, this is a nice starting point.

Since I started using natural home and bath products, I definitely feel much more aware of all the chemicals I expose myself and my family to.  The more I eliminate unnecessary toxins from our house, the better I feel and I am surprised at what a difference it makes.

While there’s a lot of pros to switching over as many synthetic chemical products as you can to natural alternatives, pre-made organic versions tend to be expensive for those of us on a budget.  Making your own is a fantastic way to get around this, share it with your friends and even sell it for a little extra spending money on the side.

post sponsered by

A Green Witch’s Guide to Nature Walks

A simple walk in nature has the remarkable power to promote well-being, reset your spiritual awareness and expand your knowledge as a practitioner. Today, I’m going to tell you why you should take the time to do them, how they will benefit you and how to get the most of out them.

A Green Witch Guide to Nature Walks

Tips to make the most of your nature walks.

-Try wild crafting.  There are all kinds of useful things in nature.  Bring some home, get creative, and even save some money.  Instead of paying $45 for a wreath from the craft store, go outside, find some lovely evergreens, and create something truly unique for free.

Cook with nature.  Obviously, never eat anything if you don’t know what it is and make sure it doesn’t have any residual pesticides.  But it doesn’t take long to learn.  Did you know the annoying wild onions that sprout up incessantly in your lawn are actually pretty tasty if you fry them in butter?  Wild strawberries make a beautiful topping for ice cream?  You can candy wild violets and top cakes and cookies with them?

-Focus on the tiny details.  The veins in a leaf.  The tiniest flowers.  The dime-sized mushroom you almost stepped on.  These things are magical.  Broad, sweeping landscapes may take your breath, but the perfect geometric symmetry of honeycomb will leave you with a sense of wonder.

the small things

-Bring home the seasons.  Cedar branches burned in the fire place in the winter make the whole house smell divine.   Pine cones in a bowl make a simple, elegant centerpiece.  And field flowers are so much more charming on a spring table than anything store-bought ever will be.

-Pay special attention to the animals you see.  Any and all animals, but particularly if it’s a rare animal.  Many cultures around the world regard the appearance of unusual wildlife as a sign. Once, I was walking with my husband hiking a few miles from our home when we spotted a large (40 pounds?) wild black cat about 15 yards off the path.  I’m glad my generally skeptical husband was with me, because I wouldn’t have believed my own eyes had he not seen it, too.  I spent weeks searching the local wildlife data bases trying to identify it, but no large black game cat is known to our region by any of the local wildlife authorities.  I will always wonder where that cat came from, and why it appeared to us.

turtle

-Find a secret hiding spot.  Whether it’s a off-the-beaten path grove of trees, a secluded beach or part of the desert you know well, discovering hidden gems in the land is one of the awesome things about getting to know your local natural surroundings.  Having somewhere to go that is quiet and away from everything else in your life is a tremendous gift.

-Do whatever you have time for, and nothing less.  If you only have 15 minutes to go outside today, then go outside for fifteen minutes.  If you have two hours to wander aimlessly across the landscape, then take an extended journey.  Think of your nature walks as mini vacations.  The time spent immersed in them will make the life you go back to that much richer and more peaceful.

-Make it a point to learn the local plant life.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a blank composition book.  Every time you go on a nature walk, snap a photo of a plant you don’t recognize.  When you get home, identify it.  Within a year, you’ll become an expert on your local plant life.  This is an excellent skill for any witch.

the little things

-Create an outdoor altar.  Any sort-of flat surface will do.  A large rock, the cleanly chopped trunk of a tree.  An oak in my mother’s yard was struck down by lightening ten years ago.  I asked the landscapers to leave the stump, and for me, it still holds all the power and charge of that one stroke of energy.  Whether it’s on your land, or tucked away in local park, periodically leave items you find there.

Look up.  Every day, the sky is a new work of art.  Lie on your back.  Look for shapes in the clouds.  Notice the pastel colors of the sunset.  Like everything else in life, this moment is fleeting.  Take the time to let it capture your imagination.

Benefits of nature walks:

-Live healthier, happier and longer.  One 30-minute walk a day has a profound impact on your body, your mind and your emotions.  Try it for a week and witness the powerful transformation.  You won’t believe what a difference it makes.

Reduce the amount of time you spend around electronics.  There’s no way around it.  We’re all “wired.”   The more time you spend in front of a computer or glued to your phone, the less in touch you are with the world that surrounds you.  This is includes your loved ones, your spiritual awareness and your natural environment.  Most people don’t have the luxury of retreating to Buddhist monastery or living on a commune.  But you can keep your screen time to a minimum, and nature walks are one way to do this.  If your kids think the outdoors is boring, it’s time to show them that their iPhone is the real snooze.

-Increase your sensitivity to environmental issues.  The first time you cringe when you see a plastic bottle floating down the creek by your walking path, a bird’s nest made of paper litter or (worst of all) a wildlife animal struggling to free herself from tangled debris, you will begin a lifelong journey of sensitivity to the earth around you.

-Become in tune with the seasonal cycles around you.  Direct experience with and awareness of the subtle shifts in seasons creates harmony in the spirit, promoting internal balance.  You may (depending on your climate) think of the seasons broadly, as in Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer.  But the turning of the seasons is actually very gradual, yet distinct.  When is mating season for butterflies?  Horseshoe crabs?  Have you ever noticed turtles are everywhere for like a week in the spring?  People who go on regular nature walks pick up on these things, and they are worthwhile observations.

post sponsered by