"Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more." Vincent Van Gough Good morning! When my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest, we discovered a wonderful remedy for the over-stressed and overwhelmed family (or our over-stressed and overwhelmed self!). Both of us had grown up in scenic Wisconsin, but had never paid much attention to the beautiful offerings that nature bestowed. When we moved to Washington, we sought out explorations. One of our first stops was an REI store where we picked up a book on hiking in the area. Soon we visited Mt. St. Helens, Multnomah Falls and other notables of nature. This was 12 years ago and we have since returned to Wisconsin. At that time, our daughter had just turned three, so we weren't able to walk for miles or engage in serious hikes with her. Yet, we went outside together; away from answering machines, phones and demands and enjoyed some of the more simple pleasures of our planet. Nature helps people to connect and rejuvenate--whether you explore nature alone or with a group. Here are a few ideas for exploring nature around you: Take a nightly walk. The benefits of incorporating regular exercise are obvious, but a nightly walk also serves as a wonderful way to unwind. Start a routine of a weekly hike. Each weekend take an adventure hike. Nature walks. Use walks to encourage the interest of nature in young children. Use field guides to identify plants, leaves, bugs, birds and animals. Portraits of nature. Use your walk to photograph your surroundings. Let children take pictures of a regular path, to document the different seasons of the year. Your Turn: Whether it be one of the above ideas or one of your own, choose a way to connect with nature this week! Your Affirmation: I am never too busy to connect with nature.