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  • Summer: Nurture yourself with Nature

    Hiking, walking or meandering through the woods in the summer is so much more special to those of us in the North. Our season is so short here, we have to be very careful not to miss it!

    It doesn’t have to be summer necessarily to enjoy nature, but warmth, sun and wildlife activity tend to make the experience a more pleasant one. There is no comparison to the sounds of summer! A bubbling brook, a roaring waterfall, the birds, locusts and bees all forming another eco system that we rarely let ourselves be a part of.

    Bathing in Nature, sitting quietly in the middle of a field or forest can quiet the mind and lift the spirit. Notice the details around you as you walk slowly, picking up pine cones, shells, stones or fossils. Can you identify the birds you hear? Do you see any signs of wildlife?

    Breathe deeply and slowly, place your hands on your belly or chest and feel your breath going in and coming out, all while standing still or sitting in this natural environment.

    Communing with that part of yourself that benefits from the peace and quiet of your surroundings can lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress, improve your mood, boost your immune system and on and on it goes!

    Shinrin-yoku is an actual practice of Forest Bathing. Specifically walking through a forest at a slow pace, sitting, noticing, and practicing silence to commune with nature.


    What part of nature can you reach this summer? Can you get out and enjoy a peaceful piece of it more than once this season? If you have a high stress job or lifestyle, try to make a point of Nature walking as often as possible. Nurture your soul with the spirit of the outdoors!

    You deserve it!

    • This is Part one of a four Season Nurture with Nature series


    Does this beach paradise hold the secret for long life?

    Does this beach paradise hold the secret for long life?

    And what does this have in common with

    “Stay grounded and listen to your Dad?

    I watched a wonderful show on CNN, it is Bill Weir’s The Wonder List. Each week he visits different places and cultures, mainly ones that have tradition and have not changed very much over time, treasures of the world that are not well known. He mentions that he wants to visit these unique and special places while they are still there, before they change.

    Meeting Dan Buettner, BlueZones.com, and listening to his adventure stories, Bill learned some very interesting things. One being a statistic from the World Health Organization that claimed that Okinawa Japan had the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. They lived longer and healthier. This became his kick off for this interesting series.
    The question, after looking at United States longevity statistics is, ‘How do we get those extra 13 years?”

    The episode that I am writing about here is his visit to Ikaria, a small island off Greece where people live well into their 90’s and 100’s.

    Being in touch with life while slowing down to enjoy it, lots of movement and their diet, are major factors of their long lives.
    Growing their own food means that for every meal they are bending, picking doing some form of movement to gather and prepare. They did not know what Organic was as they have never used anything on the plants they grow.
    Meat’s a rare treat and a tomato is a snack with their diets being mainly 95% plants.
    Interaction across generations is common with Grandparents watching and playing with children.

    A few general comments from the Island were:
    Having a sense of value, feeling needed.
    Hiking, walking, dancing
    A life of service
    Moderation for everything
    Here, life is slow.
    Longevity is 25% genetics. 75% comes from where and how you live.
    Daily routines that help with stress
    Eat a plant based diet

    Does this beach paradise hold the secret for long life?

    This is the opening line on the CNN page about longevity on the island of Ikaria.

    “Stay grounded and listen to your Dad”
    This is Bill Weir’s comment to his daughter at her very young stage of aging.
    He is watching his daughter grow up, become independent much too soon and, from my perspective, wondering about his own longevity and hers, maybe without him to guide her.

    So the common bond, of these seemingly unrelated two statements, is the unknown question of how long will we live?

    He also mentions the following statement, as a side note, because his daughter is included as he personalizes his story.

    “The real lesson is, when they reach a certain age of freedom your kid is going to ignore everything you have ever said.” Bill Weir

    Happy “Alamo”

    Happy “Alamo”

    It means a mission in San Antonio Texas or a Poplar Tree but in this writing I am referring to Alamo, the car rental agency.

    On a recent trip to the wonderful city of Atlanta I happened to rent a vehicle from the above-mentioned company.  It wasn’t until returning home from the trip that I noticed the wording on the map they had given me.

    There is was, right under their logo, a slogan, so short and so powerful that it caught my attention enough to save it and still have it as a reminder.

    I am well aware that, especially in today’s world, I need reminders to bring me back the present and what is really important. I still have Alamo’s logo pinned up on my wall with its clever and meaningful, hand written tag line.Alamo Drive HappyDid you ever notice how most of us, when we are in our car, are in more of a complaining mood. Traffic is going to slow, people are following to close or someone cut you off, seem to be standard thoughts as we cruise along.

    So what if we really did do what our friends at Alamo are suggesting to us, what if we really drive feeling Happy.

    Here are a few alternative meaning and there are many more.
    Delighted, Untroubled, Pleased, Content, Thrilled, etc.
    If you woke up this morning you should feel thrilled and Happy just for waking up.

    There are not any guarantees that you will each day.

    Now to extend this concept how about;
    Working Happy
    Thinking Happy
    Sharing Happy
    Eating Happy
    Meeting Happy
    Whistling Happy
    Dancing Happy
    It doesn’t have to only be at birthdays that we wish another to have a Happy Day.

    You see it is all about energies and how we feel in the moment. If we Feel Happy we attract like energies.  Others pick up those feeling and it helps them feel closer to the same.

    Have you ever noticed when you are near an angry person how you can feel their energy? Well it works the same way being near a Happy person, so allow that to be you.
    It can change the mood of the whole room.

    Next time you think of it, while you are walking, try Walking Happy.

    Actually just by thinking and typing the word “Happy” so many times I am feeling it more and more.

    Now I even have Pharrell Williams Happy song in my head.  See if you can watch a YouTube video of Happy and be able to sit still.
    He even has a website 24hoursofhappy.com

    Happy feels good.
    Happy is a magnet.
    Be Happy, use your car to remind you.
    Then work on being Happy all the other times when you are not in your car.

    Drive Happy.   

    “Very Useful” – The Most Important Part

    19122011“Very Useful”  –  The Most Important Part

    “When talking with another friend this afternoon, I shared with her what you said about how the most important part of any interaction is the way you feel about yourself, and it was a very useful insight for her. I will definitely be reflecting on and drawing upon that for years to come.”

    After we had a business conversation on the phone I received the above message from my friend, Alyce, the next day.
    What I was drawn to was her wording “very useful”.
    If someone had asked me what our conversation was about I would have answered that we talked about how important it is to feel good, or actually great, about yourself.  This is a very important piece of any communication or connection and thinking of it as “very useful” seems to add more clarity and even an “aha!” Yes not only is this a good idea, about knowing yourself and being aware of how you feel in the moment, but it is also “very useful”.
    I can do something with this.
    I started wondering about how many things we talk about each day that have little meaning and are not especially useful, let alone “very useful”.
    Taking care of our self is important, not only for us but for everyone we come in contact with. Note: we exchange energies with each other.

    Think about this, would you rather be in a room with a very happy, enthusiastic person or a nervous, angry or upset one? . . . and when you are, pay attention to how that has an affect on you and how you feel.

    It is also interesting, and useful, to remember and know that we learn many things by repetition and the power of suggestion.
    That is what I have done in the paragraph above (and below)
    I have repeated that this is “very useful”, have drawn attention to it by bolding the wording and hopefully have gotten your attention as to what is “very useful” in this writing.

    Now back to my friend Alyce’s comment on what was “very useful”. That is, knowing and understanding that an “important part of any interaction is the way you feel about yourself”.

    Next step, pay attention to your conversations and notice if your chosen words had any real meaning. After you have a little insight on that then pay attention to how you are actually feeling about yourself. And then think about how your own thoughts, about yourself, are a part of how you feel. Not the whole thing but a piece to consider.

    Are you feeling alert, confident, curious, interested, trusting?
    Are you willing to pay attention or are you daydreaming and thinking of other things to talk about.
    If this is the most important part of an interaction and is “very useful” to know, then our mission with any connection, besides being informed and prepared, is to feel balanced, alert, aware, and grateful to be with the person we are interacting with.

    I have been taught that we need to hear or see something at least seven times to even remember it let alone have it be part of who we are.  In this writing I have repeated, that this is “very useful” information, eleven times, if I counted correctly.
    If you have read this far then you have the idea and the rest is up to you.


    Flexible vs Rigid
    The Weather as Our Teacher

    34890986Can you imagine being a person that is rigid in thinking, in other words not very flexible, and then working a career involving the weather? With Mother Nature we have to be flexible, we have no choice, we can not control it.  Weather can be a great teacher for preparation, attitude and handling change, dealing with what is.
    Think of a tree in a strong wind, it bends with the breeze, if it does not it may break or become uprooted. Nature and the weather become our teachers.
    What about the constant changes even when we “think” we know what the weather will be.

    Flexible means that we can adjust, like putty, moldable, stretchable, and adjustable.
    By the way, according to my dictionary, “able” means “having the skill or means to do something”

    So with that in mind, another very important question for us personally, is, are we coachable?  Are we teachable and willing to learn what we need to adjust to?

    Do we have the means, the wherewithal, the willingness to be coached, to learn, to change?

    Being flexible means we are open and willing to go with the situation of the day as it happens, as it unfolds.

    Questions to ask yourself

    Can I adjust to what is and am I willing to?
    . . . or do I stay with what was “supposed” to be.
    It was supposed to be a sunny day and it rains.

    Do we want to blame someone, something, or adjust to what is?

    First of all, the weather doesn’t care or even know what you had in mind. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is what is.

    Flexible thinking expands your choices and possibilities.

    Think about this, our expectations – every time something is not “exactly”as we expected, we could instantly adjust our attitude and start watching for a new possibility.

    Or this one – try planning to be flexible instead of planning for everything to be exact. Plan for flexibility, be open for the new, leave a little wiggle room. Deal with what is instead of what “should have” been.

    There is something about being flexible that just makes things work better. Hard to measure, difficult to say exactly, yet flexibility makes it all easier, goes with the flow.

    Rise above, be on top of it – be willing, be flexible.

    Change, Again

    A very short poem that says a lot.

    The knowing and acceptance that life changes, as do the seasons is part of the natural creation cycle of our universe. I like the metaphor of the seasons as they come and go consistently. We know that change is coming and about when it will, yet there is always something original or a bit different than last the season’s change.

    Having the attitude of being ready and then, also, to look for the new possibilities in the change that will be there is a lesson I am always relearning – again and again.



    …. and then,

    when we get there


    everything will change


    . . . and then

         –   ©2008-2012 ray justice

    Practice Being Happy

    The word “Practice” jumped out at me from a book I was reading last week. It was used to explain that we need to “Practice” being Happy just as we need to practice anything else we want to be good at.

    This made sense to me but I had never thought of it in this way before. I started wondering what do we need to practice, that we have not thought about before.

    First we have to assume that we practice because we want to improve or get better at something.

    Let’s discuss a couple of possibilities here.

    Listening – Are we really paying attention or waiting to make our own comments?

    Listening is a skill that can be improved if we are interested in doing so.

    The “Practice” exercise here could be to practice not thinking about other things while someone is talking to you. Staying present, not thinking about the past or future, is what we need to improve. Focus on their words, and then ask them a question about what they had just said, most people will be trilled. We are not used to being listened to.

    Another is Speaking – Do others hear you? Do you articulate clearly without just rambling on and on? Is brushing up on your speaking skills something to do? This can be one on one or to a group –practice what we say.

    If we are standing, do we need posture practice and image practice?

    There is more, but the idea for me here is to focus on areas that could use improvement and practice imaging and doing it the way I would like to have it be.

    I am wondering how many different areas of my life I could use practice to change and how do I become aware of them?

    Practice makes perfect or at least improvement.

    Focus – a Lesson from Squash

    In a game of Squash I was ahead by a score of 7 to 2 with 9 being the winning point.

    As I served for the 8th point, meaning two points to go and this game is over, I started thinking “Do we have time to play another game?” While I was having this discussion in my head I lost that serve and the next two points – 7 to 4.

    I then preceded to have a conversation with myself about making sure I pay attention and not be thinking while playing the game. The result of that conversation in my head was that I lost the next three points and it was now 7 to 7. By the time I figured out that I needed to stop thinking I had lost that round.

    This story is to emphasis how quickly and easily we can lose our focus. We see it regularly in sports but have to realize how often we do it in our day to day situations. The game is that of not thinking so that we are present to what is going on. Focus, focus, focus is a big part of how we stay on track or not and let things slip on a daily basis. In sports it is called a loss of momentum, in our business world it is the same thing, loss of focus. Coaches have to bring the team mind set back into focus. For us in day to day life, we have to do it for ourselves. Being aware of the present moment, what is happening now by what our natural senses are picking up can help bring us back to focus