Nature Mentors


At some point along the way, beyond the loss of my spouse, beyond the loss of my daughter, beyond chronic illness and unrelenting pain, beyond my expectations and dreams, unwanted changes, beyond it all, I have settled in a place called home, within.


I was lost in my search. Anywhere I looked I was turned away, disappointed, disrespected and rejected. I struggled for years searching for what I needed, looking everywhere but where home was, inside me.


Then I kicked and screamed, denied and debased all the possibilities and reasons why I couldn’t be safe within. I wore out my excuses. I wore out my body. I surrendered, cooperating with the subtle, gentle voice within, at first not trusting, exhausted from the fight, finally quieting to it.


Life is like nature. Battered with violent storms. Calmed in beautiful weather. We hunker down. We rise up. We renew. Nature mentors us. We learn to breathe again. We lean on her strength. We soothe ourselves on the journey.


I Asked the Trees for Advice by Carolyn Riker

When I’m aware,

the subtle winds will blow

and the evergreens will sing.

The free branches will sway

and the air will tilt slightly

into a delicate softness.


They seem to say

there is no right or wrong way.

Embraced with hints of gray

embroidered with

threads of chartreuse.


Yet, today there’s only sepia

and I’m alright with that.

So much so that I asked

whatever or whomever is listening:


How often do we hold onto everything,

all the time,

forever thinking we have to?


And then, as if by natural law

the trees replied

with such kindly comfort:


Right now, Let go a little

and we’ll send a message

to all the Willows to weep

and the Redwoods to carry

and the River Birch to soothe.


Let all that you hold

drip next to the exhausted rose

and over the snowy peaks.


Breathe for a few,

within this safe shelter

and bow into the quiet darkness

knowing there’s an unseen connection.


Nature is always with you.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I’m trying to stay in this place of acceptance and pay attention to where my mind is taking me. Technology problems are frustrating for me. look forward to reading what you shared. These challenges are bringing up issues for me. My anxiety goes sky high and make matters worse. I find so much refuge going outside and being in nature. Listening to the sounds outside changes the game for me. Thank you for holding this space.

  • On my website, I have a free download for stress relieving techniques. There’s eight of them. I’ve used them for years and know they work. Some of them create instant gratification. Frustration and anxiety cascade and become an overwhelming experience that’s not fun.

  • This has been such a stressful week, and it’s going to continue. I’m grateful for your message today about surrender. That’s exactly what I need to hear. To deal with this stress, it’s about surrendering and not make it all happen on my terms, and just do the best I can and let go of the outcome. I know there’s a lot of people depending on me and I just have to surrender. I just love what you said. You talked about letting nature nurture us. There’s lots of things that I can use to nurture myself. It’s a good reminder. Surrender – that’s my job today.

  • I really appreciate your reading today. I almost didn’t come. I’m pretty depressed. I don’t know why. I need to let go. It’s hard to surrender. Imagining the willows weeping, it’s just beautiful. It doesn’t instantly fix anything, but just knowing we are connected. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m glad I showed up today. Thank you for holding space.

  • The idea of self-soothing came up yesterday. Rocking in a rocking chair soothes me and calms me down. A repetitive movement creates comfort and is a positive way to self-soothe, unlike other ways I have done in the past. Another tool I use to help when feeling anxious is I hold a coin or small object in one hand and pass it to the other hand, the repetitive movement creates a calming effect on the mind. I’ve used coin passing to deal with depression, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed. It’s a cross lateral movement that calms the mind down. It helps instantly.

  • I find a couple of minutes each day spending time outdoors with nature so wonderful. I laughed at myself this morning. I was hiking along a river and realized I had some earbuds in my pocket and considered listening to music. Then I realized nature’s music was so much more comforting. It’s soothing to be part of nature’s symphony.

  • I have lived alone for a long time and one thing I’ve been doing for years that’s helpful is almost every day I take a very hot bath. I’m being held by the water and I release emotions into the water and relax. It’s made a big difference in my life.

  • I have a quick story about a bulb I received for Christmas. It was supposed to have a big red flower. This year it became the center of my life as it grew. I was so excited watching the process. Every day I gave reports as it progressed. I could never have imagined eight flowers blooming out of this one bulb. I believe all my excitement and attention created an energy connection. The flowers kept blooming and they would make room for other blooms to join it and at one point a vine from another plant came down and held it up. It was quite a journey with this plant inside my house. It gave me such joy. I really believe I created a special relationship with that amazing flower. It was a lovely journey.

  • I’ve been feeling that yearning to be loved, like wanting somebody else to love me. When you talked about coming home, it reminded me of what I’ve learned from this group which is I’m never alone because I have myself. I hold myself. I found it was self-soothing, comforting myself and holding myself.

  • Thank you for joining us today. Thank you for listening to my words and the words of the poem. I have an internal barometer. I ponder what I’m going to share every morning. Whether I’m guided to read a poem or a memory or an encounter, it’s a thread I follow. Each of us have threads in our lives and we can choose not to pick that one and choose to pick another one. They are there. The more practice I get, the more practice I have in discerning what thread is going to work with me and what’s going to lead me down a more painful path. Sometimes I’m compelled to pick a thread that leads me through a painful process. There’s always a learning in it. I may not understand the learning until days or weeks after. There’s wisdom in everything we experience. I welcome your tears. I welcome your joys. This is the space to have them. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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