Archive for the ‘relaxation’ Category

Bookstores, Health Food Stores, & Greenhouses

Everyone has at least one. I happen to have three of which I am aware. It’s my power place. Okay, in my case, PLACES.

It’s that place you can go where the world seems perfect, no harm can come, and time is irrelevant. It is a place that has a Zen-like serenity that nourishes your soul. It’s a place you may enjoy sharing with others. Me? Nah. If I’m going there, I’d rather go alone and just get lost….forever.

It’s that place where, if money were no object in your life, you would either work there for free, or just buy the whole organization. Yesterday, I had the privilege of experiencing all three of my power places.

I would have to say that my all-time favorite power place is a greenhouse in springtime. It’s the closest thing to a tropical rain forest I will likely experience in these parts. I love the foliage, the colors, the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle, and the protected environment that allows in the warming rays of the sun without the annoyance of our infamous winds.

I stopped by Lowe’s to check on a cabinet for the Wellness Center. As if drawn like a moth to a flame, the garden center beckoned me. Apparently they have snubbed their corporate noses at Mother Nature, because it was like an ocean of life, color, and fragrance. Beauty was everywhere. I just strolled along looking at it all, as if time had suddenly decided to extend my lunch break. There are other greenhouses that I like better, yet this one certainly filled the gap since I was already there for other things.

Reality finally kicked in, and I returned to my afternoon obligation, followed by my next power place. I had some time between the end of my workshop and the beginning of my yoga class (a power place in its own right), so I stopped in at the health food store. Yes, it’s another place in which I could stay for hours, spend a fortune, and stay some more. I think it’s the intention of such a place and what it represents that draws me in and keeps ahold of me. Energy is an amazing thing, and there’s just something special about the energy of a health food store.

Yoga class came and went. It was a nice experience: difficult, yet not; relaxing, yet requiring concentration. Since my brain has yet to figure out the concept of “shut up”, even in yoga class, I made plans to visit power place #3 to acquire a book on yoga basics. I am still feeling a bit lost and confused about the concepts, even though I work my way through the moves fairly well. Yep, a book on yoga was definitely needed. Oh darn! <sarcasm> That meant a trip to the bookstore and another dose of calm, peaceful energy. It was simply fabulous, and three great books plus a beautiful magazine found their way into my possession.

Just before heading home, I decided there were a couple more items I wanted to pick up from the grocery store. Hmmm….wally world or that other health food store down the street. Duh! No brainer! For the second time in one day, I cruised the aisles of a health food store. I actually like this place even better. The energy is just a little more flowing. It’s light and spacious, no crowds and very few “people of Walmart“, plus the selection is incredible for our area. Just an all-around nice place to be.

Yesterday really made me think about my life purpose and my potential new career. The recognition of which environments support me and allow me the space to experience peace and joy is a very cool thing. I thought about places I would love to work in each of these fields.

These three remain: bookstores, health food stores, and greenhouses. But the greatest of these is greenhouses. Now how do I roll them into one incredible career? Can we put a bookstore, yoga center, and a health food store here and pay me to hang out? I think I would be very happy with that arrangement.

Worrying Makes It Better, Right?

Yesterday, 32 baby chicks arrived at the post office with my name and address attached. I love baby chicks. Sometimes we order an assortment of breeds, which allows us ample opportunity to speculate as to what breeds we have while enjoying their different colorings and personalities. This particular assortment is called the Rainbow Layers collection. That means I get a smidgen of everything from seven pound brown egg laying giants to four pound floofy-headed princesses, all hens — we think.

Apparently that also means I have to separate out the little princesses who need their frequent naps so the big bullies won’t trample them. Ugh! That wasn’t in the manual. Now I have three dead chickies (one of which arrived like that–it happens) twenty one bruisers toasting their tootsies in the “planned for” chickie condo, and eight little princesses getting royal treatment in somewhat cramped quarters INSIDE the Wellness Center. Those little princesses cost me about $40 extra in un-planned-for equipment.

And so yesterday afternoon was spent babysitting chickie-princesses. I made sure they had occasional drinks of water by dipping their little beaks in it throughout the afternoon. I watched their breathing. I tested the warmth of the heat lamp to make sure I wasn’t toasting chickie squab for dinner. Basically, I fretted over these two- and three-dollar fluffballs of downy feathers and tiny bones.

And then I went home.

And then I began to worry.

What if the lamp is too hot and they can’t escape the heat? What if I show up this morning and they are all dead? What if one of the little geniuses decides to fall asleep in the make-shift waterer and drowns herself? What if that heat lamp catches the wellness center on fire? And on and on and on.

And then I said to myself, “Stop it.” I was working myself into a tizzy of stress over things that are more or less out of my control. I was giving my attention and energy to all the horrible things that COULD happen rather than thinking about how they are toasty warm little princesses that get to nap in peace and strengthen their little bodies without being trampled by the massive masses. Wouldn’t my time be better spent thinking about how cool it is that I have a space to give them respite and the resources to buy or invent the needed supplies and equipment? It’s called law of attraction, but it’s also called Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Bible.

Worry = Fear = Opposite of Peace & Love = Stress.

The cure for worry = peace & love.

So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do allow our minds to think the worst when the worst hasn’t happened? And if the worst does happen, what did our worrying about it do to keep it from happening? NOTHING. It zaps our energies, negatively affects our health and wellness, and doesn’t change the outcome one bit. Or does it? What if worrying and the mind-racing scenarios of horror we invent actually contribute to the manifestation of that which we most fear?

Fortunately God’s cool universe doesn’t operate quite that fast. We have plenty of time to think the worrisome thought, recognize it as not what we desire, and then change that thought to one that supports and encourages our desires. After all, that which we fear, which is usually some sort of death or tragedy, cannot be made any less likely to happen by worrying about it. Instead, why not send visions and thoughts of blessings, success, safety, and life, instead?  Sounds like a much better plan to me.

Okay, little princess chickies. I’m sending you the energies of strength, light, perfect warmth, and full little tummies (or in this case “crop” –pronounced like “craw”) so that when I greet you later this morning, I am pleasantly surprised at how you are thriving. If by chance one or more of you has chosen not to remain here to be a part of our little farm, then so be it. Maybe I’ll catch you next time around, but I am NOT gonna worry about it. Blessings my little ones.

Shifting Energy with a Friend

Yesterday I discovered that I am not the only one moving in the direction of living my dream.  On the one hand, a comment like that almost deserves a “duh” response. On the other hand, this is someone that I know, who lives close by, and with whom I occasionally communicate: someone who has chosen to take a huge risk to do something about which he has dreamed for years. Who would guess that we would both be stepping out in faith at the same time?

I was given the opportunity to help him with his dream with a small financial donation, which would also advertise my new business. His job was to put on the sales hat and show me what my options were. This is someone with whom I have had many relaxed interactions. He’s typically a very laid back, easy-going guy in my presence. As he shared the information with me, I realized that he was noticeably uptight and not at all his usually relaxed self.

Finally I asked him, “Are you nervous?” He indicated that in fact he was more than a little bit jittery. I asked if he would be willing to let me show him some things that would help settle the nervous feeling. He agreed.

We started with some basic BrainGym movements. I gave him some water to drink, then I taught him Brain Buttons, Cross Crawls, and Hook Ups. Next I demonstrated muscle checking and had him walk forward. He muscle checked as being “switched off” when walking forward and “on” for walking backwards. That indicates energies running backwards, which isn’t the best thing for someone pursuing a dream like his.

We checked a few other things and did what was necessary to get them to shift. It was fun to watch his body relax, his posture straighten, and his true personality shine through. Even more fun was his ability to perceive what was happening within himself. The thing is, I couldn’t help myself. It’s the passion I feel about this cool stuff I know. I saw the need, he was receptive, and maybe in some small way, I have given him something that will help make his dream easier to attain. At the very least, he’s got a funny story to tell about his visit with the Wellness Lady who wouldn’t let him leave.

Who knows, maybe that experience will be something shared with others when the time is right. Maybe my helping him achieve his dream will somehow end up helping me achieve mine.

It would be just like God to pull a stunt like that.

A Yoga Sanctuary

As a mom to four beautiful girls, a tv-loving husband, two dogs, any number of cats, a few rabbits, my chicken-ladies, and a couple of horses, finding space for quiet solitude can be quite daunting. It used to be that I had the early morning hours to myself until the last minute hustle and bustle of getting ready for school kicked into high gear. Now with teenagers rising early to make the most of their youthful beauty, it seems the quiet time of peace has given way to the sound of showers, blow dryers, makeup clackity clack, and discussions along the lines of, “Where is my shirt? You borrowed it last. I was gonna wear that.” And so yeah…you get the picture. Peaceful solitude eludes me for the most part.

Fortunately, I have discovered that my new massage therapy business allows me the opportunity to experience that much needed peaceful solitude in the beautiful space that is my wellness center. Some have suggested that massage therapy is a physically demanding occupation requiring difficult strenuous labor. Instead, I am finding that it is a relaxing, peaceful space in which both giver and receiver are rewarded with calm serenity. It is proving to be my sactuary of sorts.

I am realistic enough to know that giving enough massages to maintain our current standard of living is probably not a good idea. It is somewhat taxing on the body, and there is always a certain amount of giving of oneself to the client. I want to be able to give my best to every client, and not just give what’s left over at the end of a long day. There are certain things I do, such as Energy Medicine routines, to help keep me at my best. However, my desire is to do more to benefit myself while also meeting the needs of my clients. I recognized this need in college when I decided to pursue a career in physical education and fitness. I knew that I would live my best life if I worked in a fitness related career field.

The vision and desire that has evolved from having recognized these priorities is to create a nature-centered space in which to practice and teach yoga. Of course, I know very little about yoga at this point, but I know enough to know I need it, I need what it represents, and my body will love and appreciate it very much. Input from others has indicated they would also appreciate having a space and the guidance to learn and practice yoga. I know from attending a yoga retreat last year that yoga in nature is food for the soul. Unfortunately, our West Texas “nature” is one of frequent winds, blowing dust, extreme heat and cold, and more variety than Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors. It isn’t exactly conducive to creating an outdoor yoga sanctuary.

Yet as always, once the intention is stated, the means begins to evolve. A couple of years ago, I began to study yurts as a possible structure for my wellness center. Their design has a spiritual and integrative quality that makes them ideal for a creative healing space. I released that idea once we decided to use the little two bedroom rent house for my wellness center. Ironically, the yurt idea did not release me.

Earlier this year, I publicly stated my intention to pursue yoga and an instructor certification. The question of where I would practice has been recurring in my mind ever since. Knowing how much I desire to experience yoga in nature, and knowing how much variety our weather gives us in this part of the country, I began to consider the idea of constructing a greenhouse for a yoga space. Shortly after, the yurt idea returned. Why couldn’t I use the structure of a yurt and the coverings of a greenhouse to create an almost perfect space to experience yoga in nature? Apparently I can. I contacted Spirit Mountain Yurts and presented them with my idea. They loved it and so the stage is set to create a beautiful plant filled space warmed by the sun, sheltered from wind and rain, carpeted with green grass and herbs in which to share the spiritual experience and wellness of yoga with friends and neighbors. It will be a yoga sanctuary.

Of course a few details remain. I intend to begin my yoga training this week, assuming our weather cooperates. I am most grateful for your prayers for safe travel as this will require a weekly trip to Amarillo. It will take approximately a year of training before I am eligible to pursue instructor certification. During that time, I would ask that you send your thoughts, prayers, and positive intentions toward this dream. I trust that you will help me make it a reality by seeing it in your mind’s eye as though it is already complete. I have no idea how it will be funded, yet I trust the way will become clear at some point.

Meanwhile, enjoy some images of yurts that were sent my way by Spirit Mountain Yurts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and let me know what you think of my vision.

Pondering Yoga

Yesterday I posted that one of my intentions for my Vision 2010 is to pursue a yoga instructor certification. It’s sort of a scary thought considering I’m not even much of a yoga student at this point. I mean a know a little bit. I’ve done some basic stuff with a video a time or two. I attended a yoga retreat last spring break. And hey, I have a Wii Fit that fusses at me if my poses are off balance. I admit it, I’m still pretty much a yoga novice.

So why in the world would I want to pursue an instructor certification when I don’t even know the basics? Three words….because I can. And a few more…because I want to. And then these….because our little town could use one. And don’t forget these….because it fits into my dream. And to trump all of that….because it costs a crazy amount of money that I don’t have right now, but hey, that’s never stopped me. 

Why yoga? Because yoga has a spiritual aspect to it that I crave. It isn’t a religion as some would have a person believe. It is a very gentle, yet potentially viscous fitness activity that slows the aging process and strengthens bodies while clearing the mind. I believe it will provide a means of generating some really positive energy in this little town, which is something that will greatly benefit everyone around here. 

Why me? Because I have always seen myself as being a fitness instructor. I have been a PE teacher to little kids. I am good at it. I have taught tons of cool things to adults. I am good at it. I always said I needed to be involved in a fitness/wellness line of work to stay in shape, knowing that it is so easy for me to let my body slide off the edge of the fat cliff. Yoga instructor fits in very nicely with massage therapy and energy work. I will have to back-burner the energy medicine classes for now, but that’s okay because I need some more time to digest that stuff. Besides, our local market isn’t quite ready to actually pay for energy work. However, there is a definite interest in yoga, and I believe we have at least the beginnings of a market for it. 

I have a terrific outdoor space for yoga (assuming the wind will cooperate). My indoor space is somewhat limited, but I will work on that. Ideas of course are always welcome. So what do you think? Have I lost my mind yet again? Or is this a cool thing? What new and cool things are you pursuing to stave off the encroachment of Alzheimer’s? 

Happy New Year everyone!

The Energy of Wellness

Since finishing massage therapy school, I have been pursuing more knowledge about the body. My newest field of study is called energy medicine. I think I have known for a very long time that there is more to sickness and disease than pathogens, but our part of the world doesn’t readily recognize this.

Energy medicine recognizes several energy systems in the body, each of which plays an important role in everything from keeping us alive to keeping us vibrantly healthy. Most people these days have some familiarity with the energy system known as the meridians. Yet few know much about how they work. Fewer still know anything about the other systems such as the chakras, the electrics, the radiant circuits, the celtic weave, the grid, and more. These systems are the most basic infrastructure of life.

Our world has changed so rapidly that the human body has not had time to evolve and catch up. We live in a world where stress attacks the energy systems constantly in a wide variety of forms. Of course there are the day to day stresses we are all to familiar with. Yet there are also stressors that assail us in the form of toxic chemicals, food additives, man-made electromagnetic energy, microwave radiation, vaccines, and probably a dozen more.

How do these stressors affect our bodies? In an energy body where things are functioning normally, energy follows its designated pathways in the proper direction. In a system that has been compromised in some way, energy may flow backwards or very slowly much like a river that has been polluted with garbage and toxic chemicals. The life sustaining ecosystem is jeopardized. Unless something is done to remove the polution and restore the free flow of water, the river will eventually become so toxic as to be unable to sustain life.

It is the same with our bodies. Unless we have a constant influx of fresh life giving energy into all of our systems, something is bound to suffer. It may take a very long time for illness to take hold, but eventually it will in the absence of any corrective energy work.

Massage is a great way to reduce the overall effects of stress, however, it is not likely to correct energy imbalances unless the therapist uses some specific techniques designed for that purpose. A practitioner trained in energy medicine has the knowledge and skills to provide an energy assessment and the necessary corrections to yield improvements in the body’s energy systems.

Another benefit of energy medicine is the empowering of the client towards self-therapy. Most energy medicine practitioners will give the client some type of homework to help maintain the progress made during the session. Energy is a habit, and without the supportive actions of the homework piece, it will return to its former familiar state of imbalance.

Finally, energy medicine is harmless. Hippocrates believed practitioners should “First Do No Harm”. Few other healing methods can claim such a high rate of success with no side effects.

Energy medicine can be used as a stand alone therapy or as a complementary therapy along with standard medical treatments. It is worth checking out whether as a first choice option or as a last resort when other options have failed to produce the desired results. Give it try. I think you will be quite impressed with your experience.

Restoration

Dictionary.com defines restoration as the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment; a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition; a putting back into a former position, dignity, etc.

I for one could use a little restoration. My body doesn’t look or act like it did when I was 20. It has been somewhat neglected over the years. I plead a lack of time, and I confess to a lack of self-discipline. No time to shop for and prepare really nourishing food, no time or self-discipline to exercise properly, no time or self-discipline for meditation, and on and on. I also blame addictions. I am addicted to sugar at this point in my life. For that matter, I think I’ve been addicted to sugar my ENTIRE life. If I were a car, I would have died on the side of the road a long time ago. Sugar in the fuel tank isn’t a good thing.

A little over a year ago, I began a journey toward my own personal restoration. I had (and still have) a great job with good pay and good benefits, yet I felt as though I was burned out. I wasn’t using my talents the way I once did. The feeling of value and fulfillment just wasn’t happening. Since I thrive on being helpful and valued, this further contributed to the deterioration of my well-being. And so, on a whim, I started massage therapy school. While the nutritional side of things continued its downhill spiral, the feeling that I had something of value to offer others, something they needed desperately from me, blossomed. I began to feel alive again.

Along the way, we had an opportunity to purchase a 75 year old two bedroom cottage on an acre of land adjacent to our little farm. The little house faithfully provided shelter for its residents for those many years. Unfortunately, it was well beyond time for some much needed TLC. The little house was on life support for all practical purposes. My sweet husband and I looked at it with the eyes of pathetic idealists and began dreaming of its restoration. We talked about things we would do when we had the opportunity. Last May I recognized that opportunity. This little house would be my wellness center…my little massage studio. And so the restoration process began.

An old garage was disassembled and parts given new purpose elsewhere on our property. Some dead trees were amputated. The front yard was hardly a yard, and so it got a major facelift complete with new grass, bushes, and and herbal flower mix. By summer’s end, the yard was beautiful.

Our renters moved out by labor day and the labor really began. We decided that one of the bedrooms could be salvaged and restored quickly for use as my initial massage treatment room. However, the bathroom area, kitchen, and the other bedroom would have to be gutted. Money (or should I say credit cards) had to be stretched, and the proceeds from my massage services would be reinvested into the project as much as possible.

Restoring just one room and a half bath has proven both expensive and exhausting, yet it has been worth it. My husband and I have done all of the work ourselves. The massage therapy room is beautiful. Its decorations and energy are so relaxing and life supporting. The hardwood floors with their nicks and dings and squeaks are a lasting testimony to the family legacy and the memories contained in the old house. The rest of the house is patiently waiting its transformation to full restoration.

As I think about the the work that has gone into restoring my little wellness center, as well as the mountain of work that remains, it reminds me of how often we let our bodies ever so gradually slide into a state of deterioration. One day we wake up and realize that things aren’t working as well as they used to work. Body parts creak and crackle and ache. The core foundation (our gut) has sprawled and weakened. Our muscles have seized in places causing constant pain. Energy doesn’t flow like it once did, and we begin to watch life from the sidelines instead of participating fully. We then wait for the day when our bodies cease to be useful and we sit helpless as the proverbial wrecking ball moves closer into our space. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Yet just as my little wellness house has begun to experienced “ restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment; a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition; a putting back into a former position, dignity…”, so too can our bodies experience the same restoration. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal themselves with proper support. It is possible to clean out the engine and the fuel tank and replace the fuel with that which is designed to help us run leaner, cleaner, and better. Electrical systems can be re-established and damaged energy highways cleared of congestion. Muscles can be softened, gently stretched, and made strong again. Just as a 75 year old house can be given new life, so too can a worn out body be improved.

Restoration isn’t about going back in time. It’s about breathing in new life. Restoration doesn’t come cheap or easy. It requires tremendous effort and commitment. It’s certainly less time consuming and more economical to keep a structure in top shape than it is to go the restoration route. Yet restoration is possible, and through commitment to restoration, amazing things can happen.

The holidays are upon us and as usually happens this time of year, self-evaluation is in the air. It is a great opportunity to take a look at ourselves and make a decision….a commitment….to restoration. Something may have to shift a bit to make room for restoration. It may mean trading some TV time for workout time. It may mean giving up a daily soft drink to pay for a much needed massage. It may mean leaving work at closing time instead of taking it home or extending work hours beyond what is required. It could even mean a radical change in lifestyle to support new goals and desires. Dream big. Be an idealist. We’ve got an amazing “house” that’s asking for some restoration.

If your body and mind restoration plans include relaxation and improving the way your body works, I trust that you will take a look at the Superior Performance difference. Stop by the Superior Performance Wellness Center and see its potential. If you like what you see, as I believe you will, I encourage you to join me and my little wellness house on the path to restoration.

May this holiday season bring you much joy and a renewed commitment to care for yourself as much as you care for others.

Disconnected

Do you ever have one of those days (weeks, months, years?) when you feel disconnected from the important stuff? Maybe your passion has to be parked while you play firefighter. Maybe you are physically exhausted and there isn’t anything left over to put towards your passion. Maybe what you think is reality has rained all over your passion parade. In any case, after riding the wave of energy and excitement for a while, you suddenly find yourself stuck at the bottom of a roller coaster with the power unplugged. It’s a crummy place to land.
 
Yet sometimes we need a break from the roller coaster. It gives us time to let our stomach settle, our nerves calm, and get our land legs back underneath us. How can we make the most of the disconnected times without letting it take over permanently?
 
For starters, recognize it for what it is. Don’t freak out about it. Just notice it, acknowledge it, and be cool with it. Second, take advantage of it. If your body and brain are begging for some neutral time, grant them their wish. Sit on the floor in a dark quiet place. If your house is pretty active, this may have to be the closet in the back bedroom. Get on a treadmill and walk mindlessly for awhile. Finally, notice what your brain is discussing. What’s the chatter that is invading your quiet space? Is it positive, supportive thoughts? Is it revealing information that will lead you back around to your passion? Or is it snarky stuff that drags you down and keeps you disconnected? If it is the latter, acknowledge the thought, then dismiss it by asking yourself, “How would it be if it were ideal?” The answer to that question becomes your new thought.
 
There is nothing wrong with disconnecting for a short time. Allow yourself the time and space to investigate the disconnect. Maybe it’s just a temporarily “brown-out” and everything will be back to running at peak capacity in a short time. On the other hand, maybe you’ve blown a fuse, pulled a plug on something, or fried some wiring. If that’s the case, identify the source of the problem and replace the connectors.
 
Remember, once the power’s back on, the chain grabs the front car and here we go again! There’s a huge drop on the other side, but it sure is fun. Enjoy the ride.

Gratitude

I woke up this morning thinking about gratitude. I hear it can really get things rolling in our lives, plus I need a big dose of it, so I decided it would be a great blog topic for my Saturday morning.
 
I am grateful for snow, even the fine sandy 40 MPH blowing kind. Even it contains moisture, and even it managed to get us out of school 4 hours early. It gave me an entire afternoon and evening with my daughters, which was a ton of fun. It resulted in my husband building a cedar fencepost fire in my wood stove. Nice.
 
I am grateful for a steady paycheck. There are lots of things I can say about my job both positive and negative, however, I get paid a pretty crazy amount of money to do what I do. Am I worth it? You better believe it. Do I always feel worthy of it? Probably not so much. Would I like to do something different for that amount of money? Definitely. However, it is cool that there are people who feel like I add value to an organization worthy of a good measure of compensation. Besides, I really do have quite a bit of freedom in my job.
 
I am grateful for family. I have the most wonderful man on the planet, and four absolutely gorgeous and insanely talented daughters. These women are about to take the universe by storm, and they will do it with their daddy wrapped securely around their little fingers. I am grateful for parents, brother, and in-laws who love and support me and my family in all we do. Family is just cool.
 
I am grateful for a body that is healthy and strong and able to think, build, dig, create, and design.
 
I am grateful for my small community. It provides a lot of freedom that I haven’t always seen. Heck, where else could I have nine acres with
two horses and 60 chickens inside the city limits and not be bothered by anyone about it? Most people are just grateful the the place is being mowed and cared for. They also like that I share my amazing pastured poultry fresh eggs.
 
I am grateful for grass, trees, flowers, vegetables, and animals plus the land that supports them. They feed my soul. They also remind me of how amazing our world is in its ability to renew and regenerate year after year. 
 
I am grateful for cars and gasoline because they provide a means for me to travel to other places to experience rest and view other types of beauty.
 
I am grateful for (some) stress because it lets me know I am alive and journeying through life.
 
Finally, I am grateful for a universal provider who has allowed me to be here experiencing all that life has to offer. I am grateful for his promises to grant my desires and his willingness to forgive me when I act in ungrateful ways.
 
Life is good. What things trigger your sense of gratefulness?
 

Nature Nurture

One of the cool things I have learned during my BrainGym years has been the power of setting an intention before doing any type of “energy” work. Energy work includes things like massage, BrainGym, yoga, meditation/prayer, etc. During our New Mexico retreat last week, I set an intention to experience clarity regarding my career. It has been over a week since that intention was set, and I am daily seeing ways in which I better understand what is going on, both in my frustrations with the current situation and my desires for change. That clarity is proving invaluable as a tool to keep me from leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
 
I recently acquired and worked through a book called Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design by Danielle LaPorte and Carrie McCarthy. My two word style statement I believe is Natural Powerful–80% of me is natural, defined by nature, seeking nature, being in nature, being nurtured by nature. The other 20% that adds spice and gives me an edge is power. Realizing how truly important nature is in defining who I am and how I roll helps me to identify what’s going on when I start to feel like crap or get unbearably cranky (the genuine me would have used four and five letter words there, but the me that knows my mom will read this chose more politically correct terms–use your imagination).
 
What I realize is that I crave nature. Spring minus wind is my favorite time of year.  Seeing new life emerge from what appears to be a lifeless stick and watching it produce life sustaining energy sources is just freakin’ cool. What’s not cool is spending the most gorgeous part of the day in a flourescent lighted windowless concrete prison cell void of plant life with only a sheetrock wall separating me from an electromagnetic nightmare that is our file server room. That “clarity” does so much to help me figure out how to improve my existing situation and avoid creating a similar situation in any new endeavors I attempt. Hence, setting up a massage studio in a building downtown where all I see is brick, mortar and cars and that only between clients, probably isn’t the best option for escaping the dis-ease I feel toward my current situation.
 
And so, I made a trip to Home Depot and bought two pots of giant marigolds to place on my office desk. I like marigolds. They are bold and bright. Not necessarily my favorite flower, but they speak for me in a sort of “in-your-face-whatcha-gonna-do-about-it” sort of way. There is nothing delicate about how marigolds look. They are my 80% natural-20% powerful. I am trusting they will survive the flourescent world for awhile and in the meantime, help adjust my attitude about my work environment. Maybe I’ll go back to HD and see what else I can find. It will take something tough to survive for a few months in this concrete jungle.
 
All of this clarity and realization got me to thinking about everyone else including our kids and their teachers who spend their days in windowless, natureless worlds. Several years ago (about 40 to be exact) some genius decided that students need to be free from the distractions posed by the outside world. They began to design multi-purpose school buildings as fallout shelters putting children in basement classrooms where neither nuclear bombs, tornadoes, nor a dancing butterfly could disrupt the precious learning environment. Nature in the classroom was relegated to the dark-loving cockroach. Then along came the energy efficiency experts, and they took the rest of our older school buildings with their wall of windows and closed those in to save heating and cooling costs. If it’s victims were lucky, they were spared one or two small tinted windows to allow for some outside viewing.
 
Yet our teachers continue to experience more and more burnout each year and our children are dealing with more learning challenges, attention deficit issues, behavioral abnormalities, and other social problems than ever before. No, I am not suggesting that windowless schools are to blame, but I am suggesting that they have done nothing to improve the situation. Even mental institutions have figured out that their clients are much more compliant when surrounded by trees, grass, flowers, and natural sunlight. Heck Wal-Mart has even figured this out. People spend more money in a store that has an earthy, naturally lit feel. They are willing to risk thousands of dollars repairing hail smashed skylights and the related water damage to accomodate this concept. Oh yeah….God got it, too. He placed his precious creations in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden. Punishment for wrong-doing was denial of access to the lush garden.
 
What would happen if every classroom was naturized with plants, fish tanks, hamsters, etc? Or better yet, what if the kids who faced the most difficult challenges were placed in a learning environment such as a yurt. Okay, I admit it, I have a new fascination with this type of building. It is essentially a round Mongolian teepee of sorts, yet the insides are supported by a trellis/accordian like support system that creates X’s wherever the eye looks. It has a skylight in the top. What if the yurt classrooms were surrounded by trees, flowers, and gardens that produced food the kids could pick and consume fresh from the plant whenever the urge strikes? No soda and candy machines would be found, but instead an apple tree and some grape vines would grow right outside the classroom door and the kids were encouraged to eat from them. It would be a highly integrative learning paradise.
 
How could we change the destiny of a kid by changing his learning environment to one that nurtures learning through nature? How could we retain our best and brightest teachers by taking them out of the concrete prison cell and placing them in a Garden to teach? Would all problems disappear? Not a chance. Would it be a worthwhile experiment? You bet. Would it cost money? Well duh! Doesn’t everything? However, I bet it would cost a lot less than the majority of our interventions that have failed our most needy students. But we don’t have enough water to support a garden, you argue. We live in a desert. We are in the midst of a drought. Some of the most beautiful and nurturing places on earth are deserts. We can maximize what we have, grow, and produce the best. It is called Xerisaping, and where it is done well, it is gorgeous.
 
Is this possible on a large scale? I don’t know. What I do know is that each of us has the opportunity to improve our space and consequently our attitude towards our work even in small ways. If you are a parent, volunteer to “naturize” your child’s classroom. Work with teachers and administrators to see what they would like to do. If you are a teacher, consider how you can use some classroom budget money to bring the outdoors indoors. Don’t buy plastic plants. That’s not nature. We have enough plastic in our lives without faking nature.
 
And for Pete’s sake (and Tony, Laura, and Jeffrey’s sake), take down those annoyingly distracting laminated math charts, parts of speech posters, and other wall crap with which you have such a freakin’ love affair, and bring in a grow light and a banana tree. Take your kids outside to have class EVERY chance you get. Find the protected outdoor areas where the wind isn’t an issue and green up that space. Plant a campus garden–a real one with veggies, and have enough passion for what you do that you’ll spend a few days each week even during the summer taking care of it so next fall’s students can benefit from it. I know you can think of 200 reasons why it won’t work, but doing so only creates negative energy and wastes time. Think of the 20 reasons it just MIGHT work and do something to heal yourself, heal your kids, and in the process heal the earth.

 

If we all do a bit of nurturing nature in our work space, then nature will return the favor by nurturing us in both our work space and our play space. Hmm….who’da thunk my career clarity intention would lead to this. Nice……
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