Cycles in Nature: Endings, Beginnings and Hope

This amazing planet that we live on has sustained life for many millions of years. It’s a world filled with incredible cycles in nature and in our own lives as humans. When we sit back and observe these cycles, we grow in understanding about our world and ourselves, and we learn that hope helps us to deal with the endings and beginnings that are part of life.

Cycles in nature are everywhere!

Cycles are part of nature. We experience them everywhere – in the animal and plant worlds, space, deep inside the Earth, the climate, the weather, natural disasters and within the human body and mind.

In the animal world

Over the past summer I watched a pair of willy wagtails go through their breeding cycle 4 times! They hastily built a little nest perched precariously above the spotlights on my shed, then suddenly there were two or three eggs in the nest and lots of back and forth and sitting on the nest, chasing away other birds, and catching insects. Then the signs that the baby birds were hatching started to show. The adults seemed agitated; not sitting still on the nest any longer.

Soon, the delightful sounds of little peeps coming from the nest heralded the arrival of the babies. The parents were busy with their harried back and forth of catching food and incessantly feeding the young. Then lots of oohing and aaahing from us as their little heads became visible above the edge of the nest as they stretched and called out to their parents to be fed before flopping with exhaustion back into a little feathered huddle again.

Willy Wagtail nest fallen on the grass

After a couple of weeks the babies would stretch their wings fully and teeter precariously on the edge of their nest, and take their first flight amid their parents’ squawks and alarm sounds at anything and everything nearby. The first fledgling seemed to get all the attention and every time we thought they’d abandoned their other babies, they suddenly reappeared and steered the next baby on its first flight too.

For the next few weeks the family hustled and bustled around the garden, eating and defending, and then suddenly the parents were back to the nest (a couple of times rebuilding the nest when it had fallen from its perch!), sitting on the next batch of eggs and the cycle started all over again. Each cycle had, for me, moments of excitement, delight and extreme worry. There were lots of ups and downs for the birds as well as for me, the observer! And when you think about it, life’s like that!

In the plant world

The cycles in nature are everywhere. The more obvious ones like animal breeding seasons and flowering and fruiting seasons come to mind. I’d love to share another story about the cycles in nature. This one is from the plant world.

My son was gifted a punnet of petunia seedlings when he graduated from high school. It was springtime and he potted them out into a beautiful ceramic pot on the verandah. He watered them and nurtured them and they grew – prolifically! The flowers were abundant and brought so much colour and joy to the world.

Purple Petunias

And then twelve months later they began to die back. He wondered if he’d done something wrong; maybe over-watered or under-watered them. But as he learned, this was part of the natural cycle of life as a petunia. When he cleared away the dead stems he saw new growth in the pot. So he continued the watering and nurturing pattern, not being sure whether they were baby petunias or weeds. The extra light from clearing away the dead stems helped the plants to grow, and yes indeed, they were baby petunias growing from the seeds of the previous plants. As I write this article, the little petunias are beginning to flower again. It’s such a beautiful cycle!

the solar system, climate and natural disasters

Apart from living things, there is also the cycle of night and day and the yearly cycle of the seasons. We hear and read about the climate cycles in times gone by, such as the ice age, and we wonder how much of our current climate change is due to a natural cycle and how much has been exacerbated by industry and human impact. You can also see natural cycles at work after bush fires, floods and other natural disasters when regrowth takes place.

Deep inside the earth and in space there are cycles at work too, changing the world as we know it gradually, and sometimes rapidly.

The Human Body

There are less obvious cycles in nature too. You might be aware of the sleep cycles that we experience. We don’t tend to think too much about them but research is showing more and more that each part of the cycle is vital for health and wellbeing.

We discussed how you can improve your sleep by spending time in the outdoors back in a previous blog post so if you missed it, you might like to check it out.

Within your body you have cycles and systems for digestion, blood circulation and even the way you think, make decisions and grieve happens in cycles.

Endings are connected to beginnings

Whether they’re obvious or invisible, cycles are an integral part of nature including human life.

As one cycle completes, another begins. Nature holds these reminders for us, and they give us hope when we feel lost or depressed. Endings are connected to beginnings. And beginnings have endings too.

Outdoors is my Therapy – beginnings and the next phase

The Outdoors is my Therapy initiative began just over a year ago. In the first phase I recruited eight Ambassadors to help me share inspiration around the world about the benefits of spending time outdoors. I also launched the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast and the Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group. We’ve been out and about exploring and meeting people and sharing adventures and listening to other people’s stories. Recently we had a beautiful camping weekend to celebrate the completion of this phase of the Outdoors is my Therapy cycle. There is sadness but there is also a lot of excitement and anticipation for what comes next. As this phase completes, what new beginnings will there be?

Stay tuned as we continue to roll out stories, inspiration, information and adventures in the outdoors because, as my Ambassadors all agree, Outdoors is my Therapy!

Nature Escape Day GuideWould you like to soak up a little more outdoor life adventure or get connected to nature-based resources? Subscribe to my Grounded Inspiration newsletter which comes out approximately twice a month. It’s a short and sweet reminder in your inbox to prioritise your self-care in the outdoors.

At the moment, I’m giving away “Your Guide to a Perfect Nature Escape Day” to new subscribers. This is a super-easy-to-use checklist that will help you easily and effortlessly plan a day of escape in nature where you can relax, rejuvenate and rediscover inner peace and calm. I have very regular escape days and I highly recommend them! I’ll tell you more about them in a future post.

Listen to Episode 27 of the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast!

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I live and work, the Gidhabal people. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Daisy Spoke logoDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Seasons in Life

In the same way that there are seasons in nature, so too there are seasons in life as a human living on Earth today. As I write this blog post, we’re in between climatic seasons. The days are still warm but not as hot as they were a few weeks ago. Some of the nights have a distinct chill in the air so there are whispers that winter is on its way.

seasons in life - autumn leavesThe season of autumn is on its way!

As I was walking last week I passed a tree which had some leaves that had begun yellow. This sign never fails to trigger a sense of joy and anticipation for me. Until I was in my mid to late twenties and had two young children, I’d always lived in temperate coastal regions. Sure, I’d travelled the country a bit, but had never lived anywhere that experienced all four seasons.

From two seasons to four!

When I moved from Brisbane to the Southern Downs region in southern Queensland on the lands of the Gidhabal people, it was mid winter. There was a thick layer of frost on the ground each morning, sometimes till mid-morning and it was such a thrill to see it and feel it underfoot. I’d never seen thick frost before and this white coating on the ground and the cars and the windows was completely foreign to me. When I looked up close I could see the intricate patterns that combined together to form the frosty coating that gave everything an icy cold look. I simply loved it!

My first autumn was equally as exciting as my senses were captivated by the colours and textures of the leaves changing from green to yellow, red, orange and brown. And then slowly the leaves fell away, covering the ground with a striking layer of shapes that scrunched and crunched underfoot. One of my favourite autumn experiences still is to drive down one of the wide suburban streets in my town as the cold southerly wind funnels along the road, picking up the leaves that are delicately hanging onto the trees, and billowing them up into the air, swirling and whirling in a topsy turvy whirlwind until they slowly settle down onto the road and footpath, then scuttling along in waves as the south wind continues to breathe the first of winter.

All these sights, sounds, smells, textures and movements come back to me every autumn, so you can imagine how my body responded last week when I saw the very first signs of some leaves changing colour.

As my heart beat with excitement, I amused myself thinking about how here in Australia we call the coming season autumn, but in many other countries it’s known as fall. In my childhood I really didn’t ‘get’ it. After all, I wasn’t familiar with the leaf fall at the end of summer.

We all have internal seasons

Last week as I walked, I made a connection in my mind which resonated very strongly with me. We all have seasons in life, just as the climate has seasons.

Recently I’ve been working at letting go of some aspects of my life that I no longer need – projects that have completed, services that are no longer part of my core business, belongings that are unnecessarily taking up space. I’ve been in the season of autumn (or fall) and it feels so much lighter! Allowing things to fall away and making a conscious effort to seek out things I can declutter will give me more time and space to hunker down, conserve energy and focus on what matters most at this time in my life.

In the same way that you can’t really see what’s happening below ground or under the bark of the tree once it’s shed its leaves, I too am working away on projects that may not be obvious to anyone else but me. I know that this behind-the-scenes work is invisible but it’s vital. As I come out of my autumn and winter seasons and move into my season of spring, you’ll finally be able to see the new growth, the fruits I’m creating at the moment.

What season in life are you in?

Seasons are a normal and natural part of the outdoors life no matter where you live – whether you have the four seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring, or perhaps the wet and dry seasons of the tropical regions, or perhaps you have the light and dark seasons if you live closer to the poles.

I wonder, what season are you living in right now? I mean, literally, what climatic season are you in ………..…..

………. and what season in life you are in?

Nature reminds us that seasons in life come and go

Literally or metaphorically, we all experience seasons in life, and connecting with nature all year round is a good reminder that seasons come and go and they each have a purpose. Where there’s an ending or a completion, there’s also a beginning, a renewal. And that means there’s always the opportunity for hope.

connect with nature - connect to self

Send me an email: I’d love to hear your thoughts about seasons in nature and which season in life you’re in right now. I always love to hear from my readers and podcast listeners!

Listen to the audio version of this post in the Outdoors is my Therapy Podcast Episode 26!

Daisy Spoke logoDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to Manage Habits That Creep Into Your Life

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There are so many life lessons I’ve learned from nature – pest management (aka “managing the habits that creep into your life”) is the latest one. This year we’ve been making a concerted effort to manage some of the unwanted weeds on our property, in particular tree pears. It’s taken a considerable investment of time, hard work, money and resources to uncover the best way to deal with them. It’s also got me thinking about personal habits that creep into our lives, and what we can do to manage those sorts of weeds and pests.

Pests have always been around

We’ve lived on our small bush property for many years. We’ve always had a few pests here and there but haven’t been overly concerned about them. They’ve had little impact on everything else so we haven’t considered them a problem. In the past we had a few cows and sheep grazing the grass. We’ve had no grazing stock for nearly 10 years now due to ongoing drought conditions. Even though I miss seeing those big beautiful cow eyes looking back at me, we’ve actually gained a lot of satisfaction from watching the native plants regenerate as a result. We’ve also relished the opportunity to make use of the land in other ways such as building mountain bike trails throughout the property.

MTB Trail

The problem pest at my place

Apart from reduced stock, altered land use and drought conditions, other changes haveCactus Tree Pear also gradually taken place – changes that we were blinded to until they became quite obvious and problematic. Tree pear is one of these changes. It has rapidly multiplied in the recent conditions. Not long ago it was a fairly insignificant pest, kept in balance by naturally occurring biological controls. Now it’s dominating the landscape. It very easily and quickly multiplies, so we now have a dense covering of tree pear of all sizes. Its growth rate is amazing and it thrives in the harsh conditions.

Managing the pest

Mature Tree PearUncovering how best to manage this pest has been exhausting, taking lots of hours, energy, research and trial and error. We’ve learned how critical it is to choose the ‘right’ strategy – the difference between getting numbers of tree pear manageable again, or increasing their numbers even more! They’re incredibly tough and resilient – I’ve got to admire them for that! We’ve persisted with our management strategy because we want to live in a balanced way, minimising the impact of our own lifestyle, and supporting environmental sustainability. It’s taken nearly 12 months to reach the point where we can see a positive outcome ahead. And we’ve learned lessons about keeping a closer eye on the pests out there and intervening earlier rather than later.

Habits can be like weeds and pests

Noticing what isUnwanted habits can silently creep into our lives in the same way that the tree pear and other weeds and pests gradually take over tracts of land and impact the overall health of the environment. The habits can slowly, quietly and destructively begin to dominate your life in various ways. The damage shows up as it impacts your relationships, health and confidence. Reestablishing healthier habits requires a hard sustained effort over time, but the secret is in actually noticing that there is a problem in the first place.

Audit your life

In the same way that it can be helpful to regularly have a good look around your propertyReflect to check for pests and unwanted changes, it’s also vital that we review our personal habits from time to time. It’s often only when a crisis takes place that we take the time to do this, but it’s a healthy practice for any of us even when things seem to be going smoothly. When we take the time to reflect, notice and make adjustments, we are better able to keep on top of the pesky habits that impact negatively on ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Questions to ask yourself

You don’t have to run away to the quiet of the desert or the tranquility of the mountains to review your life (although if you have the opportunity that could be amazing!) A more practical way for most of us is to simply take a few moments, or even a couple of hours, to ask ourselves a few questions. You might find it helpful to write your reflections down in a journal, make some art work about the topic, or have a conversation about these issues with a trusted person.

1. What have I got in my life that’s working for me?

2. What is not working so well in my life?

3. What is one action I could take that would make the biggest difference?

4. How can I make sure I follow through on that action?

5. What can I let go of?

6. What do I need to keep?

Change can be challenging

Even desired change can be very challenging and unsettling. We can experience a conflict of values, a simultaneous push and pull towards and away from the change. We might sense resistance from people and situations around us, as well as our own internal resistance. Be prepared for this, and push past the prickly bits!

Early intervention is best

Small cactusAnd so as I walk and run my home trails, I’ve been much more aware of the little cactus popping up. I’ve been investing a little bit of time and energy to carefully prise them out when I see them, right there and then. I’ve learned the hard way that this is a much easier and more effective way of dealing with the problem. Burying your head in the sand and avoiding seeing the issue for what it really is, only makes the problem bigger and more difficult over time. Sometimes those unhealthy unhelpful habits just seem to creep into our lives but with greater diligence and readiness to take action, we can keep them in their place, and maintain a more balanced life.

VLOG (Video Blog)

Did you know that I have a You Tube channel? Over the coming months I’ll be regularly posting videos and VLOGS over there. You can watch my latest VLOG on managing the pesky habits in your life  by clicking here!

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.