I thought I’d share a few photos of wildlife on the Funny Farm I’ve seen throughout the week. This week has been stressful, finishing testing and analyzing data, along with the other general parts of wrapping up a school year. It’s nice to come home and walk the dogs and breathe fresh air and forget about the demands and deadlines, if only for a few minutes.
Carolina Wren on the front porch, gathering nesting materials
Carolina Wren, singing, singing, singing
Funny Farm Bunny – there is a colony of them that lives down at the end of the driveway.
Funny Farm Finch
Deer (picture taken through a screen)
Hawk in a tree (just left of center) – funniest thing: I said a quick prayer, “Lord, I would love to see a hawk today.” I always feel my mother’s presence when I see one. I did what I always do: I pulled into the driveway, turned off the air, put the windows down so I could drive slowly, hearing the gritty crunch of gravel under my tires, and began inching up the driveway. I first saw a tufted titmouse, then a robin. As I approached the top of the hill, I caught a glimpse of a large upward wingspan swooping up off to the left. I grabbed my camera, and for one moment the hawk took it all in and the next swooped off back into the deeper woods. I caught one photo, here, and one of just his tail as he flew away. What a beautiful moment – a prayer for a hawk sighting, a hawk, and the feeling of the presence of my mother. No prayer is ever too big – or ever too small!
Throughout February, I worked on a plan to involve others in my blogging experiences this month. Today, my sister-in-law, Dr. Bethany Johnson, is my guest blogger on the benefits of Ecotherapy.
Dr. Bethany Johnson is a professor of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. She is a writing contributor for several online magazines, including Prime Women and Honey Good. Last summer , when working with @beginningisnow with actress Brooke Shields, she was selected as one of the 40 Most Influential Women Over 40. Currently, she is in the beginning stages of writing a book about losing unnecessary social expectations and rediscovering oneself. Please welcome Bethany today!
Mother Nature’s Healing Ability – The Benefits of Ecotherapy
Have you ever been feeling down, stressed, or just overall not feeling good and then gone outside for a bit only to begin to feel better? It isn’t a coincidence that being outside made you feel better. The answer to many of our physical, emotional, and mental lows can be found right beyond your door.
Ecotherapy is known as the practice of therapy that focuses on being outdoors and in nature. It is also known as nature therapy or green therapy. The term ecotherapy arose in 1992 when Professor Theodor Roszark used it in his book The Voice of the Earth. Many doctors (mostly functional physicians) are now using the connection with nature as part of protocol for getting healthier. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of being in nature. Many may say there is not enough research to validate this theory, however, there are enough examples of it working to make a reasonable connection.
A Dose of Nature a Day: Helps lower blood pressure Helps control diabetes Lowers stress and anxiety Rises energy levels, fights fatigue, and increases the quality of sleep Reduces depression Reduces the levels of ADD and ADHD Increases mental focus
Since I began studying the practice of ecotherapy, my experiences outside are so different. Each trip outside brings something different – even when I am in the same place. I now am very purposeful in slowing down and connecting with what is around me. Today, for example, on my walk I saw the bright white dogwood trees, I felt the sun warm my skin, especially my toes (which must have been cold from being inside and I hadn’t noticed until my walk), and off in the distance I heard a woodpecker. While walking, I first smelled something burning … wood. However, the wind shifted and then I smelled fresh cut grass. This is one of my favorite smells in the world and immediately took me back to my childhood living on the farm in Illinois! My walk tomorrow will be a whole new experience, and I can’t wait!
Gaining the benefits from ecotherapy is not difficult. You simply need to make time to get outside! The important aspect of ecotherapy is simply being outdoors and connecting to the natural elements. No matter what you are doing outside, be conscious of the fresh air you are breathing in, the wind or breeze blowing across your skin, the sounds that surround you (this is better if it is sounds of nature and not of human life). Make certain to acknowledge the colors that surround you. Look at the greens of the trees and grass, the vibrant colors of the flowers, the different textures such as the roughness of tree bark but the smoothness of a flower petal. Make certain to engage all four senses: touch, taste, smell and hearing. So, get up and get out!! Enjoy nature and heal your tired body, mind, and soul. Love to all of you!