Monthly Archives: July 2013

Nature’s Splendor

I was on vacation from work last week. I took this opportunity to explore nature’s splendor. I did not visit my favorite botanical gardens this year as I have done the last 30-some years. That would be Longwood Gardens; in Kennett Square, PA. It is a beautiful expanse of gardens and conservatory in the Brandywine Valley.

I took a 7 mile hike with my son at Letchworth Park, the Grand Canyon of the East. We hiked the Gorge trail which followed the gorges carved out by ancient glaciers. We saw waterfalls, cliffs and some smaller forest animals. It was a wonderful way to connect to nature, the awe of creation and spend time with my son.

Next, my son and I drove several hours to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH. It is an incredibly beautiful conservatory, combining passionately designed floral exhibits accented with the glass artwork of Dale Chihuly. And if that were not enough, the conservatory also has a wonderful Butterfly area in the Pacific Island Water Garden. So we saw the splendor, beauty and diversity of both flowers and butterflies. It was truly a living rainbow of colors. The breezeway of the conservatory had a zen garden with koi pond and bonsai trays on placed tables.

Lastly, I visited the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in Buffalo, NY. It has a three dome conservatory building holding 12 different areas. It has the largest collection of English Ivy in the US. I loved their Bonsai collection. They did have a rose garden but they were fading in the heat. Our own roses have come and gone as well.

I really enjoy botanical gardens. It just blows me away as to the incredible colors, shapes, and varieties. The diversity of the design contained in them is almost too awesome to comprehend.

In a world where we are reminded everyday of the gloominess, the darkness of humanity, it is so incredibly refreshing to see such splendor in colors and beauty. It is refreshing to know that there IS beauty in the world. You can see the passion put into the floral and artwork exhibits. You could feel the beauty of their souls and their vision. There is good in the world and it is all around us.

My trip allowed me to see very concrete examples of beauty but I know that beauty occurs every day, everywhere. It is not lost on me the beauty of a spouse when they make dinner for the family. The beauty of a parent cheering on their child. And let us not forget the beauty of those millions of random acts of kindness that occur every day.

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Redirecting Your Mind from Overload

I am sure you have had the feeling before of being burned out. I think it is worse now in our society than before. There are so many more stresses now. Both my wife and I are feeling the increasing demands of our workplaces as resources become scarcer and deadlines are moved up. It creates just as much mental exhaustion as physical.

Mental exhaustion can leave you too tired to sleep as your mind keeps racing and continuing to work on issues when you are trying to sleep or rest. I believe it is stuck in overdrive.

One thing that I find helpful is purposeful redirection. You can’t stop thinking, as your brain is always active. You can change what you think about. I like to concentrate on positive lessons that I have learned through the week or examining spiritual discussions, I might have heard on the radio or read about.  It does not clear the mind, but it does redirect it.

I find plopping on the couch and watching mindless TV not relaxing because I am often not engaged in the program.  So taking my attention away from work and worry and concentrate on spending quality time with my wife, son, family and friends is a great way to redirect my efforts.

Prayer and meditation are wonderful tools that you can use to reset your mind. I usually do this right before I fall asleep and I rarely cognitively complete as I often slip off into sleep, which I think is a good thing.

Oftentimes, we simply just have too much to do. There is no simple answer other than: prioritizing; realize that you are human; understand that everyone gets only 24 hours a day; and learn to say “no.”  But most of all, just do the best you can and be happy that you did.

I hope that you find calmness in your life, whether it is through meditation, prayer, hot baths, massage or any other method.  Each of us react to activities differently, what completely relaxes one person may just add stress to another.  It is important that you find time to relax, even if it is for a few minutes a day.

So relax and enjoy life because living is what we were meant to do and it is so easy to miss life while trying to survive. Take care, be well and stay safe.