Spring is here! Who else feels like they are coming out of hibernation? Taking the first tentative steps back into a world of light and activity. Not only is the weather warming and the daylight growing, but we are getting closer to resuming some of our normal lives that have been so disrupted over the past year.
These late winter days have been, for me, a time of rest and quiet. At times I’ve felt guilty for not doing more, but quieting the worries and listening to the wisdom of nature, I recognize that rest is an essential part of the rhythm of life. We all need time to recover physically and mentally, to let go of what’s reached its end, and to allow new seeds to germinate in our hearts and minds. Having just observed the spring equinox, this is exactly where we are supposed to be at right now, so don't neglect to hold space for rest and self care when you need it.
Today I am feeling hopeful and looking forward to the coming season. This fresh start energy has me thinking up all kinds of projects and plans. This is the perfect time to utilize my Vision Journal to flesh out those ideas and to plan how and when to execute them. I am thinking about projects for my garden and home, plans for vacations and summer activities, and for personal and family goals. What plans are you dreaming up?
Much of my focus lately has been on planning Forest Therapy Walks for the upcoming months. Recently, I completed a Forest Therapy Guide Certification with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) and I am excited to be offering Forest Therapy Walks in partnership with Hikehoppers and SheAscends. The experience of completing this training has been absolutely wonderful, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow in the company of my fellow guides and trainers. I have had some amazing first walks with some awesome folks during my practicum the past few months, and I can't wait to continue sharing with others the deep peace and connectedness that nature therapy practices have to offer.
Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “Forest Bathing”. Now before you pack your swimsuit, the idea of “bathing” here is more in the spirit of a sensory immersion in the forest atmosphere, which helps us to reconnect with nature and regulate our biological systems. And though it might sound like an ancient tradition, and Japan certainly has a cultural history steeped in the idea of harmony and connectedness with the natural world, the formal practice of Shinrin-Yoku is actually a fairly recent development. It was established by the Japanese government in the 1980’s as a method to combat the chronic illness and stress brought on by the shift to a technology based economy and modern indoor lifestyle. Shinrin-Yoku continues to be widely practiced in Japan and is making its way across the globe. Much research has been done on the beneficial effects of natural environments on human health. One of the most interesting results is that the organic compounds, called phytoncides, which are emitted by plants to help protect them from disease and fungus, are also beneficial to humans. When we breathe in these compounds, our bodies produce a type of immune cell called Natural Killer Cells, or NK cells, which combat cancer and virally infected cells. Research shows many additional benefits of forest bathing such as lowered blood pressure, lowered stress hormones, and decreased depression and anxiety. Of course, we already have an innate sense of the healing power of nature, not only physiologically, but spiritually as well. Even if we are wrapped up in our busy modern lives, a part of us remembers that we are deeply interconnected with the more than human world. We just need to trust and nurture that relationship now and again.
So how do you “do” Shinrin-Yoku? In the most basic sense, forest bathing is simply spending time in a natural space being present and open to the world around you. Allow yourself to wander freely, without the pressures of time or responsibilities. It can take some time to settle into this state, so be patient and let go of expectations.
If you attend a guided forest therapy walk, your guide will lead you through a sequence of invitations to facilitate the awareness and embodiment that opens the doors to an immersive experience. A guided walk also typically provides the opportunity to share observations with the group, and to mark the conclusion of the walk with a closing circle and tea ceremony. Participants are welcome to engage in invitations and sharing circles in whatever way, and to whatever degree they are comfortable with.
There is no right or wrong way to experience forest bathing, and it is accessible to almost anyone, anywhere. This practice can be done with any bit of nature you are able to connect with, whether you are in a park, your backyard, or even indoors with your houseplants or a pet.
Try some of these invitations the next time you are outdoors, or try “catching” an invitation of your own. If you are interested in attending a guided forest bathing walk, stay tuned for upcoming events, or search for a forest therapy guide near you! In the meantime I hope you are all finding some time for rest and recovery and recreation in the natural world! Hope to see you on the trails.
Please Connect With Me True Nature
She Ascends Stearns County Chapter
When I was first introduced to vision journaling I was so excited! I’ve always been in love with planners and quotes and vision boards. The thought of putting them all together sounded AMAZING! That was until I had a blank journal in my hands! I’m not artistic at all, and the thought of needing to fill in a blank book with designs and colors and even doodles was overwhelming! I looked to pinterest for ideas and found printable templates! After sifting through examples, I decided on a few layouts that I loved. I prefer to organize my plans weekly versus daily or monthly. I already really liked my monthly overview in my current planner and settled on the idea of keeping my planner and just adding pages and layouts to it to make it into a vision journal!
My vision journal is set up with the first page being my vision page, followed by my weekly overview-that way each time I open my schedule, I’m seeing my vision board along with my list of priorities. After my weekly overview comes my tracking template pages and my journaling pages.
The main tracking page that I loved was a mood mandala. It’s so fun to track moods! As a woman, I cycle and it’s really beneficial to keep track! I can look from month to month and have a pretty good idea of which weeks I’m going to feel more energetic versus which weeks I will feel more introverted. This is especially great when making plans!
I’ve always carried around a journal. I don’t usually write in it like a diary, but rather keep it on hand for thoughts, ideas and goals. Writing is so therapeutic! I think a lot of people are turned off at the idea of journaling because they think it has to be like a diary, when really journaling can be anything! Simple lists, ideas, goals, whatever-it’s completely your own!
I’ve found myself productively doodling. Having my vision board front and center has been a constant reminder of my priorities and goals. I’ve been consistently tracking habits that I’ve been working on-this is huge! I’ve never had much success with consistency. I think that in keeping a journal, vision board, and planner in one has made a huge impact on my focus, organization and productivity! I love that it’s fluid-able to change whenever I want with no need to start over. I can adjust or add or take out things as I wish. I LOVE the fun pages for mood tracking and habits! I’ve always loved tracking things and have always kept random pages floating around. I’ve also always carried around a journal for writing thoughts and ideas. Now they’re all incorporated into one book!
Happy Heart Month! February is American Heart Month… when we take care of #OurHearts as part of our self-care, we set an example for those around us to do the same. So this month is a perfect place to start and create my 1st Morning Routine for myself. I realize the importance of having one, but usually only have excuses for not doing it. Probably because of how much time I thought it would take and my overly anxious mind is constantly worried about the amount of time I have. So for the month of February I created a tracker and came up with easy goals to achieve. This tracker is a large circle divided by the number of days in wedges, each wedge is broken down by my individual goal.
My goals for my Morning Routine will start with the following:
1. Drink a glass of water
2. Take my daily vitamin
3. Move my body for 30 minutes
4. Take 10 minutes and breathe (meditate)
5. Daily mantra
When I create my weekly spreads for my Bullet Journal, I usually do one week at a time but for February I have changed things up. I designated space for a February calendar, a monthly goal list, my Morning Routine tracker and already have each week ready to go! This way I can have more time to spread love to myself and those around me. AND I am really eager to see how I am going to do this for the month and make plans for my time. Journaling and staying on track by having my bullet journal with me and already planned out, should lead to a happier/healthier heart.
For me some of my BIG monthly “to-dos” that are going on my list are ways to love myself emotionally, physically and mentally…
1. Visit my dad for his b-day, I see my dad only a few times a year so planning for this to happen takes a lot of effort on my part. If I add it to my list and put it down in my journal it WILL happen!
2. Create 14 Valentine’s and hand deliver them to as many as possible and mail the rest. Again, if I know this is a goal and have it added to my bullet journal ahead of time, I WILL make time for it.
3. I have selected to re-read, Loving-Kindness The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. This book assists us with our longing to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others.
4. And to get my body moving more. I honestly LOVE to exercise but this last year I have had limitations with access to my gym… which have become excuses which have led to weight gain which in turn, makes me love myself less… so it is time to get moving again, even if it is just 30 minutes a day.
If you have not started the journey of journaling that is okay! Remember, you do not have to start at the beginning of the year, month or week… you can start whenever you want, do not let yourself tell you otherwise. My Bullet Journal is a way for me to talk to myself and a way for me to listen to what I have to say and sometimes you need to be quiet to hear what you need, to have a healthy heart.
- Amy B.
Why do our Resolutions fall in peril so early on in the process? Well, many of us choose harsh goals that create personal demands that give NO ROOM for mistakes. Ironically, this approach dooms us to an inevitable FAIL. Our Resolutions become self-fulfilling prophecies, confirming our personal believe that we cannot change what we seek to change; that we are not enough.
This year, She Ascends invites you to explore a mindset in creating a successful day-to-day plan that will lead you to the best YOU possible. This approach is a hybrid between Vision Boards, Bullet Journaling, and Morning Routines. It takes a researched self-care practice and organizes your personal vision in a personalized journal format, in order to help you become the best version of you.
Through personal moves that nurture you and guide you to success you can join the 20% of the world that achieves their goals and resolutions.
Well Hello 2021! Let’s Do This!
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Tomorrow is the next blank page in your personal journey. Write a good one. This is the time you have been given to be what you want in life. Let your Vision Journal help guide your inner light out to manifest the “you” that you were born to be! It is time to Ascend!
She Ascends Sisters,
Kathleen, Amy, Amanda and Mindi
Most People Fail to Achieve Their New Year's Resolution:
What Is a Bullet Journal? Everything You Need to Know Before You BuJo: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a25940356/what-is-a-bullet-journal/
Here's How Make a Vision Board:https://www.oprahmag.com/life/a29959841/how-to-make-a-vision-board/
I tried the 'The Miracle Morning' productivity routine for a month. Here's what happened:
Miracle Morning: written by Hal Elrod (2012c) https://www.dropbox.com/s/vdb5hkp9sbrzgaj/TMM%2030-Day%20Transformation%20Challenge%202020.pdf?dl=0
To get started:
Life is Messy and Brilliant:
I am an "unlikely hiker". You could even say that I am an "outsider to outsiders". I would gather that I am more like the average person reading this blog than the extreme hiker, planning their next pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in Tibet. I would not categorize myself as an outdoor adventurist and you would very rarely find me in a tent, unless my millennial child spiritually mind gamed me into "being one" with nature. I am not in the "typical" age range. I am a woman, and I even fall outside the racial category for hiking. But here I am, working on hiking challenges and diving into creating a business around hiking to hopefully help myself and other "unlikely hikers" find a path to reconnect to the nature in our souls.
Last year REI launched a campaign focused on connecting people to the outdoors. They challenged us all to #optoutside and encouraged nonprofit organizations, government agencies and companies of all sizes to help spread the message of the importance of connecting to our natural world. It is an important campaign - one that can benefit our communities by enhancing our physical, mental and spiritual health. It is a message that we would like to champion and spread at HIKEhoppers. We are excited to create events and programs for our community that strengthen the body, calm the mind, and feed the soul.
I am an "unlikely hiker" writing about my adventures as I search for balance, love, and happiness.