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Loving the Earth that Loves Us

Many of us have fond childhood memories of splashing in puddles, making mud pies and cubby houses and looking for ladybugs in the garden. Television was a rare 'treat', home computers (the size of a truck) were for basic word processing only, but most people still preferred putting pen to paper, and we certainly didn't have any mobile phones. Daily chores included feeding the animals, walking the dog, weeding the garden and taking the compost out. We were unconsciously engaging with and taking care of our surroundings constantly. Now, this was not a long time ago- as I write this, I am still only in my 30's, so the amount of change that has taken place within one generation is alarming at best.

As the mother of young boys, I am acutely aware that the new 'normal' is a lifestyle which revolves around 'screen time' and fast food. Our ever busy, ever growing consumerist lifestyles, our drive for accumulating more, more, MORE and for actually BEING less is having devastating effects on our minds, bodies and souls. We are spending more time indoors, attached to devices, separated from the natural brilliance which nurtures and sustains our very life force. The innate connection with our Earth, once so honoured and revered by our ancestors has weakened drastically and our people and planet are suffering.

Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder" draws together an ever growing body of research which points to the increases in obesity, attention disorders and depression in children as a direct result of our disconnection with our environment. As I see it, this disconnection is a self-perpetuating cycle of ill health, for as we remove ourselves from nature we remove ourselves from our responsibility to care for our environment; our environment suffers and then we, as inhabitants on the Earth who are completely reliant upon her vibrancy, suffer as a result. Our very survival depends upon our access to clean water, nutritious food and fresh air. Our bodies are designed to move, to build muscle, circulate blood, detoxify through our lungs and skin, to SENSE through touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing, to communicate with other people as well as animals and plants and to process our experiences as we have them. Instead, our nervous systems are bombarded with electromagnetic stimulation 24/7, the nutrient levels in our soils and foods are dropping, the chemical load on our livers and brains are overwhelming, our social skills, problem solving abilities, critical thinking, decision making and creativity are in decline, we habitually supress our feeling and experiences and we are being medicated more than ever to "cope" with poor physical and mental health.

It is certainly not all doom and gloom however. We are also seeing great advances in solar and wind generated power, schools introducing kitchen garden programs, emerging fields of study such as Ecopsychology and a growing number of environmental activists merging with the fields of health and education (and vice versa) to raise awareness and positive action. The key is to simplify and not get overwhelmed. Small changes can have big impacts AND we can have fun whilst remembering our innate connection with this astonishing world we live in. As we nurture the Earth, the Earth nurtures us.

10 Simple ways to reconnect with our natural environment

1. Increase opportunities for self-directed outdoor play. Create a habit of going to the local park or beach as a way to wind down after work or school.

2. Encourage social gatherings to be held outside, away from the temptation of electronic devices. Enjoy a picnic or BBQ while the kids play with frisbies, balls, bats or bikes.

3. Create a sensory garden, build a veggie patch, sand pit or water play area, compost food scraps, make a worm farm... There's lots of fun to be had whilst teaching responsibility and appreciation for our Earth.

4. Bring nature indoors: Grow herbs or cacti or use indoor plants as a way to purify the air.

5. Get creative: Draw, paint, take photographs, create murals, stick wands, stone people and bark rubbings. Stimulate curiosity through creative engagement.

5. Use technology to learn about our incredible flora, fauna, seasons, natural cycles of birth, death and rebirth, stars and planetary systems etc. Sir David Attenborough and Dr Jane Goodall are two of my personal favourites.

6. Visit an animal sanctuary or botanical gardens either to learn or to simply immerse yourselves and enjoy the healthful benefits of these environments. Also shop at local produce markets and learn exactly where your food and household goods are coming from.

7. Kick your shoes off! We have so many proprioceptors in our feet that assist with our balance and posture and help us to learn about our bodies in space. Bare feet on the earth is also a great way to ground, calm and centre ourselves and release built up electromagnetic stress.

8. Walk in the rain, star gaze, look for shapes in the clouds, go camping, have 'boat' races with sticks in a river, toast marshmallows on an open fire, read stories about great adventures in nature...

9. Ride or walk to work/ school whenever possible and enjoy being in the moment.

10. Connect with organisations such as the Children in Nature Network, Sustainable Human, 1 Million Women, WWF etc. etc. The list is endless! There are SO many amazing people doing amazing things both locally and globaly to love our planet - connect with them and share your experiences with friends and family.

"To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles" Mary Davis

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