Note to Self: Be Flexible and Open

posted in: Community, Mindfulness | 0

They are two friends who live in different countries, yet they get together often. This time it was to celebrate birthdays. Nadine, who lives in Baja California, was celebrating her 70th birthday. Heidi, from Laguna Beach, had just turned 80th. They wanted to go Forest Bathing. Normally I request a group of four or more participants, but I really wanted to be a part of this birthday trip of theirs.

We had been in contact in the weeks leading up to their trip, which was to include a day in Yosemite. I wanted to be sure their experience in our area was extra special, so I made some recommendations for their day in Yosemite, as I often do with my forest bathers from out of town, based on our conversations.

Then I picked one of my super secret spots for Forest Bathing, and I gave them the details: directions to where to meet, what to bring, any allergies or physical limitations, what to wear, that sort of thing. We had been talking via email and on the phone for weeks leading up to the date, so I felt like I knew them.

What I hadn’t planned on was what greeted me when I got to our designated meeting spot where we would follow a woodland path to the creek. I always get there early, just in case, and boy am I glad I did. In the two weeks since I’d last been there, things had changed. A lot.

So much tractor work had been done, I’m guessing by the Forest Service, that I didn’t even recognize it. All the trees were gone and the path was covered in wood chips. I had enough time to walk to the creek, and I wasn’t even sure I was on the right path, even though I’ve probably walked it a dozen times or more. And the wood chips made the surface very uneven and difficult to walk.

On my way back the path to my car, I decided this would not work. I waited for the ladies to show up and when they did, I had them follow me to one of my other super secret spots. And it was perfect. According to Nadine:

“It was delightful, peaceful, magical and perfectly set the tone for our Yosemite adventure.”

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, when I first saw the original location that day, I was not okay. Even dropped a few expletives, I do believe. But after a few deep breaths, and remembering that a day in nature is always better than a day at a desk, I let it go. I just knew it would work out perfectly.

Forest bathing always, without fail, is soothing to me, no matter how many times I do it. That probably contributes to the fact that I always go longer than expected. Spending time connecting with the forest, also allows me to connect more deeply with the people I am with. Every single group I’ve take Forest Bathing has contacted me afterwards to tell me what an impact it has made on their lives. They often include links or books that they want to recommend to me, like this one from Nadine. What more can anyone ask for in just 2 ½ hours?

Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

Special thanks to Nadine for these photos of her experience. I’m sure some forest bathing guides are rolling their eyes that I allow people to take photos, but I’m very non-traditional and, hey, whatever makes for the best experience!

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