Busy-ness…

A Philosophy of Nothingness.

We get it. Everybody’s busy. And making that claim sometimes just helps us feel justified that we’re contributing and doing important things.

But today, Olga Mecking, writer for The New York Times’ “Smarter Living” column, encourages us all to do more of, well, less. And to help make her case, she draws lessons from Niksen. a practice started in the Netherlands to help manage stress. It literally means to do nothing. Or as some might like to think, to do something but with no purpose at all.

“…daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — ‘literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.’ For that to happen, though, total idleness is required. – Sandi Mann, Psychologist

So stop whatever you’re doing, put down your phone, get up, stretch, smile, take a walk. Stare at the sky. Mindlessly cuddle your dog or cat. Whatever “nothing” you choose to do…permission granted! 🙂

Photo by Andrew Neel

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Healing Places

This spring we’ve had two friends visit from big cities…each very much in need of a respite from the pressures of their careers. Upon arrival, what they seemed to crave the most was just quiet time, down time, free of the need to “do” anything or “go” anywhere — which made me slow down, too. And it was nice. As one friend drove out the gravel driveway to head home, I couldn’t help but think this little farm has become for some a healing place. Not only for us, but for others who visit, who need to recalibrate or  forget about painful things for awhile. When our mom passed away several years ago, I remember throwing myself into work even more to avoid too much reflection, and too much grief. But when I finally came here to slow down for a few days, well, my stay ended up lasting two months. It was just the antidote that was needed and time in the country helped me plan a more joyful path forward. Dr. Oliver Sachs touches on the power of nature in his essay, “The Healing Power of Gardens.” And while Dr. Sachs drew from experiences visiting some of the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens, his message is quite clear: Mother Earth can be a great healer.

“The role that nature plays in health and healing becomes even more critical for people working long days in windowless offices, for those living in city neighborhoods without access to green spaces, for children in city schools…. The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological.” – Dr. Oliver Sachs

Dr. Sachs’ final book of essays — Everything In Its Place — will be published April 23, 2019.

 

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A love note to Alabama

“I wish I could tell you how much I love Alabama, but I think I already have. I’ve been writing about this state for a long time. I wrote a novel about it, sang about it, told stories about it…. I am not from Alabama, I married into it. But I’m glad I did. There are a lot of reasons why I love it.” -Sean Dietrich

 

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Earthing


Do you like to go barefoot in summertime? Turns out, it might be better for us than we think! Many believe that connecting with the Earth’s natural energy simply by planting our feet on the ground and walking around barefoot has many health benefits. Less stress, less pain, more energy. Here’s a book on the subject + a video. Let’s kick off our shoes and GO!

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At Heart, A Rural Poet

Writer Donald Hall, who served as Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 2006, passed away last Saturday at the age of 89.

The Poetry Foundation says his poetry “explores the longing for a more bucolic past and reflects [his] abiding reverence for nature.” A prolific creator, Mr. Hall also wrote works of fiction, essays, plays and children’s books including the Ox-Cart Man which won the Caldecott Medal in 1979.  In 2010 he received the National Medal of Arts.

He retreated to his family land — Eagle Pond Farm — in a small New Hampshire town, where he spent over 40 decades living, writing, reflecting. The farmhouse was his “Muse,” said the New York Times in a 2006 profile.

In tribute to this giant among poets, here’s Mr. Hall’s masterpiece, Names of Horses.

Names of Horses

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon’s heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun’s muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground – old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.

by Donald Hall

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