Generally, I enjoy nothing more than writing, writing and writing to share with you everything I’ve been learning from my clients… my coaching… my teaching… my reading…my research and studying… just what I’m absorbing from the ether. I absolutely love crafting articles for you filled with strategic fundraising tips, advice gleaned from years of in-the-trenches experience and wisdom gleaned from real-life examples, research studies and trend spotting.
But lately, some days, I feel a bit unmoored.
I know many of you feel it too. Not depressed, exactly. Uninspired? Listless? Tired? Heavy? Stuck? Blah? Lacking exuberance? Whatever it may be, I thought it might be time for another Clairification School Zoom Live Q&A. So, please mark your calendar for this Friday at noon PDT (3:00 p.m. EDT). I will send the Zoom link to all enrolled students on Thursday (if you’re not yet enrolled, and want to join us, you can do so here.)
Right now, I want to share something that’s bringing me energy and joy.
Nature as an antidote
I know I’m not alone in this, but I’ve discovered nature to an extent I had not in recent years. I confess I’m not an outdoorsy type. I don’t camp. I don’t hike. Occasionally I book a cabin at a lake or take a beach vacation. Usually I prefer the hustle and bustle of cities. The myriad cafes, shops, museums, theaters and… people! But I can’t do that right now, so… time for a pivot.
Recently I came across a lovely article on Maria Popova’s Brainpickings blog: Beloved Writers on Nature as an Antidote to Depression. Popova channels Walt Whitman, among other authors, stating “When the dark patches fall on me also, I stand with Whitman in turning to the most reliable wellspring of light — the natural world, or what he so soulfully termed “the bracing and buoyant equilibrium of concrete outdoor Nature, the only permanent reliance for sanity of book or human life.”
Couldn’t we all use a ‘reliable wellspring of light’ right now?
This resonated with me, as I’ve been taking inspiring, sanity-restoring walks lately. My favorite are “Covid-19 Tree Walks” created by a local San Francisco arborist and horticulturist who have been chalking the names of trees around different neighborhoods and fashioning a series of charming. self-guided excursions – finding nature amidst concrete, hills and sky.
It amazes me how invigorating I find these jaunts. Places I’ve driven through many times, or sometimes never visited at all, now opening up all their wonders to me as I take the time to really notice what’s there. An urban forest of street trees. There are trees from everywhere. Some are native, some imported: China, the Mediterranean, Europe, East Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, Peru, South Africa, the Himalayas, and all across the United States. Some are old and rare, some newly planted. Some are showy, some discreet. Some are majestic, some unhandsome. Some were once thought to be extinct; now, amazingly, they’re back.
How to find your sanity in trees
Trees have many meanings. They play an important role in many mythologies and religions. The ancient symbol of the Tree has been found to represent physical and spiritual nourishment, transformation and liberation, union and fertility. Whatever they mean for you, there exists a special relationship between trees and humans. Humans produce carbon dioxide trees breath; trees produce oxygen humans need.
Today we could all use a little extra oxygen.
Popova writes of “the mossy trunk of a centuries-old cedar, ringed with the survival of wars and famines, a silent witness to countless human heartaches; the song of the thrush and the bloom of the magnolia and the lush optimism of that first blade of grass through the frosty soil — these bewilderments of beauty do not dissipate the depression, but they do dissipate the self-involvement with which we humans live through our sorrows, and in so unselfing us, they give us back to ourselves.”
I’m apparently not that good at ‘unselfing’ because, to give myself an extra sense of purpose, I’ve been building up a series of photographs of my newly-found friends. I share some of them with you here. I hope you’ll breathe them in (virtually); then maybe go out and find a new friend yourself – one that can’t give you a new virus.
And, please, join me this coming Friday where I’m open to answering any questions you may have about fundraising in today’s weird and rapidly evolving environment. It isn’t easy. Maybe we can help each other – just by being together.
Now… let’s breathe in the trees.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
― Kahlil Gebran
Fresh smells, the sound of moving leaves and birdsong, the texture of the bark – all of these are appealing, especially in modern cities… They connect us to others, whether contemporaries or those in the past or future. If you plant a sapling that may take 200 years to reach its full stature, you are pledging faith in the future and offering a gift to the generations yet to be born. That’s a pretty good feeling.
— Fiona Stafford
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
― William Shakespeare
Trees seem to create a different world within themselves, not just in terms of the wildlife but as imaginative spheres where things seem possible that might not be in the everyday working world.
— Fiona Stafford
Hills, the trees, sunrise and sunset — the lake the moon and the stars / summer clouds — the poets have been right in these centuries… even in its astounding imperfection this earth of ours is magnificent.
— Lorraine Hansberry
There can be no really black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of nature and has still his senses.
— Henry David Thoreau
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.
— Walt Whitman
When we have learned to listen to trees… that is home. That is happiness.
— Herman Hesse
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
– Maya Angelou.
Enjoy a tree this week.
Think about what you may need to restore yourself so you can fully be there for others in both your personal and professional life.
Let’s talk about it and source the wisdom of the crowd. Maybe we can find you an answer. If nothing else, we can find you a community.
I hope to see you on Friday! Remember, if you’re an enrolled student I’ll send a Zoom link on Thursday. Mark your calendar for noon PDT (3:00 p.m. EDT) now!