Monday, January 21, 2013

What Inspires You?

On a day like today, Inauguration Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day, I started thinking about inspiration.  Watching today's activities fills one with a sense of patriotism like no other activity can.  And the fact that it coincided with the MLK holiday observance was not forgotten by some observers.  We look for what we will remember in the Obama speech


We know what has been retained from King's  "I Have a Dream" speech.

I recently have become interested in history and discovered that King started the speech with a negative references to how segregation and prejudice were still prevalent in the country; however, he ended with the hope and inspiration part--and that is what we remember.  That is the inspiration.

But we need inspiration more often that once every four years (as is the case of inaugural years) or once in a lifetime ("I Have a Dream..").  Where does inspiration come from?  What speaks to you?

For me, nature has always been my more than that.  I have always needed nature to restore my spirit.  Researchers today call it Restorative Therapy.  I call it daily life!  You can read about the research in this paper:   Healthy Parks, Healthy People: The Health Benefits
of Contact with Nature in a Park Contex
and here is an excerpt from the introduction:
"Many researchers have come to the conclusion that humans are dependent on nature
not only for material needs (food, water, shelter, etc) but perhaps more importantly for psychological,
emotional, and spiritual needs "

For me, there is nothing like a run through the woods.  Sometimes I walk.  Whatever the pace, there is nothing like it.  A walk or run on a treadmill in the gym can not recreate the sights, sounds, and smells that permeate my soul.  I love the wind against my face (not the fan on the treadmill) which brings the fresh earthy smell to my nostrils.  I look for the images of the wingbeats on the trail ahead of me and in the next minute hear the bird calling from behind me.  We play this little "cat and mouse game" as I continue on the trail. Finally the bird reveals himself and I run on to find another flutter of wings.

At the end, I feel refreshed.  It isn't just the endorphins from the exercise or the fresh air in my lungs that brings more oxygen to my brain.  It is much more. Communing with nature truly does restore my soul.

So, on a day like today that inspires a nation, I recall that I can be inspired every day--just by walking out the door!

Friday, January 18, 2013

On the Hunt for Owl Pellets

I had spent the entire day in front of the computer--something I hate!  The sun was shining and temperature warm for a January day in Illinois; nature was calling me.  So I headed out with my dog for a walk in the woods.

The purpose of this walk, I told myself, was to look for owl pellets.  I know we have a nesting pair of Barred Owls and a pair of Great Horned Owls.

And I have found a Great Horned Owl pellet in the past. I just stumbled across it while walking through the woods.  I knew to look for the whitewash on the tree or leaves under the tree.
So on this day, when I finally came across some whitewash, I began to get excited.  And looking up from the whitewash, the tree looked perfect for a roosting owl.  In fact, I have hear our Barred Owl calling from this direction.  My anticipation was growing.

But, no luck.  So I continued on.  Pretty soon, I found myself lost in thought.  My day in front of the computer left me brain dead, but now, all of a sudden the ideas came flowing one after another.  I was planning my next teacher workshop in my head.  And I couldn't wait to get back to write them down.  (Note to self: take notebook on the next walk.)

Maybe it was the fresh air in my lungs that inspired the fresh ideas I was imagining.  Whatever it was, my short walk in the woods did not fill my original purpose of finding owl pellets, but it did so much more.  I am ready to begin work anew with fresh ideas and inspiration.