This was originally posted on June 13, 2014, nearly four years ago to the day! The subject matter is still topical and relevant today. Read on and let me know what you think. Thanks!
I am a member of a CSA at a local vegetable farm and this week is the start of the season. Part of the fun of the CSA is the Pick Your Own (PYO) portion of the shares where members are allowed to go into the field and pick for themselves a certain amount of a few selected crops.
I always look forward to this because it gives me an opportunity to open myself to Nature and Its wisdom. This week the PYO portion is strawberries, which explains the title of this post!
When I entered the strawberry patch all I saw around me were rows and rows of green leaves. I was surprised that the farmers were allowing us to pick two quarts because, at first glance, there didn’t seem to be enough strawberries for everyone. As I looked closer, thought, I could see the big juicy berries; everyone would be able to get their full share!
This made me think of ideas and how oftentimes we don’t see the ones that are right at our feet. We think that where we are has absolutely no opportunities for us. We look with longing where others are standing because they seem to be smack-dab in the middle of a juicy strawberry patch of ideas.
However, if we take the time to look carefully—get closer to the plants, gently move aside the leaves—there they are! There are our own ripe, juicy ideas!
Your homework today is to be curious about the patch right where you’re standing. Get closer and see what you can discover. And, since this is the end of the week and the perfect time for a review, look back over the past several days. Were there crazy ideas that you discarded without looking closer at them? While they may not be workable in their raw state, with a little chipping and sanding, and then polishing, they may turn out to be a shortcut to your dreams!
Remember, too, to celebrate the steps you did take this week—no matter how small. They all add up!
Our lives get so busy with tasks, projects, and even with the goals we set for ourselves. We have responsibilities, obligations. People depend on us; we depend upon ourselves. We’re pulled this way and pushed that way.
ACK! What are we supposed to do about it all??!
The answer is Nature. Nature IS nurture! Nature can restore our balance.
We don’t have to travel to exotic locales or far-flung lands to be nurtured by Nature. While it’s wonderful to stroll through a cool forest or walk along a sandy beach, we can still be balanced and restored by a vase of flowers or a “common” houseplant.
When you’re with Nature, whether it’s spending time in a magnificent park or observing the weeds growing alongside the road, take a moment to observe what you are seeing and experiencing.
For instance, look closely at a flower. Notice how it’s put together, the richness of the color, and how its color is made up of different hues and a variety of shadings. Look how velvety the petals are and how they shine and glow in the sunlight.
Immerse yourself in that flower. Observe it deeply it will astonish you. Let it blow your mind and open your soul.
Here are three quotes that can help you get into the right frame of mind:
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ~Frank Lloyd Wright
Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time. ~Katrina Mayer
It’s that time of year again: the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farms are open for the season. Yippee!
Today I was at the farm picking strawberries. As I was doing this, my thoughts drifted here and there.
At one point, I found myself back in the small strawberry patch my mother had at the side of our house. I remember early in the morning going out and helping her water and weed the patch, spread cheesecloth over the plants so the birds wouldn’t get at the berries, and I remember sneaking a strawberry or two as I worked alongside her!
My family and I couldn’t wait for dinner to be over because we knew we’d have strawberry shortcake made with fresh, ripe, sweet strawberries from our very own strawberry patch!
As I was enjoying this memory, I found myself relaxing and noticing nature’s beauty around me: bees going from blossom to blossom; birds singing in the nearby trees, and nature’s abundance–plenty of delicious berries for people and plenty for animals and insects. I noticed, too, that my pace slowed and I felt joy bubbling up inside.
As we start the week, let’s promise ourselves to connect with nature each day and absorb the gifts it has for us. We can do this by taking a moment to look out the window and notice the trees and flowers, the squirrels scampering in the trees, and birds soaring in the sky. Allow the scene that you see infuse you with peace and calm.
James Allen states that there are beginnings we have no control over, for instance we may have been laid off from work and now we’re facing the beginning of unemployment and the process of looking for a new job. He advises to not focus on these beginnings, aside from taking care of our responsibilities, but rather to focus on the beginnings we have total and complete control over. He says that these types of beginnings are of vital importance because they create the complex web of results that then make up our life. He went on to say that these beginnings are controlled by our thoughts and mental attitudes, and the resulting daily conduct and actions we take.
According to James Allen, the first beginning to focus on—the easiest one to take control of—is the start of a new day, namely when your alarm clock first rings. He suggests answering these questions because “…much happiness or unhappiness depends upon the right or wrong beginning of the day…”:
~At what time does the alarm go off?
~Do we immediately get up?
~In what frame of mind do we enter the sacredness of a new day?
~How do we go about getting ready for the day?
One of his suggestions is to rise at an early hour, even if we don’t have to because this will help “…start the day strongly by shaking off indolence.”
Then this statement jumped out at me: “…How are you to develop strength of will in mind and body if you begin every day by yielding to weakness?”
He’s telling us to stop hitting the snooze button and to get up when our alarm first goes off.
I get his point that by hitting the snooze alarm, we aren’t really getting a few extra Zzzz’s—in fact researchers have shown that hitting the snooze alarm does not help; the “extra sleep” you get is not restful. James Allen is saying that when we hit the snooze alarm what we’re actually doing is telling our mind and body that it’s okay to procrastinate, it’s okay to indulge ourselves, it’s okay to go for instant gratification.
James Allen goes on to say: “Self-indulgence is always followed by unhappiness. People who lie abed until a late hour are never bright and cheerful and fresh but are the prey of irritabilities, depressions…and all unhappy moods.”
He then goes on to say that hitting the snooze alarm is like an alcoholic taking a nip in order to brace him/herself and steady his/her nerves for the upcoming issues in the day.
It’s our self-indulgence in hitting the snooze alarm that creates indolence and avoidance that is creating the issues–it’s our weaknesses and our pandering to our moods and emotions that are at the root cause of the issues that we’re avoiding!
James Allen adds: :…Men and women are totally unaware of the great losses which they entail by this common indolence (hitting the snooze alarm): loss of strength of both mind and body, loss of prosperity, loss of knowledge, and loss of happiness.
James Allen isn’t the only one who urges getting up early and getting up right away. Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer and other successful people join him in this. One of James Allen suggestions for this “extra time” is to take a gentle walk in Nature. Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer, and others advise filling the time with studying sacred and/or inspirational writings, studying the industry in which we work, and pursuing other avenues of self-development and education.
Usually I get up the first time the alarm rings. Occasionally, though, I’ve let myself sleep a little later, commonly on the weekends. I have noticed that James Allen’s statement is true: I seem to be a little less focused and less productive on the days I allow myself to catch up on my sleep. In fact, I had been wondering if it wouldn’t be better to get up at my normal time and take a short nap during the day if I need it. I guess James Allen’s answer would be YES!!!
This week’s challenge is to get up on time—when the alarm first rings. Let me know the differences you notice in your week. Feel free to leave your comments below. Thanks!
Building Block #4 of a solid morning routine is taking care of your body. Think about this building block as having fun with movement rather than thinking about struggling with exercise. And think about taking care of your body by eating delicious food rather than thinking about the yucky diet food you think you should eat.
Sometimes in our minds exercise can be daunting and hard and no fun at all. Movement, on the other hand, can be dancing to your favorite music or taking a walk through your neighborhood and admiring others’ gardens. These activities can be interesting and enjoyable. No need to spend hours on end sweating at the gym!
When we think about nutrition our minds imagine small portions of food that isn’t very filling and that isn’t too tasty either. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fresh fruit and vegetables are jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals. They’re quick and easy to prepare, making them an ideal grab-and-go food–much better than a donut or pastry. No need to spend hours slaving over a hot stove!
What are some fun activities you can do in the morning to get your body moving? What are your favorite fruits and vegetables?
Building block #3 can go along with this because this one’s all about choosing one or two things you can do today to take you closer to a goal that’s important to you. Not a goal that’s important to your boss or your spouse or kids, but rather a goal that is very important to you.
An example to illustrate how building block #2 and building block #3 can fit nicely together is from my own life. My area of interest is writing and I read books, study other’s writing techniques, take online classes in writing, and I’m a member of a writing group. Currently, each morning I take 15 minutes to work on a lesson from the online writing class I’m taking. This is building block #2.
The goal I have that is important to me is to put together an anthology of my short stories, so each morning I write for 15 minutes, working on a story. This is building block #3. See how building block #2 and building block #3 can fit together? It isn’t essential that they fit but I wanted you to know that they can.
Is there a way that you can fit together building block #2 and building block #3? Think about it and see what you can do.
The second building block successful people–people who are living a soul-prospering life–have in common is taking time to study in their particular area of interest. This area of interest may not have anything to do with how they earn their living. For instance, by day they may be an acclaimed scientist or “only” an office worker in the accounting department, but they may be fascinated by woodworking, gardening, or learning how to be a better parent or spouse.
People who are living a life that they love make it a priority to pursue those things that interest them, regardless of the other responsibilities, obligations, and cares that are on their plate.
And, the very first thing in the morning is a perfect time to immersing themselves in something they enjoy–taking a few minutes for this, at least.
This thing that interests them is something that’s important and meaningful to THEM. Not to their spouse, or kids, or boss. It may not be something that’s popular or that others value. But it’s important to them and they pursue it anyway.
What are your interests–especially the ones you don’t have the time during the day to pursue? Promise yourself that in the mornings you’re going to study and learn more about it–even if you have only 5 minutes to give it. It’ll be one of the best investments you’ll make of your time.
This is about being still, becoming aware of the Something that’s more than ourselves. Some people call this connecting with Divine or Source, and they may also call it prayer.
Others call this centering with the peaceful and calm core within themselves. They may call it meditating or contemplating.
There are a variety of techniques to use: being still and listening within, taking a gentle walk in nature, reading and thinking about sacred texts, slow exercise such as yoga or tai chi….
The whole point of Building Block #1 is to link with the part of ourselves that’s eternal–the part that is one with the Greater Whole. Through this we know we are protected and guided, and we know we can draw on this or lean on this throughout our day.
What’s your favorite way of getting in tune with Source, whether It’s within or outside of you? My favorite way is to sit quietly and listen to the sounds of Nature and let them lead me to the Greater Whole both within me and that which surrounds me.
Living your soul-prospering life is determined by your daily routines.
We all have routines. They are useful in helping us streamline mundane tasks so that we can focus on important projects. Without even thinking about it, we humans create routines for everything from how we comb our hair in the morning, to where we sit in the cafeteria every day at lunch, to the route we take to and from work every day.
Out of all the routines we have in our day, which one is the most important?
Research has shown that your morning routine is the most important one.
How do you get up every morning?
Exhausted, even after 8 – 10 hours of sleep?
Stomach knotted from worry and stress?
Being done with the day even before it’s begun?
Is this how successful people start their days? I did some research and I found that successful people do NOT start their days like this.
By “successful people”, I mean those living soul-prospering lives, lives that they absolutely love. They may not have huge bank accounts or be famous, or receive awards and accolades, but they are living the life they know they were born to live.
How do successful people wake up in the morning–what do they do?
My research showed that although each person had things they did that were particular to them and their life, there were 4 building blocks that each had in common. This was true throughout the millennia from the Ancient Greeks through modern times.
Silence / Meditate / Pray
They each took time–10 – 20 minutes first thing in the morning–to connect with either the Divine or the core at their center that’s peaceful and calm, no matter what’s going on around them.
Take time to study in THEIR particular area of interest.
This may or may not coincide with how they earn their living. They may be a successful nuclear physicist by day but they may be captivated by cooking or woodworking or being a better parent or spouse.
Making progress on a goal that matters to THEM.
It’s unrelated to what their boss, spouse, kids, parents, society thinks is important. It’s what’s meaningful to THEM. They decide what one or two things they’ll do that day on that meaningful goal and they mark when in the day they’ll do that one or two things.
Their body: Exercise and nutrition
Simple exercise–turning on music and moving to it or some other enjoyable activity that gets you up and going.
Food that replenishes them from the overnight and fuels them for the morning. REAL food packed with vitamins and minerals. Again, simple foods such as a fruit smoothie or a vegetable salad.
Building a morning routine with these 4 steps that are backed by research as well as withstood the test of time,
Your morning routine equals your soul-prospering life.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about morning routines. Not so much regarding getting things done so I can get out the door on time but rather putting my best foot forward, giving myself a good start to the day.
In my reading, I came across this essay by Ella Wheeler Wilcox on starting the day right. Her advice, penned in 1903, coincides with what today’s researchers have discovered: controlling one’s thoughts and habits and directing them toward the positive and the constructive increases effectiveness throughout the day.
Here’s what Ella would have told those researchers:
Morning Influences by Ella Wheeler Wilcox**
What do you think about the very first thing in the morning?
Your thoughts during the first half-hour of the morning will greatly influence the entire day. You may not realize this, but it is nevertheless a fact.
If you set out with worry, and depression, and bitterness of soul toward fate or man, you are giving the key note to a day of discords and misfortunes.
If you think peace, hope and happiness, you are sounding a note of harmony and success.
The result may not be felt at once, but it will not fail to make itself evident eventually.
Control your morning thoughts. You can do it.
The first moment on waking, no matter what your mood, say to yourself: “I will get all the comfort and pleasure possible out of this day, and I will do something to add to the measure of the world’s happiness or well-being. I will control myself when tempted to be irritable or unhappy, I will look for the bright side of every event.”
Once you say these things over to yourself in a calm, earnest way, you will begin to feel more cheerful. The worries and troubles of the coming day will seem less colossal.
Then say: “I shall be given help to meet anything that comes to-day. Everything will be for the best. I shall succeed in whatever I undertake. I cannot fail.”
Do not let it discourage you if the moment you leave your room you encounter a trouble or a disaster. This usually happens. When we make any boasts, spiritually or physically, we are put to the test. The occult forces about us are not unlike human beings. When a school-boy boasts of his strength, and says he can “lick any boy in school,” he generally gets a chance to prove it.
When we declare we are brave enough to overcome any fate, we find our strength put to the test at once.
But that is all right. Prove your words to be true. Regard the troubles and cares you encounter as the “punching bags” of fate, given you to develop your spiritual muscle.
Go at them with courage and keep to your morning resolve.
By and by the troubles will lessen, and you will find yourself master of Circumstances.
What’s your morning routine? This week we’ll be discussing this topic. Feel free to share your thoughts and your morning routine. Thanks!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
**Morning Influences by Ella Wheeler Wilcox appeared in The Heart of New Thought published by The Psychic Research Company, 1903