I took off today to celebrate Earth Day.  I drove to the mountains and hiked 8 miles with my beautiful daughter and loving, courageous dog.  I know not many people view Earth Day as a reason to take a holiday, but there is truly nothing that nourishes my soul more than spending time in nature.  In times of uncertainty and crisis, looking to mother nature reminds me of both how fragile life is, and also of its amazing resilience. 

Despite natural disasters, fires, scalding hot summers, harsh winters, and man’s many interferences, nature always finds a way to persevere, restore balance and heal. There are endless parallel lessons that we can learn from nature as we tread through these tentative times.  Here are a few pearls of wisdom I took away from my hike today.

Growth.  Every spring there is new growth: budding trees, blooms of flowers, fresh green grass.  Even in areas of decay or the dying of an aging tree, there were signs of new life and new growth being created in its place.  No matter how harsh the winter, or devastating the disaster, nature rebuilds and rebirths herself time and time again.  Like nature, we too can grow in the face of crisis.  It might involve rediscovery and discarding comfortable habits that no longer serve us, but it can be done.

Foundation.  Walking through mature woods, you are in the presence of trees that stand 50 feet tall, many over a hundred years old.  They have withstood high winds, soaking rains, and parching draughts.  But what actually allows these trees to stand strong day after day is not their solid trunks, but their roots, their foundation.  For a tree, like a child, to grow “big and strong” her foundation needs to be firm.  She needs to be nourished through nutrient rich soil and sustained by an extensive support system.  Like a tree, we can’t endure the demands of life or remain strong and vibrant without high quality nutrients, hydrating water, energizing sunshine or the sustenance of family and friends.

Challenge.  An 8 mile hike can be a challenge, especially when hiking upwards.  However, the reward at the end is a spectacular view.  A view that gives you an entirely new perspective.  Not to devalue the beauty in the details of the forest, the water falls, the wildflowers and the wild life absorbed during the climb, but at the top the sky opens up revealing endless views and possibilities.  Persevering through challenges, overcoming obstacles, facing hardships not only allows us to gain a new perspective but also reminds us of the new opportunities that are waiting. 

Courage.  The last thing that I was reminded of today didn’t come from nature, but from one of God’s great creatures, my dog.  My sweet dog Ellie went blind at a year old, and she is now 6.  Yet her disability doesn’t stop her!  She trots through the woods and climbs up mountains, many times off leash and leading the way, without fear or hesitation.  It wasn’t like this in the beginning, but Ellie was quickly able to overcome her fear and adapted to her life without vision through our love and reassurance.  We are all in this together, and loving and encouraging one another will give us the courage to step out of our homes once again. 

Below is a poem that I am sure many may have already read, as thousands of people have been inspired to share it.  But in case you haven’t, I hope it brings you comfort that in the end, we will all grow from this experience, our foundation will keep us strong, the challenge will bring a new perspective and because of love and support from family and friends, you are able to tap into the inner courage that you didn’t know you had.  Enjoy!

“And the people stayed home.  And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.  Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed.  And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”   ~Kitty O’Meara

Susan Brady
is a Physical Therapist,
Nutrition Consultant and
Doctor of Integrative Medicine.
She has been treating women with osteoporosis for over 30 years and is dedicated to helping people achieve
lasting good health and vitality.

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