Spending Time With Nature

I’ve not been a regular blogger. In truth, I’m still looking to find my groove in this whole world of blogging. So, please excuse my tardiness.

But I wanted to talk about the 30×30 Nature Challenge. I chanced upon it on my drive into work one morning. They were discussing how spending just 30 minutes outside with nature can do a wealth of good for your overall well-being…that there was now a mountain of research that can prove the connection between nature and your well-being.

In truth, I think it’s kinda crazy that I needed a #lovenature challenge to give me a kick in the butt to get outdoors everyday.

When did getting outside become difficult?

I love being outdoors. I always have. There was a time when I took every opportunity to get outside and spend time in nature. Somehow, over the last little while (‘a little while’ that’s gone on far too long), I’ve allowed nature to slip past me. I’ve allowed work to consume my days and evenings and, in turn, stress and aches to take over.

So, I signed up for the 30×30 challenge – a day late on May 2. But I’ll take it through to Day 30 and beyond.

It’s Day 4 and already I can feel a difference. My body is aching a little less. My stress dial appears to have eased back a notch – and is most evident when I’m outside. It feels like there’s space for my mind to breath. I’ve slept a little better each night over the last four days and I’m getting more done. 🙂 How ironic!

My 30 minutes in the evenings have turned into 60 (or more) and yes, the warming weather is definitely helping.

Here’s my nature photo log so far.

The Darling Buds of May

Day 1: The Darling Buds of May

image

Day 2: Nature – The Best Seat in the House

The Sound of Rushing Waters Can Calm the Mind

Day 3: The Sound of Rushing Waters Calms the Mind

Day 4: Taking Time to Renew

Day 4: Taking Time to Renew

It’s Day 5 and the sun’s shining bright today. Looks like a promising day!

If you’ve been stuck in stressful place (whatever its cause may be), join me on this 30×30 challenge and I promise you will start to feel better. Let me know how it goes.

I’ll be instagramming my nature logs for the rest of the month. See you there!

 

 

 

Life Lessons from My Chocolate Lab

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you’ll recognize much of what I’m about to say. I was never one for pets, not until about five years ago. Late one evening, we wandered into PJ’s Pets in Sherway Gardens and a couple of hours later (just a before closing time), we’d become proud owners of a five month old chocolate lab. Bruce had been visiting this young pup for a few months now. This time though, we asked to meet the pup in the little room off to the side of the store. The rest, as they say, is history. Looking back, I think he’d carefully orchestrated that late evening visit to the pet store.

Today, I can’t imagine life without Powder (yes, that’s what we creatively called her). Over the years, I’ve grown quite attached to her. I love her excitement and energy when she greets us at the door every evening. It’s amusing how she never gets bored, even when she’s had the same bowl of kibble for the 3,000th time. 🙂 Somehow, each time, it’s a new experience. Over the years,  I’ve learned many more lessons from her. Here are 10.

  1. Even when it’s cold outside, play, romp, roll, laugh, and generally have a rocking good time – especially when you are with the ones you love.
    Play
  2. Dance, like no one is watching.
  3. Enjoy cuddle time, every time.Cuddle
  4. Listen closely when someone else speaks. Besides the tales they have to share, they feel great when you are really listening.Listen
  5. Practice self-control and patience. It’s highly rewarding.Self-control
  6. Be ready for play, even when friends drop by unannounced. They’re the best kind of visits.Friends
  7. Take time to explore your world. You may never come back to the same spot.Explore
  8. Dive right in. The water’s never too cold. And you never know what you’re going to find.Dive In
  9. Be there for the one you love when they’re feeling low. Sometimes all they need is to be in your quiet company.
  10. Take time to rest. You deserve a break every now and again.

Rest

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras.

Share the lessons your pets have taught you.

“I Collect Friends”

I spent February 14 with a girlfriend this year. We, of course, talked about life and love (it’s just what girls do) over a sumptuous lunch of mutton keema thosai (an Indian crepe, stuffed with spicy minced mutton). We talked about the pressures of being over 30 and single and the relationships that just never seem to get off the ground because of this, that, or the other. The conversation meandered through the afternoon. A little later over coffee, she said, “I don’t know about you, but I collect friends”, referring not just to her already large circle of friends, but also to a few friendships that had started out online (or otherwise) as relationships… “no matter what’s come between the relationship I’ve had with someone, if I’ve made a connection, I will forgive and forget…I want them to stay in my life… I collect friends.”

“I don’t know about you, but I collect friends”

Briefly, just briefly, it struck me as odd, that she would use the words ‘collect’ and ‘friends’ together. Humans, after all, aren’t a box of hot wheels or a stack of stamps for collecting. We’re not ‘things’. But I quickly realized that I liked that combination of words. We all need to be surrounded by people we love. It’s natural. And, so we do ‘collect friends’ throughout the course of our lives (even if we never think of it as such). There’s no doubt that friendships don’t stay the same as the years roll on; they evolve and grow, some might deepen and others may fizzle, naturally. Yet friends, like family, are so essential to helping us stay grounded. We build memories through friendships. We are inspired to create, discover new ideas, learn and grow emotionally, personally and professionally, through friendships. Friendships (the real time, physical one-to-one type) are also an excellent antidote to depression, because friends interact both when times are good, and when the going gets rough. The simple act of a real conversation with a friend can change your mental, physical and emotional state. We all know intuitively what the physical presence of another person, a touch, a hug or a real conversation can do for us. Yet, more often than not, we cling to our devices and our virtual worlds to connect.

Today, the term ‘collecting friends’ is irretrievably tied to the online world – paradoxically called  ‘social’ but is, in fact, far from it. Through technology, we are inventing loneliness and a whole whack or other social and medical complications – all of which we can fix by simply shutting down our devices or turning off the telly to make time to connect and communicate physically, in the flesh.

Through technology, we are inventing loneliness and a whole whack or other social and medical complications

I love technology and what it’s enabling us to achieve on so many levels. I love trawling through Facebook and catching up with distant friends. I can’t imagine what my life would be without Facetime and Skype – the mediums through which I connect with my family and friends scattered around the globe. I love that technology is allowing me to share my thoughts here freely.

But, too often we get lost in social friendships (as we tot up the number of friends we have on our ever increasing number of social platforms, or spend  hours on end curating the best, happy stories of our lives to share). I know, I’ve done it. I’ve spent many hours online, interacting, but never feeling truly connected. As humans, we need to share more than just our happy times to grow, and often we need real interactions with true friends to make that work.

True friendships though need realtime action, and it’s up to each of us to nurture them  in realtime – so the next time, you’re inclined to strike up an online chat with a friend, try a call instead (if they’re online and available for a chat, they’re likely available for a conversation). Meet up when you can, even if it’s just to go for a walk. If you had to meet online, meet up in person online –  Skype and Facetime have made it possible do so.  I know when I make an effort to connect in realtime (whether it’s with someone close by, or miles away), I feel better…more tangible as a human being and more a part of a community. I commit to doing so more often.

In writing this post, I came across this  animated video by Shimi Cohen on the Innovation of Loneliness.

which led me to this TED Talk by Sherry Turkle. Listen to what she says about how we interact with our devices today.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you think technology has shaped your friendships.