Growing up in the country I loved the wide open spaces and strong community spirit. As a child I had freedom to roam, take risks and learn about life for myself.
Now I live in the city I feel life is always rushed, scheduled and too many people are caught up in their own lives. They don’t take time to notice their surrounds, smile and talk to passing strangers. I crave getting back to nature and to those wide open spaces.
My mood changes when I am surrounded by nature and I have a clear state of mind. I don’t even realise that I feel stressed yet I can feel my body relax the tightness around my chest and shoulders disappears. I feel calmer, my mind clears, my body relaxes and I finally I feel like I can breathe.
My love of nature is now being passed down to my children. With an overwhelming amount of evidence to show nature play has benefits for children such as improved cognitive function, increased creativity, improved interaction with adults, reduced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms and reduced rates of aggression. I feel it is my duty to immerse them in nature.
Whenever I can I get my children into nature. We go on walks in search of wildflowers.
They experience pure joy as they jump, splash or feel the mud between their toes.
They make a wish and blow a dandelion. Watch the seeds float in the wind with the hope that their dreams will come true.
Every path is an adventure. They are not afraid to venture off into the unknown.
The children use their imagination, the whole family uses their senses in natural surrounds and I notice a change, we are calm, content and bonded as a family.
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I’ll admit it, I love Valentine’s Day. Somehow no amount of heart-day haters or anti-consumerists have been able to convince me that V-Day should be any less fun now than it was when I was five years old. Even if it was just an excuse to eat unforgivable amounts of chocolate, how could that be a bad thing? The fact that it’s actually a day dedicated to the celebration of love is even better. It’s the sentiment immortalized by one of the world’s most famous love songs: “All you need is LOVE”.
This year I was interested in celebrating love from different female perspectives. It’s strange how negative or jaded we can all become about a subject so simple and universal. So necessary. Now more than ever I’m taking Valentine’s Day as a reminder to find the love in all of our days and to spend less time worrying about timeframes or the packages that help to get it to us, whether romantic or otherwise. Love will never be perfect and that’s why it’s our greatest teacher.
WOMEN IN LOVE
Natalie and Holden
S: What would be your definition of love?
N: I’m just going to go with my instincts because I don’t want to overthink it but it’s basically every second, every thing, every thought, every action, every breath. To me that should be the definition of love. Everything. Even every pain. Love is everything and everywhere, that’s what I think love is.
S: What are you trying to teach your son about love? What’s the most important thing?
N: I teach him to be aware. To be very grateful and thankful for everything and that’s how love is cultivated. Love is rooted in being grateful and appreciative of everything around you. Everything that is there and everything that is not there.
S: Holden, what do you think love means?
H: Uh, sharing and….hugs.
N: And how do you show your love to the people you love?
H: I already told you, I already did it—hugs!
A Family Affair: Daniela, Julia, Stephanie and little Stella
S: What do you think love is?
ST: Stella what do you think love is? Who do you love?
J: I think love is quite a deep word. To love somebody whether it’s your daughter, your husband, really is to make them the best they can be. That’s what I think love is. When you love someone you want the best for them. That’s my definition of love.
D: I think love is ever changing and evolving. Love to me is looking at Stella and thinking that I see something about Stephanie or a bit of my Mom or an Aunt from another side of the family. Love can also be looking at a sunset and just feeling so blessed to be here. I think there’s so many ways to…it’s about the way you love yourself, the way you love the moment, the way you get lost in it. Yeah I think it’s ever changing. At least for me it is. I’m learning as I go.
S: What does Valentine’s Day represent?
J: I always say to my husband everyday has to be Valentine’s Day, not just Valentine’s. It’s nice that he brings me flowers and he leaves me the best cards ever, ever, like on Valentine’s Day but it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day. I think it’s a bit commercial but it’s nice.
SB: I still like a flower.
D: I like a flower anytime.
Julia and Tenemy
S: If there is a definition of Love what is it?
T: It’s a good feeling. I don’t even know.
J: I think it’s probably individual for everyone but just to be happy with someone else. You feel happy when you’re with them.
S: Who is the person in your life who taught you the most about love?
J: I’d say family, I can’t specify one person from my family but we’re all really loving and we still are. I guess the love that you get in the beginning of your life is what shows you how to love other people the rest of your life.
S: What have you taught each other about love and loving other people
T: Well Julia and I, I think we really just accept each other for who we are. We don’t try to change each other. If anything, I see a lot of my own faults on my own with her and take responsibility for things. I’m wanting to improve myself so I can be a better person with and for her, ya know?
J: I think we’re too busy talking about how much we love each other to be talking about how we love other people.
J: (laughs) We’re a bit selfish.
S: And what about Valentine’s Day?
J: I think we’re always looking for an excuse to go out for dinner, so most I of all I feel Valentine’s Day is an excuse to go and spoil ourselves. I think it’s just a celebration it’s not necessarily “the love day” because everyday is “the love day”.
T: Yeah, that’s true. It’s so nauseating.
S: No it’s lovely.
Tags: Featured, Love, Motherhood, Personal Essays, Photo Essay