Connecting to Nature   #MondayMusings

Connecting to Nature #MondayMusings

Happy World Environment Day! This year, it seems an even more important day to celebrate our environment and pledge to clean it up, when the leader of the ‘free world’ seems to have chosen a path away from this. Thankfully, the actions of a nation’s leadership are not always reflective of the vast majority of its people. My #MondayMusings today consists of watching and sharing with you some TED Talk videos connecting to Nature. Be inspired!

‘Connecting People to Nature’, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share. World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5 June.

This year’s host country Canada got to choose the theme and will be at the centre of celebrations around the planet. World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Since it began in 1972, global citizens have organized many thousands of events, from neighbourhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests.

This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.

Connecting to Nature

Nature’s beauty can be fleeting — but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.

 

You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.

How do you define “nature?” If we define it as that which is untouched by humans, then we won’t have any left, says environmental writer Emma Marris. She urges us to consider a new definition of nature — one that includes not only pristine wilderness but also the untended patches of plants growing in urban spaces — and encourages us to bring our children out to touch and tinker with it, so that one day they might love and protect it.

 

“ Obviously, survival is important but we weren’t put here just to survive, we were put here to create. What if we could begin to imagine a nature-rich future with new kinds of cities, homes and neighborhoods? New kinds of workplaces? If we don’t aim much higher than sustainability, we’ll never reach it. An experience in nature is super-important in making us mindful of who we are and where we are in the moment.” – Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle

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Nostalgia A Dead End Lane?  #MondayMusings

Nostalgia A Dead End Lane? #MondayMusings

I remember writing a post a few years back about ‘the old days‘ and one blogger very candidly disagreed saying that there . But I wasn’t living in the past, just hankering for some of the niceties of years gone by that I didn’t see evidence of. But that’s another story. Today I’m wondering is nostalgia a dead end lane or if there’s something good in it after all.

The last week has been filled with nostalgia as the NGO I work with and am one of the founder members of – Divya Disha – celebrated its 30th Anniversary. As we looked at old photographs and recalled the ‘old days’ we were filled with nothing but joy and gratitude for all we were and how far we’ve come. We recalled the many characters we encountered, all the laughter and all the learning. But I don’t think there was even a moment that we said “Wish we could go back in time”. If anything, we pledged to hold fast to the values of those days, even as we tread new paths.

It’s interesting that today I came across an article in The New York Times about whether nostalgia is good or bad and I’ll leave you to read this extract and come to your own conclusions.

Researchers say it’s a “phenomenon” — a high-order emotional experience more on par with love than, say, fear. It’s about yourself and those close to you; big moments in your life or memorable settings. Experts have found that people turn to nostalgia when they are trying to avoid something unpleasant or feeling lonely, to counteract their social anxieties.

And it works. Nostalgia helps bring your psychological state back into balance. It elevates your mood and your deflated self-esteem. Researchers say you come out of the experience with a stronger sense of belonging.

Say you’re moving to the other side of the country for a new job. That disruption can trigger a bout of nostalgia in which you recall childhood fishing trips with your dad. You think back fondly, and realize, “Hey, I still love to fish, and I still love my dad.” So you begin to feel like there’s some continuity between your past and present, like you’re living a full and meaningful life. And in that context, the cross-country move that’s been stressing you out may suddenly seem less daunting.

But nostalgia isn’t just a compensation tool; it’s also an energizing emotion, said Clay Routledge, a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. After delving into nostalgia, you’ll feel more connected to your friends and also be motivated to actually reconnect with them; you might even go out and seek new ones.

In a Skype interview, Dr. Wildschut and Dr. Sedikides cautioned against using nostalgia as your primary way to cope with problems. Talking to a friend, for example, might be a better way. “If other things fail, nostalgia is a back up,” Dr. Sedikides said, “and it’s not as bad as people think.”

Extracted from Take a Walk Down Memory Lane. It Can Be Healthy from The New York Times

What’s your take on the value of nostalgia?

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Change Comes From Within #MondayMusings

Change Comes From Within #MondayMusings

I’ve been busy making some changes in my …One thing that has been underlined for me recently is: Change comes from within.

Have you ever noticed that when  you’re having a bad day or a rough patch in life, even the things you normally enjoy doing and the people you loves don’t seem to bring you the same amount of joy? And often, when you’re having a good day or things are going brilliantly in your life, situations and people who normally annoy you somehow seem bearable. It’s obvious then that our internal state has an impact on how we experience life, not the other way around.

It follows naturally, that we must pay more attention to our own growth, evolution, and transformation – and less attention trying to change people or circumstances around us. No, it doesn’t mean that we stop caring about what other people say or do. It doesn’t mean that we needn’t give others feedback.

No, what it means that by not giving in to our desire to change, fix and control people and circumstances, we free ourselves. We give ourselves the space to focus on changing the one thing that sometimes keeps us from being happy, successful or fulfilled – ourselves.

While thinking about change I recalled this one. Enjoy!

What did the Yogi say when he walked into the Zen Pizza Parlor?
“Make me one with everything.”
When the Yogi got the pizza, he gave the proprietor a $20 bill. The proprietor pocketed the bill. The Yogi said, “Don’t I get change?”
The proprietor said, “Change must come from within.”

 

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The Windmills Of Your Mind #MondayMusings

The Windmills Of Your Mind #MondayMusings


Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel……
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!
~ from the lyrics of ‘The Windmills of Your Mind.

 

There are many versions of this song and I’m currently listening to the Eva Mendes version which you can find here.

What got me listening to this song after long time, are my reflections this morning.  As I wrote my morning pages, I recalled the flurry of thoughts that went through my mind last night.

I confess now that I am an ‘over-thinker’! I tend to overthink and over analyse  events, situations and possible outcomes of present decisions’! But there’s one particular thought that struck me last night and it troubled me for a while. The question  : what am I contributing to the world?

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily events of life. “What should I cook for lunch?” “We need to buy laundry detergent.” “Pablo is due for a vaccine.” Hmmm…  Each of these activities are important in themselves, but last night I began to wonder where they fit into the overall picture of the meaning of my life. Surely, when I die, no one is going to remember what I cooked for lunch on Sunday, May 7th, are they? No, I am not unhappy doing any of these things, just wondering how they matter?

And so the windmills kept on churning until I fell asleep.

Now to come to my reflections this morning. I realized that I am contributing something unique to the world – just by being me. The seemingly mundane tasks of my every day are all part of a larger picture.

It’s all a matter of perspective. You can see life as a series of chores. Or  you can choose to believe that all the little tasks are meaningful in themselves and all add up to a much bigger picture that is your life. I recall this story:

“Three people were at work on a construction site.All were doing the same job, but when each was asked what the job was, the answers varied.
‘Breaking rocks,’ the first replied.
‘Earning my living,’ the second said.
‘Helping to build a cathedral,’ said the third.”
– Peter Schultz

the meaning of life

I know that I’ll think of something to over-think about soon enough! How do the windmills of your mind work?

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Loneliness and Illness #MondayMusings

Loneliness and Illness #MondayMusings

She was 16 when she took ill. High fever and no other symptoms. The doctors took test after test with no definite idea what the problem was. A viral infection was what they ruled and kept trying out different drugs. The fever weakened her. She would just pass out on the way to the washroom. Her mother struggled to take care of her. Her father pitched in to when he came back from work and her siblings helped too.

Loneliness and Illness

For a month the fever continued, making her listless and depressed. The family was stressed already with tensions between the parents. One night her father, drank a little too much and behaved rather badly. Her mother already at her wits end and just bone tired, walked out of the house the next day, leaving the girl in the care of her siblings with no word of where she was going. When the father got back from work, he had no clue where his wife was and the daughter began to panic. With no one to talk to, and feeling that her illness was causing these tensions, she blamed herself for the situation. She was too weak to take her own life, but that was one evening she felt that she should.

Thankfully, the story ended well and things went back to normal. But that was the evening the young girl realized that sickness and loneliness can make a deadly combination. She learnt that an important aspect of healing is having a good social network and strong relationships. She also learnt that once she shared her feelings, and friends were invited over, her healing speeded up.

This truth was recently underlined for the young girl, now over 50 (you’ve guessed, already) when she came across a recent study.

Findings of the Study

In a study conducted at Rice University, participants were measured on a Short Loneliness Scale and a Social Network Index, and the results showed that those who had tested as lonely were no more likely to catch a cold then those who weren’t. But there was a difference: For those who did catch the cold, the lonely people experienced more severe symptoms.

Going in, the researchers were already aware that, “Loneliness puts people at risk for premature mortality and all kinds of other physical illnesses,” study author Angie LeRoy wrote. “But nothing had been done to look at an acute but temporary illness that we’re all vulnerable to, like the common cold.” The study made a distinction between feeling lonely and social isolation. “This paper is about the quality of your relationships, not the quantity,” LeRoy wrote. “You can be in a crowded room and feel lonely. That perception is what seems to be important when it comes to these cold symptoms.”

“Anytime you have an illness, it’s a stressor, and this phenomenon would probably occur,” wrote the study’s lead author, Rice psychologist Chris Fagundes. “A predisposition, whether it’s physical or mental, can be exaggerated by a subsequent stressor. In this case, the subsequent stressor is getting sick, but it could be the loss of a loved one, or getting breast cancer, which are subjects we also study.”

The study’s authors suggest that doctors should take psychological factors like loneliness into account when they are treating patients.
Do you too have instances of the connection between loneliness and illness?

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Leading A Meaningful Life #MondayMusings

Leading A Meaningful Life #MondayMusings

There are times when you wonder about life. What does leading a meaningful life require of you? Who defines what is meaningful? What is meaningful to one person, might be meaningless to another.

What does leading a meaningful life consist of?

I’ve often heard people say at the death of someone else, ‘What a waste of a life!’ I’ve said it myself a couple of times until I stopped and asked myself, how could I say that? How do I know that the person didn’t add meaning and purpose to another life. Perhaps I don’t know if even through her bad choices, her life and the fact that she was loved, added meaning to the lives of people who loved her. There is no way for me to really know if his life, confusing though it seems to me, made a difference to another life. Even if her living, made just one person’s life better, wasn’t it a meaningful life she lived? Didn’t the fact that his life challenged another person to forgive, to reach out more, to be more loving, make it a meaningful life?

We put too much emphasis on doing as a way of being meaningful. We have bucket lists and goal-setting. We are challenged to do more and achieve more. To fulfill our potential. Not that any of this is wrong. No. But if we emphasize achievements, are we saying that children and adults living with cognitive disabilities are not living meaningful lives? I’m sure any parent of a child with special needs will tell you, that despite how difficult it is, this child adds so much meaning to their lives.

The time has come for me (and you, perhaps) to challenge ourselves – to look within our lives and find the meaning in them and then to realize that it is by our ‘being’ that we make more of a difference than by our ‘doing’.

Most of us lead far more meaningful lives than we know. Often finding meaning is not about doing things differently; it is about seeing familiar things in new ways. When we find new eyes, the unsuspected blessing in work we have done for many years may take us completely by surprise. We can see life in many ways: with the eye, with the mind, with the intuition. But perhaps it is only those who speak the language of meaning, who have remembered how to see with the heart, that life is ever deeply known or served.
Rachel Naomi Remen

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How Our Story Ends | Phiona Mutesi  #MondayMusings

How Our Story Ends | Phiona Mutesi #MondayMusings

What are the stories we tell about ourselves? What are the stories we believe about ourselves. Does the past and its ‘bad experiences’  continue to hold us? Do we give bad circumstances the chance to hold us down? As I muse about this today, I’d like to introduce you to Phiona Mutesi – a girl who rewrote her own story.

Phiona Mutesi – The Queen of Katwe

How Our Story Ends

To be African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda. To be an underdog in Katwe. – Robert Katende, a missionary in Katwe who mentored chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi

This young girl re-wrote the story of an African, Ugandan, girl from Katwe. She didn’t allow the story to end in the usual way. She checkmated fate.

What about our stories……

When we are beholden to a narrative that defeats us, (whatever disparages or belittles or shames), we are afraid. And when we live afraid, the script shackles us. We live defensive and angry. So we don’t recognize that we have power inside to say how the story moves forward. – Terry Hershey

The idea of our stories is something I want to continue to look at in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.

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Image courtesy Quote Fancy

Where Do You Feel Like Going? #MondayMusings

Where Do You Feel Like Going? #MondayMusings

I believe it’s important to start your day right. To think positive thoughts. To spend a few minutes in reflection. One of the questions we can ask our inner selves is:  ‘Where do you feel like going ?’

The answer will give you an insight into your feelings. While you won’t automatically be transported to this place, you can guide your mind to the feelings and sensations with that place and allow you to gather yourself to face the day.

I’m sharing my answer to this question today.

Where Do You Feel Like Going?

Today I felt like going to a beach. I know it sounds rather trite. After all, there are very few people I know who wouldn’t like to go to a beach!

So what makes a beach special for me? No, it’s not the ‘sun and sand’ and the sights (most interesting at times, I confess).

I love the beach because it is a feast for the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste,and  smell
– looking out at the great expanse of of the sea, so vast that you cannot see where it ends
– the sound of the waves – gentle sometimes and loud, crashing at other times
– the endless stretch of wet sand that feels so good to touch
– the feel of the breeze that seems to envelop me
– the smell of the sea – a mixture of fish and salt
– the taste of salt in the water

……I could go on.

To me, time spent on the beach is time spent with God. It’s a place I feel closest to Him. All my senses are awakened to an awareness of His nearness. In the vastness of the ocean and seemingly never-ending horizon I experience His great. unending love.

Today, I recall those feelings and the vastness of God’s love and protection and I know I can face the day with a smile.

Where do you feel like going today?

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Image of beautiful sunset and sea via Shutterstock