13 Activities To Do For Earth Day

13 Activities To Do For Earth Day

Happy Earth Day 2021!

I hope that you were able to get outside today to enjoy a little bit of our beautiful planet’s natural offerings. I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy a short hike today, which as you may already know, I love doing. I am glad that the weather is warming up and that, albeit slow, we’re all moving toward doing our best to get Covid-19 under control so that we can all get back to our definition of “normal living.”

Going outside to enjoy nature is just one of the things that I do to celebrate Earth Day each year; and I’ve compiled a list of 13 of my favorite Earth Day activities to share with you. These are also great everyday selfcare activities to do during any time of the year as well. Enjoy!

  1. Visit a state or national park (physically or virtually).
  2. Go hiking.
  3. Do a little earthing or forest bathing.
  4. Go for a walk in your neighborhood (solo, with someone, or walk your dog.)
  5. Watch a sunrise or sunset.
  6. Make a herbal face mask or hand scrub instead of buying one.
  7. Take a bath instead of showering to save water.
  8. Turn off your electronic devices for the day to save energy, and digitally detox at the same time.
  9. Enjoy plant based meals all day.
  10. Repot your plants that need it, divide those that have extra growth and start new plants and give them to family and friends as gifts.
  11. Cut flowers from your garden or buy them to bring nature’s beauty into your home space – just because.
  12. Make your own herbal tea with fresh herbs and plants such as chamomile, hibiscus, ginger, or peppermint.
  13. Meditate, do your yoga practice or any other exercise outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine.

An Experience in Late Spring Desert Soothing

An Experience in Late Spring Desert Soothing

Hello Everyone and Happy Thursday! I just returned home from a slightly extended, (and much needed), trip to one of my favorite places to visit in Southern California – Joshua Tree National Park.

It was exciting, relaxing and wonderful as usual – this was my third time visiting this national park.

I missed not going last year, tremendously, because I was deep in the throes of overcoming grief, and I didn’t realize exactly just how much I missed the desert until I was finally able to once again step foot onto the coppery, tawny hued hot sand and dirt of the very beautiful Mojave-Colorado desert inspired landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. You really have to visit this part of the earth to truly appreciate just how welcoming it is.

To back track a little bit, I didn’t go last year because it just didn’t feel right. I even made reservations twice last year, and cancelled them just as soon as I made them. So, I know deep down I wanted to go badly, but my need to hibernate at home and learn how to live without my youngest child was so much stronger. Sometimes I think that my son may have even had a hand in my not going because I was no where near ready to enjoy myself – as one should when on vacation.

My last visit was just a few months before my son’s death, so as you can probably imagine, this trip brought back so many memories of when he was still physically in my life.

This year though, I was more prepared for the adventures and physical exertion required for such a trip; as well as the opportunity to release some really heavy internal turmoil and manifest a hint of personally relevant rehabilitation. The desert offers many opportunities for reflection and healing and my heart and mind are now in a good place – a place of equanimity.

This trip was quite different from my previous trips to Joshua Tree National Park in that it was less about reaching a specific peak, enduring a strenuous trail, or taking a lot of pictures so that I could post them to Instagram. In fact, for the first time ever while traveling, I gave extra attention to avoiding my smartphone while away. I wanted to make sure that I would be fully immersed in my trip, and that required me to be fully present in every moment so that I could obtain the most from my experience with nature, and the culture of the area, while there. Trust me, it was by no means easy, and I was tempted to get on my phone a few times to post photos on social media and to create a post here on Salubrity and Soul, but I didn’t and I am glad that I was able to keep my promise to myself and to ensuring that I would be able to have the best possible connection to my trip experience.

I did take a few photos eventually though, because I had to have something to remind me of my trip besides the Joshua Tree t-shirt that I bought. I just made sure that capturing photos from my trip just so that I could let everyone know what I was up to at the moment was not my main focus – or a focus at all.

This trip was was less about physical activity and more about becoming one with nature, more specifically, the desert – and and allowing it to teach me about surviving, overcoming, adjusting to harsh conditions and thriving while in that state.

I love being in the desert and I figured if anything was going to propel me to another level of healing in my bereavement it would be within the lessons learned from watching the example of resilience from the delicate but oh-so-mighty desert.

One of the first things that I noticed was the abundance of plant life and wildlife at Joshua Tree National Park this year. It was obviously more green and more bright with colors from a variety of plant species that were dormant during my last visits – (and my 2017 visit was pretty exciting as far as seeing color and running into fauna was concerned, so that should give you a little hint to the eye-catching changes that left me in awe.) I concluded that my increased sightings of lizards, birds, insects, desert rats and rabbits were the result of the increased plant life which undoubtedly was the result of the fact that the desert had received quite a bit of rain earlier this year. This part of my trip was something that I enjoyed witnessing as it made my trip even more pleasurable and in a lot of ways – more spiritual.

Joshua Tree National Park emits such a deep, raw energy within its boundaries that I would describe as being very cleansing. Maybe it has something to do with it being a high desert, or maybe it is because when you are out there it is almost as though you are visiting another planet, or because the desert holds a great deal of “fire energy”, or perhaps it is due to it being a vast land once inhabited by ancient natives and still feels like it.

Whatever the reason, many people, myself included, love to visit this desert public land for the visual aesthetics, the physical activity offerings and the spiritually stimulating opportunities.

Had I decided to go last year, I know that I would not have enjoyed myself as much. It would have been a very solemn and mentally draining trip and I don’t believe that I would have been able to even entertain the thought of going out for a hike each day; or try new restaurants in the area like I was able to while on this trip. It feels very good to be able to open up myself up to new experiences once again – and in a place that fills me with so much joy and peacefulness.

Have you ever gone on vacation only to return home feeling as though you now need a vacation from your vacation? I have, but that never happens to me after visiting Joshua Tree.

I am grateful for every moment of mindfulness along the trails that I hiked and every awe-inspiring view that captured my attention and my heart. The connection that I receive with every visit here never fails me. This time is no different. Right now I feel transformed, invigorated and inspired to share the lessons of resilience that I learned from the desert.

Thanks for reading!

Until the next time,

Take care + be well

How I Fell in Love with Hiking

How I Fell in Love with Hiking
My first hiking trip was taken on a whim.  It was an idea that arose from a discussion between my husband and myself regarding what we should do for our upcoming Anniversary.  My husband can be quite accommodating when it comes to letting me chose a locale for a trip or a night out, but the idea that I had in my mind at that time was one that I wasn’t sure that he would be willing to agree to. Yet, much to my delight, he agreed, albeit his agreement was not without some hesitation.
I wanted to visit the desert for a considerably long time.  It’s a landscape that I am often drawn to and have always had a fascination with. Although I would have also loved another quintessential night on the town, complete with a delectable dinner at a lavish restaurant, that option could not contend with a trip to the desert. More specifically, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Desert – Not this time. I guess you could say that the desert was calling me and I could not say no.
After further discussion about our choices, my husband expressed that his less than enthusiastic response to my request, (at first), was because of his disinterest in desert landscapes. This just happened to also be when I learned that he’s more of a forest kind of guy. We laughed at a few of his jokes about there being absolutely nothing in the desert to do or see and I begged to differ.  He acquiesced,  I smiled and then we proceeded to make our trip reservations for Joshua Tree National Park.
I think people thought that we must have lost our minds when we told them what we planned to do for our Anniversary that year, and maybe for a second, we too, began wondering whether we were making the right decision. Who wants to jeopardize spoiling their Anniversary? We had never been hiking before. Nor had we ever done anything outdoorsy for any special occasion, so this was something that was unusual, but I really wanted to do something different and my husband agreed that maybe it was time for us to start trying things that were different. We were definitely up to the challenge and looking forward to discovering what the desert had to offer.  Little did we know at the time that we had just made one of the best decisions that we have ever made during our many years together as a married couple.
We conducted a bit of research on the park and learned that Joshua Tree National Park is considered to be a highly spiritual place. We were skeptical, but still very curious to know if this held any truth.  That element alone played a big part in making this trip exciting.
We went during the spring, so the weather was hot, being that it was the desert, but it was also moderate and not as hot as it would have been had we went during the summer. This made for a comfortable visit. Going during the springtime also made the desert seem more like a desert oasis because we got to see a lot of wildflowers, the bright colors of the flowers on the cacti and the landscape was a lot more verdant that we expected due to the previous season’s rains. My husband was surprised to see that it did not seem like the typical desert he had in his mind and I was amazed at how beautiful everything was. It could not have been more perfect.
The first trail that we ventured to was the Split Rock Loop Trail. I was in awe of the rock climbers and we were both so fascinated with their skill and bravado that we had to stop and watch them for a while. Moments later we decided to try the 2 mile loop trail there which was very invigorating. That was the moment that we began feeling like we were suddenly hikers.
Next we visited two popular spots known as Skull Rock and Elephant Rock. Skull Rock is exactly what it sounds like. The trails here are relatively easy to hike, but they are filled with large boulder like rocks that we spent a lot of time climbing to the top of to enjoy the many gorgeous views of this area, especially during  a sunrise or sunset.   These became one of our favorite spots and we revisited this area several times that weekend. Not just because of the views and attractions, but it was one area that we felt the most spiritual energy. The energy here was magical.
I love nature, so I had to stop at the Arch Rock Nature Trail.  This trail has one of the most unique rock formations in the park. The namesake Arch Rock is a slab of rock shaped like an arch or a bridge. This is also another popular spot in the park and is often quite crowded most of the time. We weren’t able to get a good view of Arch Rock during that visit but we did get to enjoy the other sights of other odd rock formations as well as the .5 mile hiking trail.
The last trail that we ventured through was the Cap Rock Trail.  This was a short .4 mile trail loop with extensive views of Joshua Trees. It was quite picturesque during the twilight time during the spring, and it presented us with more stunning views of wildlife and wildflowers.
As you can see, we chose to hike short, easy trails during our first hiking trip. We did this because of our inexperience and because we wanted to take it easy until we were able to learn more about hiking and hiking safety.  Initially, we had the impression that hiking is very much like walking, but it isn’t.  Especially when you are exposed to the elements and wildlife that you would not ordinarily be exposed to on an average walk. We also, at the time, were not prepared with enough supplies should we had made the mistake of wandering too far out into the desert and lost our way back to where our car was parked.  That would have been devastating, not to mention irresponsible on our part. Safety is key when hiking.
Still, that trip back in 2016 inspired us so much that hiking has become a favorite pastime for us.  It is a way that we’re able to spend quality time together and stay healthy as we grow old together.  It has also been a very helpful outlet for us during our bereavement, so we are both very glad that we took on this hobby before losing our son.
What I love the most about hiking is the way that it makes me feel. I love how it centers me. I love the way that it reminds me of how connected we all are to everything. It is exercise for the mind, body, heart and soul. It’s also the only exercise that I can think of that is mentally, spiritually, visually, audibly and kinesthetically stimulating while also being relaxing at the same time.  If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy that doesn’t feel completely like exercise and that allows you to also enjoy all the beauty of nature and life, I recommend that you try hiking. Get out in the open, enjoy the fresh air and discover all the ways that this form of adventure can excite and inspire you.
Until the next post.

Blessings,
Take Care + Be Well,
Carol xo

A Little Bit of Nature Helps

A Little Bit of Nature Helps

Neither of us knew how to explain exactly how we felt, but… Last year as summer began to come to an end, the last thing that my husband and I wanted to hear was anything that had to do with going out to “do something.”  As far as we were concerned, we were doing something…something called trying to process what happened and trying to heal.  Was that not enough?  Even after all that we had just been through?  Celebrating, exercising, or vacationing was not something that we were interested in making a priority at the time.
It took us nearly 3 months to feel even the slightest bit comfortable going out to do anything; and once we were finally ready, we decided that a simple hike would be a great way to relive some stress and get our endorphins going again.  That trip turned out to be one of the best decisions that we ever made.
Well, it’s that time of year again, and this week we got the same little “itch” that provoked us last year to get out – not to do anything “fancy” – but to just go somewhere where there was peacefulness. Somewhere where we could just go and reconnect with nature ( and ourselves) and contemplate the meaning of life yet again.
When you are immersed in nature and enjoying all of it’s beauty, it helps you remember that there is still so much outside of ourselves, our jobs, and our homes to be thankful for.  You begin to realize that even through difficult times life is still amazing. Furthermore, it gives a boost to your immune system and the change of scenery can help brighten your outlook and change any negative perspectives that you may be holding. Personally, I don’t think that there is a better natural mood booster than spending time outdoors, getting lots of fresh air and taking in the sights and sounds of our beautiful planet.
Not to get off topic but let me revert back to the issue of celebrating while grieving for a moment…We found ourselves feeling a little guilty for going out after having turned down invitations from a few family and friends. It makes you feel really bad, but in all honesty it was better being truthful about how we felt instead of being more concerned with what everyone would think, only because it would be devastating to attend an event that could likely be a trigger for our grief. More important we would never want to ruin anyone’s celebration with our sadness. It just didn’t seem worth it and we figured that it would be best if we didn’t attend anything until we were completely prepared to be good company. The right time, unfortunately, was not a couple of months after our loss. We were confident that anyone who had invited us to their event during that time would understand…and  gratefully they did.  More often than not your family and friends will understand – especially if they have witnessed your pain.  Just be sure to let them know that you will do your best to join them the next time; and if possible it couldn’t hurt to send a small gift to remind them that you do care about them as well.
The important thing to take away from this is to not focus on what you are not yet able to to do while healing from your loss. It is more helpful to stay focused on what you can do now.  Just do  whatever you can do to motivate yourself to get out and back into your life – enjoying your life, and if you can’t seem to get out at least make sure that you are doing something positive for your mental and physical well-being. Doing something is always better than doing nothing in this case and if you have to take baby steps to get back to your normal self that is completely acceptable. 
Until the next post.

Blessings,
Take care + Be well,
Carol xo 

Gearing up for “D” Fall

Gearing up for “D” Fall

When you can’t get enough sunshine…create your own.

-Carol C.M.

Can you feel it? It’s there in the air. The slightly cooler weather. The change in the way that the sun lights up a room? The yearning for comfort food. The cries for pumpkin spice everything. The Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations inside every store that you set foot in. Wanting to pull the covers up to your chin and press the snooze button on those early chilly mornings before you get out of bed.
Regardless of  whether you call it Autumn or Fall… it’s here. That time of the year that makes us want to hibernate a little bit and spend more time indoors.  As someone who enjoys both the outdoors and warm sunshine on my skin I am going to miss the warmer months and the opportunity to soak up vitamin D naturally.
Spending time in the sun, of course, has its pros and cons.  We want to avoid exposing ourselves to too much sunlight as not to increase our chances of getting skin cancer — even with sunscreen. Yet, with sunlight being a natural and ideal way of getting vitamin D into our bodies to maintain our health, we also want to be able to reap that benefit.
During the spring and summer months our bodies produce vitamin D naturally when we spend at least ten to twenty minutes outside receiving ultraviolet B rays from the sun.  Yet, during the fall and winter months most of us are less likely to be able to so, which means that we are often left to find others ways of ensuring that we are getting enough vitamin D and maintaining our health and nutrition.
We can do this by eating more vitamin D rich foods such as fortified milk, orange juice, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, or fatty-fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines.  For my vegan friends, tofu or fortified plant milks can be good sources of vitamin D. Just be sure to double check your labels.  Furthermore, vitamin D supplements tend to be good options for those who may feel as though they are are not receiving enough vitamin D from their food sources. These are just some of the ways that I manage my vitamin D levels as a flexitarian. As always, it would also be a good idea to check with your physician or nutritionist to determine what your unique vitamin or nutritional needs might be.
I think we all know that vitamin D is important for our bone, nail, hair and teeth health, but did you know that it also plays a role in the human cell life cycle and helps regulate both immune and neuromuscular systems?

Potential Benefits of Vitamin D

  • May aid depression or S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder / Seasonal Depression).
  • May decrease inflammation.
  • May prevent bone loss or bone disease.
  • May provide relief for some chronic conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis.
  • May aid cognitive function.

A few signs of vitamin deficiency include hair loss, muscle pain, having wounds that heal slowly and fatigue. These are symptoms that could also, very easily, be associated with other conditions which is why you should seek professional medical help in the event that you experience any of these symptoms – especially if you are experiencing grief and assuming that your symptoms are solely related to stress from the loss that you have experienced.  Deficiency in this vitamin is common and easy to remedy so don’t be afraid to get any of these symptoms checked out.

Until the next post.


Blessings,
Take Care  + Be Well,
Carol xo