The movement of the dock beneath me, the sounds coming from the ducks and their bodies as they moved through the water. The laughter from the boys as they would cast their line. The sky as it changed from blue, to orange, to pink, to a beautiful deep dark blue. I noticed how the insects that were becoming more active were not bothering me. The most startling connection was as I sat, I could see the spiders coming out from under the layers of the walls of the dock. Beginning to repair their webs. I felt a connection watching their intentional work, as if it was choreographed. It was startling to me that I did not feel threatened or feel a need to move quickly from my observation spot.
This past week we took the boys fishing when my husband got home from work. We have always enjoyed being outdoors, but my “inner nature” project work has made it an intentional part of every day. One activity that had we omitted it, would make me feel as if we missed something that day.
I have been a little quiet on the blog, as I dove into new learning opportunities for myself and the boys. I am studying the practice of using nature connections as a part of a parenting and teaching tool box. It has created some wonderful experiences for all of us.
There is so much written today about disconnected family life, and the long-term negative effects on children. What has not been widely shared, is easily accessible activities that busy families can fit into their week. Our downsizing experiment has brought me a level of awareness about what is essential to our happy life, and our ability to opt out of a frantic life, and slowing down is a necessity.
Every day is not perfect, but every day has great moments of joy and lately more contentment for me. As parents today, we are all striving for the same thing. A happy, healthy child that feels loved. That can feel complicated in a life of longer school days, working, and a yearning for more time together.
I had a conversation with a husband and wife, successful business owners, and wonderful parents to their beautiful kids. The part that struck me was on two separated, isolated conversations they both mentioned, wishing they had more time with their kids. More connection time, beyond dinner, homework, and bedtime.
The husband was raised by a father who fished, camped, and hunted with his sons, and he now realized he had done none of those things with his own child. He wanted to, but honestly had no idea where and how to fit it into their life.
We all struggle with balance and lifestyle choices, and solutions are unique to each family. The parents giving up their dreams and livelihood would not help their children, but perhaps some easily accessible nature connected activities would serve both the father and the son. It might even create a momentum of more nature connections within the family.
We talked about the Texas State Parks program, Family Camp Out. It is a perfect way for a busy family to experience the great outdoors without changing their natural family rhythm. We talked about weeknight fishing trips, and where to do that in the area. Trading traditional dinner time, for a picnic and a fishing adventure. This father’s differences in raising his family does not have to be right or wrong, but the key is to find ways to nurture everyone in their household.
As you get to know your own families inner nature, take some time this week to connect with Mother Nature. Here is a simple, easy way to get started.
Go for a walk and be intentional about your goal of connecting. As you walk by or into a natural area, pause and listen. If you have children on the walk with you, ask them what they hear. If it is a safe place, sit and listen. Now close your eyes, and silently thank the natural area for its beauty. It is like knocking on a door before entering someone else’s house. It helps you switch from your daily busy world of thoughts and to-do lists, to a more mindful state of just being.
If your children are with you, know that they already sense how to do this. Children are always willing to say hello to animals in nature, encourage them to do what comes naturally. You can extend that by saying thank you to the breeze, or the warmth of the sun. You don’t have to say this out loud, if you are concerned with people thinking you have lost it! Nature does not use verbal language, so it’s not like it could respond verbally anyhow.
Now look. What do you see? As my children and I were on a walk the other day, we noticed all of the different grasshoppers and insects living in the grasses. Which reminds me of all of the levels of life. Things are always happening, whether we see them or not.
We even found some cucumbers growing along the fence of a construction site. A former garden or farm not willing to give up just yet, or maybe seeds dropped by a bird. These are moments that you can understand nature’s resilience in the face of adversity and it becomes a metaphor for life. “Where there is a will there is a way.”
It becomes a way to interpret the world without “talking about it”, which is a gift to all of us.
Just taking a moment to pause, listen, and feel your surroundings will welcome in the most natural of stress relievers. This activity can be done with a potted plant, but outside time is best to be able to transform your awareness into nature.
Will you take the time to seek a connection to the environment that surrounds you this week? Although going to the wilderness is always a wonderful way to connect to ourselves and nature, why not try something just outside your front door?