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    Earth Day: Outside-In





    I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. 

    - John Muir, Preservationist (1838-1914)

     

    For indeed, when we walk into the forest, we open our hearts to nature, the rhythm of the earth. No longer outside observers of landscape - sheltered behind our screens, houses, cars, windows - but immersed IN it. Walking delicately on spongy earth, breathing heady aromas of pine needles, leaves, rich humus; we realize we are from the earth, of the earth. We all ARE the earth, the sky, the universe - all of us.

     

    Happy Earth Day, my friends.

     

     

    Posted: Apr 22 2013, 12:26 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Life Without Status Updates





    I saw this the other day on (ahem) Facebook, and it got me thinking:

     

    {Calvin & Hobbes are awesome}


    We were blessed to have a lot of time to be together as a family this summer, away from hectic schedules and routines and crowds. We were also blessed - though it may have been one of those proverbial blessings in disguise - to be in places where fast internet (or internet, at all) isn't a priority. Having a difficult time using your phone makes you use it less. Using it less makes you look up more, look around, reach out, find ways to fill the moments you'd been so used to filling with checking emails, status updates, photos, games, news, videos, posts. Sometimes you fill the moments with simply being. Listening. Observing. Living. Loving. Noticing things that have gone unnoticed at digital life speed. Looking up at the stars.

     

    {heaven is here} 


    Seeing nature and parts of our earth I'd never seen before - without the constant companion of palm-sized information diarrhea - was inspiring. Releasing. And humbling. Because… HOW? How have I gone so many years without knowing what the stars really look like - as they do on the Kansas plains. They look there, nothing like my lightpollutedbackyardpostagestamp view of the New Jersey sky. Watching my children explore the earth, dig in the sand, splash in the water, move rocks, climb trees, find wildlife – without the interruption of status updates – was simply wondrous.  It is wonderous, as well, to do these things yourself. Experiences in real life, real time.

     

    {hiking through the foothills}


    To be honest, it wasn’t easy at first. Being away from technology… initially, it's like a tugging, pulling, calling to me that doesn't subside. HOW can I be without INFORMATION? Without conversation - the typewritten kind, anyway? Without UPDATES? Weather? Pictures? News? Videos? DISTRACTIONS? But the pulling gets weaker. After a few days, I forgot to carry my phone with me a couple of times. The information and news that seemed so necessary last week, became more unnecessary, with each passing day. The immediate loses its charm. I started to forget. I began to relearn patience and observation, being present, and how to embrace boredom.

    {being present}


    I rediscovered the pleasure of reading a book: it doesn't update, doesn't change, refresh, or move forward. It stays right where I left it on the precise page I dog-eared yesterday when my children needed me. It was still there, unchanged, when I had time or desire to come back to it. Uncluttered with ads. Devoid of noise. Black text on white page. Tangible. Unmoving. There's something grounding in that. Grounding like the silence of the sunrise. Or the thinness of the air at twelve-thousand feet.

     

    {Maine at 5:58am}


     

    {Colorado at 12,310 feet}


    Being away from the stream of constant interruption gave me opportunity to really THINK about the interruption we experience every day in our digitized lives. We’re always being physically interrupted – a status check here, an email there, a text message here, a photo there. And, as such, we’re in a state of continual mental intrusion that these updates often cause – often without our full consent.  Think about this:  When is the last time you were able to log into to your favorite social media website, read something, post a reply, and walk away without giving it another thought; undeterred by how your comment might be taken – by people you may not really even know. It happens even if you don’t stop to participate in the conversation – the comments of others swirl around in your mind or you analyze the content of the story or you mull over the ensuing conversation. All about people you aren’t actually interacting with, over things that often don’t directly impact your life, all the while, an intrusion on your state of mind, your peacefulness, your presence with the people you ARE actually interacting with, and the nature within which you actually LIVE. This happens, I’ve found, without even being aware that it’s happening. You just start feeling a little off, a little down, a little distracted – not sure why. Your responses to your spouse or children or friends might be a bit short, irritated, less patient. How CAN you be patient with the weight of the internet world on your shoulders along with all your physical time demands. Then you realize… oh. It’s that blog/message board conversation/video I read/participated in/watched that has me concerned. And maybe then you can let it go. For a while. Be more present. At least until the next log in.

     

    {relaxing, without mental distraction}


    I didn’t fully recognize this happened to me, too until… the internet, and the distraction that comes with it, wasn’t there anymore. And I was left with a lot of… empty space and time in my mind. When you have space to think, without mindlessness to fill it in, you actually… start to think. And to FEEL. And to realize - perhaps most importantly - that the people I really most wanted to communicate with were right there - within touching distance of me. The things I wanted to experience were right beneath my feet. Neither of which required a computer or a phone at all.

    {siblings} 


    And yes, I recognize the irony of my writing this - at my computer. With the intention of posting it on the internet. And then using social media to disseminate it.But that, of course, is because I recognize the benefits of the digital age in which we live. I understand and appreciate the value of the internet for a variety of purposes – Information: looking up the names of the constellations, the words to a poem, a vegan recipe, how to spell something correctly, the list of awesome, immediate access is endless. Support & Community: connecting with people who have similar areas of interest and experience - particularly important when your interests may lie outside of the norm. I can't enumerate how many times I've found great support for breastfeeding, babywearing, gentle parenting online… heck, it's one of the main reasons for my writing this blog: to share my experiences with other parents who may be looking for suggestions and support on how to parent from their heart, who may not have those resources and support in their physical lives. But while I understand all of the wonders of the internet, when weighed against the wonders of just BEING with your loved ones, I have to tip the scales in the direction of real touch and interaction: more time on the floor with my kids than in front of the computer; more nature exploration than website exploration.  This realization may make me deficient in social media, but a nature and family connection deficiency is far more grave and long-lasting.


    {studying a sunflower}


    So my challenge, and one I present to you, is to aim towards taking a few more moments out of each day to look at the stars, watch the sunrise, look in your kids' eyes, and leave your computer off and your phone behind. On purpose. Live life without status updates. It will be worthwhile, I promise.

    Posted: Sep 09 2012, 18:44 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    A Vision Through Rose-Colored Glasses





    'Til now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature. 

    ~Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1963

    It's easy to get into the mindset that things will only get worse with our earth. We're bombarded with bad news: population is growing an alarming rate, diseases are resistant to antibiotics, there's not enough food, too much waste, forests are being cut down, species are becoming extinct, water is polluted, the polar ice caps are melting. Surely, with more time, and more people, things only can get worse… The earth has a finite amount of resources; something has to give… It's in the news, the movies, social media: do something. Or else.

    I'm guilty of it myself, here on this blog, in my head, in my words. I look at my Goodreads bookshelf - some of my favorite literature is dystopian. I've felt before - why even try? The fate of our earth can't be good; not with the amount of damage we've done, the slow pace we've taken to action, the tremendous pace of population increase.  I remember before having children, truly contemplating NOT, because why would we want to bring children into an if-not-now-then-soon wasted earth? I know of childfree couples whose choice has been, at least in part, dictated by the gray murkiness of this seeming eventuality.

     

    But, what if we stopped looking at our future through grease-colored glasses? What if our vision of our future earth was not of destruction, disaster, disease, but rather of innovation, harmony, renewal? Isn't there reason to believe with time we can make of our world a place more like The Celestine Prophecy and less like The Road?

    If we can change our outlook from disaster to promise, we can encourage our children to see a future of possibility. I believe an earth respected, will return our consideration. I'm teaching my children a love of the earth, of all she provides us, and of what we can give her - care, compassion, kindness - both for the earth itself, and all her inhabitants: human, plant, animal. I trust what I believe, they'll carry on. And that their carrying on will reverberate, unmuted by the greyness of "doomsday".  I'd like to think that if our vision as a human race is one that can be crafted, shaped, and directed towards our oneness, our mutual need for earthly redemption, then we have hope for our future.

    What better can we leave to our children, if not an earth full of hope? 

    Posted: Apr 24 2012, 22:25 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Sunday Spark: Spring Break





    As our Spring Break comes to a close today, I'm looking back with fondness on a week that we didn't really go anywhere, butwe had a grand time all the same - relaxing, witnessing the many Spring flowers in bloom, planting and finding geocaches, and just enjoying tons of family time. Okay, yes, and enduring the stomach bug too (fortunately, that passed quickly). And with today's weather in the 80's, the kids put up a lemonade stand (They made $3.75!!). I hope your Spring break was as agreeable as ours (less the intestinal flu). Happy Spring! 

    Lemonade stand and chalk drawing in April!

     

    Clematis in our front garden, in nearly full bloom!

     

    Swinging...

     

    Iris in our front yard. So quickly they come & go...

     

    One of many geocaches we found this week!

     

    Ah, tulips - the sure sign of Spring!

     

    Serious egg-dying at Grandma's house.

     

    Eggs on the lawn after the fifth or six hide & seek game.

     

    Fetching a ball from the pond. 

     

    The stunning beauty of nature & why I love New Jersey - the pines.

    Posted: Apr 15 2012, 19:36 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Wordless Wednesday: Spring Awakening





    Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.
    ~Lewis Grizzard

    Yesterday was the first day of Spring - the equinox - the moment when the sun crosses directly over our earth's equator - a time when day and night are equal in length. It's a time of awakening, balance, renewal, promise.

    The turning of the seasons grounds me. Spring, after the cold and bare of Winter, is always so welcome, necessary, a gladly received reminder and assurance of time and life continuing. Even after this, the most mild of Winters I can remember in New Jersey, I still was grateful to see that first daffodil poking up through the soil several weeks ago. 

    My heart lightened. And, each day since then I have anxiously searched my garden for signs of new life, never to be disappointed - as Mother Nature delivers new wonders with each moment.

    The weather has been so bright, and the sun so warm this week, that we've all been outside as much as possible; taking in the new season, breathing Spring and all it's wonderous new life... awakening.

    Wake. Breathe. Start fresh, as each moment in your life is as new as the Spring buds on the trees. Happy Spring, readers! 

    Posted: Mar 20 2012, 20:28 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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