Up the “Awe” Factor for Kids

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Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. ~  Charles Cook

In a world where there is tremendous focus on material things, how do we increase children’s “awe” factor about the natural world?

milkweed

Skip the frequent trips to the mall, and head to the great outdoors for fun and activities instead. Insist upon it as the parent. Teach your child to take notice of the spectrum of colors in the flames of an autumn bonfire. Next spring sit quietly with your family and listen to the crickets tone. Do it again  as spring moves into summer and as that fades into fall. You will notice there is a difference in the tones of one of nature’s creatures.

Point out the milkweed pods in a field and the fluff that blows through the air when it dries and opens. Let your child experience the difference in taste between a just-picked tomato off the vine and a refrigerated one.

vintage harvest

Visit the local farm to see where hens lay eggs, or to observe newborn lambs in the spring.  

Take a group of children on a hike and bring along a wildflower guide or a bird book – see how many species you can identify.

hiking

Go on a scenic family bike ride or watch a fishing boat as it unloads the catch of the day.

biking

Play outside on a snowy day with your family. Watch each crystal formation land on your gloves and examine how two snowflakes are alike – just like people.

Substitute digital playmates with neighborhood friends. Host baseball games at your place or invite kids to join in for some jump rope fun.

softball

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You may be met with rolls of the eyes and bored “uh-huhs” as you point out the beauty in nature, but with time your child will grow to appreciate the outings. As kids mature they begin to “get it” and share the wonders of the world with others who appreciate and value the same kinds of things.

kids-beach

Your family will also benefit from times of special togetherness. With the holidays coming up it is a good time to start changing habits and initiating new traditions and living through the process of discovery.

There is an eye-opening documentary film that addresses children’s nature deficit disorder. The value of outdoor play for children is significant, especially in the digital age when children spend far too much time indoors.

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

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Community of Blessings

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Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world… It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”
Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

Last summer I mentioned to my mother and sister the fact that the harvest season does not seem to be as decorated in the West as in the East. “Perhaps that’s because Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, the place of the landing of the Pilgrims, is geographically closer, so the season of fall is more celebrated. But, I really don’t know what it is,” I admitted.

On Sunday I arrived at the doors of my church and found it beautifully decorated for the fall season. The blessings of community and sermons of life lessons, relevant to today’s world, are always inside these church doors.

IMG_20151011_084245_836 Reflections last week from the Rev. Tim Selby included the question “And How Are the Children?”  Unfortunately in this day and age with all of the incidents in schools we can’t confidently answer “All are safely gathered in.”IMG_20151011_084455_846

By the end of the sermon each and everyone of us hoped our prayers would be heard as we sang the closing hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

If you wish to hear the words of the message, keep your eye on the church website where recordings of each Sunday’s lessons are always posted.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart and Soul.

Cultivating Interests

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The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it.

Sitting and reading a book of history has never been my cup of tea. But visiting the space where history took place is a different story. It brings an historical era alive.

This summer I revisited a place that I never tire of -Ladew Gardens in “hunt country” of Monkton, Maryland. Home to the first American to create garden rooms, Henry S. Ladew,( 1887 – 1976) his creative garden spirit is still alive. To read more about the life of Henry S Ladew and his stunning gardens, see this publication.

Beautiful topiaries, strategically-placed antique garden hardscape,beautiful ponds and fountains make the place a real sanctuary for gardeners and non-gardeners alike who have a fine appreciation of beautiful spaces in nature. New to the property since my last visit is a butterfly pavilion which is manned by volunteers who explain the process from caterpillar to  chrysalis to hatching of butterflies and their purpose in nature. To read more about this natural phenomenon, visit this article.

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The Garden Cafe, Ladew’s residence, art studio and library are open to the public. The spaces are where educational, scientific and cultural pursuits flourish for the public benefit. On Sept 27th at 10pm CNN will feature a story about these historic gardens on Mike Rowe’s show called “Dirty Jobs.”IMG_20150908_114020_578

As a garden enthusiast, my visit to Ladew was as fulfilling as the first time I walked the 22 acres of grounds.

IMG_20150908_113427_260This blog is brought to you by the EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Home Grown Pleasures

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It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

“Come, you’ve got to see this,” said my father before I’d even set my baggage down for my annual visit.”

What is it that’s so urgent? I thought. I ‘d expect an impatience in my mother but not my father. He is the more serene in personality of the two.

“You’ve got to see my heirloom tomatoes. Your brother Scott gave me jillions of seeds of all kinds.” My dad gave me a tour of his garden, with plants in all stages of development.


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Good News: The Simplicity Concept

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simple day 2To some people, living the simple life conjures up thoughts of living out in the woods with no running water, cooking over an open fire and being entirely self-sufficient by growing one’s own crops and hunting and fishing. A bit extreme for most people in this world of modern conveniences.

The good news is there is more than one way of living a pared down lifestyle. We can chose to simplify our lives in ways that might better suit us rather than returning to the homesteading concept.

In the interest of simplifying my blog writing today, here is a link to a great article that outlines 10 ways to simplify your lifestyle. Do a little soul-searching by assessing which choice suits your interests best.

This blog is brought to you by the author of the award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Nature’s Energy

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“For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies…..”  ~  Psalm 95:  1-6

Over the course of history many songs lyrics have been composed with words about the beauty of nature. Have you ever really thought about the impact the beautiful colors of nature have on your psyche?

This time of year I take my walk in early morning to avoid the heat of the day. Inevitably, I find myself marveling over plants that were barely out of the ground a few weeks ago that are now in full bloom, electric with color. How does that happen? Nature provides sun, warmth, moisture and all the right conditions that are needed to set the gardens in motion. Amazing!

Nearly every color is represented in the garden this time of the year. Here are just a few pictures I took on my daily walk last week.

pernennial 6 lupine

perennial2

perennial 3 peony

When I see the real stunners of magenta, orange, yellow, indigo and purple, I ask myself “How can I not walk with gratefulness for life and boundless energy no matter what else might be happening around me?” The magnificence of nature makes me want to stand up and sing.

Summer has just begun and we have several months ahead to enjoy the brightest time of year. Enjoy getting outdoors and seeing the landscape all decked out with color.

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Out of the Deep Freeze

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 “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”– Edmund Hillary

When you live in the mountains, spring can be forever in coming. Mother Nature loves to torment and taunt with fickle weather for a long, long time.

One day it is sunny and warm, the next day we are thrust back into winter leaving us confused as what to put on for clothing in the morning. Just when you think you should leave behind the winter weight clothing and spring ahead into lighter, brighter garments, the cold temperatures return again. Makes you feel like climbing back under the covers.

Somewhere between Winter & s

This is how I look and feel this time of year. The beginnings of growth and renewal of spirit have begun to creep over me yet, part of me is still frozen in the previous season.

Today on All Things Fulfilling, I’d like to share with you an article about 21 Things to Do This Spring to Lift your Beaten Down Spirit.

What’s the first thing I’m going to do to start ticking off the list? My husband just filled my bike tires with air. A slow, meadering bike ride through the neighborhood dreaming of when the landscape turns green with colorful flowers will do much to lift the spirit. It will also begin to build the muscles I’ve neglected all winter when my only form of exercise was walking.

See you back here tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling. This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.