How are you doing? I know I’ve been extra stressed lately and I’m feeling pretty wiped out. My son is getting ready to go back to college … without going back, for his senior year. I haven’t been able to visit my parents and I miss them. I know many of you are missing people and letting go of expectations too. Where do you turn when things get to be too much, when joy seems lost in the darkness?

I turn to nature to fill me with awe and joy. The redwood trees and the ocean, my favorite hiking trails and changing sky … these things make their way onto my gratitude list regularly, and when I’m feeling down, I often step outside. Right now, with so many things I can’t do, being in nature has been particularly helpful in creating moments of joy.

You may be stuck in your home right now without access to what you think of as nature. I invite you to expand your idea of what “counts” as nature.

As a little girl growing up in an apartment building in New York City, I didn’t have much access to NATURE but found nature by being creative. I have strong memories of standing by the window with my dad and watching the sunset, it was beautiful and also a special shared experience. We’d watch as the sky turned pink and lavender and then red and orange. No matter how many times I watch a sunset, even through a window from the 15th floor, it never fails to make me remember those times and also feel awe and joy.

Joy is about embracing those tiny moments, feeling them in your body and savoring them in your mind. By being totally focused on that moment of joy you create a positive memory, something you can draw on when things are rough.

What are some tiny moments (or big ones) in nature that you have experienced? Make a list.

As you write down your list, pause to really feel each moment, close your eyes, feel it in your body, remember to focus on your senses: I see …, I hear …, I smell …, I feel …, I taste…. This will allow you to create a strong memory.

Experiencing nature in the moment and exploring your past memories of these joyful times can shift your mood, make you feel connected to nature, feel the awe all over again, and deepen your joy and resilience. Please take a moment to close your eyes and reflect on how examining the details of your memory felt. Write down your reflection in your own words.

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