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Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature
Nature-Connecting Activities With Autistic Children
This field report page describes a funded Mother Earth sensory science in action. It samples an organic psychology tool that helps us improve health wellness and counseling by enabling our thinking and feeling to safely tap into the self-correcting ways of nature's grace, balance and restorative powers. Participants benefit from and strengthen their inborn love of nature as they master alternative therapist coaching and parenting, stress release management and holistic spiritual psychology.
Educating Counseling and Healing With Nature
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FIELD REPORT: an on line program participant, shares her results from a nature-connecting activities with an autistic child.
I hope all of you had a peaceful week and that the one to come is filled with nature's blessings. I wanted to say that in doing many of the PNC activities with my daughter, Kaede, who has autism (one example below) what I've noticed isn't just her renewed passion for nature and a deeper renewed bond with each other, but that her formerly very low self-esteem coming off of the last school year has significantly changed for the positive. She has really come into her own! Not only that, she has started to approach tasks as she did when she was quite small--with the assumption that she will be competent or even excel in them rather than the belief that she is "less than" and therefore will fail. I've also seen her increase in improved social skills, which is huge for a child with autism.
I'm an intern for the Barack Obama campaign and I've started taking my daughter with me to canvass in local rural towns. She is amazing! This isn't something we could have done even 6 months ago. Kaede couldn't have tolerated that much stimulation of her senses (one of the characteristics of autism is being hyper or hyposensitive--she is the former). She is much more oriented to her surroundings and she seems...grounded. Furthermore, in her renewed vigor related to nature, she's begun studying the various things she sees and (temporarily in most cases) collects. For example recently she caught a tree frog, later a praying mantis. In both cases we put it briefly into our small bug cage and studied it for several minutes, then later by her own choice she freely let them go so that they would live. But not before she had written out her observations (we talked about this as we viewed it). I know almost nothing about the names of things quite frankly--or rather the types. I can name "frog", but she then went to the library and then Wikipedia to research the type of frog. She wrote a whole little report on it---and we arranged for her to share this with her 3rd grade class (her first presentation!). Kaede did all of these things without my having to encourage her, I merely provided the opportunity to pursue her attraction to do them. She's spending more time looking up animals, insects and plants and writing down notes (again--remember she is 9 years old and has autism!!) It is this drive to understand both the 4 and 5 legged awareness and knowledge that is what I believe is responsible for her personal growth. It is not that she has changed, but that she is now merely able to excel in who she already IS. She is trusting her natural attractions and I'm encouraging her by saying this is wonderful and providing her with as many opportunities as possible to do so. Just imagine the implications for ALL children if given this opportunity!
We can learn so much from this as adults--it's not too late for us!
Here’s an example of one of the course activities we did together:
My daughter, Kaede and I have done a similar types of activities involving touch and shape recognition, but it was things like drawing letters on her back with my finger or guessing the shapes of wooden shapes in a bag. It never even occurred to me to do this activity with items that come directly from nature as directed in the Reconnecting with Nature book. In this activity we used two different sets of items: sticks and acorns and taking turns selecting one of them with our eyes closed. I went first and was absolutely certain I had the right stick. I was wrong. Kaede mixed them up again after I closed my eyes—and I was wrong again. I was feeling kind of frustrated, it was harder than I thought! Finally on the third try I picked the right one. It was my daughter’s turn. I was a little worried how she’d react if she didn’t find the right stick so I reassured her that it was okay, be patient, take your time. She picked correctly the first, second and third times! She never missed! My theory is that as a child AND has autism she is much more highly attuned to her senses (it is one of the characteristics of autism—sensory issues.) The acorn activity was harder, I got…Zero correct out of three, where she got one out of three. She was a little disappointed and not wanting to end on a bad note I let her have a “do over.” After feeling the acorns over and over she knew “her” acorn EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Kaede was DELIGHTED that she’d done so well, much better than her old mom! She often struggles with low self-esteem, but I’ve seen a huge improvement in that area (among others) as she’s been doing these activities with me since Orientation. I very much enjoyed interacting with my daughter through this activity. Not only did I think it strengthened OUR webstrings between us, but I also enjoyed a sense of shared equal play. I was not superior, we were equals, well, except obviously she is better at being attuned to her senses than I am. Although it has been strained in recent years in public education, her webstrings have never been severed. She is closer to the earth, she hasn’t ventured away from it and it’s easy for her to go back to reside in that trusted place. Besides how much I enjoyed this activity myself, it was an even more fulfilling feeling to watch my daughter and witness her childlike wonder and intuition. I saw her face aglow as she seemed to trust and value her own success.
I discovered that sharing an activity where you close your eyes creates a closeness that strengthens the webstrings between human beings and when it comes to sensory awareness and intuition, being an adult is not an advantage over the inborn genius of a child. Thinking harder and concentrating didn’t help as much as simply allowing intuition to guide.
Once again, I chose to do this activity with my daughter, (reminder: I have three children, it’s just that’s she’s more interested and ASKS me “Can we do a nature activity, Mama? When can we do a nature activity?!” She is very enthusiastic ;-)
I wrapped one of my daughter's hands with a towel so she couldn’t feel through it and wrapped one of my own to match and we went outside. First I demonstrated and asked her to hold her bare hand up in the air, “What do you feel?” I asked her. She said, “Ahhhh, I feel the air!” I held up the other wrapped hand instead and said, “Now what do you feel?” She said, “Nothing!” And then looked sad for a moment then piped up, “But I still feel the air on my face! That’s good isn’t it?” I said, yes, that is very good. We went around the farm touching leaves, grass, flowers and compared notes on what we felt or didn’t feel with our bare hand vs. wrapped hand. She loved this, but she started to sort of cheat by watching me touch her wrapped hand with various items began starting to insist that she COULD feel SOMETHING on her wrapped hand (pressure). And she said, “Even if I can’t FEEL it, I can still SEE it, that’s using my senses isn’t it, Mama?”
We then moved to doing the activity with our eyes shut. I tickled her wrapped hand very very lightly with a light piece of plant, which she didn’t respond to because she didn’t notice and then I tickled her bare hand and she giggled. She opened her eyes and said, “Now do the OTHER hand!” And I explained, “I already did!” She did the same experiment on me. Truthfully, she wasn’t very light and I could tell when she was touching my wrapped hand, but I really could not feel the plant itself. She said, “Now with a feather!” and found a duck feather lying on the grass and we tried that. Same result. I asked her what she thought we learned and she said, “If you are covered up you can’t feel nature!” When we went inside we were refreshed and laughing. I asked her, “How do you feel now?” She said, “Good! I always feel good when we go outside together and do nature activities!” I felt peaceful, more relaxed. She went off to work on a nature collage and I took a much needed nap.
I learned that even with our hands wrapped up we could “sense” what we felt through our eyes. They took over the role of sensing for our hands which could not, but it wasn’t as useful because when we took away sight we couldn’t feel anything.
I had the lesson reinforced for me that when doing these activities with another person it becomes more joyful and you gain more from the other person’s experience in addition to your own. With minimal leading, even a child can do this activity and understand what it means, if anything it is easier for them to simply trust what they instinctively know because they haven’t been taught NOT to. Their webstrings are strong!
- Kristi Sakai, Kaede’s Mama
Rather than doing this activity at home on our farm where things feel familiar and comfortable to me (therefore easy to feel unity even before doing the exercise), I chose to do it in an unfamiliar setting—a public park. This also added to the discomfort of potential embarrassment walking around saying “unity.”
I walked into the park and felt some anxiety knowing that I was about to do something I felt very private, but in a public setting. I glanced around and noticed people walking through the park and some kids on the playground nearby. I first just wandered to feel where I was attracted and it led me to the edge of park where the river passes. Ducks and geese were quacking and eyeing me to see if I brought bread (I hadn’t). I fell back from the setting feeling bad that I didn’t have anything for them. I let myself sit with that for awhile and held back as an observer. Then I began to wander around close to the area breathing deeply as I said quietly “unity, unity, unity.” I felt the worries about being conspicuous or embarrassed fall away as a peace overtook me. It was like whispering a prayer. I came up to the ducks and geese again and they ran up to me again like, “You got something for us?!” Instead of feeling anxious, I merely laughed and knelt down reaching out to the overeager birds as they excitedly nipped at my fingers. “Unity!” I told them. They didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t have bread, they seemed just as happy to nibble me! “Unity! Unity! Unity!” I giggled as I wiggled my fingers at them and managed to pet them in the process. The geese are huge by the way, and very aggressive, so I was careful to keep the “unity” of my fingers rather than letting them take one off! I felt so relaxed and giddy with joy like a child filled with wonder. It was longer than ten minutes. As I reluctantly walked away and headed toward the exit of the park I continued to breath and say “unity”, more relaxed and with a feeling of gratitude. I felt completely connected to the setting. I had a feeling of warmth emanating from me not just toward the trees, the plants, the grass, the geese and ducks, but it now radiated out toward the strangers in the park. I carried a contemplative but kind smile and people would glance up at me as I passed and I’d see them spontaneously curl up the corners of their mouth into smiles too.
The three things I learned from this activity:
1. I do not have to be in a familiar or private setting to feel the connection to nature or to feel comfortable doing the activities.
2. The activity helped me bridge the gap between my feelings generated by and toward nature and the lack of connection with strangers in the park. I was able to convey the calm and joy I felt and share those good feelings with others spontaneously without language.
3. I learned that I don’t have to give something tangible (to the ducks and geese) in order for them to enjoy my company and vice-versa. Previously guilt for not having anything to give them would have caused me to withdraw and not enjoy the good feelings we shared. Through this activity I overcame this notion.
With respect to people, I initially thought I’d write about my children or my husband, then I thought, perhaps one of my many dear friends. Having had a positive experience in an unfamiliar natural setting I decided instead to do this activity about someone I care about but am not quite as close to, but who I respect and feel a connection to: my counselor, who I’ve been seeing about…6 months I believe.
I had an extremely close relationship of many years with another counselor, and we cared (and still do) very deeply for each other. For various reasons I cannot see that person anymore, but with the challenges of my life it is apparent I need ongoing professional support and an outside “ear” to bounce things off of. Although I made an effort, interviewing several people, even going to two other well-known therapists for a couple of months each, both of whom on paper were a great match and in person were smart, kind and gave good advice, but something was amiss. I made an effort but didn’t feel a sense of ease with them. They didn’t seem to notice I was struggling with this and I didn’t tell them. Time didn’t fix it. Meanwhile, under the recommendation of a friend I took my daughter to see my counselor and instantly felt an inexplicable connection and asked if it was okay for me to see her too. She responded positively and an almost instant alliance was formed. There were so many things I didn’t have to explain to her, she just “got”. Like some of my dearest friends, there’s an ease in being together. I can’t entirely explain it, it just IS. She says things that stick with me and they resonate because she speaks from a place of knowing herself and therefore she is confident that I can trust myself to know what I know as well. She’s kind, she’s strong and she makes me laugh. She tells me, I have the perfect person with me all the time who knows exactly what I need: me. Seeing her is like reinforcing the inner knowledge that I have always had and carry within me at all times, but she reminds me it’s there and encourages me to nurture it. Under these circumstances I don’t know her well, I’m cautious not to intrude upon her private life, and yet the connection we share is real, I can feel her genuine fondness for my daughter and I both and trust was easily forged. I feel the sense of unity whenever we are together and that feeling remains even when we have parted. Is she “abnormal” or as I’d rather call it, “unique” in her qualities? No, she is not, there are many people I feel connected to and there are many good people out there in the world. Yet there is that inexplicable connection we easily traverse in some relationships and I enjoy that with her. It further reinforces my trust in myself and the rest of the world. She is the essence of what is good in all of us.
I am reminded of how much I’ve learned through the process of building this relationship and how much I already KNEW. I trust that I can have many different kinds of positive connections with others, whether they are family, friends, professionals our family works with or even strangers I will never meet. It reminds me of our interconnectedness. I learned that the characteristics I admire in my counselor are the ones that I either perceive in myself or hope that I, myself, embody now or will in the future. If I had this feeling taken away I would be a hollow shell of a person. I have been hurt in relationships, even therapeutic ones, but I continue to risk having my heart wounded because to trust reaps a greater reward. I would rather feel the hurt so I can also have the potential to feel the good. I am glad I can connect with my counselor and others.
Although I usually do this kind of activity with trees, as I feel a close protective kinship with them, however, this time I was attracted to the fading grape vines that are thickly wrapped around the railing of our deck. Perhaps it was how in some spots they are bright green and in others they are fading to yellow, however they still carry thick clusters of purple and green grapes that sag heavily from their narrow vines.
It was a sunny day, but the wind was autumnal and chill. The thick bushy grape vines created a windbreak making so that I could bask in the warmth of the sun as I partook in this activity. I came very close and held my breath, resisted breathing for as long as I was able. I felt a desperation to breathe because although my mind knew it was my choice, nevertheless my body told me “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! I had my hands and arms intertwined in the vines and I leaned my face deep into the wealth of thick leaves and breathed deeply the life-saving oxygen. When I would stop holding my breath I felt such a relief. I intended to continue withholding my breath repeatedly for several minutes as directed in the activity, but as I began to do it a second time I felt a strong overwhelming anxiety, of something amiss. I stopped and considered what my body was telling me, and I felt that withholding my breath was not a good choice for me at that time. My body was telling me very strongly that I needed to do MORE breathing, not less. I was momentarily torn between “following instructions” and “following my attractions.” I considered this from the perspective of the coursework and decided that it was right and good to listen to my attraction, to listen to what my body was telling me. If I am thirsty, I should drink. If I am “thirsty for oxygen” I need to BREATHE.
This is particularly crucial for me as I have a freeze stress response that includes unconsciously holding my breath. When something bad happens (our family has had many autism crises) my first response is to freeze and hold my breath, but I used to not even consciously be aware of it. I often had chest pain or even upper back pain, but as I became mindfully aware of my breathing I realized that if I checked in with my body and listened to what it was truly needing (to breath) and heed it, then I would be able to unfreeze and be calm irregardless of the crisis. I considered this some more. Breathing is one of our senses I would naturally listen to without having to force myself to think of it. I breath enough to keep me alive, but the stresses I’ve been exposed to in an unbalance world have overridden my natural connection to this need. I am strengthening my webstrings to the earth by listening to the senses that tell me what I need. So, I sat down low beneath the grape vines, pressing my face deep into the leaves breathing and breathing, filling my heart with gratitude for nature reinforcing for me what I was born knowing. I allowed Nature to reorient myself to trusting it to take care of me. I, in turn, gave my breath to the grapevines, giving it with not only open lungs but an open heart.
I thought “respiration=re-spirit” and allowed it to truly do it’s work and “re-spirit” me.
The way that this activity enhanced my self-worth was that I intuitively followed what my body naturally told me I needed. I knew I could trust it. Therefore I can trust myself even more fully to know what I need. I am guided by the inner Nature which gives me the gift of knowing without even knowing why or how I know. It just IS. What I took away most from this exercise was a sense of gratitude. I am filled with gratitude for the earth and my sense of belonging.
My attraction is not to wait a night before writing, but to write when the experience is fresh in my body at this moment. I say “in” because it’s how I feel. As per usual these days it’s raining and although I have had a recent positive raining day activity, I wasn’t really feeling like going out in it tonight. I went to the sliding glass door and considered my options. Much to my delight, I felt instantly drawn outward and attracted to nature and my doubts faded away. Still, I didn’t feel the need to get wet, so I stood beneath the eaves and allowed my senses to light up with the sights and sounds. The bright yellow of the faded grapeleaves caught my attention and I soaked them in through my eyes “connection” I said. I felt a little silly though, which made me think this wasn’t my attraction. Okay, let’s try this again. I focused on the sound of the rain falling and said “connection.” I began to feel a little more soothed. Finally, I closed my eyes to see what I would sense and immediately for the first time became aware of the fresh cool air on my face. I breathed it in, deeper and deeper, widening my lungs to welcome it into my body, then breathing out in a relaxed deep sigh. I thought the word connection, but I let it free flow and paid most attention the air on my body, in my body, around me. I began to feel energized and alive, but also a deep satisfying connection and oneness with all around me. It was a short visit outdoors and I was surprised how much of an impact it made on me. My skin and lungs continue to have the same tingling sort of feeling, like little electric currents running all around and through me. It feels sooooooo good. Air, air is my strongest attraction tonight, something I never would have consciously chosen.
I discovered that I increased my awareness that even a simple and short connection with nature can renew me. I increased my awareness of heightened senses during my connections with nature and my ability to choose what is right for me through natural attractions. I experienced many good sensations (as listed above in description) but most powerful were the lingering effect was the tingling in my lungs and the feeling of being fully alert and alive.
The activity had a positive effect on my sense of self-worth because it strengthened my ability to sense and follow my attractions. Therefore, I know that I can trust myself.
I was eager to see if I had the same natural attraction and therefore positive soothing experience I did above, but trusted that I would know what was right for me.
I easily knew what I most feel “disturbed” about--I have a deep well of sadness as I continue to miss a dear friend. I let this feeling wash over me as I stood under the night sky. I closed my eyes at first and allowed the sounds and sensation of Nature wash over me. I let myself sink down deep into that feeling as I breathed very deeply. I felt the wind caressing my face and heard it gently blowing, I heard the branches on the tree shaking its leaves and felt the slight spatter of the drops they held. As I opened my eyes I took in everything around me and the word that sprang up from inside me was “gratitude.” I looked up to the tree that shelters us in summer and drops its lovely leaves in winter but not before giving us a visual feast in gold. I said “gratitude” and truly felt my love, dependence and interconnectedness with it. I looked at the grapeleaves and vines intertwined all around the rail of our deck and felt deep gratitude for the clusters of grapes it provided to us in late summer and to the birds. As I stepped closer toward them almost startled at recalling that sometimes a skunk likes to hide under there, other times a possum. Hmm, how do I feel gratitude toward them? Ah yes, I laughed, they bring us such pleasure in watching them, and in return we often leave little things for them to nibble. I think they aren’t too picky, but perhaps they come here to watch us! I felt gratitude for the joy they bring us in co-habitating on the farm together. I looked up at the very dark cloud covered night sky and felt gratitude for the heavy clouds which give us rain. I closed my eyes again and allowed myself to fully connect on a tactile sensory level once again. I felt the misty wet air as it caressed and slightly prickled my face and I breathed it deeply into my lungs. I quietly listened and from the east I heard a rushing sound and then felt a whoosh of air. As I opened my eyelids I said joyfully, “Gratitude.” At that very moment the sky opened up and soft gentle raindrops began to fall. A nurturing gift from nature. I came back inside feeling so full of peace. I went to tuck my children to bed shortly afterward and this peace continued to permeate me and it radiated out toward them, a heart full of gratitude. I felt myself softer than usual, more patient, gentler. As I tucked them in one by one I noticed the feel of their hair on my hand, the softness of their cheeks as I kissed them good-night and lingered to squeeze their hands as I watched their eyes sleepily droop. I was nearly overwhelmed with gratitude for my children. My renewed moments of intent awareness of my children were nurtured and fed by my re-connection with nature.
Irregardless of repeating the same or similar activity, even in the same location, it can create different awareness. When I am nurtured by nature I am better able to care for myself and others. I was reminded of the power of gratitude.
A spirit of gratitude removed obstacles between connections to nature. The feelings of delight, humor, joy can create positive connections with nature that blend. They can be pure sensation without need for words. The essence of nature can be absorbed and released from nature to human, from human to another human. It is a sensation/spirit/connection that is beyond words, it is simply knowing.
My feelings of self-worth increase with my ability to take the gift of connection from nature and share it unspoken through spirit and loving touch with my children. Knowing that within me is unbroken chain of blessings from nature makes me want to do good things, which makes me feel good and increases my value as a human being.
I’m attracted to the story of the elephant. I’ve heard the story before and yet when I read it in the book it brought out an inexplicable sadness and I became distraught. It became representative as I recognized my own chains that I at first resisted and then complied to. Once the chains, then the string were removed, I had already bought into the belief that I must obey. It kept me from seeking and exploring beyond my chains for far too long. It tied me to a certain mindset. One broader example is how our culture puts a value on certain things and devalues others. The status quo says that we must work 9-5, we must only pursue activities that make us money, we should live in a house with four walls, have a car, associate with “responsible” people, which is, of course, defined by the above criteria. But if we look at life based on its possibilities rather than it’s limitations it frees us up to explore what things we are attracted to. We can choose rather than blind acceptance. We may, in fact, ultimately make the same or very similar choices assigned to us, but how much more fulfilling it is to know it is what we really want and not something we’ve inherited by default. Then again, we might decide that we want to be self-employed, live in a yurt and ride a bicycle! And maybe I will decide that women can be smart, educated and go off on adventures (oh yeah, I decided that already :-)
We seek the things that are familiar because it is comfortable not to extend ourselves beyond the confines we’ve been conditioned to accept. I’ve noticed since beginning this coursework that even knowing the benefits I’ve reaped from Nature, I get into a mindset on autopilot that makes it hard to go outdoors. I have to make the conscious choice and overcome the urge to stay indoors. And yet once outdoors, it is disappointing to have to go back inside because it feels so good and right. The more time I spend outdoors, the more I miss it when I leave it. It becomes a soothing comforting place of acceptance I hate to leave. This matches with the statement that we spend 99.9% of our lives indoors. We are hungry for nature and we don’t even realize it until we come into contact with it.
“It is difficult to get people to understand something when their salary depends upon them not understanding.”
This is particularly true in relation to Nature, which we have culturally viewed as a disposable resource ours to carelessly use (and waste). If we view it instead as an ecosystem, of which we are a part of and that we are intrinsically tied to, we are more likely to treat it lovingly. A perfect example of this mindset is the most recent cultural mantra coined by Sarah Palin, “Drill baby drill!” Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful and we look at it as “our” nature reserve of oil. Not long ago we saw our gasoline sky rocket and even those who did not previously say we should drill on the intercontinental shelf are now demanding it. People are struggling and the first consideration to go is how our actions will impact the earth. Everyone we know is struggling financially in one way or another in the current economic climate and it’s hard to think beyond our immediate needs. If we take the time to really consider the impact of our actions and do not have a quick solution, we may become overwhelmed, frozen and truly unable to make decisions. So, instead, we force ourselves to look away, to let other people handle it and accept what they tell us—because what we really want to hear is that we don’t have to make any changes.
The first time I was doing the coursework for Orientation as I began to spend more and more time outdoors and along with it came waves of overwhelming grief. Nature’s sights, sounds, smells during that particular season were setting off a firestorm in my brain of subconscious memory. I hadn’t correlated my automatic withdrawal every year to my life during this time, and barely acknowledged it. But as I continued to spent time outside by necessity of nature activities, I was confronted head-on with these things. Many thoughts and feelings rose to the surface again and again, I acknowledged them and was able to be released from their negative power over my life. I also became increasingly more aware of the positive forces in Nature that had nurtured and comforted me as a child and as an adult. I felt as though I was being welcomed by not only an old friend, but by a part of myself I had been failing to recognize. As I write I’m staring at a brilliant orange leaves outside my window which are waving in the wind against the dusky gray sky and it occurs to me that the most powerful subconscious relationship is with myself. I was able to increasingly discard what was put onto me through others labels or actions, and to embrace that within myself which was my birthright as part of Nature. It mattered less whether what I was doing made sense to others, what mattered was what made sense to me. It is an ongoing process of reconnecting to Nature in order to reconnect to myself.
“Environmental” can have a negative connotation because it is so frequently linked with “disaster” or “toxins”. “Environmentalist” may conjure up images we’ve seen on television where long-haired “environmental wackos” (as they are often referred to in this rural community) chain themselves to trees. In Fall Creek, an area south of here several years ago a group of environmentalists or “tree huggers” (also given a negative connotation—which I now embrace) actually lived IN some old growth trees to protect them from being cut down. While some of us may find that intriguing, even admirable to have that level of dedication, most deemed it an unworthy pursuit, a waste of time. These are the negative images associated with words associated with “environment”, warped by cultural prejudices. And yet, there’s a shift in our national consciousness. Going green is becoming more accepted in the mainstream. Most people would resist the label “environmentalist”, but they may still look for organic produce in their supermarkets and buy more environmentally friendly cleaning products. I’ve heard said, “Green is the new black.” It’s in style. In many cases it’s more about marketing than real intrinsic motivation (but hope it’s permanently contagious—once they go green, they won’t go back). But if you think about the positive connotation of “green” vs. the negative connotation that the media has created around “environmental”, I think it makes it more attractive to people.
We are so culturally entrenched in a vicious cycle of immediate gratification and desire for more. I believe it is because what we are eating, seeing, surrounding ourselves with is so unsatisfying that we can never be “full”, thus we are continually looking for MORE MORE MORE. An unusual side-effect of this coursework for me is that once I began to directly experience and take note of how it feels to connect with nature, the desire for less satisfying material possessions began to fall away. It wasn’t a sudden epiphany, it was more like being thirsty, drinking and then being satisfied. You don’t continue to drink when you are no longer thirsty, you automatically know you’re done and you quit. I was no longer thirsty. A major shift occurred in a relatively short time with little or no effort on my part. I realized I am perfectly satisfied with whatever I already have and do not desire more. Not only that, I began to look around and realize I wanted less of what I already have. I began to bring nature more into my life instead by giving it my time in observation and research, through displays and craft projects (which my children participate in) and through just allowing myself to BE with it. I attribute this solely to the reward that nature gives when we open ourselves to it. It feels good because it is what we are missing.
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