Nature’s Power


If you recently read my Pinnacle, Forest Bathing, or Rejuvenate posts, you may have noticed that a) I’ve started posting on the weekends and b) I’m designating those days as haiku “nature days”. I’m a big fan of nature, and a firm believer in its healing power as an antidote to stress And, traditionally Japanese haikus focus on nature themes.

Mother Nature has many magic potions up her sleeve. In this case, the haiku message is her power to help us develop the art of mindfulness – that is, immersing fully in the moment. When we walk in a nature area and pay mindful attention to all the beautiful details, our mind monkeys (worries about the future, regrets about the past) tend to fall away, at least for a little while. We start to understand the true power of now.

I like the points made by the Mind and Life Institute in this article: An Exploration of Nature, Mindfulness and Well-Being

A little exercise for you: Next time you go out for a nature break, observe yourself. I have gone for entire walks so wound up in my thoughts, I really do not see much at all. There is a big difference between “looking” and “seeing”. When you make a conscious effort to really see what’s on your path, mindfulness comes into play.

Inspirational Quotes:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~ Lauren DeStefano

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” ~ John Donne

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~ John Lubbock

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Pinnacle | My head in the clouds, the wind whispers its wisdom. My soul sings its bliss. |

Mighty Chimborazo! If you have never heard of it, Chimborazo is a dormant volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador, and the highest peak near the equator. At 20,548 ft., its summit is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. The indigenous in Ecuador have dubbed Chimborazo “Taita”, meaning father.

Chimborazo takes my breath away

Last year I was fortunate to visit Chimborazo National Park. A guide drove our little group about three-quarters of the way up the mountain to a rest station, at about 16,000 ft. We got out of the van to walk around, and we all experienced dizziness and shortness of breath with very little exertion. I was quite frankly in awe. That is, of the power and majesty of this mountain, and also the fact that a friend had climbed from base to summit some years ago. What an accomplishment! Our guide told us that this is one of the most dangerous mountains in the world, and other climbers have perished attempting to conquer it.

The feeling of freedom

As I stood at our rest point and gazed upward to the summit, my spirit soared. I have experienced this at other spectacular nature spots in my travels. I was lost in the magnitude and grandeur of the space. In that moment, I was simply a human being connected to the Earth, unencumbered by what I am required to be in our civilization.

It was just the sky, the mountain, and me.

And I was free.

Inspirational Quotes:

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.” ~ Anne Frank

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”  ~ John Muir

“What is a Wanderess? Bound by no boundaries, contained by no countries, tamed by no time, she is the force of nature’s course.” ~ Roman Payne

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Pinnacle © Susan L Hart


Artists | Artists keep us sane, bestowing grace and beauty upon a mad world. |

In this modern technological world, some might say that art is pretty useless. After all [they might ask], in a society that prays to the almighty dollar, what true value does it really have?

My reply to them is, “Plenty”. Why did the fire that destroyed part of Notre Dame trigger an outpouring of worldwide sorrow? It was not just about religion or sacredness. Artists and their work touch our souls, in ways that many may not readily see or accept. They raise our lives up above the mundane.

Art speaks to our souls

Some artists paint simple pretty pictures; others create at the level of grand vision and spectacular works of art that the whole world embraces. And, is one any more important than the other? If the little painting rendered by a child touches your heart, it is magnificent in its way as any famous masterpiece that may do the same.

Artists and art are about heart and soul. So I would argue, in this modern but ofttimes cold technological world, we need them now more than ever.

Inspirational Quotes:

“The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and is a test to the quality of a nation’s civilization.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art or love or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.” ~ Albert Camus

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” ~ Woody Allen

“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.” ~ James Baldwin

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.” ~ Dorothea Tanning

“The purpose of art is to provide what life does not.” ~ Tom Robbins

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Artists © Susan L Hart



Today there are the three powerful little ideas wrapped up in my haiku: Time, thought, and your worth.

Time: Do you fully embrace each day? We know we are mortal (and our ego fears it), but, we still tend to live life as though we have an endless supply of days. You have the choice, right now, to make the most of today. Wring every beautiful moment out of it that you can. Because when it’s over, today is not coming around again. Don’t miss out on anything that you could enjoy, embrace, love, or learn right now. Fully immerse yourself in your life. A movie that drives this idea home brilliantly is About Time. If you haven’t seen it, try to.

Thought: Is your mind consumed with your to-do list the second you wake up? Do your thoughts dwell too often on problems, your personal ones and those of the world? Is there any time today reserved for contemplation, introspection, gratitude for the good things you already have in your life? (Gratitude expands abundance.) And perhaps most importantly, mindful intention to create your ideal life? If not, I strongly urge you to make space for those.

Your worth: Do you even believe that you deserve to have good things come your way? You do. If you don’t believe it, long term you have some internal work to do. But in the meantime, I’ll bet you have at least one champion in your life – you know, a person who believes in you, when you can’t or won’t believe in yourself – that loves you enough to talk you through this. Connect with that person, somehow or some way, even if it’s for just a quick “Hi”. Today, surround yourself with your champions. (And don’t forget to express gratitude and take an interest in their lives too. A balanced life involves mutual exchange.)

Today is all we’ve really got. Please, hear the call, pick up the ball, and run as fast as you can towards your happiness.


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Today © Susan L Hart

Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing | Myriad thoughts and worries fret my scrambled brain. Gentle trees soothe it. |

Did you know? The Japanese are avid tree lovers and forest bathers. You heard it right! Bathing in trees. Spending time around them and soaking up all their great energy.

Trees are powerful medicine

Major studies and experiments have been conducted in Japan to measure the positive effects of trees on humans. The results astound in terms of physical and emotional health. The benefits include improved immune system, lower pulse rate and blood pressure, and reduced incidence of depression. Have I piqued your interest? To find out more, go to this Quartz blog post: The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health.
After you read it, you may just become the next tree bathing convert!

Forest bathing moves West

And lest you think this is just some ‘flash in the pan’ fad, I’m here to tell you, no it is not. In 1982, forest bathing integrated into the national health program in Japan and the studies quoted on health benefits go back as far as 2004. Tree bathing is lately being embraced in our Western culture as an antidote to stress.

A brief excerpt from the Quartz article:

“Julia Plevin, a product designer and urban forest bather, founded San Francisco’s 200-member Forest Bathing Club Meetup in 2014. They gather monthly to escape technology. “It’s an immersive experience,” Plevin explained to Quartz. “So much of our lives are spent interacting with 2D screens. This is such a bummer because there’s a whole 3D world out there! Forest bathing is a break from your phone and computer…from all that noise of social media and email.”

As far as I know, no one has figured out how to bottle this yet. And I hope they never do! I urge you to scout around soon for some trees, and let them work their magic. They’re waiting for you…

Inspirational Quotes:

“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.”
~Kahlil Gibran

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
~ John Muir

“If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful. But because there are so many, you just can’t see how beautiful it really is.”
~ Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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Forest Bathing © Susan L Hart


Compassion | Everyone you meet is a chance to love better. Open your heart wide. |

The world is in major flux right now. There are many third world populations struggling to meet the necessary requirements of life – food, shelter, clothing. Venezuela is just one example in the news right now. There has always been economic disparity in the world, but it is growing.

And in first world countries, there are individuals battling with their inner demons, products of a culture where there is immense pressure to acquire, succeed, measure up. Too often this means “materially”. Society is building more walls to manage it, literally and figuratively. Our technologies, although they seemingly connect us, can also promote feelings of isolation in people.

Compassion is an act of love

It is very sad for anyone to be in a situation that feels hopeless. And yet, these are the trials of the soul that cause us to grow. We dig deeper to find a way out of the darkness, stretching towards the light. And while we are doing that, it helps if someone reaches out a hand to show us the way.

Now more than ever, it behooves us to express compassion to others. I believe that in the long run, the human race will not survive without it. We each need to find ways to heal the things that separate us from other human beings, and build on the connections that unite us. Compassion is an essential tool to move this world to a better place.

A good article by Leigh Tremaine on compassion: 9 Powerful Benefits of Compassion

Inspirational Quotes:

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ~ Plato

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Teresa

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Compassion © Susan L Hart