nature, Wellness

10 Ideas for Including Nature in a Joyful Life

What’s the difference between being happy and living a joyful life? How can we incorporate nature into a joyful life?

Happiness is fleeting –whether we want to admit it or not. A joyful life is overall content with the way things are while recognizing the moments that bring peace into your heart.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

We all know someone like this. How are they so happy all the time? we ask ourselves.

The truth is…

They are not happy all the time!

They have learned to create a joyful life through acceptance and action.

Just like love, joy isn’t something that we go looking for and once we find it everything is hunky-dory. It takes a little practice.

How do we accept our situation as we go throughout life?

For what I hope are obvious reasons, 2020 could be called the Year of the Introvert. But even introverts need a little bit of sunlight and socialization.

We recently got rained on during a walk, but didn’t let that dampen our spirits! Instead, we found it to be a refreshing way to start the day. The smell of wet soil and pavement is nostalgic for me.

While avoiding large crowds is not a big deal for me, some people thrive on the energy. If they’ve made the decision to social distance, phone calls and video chats could be their new norm, and sometimes it’s just not enough.

But what about the rest of the time? What about all the people who were already unhappy before COVID-19 hit?

Learning to appreciate the small moments goes along way toward creating an abundance of joy.

Joy = big leaves on a morning walk

What actions can we take to be joyful?

There are lots of ways to take action to include joy in your lives: volunteer work, meditation, writing in a journal (not just buying every pretty one you see *guilty*).

A few weeks ago, my post Summer, Sunshine, and Sunflowers listed 10 ways to still have fun in the summer while social distancing. Today I am give you 10 new ways to incorporate nature in your life of joy!

Inside or outside, near or far, these activities are versatile enough to suit your lifestyle.

  1. Hike and walk – If you have time for an outdoor hike, awesome! If not, totally reasonable and understandable. Walking can be done literally everywhere, even if you need to walk in place in your yard or your living room; a quick 10 minutes is enough to be effective.
  2. Go on a picnic – Go to your favorite park or sit on a blanket in the yard and enjoy your favorite treats and age-appropriate beverages. Remember: leave no trace and don’t feed the wildlife.
  3. Collect and identify leaves – This collection can be turned into a beautiful family keepsake and is a project that’s extremely kid-friendly.
  4. Conduct a photoshoot – of plants and landscapes! Fancy phones are always coming out with updated camera technology, so it’s very easy to have good quality photos at your fingertips. I have ordered a few wall art pieces from Shutterfly to hang in my home that showcase my own photos.
  5. Get down with the dirt – Gardening is a soothing way to focus on something and feel, dare I say it, grounded. Get a little dirt under your nails and pot some flowers or vegetables; plus, working with soil is good for you, body and soul.
  6. Visit a botanical garden – Botanical gardens are the perfect places to see birds, bees, butterflies, and smiling faces!
  7. Listen to a music with scenery channel on the TV – Bring nature inside by enjoying the sights and sounds of nature from your own living room; Soothing Relaxation has a lot of great videos with nature scenes, and a quick YouTube search will reveal tons more; this is a great option if you want to listen to a stream or even thunder and lightning.
  8. Create art – While wine and paint night and at-home Bob Ross tutorials have grown in popularity, nature can be incorporated into every art medium: drawing, scrapbooking, crocheting, pottery, etc.
  9. Do an outdoor workout – Do some lunges and squats in your driveway; boost that Vitamin D intake and wear appropriate sunscreen! When not social distancing, join an outdoor workout group or meet up with a friend.
  10. Read nature books, poetry, and articles – Expand your knowledge by learning something new or kick back with a faithful favorite.

You’ll notice none of these ideas are particularly strenuous – that’s because I believe they shouldn’t be. Enjoying nature can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.

I love the botanical gardens but don’t always want to drive 30 minutes to end up in potential downtown traffic; sometimes watching the cardinals or the doves in my backyard is enough. I love doing a in-person 5ks and 10ks but wouldn’t necessarily want to do one every weekend (okay, maybe every other weekend!).

Can you spot the dove hanging out on my crape myrtle?

What do you do to include nature in your joyful life? Do you think it’s possible to have a joyful life without nature?

Have a joyful day, friends!

nature, Opt Outside in Texas, Travel & Tourism, U.S. Destinations

Wine, Bread, and Hiking? Castroville, Texas Has It All!

Texas travel and tourism has no shortage of small-town stopping points. One of my favorite things about Texas is that travel here often involves history, nature, or some combination of the two. Today’s post is about Castroville, “the Little Alsace of Texas” and a small town west of San Antonio. At first glance, Castroville seems unassuming, with Highway 90 running down the middle and a lack of bells and whistles. For those in the know, it’s not a place to pass through, it’s a whole destination: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery, Medina River Winery, historic landmarks, and public parks. There’s plenty to do to make Castroville your next staycation or vacation.

Hiking is fun for the whole family!

My personal favorite place to go is Castroville Regional Park. It boasts a pool, RV park, hiking trails, and I’ve seen people depart their vehicles with pool floaties destined for the Medina River. It’s a great location for picnics with family and friends. Be cautious of the wildlife and heed all warning signs. Bring lots of water and watch your step!

If you’re anything like me then after your hike at the park, you’ll want to stop by the Magnolia Filling Station for some iced coffee.

Castroville-based Black Rose Writing sponsors a Little Free Library next to the Magnolia Filling Station

Wine lovers are not forgotten in Castroville. Medina River Winery is locally owned and operated. My personal favorite is the Blanc Dubois. They are currently open for pickup – send them a message to reserve a bottle!

Castroville boasts another unique feat: At the turn of the 21st century, an entire 1,200+ sq ft, 17th century Alsatian house was disassembled in France and put back together in Castroville (see below pic to get an idea of the style). Click here to learn more about the Steinbach House.

Photo by Pierre Blachu00e9 on Pexels.com

Another gem is Haby’s Alsatian Bakery, which has such a delicious assortment of treats and sweets that as I write this I am very tempted to drive over and get some. In addition to ready-made breads, donuts, and pastries, they fill custom orders and supply bread for Sammy’s Restaurant across the street.

Castroville has so much to offer for history and nature lovers and anyone seeking a laid-back weekend. (I can’t wait to do the historic walking tour!) Visit the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Castroville to learn more!

nature, Opt Outside in Texas, Travel & Tourism, U.S. Destinations

Lost Maples State Natural Area

One brisk day during our first Texas autumn, I woke up early, packed up my son and our dog, and drove an hour and a half west to Lost Maples State Natural Area. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We got there very early so there weren’t a lot of people. The leaves smelled amazing, the air was fresh, and we got our exercise in.

My hiking buddies 💜
I did not realize beforehand that would end up traversing what felt like a small mountain – Mama got her workout in that day 💪

Lost Maples is an important wildlife and natural habitat. It “protects a special stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples” and is home to the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.(1) In 1988, a refuge population of Guadalupe bass was established in the Sabinal River in the park to encourage reproduction and try to restore the bass to its former numbers after it was determined that cross-breeding between the Guadalupe bass and smallmouth bass created a hybrid fish and almost eradicated the pure Guadalupe bass.(2)

Scroll down to view more photos from our hike. If you decide to visit, I highly recommend making a day pass reservation so that you have a confirmed parking spot!

To learn more about Lost Maples and explore Texas’s other state park destinations, visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife Lost Maples page.

For more details about the Uvalde bigtooth maple, visit their page on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.

References

  1. Texas Parks & Wildlife. Accessed 23 July 2020. https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples
  2. Fry Cortez, D. March 2018. Accessed 13 July 2020. https://tpwmagazine.com/archive/2018/mar/ed_3_bass/index.phtml