Source: There is Magic in the Forest
Yup, science-based, fact-based magic can be found and experienced in any forest in the world. Anyone who has taken a walk in an autumn forest lately knows it can boost your mood. I love to write about the magic of the power of thought and I back it up with a bit of science to make it real. There are natural, magical forces at work in the forest that are amazing in their complexity if you take a closer look.
There is a certain slant of the sun this time of year that shoots through the leaves and turns them neon and just seeing that beauty begins the magical experience. By seeing that burst of beauty your body reacts by releasing chemical reaction of producing the GABA molecule in the brain. “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule” GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness”, says Christopher Bergland in Psychology Today.
Surrounding yourself with beauty can bolster your creative flow. Thoreau, Nietzsche and many other creative types have claimed that walking gives wings to the imagination. Last year, psychologists gave this empirical support. Walking, either on a treadmill or around Stanford’s leafy campus, bolstered divergent thinking: the free-roaming, idea-generating component of creative thought.
Once you have taken those first few steps and start to feel calmer, you take a deep breath and inhale scents of pine, birch, eucalyptus, grass, water etc. etc. Now, think about it – when you walk into a spa, what is that amazing scent that wafts over you and draws you into the magic? Yup, pine, birch, eucalyptus, water etc. As we walk through a forest the natural aromatherapy of the forest scents cause us to breathe more deeply, “triggering neurons in your brain which tell the body it is time to relax, a new study has found,” Sarah Knapton, Science editor of The Telegraph says. She goes on to explain:
“Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California have identified 175 brain cells which spy on the breath and alter the state of mind accordingly. For thousands of years, yoga students have been taught that controlling their breathing can bring a sense of calm, while it is a well-known truism that taking a few deep breaths can lower rage. But until now nobody knew why it worked. The neurons which link breathing to relaxation, attention, excitement and anxiety are located deep in the brainstem.”
After a few minutes of walking your heart rate begins to climb. Oh, the magic of cardio! We all know the benefits of raising our cardio levels but to put it in a nutshell scientifically, recent evidence points to a pleasurable and pain-killing firing of the endocannabinoid system: the psychoactive receptor of cannabis.
One fascinating study randomly assigned a group of 59 men and women to either an aerobics-focused program or a stretching and strength-training program. After 6 months, sophisticated brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed that the aerobically fit adults had significantly more activity in the frontal cortex of the brain, the region associated with executive function (planning and long-term memory storage), as well as the parietal cortex, the seat of spatial orientation — two areas often associated with age-related cognitive decline.
While cardio does increase blood flow to the brain, that’s not the whole reason for aerobics’ impressive effects. Instead, the researchers believe that many of the positive changes could be attributed to an increase in BDNF, the “Miracle-Gro” brain hormone. The brain that enjoys cardiovascular training, the researchers say, is “more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better learning and performance.” Not too shabby for a daily walk in the woods.
On a typical walk through the forest, you may take music along, run into a friend and visit for a while, sharing a laugh or two and pull out a chocolate/vanilla health bar to share. Oh, the happiness chemicals are surging!!! According to studies from Readers Digest:
- Listening to music you love triggers joy by unleashing feel-good brain chemicals. “The Bliss Molecule” Endocannabinoids are self-produced cannabis that work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system.
- Group exercise has some distinct advantages, according to a recent study. Not only will friends spur you on if you’re flagging, but the shared effort may give your endorphin levels an extra boost. Researchers in 2009 found that college crews who rowed in synchronization had an increased rush of these feel-good hormones compared with those who rowed alone.
- Laughter is sometimes described as ‘inner jogging’. Research has shown that it can help to: • Lower blood pressure. • Reduce stress hormones. • Boost immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting cells. • Trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. • Produce a general sense of wellbeing.
- Chocolate-lovers will be delighted to hear that dark chocolate provides protection against heart attacks and strokes. Thanks to its high content of polyphenols and other antioxidants, dark chocolate reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, reduces ιbad᾿ LDL cholesterol, boosts ιgood᾿ HDL cholesterol and protects the health of your arteries. It also contains chemicals that prompt the release of endorphins! Add the benefits of vanilla, which helps reduce anxiety, often associated with depression. According to a study at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, patients undergoing MRIs who breathed vanilla-scented air reported 63 percent less anxiety than those who breathed unscented air.
To me, the science of the functioning body is magical. Every second, the delicate dances of balance, growth and decay are performed with precision. A simple walk in a forest can ingite and excite so many bodily chemical reactions, it is boggling. It is a testament to how we are all connected in our delicate dance of life.
Another magical forest experience I took part in was the Oregon Family Forest Fest. Imagine the fun of having 130 young families with around 200 kids age 0-5 camping, playing, singing and dancing on a magical farm complete with moss-draped West Coast cedars and a babbling brook.
Off we went to the Leaping Lamb Farm for 3 days of a festival like no other. The weather was perfect and the babies slept… all good. 🙂 The Family Forest Fest is in its second year and was definitely not a disappointment! Entertainers, movies, speakers, giant bubbles and dress-up parades were some of the highlights.
Finally, I’d like to introduce you to a phenomenon in Korea, called “Salim yok” and “Shinrin-yoku” in Japan or “Forest Bathing”. The practice of forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well-being. Similar to Finnish traditions, doctors have recognized the numerous health-boosting effects of being in nature. In contemporary times, The Korean Forest Research Institute has found that chemicals from conifers (specifically Torreya Nucifera), phytoncides, are associated with positive health effects. Packaging and proliferating phytoncides in workplaces and elsewhere have been shown to increase productivity. In fact, out of workplace lunchtime has many people seeking forest to walks to rejuvenate themselves over that period.
So friends, I don’t know if it really is magic or science or just a beautiful thing, but what I do know is the forest does have a resonance and power to make us feel better, be younger, smile and be happy.
Take that walk soon and feel it.
Sources and more info:
Finally, I invite you to check out a sneak preview of my new book about finding magic in the forest, “The Adventures of Presley and the Mighty, Noble Knights” PresleyMK
(CLICK on Presley MK)
Thanks for coming along on my journey through the woods. I always like to back up magic with a little science.
With a nod to International Women’s Day, I thought I’d explore the dichotomy of keeping inspired through despair. So many of us women try to be Wonderwoman and it’s only natural to be struck with setbacks of exhaustion, self-doubt and the reality of not being able to achieve all that we wish to. What happens, though, when negativity wins over inspiration? Depression can set in and if you are like me, it can become a looming entity hovering between you and your dreams.
There are many degrees of depression and I won’t even begin to profess to be an expert. They range from chemical imbalances to a critical inner voice and all are destructive. Whether you may experience being particularly hard on yourself to perform or are battling a losing war with a chemical imbalance, I thought I would reach out with a bit of wisdom wrought with love.
For the last while (I won’t admit to how long …) I have been “shoulding” myself to death. Instead of just getting on with all that I want to do, I heap way too much on my plate and then get overwhelmed by the mass of it. Procrastination reigns and I end the day again, feeling pissed at my inability to move forward.
So instead of whining to myself (and you) I thought I would search out some bad habit blasters and share them with you. Yes (busted!!) I am procrastinating again but by reaching out with these hopeful points, maybe I will feel like I accomplished something today.
1. Ok, first we have to love ourselves. I live to spread love out but find it very hard to accept love in.
Here is a great perspective on remembering what it takes to love yourself. Grab yourself a cup of tea and have a listen to A Tedx Talk by Gala Darling titled Radical Self Love.
2.We all try to be special in some way. As an inspiration to our gender, I want to share two very special women with you to make you smile and love what makes us women.
As many of you know, Maya Angelou spoke her truth throughout her whole life. Her dedication to Human Rights, starting with her life story, inspired the world to love her. One of my favourite quotes from Maya is, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Martha Graham was a pioneer of modern dance. Her passion for dancing wasn’t thwarted when she was told she was “Too old, too big and too ugly” to be a ballerina. She created a new expression of dance that at first repelled her audience. It was so different, so awkward that it’s authenticity made people uncomfortable. It didn’t take long for the passion for the art to shine through and convince the world to love a new, bold and raw form of dance that moved the audience to tears.
The two women above didn’t try to be Wonderwoman. They just lived authentically and made their purpose their passion. How easy is that? Very, because it’s hard to dampen down passion. Even if we have “down days” our passion is still there, waiting … quietly.
I guess we should go easy on ourselves. There I go “shoulding” again.
3. But, really, it’s so easy to be hard on ourselves when we could be just taking a deep breath and making a list! Let’s start “coulding ” ourselves!
Seriously, making a list helps when you are overwhelmed. If you are specific about your tasks, just the process of listing them is an accomplishment. You become more clear and focused and by just ticking off one thing, you break the cycle of frustration.
Check out Michael Pollock’s blog to help you get your goals back on track.
4. Look around. Life is good. One of my all-time favourite things to put life into perspective is DESIDERATA. Have a look and download!
5. Try going for a walk or meditating, or just having a bath. The time and place where you can spend some quiet time with yourself can be healing in many ways if you let it. As you take these few minutes, think of how you would describe yourself from the perspective of someone else. Really try to look at yourself from another’s eyes. You aren’t so bad, right?
This is a quote from Martha Graham: “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”
If you are inspired by Gala, Maya and Martha that’s great! They have amazing perspective and I wish I could get all three in the same room. If, however, you still feel the grip of depression dragging you down, it’s no light matter. Have a look at Dr. Lisa Firestone’s 6 truths and 8 ways to fight it.
In closing, our dreams are the things that keep us going. As women, we multitask through our day and still feel we didn’t do enough. Let’s pat ourselves on the back instead of putting ourselves down. We are wonderful women – no need to be Wonderwoman!
Bonus: I ran out to do an errand before posting this and gave myself time to reflect on how personal this post is. I gave myself a moment to ask if I wanted to “spill”. I decided to leave it as is because that is what blogs are – personal. I was listening to the radio and heard a “Woman mash shout out” for Women’s Day and they played a tune from the past that always had me up and smiling. So, along with the walks, baths meditation or cup of tea I have suggested, get up and dance TO THIS!!
Happy International Women’s Day. xoxoxo
December had its highs and lows this year. We bid a sad farewell to dear friends and a fond hello to new ones. It is a time for reflection amidst the joy of being with loved ones. My emotions were on a rollercoaster and happy tears flowed along with the sad ones.
You can pack a lot into a month and I sure did. Some of the
high points were sharing my book with the girls at Connie
and Lily’s book club (see my last post)
and participating in the RiverCross Craft Fair where there were fairies trapped in jars and purple decorations and gifts everywhere. Gifts of the Crysnix just fit right in! I set up shop in the library along with author, Lisa Young. Visit her website here.
Between the two of us, we had great fun selling our books and visiting with the many people who came by the craft fair. Below is a slideshow of the day. Enjoy.
The month carried on and I found myself back in Arizona where I went to Vicki O’Connor’s Open House. Remember it last year? I showcased my book there but this year I relaxed as a guest and enjoyed the beauty and range of Vicki’s artistic talents and was off-duty. 😉
To find more of Vicki’s work you can see it here.
The showcased author this year was Sally Schrempf who was promoting her new book Forget the Fad and Eat the Food. Sally’s warm and funny personality shines through as she guides us to eat healthy and have fun doing it. You can buy it here.
December wouldn’t be December without Laura’s cookie making party!
Thanks to my elves for helping with the decorating! Those shortbread trees travel across continents and borders and have been a tradition in my family for many years. Yummy!!
Special sunsets and visits with family and new friends rounded out the Arizona trip. I won’t embarrass my daughter with pictures of her but we sure lucked out with the sunset that had the bonus of the full (almost super) moon rising.
Up to Canada we went and Christmas set into full swing! The weather even cooperated with a beautiful dump of snow on Christmas Eve. The table was packed as usual and the kids big and small, all had a ball.
It was a month of first steps and first time on skis for my grandsons, and first words for our granddaughter. A year for weddings – my son in July and an engagement for my step-daughter. And a year for tough things that test us; broken bones and broken hearts with the loss of too many friends.
This is the month when we touch base with the many people who mean so much to us. It is a time to reflect on our good fortune and make promises to ourselves to be better people. So love yourself and be good to your loved ones. My very best wishes to you all for a wonderful New Year.
My book, Gifts of the Crysnix, is for people with big imaginations and big hearts. It is for people who feel compelled to root for a fallen champion and feel compassion for a lost soul. One who is in search for greater ideals and who is always willing to learn more about themself and be a better person can identify with the life-lessons that are gently persuaded from the pages.
When I wrote the book I targeted the message to young people at the brink of adulthood. I thought that reading a book with new heroes who are just trying to figure out the labyrinth of life would appeal to them. Although I have appreciated positive kudos from all ages, I had the immense pleasure of meeting six young ladies who I really wrote the book for. I was the guest author at a mother/daughter book club and got to meet my target audience up close and personal.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous because it was the first time I would have honest feedback from several people at once. You just never know how something like that will turn out! The girls were very organized with their questions and critiques. Exploring the origins of my inspiration and the depths of my research, we had a lively and spirited discussion. I was so impressed by the maturity of these 11-year-old girls and the intelligence of their questions and comments. All in all, the book passed with flying colours and I didn’t have to slink out of the room with my tail between my legs.
My young target audience is a group of people with literally the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are our leaders of tomorrow and they have a lot on their plates. I appreciate the steep learning curve they are on. The primary reason why I wrote the book is to remind the reader to fight the fear that holds them back, to advocate their moral compass and to realize that by just being your true self is enough to gain respect. I dreamed up the Crysnix to personify our inner voice. We all have to listen to it because somehow it knows the future and is always right.
If I can share a little wisdom to our future leaders, it is to trust our instincts, believe in ourselves and dig deep to create and live our best lives. These are heavy lessons and I used a beautiful world of fantasy and imagery to get the point across.
Thank you to Connie and Lily for an evening I will never forget. Thank you to all the girls and moms who were there that night. I absolutely loved the interaction! It was a real thrill for me to sign the books to the girls after they read it with them exclaiming to each other in the background about how much they loved it!
What a treat for an author. For all those countless hours I spent conjuring up the story alone in front of my computer with only my imagination and hope for company, this night was a wish come true.
To see a video of me reading the Prologue set to the beautiful music of Thomas Newman, please click here
When I was two years old I learned the value of perseverance. I broke my left arm and had to suck it up all summer not being able to go swimming and playing like the rest of the kids. But, being only two, I didn’t understand the concept of time passing so being in a cast for 6 weeks was just something to deal with.
Without realizing it, I also learned patience and resilience. These concepts served me well when I broke my left leg three years later. I became a whiz on crutches and time passed. It was what it was and having no control over the healing time, I just sucked it up again.
Well, holy crap! I broke my left wrist AND left ankle this summer and I had to dig deep (still am) to remember the patience that is needed to get through. Perseverance and resilience are not a problem as I am patently reminded daily of my uncanny ability to live in denial.
The process has been humbling as I struggle with my belief that I am invincible crossed with the angst of trying to simply walk again. The last two months have been a time of reflection (couldn’t do much else) and insight into how life’s stumbles make us stronger.
Oh, you may think – what a cliche. Well, yes it is and for good reason. But what I am talking about goes deeper than what is obvious. A poor trait of Humans is that we get complacent about what is the norm. When the status quo gets tossed and an unexpected injury or illness takes over our lives, we long for that which used to make us complacent. All of a sudden, we wish we could do the little things again and we are so grateful when we finally can. What a gift! That gratitude makes us deeper, wiser and more aware of life’s simple beauty that surrounds us all. The deeper the scar, the deeper the soul.
I was fortunate to have two book signings arranged before the accident. I really didn’t feel like drumming up business so I was happy to go to Poor Michael’s Emporium a few days after the injuries happened and then on to Indigo in Calgary again. I have to admit, I have felt pretty guilty about not posting about them. But, honestly, I didn’t feel well enough. My hand didn’t allow me to type properly and I had to have my foot elevated so I binge-watched Netflix with abandon!!
I want to thank all those lovely people who came out on a stormy night to listen to my readings at Poor Michael’s Emporium. It was an Onyx of a storm that night! All of the kids bought books and I hope they have enjoyed them!
My day at Indigo went really well. The store almost ran out of my books! I am always excited to talk about a story that helps us dream big and believe in ourselves.
Life’s little stumbles give us perspective. I’m not talking about the big pitfalls that change our life forever such as losing a loved one. Unfortunately, several of my friends and family have had to go through that recently and such profound loss creates a benchmark that will define life going forward. There is no comparison.
The perspective is a gentle one. It is the knowledge that we aren’t always in control of our lives but we are in control of how we live. It makes us take time to savour the little things and appreciate so much we take for granted.
This time has also given me the gift to see a new side of my loved ones and myself.
When friends and family offer to help me it makes me uncomfortable. I had to let go and accept help, which can be hard. I appreciate those who were there for me in a way that has bonded a love so strong, it has reached a new level. All the things I took for granted like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. were done for me. The humility I found forged a stronger love for them. I also found a stronger commitment to appreciate life.
I have always been the kind of person who notices the beauty around us. It just makes me feel better. Being house bound has made me ache to take a walk at sunset or ride my bike or go for a run. I am so fortunate that I will do those things again. Beyond that, I have a deeper appreciation for those who are bound to a wheelchair. Those incredible people who have dug so deep to carry on and make a great life for themselves. They are the true testament for living with perseverance, patience, and resilience. I have the most profound respect for anyone who has dealt with a life-altering accident.
Mine was just a little stumble.
Are there Crysnix around Clear Lake, Manitoba? Judging by the enchanting forest hugging the crystal clear waters and the terrific Onyx-like storms that race, boom and crackle over the area with regularity, I think there is a very distinct possibility they are near, waiting for you to make a life-altering wish and the chance to make it come true.
It is a fabulous bookstore and cafe that sells furniture, clothing, jewellery, original art and pottery, and is generally THE meeting place for a wander or a visit. Owners, Murray Evans and Lei Anne Sharratt travel the winter, visiting exotic places such as India, Bali and Nepal and bring back treasures for the store.
In the Clear Lake area, it is a must to drop by for an excellent coffee and a browse for your next favourite book, painting or piece of furniture.
An outdoor patio beckons with flowers everywhere and little seating areas for lunch or a quiet read. Evenings, there are often musical concerts and I hope the weather holds out for me to host my reading out there.
If you are in the area, I invite you to join me for a glass of wine or dessert and coffee on Friday, August 26th at 7pm.
Wishing you a magical last weekend of summer 2016. xoxo
On the back page of my book, my Bio mentions that I found my inspiration in the forest around my family island home. I have found a lot of inspiration in that forest and this summer I had the wonderful opportunity to go back and take a walk along the trails of my childhood.
You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. Walter Hagen
The occasion was the wedding of my son, whose marriage took place on an island on the lake where he grew up. We all grew up there, all six generations of my family, and it was the perfect excuse to go back.
The old “camp” has been renovated almost beyond recognition and the changes made were beautiful ones. However, the living room and a couple of bedrooms were the same and I inhaled deeply as I walked through the scents of six generations hidden in the fir walls. The verandah was gone. It was cool in every sense of the word. We would sit out there on a hot day shaded from the sun and on a warm evening, we could rock on ancient rocking chairs and look out at the view that seemed to go on forever. It was very cool, indeed.
We do not remember days, we remember moments. Cesare Pavese
The view is mesmerizing. Like a close friend, it was always there. I can’t count the times I would look out and feel a sense of calm overtake me. It wouldn’t matter if I was a small child crying from a bee sting, a hostess of many enjoying a large party, rocking a baby to sleep or quietly playing cards at night with my mother. Whenever I looked out, it was my happy place.
Walking through the camp, things definitely looked different but I would catch myself looking out at the view and the trees and the hill and be struck again and again at how little things had really changed. Fifty-five years separate these two pictures.
Life is very different for me now. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done when I walked down the hill for the last time. Now, years later, I walked up the hill again and marveled at the fortunes of time, how they twist us and turn our lives around. So excruciating at the time, we grit our teeth and endure only to find that life turns out for the better.
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. E. M. Forster
The memory of the view will be with me forever. Although it pains me that I can’t see it readily, I have it in the picture of my mind always. It’s like the view we have of our life. We can pine for what we do not have or hold our head up and look out to the new opportunities that are around the next corner.
This week, I am incorporating a publishing company. Years ago, when I began writing for children, I was inspired by the beauty of the forest on Treaty Island. Why not name the company Treaty Island Publishing Ltd.? It’s appropriate, right?
Below, I have shared a couple of poems about the camp. Hold On To the Past was written while I still lived there every summer with my small family. Now, the words are bittersweet as I watched my daughter mother the sixth generation of our family. It is about holding on to the memories in our hearts.
I think Night Light will be a bedtime story very soon. I wrote it one night as I was looking out from my bed. It was the light of a new cabin across the lake belonging to friends I hadn’t met yet.
Night Light was recently showcased by Scriggler. You can read it here .
Hold On To the Past
A certain realm of comfort comes when living in this place.
Everywhere I turn, I can see my mother’s face.
Her decorating touches, nestled in the corners last
And I feel a reassurance when I
Hold on to the past.
My father’s vibrant voice still booms through the rafters.
I still can hear the residue of tinkling sibling laughter.
We were so young, all of us. The future seemed so vast.
Much too soon, all I could do was
Hold on to the past.
The memories in the pillows, bathtub, garden, pots and pans,
Mom’s favourite chair, playing gin at night — now I can see her hands
As I hold my cards or hold my child. Traditions have been cast.
I mother generation five as I
Hold on to the past.
The view, the hill, the summer breeze, the deer eating the flowers,
The bears, the storms — and more — create the Camp’s compelling powers.
The cool lake consumes me with a daily bracing blast,
When reaching deep into the green, I
Hold on to the past.
The feel of cool dew on my feet, or thigh-burn on the hill,
The sound of loons or smell of pine are what makes time stand still.
Gentle waves in rhythm tap a halyard on a mast.
Sensations of the ages help me
Hold on to the past.
A silent pang of sadness comes. I take it all in stride
And think of those who lived here once and swallow tears of pride.
We mark our time in summers as our lives slip by so fast
And measure our heights on the wall and
Hold on to the past.
Thanks for reading. Remember, life is all about the view. Cheers.
If you think that writing a book is daunting, it’s only half of the work once you jump into the ocean of publicity and promotional options. Authors who love to write and bring their stories to the masses have to be adept at having a marketing brain as well as being a wordsmith. That is why it is such a treat to have help from the interviews and reviews.
My last post was about the Hungry Monster Review, which I really appreciated. Now I have the honour to share the interview from Hungry Monster. I can’t express enough how exciting it is to interact with those who make it their passion to promote authors like me.
Thanks again to Thomas Anderson for his time and kind insights.
Please read the interview here.
Cheers to all and have a great day!
Oh my goodness!!! What a thrill to open a notice from Google Alerts to find this delightful review! It is the most comprehensive one yet – and still so positive and inspiring.
Thanks to the folks at the Hungry Monster for their time and effort toward reading my book, Gifts of the Crysnix and writing such a lovely account. Hungry Monster reaches out to the following:
- Barnes & Noble
- The Hungry Monster Book Review
Imagine how my heart swelled when I read:
This novel is filled with so much goodness, it’s difficult to feel a negative thought. Lisa Shore gives plenty of sage-like advice in these pages that I couldn’t help but feel like I was better off after reading it.
Overall, this book was a fantastic read. The plot holds enough meaning to make the lessons learned both insightful and valuable to any reader that pays attention enough to take it to heart. I would love to enter this world again and see how the characters continue to progress!
Please take a moment to read the review by clicking the link below.
You can even buy it at their bookstore at a discounted price!
Just click here for savings.
I am presently working on an author interview with them. I’ll share it soon!
Have a lovely day!!