Category Archives: Ecology

Reconnecting my soul

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We are often out hiking or taking nature walks so I didn’t even realize it was missing. The part of my soul that nature just seems to click back in place from all the crazy of life. The problem had not been we were not out hiking or walking, the problem had become it was all too familiar. I needed somewhere new to explore. Once I started thinking about it , I knew that was it. I knew I needed to go some where new to explore and I needed to get dirty. Where oh where could I find that in Florida? The swamp. Oh that sounds perfect. We made plans with a friend to combined families and go to Corkscrew swamp. The day we were to go I decided to look up Corkscrew and see what to expect. What I didn’t expect to find was a twelve dollar per person fee. It would cost us thirty dollars to go hiking? Pass. We will save that for a special occasion hike. So the night before we were suppose to go I was scrambling to look up a place to go. I looked at a bunch of different parks but nothing was striking me. I was actually really looking forward to swamp stuff. A boardwalk through the swamp was just what I needed, or so I thought.

I found Green swamp in Lakeland. It is spread across five county parks. I narrowed it down to Colt Creek Preserve.

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Yes, my daughter chose to wear white to the swamp. I let her because , Bleach. We found great spots to explore. Places where wild boar had dug up, plants and flowers to inspect, and birds so many birds to listen to. It was even a bit wet.

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It was pretty near perfect. Within thirty minutes of the hike starting I felt my soul reconnect, that click that being out in nature does for me. Grounding whatever you call it , I felt it.

We even walked through trail that was past our ankles deep in water. We even scared a turtle out of hiding tromping through that trail. It was not what I had thought. It was a bit more water than I had thought to go through, but it was perfect in so many ways.

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We even came across some wild blackberries growing and some were ripe enough for the girls to eat. We left plenty for the animals though.

We found all kinds of places to explore. I had plenty of water with me and I had taken Ultracur that morning and had enough with me to get me through the rest of the day as well as a nutritious and balanced picnic lunch packed. Plenty of carb replacement and protein along with veggies and fruit. We did not set a certain pace and took breaks as frequently as we needed to.

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The kids did great. We came to a pavilion not too long after this part of the trail. The girls were so busy playing in the field when they were not complaining of being hungry. My friend and I decided to leave the girls there with my husband and go get the van, where we left our lunches. They walked a bit over three miles , not too bad for four girls under ten years old.

When I wanted a swamp hike, I did not envision stomping through water that went almost to my knees.

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In case you think I was kidding, that really was the water line. I didn’t stop while we were stomping through it because I was in anxiety overdrive. If I had been alone or even just with my husband I would have probably turned back. I probably would not have pushed through. I have a lot of anxiety about that much water and not being able to see the bottom. There are snakes and snapping turtles and alligators just so many things my brain could come up with. I was glad I had been practicing deep breathing because it really helped. Whatever was left out of alignment clicked in place after making it through that. The exhilaration of overcoming it really was something I needed, had you told me that ahead of time I would have told you you were crazy.

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I definitely felt the walk the next two days but it was exactly what I needed. It was much easier to give myself permission to rest and recover. I had squelched any fears of not being an involved enough mother. I had stomped on any feelings of uselessness. Truthfully I think my daughter was just as tired as I was afterwards. I definitely felt connected to the Earth and the fact that Earth Day was just a few days away made it seem even better.

When nurturing is hard to do #1000Speak

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There is so much going on in the world that is bad, sad, disheartening and dare I say evil. When you have a kid you just want to protect them from all that bad stuff. I want to stick my daughter in a bubble and not let any of those bad things touch her. I don’t want her to know there are people who are cruel to animals. I don’t want her to see the devastation of deforestation. I don’t want her to see children starving. I don’t want her to see polluted waters and animals dying from it. I don’t want her to see what happens in oil spills. I don’t want her to know anything about terrorist or suicide bombers. I don’t want her to see or hear or be part of any kind of hate or discrimination.

Ultimately parents should do what is best for the child and I know as harsh as it seems, hiding her from those things will not help her.

Why in the world would I want to expose her to any of this? Well, if she doesn’t know about it , I can’t nurture any feelings of compassion for those children, animals, plants, whatever. If I bite the bullet and have the courage to talk to her about these kinds of things, I can help her see more than just one point of view. I can nurture a point of view that comes from compassion and love.  I can help her separate the behavior from the person. I can help her see how much even just voicing her dissent is important. I can help her see that even if it seems no one hears her dissent what matters is she voiced it. I can help her appreciate what she does have and how valuable just knowing where her next meal is coming from is. I can try and make sure the information she receives isn’t biased or warped. I can help foster her natural compassion for nature by open and honest conversations. Perhaps we can even learn together ways to do better , make an impact or just have a better understanding.

When I was in third grade I had to go to summer school. I had to go to summer school basically every summer but that is besides the point. This summer was memorable. Mr. Kelso was this amazing teacher I had that took a week to talk about Earth Day. In the middle of the summer! For years I assumed Earth Day was in the middle of the summer. When it came to my attention it was in April, I was like um what? No it’s not. Did they change it? He had made such an impact that it never occurred to me that it wasn’t actually Earth Day that week. When I think of that summer I think of Mr. Kelso and planting seeds and exploring the ocean tide pools and a bright hot pink Earth Day t-shirt we got. I can truly trace back my wonder in nature and the amazing world we live in to him. He nurtured a compassion for the Earth we live on just by using free materials because they were “old”. Did he think it was no big deal? Just something to fill the time that was also free? I don’t think so. He had an excitement about the whole week that just couldn’t be faked. Even if he did what a great example of how the smallest cheapest things can make such an impact.

This is what inspires my desire to make sure my daughter’s summers are rich in education and fun at the same time.  I started by trying to spread out what I remembered in that one week in the summer of third grade and spread it over the entire summer. We go to science museums and events that are geared toward specific issues. We go to things that to her just seem fun, Puppet shows and gardening events and such. Those puppet shows are about the rainforest and why its important to save it. They are pretty spectacular in and of themselves as it is not just a regular puppet stage type set up. The whole front half of the room is the stage.  We go to Gardening events that have focuses on growing your own food, on the importance of trees and many more. We go on nature hikes with biologist to learn about different insects, last year it was dragonflies. We went to demonstrations on controlled burns and demonstrations on the hazards of water pollution.   This summer we plan to go to a village that is run entirely eco-friendly. Don’t tell Rick Scott but they talk about climate change there.

Maybe all those summer’s ago, Mr. Kelso figured out what I have learned. It is not going to be me that changes the world for the better. It is the seeds I am planting. One of those seeds happens to be my daughter. The seeds I am nurturing in her are hopefully going to be planted in turn and continue in a ripple affect.Ultimately they are seeds of compassion in its many forms.

Link up or read other post that are part of 1000 Voices of Compassion Speak here:

Stop saying Florida has no seasons,instead open your eyes.

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Stop saying Florida has no seasons,instead open your eyes.

I get it, Florida is hot almost all year. I used to say the same thing. Florida has no seasons only hot and hotter. Then I really started looking, and taking walks.  Florida is so much more subtler than the northern states as we don’t get snow. Well , okay maybe once every twenty years we get snow but really. We do have trees that change leaves. We don’t have the grandeur and splendor of all our trees changing and turning our vistas into red and yellow and orange explosions. We do however have trees that change color and they are often interspersed with the green. It takes paying attention to see the seasons in Florida. The sunlight does change. The way it hits the trees. The colors when it sets. It is all constantly changing just a smidge and before you know it there is a new season.

December Sunset

December Sunset

April Sunset

April Sunset

February Sunset

February Sunset

March Sunset

March Sunset

The flowers are constantly changing as well. We have a variety of flowers blooming at different times. It is just something you have to make time to pay attention to.

March flowers

March flowers

February Flowers

February Flowers

If you are paying attention to your surroundings you will also see the sunlight changing. The things it lights up, the way it lights up things , it is always changing.

Sunlight in March

Sunlight in March

Sunlight in January

Sunlight in January

Sunlight in october

Sunlight in october

Sunlight in November

Sunlight in November

In order to see these changes you need to be outside, you need to be looking for them. It is hot, I know. It takes a bit of mindfulness. I will confess I am much better at noticing these things in the cooler months of November and December. I am really good however at also noticing them from the comfort of my car blasted with A/C.  Take a few extra seconds when you check to see if the way is clear to check out the plant life. At stop lights instead of being impatient for the light to change, look around. I really started noticing the changing of the seasons when I started taking pictures. All these pictures are just quick snaps on my phone camera.

Hammock view in January

Hammock view in January

Hammock view in April

Hammock view in April

We have trees that loose their leaves. It is just not all of our trees all at once.

We don’t always have beautiful blue skies but that doesn’t mean we can’t see the beauty of the seasons.

January

January Storms

March

March Storms

November

November Storms

As a coastal area we get fog instead of snow.  Even that can look different in different seasons, but apparently I only have one picture of that. Something to pay attention to and take more pictures of!

December Fog

December Fog

All the Meme’s, #1000speak, April announcement

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When I get on the internet sometimes it is like this:

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Sometimes it even gets to this:

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I have enough pages and friends that I follow that I even get this :

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However this is often what happens

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Which is why I am so glad to be part of the initiative of 1000 Voices of Compassion. There is one day of positivity and good happy reading. We have had two great months of posts. I have to has gone a long way to helping me have faith in humanity on a regular basis. The best part is there is so much to read that I can go back when the news is a little overwhelming.  While March was a hard brain bending topic of Bullying and showing compassion, we had some just simply amazing pieces linked up.

April’s theme has been announced.

Nurturing. Which we brain stormed , so the link will take you to some prompts to get your brain going. Or to interest you into coming back to read and share the posts.

While that might not sound exactly like it is a hard concept, remember the overall theme is compassion and being positive.

While I know all these fantastic writers and followers of 1000 voices are great. I am pretty sure it is not like this

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Our goal is to help spread happiness and kindness , love and compassion around.

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We hope that we can share some of it with others and in turn they will share it with more others and soon others will spread it as well. Maybe we could even bring back unicorns!!! Okay well probably not but, I would love it to see if more people spit out rainbows instead of hate and anger.