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Get up-close and personal with wildlife
How to take a closer look at wildlife near your home

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In the heart of the Smokies
Find out how to feel the true essence of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

WALK THIS WAY
Free City Walks around Seattle
Save the date
for our next walk on September 10th - 
Discovery Park 

Come walk with us. We are leading free fun and interesting urban nature walks in the greater Seattle area. Our next walk is set for September 10, 2016. We are going to explore Discovery Park. It's a beautiful park located along the Puget Sound with great hiking trails in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. More details coming soon!

To get our walk announcements delivered right to your in box, subscribe in box on the left side of this page. Share with your friends. They are free and fun!

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Ten summer lovin' fun ideas for you

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A Sweet Little Guide to Nature Me For You

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A Simple Way to FEEL MORE JOY in your life

© Cary Given/Given Photography 2016

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Journal Archive
Monday
Aug012016

Nine cool ideas for your summer days

Deception Pass State Park, WA. © 2016 Curt Given/ Given PhotographySummer has a wonderful energy. The season's long days and warm temperatures give you plenty of time for the outdoors. Ranging from a vigorous hike to a fun day at the lake to lazing around in a lounge chair with a good book to an outdoor concert, the choices are ample.

For many of you it's tempting to fill the weeks with lots of exciting experiences. But, I guarantee you will enjoy the summer much more if you slow your pace a little and build a balance between exciting and relaxing activities. Taking it easy during the summer can be just as delightful as an adventurous outing. You can do both. So mix it up. Here are nine summery activities to enjoy.

1. Take a wildflower hike. Mountain wildflowers are blooming now and many are at their peak stage. When you come upon a cluster of pink, blue, white and orange wildflowers cascading down a mountain side or coloring a meadow you will sigh in wonder and maybe even feel a little enchanted at the glorious scene. 

2. Start your day early and outside. Find a place to start your day outside in your PJs. Your deck, front porch, backyard or a nearby green space works. Do this before you do anything else. Take a warm beverage and just go sit or stand quietly for a few minutes. For a beverage, you might try warm water with lemon. Its antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting properties are powerful. Enjoy the sights and sounds of early morning nature. The birds, the sky, the dew on the grass, the growing daylight, the pink flowers. This simple activity will set the tone for a stress-free day!

3. Take a Nature Me walk with us on August 13th. Walking is one of the easiest and best ways to enjoy summertime. Adding great urban scenery and a group of fun, friendly people equals a fabulous group walk. If you can't join us for our next walk, we design and offer a new one every month in the Seattle area.

4. Kayak your way to feeling good. Being around water is always nurturing. The action of paddling offset by serene scenery is an excellent way to combine exercise with soothing surroundings. It's the best. 

3. Discover a secret beach. Search for coastal hikes that take side trips to out-of-the-way beaches. Or look for beaches that can only be accessed at low tide. Many times after a short walk from the highway you can be exploring your own private beach. Tide pools, sea mammals, coastal forests, seabirds and lovely sand between your toes await you. 

4. See nature as your playground. Explore, be curious. Go with a sense of adventure. Immerse yourself in the mystery and beauty of nature. Local parks, walking or hiking trails, beach fronts, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, meadows, and wetlands all make good areas for exploration. Start with basic questions. What plants grow here? What might be influencing their growth? Are there animals in the area or birds in the trees? All you really need is a little focus. Observe scenes close-up and from a distance. Before long you will find yourself immersed in nature's inherent beauty.    

6. Find an area outside for journaling. A pretty outdoor place surrounded by plants and flowers is perfect for journaling. The natural healing energy of the place will help slow down your thoughts. If you are new to journaling, start by writing what you are grateful for in your life. A simple list will do and it can be anything from your comfy bed to your children to the charm of the place you are in right now. This is a good way to shift your consciousness into a more positive state. Then you can move on to reflection of any issues you might want to work through. Just make sure that you balance venting and solution oriented thoughts as you write. Places to journal could be a Japanese garden, a beautifully landscaped coffee house, your back yard, or a park.   

7. Visit a u-pick garden for tonight's dinner. Search for local u-pick gardens in your area. Nothing like picking fresh vegetables on a summer day. I did this a couple of weeks ago with friends and it was so much fun to wander through the rows of vegetables picking lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs and beans. Later we dined on a fresh salad and grilled veggies. Perfect. Just thinking about doing this will make you feel healthy.

8. Create your own summer ritual. Give some thought to something simple that you enjoy doing with a creative bent. Something that helps you unwind, forget your worries, gets you focused fast or gives your day some meaning beyond daily stuff. Then figure out a way to take it outside. Some simple examples might be writing, cooking, listening to music, playing games, planting flowers, drawing, reading or anything that is relaxing to you that is not work. Now here is where the fun begins. Create your own ritual. A ritual is something ceremonial with a series of actions. It's the focus on each action that makes it so special. For example, I love to write. My summer ritual is to write early in the morning, in a beautiful place outside, with a lovely cup of jasmine tea, in a beautiful journal with handmade pages, using a colored pen and meditating for a minute or two before I start. Simple right? I think you get the idea. Your ritual will feel lovely and summery.

9. Stop to smell the roses. I know it's a cliche, but its message is timeless. (Thus a cliche!) Take time to find delight in simple summer pleasures. The smell of the flowers near your home. The sound of a bird singing its little heart out. The way you feel when the sky is blue. The awe inspiring colors of a sunset. The breeze that cools your skin on a warm day. The feel of grass under your bare feet. Tiny flowers that border a trail. The soothing sound of water. The way leaves glow when back lit by the sun. There's so much to love about summer. Find your own delights!

What do you love about summer? Share some of your ideas for activities with us! And if you feel so inclined, share this post with your friends using the button below.

Friday
Jul292016

Join us for our next Seattle city walk through Sunset Hill neighborhood, Golden Gardens Park and Ballard Marina

 

To get all the details about our next summer walk on Saturday August 13, 2016, click the link below.

Sunset Hill neighborhood, Golden Gardens park and Ballard Marina summer walk

Sunday
Jun262016

Join us for our next Seattle city walk in the Eastlake Neighborhood and south area of Lake Union

To get all the details about our next urban nature walk on Saturday, July 9, 2016, click the link below. 

Eastlake neighborhood and south area of Lake Union Seattle walk

Saturday
Jun182016

Happy Summer Solstice: Feel the inspiring energy of summer

Sunrise, North Cascade Mountains, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2016I love summer. The season always feels so sweet, uplifting and, best of all, FUN. And for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it's just beginning. 

Late night walks and talks, backyard barbecues and fires, early morning light with coffee on the deck, abundant flowers, patio dates, summer concerts, last minute getaways, outdoor workouts and so much more.

The inspiring energy of this season is heightened by spending time in nature. Open up to it and you will find that summer is filled with new light and beauty.

As you tap into the energy of the summer months, know that it's not as much about what you do, as it is about how you FEEL when you are doing it. Decide how you want to feel FIRST, then choose an activity or project that will bring about that good feeling. Do you want to feel... 

  • Adventuresome
  • Accomplished
  • Creative
  • Energized
  • Joyful
  • Soulful
  • Strong
  • Abundant
  • Productive
  • Playful
  • Connected
  • Relaxed 
  • Confident
  • Inventive
  • Loved
  • Inspired
  • Light-hearted

Here are 20 ideas to get you going and remember to think about how you want to FEEL before you decide what to do. It's a wonderful approach to life. Make this a regular practice and you will be amazed at how rich your life will feel when you base your actions on good feelings that suit you! 

  1. Plant a shade garden
  2. Organize a backyard barbecue
  3. Take a hike
  4. Swim in the ocean
  5. Find a riverbed to explore
  6. Wine taste outside with friends
  7. Go tent camping
  8. Install a new backyard water feature
  9. Take an early morning walk
  10. Photograph some wild flowers 
  11. Learn how to paddle board
  12. Go bird watching
  13. Visit a national park
  14. Take a pelagic boat trip
  15. Start a nature journal
  16. Take a nap outside
  17. Play mini-golf 
  18. Meditate in your backyard
  19. Sleep outside
  20. Explore a scenic byway 

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

Share your ideas with us. What kind of activities do you love to do in the summer? And how do they make you feel? And if you feel so inclined, please share with the button below.

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More summer fun....

Seven ways to get the most out of your summer walk

Beaching it on the Puget Sound

Join us for our next urban nature walk on July 9th at 10 am. We will be exploring one of Seattle's newest hip neighborhoods--South Lake Union. More details to come soon. If you have not yet subscribed to Nature Me, you can get all the details delivered right to your in-box, by signing up in the box to the left of this post.  

Saturday
May212016

Join us for our Next Seattle city walk along Alki Beach in the West Seattle Neighborhood 

To sign up and get all the details about our next urban nature walk on Saturday June 4, 2016, click the link below. 

Alki Beach walk in West Seattle

Monday
Apr112016

Explore a park this SPRING

Moss and tiny rock flowers cover wet canyon walls in the Columbia Gorge
I just got back from a few days in the Columbia Gorge, one of the most lush natural areas in the Pacific Northwest.

I returned home believing that exploring a park or some other natural area might be the next best thing you can do for yourself this spring. Here is a bit of description about our recent excursion to the Columbia Gorge. 

We were hiking uphill through a beautiful canyon in one of the many Columbia Gorge parks, located just east of Portland, Oregon. It's an outstanding natural area of towering cliffs, canyons and waterfalls.

As I climbed, I was charmed by the bright green moss and tiny rock flowers that covered dripping canyon walls. The sweet smell of spring infused the air. Splashing water from waterfalls and rivers generated abundant amounts of magical little negative ions. I took deep breaths to get all of their mood-lifting benefits. Strands of sunlit moss dangled from every tree branch. Signs of new life were everywhere and the spring energy was palpable. I couldn't get enough!

Whether it's a few hours or a few days, tap into your sense of adventure and start planning your next excursion. Spring will welcome you.

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More from Nature Me

TAKE A BEACH WALK WITH US
Join our next Nature me group walk as we explore Alki Beach and surrounding neighborhood on June 4. It's always a fun time and we end our walks with lunch at a cool urban restaurant. I'll post more details about where to meet and how to sign up here on the blog soon, but in the meantime save the date --June 4th at 10 am.  

LEARN ABOUT MOOD ENHANCING NEGATIVE IONS
Something's in the air and it ain't love 

VISIT OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Discover the Secrets of Olympic National Park's Seashore

PICK A SEATTLE URBAN PARK TO EXPLORE
Find a park you might like to explore from the Puget Sound Urban Nature Series

RICHMOND BEACH SALTWATER PARK
  -Love the dune grass

 WASHINGTON PARK ARBORETUM 
  -Beauty for you

GREEN LAKE PARK
  -Well-loved by Seattleites

VOLUNTEER PARK
  -A jewel in the midst

KUBOTA GARDEN PARK
  -Paradise in Seattle 

BELLEVUE BOTANICAL GARDEN
  -Get inspired

CARKEEK PARK
  -A sound view

MUKILTEO LIGHTHOUSE PARK
  -Beaching it on the Puget Sound  

ENHANCE YOUR PARK VIST
LEARN HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AN URBAN PARK VISIT
   -Six easy steps

SEND ME YOUR SUGGESTIONS
I'm continually exploring and writing about Puget Sound urban parks...what parks would you like to explore? Leave your suggestions for articles in the comments below or send me an email.

JOIN OUR NEW FACEBOOK COMMUNITY FOR IDEAS ON WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO

We have a new private FACEBOOK GROUP for Nature Me. You can post nature related photos, articles, reports, tips and questions. Share your personal experiences and stories. Suggest places to go and what to do in nature. Just click on the link below to check it out and join.

Facebook Group Nature Me Community 

Monday
Mar282016

Join us for our next Seattle city spring walk in Volunteer Park and Harvard-Belmont historic neighborhood 

Lemon tree inside Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle Washington

To sign up and get all the details about our next urban nature walk on Saturday April 16, 2016, click the link below. 

Volunteer Park and Harvard-Belmont historic neighborhood walk. 

Tuesday
Mar222016

11 ways to embrace spring

Cherry and Oregon Crab Apple trees. © 2016 Curt Given/ Given PhotographySpring is so invigorating. The season is naturally filled with signs of birth, renewal, and newness. You can't help but feel inspired to try something new. Change things up. Get outside. Start that new outdoor project. Here are eleven spring experiences to get your creativity flowing.

1. Take an early morning walk often. It's when wildlife is the most active. Birds are calling for their would-be mates and easy to spot in their brightly colored mating feathers. Tiny mammals are eating the fresh greens along side roads and pathways. And the crisp air feels so good. Walk at least weekly and notice the changes.

2. Look for old bird nests. Trees are just beginning to leaf out, so you have plenty of time to look for old birds nests. This will give you a jump on where birds will be nesting this year. They are so fun to watch when nesting. You can see them tirelessly rebuild their nest with umpteen trips, their beaks filled with grasses and leaves. Soon you will catch glimpses of babies and hear their peeps. In our area near the Ballard Locks there is an amazing Great Blue Heron rookery. You can see, hear and smell the adults as they refurbish their nests and feed their babies throughout the spring. Always an awe-inspiring site that will capture your interest for a long time.

3. Find a wetland. These nutrient rich areas are home to many critters. You can see herons, muskrats, marsh wrens, minks, weasels, ducks, geese and blackbirds to name a few. We have a favorite day-trip from the Seattle area just past the Canadian Border. It's the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. A springtime visit to this sanctuary is well worth the trip. Here is a link to an article I wrote for Parent Map that describes all the details and how to get there. Put it on your list of outings. You will love it. Article link: Winging it! A great family getawy that's for the birds

4. Explore a riverfront trail. Last week while I walked along a riverfront trail, I saw Canada geese, a pileated woodpecker, squirrels, hummingbirds and a snake...all within about an hour. River otters are common in rivers, too and I've seen them many times. I'm always amused to watch as they play, swim and tumble back and forth between the river bank and water. You can look for their burrows and holes in the river bank. The teaming life along a river can be quite captivating in a short amount of time. 

5. Notice trees, shrubs and flowers. Use a field guide to identify plants. Or take a picture and look up online. Changes are daily now and it's fun to track plant growth. Are they leafing out or still dormant. What shape and color are the leaves? Do they still have their winter fruit? Are flowers starting to bud or even bloom? Where are green shoots coming up? Try to name the flowers and trees.

6. Note how spring makes you feel. Do you feel more energy than usual? Take advantage of the inspiring energy to start something new or clear out some old stuff. This can be either internal or external. For example, start a new meditation or walking routine. Or, clear the clutter from an area of your house. The rhythm and energy of the spring season make new starts easier.

7. Listen and watch for birds. Carry a small field guide with you to identify the birds you see and hear. Or use Ibird Pro, which is a great app to help you ID them while in the field. Notice the birds that are showing off their spring plumage.

8. Track the weather. Is it still cold enough for a hat? Is the rain or frost keeping you inside? If you do any traveling note the differences in temperatures. I was on the eastern side of the state last week and definitely needed hat and gloves for an early morning walk. Are the days fluctuating between warm and cold or gradually getting warmer? Is frost still evident in the early morning? It's fun to notice the changes and helps you immerse yourself into the rhythm of the season. 

9. Embrace the season. Find a natural place you like and note all of the characteristics that are related to spring. Then plan to visit it often during the season and track the changes. Then take it a step further and visit the same place each season to note the difference. You will learn how every season has its own kind of beauty. 

10. Sit in the sun. Its energy is important for our health in so many ways. Bask in its warmth and remember the sun's vital importance to all living things.

11. See nature as your playground. Your playground can be anything from a local park to a wilderness area to your own backyard. Be curious. Explore. Look closely at everything. Immerse yourself in the mystery and beauty of mother nature as people have done for thousands of years. You will find nature illuminating in so many ways.   

What are some of your favorite ways to embrace spring? Are you working in your garden? Planting new shrubs? Or, maybe taking a spring vacation to a sunny spot? We want to know so share with us! And if you feel so inclined, please click the button below to share with others. 

Happy spring!!

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Below are links to more spring ideas and activities!

Earth love

Add a little spring to your day

Somethings in the air

Get inspired at Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Friday
Feb192016

Seattle City Walk - Madison Park on March 6, 2016 

Come walk with us! We are leading free urban nature walks around Seattle. We've got a new walk planned for Madison Park on March 6, 2016. 

Description:

This urban nature walk takes in all of the upscale beauty and charm of the Madison Park neighborhood. You'll get great views of Lake Washington, a look at the eclectic mix of shops and restaurants that border Madison avenue and a nice walk through this peaceful neighborhood of beautiful homes with amazing landscapes.

Our walking trail parallels Lake Washington, heading south from Madison Park to Madrona Park. It's about 4 miles round trip. Depending on our pace and stops along the way, it will take approximately 2.5 hours. The terrain is mostly asphalt, so wear comfy walking shoes. 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb032016

One darn good reason to get up early!

Yellowstone River, © Curt Given/ Given Photography 2016Sometimes it's good to get up early. But given the choice for most of us, the soft sheets, warm cozy blankets and lull of sleep make it way more appealing to stay under the covers. And if it's still dark outside when your alarm goes off...it's even more challenging to get out of bed.

Here's one good reason to get up early...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan122016

Seattle City Walk - Queen Anne Hill and Kerry Park on January 30, 2016

Come walk with us. We are leading free urban nature walks around Seattle. Our next Queen Anne Hill city walk is on January 30, 2016 and includes the iconic Kerry Park. 

Description:

We've designed an urban walk that explores the distinct Queen Anne Hill neighborhood with its grand homes, charming parks and scenic views of Seattle, Lake Union and Puget Sound. 

A unique mix of remarkable homes, old stairways, local parks and urban cafes make up this prominent neighborhood.

 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec312015

WINTER. Profoundly beautiful...going deep for a new year


Frost and Forest. © Curt Given/Given Photography 2015

Winter in Mount Baker National Forest. © Cary Given/Given Photography 2015

Hawk Owl. © Cary Given/Given Photography 2015

Ice on Cle Elum Lake, Washington. © Curt Given/Given Photography 2015

Queen Elizabeth Range. © Cary Given/Given Photography 2015

Wednesday
Dec162015

5 gifts for the bird lover in your life

Bushtit, Pinnacles National Monument. © 2015 Curt Given/Given PhotographyI so love birds! I'm not a devoted birder, but always love watching them. Here are some ideas for your bird lover. Each of the five gifts listed below are unique and special enough that your bird person will zealously thank-you and probably give you a big hug. And, the Robert Bateman Book and birdseed wreath are wonderful gifts for anyone! 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec022015

Next City Walk with Nature Me - Special Holiday Walk on December 20

WALK THIS WAY to the BALLARD FARMER'S MARKET. A special holiday walk! 

Come walk with us. We are leading free, fun and interesting walks around the greater Seattle area. See details below for our upcoming December 20 walk.

Description:

We've designed this urban walk just for the holidays! This special walk will explore part of the Ballard Neighborhood, but mostly introduce you to the fantastic Ballard Farmer's Market. You'll have ample time to shop and explore all of the bounty this market has to give. 

 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov232015

Five outside activities that will help your holidays shine

Red Alder, Olympic National Park. © 2015 Curt Given/ Given PhotographyI love this time of year. Right about now I start getting that good feeling of what's to come.

And, I've intentionally scaled back so much throughout the years that now the season feels way more festive than frenzied.

Not only have I trimmed back, but I've let go of all my expectations (well most). That in itself is a great gift!

This year we are opting for a different kind of Thanksgiving. Circumstances (good ones) just worked out that Curt (my life partner) and I have the day to ourselves.

So, I'm packing a lovely simple picnic with a great bottle of Pinot Noir (exellent with turkey and cranberry sandwiches) and we are heading to the foothills of the Cascade mountains for a nice hike along a river.

It seems like the perfect place for us to give thanks for all that we have in our lives while surrounded by natural mountain beauty.

Here are four more ways to experience the beauty of the holiday season outside...

    Click to read more ...