nature served me as a protective friend…
The story of
As a child growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, nature served me as a protective friend. I would spend countless hours studying ants on their journey to and from their nests, fascinated by how they walked in continuous streams of small black lines, always seeming to know just what they were doing. Occasionally I would put a bit of food in their path so that I could watch them get excited and see how they managed to pick up or collectively drag it down their hole. Just being with these seemingly insignificant little beings was so calming to me. It helped me forget all my troubles and challenges by bringing me into an entirely different universe. Whether it was being with ants, lizards, frogs, bees, trees or weeds, nature uplifted me.
My grandfather was a tremendous influence on me in terms of piquing my interest in the natural world. He was the one who helped us build boxes out of cardboard and collect the monarch caterpillars so that we could study them up close. It was a mind-blowing mystery for me to be able to feed them and observe as each became a beautiful chrysalis, complete with what looked like tiny gold jewels encircling it. And to watch them hatch? Pure and utter delight and wonder, a phenomenon that is amazing to see at any age. He had a lifelong interest in insects of all kinds and instilled in me a curiosity about them that carried me through my childhood and is still very much alive today.
After graduating from UC Davis, I lived in both Idaho and Arizona, finally settling in southern California after finding my spiritual home with the Yoga Center of California. Founded in 1970 by master yogi Ramakrishna Ananda, the teachings proved to be a healing balm to my mind, body, and heart. They gave me a grounding in spirituality that I had been longing for my entire life.
For many years I was blessed to work on magnificent Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, serving in the store and restaurant that are owned by the Yoga Center. In addition, the Yoga Center has a contract with Caltech to help serve the astronomers. I worked in what was long-ago named the “Monastery”, the beautiful old building on the Palomar Mountain Observatory grounds where the astronomers live while using the Hale telescope to explore the cosmos.
Living on Palomar placed me in a wonderland for engaging nature. The innumerable stars at night, the brilliant blue skies in the day, the smells of the pines and oaks, the rocks, butterflies, birds – a feast for all the senses. And I was completely charmed by the bees who used to walk around the palms of my hands when I meditated outside in the forest. It felt magical.
When children connect with nature something marvelous can manifest. I think it is one of the most important gifts we can give them. Feeling connected to nature can be transformative for children, allowing them to move beyond themselves and their challenges into something much greater and grander. It can help foster a respect for nature and for life itself, which I believe is crucial not only for our beleaguered planet, but also for helping us appreciate the interdependence of all of life. Feeling connected to nature can help children and adults alike feel happier and more whole and inquisitive about this incredible planet we share.
My desire is to plant seeds of curiosity about life both within and around us. I want to share tools that have enabled me to find an inner peace and fulfillment beyond my dreams. What I write about comes from my own experiences. I hope you find some gems that will serve you and your children.
Together, may we thrive!