Hope or Hopeless?

Hi dear ones,

It’s almost November! I do love this fall weather time when we get extra layers on and see the beautiful autumn colors in the trees, reminding us to let go! How are you doing?

I love hiking and been really trying to immerse myself in nature with all of my senses and to be grateful. There’s a science of this called forest bathing, discovered in Japan as Shinrin-yoku. I am reading a new book about it titled Forest Bathing- How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li and loving it. Earlier this year, my friend Cassandra suggested I check out the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guide Certification. I have recently been intrigued by that idea to lead sensory hikes in the woods to help others lately as I am still trying to figure out my next step is. There are so many physical, spiritual, and mental health benefits that come from being in nature and so important to ground in the present moment in these challenging times.

My husband, Ian also nudged me to keep applying for more park and other administrative jobs. I admit after my Seasonal Park Ranger position ended in September, I became somewhat complacent, and not motivated to move forward, and feeling stuck wondering what is next?

It can be hard to think about what comes next in uncertain times. The news and social media with constant stories that bring about anxiety and fear about the upcoming election season and rising Covid-19 cases around the world, and injustices and people just being cruel and judgmental to each other. These battles sometimes make me feel hopeless about the future and I really have been wondering how can I help in these times?

I am still trying to figure out different and my own unique ways that I, Anna Finch can help but what brings me back is always hope.

I hope for a future where we can have different opinions about issues but not let it destroy each other, and instead be kind, listen to each other, show compassion, and see the shared humanity we have and here on this planet together to learn through the tough times.

I hope the world is going through a spiritual shift and more people will recognize and want to help others and the planet as we navigate through this.

I hope I can give back to nature and the planet in ways like picking up trash or working for the parks.

I hope my loved ones stay healthy in this time.

I hope my 35th birthday next week will be okay with the results of our contested presidential election.

What do you hope for?

Even though sometimes I would like to run away from it all (and I kind of am next week running away to a cabin for my birthday/election week after submitting my ballot in a ballot box of course). Or I always say I would move and disappear to Ireland if you couldn’t find me one day if I wanted to disappear somewhere. The Scorpio in me likes to hide sometimes in times of stress. But I know I can’t run away from the results and drama of this world. I do not want to hide from my emotions or numb them with any substance. Mental health disorders are on the rise in this time and a lot of people are choosing alcohol or other drug substances to deal with the pain.

Positive Psychology has been a saving grace for me in these turbulent times and I know I have shared about it before but here I go again! Positive Psychology is the science of human flourishing. Yes we know there is a lot we are suffering through and that is causing us pain but what makes humans thrive instead of just surviving? We do not stuff down the pains, but have specific tools and techniques to use to recognize what we are going through- a collective trauma right now. Instead of being triggered with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) when we get past the trauma, let’s have PTG- (Post traumatic growth). What revelation can we learn about ourselves and each other in such a global connecting time?  I was listening to the IPEN (International Positive Education Network) free conference online this week and one of the vibrant speakers, Tal Ben-Shahar shared a beautiful Rumi poem called The Guest House in which we embrace all of the emotions and thoughts as tools to learn.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jalaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks (The Essential Rumi)

I was struck by that poem to be grateful for the hopeless thoughts and feelings as well as my hopeful ones. Tal shared tools we can use like crying to let out our emotions and see how we can feel better after a good cry, writing about the trauma/pain in a journal to release it, and talking to someone about it, like a therapist/coach/partner/friend- someone we trust who can be empathic and listen to you.

With these tools I have hope for a more just world and truly believe my small but significant role matters just like yours does too. Let’s hope for a better world together where we keep learning and growing.

And now to give you some hope from nature some beautiful sites in from our recent adventures to WA state.

Nice visit to Mom and Dad’s and we took a ferry to the San Juan Island and visited the beautiful Lime Kiln Point State Park and lighthouse

For Ian’s recent birthday we took a road trip to the capital of WA State, Olympia, a quirky and cute city and nearby sites, and also drove to see a small but beautiful taste of Olympic National Park.

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Park with the biggest boardwalk ever!
Ian at the top of the Capitol, 4th largest in the world, reminded us of DC here in Olympia, WA.
Made it to the Olympic National Park, huge, so got to explore this side by the beautiful Lake Quinault
Paying my respects to the oldest Spruce Tree in the world, 1,000 years old! We could learn so much from trees!

Enjoy and hugs and know I am with you and vice versa, encouraging and hoping we can and will get through this time!

Love, Anna

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