shine day 12: let nature give you a spark

It was ten or eleven on a cold winter night (yeah, yeah, this sounds like the opening sentence to a different kind of story but bear with me!).  I was driving home after a meeting or book club and passed a little cottage whose front porch was brightly lit.  There, pacing back and forth, with cold puffs rushing out of her lips was a mama comforting her infant.

I wasn’t yet a mom.  And so the story I told myself that night was that that poor, tired mom had to leave the house in order to make sure no one else was bothered by whatever had the baby upset.  There was nothing wrong with that in my mind; it would just take me becoming a mom for me to understand something else that mama must have known, too.

Being outside heals.  One of the quickest ways to calm our upset babe a few years later was to step outside.  Day or night, a little fresh air did the job better than my kisses and coos ever could.

There is nothing quite as soothing as a quiet patch outdoors, ideally with a little vista and some sun (if you are spending more than 20 minutes outside, don’t forget the sunscreen) to shine down on you.

When I was writing Beautiful You, I had the chance to speak to Jolina Ruckert, a researcher at the University of Washington, who said, “Many seem to neglect to realize how connections to the natural world are necessary for human to flourish. There’s a lot of research suggesting that experiencing nature is therapeutic. Being in nature helps us recuperate, relax, and reflect, among a myriad of other physiological and psychologiccal benefits.  We need nature. For much of our evolutionary history, we have had deep, complex relationships with the natural world. A need to interact with nature is deeply ingrained in the architecture of our minds. Our relationship with nature is part of who we are and what it means to be human.”

Now, I try to get outside some everyday.  Whether it is during my morning run/walk or later in the day at the park or riding bikes with my boy, I try to relsih in all that natures offers us.

Today:  Step outside, find a peaceful spot, and just enjoy it—no matter the weather—for at least five minutes. Observing nature centers us while also reminding us of a very important lesson about self-acceptance: every single hydrangea bush is shocking in its colors and every single hydrangea bloom is beautiful, even though no two are alike, every oak tree is majestic in its stance while every oak tree is unique, each red cardinal that flashes by you is equally radiant. The appreciation we have for nature is the appreciation we should have for the beauty and variety of human life. Stepping outside helps us expand our thinking beyond the size of our thighs and the gray in our hair and allows us to really appreciate what matters.

1.  Where did you spend your time outside today?  What did you observe?

2.  How did your observations inform your own understanding about self-acceptance and the beauty of all things (including you)?

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14 responses to “shine day 12: let nature give you a spark”

  1. Nancy Horn

    1. Where did you spend your time outside today? What did you observe?

    I always find time to hang out in my garden. I have two 4×4 boxes that I can see from my patio and I marvel at the bounty everyday. I visit the plants, wonder, touch and enjoy.

    2. How did your observations inform your own understanding about self-acceptance and the beauty of all things (including you)?

    Nature never fails to remind me how perfect we all are. When I forget my “wholeness” all I have to do is find a leaf, sit in the grass, get up close and personal with a flower and my memory is refreshed. Sometimes I even hug a tree : )

  2. Susannah

    1.  Where did you spend your time outside today?  What did you observe?

    I went for a walk, around town, but I bought a drink and sat in the park, by the water, and I took my shoes off to feel the grass on my feet. It was great, there were a lot of sights and sounds and things to feel.

    2.  How did your observations inform your own understanding about self-acceptance and the beauty of all things (including you)?

    It was calming, and it gave me some time for myself, to spend alone, without mirrors. I should do it more often, I felt relaxed and like a lot of things I worry about don’t matter.

  3. Cindy

    I spent the weekend at the lake so I spent few minutes watching the birds at the bird feeders. I am not a big bird fan, but I do like watching the finches flit around the feeders. Their quick movements are so beautiful. They remind me of how the simple things in life can show beauty.

  4. Jackie

    I sat on my front porch today and watched the kids in the yard, and also ventured into our jungle of a garden to admire our okra and cantaloupes and my husband planting some swiss chard for the fall. I find being outside helps me slow down and gives me a priority check when I get all caught up about stupid things.

  5. jenn

    having worked all day yesterday, i was only able to get out in my neighborhood. But my small working class hood is home to many beautiful tall old trees. Venturing beyond my cluster of streets leads my to a small private park protected by a single chain link fence. I can’t step on the grass there but i can see and hear the movement of the lake. Being outside usually always helps me to quiet myself & ease out of the frustration of work and into the ease of being.

  6. Jamie

    For a while now I have gone outside barefooted and walked in green grass. I really love the feel of green grass between my toes. I recently learned that this is good for you, something called “earthing”. This was a new concept to me, but it made so much sense. I love the good feelings I get…the calm feelings by being barefoot in the yard. I take advantage of flip flop season and any patch of grass I can find.

  7. LadyEm

    I was particularly grateful for this post yesterday as it got to be late in the afternoon and I realised I had not yet stepped outside for some fresh air. I suddenly became aware of the tension in my back and a fuzzy head so I grabbed a comfortable mat and went out to the garden.

    I lay down under my favourite Acacia tree and closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face. At first my body felt so tense and resisted the relaxation but I focused on my breathing and being still in the moment. I soon started to feel the breeze on my cheek and hear the leaves rustling and felt part of something lovely.

    Although I didn’t spend long outside, I really enjoyed quality quiet time to be still and well, simply be.

    This morning, although I was in town, the sun was shining and it was warm so I chose to sit outside to enjoy my coffee, book and people watching!

    I don’t think it matters where we are so long as the moments we spend outside can be quality moments; just time for sitting and noticing what’s around us. We’re always in such a rush!!

  8. Meg C.

    I spent the whole weekend outside at a beautiful farm wedding in MN. Coming from AZ, it was so refreshing to have the green all around me. I noticed the cool breezes, the beautiful sunset, the soft grass under my feet, the crisp mornings, everything seemed cleaner. It was a wonderful weekend of celebrating the beauty of nature and a beautiful couple. I was so relaxed and calm all weekend and I know it was a result of being in the country, taking a time out from the city and the desert.

  9. Ann Becker-Schutte

    I know I’m a day late responding, but time outside is central to our family. We spent Saturday morning at the zoo, which is spread out over 200 acres of park. Then we played at the water park. Sunday was a bit more pool time–water in all forms just makes me happy.

  10. Marissa

    1.  Where did you spend your time outside today?  What did you observe?

    As I do every day, I took an early morning walk. Today I decided to walk on a nearby bike path that weaves through protected wetlands, historical sites, and plenty of backyard gardens. I observed the smells of the late summer wildflowers, ducks in a river, weeping willows, and people of all shapes and sizes enjoying time outdoors. I met several very friendly dogs, too!

    2.  How did your observations inform your own understanding about self-acceptance and the beauty of all things (including you)? I recognized that I can commit to healthy exercise for myself each day, and make it an enjoyable part of my life instead of an impulse and addiction. I am so fortunate to live in a world where I can access beauty, but there is beauty in myself, and I can’t see that if I’m too focused on my inner worries and anxieties.

  11. Valerie

    I got up early and went for a walk. The neighborhood is quiet this early in the morning, so the rabbits are hopping, the squirrels are gathering for winter, and all the birds are singing. On my way to the park, there were two ducks still away from the pond…I think I startled them as much as they did me when they came out from behind a bush I was walking by. It was cool and crisp, so my walk wasn’t a struggle because of extreme temperatures and I was able to focus on the beauty around me.

    When I am outside, I forget, for a time, all my imperfections. I forget that I will at some point in the day look in the mirror and probably allow myself to be disappointed. But during this time outdoors, I can offer myself positive self talk, and slowly I find it is seeping into other parts of my day. That makes me feel good.

  12. Amanda @ Click. The Good News

    I hit the jogging trail this morning & I love being outside. It always uplifts me, but I’d be so much better if it wasn’t miserable hot outside 😉 I like the fresh air, the trees, the gentle breeze, a few animals & bugs moving around before dawn. I love watching my dog run free, taking in the smells & sights, running happily along with me. I like noticing the sky- seeing if the stars are visible, where the moon is at this morning, if there are any clouds looming overhead.

  13. Cecile

    I sat between old apple trees, with incredible forms telling their story. The apples were unique, with different shades, depending of their exposition to sun, wind and more. Even a tree that has been struck by lightning was beautiful – at the bottom of its tortuous, raw bark, a new plant was growing, adding fresh green. I love the beauty of nature – never constant, always beautiful. I love how it reflects on time passing by, each season with its own beauty.
    Applied to myself, the definition of beauty is the same: not a state, not a “as I was 20” nostalgy, but a process. I am beautiful because of my roots, of my experiences in life, that influence the way I smile, the way I hear to people, the way I feel about myself and so my self-confidence.

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