Category Archives: Nature

Fall Has Arrived

Fall has definitely arrived in the Northeast. I swear it was summer one day and then it was in the low 40s. There didn’t seem to be much of a transition. I don’t have a problem with that at all.

As fall is a favorite time of year for me, by the end of the summer, I’m anxiously awaiting it anyway. The color transition up here in the northeast is spectacular even in the years where the colors seem muted. But, the years when the colors are intense are quite special. I’ve had the fortune to see several of those.

If a season can bring me happiness, then fall would be the one. It’s one of the reasons why I like living up here. When I was growing up in the South, we didn’t really have four seasons. Two maybe and sometimes we had three. So, I always make sure I get the full fall enjoyment factor every year. I either take a special trip to New Hampshire or enjoy the color surrounding the inland areas of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Ah, time to go and see some more.

Michael

Take Time to Do Nothing

Nature tops the list of potent tranquilizers and stress reducers. The mere sound of moving water has been shown to lower blood pressure. – Patch Adams

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. – Sir John Lubbock

It is so important to take time for ourselves. Many of you have so many responsibilities and activities that you don’t take a moment to rest. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is some time to do nothing or something you enjoy.

Having a few moments, minutes or even hours to relax, take a few deep breathes, enjoy a book or a cup of coffee without having to interact with anyone is vitally important to your emotional health and well-being.

In fact, if you can make this a regular daily habit or at the very least a weekly habit your stress level could dramatically decrease. It doesn’t really matter what you do. Here are some examples:

  • Reading a book
  • Eating your favorite food
  • Listening to the running water.
  • Watching your favorite television program
  • Taking a walk
  • Playing music
  • Listening to music
  • Going to an exercise class
  • Laying in a hammock
  • Enjoying your favorite hobby
  • Meditating

You get the picture. Pay yourself the gift of time every day and reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

Michael

Have You Seen Them All

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. – Edward O. Wilson

We tend to become immune to things we see every day or on a regular basis; a beautiful sunset, puffy clouds, a majestic tree, a flock of birds or a richly colored flower. Each one, though, is unique in the world. No sunset is ever the same nor have they ever been the same throughout the billions of years the earth has existed. I find that deeply fascinating. When I see a sunset, I know that it has never been seen before and never will again. That’s simply amazing.

For example, walking through the forest brings a host of opportunities to see the richness and diversity of our planet. Every leave is different even on the same tree. Each plant specimen in the same species is one of a kind. Each animal shows a unique set of individual behaviors within the behaviors exhibited by that group.

A lot of times we are rushing through life and don’t really notice what is going on around us. But, if we stop and observe, we can see some amazing and unique things, literally right in our backyard. I think it’s important to stop “and smell the roses”, if you get my meaning. We benefit greatly from feeling a connection with the world around us. For me, it brings a feeling of relaxation and contentment.

Try to add some time in your day to quietly observe your surroundings. Observe. Appreciate. Enjoy.

Michael

Newport Flower Show 2009

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

What a great weekend!  The Rhode Island Air Show was yesterday and today we went to the Newport Flower Show. This year’s theme was “Glorious Green: The Natural Path.” There were some very creative arrangements and some amazing examples of flowers. Some, I had never seen before. As a photographer, I was very excited when I saw that the sky was overcast this morning. Cloudy skies are the best light for flower and portrait photography.

A bonus this year was a new photography division which I will enter next year since I didn’t know about it. :-(  Also, there were two butterfly houses on the grounds which were a lot of fun. Erica and I spent a couple of hours touring the grounds and the mansion enjoying all the amazing plants, flowers and arrangements.

Most of the butterflies were monarchs, but that was okay by me. Many had escaped and were flying around the many flower arrangements on the grounds surrounding the mansion. It made for some great photography moments.

I’m always amazed at the designs that people come up with. The endless creativity is both refreshing and inspiring. I think flowers and plants in general have a special ability to make people feel good and improve their level of happiness. There were many enthusiastic people out today.

Overall, a very relaxing weekend full of adventures, great friends, new friends, wonderful food, lots of photography and doing only things that make me happy. That’s what it’s all about.

Michael

Thunderstorms In Austin

I’m in Austin, Texas this week. While out with some co-workers last night, we were interrupted by the approach what the weatherman called a super cell. It was a massive, many miles wide, awe-inspiring thunderstorm. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a storm of this size. We left our “party” early and drove quickly south to arrive back at our hotel.

As we began to drive, the immensity of the oncoming storm was apparent. 180 degrees of the horizon and sky were covered with very dark clouds. The leading edge was very clear. It seemed to change direction towards us as we headed west and then south. The area within in the storm was a strange color of dark blue. Hard to describe but it wasn’t typical.

For over an hour, there was not one second that we didn’t see massive bolts of lightning careening wildly all around us. I love lightning storms but this was a little anxiety producing while being in an automobile. Every bolt lit up an area where the wind and clouds swirled in a seemingly determined way.

On our way south, trying to get clear of the storm, at least one tornado was spotted very close to our hotel. It felt good to arrive at a big building. It felt safer than being on the open road. Heavy rain, wind and hail quickly followed within minutes of getting inside.

I know how terrifying and potentially damaging these storms can be, but I have to say that watching nature unleashed in this way is quite exciting.

There is a certain beauty in the raw energy displayed.

Michael

New Car

Well, after more than 3 weeks waiting for the insurance settlement, I’ve finally purchased a new car; new for me, but slightly used. It has a little less than 7000 miles on it.

This was also a record for me in the amount of time it took to purchase it from a dealer. It was only about 3 1/2 hours, which beats my old record by 2 hours. I’m still not sure why it takes so long. If I think back, it just seems to blend all together. :-)

I always believe that things work out if you keep your attitude high. I had started to get impatient for the settlement, so I had to focus on being more patient. Waiting for 3 weeks to buy another car paid off as I was able to get exactly the car I wanted, the features, the colors and the price.

So, I end the first day of June very happy; tired, but happy. This is another example for me that things really do work out.

Michael

The Top of Yosemite Falls

Top of Yosemite

Top of Yosemite

I had promised my daughter that I would hike the very steep Upper Yosemite Falls trail. It’s 6.8 miles roundtrip with a 2700 feet elevation gain in 3.4 miles and it starts at 4000 feet elevation. That translates to strenuous. Physically I probably wasn’t ready for this one, but I really wanted to do it.

I had inspiration from a book I was reading, thanks to Nat, called 3 Cups of Tea. More about that book later, but basically the main character in this true story overcame immense personal difficulties in a part of the world that is very remote. I used his story for inspiration while hiking.

If I had thought about what this hike would entail for me, I wouldn’t have been able to complete it. So, what I did was break down the hike into hundreds of small goals. For example sometimes they could be as simple as getting to the next turn 50 yards ahead. Even though the big goal was far away, I decided to focus on the present and making that next step. I also tried to not look too far ahead. This helped me to concentrate on the task at hand which was to get the next step completed.

For the next 4 ½ hours I completed my hundreds of goals and made it to the top of Yosemite Falls. It was worth every minute. We saw deer up close and personal. We got views of Upper Yosemite Falls that people in the valley never see. We saw wildflowers. We were able to connect to the other groups making the trek to the top. They were from all cultures and races. It was quite amazing. We all had one thing in common and that was reaching the top. Where we were from wasn’t that important anymore.

The way back was a completely different set of challenges. The steep downhill grade made for a difficult trip and was harder than I had imagined. I limped down the last mile as my leg muscles were over taxed. I had to use my technique again to make the final push.

This technique is what I talk about all the time on this blog. Have a future goal in mind, but focus on the present. What are you doing right now to propel you towards where you want to go? Each thought each step is important, especially the thought. That’s where it all begins.

I’m glad I was able to hike to the top of the world’s 5th highest waterfall. That felt good! Total trip time: 8 ½ hours. Phew!

Have a great day!

Michael

Open Your Eyes

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. – Jawaharlal Nehru

We really do live in an amazing world, full of riches, diversity, beautiful places, interesting people and incredible animals. I find inspiration everywhere I turn. I wish I could see it all, but I am completely satisfied by what comes my way and what I actively go to in a mode of exploration.

You don’t have to go far from home. Even though the photo to the left is on the other side of the country from where I live, it doesn’t mean I can’t find beauty and interest very close to where I live. In fact, I do that regularly.

I think it’s good to get out of the house to go somewhere you haven’t been, to travel a road you haven’t traveled or to visit a person/place or thing outside of your “normal” routine. Doing little things like this expands the mind, injects some fresh energy into your life and feeds your creativity.

Staying in your comfort zone, your regular routine or your part of the world can make your life a tad dull. It may not be noticed on a daily basis but over time it’s possible to feel like you are missing out. We are designed to have fun. Sometimes shaking things up a little bit will open avenues of fun that you may have not imagined.

Instill a sense of adventure in your life, even if it is something as simple as traveling to a neighboring state or country, going to the movies, trying out a new restaurant, taking a walk in the forest or sitting on the beach watching a sunset.

It doesn’t really matter what it is. It only matters that you get out and go to it. Once you get going you may be surprised at the positive changes that could come your way.

Go have some fun. I am.

Michael

Take a Day

Take a day to heal from the lies you’ve told yourself and the ones that have been told to you. – Maya Angelo

Lies can be pervasive and subtly undermine your ability to be who you truly are. They come from a variety of places, but most come from our own minds, our own thoughts. Sometimes we may not realize the lies we tell ourselves. It’s a form of habitual thinking that becomes almost unconscious. One way to start making them conscious is to ask yourself some thought-provoking questions. Here are a few to get you started:

  • What guilty feelings do you have for decisions made in the past?
  • What is your overall view of yourself?
  • Do you accept who you are? (that means all parts, positive and negative)
  • What are some of your deepest fears? This is important because most of the time we view ourselves negatively based on our fears.
  • What things haven’t you tried because of lack of belief, ability and etc.?
  • What 3 things seem to affect your self-worth?
  • What are you not doing that you absolutely love to do? What are the beliefs that are stopping you from doing it?

So, take a day. Stop the lies for a few hours. Say what you mean. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Just for a day. Try it out. See how it feels.

Michael

First Day of Spring

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

The Vernal Equinox occurred at 7:44 a.m. EDT. This heralds the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of fall in the southern. Astronomical note: The equinox is the point at which the center of the sun crosses the equator.

For us in the north, it’s a time to start coming out from weeks and month of being reclusive. Internally, it’s time to turn away from a time of introspection to more outward endeavors. I love this time of year. People start to thaw out. Plants are budding. Flowers begin blooming. The world is waking up (at least in the north).

I’m looking forward to doing more hiking without heavy coats, gloves and hats. I’m ready to feel the warmth of the sun while sitting on my deck. I’m ready for spring bulbs. I’m ready for the Newport Flower Show. I’m ready for my annual trip to Yosemite with my daughter.

I’m just ready for spring.

I’m glad it’s here!

Michael