Top five habits #4: Nature fix

Richard Louv is the latest in a line of distinguished nature writers. While his style is more journal than novel, his research and conclusions drew our attention to a growing problem. We don’t get wild often enough. The title of his book “Last Child in the Woods” was provocative enough to draw a large readership. Not as eloquent as Aldo Leopold, his message was clear:

Separating ourselves from the natural environment harms us in ways we never realized, and we weren’t meant to live that way.

I write and speak from a very defined point of view, focusing on how to live at an optimum human scale and pace. Nature connection is central to my message. On one hand, the only thing you have to have to begin implementing such a lifestyle is a change of heart. On the other hand, the world won’t change overnight. If I make it known to my city’s planners that we need beautiful natural settings in which to walk, they’re not going to start building it on Monday morning.

Each day, we must do what we can. Here are some things you can do today.

* Get your hands in the dirt – you can pot seedlings in a sunny window. Do you have plants in your house? It is one of the healthiest things you can do for your home, as the plants even help to clean the air. Check with your local nursery about the best plants for your home.

* In the absence of the plants themselves, you can give yourself a quick nature boost with essential oils. Your scent receptors can quickly send a message to your brain that alter your mood, boost neural connections, and might even lower your blood pressure.

* Walking is one of my most frequent topics, because it really is where the sole meets the sidewalk in human scale and pace. Walking in a natural setting has a synergistic effect, as does walking with a friend. Doing all three is even better. Find two or three places near you; places of natural beauty where you can slip away for a few moments and drink it all in. An often overlooked place is your local greenhouse or nursery. Yes, they are businesses, but if you tell them what you’re doing and ask to volunteer for an hour or two a week if only to green up your life a bit, they may say yes. If not, you could fall back on walking the indoor plant section of your big box home improvement store.

* If you are housebound or otherwise unable to get outside, research has shown that your senses will respond to nature scenes on the TV. That obviously isn’t the ideal, but if that is what you have to work with, go for it. I’ve curated several bike trail videos that are full of blue skies, trees, fields, and natural sounds. If you have a treadmill or stationary bike, put it in front of the screen, click over to YouTube and choose one of the following bike trail videos from my channel Great American Trails.

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B.E.D. Post for February 24, 2017

Okay guys, today I’m testing out a twenty dollar Vivitar video camera. It’s no GoPro, but it worked in a pinch! I didnt’ feel safe riding and holding my iPhone, so I looked for a dirt cheap solution. The audio was terrible, so in the interest of showing you that I lived up to my commitment to Bike. Every. Day! I sped the motion up 400 percent. Ha! Enjoy.

If you try to translate my sped-up squirrel voice, it’s talking about doing a SNOBO on the Appalachian Trail, perhaps after I thru-hike it on foot, but we’ll see. I was looking at the logistics of doing a combined hike/bike of the AT, and some of the roads are dicey!

Don’t forget to get out there and move tomorrow. Be well.

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Unexpected

This has been an unexpected day at the end of an unexpected week. The temperature got up to 73 degrees here today in an Indiana February. We’re supposed to have severe weather tonight and the temperature will drop back into the 20’s before climbing back into the 50s next week. I stopped by Bryant Creek Lake this morning on my way into work, and stood there listening to the geese and smelling the warm lake air and watching the sun warm the horizon. And I’m grateful I was here to enjoy it and drink it in, because it made me feel so connected to the southern Indiana landscape.

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B.E.D. Post for February 23, 2017

Well, I’m at it again. Welcome to the inaugural 2017 B.E.D. Post, as you will quickly find out, B.E.D. stands for “Bike Every Day” and that is an aspiration of mine that has fallen on hard luck recently, for several reasons, none of which you’d care about. 🙁

The hidden surprise here, that will one day put me in the record books, is that I need to become proficient on the bike again because when it comes time to do my bucket list item “Hike the Appalachian Trail” I may well be doing it as a SNOBO. The first, actually. And you have no idea what that means.

A NOBO is a northbounder on the AT. A person who begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia, and hikes north 2200 miles to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine.

A SOBO is a southbounder. Yep, you’ve got it!

What the heck is a SNOBO? That would be a southward hiking northbounder.

WTH?

Here’s my sneaky little plan. I’m taking two bikes with me to Springer Mountain. I’ll leave one of the bikes at the first convenient trail town or road crossing north of Springer Mountain. That place might well be Mountain Crossings, who knows? Then I’ll drive to Springer Mountain and cycle north to the second trail town or convenient road crossing on the north side of Mountain Crossings and chain the bike I’m riding to a tree. It’ll be there for awhile.

Then I’ll hike southbound to the bicycle I left at Mountain Crossings, and ride it to a third trail town or convenient road crossing and lock it to a tree somewhere in the woodline. I’ll then hike southbound back to retrieve the other bike, only to ride it north to a fourth trail town or convenient road crossing…

I’ll repeat this all the way to Katahdin in Maine.

To the best of my knowledge, I’ll be the first person to attempt it. But it all begins here. I love to hike. I love to bike. I’m going to have a kickin’ time on the AT.

 

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Human scale word cloud

I thought you might enjoy seeing what a word cloud from my book “Human Scale Happiness” looks like in the shape of the United States. After studying it for a bit, you won’t be able to say you’ve read my book, but you may be more familiar with the content.

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Top five habits #3: Walking

Did you realize that there are dozens of songs about walking? There is a reason. One of the most human things we can do, which we should be doing every day, and which was designed to keep us well – is to walk. Yet this is the one thing it seems society wants to inhibit.

Are there nice places to walk where you live? If there are, you’re lucky. I’ve lived in places like that, and in places not-like-that. In either case, I would encourage you to get out there and do it, but keep in mind that there are widely recognized health benefits to walking in nature as opposed to simply walking. In other places I talk about the synergistic benefits of walking. In nature. With a friend. That exponentially increases your well-being. [click to continue…]

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Not Hiking is Killing You

This is a guest post from Aaron over at Free Range Hiking

Hiking is an all-around great workout. Walking is one of the most beneficial exercises that you can do for hearth health according to the American Heart Association, when you add a weighted pack into the mix as well as negotiating (sometimes) strenuous paths in the forest the benefits only increase. But even knowing all that, we still find ways to put that next hiking trip on the back burner in favor of less strenuous activity. So here are eight reasons that putting off that next hiking trip is probably killing you. [click to continue…]

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Top five habits #2: The all-in foodie

Respect the food!

There is a popular modern slogan that was in part birthed by the slow food crowd. “Farm to Table.” It comes close in describing how we should view food and nutrition. For such an important part of our lives and health, we “farm out” much of the process and products to strangers.

We should be advocates for knowing where our food comes from. If not our own gardens (even herb gardens on the kitchen window sill), then community gardens, farmer’s markets, or community supported agriculture (CSA) ventures. You say that those things don’t exist close to you? And yet we’ll drive thirty miles to the mall for a special purchase or as entertainment. The reason they don’t exist in great numbers is because we haven’t asked for them. [click to continue…]

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Who you are

Work is who you think you should be.

Leisure is who you are.

— Anonymous

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Top five habits #1: Attitude

Today is the first in a five part series addressing the top habits that will nudge you toward living at a human scale and pace.  A positive and hopeful attitude drives positive gain in our lives. This has been a hot topic in the social sciences lately because of depression and other disorders that are on the rise. We need tools, especially today, to help fight the negativity bias and whatever else may contribute to negativity and despair. In an earlier post, I talked about living deliberately, and that certainly helps. It is difficult or impossible to change if you’re on auto-pilot.

The virtue of self discipline, otherwise known as self mastery, realizes that we don’t operate on instinct by itself, but have the power to use reason and reflection to guide ourselves into the future. If you want it, will it. That will greatly increase your chances of success, but I can guarantee that if you don’t will it, it won’t happen. [click to continue…]

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