I love to think about diversity on Earth – not just with nature’s plants, animals, and minerals, but also with regard to humans and all the gifts we bring to our families and communities.   Diversity also includes the many ways we perceive and share love with each other, and in this case, Earth.

My perspective focusing on career, professional, and personal development for the last decade or more makes me acutely aware of our diversity of personality, perspective, strengths, values, and experience.   Together, we create a rich tapestry of ideas, beliefs, and strengths that has the potential to create something incredible together.  This is true, not only regarding how we interact with each other, but also how we are in relationship with Earth.  Each of our Earth-relationship personalities are probably as unique as our DNA and fingerprints; no two of us are exactly alike in how we interact with and show love to Earth and our natural world.

As I’ve mentioned earlier in this series, my own way of showing love to Earth has been a slow evolution over the last 10 years.  I imagine some have been practicing this for most if not all their lives; others out there have not yet even begun to awaken to the idea that this is a “thing” worth doing (a shrinking group, I hope); everyone else perhaps falling somewhere in between those extremes. 

The Foundation for Family and Community Healing is advocating that we become more conscious of the automatic ways we care for Earth, and to consider new ways that we can be more intentional as we support Earth physically (such as recycling and energy conservation and sustainability), and also emotionally and spiritually.  We’ve included suggested practices to improve our relationship with Earth on our website, including be present, notice and appreciate, express gratitude, beautify and improve, meditate or pray for Earth healing, use creative expression to celebrate Earth/nature, and to awaken connection and joy.

Each of these approaches, and probably many others (what did we miss?), are fairly generalizable to however you most naturally interact with Earth and nature.  For example, I like to be present when I first step outdoors – notice the air, the sky, the plants, the temperature, the birds and any other creatures who might be in visual or auditory range.  After that, I try to be present whenever I’m around trees.  In fact, many years ago I made a decision that trees would be my reminder to be present. Over time, I’ve turned off my radio and music and instead am present with the trees while driving or walking around town or in my neighborhood.   

You might be most naturally present when looking out of the window at your office, when going for your run, working in the garden, or when choosing or preparing vegetables for your meal.   Where and how are you most naturally present with nature?

My growing practice of being mindful when outdoors has spread to not just noticing and appreciating trees, but also evolved to start including flowers, water, and more recently, birds.   I’m also more likely to notice the sky, rocks, and other plants, as well as being more attentive to the people and things around me.

There’s so much to notice and appreciate in nature…. I’m curious as to what all you like to notice.

While noticing and appreciating, I am easily able to transition to gratitude.  I’ve not been raised to say thanks over food, but it’s such a wonderful practice that I might adopt someday.  But in the meantime, when I notice and appreciate the splendor of our natural world, I feel a deep sense of gratitude and will sometimes address Earth with words of thanks.  I know that my strength of gratitude often errs too often towards inward expression, as a feeling, and I would like to be more frequently outward in my expressions of gratitude.    

There are so many ways to express gratitude, and a huge variety of things to be grateful for.  Our loved ones, including pets, are part of the Earth community.  What else do you tend to be grateful for, and how do you express it?

I’m a real newcomer with regards to prayer and meditation. I also don’t tend to be a prayerful person in the sense of asking God or Spirit to provide something to me.  But when I do, I always try to include comfort and care for our beautiful planet while asking for comfort, care, and guidance for myself and others.  I tend more towards meditation when connecting with the Divine, and will often try to visualize and manifest a healthier and more abundant Earth along with my other hopes for myself and the world.

I imagine that practices differ among every person.  What are your current practices, and how can you be more inclusive of Earth and nature in your existing routine?   

Regarding creative expression, I have a self-limiting belief that I’m not a creative person.  Though that’s fairly true regarding artistic endeavors, now I believe that I’m actually very creative in terms of my work.  FFCH is my outlet for me to use creative expression to care for Earth.  This blog is one example.

There must be a vast number of options and practices around ways to use creative expression to celebrate and care for Earth (duh, Susanna!).  What unique ways do you most enjoy using creativity to celebrate our natural world? Is there a specific example that was the most rewarding for you?

I’m also a big rookie on beautifying and improving.  I’m a fanatical recycler, but until now, mostly neglectful of the plants and natural areas around me.  All that is going to change soon with our new Youtube folder, entitled Feed Yourself, Feed Earth.  FFCH’s Director of Earth Programs, Kimberly Andrews and I are going to venture into gardening to help beautify and improve natural areas while caring for ourselves.  Talk about getting outside your comfort zone.  More details will be coming soon and I invite you to join us on our journey to be better care providers for Earth.

In what ways do you most enjoy beautifying and improving natural areas to care for Earth? 

Finally, awakening to connection and joy in my relationship with Earth has been a more recent experience for me, starting around the time I started to care for my late husband during his convalescence.  It was a natural instinct to turn to nature when I needed comfort, and I found that solace through connecting with nature and all things.  As a trained scientist, I had learned to use my eyes and ears for measurement and assessment, and I lost touch with using my heart and spirit to sense the world around me.  The advantage of being present is that I can make that choice to use all of my senses, not just my eyes and ears, to connect with the Earth and the universe, and be open to the feelings of peace, joy, and inspiration that are in the offering.

How do you connect with Earth and what kind of benefits do you receive?

I’m excited to post this blog, because my small ways of showing love to Earth have been so beneficial to me and I’m only a beginner.  I can only imagine how much richer it can be by learning from you the diversity of practices already out there. 

What generalizable and/or specific practices do you have?  What has been most rewarding or satisfying? 

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