Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Joy of Giving

Give a gift to everyone you meet in the course of your day! Sound impossible? It's not. It's a lot of fun and the rewards can be amazing!

I'm not proposing that you buy and give material gifts - though on special occasions that might be a wonderful idea as well. What I'm talking about is much more spontaneous and simple. It can be the gift of a smile, a helping hand, a kind word, a hand picked flower, or a prayer. It might be a shoulder to cry on or a hug of encouragement. It might be a card, or a phone call to let someone know you're thinking of them.

In these seemingly small ways we can deeply connect with another and it may be the connection they (or we) need most at that moment.

A moment in time that really touched my heart. I was busy gardening on a Sunday morning. As I worked, my elderly neighbor Daisy (in her mid 90's) made her way across the street to chat. She told me the same story everytime I saw her, about her husband who had passed away several years before and how much he loved to work in his garden. I listened attentively even though she'd told me this story many times before, clearly it was a wonderful memory for her. After a few minutes, she said goodbye and went home. Since I was practicing 'gift giving' I wondered what in the world I could give to Daisy. I decided to cut some lily's and roses from my garden and take them to her, which I did. I rang her doorbell and when she answered the door I smiled and handed her the flowers. Her eyes just lit up, she was so happy. She said she hadn't received flowers in a very long time. She told me how beautiful they were and how good it felt to receive them. She thanked me over and over again.

That was a few years ago. Daisy has since passed away. But I'll never forget how simple it was to give her that moment of happiness. She in turn gave me a gift as well, though she may not have known it. She gave me the gift of insight and gratitude - how such a small gesture can be so meaningful to someone in need of exactly what we have to give.

So, try it this week. Give a 'gift' to everyone you come in contact with. See how it enriches the lives of the receiver and the giver.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Joy in Nature

After reading last weeks post, a fellow Soul Coach, Catriona MacGregar, asked if I would post an article that she had written. I am delighted to do so as Catriona beautifully describes her Joy in Nature. I hope you enjoy her experience as much as I did!

Joy in Nature
"Today, we miss the subtle changes in the wind, the calls of birds, the smell of the fragrant Earth beneath our feet. We leave little time for deep inner journeys or quiet walks in the woods even though who we are and what we are—the very root of our identity—is connected to the Earth. Peace, joy, and wisdom are within our reach - but are not found in the electric boxes lighting up homes and offices around the world.

It is in nature that our cup of joy fills to the brim. Joy is there in the yellow halo of a new morning sky. Joy is there in the animated movements of a gray squirrel leaping from branch to branch. Joy is there in the deep purple of a wild iris. Joy is there in the still, glasslike surface of the lake. We feel such happiness and joy in nature because we belong in nature. The Creator planted this joy seed in our heart that blooms in nature.

I recall a joyous moment, when my heart shone as brightly as the harvest moon. I was walking quietly in the early morning along a narrow trail in northern California. The trail, more fit for delicate deer hooves than human feet, wound along the southern slope of Mount Tamalpais. Yellow grasses along the trail brushed delicately against my calves as I walked. Three hundred feet below me was a small narrow valley, where the sunlight gave way to the gray-green shade below. The spring morning air felt cool on my skin and the sun was just beginning to rise over the closest ridgeline. A veil of fog was slowly lifting from the tips of the surrounding hillsides.

As I rounded the bend a few minutes later, a sight opened before me that completely shifted my consciousness. On the northern incline of the trail, in the sheltered blue-gray shade of live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, over one hundred of most exquisite wild white lilies sprang from the ground. Narrow beams of soft, golden light from the sun illuminated each delicate flower. Each flower’s six pristine white petals appeared to be communing with the sun as the light streamed softly between the upper branches of the trees. It seemed as if I had innocently come upon a mysterious gathering of angels lighting upon the Earth as flowers.

Elevated in that shimmering moment, every cell of my body filled with ecstatic grace and joy. Inhaling deeply, my lungs filled fully with the morning air still touched with the memory of the cool starry night. The sacredness of the place brought me fully into a moment of oneness with all of creation—a moment that seemed to span an eternity of time and space. I was the saintly white irises; I was the soft light of the sun; I was the powdery blue Spanish moss that hung gracefully from the branches.

When that moment had passed, I could hear with great clarity the delicate singing of the small stream below and the sweet songs of the birds. I felt lighter and immeasurably freer. Nature is the perfect portal to this sacred moments of joy. We all have the ability to become something new when we fill ourselves with the elixir of nature.

What kind of person will you be when you are filled with the warm rays of the sun, the clarity of the blue sky, or the freedom of a soaring hawk? Just go outside and lay in the grass, looking up at the trees and the sky. Take the time to walk over to the flowers to smell their fragrance; look deep inside their petals to see the subtle colors. Do not fool yourself that these acts are less important than spending tedious, long hours working. Instead, let these wild things grow inside of you, and from this, your soul will be richer than it will ever be from a thousand promotions. From this place of joy the light of your spirit can then change the world."

Catriona has been a voice for animals and wild places all her life. Catriona leads Vision Quests and Nature Quests to help people connect to nature and their own unique path in life. [Learn more at] She is the coauthor of Healing the Heart of the World: Harnessing the Power of Intention to Change Your Life and the Planet, along with Carolyn Myss, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Masaru Emoto, Fritjof Capra, Thich Nhat Hanh, et al. as well as the author of “Partnering with Nature: The Wild Path to Reconnecting with the Earth” available at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spend Time in Nature

Peaceful places in nature actually nourish the soul. How do you feel when you sit quietly by a creek, hike a trail in the forest, watch the rhythmic waves of the ocean, or walk a path in a beautiful park? These quiet moments allow us to soak up the natural calming energy of our Mother Earth. Spending time in nature each day helps to center and relax us. It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of life, but let's not forget that it's just as easy to step outside and be awed by a full moon!

Let's remember that our soul loves the quiet reflective calm of a starry night, or watching a leaf floating in a stream. Let's also remember that the morning greets us with a glorious sunrise and birds singing the day awake and the night gives us magnificent sunsets and a moon that watches over us. Sometimes, it just about remembering to be more a part of nature and appreciate it's gifts.

I love walking and listening to the birds chirping in the trees, watching the butterflies tasting each flower and quietly saying 'Thank You' for it all! I also love the picture above which my grandson, Brady, took on one of our 'adventures' into the natural world. It reminds me of precious moments with him and soaking up the delights that nature brings us.

So, here's a challenge . . . . .
Spend some time in nature each day. Breathe in the fresh air. Get lost in watching the clouds move slowly across the sky. Say good morning to the sun and good night to the moon. Make a wish upon the first star in the night sky. Watch a frog or a cricket, a bee or a butterfly. Listen to the birds sing their favorite songs. And then, just see how it makes you feel to be more connected to the nature of the universe.