What’s with all the nature photos?

Perhaps you’ve noticed the new web design. An update was needed, as my old template was a bit outdated and dysfunctional. But what’s with all the nature photos? Think I’m bragging about all my summer escapes? Well, since I am a human being, I did enjoy a number of relaxing and/or productive journeys to beautiful locales this summer, and I had a lot of fun taking pictures. Following in the big steps of my dad, I suppose. When we were sorting through the thousands of photos he took in his amateur photography career recently, it seemed like two-thirds were sunsets, mountain views, or beaches.

Nature does have healing properties–whether that is five minutes in actual nature or time in your day to pause and look at nature photos. Research has also shown that exercising in an outdoor setting inspires us to do more, more willingly.  Connection to nature has been associated with increased mindfulness (being in the moment in a nonjudgmental way), positive emotions, awe, and purpose in life. I encourage everyone to enjoy a little fix of nature everyday–either in vivo (i.e. get yourself outside into a natural setting, in real life) or enjoy visual images of nature.  That’s my motivation in providing nature photos here on my blog. Pictures like these always make me breath a sigh of relaxation–just what I’m hoping to do for my readers by sharing them here. Enjoy!

On gratitude and great weather

We hear much about expressing gratitude these days. Everyone from Oprah to Deepak Chopra to research psychologists asserts that taking time to acknowledge, to yourself and to others, the many assets in your life significantly enriches your life. Taking in the good, and thanking others, simply makes us happier, individually and in relationships.

This is always in the back of my mind, and while I may recommend that clients keep a gratitude journal, I simply never have started one myself. Over the last few days, however, there is something about our incredibly fabulous weather here in Dallas that makes me simply brim with appreciation for my life. Maybe there’s some research out there that says cool, windows-open sleeping weather and perfect, sunny days in the low 70s, all against a backdrop of incredibly blue skies and green, lush, blooming trees and grass, contributes to emotional well-being. My personal research project this week, when I’ve spent every available moment either on my back porch, gardening, or parked on a cafe patio, has led to the conclusion that relishing these perfect conditions definitely improves my life satisfaction.

Research states that gratitude works best when it’s a mindset, not a blip on the screen of your life. And this lovely weather and verdant surroundings are a good foundation for my gratitude mindset.

Before it heats up for summer, grab a notebook, get outside for a few minutes, and list what you are grateful for in your life. I’m thankful for my incredible back yard, friends and loved ones to share it, and this great weather, while it lasts. Every day below 80 degrees feels like a gift. What’s on your gratitude list?

Ann’s backyard

On retreat

Sabbaticals are rare and precious, the property of scholars. In our hectic pace today, we all could use a sabbatical.

I’m taking a sabbatical of sorts, this next week. I’ll be on a writing retreat with a supportive group of women, sharing the cabin of one friend in New Mexico. Hopefully, I’ll come back inspired and refreshed, with more to share. The recent 21 day self-care challenge on my sister site with my coauthor on Life Will Never Be The Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide, Diane Sanford, drained me considerably. It was merely coincidence that I already had this week away planned–as it’s much needed.

So forgive the scant posts recently. If you need inspiration, check out the new site or any of the links in my Blogroll. Or just enjoy these relaxing images, because recent research has shown that looking at pictures of nature has healing properties.

See you soon. And know that I DO appreciate you all.