Friday, 30 November 2012

Day 2 - Gratitude Challenge

So how did yesterday go? Did you spend 10 minutes reflecting all that you are thankful for? I don't know about you, but it felt great to think positive and give thanks.

Here is Day 2- Gratitude Challenge (click). I look forward to your emails, posts and comments.

Have great day and see you tonight.

 Today my mind was focused on the question for today. What are you thankful for in regard to the season change of Autumn to Winter. A true test for today as the wind was very cold. I put on my  long johns and head out to my sit spot. As I walked across the field, I watched over 100 Canadian Geese take off and form thier groups of half hazard V's. And I noticed that they are getting better at their formations. Before they were just a clumb, now you can see the formation. So I am thankful for the insticts of the Canadian Goose, to practice everyday with its family and fly South for the Winter. I wonder when they will go. 

As I settled in to my spot, I noticed not a lot of movement in the forest. It was windy and it was cold. But the little birds that were most active were the Juncos and the Black Capped Chickadees. I enjoyed watching the white flash as the Juncos flew from ground to branch and back down. The Black Capped Chickadee that visited me today. So I am grateful for the changes of the birds that occur in this changing of season. And I am thankful for the settling down and thinking of warmth and gatherings of friends and families this time of year. And I am thankful for that hot cup of coffee that was waiting for me when I got home.

Coming in 2013, we have Young Explorers program for 3-5 year olds, After School Program for 5-9 year olds, and  Chicks in the Sticks, a girls outdoor club for 9-14 year olds.  For more information, visit

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Gratitude Challenge Starts

I am taking a field naturalist course called Kamana. It teaches nature awareness and increases your library of local flora and fauna. A great course that encompasses the whole mind body and soul into nature connection.

One of the great teachings in this course is to give thanks. Thanks from the heavens to the soil beneath your feet. Kamana offered a Gratitude Challenge at the beginning of the month and sad to say, I didn't do all of it. So I have challenged myself to do it on my own and wanted to invite anyone else who would like to join in. Everyday I will share my gratitude with you and if you so feel inclined you can share yours too in the comment boxes, or even email it to me if you like. Or you can share your own blog about your gratitude. Whichever way you would like to participate. You can even be a silent gratitdude challenger.

So here is the first Gratitude Challenge Day 1. At the end of the day I will enter my thoughts. Enjoy.

The first day of Gratitude and it was great to get outside and just reflect on this question today.  To check in and reflect on all the great things going on in my life. It didn't take long, I have so much to be grateful for. First thing I thought of was all the amazing opportunities that are presenting themselves to me for my business and for personal growth. Opportunities to write articles and guest blogs and to be asked my advice on hikes and how to start one. Another is the friends and family I have in my life. In the last year I have met some amazing people who have become dear to me and I really treasure their friendship. And my family whom I know I can always count on. I am also very grateful for my sitspot, it teaches me so much about nature, and gives me an opportunity to reflect and do some inner tracking on things that bother me, why and what to do. When to let something go and when I should stand up and fight. And about the trees, the plants and bird language, all taught while going or at my sit spot. And lastly, I am grateful for the courage to take a chance and do what I love the most, working with children and teaching them about nature. I found once I started listing off the things to be thankful for, my list is long. For that I am most grateful, that I have so much to be grateful for. And with that, I will hold on to for the days when I may not feel so thankful and remember this day. 

Coming in 2013, we have Young Explorers program for 3-5 year olds, After School Program for 5-9 year olds, and  Chicks in the Sticks, a girls outdoor club for 9-14 year olds.  For more information, visit

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Nature IS Important to our Children

Children and nature, it is two words that go together. Yet, when we look at our communities today, we are seeing little of the two interacting together. But I believe that is changing, as people are learning and understanding the importance of nature for our children.

You may think that it is all just play and the children are not learning anything by just playing, but on the contrary, that is exactly what they are doing. And when you allow children to play out in nature, the learning is intensified.

A child playing in nature gives them a sense of place, an attachment to the place in which they grow up and play in. As they grow older, they take ownership of the place and want to protect it.

The build a sense of self, through playing, balancing on logs, navigating through a bush etc. They recognize their independence as they learn new skills out in nature.  It also restores their well-being, reduces stress and benefits them physically and mentally. Through activities and play, nature offers possibilities to control and master, to manipulate loose parts in nature and learn different ways of moving and risk taking.  The outdoors stimulates creativity, imagination and symbolic play.

In our schools we hear of many children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and anxiety. When you offer opportunities for these children to spend time out in nature, the disorders dissipate and you see a child focused, relaxed and interacting with others.

We want our children to succeed, we see it in how we make sure they are ahead academically, the sports we put them into and the activities we expose them to. .  Nature teaches them all of that, teaches them to get back up when they fall, to renegotiate the obstacles on the path (or off it), to learn the changes in the seasons, what animals do to adapt, the power in nature, the beauty and the ancient laws. Awareness of surroundings is amplified and how things are inter related are experienced first hand. 

In the end a resilient child is raised into an unknown future. Nature offers an environment that allows questioning and observing. Uncertainty is built through the questioning process and this is where our children build confidence in themselves and decisions they make. To learn through play and manipulation and find answers to those questions. It is through play and testing that creativity is encouraged to come up with ideas, concepts and innovation.  A child is now armed with innovation, creativity, and calmness, confidence, active, social, and empathetic member of our community. Everything needed to be “successful”.

Coming in 2013, we have Young Explorers program for 3-5 year olds, After School Program for 5-9 year olds, and  Chicks in the Sticks, a girls outdoor club for 9-14 year olds.  For more information, visit

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Be Still

It had been awhile since I had the chance to go to my sit spot. My spot out in nature where I reflect use my senses and explore nature. Today, I decided, after my amazing weekend with Jon Young, I needed to anchor myself and just be with nature. 

As I walk towards my spot, the cornfields have been harvested and look at all the remaining cobs on the ground that the animals had eaten. I was looking for tracks, but they were mostly washed away from the morning rain. 

I decided to turn off my brain, I usually bring my phone with me, but this time I made sure it stayed home. I didn't want any distractions. I followed that inner voice as to where I should sit, and I was drawn to the other side of the 200 paces circle I usually sit at. I passed the big walnut tree and then past the tall towering spruce tree to a pair of smaller spruce trees with a fallen tree beside it with raspberry canes growing over it and some bushes. I will have to find out what kind of bush it is. 

As I walk closer I startle a flock of morning doves. There were about 20 of them that shot up into the trees from the ground and near by trees. My presence is announced and so I settle in with my back on the spruce tree and I sit and wait for the forest to calm back to its original peace. 

I watch the morning doves, working to move my body in a comfortable position so I can stay still and stay warm at the same time. I should have brought full mitts, so I squeeze my fingers between my legs to keep warm. I start my sense meditation and in the crisp cool air, I hear the little coos of the doves as they flutter from branch to branch and hear a "chew-teepee" call of a bird beside me that I can't find. Using just my eyes to search where the call is coming from, I can't quite find it. Then blue jays fill the air with a "jay, jay" call. I am feeling there is so much action going on I can't decide whom to watch: the doves, the jays, find out who is making that noise? So I calm again, and unfocused my eyes so that I can see all around me, in my peripheral and listen with my ears to the sounds around me and just take it all in. To stop thinking of what I am seeing and just absorb. 

In the corner of my eye I see movement up a tree and follow that movement to a gray squirrel following a black one. It is like they are playing follow the leader with the gray one always following. Then another black one cuts in-between them and now it is three of them following the leader. This new squirrel jumps to another tree with the second black one about to follow when you can see he rethinks that jump. Second black squirrel takes a different route and follows. The gray squirrel patiently waits for them to come back down. 

All the while, I am noticing the morning doves are a little edgy. Some of them on the outskirts of the forest fly further in to the forest. I wait to see why, but nothing is revealed. I lose track of the squirrels and just settle in and turn my head to look into the bushes. I hear a dove moving to the North of me and turn my head. There, 5 feet from me, my eyes meet with a beautiful morning dove. We look at each other, and then she is off. It was too close for her comfort. 

Then, I hear a little russelling and notice one of the black squirrels had made its way over to where I was sitting and it was looking for nuts/seeds. I remain as still as possible. Not moving even though my nose started to itch. (Doesn’t that always happen)? It comes closer and closer to me until it is about 5 feet away from me when it stops dead in its tracks. Eyes big looking at me. I am out of place. It knew that I was not supposed to be there and it jumps back. But it is very curious and comes back towards me again. All I was thinking was, this is very cool if it will come right up to me and think of me as part of the tree. And then thought, hope it doesn't bite me. LOL

So it starts to flick its tail and make a small quiet chip sound as it inspects me. I remain still, not moving anything but my eyes. Does it notice my eyes? It slowly makes its way to the spruce tree beside me and gets to a higher advantage point where it started to make grunting and kissing noises at me. I can no longer see it in my peripheral so I switch to using my ears. I am picturing it sitting on the trunk of the tree looking at me, flicking it tails making those noises. In the corner of my other eye, I see another squirrel that has come to it's friend's aid to keep an eye on me and is 20 feet in another tree looking at me and flicking its tail. This goes on for 15 minutes. The black squirrel, I have now named George for his curiosity, had climbed up the spruce tree I am leaning against and is above my head. I see the hanging branch above me move and I think... oh my... it is going to climb on my head. But it doesn't. 

Instead the forest bursts in action as almost 50 morning doves all take flight at once and fly to the other side of the forest. The burst of energy makes me want to fly, but I remain motionless to see what caused it. The squirrel gets bored of me and heads off on his regular routine and that is when I see the cause of the alarm.... a large bird flies in front of me, about 20 feet onto a lower branch. It is about the size of a crow, maybe a bit bigger. I don't have my glasses on so can't make out details. So you are the one who sent off the alarm with the morning doves... so what are you? What kind of raptor are you? You have a white breast with black speckles... can't really make out a band, but that really doesn't mean anything. Your hooked beak and majestic stance on the branch as you look away doesn't really give too much away. Then it looks to the East and takes off and I see a bright red tail! Whoooo, my friend has returned! Buteo is back! 

The forest returns to a quiet calm and I decide it is time I head back home. Thankful for all I had experienced today and the gift of all the encounters. 

Until next time, I hope to connect with George again and see Buteo again.