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. 🙂


Family Gardening #2: Food + Flowers – Buy Seeds!


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan – Time to Get Growing!


Curious Capkins checking out some seed varieties my family selected for this year’s garden.


WHO?

This is all about you and your family!

WHAT?

Each week P.L.A.Y. hopes to highlight some of the foods and flowers we are growing or are being grown locally with some special add-on features like how we and our community are making use of these garden goodies.

Note: This series will be following the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and so you’ll need to adjust some things accordingly.

WHY?

P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

WHERE? WHEN? HOW?

The specific gardening needs you have, including types of seeds this week, can be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).


My daughter is partial to buying flowers that attract butterflies as well as having fun with a few other varieties.


Begin – BUY SEEDS!

  1. I’ve overheard my green-thumb-go-to-folks talk about buying seeds from a few favorite companies online usually beginning in March on through until April. They also buy seeds at the local farmer’s co-op in addition to buying some harder to grow plants later on in the season to put straight into the ground. Purchase what you can, where you can, with organic being a priority.
  2. Also it is key to start with what you and your family love to eat most. Cucumbers for example are great for growing and munching straight out of the garden. No cooking or prep time required!
  3. Read the seed packet to find out how to create seedlings and when the correct timing would be. For example in our Zone 5 area cucumber seeds are put in containers at the beginning of April and the seedling is ready by about 6 weeks later at the end of May to go in the ground.
  4. If you are catching this post later in the spring season no worries either buy a few plants at your local garden nursery or even cut up some potatoes to plant directly in the ground!

Loads of dark greens for our green smoothies and fun to pick tomatoes are top on our list!


More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan – Family Gardening HERE


More about what this P.L.A.Y. series is offering:

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!

Family Gardening #1: Food + Flowers


A P.L.A.Y. Project with a Special Purpose:

Grow Foods

Grow Flowers

Grow a Healthy Family that P.L.A.Y.’s Together



P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan – Time to Get Growing!

If you are simply ready to jump in on this P.L.A.Y. Project tune in every Sunday to see the P.L.A.Y. plan unfold HERE.

If you’d like to know more about the motivation behind this P.L.A.Y. project READ ON!



In these unexpectedly challenging times we are all asked to do what we can where we can to make a difference in our own lives and in each others lives.

Growing foods, any kind and any amount, together as a family is certainly one way to have a positive impact on your health, budget, well-being, and has a ripple effect out into your communities.

Growing flowers also has beneficial effects for both attracting pollinators and for human sensory pleasure and so much more.



A P.L.A.Y. Short Story – Three Green Thumbs


My husband has a green thumb when it comes to growing foods and although he’d say he has a lot to learn I’ve seen proof arrive in my kitchen that the guy I call “Mr. Science” seems to know a thing or two about starting with a seed and ending up with a meal on our plate.

My daughter has a green thumb too when it comes to growing flowers and has been especially motivated to grow ones that attract butterflies (of which she has become well versed over the years) and she also lends a hand in the food gardens as needed.

My son has been a willing helper in harvesting our garden foods, putting food by in the kitchen freezer, and making our daily green smoothies. He can help keep plants alive both indoors and outdoors and has learned a great deal about wild edibles. I consider him in the green thumb club too.

I on the other hand have always felt I had the brown thumb of the family never being able to keep plants alive in the house or outdoors. I am also hard pressed to be able to identify any plant when it is simply all green without fruit on it or the names of most flowers. Weeds vs. garden plants, forget about it I have no clue. I sneeze and get watery eyes the minute we turn over the dirt in the garden or enter our community greenhouse. A green thumb I am not.

And yet the irony is I am vegan and plants tend to be a key ingredient to my diet as well as my 80% plant based diet family. I am also a nature lover immersing in flower gardens, food gardens, as well as the forest and meadows of where I live bringing along my Capkin for creative P.L.A.Y. moments.

And so over the years I’ve learned  to do what I can both outdoors and in the kitchen without a green thumb: by making green smoothies + juices and recipes using harvested ingredients, seeking local CSA’s for grains and farmer’s markets for extra veggies, berry picking in bulk at local farms, gathering wild berries, prepping and preserving foods by washing + cutting + freezing or dehydrating, and the list goes on.

I have come to value very much that as a family of four we are able to use both our time and talents to cover many of the bases when it comes to gardening and having healthy fresh foods in our meal planning. And by making the conscious choice to live in an intentional farming community over the past five+ years we continue to learn from our gardening and farming neighbors and fill in many food (and flower) gaps together.

This year my family seems to be kicking it up a notch with a few new goals in the growing department. Seems like a perfect time to take a few photos and share our P.L.A.Y. Plan!


Sneak Peak at the Next few Weeks!

Curious Capkin Sees Seedlings!


Stay tuned for more of this Family Gardening series story – including green thumb photos along the way – and all unfolding in real time throughout the spring, summer, and fall!


Next up Post #2 following this series through the seasons:

P.L.A.Y. with a Plan in Place – Time to Get Growing!

HERE


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