By Olivia Rose
In collaboration with: Paula White, Paula Urtecho, Anne Bremer, Helen Fitanides, and Dan Kirk
In light of recent events that have sent a long overdue shock to our social, political, economic systems here in the United States that benefit a few while oppressing others, I encourage you, dear reader, to be gentle with yourself. As we show up and stand up to deny the presence of injustice in this country please remember to take care of yourself and practice self care. This fight for justice is one we must endure. We need to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves so that we can continue to support our communities with whom we share this beautiful planet. In the midst of your personal process to educate, organize and mobilize, I am here to remind you that through all our struggles there is one entity that has been and always will be there for us.
Nature, in big ways and small, unwavering in its strength, persistence and resilience, continues to provide lessons to learn from. The Watershed Project staff has pulled together to share a few ways we personally practice self care with our nature neighbors.
Paula White shares with us how admiring busy pollinators can be restorative.
“I have really been enjoying looking at flowers and the pollinators that are on them, whether out at a park or near a stream, or in my backyard. Right now the California Buckeye is blooming quite magnificently and the blossoms are attracting both butterflies and bees. It’s restful to just stand quietly and observe these small but busy insects as they go about collecting nectar and pollen. Their focus is admirable.”
From Paula Urtecho we are reminded to stop, sympathize, and connect with our surroundings.
“One of my favorite ways to engage with my natural surroundings is to sit quietly and let nature ‘happen’ all around me. When you sit quietly and simply observe, the most marvelous things can happen – you notice all sorts of things that you’ve never noticed before like new plants, insects or even smells. Animals, especially birds, go about their business unfazed by your presence, providing a unique opportunity to observe their behavior and interactions. Sitting quietly in your natural surroundings is a great way to understand nature’s workings and think about how you fit in.”
Anne Bremer encourages that we engage our imagination in nature.
“One of my favorite things to do in nature is use my imagination to ‘time travel.’ What would this place have looked like 100, 500, or 1,000 years ago? If I were one of the people that inhabited this place before European settlement, what would my relationship to this place look like?”
Helen Fitanides calls us to engage our curiosity, seeking out life in unexpected places.
“I like to look for life in usual places, like under rocks in the creek or in the cracks of tree bark. There are all kinds of hidden habitats and communities that we can find if we start looking.”
With Dan we are called to be present, and release ourselves from the confines of time.
“Nature is mesmerizing. A book might be, but there will be an end. A TV show might be, but you might feel guilty for watching too much of it. A person might be, but they may not always be around. A piece of art might be, but you may grow out of it. Nature is always there. Time doesn’t matter when I am watching leaves rustle or the ocean waves crash. I feel present.”
In trying times the reciprocity of nature reminds me to express gratitude. To see my breath as a gift, my body as a gift, food I consume as a gift, friends I am lucky to laugh with as a gift. While practicing gratitude is something you can do throughout the day, I also encourage finding a nice quiet “sit spot”, take a pen and paper to write or draw what’s coming up. Reciprocity, of course, is not a one way street. It forces me to also ask myself, “what am I doing to give back?”. So as we take the time to listen, deconstruct, collaborate, dream, and rebuild. Remember, that nature is a teacher, with many lessons to share. We just have to take the time to listen.