Monday, January 01, 2007

Bringing the outside in nourishes our spirit

Deborah Franklin wrote an article for The National Wildlife Federation about inviting the outdoors in. Seeing ponds, animals, trees, flowers, and natural light make us feel better. I took some of the ideas Deborah suggests for creating well-being by bringing nature into our home and work environments and made my own list:

Seeing: If you can't have a window on a beautiful scene, try putting up posters, photographs, post cards, or calendars that bring you pleasure when you look at them. My computer desktop scene is a small island with a palm tree surrounded by beautiful water and I get a lift every time I see it. I like her reminder to surround myself with natural beauty that nourishes my spirit.

Light: natural light if possible, if not, there are bulbs that simulate the day light energy. Track lighting or small lights placed around a room may add a natural effect.

Plants: healthy house plants, herbs, and cut flowers add life to a room. Celebrate the Spring Solstice with flowers. They are a reminder of our Earth mother who provides this beauty for us every day.

Play with color and relate to the seasons: change natural accessories with the seasons and add cut flowers or potted plants that coordinate. Try water polished stones with candles, baskets of pine cones, or some beautiful fallen leaves in the fall.

Enjoy being with animals: even if we don't have our own pet, we could you walk a neighbor's dog. A hummingbird feeder or bird feeder outside the window can bring nature close. Many of the large parks have animals or birds that have been injured and can't be released. They become ambassadors for us to get to know more about them. In my other blog, Anne said she and her son created peanut butter and bird seed "cookies" to put on the trees outside for the birds at Christmas. These are animal bodies our souls express in during this lifetime and it feels good to celebrate our kinship and give our love to the natural world.

Take time each day to be with nature: Touch a tree, feel the bark. Listen to the birds sing. Take a walk. There is a detective book I like where they live on Martha's Vineyard and make a ritual of having a drink and snacks and watching the sun set over the water. Beautiful sunsets happen everywhere -- just taking the time to watch one sounds like a lovely way to experience the day. It's a show that happens for just those moments and will never be quite the same colors or appearance again.

I'm reminded of a wonderful exercise where you sit down and write your perfect day. There is no right or wrong and your perfect day will probably change -- it's just what feels perfect for you at that moment. After you've written it down, take one or more things from that day and make it real -- do it now. One time I wrote about living on a beautiful, rugged Greek island in a home with windows that were open to the sea air. On that day I had flowers in vases in all the rooms and that's what I did to bring that perfect day to life.

As I write this I realize that doing the exercise of the perfect day will be a "course correction." I feel I've gotten distracted by things I felt like I had to do and haven't been paying attention to the really important things that nourish my spirit and make life fun. These ideas about bringing the outside in and writing my perfect day help me remember what really matters.


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