Sunshine, Storms and Dolly Parton 

“Its hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.”
I wrote this piece a couple of years ago for Wildaid.. it was the beginning of spring when I wrote, and still seems relevant today…
We had a sunshiney day last week, it felt like the first in a while. I took the opportunity to head to one of my favourite places on Dartmoor – Wistman’s Woods.
 Walking in the green woods I felt my stressed shoulders easing and my body relaxing, like the new fern shoots uncurling around me. With all our daily tasks – earning money, household chores or childcare – its easy to forget to take out valuable time for a bit of restorative quiet connection with our wonderful world. I know I am guilty of rushing from pillar to post and all too often forget to simply stop, take notice of the little things, breathe in beauty.
Wistman’s Woods – simply meaning Wise man’s Woods’ is an ancient and magical place of gnarled old trees and moss covered boulders. I hope everyone has a chance to experience special places like this – of which there are pockets all over Britain. The venerable oak trees reach and twist to the sky, intertwining with each other, clasping hands. I sat under one of these old friends amongst the boulders and thought about what they’d seen. Many of us walkers must have passed by over the years and they would have witnessed many eras and survived many storms.
 I was reminded of a quote from the inimitable Dolly Parton!
“Storms make trees take deeper roots”

Now my own life is a bit of a messy ‘storm’ at the moment, not helped by the wider storms of economical difficulties and environmental trauma. I hope that, as Neitzsche said, that which does not kill us makes us stronger, and that I will ‘weather the storm’ and come out with renewed strength and new energy for growth.Our economy is in a storm, perhaps a major shake up forces us to find a new way of operating, a new way of business. But, what about our vulnerable natural world? Can it ‘ride the storm’ alone? 
I recently read a really interesting article in the Guardian in which Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains why mindfulness and a spiritual revolution rather than economics or angry activism is needed to protect nature and limit climate change. 
He believes we need to move beyond talking about the environment. This leads people to experience themselves and Earth as two separate entities, and to see the planet in terms only of what it can do for them. Change is possible only if there is a recognition that people and planet are ultimately one and the same. 
He says the current vogue in economic and business circles – that the best way to protect the planet is by putting an economic value on nature – is akin to putting a plaster on a gaping wound.
 “I don’t think it will work,” he says. “We need a real awakening, enlightenment, to change our way of thinking and seeing things.”
“When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born. We want to be connected. That is the meaning of love, to be at one. When you love someone you want to say I need you, I take refuge in you. You do anything for the benefit of the Earth and the Earth will do anything for your well-being.”
He points to increasing evidence that mindfulness can help people to reconnect by slowing down and appreciating all the gifts that the earth can offer.
“Many people suffer deeply and they do not know they suffer,” he says. “They try to cover up the suffering by being busy. Many people get sick today because they get alienated from Mother Earth.”
Those precious moments I had under a mossy tree in Wistman’s woods renewed my deep sense of connection with the earth, reminding me I should take some time to do this on a daily basis. Even if its just studying a flower in a garden, or walking in a park rather than a wilderness, our sense of wonder, connection and love is constantly renewed.
 That is something small we can all try and enjoy this month as spring wakes.
 And remember the surprising wisdom of Dolly Parton, its not all “working nine to five…” and we will weather the storm. 
Guardian article:
…and more Dolly Parton gems:
“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” 
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!” 


(still hugging trees and loving it….)

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