Our mother nature has bestowed upon us many wonderful gifts in the form of trees, lakes, mountains and seas, but owing to busy lifestyles most people forget to stay connected with nature and its beauty. They can try to excuse it with lack of time or interest, but people have truly forgotten their roots, which is a big mistake because without roots, a tree cannot grow and the same rule applies to human beings. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is time spent in nature and fortunately we can gift it to others as well. This holiday season, you can help your friends and loved ones rekindle their connection by giving them the gift of nature.
Give them a sapling
A sapling symbolizes true essence of nature. Gifting your loved ones a sapling is a great and affordable gifting idea this holiday season. Instead of gifting them a costly show piece or a bag, gift them a sapling that’ll grow in front of their eyes and become a permanent reminder of your affection and love. I recommend fruit trees because they are not only beautiful, they provide food!
Gift life time membership to a garden/park
A garden in your local community with lots of natural scenic beauty can be a great way of soothing the souls of your loved ones. A garden membership is an amazing way of bringing your near ones close to nature especially the elderly who want to stay in the garden and interact with people of similar age-group.
For the water lovers
Many of us have members in our family who love water (my husband is a total water baby) and want to stay in it always but can’t really do so owing to lack of time. So this holiday season take their excuses away by gifting them the tickets to a kayaking, canoeing, or tubing establishment (perhaps even season passes) where they can have loads of fun in the water and be closer to nature.
For the wildlife lover
Don’t forget about the people who love wildlife and animals. Kids especially fall in this category. This holiday season gift them a chance to explore wildlife closely by gifting them with season passes to a nearby zoo or wildlife sanctuary.
Apart from the above mentioned ideas you can devise your own methods and ways to develop unique gifting ideas that can bring your near and dear ones closer to nature. I would love to hear about your ideas in the comments below!
These days I am pretty much all about CrossFit but I have not forgotten my other “love”. Hiking. I got an email reminder over the weekend that my city’s annual Fall hiking series kicks off in late August and I am psyched. You basically take a guided or unguided hike through 10 of our 16 Metro parks. It is a great way to spend every Saturday for ten weeks…with your community, enjoying the changing of the leaves. I look forward to it each year. You get free refreshments after each hike and if you do enough of them you get prizes too. It is just another thing I love about Columbus, OH and just when that the Fall fun ends they start up their winter hiking series and you get to trek through snow.
I always make time for these annual hikes. Hey, it’s exercise and if you have a sedentary job (like I do) then it is important to keep moving. Walking is good. Hiking is better. It is good for your body and heart because it is interval training with periods of heavier effort followed by plateaus and resting points along the way. It’s good for you mentally too. There have been some studies over the years that have shown cognitive benefits of interaction with nature via hiking and walking. It can help you focus and ultimately be more productive. I do some of my best thinking on hikes.
As with most fitness gear I like to buy high quality. I may spend more initially but quality items last and I end up buying less and spending less in the long run. Sure I might spend $260 on a good pair of shoes but they still look brand new after two years when a pair from a big box store would have fallen apart after one season and they would have fit so badly I would have blisters. Go high quality the first go round and save your feet…unless of course you also need that pair of barefoot hiking shoes for low mileage hikes. Can’t go wrong with a few different choices, or so says this shoe whore. ;) My hubby used to give me hard time about how much I would spend on athletic gear but now that he is equally involved in these pursuits he has quickly come around to my way of thinking.
We also both love to shop at The Clymb for this reason. They carry the bands and gear we love at hugely discounted prices. We have gotten shoes, compression clothing, and thermal fitness clothing for amazingly low prices. It’s hard enough to stomach the fact that you NEED a pair of compression socks but paying $60 for those socks (a single pair) can leave you feeling faint. The Clymb though often has these socks for 50% off or more. Shoes go for equally amazing prices. The aforementioned pair of $260 shoes… knock those down to $130. My husband can attest to this. He and his workout buddies are always gabbing about some amazing deal one of them spotted on this site. I may have created a monster but a well-dressed one nonetheless.
Check out The Clymb yourself for some great deals.
July 22nd is National Hammock Day. Did you know this?? Well, if not getting to swinging, relaxing, reading, chilling…whatever it is you do on the hammock.
We are big into hammock time (and fun) here so I have lots of pictures of my kids on the hammock. Here are some of my favorites…
As a mom of two boys and the Education Director for a nonprofit land trust, I am always looking for ways to cultivate a connection between kids and the natural world around them. We live in a world where access to information (hello, Pinterest!) is at our fingertips and “go big or go home” is often the mantra for everything from school projects to birthday parties. As parents, we know that being out in nature is healthy and should be a part of our children’s’ lives but we are often too busy or simply stumped as to how to make the outdoors part of our routine.
The great news is that connecting with nature doesn’t have to be elaborate, time-consuming, or even costly. Here is a quick list of things you can do today to create a relationship with nature for your child:
1. Visit a park in your city that has an open space trail
You don’t have to drive to a forest to experience nature. Most every city in this country has a system of city parks. Many of those parks include open spaces with local, native habitat. Take a walk on the trails with your children. Watch a lizard scale a tree or wild turkey forage for seeds. I guarantee that your kids will be engaged because there is something for everyone in nature.
2. Plant a garden
Planting a garden is a great way to get your hands dirty, work the earth, and watch the literal fruits of your labor come to life. You don’t need a huge yard or an elaborate plan. Clear some grass or buy some pots, fill with good soil, plants some seeds or starters, and watch your garden grow. Make sure your child is involved every step of the way and you will likely have the added benefit of them actually wanting to eat the fruits and veggies they raised!
3. Buy or download a guide
We all know that knowledge is power. Empower your children to learn to identify the animals and plants in your yard or surrounding habitat. There is an abundance of wildlife in your own backyard. Looking at nature guides or even using a mobile device to download a guide can be really fun. Who knows, you may even learn a thing or two along with your child!
4. Make a collection
Children have a natural desire to collect things and group things together. Capitalize on that instinct and collect things you find outside. At my house we have acorn collections, leaf collections, rock collections, and the list can go on and on. I regularly use these collections as ways to talk about natural processes such as acorns and how an oak tree grows, identifying trees by their leaves, and looking closely at rocks to learn a bit of Geology.
5. Model curiosity
We know that kids are innately curious. We also know that they look to us and model our behaviors. Encourage and cultivate that desire to learn and experience nature by actually showing your own curiosity. Being outside calms the mind, develops observational skills, deepens awareness, and can foster empathy and wonder. Take these tips and experience the outdoor with your kids today.
This is a guest post wrtten by Kelly Velasco, the Director of Education and Outreach for the Wildlife Heritage Foundation.
Even though it isn’t the greenest pursuit, I love travel. It is just one of the ways in which we can connect to our planet and come to love it in all its wondrous variety…by exploration! So even though travel might increase our carbon footprint it is one of those things that I happily forgive because I really do believe that you protect what you care about and exploring your city, county, state, country, and world can be part of that. As long as you do so mindfully, with some planning, and with a careful eye to wastefulness I heartily endorse hitting the road (or the skies) with your kids. They won’t care to protect what they don’t know intimately.
One of my favorite methods of travel or maybe my absolute favorite (because I hate flying) is travel by recreational vehicle (RV). I started traveling by RV when I was just a toddler because my mother, Aunt, Uncle, and grandfather all used to travel around the midwest participating in horse shows and competitions. The easiest and most comfortable way to bring the family along was by RV, or motorhome specifically. It was very much like bringing home along with you. For holidays such as Memorial Day or the 4th of July we would also hit the road and park at various camp sites where we would camp, explore, and swim in local watering holes.
Here is the interior of the motorhome I spent 100s of hours in as a child (same as above photo), I still get a warm fuzzy feeling of pure happiness when I look at it! I would sleep on that couch (it pulled out) with my little brother. I would sit in the passenger seat and play with the CB radio while my grandfather drove us around the countryside. I would play cards with my grandmother and my cousins at that dining table (bottom left) and eat her homemade tuna egg salad sandwiches. It made for many perfect summer adventures and memories.
Taking an RV for long weekends and holiday weekends is actually a quite perfect way to go.
- Stress free. You are taking “home” with you.
- Affordable. No $ spent on hotels or airfare.
- No sleeping on the ground in a tent, you have a nice comfy bed and a place free from critters.
- Kids sleep better in a familiar place with their own pillows and blankets.
- It is easy to plan a getaway on the spur of the moment.
- No fast food or eating out because you have a pantry and kitchen.
- Power supply for gadgets such as computers, blenders, and food processors.
- A comfy place to retreat when you want to rest.
- Toys and other personal items are easy to take along with you.
- On board bathrooms, no pulling over to stop every 5 minutes!
- You can take pets with you.
- Can get one you drive or one you tow behind the family truck or SUV.
We took many planned, longer trips in the RV but we also took spur of the moment trips. One summer we drove the RV a few hours north to Chillicothe, Ohio to see an outdoor play called Tecumseh. You sit in a outdoor amphitheater and watch the story of the legendary Shawnee leader as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700’s. There are cannons firing, guns shooting, horses riding past you and it really feels as though you are there, living it. The show is several hours long so rather than driving home late at night we just parked at a nearby camp ground with RV hookups and we made a mini vacation of it. My childhood was filled with trips like this, big and small. It made me relish the coming of summer and our upcoming adventures.
Here is a photo of me with my mother, grandmother and younger brother on one of our many RV adventures. He was just a baby so I would have been about 5 years old.
Eight or so years later, nothing much has changed (below), except the RV is bigger… me, my grandmother, and brother.
I will always treasure those memories and these pictures. They were some of the happiest times of my life. I am regretful now that my own kids haven’t done as much RVing as I did. We are going to have to change that…
For more info check out Go RVing on Facebook | Twitter: @go_rving | Instagram: @gorving
Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post about my RV adventures, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.