Forest Bathing with the Family – A Daily Simple Gift!

Have you ever stood amongst the trees in mid-autumn in awe of the wonderful canvas of color before you and wondered how the leaves change color or know when to fall?

Have you ever been in a pine forest with fog rolling in and felt the stillness of hushed sounds all around and only an echo of a bird calling in the distance?

Have you ever walked about after a winter ice storm to see the sparkling sun shine through the coated branches?

Have you ever stood under the canopy of a maple tree during a light spring rain shower and watched the water droplets roll off the tips of the leaves?

Then perhaps forest bathing may be something you’ve been doing for awhile now and the phrase is simply new to you. Or perhaps you’ve been spending a great deal of time indoors and the thought of time spent amongst the trees brings you back to childhood or a more peaceful time in your life.

Either way, now is a great time to reconnect to the idea of spending time in nature and to learn more about the benefits of soaking up your natural surroundings for a few moments each day, or as often as you can, for your health and well being and that of your family.

The bonus is you’ve come to the right place as P.L.A.Y. is very much here to help you connect and engage with this concept of forest bathing. The daily blog posts on P.L.A.Y.  are here to encourage the whole family to find the nearest nature path or patch, be present and allow for your sense of curiosity and wonder to kick in, and make the essence of P.L.A.Y.  a routine practice.


Forest Bathing For Families



Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

by Dr. Qing Li


Dr. Qing Li, a scientist in Japan, explains in his book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness and how the term shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) came about in the 1980’s. He also shares the many ways spending time in the forest or in a nature setting can make a world of difference in your health and well being. As a scientist he has gathered the data over time to show skeptics why spending frequent time in the forest is beneficial for improved sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, increased energy boost, a natural way to connect with loved ones, and so much more. And as a human he has experienced these benefits first hand.

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I too have discovered, through simple curiosity and P.L.A.Y. , that heading outdoors daily in all seasons has had a beneficial impact on how I see and feel and experience this world. Being outdoors routinely has increased my creativity, provided a sense of calm even during challenging times, and given me the opportunity to learn so much more about my natural surroundings here in New England.

Forest bathing and nature walking have been so beneficial to my well being and that of my family that I just had to share these experiences and encourage others to join the journey. This has been the catalyst for creating P.L.A.Y. – Passionate Learning All Year and keeps me consistently returning to my neck-of-the-woods to see what new wonders have appeared right outside my door and eagerly passing forward these gifts through this blog to you and your family.


Hannah Fries, author of Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees, has also created a wonderful guide that is a great companion to Dr. Qing Li’s book and is just the right size for the whole family to engage with and be inspired by both the photos and prompts. An example of a prompt found mid-way through the book is “As you watch a tree sway in the wind, let your knees and shoulders relax. Sway a little on your own stem.” Or another example is ” Find harmony as you look closely at the natural world, you may begin to see patterns amid what seems like chaos -unexpected connections thrumming everywhere around us.” Hannah’s book is a balm in these times as we all need to find peace-filled spaces and moments to simply be present and in awe of nature which can help us feel grounded and safe on Mother Earth even in the midst of uncertainty.

Note: The foreword to Hannah’s book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer the author of the well known and also much recommended Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.


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Time to gather up your gaggle of giggling gifts, aka kiddos + family all – Fido too, and announce you’re going for a bath in the forest – together!

It’s P.L.A.Y. Time!

Please pass forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage loved ones, both near and far, on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


Rx – Nature Nurtures – Breath of Fresh Air


Short and Simple Spring Tidings in Odd Times


Nature Nurtures us and is good ” Rx medicine” for one and ALL – always.

In this time of feeling like the world is upside down take a moment to get grounded by connecting to nature.

A momentary breath of fresh air,

seeing buds on the trees,

searching for seedlings sprouting in the spring soil,

simply watching the clouds go by,

or soaking up some sunshine

are all ways we can bring peace and calm back into our lives to help navigate the challenges ahead.

Once you are there in that space pay attention to the kiddos and pets in your life and find moments of laughter and silly to help light the way.

❤ ❤ ❤ We are all connected and in this together. ❤ ❤ ❤


For more inspiration follow my blog posts to get a great daily dose of nature and P.L.A.Y. and consider purchasing my latest activity books by ordering online for more outdoor or story time options <HERE>.


Nature feeds our mind, body, and spirit – get your daily dose of P.L.A.Y. today!


Be well, be safe, and simply be,

With hugs and a smile,

Karen :0) ❤ 

A Simple Gift: Challenges + P.L.A.Y. As a Path Forward


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


There are times in our lives when our learning may not be directly chosen by us, rather it arrives at our doorstep in the form of a challenge. A challenge we’d rather skip altogether and detour around it as we can see that it may involve pain and sadness.

However, it is up to us to see it as an opportunity. To accept the challenge as difficult as it may be and approach it with curiosity, compassion, and yes even at times to approach with the essence of play to keep up our spirits and provide momentum through the darker moments.

Hidden Hearts: Love infused spring Landscape

When we are able to proceed from this place of curiosity, compassion, and play we are embracing the essence of wholeheartedness. From this place the work of this journey unfolds into a path forward and typically we are all the wiser for it.

I have had the good fortune to engage and put into practice P.L.A.Y. -Passionate Learning All Year with the intentional farming community my family lives in for the past 8+ years. We have had our share of challenges navigating tricky waters determining our path forward and coming to an understanding of what that truly means for each individual as well as for the community as a whole. And while we may not have all the answers and solutions we continue to make connections and strive to work together throughout the journey.

Hidden Hearts: Love revealed on the spring Landscape

To approach challenges with equally as much passion and effort as we can muster to see us through is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our loved ones.

During these challenging times, when the world seems upside down, what I know to be true is that if we lean into connecting with nature, getting outdoors for fresh air and a boost of vitamin D, and include moments of P.L.A.Y. on our “to do” lists (or better yet our “to be” list) we will get through whatever comes our way and we will discover insights into our own true nature in the process and be all the wiser as we discover “What is this here to teach me?”

Sending a smile and wishing you and yours much peace and wellness,

Karen ;0) 🙂

*For more support and inspiration visit Simple Gifts & Smiles articles HERE

Signs of Spring + Breath of Fresh Air!

Parents, kids, families, and friends are all highly encouraged to get

Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books (click here)

and create their own small gatherings because now more than ever is a good time to get a breath of fresh air and P.L.A.Y. outdoors!!!


Signs of SPRING – Yippee!!!


While trimming vines and removing dead branches from a local tree to prep it for “climbing season” (yes – as in connecting back to childhood and spending time P.L.A.Y.-ing aloft) I chanced upon a few wonderful sights and sounds of migration.

9AM – 70 geese flew overhead in a check-mark formation heading North

10AM – 70+ more geese were heard heading North slightly out of view due to the ridge

11AM – 30+ more geese were seen heading North

AND nearby discoveries . . .

“Pussy Willow Tree”

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“Close-up Bud”

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“Apple Tree Buds”

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A Simple Gift: Dragonfly

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The dragonfly is a symbol for change and transitions in life and it appears as a reminder to tell us to embrace the moments, be present, and ask “what is this here to teach me?”

Remember, do not drag-on, fly on the wings of your authentic creativity and let your inner light shine.

U-be-U!

Time to P.L.A.Y.!

Sending love, hugs, and smiles,

Karen 🙂

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A Simple Gift: Act * AS IF *


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


Act * AS IF * you are about to receive the greatest gift.

Then remember that being present is always the greatest gift.

We can learn from every experience, every day, if we simply stay present.

Being present provides an opportunity to grow, practice, and P.L.A.Y.

A simple gift to remember this by is:

A – Abundance   vs.   S – Scarcity

I – Inspiration   vs.   F – Fear

🙂   * AS IF *  🙂

Combine this with connecting to nature and now we are really setting ourselves up for success and true P.L.A.Y.!

Time spent in the great outdoors, a few minutes to a few hours, is a natural way to bring you to the present moment especially if you key into your sensory experience.

Tune in to the hum of the bumblebee on a flower or the babbling brook making its way through the rocky path. Rub the scented pine needles between your fingers or inhale the brisk cool air on a winter’s day. Splash about down in the river or balance on a log. Look for snails in the tall meadow grasses or spy stripey rocks down by the water’s edge.

There are truly countless ways to engage and be present as nature always provides abundance and inspiration if you are willing to put aside your thoughts of scarcity and fear and simply be in the moment.

Time to tuck this gift under your thinking cap and get on with your day.

As always it is time to P.L.A.Y.!!!

Sending smiles,

Karen ;0)

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A Simple Gift: Greetings Celebrity


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


A NEW YEAR – 2020!  TIME TO CELEBRATE!


In an age where social media has created a new definition of celebrity I’d like to expand the idea even further and say that we are all celebrities.

Consider this, if we truly celebrated the presence of everyone we meet throughout our day wouldn’t that mean we would treat each of them as if they were a celebrity?

And if this were true wouldn’t it be a wonderful feeling to know that as you greet people throughout your day: loved ones, friends, neighbors, folks in the grocery store check-out line, and so on that you would be celebrating their existence through your smile, nod, or exchange of kind words? 🙂

Who knew if we simply celebrated our loved ones, everyone, then we would all be celebrities! 

Loving Kindness in the palm of your hand. Love rocks pass it on and celebrate!

Time to gather up your friends & family (celebrities all) and go out and P.L.A.Y. to celebrate this idea a little more!

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0)

A Simple Gift: Childhood Memory Lane


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂



Making Memories = Nature + Play + Imagination

All Ages – Any Time!


Your childhood memory lane can be a wonderfully creative place to revisit and P.L.A.Y.

Think of how you enjoyed spending your childhood.

What made those moments sweet for you?

Was it a fresh box of crayons and a new coloring book?

Building mini-forts with blankets and couch cushions?

Bulldozing in the sandbox?

Reaching for the moon on a swing?

Time to revisit some of your magical moments.

Mud pies or sand castles? It is all up to you! 🙂

By spending a little time re-visiting those P.L.A.Y.-filled moments you are actually making space for new ideas to bubble up to the surface and express themselves in your creative adventures.

Curious Capkins in a Castle by the Creek

And yes, I mean truly revisiting them, both indoors and outdoors.

On the next rain or snow day pull the cushions off the couch, take a few sheets or blankets out and set up a fort. Complete the scene with a tea set and this time you can fill it with REAL tea! Now soak up the sounds of rain on the roof or watch the snowflakes float by and let your imagination engage for awhile.

Trust me, this will fill your tank with the simple gift of being present in the moment which leads to more creativity down the road.

Or go visit your childhood memory lane and chase a few fireflies and say hi to the man on the moon or whomever you see up in the sky on a warm summer’s night. Spy a shooting star on a cold winter’s eve as you cuddle up to a campfire with cocoa and marshmallows on hand.

Simply make the time to P.L.A.Y. – you and your creativity will be glad you did. ❤ ❤ ❤

A portion of “my little creative corner” where every day magic meets inspiration with plenty of play through coloring, writing, doodling, combined with the magic of my daily adventures out in nature.

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂

Bonus = Be sure to bring along your favorite kiddo(s) to share in these magical experiences with you! ❤ ❤ ❤

A Simple Gift: Compassion


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


A Simple Gift: Compassion

Finding the word compass in compassion means you know you are headed in the right direction. 🙂

Both self-compassion and compassion for others require that we simply put forth our ideas and requests and then let them unfold naturally without any attachment to the outcome or direction it may send us.

This can be applied to everyone’s journey: from parenting to corporate work, building a home to homeschooling, creating art to creating a family meal.

If we are able to be in P.L.A.Y. mode more often and simply be present with what is we are more likely to engage from a place of compassion and this will make all the difference in the journey which is the sum of our life experiences.

Joseph Campbell, known for his Hero’s Journey work, summed it up well in this quote from An Open Life

It has something to do with submitting rather than dominating. Surrender, submit. Have faith, trust in the mystery. That’s not easy. Surrendering one’s life to living in, and serving, the beauty of a mysterious world is a big step. . .The purpose of the journey is compassion.

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂

A Simple Gift: Train Horns – Sounds Like


Passing forward this SIMPLE GIFT to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y.-filled journey.

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‘Tis the Season for special sights and sounds

and to remember to BE PRESENT all year round!


– – – – – – – – – -TRAIN HORN = SOUNDS LIKE – – – – – – – – – –


While my family and I built our new home in a hilltown of Massachusetts we stayed temporarily in an apartment that was right below a set of train tracks in a small village.

Every day for nearly a year we delighted in the sound of the oncoming train and loved identifying it by the sound of the horn. It was a game of sorts to use only our hearing to become familiar with this new “oddity” that became a part of our daily rhythms.

There was the squeaky wheel horn and the loud + proud horn and an odd one named the city traffic horn.

However our favorite horn hands down was the one we called, unfortunately and yet true to the sound, the strangled goose.

This horn gave off a sound that was so strange that you couldn’t help but chuckle every time you heard it. Even when we were many streets away walking to the post office we knew when the strangled goose was going by. I often wondered why someone didn’t try to adjust the sound and let the “goose” horn sing more sweetly.

It is rare for us to hear a train horn where we live now as we are happily nestled in amongst mountains and meadows deeper into the hilltown setting.

However, now when I happen to cross the path of a train horn it always generates a smile as I remember the simple gift of those P.L.A.Y.-filled moments created in getting to know those horns and learning more about the sounds and rhythm of the little village we temporarily called home.

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂