Therapeutic Landscapes

Did you know that different geographical locations or landscapes can be spiritually or physically healing? The mountains, forests, oceans, and deserts of the world offer you the opportunity to explore both your interior and exterior worlds.

The next time you travel, tune into the elements.  Each geographical location will have its own energy, its own ecosystem, and its own natural vibration.

These include:

Mountains

Mountains represent strength and stability.  By connecting to mountain energy, we can generate inner strength to withstand emotional and physical problems or barriers.  Mountains remind us to feel centered and grounded.

Mountains can be chipped away at; holes or tunnels can be carved deeply into its core, but they always remain solid.  Mountains are reminders to be strong in body and mind.

Sometimes our problems may appear like mountains, huge obstacles that we can’t get around or over, but with each step, we eventually climb the summit, overcoming personal struggles or difficulties.  Mountains remind us that we can get through the rough terrain, the tough times, and reach our goals.

Deserts

The Desert has been known to be an ancient and sacred place throughout history.  People have been known to go into the desert to find themselves, or to seek a connection with God, spirit or the universe.

The desert offers a stillness that we often struggle to find within.  In the desert, the landscape can seem quite harsh and barren, and where we find we have nowhere else to go, but within.

The desert is a place of emptiness and solitude.  It can represent our feelings of loneliness and isolation, but in the desert, if you listen, you will hear the whispers of the winds who continually blow, forever moving and changing the landscape. If you find yourself in a barren and desolate inner desert, go within, seek connection, and remember that the winds of change will guide you safely out again.

Forests

Forests are magical places that for centuries, people have written stories about mythical creatures that live deep within its foliage.  Forest symbolism represents our unconscious, and getting lost in the forest can represent our own inner search for direction and meaning.

Green plants and trees have been known to heal body, mind, and spirit while reducing daily stressors and tension.  Psychologically, green forests can offset angry and aggressive feelings.  Next time you feel irritable or upset, take a walk in the forest, chances are, by the end of your journey, your anger will subside.

Oceans

The ocean has been a source of healing for centuries.  Salt water replenishes our spirit, while salt air cleanses our lungs.  The sound of waves can induce a meditative state, helping to leave worries and cares behind, while the color blue instills a sense of peace and tranquility.

The ocean is symbolic of life in many cultures. Psychologically, water is symbolic of emotions, often fluid and flowing, changing with the tides, sometimes volatile and sometimes calm and serene.

One of my favorite places is the Gulf of Mexico.  A natural thinker by nature, I find that the expanse of the ocean clears my mind and brings about a sense of clarity and focus.

The next time you plan a trip, think about geographical locations, and let your body, mind, and spirit guide you…

Deserted Island Dreaming?

 

Have you ever fantasized of going to a deserted island, leaving your worries and cares behind?  Have you ever experienced solitude in a place where the expanse of the ocean and sky, fills your soul in a way that nowhere else ever has?

I have dreamt of being on a deserted island my entire life, and have often visualized myself walking for miles on white sandy beaches, swimming in warm healing salt waters, while watching fluffy white clouds float by.  There, I wouldn’t have a thought or care in the world.

On August 12, 2017, I finally made my long term dream come true.  Being a familiar traveler of southern Florida, I have visited many different and beautiful beaches but had never boated to a deserted island. On my last trip to Marco Island, I did some research and although there were several boating excursions to pick from, I chose Hemingway’s Water Shuttle, a relatively new company that had received positive reviews.

Hemingway’s Water Shuttle is located on Marco Island, and is a small family run business that shuttles people from Rose Marina to a deserted island called Keewaydin. You have the choice to go to the island and stay for a couple of hours or for the entire day. If you stay for more than two hours, I would recommend that you bring a beach umbrella for shade. But if you don’t have one, not to worry, because Hemingway’s has all the gear and equipment that you need at a very reasonable price.

The boat trip is a fun, smooth sailing journey through tranquil turquoise waters, and you have the choice to either sit in the shaded covered part of the boat, or you can stand up front with the wind in your hair, like I did, pretending your onboard the Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio, feeling a sense of freedom that you have never felt before.

Keewaydin Island is surrounded by beautiful crystal white beaches, and the water is so warm and soothing, that all your cares and worries literally float out of your head with each passing wave, being left onshore for the remainder of the day.  (When I left, I chose to leave my cares and worries there).

One side of Keewaydin Island is barren, with only a handful of people who also share the same dream of tropical nature and solitude; while the other side of the island has more of a party feel to it, with food and cocktail boats floating alongside the shore.  People picnic, socialize, and dance to Latin music. You can start your morning off on a secluded desert beach, and then end the day dancing in the surf!

Steve and Val Hemingway are exceptional guides, both having warm friendly personalities and a passion for creating wonderful experiences for people who come onboard.  They made it a point to get to know all of their passengers, finding similarities between people and asking where everyone has travelled from.

I asked both Steve and Val, what were some of their favorite stories from their boating trips.  They shared several experiences, some of which really touched my heart, they include:

“Children’s excitement and joy when finding seashell treasures in the sand; An elderly man in a wheelchair saying he never thought he would feel the sand beneath his feet ever again, and a woman who hadn’t watched the sunset in years.”

The boat trip consisted of dolphin watching, slowing down to take pictures, and Riley the dolphin dog, who runs from one side of the boat to the other spotting dolphins. Riley, a cockapoodle, always knows when the dolphins are nearby.  He travels on most of the trips with Steve and Val to Keewaydin Island.  Having a canine boating companion was another fun and unexpected part of the journey.

Now back onshore and back home, I continue to dream about Keewaydin Island, and can still feel myself floating on the warm salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico, wishing that some moments would last forever.  My worries and cares are still there, they continue to float in the gentle waves, but probably have travelled far out to sea by now, carried away forever…  I never needed them in the first place.

With many thanks and appreciation for a wonderful time with Hemingway’s, I was able to make one of my own dreams come true.

For more information:

https://www.hemingwaywatershuttle.com

 

American Airlines Greatest Asset

Every once in awhile you meet an exceptional person who inspires you or makes an impact on you for the rest of your life. That is exactly what happened to me on August 10, 2017, onboard American Airlines, flight 2634 from Chicago to Fort Myers,

I misunderstood the captains announcement that it was someones birthday and thought he was talking about one of the flight attendants. I later got out of my seat and met the flight attendant that I thought was her birthday. I said, “Is it your birthday today?” She said in a jovial way, “No, my birthday was in July and I turned 76.” I thought she was joking and said, “How old did you say you were?” She said again , “I’m 76 and hope to be doing this job until I’m 80!”

Mary had a magnetic personality and I was immediately intrigued to find out more about her.

Mary was happy to share that she has been working for American Airlines for 35 years and only became a flight attendant at the age of 54. She said that at the age of 76, she is the 3rd oldest flight attendant working for American Airlines.

Mary expressed that her life is blessed, and said that she loves to meet people, which is obvious by her natural warmth and friendly demeanor. Mary said “Age is only a number.”, and went on to say that she enjoys sky diving, parasailing and golf. On Mary’s time off, she volunteers with a local hospice center and Alzheimer’s organization in Fort Worth Texas.

Mary’s life story inspired me greatly. She is truly living an authentic life of serving others. She has a wonderful attitude about life and sees each day as an adventure. Mary said that each morning she wakes up and hopes that she can inspire someone. Well on August 10, 2017, Mary truly inspired me in more ways than she will ever know. I have no doubt she will reach her goal of working with American Airlines until the age of 80, and that she will go on to inspire many others.

I also want to give American Airlines a huge thumbs up for hiring Mary at the age of 54. She is truly one of their greatest assets.

I hope someday that our life paths will cross again somewhere in this world, and that Mary will say to me, “I turned 80 and hope to work until I’m 85!”

  • Keep flying high Mary, wishing you all the best!

Intentional Laughter

As a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Laughing Yoga Leader, I combine seriousness with silliness.  I help people understand CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and how our thoughts often lead to anxiety and depression symptoms.  If we change our thoughts, we can change our experiences in life.

Several years ago, I worked as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor for Health and Human Services. Although I loved my work, it was emotionally and physically draining.  I worked with children being removed from their homes, adults with serious mental health issues.  My days were full of seriousness and often traumatic events, and most of my clients were either sad or angry.  As the months and years passed, I realized that not only did I need more lightness and happiness in my daily life, but that my clients did as well.  I decided at this time that I needed to set a personal goal of bringing more happiness into my life.

In 2012, I attended the National Wellness Conference, where I embarked on a new journey towards personal happiness.  Not knowing anything about the subject, I signed up for a ‘Laughing Yoga Leader Workshop’.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but thought that anything with the world “Laughter” in the title, sounded good.  In my line of work, laughter and happiness were greatly lacking.

Although I had taken yoga classes in the past, I knew that Laughing Yoga didn’t involved yoga posses, but incorporated laughter with yogic breathing techniques.  I tend to be more on the serious side, and thought a weekend of laughter was just what I needed.

The week prior to the workshop, I experienced several stressful events and thought that the workshop couldn’t have come at a worse time.  The last thing I felt like doing was laughing or pretending to be happy.  At the time, I was feeling stressed and burnt out emotionally, and what I really wanted to do was to retreat and hibernate from the world, but what I decided to do, was to intentionally choose happiness.

I struggled to get to the workshop and tried to talk myself out of it every step of the way.  Once there, I entered the classroom, and quickly found an empty seat in the back of the room.  I thought, if I wanted to, I could always leave. The instructor immediately led us into a laughing exercise which involved introducing ourselves, saying something silly and laughing. I felt completely out of my comfort zone and wanted to leave immediately, and again had to talk myself out of leaving.

The instructor explained that the laughter at first will feel fake, but often turns into real or genuine laughter.  Although in the beginning, I felt awkward, I eventually started to authentically laugh when I looked at other people’s faces and heard their laughter.  I even found myself having fun and found that the laughter was actually relieving my stress. I had even stopped thinking about my own personal problems and realized that no matter what was going on in my life, that I always had the choice to choose happiness.

As the weekend progressed, laughing became easier and I had broken through my resistance to remain serious.  I completed the weekend workshop feeling good, although none of my initial problems had been resolved or addressed, I felt lighter and happier.

What impacted me most about Laughing Yoga was that I realized that I could either choose to be unhappy, consume myself with worry or negative thoughts, or I could choose happiness, although difficult, but not impossible.  It simply is a choice.

Choosing to intentionally laugh, keeps you connected to the present moment because you can’t genuinely laugh and worry at the same time.  At the time of the workshop, my situation hadn’t changed at all, but my thoughts about the problems did, and I realized that I could choose happiness and joy just the same as I could choose stress or worry.

I am now a Certified Laughing Yoga Leader and bring laughing yoga into my private practice helping clients to see that they can also intentionally be happy, the same as they set their intentions to go to work each day, to eat meals and to spend time with their kids.

We can all learn to laugh, even during the darkest of times, as bringing a bit of laughter into our day, doesn’t take away from the seriousness of hardships that we are experiencing, but can actually help us to get through these stressful times and help us on the road to recovery.

I have often found working with clients, that people often become accustomed to being unhappy or finding reasons to stay angry or sad.  Sometimes people don’t know how to redirect their lives to a happier state of mind.  By creating the intention to laugh, even for a few minutes a day, you can transform your life!

Starting today, set your intention to laugh.  It doesn’t matter if you laugh at silly things, laugh alone, or with others.  Just laugh!

Nature and Nurture

Using nature to nurture your soul is a powerful way of self healing.

Sunshine lifts your spirits, the salty ocean cleanses your soul, while the mountains and forests can deeply ground you.

When your feeling out of balance, take yourself out into nature.  Research indicates that nature is a natural healer.  In the past, when people were inpatient in hospitals, part of their recovery involved sitting outside on the hospital grounds, surrounded by trees, green grass, water or rolling hills.  Nature has a natural way of healing the body, mind and spirit.

If you can’t get outside, bring life indoors.  Surround yourself with potted plants or even create a small rock garden, and open the windows.  Sunshine not only provides our bodies with necessary vitamin D, but also alleviates depression symptoms.

Nature also heals through the use of holistic or natural medicines.  In the past, plants were medicine.  Always check with a professional before consuming natural remedies as with any kind of pharmaceutical medication, you have to be careful.

Remember to nurture your body, mind and spirit, when facing a difficult problem or issue.  We often look to others to nurture us in times of need, but we must always begin with ourselves.  Nurture yourself through nature and feel the power of its healing energies.

Hiking the Hoodoos

 

The Best of Utah – May, 2017

If your looking to meet new people, go hiking in beautiful remote places, and have a passion for travel and adventure, I encourage you to experience Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Escalante.

I recently booked a one week camping trip through Wildland Trekking, and joined eight strangers on a trip to beautiful Utah, where we spent our days hiking, exploring exotic landscapes, climbing the worlds largest sandstone canyons, and learning about each other.  I was lucky to find such an interesting and diverse group of people to spend the week with.

What’s great about going on an adventure with a group of strangers is that its always an interesting experience.  Together we hiked, laughed, explored, ate our meals outside ontop of rock canyons, at the bottom of a waterfall and in a petrified forest.

In the past, I would never have thought about joining a group of strangers on a trip, but after having experienced two hiking and camping trips with strangers, I’m hooked!  There is nothing better than sharing your experience with people who have the same love and passion for adventure and travel that you do!

I’m already planning my next trip and excited to meet the next group of people!  Death Valley or the Great Northwest, here I come!

 

 

“End of Trail”

This photo was taken on top of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona where I originally started out on the bottom as a solo traveler.  As it often happens in life, I met another traveler who had her own story to tell, and part of her journey was to lead me to the top of the Cathedral Rock.  With my love for nature and adventure, we set out on a day’s hiking trip, learning about each other’s lives, knowing we would never meet again.

The journey to the “End of Trail”, was an adventure of courage, guidance and self exploration.  After climbing for several hours, I eventually reached the end of the trail.  I could not go any further.  I looked out over the beautiful Arizona landscape, feeling the grounding rock beneath my feet.  As I sat on top of Cathedral Rock, I reflected on own my path, both literally and symbolically.  Had I reached the “End of the Trail” in other areas of my life?

At different times in our lives, we get to the end of the trail and have to begin a new path or a new journey.  Part of my passion is to help others through their own transitions, putting closure on endings and helping people to begin to explore new journey’s.  Life continually takes us to the “End of trail”, and it is during these times that we can look back, reflect, be thankful, and search for the next pathway that calls to our spirit.  A new inner journey calls, whether it be a solo journey or a shared group experience… There are always new paths to explore, new mountains to climb and people to help guide us along the way.